I’m not sure how each episode manages to continuously accelerate the intensity and intrigue, especially since we started off running full speed through Taebaek’s sticky web. You’d think someone would finally get caught and actually suffer consequences for their actions, but despite the best efforts, everyone — including the heroes (or should I say, anti-heroes?) — is slick enough to somehow slip through. Or at least make sure that someone else is more caught they they are.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Dong-joon struggles with being drugged by Sang-gu and with the realization that Jung-il and Soo-yeon have been secretly lovers. Or maybe not-so-secret, since a few months ago their respective fathers told them to end their relationship. Lawyer Choi reminds her the promise she made with him that day to break up with Jung-il, but Soo-yeon tells him that she’s fulfilling an even earlier promise she made, which is to stay with Jung-il forever.
At the club, Jung-il smugly tells Dong-joon that he should just give up — it’s not like anyone is coming to save him. The police will be here soon to arrest him for illegal drug abuse, and the reporters will immediately make the scandal front page news. Ah, but there is someone coming to save him, but Jung-il slips out of the club and doesn’t see Young-soo enter.
She barges into the room, telling Sang-gu that she’s there for Dong-joon, but he’s passed out. Ha, Sang-gu recognizes her as the one who beat him up in order to take her father’s phone, and tells her that the only people Dong-joon will be leaving with are the police. Taking matters into her own hands, she leaps across the table and pins Sang-gu down, force feeding him the leftover drugs. She tells him that he’ll be arrested for illegal drug use, too, if they don’t let Dong-joon go.
Angry about the trap his daughter has set for Dong-joon, Lawyer Choi orders his secretary to get in touch with all their high-ranking connections in law force. But Soo-yeon tells him that he should stay out of it. This is something that is strictly between her and Dong-joon.
At Dong-joon’s mother’s nursing home, one of their patients is in critical condition. She’s trying to figure out how to move him to an emergency care center when Dong-joon’s father arrives. Mom attends to the dying patient, reassuring the old man that his son will be by soon to see him. But Dad points out that per the visitor’s log, the old man’s family hasn’t visited him in three years. It’s not like they’re going to magically appear in the next hour. Mom looks distraught as she watches Dad stick a syringe in the old man’s arm, but she doesn’t stop him as he assists the man into death.
Dong-joon also gets a syringe in his arm, but it’s to help ease the effect of the drug. Young-joo’s managed to get away from the club and to the safety of an old friend’s apartment. Her friend is the real Jo Yeon-hwa, which explains how Young-joo got her hands on her false identity. The real Yeon-hwa is also a doctor and attends to Dong-joon before she leaves for her shift at the hospital.
Once Dong-joon regains consciousness and is back to normal, Young-joo shows him the photos of Soo-yeon and Jung-il at the hotel, revealing that they’ve been lovers for the past three years. She asks him if he’s going to try and push her away or help her catch Jung-il. He takes some time to brood over his decision, and then calls Ki-yong to tell him to drop whatever he’s been working on against Young-joo.
In the morning, Jung-il and Soo-yeon get ready for the day in their respective homes as they talk on the phone with each other. It seems that they’re aware that Dong-joon gave the police and reporters the slip, since Jung-il apologizes for not personally seeing it through to the end. He didn’t want to be there when the cops arrived.
She tells him that he shouldn’t be sorry — after all, she’s the one who married another man. But she stops suddenly when she sees Dong-joon standing in the bedroom. As Dong-joon watches, she ends her call with a very pointed declaration that Jung-il should shave carefully, because she doesn’t like the feel of his stubble against her cheek.
All Dong-joon tells her after she hangs up is that he’s sorry for staying out all night. He continues to apologize over breakfast, since his mother-in-law is unamused that Dong-joon was out all night without informing anyone, but his apologies have deeper meaning as he reassures Lawyer Choi that he won’t let the events of last night happen again.
After breakfast, Soo-yeon tells Dong-joon that she and Jung-il used to live together when they both were in America, and then for the past few years they’ve been sleeping together at least two nights a week. Dong-joon silently continues to change his clothes, even though Soo-yeon reminds him of their agreement to change in the bathroom instead of in their shared dressing room.
