Drama Recaps
Incarnation of Money: Episode 11
by | March 12, 2013 | 57 Comments

Sometimes one must go to great lengths to get a case assignment, especially if there’s a large sum of money on the line. Our prosecutor must find a creative route to infiltrate a corrupt institution where everything looks sleek and refined on the outside but covers a large secret that will risk one’s sanity to uncover. It’s easy to fall into an unknown well, but to get out of one is another obstacle in itself.

EPISODE 11 RECAP

As Cha-don arrives for his disciplinary hearing, Se-kwang can’t help but take another dig at the dead man walking. Ignoring Se-kwang’s advice to admit to the litany of charges against him, Cha-don calmly denies the bribery allegations to the committee.

After an initial round of questioning, Se-kwang suggests to the committee to hurry with a decision, eager to indict Cha-don for his corrupt practices. This is coming from the man who dipped in bribery himself in his early days in law. Oh, the irony.

But at that moment, the head of the committee receives an urgent call and takes a short break. As the men wait, a call to Se-kwang from Prosecutor Kwon helps clarify the situation. It turns out that Cha-don has friends in high places, including political circles, and Prosecutor Kwon tells Se-kwang that they’re biting off more than they can chew.

Se-kwang isn’t willing to budge on Cha-don’s indictment, especially after all the trouble he went through to arrest Mayor Jung. But Prosecutor Kwon barks at him to let Cha-don go: “Don’t you think I have a good reason to ask you for this favor?” Though I’d venture that a possible job promotion may have something to do with the change of heart.

Having put two and two together, Cha-don starts to walk away, but Se-kwang has a few icy words left, biting that Cha-don is a bigger fish than he initially thought. Cha-don retorts: “Going after the larger fish and letting the small fry go.. isn’t that what we do here?”

The committee reconvenes and as expected, Se-kwang votes in favor to charge Cha-don. The votes tied, the committee head votes against the motion and suggests they accept the prosecutor’s resignation.

Se-kwang shoots Cha-don a hateful glare.

Cha-don emerges from the room and nearly passes by Se-kwang, whose back is turned. Now Se-kwang finally opens up about his past – how his father was a driver for a rich man, got sent to prison in his place, and died of an illness in prison while the rich man continued to get richer.

So he studied hard to become a prosecutor to avenge his father’s death. He turns to Cha-don, and tells him that the rich man eventually died a tragic death. “That’s what I believe justice is. Where the bad guy gets punished.”

Seeing a crook like Cha-don become a prosecutor would defy his definition of justice.

Now it’s Cha-don’s turn to share a childhood story: A scary neighborhood dog chased him when it ran loose one day. He ran away as fast as he could but hit a dead end. Suddenly filled with sadness that he would die a horrific death on top of everything else, he bit that dog.

Se-kwang reads between the lines and asks if Cha-don intends to bite him. Cha-don answers: “That’s what justice means to me. That I won’t stand to be wrongfully accused. Even if I don’t have the strength, I’ll continue to fight the dog coming after me to the end.”

Boss Bok doesn’t leave her daughter with a choice when Jae-in still refuses to work in the loan shark biz. She’s paid off her daughter’s debt, so Jae-in can either (1) see her restaurant ruined should Boss Bok retract the money or (2) learn the ropes of the family business. Jae-in chooses the latter.

Jae-in grumbles at her first lesson to learn Debt Collection 101 from Assistant Kim. Who goes around to collect in person anymore? He tells her that Mom has done the job the ol’ fashioned way for decades now and worries that Jae-in may not be able to handle the customers.

But as it turns out, Jae-in’s straightfoward nature works in her favor and she quickly gains the debtors’ support by allowing them to just pay interest. Soon, there’s a line out the door and Assistant Kim happily relays that Jae-in is a natural and Boss Bok is genuinely impressed.

At least Cha-don isn’t alone as he grumbles to his Team Shudal members about the moldy smell in their shabby new headquarters. Drinking his woes away with soju, he contemplates whether to call Ji-hoo to join him.

But it’s Jae-in who ends up getting a drunk-dial call to pick him up later that night. She flusters when he calls her an affectionate “Jae-in ah” and though she tells him off in an annoyed voice, she rushes over anyway.

Cha-don is one rowdy drunk and loudly announces her arrival, much to her embarrassment. Once he quiets down, he slurs that he has good news. She asks what it is and tells him to spit it out when he drunkenly teases whether to say it or not.

As he downs another shot, he tells her that they needn’t pretend to be a betrothed couple anymore because he’s been fired as a prosecutor (and thus disqualified as Boss Bok’s son-in-law).

