Zombie Detective: Episodes 3-4 Open Thread
Rapping, dancing, acting like a human–our zombie detective’s got it all down now. But now that he’s part of the human world, he’s facing what may be his biggest dilemma yet: how will he pay his bills?
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
Last week, Zombie Detective closed with Sun-ji being kidnapped by a group of cultists, only for Kim Moo-young to swoop in to the rescue and avert their nefarious plot. This week, we catch up with Sun-ji as she’s recovering from an epic hangover with only a vague recollection of the previous night’s events.
It’s only when her brother-in-law, LEE TAE-KYUN (Ahn Se-ha) asks about her night and why she didn’t answer her phone that she rummages and pulls out her phone and a folded up piece of paper. The paper has her doing a giant spit-take: it’s a contract she signed, promising to pay Kim Moo-young a hundred million won in compensation for knocking him unconscious with a helmet.
Our zombie is taking in the many outstanding bills he now needs to take care of, when a certain smell gets his attention. It’s Sun-ji, ready to beg for a discount and/or more time to pay the contract. She’s pleading her case when Moo-young’s nostrils are assaulted once more: days-old unwashed hair, old food stains, and the stench of booze. Realizing she’s broke, Moo-young tells her to scram.
With his hopes for a quick payday gone, Moo-young heads out to try to bring in new clients by handing out flyers and putting up stickers. We get into a couple of tangential (for now) storylines, one revolves around Kim Moo-young’s professional rival LEE SUNG-ROK (Tae Hang-ho) and his anxieties about Moo-young’s growing popularity in their neighborhood. The other storyline is a meta aside, and we see budding auteur Tae-kyun shopping around a script he’s penned about a soft-hearted zombie.
Sun-ji is nothing if not persistent, and she returns to Moo-young’s office with a new proposition: she’ll repay him with labor instead of cash. He brushes her off at first, completely uninterested with the thought of working with a “broke moocher.” He only relents after a client comes calling with a job for him.
The client is a famous actress, Kang Go-eun, and she’s one of the real Kim Moo-young’s regulars. (Not even she notices what’s gone on, she only says that “Moo-young” looks better without his normal scruff, lol). Despite being in the public eye, she’s managed to keep the fact she has a daughter on the down low. But her daughter Yoon-joo left home one day and hasn’t been back in weeks. If Moo-young can find Yoon-joo, she’ll pay double his usual fee.
Moo-young and Sun-ji uncover a few important clues at Go-eun’s house. Yoon-joo had a boyfriend, Moo-young looks like a perv when he’s putting his super nose to use, and one of the last things Yoon-joo looked up on her laptop before disappearing was a place called Gangrim Fasting Center.
At the center, Sun-ji gets a peel at their guest log, and though Yoon-joo’s registered, it looks like the only way to get to her is to check in at the fasting center. The center actually refused Sun-ji entry, which means Moo-young has to take part himself. Conveniently, the center’s offering a free trial experience, but he’s not thrilled at the thought of being in there for three days.
Armed with his main tool (BB cream) and emergency rations (hunks of raw meat), Moo-young starts his trial fasting experience. Some late night prowling pays off when he comes across a secret, full-on cult revival, led by a man that everyone refers to as Chairman LEE GWANG-SHIK (Park Sang-myun).
Moo-young doesn’t get to see much more, as he has a group of Gangrim followers hot on his trail. The chase and getting cornered in a cabinet triggers some major stress and a hazy memory. Moo-young recalls someone in a raincoat pulling the trigger of a gun. The stress and memory also triggers his zombie-ness, complete with growling–not even BB cream could help him now.
What could be an horrific showdown turns to comedy, with Moo-young cleverly using a coat pulled over his head to hide his face and running off into the night. Literally, he runs straight out of a second-story window, past a dejected Sun-ji, and back into the safety of his private eye office. Alone in the darkness, Moo-young realizes his death was no accident–he was bound and murdered.
