Suspicious Partner: Episodes 5-6
The comedy we were promised finally kicks in in a big way, with a nice mixture of sweet and suspenseful moments to create a satisfying balance. The show seems to be finding its footing now that the groundwork has been laid, giving today’s episodes a chance to focus on Bong-hee and Ji-wook and what makes them tick. Bong-hee in particular has some serious soul-searching to do, as she learns that even the most well-intended actions can have hurtful consequences.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Bong-hee decides to visit Ji-wook at work, and on the way, she thinks about how love can start without you even realizing it. The sweet things Ji-wook has done for her, like the little smiles he’d give when he looked at her, all run through her mind as she narrates that she fell in love with him at first sight.
She intends to confess to him today, and she’s excited to run into him outside of his office building. When Ji-wook says that he thinks fate had a hand in their meeting, Bong-hee nearly bursts with happiness, but then he follows it up with, “It was an ill-fated encounter. So let’s never cross paths again.”
Bong-hee is stunned as Ji-wook walks past her, but then she catches up to give him a gift. She says it’s tea to help his insomnia, which she noticed while she was interning at his office. She breathlessly swears that she didn’t pry into his private life, and awkwardly says that he looks good for someone who doesn’t sleep (truer words…).
She realizes that she’s rambling, but Ji-wook tells her to speak now, since it’s the last time they’ll talk. Bong-hee apologizes for calling him a pervert when they met, and for costing him his job. She thanks him for being her hero, and he cracks a tiny smile when she says he’s better than Iron Man.
Bong-hee just barely stops herself from confessing, and Ji-wook looks a bit disappointed that she doesn’t have any more to say. She adds that she thinks she ran into Hee-joon’s murderer again but, worried that she’s bothering him, Bong-hee says that she’ll take care of this on her own.
But she has Ji-wook’s attention now, and he urges her to tell him what she knows. She mentions that the person outside her building was whistling when he passed her that night, and that she heard the whistling again the day her charges were dropped.
Ji-wook asks her about the song, so Bong-hee makes this off-key Whee whee, wheeeee whee noise, which Ji-wook hilariously copies, trying to place the tune. He wants to know what the person looked like, but Bong-hee just says that she won’t bother him with her problems anymore, so he needn’t worry.
As Ji-wook chokes down Bong-hee’s terrible insomnia tea that night, he grumbles that he wasn’t worried about her, not at all, he was just curious. Sure buddy, you keep telling yourself that.
Bong-hee wakes the next morning from a nightmare in which a whistling man chases her through the streets. She’s startled again by her doorbell, and her morning gets even worse when she opens the door to find Hee-joon’s father, District Attorney Jang, glaring daggers at her.
He comes in without an invitation and stalks around the living room, imagining his son’s murdered body lying on the floor. He finally looks at Bong-hee and asks how dare she eat, sleep, and breathe in the same place where his son died. Bong-hee offers him a deep bow and says that she’s heartbroken too, but she swears that she didn’t kill Hee-joon.
District Attorney Jang spits that he found nothing proving her innocence. Bong-hee counters, with all due respect, that there’s no evidence that she’s guilty, either. Growing angry, District Attorney Jang yells that if not for Ji-wook’s incompetence, she would be in prison right now.
Bong-hee reminds him that the evidence against her was fabricated. Her voice shaking, she says that it’s on the prosecution to prove her guilt, not on her to prove her innocence. Still, she adds, she plans to prove her innocence anyway and find the real killer.
District Attorney Jang raises a hand as if to strike Bong-hee, barely stopping himself in time. He growls that he didn’t know before how she bewitched Ji-wook into setting her free, but that he sees now that she’s not a normal girl. He vows to make her regret gaining her freedom and to punish her no matter what.
Ji-wook visits his father’s ashes to tell him that he couldn’t solve his last case as a prosecutor. He recalls that his dad once said it was an honor for a father to have a son follow in his footsteps, and he apologizes with tears in his eyes.
Soon after, Ji-wook starts his new job working for CEO Byun as a defense lawyer. He looks tragically unhappy about it, and even his bouncy arch-enemy Eun-hyuk’s exuberant confetti-and-happy-dance welcome can’t make Ji-wook smile. Eun-hyuk’s second try just earns him a grumpy, “Get lost.”