The admission floors her and she hides her tears by joining him in a drink. Then Cha-don admits that he’s a bit sad over the situation: “Because I like you.”

Jae-in sits  amazed and starts: “I like you too–” but he cuts her off with the rest of his confession: “If I had a younger sister, I wish it were you.” He falls face-flat onto the table.

Her voice trembling, trying to tamp down her disappointment, she warns him that she’ll leave him. In his drunken stupor, he mumbles that it’s fine because his parents have already abandoned him. Aw.

Jae-in drags Cha-don back to the office and tucks him in. As she watches him sleep, she recalls when he first woke up at the hospital. She smiles, “I won’t ever give up on you. I’m going to make you like me one day.”

To preserve her pride, she tells him she won’t contact him for the time being. She leans in, as if to kiss him, but pokes him on the nose before heading out.

The following morning, Chief Yang wakes up an extremely hungover Cha-don to suggest an idea: They’ll become the legal representation for the large sum of money that belongs to Lee Kang-seok.

That money is on everyone else’s minds as well, including some of the Traitagon. The incentive: The legal fees are a cut of a minimum 20 percent, which amounts to 2 billion won. Problem is, they’ll have to find where Mom is first and Cha-don instructs him to look into the hospitals and asylums.

As for Mom, she spits into the doctor’s face and vows that she’ll make sure to see vengeance for their wrongdoings before she dies. The doctor leans in and whispers that he’ll make sure she stays alive or else his wallet will get much lighter. Ugh.

I like that Mom has grown a spine now but she’s still affected when the doc declares a patient who is barely hanging onto life that she’s doing much better.

Chief Yang reports back to Team Shudal about Mom’s whereabouts but curiously notes that there are no records of her stay. He dishes about the senior doctor whom we saw Mom spat at earlier. Beloved by both the public and the patients, the doc used to work at an anti-Communist office notorious for torture.

He adds that virtually all of the patients have mysteriously handed over their estates to their relatives. Cha-don ponders this information and dismisses the idea to incriminate the institution since they don’t have enough proof.

Instead, he proposes to assume an identity (his assistant’s brother’s) to infiltrate the asylum as a patient.

We catch up with Angelina who is currently being interviewed by Reporter Go for the booming success of her apparel brand, Silver Rain. He keeps the conversation until he starts shooting questions on her lovelife and she stops the interview.

Angelina soon receives a call from Jae-in who thanks her for sending her employees to eat at her restaurant. Neither of them recognizes each other over the phone and when they hang up, Jae-in marvels over how angelic Angelina seems.

However, we see that Angelina has something else up her sleeve and orders a background check on Jae-in. Then she confides in Reporter Go that Jae-in is a major shareholder of the Yellow Sea Savings bank and she intends to acquire Jae-in’s shares.

Looks like Boss Bok is using the same tactic against Angelina and berates Assistant Kim when he suggests that they involve Jae-in. She scolds him that if you throw a fish into the ocean before it’s ready, it’ll get eaten.

She then gets a call from one of her debtors who thanks her for her graciousness in forgiving his debt. This is news to Boss Bok (Jae-in collected the interest in exchange of canceling the debt) and Assistant Kim panics for a moment before she bursts out laughing.

Amused and impressed with Jae-in following her orders to the letter, Boss Bok declares that Jae-in is ready after all.

Meanwhile, Cha-don walks out in the middle of the day dressed in a white hanbok with a small tag that identifies him as “the Empress of Joseon.” Basically a posterboard that he’s not right in the head, and an ambulance promptly arrives to pick him up. It’s both strange and amusing. Or is it strangely amusing?

At the asylum doctor’s office which is adorned with civic awards, Se-kwang instructs him not to follow up on Mom’s deteriorating health. The unethical doctor is reluctant to have a black mark on his record should Mom die, but a high enough price is enough to convince him.

When Se-kwang turns to leave, the doc asks why Se-kwang would resort to such corruption to keep Mom in this state. But that’s the final straw for Se-kwang and he angrily knocks over the awards and warns the doc to back off.

Cha-don is dragged inside and hides his face from view as Se-kwang storms out.

Cha-don calmly sits on the floor in the doc’s office as the doc asks a few initial questions about his condition. Then he steps over and directly asks Cha-don: “Are you crazy?” Looking at him straight in the eye, Cha-don denies it.

But the doc notes that most patients cannot maintain eye contact and asks if this is a trick. Cha-don thinks fast and violently grabs the doc in retaliation before he’s immediately dragged out to be hospitalized.

Cha-don starts to legitimately panic when the staff holds him down with restraints and a nurse holds the biggest needle ever, assuring him that it’ll all be better now. Fear washes over his face before he goes under.

