Big Mouth: Episodes 5-6
Confusion, hallucinations, death threats, and more murders — things get even darker this week in Gucheon. Luckily, our leads are the light at the story’s center once they decide to go at it together, embracing their situation — and each other.
EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP
With so much confusion and new information, we’ve got a million things to talk about this week — like how even a prison drama managed to sneak in a requisite bathing scene for our male lead. On top of that, I asked for recalibration of our OTP last week and I’m happy to say that’s exactly what I got. These two are back in business together and more adorable than ever. Or is that just Lee Jong-seok’s smile? Which, I’m also happy to announce, has returned in abundance. Sure, half the time he looks like a psychopath, but the other half… ahhh, this is what I waited three years for.
We pick up on the edge of our seats waiting to see if Chang-ho will write the names planted by Ji-hoon in Big Mouse’s fake ledger. It’s tense. Ji-hoon on one side of the table and Chang-ho on the other, they write a list of five names each. The mayor is there, but he didn’t reach Chang-ho in time to warn him. The warden reveals the two lists and Oh. My. God. they are the same. But rather than disconfirming he’s Big Mouse, it has the opposite effect. Confusion ensues.
The mayor knows he gave Chang-ho a list of fake names. What we learn is that Ji-hoon has written five names from the real Big Mouse ledger — he expected to see mis-matched lists, so Chang-ho would look like an idiot in front of everybody. Somehow, Chango-ho has written the correct five names. Now, everyone — Ji-hoon, the VIPs, the warden, and even the mayor — are pretty convinced he’s Big Mouse.
This is good news for Chang-ho because it pays. With the briefcase full of cash that he gets from the VIPs, he buys himself some prison benefits. First order of business? Pizza Party! After the slices have settled, the warden agrees to let Chang-ho do anything he wants in the prison, as long as he doesn’t commit any serious crimes. He uses this privilege to try to pressure the VIPs to confess to murder at their trial.
I’ve always referred to the VIPs as one because up to this point they’ve always acted in concert. This week, one of them, DOCTOR HAN JAE-HO (Lee Yoo-joon), starts to separate from the pack as Chang-ho drives a wedge between him and the other two. Chang-ho gets Dr. Han alone and tortures him the way Chang-ho was tortured when he entered the prison. Out of fear for his life, the doctor finally promises to confess at the trial and turn in the other two.
With Chang-ho refusing to break character, including in front of Mayor Choi, the mayor meets with Mi-ho and tells her that Chang-ho is indeed Big Mouse. At first Mi-ho doesn’t waiver in her beliefs. Then, on her way home, she learns that Chang-ho paid off his debt with the loan shark. Thinking about where he could have possibly gotten the money if he’s not Big Mouse, Mi-ho starts crying her heart out. This is some next-level betrayal. I mean, this woman lost her life savings because of this guy, took a shady job to figure out why he’s been framed, and is currently riding home on the city bus — this is what she gets in return?
Luckily for Mi-ho, the (all female) nursing staff at her hospital will be going on their annual prison visit to give checkups to the prisoners (this isn’t uncomfortable at all). At the visit, Mi-ho gets a chance to talk to Chang-ho alone (given his new Grade A status) and the truth comes out. We learn as Mi-ho does that after Chang-ho received Mayor Choi’s list, someone knocked him out and put a tarot card in his pocket with a second list on it. Chang-ho was torn about which list to use at the meeting with Ji-hoon until he saw the mayor frantically trying to visit him. Since then, he has been receiving other tarot cards, which either prophecy an event or give him instructions. For example, the “judgement” card was to force the VIPs to confess and receive punishment for their crime. He believes these cards are from the real Big Mouse.
Mi-ho wants to know why he is continuing to pretend. Chang-ho says if he doesn’t keep acting out what Big Mouse wants him to do, he will die. At the same time, he wants to use his position to figure out who Big Mouse really is. Mi-ho sees two separate cases now and they decide to split them: she will work on finding the doctor’s research paper and he will work on exposing Big Mouse (we’re getting some classic noir elements now as it’s obvious these two cases will link in the end). Mi-ho is the only one Chang-ho trusts with this information and their balanced bond is back — after last week’s falter — giving me what I need to care about these characters again.
This drama is full of cartoonish villains that don’t give enough nuance to take them seriously. Dr. Han of the VIP trio is one of them. There’s a scene this week, though, where he’s so monsterish that, afterward, the show adds a discussion of Korea’s domestic violence hotline (1366, if you’re wondering). His wife, JANG HYE-JIN (Hong Ji-hee), comes to visit him at the prison with the nurses who are there giving checkups and serving food (huh?). She rejects him sexually, what with prison cameras all around, and he punches her in the face. The move comes out of nowhere and feels like the apex of terrible — until the next thing that happens: he accuses her of cheating and tries to strangle her. He stops short and apologizes before she leaves.
We know almost nothing about the backstory of these characters so at first it feels like Han Jae-ho is just an abusive, paranoid, a-hole. The thing that bothers me about how it plays out, is that it turns out she had actually cheated on him. She was having an affair with the murdered doctor, SEO JAE-YONG (Park Hoon). The two met while she was running away after being beaten by her husband in what looks like a regular occurrence. Something about the order of events doesn’t sit right with me. It plays like vindication for the husband, intentional or not.
The link between Dr. Seo and Hye-jin turns out to be more important than we might expect. Mi-ho gets a clue from one of her patient’s caregivers that the doctor’s paper is on a chip, hidden in a cross necklace worn by… “that woman.” The person giving the information is then murdered mid-sentence in front of Mi-ho (and I covered my eyes for like the fortieth time this episode). Mi-ho immediately suspects Joo-hee, who wears a cross necklace and is obviously involved in dubious dealings. Upon inspection, her necklace has nothing, and we already know it’s Hye-jin. Mi-ho and her Scooby Doo team have just figured this out and we’ll have to tune in next week to see how they solve the case.
I feel like the show is finally hitting its stride. For one, it’s purposefully pointing fingers all around and giving us the fun of guessing who Big Mouse is like an old-school murder mystery. I expect it will keep spinning us in circles until the end. While parts of it feel comic book-y and over the top (super strength, heinous villains), at its center we have some complex characters. Chang-ho and Mi-ho are facing extraordinary circumstances as ordinary people. While Chang-ho plays the role of Big Mouse like a total nutjob, he becomes human again when he opens up to his wife. Mi-ho never loses her every woman vibe but still steps up to be a crime fighter. Seeing these two together is my real reason for watching.
And then there’s the mayor. He’s been humanized more than any of the other side characters and yet I still don’t trust him. Or, maybe it’s the fact that he’s more likeable than the rest that I find him suspicious. I’ll be interested to see whose side he’s really on, and how much I can trust my own instincts.
- Premiere Watch: Big Mouth, Today’s Webtoon, The Good Detective 2
- Yoon-ah tries to save Lee Jong-seok in MBC’s Big Mouth
- Lee Jong-seok accepts his mistaken identity in MBC’s Big Mouth
- Big Mouth lawyer Lee Jong-seok becomes the con artist Big Mouse
- Lee Jong-seok eyes first post-military drama Big Mouth