Pinocchio: Episode 17
The tension has admittedly gone down in recent weeks (Hyung’s arc kind of topped us out as far as suspense goes), but today’s episode actually brings back some of the stronger heroine-centric elements that we’d seen before, like when In-ha dared to publicly confront her mother about the kind of reporter she really was. Today’s story is all about our heroine and the lengths she’ll go to for truth, and honor, and love, and it’s pretty damn compelling. Goodness knows I love me some Dal-po, but I like it more when In-ha gets to shine.
SONG OF THE DAY
Kim Bo-kyung – “그대 하나로” (With You Alone) for the Pinocchio OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 17: “The Scarlet Letter”
In the wake of discovering the truth about their mothers’ involvement in both media cover-ups of the fires, In-ha and Beom-jo each race off to confront them right away. In-ha storms into the conference room at MSC to confront Mom with a printout of the data she recovered from the old cell phone.
Mom looks nervous to have been caught, and In-ha shouts that she gave her the benefit of the doubt—she at least believed that Mom was misinformed and misguided thirteen years ago. But now it’s clear that she’s just someone who says and does whatever her boss orders of her. Pained and incredulous, she asks, “Are you really a reporter?”
The reception is even icier over at Beom-jo’s confrontation with Chaebol Mommy, who simply flips through the call log like it’s an order sheet for more purses. He pleads for an explanation: “Tell me you’re not someone this scary… that you’re not someone this horrifying, please!”
But she just asks placidly who else knows about this call log. Yikes, do you not hear the desperation in his voice as he asks you to come up with a plausible excuse, Mommy? But she just repeats her earlier statement that the day he quits his job as a reporter, she’ll start answering his questions. So Beom-jo calls Princess to declare that he’s quitting as of now, and slams his phone on the table: “Satisfied? I think I qualify for those answers now.”
Now that she got what she wanted from Beom-jo, Chaebol Mommy admits to everything—the fire thirteen years ago was the same as the recent one, where she was helping an assemblyman cover his tracks. The plan was just to pull some focus on Firefighter Dad until the elections passed, but she didn’t know that incident would get out of hand.
But truly horrifying is her sincere question, asking what was so wrong about what she did. She says none of it is illegal, and she was merely helping out a friend. She describes her work like that of a gardener, planting seeds and toiling away for years just to see the fruits of her labor, and calls this sort of political favor a necessary part of caring for her crop.
Beom-jo is amazed to see that she isn’t even the least bit concerned about the consequences of any of this—she figures that Firefighter Dad’s incident is long past its statute of limitations, and the most that’ll happen if this gets out is that she’ll suffer a ding to her reputation. He asks what his mother gained from doing these sorts of favors for all these years, and she answers bluntly, “Everything you have enjoyed in life up until now, and everything you will enjoy in the future.”
Back at MSC, In-ha refuses to lower her voice and shouts she’s going to reveal the truth to the whole world. Mom flashes back to the moment when she said the exact same thing to her boss following Firefighter Dad’s story. Innnnnnteresting.
The MSC director asks if she really thinks he’ll let her get away with that, and she says defiantly that the story will air on YGN instead. He asks what kind of future she expects to have as a whistleblower, reminding her that she’d never be able to work as a reporter again.
And in the present, In-ha says exactly the same thing, about taking the story to YGN instead. And Mom makes the exact threats she’d heard, about this being the end of her career as a reporter. She even admits to having the same dilemma.
We return to the flashback, where the director offers to strengthen Mom’s voice instead, by making her the first female Cap at MSC. In the present, she admits that her choice brought her this far. She counters that In-ha could make a different choice, and have a clear conscience while working at the convenience store.
She dangles the end of In-ha’s intern term in front of her and asks if she doesn’t want a permanent job: “Think about it—whether you can say what they want just once, and in exchange become a reporter with the strength to say ninety-nine things with the right voice. Or… if you’re going to become a powerless person who has no voice.” Ugh, she has the devil’s sales skills, I swear.
She adds the kicker, complete with watery eyes and quivering lip: “I don’t want you to become someone powerless like that. I’m not saying this as your boss… but as your mother.”
Mom says that she knows only too well what happens to a whistleblower in real life, and tells In-ha the truth about Dad: He was once a successful banker, but when he discovered his bank’s shady accounting practices, he leaked the information to the press and lost his job. Mom: “Whose life do you think is more pathetic now?” Omg, did you just insult Best Dad Ever? Hold me back! Hold me back!
