Flower of Evil: Episode 1
Lee Jun-ki is back in Flower of Evil, a psychological thriller in which he plays a husband and father who isn’t as perfect as he may seem. This show is smart, exciting, and terrifying, with characters that I know I’ll love, and others that will lurk in my nightmares for a long time to come.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
A man struggles in a swimming pool, his hands and feet bound, and bleeding from a head wound. The ropes around his wrists are tied to a ring at the bottom of the pool, keeping him just an inch from the surface. Eventually he stills, and falls unconscious.
A woman jumps in and tries to lift him, but he’s stuck there. He opens his eyes and looks at her, and as she kisses him, we hear their thoughts:
Him: “Should I tell you what kind of person I am?”
Her: “I’ll love you even more from this moment on. I’ll be good to you. Then before you know it, everything will change in a way that seems unreal.”
Elsewhere, that same couple engage in a heavy makeout session (RAWR) in a metal shop, while sexy music plays. Eventually the woman, CHA JI-WON (Moon Chae-won) realizes that she’s late and starts rushing to leave.
She fusses at her husband, BAEK HEE-SUNG (Lee Jun-ki), teasing that this is all his fault. He jokingly fires back that she’s the one who got caught up in the music. They’re planning to see his parents tonight for his birthday, and Hee-sung notes that Ji-won seems excessively concerned with impressing them.
On the way to dinner later, Ji-won explains that she wants to have a better relationship with her in-laws, plus they’re the grandparents of their daughter, EUN-HA (Jung Seo-yeon). Eun-ha whines that Grandma is scary, and when Ji-won says there’s no reason to be scared, Eun-ha points out that Mommy is scared of her, too. HA, smart little peanut.
Hee-sung’s parents do seem pretty terrifying, greeting his family with angry expressions. They’re clearly unhappy to be there — they’re openly rude to Ji-won, and they flat-out ignore Eun-ha when she’s prompted to greet them. They don’t sing when the birthday cake is brought out, or comment on Ji-won’s gift to Hee-sung, a new leather watch band engraved with his initials.
Ji-won takes Eun-ha to the restroom, leaving Hee-sung’s mother (Nam Ki-ae) to snarl at him for showing off his perfect family, but he just replies that they could have declined the invitation. Mom asks angrily if his life feels like his own now, but Hee-sung says, “It was never once mine, so I don’t know how that feels.” Hee-sung’s dad (Sohn Jong-hak) slams down his glass and orders them to stop, reminding them that they’re all in the same boat.
Ji-won returns and lets Hee-sung know that she’s been called in to work. She apologizes sweetly to her in-laws, but Mom accuses her of being vindictive because she wasn’t welcoming enough in the past. Hee-sung stops Ji-won before she gets caught in an apology spiral and assures her that everything is fine, so she heads out.
Later, Eun-ha is asleep in her daddy’s lap when Hee-sung’s parents bring up the subject of Ji-won again. Hee-sung says softly that he and his wife are made for each other. Mom sneers that he has a dirty past and he’s married to a detective, and she laughs like it’s the funniest thing she’s ever heard. Hee-sung says that Ji-won believes what she sees, so he only shows her what she wants to see, and he tells his parents not to worry.
Ji-won was called in for a case involving a young boy named In-seo who was found in his apartment building’s stairwell with a bad head injury. When he woke in the hospital, he’d accused his father of trying to kill him.
He’s a hefty boy, and he says that his father was making him climb the stairs for exercise. When he asked to stop, he claims that his father called him disgusting and kicked him down a flight of stairs, then left him there to die.
In-seo’s father, KIM SANG-IN (cameo by Yoon Hee-seok) was arrested, and of course he says that he’s innocent. He’s questioned by CHOI JAE-SEOB (Choi Young-joon), Ji-won’s partner, who thinks it’s unlikely that a young boy would lie about his father attempting to murder him.