As he comes to grips with his memories, he’s also refusing to face Sun-ji. She tries just about everything, an appeal via megaphone, a Love Actually-style cue card appeal through his window, and a gopchang seduction. She assumes he’s traumatized by this experience at the fasting center and is just about to head home when Moo-young finally comes out of his office, cloaked by the night. He tells her his conditions for getting back to work: BB cream and one whole, raw chicken.
After he finishes putting his face on, Moo-young lets Sun-ji into the office and fills her in on what he learned. Yoon-joo was at the revival, praying her heart out, and Moo-young managed to sneak out one of the weight-loss supplements that were being handed out like candy.
Any lingering reluctance to re-enter the center Moo-young has fades away when he calculates how much gopchang and raw chicken he can buy. Sun-ji calls in a couple of favors, one to analyze what exactly the weight-loss supplement is made of, and the other to help transport Moo-young and Yoon-joo out of the center.
Complete with a fancy fake mustache and disguise, Moo-young re-enters the fasting center and locates Yoon-joo with Sun-ji’s help. Unfortunately, she’s fully immersed in the cult and screams that she won’t go with Moo-young. Yoon-joo’s screams make him nervous and he instinctively karate chops her neck, managing to knock her out.
Operation Rescue Yoon-joo goes badly awry when Yoon-joo regains consciousness before Moo-young can get her out. Just when it seems like he’ll be able to escape the center, he gets knocked out and brought to Chairman Lee. At the same time, we learn that the “weight-loss supplement” is actually a hallucinogen mixed with an appetite suppressant.
Chairman Lee shows Moo-young blackbox footage of Moo-young running full-speed into the kidnappers’ car and menacingly wonders how a person can be hit by a car yet appear to be totally fine. Moo-young thinks fast and says he can’t feel pain, which Chairman Lee tests out by stabbing him in leg with a fork. (Rude!)
He has a proposition to make–if Moo-young cooperates with him, he will hand over Yoon-joo. We don’t hear Moo-young’s answer, but we see Sun-ji stake out the perimeter and locate Yoon-joo from afar as Moo-young is subjected to some pain tests.
Moo-young covertly texts Sun-ji to be at the center the next night at 8 p.m. Moo-young’s attending a revival, watching uncomfortably as the chairman’s followers prostrate themselves at the sight of “miracles.” Chairman Lee calls Moo-young up to the stage and we see that Moo-young was needed to be a prop in his miraculous grifting.
Just like their earlier sessions, Chairman Lee twists Moo-young’s arm behind his back. But unlike their private sessions, this time Moo-young cries out in pain. When one of the chairman’s underlings hits him with a plank, Moo-young uses a well-placed juice packet to “bleed.” LOL. The cultists are all horrified by the violence, while Chairman Lee grows horrified when an underling informs him the police are on their way. He skedaddles and the cultists are enthralled to see regular human Moo-young pop up and run after Chairman Lee.
Sun-ji runs into Chairman Lee attempting to flee and their confrontation gets scary, fast. Chairman Lee stabs at Sun-ji with his cane, but Moo-young swoops in to take the full hit. A fire extinguisher and the arrival of the police saves Moo-young from having to explain the whole cane-in-torso thing to Sun-ji (for now). Yoon-joo and mom have a quick reunion and Moo-young wonders to himself if he has family waiting for him somewhere.
Finally relieved of his money troubles, Moo-young enjoys a candle-lit bubble bath and a huge dish of raw chicken when he realizes his shades weren’t down. Unfortunately for him, Sung-rok’s already seen him chowing down on raw chicken. And extra unfortunately for Moo-young, Sun-ji’s standing at the door of the office, aghast at his hole-y zombie torso and defined pecs.
I love that Moo-young’s secret is already out, mostly because I’m curious to see how Sun-ji and her family will react to knowing that there’s a zombie in the midst (her brother-in-law being a zombie aficionado can’t be a throwaway detail).
There’s so much attention paid to the small details, like the cracking of Moo-young’s body and the way he reverts to his normal zombie mode when no one is around. The show is such a delight, and the dedication to the concept is what has really elevated the whole story for me. Who knew a zombie could be so human and charming?