Pinocchio: Episode 9
Well, there’s no more keeping everyone in opposite corners now. Worlds collide and secrets that we want buried just keep finding their way to the surface. Dal-po does his very best to plug a hole in the dam that’s about to burst, but it’s a last act of desperation, and he knows it deep down. C’mon, universe, can’t we buy him enough time to go digging for the truth before calamity comes crashing down on him?
SONG OF THE DAY
Every Single Day – “My Story” for the Pinocchio OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 9: “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”
We rewind a little to follow Dal-po after his confrontation with Hyung, who’s just found out that Dal-po is a reporter. After Hyung’s hate-filled warning to stay away, Dal-po heads back into the station to ask his Cap Gyo-dong what he would do if he found a long-lost family member only to discover that he wasn’t the same person.
Gyo-dong knows that he’s asking about his brother, so he treads carefully and asks exactly what he means by different. Dal-po: “Say… he killed a person…” Whoa, did you just say that out loud?
Gyo-dong quickly shuts the door and asks if he’s sure. Dal-po says he isn’t sure at all, but it’s a terrible hunch that he can feel, and asks what he’s supposed to do. Cap says there’s only one thing he would do: investigate and find out the truth. Deciding what to do with that truth can come later.
Then we resume at the icy intersection that closed out the last episode, where Hyung mistakes a boy crossing the street as his little brother and crashes his truck into an even bigger truck to save him. He stumbles away from the collision bleeding from the head to make sure the boy is okay, calling him Ha-myung, and then collapses on his shoulder.
In-ha and her team at MSC catch the entire accident and aftermath on camera, and once the initial shock wears off, they watch Hyung get taken away on a stretcher and In-ha asks in a daze, “This is an exclusive, isn’t it?” Looks like In-ha and Dal-po are going to go to war over Hyung.
MSC goes into a frenzy of activity to get the story ready for the evening news as the top story, and In-ha grumbles to herself when she gets sent to ride in the ambulance with Hyung while Beom-jo gets to be on camera to do the report.
Dal-po is late to meet his partner Yoo-rae at the station, where she greets him with a big yawn and yet another reminder that she’s comfortable enough to do that around him because she doesn’t see him as a man.
They perk up when they see two wrecked trucks being towed in, hoping for an accident to report. Yoo-rae starts to ask the tow truck driver about the scene where he picked up the vehicles, but Dal-po’s eyes widen when he notices the water delivery truck being towed behind that one… the one with Hyung’s license plate number on it.
He panics and asks where the driver is, and all the towing guy knows is that he was taken to a hospital, but he doesn’t know where. Dal-po takes off at a run, leaving Yoo-rae shouting after him.
In-ha rides in the ambulance with Hyung, who regains consciousness for a second. Ohthankgoodness. He’s delirious and asks for Ha-myung again to make sure that he’s okay, before passing out again. In-ha records all this on her phone, and wonders who this Ha-myung is.
Yoo-rae reports the basics of the accident to her team leader Hyun-kyu at the exact moment that MSC is opening their news hour with the exclusive. Mom has turned the accident story into a tale of heroic triumph and sacrifice, complete with emotional footage of the aftermath (Hyung’s face has been blurred out in the broadcast).
Beom-jo’s chaebol mommy yelps when she sees her son on TV, and even In-ha’s dad watches the broadcast over someone else’s shoulder at the bus stop. Dal-po runs through all the nearby hospitals looking for Hyung, and is shocked to see on the news that MSC caught that very accident on camera.
Hyung gets treated for his surprisingly minor injuries and checks out of the hospital quietly, but In-ha catches up to him before he leaves to beg for an interview. Hyung’s name rings a bell with In-ha’s cameraman, and from the look on his face, he seems to have connected the dots to Firefighter Dad.
In-ha hands over her card and asks Hyung to consider an interview, and he asks if she’s the reporter in all the MSC commercials, knowing that it means she’s Song Cha-ok’s daughter. He agrees to do the interview now, and a frightening smile spreads across his face. Ack, Hyung, I hope you’re not a killer, but just in case you are: Don’t kill In-ha!
