The Fiery Priest: Episodes 5-6
Things are bound to get worse before they get better, but I’m getting worried about our angry priest, who desperately wants to clear his friend’s name but hits a wall everywhere he turns. He’s up against some very powerful people, and the ones who might be able to help him are too afraid to risk their own necks. He may be in this alone, and he may not succeed, but he’s determined to fight until something changes.
As if it’s not bad enough that nobody believes Father Lee was murdered, the news also reports that he committed suicide because he was being investigated for embezzlement of church funds and molesting a female parishioner. Hae-il enters the police station grinning ear-to-ear, and when Dae-young asks why he’s smiling, Hae-il punches him hard enough that he sees ballerinas dancing Swan Lake, then passes out.
Shocked, Chief Nam asks how a priest could do such a thing, but Hae-il turns around and asks how the police could accuse an innocent man of embezzlement and molestation. Chief Nam insists that those are the valid results of the investigation, but Hae-il argues that Father Lee was given the honored title of “monsignor” by the Pope himself, which is only given to the very best priests.
He demands to know what Chief Nam gains from dishonoring a weak, elderly priest. Spluttering indignantly, Chief Nam orders Hae-il arrested for assaulting an officer and slandering the police. Hae-il yelps that they have no honor to slander, and it takes the entire force to keep the two from getting into a fistfight.
Kyung-seon learns about the kerfuffle at the station, since the police apply for a warrant against Hae-il. Meanwhile, Chul-beom begins making decisions for the orphanage, claiming that he and Father Lee agreed that he would take over after Father Lee passed away. LOL, even the kids don’t trust him.
Dae-young’s nose swells up to twice its size, and he insists to Seung-ah that he could have avoided Hae-il’s punch if he’d thought a priest might hit him. Seung-ah is suspicious of the results of the supposed investigation on Father Lee and decides to quit her job if the results were faked, but Dae-young swears they’d been investigating Father Lee for months.
Kyung-seon is greeted at the station by Detective Lee and his team, and she snaps at him to handle his nose hair when she catches him picking his nose, HA. She visits Hae-il in the holding cell, relishing the opportunity to put a priest behind bars, but he refuses to be intimidated.
She takes him outside and shows him the arrest warrant request, then tears it up and lets him go. He asks if she’s doing this in exchange for his silence, but Kyung-seon says that he can do whatever he wants because nothing will change.
Since nothing will change, Hae-il asks her, why Father Lee? She says breezily that he committed crimes, and Hae-il growls that she’s too nonchalant after Father Lee listened to her confessions, forgave her, and treated her with love. She says that she’s a prosecutor who is strict when it comes to criminals. Hae-il vows to find a way to make the autopsy happen and prove everything.
Kyung-seon goes back inside to talk to Dae-young and Detective Lee, who says that the huge investigation record on Father Lee is all legitimate. She asks if she can trust them and wrap up the case, but Dae-young looks nervous and hesitates. Kyung-seon yells that it won’t be pretty if she gets in trouble because Dae-young feels intimidated.
Hae-il and Sung-kyu aren’t allowed to take possession of Father Lee’s body by orders of the prosecution. They’re told that there’s worry that the body will be tampered with, and that they can pick it up on the morning of the funeral with a police escort, after notifying them where he’ll be buried.
Hae-il declares that he’s taking the body now, and Dae-young, who’s guarding the morgue with Seung-ah, calls for backup as soon as he spots Hae-il coming their way. He pulls his taser when Hae-il roars at him to move, and Hae-il has to remind him to turn the power on, ha.
Backup arrives, but five guards are no match for Hae-il’s fighting prowess. Dae-young sees him flexing his fist and warns the guards to watch out for their noses, and when Hae-il advances on them, Dae-young shoots him with the taser. Sung-kyu grabs Hae-il and they both go down twitching.
Sung-kyu and Hae-il wake up with a start in the hospital. They collect their wits and head to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, but they’re told that nobody can help them until the archbishop makes an official statement.
