My Beautiful Bride - Episode 1 (A ThisKicksAssCap)

I have a new recapping project and I am SO EXCITED, especially since I didn't even see this one coming. Like SO NOT on my radar. But here it is and it delivers, oh yes it does... Watch a control freak's life completely unravel as his beautiful bride disappears - without a trace. Watch really good actors act with a really good script. Watch a drama that takes you IN and doesn't let you OUT. THANK YOU, dramagods. I was losing hope.
This feels like home. If home were one big web of lies, I mean. You know what I mean...the episode starts and you take a deep breath and think, 'I know this place. This is a good place. My place.' Welcome home, Kakashi! We are here!

Episode 1

Three years ago. A female voice over tells us about the vileness of loan sharks - and how modern society needs them for so many things: weddings, education, business, you name it. We meet one of those loan sharks, Park Joon-Beom (Jo Han-Chul - a villain this time), giving money to a man ... and cut to at least two bodies, harvested for organs. The female narrator is police woman Cha Yoon-Mi (Lee Si-Young- aka the Boxer!), who is investigating this loan shark ring. In her team as her partner: Park Hyeong-Sik (Park Hae-Joon- remember Dr. Stranger?!). We also learn that scum like Park Joon-Beom are not at the top of the food chain - the really bad people are called "The Problem Solvers" (by the loan sharks) or "Shadows" (by the police). When the debtors have nothing left, the Shadows move in to take their life and/or body. They make them prostitutes, beggars without legs, slaves in drug factories - and at the very end, they harvest their bodies for organs and kill them; for life insurance.
Looks good, sounds good, feels good, liking the players...
One of those shadows is Song Hak-Soo (Lee Jae-Yong - has he ever played a good guy?)(no) who we see entering a building through the parking garage. On his team, we see Seo Jin-Gi (Ryu Seung-Soo - king not so long ago) and Lee El (no name given for her!). Somebody whose face we do not see (it is a woman, dressed in a short glittery black dress) is taking pictures of him and records juicy evidence of the planned misdeeds  - and then hands photos and voice recording over to Cha Yoon-Mi. Song Hak-Soo is the controller of shadows, she tells her team - and now, they have what they need to take him down.
Right. And the drama ends in under 10 minutes! It's a new record!
They move in, SWAT team and all ... but Song Hak-Soo isn't where they expected him. The mysterious woman followed him though and calls Cha Yoon-Mi from a phone booth. Master of Shadows is at a club and has critically wounded several police officers (who didn't wait for sufficient back-up) already. Yoon-Mi rushes in ... alone.
Sigh. I knew it was too much to ask.
It's impulse, not stupidity though! (I hope) 
When she reaches for the handcuffs, he smashes a bottle on her head and has her belly-down on a table ... but she grabs a candle (yes, it's burning) (okay that's new) and hits him with it, not caring for how it burns her hand (which she later cools in iced water). They fight some more and he grabs a knife - but right before he can stick it into her, he is shot by her partner. Wow, this description sounds so lame; but the truth is, the fight is terribly exciting and we are only 7 minutes and 39 seconds in.
You are right. But no one died yet so maybe it's not another story built on stupid police moves. Wait. Those other guys did rush in...
Song Hak-Soo is not dead, but arrested - and she tells us in voice over again that this horrible organization came to an end. She looks at a picture of a dead man harvested for organs who she had tucked away in her ball cap (sic!) - and then burns it. Her partner, smoking, just looks at her. Anyway, she believed that this was the end, she tells us - three years ago. Inside, the mysterious woman enters the room in which Master of Shadows was taken and collapses on a sofa. Her hands shake like leaves in the wind as she pours herself a drink. 
A roomful of dead bodies...
Present time (and opening credits): A man in a suit on a beautiful bike. Okay, the man is also beautiful as is his suit. It's Kim Do-Hyeong (Kim Moo-Yul- aka Mr. Panda). He stops at a jewelry shop where he picks a ring.
Mr. Panda! This man will age exceptionally well. When I am 80 he will be my 60 year old puppy.
Next, he meets a pink-clad lady at a café. She seems quite excited to see him, but he hardly looks at her. Haha, it's a blind date (set up by their parents, as we learn)! She chatters and he says nothing. Just when it's about to become really awkward, he makes it even more awkward by informing the woman that he loves somebody and is going to propose to her. He asks her to please tell her parents what a jerk he is and to makes sure his parents hear that too. After elegantly dodging the water she tries to throw into his face, he leaves.
So he is rich or his parents are social climbers. Okay, he is wrapped kinda tight, could go either way... but he doesn't want to toe the line so I lean toward rich. Rich-ish. Not Mask rich, more upper middle. What's your guess?
My guess is we will meet his parents before long and we will not like them.
Waiting for him all excited at another a café is Yoon Joo-Young (Ko Sung-Hee), a real beauty with sass (she tells off a guy who tries to impress her with his car). When Do-Hyeong arrives (he says he is late because of a blind date), she calls him Mr. Banker. Later, as she rides behind him on his bike, she chides him for being so honest about those set-ups. He apologizes stiffly (and formally), but she hugs him anyway. He is really determined, this one, it seems - because he is taking her straight to her parents' place (not sure where the father is). She gets really nervous, saying it's not a good time, but Mr. Banker called her brother this morning - they're being expected. In addition, he has ordered a present for her mother to be delivered by a little truck right then and there. Okay, this man is quite something.
Awwwww, he is adorable. I quite like the nerdy romantic secretly a sex god but will still take out the trash without being reminded guys.
The mother (Kim Ye-Ryeong) is delighted to give her consent (and it seems the two have been living together for quite some time already). But what's up with Joo-Young? She seems uncomfortable and even tells him she has no desire to get married, when they're walking in the streets when it's dark. And his mother would never give her blessing anyway, she adds. He doesn't care about that anymore though. He gets out the ring and presses it into her hand. When she opens the case, tears well up in her eyes. "Will you be my beautiful bride?", he asks - and bows.
And as he whispers an anxious 'please?' I fall utterly in love. Fortunately my fall was broken by all y'all because I am about the last person who saw this.
She is still half crying, later, in her room. Her mother comes in, saying how happy she is and all - but Joo-Young tells her she hasn't made up her mind yet. Her mother freaks out and tells her to go for it. What if he finds out about her past if she keeps stalling? (Uh-oh) He is perfect! And she needs to think of her and her brother! Their family is poor - and his is definitely not.
I mean, we did all know who she was, right?