In the interview, Hyung explains that Ha-myung is his brother’s name, and he died when he was about the same age as that boy in the street tonight, causing the momentary confusion. Dal-po runs in and finds Hyung already doing the interview, and with In-ha of all people.
After hearing Hyung’s story about Firefighter Dad and how the reporters back then treated his family unjustly, In-ha says sympathetically that it must be difficult for him to watch the news. He says that some of the reporters are still working today, and though he only remembers most of them vaguely, there was one so vicious that he remembers everything: face, name, and the way they spoke.
Both Dal-po and the cameraman tense up as In-ha leans forward and asks if he can tell her who that reporter is. Hyung leans in and looks at her with a cunning smile, “That reporter is…” But both the cameraman and Dal-po cut in, and In-ha quickly tells Hyung not to talk to other reporters. That won’t be a problem for Hyung, who looks at Dal-po with daggers in his eyes.
But right now Dal-po is more concerned with separating the two of them, and he yells at In-ha to follow and leads her out by the hand. At first In-ha thinks he’s just trying to interfere with her story, but she’s surprised by the desperation in his voice as he asks her to stay away from that man because it’s dangerous for her.
She says that Hyung told her about Firefighter Dad and she understands why he hates reporters, but he’s a man who risked his life to save someone else. But Dal-po won’t be consoled, and pleads with her to trust him and hand the story off to someone else.
In-ha asks him to give her a reason that she’ll understand, because she sees that he’s serious but doesn’t get where this is coming from. Dal-po: “Can’t the reason be me? Can’t it just be because it’s me, because I worry about you more than anyone? Can’t you just trust me?”
He’s so urgent as he begs her not to get mixed up with Hyung, and to trust him just this once without asking why. It so goes against her nature, but In-ha can see that he’s not going to tell her why, and that whatever it is, it’s because he cares about her. So she agrees not to follow up after the interview and not ask Dal-po the million questions she has in her head, because she trusts him.
The relief washes over him and she tells him again and again that she’ll keep her promise and proves that she means it with the absence of hiccups. He thanks her and clasps her hand as she gives him a reassuring hug.
Inside, Hyung stares at In-ha’s card in his hand, and the cameraman comes up to him and says nervously that he did a good thing today. The cameraman pretends not to recognize him, but Hyung calls him by name and says he’s heard his story once before—he was there when he gave that interview thirteen years ago with Song Cha-ok.
He points out how funny it is to be going through the same thing with her daughter In-ha now, and says pointedly that he’s grateful for the coincidence. Oh dear.
Outside, In-ha waits until Dal-po’s calmer and then asks half-jokingly one last time if he’s not pulling some kind of stunt to steal her exclusive, and he pinches her lips shut like always and swears he isn’t.
They get up to head back to work, and In-ha stops to add that once their training days are over and they go back home, Dad will find out about their relationship and might be mean to him. Dal-po knows to expect it, but she cutely tells him, “Don’t give up okay?” Aw.
She starts to say that she’ll work on getting Dad to come around, but he pinches her lips again and says, “I won’t ever give up.” The way they smile at each other makes me melt. Dal-po caresses her cheek before they part, just to be extra swoony.
In-ha returns to MSC with high-fives for Beom-jo and his report. He looks a little scared to take another of her jumping high-fives, but offers his hand bravely. She says that she would’ve cursed if it had been anyone else but him on the TV, and says he did well. Uh-oh, Hyung’s already begun stalking her—he’s standing in the lobby behind them.
Mom is on her way out as they arrive back at the newsroom, and she tosses out a casual, “Good job,” on her way onto the elevator. In-ha is so flabbergasted that she shoves her foot in the door and makes her mother repeat the praise twice, and grins like a fool.
Mom even looks down at In-ha’s shoes to ask if they fit well, and In-ha belatedly realizes that Mom bought her the shoes, not Dad. She’s like a happy jumping bean, and demands another high-five from Beom-jo, who watches her with a goofy smile.
