Black: Episode 3
Death is all in a day’s work for a Reaper, but sometimes problems arise — and the next thing you know, you’re inhabiting a human body in order to find a Reaper on the run. Too bad those pesky humans keep derailing Black’s goals with their silly need to solve murders and figure out what happened twenty years ago.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Black, in his true Reaper form, informs us that there are two types of Reapers: First are those who are born Reapers, pure descendants from the underworld, and then there are humans who became Reapers as punishment for committing suicide.
There’s a hierarchy between the two, with the Suicide Reapers definitely being the lower class, but Black — a born Reaper — commands respect from all the Reapers, no matter where they came from. He’s the most intimidating and competent reaper, and wears a very serious look on his face as the Reapers report for duty (in an empty amusement park, which is super creepy at night).
Black is partnered up with a Suicide Reaper, much to Black’s annoyance. (Ha, it’s the same guy that Moo-gang saw jump off the bridge.) Black calls him “Loser,” practically dragging him to the arcade game that gives them a capsule with their new soul assignment.
He orders Loser to reap the soul shown in the capsule, and to not let the soul get away just because Loser feels sorry for them. Loser protests that he can’t do it alone, but Black threateningly reminds him that if Loser lets the soul get away again, then Loser will never ascend to the upper world and instead will burn in a fiery pit.
When one of Black’s Reaper coworkers (who died in the Joseon era) points out that there’s no way Loser will be able to reap a soul by himself, Black smugly points out that after Loser fails and gets sent to the fiery pit, then Black will finally get a new partner. That’s all Black really wants.
However, after Loser heads off to his assignment, another of Black’s Reaper coworkers (a rapper who loves hip-hop) discovers that there’s another capsule with Black’s name on it — or number, to be correct. Black is Reaper #444, which is amusing since “four” also sounds like the word for “death.”
Realizing that he’s going to have to work whether he likes it or not, Black hurries after Loser and ends up in the women’s locker room. Hip-hop follows, showing him that Loser actually threw the capsule away and is likely hiding in a dead body in the human world. They decide to find Loser first, and disappear back into the lockers. And now we know what Ha-ram saw when the locker seemed to shut by itself.
Hip-hop and Black head to a hotel, hunting around for a dead body. Black poofs in and out of rooms and hallways, but doesn’t find Loser. The rules are that if a Reaper can’t find a runaway partner, then the Death Squad will turn the non-runaway partner into a terrifying three-headed dog with eyes of fire (the Cerberus of Greek mythology).
Black continues to look for Loser, and as he does, he runs across the bridge where Moo-gang is shot. As the Reapers stare at the body, Hip-hop opens up the capsule — the soul Loser was to reap was Moo-gang’s.
The trio of Reapers follow Moo-gang’s body to the hospital, and as they watch Soo-wan fail to revive Moo-gang, Black decides that the best way to find Loser (and the body he’s inhabited) is to inhabit a body himself.
That brings us to Moo-gang’s face-to-face conversation with Black. Moo-gang protests that he can’t die yet — he still needs to ask someone why “she did this to him.” Joseon and Hip-hop arrive to drag Moo-gang away, and Black just scoffs that humans always plead for their lives in exactly the same manner.
As Ha-ram hurries to Moo-gang’s house, Black walks along the bridge where Loser jumped off — and where Black reaped his soul. Black is mad at himself for letting Loser go off alone, and then yells at Joseon and Hip-hop for letting Moo-gang escape, since a wandering soul would definitely attract the attention of the Death Squad.
Ha-ram sees Black on the bridge and tells her taxi driver to stop. She thinks it’s Moo-gang with with an unusual two Shadows next to him. Really, it’s just Black arguing with his coworkers, who are powerless to do anything against him since their spirits can’t physically touch his flesh-and-blood body.
But Black’s not immune to other humans bumping into him, and as he stumbles, the second capsule falls out of his pocket and rolls into the street. He runs to get it, and as he picks it up, it shows him that Ha-ram is the soul that’s next to be reaped. Just then, Ha-ram rushes over, pushing him out of the way of oncoming traffic, thus saving his life.
