Incarnation of Money: Episode 5
Evil plotting continues among the baddies as Se-kwang is faced with opposition from a man who holds an incredible amount of power and influence. Cha-don joins a new team of prosecutors headed by stern boss who doesn’t allow any room for error. We see the makings of a promising prosecutor with his astute deductions… if only his vanity didn’t get in the way.
Incarnation continues to climb in ratings with a 14.5% this episode, still behind the weekend powerhouses My Daughter Seo-young and Hundred Year Inheritance, but ahead of King’s Dream.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
So Jae-in rams a cake into Cha-don’s face and shoves him the ground, strangling him furiously. That fiasco lands them both in the police station and the officer pays an attentive ear to Jae-in as she recounts her aggressor’s acts, including a forced kiss in a dark alleyway.
Cha-don doesn’t take the accusations lying down and names himself as the victim. That earns him a whack on the head but the officer stops when Cha-don whispers that he’s a prosecutor… only to get another thwack when he claims he’s in famed Special Branch Team 2, aka Se-kwang’s team.
The officer asks Jae-in to sign off on the report but her pen doesn’t work. Hey, haven’t we seen that pen before?
Just outside the station, Mayor Jung’s assistant tends to some fresh-looking wounds on his left arm. We should know of someone else who recently sustained an injury like that, and a flashback shows us that the assistant was President Park’s killer.
But as soon as he dragged the bank president away, Jae-in came skipping along and pocketed the pen, thinking nothing of it. Ah, so this explains why he’s here and why we saw a glimpse of him at the hotel restaurant.
He moves to follow Jae-in, but Se-kwang’s sudden appearance at the station and a call from Mayor Jung force him to abandon the plan.
Se-kwang follows Jae-in as she trudges down the street, beating herself up over her naivety. She whips around (and he hilariously hides behind a pole) and hollers curses about Cha-don: “What kind of name is Cha-don anyway?!”
Her knees buckle beneath her and Jae-in sits in the street, crying. Se-kwang watches from a distance and… is that a sympathetic tear I see?
A little later, Se-kwang listens with amusement at a nearby table as Jae-in drunkenly complains to the pojangmacha ajumma about how she’s tired of all the interested men lined up at her door.
Offering her an untouched plate of food, Se-kwang asks for a few minutes of her time. He informs her that President Park is missing and hands her his business card to come find him.
Mayor Jung sits in his evil lair and smiles as he listens to the news about the unidentified corpse (whom we know is President Park) found by the river. The death appears to be a part of a recent string of serial murders which makes me wonder if the mayor’s assistant has killed more than once.
Mayor Jung just tsks at his right-hand man – he was supposed to persuade the man, not kill him. He does seem intrigued that that a hotshot prosecutor is taking the case.
Said prosecutor, Ji-hoo, walks up to Team 2’s office just in time to see Cha-don and Chief Yang get kicked out. Cha-don pleads for some time to prove himself but Se-kwang cuts him off and vows that he’ll make sure he never comes a prosecutor.
Se-kwang won’t have someone who will sell intelligence in exchange for career advancement. He tells Cha-don to relay to whomever sent him that he won’t let them get away with trying to interfere with the investigation.
Offended by the accusations, Cha-don asks him to rescind those words. It doesn’t matter if he gets a failing grade but he won’t stand to be called a traitor. Se-kwang coldly dismisses him.
The two prosecutor teams sit in a meeting with Chief Prosecutor Jo who is displeased to hear that an autopsy cannot guarantee an ID on their mysterious corpse. Furthermore, Se-kwang’s team is still without a witness. Chief Prosecutor Jo berates them: “Aren’t you all ashamed of getting paychecks from the people’s tax dollars?!” Speak for yourself.
Ji-hoo approaches the chief prosecutor in the hallway and grumbles that her team doesn’t have the manpower to take on another case. After Chief Prosecutor Jo lectures her about time and resources, she lights up at the news that he’s assigned her two new additions. Wait until you find out who they are.
Chief Yang grumbles to Cha-don (who unknowingly read up on Mom’s case) about reading through all the cases already. Cha-don leans back into his chair just as Ji-hoo walks in and Chief Yang nudges at him to rise.
She has an annoyed look on her face and when Cha-don launches into his rapid introduction, she tells him to save it. She orders Cha-don to follow her.
Once she’s out of sight, Cha-don squeals that Chief Yang should have told him earlier that their new boss is a beauty. But Chief Yang brings him back to earth: “Just wait – that beauty will turn into a witch.”
