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Mouse: Episode 8

Memories can be a tricky thing, even when you haven’t suffered massive brain trauma that required several surgeries causing traumatic memory loss. Our suddenly-insightful cop not only seems to know how psychopaths think, but he’s remembering things that someone else did. Are these memories his, or were they somehow planted there?

 
EPISODE 8 RECAP

We go back to years ago, when the little boy released a mouse into the snake’s enclosure. Against all odds, the mouse had killed the snake (Recapper’s Note: I have pet snakes, and yes, this is a thing that can happen), and the little boy had reached in to retrieve his tiny furry friend.

But the mouse had escaped, only to find itself trapped under the shoe of a slightly older girl. The boy had demanded his mouse back, but the girl had said he would end up like the snake if he let the mouse live. The boy had stepped back, and the girl casually crushed the mouse under her shoe.

Back in the present, flashes of this scene race through Ba-reum’s head as he looks at the mouse in Han Seo-joon’s hand. Later, when he rejoins Moo-chi outside, he tells him that Seo-joon didn’t tie the knots used to tie Detective Park’s daughter’s hands, nor did he teach them to anyone.

They go back inside the prison, only to find that Seo-joon has killed the mouse and thrown its body into a grate. Moo-chi is horrified, but Ba-reum calmly notes that the knot is tied to the right, and a look into his old surgical records proves that he also tied sutures to the right, regardless of being a lefty.

Hong-joo reviews the old Head Hunter cases, which remind her of her involvement in procuring the victims. Han Seo-joon would bring the victims to a safe place to kill them, and would make young Hong-joo tie them up.

Moo-chi and Ba-reum visit the site where Song Seo-joon was attacked and kidnapped decades ago. They know the taxi driver dropped her off and that she called her brother, but the place where the car accident was staged was a bit of a distance. Ba-reum deduces that a woman wouldn’t have followed a man off the road, so there must have been someone else that she’d let down her guard for — an accomplice.

Sure enough, local precinct notes indicate that a man claimed seeing a strange car with a man and a little boy in it on that road, but the cops didn’t find it significant enough to report. A young child would explain why the knot used to tie Seo-joon was clumsily-made, but Han Seo-joon didn’t have a son yet and no boys went missing at that time.

Moo-chi realizes something about both recent murder victims — CCTV footage shows Kim Min-joo getting into a car with someone, and Hong Na-ri appears to have let her killer in without a struggle. Moo-chi thinks this means they knew the killer, but Ba-reum disagrees, because the killer wanted to enjoy the process without being caught so he wouldn’t pick someone he knew.

Frustrated, Moo-chi decides to start over and pulls out the evidence box, and he realizes that it’s been tampered with. They look at the security footage, then go to see Hong-joo at the station (she was reinstated recently but hasn’t gotten an assignment yet). They find her office absolutely packed with photos and information about the killings.

Hong-joo walks in and immediately tenses up, but she manages to greet Ba-reum pleasantly. He just stares, wondering why his chest hurts all of a sudden. Hmmm. He goes to the hallway while Moo-chi confronts Hong-joo about breaking into the evidence room.

She admits that she was at Hong Na-ri’s house when the guys were there, so she wanted a look at the knot they’d mentioned. She also believes that Kang MJ isn’t the first of the recent murders, but that another young woman named Kim Young-hee was killed earlier while at a dog park with her dog.

Only the dog was found, dead and hung from a tree, and Young-hee had disappeared. The police believe Young-hee ran away, but Hong-joo did her own searching and found a similar knot a distance away, which she kept.

Moo-chi demands that she turn over the knot, but Hong-joo will only agree if he promises to share all the details of his investigation with her. She says it’s for her job, but Moo-chi thinks she has another reason.

Later, Ba-reum asks Dong-goo if he ever had feelings for Hong-joo, making Dong-goo do a literal spit-take, hee. Dong-goo says that Ba-reum was always loyal to Bong-yi, who Ba-reum still can’t remember. Still disturbed by his memories of the mouse, Ba-reum looks around his house, but all he finds is his old bird cage.

He asks his aunt about the bird when she comes over, but she abruptly changes the subject. She’s making cheonggukjang (fermented soybeans), which used to be Ba-reum’s favorite, but now he reels at the smell and she notes that his tastes have changed.

After spending a year languishing in Evidence Management, Moo-chi begs Detective Baek to let him work on the new murder case. Seeing Moo-chi interested in something after so long, Detective Baek caves and earns a big weird hug.

