Major breakthroughs and much-needed connections are made in this episode as our hero ventures into the deepest circle of hell. What lies there waiting for him isn’t pretty and Cha-don emerges from the pit with answers he didn’t initially anticipate. But all of these are necessary tools to prepare for the greater battle ahead.
The show finally amps up the story after a middling lull and the numbers show it: Episode 15 clocked in at 15.1%. Perhaps it helps that My Daughter Seoyoung finished its run last weekend, but with a marked improvement from Episode 11 (12.4%), all signs point to a brighter future ahead for Incarnation.
SONG OF THE DAY
Ivy – “너였나봐” (Memories of You) from the Incarnation of Money OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 12 RECAP
The psych ward inmates line up for morning rounds and Cha-don waits for a glimpse of the occupant in Room 7. Unfortunately, Mom falls to the ground in another coughing fit mere inches from the door.
Instead of checking in the patients’ current physical and mental health, Dr. Bug Eyes tests their resolve and the sickly patient we saw in the previous episode sadly agrees to sign her waiver.
When he gets to Cha-don, our hero levels his eyes at the doc and breathes with deep loathing: “Watch your manners. Get your lowly face out of my sight.”
Dr. Bug Eyes laughs in amusement and peers into Room 7 where Mom is doubled over, wheezing. He instructs the head nurse to do nothing and whistles on his way out. Inside his cell, Cha-don deduces that the staff use fear to coerce the patients to hand over their inheritances and reels in disgust at the level of corruption.
At the Bok estate, Jae-in nearly spits up her soup when Boss Bok declares that the two lovebirds get married within the year. She openly admits that that way, she can hand over the business to them, giving her the chance to travel abroad.
Just then, Assistant Kim bursts into the room with news that the infamous Shudal has been caught. The poorly mosaic-censored face is easy enough to recognize and Boss Bok gapes, “Is that my son-in-law?!” And at the prosecutor office, Se-kwang gives a satisfied smirk.
Jae-in is about to walk out the door when Boss Bok hits the nail on the head about the cause of her daughter’s distress. Did she spend the night drinking because she already knew of the situation?
Jae-in whips around and lashes out that she’s never felt happier in her life. Now that Cha-don is ousted as a prosecutor and blacklisted from the legal industry, her mother will never get her dream son-in-law.
But Boss Bok can see through her defenses and asks if Cha-don called off their engagement. Jae-in retorts bitterly that she was the one who called it quits because, “Like you, Mom – I can’t stand incompetent people.” She storms out.
Boss Bok orders Assistant Kim to look into Cha-don’s current whereabouts.
Cha-don remains fixated on Room 7 and his fellow inmates shuffle away to avoid his whispered inquiries. Figuring that staying silent will get him nowhere, Cha-don causes a scene in the cafeteria and is held down by the staff.
Dr. Bug Eyes gets wind of the incident and instructs the staff to prepare his “treatment.” I don’t like the sound of that. Next thing we know, Cha-don is held back by restraints and hooked up to a mysterious machine.
He pleads his sanity to the doc who simply asks if Cha-don has changed his mind about the inheritance waiver. Cha-don plays the innocent heir to a T, asking if his “sister” put him up to this. He listens as the doc says, “Money does that to people. It doesn’t matter if you’re a parent, a child, or a sibling – once money is involved, you become a monster.”
Dr. Bug Eyes tells him that his tenacity is pointless and listlessly orders the machine turned on.
Genuine panic washes over his face just before they deliver a wave of electric shock. Pain shoots through his body and his screams are broadcasted through the speakers. So not pre-recorded then but still just as barbaric.
Amid his struggle, Cha-don shouts that Kang-seok isn’t dead yet and is waiting for his mother to return to him, words that Mom once told him. Dr. Bug Eyes considers this as pure nonsense and instructs the nurse to amp up the dial. Oof, this is hard to watch.