In the car, Cha-don spends more time stealing glances at his new boss’ chest than paying attention to the road. Suddenly Ji-hoo asks if he took his judicial examination, to which Cha-don answers that of course he did… and then Ji-hoo tells him to keep his eyes on the road. HA. (It’s a play on words between “cross-eyed” and an abbreviation of “judicial exam.”)
Cha-don tries to laugh off the awkward moment but Ji-hoo asks if her new trainee read up on the current caseload. When he answers, “Sorta,” she immediately orders him to stop the car.
Ji-hoo marches over to the driver’s side and rips into him – does he consider this job a joke? She can handle an inexperienced newbie but won’t put up with a slacker.
Cha-don insists that he was only being honest since a quick review is all it takes for him to know the case. And when she doesn’t believe him, he spouts off the entire caseload in his rapid-fire delivery.
Then he leans in and whispers that the dark circles under her eyes suggest she’s been too stressed lately. So she can count her blessings that he’s on her team now, because “I’ve got tremendous potential.”
Ji-hoo snaps that they’re her cases, so he’ll follow her rules. Cha-don huffs his agreement, so he’d appreciate it if his new boss didn’t send him away like everyone else.
Turns out that Cha-don has a weak stomach as he gags during the autopsy. A bottle of undigested food from the victim’s stomach sends him running to the bathroom, whereas Ji-hoo prods the contents for clues. Ew.
But Ji-hoo is just as susceptible as anyone else and after she hurls in the bathroom, an overeager Cha-don flutters around her, asking if she has a steel stomach or if that comes with experience as a prosecutor.
She adds his weak stomach to his ever-growing list of incapabilities but he points out that what matters is a prosecutor’s ability to catch the criminal. In fact, he’s worked out some initial assumptions and boasts that his superior will be floored by his astute deductions from such sparse clues.
All Ji-hoo has to do is refer to the partially digested food for him to fly in the other direction to the nearest bathroom.
Ji-hoo assigns her team to examine the surveillance tapes around the crime scene. Cha-don raises his hand as the only one without something to do and grumbles under his breath when she tells him to search for clues linked to the serial killer.
She calls him out on his mutterings and so Cha-don pipes that he believes this case is mutually exclusive from the serial killings. That hits a nerve and she asks if it wasn’t enough that he messed with Se-kwang’s investigation and plans to do the same here.
Cha-don tries to explain that it was just “a small mistake” but Ji-hoo barks, “A single mistake from a prosecutor is unacceptable! If a criminal who got away commits another crime, then that same prosecutor who made the error is an accomplice! Got it?!”
I like that she’s a no-nonsense type leader, but I get the feeling that the lady doth protest too much.
Ji-hoo escapes into another room for a moment alone and recalls a time when she attended a victim’s funeral and the mother blamed her for her daughter’s death. Interesting that Se-kwang also appears in this memory. That certainly explains why she’s so hard on herself.
Ji-hoo opens the door a crack and overhears voices in the hallway. Cha-don points out to Chief Yang why this case doesn’t match up with the serial killer on the loose. Psychopaths enjoy the thrill of torturing their victims, not necessarily killing them. Furthermore, the body was stripped of any identifying factors post mortem. At this rate, they’ll never be able to catch the culprit.
Chief Yang tells him to stop acting so smart and Cha-don replies in a matter-of-fact tone, “I’m not trying to act smart, I actually am smart.” Hee. He’s confident that he’d be able to solve the case if Ji-hoo trusted him this once.
He offers to make a bet with Chief Yang with the loser paying the winner a lifetime of food and drink and Chief Yang snorts, “Are you nuts? You think I’d want to see you for the rest of my life?” Ha.
At the Bok estate, Jae-in sighs at several plastic surgery ads before quickly stashing them in her desk when her mother bursts in. They bicker about how her latest “dream man” turned out to be a con artist.
Her mother sighs that no man will see her as a woman because of her weight. Once she leaves, Jae-in looks at the bag of cash to be deposited and gets an idea.
The plastic surgeon looks at Jae-in up and down and cautiously tells her that she’ll need a lot of work. She tells him that money is no object and plops the bag in front of him. He gapes. Is this 200 Pound Beauty redux? (The doc is the same one from the movie.)
Boss Bok flips a lid when she hears that her daughter has made off with the money. She orders that they report her to the police to teach her daughter how scary money can be.
Jae-in is prepped for surgery and before she goes under, she tells herself that once she wakes, she’ll be reborn as the most beautiful girl in the world.
Se-kwang takes his team out to dinner, presumably to find out who the real spy in their team is. He gets just as inebriated as his subordinates, who are all ears when Se-kwang teases them with news about a possible witness to testify for them.
Both Hyuk and one of the detectives remain silent. After another round of drinks, we see that Se-kwang isn’t so intoxicated after all and he eyes his team.
