Confession: Episode 1
There’s an air of mystery permeating the show, and it’s fueled by enigmatic characters all hiding their intentions. While events may seem straightforward at first, the show adds small twists which forces the viewers to reevaluate a character’s motivation and behavior. At the center of this tale is a smart attorney who overcomes barriers and fights for his clients… but is that truly who he is?
Note: This is just a first episode recap.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
An inmate receives a visitor request but refuses to go, asking the guard to pass along a message: “Don’t come back.” The rejected visitor is his son CHOI DO-HYUN (Junho).
As heavy snow falls down on a construction site, a construction worker suddenly shouts in fright at the sight of a dead woman inside a sack. The police arrive at the crime scene and find the victim’s clothes burned in a barrel along with a broken bottle. The only thing left unscathed is a purse found away from the rest of the items.
The chief of the violent crimes unit in charge of the case is Detective KI CHOON-HO (Yoo Jae-myung), and he sits lost in thought as the rest of his team grumble at the news report criticizing the police’s lack of progress on the murder case. Despite fifteen days passing, the detectives still have no leads and impatiently wait for the forensic report.
As Choon-ho decides to ask about the results in person, their division receives a call, and all the detectives anxiously hover by the phone. However, the caller is a young man who taunts them for their sluggish pace and inability to catch him. It’s already the fourth call they received from the presumed murderer, and their patience wears thin.
Luckily for the team, the next caller is from the forensic department bearing good news. The fingerprints found on the bag belong to a man named Han Jong-gu, and from the suspect’s age and birth year, it seems the current timeline is around 2014.
The detectives swarm Jong-gu’s home, but he’s outside and notices the officers first. This gives him a head start, but the detectives quickly chase after him. As the chase leads them down a narrow alley, Choon-ho comes flying out from a side path and tackles Jong-gu to the ground, successfully apprehending him.
As the new attorney at the law firm on his probationary period, Do-hyun sits at the end of a table and quickly bolts up when the head of the law firm asks him about his new case. He’s just been appointed as the public defender for the recent construction murder suspect which sends a ripple of murmurs down the room.
During the first trial, Do-hyun states the defendant’s admission of guilt to all charges, but Jong-gu shoots up from his chair and professes his innocence. Due to their conflicting statements, the judge grants Do-hyun more time to settle matters with the defendant, so they adjourn for the day.
Do-hyun meets one-on-one with Jong-gu who claims to have been pressured into signing the confession during the police interrogation. Do-hyun refuses to accept his words at face value and asks him to tell him the truth so he can believe.
Jong-gu recounts the evening of the incident and tells Do-hyun that in his drunkenness, he stopped by the construction site to relieve himself and happened to find the purse on the ground. He admits to stealing the cash inside, but that’s it. Do-hyun wonders why he called the police on multiple occasions then, and Jong-gu confesses to prank calling the police because they seemed so pathetic.
Armed with a different account of the story, Do-hyun visits the crime scene despite his superiors’ ridicules, and once he’s gone, they talk about how he placed first in the exams but can’t be a judge because of his father who’s on death row. At the site, a worker stumbles across Do-hyun fumbling with the door, and after hearing that he’s the attorney, he tells Do-hyun that Jong-gu easily opened the sliding doors during the reenactment which surprised everyone.
Do-hyun stops by Jong-gu’s workplace next, and the guard on duty recognizes Jong-gu, even remembering that a group of detectives came asking about him before. He shows Do-hyun around and slides open a door, much like the one at the construction site.
The trial resumes, and Choon-ho sits on the witness stand. He tells the prosecutor the three pieces of evidence that pointed at Jong-gu as the murderer: 1) his fingerprints found on the victim’s purse, 2) the phone calls made to the police, and 3) his reenactment where he opened the door without hassle.
Do-hyun cross-examines Choon-ho and puts up a photo of Jong-gu’s workplace. According to the guard, Choon-ho and his team came by and after noticing the sliding doors, expressed disappointment. Do-hyun deduces from their reaction that they must have realized their circumstantial evidence was now null. As for the evidence concerning the purse, Do-hyun points out how far it was found in relation to the body.
The next witness is the forensic scientist, and Do-hyun asks him if Jong-gu’s fingerprints were found anywhere else at the crime scene besides the purse. Since everything, including the suspected murder weapon, was burned, no other fingerprints were found, and Do-hyun points out how odd it is that the purse with the fingerprints was left alone.
For his closing statement, Do-hyun calls into question all the evidence laid out by the prosecution and argues that none of them definitively prove Jong-gu is the murderer. He tells the judge that the defendant admits to stealing money and prank calling the police for which he feels remorse, but as for murder, he believes the suspect should be found not guilty.