Lacking anyone else to talk to, Ji-wook tells Eun-hyuk about his ill-fated relationship with someone, and Eun-hyuk is happy to listen so long as Ji-wook isn’t talking about him (Ji-wook: “You’re the worst ever, I already hate you.” HAHA). Ji-wook’s problem is that he told that person never to speak to him again, but now he needs to ask them something.
Eun-hyuk agrees that it would be pathetic for Ji-wook to contact that person first, but he adds that if he were them, he would be excited to hear from Ji-wook after he said not to contact him. Eun-hyuk chirps that every time Ji-wook is mean to him before calling him for something, he gets butterflies in his stomach. Okay stop it, you’re too cute!
Ji-wook warns Eun-hyuk not to assume that he doesn’t hate him anymore just because he talks to him, but Eun-hyuk just gives him puppy-dog eyes. Ji-wook tells him to get lost again, and Eun-hyuk explains that he can’t because this is his office too. HA, poor Ji-wook.
Bong-hee is persona non grata at school — even her friends have been appropriated by Ji-hae, the girl Hee-joon was dating when he died. But she’s too busy to worry about it much, determined to listen to music until she finds the melody Hee-joon’s killer was whistling to her. She even puts up a huge sign letting the killer know she’s looking for him and inviting him to come find her.
She goes to look for clues at the spot where the killer dumped the murder weapon. She hears footsteps and sees someone walking towards her, but she can’t see their face with the sun in her eyes. Scared it’s Hee-joon’s killer, Bong-hee raises her fists in a fighting stance.
But then the man says her name. She sees that it’s just Ji-wook, and she collapses with relief. She yells at him for not saying who he was, and he yells at her for not asking, then a smile spreads over Bong-hee’s face as she asks if he was worried about her.
Ji-wook looks like a deer in the headlights for a second before he too-casually denies it. Bong-hee starts to stand and loses her balance, and Ji-wook reaches out to steady her. The moment their hands touch, they freeze, staring into each other’s eyes.
Ji-wook blinks and drops Bong-hee’s hand like a hot potato, then walks away without a word. Bong-hee gives herself three seconds to squee silently before trotting after him.
She asks why he came here, and he complains that losing his last case hurt his pride. Bong-hee offers to help him regain it by finding the true killer, but when Ji-wook offers to show her the CCTV footage of the courtroom so she can identify the killer, Bong-hee admits that she’s never seen his face.
Ji-wook is incredulous, and he asks her to at least describe the killer’s bike. Bong-hee nervously says it looks like all other bikes, and that’s when Ji-wook loses it. He laughs like a crazy person then explodes, screaming that he lost his job, his insomnia got worse, and he even swallowed his pride to see her again, all for nothing.
Bong-hee snaps back that he made her think he was worried about her, and Ji-wook deflates and says she’s right. Bong-hee is relieved because she thought he didn’t want to see her again, but he says she’s right about that, too.
Ji-wook explains that as her mentor, he did worry about her a lot, “But it ends here. I’m not worried anymore.” He asks her not to cause trouble before walking away. Bong-hee calls to him that she’ll find the killer then repay him for his help. Softly, she adds that she’s going to change their ill-fated relationship to a good one.
Two years pass, and Bong-hee leaves Ji-wook alone as he requested, though she sees him on the street sometimes. Her classmates are all scouted by prestigious law firms while Bong-hee has to become a public prosecutor, but when life gets hard, she watches Ji-wook and feels better. Occasionally he sees her too, but they never speak to one another.
Ji-wook struggles in his new job, forced to defend the very types of people he would previously have prosecuted. In a meeting with a spoiled brat bully and his overprotective entitled mother, Ji-wook slowly loses his cool, pointing out that this is the kid’s third violent offense and that soon, he won’t be a minor anymore.
The mother protests, but Ji-wook says that by protecting her son with her money, he never suffers any consequences. Working up a good rant, Ji-wook continues that he’ll just get into drugs and worse crimes, but he’ll always pay his way out and never know he’s doing wrong.
CEO Byun calls Ji-wook into his office to remind him that he can’t scream at his clients. Ji-wook just hangs his head and mutters under his breath, looking for all the world like a chastened puppy that got caught tinkling on the carpet.
He mopes over to his old office to see his friend Section Chief Bang, and he stops for a moment to fondly remember his time here. He peeks at Section Chief Bang through a crack in the door, beckoning him to come have lunch, then snarls when Section Chief Bang is too busy.