MSC has managed to flip the ratings with Hyung’s story, and plans to keep it that way with follow-up interviews. YGN’s director tells his staff to focus on their stories because that accident is bound to die down in a few days. But Dal-po narrates that the story didn’t die down—Hyung became a hero, and he was on national television telling the true story of their father’s death.
The YGN is feeling the heat to find out more about Hyung, and at first Gyo-dong tries to suggest they ignore it. But the editor presses them, so Cap assigns Dal-po to work on nothing else but this case, and report directly to him. Okay, NOW we’re getting somewhere.
Dal-po narrates that he even heard the apology he’d waited thirteen years to hear, as both brothers watch Song Cha-ok apologize on behalf of MSC, and then use the moment to promise that MSC will only deliver the truth. Dal-po (voiceover): “The news that turned my father into the devil thirteen years ago… was now turning my brother into a hero.”
(We finally get to see the inside of Hyung’s apartment as he sits numbly, watching the news. Why does it warm my heart so that both brothers use the same multi-piggy banking system?)
In the ensuing days, MSC practically turns Hyung into a saint, turning him into an extended human interest feature complete with daily good deeds and charitable giving, while purposely burying the stuff like records of him getting into fights in high school.
Dal-po narrates that the image MSC created of Hyung was like the song of the Pied Piper that bewitched children, as we watch Hyung get accosted on the street by kids dressed like him, asking for his picture.
At MSC, Beom-jo and In-ha squeeze onto a crowded elevator, and Beom-jo uses the cramped space to get In-ha and Mom to accidentally hug. They’re so awkward at affection even when it’s accidental, but he just keeps pushing Mom closer to In-ha with a little smile.
In the end they have to get off because the doors won’t close, and Beom-jo suddenly yanks Mom out of the elevator with him instead. He has something to give her and hands her an old cell phone, and asks if she didn’t lose it at his house thirteen years ago. Ah, so it wasn’t pure coincidence that he was intercepting all those texts.
Mom is a little taken aback, but he says that he kept that phone number all this time, and that In-ha didn’t know until recently that it wasn’t Mom’s number. He tells her to read the texts, and as she reads thirteen years of journal-like texts from In-ha, she suddenly realizes why In-ha was so disappointed the day she interviewed and tried calling her phone.
Beom-jo had told her that he expected the texts to stop at some point, but In-ha never gave up for thirteen years, and in the end it made him curious about who she was. Mom wonders why he’s telling her that he became a reporter for a girl like some lovesick fool, but he just tells her to read the texts, and she’ll fall in love with In-ha too. “And like me, you’ll want to become a good person for Choi In-ha.”
Princess struts around the city news desk like royalty now that MSC is winning the ratings battle, and especially enjoys lording the Ki Jae-myung story over everyone else because they’re the only station Hyung will interview with. Meanwhile Gyo-dong quietly takes a call from Dal-po, who reports that he’ll meet with Hyung today.
The MSC cameraman sees Hyung lurking in their lobby and sees him take a flyer with Mom’s picture on it, and he shares his fears with her over lunch that Ki Jae-myung might be planning something nefarious. Mom isn’t ruffled in the least, and just says that it ought to be good news fodder if he attacks her; she’s never backed down on a story in her whole career, and she’s not about to start now.
To In-ha’s shock, Mom picks up her tray and moves to her table, and In-ha can barely contain her squee. She offers Mom her egg yolk (apparently the swapping habit originates from In-ha’s time with Mom when she was young), and in turn Mom puts her whites on In-ha’s tray, sending her over the moon.
Dal-po visits his father’s memorial, now covered with flowers and notes of apology from people, calling him a hero and saying how sorry they are for believing the worst about him. It moves Dal-po to tears to see his father’s memory honored, however belatedly.
Hyung arrives behind him and asks coldly what he’s doing here, and Dal-po wipes away his tears before turning around. He lets Hyung think he’s just a reporter looking for a story, and stealth-records the conversation via cell phone and a tie pin loaned out to him by Cap.
Dal-po asks why he’s talking to MSC exclusively when it was the network that was harshest on his family thirteen years ago, and Hyung just says they’re listening to him now as he throws away the flowers Dal-po brought.
