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Mouse, eps. 16 & 17

A lot of weirdness with this show, but it’s all coming together. As Ba Reum sorts everything out about himself and Yo Han, the details are all getting filled in. However, I may be wrong in Yo Han’s motivation as a genius to stop killer Ba Reum: It appears there some shadowy organization called OZ behind all of this. An organization bafflingly covering up Ba Reum’s crimes, and also keeping tabs on him. Turns out they kept tabs on Yo Han. Dr. Daniel Lee, who is still inexplicably alive, appears to not be working with OZ, but maybe once was, and the suspicious detective I had my eye on is connected with OZ. OZ is either part of or just a nickname for the Ministry of Science and Technology. Possibly. We shall see.

The good thing is, that the other main characters like Detective Go (love that man!) and the ever spunky Bong Yi are now also coming to the realization that Yo Han may be innocent and that they haven’t got the killer after all. What both will do when they discover it is Ba Reum, I have no idea.

As for PD Choi, she has a new babysitter for her child, the wife of the Headhunter serial killer, and, if Yo Han is really her son, not Ba Reum, biological grandmother to said child. PD Choi herself is trying to show her former lover innocent, mostly so that people stop treating her kid so poorly, but I think also she feels it’s the right thing to do, to set the record straight.

We learn a bit more about Ba Reum’s past. AKA Jae Hoon, he may not be quite the out-of-control killer we all thought he was. That is, he’s not and has not just killed for no reason. At least one murder has been in revenge for the man who killed his mother. Turns out, too, that Ba Reum and Yo Han crossed paths as children and Ba Reum was impressed by the latter’s smarts and kindness, wanting to be like him.

Where is all of this going? For now, it appears the big twist is that Ba Reum and Yo Han were part of an experiment. True, we know they were part of Dr. Lee’s study, but this is something bigger, probably, quite probably a grand experiment thought out and orchestrated by a person who is real dad to one of them: The Headhunter, the neurosurgeon Han Seo Joon. I really hope that’s the case, because he’s got a creepy good presence and makes a great villain.

Hoping Go and Bong Yi take all the killers down, that Go marries PD Choi already, and that Bong Yi starts a completely new and better life elsewhere. Lab rats no more, let them live their lives in freedom! And Ba Reum, he’s got remorse and I do hope he finds redemption, though it will likely come with his death, as redemptions often are wont to do.

Still really liking the show, but there’s a lot of busyness that abounds, and I almost wish they’d do away with some of procedural stuff and get more to the heart of the matter: Are we dictated by our genes, or by what we do? Or both? It’s there, the question is there, just hovering in the background. Ba Reum now is governed by both things, though perhaps he wasn’t before his brain surgery. It has to be pretty awful to become self-aware and find out oneself is a psycho serial killer. The stuff of nightmares. But that is what sin really is, a nightmare, and it’s in all of us. And only by God’s grace can we overcome it.

Mouse, episodes 14 &15 (spoilers)

This show has very good writing. Mostly, I’m just glad I’m right about the plot, but it’s more that I’m hoping I picked up on all the right cues from the writers, and that’s why everything’s fitting together so well. This may turn out to be a redemption story for our psycho killer, but that remains to be seen, as there’s one more episode.

All the excitement of episode 14 is the big reveal, and it’s done well, the audience finds out along with Ba Reum that he is the cross killer. It never was the doctor Yo Han. Yo Han is the good one, and it’s his brain power that’s giving Ba Reum his smarts and also his newfound emotions. I thought, I so thought, that Lee Seung Gi’s acting was hokey in the beginning episodes, that Ba Reum was a bit too nice to be genuine. It was too good to be true, for Ba Reum was acting the whole time, as often serial killers do. They can fake being nice guys. Perhaps women instinctively know this and that’s why we don’t really go for guys who are too nice…? But I digress.

Ba Reum is on the mend by the end of the episode. He’s accepted that he’s a serial killer who kills and enjoys killing serial killers, rapists, pedophiles, and the like. At first he thinks surely he can’t be with Bong Yi, but then he changes his mind, certain that he’ll find a way to punish these evildoers without killing them. That he can still bring them to justice and still get the girl. We get one of the only, if not the only kiss in the show. He friendship with Detective Go is also growing, as they now think of each other and older and younger brother.

How does Ba Reum figure out that he himself is the killer? First of all, he start having some hallucinations of himself as the psycho killer taunting him to kill, and also still picturing Yo Han taunting him. The biggest thing, is that through a series of coincidences he comes to realize that Detective Go and his brother both had similar lockets and that Ba Reum himself has one hidden in his house. Since Go has his locket, that can only mean one thing, that the locket Ba Reum possesses is the one owned by Father Go, the one the cross killer brutally murdered on live TV. The conclusion of that murder was that the cross killer considered himself to be God, a typically thing unrepentant sinners like to do. He also remembers that the necklace he made and gave Bong Yi is actually made of cat teeth. Ew!

It’s what he finds Bong Yi’s dear grandma’s brooch in his house that he knows for sure. He killed her, and before he ended up needing brain surgery. The old neighborhood where Ba Reum and Bong Yi lived is roped off to be demolished. Bong Yi goes there to his house and finds the underground lair–these killers always have lairs and hidey holes–and remembers other things, like holding the missing kid from a year and a half ago hostage while pretending to work with the cops to rescue him.

Excellent, excellent acting from Lee Seung Gi. He definitely seems like a generally good man finding out he is a monster. Episode 15 is largely the details, and well worth watching how everything came together to the present time. Many teases where Detective Go and/or Bong Yi finds out he is the killer, but that’s going to be saved for episode 16. Also, Ba Reum’s prison guard friends has now awakened from his coma and we find that Ba Reum tried to kill him too–and he remembers!

With his new empathy and emotions, Ba Reum’s Yo Han good side is practically dragging him towards a redemption, at least a works righteousness one. Inside, I think Ba Reum knows he can’t really make up for what he’s done, no matter how sorry he feels now, but he is compelled to try, though like what’s-his-name in Crime and Punishment, he’s reluctant to actually turn himself in. I feel so bad for Bong Yi. She’ll want to kill him when she finds out, and so will Detective Go. PD Choi will be more sympathetic, I think because she subliminally knows Yo Han is a part of Ba Reum now.

