Beyond Evil: Episode 1
Yeo Jin-gu and Shin Ha-kyun are teaming up for Beyond Evil, a murder mystery that seems poised to be a fantastically shivery thrill ride. A small-town murder hits close to home for one of them, while the other seems determined to solve the case even if it puts him in harm’s way. They’re forced to work together against their wishes — will their suspicions and hangups get in the way of solving a murder spree that’s lasted for over two decades?
NOTE: This is only a first episode recap.
EPISODE 1: The Appearance
A man wanders through a reed field at night, calling for someone. A younger man calls back that he fell but he’s okay, but then his flashlight falls on something that makes him start screaming. The first man finds him by his flashlight, and gapes at something on the ground — a pair of mummified hands with the fingertips cut off.
October 14, 2000
In the same town, Munju City, a young woman named LEE YOO-YEON (Moon Joo-yeon) plays the organ at church while her mother humbly accepts compliments from a fellow church member about what a sweet, thoughtful, and smart daughter she is. Unfortunately, Yoo-yeon’s older twin brother seems to be the complete opposite, and didn’t even show up for today’s mass for his own grandmother, though his mother faithfully defends him.
Mom tries to call him, but LEE DONG-SHIK (cameo by Lee Do-hyun) is too busy loudly and badly playing guitar and singing along with the radio at a nearby café. Eventually the owner’s daughter gets fed up with the noise and orders Dong-shik to leave, grumbling that he’s nothing compared to his sister. Dong-shik goes, but before he does, he tells her, “Bang Joo-seon, see you later…” with an unsettling smile that doesn’t quite reach his eyes.
Later that night, Dong-shik’s sister Yoo-yeon gets a text from Dong-shik saying that he doesn’t want to go home, and asking her to meet him elsewhere. She heads out, ending up on a long road near a reed field. Suddenly she hears a woman screaming, and the streetlights go out. Yoo-yeon starts to run.
In the morning, Joo-seon’s body lies in the reed field, her ankles and wrists tied together and her fingertips cut off. When Dong-shik and Yoo-yeon’s mother steps outside to get the paper, she’s horrified to see Yoo-yeon’s fingertips neatly lined up on the doorstep, but Yoo-yeon is never seen again.
20 years later — October 11,2020
LEE DONG-SHIK (Shin Ha-kyun) is all grown up now, and he appears to be living in the old remains of that cafe, which is now wallpapered with articles about Joo-seon’s murder and his missing sister. He works as an assistant investigator, and today he and his partner JI-HOON (Nam Yoon-soo) are responding to a disturbance at a local hair salon.
The salon regulars are fighting over a card game in which they’ve been gambling for pennies, and an accusation of cheating has them at each other’s throats. As Ji-hoon watches with growing horror, the ladies escalate to blows, and Dong-shik appears to be letting it happen. Once it gets to a certain point, Dong-shik arrests every last one of them.
He insists on charging them, despite one of them being married to a fellow cop, citing the laws against gambling to the letter. Into the middle of the kerfuffle at the police station walks a handsome but stiff-necked young man, who introduces himself as Inspector HAN JOO-WON (Yeo Jin-gu).
He’s a transfer from Seoul, but as it’s been almost a year since CHIEF NAM (Chun Ho-jin) requested another officer. When he mentions that he’d forgotten all about the request, Joo-won looks suspiciously awkward.
The other cops look up Joo-won and find that he’s wildly overqualified for their tiny little country town. He graduated the Korean National Police University with top honors, and is the son of the chief superintendent in Seoul, the second-highest ranked police officer in Korea.
On his way out of Chief Nam’s office, Joo-won witnesses a man trying to report his adult son missing. Dong-shik agrees to file a report on the young man as having run away, but he coolly informs the distraught father that, because his son is neither under 18 nor mentally disabled, Korean law says that he can’t technically be reported missing.
Later that night, as Dong-shik leaves work, he stumbles and grabs at his right thigh in pain — an old injury, maybe? He continues on, taking some medication as he goes. Joo-won drives by and notices Dong-shik limping across the road, then hits the gas hard when the light turns green. Dong-shik watches Joo-won speed away, noting the flashy sports car and license plate number.