Mr. Perfect is home (and it is a NICE home). His fridge looks perfect too. Maybe a bit of a neat-freak? He calls his bride - and immediately hears that something is off. Which she denies. She made the food in his fridge, which must be delicious. But she doesn't want to talk about that. She asks him whether he trusts her (uh-oh). Of course he does. She thanks him but asks for a bit of time to think about that marriage thing. And she does mention she has something to tell him, which doesn't really register with him, since he thinks it's about the marriage. After they hang up, she looks at the ring again and quickly puts it back into the box. 
Noble idiocy? Please surprise me, Show.
Somewhere in prison, a much tattooed Song Hak-Soo takes a shower (wait ... what is that woman on his arm? Why does the camera linger? Could it be... ?!) and then has a visitor: his long-haired lackey from three years ago. He informs him that he "has found her" and brought him photos of "that bitch". Through her brother, who is deeply in debt with them. Master of Shadows tells the crook to pay it back for him - and be watch what he says about "his woman".  
Confirmation, if we needed it. I don't think we did, but I am still more than okay with how this story is being told.

In his cell, he looks at the pictures ... of Do-Hyeong and Joo-Young. WTF?! Slowly, he rips one apart - and smiles. 
Hard to imagine her with this guy. It would be like Paksa's cutie dating Safari. Or maybe Scale.
Mr. Banker seems some kind of fitness freak. He runs for over an hour on the treadmill and then speed-bikes to work. That's not all. He is also a bit weird. When he enters the bank, he greets everybody politely and then closes his eyes and takes a very deep breath before walking on. Everybody laughs behind his back - he does it every morning. Every bank employee (they work at Shin Gook Bank) should love the smell of money, he tells a colleague.
You know what, younger readers? These guys make the best husbands. Loyal, constant, good habits, planners-excellent partners. Unless they turn out to be serial killers... So any way you are all too young to be thinking of marriage regardless! Stay in school!