Dal-po follows him out and asks if he knows Moon Deok-soo, the plant manager who gave false testimony about his father, who killed two of his colleagues and is now missing. Hyung just says cryptically that what goes around comes around for all of them: “He was someone’s father and husband too.”
The wording is odd, and Dal-po asks why he’s speaking of a missing man in the past tense… like he’s dead. That catches Hyung off-guard (drat, it’s not looking very likely that he kept him alive in that manhole) and reaches for a flimsy explanation. Dal-po adds that he never said the two victims had anything to do with his father’s case, and again Hyung is taken aback.
Dal-po takes a step closer and searches his brother’s eyes as he asks, “Is it an apology you want from the world… Or do you want revenge?” Hyung steps even closer to reply in Dal-po’s ear: “If you asked me to choose between them, it’d be revenge.” He swipes Dal-po’s phone in the process, and throws it into a fire pit on the way out.
Dal-po sits in the office lost in thought, and replays the recording that he got from his tie pin. The moment of truth comes when Gyo-dong calls for an update. Dal-po narrates, “If a magic trick could fool everyone, could it be a miracle? If a lie could fool the world, could it become the truth? If so…”
He picks up the phone and Gyo-dong asks what he found out. Dal-po wonders to himself if the world thinks that Hyung is a hero, couldn’t he maybe stay a hero if Dal-po remained quiet? He chooses to lie, and says he has nothing new to report.
Dal-po (voiceover): “The truth trapped behind a wall of lies appeared to be quiet and calm like water. But unbeknownst to anyone, it had found a tiny crack in the wall and begun to flow out.”
We see Yoo-rae flip through the newspaper and pause at the name Ki Jae-myung, and she finally recalls that post-it with Hyung’s name on it that Cap asked her to hand to Dal-po.
At the same time, detective Chan-soo stares at Hyung’s picture in the paper and suddenly recalls that this is the man Dal-po met in the square the night he lied about not being there.
And at MSC, her cameraman sunbae calls In-ha into a room to show her something, and cues up the interview that Hyung did with them thirteen years ago. In-ha recognizes Mom’s voice and watches with interest as Hyung shows off Dad’s firefighter trophy and then says tearfully that his father died in the line of duty.
Mom replies coldly that a Pinocchio testified to seeing his father alive, but Hyung cries that he believes his dad more than a Pinocchio, and asks what kind of son would want to believe that his father had died. He admits that he’d much prefer for Dad to have been in the wrong and come back to them alive, but he knows in his heart that his father isn’t the kind of man who could do that—he would never leave his men behind, and he would never throw away his family. That’s how he knows Dad is dead.
The interview ends there, and then the cameraman tells In-ha that something else happened the night of that interview. Hyung was in the hallway and happened to overhear Mom’s orders to cut everything out except the one line where he said he didn’t care if the world hates him, he wishes his father were alive. Wow, thanks for the reminder—I was starting to forget how evil Mom is.
The cameraman tries to argue that it doesn’t seem right, but Mom calls Hyung as shameless as his father, which sets him off. He comes at her with the trophy in his hand and calls her a monster, and raises his hand to stab her with the pointy end.
We cut to Hyung being taken away in handcuffs, and the cameraman asks if pressing charges is necessary when he was clearly aiming for the wall. Mom is sporting a wound on her neck where it grazed her on the way, and calls this attempted murder.
She refuses to let him off the hook, so Hyung spent that night in jail… and that’s the night that his mother and brother jumped to their deaths. Ugh. Hyung believed that if he had been able to go home that night, he could’ve saved them.
In-ha can barely stomach asking, “Does Mom know all this?” He says yes, and tells her about the day on the cliff after they discovered the suicide note and Ha-myung’s shoe. Hyung screams in Mom’s face that they died because he couldn’t go home, and he swears to kill her.
The cameraman finally gets to his point—he thinks Ki Jae-myung is dangerous, and wants In-ha’s help to convince her mother to listen to reason. But In-ha isn’t listening anymore either, and just looks down at the shoes Mom bought her, that she had once thought so precious, and starts to hiccup.
