Mouse: Episode 2
A familiar face becomes a hardened detective with a vendetta, putting together the pieces of the puzzle to discover a serial killer in the making. The more he kills, the bolder he gets – can he be stopped before more innocent lives are lost?
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Jae-hoon is brought in for questioning as the prime suspect of his family’s murder. He has no reaction to a photo of three covered corpses and claims that he didn’t kill them. The polygraph machine detects it as the truth so he’s released.
He eyes a red cross in the distance and thinks, “God never answered my prayers…” Adult Jae-hoon finishes the thought in a distorted voiceover, “…and I ended up becoming a murderer.”
The first murder was difficult to pull off, but the exhilaration propelled him to continue killing. Twenty-five years after the Head Hunter’s arrest, news outlets report that a relative of one of the victims was burned to death in his own boxing gym.
Jae-hoon narrates that a genetic mutation created psychopaths, of which the top one percent are predators who instinctively prey on humans. A woman arrives at her bus stop one rainy night and notices a man lingering in the distance.
She’s relieved when the man splits off in a different direction after following her into an alleyway. However, someone else appears before her and stabs her in the gut. She bleeds out by a sewage grate and Jae-hoon finishes, “I’m a predator. That’s how I was born.”
GO MOO-CHI (Lee Hee-joon) has grown up to be a rugged police detective who’s dissatisfied that death row inmates don’t get executed. While apprehending a murderer, he decides to take matters into his own hands but a voice in his head urges him not to pull the trigger. He chases the criminal to the ledge of a rooftop.
Taking a swig from his flask, Moo-chi tells him not to jump but follows up with commentary about how he’d never survive prison, making the culprit consider taking his own life. Moo-chi pulls out his gun to shoot, but the murderer jumps to his death. The detective groans and continues drinking on the roof, waking up to a phone call at the crack of dawn.
He arrives at a crime scene still drunk and inspects a dead body that was found in a sewer. It’s the woman who was attacked in an alleyway, and her middle finger was forcefully bent back.
Detective KANG KI-HYUK (Yoon Seo-hyun) fumes to find Moo-chi barging onto his crime scene inebriated again and orders SHIN SANG (Pyo Ji-hoon a.k.a. P.O.) to drag him away.
They belatedly realize that Moo-chi’s giving an interview on live television, announcing that the person who killed this lady also murdered the boxing gym director and is either an attention seeker or against religion. His theory may sound like nonsense, but Moo-chi’s right. Photos of the two victims are plastered all over the culprit’s walls.
Moo-chi visits Seo-joon at the Mujin Detention Center. Moo-chi’s trying to get thrown into jail so that he can decapitate him, but the convict knows he can’t do it. He wasn’t born to be a killer.
Undeterred, Moo-chi recites Leviticus 24:17-20 from the Bible: Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to be put to death. […] Fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.
Although he typically criticizes God, the passage resonates with Moo-chi and inspires him to pay back what he received. The new plan is to kill Seo-joon in front of his son, so that he suffers the same pain of witnessing such a scarring moment.
A flashback reveals that Ji-eun once visited to announce that she killed their baby, which infuriated Seo-joon. When Moo-chi leaves, Seo-joon relishes in the fact that his son’s alive.
Moo-chi visited Ji-eun’s flower shop back in high school and blamed her for everything. His brother had nine surgeries by that point, and they couldn’t afford the next one so he came to demand her to pay up so that Moo-won doesn’t die.
A crowd formed and learned that Ji-eun’s husband was the Head Hunter. When Moo-chi grabbed Ji-eun, a young boy interrupted by calling out “Mom.” The memory cuts short when Moo-chi stomps on his brakes to avoid hitting someone on his way out.
JUNG BA-REUM (Lee Seung-gi) apologizes profusely for getting in the way. He had noticed an injured bird on the road and used his body to shield it from harm’s way. Although originally livid, Moo-chi just leaves and wonders, “Is he kind or stupid?”
Prison guard NA CHI-KOOK (Lee Seo-joon) escorts Seo-joon back to solitary confinement. The convict asks for some surgical thread to practice with, but Chi-kook doesn’t give in even when Seo-joon says that the other guards never went against his wishes. He musters up the courage to stand up to him and seethes, “You think you’re a king, right? Don’t flatter yourself.” Chi-kook won’t succumb to threats.
However, when he describes the encounter to the prison doctor, he’s given a medical thread kit and is advised to do as Seo-joon says. Chi-kook’s new to the job and hasn’t heard that a retired guard became handicapped after ruining Seo-joon’s mood.
Ba-reum helps his church group set up an event for the inmates at the prison. It speaks volumes to his character that his friend GU DONG-GOO (Woo Ji-hyun) remains unphased when he pulls out the rescued bird.
