History of the Salaryman: Episode 21
We’re finally here at the penultimate episode, and our characters are in for quite a trial. Gabi’s manipulative ways are in full force as the hammer of justice comes closer and closer to hitting her square on the head (as is well deserved), and Woo-hee proves her mettle in order to fight for what’s right. It’s a setup to an unpredictable finale, and one that leaves us biting the same nails we’ve been biting since last week all over again.
EPISODE 21 RECAP
Gabi’s minion races headlong toward Woo-hee as she stands, frozen in fear. It seems like things will only end badly… until Bang stakes his own life and car as a shield for Woo-hee, and the Minion’s car miraculously stops within inches of hitting Bang’s car. Woo-hee’s safe, the Minion escapes, and Bang gets suspicious. No cars, or people, were harmed in the making of this scene.
Our resident murderess is already a mess before she hears the bad news – her plot to kill Woo-hee failed, and it was all because of Bang. Her calls to Bum-jeung go ignored, as well they should.
Woo-hee shows Hang-woo the footage of Bum-jeung with Chairman Jin’s will (which she tells him she came across by coincidence). She tells him that she’s sure Gabi murdered the Chairman, and is pretty put off by how Hang-woo keeps shielding Gabi, even going so far as to tell Woo-hee to just feign ignorance about everything.
But Woo-hee has had enough with this, and isn’t about to conspire with Hang-woo to cover up a murder. She flat-out tells him that if he doesn’t want to see her come forward with what she knows about the murder, then he needs to stop helping Gabi immediately.
Since Woo-hee wanted to know why Hang-woo was so keen on helping Gabi, he takes her to brother/cousin Hang-ryang’s memorial. He tells her that his father died because of Chairman Jin, and that Hang-ryang died helping him on his revenge mission. So whether Gabi fabricated the will, or whether she really did murder Chairman Jin… in the end none of it matters to him, since he wanted revenge anyway.
I had held out some hope that maybe Hang-woo was wise to Gabi’s trickery, but the opposite seems to be the case. He tells Woo-hee that he has to protect Gabi on Hang-ryang’s account, having clearly believed everything Gabi told him. Ugh.
To make matters worse, when Woo-hee tries to intervene, he just gives her a Shut Up Hug and tells her that they’ll both be going to America soon, so she just has to hold off till then. To Woo-hee’s credit, she doesn’t look like she’s keen on this idea.
Just because she missed the opportunity to kill Woo-hee once doesn’t mean Gabi has decided against it, as her and her minion discuss how to dispose of her. She hides her surprise as Woo-hee meets her in the elevator, and the two share some terse yet veiled words. The best thing about it is that Gabi is more worried about Woo-hee than Woo-hee is about her, but a lady with so many secrets is bound to be paranoid in all things.
When Woo-hee leaves the elevator, she wonders aloud whether Gabi was really lovers with Hang-ryang. “You might be able to fool Hang-woo, but not me,” she proclaims defiantly. (I love this girl!)
Bang comes upon a skittish Prosecutor Moon-soo in the gym, demanding to know why Moon-soo is giving up on Gabi’s indictment. It seems pretty clear that it was Moon-soo’s higher ups who wanted to shut this case down, no doubt having been paid off in some form to leave Chun Ha alone. Moon-soo is content to leave it at that, but Bang calls upon his sense of justice (quite loudly, of course), and basically asks where Moon-soo’s balls have gone.
Bang: “If you’re just going to bury stuff, you’re not a prosecutor, you’re a mortician!” Ahaha. Quote of the week.
Even that isn’t enough to turn Moon-soo back to the side of good, but the sight of Yeo-chi’s disappointed face is. All of a sudden Moon-soo does an about-face, and goes running after Yeo-chi when she pretends to run away, unable to face such an unworthy prosecutor. (Teamwork for the win!)
Team Bang decides to come up with a strategy in order to help Moon-soo get an indictment, and the best solution is to get public sentiment on their side. Hilariously, no one listens to Jang Ryang’s more seasoned suggestions and only go for what Bang suggests – which is just to tell the truth. Even that will be a huge blow to Gabi.