Redemption, redemption. God works in mysterious ways, and this is a fictional depiction of that. The cross killer and psycho kid who was angry at God for not stopping him from killing is now getting his chance, but God’s putting it on him, giving him the emotions and the will to change. It’s just too bad that he probably won’t be finding solace in the true forgiveness in Christ. Oh well, our entertainment rarely shows that truth. Will Ba Reum recognize this chance? Who knows, he may choose the dark side after all and Bong Yi may have to put him down. As for the stuff with Dr. Lee, I have no idea what’s going on there, but he doesn’t seem to know that Ba Reum was actually the real killer before getting brain surgery.

Continuing with the theme of the psychopath gene, PD Choi is struggling raising Yo Han’s child. People are awful, truly awful. And to a baby no less. And the baby will live and grow up with the shame of being a psychokiller’s child over them unless Ba Reum can successfully clear Yo Han’s name. Hopefully, that’s something that will happen.

The last big twist will likely be that Ba Reum is the son of the Headhunter, not Yo Han. Looking forward to that in episode 16. One episode doesn’t seem like enough to tie up all the ends, but I’m sure the writers will surprise me.

Until next time!

Mouse, eps 12 and 13

These two episodes felt a bit like filler, or just more standard procedural fare. Basically, they are just about Ba Reum now embracing the role as a serial killer of serial killers and other monsters, beginning with the pedophile who attacked Bong Yi as a girl and has now been released, Kang Duk Su. Pretty much all the characters in the show agree that he needed to die, even if it was by vigilante justice and not due process.

Detective Go, smart cookie as he is, immediately senses that whoever killed Duk Su was a psychopathic killer because of the way he killed him, an eye for a eye–every mark that he had made on Bong Yi’s body in the past, the killer, we know is Ba Reum, made on his body. For a bit Go considers that Bong Yi could be the killer, but it’s more that he just wants to make sure suspicion doesn’t fall on her, I don’t think he really thinks she did it. Similarly, Bong Yi is certain Go killed Duk Su, as he had promised her once to do so, a young officer to a child. Yoo Na, the child Bong Yi was trying to save and the one Ba Reum did save, knows it was Ba Reum, but she doesn’t know she should also be afraid of him, for he would now kill her without a thought if she gets in his way.

We learn more interesting backstory: Our cross killer as a boy was indeed a psychopath, passing up dying children on the street as it interfered with playin his video game. Truly, he is ill, and really cannot relate to the emotions or pain of regular people. His presumable mother, wife of the Headhunter, we find was kidnapped and almost killed by yet another serial killer when she was 9 months pregnant. This case is later connect to the SuSeong killer case by Bong Yi, who is offered a job as a writer by PD Choi at her network. PD Choi, we find was held hostage as a girl along with another young woman who didn’t make. The woman wanted to be an awesome producer, and that is why PD Choi chose her profession. Likely, they were held by the Headhunter, but that is to be yet confirmed.

Ba Reum seems to be better at channeling his literal killer instinct: He doesn’t end up killing his cousin, but instead goes after the cat who scratches him to keep him away from the boy. So really it’s anger at the cat that prevents him from killing the boy. Later, he actually does use willpower to stop himself bashing Yoo Na over the head, so afraid is he that she’s going to reveal his secret. A couple of times we thing that Go figures out he is this newest psycho-killer, but we find it’s misdirection orchestrated by Ba Reum himself.

Episode 12 deals mostly with somewhat tediously connecting the right culprit to the SuSeong serial killer case and proving the man in prison innocent. Ba Reum finds his next target in Li Jae Sik, who did time for supposedly killing a girl’s rapist. Turns out he was the culprit and the young man who died or was at least seriously injured was his step-daughter’s friends or boyfriend. As Ba Reum is just about to take Jae Sik out, Detective Go also puts the pieces together and comes across him, surprised to see his friend there. Bong Yi, too, gets a surprise, finding her honey’s face on a bike webcam that someone’s turned in from the child predator killing. They know! Or do they? We’ll see in the next episode.

Some intriguing things: PD Choi is finding herself having an unexplained connection to Ba Reum as pieces of doctor Yo Ha’s personality keep peeking out. Ba Reum is jealous of the close, family-like connection that Detective Go and Ba Reum share. The more time Ba Reum spends with Dr. Daniel Lee in the Headhunter’s old lab/warehouse/stomping grounds, the more I wonder if he’s merely hallucinating, if the doctor is in his head? There’s been little to no explanation as to how or why the doctor is still alive. Also wondering if Ba Reum’s hallucinations of Yo Han aren’t exactly that, for Yo Han is an entirely different personality than he ever showed in life.

Still sticking with my theory that Ba Reum himself is the cross killer, and possibly the Headhunter’s real son, and that it is Yo Han’s brain that is the genius good one. I know that Detective Go’s a bit too old for her, but Bong Yi would be much safer with him. alcoholic that he is. Still wondering about that suspicious young detective who’s always in the background. Hoping this week’s episodes are back to riveting, but with twenty episodes, any writer would have trouble sustaining that, and riveting needs breaks every once in a while to stay, well, riveting.

Author’s note: This was meant to be a review of 12 and 13, title changed.

Mouse, episodes 9-11

Spoilers aplenty.

Let me begin with my ultimate theory on this show, which I haven’t yet given up on, despite much evidence to the contrary. It is this: Lee Seung Gi’s character, Jung Ba Reum is the serial killer the detectives are hunting for. He’s either the real son of Han Seo Joon, the Headhunter, or the other baby who’s mom also participated in Dr. Daniel Lee’s research on the psychopath gene. His real self is the psychopath serial killer.

In episode 9 we are given more insight into what happened to Ba Reum. By a series of quite interesting incidents, the Headhunter serial killer, also brilliant neurosurgeon, was called in to perform brain surgery on Ba Reum to save his life. As his brain was handy, Yo Han’s brain was used. Since Yo Han was in theory the killer Detective Go and everyone was hunting for–the one who began as a child with a serious beef with God, Ba Reum now has the mind of a serial killer and doctor. He’s brilliant and makes a great detective. He’s also now plagued with thoughts of killing people and is starting to act on it.

