Bad and Crazy – Episode 02 recap/musings

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[The theme music continues to captivate me, fyi.]

We pick up right back where we left off, at Gyeong Tae’s Inferno, with Su Yeol barrelling through the rooftop-high window with the young officer in his arms…

Hard-cut to a dazed Su Yeol waking up on a hospital bed, hearing these loving words from his family:

“This idiot.”

“Oh, he woke up!”

Followed promptly by a motherly smack on the arm. Then another, and then another, as Mama Ryu berates him for putting himself in danger. Dong Yeol tries to calm things by pointing out that Su Yeol saved someone else’s life, to which Mama Ryu responds with: “Hero, my foot. Why would you do such a thing? It’s so unlike you!” More slaps. Ha!

Jae Son takes Su Yeol to see a still-unconscious Gyeong Tae and says that false rumours are flying about that the young officer tried to take his own life because of Su Yeol’s surveillance. Just recounting it makes Jae Son frustrated at how they’re treated by their fellow cops [oof, dude, don’t you know who you work with?] and suggests tracking down Helmet Man to see if they can try to find a starting point from which to clear things up.

Their first lead is a student who says that she ordered jokbal (braised pig’s trotters) and came to the roof. She states that she only saw two people fall from the top floor, and a “handsome man” on a bike, but nobody in a helmet. Amazed by Su Yeol’s cat-like recovery after the fall, she asks if he works out. He deadpans, “I go fishing.” Heh.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman and Detective Do watch the footage from the bear that the latter swiped from Gyeong Tae’s home. It turns out to be just a sweet birthday message to her daughter. Furious at the lengths they went to for such a non-issue, the Assemblyman reminds his cousin that, even though Gyeong Tae might not regain consciousness, he still saw his face. He warns him that if he doesn’t clean up this mess, “even the President can’t save you”.

Back at Bom Pil’s office, the chief is reading out hate comments to Su Yeol from an article about Gyeong Tae’s reported “suicide attempt”. Bom Pil asks Su Yeol what the hell he’s playing at, but Su Yeol points out that he found Gyeong Tae beaten to a pulp, and that he saved his life. In case we needed another reminder of how much of a selfish, amoral wanker Su Yeol is, Bom Pil snorts at this: “You’d never save anyone if there was nothing in it for you.” He warns him to just lay low until the pre-promotion evaluations, and Su Yeol promises to sort it out.

At lunch, Jae Son deadpans that Su Yeol could have gotten promoted by ruining Gyeong Tae but, oops, he went and saved his life instead. Su Yeol says it’s not over and that he just needs to find Helmet Man, but Jae Son’s had enough of this and wonders if Su Yeol’s just lost his marbles, because nobody else they’ve questioned has seen this guy and would just think Su Yeol is lying. A frustrated Su Yeol spits (literally) back, “How do you think I feel right now?”. Jae Son insists he gets help before his cop badge goes bye-bye. “I know a good doctor.”

Su Yeol visits this doctor, Yeom Geun Su, whose grubby little office, with its broken neon lighting and shag curtains instead of doors, resembles more that of a palm reader on the lam rather than an actual medical professional. Of his friendship with Jae Son, he recalls, “the illegal distribution of mental health medication brought us together.” Hoo, boy.

He invites Su Yeol to open up by thinking of the good doctor as his mother. [So…lots of slapping?] Su Yeol talks about Helmet Man, but his story sounds both increasingly unhinged for the doctor to feel awkward but also boring enough for him to stealth-text his friends on his phone. He manages to convince Su Yeol that he probably just fell asleep and hit his head in the sauna, and “prescribes” (read: reaches into a drawer full of tubs with home-made labels) Su Yeol some sleeping pills.

Back at Bom Pil’s office, the chief is reading out hate comments to Su Yeol from an article about Gyeong Tae’s reported “suicide attempt”. Bom Pil asks Su Yeol what the hell he’s playing at, but Su Yeol points out that he found Gyeong Tae beaten to a pulp, and that he saved his life. In case we needed another reminder of how much of a selfish, amoral wanker Su Yeol is, Bom Pil snorts at this: “You’d never save anyone if there was nothing in it for you.” He warns him to just lay low until the pre-promotion evaluations, and Su Yeol promises to sort it out.

At lunch, Jae Son deadpans that Su Yeol could have gotten promoted by ruining Gyeong Tae but, oops, he went and saved his life instead. Su Yeol says it’s not over and that he just needs to find Helmet Man, but Jae Son’s had enough of this and wonders if Su Yeol’s just lost his marbles, because nobody else they’ve questioned has seen this guy and would just think Su Yeol is lying. A frustrated Su Yeol spits (literally) back, “How do you think I feel right now?”. Jae Son insists he gets help before his cop badge goes bye-bye. “I know a good doctor.”

Su Yeol visits this doctor, Yeom Geun Su, whose grubby little office, with its broken neon lighting and shag curtains instead of doors, resembles more that of a palm reader on the lam rather than an actual medical professional. Of his friendship with Jae Son, he recalls, “the illegal distribution of mental health medication brought us together.” Hoo, boy.

He invites Su Yeol to open up by thinking of the good doctor as his mother. [So…lots of slapping?] Su Yeol talks about Helmet Man, but his story sounds both increasingly unhinged for the doctor to feel awkward but also boring enough for him to stealth-text his friends on his phone. He manages to convince Su Yeol that he probably just fell asleep and hit his head in the sauna, and “prescribes” (read: reaches into a drawer full of tubs with home-made labels) Su Yeol some sleeping pills.