Ha-ram’s unconscious from her head hitting the pavement, and the Reaper trio take her back to Moo-gang’s place, wondering why she’ll die when she seems otherwise young and healthy. Black decides to hide the capsule in one of Moo-gang’s stuffed animals, then carries Ha-ram into the bathroom, planning to teleport her back home — except that he can’t do that with a human, and has to take her home the normal human way.
Black notes the shoelaces hanging from her ceiling, and realizes that Ha-ram must be going through difficulties. He silently wills her to hang on a little longer — he can’t have her die just yet.
The detectives are looking into the murder at the mental health hospital, but so far, they don’t have any leads. They’re also in danger of having their case taken away from them, since technically they’re only there as support to the Violent Crimes Unit — and it doesn’t help that Moo-gang keeps messing up crime scenes.
But Kwang-kyun does see something odd in the footage from the mental health hospital: Moo-gang visiting the hopsital a month before the incident.
Ha-ram wakes up in her room and decides to head back to Moo-gang’s house. It’s exactly like she remembers when she was a young girl and came to visit, only she ran and hid as soon as she rang the doorbell. Young Ha-ram still got a glimpse of Joon, and sadly confirmed that it was the correct address as she wondered why Joon never wrote her back after all the letters she sent him.
Ha-ram sees Moo-gang’s car and confirms that he must still live there. She peers over the fence to see Black carefully taping up anything that could remotely be considered a door (at least, to a Reaper). But he ignores her phone call, which makes her angry, and she storms off — only to have her anger dissipate when she realizes that Moo-gang nearly died because of her, so she can’t blame him for not wanting to talk to her.
Black realizes that he forgot to tape up one little cabinet when Joseon and Hip-hop suddenly appear. Joseon grumps that if Black is going to try and keep them out, then they won’t help him — especially now that Black is on the Death Squad’s “wanted” list. Black has made plenty of Reaper enemies who will gladly turn him in if they find him.
Not that Black won’t be found out quickly enough, since he’s terrible at blending in with humans. Joseon warns him to be protective of Moo-gang’s body and work harder at trying to act like a detective, especially since Black chose Moo-gang’s body because it came with a gun. And a gun is the perfect instrument to put a hole in the temple of a Reaper-possessed body, forcing the Reaper to come out.
In order to learn how to act like a detective, Black spends all night watching dramas. PFffft, he even complains at how inept the detective is in Voice, which is meta-hilarious, since that’s from the same director.
By morning, though, there’s been another murder. It’s the woman from the police station, the one that Ha-ram saw frozen to death — she was found in her restaurant’s freezer, after it was dropped when gangsters were confiscating all of her husband’s assets.
The husband disappears by the time the detectives arrive, and Kwang-kyun is annoyed when he sees Black show up to the scene of the crime. Black looks mighty fine with his new hairstyle and Moo-gang’s funeral suit, which was the only suitable thing Black found in Moo-gang’s closet (since his other options were Moo-gang’s pastel cartoon-character sweatshirts, and those are not Reaper or detective worthy).
As Black inspects the body (mimicking those TV detectives), the other detectives get statements from the gangsters and other neighbors. The gangsters report that the man owed them money and that’s why they were taking his belongings, and a neighbor tells the detectives that she heard the man and his wife fighting about a month ago.
Suddenly they hear a scream from the rooftop. The husband is holding a woman hostage, a knife (hidden in newspaper) pressed against her throat. The detectives carefully approach, not wanting the woman to be harmed. Black snatches a gun from a nearby detective and expertly shoots the knife out the man’s hand, allowing the man to be captured.
Kwang-kyun is surprised to discover the “knife” was actually a banana — and he’s surprised that Black is such a good shot, since Kwang-kyun knows that his partner has never fired a gun before.