According to Sung-jin, he was helping In-seo to exercise on the stairs when he got a call from a friend to join him for drinks. He says he sent In-seo home to his mother and would never harm his precious son. Jae-seob leans over to sniff Sung-jin’s clothes and determines that he was drinking and eating barbecue earlier.
Jae-seob is convinced that Sung-jin is guilty, but Ji-won points out the slippers he’s wearing, which don’t fit, indicating that he ran out of the restaurant quickly when he heard of his son’s accident. Jae-seob says that she puts too much trust in physical evidence and doesn’t use her instincts enough (um, shouldn’t detectives rely on the facts??).
They look to maknae IM HO-JOON (Kim Soo-oh) to be the tiebreaker. Ji-won casually mentions how Ho-joon once said she’s his role model. Jae-seob yelps that Ho-joon said the same thing about him, making poor Ho-joon backpedal like crazy, ha.
Meanwhile, a reporter named KIM MOO-JIN (Seo Hyun-woo) interviews Sang-in’s wife, who admits that Sung-jin can be strict and doesn’t like it when plans change. Ji-won interrupts so that she can talk to the wife, and Moo-jin proudly shows Ho-joon the sensational title of the article he’s writing (“Hatred for his Obese Child: The Father Who Made His Son Walk the Stairs of Death”).
Ho-joon says that he enjoys Moo-jin’s articles, especially the one about the serial murders in Yeonju City. Looking unsettled, Moo-jin turns the conversation back to Sung-jin. His pen runs out of ink so Ho-joon lends him a very fancy one, saying that Ji-won’s metal craftsman husband made them for the team. Something about that information interests Moo-jin.
In-seo’s mother, Ae-young, is pale and drawn, and she seems distracted as Ji-won starts asking her questions. She insists that her son isn’t a liar, but when Ji-won insinuates that her husband might be guilty, she yells that her family is fine.
Ji-won, Moo-jin, and Ho-joon discuss the situation later, and Moo-jin is now convinced that Sung-jin was after his son’s life insurance money. Ji-won says that the policy doesn’t even pay out until In-seo turns fifteen, but Moo-jin counters that there doesn’t need to be a grand motive — he knows of a man who killed seven people and buried their bodies in the woods just for fun, including his wife who was planning to leave him.
He finds it interesting that the killer was a metal craftsman just like Ji-won’s husband. Ji-won gives Moo-jin one of Hee-sung’s business cards and offers to get him a fancy pen in exchange for a good mention on social media.
At home, Ji-won tells Hee-sung how strange it is that Ae-young has a son who’s accusing his father of trying to kill him, yet she claims that her family is perfect. She thinks there should have been signs that something was wrong, and she wonders if Ae-young is ignoring the truth or covering it up.
She asks if Hee-sung’s parents were angry after she left, listing all of the qualities that they should like about her — she’s got a good personality, gave birth to their granddaughter, and has a good job. She feels bad that Hee-sung’s relationship with them is strained because of her, and jokes that she’d never have seduced him if she’d known.
Ji-won heads back to work and watches the CCTV camera footage of the parking garage in Sung-jin’s building. She finds the moment when he’s leaving, and he’s wearing his own shoes and seems calm and relaxed.
Moo-jin re-reads an article he wrote about the serial murders in Yeonju, which he attributed to a man named Do Min-seok. Apparently Do Min-seok committed suicide, though nobody knows why, and it’s heavily implied that his son, Do Hyun-soo, may also be a murderer. He takes a call from someone who claims to have seen Do Hyun-soo recently.
Moo-jin’s pen dies again as he’s taking notes, so he dumps out his bag to find another one. It’s tangled with a broken necklace, which reminds him of the pretty high school girl, Hae-soo, that it belonged to.
Hee-sung’s mother is a pharmacist, and he goes to her store and tells her to call Ji-won and make it crystal-clear that she will never like her. He says that as long as Ji-won thinks there’s hope, she’ll never stop trying, so it’s safer if she believes there’s no hope.
