Psychopath Diary: Episodes 3-4 Open Thread
With our plot set-up out of the way, Psychopath Diary hits its stride this week, and gives us a fuller sense of how it’s going to handle its genre mash-up — and it’s pretty hilarious. There are the facts of what’s going on in our hero’s workplace and life, and then there are his (and everyone else’s) interpretations. How these two play off of each other is where the strength (and humor) of the drama lies.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
The brouhaha at Dong-shik’s workplace continues, and gets even more complicated. Those on the Seo Ji-hoon side of the fence are trying to force Dong-shik to quit and make him their scapegoat, while those on the Seo In-woo side are trying to leverage Dong-shik to trap Ji-hoon and get rid of him for good.
Teamleader Gong first tries to force Dong-shik into quitting by making his job even more thankless — namely, by forcing him to work out of the storage room. When that doesn’t work, they cook up a sexual harassment scenario with Dong-shik’s coworker and try to get him in hot water.
Bo-kyung and her partner must the the only two cops in Seoul, because they again meet up with Dong-shik, this time investigating the harassment case. Much like every other plot set up against Dong-shik lately, it flops miserably, and he winds up the hero.
Dong-shik himself is caught up in other things, though. He’s consumed with his new identity as a psychopath, and decides that murdering Seo Ji-hoon is his next mission. Here’s where things get really hilarious — the contrast between Dong-shik’s utter seriousness about committing murder, and his total incapacity to do anything but bumble around is really the best thing ever.
While trying to come up with a good homicide plan (he does this in a labeled document on his work computer, no less), he can’t spell half the words he’s trying to use, his diabolical laughs turn into choking fits, and I positively snorted during the scene where he imagines trying to stuff Ji-hoon into a body bag and drag him out of the office.
What’s best about all of this is the dichotomy that Psychopath Diary is constantly playing with. There are clearly facts, but no one really sees them. Most, if not all, of the relationships in this drama are based on assumptions (false) and inferences (also false).
For instance, Dong-shik revels in the fact that a dog recognizes him, gloating that “dogs recognize predators,” when in reality, he used to be the dog walker, and that’s why the dog knows him. It’s hilarious contrasts like this that add layers to a drama that’s really about the entanglements brought on by misunderstandings, assumptions, and presumptions.
It was a bit of a surprise to me that Dong-shik actually goes through with his kidnapping plan and takes Ji-hoon to an abandoned warehouse. Thanks to his wealth of horror movie trivia, Dong-shik carries out quite the mock-horror scene — but he also stops in the middle to take a call from his dad (lol), and winds up saving Ji-hoon from hanging rather than letting him die.
Dong-shik is furious with himself, wondering why he couldn’t go through with it, and for all the power he wielded in that moment, he’s the one that’s shown on national television getting beaten by Ji-hoon with his crutch. This is another great example of the clashes in the drama, and the clash in Dong-shik’s psyche, as he acts out the role of a psychopath while still defaulting to the mentality of a pushover.
Just when we think that Dong-shik is settling into his new persona, he finds out from his colleague that he left a suicide note right before he got amnesia, and Dong-shik can’t fit the idea into his brain. “Why did a psychopath like me try to die?” he asks himself. To answer the question, he follows the diary entry for that day, and for the second time, becomes suspicious as to whether the diary is really his truth or not.
Speaking of suspicious, Bo-kyung continues to dig into the suicide cases that are actually all of In-woo’s killings. But she’s also starting to see Dong-shik’s connection as well. It might just be that she’s the only one with enough sense in the drama to looks past assumptions and find out what’s really going on.
By far the best bit of action this week was the relationship between Dong-shik and In-woo. For one, Dong-shik has absolutely no idea who In-woo is for the longest time, and is hilariously rude and nonchalant. Secondly, because of Dong-shik’s near-murder of Ji-hoon, his family sidelines him for a while in the hospital, presuming he got into drugs again. This opens the door for In-woo to get promoted and run Dong-shik’s department.
While Dong-shik really has no use for In-woo, In-woo gloms onto him immediately. Because he observed the entire kidnap/murder scene, he believes that Dong-shik is like him, and seeks a kinship with him that is almost creepy. It’s really funny to see this interaction of real psycho and fake psycho.
Psychopath Diary is a lot about the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world, and that’s exactly what Dong-shik finally does with respect to his attempted suicide. He figures he must have just gotten bored with being a psychopath. So, when In-woo drags him to a fancy club and intimates his murderous secrets, Dong-shik doesn’t bat an eyelash and merely says, “I used to feel the same, but now it bores me.”
Dong-shik’s done with the fancy club and expensive alcohol, and gets up to leave. In-woo, however, is dying for a confidant, grabs him to make him stay, and the infamous red diary flies out of his bag across the room.
The episode ends with them both yanking on the diary with determination and horror. It’s so dramatic that it’s funny, and I have to say, I’m glad the drama isn’t wasting any time entangling these two characters. Rather than drag out the storylines and reveals, I’m glad the drama is already addressing the intersection of diaries and psychopaths, whether real or imagined.
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