They’re close friends of Chi-kook’s, who pops by the auditorium to say hi. Dong-goo notices that Chi-kook’s wearing the knock-off watch that he and Ba-reum gifted in celebration of landing this job. Turns out, Ba-reum is so naïve that he was scammed by the seller even though he’s a police officer.
Chi-kook yields the surgical thread to his friends who forgot to bring a sewing kit for their performance later. Dong-goo remembers that Seo-joon is at this facility and asks to meet him – he’s a member of the Head Hunter fan page. Chi-kook can’t believe he’s one of those pathetic fans that stroke the egos of serial killers, not knowing that he only signed up to research for an upcoming movie that he’d like to direct.
Ba-reum and Chi-kook stop for quick break by the prison yard while carrying a heavy prop. Chi-kook shares that death row inmates laze around rather than atoning for their crimes and is ashamed of himself for being scared of someone like that today.
He confesses that the thread was meant for the infamous Head Hunter and points him out to Ba-reum who’s in awe that he looks normal. Meanwhile, a prisoner offers to teach Chi-kook a lesson and Seo-joon instructs him to search for “someone.” Whe he looks up from his book, he locks eyes with Ba-reum.
Moo-chi re-traces the sewer victim Soon-young’s steps. He finds her blood on a different sewage grate and realizes that this is where she was actually killed, taking note of the huge footprints nearby.
When he returns to the precinct, PD CHOI HONG-JOO (Kyung Su-jin) bugs him about the interview he gave earlier that day. She can’t figure out what the connection is between the boxing gym and sewer cases, but he tells her to get lost.
Detective Kang interrogates a sketchy man who admits that he followed Soon-young that night with the intention of asking her on a date. One look at his feet tells Moo-chi that he’s not the killer, but Detective Kang tells him to back off his case.
Hong-joo has been lingering around to get some leads on the boxing gym case that her show is supposed to air an episode on. She blackmails Moo-chi into cooperating with her with photographic evidence of his illegal gambling activities.
The reason she’s fixated on the boxing gym case is because the victim, Soo-ho, is the brother of the woman who was lured in by the young girl and killed by the Head Hunter years ago. She wants to catch the murderer for their mother’s sake.
Moo-chi brings Hong-joo to the spot where Soon-young was killed, which is about 100 meters from where her body was found. Her clothing indicated that she was dragged across the ground, but the question is…why?
Meanwhile, the performance is well underway back at the prison. The inmates aren’t receptive to Ba-reum’s magic show at first, but by the time Seo-joon shows up, everyone’s laughing heartily.
Ba-reum’s final act is to handcuff a volunteer and lock him in the safe. He and Dong-goo spin it around claiming that the inmate will disappear. Everybody panics when they open the door to do their big reveal.
Moo-chi and Hong-joo sit in the exact positions where Soon-young and Soo-ho’s bodies were found. Hong-joo learns that each time, the culprit meticulously sets it up so that the forcefully bent finger points at a nearby cross.
Another commonality between the two cases is that he takes a prize to remember his victims by – a ring from Soon-young and boxing gloves from Soo-ho. This behavior leads Moo-chi to believe that a dangerous psychopath is hunting humans.
Back at the prison, everyone is shocked to see Chi-kook stripped down to his underwear, bloody and unconscious inside the safe. He’s been stabbed multiple times and lost a few fingers.
A prison guard phones the doctor on site, and Seo-joon watches calmly from the back of the room. When the priest GO MOO-WON (Kim Young-jae) instructs someone to turn on the lights, Seo-joon gets up and saunters to the stage. Moo-won recognizes him and the horrific memories resurface.
Ba-reum warns Seo-joon to stay away, but Moo-won speaks up and asks him to help Chi-kook who’s bleeding from his brain. Ba-reum cries while watching Seo-joon perform the suture. Chi-kook is transferred to the ER soon after, but they must look for a missing finger before they’re able to perform surgery.
Moo-chi explains that Soo-ho was killed out of vengeance. There are fractures all over his body, meaning that he was beaten before he was burnt, specifically in areas where a person feels the most pain. Most conclusively, Soo-ho’s blood bookmarked a page from his bible, which is where Moo-chi discovered the “eye for an eye” passage.
It makes it sound like the murderer was retaliating against something Soo-ho had done. People say he was a kind guy, but Moo-chi comments that nobody knows the true inner thoughts of another person.
At the mention of Seo-joon’s son, Hong-joo asks what crime he committed to deserve the pain that Moo-chi’s planning to serve him. The detective scoffs, “Then, what crime did I commit?” To him, it’s only fair that he feels the same pain but more than anything, he’s curious to see how he turned out.
