Vampire Detective: Episode 3 Recap

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A little better than last week’s case, but that’s not saying much. This week San and company must figure out the puzzle of a dead gangster boss to see where his inheritance goes. It’s a bit obvious what the solution is, even though the show tries to make the path to the conclusion an interesting one. One thing I have to appreciate after seeing these past couple of episodes is that the writer is working very hard to tie in each case to the over-arching plot. San is just so lucky to get the right cases at the right time here.

Case 3: The Dragon Falls Asleep

San is a man on a mission. He meets Jung Ji Woong in prison for the sole purpose of confirming the identity of the woman in the video. (Check the last 2 minutes of episode 2 if you forget which video!) Ji Woong warns him that the woman is far more dangerous than he thinks – she’s like the devil in the flesh. San blurts out: “Is it Jung Yoo Jin?” Ji Woong gives him a toothy smile; I take it as a yes, but it’s clear Ji Woong just wants to toy with San a little longer.

Meanwhile, Officer Choi Sun Young arrives at a hospital and attempts to get into a room. Burly men in suits – which usually means they’re gangsters – stop her from entering. A distinguished man steps out of the room, whom we later learn is Lawyer Kang Se Ho. He lets her through, and it appears she’s here for her father, who is a gangster boss. Her brothers are inside already and they glare at her, making her feel even more unwelcome. She doesn’t want to go see her father, who’s already passed away, but the lawyer stops her from leaving as he has something important to tell her.

Next thing we know, San receives a call from Sun Young, and he and Goo Hyung and Gyeo Wool head over to Sun Young’s family home where the funeral for her father is being held. It’s a huge house with a bunch of gangster guards, and one of them, named Bu Geum, gives him a particularly hard time for parking at their “boss’s spot.” Before the fight gets worse, Sun Young steps in and lets her guests through. She and San apparently knew each other during the police academy days, and yes she completely turned on her family by becoming a police officer.

Her two elder brothers, Chul Yong and Chul Woo, are both in the “family business” as gangsters themselves. However they act more like spoiled brats than actual gangsters; all they care about is the fact that they have a lot of money and not about the hard work it takes to make that money. The reason that Sun Young brought San to her father’s funeral is because there is a dispute over the inheritance. Lawyer Kang hands over the will that boss Choi Tae Shik had given him, but it’s a calligraphy drawing of four dragons. There is nothing else.

Sun Young believes it’s a puzzle and a clue to where the real will lies in her father’s safe. Chul Yong, as the eldest, believes that he should rightly get the entire inheritance because his name has the word ‘dragon’ in it. Chul Woo believes the will means for him to get all the money because he has a tattoo of a dragon on his back. If the private investigators could roll their eyes openly, they would. They just can’t when the two most immature and idiotic men are also the two most dangerous in the room.

San and company are not without hints though. They learn that Choi Tae Shik is an accomplished calligraphy painter through innate talent, and that he drew a dragon each time his child was born. That’s why there are three dragons on the folding screen in his office. So what do the four dragons mean? Already, just ten minutes in I’m calling it that Choi Tae Shik has a secret hidden child somewhere.

Sun Young adds that she and her brothers tried to crack the safe’s code, but it’s a tricky kind of safe. Choi Tae Shik had added a booby trap in the safe where if its forcibly opened or the code fails ten times, the contents inside the safe will burn up. Sun Young and her brothers already used up seven of their chances, so now San has three tries left to figure out the code. Not even Gyeo Wool can use her nifty technology to unlock it.

It makes sense why there are so many precautions around his will. Choi Tae Shik was always watching behind his back for enemies, and his life motto was to always point in one direction, and run in the other. Sun Young cut off ties with him when she found out his real job, but he also encouraged her to find a safe and comfortable career for herself. He never wanted her to go into the family business anyways. But it does make things more strained between her and her brothers, as she is naturally distrusted by everyone else. Sun Young hopes that San can solve the riddle before the mourning period is over, as that was her brothers’ condition.

She also adds that she feels bad ever since their academy days when Yoo Jin and Tae Woo died during that case. She and their other classmates were always rooting for Yoon San to get over it, but they knew it was difficult for him. San assures her that he’s moved on, but it’s pretty clear that he’s still struggling every day. Especially when Yoo Jin could actually be alive and so close.