(I took a mental note of this last episode but now it seems more intentional – we’re seeing a lot of people take vitamins lately in Team Bang. At the end of this scene, Jang Ryang even pops a pill. Could Eternal Youth be back?)
Team Bang then takes to the streets, and the internet cafes, to spread the word about Gabi’s embezzlement and Chairman Jin’s suspicious death. When Hang-woo gets word, he demands that they sic cyber security on whoever is spreading the malicious rumors. Poor Hang-woo is in for another shock when he hears that Bang has called him out for a live TV debate on the matter.
Bang and Hang-woo meet in the makeup room for their upcoming TV appearance, and Bang can’t resist the urge to make a quip that Hang-woo’s makeup artist will need to use a lot on Hang-woo’s “big flat face.” Haha. The two of them continue to exchange barbed words as Yeo-chi tends to Bang’s skincare and Woo-hee continues to look uncomfortable caught between both sides.
The debate begins in front of the cameras. Bang is hilariously introduced by his nickname, Versailles Yoo, and is asked about the swirl of news around Mo Gabi’s embezzlement. Bang launches into a speech on everything that’s wrong with corporatism when it’s used for private gains (aka embezzlement), and Hang-woo’s response is merely that they’ll sue Bang for what was clearly a defamatory, unfounded remark against Gabi.
Things start heating up between the two, and even the moderator is unable to stop them. Hang-woo brings up Bang’s own embezzlement charges (which he was acquitted for), and as soon as Bang attacks back Hang-woo says he’ll add on an extra lawsuit for defamation of his character. Their microphones eventually get cut off, and we see them continuing to yell at each other in total silence.
Moon-soo has decided to come back onto the case, probably due to his puppy love for Yeo-chi. She definitely plays him for all he’s got, giving him moony eyes while entreating him to help their cause. Bang has the urge to counter everything Moon-soo says like it’s nothing, so when Moon-soo says that his father served as the former Minister of Justice, Bang scoffs. (It’s not like he’s the current one.) But when Moon-soo starts rattling off the rest of his impressive family credentials, Bang is at an adorable loss.
As if Gabi isn’t crazy enough, she loses it at the news that she’ll actually have to face a judge. In court. She can’t get ahold of Hang-woo, and we find out that’s on purpose – Hang-woo is refusing to take her calls.
He goes to find Bum-jeung instead, who seems to be at peace tending to a greenhouse full of plants. When Hang-woo tells him that Chun Ha is in bad shape, Bum-jeung offers a sage observation: “One reaps what one sows. Whether that’s farming or in corporations. All things in the world operate the same.”
No amount of asking is going to get Bum-jeung to go back to work, it seems. But Hang-woo gets an ace in the pocket (literally) when Bum-jeung gives him an envelope that looks suspiciously like Chairman Jin’s will, with the instruction that Hang-woo open it only when the frustration becomes too much.
Shin gets a call from Hang-woo to do some dirty work again, and Team Bang encourages him to continue playing double agent. Hang-woo is working to amass the best legal team in Korea for Chun Ha’s defense, and Bang takes the live updates he gets from Shin straight to Moon-soo. These scenes all point to one thing: Bang and Hang-woo are going to war, and are amassing their armies.
Bang gets an interesting tidbit from Shin’s spying – Hang-woo is being blackmailed by Gabi’s minion. Unfortunately for Hang-woo, he gives Shin the briefcase of money, which then gives Bang, Yeo-chi, and Moon-soo the perfect opportunity to stake out the blackmail spot. Moon-soo is excited – this is going to be trial gold for them.
As soon as Gabi’s minion takes the briefcase, Moon-soo and his men are there to take him into custody. Yeo-chi remarks that things are going so well for them, but this only makes Bang concerned – things that go too well in the beginning have the biggest tendency to go wrong later. (Foreshadowing alert!)