At home, Su Yeol gets a call from Jae Son, who tells him that there’s no dirt on Gyeong Tae – everyone loves him [and who wouldn’t?], and that the last place he went was Yu Na’s apartment complex. The next day, the two head over. Su Yeol mentions that Detective Do showed him proof that Yu Na was still alive (the credit card transaction) but Jae Son said he already looked into it [god, I love him] and that it wasn’t her, but a friend.

The pair head up Yu Na’s flat, only to find that the landlord has scrubbed everything clean amid renovations. They confirm that Gyeong Tae was there and that he was looking for “a doll”. Su Yeol has a twinge of a memory in the bathroom – he clearly remembers being there. There’s no way it was a dream.

On the way out, the two piece together the possibility that Gyeong Tae was right, and that someone is violently trying to cover up Yu Na’s disappearance – maybe even Detective Do. Su Yeol semi-dismisses this (gotta protect that relationship with the Assemblyman) and suggests they lead with trying to find Yu Na first. Su Yeol tells Jae Son to check security footage and to meet with the security guard [like that’ll do shit].

A little while later, Su Yeol comes across In Seon, Yu Na’s daughter, arguing with a street cleaner about putting up her poster. He takes her out for ice cream and asks her about Yu Na, but it’s not going well. In Seon asks if he’s a really police officer, to which Su Yeol responds by snatching his badge out of her hand and shoving her ice cream bowl at her. [Which one’s the kid, here?] In Seon asks if it’s bad news, that it’s okay, he can tell her, and she asks him to give Gyeong Tae her clover bracelet because she couldn’t find a four-leaf clover to make him one. Oh, my heart.

Back at the station, Jae Son and Su Yeol comb through reams of security footage literally all night and finally spot something odd – a car with a giant stovepipe attached. Su Yeol says it resembles a pet cremation van from his youth (Dong Yeol’s idea for their dog’s funeral, aww), but notes that this is definitely illegal.

They track it to an office on a dirt road, and speak to a foreign worker who works for the owner. He doesn’t say much – other than it’s from an old business, that his boss will be back soon, and that Su Yeol is rude [ha] – and then flees by bike. They won’t catch up to him, so Su Yeol makes Jae Son break into the van without a warrant:

Su Yeol: The window’s cracked.

Jason: What? Where? Jason: …

Jason: Just tell me to break it, for goodness’ sake.

Inside, they find ashes. Oh, dear.

Elsewhere, Detective Do barges into the van owner’s cozy, impossibly string-light-decorated restaurant where the latter fills in the former on the raid. Do orders the men to leave the country before things go south, but the van owner demands money for the costs. Do hands him an envelope. “This is the last time.” He leaves, but not before warning him that if he doesn’t leave and lie low, he’ll die. That wasn’t very hygge of you, Detective Do.

Shortly after, Detective Do stands looming over Gyeong Tae’s hospital bed. He takes something out of his pocket, but we don’t know what it is or what he’s about to do. Yikes.

Next morning, the two good(ish) detectives find out via Forensics that the ashes were indeed human. But to do a DNA test, they head over to take a swab from Yu Na’s brother while In Seon, giving her grandmother the world’s tiniest back rub, looks on. Yu Na’s brother brings up his sister’s insurance policy, which Jae Son rebukes as callous. Yu Seol, to his credit, gently closes In Seon’s door, but she can still hear. He tells the brother to get custody of In Seon if he wants to manage her payout, but that the money is definitely hers and if he spends it or screws with it, he’ll go to jail.

A tearful In Seon rushes outside to ask if her mother is dead or alive. Su Yeol says they don’t know either way. In Seon reminds him that it’s okay, she doesn’t have to hide the truth, and bursts into tears. Su Yeol just stares at the sky.

Jae Son calls Su Yeol while he’s visiting Gyeong Tae and tells him the ash DNA was a match for Yu Na. He tells a still-comatose Gyeong Tae that he was right.

Su Yeol returns home to find two pairs of shoes that aren’t his in his entryway. He hears his older brother wooing a noona over pizza with some suitable cheesy lines and rolls his eyes. She asks Dong Yeol to call him ‘jagiya’ [I see you, Strangers From Hell reference], but he replies playfully that he can’t say it, so Su Yeol shuffles in saying it himself while pretending to call the cops on the pair for trespassing. Dong Yeol accidentally calls the noona ‘jagiya’ while telling her to get out. Pfft. Su Yeol tells his brother to kindly piss off, but when the jokbal Dong Yeol ordered shows up, Su Yeol has a thought: checking the dashcam of the jokbal the student from before mentioned.

Su Yeol reviews the footage and clearly spots Detective Do. Over the phone, Jae Son connects the dots and our dramatic irony is over – both now know what we, the viewers, know, and the pair meet up outside Munyang Police Agency to confront Detective Do. He’s there with a posse who threaten to start shit. Su Yeol asks why Do went to Gyeong Tae, mocking that “there are dash cams everywhere”, but Do lies that he went there to apologise… and then reveals that he didn’t know that Gyeong Tae had killed Yu Na. Su Yeol laughs at this, but Do reveals that a knife with both Yu Na’s blood and Gyeong Tae’s prints were found on the latter’s rooftop. But Jae Son isn’t having any of it, and flat-out accuses Detective Do of lying, killing Yu Na, and trying to frame Gyeong Tae. A mini-brawl breaks out, but the station’s beat cops flock out to break it up.

