It is clear to us right away that Lies Hidden in My Garden is about a husband gaslighting his wife. Kim Tae Hee, who plays Moon Joo Ran, is disturbed, and we get the impression that her constant state of being in a daze is being induced by something rather than how she might naturally be. We have heard this story before in different forms, but we liked the execution that this series has chosen. It is based on the novel of the same name, and here is a recap of its first episode of Lies Hidden in My Garden.
Is Chu Sang Eun’s Husband Dead?
Chu Sang-Eun is a pregnant woman who is trapped in a situation of domestic abuse. Her husband, Kim Yoon Beom, is regularly violent toward her, and the whole apartment building knows about it. The security guard even tells Sang Eun that he is willing to report her husband if she doesn’t want to, but Sang Eun doesn’t let him get involved. Yoon Beom doesn’t care about his own cruelty, but he deeply cares for the unborn child. He is already angry that Sang Eun tried to abort the child without telling him, and we suppose that must have worsened her situation. Right now, she is working to make her way out of the marriage. Her husband asks her what she wants to eat, and when she refuses, he gets angry, believing that she doesn’t care about her pregnancy.
When Sang Eun gives in and asks for strawberries, he sends her to get some and tells her to get the organic ones instead of the old ones on sale. Obviously, Sang Eun doesn’t do that, and it becomes an excuse for Yoon Beom to hit her again. Unknown to him, she has been recording all of this to use as evidence for divorce. She even takes some pictures of her wounds and asks a colleague of hers if they could be used. Her colleague is also a divorcee, and she questions how Sang Eun is able to live with the man. We think that Sang Eun is limited by her finances and her family, which is why she is unable to just pack up her bags and go. Sang Eun has been temporarily employed at a place, and she believes that she won’t get a permanent job there because of an affair her supervisor is having with another temp worker. Therefore, she takes a half day to visit her mother, and she is going with her husband. This is where things start going a little off the rails. Yoon Beom doesn’t take her to her mother’s place, but we suspect he is going to meet Park Jae Ho. He had called him the previous day, and Yoon Beom certainly had something over him.
When in the car, Sang Eun had turned on the recording on her phone to catch some more evidence of her husband being abusive. But we don’t know what was caught on audio. In the next scene, we see Sang Eun come back home with her bag full of clothes and take a long shower. We believe that she washed all of her clothes. This could be a mistaken perception due to the vagueness of the screenplay, but those clothes must have been fresh since Sang Eun had packed them to visit her mother. In the next scene, Sang Eun goes to her mother’s place, and we see that her mom has some mental health issues and is being taken care of by someone who she is hostile towards. Something about this woman gives us a bad vibe, and we can’t be sure if she is actually a legitimate caretaker. Either way, Sang Eun gets a call right then, telling her that her husband has died. We are not sure if we are reading it right, but Sang Eun seems shocked, even though it is in the muted manner that she is used to behaving in. She must have witnessed something, probably at Park Jae Ho’s house, but we don’t think she expected her husband to die. It works in Sang Eun’s favor that he is dead, but she must suspect foul play, and we can’t wait to find out what she discovers.
What Does Moon Joo Ran Find In Her Garden?
Moon Joo Ran and her family have recently moved from Seoul to a remote rural area. Something seems to have happened in their previous lives that has disturbed the family, and it is especially noticeable in their son, Sung Jae. He has always been a good student but has been listless of late and, in his previous tests, turned in blank answer sheets that were simply scribbled on. When he refuses to answer the teachers, they are forced to call his parents, and he doesn’t want his mother to come in. Jae Ho comes to his school and understands what his son is going through. He takes him home and asks Sung Jae to be mindful since Joo Ran is mourning the death of her sister.
At home, Joo Ran is living like a recluse, as she constantly dreams about someone wearing the mask of an animal. She is worried about a foul smell coming from the garden and thinks that a mouse might have died there. But Jae Ho brushes off her concerns by saying that he smells nothing. We know this is not true because even some of Joo Ran’s neighbors commented on the smell while they were outside the house. Jae Ho probably predicts that he cannot keep Joo Ran from investigating or asking more questions, so he tells her that it is the smell of decomposing natural fertilizer. However, that night, a woman who had recently moved into the neighborhood comes to introduce herself and comments on the smell. That sets off the alarm in Joo Ran’s mind because it proves to her that she is not delusional regarding the smell. Others smell it too, and it is foul enough to elicit that strong a response. We suspect that even Sung Jae knows that something is wrong, which is why he leaves the table when his father is trying to placate Joo Ran. He knows that his mother is being manipulated, and for some reason, probably to protect her, he cannot contradict Jae Ho. But Sung Jae’s conscience is clearly eating at him, and he is unable to fully take part in it.
The next day, Joo Ran steps out of the house, probably to meet her neighbor, Hae Soo. But she is not sure whether she is doing the right thing and is clearly uncomfortable being outside the house. She runs into Hae Soo, who once again asks her about the smell. When Joo Ran replies that it is a fertilizer, Hae Soo says that it looks like something might be rotting. Technically, natural fertilizer is made when things rot, but Joo Ran’s doubt grows that something is seriously wrong. At the end of episode 1 of Lies Hidden in My Garden, Joo Ran digs up the spot in her garden where the stench is coming from, and to her horror, she finds that her suspicions were right as she finds two decomposing fingers of a still-rotting body sticking out of the soil.
The entire events of episode 1 of Lies Hidden in My Garden, in Joo Ran and Sang Eun’s lives, take place over 3–4 days. The body is decidedly not Yoon Beom’s, since Joo Ran was already getting that smell when her husband got the call from him. However, it is possible that Yoon Beom knew something about it and was blackmailing Jae Ho for the money. We suspect that Jae Ho had led his wife to kill someone and was now gaslighting her to prevent his own secrets from coming to light. We cannot shake off the feeling that he is the villain. Episode 2 of Lies Hidden in My Garden will give us more clarity on this.