(This is a test run to see if I can recap. Please ignore the suckiness.) Phew… Well… Here we go. And don’t let that God-sent smile deceive you. Signing up for this drama also means signing up for The Feels Express. And it’s one hell of a ride.
We start off with two prison guards escorting who we come to know as our hero’s father, SEO JAE HYUK (Jun Kwang Ryul), to what I assume is a visit. He’s clearly shaken, stopping every now and then, forcing the guards to pretty much drag him inside. (And I have to say, I’m absolutely floored by the beautiful cinematography. ㅇ_ㅇ)
They sit him down opposite our hero, SEO JIN WOO (Yoo Seung Ho), and bring down… a noose?? Wait, WHAT?! Are they about to execute him right in front of his own son?! They make eye contact and Dad totally freaks out, racing towards Jin Woo (though they’re separated by a glass window), and begging him to tell the guards that he’s not a criminal. “You said that you would get me out of here! Please save me, Jin Woo-yah!”
Jin Woo then begs the police officers on his side of the room to save his father, but they’re not having it; they barely move a muscle. Besides, it’s too late. The guards restrain Dad and fasten the noose around his neck, making Jin Woo go completely ballistic, screaming for them to stop. Oh, Jesus, this can’t be real. Please let this be a dream. Please let this… They push a button, opening the floor beneath Dad’s feet, letting him drop to his death. Which is when Jin Woo wakes up. GOOD LORD. I’m gonna need a second. You certainly have my attention now, Drama, but did you really have to do that to my heart?
Jin Woo recovers from his nightmare and looks over at his calendar, with today’s date circled in red. So he really is visiting Dad, only in reality, it’s as his lawyer. The first thing Dad says is, “I don’t remember,” which Jin Woo isn’t surprised to hear. It looks like he’s already used to Dad not recognizing him–as his lawyer or as his son. He’s very patient and reintroduces himself, informing him that he’ll be defending him for the appeal opening after four years.
Dad knows very well about his case, as well as his illness, but we know he doesn’t actually remember committing the crime four years ago. He just accepts all the bad rumors about him circulating in the prison, assuming the worst. That he did, in fact, rape and murder a young girl. He doesn’t know if he did it, but he doesn’t know if he didn’t do it. So he tells Jin Woo that because of this, he doesn’t want to go to trial.
However, Jin Woo just smiles and asks if Dad is worried about the trial since he comes across as a young, inexperienced lawyer. Dad keeps insisting that he’s not innocent just because he can’t remember anything. He’s already decided that he’s willing to take the punishment.
Again, Jin Woo doesn’t show any surprise, which Dad takes note of. It turns out they’ve had this same discussion multiple times already. Jin Woo even counted: “‘I won’t appeal,’ 7 times. ‘I’ll just accept the punishment,’ 9 times. ‘I’ve never met you, but you seem like you’d do well,’ 10 times.” This makes them both smile bittersweetly, and it leaves Dad impressed with Jin Woo’s amazing memory.
Jin Woo then gets serious and tells Dad that even if they have this same conversation tomorrow, he needs to know that he is innocent. That he was framed and unfairly stuck in prison these past four years. He tells him not to give up because it would be irresponsible. Why? Because solving this case isn’t just about releasing Dad; it’s about putting the real criminal behind bars. And Jin Woo desperately wants that person to be punished, so he tells Dad to promise never to give up.
This triggers something in Dad’s head, and he sees a hazy image of younger Jin Woo crying. Stammering, he asks if he has a son, his own eyes brimming with tears. Jin Woo looks like he wants to say the truth so bad, but merely tells him to remember. “Like your lost memory, [your son] could be very close.” At that, Dad lets his tears fall, heartbroken that he can’t remember at all right now.
Jin Woo exits the prison, equally heavy-hearted, and watches the doors close. In his head, he tells Dad to wait just a little longer, because he’ll definitely get him out of there, no matter what. He looks on with a fierce determination. And there, we finally go back to four years ago, before all of this happened.
