Big Mouth: Episodes 3-4
Misdirection abounds this week, giving us too many twists and turns to truly know who’s in alliance. One thing that’s certain is our leading couple is on the case, separated by prison walls but closer to each other than ever before. With the real Big Mouse still MIA and our hero embracing his false identity, we start to see our losing lawyer come into his own. There’s just one snag: how to be a believable criminal without being blamed for any crimes.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
There’s a social theme that underlies our show this week as we find that in Gucheon Prison those with money and connections get special treatment, while those without are forced to do the worst, most disgusting (think raw sewage) jobs. Our boy Chang-ho is in the second category, and it’s this division of people into classes that ultimately pushes him to declare he’s Big Mouse.
It begins when the three high-society inmates (the “VIP”) pay one of the unmoneyed inmates to kill Chang-ho. There’s a serious scuffle in the prison yard but, fortunately, Chang-ho proves pretty good at defending himself and leaves only with his hand in a bandage where he caught the blade. Afterward, the warden, PARK YOON-GAP (Jung Jae-sung) — known for taking bribes — asks Chang-ho for money. If he’s Big Mouse, he should be able to pay with no problem. Chang-ho can’t pay, and when Warden Park starts to threaten his family, he realizes the only way to survive and protect Mi-ho is to pretend to be Big Mouse — wielding power instead of money.
Here’s where things get good and the sh*t — literally — hits the fan (and everything else). When Chang-ho and the rest of the Grade C prisoners are cleaning the sewer, they’re not allowed to eat in the cafeteria with everyone else. Chang-ho takes on his new identity with verve and leads a rebellion to ask for food. He spews the smelly slop (with a ladle, lol) all over the guards until the warden comes to break things up. Now convinced that Chang-ho is Big Mouse, Warden Park fears for his family and lets the Grade C gang go to the cafeteria.
Shouting “Boss” as they follow, this act earns Chang-ho a small group of devotees — and I finally start to get behind him as well. He may be a loser in his real life, but as Big Mouse, he triumphs.
Running on the heels of his success, Chang-ho wants more loyal supporters and spreads the word that he’ll grant any wish to anyone. At first, only three people take it seriously and he hears requests to save dying mothers and find missing daughters. Then, the guy who tried to stab him gets transferred to his room and says he wants his wish granted too — but he (and a few others) are only there to try to kill him again (with the backing of the VIP and the warden). This time, as the murder attempt goes down, Chang-ho’s crew comes to his aid and one of them gets stabbed instead, winding up in the hospital to recover.
After the stabbing, everyone involved gets put in solitary confinement and the knife-happy guy is found dead in his cell. It looks like a suicide but Chang-ho is blamed. Then, two of the other culprits die, this time by cyanide. CCTV footage shows they swallowed it by themselves, but it’s a mystery where they got it. All fingers are pointing at Big Mouse and suddenly Chang-ho realizes the real Big Mouse could be in the prison too.
Here, I’m compelled to detour to introduce JERRY (Kwak Dong-yeon). He’s one of Chang-ho’s roommates who’s also become his right-hand man. He tells Chang-ho he’ll stay by his side, arguing he’s not a traitor, just a scammer. When they first meet, Chang-ho is introduced as Big Mouse and Jerry says he’s a super fan. In fact, his name comes from the show Tom and Jerry — where Jerry is the mouse. (Now, just putting it out there… a scamming mouse? Isn’t that precisely the guy we’re looking for? Is that mouse tattoo on his inner wrist just part of his fandom status? Seems suspicious.)
Ji-hoon visits Chang-ho in prison and threatens to kill him if he can’t prove he’s Big Mouse. He wants to confirm the names of five major drug buyers — he’ll check the names against Big Mouse’s ledger, which he got from the prosecutor. So, as one would, Chang-ho knocks out a guard and steals his cell phone to call Mayor Choi. The mayor has the same ledger because the prosecutor also gave it to him, promising that there were no copies (i.e., shady prosecutor). Too bad for Chang-ho, the mayor hangs up on him.
After meeting with Ji-hoon, Chang-ho decides that it was Big Mouse himself that must have framed him. Big Mouse likely couldn’t handle the repercussions of ripping off NR Forum — the group of local elites that includes Ji-hoon. (I mean, it makes sense. Who else would have all that cash and drugs to plant in the wall?) Now that the warden also knows about the drug ledger and Ji-hoon’s demand, Chang-ho has to produce the names on the list.
While all this is happening, Mi-ho is stationed at the hospital digging into the case of the murdered doctor. It seems the paper referred to during the murder was a research paper the doctor wrote that now can’t be found. It was never published, and word around town is, “there is no paper.” This becomes the driver for most of the action on Mi-ho’s side. Since she’s making no headway by asking around, she stands up in a hospital seminar, full of staff, and announces she has the paper. She doesn’t have it, of course, but her logic is that whoever goes after her or contacts her about it will lead to a breakthrough. (Yikes. I thought she was the smart one.)
As soon as she leaves the hospital, she starts getting tailed. But the first to actually contact her is Mayor Choi. He knows about her claim because his wife is also Mi-ho’s boss, Hospital Director HYUN JOO-HEE (Ok Ja-yeon). Side note: since Joo-hee asked Mi-ho to resign because her husband is Big Mouse (though Mi-ho refused), it’s not clear to me who’s side she is on, or if she and her husband are after the same things in this case. Anyway, when the mayor finds out that Mi-ho doesn’t really have the paper, their meeting is short.
When Mi-ho finally catches the person following her, it’s Mayor Choi’s secretary. She assumes he has villainous intentions, but the mayor says he was watching out for her — it was a dangerous move to claim she has the research paper in front of so many people. The mayor then gives her a list of five names from the drug ledger and tells her to deliver it Chang-ho. He’s decided to help him because if he were really Big Mouse he wouldn’t have called the mayor asking for the names. (Still, why he decides to help the guy he hired as a pawn I’m not sure.) Mi-ho delivers the names and Chang-ho tells her to call the mayor if she gets into any trouble — he’s the only one that will be on their side.
Here’s the kicker to this whole thing: Ji-hoon made a fake ledger, and that’s what the prosecutor gave to the mayor. If Chang-ho says the names on that list to Ji-hoon, he will know both that Chang-ho is not Big Mouse and that the mayor is not on his side. Ji-hoon tells Mayor Choi about the ledger the day before he is supposed to go meet Chang-ho. The mayor can’t get in touch with Chang-ho and this week’s episodes end with Chang-ho having a visitor (we don’t know who) and the entire prison cheering him on.
I feel there’s already a tonal shift from last week. Maybe it’s the prison setting that now dominates the show? (It’s certainly the least amount of outfit changes I ever thought possible for Lee Jong-seok.) I think it has to do with how Mi-ho seems like she’s taking a backseat to Chang-ho, rather than being the kickbutt female I was hoping for. Even though Chang-ho is in prison, I feel like he’s accomplishing more — not just in terms of his character — but in solving the case. When Mi-ho delivered the list of names to him, he told her he’d tell her what it was about after it was taken care of — how did she get demoted to a messenger while he’s getting so much done behind bars?
While I’m glad their separation is pulling them towards each other (they’re both a huge sobbing mess whenever they meet), I’d like to see this crisis utilize their strengths as well. At the end of the day, I’m not interested in Chang-ho’s growth if it’s at Mi-ho’s expense. Still, with so much story left to go, there’s time to recalibrate.
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