Zombie Detective: Episodes 7-8 Open Thread
After a few weeks of hilarity and hunting for answers, our zombie detective and his offbeat sidekick seem to have finally discovered clear answers as to his true identity. But clear answers don’t equal a clear path back to his previous life, and there are some things that can’t be undone.
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP
Things got dark this week, and the tonal shift was a little difficult to handle after having come to expect meta jokes and zany comedy. At the same time, when your protagonist is trying to solve his own murder, you can’t say it’s completely unexpected.
Moo-young returns to his ransacked office, and discovers there only seems to be one thing missing, that unique lighter he had when he awoke in his zombie state. He quickly sniffs out two cowering humans hiding in his office: Sung-rok and his assistant Wang Wei.
The bumbling duo aren’t the real culprits however, and Sung-rok explains that they came over with a conciliatory offering of chicken sashimi and let themselves in, right before a shadowy intruder wrecked the place. Sung-rok refuses to divulge any details unless Moo-young hires him, so Moo-young sends them on their way — but not before Sung-rok successfully bugs Moo-young’s office.
Sun-ji’s been working hard on trying to figure out how Moo-young may be connected to the Santa case, and Moo-young suspects he knows the father of the last known victim.
As they discuss their plan to attempt a meeting with the father, zombie fan Tae-kyun and little Joon-woo come across them. Finally, Tae-kyun the zombie fan meets his first real zombie (although he doesn’t realize it of course).
Joon-woo pleads with Moo-young to come to his birthday party and to Sun-ji’s surprise, Moo-young quickly, grumpily, agrees to attend (aw, he’s got such a soft spot for children).
The party shows us what a softie Moo-young is and how much he’s been longing for human connection. He takes in Joon-woo dancing with his friends, parents, Sun-ji, and Do-hyun, and wonders if he has a family out there waiting for him. At one point, when he’s manning the grill, he’s the last one to realize that his sleeve is on fire and there’s a huge commotion. The kids assume it’s a magic trick while the adults freak out and rush to put the flames out. All the while, there’s a little smile on Moo-young’s face: “For a moment, I felt human.”
Moo-young also bonds with Tae-kyun when the subject of his failed film Express Train to Busan comes up. It’s one of the films Moo-young watched during his early human training and Tae-kyun tear up with emotion while Sun-young can’t believe someone’s actually watched Express Train.
Tae-kyun and Moo-young are riding the same wavelength and they commiserate over the cruelty and inhumanity of humans in contrast to the poor, misunderstood zombies of the world. They have a quick telepathy moment when they both take a guess at what it is zombies fear the most: Ma Dong-seok, heh.
When Moo-young returns to his office, Sun-ji’s shady former informant Hyung-chul is waiting in the hallway, being shady. As soon as they’re inside, Hyung-chul drops the formalities and calls Moo-young “hyung.” He gets aggressive and extra creepy and he seems to be testing how much Moo-young actually remembers (also, from the way he’s banging his “injured” arm on the table I don’t think he’s actually hurt).
As Moo-young mulls over his interaction with Hyung-chul, he freaks out Sung-rok and Wang Wei by calling them over to his apartment via their bugging device. He hires them to tail Hyung-chul, and when they bring back photos showing Hyung-chul with that lighter, Moo-young sets out to find him.
At the same time, Sun-ji manages to meet with the father of last Santa victim and in their house she spots a familiar watch. When the father’s shown a picture of Moo-young, he recognizes him right away as Kang Min-ho, Sori’s former bodyguard. He’s been trying to get in touch with him because he’s so grateful for what Min-ho did for Sori, but it’s been over a year since they were last in contact.
Hyung-chul and Moo-young have a confrontation and Hyung-chul lays out the “facts.” He claims that Moo-young was behind the plot to kidnap and kill Sori — it was even Moo-young’s idea to dump Sori’s body in the reservoir.
Hyung-chul’s words are terrifying, and what’s worse, they seem to line up with the few memory fragments Moo-young can recall. He sees Sori crying and asking for help, and even remembers putting on a Santa costume.
In the rain, Moo-young’s BB cream starts to melt away, and Hyung-chul accuses him of simply not wanting to remember his past.
Thoroughly shaken, Moo-young decides to take drastic action. He takes an electric drill and thinks to himself that doing away with his brain is the only way to stop himself. Just as he’s about to do the deed, the drill stops and he ends up electrocuting himself instead of damaging his brain.