At the prosecutor’s office, Ji-hoo sighs to Se-kwang that she feels partially responsible for Cha-don’s demotion to lawyer. She’s then debriefed on Lawyer Hwang’s call history – the last incoming call came from a phone whose call history has already been wiped. And interestingly enough, she sees Cha-don’s name listed on Lawyer Hwang’s call history.

The four remaining Traitagon members discuss the peculiarity over dinner and Reporter Go asks if any of them carried such a phone with them. That would mean that one of them betrayed their own (though we shouldn’t be surprised if it’s true) and they all glance at each other suspiciously.

Ji-hoo sits in her office, wondering why Cha-don didn’t mention that he spoke with the victim on the day of his murder. She tries calling but of course gets no answer.

Cha-don wakes in a clean, brightly lit room and keeps up the empress act speaking in the olden Joseon language. The staff allows him to go outside to get some air and he spots the staff ’round the corner.

But by the time he catches up with them, they’ve seemingly disappeared and he scratches his head in confusion. Then we see the staff descend in an elevator that leads to the mangy part of the asylum where Mom continues to take her meds.

As the days tick by, Cha-don remains on the lookout for Mom while Chief Yang does his part by working at the asylum pretending to be a simple-minded janitor. Chief Yang slips into the reference room to rifle through the institution’s blueprints and discovers evidence of a secret basement level.

He’s nearly caught by the head nurse but manages to relay the existence of the secretive ward. When Cha-don declares that he’ll have to gain entry, Chief Yang lets out a small frightened gasp.

His assistant moves forward with that plan and sits down with the doctor. Telling him that her “brother” is faking his condition to keep his inheritance, she asks for the doctor’s help. The doc sullenly answers that they don’t participate in illegal activity but his eyes flicker awake when she offers a share in the profits.

Elsewhere, Jae-in sits amid a number of empty soju bottles at her table. Her fingers hovering over Cha-don’s number, she contemplates whether or not to delete it.

She decides to call him one final time and when he obviously doesn’t pick up, she loudly screams curses into the phone. The entire restaurant turns their heads, including Se-kwang, who recognizes her and tries to look away.

It’s too late because Jae-in has already recognized him and she drunkenly accuses Se-kwang for following her. He nearly spits up his water.

Everything goes according to plan as Cha-don is promptly led into a cell in the basement floor of the psych ward. Restrained by a straitjacket, he can barely get a sense of his surroundings before the speakers blare the tortuous screams of another patient.

The head nurse tells him, “Just wait. You’re next.” Cha-don scuttles to his bed and we see Mom trying her best to block out the screams. What’s worse is that we see the doctor dine in his office and orders the staff to turn up the volume. What the – so it’s a pre-recorded scream? That’s sick and horrifying.

In the morning, everyone is instructed to step outside for the doctor to make his rounds. Everyone except Room 7 and a staff worker orders Mom to step outside. She gathers herself and slowly shuffles to the door, coughing.

And outside in the hall, Cha-don waits.

 
COMMENTS

Overall, this episode felt like it set the stage for a possibly much more thrilling upcoming episode. With little vignettes to check in on all of our characters, nothing else apart from Team Shudal’s decision to infiltrate the sanitorium drove the plot much further. That made this episode feel much shorter as a whole and dropped us little clues along the way. And now that a part of our premise (where Cha-don ends up in an asylum) is finally being set into motion, it’s like Drama is telling us, “The story starts now.”

This asylum is a hellish and frightening place run by a corrupt and rotten doctor. It sickens me how ridiculously unethical he is, swayed by bribery and to see him wine and dine in his office with various certificates and awards that honor his community service. To think that Mom has suffered through over a decade of this habitual treatment day in and day out earns more of my respect for her. Her display of resilience and strength despite being thrown back in for a second time is seriously commendable and it breaks my heart to see her so affected by the screams that are sure to haunt her. Not only that, the doctor’s interactions suggest that there are so many more like Mom, placed unjustly in this place where no records are kept.

It therefore felt both strange and uneasy to watch our characters try to role-play what mental illness and developmental delay looks like. They’re caricatures for sure, and even our evil doctor hung a lantern on how odd their behavior was. And yet, I couldn’t shake off how uncomfortable I felt once we were in the asylum since the show touches upon deeper injustices built upon stereotypes played up for humor. This is where the tonal bell strikes off-tune – it’s as if the show is telling us that acknowledging its existence is enough of a reality, though honestly, it paints a translucent veiled shadow that barely skims the surface of the issue. So what happens if you strike a large, bellowing bell with a tiny wooden mallet?