Here’s where my theory comes in: I think that Yo Han is another misdirect by the writers. I think he’s actually innocent, and may not even be the Headhunter’s son, but another boy who was simply a genius. Do I have evidence for this? He told his mom, “Your son is a killer,” not “I am a killer.” PD Choi had a love life and a baby with him and states they are the same. How exactly they are the same, I don’t know. The important thing is she really doesn’t believe he’s a psychopathic killer, not deep down in her heart. The three biggest reasons I have for thinking that Ba Reum, not Yo Han, is actually our killer is that 1, Ba Reum’s personality didn’t seem quite genuine at the beginning of the series–a somewhat dumb, simple guy with a heart of gold, and out of sync with the gritty world around him. Could he be putting on a show, much like his magic show he performs at the prison? 2, and this is a long shot, but significant: In the scene where Yo Han attacks Ba Reum, we get a glimpse of Ba Reum’s face just before they fight. The expression is not the Ba Reum we know, but an intelligent man, eager for the fight, a horrible killer who, I think, Yo Han has actually been trying to find and to stop. Like Detective Go, Yo Han surely thought such a man should die and probably that beating his head in with a hammer was even too good for him. This relates to 3: for some reason, Yo Han had a collage of pictures of Ba Reum in the secret room in his basement. Inexplicably, Ba Reum knows about this room and sees the collage–that, I don’t think has ever been explained yet–and also seems to know exactly why Yo Han has such a collection. Yo Han has perhaps been hunting him, the genius hunting the psycho.

So Ba Reum thinks he now has a serial killer’s brain in his head, but really he was the serial killer and now he has a partly good and intelligent brain taking over his body, fighting against his desire to kill, kill, kill. The wanting to kill simply comes out because it’s the larger part of his brain, for now, and something that Ba Reum originally hid from everyone, except his victims. Ok, probably it’s not how the story’s going to end up, but I like the theory, and I’m sticking to it for now because it’s more intriguing to me than the more simple good guy being taken over by serial killer brain.

To the episodes:

We are now getting a lot of backstory and ends starting to tie up in a very confusing web. Episode 9 basically confirms that the lifetime imprisoned Headhunter did indeed do brain surgery on him and used Yo Han’s brain. In addition, with Ba Reum’s genius he’s able to figure out that the Headhunter wasn’t just killing people, but was doing experiments on them. Basically, humans are rats to this awful neurosurgeon who thinks he’s God.

In addition, we find out more about the Headhunter’s past, and insight into both his creepiness and his genius. Turns out Dr. Daniel Lee is very smart, too, and helped him solve a difficult medical case. Daniel was a janitor at the hospital at the time and admires the neurosurgeon. The two become friends and the Headhunter give Daniel the idea to search out not a good gene, but a bad gene, a psychopath gene, and use that to rid the world of bad people. Later, the Headhunter regrets setting him on such a course–he really didn’t think he’d succeed at it. The Headhunter also blames Detective Go, the child, for ruining his experiments, as it was child Go who helped the police catch him.

Episode 9 deals largely with the knot killer, who everyone thought was a police detective who also has a very suspicious lawyer son. This knot killer may or may not be the same person as the one with the beef with God and who sets up his victims to be giving the finger to the cross. It’s confusing to me, and sometimes it seems it’s meant to be the same person, and other times not. In any case, Detective Go takes the fall for the murder of the officer everyone thought was the knot killer. He’s happy to go in, so that Detective Park Du Seok’s wife doesn’t have to go to prison. Detective Park is the one who was trying to catch the Headhunter 25 years ago. The Headhunter took his kids as consequence and killed them. However, this is also mixed up with the knot killer who supposedly was the one who really killed his daughter (the son was killed by the Headhunter). Whew! Confused yet?

But the officer is not the knot killer, it is actually his son, which, if you’re paying attention, doesn’t come as a great surprise. Ba Reum with his genius figures this out and in addition figures out that Detective Park’s wife did not kill the officer in the hospital, and neither did Detective Go. Turns out the officer buried a different little girl that his son, the lawyer, and the real knot killer actually killed, and he pretended she was Detective Park’s daughter. So where’s Detective Park’s daughter buried? We don’t know. Is she still alive? We don’t know. So, Detective Go gets released from jail, foiling the plans he had to murder the Headhunter in prison. Ah, well.

The lawyer, Woo Byung Chul, son of the police officer and, drumroll, a woman who participated in Dr. Daniel Lee’s study into the psycho path gene, is the knot killer. It’s implied he’s also the cross killer and that Yo Han is innocent. I think they are mixing up cases or something, but I do agree that Yo Han may be innocent. If so, how does that explain what’s happening in Ba Reum’s head? See my theory above.

We also get some interesting stuff with PD Choi and the Headhunter. She went to interview him in prison at one point and also planned to kill him there, but chickened out. Is she a former victim of his? At one point, in talking with Detective Go about the Headhunter’s son, Yo Han, and their relationship, she says, “he’s like me.” Interesting.

Ba Reum is seriously struggling not to kill animals and people. His cat’s afraid of him and he even tries to strangle Detective Go, who comes to his house drunk. He also understands that the memories he has of the yellow-jacketed kid, the one in the beginning who brings the mouse to the snake’s cage is not him. He bases this assumption on a picture his aunt gives him. It’s of him as a little boy in Kindergartener and the boy is the not the same one he remembers. Not sure about that one, as a first person memory, you wouldn’t really even see your own face, so if he’s seeing it as a third person memory, the little boy wouldn’t be him anyway, but, meh, details. There’s no reason to think that little kid is a psycho, just that he somehow had the mouse that the Headhunter did brain surgery on to make it more aggressive. Who the older girl is that stomped on the mouse, saying it needed to die, we still don’t know.

Episode 10 is much backstory, too, dealing a lot with how parents handle their psychotic kids. The mother of the lawyer knot killer didn’t end up very well, she ends up dead at the hands of her own son, who grew up to have his dad, the officer, cover for him so he could kill a lot of women. It’s disturbing stuff, basically because the mom does try to kill both her and her son to preserve other lives, and also because she has a graphic connection with the Headhunter’s pregnant wife at the end. They definitely are not short on the horror in this show.