She asks in disbelief if her mother was always this cruel: “How could she? HOW?!” She yanks her shoes off and throws them in the trash, and cries that she can’t understand. But suddenly a different shoe catches her attention—the one on the screen, belonging to Jae-myung’s little brother, Ha-myung.
She whispers that it isn’t possible, as she recalls the same blue sneaker that lives on their shoe rack at home. She remembers all the times she’s dropped it on her way out the door, and how it was always just the one shoe.
She runs out of there in just her socks, and thinks back to Grandpa’s story about finding Dal-po in the ocean. She comes home and finds the shoe still there where it always is, and asks Grandpa about it. He tells her not to throw it out—that’s the shoe that brought Dal-po to him, because it’s how he found him from his boat.
The truth sinks in, and when Grandpa says that Dal-po came home too and went up to the roof, In-ha races out to find him. On the way, she recalls all the little things, like when he said jokingly when they were young that she was his blood-feud enemy, or tried to tell her about her mother.
Now his outburst during their debate and his sincere wish for her not to become a reporter looks so different from his side, and she begins to cry and beat her chest. She reaches the roof and walks up to him slowly, and he’s surprised to see her crying.
She reaches for his hands and asks with tears streaming down her face, “Are you… Ki Ha-myung?” He can’t hide his reaction, and when she asks again, all he can manage to ask is how she knew.
She sinks to the ground and breaks down in tears. Dal-po narrates: “The secret I wanted to keep hidden… was discovered by the one person who should never have found out.”
Things are looking bad for Hyung, because now with more time spent on his character in the past, I’m starting to see how he might’ve become a killer, and how In-ha’s mom might’ve been the one to push him over the edge. Obviously the terrible timing of the one night he spent in jail isn’t her fault, but she could not be more heartless about it if she tried, and in retrospect his outburst on the cliff makes more sense. Now that we realize there’s a deeper reason for personal revenge against Mom, I’m even more worried for In-ha’s safety. Part of me still hopes that he didn’t kill those plant workers, but then I’d still be worried about him taking revenge on Mom by using In-ha regardless.
At this point I want Dal-po to hurry up and tell Hyung that he’s alive, because that’s the only thing that has a chance of stopping him. I’m glad that he struggled with burying his suspicions, because how could he not be tempted to let the world think that Hyung is a hero? He might even reason like Hyung does that what goes around comes around, and that because the media falsely vilified Firefighter Dad, so they get a free pass and the media can falsely glorify Hyung. Of course we know that our hero can’t just live with that, but it’s a dilemma he has to wrestle with, and already we see how his loyalties—to In-ha, to Cap, to Hyung—are divided.
What struck me in this episode was how much Dal-po and In-ha put each other first when it matters. Dal-po could’ve stormed into Hyung’s interview to stop him from exposing himself to the media, but he went there to protect In-ha first, and no matter how complicated his feelings for his brother might be, he’s worried for her safety first. I fully expected her to refuse his request to stay away from Hyung, but I was touched by her complete trust in him, that despite not telling her why, she believed he had her best interest at heart.
And when she finds out about Dal-po being Ha-myung, her tears seem to come from a place of empathy and heartbreak for everything he must’ve suffered in his life, not anger over secrets or misunderstandings. It’s crushing for In-ha to find out what a monster her mother can be, especially when she was finally showing some attempts at human emotions and awkward mommy-daughter bonding. It doesn’t make me more sympathetic to Mom, but when I see how happy it makes In-ha, I start to think that maybe a cold unfeeling mom is better than nothing.
But what I like about In-ha’s character is that her internal sense of right and wrong doesn’t shift because she idolizes her mother; when she hears that story, what she thinks is, How could my mother do such horrible things? Her perfect mom fantasy is one that needed to be shattered eventually, but I’m impressed that she didn’t come out of it blindly defending her mother, which she could’ve easily done. Of course now the other problem is that In-ha and Dal-po are now actually Romeo and Juliet, but that honestly doesn’t worry me. They’ve been direct and confrontational about everything thus far, and at every turn they’ve exceeded my expectations with their unwavering trust in each other, so I’m actually looking forward to watching them tackle this together.