Back home, Gyeo Wool starts going through Choi Tae Shik’s bank accounts and financials to see if she can get any clues to the safe’s code. The tested codes that failed include Choi Tae Shik’s birthday, all three children’s birthdays, two of Choi Tae Shik’s phone numbers, and the date the Black Dragon clan was formed. Not very inspiring codes, but all very typical ones as well. San figures that the dragon holds a special meaning in Tae Shik’s heart, as he always drew one when his children were born, and so he reckons that they start their investigation with Tae Shik’s hometown: Incheon’s Chinatown.

They arrive at the Black Dragon Restaurant, where Tae Shik spent most of his life working at before he moved to Seoul. It’s no wonder he named his gang/clan ‘The Black Dragon’. As soon as they enter they know they’re on the right path: they’re greeted by a huge painting of a dragon and it matches one of the dragons drawn on Tae Shik’s will. The owner of the restaurant happens to know Tae Shik very well and recognizes his painting on the will right away. All he can say though is that Tae Shik is very popular in this neighborhood, and a very sensitive topic at that. So if anything, the investigators should return to Seoul quietly. San notices that the chef in the back is watching them, but always darting away before he can be seen.

All I’m wondering is, could he be the fourth son?

Meanwhile Jung Ji Woong gets a special visit from a lawyer who represents the mysterious vampire lady that we assume is Yoo Jin. Both Yoo Jin and the lawyer don’t want Ji Woong to be in jail for long as they know that he has quite the loose pair of lips. Ji Woong wants to be sprung ASAP, as he’s already been visited by someone who is very much unwelcome and looking for information…

After lunch at the restaurant, Gyeo Wool and Goo Hyung head off first to start looking for clues around the neighborhood. San notices the chef watching him again, and the next thing he knows he’s hit in the back with a huge wooden club. San falls, and the batter on the motorbike rushes over to try and steal the will. But San opens his eyes – it’s going to take more than a beating on the back to incapacitate him. He twists the batter’s arm around and demands to know who sent him.

That’s when the police arrive, and they all get arrested. Great. It requires Detective Park’s intervention to spring San out of trouble as the police were going to charge him with assault. Of course now that San is indebted to him, Detective Park wants to be treated to some food. Every time he shows up, he has to eat something. At least he does provide some information – like the fact that the assailant was an illegal Chinese immigrant. There must be something going on between Choi Tae Shik and an Incheon-based organization.

San heads back to the restaurant and creeps up on the suspicious chef. “You’re an illegal immigrant aren’t you!?” he spits out quickly in broken Chinese. It’s enough to get the chef’s attention because, well, he is. San figured out that he was the one who sent the assailants with the bat at him, and the chef tries to attack him with a cleaver. But San quickly overpowers him. Before he can hurt the chef further and get some answers though, the owner steps in. He’ll answer San’s questions about Choi Tae Shik. All of them.

The owner takes us back to when Tae Shik worked in his restaurant, painting the dragon that now hangs on the restaurant’s wall. His talent was immeasurable, and even more amazing was that he was not classically trained. However that talent also attracted the attention of other organized crime bosses. He was enlisted in making fake passports and identification cards for illegal Chinese immigrants as well as people who needed to hide. His forgeries were so good that they were better than the real thing. He received an offer from an organization in Seoul that prompted him to relocate, and he became very wealthy there. All of the immigrants in Incheon’s Chinatown are indebted to him in some way, so they don’t like San asking suspicious questions about Tae Shik at all.

San asks if the owner could possibly know what the drawing means. So the owner suggests that San look at the direction the dragons are facing. Perhaps they’re pointing at a particular person?

Really, it’s getting super obvious that there’s a fourth child hidden somewhere.

When San returns home, he comes to the conclusion that they need to investigate the children and people that Tae Shik was close to. After all, a will is for the living, and there couldn’t be very many that Tae Shik trusted. They head to the house, where Bu Geum suddenly greets them with overwhelming kindness. Goo Hyung is to talk to Chul Yong and see what information he can get from him, Gyeo Wool will talk to Chul Woo, and San will take on Lawyer Kang. (Sun Young is easily eliminated for now since San knows her better than the others.)

Chul Yong starts out with bribing Goo Hyung in making sure that the result says he is the sole inheritor of the money. After all, both have “Yong” in their names and need to watch out for each other. Ooookay. Chul Woo hits on Gyeo Wool, promising to take care of her completely if she were to skew the results of the will to his favor. Gyeo Wool does everything she can to hold her tongue but when Chul Woo kisses her hand, she flips out completely. She lets him get away with it because she is working, but if this were to happen again I’m sure she would have given him a nice kick between the legs. Chul Woo finds her rough demeanor kind of hot though, and of course he would.

