Whisper: Episode 14
With the head of Taebaek under official investigation for murder, there’s a desperate race to see who will fill his shoes and lead the company. Everyone has their own motives to gain control of Taebaek, but only those who are the most persuasive — or those best at blackmail — will settle into the lofty granite office. There’s also finally a hint of romance between our heroic leads, proving that the greatest aphrodisiac is dismantling the foundations of powerful corruption.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Young-joo arrests Lawyer Choi, although technically he’s just being detained under suspicion. Soo-yeon rushes to Jung-il, insisting he get down to the station to testify before a warrant is officially issued. She’s convinced she can find a way to discredit Doctor Dad and Driver Park’s statements, but Jung-il reveals that Dong-joon has already met with the chief prosecutor who was with Jung-il the night his father was killed. No one would now believe any alibi he would create on Lawyer Choi’s behalf.
After Lawyer Choi is sent to a holding cell, Young-joo and Dong-joon plan their next move — a way to link Jung-il and Soo-yeon to the case. Secretary Song knows exactly how Soo-yeon is involved, and offers up his knowledge in return for a light sentence for his embezzlement.
Turns out Soo-yeon recently cashed out two funds to repay the money that Secretary Song stole, and as Young-joo orders her team to look into it, Dong-joon sends them a fancy box of fresh sushi for lunch. She warns him that it could be considered bribery, but he says that the bribery act doesn’t pertain to a person’s loved one. Ooooh, smooth.
When Dong-joon returns home, he finds Soo-yeon in full PR damage control. He tells her that she should get some rest — he’ll take care of the family and company. But she warns him that her father will be released and return to work tomorrow. She blames him for her father’s arrest, but he reminds her that Young-joo has also lost a father. It’s about time Soo-yeon felt what it’s like to lose someone, too.
In the morning, Soo-yeon returns to the police station, ignoring the crowd of reporters shouting questions at her. She’s been able to convince the news stations to reveal the video of Secretary Song moving the body and being arrested to embezzlement, with the intention of making it look like he was the one who killed Chairman Kang.
But Young-joo is already prepared for her, thanks to Secretary Song’s intel. Not only is she able to prove that Soo-yeon cashed out a couple of accounts to repay the money Secretary Song stole, but she also has written statements from the Taebaek employees that were ordered by Soo-yeon to track down any cars with blackboxes from that night.
Attorney Jo runs to Jung-il’s office to update him that Soo-yeon is now considered a suspect, but Jung-il is momentarily confused because he knows she’s not the real target. Dong-joon made it clear that he’s out to get Lawyer Choi and Jung-il.
Dong-joon also knows that Jung-il is still determined to be in charge of Taebaek, and idly wonders if that was the only reason Jung-il got together with Soo-yeon in the first place. Maybe that’s also why he’s so angry that his father was killed, since he lost another way for him to get control of the law firm.
In the interrogation room, Young-joo muses that Soo-yeon is in a difficult spot. If Secretary Song is arrested for murder, Soo-yeon will be considered his accomplice. She also can’t let her father be accused of murder, either.
But Soo-yeon has the video of Jung-il’s confession that he killed Sung-shik — it could make a useful bargaining tool. Young-joo knows she must have something on him, since she was able to convince Jung-il to make up an alibi for her father — the same person who killed his father.
Attorney Jo is ready to pack up and flee the country, but Jung-il decides to stop by the station and meet with Lawyer Choi instead. Lawyer Choi is confident he’ll be released soon since there’s no evidence, adding that he’ll make sure Secretary Song is tried for the crime of killing Jung-il’s father.
But Jung-il points out that Soo-yeon will be considered an accomplice, if that’s the case. Lawyer Choi insists that his daughter was just following his orders, which is odd, if Secretary Song really was the one who killed Chairman Kang. Jung-il dangles the carrot of Taebaek in front of his nose, revealing that the law firm will soon fall apart due to the investigative audit that he’d ordered.
However, he’s willing to stop the audit. Lawyer Choi isn’t exactly eager to trust Jung-il, but the younger man reminds him of the video Soo-yeon took, the one where he confessed to killing Sung-shik. As long as she has that video, he’s essentially her slave — just like Lawyer Choi was his father’s slave for all those years. If Lawyer Choi wants to save Taebaek, then he has to save Soo-yeon.