Though now Cha-don is subject to the hands of his corrupt caretakers, he has still much to learn how dark and awful of a well he decided to jump into. How much more injustices will he has to see, how much more swindling, and how many more ethical rules must he bend before we see a turnaround?

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57 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Conny

    That’s one pretty lady right there..lol.

    Thanks for the recap <3

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  2. Ashley

    I seriously love this drama. Since the first episode it’s kept me intrigued. The plot always keeps moving with some sort of mystery and the characters are hilarious. There isn’t an episode where I don’t laugh out loud – so funny! Kang Ji Hwan is great in the role, really dedicated even to the wacky scenes!

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    • 2.1 Dominique

      Childless Comfort will give you all of that and more, in a far faster pace and with a whole lot more scintillating dialogue.

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  3. DayDreamer

    Okay, I’ll admit. Even though I bashed last week’s episodes and cursed at the show for being so stupid and just totally horrible, I still came around and watched this week’s episodes. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. BUT WHO CARES BECAUSE THIS WEEK MADE UP FOR EVERYTHING. Woohoo!!!The show finally regained its awesomeness and I’m like freaking happy that it did. Dramagods, you DO listen to your disciples. *prays* LOL.

    Okay, so I’m really glad that the connection between mom and Cha Don will be made (I already watched the next episode so I know what happens…it was like the best episode since the first three epis of the show). It really cracked me that Cha Don pretended to be empress of Joseon…just seeing him on the street like that was really funny. His sidekick, not so much. Like you said, gummimochi, it was a tad bit uncomfortable. Judging from episode 12, I think the show does best when it doesn’t try to be funny or try to inject humor. Seriousness makes it very good.

    Anyways, now that the plot seems back on track, the ride is enjoyable again. Can’t wait for your next recap.

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    • 3.1 Dominique

      The drama may seem back on track in one episode, but there is no telling if it will stay there in the next one.

      If a story takes 11 episodes to get going, assuming it does get going in the remainig episodes, what does it say about the drama?

      Kang Ji Hwan in drag? Hmm …

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      • 3.1.1 DayDreamer

        You’re definitely right…there isn’t really much hope for better or just as good episodes in the future but one can still hope.

        As for it taking eleven episodes to get going…well, I’ve learned to be a bit patient with dramas. Instead of doing what I usually do (giving up at the first or second episode), I decided to persevere. Same thing happened with Can You Hear My Heart?…I stuck by its childhood storyline (although I did read its recaps for those 6 episodes to make it less burdensome) and then moved on to the adult storyline which was way better. If the last 16 episodes of this drama can be really good, then I’ll just consider it a 16-episode drama and can be less mad at it for not doing so well in the beginning.

        It also helps that I adore Kang Ji Hwan. :D

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    • 3.2 ks

      I agree! The first 2 episodes were so awesome that I was surprised at liking the drama, then many episodes after that did not draw me in. I stopped caring for the characters. Then these last 2 episodes really got good!! The pace finally picked up and I was glad I stuck with this drama. I’m starting to care for Cha Don again. I don’t know about the female lead Jae In – I hope the writers do something about her character because she’s been pretty boring so far. And that mushroom hairdo- yikes.

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  4. RockPaperScissors

    The winds shifted in this episode, and I look forward to this drama’s Act 3. Team Shudal, trapped in an asylum. Sort of redundant, isn’t it?

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  5. dongsaeng killer

    too funny!!!!!! :)

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  6. snow_white

    lol@the main pic :D

    thanks for the recap…..

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  7. Shiku

    Cha Don as the empress of Joseon was so funny! The way he liked slapped the paramedics and how he had already recruited another patient to act as his lady assistant.
    I know some people wouldn’t like the fact that he and chief yang are pretending to be crazy to infiltrate a mental asylum, its the only way to actually help the people who are wrongly imprisoned over there by getting proof of the doctor’s wrongdoing.

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    • 7.1 DayDreamer

      I loved the lady assistant bit too!! :D

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      • 7.1.1 Lilian

        Me three! I thought that was an awesome detail and added touch to that particular plot. Cha Don can be pretty bossy!

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        • 7.1.1.1 Arhazivory

          Me four. It was a very cool bit.

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        • 7.1.1.2 DayDreamer

          I wondered what shenanigans Cha Don struck up to make the guy his court lady, lol. He was cutely obedient too, hahaha.

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  8. V

    These two episodes were the best. Even though Cha-Don is corrupt I didn’t want him to get busted. Now that he is on his own I really want him to find his Mom and get his revenge.

    You are right, this episode was like telling us THIS SHOW STARTS NOW. The next episode was the best of the series so far. Looking forward to reading your recap on it.