Ah, but there is trouble, we learn: a client of theirs is about to go under and they need to go save what they can before it's too late. And so, Mr. Banker goes and tells the client whom to fire, to sell half the factory and hand over part of his assets. Later, he suggests to his boss that he wants to go do an inspection at one of their big clients (since their tax papers look weird). No friggin way, says his boss - and don't be so stiff. Relax. And go meet "General Manager Park" of that company (Seryo Construction). Humor him with a dinner, drinks and, we are guessing, women.
Way to hit us over the head with the loan shark/legit bank similarities, Show.

His almost bride works at a call center, but she isn't feeling too well today, as she tells a co-worker. And we learn why: she is pregnant. She carries a sonogram in her purse (she is 5 weeks along). They go have lunch together, where Joo-Young tells her colleague that she is getting married - almost as if to test the sound of it (Trivia: Three Meals a Day is playing in the background. You see Taecyeon and his ears on the screen at one stage)
If you follow the same folks we do on twitter, you know that Taec was actually identified by his ears, here.
Do-Hyeong tries to have his colleague take this entertainment business off his hands - but the guy claims it's his wedding anniversary, that yearly horror. And would you believe it ... That client Do-Hyeong needs to humor is nobody else but Park Joon-Beom, the horrible loan shark. He currently is on the phone with a woman (he is in love with and wants to marry), but there also is a man on the floor, moaning, because they beat him up. It's the factory owner that Do-Hyeong visited a while ago. The poor man gets two more weeks, but it seems Joon-Beom has dirt on his daughter.
I love this guy. He is always the perfect mix of hilarious/hapless and hateful/irritating.
Just then, President Parks other phone rings - Do-Hyeong. They meet in a fancy restaurant. Mr. Stiff tells the crook that he doesn't like drinking. So he brought him something: an expensive cake. Park is like WTF?! He seems to be expecting something else from Do-Hyeong and his bank, but there's nothing. Park even starts digging through the cake in expectance of ... something, but it's cake.
Just cake. 
I have no idea. Not even a crumb of one.
[ShukBomb 1: In a lot of stories, kickback money is passed in cake boxes, wine boxes, containers of ginseng root, etc. My guess is Sharky was expecting some serious won-age]
Joo-Young goes to his place (she still isn't feeling too well) and calls him. He is so cute when she tells him that "she is going to do what he told her", though he doesn't quite understand, even when she calls him "her groom". And please get her some chicken from that new place that just opened. Do-Hyeong has more work to do but can't wait to get home. On his way there, he receives a phone call: we are not sure who it is.
No, but we learn that our hero has a potentially scary side. Did you see his face?

Joo-Young is cooking now - and she is wearing the ring. She is just about to cut some tofu when her phone rings too. She doesn't pick up - but whoever called leaves a message next. When she reads it, her eyes widen slightly. Shock.
That, or fear.
It's dark already when Do-Hyeong gets home. He picked up some chicken on the way and sighs heavily as he rings (his own) door bell. Nobody answers. He rings again - nothing. He puts in the code (is it important? Is this one of these shows where everything matters?! Anyway, his code is 0711*) and goes in. All is dark. He calls her name, there is no answer. He sees the unfinished stew ... finds her ring on the counter. There is no Joo-Young anywhere. And her phone is turned off.
And thus, the poor guy's nightmare starts. He goes to his woman's company - she didn't come to work. He goes to her mother and brother - no trace of her. She is gone. And as we see the sad block of tofu and the awesome zebra knife, we get brief glimpses of Do-Hyeong losing it. Foreboding?  Flashback?!
That bit with the tofu aging forgotten. That was a nice touch.
It's the fourth day of her gone missing. Do-Hyeong goes to the police station (tie-less, by the way). There are missing persons' posters there, but Joo-Young isn't one of them. Cha Yoon-Mi sees him standing there and asks him what he wants (yes! It's her police station!) - he has come to report a missing person, he says. She tells him where to go.
The lack of a tie shows just how desperate he is!
On his way over to the right desk, he stares at one of those translucent boards, which is filled with gruesome pictures of dead people. Definitely NOT what he needs to see right now. 
But thank you, Show, for reminding us all that she might be dead. I would have forgotten, without you.
[ShukBomb 2: We don't really leave forensic evidence around public areas for people to view, especially current investigations. But then we all know how they love to portray the police. (sigh).]
He gets a form to fill out - a "Runaway Report Form". That doesn't seem right to him though and he tells Detective Kim that she didn't run away. But that's just what it's called, he is informed. Only if a person is gone for five years the status changes to "missing person". Well, Do-Hyeong fills it all in, just to learn that he cannot even report her since he is not her family. Detective Kim has a loose mouth and tells him to just wait for her, they "sometimes come back".
How does an 18-year-old boy become a detective?