Mom flies into a rage and shrieks that she has rights over his life, but Hee-sung says gently that she only has rights while he lives as Baek Hee-sung. He tells her that it’s better to stay away from Ji-won, because she can’t put on a convincing act like he can.
While checking the apartment building’s CCTV feed, Ho-joon and Ji-won find footage of a little boy entering the elevator with his dog around the time of In-seo’s accident. The boy looks agitated, so they think he might know something.
Meanwhile, Jae-seob visits the office of Doctor Bae, the friend of Sung-jin’s who called him out for drinks the previous night. He’s surprised to find that she’s a woman, but she says that she and Sung-jin treat each other like guys. She says she was too drunk to go to the hospital with Sung-jin, and Jae-seob sniffs her and agrees that she reeks of alcohol.
He searches in his pockets for a business card and “accidentally” drops a handful of coins on the floor. He asks Doctor Bae to get the coins that rolled under her desk, and while she’s upside-down, he swipes her phone. He takes it to a guy he knows, who pulls out the SD card and retrieves her photos.
Jae-seob isn’t at all surprised to find photos of Doctor Bae and Sung-jin together, acting like much more than friends. When he’d sniffed Sung-jin, he’d smelled a woman’s perfume, and he’d smelled that same perfume on Doctor Bae.
While watching over her son, In-seo’s mom takes out a bottle of vitamins and opens it, then throws it across the room when she finds a cockroach inside. Ji-won determines that the cockroach had to have been put there on purpose.
She identifies the boy from the elevator footage as living in her building, but it takes her a moment to recall his name. As they talk, Ji-won silently takes in Ae-young’s disheveled hair, pale complexion, and unevenly-buttoned sweater.
Ae-young says that her husband and son are very close and even go hiking together often. A text comes in from Jae-seob telling Ji-won about her husband’s affair, but Ji-won chooses not to tell his wife about it yet.
Hee-sung is working in his metal shop when Moo-jin walks in, looking for someone to fix the broken necklace that was in his bag. He asks for Baek Hee-sung, but when Hee-sung turns to face him, both men freeze for a long, tense moment. Moo-jin calls Hee-sung by the name Do Hyun-soo, and something very frightening flickers in Hee-sung’s eyes.
Moo-jin stammers that he’s surprised to see Hee-sung/Hyun-soo because he was looking for Baek Hee-sung, Ji-won’s husband. Hee-sung smiles the creepiest smile I’ve ever seen, and offers Moo-jin some tea. (Aside from Hee-sung, how freaky is the music in this scene??)
Ho-joon accuses Ji-won of not telling Sung-jin’s wife about the affair because she feels sorry for her, but she says that it’s because it’s irrelevant to the case. Another text from Jae-seob says that according to a colleague, Sung-jin has been asking questions about divorce and seems especially distressed about child support.
Speaking of, Moo-jin looks extremely sweaty and uncomfortable. Hee-sung says that Moo-jin is holding in the question he wants to ask, and Moo-jin tries to leave, but Hee-sung tells him to ask the question.
Moo-jin says that he doesn’t believe the rumors about Hee-sung, but that on the same day Hee-sung disappeared from their shared hometown eighteen years ago, the village foreman was murdered. At Hee-sung’s prompting, Moo-jin asks if he was involved in the murder.
Ji-won and Ho-joon talk to the little boy from the apartment building, Ji-hoon, who says that he was walking his dog yesterday and briefly lost him. He’d found the little dog in the stairwell, barking at In-seo. He says that his dog bit In-seo once so In-seo is afraid of him, and that in his fear, he’d tripped and fallen down the stairs.
Ji-hoon says that In-seo’s mother threatened to have his dog put to sleep if he bit In-seo again, so he didn’t tell anyone. Ji-hoon’s mother agrees that Ae-young is very tough and meticulous. Ji-won calls Jae-seob to tell him to release Sung-jin, but Jae-seob still wants to know why In-seo would lie that his father tried to kill him.
