Riiight, this is the last review for the God’s Quiz series. (finally) GQ3 is by far the best of the lot that I’ve marathoned, more on why later.
God’s Quiz 3
- Ahn Nae-sang (last seen in Monstar) as Detective Bae Tae-shik. Replacement for Detective Kang, who has gone overseas to study. Gruff, slouchy and unkempt on the outside, but possesses a razor sharp mind and keen observation skills. He poohpoohs Dr Han’s medical theories and wastes no oppotunities to poke fun at his “genius brain”, but takes Dr Han’s theories into account whenever he solves cases.
- Park Hee-bon as Lee-ran. Detective Bae’s assistant, a sunny if a little bit ditzy, female police officer. She has that teensy weensy bit of a schoolgirl crush on Dr Han.
- Go Kyung-pyo (last seen as dorky sidekick in Flower Boys Next Door) as Seo In-gak (aka Phantom). Season 3’s ultimate psycho. He is a gifted neurologist/neurosurgeon/ researcher…but chooses to experiments in the most grotesque ways ever. Suck a person’s brains out from his nasal cavity? Been there, done that.
Ep1 — Unidentified organism. I don’t know why they don’t juz name this Alien, cos the mummified body found walled in an old hanok looks like one. It’s actually the body of a paraplegic who was drowned and her body (plus wheelchair) later pushed in front of a truck by her evil mother-in-law (to-be). Her fiance loves her so much that he embalms, mummifies and stuffs her into a wall (um..wow?…the power of love?), while trying to locate the murderer. And when he realises his mum is the culprit, he attempts suicide in guilt. He fails to die though (i said “attempt”, didn’t i), and in an act of poetic justice, he “punishes” his mum by having her take care of him — now a paraplegic in vegetative state.
Ep2 — Hospice. Dr Han and Detective Bae investigate a case in a rural hospice, where one of the patients went berserk and bashes his roommate to death. The murderer claims his roommate has been threatening to kill him at night. Investigations reveal that the murder is orchestrated by the hospice’s Director and residential doctor (who also happens to be father and son). The victim blackmailed the father-son pair as he had witnessed the hospice’s mascot (a female nurse) euthanising another patient. Desperate not to lose the hospice to bad press, the father-son team decides to spike the murderer’s humidifier, causing him to suffer from hallucinations about his roommate. And eventually, the drug pushes the unstable patient to really commit murder.
Ep3 — CRPS. CRPS is short for “Complex Regional Pain Syndrome”, a nervous system disorder that causes the individual to suffer acute pain all over his body, even though there are no external stimulants. The murderer in this episode suffers from CRPS. Although left with only 6 months of jailterm, he breaks jail and goes out to hunt down 5 men. He doesn’t kill them, but badly burn portions of their bodies so that they can suffer as much as he did. Before you think he is psycho, he has a reason for committing the crimes. Those 5 men had gang raped his then pregnant fiancee in front of him after brutally beating him up. The physiological (and psychological) attack(s) triggered his inherent tendency for CRPS.
Ep4 — Pits of Hell. Another really sad case. Several drunk men are attacked viciously at night, and robbed. 2 strands of DNA are found on a victim, later revealed to belong to a mother-son pair; a woman believed to be in her forties and a man in his thirties. Detective Bae arrests a man accused to have killed his dad using the attackers’ modus operandi. Although the DNAs found on the earlier victims do not belong to the accused, his DNA is too similar to theirs. Chillingly, the murdered father is also a parent to one of the attackers. Dr Han and team deduce that an incestuous relationship could have taken place.
A few decades ago, the father had adopted his young, mentally retarded niece. His “taking care” of her includes locking her up and forcing her to be his sex slave. She eventually bears him a son. The father throws his (new) second son into the river as he is worried others may find out about the incest. The second son survives thanks to his half brother (aka the accused), who also helps his cousin (or the niece) to escape. Due to the incest, the second son suffers from a condition that retards his growth hormones. Thus, although he is 30 this year, his body is that of a 6-year old boy. To survive on the streets, the pair took to attacking and robbing drunks.