But Dong-joon has reached his limit, and tells her that she’s going to end up spending more time with him than she ever spent with Jung-il, since he’s not going anywhere. He’s given up everything to be here, and this is where he’ll stay.
Over a subdued breakfast, Young-joo reassures her mother that the arrest last night was just a misunderstanding. She tells her mother that once her father’s case is taken care of, she’ll get reinstated as a detective. So there’s no reason to worry. Even so, Mom tries not to cry as she picks at her food.
The business day begins at Taebaek, and in the manager’s meeting, Jung-il proposes creating a new team to handle the trillion-dollar equity fund from Australia. Dong-joon and Jung-il politely bicker about who should handle the case. Dong-joon points out his father-in-law specifically gave it to him. But Jung-il reminds him that this a place of business and he should keep his personal connections out of it.
The entire conversation is really just an excuse for Dong-joon to slyly point out that he’s still there, still married to Soo-yeon, and not planning on going anywhere. In return, Jung-il warns him that he’s not going anywhere, either, and he especially won’t let an inexperienced person handle such an important case (with the implication that he’s not going to give up Soo-yeon, either).
Later, the men ride down in an elevator together, and Jung-il smugly tells Dong-joon that Soo-yeon will be late coming home tonight — she and Jung-il have plans. Dong-joon wryly tells him not to keep her out too late so her mother doesn’t worry. Amused by the fact Dong-joon seems to accept that he and Soo-yeon will continue to have an affair, Jung-il remarks that he thought Dong-joon would have more pride. But Dong-joon vaguely answers that he’s still figuring out what he has and what he doesn’t have.
As the men leave the parking garage, they play a game of chicken as they both race out of their parking spots, each one determined to be the first one to leave. But Dong-joon slams on his brakes first as Jung-il speeds away.
It’s two o’clock — time for the meeting with the Australian representatives, yet Dong-joon is nowhere to be seen. Jung-il takes over the meeting and as he goes through the details, talking up his department and skills as a lawyer.
The reason Dong-joon isn’t at the meeting is because he’s at the courthouse. He’s there to represent Sang-gu, much to everyone’s surprise. The other lawyers that were assigned to the case step aside as he tells Sang-gu that he’s still his contracted attorney. One of the lawyers is Jung-il’s buddy Attorney Jo, who quickly calls him. Jung-il shocked that Dong-joon would give up such an important meeting to go to court, but it all becomes clear when Lawyer Choi suddenly arrives to meet with the Australian representatives.
He tells Jung-il to translate for him, letting the Australians know that Taebaek’s Marking and Acquisition team will be handling the equity fund. The M&A team is Jung-il’s team, so it seems like Jung-il won this round, until Lawyer Choi reveals that he’s going to make Dong-joon the head of the team from now on.
In the courtroom, Dong-joon does his duty defending Sang-gu, pointing out the prosecution’s last-minute attempt supplement the charges against Sang-gu for illegal drug use with a charge for sexual assault is out of bounds. But the prosecutor argues that the charges were originally there, except the witness didn’t want to testify for fear of retaliation from the defendant. But now the witness has found someone to support her and is willing to come forward.
Dong-joon reminds the judge that if Sang-gu is indicted on charges of sexual assault in addition to his illegal drug use, then he’ll suffer a harsh judgement. However, he agrees to let the prosecution amend the charges, since he’s confident his client is not guilty. Except Young-joo is the one who’s protecting the witness and giving her the strength to come forward. It’s all a plan to make sure Sang-gu goes to jail while still making it look like Dong-joon is loyally defending him.
Once they’re alone in the courtroom, Sang-gu confronts him about his little plan, demanding to know what exactly Dong-joon wants from him. What Dong-joon wants is the truth about what happened the night Sung-shik died.
Back at the meeting, Lawyer Choi reveals that Jung-il will be stepping down as the M&A team lead in order to deal with some personal legal issues. A flashback to the night of Sung-shik’s death shows Jung-il standing by the body, shocked to find him with the fishing pole already speared into his chest.