It’s all a plan to keep the video out of Young-joo’s hands, since Jung-il knows Soo-yeon would be using it as a bargaining chip. But it works, since Lawyer Choi confesses to killing Chairman Kang, truthfully revealing that he killed the other man with the vase in the heat of the moment.
Young-joo is frustrated, pointing out that Soo-yeon is still complicit because she helped destroy evidence. But Lawyer Choi’s made an agreement with the police chief that, in compensation for his confession, Soo-yeon won’t be dragged into it. Young-joo’s team is thrilled that they’ve caught a big fish, but she watches the news reports with a sour face.
Dong-joon asks her to meet him at the nursing home, and she finds him sitting on an empty bed, staring at the bed her father used. He reveals that he met with her father a few times, and Chang-ho told him a lot about her. For example, he found out that to help her father start up his podcast, she’d secretly pawned a beloved necklace to get money. Her father had promised to get the necklace back, but died before he could.
Instead, in his place, Dong-joon repays her debt, and pulls out a jewelry box. Young-joo tells him that Soo-yeon slipped through their fingers, but Dong-joon reminds her of the most important thing — they were able to to lawfully imprison one of the most influential men in the country, someone who was able to change the law at his whim.
Her father would be proud of her, and that’s perhaps an even greater gift than a necklace, but she still tears up as she imagines it’s her father putting the necklace on her instead of Dong-joon. He tells her that they’ll take the next step together, too, and she gently pulls him into a hug.
Soo-yeon visits her father in jail, shocked to see him in his prison garb. He’s amused that his prisoner number is “307,” the same number as the office where Taebaek was first born. He’s back to the beginning again. She worriedly tells him that a third of the lawyers and half of Taebaek’s advisory board have quit — people are just waiting for the law firm to fall. There’s no one to help them out of this mess.
But Lawyer Choi can think of one person that Soo-yeon can control as she wishes. He tells her to make Jung-il the new president. Not only that, to marry him and have a child, so that his grandchild will eventually take over the company. If Taebaek falls, then there’s nothing left for him to live for. Well, clearly Taebaek ranks higher than his daughter.
She and Jung-il meet on the rooftop. She wonders if his proposal to be the new head of Taebaek is a way to make her heart flutter again. Leaning in for the most stilted and emotionless kiss ever, she confirms that she no longer feels anything for him. Well, not when you kiss him like that.
But he just laughs. Once he’s in charge of Taebaek, he’ll stabilize it and then hand it back over. All he wants is the video of his confession in repayment. She warns him that she’s already put safeguards on the video. It’s being kept in a place far away, and if she doesn’t check on it once a week, then it’ll be released.
Of course, Jung-il has no plans to save Taebaek, since he plans to reveal every corrupt thing the company has done. He knows that’s the only way to hurt Lawyer Choi. And once he gets his hands on that video to erase it, he’ll also find a way to erase Soo-yeon, too.
At their favorite Subway, Dong-joon and Young-joo figure out a new plan. More important, though, is how they cutely and self-consciously start to address each other in a more familiar terms. He buys her team sandwiches for their stakeout, and one of the detectives wonders if she’s dating Dong-joon. She just tells him to be quiet. Ha!
When they see the gangsters that used to be Sang-gu’s men, they chase the down through the alleys until all of them are apprehended. Yay, I’ve missed literal kick-ass Young-joo, who easily disarms one of them and pins him to the ground, arresting him. She demands to know what happened to Sang-gu.
In the morning, Soo-yeon tells the advisory committee that they need to stabilize after the scandal and loss of half their employees. Even though he wasn’t invited, Dong-joon shows up anyway, cheerfully informing everyone that he’s there as Lawyer Choi’s family representative, since he’s the only family member who’s able to practice law. Oh, burn.
She recommends that the committee appoint a new director, and suggests Jung-il for the role. After all, her father and his father were friends despite a “small disagreement,” and as the victim of an unfortunate incident, Jung-il should be able to lead Taebaek to a new future.
Dong-joon interrupts, pointing out that Jung-il isn’t the victim of an “unfortunate incident,” but rather the perpetrator. He shows the committee a video where one of Sang-gu’s men confess that Jung-il was responsible for sending Sang-gu to the Philippines. Dong-joon reveals that Jung-il will soon be summoned on charges of contracted assault.