In-ha stands up and says defiantly that she’s never once thought of Dad’s life as pathetic, and that if his life is the price for saying and doing the right thing, then she’s in fact proud of him. Atta girl! She says she won’t be making the same choice that Mom did, and grabs the evidence and storms out.
Dad cleans at home and gets riled up all over again when he thinks about Dal-po moving on already with a new girl. He decides he can’t let it rest, and calls Dal-po to his office for a good talking-to, and lectures him about how quickly he forgot In-ha and got a new girlfriend.
That’s news to Dal-po, but Dad says he found a long strand of hair in Dal-po’s apartment the other night and knows what’s going on. “Or are you going to try and insist that it belongs to a long-haired boyfriend?” Okay, so maybe he said “boy friend,” potayto, potahto.
Dal-po has no choice but to explain, so he tells Dad the truth—that it’s In-ha’s because she was over at his place that night. Dad is suddenly all smiles and relieved to hear that Dal-po’s feelings haven’t changed… and then it suddenly sinks in that this means he had In-ha over in his apartment. Alone.
Cut to: Dad anger-brushing his teeth at home, getting more and more worked up by the minute. In-ha happens to run home just in time for an interrogation, and he launches into a full-blown lecture with a mouthful of toothpaste, about how he knows that she’s been going in and out of a boy’s room and how Dal-po might have grown up as her uncle but he’s still a man.
But all In-ha can see is Dad’s current state, in his head-to-toe tracksuit ensemble and the toothpaste he’s spraying everywhere, her declaration of how proud she was of him ringing in her ears. Ha, it’s the exact reverse of Dad’s moment of shame right after he’d told Dal-po how beautiful and precious his perfect daughter was. Like father, like daughter.
He finally slows down long enough to ask what she came home to ask him, but she decides she doesn’t want to anymore and trudges back to the door. Dad chokes on his toothpaste, and In-ha shakes her head with a sigh, heh.
She goes back to MSC and shares the call log with Princess and Il-joo, without naming the people involved. They’re up in arms about it, thinking it must be someone over at rival network NTS, and take turns declaring that they’ll be the one to report this to the world. That is, until In-ha tells them that this is about their station, and the people implicated in the cover-up are Mom and their director.
Suddenly they’re backpedaling and sheepishly naming all of the family obligations they have to uphold—there’s no way they’d manage to report this at MSC, and leaking the information elsewhere would mean the end of a career in journalism.
They’re both ashamed and can barely look In-ha in the eye, but they admit that this isn’t something they can do. They ask if she really could do it, and she says that she can… but hiccups.
Poor Beom-jo is so traumatized that he just stands fully clothed in his shower, bawling his eyes out at the realization that his entire life of comfort was bought at such a heavy price.
Mom sits in the dark thinking back to the moment she had met with YGN’s Gyo-dong and Editor Jo, intending to go through with it anyway and hand over the evidence. But she chickened out at the last minute, and said nothing.
In-ha hiccups the whole way over to YGN’s building, trying to convince herself that she can go through with this because it needs to be done. It isn’t working though and no amount of “This is the right thing to do” will stop her hiccups… until Dal-po comes down to meet her. Her hiccups stop at the sight of him.
He wonders what she’s smiling about, and she says she’s amazed that her dilemma was solved the second she saw him. She leans in to hug him and calls it a dilemma she’s sorry to even call a dilemma. I just love how much she’s loving this hug.
His YGN bosses walk by with teasing smiles, and In-ha just hugs him more, not caring at all. It’s just so cute. He reminds her that he works here and wonders what’s gotten into her, and she says she has something to say.
She says she has an exclusive for him, because she can’t report it, but he can. She slides over the envelope with Mom’s old cell phone and the log, and lets him read the texts between her and Beom-jo’s mother for himself.
Dal-po’s hands shake as he reads the orders that led so directly to the destruction of his family. A tear falls as he wonders in disbelief how a few lines of text turned his father into a criminal. He’s so worked up with rage that he slams his water glass on the table and breaks it right in his hand. It startles In-ha and she rushes over, but he doesn’t even register the blood on his hand.