Ji-wook shuffles away pathetically, but eventually, Section Chief Bang joins him in the lunchroom. He asks about a team dinner Ji-wook attended two nights ago. We see it in flashback, featuring a drunk Ji-wook slurring about attorneys selling themselves out for money.
Section Chief Bang advises that Ji-wook try to fit in with the other attorneys, but Ji-wook blows his top and yells that he’s not cut out for defending criminals. He glares at Section Chief Bang when he quips that he learned about doing things you don’t want to do when he was only five.
Eun-hyuk joins them, throwing an arm around Ji-wook and saying that he’ll never change, but that’s his charm. Ji-wook agrees that he’s consistent, since he’s hated Eun-hyuk consistently for years, ha. He walks out, head hanging, and Eun-hyuk sighs that he’s just lonely.
Ji-wook doesn’t notice Bong-hee in the hall, and she doesn’t see him either. She does run right into Ji-hae, and the two trade barbs about how much they still hate each other. Ji-hae even sneers at Bong-hee’s clothes, but Bong-hee retorts smoothly that she’s so awesome, her clothes don’t matter.
They face each other in the courtroom, but in the middle of her arguments, Bong-hee sees Ji-wook in the audience and loses her train of thought.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Bong-hee is so thrown off that she misspeaks, saying that her client is guilty. HAHA. She immediately corrects that she meant not guilty, and as soon as her case is over, she slinks out past Ji-wook.
Poor Ji-wook looks miserable as he presents his own case, and Bong-hee watches him through the window intently. Eun-hyuk recognizes her and mimics her awkward pose, scaring the life out of her when she finally sees him there.
When asked how she’s been, Bong-hee says she’s still alive because of him, and Eun-hyuk returns the sentiment with a glance at Ji-wook (meaning that because Ji-wook lost her case, Eun-hyuk gets to work with him). When he asks, Bong-hee denies that she was watching Ji-wook, so Eun-hyuk is all “Here he comes!” just to see Bong-hee run away, hee.
Having broken the heel off her shoe while fleeing from Ji-wook, Bong-hee admires some pretty new shoes in a store window while waiting for hers to be repaired. She gets a call to meet a new client in half an hour, but her shoe won’t be fixed by then. She sees Ji-hae sitting on a bench nearby, so she literally hijacks Ji-hae’s heels and takes off in them, pfft.
Until now, Bong-hee’s clients have been pretty abnormal, due to her reputation for having gotten away with murder herself. So she’s pleasantly surprised to meet her new client, SEUNG-HO (cameo by Ji Il-joo), who seems like a polite, soft-spoken young man.
He’s wearing casts on one arm and leg, and he says that he was accused of being a stalker. He tells Bong-hee that he fell in love at first sight with a woman named NA-EUN, and his story reminds Bong-hee of herself and Ji-wook. Seung-ho fell in love, but Na-eun hadn’t wanted to see him.
Seung-ho would hang around places where he knew he’d see Na-eun, until one day he was served with a restraining order. He didn’t see Na-eun for a year and a half, until the day they ended up on the same bus. It was a coincidence, but Na-eun assumed the worst and when Seung-ho tried to speak to her, she shoved him off the bus, which is how he was injured.
Na-eun just happens to have hired Ji-wook as her attorney, and she’s convinced that running into Seung-ho on the bus was no accident. Ji-wook sees how frightened she is and how she’s terrified that Seung-ho may have found out where she lives.
When they appear before the judge, both Ji-wook and Bong-hee are taken aback to see the other as their opponent. When she sits, Ji-wook reflexively grabs the back of her chair to keep it from sliding out from under her, though he tries his best not to make eye contact.
Bong-hee asks for compensation for Seung-ho’s injuries, but Ji-wook argues that the injuries happened while he was violating the restraining order, so Na-eun isn’t responsible. Bong-hee rebuts that Seung-ho respected the restraining order and that the bus meeting was a coincidence.
Finally looking at her, Ji-wook says that even if it was an accident, Seung-ho still tried to talk to Na-eun. Bong-hee counters that regardless, Na-eun physically injured Seung-ho, but Ji-wook argues that it was self-defense.
Bong-hee says that Seung-ho never physically harmed Na-eun, but Ji-wook quickly clarifies that stalking is emotional abuse. Losing steam, Bong-hee weakly protests that Seung-ho only watched Na-eun from a distance, then she realizes that Ji-wook is looking at her in a way that feels very personal.