Chief Prosecutor Jo hears from his mole as he sits with Lawyer Hwang. The mayor is highly suspicious ever since President Park’s betrayal and they agree not to inform him until they receive confirmation.
At the office party, Se-kwang picks up one of his team member’s phones and calls a mysterious number. He hears the chief prosecutor’s voice on the other side call for “Detective Park” when Se-kwang remains silent. Bingo.
Angelina is greeted at Boss Bok’s restaurant by the lady of the house herself. She received word of Mayor Jung’s special guest earlier and remains courteous despite Angelina’s attitude.
Boss Bok lays out a vast array of foods and Angelina turns up her snotty nose at the smell of sliced skatefish (think ammonia) and demands it be taken away. “I thought a sewer burst!”
Now Boss Bok drops the courtesy and asks if all Angelina ate was gold-plated steaks in her time in America. Angelina says that she’s the customer but Boss Bok won’t put up with her ill manners: “Do I look so young that you think I’m your sister? Do you want to get hit with fermented skatefish?” Epic.
Angelina huffs that she’s a famous actress but Boss Bok just cuts her down: “Get out, you bitch.” That aghast expression on Angelina’s face is priceless. She shrills at a frequency only dogs can hear, just as Assistant Kim bursts in that the mayor has arrived.
This exchange is about to get more epic as Boss Bok watches Angelina sidle up to the mayor, asking him to connect her with an esteemed literary society. You know, for networking and stuff.
Boss Bok ruefully notes that membership will be difficult if she’s not a published author and Angelina tactlessly tells her to butt out. Mayor Jung tells Angelina that they’ll have to make a request to the society president… and asks Boss Bok, the president, for her opinion. Oh man, this is awesome.
Angelina reels in shock and Boss Bok calls for another order of skatefish. Man, I could watch these two go round for round any time of the day.
Se-kwang meets with Prosecutor Kwon for a cup of tea, who informs him that he’s heard that Se-kwang will soon be demoted. Se-kwang figures that the chief prosecutor would be playing dirty.
But he furrows his eyebrows when he learns it was a government-level decision bolstered by Mayor Jung. “The mayor would seek action from the Blue House to trap an ordinary prosecutor?”
Prosecutor Kwon recounts that Mayor Jung expressed his thinly veiled interest of warning in Se-kwang. “Politics is in the business of people,” the mayor explained. “And a businessman can’t be picky about his customers. Hateful, spiteful, and dangerous men – you have to think of them as investments in order to see profits.”
The mayor openly admitted that he would want Se-kwang to work under him, since he’s more than proven himself to be a capable prosecutor. But he won’t just take a word of allegiance – Se-kwang will have to come crawling on his knees first.
Prosecutor Kwon says that the mayor’s words are basically an ultimatum and asks what Se-kwang plans to do. “I have to break the mayor’s thought that he can easily threaten a prosecutor of Korea.”
Prosecutor Kwon advises him to remain firm, no matter his decision. Se-kwang mentions that the recent invitation to the Chungrok Literary Society he received from the mayor should make things interesting.
Ji-hoo expresses her dissatisfaction with Chief Prosecutor Jo’s decision to close the case of the unidentified corpse. She sticks to her pride that as a prosecutor, the case is still being investigated.
Chief Prosecutor gives her final deadline: if her team isn’t able to identify the victim by the end of the month, the case will be transferred to the Unsolved Crimes department.
He teaches her an incompetent prosecutor’s secret to survival: ultimate obedience. Ji-hoo makes it clear that she doesn’t intend to stoop that low. The chief prosecutor laughs that the competent ones eventually get kicked out.
Just outside, Cha-don picks up a call from a broadcasting network asking for a TV appearance. Chief Yang tells him to hang up but the next thing we know, he’s being interviewed by Reporter Go in a live broadcast.
Ji-hoo and her team eat breakfast together when they see Cha-don onscreen. Ji-hoo nearly flips the table in anger watching him comment on the string of serial killings, and darts out the door.
Cha-don announces that a crucial piece of evidence was found on the victim, which is unsettling news for Mayor Jang. And elsewhere, a slimmer and recovering Jae-in falls off her treadmill in surprise when she sees Cha-don on TV.
Reporter Go asks Cha-don for a final comment, so Cha-don sends the killer a message, his shaky voice growing more confident by the second:
Cha-don: “There’s no such thing as a perfect crime. It doesn’t matter if you wipe your fingerprints or have an alibi, it’s human nature to make mistakes. You’ll probably know which one you made without my having to tell you. Don’t bother turning yourself in because I’ll show up with the perfect piece of evidence. I’ll make sure you pay for your crime.”