Hee-sung tells Moo-jin that everyone already believes he killed the village foreman, since the murder weapon was found in his backpack. Moo-jin says that Hee-sung should turn himself in and clear his name, but Hee-sung just asks how Moo-jin knows the cops are still after him. Okay, he’s officially scaring me.
Moo-jin is also pretty scared as he trips over his words, saying that he’s a reporter so it’s his job to look into such things. He tries to leave again, but again Hee-sung stops him to ask if he’s planning to go to the cops. Moo-jin says he’s not, and Hee-sung changes the subject to ask if Moo-jin is married and about his job.
Ho-joon has a toothache, so he and Ji-won stop at a pharmacy. Ji-won looks at the brand of vitamins that In-seo’s mom takes, and at first she finds nothing strange about them, but then she opens a bottle and finds that instead of the white pills that were in Ae-young’s bottle, the vitamins are supposed to be yellow.
Everything she’s seen about the woman flashes through her mind — how Ji-hoon’s mother said she’s meticulous, yet Ji-won has seen her acting frazzled and distracted, with her clothes in disarray. They hurry back to the hospital, and Ji-won sits next to In-seo and tells him that she knows he put the cockroach in his mom’s vitamin bottle to stop her from taking them.
She also says she knows why he was lying, and that it’s time to tell his mother the truth. In-seo’s parents are escorted from the room, and In-seo tells Ji-won that his father is a good dad to him, but that one day when they were hiking, Doctor Bae joined them and he saw her give his father medicine to slip to his mom.
The medicine makes Ae-young slow and out of it, so that even when she found lipstick on his collar one time, Sung-jin was easily able to convince her that it was paint. The plan was to make it easier for Sung-jin to divorce her, claiming that she’s incompetent so that he could get custody of In-seo and avoid paying child support.
In the hallway, Sung-jin seethes and threatens to sue the police for coercion of a statement from a child. Ji-won just arrests him for infliction of bodily harm towards his wife, and while Ho-joon takes him away, she stays back to tell Ae-young the truth.
Meanwhile, Hee-sung wraps up a teapot that he made, admitting that it’s a bribe to keep Moo-jin from telling anyone he saw him. He asks Moo-jin to write down his address so he can ship the teapot, then closes the blinds, turns up the music, and locks the doors. Oh no…
Ji-won talks with Jae-seob and Ho-joon, wondering if Ae-young knew about her husband’s affair and plans. Ho-joon doesn’t think she did or she wouldn’t have taken the drugs, but Ji-won muses, “Certain truths destroy your life in an instant. You know that truth will be revealed eventually, but if you could delay it by just one day…”
She says that she would take the pill, just to put off the inevitable. Jae-seob agrees that he would even take poison if his wife gave it to him (Ho-joon: “What’s with you married people? Now I don’t want to get married.” HAHA).
Hee-sung’s mother calls Ji-won and she steps away to take the call. Mom opens by saying that she hates Ji-won, that she isn’t worthy of Hee-sung, and that she’s just like her mother who nagged her father to death. Damn. She continues, accusing Ji-won of trapping Hee-sung into marriage by getting pregnant and telling her that they should think of each other as dead.
Ji-won cries, but she keeps her voice calm as she asks his mother not to tell Hee-sung about this conversation because it kills him that they don’t get along.
Speaking of Hee-sung… back at the metal shop, Hee-sung grabs Moo-jin and strangles him until he passes out. It takes a long time, but Hee-sung’s expression never changes from his frighteningly calm demeanor.
When Ji-won gets home (they live above the metal shop), she finds Hee-sung and Eun-ha playing while they make dinner. Hee-sung is the picture of the perfect husband and father as he hugs his wife and daughter, and their loving embrace turns into a cute tickle fight all over the house.