As for San, he has better luck with Lawyer Kang. He finds it interesting that Choi Tae Shik trusted him so much, a stranger to the family. He believes that Lawyer Kang knows about Choi Tae Shik’s special set of skills, and must have protected Choi from getting in trouble with the law. Or Lawyer Kang was a recipient of Choi’s forgeries at one point too. San also believes that Lawyer Kang is the true close confidant of the deceased man, as he probably did not want to burden his inept sons and righteous daughter with his secrets.

San then talks to Sun Young, who adds that every time a child is born Choi Tae Shik drew the dragon with a flower. But she has no idea what the flowers stand for, so they hit another dead end there. San asks what drove her to part ways from her father, and she says the final straw was how her father was seeing another woman while her mother lay dying in the hospital. She happened upon her father kneeling before his mistress in the hospital, right next to her mother’s sick bed. The worst part was that her father seemed to be the woman’s toy. Sun Young could tell that the mistress was someone to be feared, and that her father was weak against her. We can see Sun Young’s flashback, so we know that even without seeing the mistress’s face we’re talking about a vampire here. (It couldn’t be Yoo Jin though, as the timeline wouldn’t match up.)

Chul Woo and Chul Yong happen to hear this latter half of the conversation and find it blasphemous that Sun Young would talk so badly about their father. But then the two brothers end up trying to one-up each other on who’s the better son and start fighting between themselves again. Ugh.

But now the investigators are saddled with the mystery of the “other woman.” Who is she and how is she tied to this inheritance puzzle? Or maybe she’s not at all, since it didn’t seem that Choi Tae Shik trusted her necessarily. San heads back to the restaurant to see if the owner can shed light on a few questions. First he asks why the dragon in the restaurant’s painting doesn’t have a flower in his mouth. In fact, it looks like the flower was intentionally blotted out. The owner shrugs, as he claims no knowledge of it.

San then asks if the owner knew of Choi Tae Shik’s mistress. Apparently Tae Shik has been with this woman for a long time, but I find it strange that San thinks this relationship predates Tae Shik’s move to Seoul. (Plot holes, drama. Plot holes!) Anyways, the owner acknowledges that he met that woman in the restaurant, suggesting that Tae Shik returned frequently from Seoul to drink late at night. And that woman came to visit him quite often. The owner doesn’t know more about the woman though, because he also doesn’t want to know anything more.

San then asks where the cook is, and we see a glimpse of the cook being dragged to somewhere dark and getting bit by a vampire. The owner simply says that the cook has left this world, and suggests that San leave. He knows something! He knows about the vampires! He walks off, leaving San at the table, and then the lights suddenly turn off. San is struck across the head, and seeing his own blood on his finger activates his vampiric powers. His eyes glow gold and he can see the restaurant with his night vision. The vampire that attacked the cook is now attacking him, and he’s a lot faster and stronger than San.

The vampire grabs San into a chokehold until San weakens and falls onto the floor. He starts rifling through San’s coat – he wants the will! He grabs the red envelope and leaves San semi-conscious on the floor. The will is delivered to the dangerous vampire woman – presumably Yoo Jin – and she opens the envelope. Inside is San’s business card. Haaaa. He got ’em. She smiles and then burns the card with a lighter.

The next morning it’s the end of the mourning period and San’s time is up. He needs to tell the children his interpretation of the will. Dun dun dun! San’s interpretation? He believes that the dragons relate to his four children. Chul Yong can’t believe it – four? Who’s the fourth child?! San looks at Lawyer Kang – it’s Kang Se Ho. Of course the brothers can’t believe it, and they threaten him to think very carefully if he’s going to agree with San’s ludicrous claims.

Lawyer Kang sighs, and then admits that it’s true. He was Choi Tae Shik’s eldest and first son, born while Tae Shik was still working at the restaurant. Tae Shik was getting beaten up by a drunken customer so badly that Kang, or as he was once known as Choi Chul Woo (the original!), stabbed the customer in the back with a kitchen knife to protect his father. Tae Shik naturally freaked out and bemoaned that his son had done such a horrible thing. So, using his talents as a master forger, he created a new identity for his son and then took the blame for the murder himself. Choi Tae Shik was taken away by the police and they didn’t see each other again for many years. When they reunited, they met as lawyer and client, and Lawyer Kang retained the utmost respect for his father.