Thankfully, Mom hears them as she hears her own words over the speakers. At the realization that Cha-don is imprisoned in this hellhole with her, she breaks down for a moment before she steels herself once more.
Chief Yang follows a staff member down to the secret ward where the head nurse is surprised to see him. He rushes to start cleaning up and surprisingly, the nurse allows it.
As he makes his rounds to dump the trash, Chief Yang makes sure the hidden camera on his cleaning cart captures the horrific conditions of the ward. He enters Room 7 and immediately recognizes Mom. However, she turns her face and the camera films her back instead.
He’s met with a shocking sight on his way out as he watches the staff drag a limp Cha-don back into his room.
Once Cha-don is returned to his bed, he curses the egregious acts committed by the immoral staff under his breath. Then he breaks into a sarcastic smile, telling himself that it’s no different than his days as a corrupt prosecutor.
Ji-hoo pays the orphanage director a visit and lowers her head at the mention of Cha-don’s name. She shows him a picture of Lawyer Hwang and the director recognizes him as the man who came by a few days earlier.
She returns to the prosecutor’s office only to head right back out when she’s told that the GPS signal for the murderer’s disposable phone has turned on. Se-kwang witnesses this exchange and tails her car, wondering who the murderer is. Wait, does that mean it’s not you?
Ji-hoo traces the signal to a park by the Han River and apprehend a homeless man as Se-kwang watches.
In the interrogation room, the hobo insists that though he may be a thief, he isn’t a murderer. He recounts how he came across the phone: Someone had thrown it by the Han River and he picked it up.
Ji-hoo continues to press him for more information but gets nowhere. She lets out an exasperated sigh.
Fingerprint analysis suggest that the phone was intentionally wiped of previous fingerprints and now all arrows point to murder. She orders her man to follow up and once he leaves, she wonders again where Cha-don is.
The following morning, Cha-don notices that no one comes out of Room 7 but today he hears Mom’s voice asking to be let out. The door opens and Mom steps out. They lock eyes and tears silently stream down her cheek.
Mom tries to pass along the family photo during mealtime but the head nurse spots it and returns it to her before Cha-don gets to see it.
Cha-don is led back to his cell and sees Chief Yang, back to clean the cells. He sneezes to Chief Yang and we learn that this is an agreed-upon sign to inform if one of them has found Mom. But Chief Yang touches his nose in return, which is basically an SOS.
So Cha-don creates a diversion as Chief Yang hurriedly tells Mom that they’ll help him find her son. She hands him the family photo and he tucks it into his pocket.
The moment of disorderly conduct leaves Cha-don cuffed to his bed. Chief Yang slips the photo into the wastebasket and sneezes before he leaves with the staff. He’s released some time later and the head nurse warns that they’ll continue his “treatment” should he step a toe out of line again.
He scrambles out of bed as soon as he leaves and turns over the photo… to see a picture of his younger self, posing with his real family.
Confused, he stares at the photo as the pieces slowly slip into place in his head. “I…I’m Lee Kang-seok? And she’s my mom?”
He wonders how this is possible – he can’t recall a thing. Then he breaks down, wailing.
The doctor is pleased as punch to hear that Cha-don will sign the waiver after all. After they stamp his fingerprint on the document, he tells Cha-don that it’s no use trying to sue them because everything they did here is considered a part of his treatment. Ugh, I feel disgusted.
But then Cha-don snaps and pins the doctor to the bed, strangling him. His eyes burn with rage, hollering that the doctor is a monster before he’s dragged away for another round of treatment.
Watching our hero get tortured doesn’t get any easier the second time around. This time, Cha-don screams that Kang-seok has been found. Speaking of himself in the third person, he yells, “He missed you a lot!”
Mom hears his cries and she falls to her knees, crying Kang-seok’s name.
Dr. Bug Eyes continues to turn up the dial to a dangerous level. It sparks and barely hanging on to consciousness, Kang-seok’s past memories of his parents flash in his head. He finally blacks out and his body continues to jerk involuntarily.