Moon-soo takes charge of interrogating the Minion, who’s got a long list of past charges against him. These are enough to put him in for a long while, so Moon-soo offers to bargain. If Minion comes to court tomorrow to testify about the dual contract Gabi signed with the Golden Brothers, Moon-soo will shorten his list of charges. Minion offers a better deal: what if he just brings the contract itself?
Next we see him, he’s fabricating the contract and forging the signatures. He’s unaware that he’s being watched by the Chun Ha security cameras he helped to install, and calls Moon-soo with some last minute worries. Moon-soo doesn’t give him a break, and tells him to show up bright and early at the courthouse tomorrow with the contract.
It’s the day of the trial, and there’s no sign of the minion. Bang and Yeo-chi are clearly concerned, but Moon-soo remains steadfast in his belief that he hasn’t been duped. Yikes. This isn’t going to end well, is it?
In the courtroom, Moon-soo makes his case on how much money Gabi wasted in investments using Jang Ryang’s testimony. But her defense lawyer probes deeper, taking Jang Ryang to task on misleading Gabi to throw her money away. Things aren’t looking good for Jang Ryang when the lawyer asks him what “chairman” he supposedly talked on the phone to during a conversation with Gabi (since talking to that chairman was used as a tactic to convince her), and Jang Ryang saves the day by wittily replying that it was the “chairman” of his neighborhood morning soccer club. HA. Crisis temporarily averted.
Bang writes a secret message to Moon-soo after seeing Bum-jeung in attendance. The defense lawyer makes it known that Jang Ryang opposed Gabi’s ascendance to the position of chairwoman by delegating his stocks to Yeo-chi, coming to the (true) conclusion that Jang Ryang deliberately tried to get Gabi to squander her investments. After reading the message, Moon-soo declares that their next witness will be Bum-jeung, and the court takes a temporary recess.
Team Bang knows that they’re up against a tough foe, and Moon-soo grows concerned over Gabi’s minion being a no-show so far. Now their hopes lie in Bum-jeung testifying against Gabi.
And Gabi, the sly, manipulative fox that she is, comes upon Bum-jeung while he’s alone. Her tone is apologetic, everything about her completely false as she tries to play Bum-jeung’s emotions back in her favor so he won’t testify against her. Really, Gabi? After the way you treated him last time, you’re going to be this transparent? Well, it’s your grave.
Bum-jeung seems to be sticking to his guns, and Gabi seems all the more relentless for it. Grabbing his arm, she tells him, “I was wrong. Jus this once. Just this once, please forgive me. You’ll come back to me, right? You used to love me. A little mistake like this… you can forgive plenty, right?” Bum-jeung: “I can forgive you, but I don’t think I can trust you again.” He leaves her stewing.
On the stand, Bum-jeung answers all the questions about Gabi’s spending truthfully. The mansion, the yacht, the painting – all of them were bought under the company’s name. Gabi looks like she’s about to pop at every word that comes out of Bum-jeung, each word being the truth and hurting all the more for it. She has the gall to actually look hurt, too.
Shin has been able to track down Gabi’s minion, who comes bearing the (forged?) dual contract between Chun Ha and the Golden Brothers. Moon-soo submits it as evidence that Gabi covered up her embezzlement debt with the stocks sold via the dual contract. Hang-woo hands a disc to the defense lawyer, who then claims that the contract the minion produced was fabricated – and not only that, that the prosecution threatened the minion into fabricating it. They have the phone conversation to prove it. Yiiiikes.
What the defense produces is the security camera recording of Gabi’s minion forging the contract, and Moon-soo calling at just that time. Without hearing Moon-soo’s voice, it certainly does look and sound like they were collaborating to forge the contract. In order to find out who was on the other end of the line, they call the number from the security footage – and Moon-soo’s phone vibrates. (What kind of prosecutor leaves his phone on, even in vibrate mode?)
With this new evidence, the defense lawyer calls for Moon-soo to be debarred, and the trial is done for the day on a very bad note for Bang’s side. Hang-woo knows it, and levels a triumphant smile toward his rival.