Once she’s done bandaging up his hand, he’s calmed down and asks if Beom-jo knows and if she’s okay. She says it’d be a lie if she said she were fine. But this story will never make it on the air at MSC, which is why she’s giving it to Dal-po, and asks him to report it.
He says he will, no matter what it takes, and thanks her for giving him the story. I don’t think he understands quite yet what she’s giving up to do this, but she tamps down her tears and just nods resolutely.
The next day In-ha packs up her things at the precinct, while Dal-po takes the evidence to show Hyung, who breaks down in tears to read the messages.
In-ha runs into Beom-jo on her way out, but he’s suddenly very cold to her. He warns her that no matter what she and Dal-po do, his mother won’t suffer much, so it’s better that they just protect their positions instead of fighting uselessly. He plans to return to his rightful place too, and leaves her standing there slackjawed.
Dal-po turns the evidence over to Gyo-dong, who fumes as he reads the text messages. He takes a moment to gulp down Yoo-rae’s soda and calm down, and then assigns Dal-po to do nothing but work on this story night and day, pulling more team members to help out.
In-ha goes to MSC with her suitcase in tow, and Il-joo bounds up with congratulations—she’s been made an official full-time employee! Oof, what timing. But In-ha stands her ground and hands over her resignation letter instead, and walks out with her head held high.
Mom panics that her tactics haven’t worked, and chases In-ha down to ask what the hell she’s doing. In-ha shocks her by saying that she already handed everything over to YGN so that she wouldn’t falter in her decision today, adding bitterly that it made her so happy to be made a permanent employee.
Mom asks in desperation why she’s going to these lengths, and In-ha shouts back that she believes this is the right thing to do. “And I’m apologizing in your place! This is what you should have done! But because you didn’t, I’m the one doing it now!” Mom asks why In-ha is apologizing in her place, and In-ha’s answer throws her completely: “Because I’m your daughter.”
In-ha gets choked up with tears as she admits that she tried a thousand times to tell herself that they were strangers, that Mom had abandoned her so she should too. “But I can’t! All I have to do is let go of this hand, but I can’t… like an idiot.” She walks away in tears, leaving Mom completely stunned.
Dal-po heads out to get his first interview with Beom-jo’s mother for the story, and dons spyglasses for the task. He just misses In-ha’s exit from MSC, and she cheers him to do a good job.
She goes home and Dad wonders what she’s doing here in the middle of the day, and she does her best to smile cheerily as she says that she quit her job today, reminding him that he always hated her being a reporter.
Dad runs over in alarm and asks if she got fired, but she says it’s the other way around—she fired her company because she wanted to be a straight shooter, just like Dad.
The tears start to well up as she grabs the sides of his apron and looks up at him: “Did you regret it? You didn’t right? Tell me that you didn’t regret it. Tell me that I did a good job. Quick! Tell me I did a good job!”
She bursts into tears and sobs on his shoulder, and because Dad is Dad, he does exactly what she needs, declaring loudly, “You did a good job! My daughter did a good job!”
Meanwhile, Dal-po waits to ambush Chaebol Mommy with a camera, and finds Beom-jo standing right by her side. She agrees to the interview pretending to be nice just because he’s Beom-jo’s friend, and plays dumb when he asks about the text messages.
She insists that she doesn’t know what he’s talking about because it was sooo long ago, but Dal-po points out that he never said it happened a long time ago. As soon as she gets flustered, the interview gets shut down and they ride off. Chaebol Mommy immediately asks Song Cha-ok to meet.
In-ha is too depressed to eat, but answers all of Dal-po’s updates with encouragement, not letting on how hard this is for her. She grouses at her own growling stomach for not even letting her wallow in peace, and trudges out sheepishly to join Dad and Grandpa for dinner.
She takes the chatty approach and says she’s going to get her driver’s license and look into civil service exams because she’s still young and has lots of options, and aegyos Grandpa into paying for an English tutoring academy.
Grandpa agrees happily, and tells her that she did the right thing, so she shouldn’t be ashamed. She rests her head on Grandpa’s shoulder as he tells her that she did a good job, and she finally lets herself relax and looks up at Dad and Grandpa gratefully.
In the coming days, Dal-po runs around collecting interviews, and In-ha’s old classmate teaches her how to drive in between her English classes. Princess is still sighing over In-ha’s resignation letter, in which she states as her reason for quitting: “Because I couldn’t say what I wanted to say.”