We are happy to find that Detective Go is still alive and that his friend didn’t strangle him to death or pummel him with a rock. No, Ba Reum pummeled his own hand to get himself to stop choking the detective. Go really has no clue something strange is going on with Ba Reum, and it may take a lot to convince him that Ba Reum is or is now a killer that must be stopped by him.

Interestingly, Ba Reum goes to church to ask God to stop him killing, much like our psycho boy from long ago, the presumed cross killer. The cross killer is back, but it could be a copycat or accomplice, and in the end it’s a bit muddled with the knot killer. Go and Ba Reum definitely now have evidence against the lawyer, who is now apparently guilty of both the knot and the cross murders and someday I’ll watch it all again to figure out the connection, but while Go is actually fine that Yo Han wasn’t a killer, Ba Reum is not. Of course, this is because if Yo Han is not a killer, what then is going on in Ba Reum’s head? Aha. See my idea above.

The end has a great villain scene where Ba Reum confronts the lawyer in a warehouse and gets him to reveal his true self. Song Jae Hee does a great job in this scene, using all the creepiness he can. With his good side angered, Ba Reum’s bad side takes over and he actually kills Jae Hee. In episode 11, Ba Reum tries to turn himself in, but it doesn’t work out the way he wants–Detective Go and forensics go to investigate the warehouse, but there’s no evidence of a murder there! Still, Ba Reum is certain he did it. He wasn’t hallucinating. But, with video footage of the lawyer escaping the country surfacing, there’s nothing Ba Reum can do. Everyone just thinks he’s having complications from his brain surgery. Well, he is, just not in the way they think.

Ba Reum is now assigned officially to the Evidence room team along with Detectives Go and Park. It’s a recipe for something, but I’m not sure what.

In a twist, we find out why there was no evidence against Ba Reum: Dr. Daniel Lee is somehow still alive and has been keeping tabs on him! When Ba Reum asks him, didn’t Yo Han kill him, Dr. Lee brushes the question aside as irrelevant to the moment. So! Considering my theory above, let me add to that: What if Yo Han was working with Dr. Lee to track serial killers–because he’s a genius, not a psycho–and what if they were both tracking Ba Reum back in the day? Just, ideas. At any rate, Dr. Lee gives Ba Reum an opportunity to become Dexter: to be a serial killer that hunts and kills other serial killers. Use his instinct to kill for a sort of good. Ba Reum tells him he’s crazy, but the rest of the episode he’s clearly in a losing battle against the evil side of his brain.

Not only is Ba Reum clearly harming his cat and not remembering it, he now does remember killing his bird in the cage while recovering in the hospital and is horrified. His aunt has a son, his cousin, that he doesn’t remember, but bonds with instantly and stupidly takes the kid from his babysitter to come over to his house, hang out, and see the cat. Never do such a thing without getting parent approval, never, never! Of course the awful happens, Ba Reum snaps into his psycho mode and it appears he will kill the boy.

We also get to spend some time with Bong Yi, who wants to deal with her rapist herself. She doesn’t want Detective Go or Ba Reum’s help, and she’s determined to make that man avoid her. But the tables are turned at the end when she realizes the predator is a pedophile–she’s too old for him know and he’s hunting a young girl in her neighborhood. Bong Yi valiantly steps into action to save the girl’s life and she puts up quite a fight. The ending scene is her fading into darkness, asking the man standing over her to help the child. The man is Ba Reum and it appears he may have taken Dr. Lee’s advice to heart and is planning to focus his killing instinct on the monsters who harm other people.

Whew! There’s so, so much to this show, it’s hard to keep up. The beginning of episode 11 also has a great scene between our cross killer as a boy and another boy who is good who he admires and wants to be like. Are these two our genius and our psycho? It appears so. I’m curious to see if this psycho boy is actually the cross killer or if he only could have been and ended up choosing a different path. Maybe that’s to come. We’ll see. There’s also another detective acting very suspiciously who is possible another serial killer or maybe just a minion of the Headhunter. We’ll see. Can’t wait to watch episode 12 tonight. I’m sure it will bring all my theories to ruin. Oh well, that’s what great stories do. The acting is all spot on, and the directing good too, only one almost doesn’t notice it trying to keep up with the web of a plot.

Mouse, episodes 7&8: Kdrama review

So we’re at it with Kdrama standard plot devices: Jung Ba Reum (Lee Seung Gi) has amnesia. Understandable with his head injury, but it’s been done so many times in these shows, my eyes are hurting from rolling so much. One year after the injury, he’s forgotten his love, Oh Bong Yi (Park Ju Hyun), and also Officer Go Mu Chi (Lee Hee Jun). Episode 7 I spent a lot of time wondering if Ba Reum was faking or not. Always waiting for that twist or the penny to drop, and the twist did come in the next episode.

Although Detective Go is on leave for awhile due to shooting Dr. Sung, who we think was the psycho-killer, he’s soon back working his skills running the evidence room. Before too l long, he’s back doing full on detective work. Go encounters Ba Reum in almost the same way he first did, by almost running him over with his car. It takes awhile for Ba Reum to get his memory back, but when he does, he goes full on genius, helping the detective connect a couple of different cases from the Headhunter killer’s time. He could be a genius only, but he clearly is now thinking like a psychopathic killer, which is how he’s able to make the correct observations and assumptions. Perhaps he’s a Dexter of sorts, a serial hunter who will now be hunting serial killers?

PD Choi (Kyung Soo Jin) has more of her past revealed. Now in short hair, she is far more reserved than she used to be, not surprising as she probably still feels trauma from aborting Dr. Sung’s baby. She was worried the baby, too, would become a killer, not unrealistic in this show, where every other person appears to be one. It’s also indicated that she herself may be the son of a serial killer, and worked closely with her father helping him abduct people–and probably even worse. With the jam packed events and characters in this show, I nearly forgot there was a second killer operating at the time of the Headhunter murders, and one who had a girl helping him. Not sure if they ever said it outright (really these two episodes need second viewings, but I don’t have time right now), that the PD is the daughter, but she’s there in his room in the hospital after Ba Reum beats him to a pulp.