18-year-old Jin Woo comes out of his bedroom to see Dad has made breakfast, making him adorably ecstatic. (The way he says “Egg rolls!” just about gives me cavities.) They enjoy the food together, and talk about the broadcast Jin Woo will be in later, I’m guessing to show off his killer memory skills.
The doorbell rings and the happy duo go out to greet their neighbors, OH JUNG AH (Han Bo Bae) and her father, who came to give them some food. They’re all clearly very close, joking around and laughing comfortably. It makes me so sad knowing this happiness was eventually taken away.
We then cut to a man singing in the shower, where we’re exposed to his extravagant back tattoo of a dragon. This fellow is one of our secondary characters, the mob lawyer, PARK DONG HO (Park Sung Woong). He’s got a veryyy nice crib with a lady friend who asks him not to leave. But he waves her off, insisting he has a trial to get to. The one-night stand is shocked to hear that this dude is actually a lawyer.
He goes to meet the defendant, who also happens to be a Hyungnim he knows. Dong Ho seems rather annoyed at the trouble he’s gotten into, but Hyungnim swears that the fight was totally not his fault and that he only tapped the other guy’s head. It didn’t even leave a mark on his face, so why was he the one in cuffs? Dong Ho sadly informs him that the guy he messed with was actually a future CEO of a big company. And he’s got a powerful lawyer that won’t be moved by money or girls. In other words, he’s screwed. HA.
But Dong Ho assures him he’ll still get the job done. Because “good lawyers get their clients’ innocence. The best lawyers don’t let their clients go to court.” And with that, they fist bump, like true bros. This is great.
At his job, Dad takes a video call from Jin Woo (he has him saved on his phone as “Beloved Son”) as he waits for a bus. They chat about the broadcast again, as a co-worker of Dad’s mentions in the background that he keeps forgetting things lately. As father and son are being their usual cute selves, we see our heroine for the first time, LEE IN AH (Park Min Young–good to see you, Unni!), about to get on the same bus.
While in the bus, Jin Woo moves to get off at his stop, accidentally bumping into In Ah and knocking her purse over. He hands it back to her and she thanks him with a big smile until she notices there’s a huge-ass cut in her bag, and her wallet is missing. What she does next is both ridiculous and kind of awesome. She doesn’t let anyone get off the bus, flashing her law textbook and declaring the bus a crime scene. She makes the driver take them all down to the police station, pretty much ruining everyone’s day. Jin Woo gives her this “Seriously, lady?” look that has me in stitches.
Once at the police station, all the bus occupants are pissed that they’re being held up. A police officer asks In Ah if she has any suspects, and she immediately thinks of crashing into Jin Woo. She saunters over to him, already convinced it had to have been him. “Student, it was you, wasn’t it?” She orders him to quickly confess and hand over her wallet.
He tells her repeatedly that he didn’t take it, but In Ah insists that she distinctly remembers it. Uh-oh. She doesn’t even realize who she’s challenging. He smirks and asks if her memory is really that good. She says it is, so he asks her a series of questions like what time it was and who she was standing next to. She doesn’t remember those tiny details, but Jin Woo does. The exact time, the bus number, what the person next to her was wearing, everything. It’s pretty impressive. And you can see that he’s having so much fun shutting her down on each question and watching her smug face fall. I already ship them.
In Ah doesn’t believe anyone can remember details like that, so Jin Woo looks deeper within his memories to prove his point. I love this next scene. (Even the music is perfect. It’s like he’s some badass superhero showing off his power.) He imagines himself back on the bus and watches the entire ordeal again, pausing it to see that her bag had already been torn when they bumped into each other.
So he rewinds back to when they were at the bus stop, and I love that it’s almost like all these memories are footage in his head and he’s able to look back as if pressing buttons on a remote or something. There, he discovers that while waiting for the bus, a pickpocket had stealthily cut her bag while passing her, getting her wallet without anyone noticing. Jin Woo catches his appearance and even the license plate on the car he left in. So. Cool. He points out the thief’s picture on a wanted poster, and everyone (including me) claps, while In Ah’s embarrassment and guilt kicks in.