Next morning, Bom Pil stares at Su Yeol with all the disassociated disappointment of someone who ordered crepes but got a pancake instead. “I don’t even get angry anymore,” he laments. Su Yeol insists the killer wasn’t Gyeong Tae but actually Detective Do, and that they should clean this up because there’s no way Assemblyman Do would want to be associated with a killer [oof]. Bom Pil tells him that the detective already has an alibi – the Assemblyman said they were together. Su Yeol, with the inference skills of a vintage bowling ball, wonders out aloud why Assemblyman Do would lie, but Bom Pil just tells him to shut the fuck up about it all, especially given that it’ll take away his promotion that he’s literally about to get – and even shows him the paperwork for it.

At the hospital, Detective Do keeps an ominous watch on Gyeong Tae while overhearing a news broadcast about the latter being charged with murder.

Now we’re at Yu Na’s funeral, where In Seon gazes stoically at her mother’s funeral portrait, and her uncle is dozing off. This poor kid. Other than one other person, the only other people there are Su Yeol and Jae Seon. The latter spots the former fidgeting with the clover bracelet, and he jokes that In Seon is talented, that his own kids can’t make anything with their hands. Aw. Su Yeol pours him more soju, and Jae Son apologises for losing his temper but adds that they can’t just stop now. Su Yeol appears to nod in response.

But the next morning, Su Yeol is decked in uniform and holding flowers: He got his promotion. Jae Son isn’t best pleased. Su Yeol tries to chat, even invite himself over, but Jae Son gives him the cold shoulder, pretends to swat a fly while batting away Su Yeol’s hand, and finally walks away in disgust. Su Yeol eyes his new nameplate on his desk, but a slow camera pan away shows how alone he is.

After work, Su Yeol finds Hui Gyeom waiting at his car. She sarcastically congratulates him, then sits in his car to talk. Like my dad, he scolds her for slamming the door as she gets in. She tells him she looked into Yu Na’s case and there’s no way the killer could have been Gyeong Tae as they’d had zero connection before he started looking into her disappearance. Su Yeol mumbles about the knife being found but Hui Gyeom says there isn’t even a motive, nor did he bother to look for one, and drops the reveal that Yu Na was a secret informant of Min Su (the slain cop mentioned in Episode 1). Hui Gyeom recounts how she found out that Yu Na wore a necklace that had a secret spy cam inside, sent by Min Su, and asks Su Yeol if he’s seen it. Su Yeol says he hasn’t and grumbles at her to get out of his car. She does, but then slams the door shut as hard as she can. Ha!

Back home, Su Yeol takes the elevator up to his flat, but it stops suddenly. Guess who? It’s Helmet Man! – who uses a knife to pry open the door with a “peekaboo!” and then starts jumping up and down like a kangaroo on cocaine atop a trampoline inside a bouncy castle during an earthquake, sending them hurtling downward. Before they crash, Su Yeol wakes up…

…On a motorcycle, strapped butt-to-butt against Helmet Man, which takes us into my favourite set of shots of the show so far: a series of jumpy, wild POV and tracking shots of the duo just tearing through a shopping mall and a motorway, with Helmet Man turning on his red LED helmet lights while a flailing Su Yeol struggles to right his jostling, lanky frame like a deranged spider crab. It’s a stunning sequence, but made next-level by this: They briefly stop to let an elderly lady cross the road with her zimmer frame, but before Su Yeol can use this as an excuse to free himself, off they zoom again. Hee!

They arrive at the hideout of the van owner and his workers, and Helmet Man literally has to force Su Yeol into the doorway. The latter tries to play it cool, but the van owner keeps asking if he’s the fried chicken delivery guy. Ha. An impatient Helmet Man cuts to the chase and punches the van owner, and a full-blown brawl breaks out. While Helmet Man fights off 6+ guys with his bare hands, Su Yeol hides behind a desk, throws a box of pens at one guy (and misses), then trips over his own feet while running upstairs. Good contribution, dickhead!

He’s about to outright just fuck off without helping when he notices an open cabinet, whereupon he peeks in and notices a box of jewellery. He spots the spy cam necklace and grabs it, then makes a calculated leap from the mezzanine balcony – only to fall into a pile of ashes. Eurgh. He sees Helmet Man through the window and then frantically waves bye before fleeing like the bag of human skin stuffed with arseholery that he is, leaving Helmet Man to fend for himself.

But you know what? Helmet Man’s doing fine on his own: He pushes over a vat of oil, gets in, slips about (wait, what? why?), then taunts them with a lighter. He throws it to distract them, then beats the shit out of everyone with the perplexing grace of a drunken ballerina, even removing his helmet to use as a boxing glove. Honestly, the choreography and comic timing of these fight scenes are a joy to watch.

Back home, Su Yeol watches the necklace cam’s footage: It’s of Assemblyman Do screaming at Yu Na’s bloodied body. It’s clearly him, and it’s clearly Yu Na. Su Yeol shuts the laptop in horror.

But the next day, he stands on a bridge, holding the necklace, thinking of its implications for his job, his connections, for any future promotions. He throws his arm back to hurl the necklace off the bridge but Helmet Man drives by and snags it right in time, and stops a short distance away. Su Yeol leaps into his car to chase him but Helmet Man zooms back and smashes his passenger window with his front wheel, then doubles back to basically fart out debris and petrol fumes from the other side of his bike. It’s working: Su Yeol is scared and screaming, and sits and flails for a bit before realising, I don’t know, he can actually drive away, fucking moron? Which he does, knocking Helmet Man to the ground.

Su Yeol jumps out of the car and berates Helmet Man, who asks about the necklace. Su Yeol doesn’t reply, but tells him to give it back and that Helmet Man has no idea what it means. Helmet Man removes his helmet for an introduction:

Su Yeol: Who are you? Who the heck are you? Who are you and why are you doing this to me?

Helmet Man: Me? Hero.

Su Yeol: Wot

Helmet Man: To punish those trash-like rotten punks. The last of this era! The hero.