Black continues to surprise everyone as he points out that the woman was strangled, and that based on the bruising around the woman’s neck, her husband couldn’t have done it. The bruising shows someone with a missing or deformed middle finger, and her husband’s finger is normal. Black helpfully proves this by forcing the man to flip off all the detectives.
When they get back to the police station, Black can’t stop pestering the captain, begging for his gun to be returned. He reminds the captain that he helped the case and can clearly shoot just fine. But the captain refuses, since the Moo-gang they know isn’t acting normal. Black sits at his desk and pouts.
Ha-ram watches the news about the woman found in the freezer, realizing it was the same woman from the police station. But Ha-ram has more important things to think about, such as tracking down the person who sent the note about her father’s death not being an accident.
Ha-ram decides to ask Moo-gang for help, but when she hunts around for her shoelaces, realizing they’re still hanging from the ceiling, she remembers Man-soo saving her life. She decides to go to him instead, especially since she thinks that “Moo-gang” doesn’t want to talk to her.
At the police station, Black laughs at the captain’s theory that the freezer woman was killed out of revenge, and offers to tell everyone what really happened, on the condition that the captain gives him back his gun. Black points out that the doctor who was killed at the mental hospital was a “hot-blooded” murder, done out of revenge.
But the woman in the freezer was a “cold-blooded” murder, a calculated death where the murderer wanted to put the woman through as much torture as possible first. Black adds that the woman didn’t die of strangulation — she froze to death.
The captain dismisses Black’s theories, but soon has to eat his words when the autopsy results reveal that the woman’s official cause of death was due to freezing. She was still alive when she was put in the freezer.
Black arrogantly tells the other detectives that the woman’s death is a warning to someone, and the murderer specifically wanted that person to see the body and preserved it in the freezer. Black can also tell just by looking at the body that the woman has been dead for a month, although no one believes him until the autopsy reveals that Black is, once again, correct.
That means Black has earned his gun, which he happily swings around as he pretends to act like the TV detectives, even though the detectives in the station duck and yell at him to stop being so dangerously reckless.
Soo-wan is utterly terrified when she sees the viral photo of the frozen woman, who she calls Jin-sook. Soo-wan bursts into tears as she says it’s all her fault, but then wonders if Jin-sook revealed any information about her — if she did, then “that man” would be after her.
Suddenly a man appears behind her, holding a knife against her neck. He calls Soo-wan “Seon-young,” and says that he’s not the one who killed Jin-sook. Which is true, since he only just escaped from the mental health hospital (and killed the doctor instead). As Soo-wan recoils in terror, the man says that he needs her help.
Ha-ram heads to the Royal Insurance offices. She’s surprised to see Man-soo (and his dog!) on a banner for the insurance company, wondering if he’s a model for them. She also discovers that Royal Group purchased Chunsu Insurance years ago, which was the insurance company that originally investigated her father’s case.
Ha-ram asks at the receptionist desk for Man-soo, only to be surprised when they stand at attention as their selfie-loving CEO walks in (with his dog, of course). Man-soo is delighted to see her, and tries to look up records of the man who investigated her father’s case, but the man retired and moved overseas before Royal Group took over. Nor is there any record of her father being a client of Chunsu Insurance.
Even more strange is the fact that there are no records from 1997 in the database. Man-soo cheerfully offers to track down the hard copy of the file for her.
Kwang-kyun and Black are also at Royal Insurance, questioning Jin-sook’s coworkers. Actually, Kwang-kyun is getting information about Jin-sook while Black sullenly sits in the conference room, playing with his gun. Man-soo’s dog finds him and bites Black’s leg, which causes the invisible Reaper tattoo to glow on Black’s neck.
A doctor tends to Black’s wound. Man-soo is deeply apologetic but baffled as to why his dog would suddenly bite someone when he’s never done that before.
Black is more curious about the dog, and Man-soo happily tells him that even though his “brother” looks like a bulldog, Sip-gyeong is actually descended from a St. Bernard, which means Sip-gyeong is really good at finding corpses. Black wonders if the dog could smell Moo-gang’s body.