Angry, Jung-il says that it’s defamation and there’s no proof, but Dong-joon reminds him that Taebaek is already on shaky ground. What will happen when the newly appointed head of the firm is taken into custody for questioning and this video is leaked to the public? Would the firm be able to survive more misfortune?
Dong-joon offers to take charge of the company instead. Soo-yeon protests, reminding him that her father specifically requested Jung-il. Dong-joon points out they’re in this mess in the first place thanks to following Lawyer Choi’s orders. A committee member protests that it will look suspicious if he, the son-in-law, takes over.
In response, Dong-joon pulls out the divorce papers that Soo-yeon gave him a few days ago, only this time his side is signed, too. As soon as he is given control of Taebaek, he will divorce her.
He paints himself as the son-in-law who discovered his father-in-law’s corruption only after marriage, and would rather choose to reveal the truth than protect the family. After he stabilizes Taebaek, he promises to leave the firm.
In a press conference, he reveals that he’ll be the interim head of Taebaek. Young-joo watches as he apologizes for the shameful actions that have led to this situation and promises to create a new beginning for the law firm.
He attends his first meeting as the new CEO, and even though everyone leaps to attention when he walks in, Jung-il defiantly stays seated until he can no longer ignore the protocol, and grudgingly stands to show his respect, too. Soo-yeon refuses to stand or even look at Dong-joon.
The first task is to remove all Taebaek lawyers from working on Lawyer Choi’s case, despite Soo-yeon’s protests. The next task is to appoint a new chief secretary, and to make sure no one gossips that he only hires his own people, he appoints Attorney Jo as his chief secretary.
Poor Attorney Jo has no choice, and as Dong-joon settles into his new office — that used to be Lawyer Choi’s office — he hesitantly tells Dong-joon that he’s been friends with Jung-il since high school so it feels like he’s betraying him. Dong-joon interrupts, reminding him that he’s not asking Attorney Jo to betray an old friend, but simply to live an honest life. Which is the same thing, where Jung-il is considered.
The first task he gives Attorney Jo is to move the vase that Jung-il had so arrogantly placed in Lawyer Choi’s office, and to give it back to Jung-il. Attorney Jo watches as Jung-il hysterically laughs at the vase that now sits on his desk, but based on the veins popping from his forehead, there will be hell to pay for this obvious snub.
Secretary Song clues Young-joo in on more of the secret Taebaek ways. The advisory committee is paid from the slush fund so that they wouldn’t be taxed, and only Lawyer Choi knows where that money comes from. She investigates the advisory committee’s accounts, but the money has passed through so many banks and fake accounts that it will be difficult to figure out the original source.
When Dong-joon returns home that night, Soo-yeon muses that if he had only kept his mouth shut and turned a blind eye, everything Lawyer Choi owned would have become his. Why would he choose to instead jump into this reckless fight? He simply tells her someone must continue walking down the path that Chang-ho and Sung-shik once walked.
She informs him that she’s filed their divorce paperwork and sent his belongings to the nursing home. There’s nothing left for him here. Ah, but there is something — Jung-il’s video confession. He warns her that they’re investigating the slush fund, and soon the entire advisory committee will be charged with tax fraud and Taebaek will be destroyed.
He’d like to at least leave Taebaek to her as “alimony.” If she wants him to halt the investigation, then she should hand over Jung-il. With that, he leaves the Choi mansion for good. I hope.
Young-joo, after carefully applying some makeup, meets him at the nursing to continue their investigation, but she’s adorably nervous as she asks him how it feels to be divorced. With a smile, he asks how it feels to date a divorced man. Well, at least there’s no confusion about his intentions.
She pulls out a box — she’s not comfortable receiving gifts without giving in return. In compensation for the necklace, she gives him a tiepin to make up for the one he returned to his father. She warns him that it was a lot of money for a detective’s salary and therefore he will need to wear it every day for ten years.
As he holds her hands in his, he tells her that she’ll be the one to check it everyday for him. So… the romance, it’s official now?
Jung-il finds Soo-yeon waiting for him on Taebaek’s rooftop. He looks a little ragged around the edges, and asks if Dong-joon requested she hand over the video. If she does, Taebaek will survive but Jung-il will be destroyed. He promises that he’ll stop the investigation and oust Dong-joon, but Soo-yeon cooly tells him that she has to think things over.