Su Yeol:

Su Yeol: !!!

Su Yeol: You’re one crazy idiot, aren’t you?

Helmet Man:(laughing) You… You still don’t get who I am, do you? (points)

Su Yeol: (backs away in fear)

Helmet Man: Watch closely from now on. About who I am.

And with a wink and a wave, he hurls himself backwards from the bridge. Su Yeol rushes to the barrier, but he sees nobody in the water. He’s utterly flummoxed. Completely baffled. Heckin bamboozled.

Next morning, a news broadcast shows that Assemblyman Do has been re-elected. Su Yeol enters Bom Pil’s office to find the Commissioner visiting. They exchange pleasantries before Assemblyman Do walks in. Bom Pil tells everyone that, entre-nous, Su Yeol owes his promotion to the Assemblyman, and nudges him to thank him (which he does). They head out for a meal, but Su Yeol, suddenly suffering from a headache, says he’ll use the restroom and meet them there.

He tries to pep himself up in front of the restroom mirror but Helmet Man (sans helmet) walks out from a stall, mocking him and saying he saw the necklace cam footage, before running away. Su Yeol gives chase but is stunned when Helmet Man keeps ending up one step ahead of him.

From a distant balcony he spots Helmet Man descending the steps and calling out rudely to Assemblyman Do. Su Yeol yells at Helmet Man to stop whatever he’s about to do, but Helmet Man gears up for a flying kick towards Assemblyman’s face.

And it’s then, right then, before the moment of impact, that Su Yeol realises, through a series of flashbacks: that it’s him. He’s Helmet Man. He was Helmet Man the whole time – at the apartment blaze, while using the UV light for clues at Yu Na’s place, and during the entire fight at the hideout, even wearing the same motorcycle leathers. And, to bring it home, we see (while wearing his day suit), it’s definitely, unequivocally, indubitably, Su Yeol himself Mortal Kombatting the Assemblyman in his jowls. Oh, damn!

And thats episode 2 down!

This show continues to get madder, and I’m happy it set down some rules early on how Helmet Man/K manifests and that only Su Yeol can see him. Though, with just 10 episodes left, I’m curious as to where this will go now that Helmet Man has created such a damningly public scene. Ooh, the implications!

I can’t wait to see more of his internal struggle with Helmet Man/K (can they just finally introduce him as K in the show so I can start calling him that in my recaps?). Will it be like Venom (or the arguably much better Upgrade)? Are we going to see split shots of Su Yeol talking to K and then talking to nobody?

I’m also curious about who K is or what he might represent. When he removed his helmet, Su Yeol didn’t recognise him. So he can’t be a manifestation of someone from his past, surely? Argh! I need to know more!

I’ll just sleep until Friday. It’s what Su Yeol would do.

Stray thoughts:

  • Why is everyone eating jokbal in this episode?
  • Assemblyman Do, do you not have earphones? Why listen to a potentially incriminating video on a laptop on full volume on the boot of a car during the day?
  • Detective Do is terrified of his much, much smaller cousin. To be honest, so am I. People who laugh when they’re angry are definitely to be feared.
  • I hope visiting dodgy pill-peddlers isn’t the standard for mental health care in South Korea, but the little bit of research I’ve done suggests that the services provided by the state are both under-funded and under-utilised. Sigh.
  • The poster of the smiling Assemblyman Do right behind little In Seon is chilling.
  • Jae Son and Su Yeol screaming excitedly over each other when they find the van made me snort a bit of a giggle.
  • The forensics dude said that ashes found in the van were only a small amount. Maybe Yu Na’s not dead?
  • Surprised to see Jae Son walk away like that after In Seon asks if her mother’s dead. I know she was talking to Su Yeol but, still. Doesn’t he have kids, too?
  • Seeing a bit more of Su Yeol’s flat and it’s more of the same, sad set-up – just a single bar stool in the kitchen. Does he ever entertain? I did spot a roomba by the sideboard so at least there’s some form of life there.
  • Lee Dong Wook’s Agent: You have to say ‘jagiya’ in everything you do now, sorry, them’s the rules.
  • That kitchen spread that poor, cock-blocked Dong Yeol had put out actually looked quite nice!
  • Su Yeol’s little jump at the jokbal place when a driver wearing red and black pulled up behind him. Ha.
  • Jae Son: “I will kill that jerk today and quit.” Whoa. Cool, but, whoa. I’m really liking him as the passionate/gung-ho voice of reason.
  • When K bent over before jumping, I seriously thought he was about to twerk.
  • Those sweet nods exchanged between K and the old lady at the crossing!
  • The van owner handing the foreign worker the bat, who slips and then hands it to K in resignation, who then uses it to paddle the van owner on the bum: comedy gold.
  • Other than being owned by Su Yeol, what did that poor clearly-an-Audi car do to deserve all this punishment?
  • I’m not surprised, but a little bit surprised, that Su Yeol would turn a blind eye to actual murder if it suited his own interests. Which begs the question: How many times, if at all, has he done this before?
  • K’s breaths of joy as he lets his face bask in the sunlight are probably real reactions from poor Wi Ha Jun. We all saw the on-set photos of him in that neck fan.
  • Su Yeol’s new desk nameplate states his rank as Captain, but in the final scene, Bom Pil refers to him as Superintendent. I’m going to split the difference and call him Supernintendo Dickhead.
  • HELMET MAN DID NOT WASH HIS HANDS, HE DID NOT WASH HIS HANDS, HE CLEARLY DID A NUMBER TWO AND HE DID NOT WASH HIS HANDS, WHAT THE FUCK, I don’t care if he’s a psychological manifestation of whatever he STILL NEEDS TO WASH HIS FUCKING HANDS
  • That tiny misdirect when Hui Gyeom saw and acknowledged K!
  • I really hope both LDW and WHJ do more physical comedy roles. They’re both nailing the timing here.