Now we get to see what really happened – and that the folder Bum-jeung gave Hang-woo wasn’t the will, but a stratagem suggesting that Hang-woo use the opponent’s spy against them… along with pictures of Bang and Shin together. Hang-woo was incensed to know that Shin betrayed him, and that knowledge is what led him to use Shin as a triple spy for his own purposes.
Gabi is surprised to learn that Bum-jeung turned out to be her savior by arranging everything. I doubt that changes anything in her warped brain, though.
Apparently that one piece of missing evidence is enough to damn the prosecution’s case, since the verdict is going to end up in Gabi’s favor. If that happens, the double jeopardy law (where the defendant can’t be charged for the same thing twice) would prohibit them from going after Gabi again or making an appeal, so this is their only chance. If they can get ahold of the dual contract before the official sentencing, then Gabi will go to jail. But this means that Bang will have to do some illegal digging into the Golden Brothers to get it, and messing with them at all is already labeled an international issue that Moon-soo is unwilling to touch.
Yeo-chi and So Ha get derailed from an executive meeting by Gabi, who simply proclaims that the meeting isn’t happening because she’s just done away with the idea of board meetings, period. She’s happy to tell Yeo-chi that Moon-soo has been debarred and that the prosecution is giving up, though Yeo-chi reminds her that even if the prosecution has given up, she never will.
Gabi draws close to Yeo-chi, so only she can hear what she says next: “Don’t be a brat, Baek Yeo-chi. If you don’t want to end up like your grandfather.” Oooohhh. Gauntlet thrown, Yeo-chi proclaims her stance for everyone in the lobby to hear.
Yeo-chi: “Remember this, Mo Gabi. Maybe you can evade an embezzlement charge, but you will never evade the murder charge. You killed Grandpa. I will prove that personally no matter what. You’re going to live life wretchedly, being called a murderer the rest of your life, and die.”
Woo-hee, master of overhearing conversations, hasn’t slacked off on her job this episode. She’s heard everything and takes it straight to Hang-woo, who doesn’t want to hear her talk about the murder matter any further. She persists, and asks him if he’s ever considered that Gabi might not have been Hang-ryang’s lover, and that maybe – just maybe – Gabi could be playing him.
By the look on his face, Hang-woo’s never thought of it. (Really, Hang-woo?) Gabi ends up in hearing range of their conversation as Woo-hee continues to say that Chairman Jin’s real will exists, and that she’ll make sure everyone knows that Gabi ascended to her lofty seat using a fake will. When Hang-woo asks her why she would go through all the trouble, she explains that it’s all because she’s scared for him.
Gabi finds Woo-hee on her way out of the office, and invites her for a private conversation. (No, Woo-hee! Don’t go!) But go she does, and she even tells Gabi that the only reason she hasn’t gone to the police is because she was hoping Gabi would take the initiative and turn herself in. With the fingerprint lifted from the syringe and the video footage of Chairman Jin’s real will, there’s enough to prove that Gabi had motive for murder.
Woo-hee throws down the gauntlet. “If you don’t confess by this week,” she says, “I’m going to the police.”
Once alone with her minion, Gabi orders him to get rid of Woo-hee without anyone knowing. She wants Woo-hee dead. I’m sure she means for real this time, which only worries me more.
Jang Ryang is nearly in tears as Bang discusses his possible illegal activity with Bun-kwae and Shin, claiming that he can be cited as an accomplice just for listening in. It’s funny that Bang asks both men how many times they’ve broken the law, and after learning that neither Bun-kwae or Shin has a completely clean record, he gives them fake prosecutors’ badges and invites them to break the law with him.
What are they going to be doing, exactly? According to Jang Ryang they’ll be impersonating prosecutors in order to conduct a search and seizure on the Golden Brothers, presumably to get that dual contract. I just love that Jang Ryang is freaking out about breaking the law.
Bang barges into the Golden Brothers’ office with the blue boxes only prosecutors get to use, and aways with the files. They’ve had the police called on them, and attempt a daring escape through the back doors.