Ba-reum goes to his old home looking for clues, and he remembers feeding the bird and watering his plants. He also remembers a shadowy figure in the garden late at night, but the memory flits by so quickly he doesn’t see much.

It starts to rain as he’s leaving, and suddenly he recalls that rainy night when he found Bong-yi on the bridge. All of his memories of Bong-yi flood back, including those of Halmoni asking him to take care of Bong-yi if anything happens to her. But he has no luck finding Bong-yi herself — after her grandmother died and he’d changed, she’d dropped out of school and disappeared.

He heads home, and on the way he finds a very pregnant cat. He takes it home and starts to clean up the bird cage to give the cat a nest for her kittens, and the cage seems to give him an idea. He calls Moo-chi to Hong Na-ri’s place to point out that here and at the other victims’ homes, the living spaces are run-down, but the bars on the windows are all brand-new.

They look into it, and learn that the new bars are for women living alone in high crime areas, and installed by volunteers. At the volunteer office, Ba-reum sees a photo and recognizes Na-ri’s building from some stickers through a window (Moo-chi: “Did brain surgery make you a genius??” LOL).

The guys have Hong-joo help by interviewing the volunteers, saying that it’s for a documentary. Ba-reum asks to do a second interview with several, during which he pets a dog then watches how the volunteer pets it. He notices that only one man, WOO HYUNG-CHUL (cameo by Song Jae-hee) petted it under the tail like he did… dogs dislike being touched there, so he was only copying Ba-reum and pretending to like dogs.

Further, Hyung-chul is left-handed, and his exaggerated gestures during the interview indicate that he’s only pretending to be philanthropic. He’s also the former lawyer of Kang Duk-soo, Bong-yi’s attacker, though he dropped Duk-soo as a client once he realized he was guilty. We see that Duk-soo approached Hyung-chul after being released, wanting to find Bong-yi (he says to apologize), but Hyung-chul refused to tell him where she lives now.

Moo-chi officially asks Ba-reum to join his team, realizing that he’s got a special ability to understand psychopaths and could be a lot of help. Ba-reum accepts, adorably excited. They take samples of the hair off the white dog that lives at the volunteer center, planning to test it against a second white dog’s hair that was found on Kim Young-hee’s headband.

The guys learn that Hyung-chul did indeed do some window bar installation on the day of at least one of the murders. They go to Hyung-chul’s office and see him with a teenage girl — apparently he does free consulting for runaway teenagers. Hyung-chul is looking pretty guilty until Shin Sang confirms that he has a solid alibi, and the dog hairs don’t match.

One of the other volunteers is thrust into the limelight when his cell phone is tracked as having been in Hong Na-ri’s neighborhood during her attack. But he swears he was just at a carpenter shop making a toolbox for a friend, and he begs the detectives to check his friend’s phone, since he sent him a photo.

While looking up names of other women who’ve requested the window bars, Ba-reum finally finds Bong-yi and her new address. He goes to see her, but she doesn’t answer her door, because she’s tied up inside and trying to fight off the killer. Ba-reum doesn’t hear their struggle, so he just leaves a note for Bong-yi and turns to go. Noooo, don’t go!

Badass that she is, Bong-yi manages to free herself and chases the killer out of her apartment (gawd, I love her). In his flight, the killer crashes into Ba-reum outside, and when Ba-reum spots Bong-yi chasing him, he figures out what’s happening and goes after the killer.

Meanwhile, Moo-chi goes to Hyung-chul’s house, which is dark and empty. He notices that the dog in the yard is white, so he peeks inside the doghouse, where he finds a bundle of clothes and a bloody knife. Hyung-chul returns home and Moo-chi holds a gun on him.

But he’s not the killer — the real killer turns on Ba-reum and punches him, and Ba-reum flies into a rage. He tackles the killer and hits him over and over again, only stopping when he has a sudden flash of memory of hitting someone else this way. The killer gets up and looms over Ba-reum, but Bong-yi suddenly comes out of nowhere and kicks him down (did I mention that I love her?).

Some time later, Moo-chi rushes to the hospital to see the killer’s face. It’s WOO JAE-PIL (cameo by Jung Seok-yong), Hyung-chul’s father and a former detective. He weakly admits to killing the three women recently, and even to the murder of Detective Park’s young daughter Hyun-soo, all those years ago. Moo-chi actually pulls his gun on Jae-pil and demands to know why, and he has to be physically restrained.