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  9. chickenwing

    Oh man, Kang Ji Hwan is so awesome! He even has his own (male) court lady/eunuch attendant. And his sidekick, what a natural!

    I think this drama is about perspective. I find it funny how if they simply switch the hero-villain roles between Cha Don and Se Gwang, people would just as easily root for Se Gwang as the hero. They’re essentially the same. If you justify Cha Don seeking revenge, you can’t not justify Se Gwang who got his revenge. Or I guess it’s just easier to root for Kang Ji Hwan

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    • 9.1 DayDreamer

      Definitely agree about the perspective. If this was the story of Se Kwang, then we would have been rooting for his revenge story but since the main lead is Ji Hwan’s character, we root for him instead.

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      • 9.1.1 Lilian

        THat is the major difference for this drama vs the rest. This drama has not one character who is totally good. Even Cha Don is a greedy prosecutor who receives bribes left and right. Unlike say Kim Tak Goo in the Baker King whom all viewers will root for. Something different but it also makes it harder for viewers like us to care, coz there is no one to root for!

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        • 9.1.1.1 Gaeina Lee

          Try watch Mawang (The Devil), I keep changing sides every time I watch it… and in the end, I root for both main lead. JJH and UTW delivered a very convincing dark-troubled lawyer and detective past relations and revenge.

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    • 9.2 maakopla

      I didn’t think about this before but you are totally right!

      Though, Se Kwang ruined a whole family and destroyed lives of innocent people and killed someone too. It’s hard to actually feel pity for him anymore. His revenge was because “My father went to jail instead of this man, caught a disease and died while this man did nothing to save him.”

      Cha Don’s reasons “This man killed my father, framed my mother and closed her to the asylum. When she got free he closed her there again and ordered her to be killed. He also abandoned me, took everything away from me and is now trying to ruin my career.

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      • 9.2.1 Saturtledaisy

        I agree. Though both characters aren’t exactly model citizens, there’s still a difference between what they’ve done.

        Cha don is corrupt and has let criminals off the hook (mostly for white-collar crimes, though) to earn money. You’d say he’s doing this to pay off his debt (true), but we all see he seriously loves money just because it’s money, too. (Now where could he have learned that?)

        Se Kwang, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to care much about money, but he has this wicked obsession with ‘justice’. Because of that so-called ‘justice’, he has murdered a man, and separated a son with his mother. Apart from that, he tried to KILL that son and had the mother framed for the murder. In order to hide his tracks, he is now subjecting that woman to TORTURE by an evil creep.

        I don’t think I could ever root for a person like Se Kwang. What he’s done to Park Gi Soon is just…
        I’d take white-collar crimes over that any day.

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    • 9.3 TS

      I have to watch this again. I didn’t notice the male court lady. How did I miss that?

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      • 9.3.1 DayDreamer

        It wasn’t much. Just the male court lady dabbing Cha Don’s lips with napkin, feeding Cha Don, and standing at guard awaiting Cha Don’s orders. XD

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  10. 10 TS

    This show has totally improved. I’m now hooked.

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  11. 11 maakopla

    While watching the two latest episodes I kept thinking “This show just got real baby!” That Queen on joseon joke was so freaking hilarious. I kept going back to watch it again and again. It was funny how he made that one guy act as his court lady xD

    Okay, this show still lacks all possible reality. Let’s face it. The whole plan: “Let’s pretend to be mentally disabled” was ridiculous. And the “hiring mentally disabled for simple tasks” thing. I know they are trying to keep the secret but let’s not underestimate mentally disabled people, I am sure they can also feel fear and understand that something bad is going on, at least on some level. If they are unable to understand anything then they can’t work either.

    How could an experienced doctor get fooled like that? The guy managed to look like psycho but I think his character lacked reality, he was too “comical” in a sense he was like a character straight from a comic strip. But he had the right face for an asylum doctor xD The nurse with dead face looked like someone hired by Hitler. Oh boy oh boy, all in all this was pretty fascist installation and it could have been good and powerful if not made overly comical. (btw. was this part filmed in the prison museum?)

    “Chief Yang does his part by working at the asylum pretending to be a simple-minded janitor.”

    The queen of joseon was good but Chef Yang went WAY overboard. I laughed a lot at the comment “he has a mentality of a 6 years old.” Sorry dudes, I have never seen a 6 year sold like that! You can make a joke out of being mentally disabled but this Chef Yang was already gormandizing with the disability. It was offending, really. It was so stupid it wasn’t even funny and super unrealistic at that. I felt disgusted! Seriously! So well educated doctors can’t see he is pretending?!