Jung-il yells at Sang-gu, telling him that he was just supposed to get the leaked documents — not kill him! But Sang-gu is unconcerned, telling Jung-il the rain will wash the evidence away. Sung-shik isn’t quite dead yet, though, and grasps Jung-il’s ankle, pleading for someone to help him.
Jung-il confirms that no one else knows that Soo-yeon is behind it all, and Sang-gu warns him that a reporter is on his way and will be there soon. Jung-il is relieved that the reporter isn’t there yet, and grasping the fishing pole, plunges it deeper into Sung-shik’s chest, dealing the final killing blow — just as Soo-yeon appears, her eyes wide in shock as Jung-il kills Sung-shik.
Back in the present, Lawyer Choi vaguely tells the Australians that Jung-il will be leaving Taebaek for a long time. He pats the young man’s shoulder, pleasantly reassuring him that he’ll visit him often. Yeah, in prison.
In the empty courtroom, Sang-gu threateningly warns Dong-joon that his lips are sealed — he’s not going to confess to anything. But Dong-joon warns him that if he doesn’t confess, then he’ll bring in the sexual assault witness that will send him to prison for a long time. Sang-gu is confident that Taebaek will support him. But Dong-joon quietly warns him that he shouldn’t trust anyone and should focus on defending himself instead.
Jung-il and Dong-joon return to Taebaek’s parking garage at the same time, and it’s another game of chicken as the men speed towards each other. This time it’s Jung-il who hits the brakes at the last second and Dong-joon swerves into his parking spot first. It’s a ridiculous game of power, but it definitely sums up the attitude of the two men as Dong-joon calls him to rub in the fact that he’s going to be taking over Jung-il’s team — after all, Jung-il already has a lot of his “belongings,” so he might as well start taking it all back somehow.
As Jung-il returns to his office, Soo-yeon greets him, frantic with worry since she can’t get a hold of Sang-gu and knows that things will be over for her if he testifies about what happened that night.
But Jung-il tells her that even if she’s subpoenaed, she should testify — after all, hint hint, she wasn’t even there that night, was she? He’s willing to take the fall for her. She wonders what would be worse — a life without him, or without her father?
Soo-yeon goes to visit her father in his office, and one of the security team stops her to request she hand over her phone and watch before she enters. This is definitely a change from the privileges she’s used to, and the meaning isn’t lost on her.
Lawyer Choi tells her that they’ll be going to his father’s gravesite this weekend, but she snarks that it seems like her grandfather is still alive. After all, everything that Lawyer Choi has done has been to prove himself to his father, including trying to break up her relationship with Jung-il since he didn’t want her to marry into the family that controlled his father’s life.
But as he signs the documents putting Dong-joon in charge of the M&A team, her father warns her that Jung-il is going to be arrested for murder. In return, she tells her father that she’s going to turn herself in. He’s ready to essentially make her a prisoner in her own home to prevent that, but she reminds him that he tried that already when she failed the bar exam.
It didn’t work, because the next day she left for America. He then tells her to hide out overseas, and she muses that she could get at least ten years in jail for being an accomplice to murder who tried to flee.
Dong-joon’s father visits him to discuss the legal issues surrounding his plans to open up the plastic surgery clinic. Dong-joon cooly hands him the forms to request legal representation, telling him that another lawyer will take care of it. Dad points out that he thought Dong-joon had completely given himself over to the evil side, but it turns out he’s still stuck in the middle.
Soo-yeon’s stubborn side must come from her mother, since when Lawyer Choi asks his wife what would have happened if her mega-church pastor father had forbidden her to marry him, she blithely states she would have converted to Buddhism just to spite him. Lawyer Choi orders Secretary Song to meet with the prosecutor of Sang-gu’s case. Secretary Song manages to convince the prosecutor to drop the charges, and a suitcase full of cash is enough to persuade Dong-joon’s witness to disappear.