Lawyer Dong Ho heads to the prosecutor’s office, where he has a tense moment with Prosecutor HONG MOO SUK (Eom Hyo Seop) in an elevator. They’re not on good terms, and Dong Ho even calls him a “chihuahua-looking bastard” once he leaves. Hahaha.
Dong Ho finds who he’s really looking for, TAK YOUNG JIN (Song Young Gyu), the powerful prosecutor he’d told his Hyungnim about. He tries to persuade the prosecutor to defer his client from the trial, and is able to get the last word in, slipping in his business card that reads “100% win to loss ratio.”
Back at the station, In Ah tries to apologize to Jin Woo, but he’s too upset that she was so quick to accuse him of being a thief right after he’d helped her. He doesn’t seem angry though. I think he’s more frustrated that she jumped to conclusions when she didn’t even remember the important details. He tells her not to speculate if she doesn’t know anything, especially when someone’s life could be on the line. She should know better since she’s a law student.
Speaking of which, In Ah is (of course) late to class and tries to sneak in during a discussion about whether or not someone would be sentenced if drunk and wandered into his cousin’s house, touching her breasts but running away after she screamed. In Ah believes he should definitely be charged for rape, or at least attempted rape, but our second female lead, NAM YEO KYUNG (Jung Hye Seong) raises her hand and states that this person wouldn’t be charged since he ran off after the scream. The most he would get would be breaking and entering. Man, poor In Ah. Today’s just not her day.
Dong Ho and Prosecutor Tak meet up again and form some sort of agreement over drinks since Tak has difficulty arresting organized criminals, and Dong Ho can provide him with vital info and protection. All righty, we have ourselves our first alliance. Now that they’re on the same page, Tak lets him in on this CEO he’s working against, NAM GYU MAN (Nam Goong Min). He’s rich, he’s powerful (sounds like any other baddie), but there is something he lacks: humanity.
We see glimpses of that with Nam Gyu Man criticizing a man for not bowing low enough to him and with him mistreating his subordinate and longtime “friend” (I say this loosely cuz he’s seriously a jerkface toward him), Section Chief AHN SOO BUM (Lee Si Eon). Ahn tells him they have a great prosecutor to get Hyungnim into jail, but Gyu Man doesn’t just want him in jail.
He asks if Hyungnim has a daughter and if Ahn knows anyone who can handle a knife. Jesus… He also tells him to find a female singer for some upcoming event. After Ahn obediently agrees, Gyu Man kicks him out of the car and tells him to take a taxi. Like I said. Jerkface. We see that Dong Ho was hanging back and saw the whole thing, realizing just how much of a nutcase this CEO guy is. “This isn’t going to be easy.”
In Ah returns to her family, and we learn that her parents own a small pizza place. As she walks in, she sees the broadcast Jin Woo went to on the TV. It looks like a game or reality show testing his photographic memory. Ha, on screen, it shows him listing off all the numbers in Pi. In Ah changes the channel only to turn on news of her wallet snatcher being caught followed by more praise for the Boy Wonder. Give it up, girl, you can’t escape him.
Oh, shit. Section Chief Ahn was able to find a female singer for Mr. Jerkface, and it’s Jin Woo’s neighborhood friend, Jung Ah. NOT. GOOD. Not good, not good. They get to their destination, where Jin Woo’s dad happens to be, and OH COME ON, JUNG AH. She acknowledges him so obviously and tells Ahn that he’s a family friend. Ugh. I can see where this is going and I don’t like it.
They enter a club, and Jung Ah immediately feels uncomfortable and tries to get out of the gig. But Ahn reminds her that if she does well, she can earn an entire semester’s tuition. Damn… Well, I can see where she’s coming from. Still, she tries to leave and give the money back, but Ahn just ignores her. And outside, Gyu Man arrives. He sees Jin Woo’s dad working and makes Ahn kick him out, and anyone else there who isn’t a member. He goes to check out his singer and… Aish… That look he’s giving her is making my skin crawl.
At home, Jin Woo enjoys some kimchi stew while waiting for Dad. I’m not liking that they’re apart right now… Turns out he’s out buying him a new cell phone. But the seller insists this is the third time he’s tried to buy one. Oy, my heart just keeps sinking further and further.