    Sorry for being so negative about this show but seriously… these writers make me want to go and shoot myself.

    Anyway, I think that there is one thing the writers can do well. They make the bad guys really hateful! But most of this again, is all thanks to the director and actors… The show has not gotten boring yet, thumbs up for that.

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    • 11.1 Sue

      I definitely see your point, but I never got the impression that the “doctor” was actually a real doctor. If I remember correctly he was just a medic before he worked at the anti-communism office that was well known for torture. He doesn’t really care or pay attention to his patients. Either way, the acting was over the top, but I think it was meant this way. Let’s face it, everything about this show is over the top. There is nobody who is genuinely noble or kind (maybe the female prosecutor, I forget her name). However, even with all these defects it is still the show I am enjoying the most right know. Maybe because it is so over the top and unpredictable. I am less impressed with the other weekend show, A Hundred Years Inheritance, because it so predictable it bores me at times.

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      • 11.1.1 Delicatecloud

        Agree with you. To me it was “comic relief” and tongue in cheek.

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      • 11.1.2 asianromance

        Yeah I got the impression that none of the staff there were really trained as mental illness professionals. I’m not sure how mental health services are supposed to be like in Korea (especially since mental health and mental illnesses are little-discussed subjects, contributing to the trend of people just committing suicide instead of seeking help), but that mental institution seemed more like a nursing home than a place where you can get help and get better.

        Yeah Chief Yang was over-the-top and the writers showed an overwhelming ignorance of disabled persons, but I was wondering if he would have gotten hired by the evil nurse if he wasn’t so over-the-top. And I also wonder if it isn’t more of a statement about Chief Yang just being ignorant. A lot of the patients (the non basement ward ones) at that institution seemed to function pretty well. The only one making a scene of himself was Cha Don.

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    • 11.2 So3

      Having watched 12 episodes so far I think this drama was never intended to represent “reality” in any sense, well arguably except for bringing out the greediness in human nature. They set the tone to be over-dramatic, but I guess I don’t mind it as long as they keep it consistent.

      It’s still a very interesting drama to follow…oh and I heard it’s actually KJH’s idea to become Queen of Joseon LOL. Kudos to him for the idea!!

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      • 11.2.1 DayDreamer

        So3, I agree with you. I’ve gone past the “Oh, this is so insensitive/unrealistic of the show” and have started to accept its over-the-top tone. Luckily, episode 12 didn’t have that weird jarring effect and I attributed that to the fact that it had a more serious vibe that fit the situation than a wacky one.

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    • 11.3 AJ

      It was crass to the point of uncomfortable

      No way this type of caricature makes it to American television

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    • 11.4 Milly

      The whole plan: “Let’s pretend to be mentally disabled” was ridiculous.

      It may seem ridiculous, but it has been done before in real life. Read about Nellie Bly (1864-1922), an investigative journalist for the New York World (owned by Joseph Pulitzer of the Pulitzer Prizes for journalism, etc.).

      Nellie Bly pretended to be insane so she can investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Doctors checked her over first before she can be admitted as patient.

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      • 11.4.1 maakopla

        Yeah but look at the time when it was done. Nowadays everything is different.

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  12. 12 Delicatecloud

    I love this show from the first episode and this episode is daeback!! KJH is awesome as the Empres Joseon – he has the comedic flair and acting skills to portray the character in a serious and yet uncanny way that made me laugh and yet see the sadness inherent in madness. I am glad that the “show” is now on the road!! I cannot wait to see how the story will develop, in particular the revenge of Kang Seaok and Cha Don too (Cha Don feels that he has been targeted by Se Kwang).

    This drama goes into the “greyness” of life where things/situations and even the actions we take are not necessarily just black or white. There are many grey areas in daily life. Morally is it acceptable that someone is corrupt and not kill or is taking another person’s life the ultimate corruption of one’s soul? Is Cha Don’s corruption acceptable when compared to the murder by Se Kwang and his cohorts ans well as the torture that the doctor carried out in the interest of greed? Or are they all of the same scale? Cha Don is realizing this and noted that he is as bad as them I.e. the doctor in the asylum. Perhaps he drew the line at murder.

    It makes me question my own moral codes – are there areas that are acceptable, if so, what is acceptable? Or it should be zero tolerance?

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    • 12.1 Carole McDonnell

      So totally feeling your questions. As I read about SeKwang’s dad, I thought…”So does Cha Don’s dad’s money really kinda sorta belong to SeKwang?”

      If we all try to justify ourselves and avenge ourselves or our ancestors, it’ll be one never ending karmic cycle of debt and more debt, I think. Because in avenging his dad, SeKwang went one step further and made Mom semi-mad (and institutionalized) and attempted to murder Kang-seok.