Gyo-dong notices the letter and Princess tells him all about In-ha’s whistleblowing dilemma, and admits that he couldn’t bring himself to process her resignation yet. Gyo-dong goes straight to his team and tells them to put the story on hold, and takes Dal-po aside to ask if he really made sure that In-ha was okay.
He explains that her handing over this story to them amounts to whistleblowing, which would put her job, her career, and her entire future on the line. Basically, it’s not something you do unless you’re risking everything, and he warns Dal-po not to take it lightly.
Dal-po looks alarmed, and says he didn’t know. But now In-ha’s hug the other night takes on a whole new meaning, and Gyo-dong confirms that she handed in her resignation knowing this would cost her her job. He tells Dal-po that he knows this story is important to him, but reminds him not to lose sight of what he needs to ask as a reporter, just to satisfy his revenge.
As Dal-po runs off after In-ha, Yoo-rae mutters at all her hard work going unappreciated and unnoticed by Gyo-dong, who cut her off mid-presentation. Gyo-dong just casually leaves a drink next to her, and when she notices it, she beams and wonders if this is a sign that he likes her, since he remembered the exact drink he stole from her the other day. (Ha, she even wonders if he stole her drink in the first place to get a secondhand kiss.)
Her coworker scoffs that he got one too and bursts her bubble, and she chides herself for jumping to conclusions again when she was so wrong about Dal-po. But Gyo-dong’s shy glances in her direction are making me think otherwise. Please be true. It would be so adorable.
Dal-po steamrolls into Chan-soo’s station and shouts at In-ha to come outside, and asks how she couldn’t forget to mention the part about her quitting her job over all this. She says it’s because she knew he’d get this mad, and says she’s doing fine and keeping busy. But he tells her that her resignation hasn’t been processed, and tells her to go back to MSC.
She refuses, but he says he won’t report the story. She grows wide-eyed and asks how he could do that—doesn’t he know what she went through to give him that evidence? But he says he didn’t know, and if he had, he never would’ve accepted it. She calls him crazy, but he takes her hand and asks, “If you were me, would you accept it? If it would ruin my life? Could you do that?!”
He tells her he’ll act according to how she answers, and she steels herself to say that she would… but hiccups, of course. He points out that she’s asking him to do something she can’t, and assures her that he won’t just bury the story—he’ll just find another way to prove the connection.
He promises that they’ll find another road, together. She cries that it’s such a waste, and buries her head in his chest as she cries.
Over udon, In-ha tells Dal-po about Mom almost turning everything over to YGN the first time, and what she gained from Beom-jo’s mother in exchange for her silence. She says she didn’t want to make that same choice, and admits that she was scared too, of turning out like Dad.
She tells him about Dad’s story, where doing the right thing cost him his career, eventually leading to their divorce. Dal-po wonders if the two of them regret their choices at all—Mom for taking the low road and Dad for taking the high road.
Mom goes to meet Chaebol Mommy at an art gallery, where Beom-jo is dutifully by his mother’s side. We keep getting close-ups of his phone though, which is making me think that he hasn’t quite gone over to the dark side like he’s letting on.
Here, Mommy talks more freely about all the things she does to keep her politicians happy, and mentions the current thorn in her side—Dal-po. He isn’t someone she can entice with money or power, but she does know about his relationship with In-ha… and asks Mom to bring her daughter over for a meeting. Gulp. Both Mom and Beom-jo look alarmed, but Chaebol Mommy insists that she’s not going to harm her—she’s simply going to offer In-ha a chance to be successful just like her mother.
In-ha asks Dad if he regrets his choice to be a whistleblower and he says no. But when she asks if he’d do the same thing all over again, he says no. Dad says he doesn’t regret reporting the truth, but he does regret quitting so quickly, because he should’ve endured and stuck it out, no matter how difficult the scrutiny was.
That gives In-ha the push she needs to pack up her stuff and head back to work, and Dal-po greets her outside by kissing his hand and stamping her forehead, and she does the same to him.
He starts to head inside with her and she reminds him that his building is the other one. But he’s got business at MSC today, and he waits in the lobby until Mom arrives. In a twist, he hands her the evidence that In-ha gave him.
She’s confused—isn’t this the information he’s desperately been searching for? Dal-po says yes, it’s exactly the thing that’ll prove those responsible for the destruction of his family. In fact revealing that to the world is his life’s wish, but he also isn’t about to ruin someone’s life to do it.