The priest they speak to tells Hae-il that if he goes around saying that Father Lee is innocent without evidence, he’ll be criticized by the public and the media. He says that for now, they’re trusting the police’s statement, which infuriates Hae-il all over again on Father Lee’s behalf.
Back at the church, reporters are waiting to pounce on them. They ask questions as if Father Lee’s supposed crimes are fact, and when the priests refuse to answer, they’re accused of hiding the truth. Hae-il ends up on the news after losing his temper and grabbing the camera, and it amuses Kyung-seon to see Hae-il making just as bad a face on TV as he teased her for.
Sung-kyu and Sister Kim are angry when they see the news, and they’ve also heard about Chul-beom trying to take over the orphanage, which makes Hae-il curse. The nun in charge of the orphanage says that Chul-beom promised to do anything the kids want, but Hae-il curses again that now he’s lying to kids. Sister Kim asks him to watch his language, and he yells and shocks her.
They had originally told Hae-il that Chul-beom’s men caused a scene at the church because they considered Father Lee a pushover, but the truth is that Father Lee made them promise not to tell Hae-il that Chul-beom was trying to gain trustee’s rights for the orphanage (which would allow him to sell or control it as he pleased). Even though he promised not to get angry, Hae-il flies into a rage, making Sister Kim cry, and storms out.
At dinner, Prosecutor Kang asks Kyung-seon why she let Hae-il go free. She explains that she wanted to show lenience so the prosecutor’s office wouldn’t be seen as too hard on the religious community. She asks who mapped out the false evidence against Father Lee and learns it was someone at the Gudam office, and Prosecutor Kang tells her to do well because the chief prosecutor has taken a liking to her.
Chul-beom is called to another meeting of his conspirator superiors, and this time they make him stand in a sauna in his suit while they lounge around in towels. Although his plan (killing Father Lee) created more problems than it solved, they like the results, and Chief Nam is excited to take over the orphanage right away.
Dong-ja is waiting in the car when Chul-beom gets outside, and she apologizes for not being able to cover for him. He complains at how they condescended to him and says that he wants to kill them all. Dong-ja says he can do whatever he wants when the time comes, but they have to listen to them for now.
Hae-il calls an old acquaintance who is an NIS examiner, and meets up with him. They haven’t seen each other in so long that Hae-il’s friend thinks he’s wearing a priest disguise, ha, but Hae-il sighs that he’s Father Michael now. Hae-ils friend can’t believe that Agent Kim, who killed eleven terrorists with a single sword, is a man of the cloth.
At the morgue, a doctor in a mask wheels a body under a bloody sheet past Dae-young and Seung-ah, saying that the deceased fell from a bike and his face got run over. Damn. As soon as they reach the bodies in storage, Hae-il jumps out from under the sheet and his friend does a quick examination of Father Lee’s body.
He confirms that Father Lee’s head wound and broken bones are consistent with a fall from a cliff. But he pinpoints the cause of death as a set of small wounds on the back of his neck that are caused by embedding of small chips of glass.
He also checks the bruises on the insides of Father Lee’s arms and agrees that they were probably caused by something grabbing him before death. He says that if things were being done right, there would already have been a warrant for an autopsy just based on this evidence, so he believes something shady is going on.
The “doctor” wheels his “patient” out just as Dae-young and Seung-ah are beginning to get suspicious. He says he’s taking a different corpse with him that’s being moved to another city, and when Dae-young notices that the corpse is wearing shoes, he develops a sudden craving for snacks and follows the gurney.
He sees Hae-il getting up from the gurney when they think nobody is looking and pulls out his phone to report this. A voice croons, “You’re not going to use your taser, are you?” and Dae-young screams when he sees Hae-il grinning at him from inches away.
Hae-il admits that his NIS friend did a cursory exam on Father Lee’s body and doesn’t try to stop Dae-young from reporting him, though he does croon that as a priest, he knows how to take Dae-young to Hell with him. While Dae-young types on his phone, Hae-il whispers that in Hell, you look and live exactly as you did in life, for… e… ver….