Ep5 — Death masks. Detective Bae and Dr Han track down a psycho who poisons young women and creates Plaster of Paris masks over their faces juz before their deaths. The psycho in this ep is a young lady who studies and works in an art studio. She is frustrated with her teacher’s preference over another student’s work (which he deemed “life-like”). One day, she witnessed a person choking to death and has a epiphany to create a “live version” of death masks (pun unintended). Using her teacher’s studio as bait, she places ads to request for young female models. Those that turn up get tasered, poisoned and have liquid Plaster of Paris poured over their agonised, screaming faces. She then rips off the masks with skin and hair attached. (ow) When her teacher realises what she has done, she murders him and makes him a scapegoat. Unfortunately, her plan is eventually discovered by our Dr Han and Detective Bae.
Ep6 — Congressman Lee’s murder. An Agatha Christies’ classic. The rare syndrome here has nothing to do with the murder (for once). This ep is all about hardcore detective work, of sifting through half-truths and picking out facts from fictions. Congressman Lee is found dead (stabbed 4 times and with a nasty knock on the head) in his study. 6 people are suspects: the housekeeper (also the person who found the body), his biological son, his adopted son (who has Klein-Levin sleep disorder: he literally hibernates and sleeps for days), his lawyer, his doctor and his driver. On the night of the murder, the driver sneaks into the study to steal Congressman Lee’s gold paperweight, only to be caught red handed. In the tussle, driver pushes Congressman to the floor and the latter concusses. The doctor chances upon them (he is there to steal his IOU from the safe) and decides to kill Lee proper (by stabbing him). The biological son comes in after they left, and instead of calling for help, bribes the lawyer to change his dad’s will and later dumps the bloody knife on the sleeping adopted son. However, after Detective Bae closes the case, Dr Han visits the adopted son and puts forth his own theory: the adopted son learns that he is an organ replacer for the biological son, and seeks revenge. He alerts Congressman Lee to the driver’s theft, and lures both the doctor and the biological son to the scene of murder. To seal his innocence, he has installed a videocam in his room that catches the biological son dumping the murder weapon on him.
Ep7 — Toxic Drama. Imagine going under the knife without anaesthesia — this is what Toxic Drama is about. 2 cases of patients waking up under general anaesthesia (and later dying from shock due to the pain) are reported to the ME Office. Their bloodstreams contain a rare nerve drug that excites the nervous system, thereby counteracting the anaesthesia given to them. Detective Bae tracks the source to a group of drug peddlers and offenders. One of them is a prostitute, who is apparantly disowned by her wealthy chemist dad. She died from an overdose of amphethemines. Although her dad claims to no longer regard her as a daughter; after her death, he meticulously tracks down her pimp, her drug supplier and peddler and poisons them with the rare nerve drug to give them a painful death.
Ep8 — Spirits of the Dead. A cult story. A young girl who suffers from complex epilepsy (bundled with optical hallucinations) receives “treatments” in the form of religious exorcism, cos her mum (who is a cultist as well) believes her to be possessed. Dr Han and team gets into the investigation cos Researcher Kim stumbled upon the lynched housemaid on his way to a tete-a-tete with another female researcher. The cultist leader uses a hallucinogen (released via incense) to induce sightings of ghosts from her believers, thereby keeping their faith in her prowess as an exorcist in check. Amusingly, when Dr Han and team are exposed to the hallucinogen, they see their own “personal” ghosts. The cult leader ironically dies from shock when she is unable to ingest the antidote on time and sees the ghost of the young girl’s sister — whom she indirectly killed. The younger sister tried to help the epileptic girl escape from their (mad) mother’s beliefs, but was caught in the act. In desperation, the younger sister ran to their forest hideout. But her mum followed and locked her up, believing the younger sibling (note: she is her daughter) is a demon and thus, the source of the elder sis’ epilepsies. The younger sister starved to death eventually.