Bad and Crazy – Episode 01 recap/musings

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Some stray thoughts while watching this show through the lucid lurgy of my covid booster jab (please get it if you’re able to) that turned into a recap of sorts:

First: them opening credits are suitably mental.

…As was that trippy opening sequence with the Fight Club-esque boxing nightmare (I’d thought it was real from the previews) that sets up the Anti-Corruption Unit’s Senior Inspector Ryu Su Yeol‘s social positioning nicely: He thinks he’s got (literal) clout, and it seems like people are in his corner, but they just want to use him for their own ends.

Writer: How do we show how reckless this idiot is? Let’s have him wake up in a bathtub FULL of water, then traipse around his flat in soaking wet clothes and then fall over like a dickhead:

Su Yeol finds his car damaged, so he Karens off to the security office to demand to see the CCTV footage… which shows it’s actually him that did it. I’m glad we’re already touching on this.

[Why would you go to work right after not remembering that you trashed your own car? Did he just think he was that wasted?]

He whines to himself about still having to make car payments when he runs into his ex Hee Kyum, who immediately calls him out about screwing over her captain just so he could get promoted. When he tries to make her feel small by bringing up their break-up (ew) and that he’s her senior (double ew), she tells him he’s the problem. He tries to snark his way out of it but she’s not having any of it and flips him effortlessly to the ground. I love how she flips the back of her jacket like it’s a superhero cape as she leaves. Like a cat pretending it didn’t fall over, he jokes that she was “practicing her kicks” outside. Yeah, no-one’s buying that.

At work and he’s late (obviously). His partner Jae Seon asks if he drank last night. “Hey, that’s not important.” Ha.

The man they’ve brought in for questioning is already there, and Su Yeol makes up a flimsy excuse for his lateness about the cafe being busy. [He really is the person who shows up late with a Starbucks.] But at least he brought coffee for everyone. Iced americanos, though. Cheapskate. The man they’re questioning is Kim Gye Sik. Su Yeol extends a hand but it’s met with an icy stare from Kim Gye Sik, who points out that this “isn’t exactly an honourable situation, is it?”.

Su Yeol tries to look like he’s defusing any tension but with the emotional expertise of an external HR consultant coming in to fire everyone. He offers condolences for what happened to Gye Sik’s slain colleague Tak Min Su, but he’s watching the other man’s behaviour. Gye Sik recalls the situation: he saw Min Su fall from a height, saw the suspect fleeing and shot him, but the suspect, too, fell to his death. Cut to the present and Gye Sik is distraught, but Su Yeol has this look on his face that he can’t wait for the other guy to stop crying. Out of context, he looks like the world’s biggest arsehole.

Su Yeol mentions that the suspect, Sim Sang Ho, was close to Min Su, even helping him get clean from drugs. Gye Sik dismisses this by mentioning the suspect’s drug history (implying potential for violence), and that he only shot him in the leg. But Su Yeol pokes holes in his story – the suspect had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time, and was on the edge of a rooftop with no railings, and that any DNA evidence of the killing was washed away by the rain – effectively accusing Gye Sik of murdering his own partner and covering it up. Whoa – that’s a really heavy accusation. Two older cops – the Chief and the Commissioner – on the other side of the room’s two-way mirror mention in the same breath that Gye Sik is the best cop in narcotics, but that his ego was getting too big and that he pissed off the Commissioner’s nephew. So this is all politics.

In what’s probably not even midday yet, Su Yeol drinks expensive whiskey in Chief Kwak Bom Pil‘s office, the latter stringing the former along with talk of promotion. He calls Su Yeol a “fox” (heh) for pretending not to know he was drinking with the Commissioner’s nephew last night.

Drink every time Su Yeol complains about his back. But, at the sauna, he complains to himself about Hee Kyum’s silver-spoon upbringing and why she can’t just live comfortably and quietly. On the verge of a steam-room haze, he notices a dude in full motorcycle leathers and a bike helmet, and his first instinct is to think it’s a delivery man. Ha. He is here to deliver, but not food – he silently walks up to Su Yeol (without slipping), and immediately beats the shit out of him – throwing him on the floor, hurling him against a sink so hard it breaks, rubbing salt in his eyes, garrotting him with a shower hose and spraying him with scalding hot water and, finally, sucker-punching him into the pool. He sinks into the water, and we’re right back where we started.

It’s the perfect place to put that title card. Chef’s kiss!

Time to meet our wholesome cinnamon bun character: Officer Oh Kyung Tae, whose presence is so threatening that a gaggle of tiny children smash into him and almost knock him over, but he responds with a genuine smile. He spots a young girl putting up a poster and is about to gently tell her it’s not allowed when he notices it’s a missing poster – and that the missing person is the girl’s mother. Oh 😦

Kyung Tae takes her to the station and meets Do In Bom, the detective assigned to the mother’s case, who dismisses the woman as a runaway drug addict because of her past. He asks Kyung Tae why he cares. That’s like asking a rainbow why it’s so colourful.

As a palate cleanser, we’re back to this dickhead Su Yeol Karenning it up at the sauna’s front desk (he legit asks to speak to a manager), complaining about the man in the helmet and why they can’t find him on their CCVTV, and keeps repeating that the attacker even wore his shoes in there. The poor minimum-waged employee apologises repeatedly and tries to placate him with a refund, but Su Yeol is insulted by the offer and argues that it’s not about the money, it’s about the principle of running a business properly. He’s interrupted by a phone call from Bom Pil and, sensing he’s about to get promoted, his mood/ego lifts. He brags about how busy he is, berates the employee for treating a long-term customer this way and repeats his disgust at the offer of a refund as he storms off… only to return seconds later to change his mind. When he can’t produce the original credit card he paid with, he ragequits, stage left. Ha!

