Somehow, I didn’t really like this episode, even though the production team TRIES to make it eerie and haunting…
A dark and stormy night (i am NOT joking…it did start off like that!), and we open into a hanok (a traditional korean house), which belongs to a shaman. There is eerie laughter in the background, and a young woman (is the laughter her imagination?) staggers out and cries to someone or somebody (or something?) to stop disturbing her. She stumbles into a room and grabs a pair of scissors for defense. Someone slams open the screen door, and the young woman screams, piteously pleading to let her go and not to come near her. In her agitation, she slashes and stabs the person entering and falls into a faint.
Next morning, Kyung-hee and the ME officers reviews the case of a young deranged woman (You-rang), who apparently has stabbed her mother (a shaman) to death. The death was discovered by the neighbouring shaman who dropped by to check on her friend who missed the morning rituals. You-rang had been staying with the body the entire night and appeared not to be in her right mind. The police and psychiatrists who examined her later also feel she suffers from schizophrenia or some form of mental illness. In addition, she is found to be severely malnourished and is very skinny. Given her slight frame, she may not have been able to kill her mother (who was pretty heavyset). Dr Jo asks Kyung-hee for her views on the case, but she is strangely lost in her thoughts.
Dr Han accompanies Kyung-hee to assess You-rang’s mental state. The doctors say that You-rang has some problem eating since she is admitted to the ward. Kyung-hee, however, doesn’t appear to be sympathetic towards You-rang, and accuses her of putting up her “crazy” front. You-rang suddenly shifted in response to Kyung-hee’s interrogation. Instead of cowering in fear, she turns somehow into another person, who is aggressive and talks in a different voice. This other You-rang admits she killed her mother (she calls her a b*tch) as she interfered with what You-rang wanted, which was to be left alone.
Dr Han is quite disturbed by the change, and seriously thinks You-rang is mentally deranged (or at least has a split personality disorder). Kyung-hee is adamant she is just acting and refuses to listen to suggestions. They visit the neighbour who discovered the body, and learns that although You-rang’s mother is a popular shaman, her daughter is the one gifted to commune with the gods. Since young, You-rang has followed her mother in her shamanic rituals, and always fall into a trance. This “gift” has been highlighted recently (a few months ago) when You-rang is unable to function normally unless she is in commune with the gods. In order to force her daughter to perform more rituals and fall into deeper trances easier, You-rang’s mother abused her (by starving her and lashing her with a bamboo branch). The effect on You-rang is drastic; she begins to hear things and will scream endlessly at night. So much so that the patrolling policemen no longer checks on the house whenever they hear piercing yells and screams.
Dr Han and Kyung-hee investigates You-rang’s bedroom, and discovers a sketchbook full of monsters and ghosts drawn by You-rang. This is in contrast to the more normal pictures hung on the wall. Dr Han notices that the paintings are all hung at chest level, a little short for You-rang, who is 160cm in height.
At the funeral, they speak with You-rang’s brother, who confirms that his mother has been abusing You-rang. He has tried to take You-rang away many times, but You-rang had insisted on staying with their mother. Dr Han notices a man (a friend/colleague of the brother) with a deep cut at the groove between his thumb and forefinger.
Back to the ME Office, the ME officers reveals that You-rang and her mother suffer from muscle atrophy, which explains why the pictures in You-rang’s room are all chest level — her muscles have stiffen to such an extent that she has no strength to raise her arms above shoulder height. Also, videos of her in her hospital ward show her having much difficulties lifting utensils, etc to feed herself. Thus, it is impossible that she can stab her mother through her heart, since that requires a great amount of force. Dr Han asks why Kyung-hee is still unable to accept that You-rang is not the murderer even with these information.
A flashback reveals that Kyung-hee’s previous job is an army officer, and she used to be a Military Police Unit. One day, she arrested the son of a high ranking officer who stabbed one of his platoon mates to death. The soldier appeared to be mentally deranged and insisted he “heard voices” which ordered him to commit murder. Kyung-hee was not convinced. However, her superior ordered her to drop the case, as the soldier’s father had insisted his son not guilty due to a “proven” mental illness. During the day of deportation, the soldier had grinned nastily at Kyung-hee and waved a jaunty goodbye to her (obviously not crazy!). The mother of the murdered soldier also committed suicide when she learnt the murderer went scot free. Kyung-hee resigned shortly after that.
Dr Han empathises with Kyung-hee, but reminds her that not all cases are the same. You-rang may really be mentally deranged and/or she may not have killed her mother, given her physical condition. Dr Han then informs Kyung-hee of the man with the deep cut in his hand which they met at the funeral, just as the police also calls Kyung-hee that they found a man who appears to be You-rang’s boyfriend.
The police and Kyung-hee search You-rang’s boyfriend apartment, and find several pictures of them together. Plus, a key to You-rang’s house, and a pair of shoes with blood stains. You-rang’s boyfriend also gave himself up at the police station before the police issued an arrest warrant.
According to You-rang’s boyfriend, he was unable to withstand You-rang being abused by her mother any longer (there were long deep scars on You-rang’s back from the lashings she received daily). On the night of the murder, You-rang had called him for help. When he reached the house, he saw You-rang struggling with her mother. You-rang fainted after being slapped visciously by her mum. In his anger, he wrested the knife from You-rang’s mother (who had grabbed it in the scuffle), and stabbed her. He then removed all traces of his presence and fled. You-rang was unconscious throughout the episode.
Based on the statement and evidence in his house, the police arrested the boyfriend. You-rang was released from custody and she returned to work as a shaman.
Days later, Dr Han is reviewing You-rang’s file, when he feels that something is too coincidental…he goes back to look for You-rang (now dressed as a shaman, and looking kinda creepy with the excessive makeup), and asks whether she is the one who manipulated her boyfriend to take the fall for her. Dr Han gives his own account of what happened: You-rang’s alter ego was the one who had stabbed her mother, but when her boyfriend came in to the crime scene, the real You-rang re-appeared again, distraught and frightened. She had then fainted. To protect her, the boyfriend purposely slit his own hand (the cut in the groove) and dipped his shoes in blood. He knew that the police would figure out You-rang’s physical condition and look for the murderer elsewhere.
Dr Han, however, feels that You-rang’s alter ego, who has now overtaken the real You-rang, has no physical problems. Like most cases with multiple personality disorders, the alternate personalities can look and behave totally different from the real person.
You-rang doesn’t admit, but hands over a picture she has been sketching while Dr Han is talking. The sketched picture is that of Dr Han in a coffin, bloody and surrounded by evil spirits…(eeks)
Like I mentioned earlier, I found this story to be a little “meh”. First off, it doesn’t satisfy the medico-geek in me. The psychological make up of You-rang is vague. So does she have split personality disorder? Or is she making it all up? If it is the latter, then she is no better or even worse than the rogue soldier from Kyung-hee’s past. If You-rang is indeed so devious, she would be setting up her boyfriend intentionally to take the fall for her so that she can not only go scot-free but also attain the purpose of getting rid of an abusive mother.
If she indeed has a split personality, then Dr Han’s explanation would be reasonably sensible. Patients with multiple personality disorders do display vastly different traits (and possible physical appearances/ behaviours). But then again, there are tests that can be done to verify whether a patient suffers from a mental disorder…so why is Dr Han not reporting this in?