While waiting for Chi-kook’s finger, Ba-reum and Dong-goo overhear Soo-ho’s mother wailing that she didn’t want to be saved. A young doctor named SUNG YO-HAN (Kwon Hwa-woon) comes over and drily explains where she should cut next time if she wishes to die.
Angered, Dong-goo flings himself at the doctor, grabbing him by the lapels and demanding that he apologize. However, Yo-han’s cold gaze causes Dong-goo to back down. Suddenly, the prison guard is back with the missing finger and doctors rush to get Chi-kook into the operation room.
The specialist is still performing another surgery so to Ba-reum’s dismay, Yo-han is asked to assist. He requests a different doctor but is told not to worry, as Yo-han has experience with neurosurgery.
As Moo-chi muses that the murderer must be skilled with a knife and knowledgeable about human anatomy, we watch Yo-han slice the scalp open without the help of a neurosurgeon. Ba-reum’s research shows that Yo-han is the youngest person to pass the medical board exam and has assisted in brain surgeries before.
Chi-kook’s surgery ends well, but they’ll have to wait and see if he recovers. The doctors are impressed by whoever performed the emergency procedure. When they learn that it was the work of the Head Hunter, Yo-han walks off.
Later, Yo-han overhears that the culprit was a prisoner who was teaching Chi-kook a lesson for disrespecting Seo-joon.
High schooler OH BONG-YI (Park Joo-hyun) calls somebody to pick her up from school, looking nervous about the incoming rain. They don’t show up so she heads home alone, anxious about crossing a bridge. She forces herself to do it anyway but her knees buckle when the rain pours and she senses someone approaching her from behind.
Her grandmother swings at the man with her umbrella but when he takes off his hood, Halmoni recognizes that it’s Ba-reum. She wraps the hyperventilating Bong-yi up in a comforting hug, telling her that everything will be okay. Bong-yi gasps about a puppy that doesn’t exist, but Halmoni just says that it ran away.
Bong-yi stomps home angrily when the storm is over and Ba-reum apologizes to Halmoni for scaring them in his bloody outfit. She makes him stay for dinner and he wears one of her outfits while waiting for his clothes to dry, hee.
He tries to grab his favorite rolled omelette, but the grouchy Bong-yi physically blocks him from picking one up. Halmoni watches giddily from the side as Ba-reum fusses over the wound on Bong-yi’s palm. Noticing this, the teenager snaps at him and hides in her room.
Halmoni says that she’s just shy in front of the man she likes and asks what he thinks about marrying her granddaughter. Things get super uncomfortable when Halmoni brags that the 19-year-old is well-endowed and curvy, so he gets up to leave.
Hong-joo does some research and gets Daniel to feature on her show, Sherlock Hong-joo. He mentions that Edmund Kemper’s killing instincts awakened after he murdered his own grandparents out of curiosity. Most psychopaths’ killer instincts remain dormant until something triggers it.
Moo-chi’s interview explains that Soo-ho was killed to enact revenge, but it sparked something within the killer, who chose Soon-young as his next victim randomly. He’s sure that this is the start of a killing spree where the murders will become bolder and more frequent now.
He’s right once again, because a homeless man’s corpse is found in an abandoned warehouse, again with the signature finger pointing at a cross. Moo-chi warns the viewers that if this is the work of a psychopath, then he could be hunting for his next prey at any given moment.
The distorted voiceover of adult Jae-hoon takes over to explain that he’s not in great condition today after watching that broadcast. He picks out a murder weapon and scours the streets for a tiny and weak target who won’t fight back. A photo of a woman is added to his wall after the deed is done.
Hong-joo wraps up the episode by reminding the public of the Zodiac Killer who had once asked, “Please help me. I can’t stop myself,” and suggests that this new serial killer may also need their help.
Ba-reum is on patrol a week later and vomits when he and his colleagues find a dead cat with its teeth pulled out. They task him with handing out fliers around the neighborhood instead.
Halmoni nags Bong-yi all morning long to get home earlier, graduate high school, and most importantly, figure out how to marry Ba-reum. Sick of hearing his name every day, she shrieks, “Why are you trying to sell me off to such an old man?”
Her grandmother doesn’t think she’ll find a better catch anywhere else. Ba-reum is handsome, good-natured, and even won an award for good citizenship. Bong-yi leaves the house in annoyance, only to find Ba-reum outside holding a stack of fliers.
He hands her one and she complains that tax dollars are wasted on them – it’s been months yet they still haven’t caught the cat killer. Ba-reum tries to give her medication for her wound, but she scurries away.
Halmoni comes out limping, about to attend Moo-won’s last service before he transfers to another location. Ba-reum notices and realizes that she was late picking up Bong-yi because she injured herself, not because she lost track of time. Halmoni asks him to keep it a secret.