Back to Cinnamon Bun Kyung Tae, who’s walking the little girl home while carrying her little purple backpack for her. She tells him that her mother would always message her every day, even when she was abroad, but that she’s never been to her mother’s place because she’s “busy”. If that implies what I think it does, I wish things were safer for that line of work. He promises to find her mother and she offers a clover leaf she found and an adorable smile in response. Please protect these two at all costs.

Back again to our favourite dickhead, whose day is marred by the arrival of an even bigger dickhead, Senior Inspector Ju, in a garish yellow Porsche (“I bought it to celebrate my son’s first birthday.”). Su Yeol teabags Ju with his impending promotion, only for Jae Seon to maniacally run over to him and basically break it to him that… he’s not getting promoted. It’s Ju, and it’s the only reason he’s here.

In Bom Pil’s office, Su Yeol is seething. In what seems to be an office tradition of saying abject bullshit and expecting the other person to believe it, Bom Pil explains that Ju’s father is childhood friends with the Commissioner. An enraged Su Yeol points out that there’s no way that’s possible since the two grew up around 3 hours away from each other. Bom Pil just deadpans “Good point”. Lmao. Su Yeol isn’t happy, but Bom Pil negs Su Yeol with a rundown of his history: He got the highest score on his entrance exam, but he only graduated high school, never went to college, and wasn’t born with wealth or any of its connections. He tells Su Yeol he needs a “reality check”, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone want to chew off their own lip so angrily.

Kyung Tae and his colleagues discuss the girl’s missing mother, named Jeong Yu Na. They, too, write her off as a drug addict/runaway that doesn’t need bothering with. Sigh. They joke that they usually just deal with missing cats (is that a Strangers From Hell reference?). A diligent Kyung Tae isn’t giving up, and forgoes a rather sad-looking bowl of jiajangmyeon to rush off when he gets a lead: He’s found the building where Yu Na lived.

The night-time security guard tells him he doesn’t remember Yu Na and that he doesn’t have time to help (hmm). He then runs into a resident who tells him Yu Na’s unit number, and he has a locksmith come to basically break in, while the security guard dobs him in over the phone. Oh, Officer Oh, can you please be careful?

Inside, the flat is quite homey. I like the set details: plenty of stiletto heels in the hall, a full bar cubbyhole stacked with top-shelf booze, a cozy couch and cute photos of Yu Na and her daughter, but a sad little kitchen area with run-down, stained appliances. Kyung Tae smells bleach in the bathroom and, on instinct, lifts up the drain to find a clump of hair mixed with blood. Bingo.

In pops Detective Do who doesn’t say anything – but instead brutally, and I mean brutally – attacks Kyung Tae. It’s horrifying to watch.

The next morning, Bom Pil calls Su Yeol into his office and, picking from a box of colourful macarons, offers him the yellow one (heh). Su Yeol declines, his ego still bruised from before, but perks up when Bom Pil tells him of an opportunity to curry favour with Assemblyman Do – yep, the cousin of that Detective Do. Su Yeol declines, citing Detective Do’s famous reputation as a “ticking time bomb”, but caves when he finds out that the Assemblyman specifically requested a meeting with him.

I understand networking among people who rank higher than you but, fuck me, I wasn’t prepared for the level of second-hand cringe in this scene. At his brother’s pizza shop, a simpering Su Yeol greets Assemblyman Do with a drink on a tray. Assemblyman Do sits but Su Yeol remains standing, snivelling, bowing, bursting out fake laughs, and the already existing, significant height difference between the two makes this darkly comical. It’s like watching a giraffe squash champagne grapes for a hamster.

Su Yeol promises to smooth things over and sees him off with another bow. In walk his older brother Dong Yeol and mother, and Su Yeol chides the both of them for having her come in when she’s still recovering from the back surgery he paid for. Mother Ryu replies that she said she’d pay him back, and Dong Yeol mentions that Su Yeol is so caring and technically the family breadwinner since he also opened up the shop for him. Su Yeol seems exasperated by all of this talk, as does Mother Ryu, who starts swatting the older brother with a rag. Su Yeol hands Mother Ryu a menu and tells her to “hit him harder”. Ha! I don’t think there’s a lack of love in this family.

Su Yeol and Jae Seon arrive at Kyung Tae’s substation, and the former yells at the latter for making the station head wait outside for them. Su Yeol tries his “it’s just a chat” line but his face drops when he sees Kyung Tae’s – it’s so bruised, bloodied and swollen that on such an innocent-looking face as Kyung Tae’s, even a wankering bastard like Su Yeol feels a twinge of sympathy.

Thankfully, for Su Yeol’s ruthless assholerypirations, this goes out the window when he “chats” to Kyung Tae about what happened. When Su Yeol becomes yet another voice to ask “Why are you bothering?”, Kyung Tae can only answer with the truth: that he’s a police officer, and that he just wanted to help because he’s a police officer. Su Yeol dickheads back with “You think you’re the only police officer?”, pointing out that Detective Do is also a police officer, as is he, and snarks that maybe Kyung Tae thinks he’s better than everyone and that everyone else should quit.

Unfortunately, Helmet Man does not show in this scene to kick him in the balls. But Su Yeol does listen when Kyung Tae says he saw blood in Yu Na’s flat. Off they go!