Dae-young ends up drinking alone at the convenience store, telling himself over and over that Hae-il must be lying about Hell. He asks Yo-han, who works there and goes to Father Lee’s church, and Yo-han describes exactly what Hae-il said — that you live your current life infinitely. Dae-young screams at him to get lost, bursts into tears, then falls asleep on the table, ha.
Hae-il dreams again about the day he threw a grenade into a room full of children. He’d left the NIS soon after, and all records of him working there were erased.
He can’t sleep, so he goes to the chapel, and he finds the Thai man there praying. He says he misses Father Lee, who helped him and found him a job when he first came to town. He tells Hae-il that his mother and eight siblings are in Thailand, so he came to Korea to make money.
Hae-il asks his name, and struggles to pronounce Somssatekalaktanaprasser, lol. He tells the man to let him know if the thugs bully him again, and before he leaves, the man asks him tearfully to punish the person who lied and harmed Father Lee.
Kyung-seon is woken by a call from Hae-il asking her to come downstairs, and she’s annoyed by how handsome he looks under the streetlight. He tells her that she has one last chance before sunrise to redeem herself, and she complains that he’s very creative about bothering her.
He quotes Psalm 85:11, “Love and truth will meet. Justice and peace will kiss.” He asks Kyung-seon, for love, justice, and peace, to re-investigate the case, but Kyung-seon snaps at him to stop being so dramatic, hee.
Seung-ah improvises a little rap when she’s the first at the station in the morning. So cute. She gets a text from Hae-il asking for her help, since she spoke up for him once before. Hae-il is busy chasing a mosquito around his room, but when he gets a text from Seung-ah with the information he needs, he rushes out muttering, “I got you!”
He meets with a manager from the church office and asks him if Father Lee really embezzled from the offertory. The manager says it’s true, but he can’t bring himself to look Hae-il in the eyes as he says it, and Hae-il can’t understand why Father Lee would embezzle when the only thing he owned was a pair of shoes.
He asks the manager to explain exactly how Father Lee embezzled and what he used the money on, and the man stammers that Father Lee asked him to put aside some of the offertory money every Sunday. Hae-il snickers at the man’s obvious nervousness and tells him to lie properly if he’s going to lie.
He asks who forced the manager to make such a ridiculous testimony, and he slams him against a building when the man claims he’s telling the truth. He continues to insist that he didn’t lie or get paid, so Hae-il reluctantly lets him go.
Next Hae-il meets with the woman who claimed Father Lee molested her, claiming that he’s from the Archdiocese Investigation Department. He asks her to explain in detail what happened, so she says that Father Lee groped her while they were praying together, and that she stopped him and ran away.
He asks about the large window in the prayer room, and the woman says that Father Lee closed the curtains — but there are no windows in the prayer room, proving to Hae-il that she’s lying. He asks her if it was difficult to stop Father Lee since he weighed 90 kilos (nearly 200 pounds), and the woman doesn’t say anything about his gross overestimation of tiny Father Lee’s size. Obviously, she never met the man.
It gets back to Chul-beom that Hae-il questioned the people he paid to lie about Father Lee. Chul-beom’s lackey says that if they don’t do anything, Hae-il will keep questioning them, so Chul-beom asks the bartender, Kozayev, for a favor. Kozayev just flips a knife point-first into the bar and nods.
Hae-il thought to record his conversation with the alleged molestation victim, and he plays the recordings for Kyung-seon. He explains how he knows they’re lying, but Kyung-seon just says that people make mistakes when under stress. She tells him that his recordings mean nothing, because for all she knows he blackmailed them into lying.
He reminds her that he’s a priest, but she points out that he’s a priest who assaulted a detective and tried to steal a body. She’s got a point. They devolve into pointless bickering until someone comes in to turn on the TV, and they see the priest from the Archdiocese making an official apology for Father Lee’s criminal actions.
