Open Thread: Beyond Evil Episode 5-6

I’m not one to take notes or scribble in the margins while I watch TV shows. I’m always rather impressed at those bloggers who have Patreon pages where they offer their show notes to subscribers. Mostly I just like watching TV and every now and then I feel compelled to write something about it. It’s nothing systematic or organised and I wouldn’t have time to do that even if I wanted to.

Having said that, Beyond Evil is so intricate with so many characters. It’s also generally very well written and no scenes are wasted or spent on filler. So I sat down to rewatch 5 and 6 to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. And for the first time I grabbed a notebook and took notes, mostly to note down the screenshots I wanted to illustrate certain themes and character moments. And when episode 6 started I had to throw them all out because that was when the whole thing flipped over.

Not to say that there weren’t incredibly powerful scenes in episode 5. There were. So many in fact that it’s by far my favourite episode. Not just for the parallels between Joo-won and Dong-shik but the way in which the writer plays once again into that sense of the Familiar Unfamiliar, the Uncanny Valley of small town police dramas. Like a later scene where his fellow officers protect Joo-won from an aggressive reporter. In another drama it’d be a heartwarming moment of community acceptance, in this it’s a vaguely menacing reminder that small communities protect their own.

The police officers confront a nosy journalist with looks of flat menace on their faces

Of course the episode opens with another tense showdown between Joo-won and Dong-shik; a scene that is repeated like a meme throughout as Joo-won circles back round to Dong-shik over and over and you start to realise that this is Joo-won being his entitled, privileged self. Despite his grades, position and pedigree he’s a man who’s not used to having to do any real hard work.

And while there’s a lot of buddy cop goodness in this episode, (“You two are like a cute, funny couple,” Oh Ji-hwa says at one point, “You should move in together”), Joo-won’s off balance and it shows.

Dong-shik talking to Joo-won with a mocking looking on his face. He's saying, "You live such a comfortable life".

I’ve repeatedly called Joo-won the Smartest Man in the Room, although I always meant it as somewhat of an insult. The world would be better of if it were not for hugely entitled young men who thought they were the Smartest Person in the Room. As episode 5 unfolds, you realise part of his problem is he’s used to doing the bare minimum of work and being told that’s enough. But that’s not enough in police work, especially – as the show has told us repeatedly – a murder conviction without a body requires a confession.

When it comes to the real hard work of proving a crime like this, he’s trying to skip that part. Just like he skipped it when he conducted an illegal sting operation with poor Lee Geum-hwa; forcing her to be bait for a serial killer. An act that got her killed and showed that he wasn’t as perfect as he’d been led to believe. Joo-won goes off, finds a piece of information and then confronts Dong-shik over and over waiting to be told he’s right, wanting Dong-shik to confess after finding just a small piece of the puzzle. And at every point, Dong-shik pushes back at the naivete of believing this tactic would work.

Dong-shik and Joo-won’s altercations bookend this episode but they’re not the only game in town. Part of Joo-won’s freneticism comes from his father throwing him under the bus to protect his own career and enable the Munju City redevelopment project he’s weirdly invested in. I say weirdly because seeing him around the table with the skeevy businessman, Lee Chang-jin and the ambitious Congresswoman, Do Hae-won, makes you wonder why he’s there. What is motivating him to sacrifice even his own son to facilitate the redevelopment? Is it just that he wants that promotion he’s been working towards? Or is there something else?

Meanwhile, Park Jeong-jae spends the episode drawing fawns and talking about his dreams of women, all of which leads to the revelation he spent some time in a mental hospital after the murders 20 years ago. He claimed he killed a fawn who looked like a woman. And with him asking Dong-shik repeatedly and weirdly over this hour if he really didn’t kill Min-jung, I’m increasingly convinced that he saw something nasty in the woodshed.