Angelina and Reporter Go approach Prosecutor Kwon with the idea to get a cut of the large sum of money that belongs to Kang-seok. They try to entice him but Prosecutor Kwon cuts them off, calling the job a dangerous one.
He asks why they didn’t approach Se-kwang instead. They could never convince that stick in the mud and ask for Prosecutor Kwon’s help to persuade him.
The two prosecutors chat over a game of baduk and Se-kwang’s answer to why he won’t go after the money is a simple one: “Because it isn’t ours.”
Prosecutor Kwon mentions that money doesn’t come with an owner and admits that he’d like to have that money. “It’s like seawater; the more you drink, the thirstier you get.”
Se-kwang doesn’t want any part of this plot and Prosecutor Kwon tells him that the reason Se-kwang loses to him in baduk (and perhaps, life) is because he gives up his greed in the face of victory.
If the money once belonged to the late Chairman Lee, then it belongs to the Traitagon now. Se-kwang peers at his sunbae curiously – could he be Lawyer Hwang’s murderer?
Ji-hoo drags the phone dealer back into the interrogation room because she’s totally badass and it comes as no surprise that he’s unwilling to cooperate. The dealer says that it’s nearly impossible to find out the buyer since they sell the units online.
But at the prospect of flipping through a stack of papers, he does recall someone calling by telephone. How convenient that you remember now. He vaguely recalls that stormy night and a few digits of the license plate.
Angelina walks into Jae-in’s restaurant and promptly asks to speak to the owner. It takes a minute before they recognize each other from the spa and Angelina barks that she’ll take her business up with the owner. The look of horror on Angelina’s face when she learns that in fact she’s been speaking with the owner the entire time is priceless.
She awkwardly slips back into jondaemal (formal speech) and apologizes, introducing herself. Now it’s Jae-in’s turn to freak out and they exchange overt superficial compliments back and forth.
On her phone, Angelina says that she’s determined to win over Jae-in to her side so that she can become the majority stockholder in the savings back. She rattles on as Se-kwang tunes her out on the other end.
The ladies sit to chat and Angelina tells Jae-in to freely drop the formalities and call her unni. She invites Jae-in to her brand’s launch party the next day and soon they’re giggling like teenagers and exchanging numbers.
Cha-don is dropped off by ambulance to the same spot where he was picked up. He takes off his blindfold and makes a call to Chief Prosecutor Jo to inform him that he’ll be sending over a video. He then heads to a bar, unable to recall more of his memory, and he wonders, “Who was the one who killed my father and ruined my family?”
Chief Prosecutor Jo soon joins him and assures him that the police force will raid the asylum as soon as a warrant is issued. There’s no need to thank him – he too was horrified to see that such a terrifying place exists.
He sighs when Cha-don tells him that he ended up there in the first place because of a potential client.
How appropriate is it that Beethoven’s 5th Symphony plays in the background when Cha-don raids the asylum with an entire police force in tow? The doctor is slightly surprised to see Cha-don behind the arrest and Cha-don repays his gratitude with a right hook. Ah, so satisfying – though Dr. Bug Eyes deserves a beating. Or to die a slow and painful death.
Cha-don pins the doc to the table, demanding the keys to the basement ward. He heads straight for Room 7 where Mom weakly murmurs, “You’ve come.”
He tries to hold back his tears as he slowly approaches her and lifts a hand to her face. She asks where Kang-seok is and collapses in his arms.
Mom is rushed over to the hospital but it’s bad news bears: acute pneumonia. Cha-don begs the doctor to save her. He silently walks into Mom’s room and breaks down in tears once more when he slowly brings her hand to his cheek.
Phew – Mom wakes a few hours later and sees Cha-don asleep by her bedside. She takes a good look at him… and sees young Kang-seok. I’m not crying; it’s just been raining on my face.
She places a hand on Kang-seok’s cheek and Cha-don bolts awake. She searches his face and holds back tears as Cha-don tells her that he doesn’t remember anything because of a head injury. “I don’t have any memories in my brain, but I’ve never forgotten you in my heart.”