Hae-il returns to the church, where Sister Kim and Sung-kyu are devastated and angry. Hae-il is just in shock, and he says that they should lay Father Lee to rest before they do anything else. The problem is that they’re forbidden to give Father Lee a proper Catholic burial due to the suicide accusation. But many people show up for Father Lee’s funeral, while Dong-ja awards Chul-beom a citizenship award for his contributions to the development of Gudam.
Hae-il remembers the times after accidentally killing those children, when he’d let himself get beat up as a form of self-punishment. Once he was beaten so badly that he collapsed in an alley while it was snowing, and he might have died if Father Lee hadn’t rescued him, and inspired him to become a priest himself.
Now Hae-il promises Father Lee’s memory that he’ll restore his good name and let him rest in peace in his rightful place.
Dae-young and Seung-ah watch the funeral from a distance, having been instructed to keep an eye on Hae-il. After the funeral, they head to Chul-beom’s ceremony to congratulate him.
Hae-il hears about Chul-beom’s award on the radio on the ride back to the church. He asks Sung-kyu to pull over and gets out, saying vaguely that he has something to take care of. He walks to the hotel where the ceremony is taking place, and when Jang-ryong and his guys try to block Hae-il from going inside, he tells them calmly that they’ll go to Hell if they hit a priest.
Jang-ryong says he’s fine with that, and even removes his shoes and socks to show off some capoeira moves. As he’s flipping around, Hae-il gives him a simple roundhouse kick to the face, knocking him to the floor. He glares at the other thugs as if to ask, “Who’s next?”
I can’t imagine how angry, frustrated, and powerless Hae-il must be feeling right now. The one person in the world that he knows ins his soul was a decent man was murdered, and is now being slandered when he can’t even defend himself. If he wasn’t already a ball of rage, I wouldn’t blame Hae-il for being one now, and while I don’t condone handling problems with your fist, I understand how it sometimes feels like all you want to do is smash something when there’s nothing else you can do.
I see now why Honey Lee was cast in this role — Kyung-seon is horrible. She’s corrupt, self-serving, and she abuses her power in order to get ahead, and she tells herself that she’s doing the right thing. In the hands of someone less charming than Honey Lee, I would absolutely hate Kyung-seon, but this way, although I find her frustrating and unlikable, I can also see how I could get to like her if she gets a redemption path. And if she doesn’t, it’s still possible to enjoy a character like Kyung-seon when played by a charismatic actor, because she’s not just one-note bad and has her good points. It’s something I appreciate about all the characters in this drama, as I’ve mentioned before — they’re all layered, and the more we get to know them, the more we see that the “good guys” have some pretty serious flaws, and the “bad guys” can even have their positive points.
My only complaint, and it may be temporary since we’re still setting up the basic elements, is that some key figures and events aren’t explained very well. I had to ask someone who the fourth person in the group controlling Chul-beom is (thanks @stroopwafel!), because he’s never been named or referred to by his title, he’s just there making threats alongside Prosecutor Kang, Chief Nam, and Dong-ja (BTW he’s Representative Park, the Korean Parliament representative for Gudam). I also have no clue why the bad guys all want to take over the orphanage except that maybe they want the land in order to build something else, and after three hours, it would be nice if the show would tell us. I don’t want to be spoon-fed, but a little information would be nice.
But aside from being a little confused (or maybe in spite of it), I love the story that The Fiery Priest is telling, because it’s got everything — murder, conspiracy, corrupt government officials, and a hero with a dark past. I really like the way it balances the dramatic subject matter with a little over-the-top silliness, yet the humor doesn’t feel jarring or out of place. The characters are complex and interesting, even the ones I’m not supposed to like. Hae-il in particular is fascinating, and I feel about him much like Kyung-seon does… he’s annoying and pushy and frustrating, but DAMN he’s so handsome, you just can’t stay mad at him.
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