Yes, let’s back up a second. So, Ba Reum eventually does remember Oh Bong Yi, and she’s living in a shady neighborhood that either is her original neighborhood or a different one where she was raped when she was younger. Not sure. As he’s knocking at her gate, getting no answer, we get to see her inside held captive by an assailant! As if this girl hasn’t gone through enough. On top of that, her original attacker is set to be released from prison, and at the end of episode 8 he goes after her. I mean, seriously, the writers have something against her. If characters could leap out of their stories and accost their authors, Bong Yi would totally do it, and without remorse. Fortunately, with her fighting spirit, Bong Yi is able to fend off the killer, who ends up running away and getting beat up by Ba Reum. This killer is then revealed to be an officer/detective working with Detective Park (Ahn Nat Sang), who was investigating the Headhunter. This guy killed Park’s daughter, not the Headhunter. But then, turns out he really didn’t, but Park’s wife thinks he did and kills him, and then Detective Go takes the fall for her. My head is still spinning.

Back to Ba Reum. He is now clearly marked as “mouse” or the kid in the yellow coat at the beginning who brought the mouse into the snake’s cage. Ba Reum has a couple of encounters with the Headhunter (Han Seo Joon, played by a magnificent Ahn Jae Wook) as he questions him in prison. The first time, Ba Reum beginning to have flashbacks–memories of being this kid and dealing with the mouse. The connection between our, hopefully, hero and the child is uncertain as another twist is thrown in.

I must have missed it in the first couple of episodes, but although it was clear that the Headhunter was some kind of doctor, totally didn’t know he was a neurosurgeon. He always helpfully has a bunch of loyal followers, who, it seems, ferry him in and out of prison on occasion, one of those times being a year ago when both his son, Dr. Sung, and Ba Reum are in the hospital and being operated on for their respective injuries. Turns out when Bong Yi was attempting to suffocate Dr. Sung, so he really would be dead, she inadvertently saw the face of Ba Reum’s fantastic brain surgeon. When she can’t ID anyone on the official roster, Ba Reum has a thought and shows her a pic of Han Seo Joon. Yup. Yup, yup, yup.

Episode 8 ends with Ba Reum confronting the Headhunter in prison, and we can now see very clearly that the mouse Han Seo Joon is holding has had some kind of brain surgery done to it. It seems that the mouse Ba Reum picked up as a child and took to the snake’s cage also had surgery done to it, which is why it was so vicious and killed the snake instead of getting eaten. “Did you put that killer’s brain in my head?” Is what Ba Reum asks. Waiting on episode 9 to see that confirmed, but I have to wonder if Ba Reum is the human equivalent of the mouse from the beginning, what does that mean? For it seems the mouse may have been altered to go after something that would prey on itself. And, we’re back to the Dexter possibility. It’s also interesting that Detective Go, too, wore a yellow jacket as a child.

Riveting episodes yet again, and I’m getting attached to the characters. Really hoping that Detective Go, Bong Yi, and PD Choi all end up happy at the end. As Ba Reum is either a serial killer who now has the brain of a serial killer, a killer who now has the brain of a genius, or a genius who now has the brain of a killer, I’m thinking he doesn’t have a happy future ahead of him. Perhaps, though, with the genius ability, he may be able to satisfactorily help the others. Is the kid in the yellow jacket really Ba Reum, and is he actually the Headhunter’s son, not Dr. Sung? Or is he the child born to the other woman, the one who also took part in the study? How much does the Headhunter know?

As much as I don’t like the amnesia and brain-swapping devices, admittedly, they do make sense in this particular story, which is certainly a horror one. Curious to see how this will all play in to hating God, especially as the Headhunter is clearly bent on playing God, but to what purpose? It can’t be merely to save his son in some form, for he’s done this with the mice before. Psychopathy indeed, but there must be a reason. Perhaps he’s trying to prove his old friend, Dr. Daniel Lee, wrong. Perhaps he’s after a bigger fish…er, snake? Is the snake himself or someone else?

One thing more: My attention is also on Na Chi Kook, Ba Reum’s officer friend who was attacked at the prison and still in a coma. Just think there’s more to be revealed either by him or about him. In fact, both of Ba Reum’s officer friends could be suspect as being the child yet to be revealed, as they are all the same age or around the same age.

Oh, this story makes my head hurt! Until next time.

Mouse, episodes 5&6: Kdrama review

Spoilers ahead.

Mouse is really delivering as a show, and I’m excited to tell you my theories on what’s going on, but first, let me deal specifically with episode 5.

Had to watch the episode twice, because there’s a spot of writing in there that doesn’t make sense. A second viewing didn’t clear it up for me, and neither did watching episode 6. Our detective hero, Go Mu Chi, played by the wonderful actor, Lee Hee Jun has teamed up with PD Choi Hong Ju (Kyung Son Jin), and a couple of police officers, one of which is Lee Seung Gi’s character, Jung Ba Reum. LSG is easily the most famous drama actor in the show, thus his character is suspected by the audience from the start as being the real serial killer. It was an interesting casting choice, and I think the writer is using LSG’s fame to their advantage. It’s interesting to contemplate what the show would be like with a lesser name playing Jung Ba Reum. But I digress. They all team up to throw a Sherlock show together for the killer, all in the hopes of saving a little boy from becoming the next victim. We, as the audience, are largely watching the show along with the citizens on the drama, though we are given behind-the-scenes snippets they are not.

Ultimately what happens in episode 5 is the expected: The serial killer, who’s yet to have a media name like his father, who was the Headhunter, checkmates them all, especially detective Go, whose sorrow at the end is truly heart wrenching. The spot of writing that’s troubling is the Sherlock show has fifteen minutes left and the boss decides to shut it down. PD Choi and detective Go circumvent him, however, hoping to still save the boy and beat the killer. With five minutes left, the show gets stopped forcefully by the boss. The next scene, however, is ten minutes before the show ends, and it’s as if nothing has even happened with the boss. Doesn’t look like the Sherlock show was even put on pause. Probably, I missed something, but it was never clarified what exactly happened, and episode 6 doesn’t deal at all with the Sherlock show. It appears to be a writing, script, or production mistake, but such a large error would be truly unusual. I am not sure what to make of it, and not sure what I missed. Perhaps this discrepancy will be brought to attention in future episodes, but it seems unlikely.