Back at the club, Jung Ah gets on stage and starts singing (“Way Back into Love”). No more than twenty seconds later, Gyu Man screams for the music to be shut off, smashing champagne glasses. He slowly walks up to Jung Ah, breaking more glasses the closer he gets, and asks if she’s singing for a college festival. He rages that he wanted some good, old Korean music. Jung Ah shakes like a leaf but she complies, changing to the old hit “Omona” by Jang Yoo Jung. How she’s able to sing in a steady voice in that situation is beyond me.
After her performance, she rests in her dressing room… Where Gyu Man stumbles in, drunk like a skunk and holding more alcohol. I’m already nervous as heck, Drama; you don’t need to add the scary music. >.< “Let’s have a drink,” he says. *shivers*
Next thing we know, it’s morning and it looks like Dad was gone all night. Jin Woo finally gets a call from him, but Dad doesn’t know where he is or how he got there. Cue more scary music. Gahhh, why?! He’s still holding the bag from the phone shop, but buying the phone is the last thing he remembers. Jin Woo tells him to stay where he is; he’ll come find him. He quickly hangs up and goes running out the door.
But it’s not long before Dad stumbles across something in the woods. Oh, no… Oh, NO NO NO. It’s Jung Ah, dead. Dad frantically tries to wake her up to no avail, so he tries to unlock his phone to call for help. Only… he can’t remember his password. He starts to panic, gripping his head in pain. That’s when Jin Woo finds them, but Dad’s already sinking into unconsciousness.
He wakes up in the hospital and ohthankgod, he still recognizes Jin Woo. A detective visits him and starts asking questions, which doesn’t bode well with Jin Woo. He doesn’t like that he’s interrogating his father and making him sound like a suspect. But the detective tells him not to overreact; he just needs to know. So he asks Dad if he knew the deceased. Dad says no, leaving Jin Woo shell-shocked. “Dad. It’s Jung Ah Noona. You know that.” But Dad doesn’t recall her at all.
Jin Woo notices the cell phone bag on the table and thinks of something. He races home, and sure enough, there are more brand new cell phones already there. He searches some more and discovers Dad had been buying more than one of a lot of things, forgetting he already had them. It finally dawns on him what’s happening.
Dad does a few tests with a doctor, seeing if he can name animals, as well as himself and his son. He’s successful, but Jin Woo’s weak smile doesn’t convince me. He knows now that his father isn’t the same.
By now, Jung Ah’s murder case has become major news, outraging many. The detective from earlier visits Prosecutor Hong (Chihuahua dude) and they discuss how there are no stand-out suspects. But Hong gets this glint in his eye and tells the detective that with all the media attention, what’s important is that they catch someone. Anyone. Or else they’ll all be in trouble. He tells the detective to look at a specific file, and there we see a picture of Jin Woo’s dad…
At the funeral home, Jin Woo and Dad pay their respects to Jung Ah’s father. He thanks Dad for being the one who found his daughter, crying uncontrollably. They grasp hands, both trying to give each other strength. And then the police arrive. We hear Prosecutor Hong in voiceover telling the detective, “I’ll give you three days to get a confession.” Excuse me while I bang my head on the wall.
The police barge right in and freaking arrest Dad with NO CONCRETE EVIDENCE, leaving everyone in the room stunned. Jung Ah’s father, especially, looks like he can’t comprehend it at all. Dad tells Jin Woo not to worry and that he’ll be okay, but Jin Woo looks like he’s about to break. As Dad is dragged away, Jin Woo tries to get an explanation from the detective, but he just PUSHES Jin Woo to the ground. Really? I… I can’t even describe how angry I feel right now. He runs outside, but the police cars get out of sight pretty quickly. He’s left there in the pouring rain, calling out to Dad helplessly.
One of the police cars, however, go off course, and the detective whom I now hate tells the driver to turn the siren off. Oh, what now?! Dad is confused and asks, “Where are we going? Aren’t we going to the police station?” No one answers him. They take him to what looks like an abandoned warehouse. Jin Woo trudges home like a lost puppy to find that it’s been ransacked. Everything is thrown on the floor and it’s just a mess. He stands there completely numb, this crazy predicament slowly sinking in.