A young woman, YOO JAE-YI (Choi Sung-eun), prepares dinner for Dong-shik, Ji-hoon, and Dong-shik’s best friend PARK JUNG-JAE (Choi Dae-hoon), the local inspector general, at her small corner restaurant. They’re joined by Ji-hoon’s big sister JI-HWA (Kim Shin-rok), who works in Violent Crimes. Ji-hoon complains to his noona that Dong-shik’s “nut gauge” (what the locals call his tendency to do crazy things) went up today when he arrested six ajummas.
She’s already heard that they filed a complaint, and she asks Dong-shik why he did it, when he knows they won’t be indicted. Surprisingly, it’s Jae-yi who answers — the ajumma who runs the salon is financially involved with some shady people, and by arresting her for something small-time, he’s hoping to cut off the other ladies from that connection. Ah, so our Dong-shik is crazy like a fox…
Talk turns to the new inspector in town, and his high connections that seem out-of-place in such a small town as theirs. Ji-hwa asks cheekily if he’s the son of the commissioner general or something, and Ji-hoon says he might be soon, if his father gets promoted.
A flashback shows Joo-won having a very tense dinner with his father, CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT HAN KI-HWAN (Choi Jin-ho). His father had expressed that the Seoul office was disappointed that Joo-won was choosing to go to the country and had offered to pull some strings, but Joo-won had asked him not to use his power like that at such an important time.
Chief Superintendent Han told Joo-won not to make him do anything, and to just lay low until the term is over. He’d berated Joo-won for daring to plan to return to Foreign Affairs afterward, and Joo-won had forced a smile and agreed.
Back in the present, as Dong-shik arrives at work in the morning, he sees Joo-won in his fancy sports car and quips that it stands out in this town. He holds out a hand and introduces himself, but Joo-won backs away and says that he doesn’t like touching people’s hands.
A meeting is held to decide who will be Joo-won’s partner, and when Dong-shik and Joo-won openly express their kneejerk distaste for each other, naturally Chief Nam makes them partners. He says it’s because, once they warm up to each other, there won’t be any discord within the team — not bad logic, but kind of naïve. The really hilarious part is that despite his young age, Joo-won outranks Dong-shik, hee.
In the patrol car, Joo-won starts wiping down every surface until Dong-shik needles him about his obvious fear of germs. Dong-shik insists on driving, mentioning that Joo-won seems like a wild driver based on how he drove his first night in town. Joo-won denies it, so Dong-shik pulls over to inform him of what he witnessed in great detail, and his words are a clear warning to Joo-won to watch himself in Dong-shik’s town.
Dong-shik takes a report on his personal phone, and Joo-won objects, but Dong-shik blows him off and drives them to an old house near the reed fields. An elderly man with dementia named Woo-chul has gone missing again, and based on experience, Dong-shik knows that he’s probably somewhere in the reed field. He sets off in one direction and Joo-won reluctantly follows, muttering angrily when his clean shoes get all muddy.
Joo-won thinks he sees something and follows, and soon gets lost in the tall reeds. He’s starting to think that Dong-shik is playing a prank on him when suddenly a hard wind kicks up. Dong-shik grabs Joo-won and flings him into a clearing, yelling that he was going to get hit in the face by the reeds, then stalks off to keep looking for Woo-chul.
They finally find the old man who, it turns out, was the father of Joo-seon who was murdered twenty years ago. In his dementia, he’s come to the reed fields to look for his daughter. Joo-won makes the mistake of saying that he’s an inspector, and Woo-chul flies into a rage, screaming about the police. Dong-shik and Joo-won are forced to tackle him to the ground, to Joo-won’s muddy dismay.
They get Woo-chul home, where his daughter complains that he always gets more aggressive in October and breaks the locks that Dong-shik puts on the gates to keep him at home. She tells Dong-shik to get stronger locks, and at Joo-won’s surprised glance, she snaps at him for thinking she’s shameless.