Ba-reum applies antiseptic for her and declares that he’ll go pick up Bong-yi next time it pours. Halmoni avoids answering truthfully when Ba-reum asks why she isn’t able to cross bridges in the rain.
Bong-yi witnesses Moo-won being verbally attacked by Soo-ho’s mother. She asks why he believes in God and shares that He didn’t save her in her time of need, so she doesn’t care for Him. She later has a panic attack after recognizing a criminal on television.
Moo-chi combs through the garbage in his house to pick up a call on his day off. He’s annoyed at first but runs over to a greenhouse where a young woman’s body was found. As if to confirm Moo-chi’s theory, Jae-hoon wrapped Soo-ho’s boxing gloves around the victim’s neck, placed Soon-young’s missing ring on her finger, and made her wear the missing shoe of the homeless man. The one thing Moo-chi doesn’t recognize is Chi-kook’s watch.
Confused that there’s no cross involved, Moo-chi removes the woman’s hand from her mouth. Sure enough, the murderer carved a cross on the roof of her mouth and her finger was pointing at it.
The detective discovers a bloody message written just for him when he looks up: Bingo! Detective Go Moo-chi’s marvelous deductive skills. Please! I hope you like the gift I prepared.
Meanwhile, Yo-han is approached by a man who says that somebody would like to see him. He visits Seo-joon in jail and the convict says, “I was curious to see how my son grew up.”
Ba-reum visits Chi-kook at the hospital. On his way out, he catches the news reporting on the newest victim of the serial killer. Yo-han gets to the hospital and sees Ba-reum in the lobby. Young Jae-hoon narrates, “Mom once told me that there was one more child besides me who was carrying the monster gene. I was always curious. What happened to that child?”
Ba-reum turns around to make eye contact with Yo-han, missing the fact that they’re reporting on Chi-kook’s unique knock-off watch on TV. They maintain their eye contact as Jae-hoon continues, “Did he become a predator like me, or did he become a normal person?”
The premiere episodes of Mouse leaves us with tons to think about, that’s for sure. I didn’t realize the first time I watched the episode, but there were only three corpses shown to Jae-hoon in the beginning. Presumably, they were Stepdad and Jae-hoon’s two siblings, so Ji-eun is likely still alive. She wasn’t present when Jae-hoon was named the prime suspect. What happened after he destroyed their family, and how did Jae-hoon spend the rest of his childhood?
The show makes a very deliberate choice in keeping Jae-hoon’s face hidden and even masking his adult voiceovers, meaning they don’t want us to know who he grew up to be. All we know is that he unleashed his dormant killer instincts by murdering the boxing gym director, Soo-ho. All signs seem to point at the young doctor Yo-han (he even has the same last name as Ji-eun). He does not care about others’ emotions, is an absolute genius, knows his stuff when it comes to human anatomy, and was even called over to meet Seo-joon. Although it seems like their meeting solidified the fact that they’re father and son, this is a 20-episode drama with 85-minute episodes (help), so it feels way too early for this to be the correct answer.
Judging from the final scene, it seems that it’s either Yo-han or Ba-reum. It’s much more believable for Ba-reum to be the son of the other lady who claimed that her late husband was an extremely kind man. That woman mourned the loss of her husband and was sure that her child would be just like him. She would’ve showered him with love and affection, and from what we’ve seen, Ba-reum is an absolute angel.
On the other hand, Ji-eun gave birth despising Jae-hoon’s father. (Who can blame her, really?) Knowing that Jae-hoon possesses the same gene and has the possibility of becoming a murderer would’ve likely caused a strain on their relationship. The stepfather didn’t seem to treat Jae-hoon with kindness either. This is not to put the blame on anyone other than Jae-hoon, but I wonder how much his upbringing and environment had to do with the path he ultimately chose? Regardless of whether Jae-hoon is Yo-han or Ba-reum, it’s a fact that he became a serial killer targeting people at random.
If only 1% of those with the psychopath gene become predators and the killing instinct stays dormant until it is triggered, then this is really just a case of nature vs. nurture. Although they keep emphasizing that killers are born that way, there are 99% of those born with the gene that manage to not go down that route. It’s interesting that Jae-hoon calls himself a monster and even prayed to God that he wouldn’t become one. The way he speaks about it seems like he always expected to become a killer, so I wonder…how much of this mindset influenced him to go through with his more questionable actions? I’m quite interested to see what direction Mouse will take to answer all of our burning questions. The acting is superb so far, and I’m eager to see what’s in store for us. I just hope that Chi-kook will be okay, and that Ba-reum isn’t evil!