They’re about to be caught by the police… but are saved in the nick of time by a getaway car being driven by Jang Ryang, with Yeo-chi in the passenger seat. Ha! And aww, teamwork!
Though they fret about Yeo-chi’s involvement, she simply declares that she doesn’t like to be left out of anything. But is the dual contract really in one of those boxes? Shin says yes, on the basis that they “took anything that looked important.” Haha. I guess that’s as good a strategy as any.
Bang gets a call from Woo-hee, but the line dies the moment he answers. His attempts to call her back go straight to her voicemail, and he worries that something is wrong. Oh no.
We cut to Woo-hee in her car. She tries to brake, but the pedal isn’t working… oh no. She gets distracted by a call from Bang and crashes into road construction, but emerges with only a few bruises. (Why is my heart still in my throat?)
Her phone dies the moment she tries to call Bang back. She tries to wave down a car coming at her in the street… but it’s Gabi’s minion driving, and he starts speeding up.
The car heads straight for Woo-hee at full speed, and we fade to white. What seems like the sickening sound of car-on-flesh is heard.
Hang-woo tries calling Woo-hee, but the call goes straight to her voicemail. He talks himself out of going to her house on account of his pride. But his phone rings, and it’s Bang on the other end. Bang tells him that he’s going to the prosecution tomorrow to turn himself in, because he found the real double contract. Even though he broke the law to do so.
Hang-woo doesn’t quite get it, so Bang spells it out. “You didn’t understand what I said? The dual contract you made with Golden Brothers. It’s in my hands, I said!”
Is she dead? Is she alive? (And if you’ve seen the final episode before reading this, please remain spoiler-free in the comments section.)
I wasn’t super thrilled that we were ending with the same sort of cliffhanger hinging on the same question, at least as far as Woo-hee goes. I’ve been doing a pretty terrible job in predicting the story movements for this show so far, so I’m just staying out of this one – it certainly seems like death was inevitable, but in dramaland, I’ll believe it when I see a dead body. And even then, zombies are a constant threat that should not be ignored. There’s your public service message of the day.
Last week, I was left wondering how Gabi’s fall would happen fast enough for Hang-woo and Bang to have a final battle, which was the grand finale of the original Chu-Han Contention. Even though two episodes wouldn’t have been enough, I thought that Hang-woo and Bang’s battle still might be possible, and thus be the reason for the two-episode extension.
But if this drama, despite my expectations, was really just about overthrowing Gabi – I can’t help feeling disappointed. As this episode went on, the slow realization dawned on me that Gabi wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon and that this was the conflict that would take us to the end. Having a Big Bad isn’t a bad thing, but every time Bang and Hang-woo took a backseat to Gabi in recent episodes I soothed myself to sleep at night with the thought that they’d have their time to shine after she was gone… only, now it looks like they won’t.
Strangely enough, even though there was an extension, it feels like we’ve been deprived of Bang at the expense of spending time on a character like Gabi – who has no redeeming qualities and is essentially an over-glorified obstacle who’s lost a sense of subtlety. She’s bad, sure. But bad enough to steal precious time we could have been spending with Versailles Yoo? I’m not sure.
Who knows – the finale might be a whirlwind adventure that totally shatters all my negative expectations. I hope so, and I’m ready to be surprised, excited, and moved. And certainly, I’m still sad to say goodbye tomorrow.
(In today’s epilogue, Woo-hee sings to a sleeping Hang-woo and offers up a cute and bittersweet prayer so that Hang-woo will never leave her side, because she’s the only one who can look after a man as hot-tempered as he is. Even though it’s a painful road, she prays that no other woman ever be saddled with such pain, so that Hang-woo is hers alone. I love that she’s the one doing the protecting, because Hang-woo is honestly naive to the ways of the world. Let’s hope Hang-woo’s white knight lives to fight another day.)
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 20
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 19
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 18
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 17
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 16
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 15
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 14
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 13
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 12
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 11
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 10
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 9
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 8
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 7
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 6
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 5
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 4
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 3
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 2
- History of the Salaryman: Episode 1