Joo-won tells her not to call Dong-shik’s personal phone anymore, but Dong-shik says placatingly that it’s okay. Joo-won asks Dong-shik if the woman has something on him, but Dong-shik doesn’t answer.
Back at the station, Dong-shik and Joo-won clean off all the mud, Joo-won taking extensive care with his efforts. Chief Nam asks if none of his friends who did rotations told him that working out here can get messy, but Joo-won says that he has no friends since anyone trying to get close to him usually ends up asking him to pull strings. Awww, that’s sad.
Dong-shik quips that his connections must be awesome if absolutely everyone wants the same thing. Trying to be nice, Ji-hoon brings Joo-won a cup of tea, and Joo-won declines. Chief Nam jokes that he must have some sort of germ phobia and the others laugh, but Joo-won denies it.
It’s definitely a lie — later that night, Joo-won sits in his car outside Jae-yi’s (clean but certainly run-down) restaurant, composing a text to Chief Nam saying that he won’t be able to attend team dinners. Jae-yi knocks on the window and interrupts, telling him to park in back, and Joo-won is forced to go inside now that he’s been seen.
Joo-won is visibly uncomfortable in such a small space and sitting so close to so many people. They’re joined by Jung-jae and Ji-hwa, who sits next to Joo-won and notes that he doesn’t look like his father, who she’s met. Everyone goes quiet, knowing that Joo-won’s father is a sensitive subject, and Joo-won snaps that he doesn’t want to talk about him.
Eventually Joo-won gets overwhelmed by all the people and slips out into the rainy night. He goes next door where Jae-yi prepares the meat, and finds Dong-shik there carving some more pork belly with a very sharp knife. Joo-won asks Dong-shik again what Woo-chul’s daughter has on him that makes him cater to her so much, and Dong-shik says darkly, “I killed someone. I killed their youngest daughter.”
Joo-won asks how he killed her, but Dong-shik just chuckles and says it was a joke. He says he likes Joo-won (Joo-won: “I’m not interested in being liked by you…”) and tells Joo-won to go home before Chief Nam catches him sneaking out.
Another flashback takes us back to Seoul, where Joo-won met with a prosecutor named KWON HYUK (Park Ji-hoon) in a fancy restaurant. Joo-won seemed annoyed as Hyuk giggled that he’d gotten himself in a fix. Hyuk had handed over a file — an autopsy report on a woman named Wi Sun-hee, who was found dead with her wrists and ankles bound and her fingertips cut off.
While Joo-won eagerly perused the report, Hyuk had asked if he thought Joo-won’s father would approve of the daughter of a low-level chaebol family. Joo-won said he wasn’t interested, but Hyuk had meant for himself. Apparently he used to be Joo-won’s live-in tutor and was given money for school by Chief Superintendent Han, and he wants Chief Superintendent Han to think of him as a son who doesn’t disappoint him.
Put off by Hyuk’s toadying, Joo-won had headed home to add the autopsy file to his extensive pile of evidence regarding the serial murders, which included a photo of Dong-shik. Nine months ago, Joo-won had presented to his Seoul colleagues on the murder of Joo-seon and Yoo-yeon’s disappearance (except for her fingertips), and their resemblance to the serial murder case they were working on.
His colleagues had immediately recognized Dong-shik, who is famous among cops for an incident which left him with a dead partner he couldn’t explain, and after which Dong-shik’s team had been dismissed and he’d been demoted. Joo-won had explained that he believes Dong-shik was involved in Joo-seon’s murder and his sister’s disappearance, and in fact, he was the prime suspect at the time.
It seems strange, considering that twenty years later, Dong-shik still puts up banners all over town asking for information on Yoo-yeon’s whereabouts.
Dong-shik gets another call about Woo-chul having gone missing, and since Ji-hoon is helping him put up a new banner, he takes the kid along with him. When Joo-won arrives at work, Chief Nam orders him to the reed fields to help look for Woo-chul. It’s dark when Joo-won arrives, and he can hear Dong-shik calling for Woo-chul (and he hilariously gets his pristine shoes muddy again).