Ep9 — Han Jin-woo Syndrome. Dr Han gets a syndrome named after him, cos he solves a case where a young autistic boy dies from over exposure to allergens. The autistic boy suffered from a total of 28 allergens which can lead to seizures. But Dr Han discovers that the boy has been tempering his allergic reactions by slowly ingesting the food in small portions (buckwheat and other common Korean carbs) that give him problems. In other words, he is gradually poisoning himself. The boy commits suicide the long and painful way to relieve his grandma and his mother from their financial burdens of looking after him, sending him to special schools and giving him treatments for his allergic reactions. Yet, he doesn’t want them to know he has commited suicide. Thus, he exposes himself to gradual doses of allergens, to a point when his body simply gives up.
Ep10 — Synapse. Homeless men are found dead on the streets due to pesticide poisoning. Detective Bae and team uncovers an underground gambling den, where chaebols bet millions on guessing which unlucky guy will die from a Russian roulette game of drinking from a pesticide-laced cup. One “lucky” guy who suffers from a neurological disorder that blocks his fear responses manages to win each round. He uses the money to pay for the hefty medical fees for his sister who is stricken with polio. Unfortunately, his luck dries up in his planned last round of roulette, and ends up dying from pesticide poisoning.
Ep11/12 — Phantom in the brain. Your worst enemy is yourself. To backtrack a little, from as early as ep1, the show reveals there exists a darker side/ persona to Dr Han — a possible entity created from his earlier poisoning and “cure” in GQ1/2. (i will call him Dr Han2 to avoid confusion). If Dr Han is the balanced, compassionate genius, Dr Han2 is Id personified. Dr Han2 is so wildly creative, his genius level borders on madness. Dr Han2 doesn’t care about moral qualms, societal norms or even how other people will feel/react. But he is not exactly “evil”. I’d call him unbridled — like a totally untameable wild horse.
And who better to pit against 2 geniuses, but another psychotic genius? Enter nemesis 2, Dr Seo (online persona, “Phantom”), a gifted neurological researcher. His theories on neurosurgery and treatments on neurological conditions are wild, but sound. But, he tests his theories on (unwilling) human subjects. Like I introduced earlier, he sucks a man’s brains out from his nostrils — a procedure for brain tumour removal that is theoratically possible, but dangerous in practice cos it is unrefined. He picks on Dr Han and challenges him to either “remove Phantom” or “prove that Phantom’s theories and experiments are sound”. Dr Han is cautious about accepting the gamble, Dr Han2 is rearing to go…he can’t care less whether Dr Han’s colleagues or friends will be implicated.
Like Dr Han2, Dr Seo understands the importance Dr Han places on his colleagues/friends/mentor. He basically tortures and kills them to press Dr Han to accept the gambit. Poor Detective Bae literally had his whole team wiped out, leaving only Lee-ran (who was also stabbed and nearly died) and another assistant. The ME Office doesn’t get it easy too. Dr Seo nearly bombs the team, and when that doesn’t work, he uses Prof Jang (Dr Han’s sole mentor) to operate a high amplitude wave to fry everyone’s brains. Prof Jang had to commit suicide in order to prevent the whole ME Office from dying. (say “byebye” to those didactic discussions in GQ1/2…now why am i so glad?)
But Prof Jang doesn’t leave GQ3 without a parting gift. He understands Dr Han has a wee problem with his Hyde-persona. So, partly to redeem himself, he invents a machine that suppresses Dr Han2 from surfacing and disrupting Dr Han’s daily life. And while Dr Han successfully puts Dr Han2 to sleep, Researcher Kim manages to trace the IP address of Phantom. The twist: Phantom is NOT Dr Seo. The real Phantom is Dr Han (or Dr Han2). Dr Han2 has been adopting the Phantom persona and publishing controversial papers about neurosurgery online for at least a year (he does it while Dr Han is deeply asleep at night). Dr Seo stumbles across them and decides to bring those theories to fruition — by conducting experiments on human subjects. Dr Han2 is furious when Dr Seo steals his research ideas, and decides to make his presence known to Dr Han so that he can use Dr Han to track down the fake Phantom.