The most important thing to notice after the ending tease of episode 4, is that although it does appear to clarify that Jung Ba Reum is not the killer, as he’s shown working with the team to come up with a plan that involved him pretending to be the killer, his character is still kept, purposefully, in the background. Ba Reum, having a leg injury, hobbles all around the city, doing the legwork that detective Go and PD Choi can’t while they are filming the show. He appears to be helping, but there is a lot of his time not accounted for. A lot. And, I have to note, filming a fake video of a child actor, was his idea, so if he is the killer, that quickly explains how the real killer also sent a video. He knew of his own video in advance and suggested that idea purposefully. No wiretapping needed.

In episode 6, the main focus of the show continues: Who is the real killer? We are shown a ton of suspicious circumstances and outright acts by Dr. Sung Yo Han, who is supposedly the son of the Headhunter. He does very much appear to be, if not the killer, a killer, though where he finds the time in a busy doctor’s schedule, I don’t know. All that aside, the audience is not satisfied with the doctor, at least not as we’ve seen him. His personality doesn’t match up with the very arrogant, very emotional serial killer, whose every breath is full of wrath. Dr. Sung is cold and clinical, and appears to be a sociopath, or someone with antisocial personality disorder. He is emotionless in the extreme.

As the episode progresses, we see happy Ba Reum helping the detective through his grief and into sobriety, and the doctor acting suspiciously. It is possible, however, that Ba Reum is a bit too helpful. He’s clearly very smart, at least as smart at the detective and the doctor, and ends up visiting the doctor’s home at the end. Finding the secret basement room, we suppose he will come across all the pictures of all of the other murders that granny saw on the wall. Not so, not so! What we see is a collage on the wall, but they are all pictures of Ba Reum! And we have a scene with the doctor confronting his mom–who we know definitely to be the mother of the Headhunter’s son–saying, doesn’t she know that her son is a killer? She collapses at that, but it’s careful, odd wording. Your son is a killer, not I am a killer.

The episode ends with the doctor coming to Oh Bong Yi’s house. Bong Yi is the romantic interest for Ba Reum, despite being only nineteen. For some time he has befriended and protected her and her granny, until granny was killed, presumably by the doctor. Ba Reum is there to save her, and just as detective Go shows up at the scene, the doctor and Ba Reum clearly have it out. Go and Bong Yi see the doctor attempting to murder Ba Reum with a hammer. Go shoots the doctor before he can finish up.

The last scene is clearer than the previous tease: Ba Reum is recovering from a head injury in the hospital. His beloved bird in a cage is there with him the room. Ba Reum wakes, takes the bird out of the cage, and wrings its neck. He throws the bird out the window and relaxes back on the bed, happy that it’s quiet now. Clearly, the policeman is not all that he appears, he too, clearly, has antisocial personality disorder. But is this something he’s always had, or is it due to the head trauma? Is he our wrathful killer or something else? Certainly, his character has been kept carefully in the background for some time. He has also been in the right position to carry out most, if not, all of the murders–definitely granny’s and definitely the attack on his friend at the prison. He found the doctor’s house awfully fast and seemed to gain instant insight as to why the doctor had his pictures on the wall.

Here’s my theory: The two moms who participated in Dr. Daniel Lee’s psychopathy study both decided to chance it with their babies and let them live. One son is a serial killer, the other a genius. There is also a possibility that both are psychopaths and killers. Somehow, the children got switched, and although she calls him her son, it could be that Dr. Sung is in fact the other child, and that it is actually Ba Reum who is the Headhunter’s son and who has inherited his psychopathic tendencies. The scene that detective Go sees at the end could very well be the doctor attempting to put an end to a very, very bad person. Instead, it is the doctor who dies–or not, we know he was also taken to the hospital, but not shown his fate.

Ba Reum being the killer makes a lot of sense. Ba Reum is indeed very nice and very sociable to everyone, however, it seems almost too much, and it could be that he’s putting on an act. In the midwest we have something called passive aggressiveness. This is often manifested in spiteful acts from people who are otherwise and outwardly very nice and personable. Like a person wishing you well and purposefully tripping you down the stairs. The hidden rage is positively pathological. Ba Reum is also everywhere–everywhere! He has inserted himself in nearly every aspect of detective Go’s case, though Go doesn’t yet realize it, and this is often a hallmark of a very arrogant killer who is sure that he won’t get caught and also desires to be in the spotlight. Playing nice officer Ba Reum puts the killer doubly in the spotlight. It even fits for him to have taken Bong Yi under his wing. She’s a fighter, and he, the killer, likes that, for it’s “no fun” if they don’t fight back. Bong Yi has also been through a past trauma, and she’s not the sort of person to forgive and forget, but may be out for revenge against her tormentor. This, too, is appealing to our killer, who despises anything full of God’s love and forgiveness.

The real issue for the killer is that he cannot forgive himself and in fact does not think he should be forgiven. He despises God for the simple fact that with repentance God would forgive him, even though he’s done truly awful things. As to whether or not he truly cannot stop being a killer, that remains to be seen. He thinks he cannot stop, but that’s not the same as actually not being able to stop or able to will himself to stop. It is possible that any sin, any addiction can be overcome with willpower, but not human will alone. With God, all things are possible. He can do what man cannot. We often think God has failed us, but it really we who have too quickly given up on God. God’s ways are not our ways, and he often doesn’t work in the way we expect. As a child, our killer thought his killing tendencies would instantly disappear with a prayer, but it’s not that simple. The child has anger, a lot of it, and continues letting it run unchecked. Someone who has true faith would recognize, maybe not at first, but eventually, that the anger itself must be dealt with, and by the person who has it. Ultimately, the anger must and should be healed. To heal from a deep wound physical, mental, or psychological is an extraordinary, life changing thing. Why would God rob someone he loves of that process? But the killer stubbornly refuses to let the process happen.