Back at Jung-il’s office, Soo-yeon is thrilled to tell him that her father changed his mind about having Dong-joon take over the M&A team. Just then Young-joo enters, letting him know that his usual secretary is out on another job and offers to assist him in the meantime. When she hangs up his coat, she sneakily slips his wallet into her pocket.
As she copies his hotel key information onto a blank key card, Dong-joon reminds her that they were supposed to work together to take down Jung-il. They should wait a few days until they can get the full support of Lawyer Choi. But Young-joon is too impatient, pointing out that Lawyer Choi is close to crumbling and taking Taebaek down with it like a house of cards. It must be hard for Dong-joon to try and catch Jung-il all the while making sure his father-in-law appears innocent.
She tells Dong-joon that even though her father will be freed after this job is done, her family will be running their shop and Dong-joon will likely become the head of Taebaek. It doesn’t matter if the truth is revealed — the world will still be corrupt.
Jung-il realizes his wallet is missing. He’s already suspicious about “Yeon-hwa” since she greeted Dong-joon’s father this morning as though she’d never met him before, even though supposedly she’s at Taebaek based on his recommendation. His suspicions are confirmed when he gets a call from Attorney Jo, letting him know that “Yeon-hwa” is actually Young-joo — the daughter of the man accused of killing Sung-shik.
Attorney Jo wonders why she would be working so closely with Dong-joon, when he was the judge that so harshly sentenced her father. He knows he can dig up more dirt on her since he has a willing informant in Detective Bae.
Keeping his cool in front of Young-joo, Jung-il tells her how impressed he is that “Yeon-hwa” is always one step ahead of him. It sounds like a compliment regarding her secretarial skills, but the truth goes much deeper.
Jung-il studies the sex video that’s been uploaded, and even though the faces can’t be seen, he begins to deduce who must have been in bed with Dong-joon that night.
Young-joo and Hyun-soo sit outside of Jung-il’s hotel. She’s focused on watching the building, barely listening as Hyun-soo tells her that, despite his parent’s disapproval, he’s informed them that the wedding’s merely been postponed and not cancelled. He tries to defend his actions during the hearing, pointing out that if he’d taken her side, he wouldn’t be able to give her this much help from inside the police force.
But she just tells him to call Dong-joon if she’s not out in ten minutes. Annoyed, Hyun-soo crumples up the business card she hands him, insisting that he’ll be the one to go after her. But as soon as she walks away, Sang-gu and his men surround Hyun-soo’s car. It’s a trap! He tries to warn Young-joo, but she’s too far away.
Sang-gu and his mean beat up Hyun-soo as Young-joo carefully heads to Jung-il’s hotel room. She cautiously uses her copied key to open the door, but Detective Bae and his men are waiting for her. They roughly manhandle her as they reveal that Jung-il has been waiting for her.
Hyun-soo is dumped on the side of the road. Pulling out the crumpled business card from his pocket, he studies Dong-joon’s information. Dong-joon is with his mother at the nursing home when he gets Hyun-soo’s call, informing that Young-joo is in danger.
Detective Bae and his men wait outside as Jung-il plays the few frames of the sex video he has available, musing that he wishes he could see the the final frame — where Dong-joon’s face will be revealed. They both lay their cards on the table as she tells him that she knows he’s the one responsible for Sung-shik’s death. He tells her that it won’t look good for her to be arrested for false documentation, but implies that it could all go away if he gets his hands on the full video.
Both Dong-joon and the wounded and bloody Hyun-soo arrive at Taebaek at the same time. Hyun-soo watches as Dong-joon retrieves the drugs Soo-yeon planted in his desk, and Hyun-soo wonders why he’s there when he knows about Young-joo being in danger. It’s because the person who can change Jung-il’s mind is also there.
Jung-il deduces that she must have the video hidden somewhere at Taebaek, since she’d need access in order to upload a frame each day. Watching her carefully for her reactions, he figures out that it must be hidden in Dong-joon’s office. When he tells Attorney Jo to have the security team search Dong-joon’s office, Young-joo says that she’ll tell him everything if he takes care of the forged document case against her.