Some time later, In Ah and her family watch the news and hear of Dad being arrested and confessing to the crime. WHAT? OMG, what did they do to him in that warehouse? This is so much to take in. I can’t even imagine how Jin Woo must feel. In Ah’s father can’t take it in either, telling her that he’d delivered to Jin Woo and his dad before and they seemed like good people. In Ah’s mom wonders if this Jung Ah is the same girl In Ah knew when she was younger. In Ah’s eyes widen. “She’s that Jung Ah?”
Now, the scene I was dreading… *hugs nearby pillow* Jin Woo visits Dad in prison for the first time. Dad comes in looking terrified, unsure of what’s going on. Jin Woo tries to reach out to him, but Dad asks that gut-wrenching question: “Who are you?”
Dead. I am dead. Jin Woo says over and over that it’s him, his Jin Woo, but Dad only shows signs of confusion. Jin Woo pleads with him, pressing his hand against the glass. Then when Dad utters the word “son,” recognition washes over his face, along with agony. He places his own palm against the glass and begins to cry so hard he’s unable to speak. Jin Woo tells him it’s okay and that he doesn’t need to feel sorry. But they both can’t seem to stop crying.
In Ah makes her way to the courthouse, where she finds Jin Woo (and a very angry group of protesters) on the steps, waiting for the arrival of Dad. She’s surprised to see him there and asks if he remembers her. Her smile fades as she registers Jin Woo’s pained expression.
Dad makes his entrance, and he’s instantly pounded by the protesters. There are shouts of “Murderer!” and “Give him punishment!” However, Dad isn’t looking at them. Instead, he’s looking past them–for Jin Woo? But he doesn’t see him and is shown inside.
Someone else catches sight of Jin Woo and points at him, yelling, “It’s Seo Jae Hyuk’s son!” The crowd turns on him like a raging wave, and the police have to hold them back. In Ah gets caught up in the crowd and has to watch in horror as people hurl eggs at Jin Woo. He gets pelted over and over, and it’s absolutely terrible to watch. A necklace carrying a ring breaks from his neck and clangs to the ground. But he just stands there, unable to move. Unable to do anything.
Um… wow. That was some first episode. I’m not sure how to recover from that. The sleek cinematography, the impeccable musical score, and the acting (holy crow, the acting!) all worked so well together that I completely forgot I was just watching a drama. I needed to remind myself that this isn’t real. It’s just that I already feel so connected to these characters and it’s sickening to see what they have to go through.
I’m excited to see them stay strong and rise up against this corrupt system going on (I still can’t believe how infuriating that was). Especially the character of In Ah. I think Park Min Young tends to play similar characters in everything she does, but what I like about them is that they’re all relatable in their own ways. I can see that in In Ah as well. We all know someone like her or we are her. At this point in the story, she’s quite naive when it comes to the law, but her heart is in the right place, so I think with a push in the right direction, she could be a great lawyer.
I think her drive along with Jin Woo’s skill will make them the perfect team to defend his father. Seeing how they clashed in today’s episode not only made me like them as a couple (how cute was their little bickering?) but it also made me like them simply as two individuals who care about other people and their well-being. That alone will get them a long way. I’m sure many people will turn against Jin Woo as we saw in the last scene, so I’m glad he’ll at least have In Ah, and hopefully, Lawyer Dong Ho. The most heartbreaking thing to me, though, is that Jin Woo’s father is the one left alone. Just as he starts experiencing Alzheimer’s, he’s taken away from his son, his only family. And I can’t believe he has to deal with this by himself. He needs Jin Woo now more than ever.
And I think Jin Woo really is the only one who can truly save his father. In the very beginning of the episode, as he was leaving the prison, it was telling that the sign resting over him read “Where law and justice stand,” as he stood right under it, confident he would get him released. It’s foreshadowing like this that gives me the hope of justice prevailing in the end. It has to. I know Jin Woo will make sure of that. Now, you go get ’em, Oppa.