She asks if he’s going to give up then, but he says no, he wants her to report it instead. Whoa. He says that In-ha doesn’t have the power to report it, and if he does, In-ha gets hurt. But Mom is the person responsible for the tragedy, not In-ha, so he thinks it falls on her shoulders to report the story.
She points out how naïve it is for him to think she’d do that, and he agrees: “I know what an enormous gamble this is, but I want to believe naively that there was a time that you wanted to reveal the truth, that you were once a reporter, and that you just might regret the choice you made fourteen years ago.”
She calls him and In-ha reckless and walks away, but all the things they’ve said to her over the past year come flooding back, most pointedly In-ha’s declaration that she’s apologizing in her mother’s place, and that she stupidly can’t seem to abandon Mom the way Mom abandoned her.
She mutters aloud, “It’s so annoying that you make me concerned. It’s so annoying that you’re making me embarrassed…” Her back is to Dal-po, but when the camera comes around, tears are streaming down her face.
Nicely played. I wasn’t prepared to give Mom a chance at redemption, but this is a twist I like very much, and everything we went through over the course of the episode to get here was really emotionally satisfying to boot. We get a great parallel between In-ha and Mom and the choices they make at the exact same crossroads, and I just love the satisfaction of watching In-ha take the high road. It’s such a slam to Mom’s ego, when she’s so sure she made the right choice all those years ago. But In-ha not only defends Dad (*sniffle*), but shows that she has the guts to do what Mom couldn’t, and shames all her bosses at MSC by asking what the point is of a reporter that isn’t allowed to speak.
The best part is the support she gets from her family for doing the right thing, no questions asked. Her scene with Dad after quitting her job just got me right in the heart, and it made the whole trial worth it even though she ended up going back to work. This is a case where In-ha and Dal-po each make noble sacrifices for the other but in the best possible way—she’s willing to give up her job to do what she believes is right, and he’s willing to give up an easy path towards revenge for In-ha.
I love what they give up for each other, but even more that they stop each other from being stupid in those sacrifices. There’s a wide healthy middle ground between sacrificing everything for the one you love and being selfish, and the way they navigated that middle ground with equal sacrifice was just right, and no less romantic for being practical. Despite her positive outlook on life, it would’ve saddened me too much if In-ha had to give up her dream job—it was her dream that got both of them on this path, after all.
With three episodes left, there should be plenty of time for side romances (Cap, you’re not going to stop at just sneaking Yoo-rae beverages, are you?), more of the kind of family bonding we got today, and a good wrap-up for Beom-jo. There has to be more to his resigned attitude, and something tells me he’ll be the one with enough power to actually do something about his mother. After all, what’s the point in taking down two bosses at MSC if Chaebol Mommy’s just going to put new reporters in her pocket and keep on truckin’?
I’m starting to have some faith that Mom can actually earn her redemption after all, especially now that we’ve learned that she was once just like In-ha and wanted to do the right thing. She’s still guilty as hell but there’s a vast difference between her and Beom-jo’s Chaebol Mommy, who thinks she has the right to wield her money and power this way without consequence. Mom, on the other hand, knows exactly when and how it all started to go wrong, and contrary to what we’ve seen before, she might actually have grown a conscience (or just remembered where she put it fourteen years ago).
If Dal-po and In-ha have managed to use their idealism to reignite Mom’s sense of right and wrong, that’s a much more compelling turn than just watching him mount a case against her for revenge. I’ve always felt that the revenge was weak to begin with, but stuffing Mom’s soul back inside of her so she’ll take the house down from within? That’s much more interesting. Okay, so it’s a little bit like defeating a dragon with cuddles, but who’s gonna say no to cuddles?
- Pinocchio: Episode 16
- Pinocchio: Episode 15
- Pinocchio: Episode 14
- Pinocchio: Episode 13
- Pinocchio: Episode 12
- Pinocchio: Episode 11
- Pinocchio: Episode 10
- Pinocchio: Episode 9
- Pinocchio: Episode 8
- Pinocchio: Episode 7
- Pinocchio: Episode 6
- Pinocchio: Episode 5
- Pinocchio: Episode 4
- Pinocchio: Episode 3
- Pinocchio: Episode 2
- Pinocchio: Episode 1