But nothing’s there. Kyung Tae swears on what he saw, but Su Yeol dismisses him as an American crime drama addict.

Su Yeol meets Detective Do at a cafe, where the former tells the latter to offer an apology. Do balks at this, and Su Yeol pulls rank, saying that the only one he has to be nice to is Assemblyman Do, not Detective Do. He thanks Do for the drink and then leaves. It doesn’t seem like the detective’s ego will let Su Yeol handle things quietly, though.

Back at the station, Su Yeol is flummoxed by Kyung Tae’s spotless work record. There’s nothing he can use against him, so he tells a weight-lifting Jae Seon to get some dirt, no matter what. But Jae Seon isn’t having it (yay!) and, weights still swinging, he has a go at Su Yeol and gives him shit for working this hard for such an ignoble cause. Su Yeol claps back and scolds Jae Seon for bringing in his weights and tries to lift just one of them, but his shoulder pops with a disgusting crack. You deserve it, you dickhead! Jae Seon mocks him for being out of shape. Ha.

Meanwhile, Kyung Tae can’t let this go, and stops by Yu Na’s unit again, where he runs into a neighbour. She starts telling him info, but cuts herself short and runs into the bathroom. When he follows her, he finds her pretending to be fighting him off – even hurting her hand with broken glass – while the aforementioned shitty security guard arrives and turns him in. It’s a set-up.

Now Kyung Tae’s being questioned by Jae Seon, who actually offers sympathy via food. But Kyung Tae’s facing a serious accusation of sexual assault by the neighbour. What a mess.

In the hospital, Su Yeol questions the neighbour, but his body language is just that of someone who does not give a shit. And we know why: The neighbour can’t answer a single question without changing her story multiple times, prompting Su Yeol to phone Detective Do and tell him to stop muddying up the process with his shitty attempts to handle things.

Back home, Su Yeol tries to relax with a beer in his boring flat but realises this case isn’t going to be as morally straightforward as he wants it to be: Detective Do’s attitude is complicating things, and Kyung Tae is far from the egotistic pariah that Gye Sik was being painted as.

But there’s little time for more thought as in comes Helmet Man, who boops Su Yeol with said helmet until Bathrobe Dickhead falls unconscious.

He wakes up groaning in Yu Na’s bathroom, which is UV-lit to show a myriad of blood stains. But, wait? UV light? How? Cut to Helmet Man, still in full leathers, swinging a UV light like he’s at a school rave. Su Yeol tries to fight him by punching his bare fist onto the helmet like a fucking idiot, to which Helmet Man responds by kicking him back into the bathtub and knocking the shower curtain over him like a raccoon he’s just cornered in his garage.

Su Yeol chases his attacker outside only to find him on his motorbike, running literal circles around him and terrorising him with the bike until he wakes up, back in his chair in his flat. Alone again, Bathrobe Wanker tries to convince himself that it’s just a dream.

At the disciplinary hearing the next morning, Detective Do rattles off some bullshit about how bad he feels for hurting Kyung Tae, who sits silently next to him. The disciplinary committee uses Kyung Tae’s breaking and entering, along with the sexual assault accusation, as negative points against him, but adds that the Anti-Corruption Unit “sorted it out”. Like shit, they did. But of course a naive trusting Kyung Tae runs into Jae Seon and Su Yeol outside, where he thanks the latter profusely. Out of earshot, Jae Seon rightfully berates Su Yeol for even including the sexual assault accusation in the report, to which Su Yeol arseholes back with “What was I supposed to do? Hide something that actually happened?” Fuck you.

Outside, Detective Do “thanks” Su Yeol and shows him footage of what appears to be Yu Na using her credit card at a convenience store, implying she’s alive. Hmm. Su Yeol gets a positive-seeming call from Assemblyman Do.

Despite everything, Kyung Tae has gone back to Yu Na’s flat again – and alone, again (I’m going with brave and determined instead of stupid), where he discovers the unit has been emptied and renovated. He remembers the birthday present the little girl had mentioned and clocks it as the giant bear toy he saw previously, and he rushes out to the bins to scramble for it. He finds it, and I swear it looks like he’s holding it like it’s an actual child.

Su Yeol arrives at Assemblyman Do’s estate – it’s a party for his daughter, but there seem to be mostly adults there. Poor kid. Su Yeol grabs a flute of champagne and does the aimless “fuck I don’t know any of these people” shuffling about that you’re lying if you’ve never said you’ve done it.

The first person to greet him is, to his chagrin, Detective Do, who offers to get drunk with him to defuse the awkwardness but then deliberately makes a beeline to some other random person. Ha. Su Yeol spots the Commissioner who he thinks is greeting him, so he bows, only for the Commissioner to walk right by his bowing arse to say hello to Assemblyman Do. Ouch.

Giving up (I would, too), Su Yeol necks the entire glass of champagne, only to be spotted and called over by Assemblyman Do. In a moment of panic, Su Yeol spits out everything and rushes over to be introduced. The Commissioner: “Oh, it’s you. I know you, of course.” HA!

Assemblyman Do excuses himself to put his daughter to sleep (not like that) and leaves the two men to chat. The awkwardness is painful. After some silence, Su Yeol tries to break the ice by mentioning what a pleasant night it is, only for the heavens to choose that moment to crack with such loud thunder that the Commissioner visibly jumps. Pfft.

Assemblyman Do overhears his wife talking about one of the gifts, a giant teddy bear with a nannycam… and remembers, ten days ago, at Yu Na’s flat, while half-dressed, yelling at Yu Na’s body (corpse?) for “bleeding so much”, that there was a similar bear there.