He runs into Dong-shik, who snaps at him not to get lost again. We’re back to the moment when Ji-hoon fell down and started screaming, and Dong-shik ran to him to find fingerless hands sticking out of the ground. Dong-shik’s first thought is that he’s found Yoo-yeon’s body, but Joo-won spots a ring on one of the finger stumps that he recalls seeing on the hand of an older woman.
Seeing Joo-won’s expression, Dong-shik sends Ji-hoon back to the car and orders Joo-won to tell him who the woman is. Staring at Dong-shik suspiciously, Joo-won asks how he could tell it’s a woman. Dong-shik tells Joo-won to report that they found a body, and Joo-won asks if he also has a suspect in mind.
Dong-shik turns away, and Joo-won asks him, “Lee Yoo-yeon, your sister… Are you sure you didn’t kill her?” Instead of answering, Dong-shik slowly turns back to Joo-won, peers up at him, and smiles that eery, dead-eyed grin.
Okay, that is one freaky, shiver-inducing smile! I love how this episode left me feeling, very intrigued and a little scared, it’s scary in the very best way. Whenever possible, I prefer starting new dramas with as little information as possible, as far as plot and themes go, to avoid forming preconceived notions about the show. But when I say I went into Beyond Evil almost completely blind, I really mean that — I’m back after taking a break (yay!), and this is my first recap in months, and guys, I literally had no information about this show other than that Yeo Jin-gu is in it and the title sounded scary. So I’m thrilled to be so excited about this show after seeing the first hour.
Now, you guys know I love me some Yeo Jin-gu and I try to recap his shows as often as possible, and I always watch his dramas. But lets be honest — as handsome and charismatic as he is, and as hard as the industry has tried to shoehorn him into loverboy roles, romance just isn’t his strong suit. I think he does best when dark, dangerous, even mysterious roles, and he practically makes the air crackle when he’s allowed to let loose in roles like Woo-jin in Circle or the crazy king Lee Sun in The Crowned Clown. So I really can’t express how excited I am to see him here, in a show that seems primed to highlight all his best acting qualities, not to mention that he’s playing opposite another dramatic powerhouse like Shin Ha-kyun.
What I really love about the pairing of their characters is exactly the reason their chief put them together in the first place… they’re so similar. Most often, dramas follow the “opposites attract” trope and partner characters with very different personalities, but in the case of Dong-shik and Joo-won, they clash because they’re absolutely alike in many ways. They’re both stubborn, arrogant, bossy, and think they already know all they need to know about everything, and in both cases this attitude comes from living in a very small world… for Dong-shik, it’s his small town, and for Joo-won, it’s his narrow, carefully curated upbringing. Of course they have a lot of differences, too, especially in the ways they relate to others, but at the heart of it, they’re very similar people.
Joo-won and Dong-shik seem to have something else very important in common — they’re both harboring some very serious secrets. My instinct says that neither of them is a bad person, but that their secrets are more about guilt and shame than anything they’ve done truly wrong. I think that Dong-shik blames himself somehow for Joo-seon’s murder and Yoo-yeon’s disappearance, though I do believe he’s innocent, which is why he now dedicates his life to his community. And Joo-won appears to be in Munju City for a reason, and knows more about these murders than he’s letting on. There’s definitely something going on at home between him and his father, and Dear Old Dad doesn’t seem sorry to be getting his son away from the spotlight, which makes me think that Joo-won threatens his father’s chances at a promotion somehow.
All that being said, I was a teensy bit disappointed that this first episode was 95% set-up, though I do find that set-up very intriguing. That’s not to say it’s not good, because in fact I found this premiere to be quite interesting, with a fascinating mystery and characters that draw me in and make me want to learn more about them. If anything, my disappointment was that we didn’t get more meat of the story, but there’s another episode to watch as soon as I finish this! It’s just that mysteries aren’t usually my thing, but the fact that I liked the story and the characters enough to keep watching for a while and see how the show goes speaks to the fact that this is shaping up to be a good drama.