He says that unwanted attention is a form of abuse, because when someone he doesn’t like follows him, even from a distance, he still feels fear and anxiety. He tells the judge that Na-eun lost her friends, her home, and even the job she loved in order to avoid her stalker, and Bong-hee feels a crushing guilt for having done basically the same thing to Ji-wook.
Bong-hee starts to repeat her argument, but with Ji-wook looking at her that way, she can’t continue. She says that she knows that he’s saying that she’s been stalking him. Luckily she’s only imagining it, and she comes back to reality to say that Seung-ho would be willing to settle in exchange for an apology.
Ji-wook says that Na-eun refuses to face her stalker and apologize, for fear that the stalking will resume. But Bong-hee insists that that won’t happen, because Seung-ho is moving out of the country.
They leave the courtroom, where Ji-wook awkwardly promises to contact Bong-hee after speaking to his client. They end up in the same elevator, both of them looking like they’d rather be anywhere else right now. Trying to ease their discomfort, Bong-hee says that it’s been a while since they’ve seen each other.
But Ji-wook says it hasn’t been that long, because he saw her in the courtroom the other day. Bong-hee asks why he’s speaking to her in jondae when he used to speak casually.
Ji-wook says that he was her mentor then, and it would be weird to speak banmal when they haven’t spoken in two years. Bong-hee says that it feels distant, and Ji-wook counters that they’re meant to be distant. Ouch, but he’s right.
Na-eun agrees to settle, so Bong-hee explains that once this is over, Seung-ho can’t ever contact Na-eun again. She jokes lightly that he did stalk her, and Seung-ho’s face goes scarily blank for just a second before that placid smile slides back into place. Uh-oh.
Ji-wook arrives with Na-eun, and they all sit to sign the settlement papers. Na-eun gets a call, and again something unnerving crosses Seung-ho’s face as he watches her. This time, Bong-hee definitely sees it.
Ji-wook and Bong-hee send their clients off in taxis, and Ji-wook almost looks as if he wants to talk to Bong-hee, but he leaves without approaching her. As soon as they’re out of sight, Seung-ho orders his driver to follow Na-eun’s car.
Bong-hee can’t get Seung-ho’s smile out of her mind, wondering how he can look happy when he’s never going to see the girl he loves again. Suddenly, she realizes that Na-eun’s ringtone sounded familiar, and she tries to call Seung-ho, but he doesn’t answer.
She calls Ji-wook for Na-eun’s address, planning to check on her. Ji-wook seems to be about to say that he can’t let her go alone, but he stops himself and says instead that he doesn’t trust her, so they go together.
On the way, Bong-hee explains that she sensed something was wrong about Seung-ho’s expression. She tells him that Seung-ho has the same ringtone as Na-eun, which he wouldn’t know if he really hadn’t seen her in over a year.
As they fear, Seung-ho follows Na-eun to her apartment building, and when she senses him behind her, she breaks into a run. She loses him in her building stairwell, but he hears her footsteps and breaks into a creepy grin, then follows her to her floor.
Ji-wook drops Bong-hee off at Na-eun’s building, but he warns her not to get involved. She promises, happily pointing out that he just spoke in banmal before running off.
Na-eun makes it into her apartment safely, but when she reaches for her phone, she discovers that she dropped it outside her door. When she peeks out to grab it, she finds herself face-to-face with Seung-ho, smiling that blank, terrifying smile.
Seung-ho pushes his way into Na-eun’s apartment only to get a face-full of pepper spray. Na-eun locks herself in her bedroom, so Seung-ho pounds on the door, growing angrier and angrier. He picks up a baseball bat, but before he can do any damage, Bong-hee enters the apartment.
Seung-ho turns on Bong-hee, screaming at her to leave them alone as he swings the bat wildly. She looks like she’s preparing to go at him armed only with a high heel, but Ji-wook rushes in and pushes Bong-hee aside.
Seung-ho takes a violent swing at him, and in a split second Ji-wook ducks under the bat, grabs Seung-ho, and neatly flips him to the ground. Bong-hee stares at Ji-wook, her savior yet again, as he says blandly that an attorney shouldn’t beat up her own client. HA.
Seung-ho is arrested, and Ji-wook finds Bong-hee sitting barefoot in the building courtyard. He returns her shoes as she says that it never occurred to her that Seung-ho was anything but normal.
Seeming more comfortable than he has in a while, Ji-wook sits with Bong-hee and says that because of her, they were able to stop something bad from happening. Bong-hee happily crows that Ji-wook is still speaking banmal, which he denies, heh.
