Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

Bad Guys: on episode 3~5

Offering a different kind of painful watch experience than Misaeng, Bad Guys has kept me on seat’s edge with its thick convoluted plot, intense fighting sequence, and chilling crimes not to mention the degree of gore and savagery shown onscreen — albeit blurred — that comes with it. (Me: It’s a crime thriller, duh. Me: But still…) If you think the case of elusive serial killer in the rain is sickening, wait till you see what kind of slimy beasts The Mad Dogs are after in episode 3 and 4. The acts are so disturbing and grisly i had to step back and watched from a distance hoping it could lessen the impact.

Somehow i’m relieved Bad Guys is a weekly show. Two per week would be too much to handle. Plus, double the waiting time till decent English subtitle is out?? Eep, no thanks.

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Human trafficking is case of week(s) The Mad Dogs are sniffing out. Not the prostitution but the horrifying underground organs trade and hints of child labor. It is such a large-scale, complex, structured activity it takes two episodes to crack the whole chain down. Nab the middlemen in episode 3 and infiltrate the headquarter in episode 4.

It is fascinating yet unnerving to see how easily Tae-soo and Jung-moon tap into the(ir) criminal’s mind and simulate the sequence down to the minutiae, solving the how and why in a snap. Woong-chul is more brawn than brain, throws knuckles before he speaks, and seemingly jumps to conclusion, but his deductions are not to be dismissed either. He was the first to (arbitrarily) identify the culprit in episode 2, remember?

Three of them may be serious offenders, but they are not completely heartless and nonredeemable like traditional villains are. Neither are they deprived of conscience; we’ve seen on more than one occasion how they’re even perturbed by the atrocity of the committed crimes. They are the titular bad guys, but so far they’ve shown and acted more like anti-heroes.

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This whole catch-bigger-baddies deal may be strictly business, an express ticket toward walking out as free men way faster than serving the full term behind bars, but the trio never half-asses any given task. They take investigation in stride while their dogged tenacity to close a case equals to that of upright police/detective in other dramas. Difference is, they are so ready to inflict physical damage to those who get in the way. Most of the time without even breaking a sweat. (Beware: mad dogs on the loose. Do not provoke!) They’re not handpicked by Goo-tak for nothing, eh?

Well, in the beginning only Woong-chul clearly took the bait while the other two were sort of indifferent. Later on we see that Tae-soo wants out to see and support this particular single mother whose late husband’s funeral he ‘visited’ (why did he turn himself in in the first place then?), and only recently did we find out Jung-moon’s motive: to understand himself. If he indeed a psychopath serial killer, and if saving people’s lives would evoke something in him.

Wha– wait, so he truly doesn’t remember any of if? How did the prosecutor prove that he’s guilty then? All this while i thought he used it as an excuse to either cover up his felony or to not feel guilty or repentant and now he’s probably 1) a genius with selective memory, 2) a split-personality psychopath, or 3) completely framed?? Dun dun dun…

On a side note, am i the only one amused and cracked up at Woong-chul and Tae-soo conveniently calling him “Psycho”? The term ain’t funny but hearing it coming from them sounds like a love call in my ears. Did i just notice it; have they called him that before the opening minutes of episode 5?

Also, how cute is that they decide who gets the reward by fair-play of rock-paper-scissors?

Yup, they are in the mission together but it is pretty much an individual race as only one person gets term reduction per case closed. Teamwork is unheard of between them, which is fine since catching small fries is piece of cake, but once they’re after a big fish, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Together — the lethal combination of muscles, skills, and brain — they are pretty much invincible.

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The moment comes sooner than later. In episode 4, they are trapped inside the headquarter full of gangsters and the only way for them to save one another’s asses and come out alive is to come together and join forces. This setup is a throwback to The Raid: Redemption (Indonesian movie). A building full of ready-to-kill thugs? Check. Under-armed, under-backup rookies raiding the premise, only a few of police force know of this secret mission? Check. Creepy mob boss, at the top floor, overlooking rows of CCTVs? Check. The creepy boss expectantly giving order to the minions to have fun with the intruders? Check. Close combat? Check.

Not saying this copied that, nothing is truly avant-garde in the creative industry, because while the above plot points remind me of that action thriller movie, others may recall something else instead.

After all the horror of episode 3 and 4, i was apprehensive going into episode 5, about what kind of hideous case they’d present next. This time it’s shooting spree in broad daylight with seemingly random targets, 6 at a time… until Team Mad Dogs (Goo-tak and Jung-moon only, to be fair) connects the dots. The occurrence is still unnerving though its gore and dread level is ‘nothing’ compared to that of previous two cases.

Worried about Jung-moon’s welfare in episode 4, whose stab wound neither treated nor mentioned afterwards, i’m worried about Woong-chul and Tae-soo’s here. Goo-tak’s indifference toward their whereabouts or safety somehow irks me — just because they’re convicts doesn’t mean they can’t be harmed! Freedom awaits at the end of the road (Goo-tak and police force will keep their words, right??), but isn’t it futile if they don’t reach there alive? Also, judging by the way they bring down the baddies through violence, i’m afraid they still can’t lead a peaceful life post-jail.

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Nevertheless, i am glad the show continues to humanize our bad guys. We know little of Woong-chul’s backstory but he is loyal and regrets his past doings the most. His plea for this hyung to let him have a peaceful sleep is heartbreaking.

Tae-soo is calm yet explosive and still has desire to kill certain person(s) but is a completely different person before Park Sun-jung (Min Ji-ah), the only person he feels so sorry for. He might be responsible for her husband’s death, but there’s also possibility he whacked the one who had killed him and then turned himself in — he wasn’t insane to keep the bloodstained shirt and knife with him for weeks before turning himself in, was he?

As for Jung-moon, he’s still a ball of mystery. Was he or was he not a killer remains the big burning question. What’s his life pre-jail was like that both of his teammates are ordered to take him out? Being shy of perfect psycho himself, he connects with the latest culprit and voices how wrong it is to take it out on those totally unrelated to their nemesis. It is his longest and deepest lines Goo-tak wonders whether they came from the head or heart.

And of course there’s Goo-tak. We know there’s a reason he chose these three for the special unit, but not what it is. Curiously, Prosecutor Oh Jae-won (Kim Tae-hoon) claims that he not only knows Goo-tak quite well but also the connection the latter shares with the trio. Hmm… was any of them involved in his daughter’s murder? Speaking of which, are the cases they handled so far help reveal the culprit behind that two-year-old case in any way? Are we even inching closer toward the truth?

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