It’s a legal battle as the detectives find ways to get access to the accounts, but are continually blocked by Taebaek using the law in their favor to prevent the invasion of privacy. Or rather, it’s the work of Jung-il and Soo-yeon’s assistant, who use their brains to legally block all of Young-joo’s attempts to access the accounts.
As Dong-joon leaves the firm, Jung-il blocks his car, a move reminiscent of when they first played chicken in the parking garage. Over the phone, he warns Dong-joon that the advisory committee gets paid from the slush fund, and tomorrow is their pay day. Dong-joon will have to sign off on the payment, making him an accomplice to the illegality of the slush fund.
If he doesn’t, then the advisors will remove him as the head of Taebaek. No matter what, he’s in trouble. But as Jung-il parks his car to allow Dong-joon to drive away, he promises that he’ll take good care of Taebaek. He then gestures that Dong-joon can leave, and I don’t think he just means the parking garage.
In the morning, Attorney Jo hands Dong-joon the document to approve the payment for the advisory committee. Jung-il, on the rooftop with Soo-yeon, is delighted because no matter what happens, it will go his way. Either Dong-joon will be removed from Taebaek for not paying the advisory committee, or he’ll go to jail for tax fraud.
Young-joo calls Dong-joon just then, sadly informing him that she hans’t been able to make any advances in her investigation. She’s worried that Jung-il will finally get away for good, but Dong-joon reminds her that he promised to clear Chang-ho’s name. They’re in this together. However, for now, he needs to take the next step on his own. With a determined look on his face, he signs the payment authorization.
While I assume this whole “slush fund” will be key to further dismantling Taebaek, I think I’m finally reaching a point where I’m exhausted by each new life-or-death discovery of how corrupt everyone is and how Dong-joon must make yet another difficult decision. This could also just be general drama weariness, since we’re only a few episodes away from the end and we have been running at 200mph each week just to see how everyone will find new ways to blackmail each other. Part of me wants to be shocked he signed the document, but I’ve been through so much already that I assume Young-joo will find a way out of it in the next episode.
Or perhaps he’s just falling on his sword and giving Young-joo a chance to take down the entire company even if he takes part of that blame. What’s ten years in prison for tax fraud when it means you’re able to clear the name of the man you wrongly accused of murder? For someone who longs to restore his sense of honor and justice, perhaps this is a punishment worth risking. If he pays the advisors, he remains in charge of Taebaek instead of Jung-il, who will presumably still continue the audit to reveal the corruption of the company. Because if Jung-il can’t have Taebaek, no one else will.
I do love Jung-il’s slow evolution to crazy evil villain, though. His desperation makes him somehow more appealing, or maybe I just like Kwon Yul laughing his maniacal head off and taunting Soo-yeon. Seeing him forget his restraint and go all out in his efforts to protect himself while destroying his enemies is more fun than watching Lee Sang-yoon’s constantly furrowed brows.
This will likely put me in the minority, but while I love their working partnership, I’m not sure I’m convinced about the romance between Young-joo and Dong-joon. At least, not this soon (of course, only in this kind of drama would episode 14 be considered “too soon”). I’ve been enjoying watching them learn to trust each other, but why must that trust automatically become romantic? Can’t they first get through the fire, and then once the dust has settled, realize that perhaps this bizarre friendship they’ve forged through their various trials could become something more? Relationships are just so fraught on this show that I think I would breathe easier if it was given the chance to grow after they’ve finally put their demons to rest.
Or maybe I just don’t understand the attraction. I can see why he’d be enamored by her because Young-joo is amazing — intelligent, badass, gorgeous, incredibly driven. But he’s just a pretty face who sometimes has useful connections. I get that he’s supposed to represent the ideals her father had, and I know she initially misjudged him, but I can’t forget the absolute rage and loathing she felt for him not that long ago. I think. I’ve kind of lost track of time on this show, but I don’t believe it’s been more than a couple of months since the first betrayal in the courtroom.
Even so, they’re super cute in their interactions as they try to make the world a better place, and if anyone needs a hug, it’s definitely the two of them. If that’s what gets them through until the end, then give ’em all the hugs, hand holds, and dorky smiles in the world, please.
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