The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Episode 3 review

Scars do affect people. My own scars are mostly ones that no one sees. In 1978 I was born about three months premature. There was a hole in my chest – something to do with lungs or heart – and I was blue, likely to have brain damage, and not likely to survive. I still bear a lot of scars on my body from the trauma of being born too early and being fed intravenously and the like. These scars don’t affect me much because no one ever sees them. If someone does happen for some reason to see them, and asks about them, I don’t even know how to answer. It’s not a trauma I really remember, but my body bears the marks all the same. It’s perhaps easier to deal with scars that one remembers getting, but only just. It depends entirely on the events that led to getting the scar(s). Was it a violent event or something mundane, like acne?

Episode Three of The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (Hundred Million Stars from the Sky) brings the scar issue to the forefront because our main characters Kim Moo Young and Yoo Jin Kang both bear them. Like most women trying to be tough, Jin Kang pretends her large scar on her arm doesn’t affect her at all, while Moo Young proudly uses his similar scar as a pickup tool for sympathetic women. He’s a little hurt when his tactic doesn’t work on Jin Kang, but he’s a slippery one, clearly showing interest in her, but not specifying the kind or degree. Is she merely amusing to him, really remind him of a little sister, or does he see her as a romantic interest despite dating her friend?

A lot happens in episode three, but much of it is catch up to what the audience already knows or suspects. Police officer Yoo Jin Kook is the primary vehicle for this as he chases one lead after another, convinced that the violent crimes team has the wrong man. He focuses first on Im Yoo Ri, who has a distinctive tattoo in her neck (from now on I’ll be referring to her as tattoo girl). The audience is a couple of steps ahead of him, having already been shown the photo that Moo Young was staring at and having been introduced to tattoo girl as his movie date. From the episode it’s clear tattoo girl is involved, but she herself doesn’t seem to remember how. There is also the issue of a missing ballet statue that the dead girl won. Officer Yoo is convinced if he can find the statue, he can find the killer.

Stepping back to the scar issue, as we all know, not all scars are physical. Officer Yoo has fun banter with his policewoman friend Tak So Jung (Jang Young Nam), and we get the impression as people often do about male-female friendships, that they secretly have a thing for each other. If so, why has no move been made? Two things: First, So Jung is rather off-putting and violent in her actions, even if she’s just joking around, and officer Yoo often steps tentatively around her. Second, she bears emotional scars from a past relationship that haven’t healed yet. How long ago she was hurt, we aren’t told, but it may have been a very long time ago and officer Yoo may be just waiting for time to dissipate that hurt. Or maybe he doesn’t see her romantically at all and is just a good friend. We don’t really know at this point.

We learned more about Kim Moo Young this episode, but not a lot more than we’ve suspected. He’s an orphan, which is no surprise, and was raised in a catholic institution. His name was given to him there. He claims his father was a police officer and we find, through his relationship with Baek Sung Ah (aka the Damsel) that he often does tell the truth, just in a roundabout way, perhaps leaving himself an escape route. Speaking of those, it seems that he wants to end things with the Damsel and was hoping her friend Yoo Jin Kang would tell her that he’s cheating on her. This isn’t directly said, but was heavily implied in episode two and we find in episode three that the woman he is most interested in is Jin Kang. So much so that he won’t even take a phone call from his supposed girlfriend while he’s talking to her. So much so that he’s pretty honest about walking around in a sleeveless shirt in the hopes that Jin Kang will ask him about his scar. No one, not even him, seems to know the nature if his interest in Jin Kang, but she’s foremost in his mind and clearly enjoys the game of trying to get through her defenses.

The two leads have their banter going on, but it seems a lot more like a battle, with Jin Kang almost desperately trying to fight her attraction for Moo Young. And fight it, she should, because if he doesn’t turn out to be a long-lost brother, he’s a total player, leading the Damsel on and even sleeping with her in the Damsel’s somewhat futile attempts to avoid being entrapped in an arranged marriage. (We learn a lot of the tidbits about Moo Young’s past from her fiancee Woo Sung, who is threatened enough by him to have started investigating him). On top of that, Moo Young might very well turn out to be a sociopath and a murderer. He’s already been shown manipulating people (mostly the Damsel) a few times, and either is highly intelligent or has a photographic memory. It’s still not clear how he fits into the murder, if he’s just investigating it or participated in it, but we’ll likely find out soon enough.

In the meantime, the writer and director keep us busy imagining the worst. Moo Young kicks idly at a cooler outside his front door, and everyone’s thinking: “What’s in that? Oh, no, we haven’t seen that cat in awhile. What’s in it? What’s in the cooler?” He also seems more interested in the Damsel the more her mother and fiancee try to hold onto her, not because of the woman herself, but because it’s like a game to him.

The end of the episode is another catchup with Officer Yoo. His lead on tattoo girl hasn’t gone anywhere, but he’s got a new lead on an umbrella that has him thinking about Arts Brewery and Moo Young. From his sister, he finds out that Moo Young likely has a photographic memory that would have allowed him to rearrange shelves of snow globes perfectly in their previous arrangement. Yoo at first puts a snow globe question to the suspect they have in custody, but whoever put the globes in order, it wasn’t him. The suspect also appears to be in genuine mourning for the deceased, pleading with the officers to find the real killer. When Officer Yoo finds out about Moo Young’s ability, he goes to his rooftop apartment, waiting to ask him if he’s the murderer. He also remembers that Moo Young significantly looked into a mirror at the police station at the end of episode two when he said he was looking at the real murderer. The photos and the mirror, both things left for the audience to catch and for officer Yoo to followup on, not so much to further the investigation, but to solidify and cross out the possibilities one by one. But with Moo Young’s evasiveness and manipulation, I doubt any possibility connected with him will be easy to cross out.

Last but not least, a shoutout to whoever decided to set a lot of the story at an artisan brewery. These things, and wineries, are all the rage in Minnesota these days, and so it just feels like a common connection with South Korea. Maybe it’s a story that could be set here, too. Looking forward to watching episode four as the plot thickens.

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