As Black leaves the hospital, he sees a high school boy being rushed into the ER. He steps aside to avoid running into another high school boy following behind the gurney, but the other high school student turns around in surprise, wondering if Black can see him.
Black realizes his mistake, and purposefully ignores the boy (a spirit or a Reaper himself) as he walks through Black. The boy then assumes that Black can’t see him after all.
Man-soo returns to his office, only to find his older brother waiting for him with a golf club. Man-soo’s brother beats him until Man-soo apologizes, even though Man-soo doesn’t know why (although this seems like a normal procedure for when Man-soo somehow messes up).
This time it’s because Royal Insurance is getting bad press due to Jin-sook’s highly publicized murder. They’re losing lots of clients and, plus they won’t be able to sell the company if their publicity is this dismal. Man-soo promises to work harder to fix things, but his brother doesn’t need Man-soo to work harder — he just needs Man-soo to tell him what’s going on and then stay out of it.
When Man-soo looks at Jin-sook’s file, he realizes that it’s the same woman from the police station, and that Ha-ram had accurately predicted her death. Man-soo takes it as confirmation that Ha-ram must really be a fortune teller. He goes to see her at her home, but she’s trying to hide from her landlady, who’s ready to evict her since the returned security deposit means that Ha-ram should have moved out.
Ha-ram wants to know if he’s found the file from 1997, but Man-soo’s more curious about how she knew Jin-sook would die. He assumes she must channel a spirit like a shaman does, but Ha-ram, annoyed, orders Man-soo to get out.
Man-soo offers to help her pay her security deposit on her apartment if she helps him. With her abilities, she can tell him if their VIP clients are going to die soon, and if so, they can find a way to prevent it so that Royal Insurance doesn’t lose any more money on expensive payouts.
Ha-ram has no interest in his money and kicks him out of her apartment. After what happened with Moo-gang, she has no desire to try and save anyone else.
At the police station, the detectives are going through Jin-sook’s phone records, asking people if they know anything about her death. Black takes a much more direct approach, asking each person he calls if they’re the killer. He’s bewildered when they curse him and then hang up on him.
So-tae grabs the desk phone to prevent him from making more disastrous calls, but as Black dials the next number on his list using his personal cell phone, the caller ID on the phone pops up as “Darling Soo-wan.” Even though Black doesn’t understand it, Kwang-kyun realizes that Soo-wan must know Jin-sook.
They go to the hospital to confront Soo-wan, who simply says that she bought an insurance plan from Jin-sook. Their calls were strictly business related. But Soo-wan is secretly worried about the phone records being released.
Ha-ram returns home to find Man-soo waiting for her. He’s got the file she wants — or at least pieces of it, once he rescued it from Sip-gyeong. Man-soo proves that he has it by telling her that her father had a tattoo of a spider. Ha-ram dismisses him at first, since her father didn’t have a tattoo — but she recalls the spider tattoo from the vision of the man who killed her father.
Man-soo will only give her the file after she agrees to work for him, and he hands her a list of their VIP clients to investigate.
In the morning, Black goes to a high school that his missing Reaper’s sister attends. Black recognizes the boy who had just been admitted to the ER the day before. According to other students, the boy had attempted to commit suicide by jumping off the roof, but trees caught his fall, and he was only injured.
Ha-ram is also at the school, diligently working through her VIP list, which include a chaebol’s daughter who is also a teacher. The teacher doesn’t have any Shadows, but in her classroom is the suicide student that Black is curious about.
Both Ha-ram and Black are surprised to find each other staring into the same classroom, and Ha-ram is shocked when she sees a Shadow coming from inside the student.
Black is confused by what she can see, and Ha-ram grumpily reminds him that she can see the Death Shadows, just like she told him (or she told Moo-gang) and which he should know full well. Black realizes that Loser must be in the boy, and he takes the student back to the rooftop where the boy had originally committed suicide.