At the station later, Bong-hee thinks that loving someone who doesn’t love you back is like torture. But now she also knows that being loved by someone you don’t care for can be worse. She wonders where love ends and obsession begins, and whether she’s crossed that line.
Ji-wook gives Bong-hee a ride to her office, and on the way, she decides to give herself a restraining order. She tells Ji-wook not to worry, that she’ll stay away from him unless it’s unavoidable because of work, and she promises that she doesn’t like him even though it may have looked that way.
She says all this at top speed then runs off, missing Ji-wook’s confused expression and his attempt to talk to her. She makes it out of sight just as she starts to tear up, then she lies down on her office couch for a good cry.
She goes to her desk for some tissue and notices a box sitting there. Inside is the pair of shoes she was admiring, with a note pasted into the inside of the box top: If you keep looking for me, I’ll find you first. Bong-hee realizes that Hee-joon’s killer must have seen her sign inviting him to find her, and that he’s been watching her.
I’m happy to see Suspicious Partner finally living up to its rom-com promises, and although the humor was a bit slapstick for my tastes at some points, for the most part I was laughing like a loon. I credit fully half of that to Ji Chang-wook’s facial expressions, because we knew the boy could smolder, and we knew he could pull off tragically heroic, but who knew that he also has the cutest pouty-face on the planet? And the humorous and serious scenes feel complementary rather than clashing with each other, which is always a good sign. I love it when a single scene can move from scary, to funny, to thoughtful, then back to funny, and it all feels natural and seamless. It takes a careful balance of writing and performance to pull that off, and so far the show is managing it very well.
I almost hope that Ji-wook never forgives Eun-hyuk for whatever he did to make him hate him so badly, because their unbalanced relationship is so funny and adorable, I don’t want it to change any time soon. Eun-hyuk is so undaunted by Ji-wook’s hostility and is just bubbling over with love for Ji-wook without any sense of shame. Ji-wook doesn’t even seem to have much energy for hating Eun-hyuk these days and seems to be mostly rejecting Eun-hyuk out of habit, but it’s interesting that he still goes to Eun-hyuk for help and advice. I have a feeling they used to be extremely close, which is probably why Eun-hyuk’s mysterious betrayal hurt Ji-wook so badly. You don’t carry a grudge that big, and for that long, unless you really, really loved that person before they hurt you.
I very much enjoyed the way the stalking case gave Bong-hee a wake-up call on her own behavior. What she did by seeking out Ji-wook whenever she felt like seeing him was pretty much the same thing her client did to the object of his affections. Maybe her intentions were harmless, but she never understood that her intentions didn’t matter. It’s not whether a stalker has done something to harm his/her target that is the problem, but the fact that they don’t respect the other person’s wishes to be left alone. Bong-hee was able to justify her actions by telling herself that she wasn’t violating Ji-wook’s request to be left alone because she never actually spoke to him, but the reality is that she disregarded his wishes, placing her own wants above his. I’m glad that she finally realized that she was being selfish and disrespectful of Ji-wook’s request.
I’m happy that Ji-wook finally got a chance to tell Bong-hee (indirectly) that her following him was stalking, and that she heard him and took it to heart. But I also hope that they find a way to talk it out soon, because I do think that Ji-wook knows that it was never Bong-hee’s intent to hurt him or to make him feel uncomfortable. I believe that he has feelings for Bong-hee, but that his irrational blaming of her for ruining his life is warring with those feelings and causing him a lot of conflicted emotions. The way he looks at Bong-hee just kills me, since it’s equal parts wariness and longing, and it’s obvious that he cares for her a lot more than he wants to admit.
I’m willing to bet that Ji-wook knows perfectly well that it’s not Bong-hee’s fault that he lost his job, but that he’s not ready yet to own the fact that he helped cause his own downfall. His insistence that the ends justified the means, and his belief that it’s okay to overlook pesky little things like evidence so long as the criminal goes to jail, are a big reason why he ended up where he is now. I think that’s why he looks at Bong-hee so sadly, because he does know that he’s blaming Bong-hee unfairly but he doesn’t know what else to do. Pretty soon, Ji-wook’s feelings for Bong-hee are going to become too loud to ignore, and then he’s going to have some serious apologizing to do. Maybe they can both apologize for the wrongs they’ve done to one another, then kiss and make up. Soon, I hope.
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