Psychopath Diary: Episode 2 Open Thread
We’ve met our hero, learned who he is, and even more importantly, learned who he thinks he is. With a radical change in his self-concept, his entire world starts to flip. In the space of a few days he goes from pitiful underdog to dynamic antagonist wielding a whole new kind of power.
EPISODE 2 WEECAP
Episode 1 ended with Dong-shik reenacting the scene he read about in the murder diary. Outside of getting some much-needed revenge against his manager, it’s as if Dong-shik is trying to decide if he’s truly capable of everything he’s read in the diary. And after some very brief wavering, Dong-shik adopts it as his truth.
If it seems a little fast or far-fetched to quickly accept that you yourself are a psychopath murderer, don’t forget that this is a K-drama. Suspension of disbelief is a part of the End User Agreement, so to speak. If you can’t believe that Dong-shik believes it, there’s no reason to watch the drama. That being said, I think one of the strengths of the drama is that even with an amnesia subplot to help it along, Psychopath Diary does an excellent job of showing us why Dong-shik can pick up this psychopath persona so easily.
While I don’t love everything about this drama, what I’m really enjoying, and what they’re doing superbly, is showing the power of mindset or perception. If nothing else, I hope this drama is going to be a really interesting exploration of self-perception, because that’s where we’re starting to head in Episode 2.
As we get deeper into the opening week, we watch our “pushover” hero go from being belittled, abused, used, and humiliated, to having an absolute reservoir of confidence and power. What changed in Dong-shik to create this shift? Absolutely nothing. Same life, same people around him, same job, same personality — the same exact constraints he always faced. The one thing that changed? His perception of himself.
We watch Dong-shik go from cowering in front of his gangster neighbor, to intimidating him when they’re in the elevator together. We watch Dong-shik go from being stepped on at work (to the point where it was painful to watch), to brazenly terrorizing his boss and manipulating his awful coworkers. This transformation is possible because of the truth he’s come to believe about himself. There’s no need to shrivel in front of a shouting or authoritative figure when you think you’re capable of beating someone’s head in, and keeping a library of your victims’ fingerprints like trophies. So, we watch Dong-shik slowly start to change.
It’s interesting that Dong-sik is less horrified by all of this than you’d think. He’s horrified a bit, but it seems to me like he’s mostly exhilarated. I’m not saying he wants to be a psychopath, but rather that it puts him on an entirely different mental plane. We’ve already learned from seeing his apartment that the horror/gore genre appeals to him, and it’s interesting that rather than run to the police station and turn himself in (what I would probably do if I believed I was an insane murderer), he absorbs it as an identity.
But for all that he gains (so to speak) from this new identity, he’s also still struggling to keep up with the world around him. His amnesia makes it impossible for him to know the truth of what happened with the valuation blow-out at his job, what happened with the almost-murder of the homeless man — and long story short, Dong-shik begins to rely on the diary for all of his facts, information, and context.
The diary itself is another fantastic, more cerebral part of the show. We see just how easy it is to convince yourself of something if you want to believe it. As Dong-shik reads the diary and learns more about the writer, he focuses on the similarities between the entries and what he knows about himself, while ignoring the discrepancies. It’s an interesting peek into psychology, like much of this drama so far, and I hope this stays strong as we continue.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper K-drama if our characters and their stories weren’t intricately knit together, so the connection between Dong-shik, the diary, and the true serial killer go even deeper than we first thought.
First, the killer is identified as SEO IN-WOO (Park Sung-hoon), a director and heir of the very same Daehan Securities where Dong-shik works. And second, his little brother Ji-hoon is involved in the scandal and cover-up that got Dong-shik in trouble in the first place. We also learn he’s working with the audit officer Yoo-jin, and this could either be really good, or really bad.
Furthermore, there’s our patrol officer Bo-kyung who keeps running into Dong-shik an inordinate amount of times (and sometimes literally haha). She’s got a detective’s brain hiding out in a patrol car body, and she slowly starts to dig into the serial killing cases. Obviously, with her skills (and the help of Imaginary Dad), Bo-kyung is going to start connecting a lot of these dots, and will help us put the pieces together.
The plot is still warming up, but it’s clear that all of these characters, their pasts — and who they’ve become — are all tied together. From the sexy chaebol by day and insane serial killer by night, to the chump underdog who can’t catch a break, and the cop who’s hiding from her past — I’m looking forward to getting to know these characters and their stories even more.
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