Luckily that bear, as we cut to it, is in the arms of Kyung Tae, who tries to reunite it with the little girl at the place he last dropped her off. But the woman who lives there said the girl and her grandmother left without a forwarding address. On his way home, he’s knocked over by a passing biker, and it’s then that he notices the hidden camera in the bear. Bingo!

He sprints home and plugs in the camera’s memory card. But he’s interrupted by Detective Do, who brutalises him even more horrifically than before. Sob.

Meanwhile, a drunken Su Yeol is being driven home (by a designated driver, in his own car) while he swoons over the business cards he’s collected.

Kyung Tae tries to swallow the memory card, but Detective Do literally reaches into his throat and yanks it back out (jesus christ), before sloshing petrol over the entire place. He stops to stare at Kyung Tae’s bloodied, gasping face. Conscience?

Back to Car Dickhead, who’s feeling a bit sick, so he asks the driver “not to drive so rough”… only to find that he’s alone in the car and someone is actually just shaking it – guess who?

Su Yeol leans out of the car to vomit and Helmet Man taunts him, saying that it’s fate they met again. Su Yeol tries to punch him but is no match for Helmet Man, who swiftly grounds him with several kicks and breaks his phone before he can call 112. Helmet Man drags him around like a ragdoll and brings him to Kyung Tae’s rooftop flat, demanding he apologise. But when they open the door: KABLAMO!

Su Yeol tries to flee, but Helmet Man knocks the wind out of him with a stomach punch, and forces him into the flat. Su Yeol sees Kyung Tae lying unconscious and tries to revive him, but he’s out. A pillar collapses and blocks their exit, and Su Yeol yells at Helmet Man, asking how the hell they’re going to get out. Helmet Man smashes a nearby window and gestures downward. Without much choice as the fire creeps closer to the stove, the trio make a calculated leap and land, back-down, on top of a car. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Kyung Tae is still unconscious, but Su Yeol’s arm under his neck broke his fall.

But Helmet Man not only pulled off a superhero landing, he did it while literally on fire. Facing an utterly astounded Su Yeol, he brushes the fire from his arms like it’s just dust, removes his helmet, and smiles.

“It’s nice to meet you, Ru Su Yeol.”

Su Yeol, a crumpled, bloody mess, grimaces, but Helmet Man grins broadly in reponse.

And that’s episode 1!

Bloody grand stuff so far. To say it’s living up to its title is an understatement, but there hasn’t been a slow moment. We’ve seen snippets of side characters but enough to create intrigue, and I’m curious to see where this murder case goes.

As for Helmet Man/K: I don’t think it’s a secret that he’s a split personality, but how is he manifesting? Is he a real entity brought into existence, or is he entirely in Su Yeol’s head, like in Fight Club?

With the duality of Su Yeol and K, the concept so far feels like a bit like a reverse Venom (good making bad good), but with the both of them being unhinged in some way, I can’t wait to see how crazy this will get. I always love a redemption story arc, but I hope they don’t rush it – it’s awfully satisfying at the moment seeing such a dickhead of a lead character getting his shit handed to him throughout the episode.

I’d thought we were getting 16 episodes, but perhaps the pacing would be more manic in just the 12. Can’t wait for the rest!

Stray thoughts:

  • So many of the non-dialogue shots are so screenshot-worthy. What a grand DP!
  • Credit to Lee Dong Wook for making Su Yeol watchable despite the fact that the character, so far, is an utter bellend of a piece of shit (by design). And props to his physical comedy – that spit-take was gold.
  • “You’re a fox” I see what you did there.
  • Su Yeol’s flat is DEPRESSING. Most of those shelves are empty, there’s nothing on the walls, and he has a single-seat chair with no other living room furniture.
  • The four-leaf clovers on Yu Na’s bathroom mirror 😦
  • Helmet Man/K seriously uses the front end of his bike like a sword in the chase scene, coming so close to practically dismembering Su Yeol.
  • I’m loving Jae Seon as what could be the show’s voice of reason while Kyung Tae is the moral compass.
  • The rain/water scenes introducing Helmet Man/K are absolutely a reference to Blade Man and I refuse to believe otherwise.
  • That bowing clown at the party a stone’s throw away from giant Su Yeol and his hunched, ready-to-bow shoulders. Heh.
  • I have misophonia-triggered OCD, so it pains me to realise that K definitely punched Su Yeol so that he fell backwards onto his own vomit.
  • I have been in a house fire. This is accurate.
  • Maybe Su Yeol just drowned in the bathtub and this entire show is just a a dream.

31 Days of Hallowe’en 2021, Day 30: My Name [마이 네임], Episode 1 [2021]

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My Name is a Korean TV show that doesn’t need much introduction, based on how Netflix has been pushing it – and I’m glad it debuted in the top 10 (at least where I can see it in the UK), even if it might have dropped off lately (probably because of new releases and viewing habits relating to Hallowe’en). It also probably shouldn’t count as a horror-thon entry, but I decided it would last night at around 2 am when I wasn’t feeling well last night and had forgotten to put on an actual film. So there.

My Name (TV series) - Wikipedia
source: wikipedia
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31 Days of Hallowe’en 2020, Day 10: Mystic Pop-up Bar 1×01 [2020]

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Mystic Pop-up Bar - Wikipedia

I don’t think it’s cheating to use a Korean drama series for my horror-thon, seeing as an episode tends to run near-feature length (almost 70 minutes here), and Netflix is adding more and more kdramas since they started getting more popular (and all I can say is fuck yes). Watching via Netflix Party (now TeleParty), I let a kdrama-virgin friend pick from a pool of candidates and he went with Mystic Pop-up Bar, a Netflix Original.

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