Choon-ho returns to the station, and the rest of his team fret over the case because if Jong-gu is let go, then the repercussions might fall on them. Their worries become reality when the judge declares Jong-gu not guilty of the murder charge, and in the crowd, the victim’s family cries in frustration.
The news relentlessly attacks the police for their poor investigation of the murder case, and Choon-ho packs up his things since he’s the designated scapegoat for this mess. Though the courts may believe Jong-gu is innocent, Choon-ho disagrees and confronts Do-hyun about letting the murderer go.
Do-hyun calmly tells Choon-ho that he merely did his duties as an attorney, but Choon-ho accuses him of never considering the pain of the victim’s family. He questions Do-hyun’s sense of justice, so Do-hyun retaliates, mentioning the fact that if Jong-gu truly is the murderer as he claims, then the blame should fall on the police for failing to prove his crimes.
Choon-ho brings his face inches to Do-hyun’s and warns him about Jong-gu, but Do-hyun remains expressionless. Choon-ho realizes the futility of his pleas and exasperatedly tells Do-hyun that it’s wrong for him to be able to release a murderer so easily with just a few words.
Five years later. Do-hyun sleeps inside his one-man law firm, but someone knocks incessantly at his door. He gets up to check on the noise and finds Journalist HA YOO-RI (Shin Hyun-bin) outside. He closes the door in her face, but she continues knocking until he lets her in.
Once inside, she plops down on the couch and fetches two beers from her bag to share. Do-hyun refuses since she’s already roaring drunk, but Yoo-ri bargains with him: if he figures out what she just did, then she’ll leave. As soon as she finishes her sentence, Do-hyun correctly guesses that she turned in her resignation letter. Though he tries to kick her out, Yoo-ri buries herself into his couch and falls asleep.
A woman in a yellow coat walks alone down the street when a stranger suddenly appears behind her. Sensing the presence, the woman hastens her pace, ending up in a run, and only stops for a brief moment to call the police. Before she can dial, the stranger attacks her from behind.
The woman in yellow is found dead the next morning, and the crime scene is so horrific it causes the officers to grimace and throw up. The detectives in charge of the new murder case is Choon-ho’s old team, and Detective Seo is the new chief.
Detective Seo talks with the forensic scientist who tells him that the murder happened recently but the amount of blood at the crime scene is strangely low. However, the more peculiar thing is how similar this case is to the one five years ago at the construction site, and the implication dawns on Detective Seo.
The violent crimes team investigates the murder and finds a familiar face caught on camera near the crime scene: Jong-gu. Moving fast, they barge into his home to arrest him and discover a pair of blood-splattered shoes hidden in a drawer.
The detectives interrogate Jong-gu back at the station and show him photos taken of him at the crime scene the morning after while the police were investigating. Jong-gu claims to have merely followed the crowd there and didn’t know about the murder. Detective Seo throws down photos of the victim and forces Jong-gu to look at them and remember the woman from five years ago.
While the interrogation remains fruitless, Detective Seo receives a call from Choon-ho who stops by unexpectedly. Detective Seo meets briefly with his old chief and happily informs him of Jong-gu’s arrest. Noticing how busy Detective Seo is, Choon-ho lets him go and doesn’t explain the reason for his sudden visit.
Yoo-ri packs up her desk, clearly stating her departure as a resignation and not a termination, but her senior doesn’t believe her. He wonders aloud about the recent murder case since the police have kept the suspect under wraps, and Yoo-ri looks at him curiously.
She ends up drunk and asleep on Do-hyun’s couch again, and is still there in the morning when he gets a call. A mysterious woman parks outside Do-hyun’s law firm, but when she enters the office, she only finds a snoring figure on the couch and mistakes it for Do-hyun. Glancing around the room, she notices garbage strewn everywhere.
Do-hyun meets with Jong-gu as his attorney and asks him what’s going on. Meanwhile, the chief prosecutor appoints Prosecutor Lee Ki-hyu to the case, and he just so happens to be from the same class as Do-hyun.
Jong-gu explains to Do-hyun that he was near the crime scene coincidentally, but Do-hyun seems skeptical. He asks Jong-gu if he thought he could escape this time, too, which riles Jong-gu. He wonders if this means Do-hyun always thought he was guilty but got him released regardless. Do-hyun denies saying such things, but Jong-gu presses him to answer truthfully. When he refuses, Jong-gu bangs on the table and glares at him menacingly.
The mysterious woman tidies up Do-hyun’s office and is surprised when Yoo-ri wakes up from the couch. She explains to Yoo-ri that she’s here for the job opening for office manager, but Yoo-ri tells her that the position is already filled because she’s just hired herself. Heh.
Yoo-ri comes up with excuses of how the mysterious woman might be too old for the position, but the mysterious woman, MADAME JIN (Nam Ki-ae), whips out her certificates and spews her knowledge of the law. Do-hyun arrives, confused by the scene in front of him, and Madame Jin repeats everything for a second time to show her qualifications.