Detective Go, too, is full of anger and needs healing. Why is the killer picking on Go? Does it have something to do with the Headhunter, the sins of the killer’s father? Is the killer upset that the Headhunter sins, too, would be forgiven if he came to repentance?

Perhaps this is a redemption story. We were presented at the beginning with the idea of marking a child, even before it is born, with the label of psychopath. I have no doubt this theme will surface much in the remaining episodes. The foreshadowing is how Dr. Sung was almost beaten to death for supposedly being the son of the Headhunter, and saved, interestingly and ironically, by Ba Reum and his friends. The love and forgiveness of Christianity is often difficult to comprehend when it comes to certain acts like murder. In society, certain things are deemed “unforgivable,” and with good reason. A killer who genuinely cannot stop himself should be kept away from society in prison, and his life should be forfeit if he has no remorse. Letting multiple people like this roam free would mean that society would shortly end. But what is impossible for humans, is possible for God. He can and does forgive every sin. But he also calls for repentance and a contrite heart, a heart captive to God. For some it is a bridge too far that even a repentant psychopathic killer can and is forgiven. But as humans we so easily forget that any sin, no matter how slight we see it, is an abomination to God. There may be degrees of sins, but all sin damns us to hell, even the theft of a stick of gum. We can no more measure up to God’s standard of holiness than can a killer like Jeffrey Dahmer. We both God’s forgiveness, paid for by the life and death of Jesus Christ, to enter into heaven.

Still, maybe Ba Reum is not the killer, or at least, not the one we’re looking for. Could he have a split personality, and one be nice and the other psychotic? Could he be a psychopath, but not a killer? At least, not a killer of humans? Unlikely to both, but we’ll see how it plays out. And then there’s the title of the series, Mouse, and the whole scene at the beginning with the little boy bringing the mouse into the snake’s den, a mouse who attacks the snake back. Who is the snake? The Headhunter, perhaps? He’s still alive and in prison, and clearly plotting something or at the very least working something out about his son. And who is the mouse? The son? And why is he considered a mouse? Because he’s no killer?

Seriously loving this show. A lot of food for thought and phenomenal acting by Lee Hee Jun as Detective Go. Presumably phenomenal acting to be forthcoming from LSG, as well, but we’ll see. Until next time!

Stay tuned: Mouse

So, I really wanted to review Kdrama Mouse after watching it today, but it confused me, so I need to watch it again, and then episode 6, before doing a review. Riveting show, though. Definitely has me hooked. Loving detective Go Mu-Chi. From this episode, it’s clear they writers and producers are going to play the audience until the end, so I fully expect many twists and probably a surprise ending as well.

Kdrama Mouse, episodes 1-4 review

Spoilers ahead.

With one of the most fascinating opening scenes I have ever watched, Mouse starring Lee Seung Gi has me hooked. Murder mysteries are favorite genre of mine, and as a subset, hunt-for-serial-killer stories are too. These kinds of stories have a lot to offer, from smart detectives, to puzzle box plots, to universal themes surrounding life and death, sin and redemption. The downside is that these stories often glorify murders and serial killers, making them appear much more important than they really are. But, it’s like a magic trick, the trick seems awesome until it’s explained, and then often it seems quite dumb. So it can be with the detective figuring out the criminal, once he or she has figured them out, the prowess of the killer automatically shrinks. So it’s a downside that often has an upside in the end.

Like other Kdramas such as Hello Monster and Flower of Evil, Mouse presents a South Korea awash in serial killers and psychopaths. We get what is often a staple in this genre, an intellectual or professor who studies serial killers. In this tale it is Dr. Daniel Lee (Jo Jae Yun), a doctor and researcher who comes back to Korea from overseas. We soon find he’s really not that smart, as it’s revealed his longtime friend is a serial killer who actually killed his sister and pretended it was robbers. Unsurprisingly, the good doctor only makes it a few episodes. The most important thing about Dr. Lee is that he has isolated a psychopath gene and can predict if one’s baby in the womb has it. However, despite its 99% accuracy, the remaining one percent is a big factor, the kid could actually just be a genius. We are shown a couple of mothers who are debating aborting their children due to getting this test done, and of course they decide to let the kids live, because that’s what any good mother should do.

As with Hello Monster and Flower of Evil, Mouse plays heavily with the concept of psychopathy versus genius and the extent to which a true psychopath who is also a murderer can be redeemed in some way. The main killer in the show appears deeply troubled by his sin that he apparently has no control over. He has to go out and kill people and blames God, the Christian God, for this. His problem with God is very emotional, which is interesting on the face of it, and doesn’t seem to fit with an emotionless psychopath. The opening scene with the mouse and the snake is frightening and awesome, and we are led to believe that this little kid who puts the mouse into the snake’s cage is the killer the detectives will be hunting for.

The writing in this drama will either turn out to be amazing or a let down. It all depends how events and characters play themselves out. These beginning episodes are a knot of stories, characters and plots that will be unwound over time. Misdirection is used heavily. Our main hero is Detective Go Mu Chi (Lee Hee Jun), who is immediately likable and also infuriating. He’s his own best friend and enemy. We are introduced to the detective as a child, where his family comes up against the murderous father of our current serial killer and gets slaughtered and/or permanently maimed. As each family member protects the youngest, Mu Chi is the one who survives physically unscathed, but certainly not otherwise. He is the typical detective, bad past and and suffering from alcoholism, brash and brilliant, and not one to follow the rules. He’s the kind of person who goes around promising the victims’ families that he will someday kill the murderer with his own two hands, because official justice is too slow, if it comes at all.

These first few episodes the audience has been mainly figuring out what’s going and trying to figure out what will happen next, and especially how the star, Lee Seung Gi will fit in into all of this. Lee’s character is Jung Ba Reum, and he’s a neighborhood beat policemen with a heart of gold, but a person who also seems a bit slow on the uptake, certainly not as smart as Detective Go. That’s what we’re led to believe, anyway. We are presented with two babies who have the psychopath gene who are now grown up men in their twenties. It is implied that one of them is the serial killer and true psychopath, and one of them is the one percent, the genius. Dr. Sung Yo Han (Kwon Hwa Woon) is the son of the original serial killer from 25 years ago and he fits the psychopath bill almost entirely, showing little to no emotion. We are actually shown him killing people, but again, it’s a bit muddled with misdirection. The other child surely must be Jung Ba Reum, and he must be something more, because the heart-of-gold thing is just too difficult to believe in a series such as this. At the end of episode 4, we are shown that Ba Reum may actually be the serial killer or another killer. He is holding a child hostage and we’ve already learned the killer is trying to manipulate Detective Go using same child.