      I’m thinking when it comes to justice there has to be a time when one just wipes the slate clean for everyone. Somewhat like Jae In cancelling the debt. One has to kinda turn the other cheek and stop the cycle of vengeance and debt. Because we all owe, and we all are owed. But who knows?

      Aaargh, I’m getting interested in this drama again.

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      • 12.1.1 Delicatecloud

        You’re so right regarding Jae In’s actions – is it the fore runner of things to come with regard to Cha Don? He needs that ONE act to wipe his slate clean and turn himself around and become the rite outs prosecutor that he once aspired to me.

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        • 12.1.1.1 TS

          He never wanted to be a righteous prosecutor. He told Se Kwang that. (When the new boss came to the office, he basically said he did because it sound the best out of the choices given.) He said, he owed it to his benefactor who wanted him to become a prosecutor. And then he settled into making money out of the joint.

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          • 12.1.1.1.1 DayDreamer

            Delicatecloud, Carole, TS…very interesting convo you guys have going on.

            The way I see it, Se Kwang is definitely the bad guy. If he had only gotten Kang Seok’s father dead as his revenge, then that was that. I think even Cha Don could have forgiven him at some point But since he involved Park Gi Soon by putting the entire blame on her and keeping her in an asylum for over a decade plus attempting murder on Kang Seok as well as stealing nearly all their inheritance, he has more crimes on his track sheet. As for Cha Don, I felt that the writers went a little crazy themselves and gave him a personality change for no apparent reason by making him an extortionist. So I’m not even going to consider this because there was just no logical explanation [the debt was a very weak excuse--I didn't buy it]. I’ll just pretend I dreamt that unless the writers do manage to explain why that happened in a way that can satisfy me. If we remove that part of the writers’ major plot hole, then we have a righteous Cha Don all along. To me, he definitely has the right to avenge his life’s destruction. Plus, it’s not like Se Kwang has some hidden child or something that will keep the revenge cycle going on and on for generations, lol.

            If I were to consider Cha Don’s corruption as an extortionist, I would say that he deserves punishment for sure. I am also disappointed that he went that way just for a debt when this was contradictory to his personality. But to consider him wiping the slate clean like Jae-In did with the debts? For me, no way. One, it wouldn’t go with his eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth mentality (as expressed through his childhood story). Two, I found Jae-In in the wrong to do that because she basically threw away her mom’s hard-earned money. Contrary to how Boss Bok may have felt, if I were in her place, I would be enraged, lol. So no…forgive and forget can’t just happen. There would be no good ol’ revenge story with it.

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          • 12.1.1.1.2 V

            He wanted to become one when he was younger (before he lost his memories).

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  13. 13 MsB

    Ever watch an episode and feel guilty about laughing? Yeah, this one!! Cha Don, no lengths to get that commission! That is your first thoughts until you see the conditions and what those people are up to. Not since Silenced was I more horrified! Like I said, I felt guilty about laughing because I work around mentally challenged at the Univ all of the time so my guilt was tremendous but nothing says crazy Empress but Cha Don in drag and his assistant acting like a 6 yr old. Great episode, no fantastic episode!!

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  14. 14 Fun-Lugha

    KJH is so so pweety!! And sorry if this is a SPOILER:

    but wasnt JI supposed to be the one to bust him out of the institution? Does that mean the baddies will manage to lock him up in there again? Pls no!

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    • 14.1 DayDreamer

      That’s the same thought I had at the end of episode 12. I kinda groaned at the idea that we’ll have Cha Don back in the loony bin because as exciting and fun as this was, if the show is simply going for a repeat of what happens there, I’m going to be very cross.

      However, because the show hasn’t reached its original premise yet again, it managed to continue to maintain a semblance of suspense. I have no idea of what’s going to happen next and totally await the weekend.

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      • 14.1.1 asianromance

        I think either the marketing screwed up (perhaps the story was just about greed and that just wasn’t as intriguing as a girl breaking a guy out of a mental ward) or the writers had given up on what the original proposed plot was supposed to be. In the early promotions, it seemed like Cha Don and Jae In weren’t in regular connection with each other before his stint in the mental institution.

        Before they reached the current year, I had imagined Cha Don and Jae In being almost like strangers until Jae In goes looking for him because she needs a fiance. And then after she breaks him out, they get engaged.

        But as we know, the drama unfolded in a way that Jae In’s mom slapped him with the debt in 2007 and from 2007-2013, he has probably been dining with the Bok family weekly. And in the weeks before his incarceration, Jae In’s mom got the two to sign an engagement agreement.