Cha-don: “Do you know that feeling? You can’t remember them but you miss them so much. If you only knew their face…” Mom pulls her son towards her and they both cry, finally reunited.
Cha-don relocates Mom to a beautiful pension by the sea. I have to ask – where did you get the funds? It’s so sweet how he eagerly calls her “Mom” and looks lovingly into her eyes.
Placing her hand on his cheek, he vows that they’ll be together for the rest of his life and Mom smiles at the thought. He kisses her hand affectionately and they drink in the moment of happiness.
Cha-don musters up the courage and softly asks who his father’s killer was. He remembers his parents but not much else and Mom’s face hardens at the question. She answers, “Ji Se-kwang.”
Mom identifies Se-kwang as his father’s murderer and then suddenly, the memories come flooding back to him: how they had a hyung-dongsaeng relationship, when he discovered his affair with Bi-ryung, and the day of the car accident.
She continues to name the other Traitagon members who took their money and left them in this destitute condition. Crying, her voice breaks: “They’re devils, Kang-seok.”
Cha-don holds onto his mother’s hand even tighter and breathes, “Ji Se-kwang.”
With the previous episode that felt more like a long trailer than a standalone episode, I’m so relieved that this episode delivered the goods that we’ve seen in the Giant/Salaryman team. And to that end, I have to say: Finally!
If I had a nickel for every time this show gave us a cliffhanger with a close-up of Kang Ji-kwan‘s determined stare… I’d have a pretty number of silver coins by now. It was easy to get the intensity of the stare but by this point, I already feel desensitized to the death glare. It’s only now that we see the beginning stages of Cha-don/Kang-seok’s revenge story starting to take shape and with so much more to explore, I hope we can see some other cliffhangers that will keep us engaged for the second half of the series.
This is a minor complaint of course in comparison to the rest of the episode which I found to be strong from start to finish. Now that Cha-don has finally discovered who he is and identified his father’s murderer, hunting Se-kwang down is only the tip of the iceberg. Going up against the esteemed prosecutor will prove to be difficult now that he’s essentially blacklisted from the law community and will need to build himself back up brick by brick. His trip to the psych ward has shown to be an enlightening and gruesome experience (I can still feel chills down my spine). In one way, it’s essential for Cha-don to see how money can drive a so-called ethical pillar to commit even the most inhumane of crimes without blinking an eye. And for a hero to start his journey in anti-hero territory where he profited from the rich for some time, this is a humble way to bring one back to the reality of a world driven by greed.
This show seriously makes me question my moral barometer with characters who aren’t necessarily painted black-and-white. Ahead of that pack is Se-kwang who swings that pendulum back and forth with his desire to be rid of his past misdeeds.It messes with my brain when he mentions that he did away with his greed and that the large sum of money doesn’t belong to him. It’s interesting that he doesn’t seek for more money like the other Traitagon members do. Then we hear his internal voiceover trying to figure out who Lawyer Hwang’s murderer is at the same pace of the viewer. But just because you may not have murdered this man doesn’t acquit you of your previous crimes. And two wrongs don’t make a right.
You might recognize Mom (Park Soon-chun) from another recent maternal role in Sirius. Watching her is a pure delight as we see the range in her performance as she breathes life into the characters she interacts with. I’ve mentioned this before in a previous recap, but her scenes with Kang-seok/Cha-don are by far my favorite in the series. There’s such vulnerability and desperation to be reunited with her son and we see that motivator drive her volition the second time she’s trapped in that hellhole. I’m so glad that she’s finally out for good (and seriously – how are you paying for that oceanside view?) and hope that she gets an opportunity take revenge on the man who stole everything, including her family from her. Will she get her chance to meet the devils themselves?
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 11
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 10
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 9
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 8
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 7
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 6
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 5
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 4
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 3
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 2
- Incarnation of Money: Episode 1