Downstairs in the metal shop, there’s a door in the floor that’s kept closed with a heavy lock. Under the door is a basement room, full of electronics and children’s toys… and Moo-jin, bound and gagged on the floor.
Holy cats, now that’s how you do a premiere! We have lies, intrigue, murder, kidnapping, and an antihero that I already love to hate. If you had told me before I watched this episode that I would ever find Lee Jun-ki creepy as hell, I’d have laughed myself silly. I’ve always thought he had such a sweet face and kind eyes (not to mention, he’s super pretty for a man), and I’ve seen him on enough variety and interview shows to know that he’s a very gentle person who is unfailingly polite and respectful. But his portrayal of Hee-sung(/Hyun-soo) just proves that he’s that good of an actor, because my god, I’m terrified of him. There’s something about that calm, hypnotic voice he uses when he’s talking to his mother in particular that just gives me chills down my spine, and that’s before we get to the kidnapping and (almost certainly) murder. (Side note: you know a character is scary when you see that he kidnapped someone, and your first thought is, “Oh it’s fine, he ONLY kidnapped him!”)
Speaking of horrible people, are Hee-sung’s supposed parents awful or what? I get their strategy to keep Ji-won at as much distance as possible so that she doesn’t grow suspicious of anything, but they sure are good at it. And they’re not much nicer to Hee-sung in private, either. Clearly, whatever happened in the past is a huge source of anger and frustration for all of them, so much that it’s caused serious rifts between them, but I don’t yet understand why they don’t just cut ties if only to protect themselves. For that matter, I wonder if they’re even his real parents… if Hee-sung is really Do Hyun-soo, and the son of Do Min-seok who killed seven people, including his wife, then committed suicide, then Hee-sung/Hyun-soo’s real parents are dead. And if this is the case, then who are these people posing as his parents?
At this point, we know that Hee-sung is not the person he seems to be, but we don’t know for sure that Hee-sung committed any murders — his father, Do Min-seok, apparently killed several people before killing himself, but there’s only circumstantial evidence linking Hee-sung to the village foreman’s murder. For all we know, he might be innocent, though with Moo-jin’s kidnapping it’s not looking likely. I don’t think he’s a sociopath — I do feel like Hee-sung loves Ji-won, because he’s said things like how they’re perfect for each other to his “parents,” the only people he could tell the truth if his marriage was only a cover. He does seem genuinely happy and in love with her, though that could all be an act, and it’s another testament to Lee Jun-ki’s acting that even though we know he’s a very dangerous man, I still want their relationship to be real. Plus, whatever he and his parents are hiding (and I do think it involves the town headman’s murder, and probably much, much more), it’s sufficiently horrific that all three of them seem to have taken on new lives and identities, so Hee-sung must love Ji-won or he wouldn’t risk all that. Right? Right?!
I already like Ji-won a lot — she’s a smart woman who adores her family more than anything int eh world, and she’s excellent at what she does. I enjoyed watching her piece together the real story about In-seo’s accident, proving that she’s got more than her fair share of intuition and problem-solving skills. That makes it that much sadder that Ji-won has been fooled so completely by Hee-sung for so many years, and it’s a nod to his skill at playing the character of her husband that she doesn’t suspect anything. The whole conversation about how Ji-won would choose to take the pill if her husband gave it to her, and delay knowing the truth, was a huge hint at what’s going to happen to her very soon… when she starts to notice that Hee-sung isn’t what he appears to be, will she trust her instincts, or will she “take the pill” and choose to stay in the dark?
- Premiere Watch: Flower of Evil
- tvN’s Flower of Evil holds first script reading with Lee Jun-ki, Moon Chae-won
- Kim Ji-hoon to join Lee Jun-ki, Moon Chae-won in tvN’s Flower of Evil
- Lee Jun-ki and Moon Chae-won’s picture perfect family cracks in new Flower of Evil teaser
- Lee Jun-ki and Moon Chae-won’s ill-fated relationship in Flower of Evil’s new teaser