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  15. 15 Gaeina Lee

    He’s the most impressive and attractive Joseon Empress in Kdland that I ever see.. *wink*

    Hope once we pass the 1st half of the drama, the quest of finding justice begins in parallel with the quest of realizing love.. Not finding, since she, his other half, had found it for him ages ago.. ^^

    Love KJH acting here. Also, both moms and PSM are always on top of their game. Good casts, good story, and lucky we have 1 good recaper here.. Thank you, gummimochi!

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  16. 16 Carole McDonnell

    oh gosh! Reading this recap makes me kinda sorta want to return to actually viewing this. I’m sorta kinda probably tempted. Will see if I succumb. So many great shows out there…not sure if I can commit to a show that is kinda sorta bugging me but which i also kinda sorta like.

    In any case, thanks for the recap.

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    • 16.1 DayDreamer

      I have the same love-hate relationship with this show. Just watch it. I definitely am, come whatever may. :D (Although I’m doing this more to amass more dramas in my watched list for the year so I can participate more in year-end reviews, LOL).

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  17. 17 Arhazivory

    Loved the episode and its a little disturbing how pretty KJH was in drag. :D

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  18. 18 Noelle

    HAHAHAHAHA!! thats the best photo ever!

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  19. 19 Saner

    Kang Ji Hwan – yeppuda! ;)

    Made the mistake of watching episode 12.
    Blown. Away.
    I don’t think my heart can take it if every episode is like that.

    In episode 11, I like the self-reflection going on on Lee Cha Don’s part a propos to what some people will do for money. Even if we admire his tenacity and courage for doing what he’s doing, we also must remember that he went into that deep, dark hole for 2 billion won – his lawyer fee.

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  20. 20 Suzi Q

    This episode is really dark about the Cha Don’s mother being incarcerated into the mental institution a second time and made me want to cringe.What an horrible ordeal! I’ve seen the evil creepy doctor in other dramas before. He always plays low life creeps and drug lords very well. Kudos to the actress who plays the Mom.

    So it’s kind of comic relief with KJH getting into drag as the Empress of Joseon. LMAO! Especially when he starts acting regal and calling his lady attendants. He has done other funny characterizations such as in the film, Detective Cha. He is totally awesome in this role and is one of my favorite comedic actors!

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  21. 21 Marvin

    What is the song played alng when the “Queen of Joseon” cracks in line? I love that song. Thanks

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  22. 22 DayDreamer

    I wonder who killed the lawyer. The killer’s motive doesn’t seem apparent either. So far, it’s definitely someone who knows the lawyer (duh!) but out of all the characters who knows him and might have a thing against him are the people from the Triatagon. Yet implying one of them as murderer doesn’t make sense because then that would imply that they were aware of the lawyer knowing about Cha Don being Kang Seok. From what I’ve seen so far, it looks like probably some loan shark killed him for not paying up his debts. I’m just glad that Ji Hoo thinks that Cha Don isn’t capable of murder. The guy has enough on his plate without a murder charge being added to it.

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    • 22.1 asianromance

      I do wonder if it’s just a coincidence that he got murdered, but that murder does end up planting a seed of distrust in the Traitagon’s surviving members.

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  23. 23 sugarpunch

    Hhaha is it just me or does the fact that Cha don (acting crazy as a Joseon lady) managed to pick up a bodyguard/attendant in the asylum frigging hilarious? When Chief Yang tried to approach Lady Cha Don, the bodyguard/attendant stepped forward to block him, while Lady Cha Don stitched on. Will never forget that scene for a long long time. lol.

    The part towards the end gave me super chills. I suspected those were pre-recorded screams but wouldn’t it be just as horrifying if it was ‘live’? the last 10 min of the show got to whole new levels of creepy and I already felt like I needed to get rid of the creepiness by playing with my dog or something.

    really want to know how the next ep will play out. hopefully it involves the creepy doctor and nurse dying a painful death.

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  24. 24 rjyuggy

    cue Quegeum’s “AJHUMMA”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

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  25. 25 asianromance

    Thanks for the recap, gummimochi! This episode was so great that I had watched it several times! Finally, we’re getting to the marketed premise of the show! This also means that I had spent some time mentally working out how they could gotten to this point faster, but who could have resisted Kang Ji Hwan’s Empress of Joseon and a return to the darker, sobering tone of the first 2 episodes of the drama?

    And finally, we have Cha Don feeling something. We’re pushing past his charming exterior. He’s about to learn a horrible lesson on what money and greed can do to people. Even Jae-In felt less wacky and more real in this episode.

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