One of Jeong-jae's drawings of a fawn

I said that episode 6 flips over the table and it does this by making it clear that supermarket owner and Min-jung’s father, Kang Jin-mook really is the killer. A large chunk of this hour is told from Jin-mook’s perspective as we see how much he revels in using his outward persona of simplicity to fool the people around him into thinking he’s harmless.

And this is a theme the show has developed quite nicely over this first half. That sometimes subservience masks a person’s motives, making them invisible. Jin-mook laughs at the other denizens of Manyang as they treat him as the pitiable man whose daughter was murdered. He takes a malicious, psychopathic joy in fooling them all.

Kang Jin-mook leaves the police station looking pitiable while the police look on concerned

But as people keep pressing at the bruise that is the Manyang killings, secrets start to surface. In this episode, it’s rookie officer, Oh Ji-hoon who followed Min-jung on the night of the murder and was possibly the last to see her. We find out he wasn’t – Park Jeong-jae was – but Jeong-jae’s mother conveniently removed all evidence of that before releasing dashcam footage of the night to the police. She’s trying to find a culprit so she can wrap the case up but the whole thing is an embarrassingly inept move. Sometimes you wonder if she knows her son at all.

Nam Sang-bae also proves himself a person who’s willing to pull out all the stops for his people, even deleting CCTV footage from the day that Dong-shik put the case files back in the records room. “If you want to hide a crime, hide it with another crime,” he genially tells Dong-shik as he serves him tea. Which makes you wonder precisely what it is he’s actually trying to hide.

As Jin-mook deliberately draws Joo-won into the investigation and he starts to get a little bold in his role of grieving father, Dong-shik pulls out something he’s been hiding – Min-jung’s phone – and uses it to text Jin-mook. We don’t know what it says yet, it’s our cliffhanger for this week. But it shows that Dong-shik probably knows that Jin-mook killed Min-jung and that he somehow acquired both her phone and her fingers. If that’s the case, then the question remains why he hasn’t told anybody. If he’s not trying to find out who the serial killer is but already knows – and it’s clear he does – then it flips everything we thought about this case on its head.

And in retrospect, it makes the conversation that Dong-shik and Joo-won had at the beginning of episode 5 even more powerful.

Dong-shik, "The one I'm protecting"

Jo-woon asks Dong-shik who he’s protecting – meaning who he is covering for. Dong-shik chooses to take the question literally and lists off most of our major characters.

Park Jeong-jae
Yoo Jae-yi
Nam Sang-bae
Oh Ji-hwa
Oh Ji-hoon
Cho Gil-gu
Hwang Gwang-yeong

“Unlike you, I don’t give away a name under pressure,” he concludes.

And rewatching, there is one name glaringly omitted from the list.

Kang Jin-mook.

Our resident monster.

Kang Jin-mook breaks the fourth wall


2 thoughts on “Open Thread: Beyond Evil Episode 5-6

  1. I’m rewatching it and doing that is just good.
    You notice things you missed and the words exchanged or the actions is precieved differently .

  2. It’s all coming together now~
    Watching episode five, I totally started to understand why Beyond Evil Twitter is all about shipping Dong-shik and Joo-won. The boys have chemistry, and all the whispering in each other’s ears is starting to take on new life. That scene where they were beating up all the gangsters together… Yeah, I get it now.
    Have to say, if you hadn’t pointed out Jin-muk right at the start, I don’t think I would have considered him as a suspect. In retrospect it makes total sense, but I was very happy to suspect the people that the show told me were worth suspecting. Poor Min-jeong though. The identity of her killer totally reframes the way she behaved – people looked at her and saw a troublemaker who didn’t think about her poor father at all, but she was just wary of him, and rightly so.
    The show is taking shape now – we’ve seen the “there’a a killer in a small town and everyone is a suspect” story before, but Beyond Evil doesn’t seem to be this anymore. It’s more interested weaving through the characters, asking WHY they’re suspicious, peeling back their layers. I’m excited for the revelations to come. I especially have hopes for Park Jeong-jae, I think he’s gonna be an incredible character.

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