Through the Darkness: Episodes 3-4 Open Thread
Our newly-formed team’s first case is a gruesome one, further fueling their determination to identify the criminal and seek justice for the young victim. We’re introduced to a new character that seems to straddle the line between help and hindrance, and it remains to be seen how her interactions with our team will develop.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
Our duo is joined by rookie statistics analyst JUNG WOO-JOO (Ryeoun), who’s like an overgrown eager puppy, hee. Ha-young offers a word of wisdom about the tale of a blind man who carried a lantern not for himself, but for others — they need to have that mindset in order to last long in this job.
When the cut-up remains of Soo-hyun, the kidnapped little girl, are discovered, our Behavioral Analysis Team gets right on the case. They’re technically not officially allowed to investigate the case since it isn’t under their purview, so Young-soo and Ha-young decide to go straight to the captain of the Special Crime Squad — Inspector YOON TAE-GU (Kim So-jin). She’s skeptical about what they do, insisting that resolving the case takes priority over crime prevention.
Still, I like that she isn’t one-dimensional in her stubbornness, and that she’s willing to listen to reason. Our team realizes that the body parts were cleanly cut and double-bagged, like how a butcher would pack meat, and they tell Gil-pyo about it outside the station. Tae-gu overhears this as she walks out, and contrary to expectations, she actually begins investigating the butcher shops in the area.
However, she later accuses Ha-young of meddling and disrupting their work. He points out that she’s being overly defensive, but we soon realize why. Some of her coworkers don’t afford her the proper respect she deserves as team captain, disparaging and excluding her instead.
I love the subtle female empowerment that’s woven into this drama — for example, a witness dismissively refers to Tae-gu as “miss,” and Ha-young corrects her that Tae-gu’s actually the team captain. It’s an understated commentary on how women are often belittled and underestimated in the workforce, and I’m glad the drama took the opportunity to call it out. Tae-gu is such a capable character, and I appreciate that her gender isn’t spotlighted to reduce her to a trope, but neither is it glossed over.
Our team’s extrapolations of the criminal’s likely characteristics and personality traits seem like mere speculation to the higher-ups. Thankfully, they have Gil-pyo and Jun-sik in their corner, who give them the go-ahead to investigate unofficially as long as they keep it covert.
Young-soo discovers imprint marks on the back of the victim’s corpse, which allows them to narrow down the model of the refrigerator she was kept in. Eventually, Ha-young discovers that a man named Jo Hyun-gil fits their profile. The team searches his abandoned house, and they find knives, the exact refrigerator model, and Soo-hyun’s hair clip. However, only eight of Soo-hyun’s fingers surface, and Ha-young’s frustration is palpable.
When he discovers something that seems like a finger, but turns out to be a sausage instead, we witness our first outburst from him as he hurls the sausage back into the sewer. Slowly but surely, his emotions are beginning to rise to the surface. He’s not as dispassionate as he portrays himself to be — when he and Young-soo interview a convict that not only dismembered his girlfriend, but also bit off her tongue, the revelation clearly unsettles Ha-young and he’s visibly shaken.
We do get more soft Ha-young moments as well, though! While staking out Hyun-gil’s house, Ha-young gets out of the car to feed a stray cat some of the snacks he always carries around. He explains that animals can’t speak up when they’re sick or hungry, so he thought that he should take the first step to reach out to them. Aww. Later on, Tae-gu ends up bringing the cat home, showing that she isn’t made of stone either.
The forensic analysis on the murder weapon turns up only three fingerprints, leading Ha-young to suspect that Hyun-gil’s missing two of his fingers. They manage to apprehend him (with a very satisfying takedown by Tae-gu), and Hyun-gil admits to the murder. Through Ha-young’s questioning, Hyun-gil reveals that he lost two fingers in a work accident. His missing fingers made him ashamed of women’s judgment, whereas children showed no such prejudice. And yet he murdered an innocent child! Rage bubbles up in Young-soo, and honestly I feel the same.
Again, we have a male criminal, and again, it’s a crime committed against someone weaker in a twisted attempt to alleviate their trauma of victimhood. First it was Kang-moo who suffered from domestic violence, and now it’s Hyun-gil who struggled with an inferiority complex. Yet what they’ve failed to realize is that by committing these crimes, they can no longer play the victim card, because they have now become the perpetrators of unconscionable violence.
After the case wraps up, we see our protagonists grieve in their own ways. Young-soo downs shots after shots of soju next to a concerned Woo-joo, and Ha-young leaves a basket of white flowers outside Soo-hyun’s parents’ door. The montage is accompanied by a voiceover of a heartfelt article written by reporter CHOI YOON-JI (Gong Sung-ha), and I have a lump in my throat.
A very drunk Young-soo stumbles home, bumping into a man along the way. In a fit of frustration at the police’s incompetence, Young-soo tosses his police ID card on the ground, and the man picks it up ominously. This is next week’s criminal, who not only bludgeons an innocent dog to death by a riverbank, but also replaces Young-soo’s photo on his police ID card with his own. He masquerades as an officer, accompanying a young lady home under the guise of protecting her. Ugh, I’m getting the shivers already.
I hope the stolen ID card doesn’t snowball into a bigger issue for Young-soo, especially when there’s already so much scrutiny directed towards the Behavioral Analysis Team. Furthermore, our team has set their sights on the next case, the unsolved Daesung serial murders, which seems to be based off the real-life Hwaseong serial murders. It’s going to be brutal and bloody.
I’m concerned for Ha-young, too. Back at home, he eases his mother’s worries with a small smile, but once he’s asleep in bed, a tear slips from his eye. The case clearly took quite the emotional toll on him, and his mother summed it up quite nicely — while he used to cry in her arms before, he now tries to carry everything on his shoulders, alone.
Interviewing criminals and trying to examine their psyche is a mentally draining task, and it’s likely even more so for Ha-young, who’s so empathetic that he seems to be unable to draw emotional boundaries. He pours his whole heart into solving the cases and bringing closure to the victim and their grieving families, yet he doesn’t seem to reserve any of that concern for himself. At this rate, I’m worried he’ll start running on empty. Thankfully, he now has a team beside him, so I hope that Young-soo’s kind concern, Woo-joo’s bright exuberance, and Tae-gu’s stoic rationality will help keep our hero from drowning in desolation.