Hearing that Bong-yi is in the ER, Moo-chi runs to check on her (and fuss at her for disappearing). While he sits with her, Ba-reum goes outside to ponder the strange memory of hitting a man he doesn’t know, but who seems familiar. He returns to Bong-yi but she’s checked herself out, and when it begins to rain, Ba-reum recalls that she’s scared of rainy nights.

He catches up to Bong-yi just as she’s having a flashback of the night she was attacked. She looks up to see Ba-reum holding an umbrella over her head, and he apologizes for taking so long to remember her. Still miffed, Bong-yi steals the umbrella and stalks away, only to turn right back and invite him under it with her. Awww, he’s so happy.

Duk-soo sees the news report of the attack on Bong-yi and the killer’s capture. The news mentions the neighborhood she lives in, giving him an idea of where to look. His mother lives in that area but she tells him not to come a little too nervously, tipping off Duk-soo that Bong-yi must be there. Oh no…

Moo-chi and Detective Baek have to deliver the news to Detective Park that, not only have they found his daughter’s killer, but he’s a former colleague. Detective Park runs to the hospital to beg his old friend to say it’s not true, but Jae-pil shamelessly admits that he killed Hyun-soo, not the Head Hunter.

He says that he found her during the search — she’d escaped from Seo-joon along with her brother. But he was jealous of Detective Park for getting more arrests, and enjoyed seeing how devastated he was over the loss of his children. So instead of bringing Detective Park’s daughter home, Jae-pil killed her, knowing that everyone would assume Seo-joon did it.

Jae-pil doesn’t even try to fight back when Detective Park starts to strangle him, screaming for him to die. Luckily for Detective Park, Hong-joo pulls him away, and he lays his head on Detective Baek’s shoulder and sobs. Alone in the room, Hong-joo asks Jae-pil why he lied about killing Hyun-soo, and he stares at her in sudden recognition.

Bong-yi asks Ba-reum if he can find her grandmother’s brooch for her (which was taken by Yo-han). He heads to the evidence room, and though he can’t find the brooch, he does find pictures of the man he remembers punching. it’s Song Soo-ho, brother to Head Hunter victim Song Soo-jung and one of Yo-han’s assumed victims.

At the same time, Hong-joo goes to Soo-ho and Soo-jung’s home again to watch their mother in the garden. Their mother looks up and sees her daughter’s bracelet on Hong-joo’s wrist and tries to catch Hong-joo, but Hong-joo speeds away in her car.

Curious, Ba-reum confirms with Moo-chi that Song Soo-ho was badly beaten before he was burned to death. He asks his surgeon why he would remember things someone else did, and Doctor Park glibly explains that his injury is making him confuse things he read about the murders with his own memories. Ba-reum asks if that could happen with childhood memories, too, and the surgeon says that it can.

He adjusts Ba-reum’s prescription, and Ba-reum recognizes it as the same medication that mukbang victim Jo Mi-jung was taking. Supposedly it was to treat anorexia, but Ba-reum learns from Mi-jung’s mother that Mi-jung suffered brain trauma from a bike accident, and the medication was actually treating that.

In fact, Doctor Park was also her doctor. Ba-reum asks Doctor Park if his heightened sense of smell could be from the surgery, but Doctor Park says there’s only one way that can happen, though we don’t hear what it is.

Ba-reum runs into Bong-yi on his way out and tells her he was seeing his surgeon, but Bong-yi frowns — Doctor Park isn’t the man who operated on Ba-reum a year ago. When she’d smothered Yo-han back then, she’d stopped just short of killing him, then hid when the surgeon came into the room. She’d heard the surgeon say that Ba-reum must live, and Yo-han must die.

They don’t find the surgeon Bong-yi remembers in the hospital directory, either. Ba-reum asks Doctor Park, but he insists that he performed all three of his brain surgeries. After Ba-reum leaves, fully aware of Doctor Park’s lies, Doctor Park calls someone and says ominously that Ba-reum suspects something.

Meanwhile, Moo-chi calls in an armed assailant in the hospital and heads upstairs to kill Jae-pil himself, then get locked up so he can kill Han Seo-joon. But he’s too late… Soo-ho and Soo-jung’s mother has seen his story on television and mistaken Jae-pil for her daughter’s killer. She’s made her way into the hospital, stolen a scalpel, and sliced his throat wide open.

Moo-chi takes in the bloody scene and thinks fast — he takes the scalpel, covers himself in blood, and begs Detective Park, who’s also there, to let him take the blame so that he can make Han Seo-joon pay. When the police arrive, Moo-chi confesses to Jae-pil’s murder, and as he’s taken away Detective Park mutters that he knows this makes him a bad person.