Mayor Jung turns that question to his assistant – what mistake did he make? The assistant denies it, though his memory flashes back to the missing pen.
Ji-hoo bursts into the dressing room, demanding to know what he’s done. Her shouts hardly bristle Cha-don’s feathers anymore and he argues that though he’s a trainee, he’s still a prosecutor who catches criminals. Ji-hoo slaps him and tell him to leave her team immediately.
Before she leaves, Cha-don manages to tell her that at least this way, their killer won’t be able to commit another crime. “Who knows,” Cha-don says, “The criminal might come looking for me.”
We learn just how powerful the Chungrok Literary Society can be as Se-kwang is filled in. Masked as a simple literary club, the reserved class of social elites holds enough influence to pass a bill at the National Assembly level.
Hyuk asks if Se-kwang intends to kneel in front of the mayor, but we see that the conversation is bugged and the mole, Detective Park, trails behind them.
We check in with Mom at the ward, who seems more sane than we’ve seen since her arrival. The guard notes as much and appears to be sympathetic to Mom’s case.
Boss Bok recites her poem at the fundraising event (for the forensic psychiatric ward at that) and the mayor’s assistant slips out to take a call. He demands that his man track down Jae-in but when he recalls Cha-don’s statement, he tells his man to find the prosecutor instead.
Speaking of whom, Cha-don drunkenly staggers down a darkened alleyway. He picks up a tail and the masked man stays at a safe distance until Cha-don disappears around the corner.
The masked man runs to catch up with him and turns the corner… to see a very sober Cha-don glaring at him. Cha-don figures he’s the killer (though it’s safer to assume he’s the mayor’s assistant’s hire), stops the masked man in his tracks and seethes, “I caught you, murderer.”
The more we see and get to know Cha-don, the more I find him an intriguing character. From what we’ve seen from the previous episode, it felt like we got two distinct and different Cha-dons. The quiet, reserved, and robotic-voice adolescent seemed to suddenly grow up into this loud, earnest, and charming prosecutor trainee with a vanity streak. In some ways, I felt like we’re missing pieces that explain this shift in personality. He’s still an enjoyable watch with his uncanny ability to read a situation and people albeit in a tactless way at times. But under that cloak of goofiness and offensive remarks, there’s a smart man carefully calculating how much charm to pour at the right moment to bring someone over to his side. Or what will lure a murderer right into his clutches.
There’s so much to be carved out of the character as he continues to butt heads with his superiors who all set out to kill him once. Eek, it’s like you’ve walked into the lion’s den blindfolded… and those lions can’t see in the dark either.
I already find Prosecutor Ji-hoo a character to keep on my watch list. She’s the type who labored countless hours to earn her place on the force and respect as a team leader. It’s her belief in her sense of competence that shakes her to the core. What happened all those years ago? Who was the killer that got away? And how does Se-kwang, who was also at the funeral, play into this? I love that she’s an assertive go-getter prosecutor who will seek to get things done and won’t let some hotshot try to tell her what’s what. But then that hotshot whom she thought was interfering the investigation actually propels it forward instead.
Before we get too far into the series, about the weight issue and its portrayal in the show. There’s been some hearty discussion about the topic in the comments in each recap. I have to say that I’m not a fan of dramatic character changes unless it serves a narrative purpose and the story supports a reason for that change. That said, I found it important to explore why Jae-in’s character started out as an overweight young girl and up to this episode, a young woman. Every woman has been there – struggling with body image issues and dealing with the societal pressure of what the world (or perhaps that one guy) defines as beautiful. And though Jae-in had personality flaws that seemed more two-dimensional in both life phases, to me she was still beautiful. Because every woman (and person!) is beautiful.
I won’t open the can of worms that is plastic surgery in Korea (In short, yes it does happen and Jae-in is one of those extreme cases.) I’m sure the consultation scene was to give us a throwback to the popular movie with Kim Ah-joong. But what saddened me more than anything is what she told herself before she went under surgery. Yes, years of emotional abuse took it toll on her and her poor coping mechanisms surely didn’t help; but at the end of the day, she convinced herself with the illusion that beauty is only skin deep.
We know that her brash personality is an extension of that bitterness but I don’t want her to abuse it in her new, physically reformed life. In fact, I’d hate to see either a startling change in her personality (and some hints in this episode tell us she hasn’t) or that people will excuse her potential rudeness towards others simply because she’s a beauty. We at least know of one woman who won’t put up with it: Boss Bok. I can seriously watch her and Angelina/Bi-ryung bicker back and forth all day.
But still, this makes me anticipate what Jae-in’s first meeting with Cha-don will be like. Will he be entranced by the the outward beauty or within?