He ghosts Sun-ji in order to make his second attempt to kill himself, and heads for a quiet mountain spot. This time, he’s interrupted by Tae-kyun who confides in Moo-young that he’s been scoping out the mountain in order to find a real zombie. He whispers to Moo-young that zombies live amongst them, and all Moo-young can do is scoff internally that Tae-kyun’s got a zombie right in front of him.
At the same time, a few bits of info from the World King Agency about Moo-young’s recent activities is enough to make Sun-ji realize that something is wrong with Hyung-chul. She texts Moo-young to let him know that she’s heading to Hyung-chul’s house.
The private meeting at Hyung-chul’s house goes about as well as you’d expect, which is to say it goes terribly. Hyung-chul goes from calm to murderous in about a second when he realizes that Sun-ji knows his injury is fake.
He goes in to attack her with a hammer, and just when Sun-ji thinks she’s safe, Hyung-chul’s wife Kyung-mi whacks her over the head and knocks her out cold.
Sun-ji comes to, gagged and bound, and Hyung-chul tells her he knows who the true culprit is. Hyung-chul was the mastermind behind the Santa kidnappings, and his aim was to create a family of their own since Kyung-mi is unable to have children. Everything Kyung-mi did, from disposing of Sori’s body, to staging his post-interview attack, she did because he told her to.
The couple calmly talk about killing and disposing of Sun-ji while they have a meal, but they’ve clearly underestimated her. She Macguyvers a crab claw into a knife, breaks free of her bonds, and runs out of the house after a fierce fight with Kyung-mi.
Sun-ji’s in mid-flight when Moo-young spots her and helps her hide from Kyung-mi, and he insists she go to the hospital. She talks a big game, but faints when she sees her own blood, heh. While the police descend on Hyung-chul’s house and manage to capture Kyung-mi, Hyung-chul goes on the run with his mother. Sun-ji is forcibly kept at home to recuperate, while elsewhere Moo-young gets a threatening call from Hyung-chul.
Moo-young agrees to meet with Hyung-chul in order to find out the truth about what happened to Sori. It’s a trap, of course, and a big blast goes off, but all it does is revive yet more memories for Moo-young. Oh man, we get the full flashback, and Sori and Moo-young/Min-ho had had a great rapport! When Sori had gone missing, he tracked her down (picking up that lighter along the way) and found her bound to a chair. But before he could free her, he’d been attacked by Hyung-chul, and then shot and buried.
Bombs can’t keep a zombie down, though, and Hyung-chul continues to blame Moo-young for ruining his plan to give Sori a “real” family (even as he’s beaten to a pulp). Hyung-chul gets a shot off in Moo-young’s torso and he laughs with glee before attempting to usher his mother somewhere else.
But of course, Moo-young keeps coming, and Hyung-chul can’t quite figure out what’s happening. He shoots again and again, then finally aims for Moo-young’s head. He fires once again, but the elderly woman hugs Moo-young and calls him “our Min-ho” as she fades away. Oh no, she was a kidnapped victim too!
I swear someone’s chopping onions as we see another memory — this one is of Moo-young/Min-ho in the past, as his mother nags him and offers to make him gopchang jeongol. She calls him son one more time before she passes away in his arms. His sobs turn to fury, and we hear one more gunshot before the screen fades to black.
Moo-young’s holding a funeral for his mother (using a cover story that her son wasn’t able to make it himself), and Sun-ji comes to pay her respects with the rest of her family. In a quiet moment, she shows him a photo — it’s of Sori with Santa Min-ho. Because Sori’s father was such a busy man, Min-ho had always dressed up as Santa for her.
At the funeral hall, a breaking news story catches both Sun-ji and Tae-kyun’s attention: a mangled corpse has been found in the forest, and it’s believed to be Oh Hyung-chul.
We rewind to what happened after Moo-young’s mother died. Hyung-chul is lying dead on the floor, and a bloody-mouthed Moo-young glares ahead and thinks to himself, “I’m no longer human.”
Though we still had moments of sweetness and levity, these episodes were so much darker than the Zombie Detective we’ve come to know. I’m no less entertained or invested though; now that we know how Moo-young died, I’m more curious about what happened post-mortem and pre-zombie. Hyung-chul had been convinced he buried Moo-young, but when we first saw Moo-young he was at a garbage dump, so what happened? How exactly did he become a zombie — was it the gloppy toxic waste that was being discarded back in the first episode? Are there more zombies out there?
It seemed fairly obvious from the start that zombification is a one-way street, so I never considered how Moo-young could go back to his old life. I just hoped he could reunite with his loved ones. Now that he knows his only family is gone, and since he’s possibly made the leap to eating people, what will that mean for his future and his new human friends?