Bong-yi remembers that Ba-reum’s surgeon had a large scar on his right cheek… just like Han Seo-joon, who was a neurosurgeon. It makes no sense, but Ba-reum wants to confirm whether it’s him. Unfortunately there are no recent pictures of Seo-joon, but Hong-joo did do an interview of him that didn’t air.

He talks Hong-joo into letting him watch the interview and surreptitiously takes a photo, then sends it to Bong-yi who confirms that he performed Ba-reum’s surgeries. While Bong-yi is on the phone with Ba-reum, she doesn’t see Duk-soo getting off the bus and following her home, a wicked grin on his face.

Reeling, Ba-reum goes to the prison to ask Han Seo-joon what he did to him during those surgeries to cause him to have Yo-han’s memories. “What did you put inside my head?” he demands. “Don’t tell me you implanted Sung Yo-han’s brain inside me.”

 
COMMENTS

Okay, what??? I’m sorry, I just don’t believe that Seo-joon somehow escaped prison, did a brain transplant on Ba-reum, then went back to prison like nothing ever happened. Hopefully this is just Ba-reum being upset and overly dramatic and grasping wildly for an explanation out of fear. He has too many of his own memories for me to think he’s got Yo-han’s brain now. I can suspend my disbelief to accept DNA tests that pinpoint a gene that causes psychopathy, but I can’t believe that a narcissistic psychopath would do such an incredible thing and not demand credit for it. Especially if the brain he transplanted was his own son’s.

This show totally lends itself to wild theories, because the clues are all over the place, but that’s one thing I love about it. It’s not easy to guess what’s going on and who the killer is/killers are, so my brain gets a workout trying to figure out what’s going on! Mainly, I don’t think that Yo-han was the killer, and I haven’t for a while. I believe he was in those places at those times, and had that “evidence,” because he was trying to stop the killer. And I no longer think that Ba-reum has multiple personalities, now that we’ve seen that he’s basically the same person, albeit with a bizarre ability to understand serial killers and unexplained memories that don’t seem to belong to him.

So now I’m thinking… what if Hong-joo is the killer? She was groomed by a legend, after all, has plenty of experience getting potential victims to let their guard down around her, and there are just too many coincidences linking her to all of the recent murders. She knew how to tie the knots, she had the knot that tied Kim Young-hee in her possession, and even the former detective seemed to recognize her. She even knows the answers to at least one mystery, that of Detective Park’s daughter’s fate, and for some reason she’s not telling. If she is the killer, it would even explain Hong-joo’s relationship with Yo-han — maybe he suspected her, so he started dating her in an attempt to find out the truth. That could be why Yo-han always looked guarded and worried when with Hong-joo, and how he had photos of victims before the cops even found them. Even when Hong-joo thought, “I thought you were like me,” we assumed she meant that she thought Yo-han was an innocent person who was preyed upon by Seo-joon, but maybe she meant that she assumed Yo-han was made evil by Seo-joon, like her?

Even Ba-reum recalls a girl who would kill a helpless mouse without even a thought. Everyone always assumes that serial killers are men, but not all are… in fact, Moo-chi and Ba-reum touched on it when they talked about how both recent victims seemed comfortable with getting in the killer’s car/letting them in their house. Women wouldn’t easily do that with an unknown man, but they’d be less guarded with another woman, even if she were a stranger… and especially if she were a woman they knew from television. Anyway, it’s clear that Hong-joo knows more than she’s telling and has done more than she admits. I’m very interested to learn more about her relationship with Han Seo-joon, then and now. I have a feeling that, either way, Hong-joo and what she knows are the key to everything.

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This show is absolutely WILD. When I saw this episode last week, I was almost ready to give up after the ending cliffhanger. I don't think "brain transplant by psychopathic murderer leads to serial killer tendencies in organ recipient" can fall under the willing suspension of disbelief umbrella.

And yet I was back this week to find out more. Like you said in the recap, it's really hard to guess what's going on. Every theory gets turned on its head by the next episode. Or sometimes by the end of the same episode! I'm beginning to understand why people have such polarised opinions about this writer's other works.

Just a minor correction though @lollypip. The woman who chased after Hong Joo wasn't Soo-ho and Soo-jung's mother (that was another older lady who tried to kill herself in an earlier episode). This woman is Detective Park's wife and Hyun Soo's mother. By the way, based on what we saw in this episode I have a strong feeling Hong-joo is Hyun-soo.

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Now you've said it, yes, that's what I've been thinking too.