During the showdown, we also learn that Dr Seo suffers from a rare neurological disorder that suppresses his emotions/ compassion (he is a natural psychopath); he claims that this makes him the perfect guy to carry out Phantom’s wild theories (since he has zero qualms about killing people) and invites Dr Han2 to join hands with him. At this point, Dr Han2 is safely suppressed (thanks to Prof Jang) and Dr Han is prepared to fry Dr Seo’s brains (using the same method Dr Seo used on Detective Bae’s team)…had Detective Bae not arrive in time to stop him. The case is wrapped up, Detective Bae informs that he will be transferring to Daegu (NOOO!!!) and Detective Kang comes home. Dr Han goes to meet her (and along the way, removes that mechanism that suppresses Dr Han2), but before he can see her, he collapses. (and that is the annoying ending which viewers have been whining about)
[side note: in the Malay language, Han2 sounds the same as “hantu”, which means “phantom” or “ghost”. my own little private joke]
The. Best. OCN. Thriller. Yet. I love it. GQ3 changes many aspects of the God’s Quiz franchise. First off, Dr Han has a makeover! (yay! and he looks MUCH better) Gone is his birdnest hairstyle, and his (yukky) duffel bag — which makes him look like a high school kid instead of Korea’s top neurosurgeon. In GQ3, he is all crisp blazers (sometimes suits), or at least dress shirts and pants. (sorry, i prefer MEN to BOYS) And Detective Kang is NOT around! No more lame and insipid romance between the two. To clarify, I don’t hate Detective Kang — she is by far, the best female detective in kdramaland, and Yang Shi-on in Who Are You?, Ha Sun-woo in Cheo-yong should all attend the same police school as Detective Kang. The latter are wallpaper flowers for the police force, whereas Detective Kang IS a police officer. But GQ series haven’t really given us a credible romance between the Detective Kang and Dr Han, so much so I’d rather Detective Kang be absent.
In replacement, we have the endearing Detective Bae (can the writer put him back in GQ4???) and his totally cute bromance with Dr Han. Detective Bae is also a more interesting and deep character than lukewarm Detective Kang. He is gruff, grouchy and shamelessly greedy — he sponges off Dr Han wef ep2, the moment he susses out that Dr Han is one of those guys who are loaded AND pretty generous. And when he does “treat” in return, he uses his food coupons to redeem buns and soft drinks from convenience stores — much to Dr Han’s embarrassment. Still, he is not STINGY. He generously empties his wallet (which is actually pretty cash-filled) in ep4, treats the mentally retarded criminal mum and her 30-year old manchild to a nice last dinner and patiently waits with his team till they are done, before cuffing them. Juz like how he always nags Lee Ran and threatens to send her back to doing Accounts, but when she is hurt…he becomes a protective bear and bays for revenge against the person who stabbed her. In short, he belongs to those classic noir detectives — unkempt in appearances (he inherited Dr Han’s birdnest hairdo!), behaves like a thug, but is obessive-compulsive when it comes to pinning down the logical flow of crime and actually harbours a (very large) heart of gold. Another reason why I prefer him to Detective Kang. He is the first to notice Dr Han’s odd behaviours and takes actions to figure out the cause. He gets Lee-ran to tail Dr Han, he goes around annoying people to tell him what is wrong — behaviours that are missing from Detective Kang, the supposed girlfriend.
Ok, we have a better looking protagonist, and a partner upgrade. The last and most important reason why I think GQ3 is by far the best in the series is also due to the cases. I marathoned all 3 at the same time, but notice that my weecaps here are LONGER? Not that I don’t want to summarise, but the plot twists in GQ3 are more intriguing and I simply cannot ignore them. Plus, GQ3 drops its boring straight-as-an-arrow storytelling format, and many of the episodes actually are done in flashbacks and mid-flashbacks. An improvement! Let’s hope GQ4 continues in this vein. We also did away with the moralistic debriefing that I find ridiculous in GQ1/2. Seriously, the viewers do not NEED to have a moral teaching stuffed down their throats for every episode’s closure.
Now that I’m up to date on God’s Quiz, I am so looking forward to installation 4. 🙂