Mouse, the title comes from the opening scene with the snake and the mouse but also from the genre. Serial killer hunts are often described as “cat and mouse games,” usually with the serial killer as the cat and the detective as the mouse or vice versa. This story will clearly be a bit different as it is the mouse that is ultimately going to be the hunter, and it’s implied that the snake or cat won’t have a chance in the end. The mouse is likely only one person: The child with the genius gene. My theory is that it is Jung Be Reum, and although he will first seem like either the or a serial killer, his real goal is to entrap the real killer. Even with all the brutal killings, his genius will probably, even if he saves the populace in the end, come across as anathema, simply because he could so easily use his genius for evil. That’s my take on the story so far. Hoping Detective Go really shows his smarts and turns out to be the true hero of the story, but we’ll see. He could very well be the mouse, too, an ordinary human triumphing over the too-brilliant psychopaths. There are also several other young men who could all be the killer or killers. Again, the misdirection is heavy, but the specifics of it will only become clear after more episodes come out. More reviews to come on this fascinating show.

Kdrama review: Tale of the Nine Tailed

This fall and winter I’ve been really into foxes, and tvN’s Tale of the Nine Tailed fits right along with that interest. A nine-tailed fox is a mythologic creature who can take human form and also often eats people. Thankfully, there’s not any people eating in this show, though the characters sometimes joke about it. Nine-tailed foxes are originally from Chinese culture, but Korean culture has them, too, and they are called Gumiho. My Girlfriend is a Gumiho is also a great Kdrama involving these foxes.

Tale of the Nine Tailed is a romance much in the vein of Twilight or the more recent Kdrama Goblin. It’s a love story between a human woman and a nine-tailed fox, who once was the god of a mountain, but still has plenty of super powers. His lady love is a present day woman who is the reincarnation–because Kdrama–of his first love from 600 years ago, and for whom he ended up giving his mountain god status. Although as usual I found the story dragging at the end–really don’t get into the sentimental–on the whole it was a good watch and some scenes that were quite brilliant. The music wasn’t that memorable, but the red umbrella/sword was, as well as the few scenes in which we get to see our hero with his fiery fox eyes.

Lee Yeon, the fox, is played by Lee Dong Wook whose fame soared after playing a memorable dead-panned grim reaper in 2017’s Goblin. This show and Goblin are really the best acting I’ve seen from Lee and I’m especially impressed by his stage presence here. He carries the show well, instead of sucking the energy off the screen as in previous works. He was very good at the action scenes and the writers didn’t use that to full capacity, but what was there was excellent. The red hair looks great on him and it really makes his excellent eyebrow acting stand out. Not everyone can move their eyebrows well. It’s a talent.

Jo Bo Ah (Monster) who plays producer Nam Ji Ah and the reincarnated love, impressed me in this as well, but only because I didn’t have high expectations for her. She’s grown in her acting talent, but I think still has far to go. Both leads are good, adequate actors, but not quite great yet, and perhaps they just haven’t found the right role. They also had almost zero chemistry, which is just not good in a show based around said romance. Chemistry is hard to fake. By the last episode, I was badly wondering what the story would have been like with different leads, even though I really like Lee as the fox.

That all being said, neither lead tanked or did a bad job, really, it’s just that it’s so easy to compare them with a long list of better actors. Among the minor characters, though, there was much to love: Kim Beom (Boys over Flowers) looks much as he did in 2019, just with a little more weight. He plays Lee Rang, Lee Yeon’s half-brother who is only part fox and does a standout job with emotional impact. The brothers’ relationship is really the core relationship of the show as Lee Rang struggles with feelings of abandonment and his older brother tries to assure him he is loved.

The romance to watch in the show is between two foxes in human form, veterinarian Goo Shin Joo played by Hwang Hee and Russian female fox Ki You Ri played by Kim Yong Ji. Both actors were great and full of a lot more expression than the lead couple. They also had a great back and forth banter going on which is often what makes for great onscreen romances. Goo should get his own lead role and Kim should always wear blue contacts as she looks beautiful with them on.

Like a lot of these kinds of tales, the story itself was somewhat muddled, the mythology purposefully murky. There’s a being who guards the gate between the world of the living and the dead, and there’s rules about this and that and crossing over and so on that are cast aside when not needed by the storyline. The writing kind of failed in the end as the expectation was built up that the Lee brothers would come up with some awesome, fox trickery to save the day. That didn’t happen, and much like in Goblin, the hero coming back didn’t really make sense to me no matter how cleverly done. But, hey, it’s fantasy, maybe it doesn’t have to make sense. The very, very end bugged me as it turns our hero into a liar, but it’s a fun scene.

As far as the bad guy, he was a snake called Imoogi played by Lee Tae Ri. Overall, the villain was far less creepy than he (spoilers) or she was built up to be. Again, it was the acting that did. Some actors are naturally full expression on their face. In this, anyway, Lee Tae Ri was not, and it just didn’t work as far as making the Imoogi someone to be feared. (Spoilers) Jo Bo Ah did far better with her piece of the villain, but just didn’t hit the high mark for me.

Although I enjoyed Tale of the Nine Tailed, it would be fun to see it retold by a more resourceful writer and director. So much screen time passes with little to nothing happening, which is a shame, because the happening stuff is really happening! My favorites scenes were almost all with the fox and the granny gatekeeper between the worlds, the fights between the fox brothers, the fight between fox and his friend, a bear in human form, and the awesome moment where the fox reaches between worlds or dimensions to grab a button off Imoogi’s shirt. More of that, please, and less of wasting characters like Nam Ji Ah’s parents who were nonentities by the end. All of the memory scenes of the past were great as was the fox’s crazy hair.