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With this drama, when you thought you might have done a good job with suspension of disbelief, you haven't done even half of the job. Not going to spoil anything, but I am saying that up to this episode, the show was tame. What comes next is mind boggling. What was the genre of this drama again? Sci-Fi p?

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*Hong-joo asks Jae-pil why he lied about killing Hyun-soo, and he stares at her in sudden recognition* How is it that Hong-joo has connections with Han Seo-joon, Sung Yo-han, and Jae-pil (and presumably Woo Hyung-chul)? And how many killers are there? I'm assuming we have 3 children with the psychopath gene. Were they all male? And what child belongs to which parent? And are they the parents who raised them? I'm not sure Hong-joo is the serial killer, although what you outline above @lollypip is plausible, especially the trust that the victims show. But since this episode things have moved on considerably, and I'm pretty sure I know whose child she is, but can't say. On top of everything, I'm becoming more aware that we can't trust anything that we are shown because so much that we see is actually happening in someone's mind.

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It's a mix of the things being shown are fragments of someone's memories and the tricky editing/directing. I wonder if anyone did an environmental check on that specific geographic region. Seems to be a high concentration of psychopaths and psychopath-adjacent.

I wouldn't be surprised if they made Hong-joo a super-psychopath and have her be the one controlling multiple serial killers since this would be something this writer would do. I've seen God's Gift and Black and their crazy last-week reveals.

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There was something in the water 😅 everyone’s a psychopath

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There's also the girl in the beginning who killed the mouse. Who is she? What connection does she have with the boy in yellow? How did she know about the mouse? Could she be another psychopath?

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Man, I wish the recaps were up to date. Not complaining, just a wish because I spend all my energy making theories soon after the ep that I am drained now XD I am full of the latest ep vibes now LOL

BTW, can you guys express how much you love Lee Hee Joon in this? I would like to listen to people praising him. He is a total discovery from this drama for me. And Man, DO I LOVE HIM!
He is an absolute hoot as the hot headed, rash and reckless detective. Trust me, he annoys me too, but I just eat up absolutely everything he delivers. Except when he shot Yo Han, Hmphhhh!

I know he is not a genius killer like Ba-reum but Ko Moo Chi is no fool. He is smart and elite. Treat him as such show. Let me see him using his brain too please.

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I’m wishing the same - I know they’re really time consuming and I really appreciate that they’re full recaps so I don’t want to complain but all my theorizing has been confirmed/debunked and I want to talk about the next episodes 😅

LHJ is a total discovery to me too. He’s got a lot to do in this role and he’s doing it really well.

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Man, that ending. It was a hard note to end on without the audience all being “are you kidding me?” And I don’t really think they managed it...but I was back again to see if it was true 😄

I think Hong Joo is definitely associated more than she lets on. Like @miso2019 I think that Hong-Joo is Hyun-Soo.... although why she wouldn’t say so, I don’t have an answer for.

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I think she feels guilt for her past. She certainly assisted Han Seo Joon in at least one murder. She doesn't want to go back to her past and wants to stay in the shadow if she can. Going back to her parents is like opening a can of worms, she doesn't wants to. But it will happen certainly and there will be an emotional encounter with her mother and father I guess.

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I agree with some comments here that maybe Hong-joo is Hyun-soo, just under different name and feels guilty of her past so she tries to begin anew.

Now, onto brain surgery, I don't think brain transplant is a thing, that's ridiculous. But memory transplant is, either through hypnosis or brain trauma like what the (bogus) doctor said. I won't ask how Seo-joon can go in and out from prison easily. Rich enough or have enough clout and you can sneak from prisons in my country to watch an international tennis tournament at 1 timezone away island resort and be back before anyone is any wiser about it. So I will just address on what Seo-joon possibly do to Ba-reum.

There was this man, named Phineas Gage, who survived getting a 2 meter iron rod going through his brain while destroying his left frontal lobe in the process. Before the accident, Gage is described as being an all around hard working and friendly person, but after the accident, he becomes impatient, obstinate, and all around unpleasant. I think that's what happened with Ba-reum, regardless whether or not he is the original serial killer or not.

If an iron rod through the brain can make someone unpleasant, the same should be applicable to the opposite, that a psychopath can be 'unmade' through poking his brain in the right places. I wonder if this is Seo-joon's real target, making Ba-reum, who may or may not be his son, into a so-called 'perfect psychopathic serial killer'. One who can kill without hesitation yet at the same time also sincerely a good person at heart and so no one will suspect it. Or maybe I'm just rambling and Seo-joon isn't on mad scientist level. For now, we can only wait.

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