Tag Archive | forgiveness

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!

Reset button

If only life came with a magic reset button. Ok, ok, most of us would use it all too often, and would never actually move forward, but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish life came with one. Especially when it comes to relationships with others: Imagine being able to reset and take away all of the hurt and confusion and just be good friends or family or lovers or whatever. Imagine that.

True forgiveness is a reset button of sorts, but with true forgiveness we are supposed to forget the hurts or trespasses that happened before. That’s hard for humans to do. We aren’t God who can know of our sins, but not “see” them, and see only the holiness of Jesus instead. I think the hardest part about it is forgiving ourselves. Maybe we really don’t see what the other person did anymore, but we see what we did or how we reacted, or what we said all too clearly. It’s difficult to reset that, and perhaps it’s that it just takes so much time that we don’t have on this earth. Anyway, I’m glad God has a reset button:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. –Lamentations 3:22-23

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” –Isaiah 1:18

That’s as close to a magic reset button the universe has this side of Judgement Day. In this mortal life God never has us completely start over at day one. He helps us through the difficulties more than he erases them. The hurt, the pain, the sin, will all truly be gone in heaven, and that’s what I look forward to.

Still, often I hope that in this life God will grant me a few more second chances, especially with people. It’s not a total reset, but it’s more a chance to really appreciate and experience what you missed the first time around.

Maybe you didn’t really get the full experience of how amazing it is to have kids, because you were busy, tired, and working, but now that you are a grandparent you experience the pure joy of those little children. Maybe you were creative when younger, and as you get older, you find true joy in the same things, but in a way you never understood back then. You also may find more success at it. Maybe in high school you and another person were always as odds or just didn’t connect, but now, years later, you find they are the person you most long to hang out with.

Resets, seconds chances. If only God would help us all see them, for it’s my inkling that he offers them far, far more than we realize. All things are possible with God.

Collective Guilt

On the sins and sexual deviancy of Hollywood, much can be said. The shock among Hollywood’s own community is feigned at best. Whispers of abuse, sexual and not, child and adult, have wafted in and around the entertainment industry since its inception. It would not surprise many that these same things go on in the music industry, in the cable news industry, in fact in any industry where more show than substance gets the eyeballs looking and cash drawers zinging.

As a Christian, I sorrow over the innocence wiped away by such degeneracy. It would indeed be fitting for the perpetrators of such acts to have millstones tied around their necks and for them to be cast into the depths of the sea. As a Christian, I also sorrow over the sinners, the ones that still have some part of their soul that wants to repent, to live better, to be forgiven. It is perhaps the most unfathomable reaches of God’s love that were a pedophile to sincerely repent, he could be forgiven by and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On a purely human level, my jaw drops at the very idea. Drawn and quartered is much more like it.

But for more regular sinners, there’s comfort in the possibility of criminals being forgiven. It means we can be forgiven, too. It means I can be forgiven. It means you can be forgiven.

Along with all of the other oh-so-shocked Hollywood elites, are millions upon millions of viewers, listeners, watchers and consumers who heard the whispers, too. If asked how many films in existence in some way condone, glorify, or promote deviancy on any level, one could wryly answer, “Is there a single one that doesn’t?” Sin is as prevalent in the works of man and it is in every man’s heart.

Those of us who were, are, and remain Trump supporters understand that for some reason God is using this man as a winnowing fork. President Trump is smart, rich, talented, and good looking, but a of people are that, and they’ve never done nothing like this. There might be nothing more significant under Trump’s watch than the number of pedophile rings busted around the world. That is an amazing feat in and above itself. For the first time in a long people, someone in a powerful position cares about the damage being done to innocent souls. And he’s giving others who also care the backing and ability to do something about it.

But God’s winnowing fork cuts much, much deeper. It cuts to the heart. It separates joints and marrow.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)

Those whispers about Hollywood, those stories, those movies that testified to what was happening behind closed doors and in some cases out in the open, who of us viewers of Hollywood movies, of American movies and TV shows, can honestly say we didn’t know? Are you really shocked? Really? Actors are asked to disrobe often, asked to simulate sexual activity onscreen, asked to enjoy pretend killing people, asked to swear and drink and behave abominably.  Who’s asking that of them, I wonder? Monsters live among us, we all know that, but who exactly those monsters are may be a little more uncomfortable for us to consider.

Thankfully, we are living in a time when many are turning away from such entertainment, and many are looking for cleaner fare while others are giving up TV and movies altogether.  For myself, I now watch Korean dramas, and although they might be cleaner morally, they tend to be fluffy and superficial. My addiction to consuming stories in some fashion will probably never wane. As much good as I’ve learned from stories, I’ve surely learned a lot of bad things, too.