Recognizing defeat, Yoo-ri congratulates Madame Jin on getting hired and looks forward to working together in the future. Do-hyun wonders who this us refers to, and Yoo-ri explains her plans to rent the empty desk in the corner for her one-person media company. Do-hyun sends Madame Jin away for now, and adding to the mystery, she gets into a car with a chauffeur.
Do-hyun works through the night and falls asleep at his desk. He wakes up when Madame Jin opens the curtains, and before he can register what’s happening, she cheerfully goes about her first task as his office manager. Do-hyun mumbles about never calling her and just sighs when he sees Yoo-ri sleeping on his couch for the third time in a row.
Do-hyun visits Prosecutor Lee’s office to get the case report, but Prosecutor Lee barely acknowledges his presence and throws the file on his desk rather than hand it to him. Ignoring Prosecutor Lee’s rude behavior, Do-hyun flips through the report, but crucial pieces of information are redacted.
He finds Detective Seo to fill in the missing parts, and even Detective Seo shakes his head at the cheap tactic used by the prosecution. He tells Do-hyun about the similarities between this case and the one from five years ago, but unlike last time, they have conclusive evidence against Jong-gu. However, that’s all Detective Seo will share with Do-hyun and tells him to figure out the rest on his own.
Yoo-ri installs a new lock for the office, and Do-hyun just accepts his fate rather than resist. While the rest of his team leave for the day, Do-hyun continues working, and remembering Detective Seo’s words, he brings out the case file from five years ago to compare with the current one. However, the current file has so little information that Do-hyun decides to investigate the crime scene in person.
Do-hyun makes his way to the dilapidated house, unaware of someone following him. After examining the eerie crime scene, Do-hyun leaves, and Choon-ho emerges from the shadows, watching Do-hyun the entire time.
Do-hyun takes a taxi and shuts his eyes in exhaustion. When he wakes up from his nap, he finds himself in an unfamiliar place. The taxi stands idly in the middle of an intersection, and not a soul can be seen in any direction.
He asks the taxi driver where they are, but the driver remains tight lipped. Suddenly, a truck blares its horn and blinds him with its headlights. As Do-hyun turns his head, the truck rams into the taxi and sends it spiraling in the air.
The show starts off with a horrendous murder, and as Do-hyun digs deeper, it seems like a case of police misconduct and an obstruction of justice as an innocent man is framed for a crime he didn’t commit. However, as the story unfolds, it seems that the initial interpretation of the case may have been wrong. The thing I found most fascinating, though, was Do-hyun’s reactions (or lack of) throughout all these events. He doesn’t express a lot of emotions and only shows subtle differences across his face. Even when he wakes up in a deserted intersection with a truck barreling towards him, his reaction is subdued in relation to the magnitude of the situation. There are also moments when Do-hyun looks almost sinister, and it’s hard to pinpoint him as a character. Though he’s the hero, he doesn’t portray a lot of the stereotypical hero qualities usually associated with attorneys in dramas.
One particularly odd moment from Do-hyun was his expression when Jong-gu was announced not guilty by the judge. One would expect him to be happy or at least content since he saved an innocent man’s life, but he looks grave, instead. Then during Do-hyun’s second meeting with Jong-gu, he says, “again,” which may imply that he thought Jong-gu was the culprit the first time around and may explain his reaction back then. However, this only raises more questions about Do-hyun and the intentions behind his actions. Is he truly a man who is okay with letting a murderer go free, and if he is, what does this say about his character?
With that question, though, is the larger question of whether Jong-gu really is the culprit. Everything points to him being the murderer, and so many characters seem convinced that Jong-gu is guilty. Personally, it seems that the logic behind Choon-ho and the detectives’ conviction is based more on instinct than logic which, frankly, can be dangerous since it could easily cloud their judgment. However, it’s only the first episode, so I suspect there will be more secrets as the plot moves forward.
In addition to Do-hyun, all the characters are shrouded in mystery to some degree. Choon-ho’s sudden visit to Detective Seo and his stalking of Do-hyun hint at something brewing in the distance, and I can’t tell if he’ll be friend or foe. As for the two female characters introduced in the episode, Yoo-ri feels like a strange ray of sunshine who brings out a different side of Do-hyun, but her past and future role are just as murky as everyone else. Madame Jin is also a huge question mark, and I wonder why she suddenly appeared since she’s clearly overqualified and doesn’t need the job at Do-hyun’s tiny firm. The show barely scratches the surface in this first hour which keeps the characters at a distance from the viewers, but in exchange, it raises a lot of questions and piques one’s curiosity. Overall, it’s an interesting introduction that ends with a bang (quite literally).
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