Black threatens to shoot the boy to force Loser out, and the Reaper in the boy leaps out of the body — it’s the high school Reaper from the hospital, not Loser. The student Reaper pleads with Black to let him have a second chance at life through the boy’s body, then realizes that it’s not like Black can stop him, anyway, since Black isn’t exactly in a position to call the Death Squad (unless Black wants to turn himself in).
Black allows the student Reaper to return to the boy’s body, but it’s only a trick. He reminds the boy that when the body a Reaper possesses dies again, then the Reaper forgets all the memories they had while in that body — which means the boy will forget all about Black.
Black pushes the boy off the roof, and once the boy dies (again), the student Reaper is eventually captured by the Death Squad.
That night, Ha-ram finds Black standing outside her apartment. He says that Joon/Moo-gang was her first love, so therefore she must like him, and that she should stick close to him and be his eyes.
Ohhhhhh, things are beginning to actually make sense! All those details in the first few episodes really do matter, and even though there are still a ton of questions remaining (for example, what is this big mystery that happened twenty years ago? How is Soo-wan related to it all? Why would someone want to kill Jin-sook as a warning? How is Royal Insurance culpable since they destroyed their records from back then? And is this dude with the spider tattoo the same as the guy with the scar? I feel like I have a firmer grasp of things than I did during the first week.
I wish there was more of the Reaper mythology in the first few episodes, since it almost felt like we were walking into a completely different show that just happened to have characters from we met the previous week. But now that the groundwork has been laid, we can finally start to move forward and focus on the real issues at hand — such as the fact that Black knows that Ha-ram will have to die, and that he’ll have to reap her soul, which I’m anticipating will cause some serious angst once he learns how to actually care about others. Although his arrogant disdain for humans delights me in that fish-out-of-water way, I think I also enjoy it because I assume he’ll eventually get his comeuppance and realize why all those other Reapers were so desperate to give their assigned souls another chance. Especially when I now have the suspicion that Black might actually be her father, but he doesn’t remember since her father’s body died twice and therefore his memory was erased. Although if the show decides to hint at romance between them (hey, never underestimate the power of a first love!), I’m going to eat my (squicked out) words.
Speaking of squicked out, even though I know that the boy was technically dead and I know it was just a Reaper — I was still shocked when Black pushed him off the building. That’s just another example of Black being unmerciful, right? And not something that’s going to continue forever? Like purposefully assuming Loser would fail to reap and thus get sent to the fiery pits just so Black wouldn’t have to deal with him as a partner anymore. Then again, there is a reason why he’ll have to be careful not to be caught by any other Reaper, since he’s made enough Reaper enemies that they’d delight in reporting him to the Death Squad.
At least he has a couple of friends, if they can be considered as much. Whatever they are, I totally love Hip-hop and Joseon! And not just because I will forever have an affinity towards supernatural beings that are addicted to dramas. But they add much needed levity to the underworld and give a fun glimpse into Reaper life — especially Joseon telling Black how to act more human. I’m hoping we get more of their stories, since they’ve both obviously committed suicide but don’t seem to feel much regret about it despite having been reaping for years (at least based on their outfits — pure-born Reapers seem to have a uniform, whereas Reapers who have committed suicide seem to always been in the clothes they died in — but I could be wrong!).
I’m still waiting for Soo-wan and Man-soo to become more important to the story, though. I adore Lee El and trust her to take on projects that allow her to shine in those odd, quirky characters she seems to prefer, but so far Soo-wan is a vague mystery. There’s definitely more to her than just being Moo-gang’s (ex)girlfriend and I’m impatient to find out what it is. Man-soo is also a mystery, although I’m not exactly dying (heh) to figure out what his deal is. So far it just seems like the standard “chaebol trying to prove himself to his family,” and even though his goofy blind-faith in fortune tellers is amusing and connection to Chunsu Insurance useful, I’m not sure yet why I should care about his character.
But considering the show is finally convincing me that the gazillion plot threads in the previous two episodes are actually leading to something, I have faith it will all come together. Somehow. Maybe.
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