Remember back in the 80s and 90s where it was if you listened to heavy metal or played Dungeons and Dragons, you were surely going to hell? We may laugh now, we may see both things as harmless, now, but the reality is people who get obsessed with their entertainment are often making idols out of them. This doesn’t happen to every person or in every case, but it does happen. Christian or not, putting entertainment above God,  and above the welfare of your family or fellow human beings is a sin.

We may never have done anything remotely like what Harvey Weinstein has done to his actresses, but we’ve likely watched a few films of his, films that promote living life in a way that is selfish and sinful. We’ve given him and people like him our hard-earned dollars all the while trying to ignore those whispers.

I titled this post “collective guilt,” but the meaning is really guilty individuals together making up a collection. You may agree with me or not, but the truth is that what we watch and listen to affects us, some more than others. And the money given for entertainment is sometimes used to fund the worse abuses. This is a strange and unique time in history when many, many people are starting to wake up from a long slumber of mindless consumerism. For once, they are starting to consider what they watch just like they consider what foods they eat. It merely may be that there are simply more choices for our attention out there, but it’s no accident that all of these Hollywood skeletons are coming out just when the public is finally tiring of immoral gutter stories and constant insults. Penny dreadfuls are no longer satisfying and we long for soul food, for stories where we don’t try to understand the monsters, we instead defeat them.

As a watcher, I’m guilty, if very obliquely, of funding Hollywood’s deviancy and degeneracy.  I’ve watched a staggering amount of movies in my 39 years.  As a writer, I’m not much better.  I’m closer to Jo March and her The Sinner’s Corpse than I ever will be to Little Women. And yet, stories, if we have them, should be fun, shouldn’t they? And how do we portray the real joys and trials of human life without glorifying the evil? Without dragging the audience down into the gutter to dwell there and get snatched away by clown from IT? Is censorship the way to go? Every freedom-minded person would shout a resounding “NO!” to that, especially if the censorship should end up being political in nature.

I can’t offer advice from a human standpoint. Humans aren’t very good at fixing the problems of sin, but God is. Here’s His advice:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV) 

Put the good things first in your mind and heart. Can we ask for better advice than that? Thank God for his advice, thank God for his salvation, and thank God that he saves and forgives even us! At the end of time our hearts will be laid bare, our sins will be pranced around by the devil for all to see just like Hollywood’s sins are detailed in the tabloids.  We have one hope, and that is Jesus Christ, who lived perfectly for us because we couldn’t, and for love sacrificed himself on the cross and paid for the sins of the whole world, even the very real human monsters. Talk about radical. Sexual deviance can’t hold a candle to that kind of radical. It’s not even in the same league. Final and full forgiveness. That’s better than any Hollywood film ever made.

The Ultimate Super Power

In writing fantasy and/or science fiction, it’s the job of the writer to come up with awesome, or at the very least, amusing super powers that their heroes or villains may possess.  As a Christian, I am time and again struck by how inadequate our imagination is, for we can’t come up with a power as amazing as the ultimate super power: the ability to forgive sins.  

Think about it, we may forgive each other for indiscretions, for breaking the laws of the land, etc., but we can in no way ensure that a person’s sins are completely gone, that they are forgotten, and that the person is now pure.  We can’t make them perfect in the eyes of everyone whoever lived, for future generations, and especially in the face of the laws written on our hearts, and even in those same the laws of the land.

A killer may repent, and may be “forgiven” by the world, but that sin will never truly be forgotten.  People will never stop thinking of that person as a killer.  Every job or loan application, every time his or her name is searched on the internet, their sin will still stand there accusing them.  One sin has tainted them forever.  One sin.  And just think how many wrongs we commit in a lifetime, how many bad thoughts we have, and how many times we fail to do the right thing.

Jesus Christ, the world’s savior, and every human’s personal savior, has the power to forgive sins.  He can and has erased our sins, taking them onto Himself so that by faith in Him we can stand the judgement of that law, written on our hearts, the law that is the absolute justice of God.  Through faith in Jesus, a killer can become innocent again; a liar, a truth teller; a rapist, a protector of those weaker than himself.  With true forgiveness of sins, all good things are possible, where before only evil was possible in the heart of man.

What’s flying or super strength or speed compared to that?  It doesn’t hold a candle to what Jesus can do.  Our fictional heroes are always confined in a way that God will never be.  Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to believe in Jesus for many.  His power is really beyond our imagination.  It’s a power that doesn’t make sense, it’s a power of love.  Love, now that really doesn’t make sense.  Who of us is worthy of love?  But God does love us, and sent Jesus to die for us so that we wouldn’t have to suffer the punishment for the awful things that we do and have done.

For me, this is the ultimate super power.

“And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
 “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 
3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said,“Why do you think evil in your hearts?
5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 
6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” –Matthew 9:1-7 (ESV)