Of course Chul Yong and Chul Woo can’t accept this, especially since it means Chul Yong is no longer the eldest. They want to do a DNA test or something, but Sun Young convinces them to hear out San’s conclusion about the will first. Chul Yong then calls in a few of his lackeys and Bu Geum enters with a chainsaw. These brutes… Basically if San can’t prove that Lawyer Kang is their brother then he will cut off San’s wrists. Goo Hyung and Gyeo Wool squirm in their spots, as they think they’re in a tight corner now. They themselves don’t know the code to the safe yet!

San asks for the months they were born; Chul Yong was born in May, Chul Woo and Sun Young in February, and Lawyer Kang’s real birthday was in January. 5-2-2-1. They go to the safe, and Goo Hyung stops San: what if the code is actually 1-5-2-2, in the order of their birth? San hesitantly enters the code. It failed. Crap!

San asks for Lawyer Kang’s birthday as is written for his new identity. That is in September. So San enters 9-5-2-2. It’s wrong. Chul Woo dances in glee and excitement. He is way too happy to see someone’s wrist get chopped off. San concentrates a bit, ignoring Bu Geum’s revving of the chainsaw. He thinks about the direction the dragons are facing, then recalls Sun Young quoting her father’s motto: “Point in one direction and run the other way.” 2-2-5-9.


The safe opens. TA-DA! And San hands Chul Yong the red envelope on top.

Chul Yong opens it to read the letter, and promptly faints. Chul Woo grabs it and starts blubbering. The whole clan is to be disbanded! Of course the two brothers start wailing because the gang was their entire life. What do these spoiled brats do now?! Lawyer Kang and Sun Young can only stand and literally shake their heads out of embarrassment.

In the end, Sun Young inherits everything and is in charge of getting rid of the organization. He created new identities for Chul Yong and Chul Woo as well so they could start new lives. (Ha, like they really will.) Sun Young also discovered something in the safe that she thinks San should look at. It seems that her father never stopped making forgeries for very important clients.

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San opens the envelope she gives him, and looks at the two passport-sized photos within. It’s of Yoo Jin and Tae Woo. He’s shocked, and shakes from dismay… and then suddenly his face contorts to anger and determination. He’s not going to let these two get away.

Comments

I think the only good thing about this episode was probably the very last shot of this episode. Seeing Lee Joon‘s expression change was priceless. He is so good at this thing called acting.

Once again, this was a bit of a useless episode. The case was so easy, and I knew that it was representing a secret fourth son because it’s always about a secret fourth son! I was disappointed that it was so simple and the show was just creating circles for us to run around in just to make it seem more complicated than it really was. I think it was slightly better than episode 2, but there were still a few holes that made me think San jumped into conclusions a few too many times. It also didn’t really make sense in the timeline. For example, what happened to Lawyer Kang’s biological mother? Who was she and what happened to her when Tae Shik was arrested? Was Tae Shik in jail for a long time? When was he whisked away to Seoul to work for another crime organization during all this? When did San figure out that Lawyer Kang was the son exactly? Who was the mistress and when did Choi Tae Shik meet that mistress? It cannot be Yoo Jin at all because she is Sun Young and San’s classmates at the police academy, and Sun Young found out about the affair during high school, before they all met. What does the restaurant owner know or not know? Why was the chef killed off when he was just a red herring for this entire case?

And finally – Where the hell is Lee Chung Ah? I’m wondering if she is perhaps the mistress in question, or is possibly the mysterious woman with the sunburst pendant that looms around San. I am wondering if she is perhaps the “big bad,” in which it would be very cool if she were. We rarely have female vampire villains in this world.

I didn’t like this case very much, especially since Goo Hyung and Gyeo Wool were sitting ducks in this episode. I also didn’t like their thought process was in trying to solve the case as it wasn’t very convincing to support the conclusion they ended up with. The writer, Yoo Young Seon, really needs to learn a thing or two about writing crime dramas from Kim Eun Hee. I’m going to be so disappointed if Vampire Detective is just going to try to get by with flimsy cases of the week that somehow involve the big vampire villain that caused San to become a vampire. Too much coincidence in this world to be believable! Give me a case that has nothing to do with the vampire villain for once!

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