As she goes to get a drink of water, she secretly dials Hyun-soo and hides the phone in her pocket. Hyun-soo listens as she tells Jung-il that the memory card is hidden in the cactus pot. Hyun-soo finds it, and when she yells for him to destroy it, Jung-il realizes she’s communicating with someone else and has Detective Bae’s men pin her down as they search for her phone.
Hyun-soo heads out with the memory card, but then stops, unable to resist seeing what’s on it. His face falls as he watches the video of Young-joo and Dong-joon together in bed. After all, she’s still his friend and, in his mind at least, still his fiancé.
Meanwhile, the Taebaek security team hurries upstairs. But when they reach Dong-joon’s office, it’s empty. They hear a sound from the kitchen and find Hyun-soo there, solemnly watching the SD card catch fire as it burns and melts in the microwave. The video is destroyed.
As Dong-joon heads to his father-in-law’s office, he calls Jung-il, who reminds him that Taebaek is a law-abiding place — they can’t have a criminal as a secretary. But Dong-joon, ignoring the request to submit his phone and watch before he enters Lawyer Choi’s office, tells him that a criminal also shouldn’t be a team leader.
Lawyer Choi, Chairman Kang, and Soo-young look at him in surprise as he enters, and he continues his call with Jung-il, revealing to him and everyone else in the room that Soo-young will soon be arrested for illegal drug use. A nice way to pay her back for her “birthday gift.”
He’s not only planted the drugs in her office — the same drugs that she planted in his — but thanks to Young-joo’s access as the one who makes the coffee every morning, he’s also been giving her small doses to make sure the drug will show up in her system.
He offers a trade. He’ll give Jung-il Soo-yeon if Jung-il gives him back his secretary. Handing the phone over to Soo-yeon, he tells her to either beg to be saved or tell Jung-il goodbye.
Ohhhhh, things are getting good. I love that Dong-joon is finally taking matters into his own hands and refusing to be bossed around anymore. That epic slow motion arrival as he entered the courtroom to defend Sang-gu was a thing of beauty. I also like that the final few minutes hint that Young-joo and Dong-joon are actually starting to work together, no matter how begrudging it might be. I wonder who’s ruthlessness is finally starting to rub off on Dong-joon, or if he’s discovering that maybe he’s not as “good” as he always thought he was. I mostly want more confident and sassy Dong-joon, and less bewildered and helpless Dong-joon. Although I do get the feeling that Lee Sang-yoon was probably cast because of the way his eyebrows do that little twisty thing whenever he furrows his brow, which makes him look like he’s confused but also plotting intense schemes.
I also really appreciate that all of our characters are being shown in moral shades of grey. Which feels like a “duh” statement, but I was actually a little shocked that Dong-joon’s mother simply looked the other way as his father helped kill one of her patients. Yes, she looked conflicted about it, but I get the feeling this is not the first time he’s provided such a service. Maybe she can argue to herself that it’s for the benefit of her patients so the last couple of hours of their death won’t be so painful. But this show is making me assume that no one is truly good (“Trust no one!”) and we’ll eventually find out that Mom is running some kind of insurance scam.
Now I’m left wondering if we’re going to end up with some Romeo and Juliet type scenario with Jung-il and Soo-yeon, since it appears that they’ll do whatever it takes to be together, no matter how much their parents may be against it. But instead of killing themselves, they’ll each take the fall for Sung-shik’s death in order to save the other person. Which sounds tragically romantic until I remember that it appears that they’re both at fault for Sung-shik’s death, although it seems like it was accidental. At least originally. Jung-il looked genuinely horrified that Sang-gu went so far as to try and kill him, but I can’t shake the thought that Soo-yeon was the one who hit him with the car in the first place. And Jung-il was the one who made the final push that officially killed him. So they’re both terrible, but at least they’re doing it for love?
Come to think of it, Shakespeare would probably be proud of this melodramatic story. It’s got the veneer of political critique, scandal, and intrigue that inundate his best tragedies. I’m pretty sure that Dong-joon is just a breath away from pondering whether it’s more noble to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles.” As for Young-joo, well, she’d make an excellent Lady Macbeth.