Do-Hyeong turns to go, but suddenly, something snaps - he turns around and grabs the young detective by the collar, screaming that they should fooking do something! The police break them apart and Do-Hyeong leaves, agitated - and calls Joo-Young's brother to come file the report, which he does. 
He's a loose cannon when pushed to the edge! A wild card! You can't tell what he might do next!
They're at her mother's place, Do-Hyeong looks broken. Poor guy. Her sister-in-law starts signalling from the door (she is not the brightest of candles, this one - played by Song Lee-Woo). She found something. It's a pregnancy test. And it's Joo-Young's. He had no clue, the poor guy.
I would almost be tempted to think it isn't his, but she was really into him and it has been 2 years. I am reminded of Thighs, when he learned that Dead Girlfriend was pregnant. Isn't this the same writer?
Oh yes, it is
And then, as if this weren't sad enough already, we see Do-Hyeong fall even deeper, as he stumbles home, wondering whether THIS was the thing she wanted to tell him. Of course, a happy family with a child and the woman pregnant again passes him by, to rub it in. Later, he puts together a crib ... crying.
Okay that hurt. Still, if I were a guy with a girl who hesitated to accept my ring, had 'something to tell me' then turned up missing? And I found out she was pregnant? I would have at least a little concern about parentage. Just sayin'.
At the police station, Cha Yoon-Mi finds the missing person report in the printer by chance. Why is she so interested? Oh. I'll be damned. That informer woman whose face we never saw? It was Joo-Young.
But you knew this already, right?
((Psst, I'm not allowed to spoil my readers! A recapper always needs to pretend everything is a surprise. And this one was nicely done. It was very likely, but not necessarily über-obvious))
And thus, she takes on the case. They go over to Do-Hyeong's place (she goes with the two rookie detective, one of which thinks Do-Hyeong is quite suspicious). He lets them in. The apartment is full of photos of her, of him and her. The detective and the groom stare at each other - and one of the photos sheds a silent tear.
I didn't like that.


WHAT A RIDE! Can I breathe?! This is an incredibly dense, incredibly well-paced starter episode. It seems we have met all our protagonists - but we know nothing about them. What is Cha Yoon-Mi's inner fire that makes her do crazy things? It felt personal. Yoon Joo-Young used to be the Master Shadow's "woman"?! Was she an escort? And then, she betrayed him? How did she meet (and grow to like) Kim Do-Hyeong? Is the baby his? What was that weird little flashback-y thing during which he goes berserk? How come he basically does very dirty work for that bank without saying anything? Who are his parents? Who called him that evening?
Why does he ride a bike? Is it fitness or saving the earth? Does any one else feel like he will rip off his shirt to display rippling muscles and a big 'S'? Does anyone else think of On Ju Won?

These are just some of the questions we are left with after this first hour. I cannot wait to continue! There is nothing I find fault with after this first episode. Writing: check. Acting: check. Editing: check. Music: check. It's a winner! The weakest links are: Lee Si-Young (she is okay, but not half as good as the two other leads, I hope she improves) and the two dumb kid-detectives.
There were a couple little things but honestly I had to think hard to notice them. GOOD STUFF.
And it gets better.