Punch: Episode 18
If there’s just one unlikable aspect to this episode, it’s that it brings us one step closer to the end. But Punch’s penultimate episode throws no punches as the fighting between the relatively good guys and the definitely bad guys reaches a fever pitch. Not only are we running out of time, but so is Jung-hwan, and there’s still so much he has left to do. Don’t fail him now, Dramatically Convenient Brain Tumor!
SONG OF THE DAY
Jo Sung-mo – “그대로의 사랑 (Because I Love You)” from the OST[ Download ]
EPISODE 18 RECAP
Ha-kyung turns around in time to see Minister Yoon driving straight for her, but not in time to save herself.
And Minister Yoon, going at full speed, slams her car into Ha-kyung, who gets thrown up on the hood of the car like a rag doll before tumbling to the street, bleeding from the head.
Her phone line is still active with Jung-hwan, and she tries her best to crawl for the phone while uttering his name. Minister Yoon gets out of the car shaking when Tae-joon calls her to say that Ha-kyung has the chip.
“Because of you… this happened because of you, Lee Tae-joon!” Minister Yoon screams. Tae-joon has no idea what she’s talking about as Yoon approaches Ha-kyung to take the chip out of her hand.
She has the gall to look Ha-kyung straight in the eye as Ha-kyung tries desperately to close her hand around the chip to keep it from her, but Minister Yoon just pries her fingers open to get it. Jesus.
Ho-sung arrives just then, sending a disbelieving look toward Minister Yoon as he realizes what she did. He runs to Ha-kyung, who’s still breathing at least, as Minister Yoon says the chip disappeared—and she’ll make sure Tae-joon does too.
Jung-hwan overhears everything until Minister Yoon runs over Ha-kyung’s phone in her rush to flee the scene. He cries her name as he tries getting out of his hospital bed, but he can’t even manage to stand.
After Ha-kyung is rushed to the hospital in critical condition, Ho-sung follows Minister Yoon into a church while Hyun-sun delivers the bad news to Jung-hwan. Ha-kyung suffered major internal injuries, but her kidneys were damaged the worst.
Jung-hwan reacts with numb disbelief, murmuring how Ha-kyung promised she’d come to the hospital because she missed him. “She always came to me,” he adds. “Let me go to her this time.”
Hyun-sun helps him all but crawl to the intensive care ward, and he breaks down the moment he sees Ha-kyung lying there. I can’t even handle this.
Okay, better prepare yourselves for this one, because if you thought there was even a shred of hope left for Ho-sung, this is the line where it disappears: “The accident today can be covered up,” he tells Minister Yoon.
There were no CCTV cameras on the scene, nor were there witnesses. Minister Yoon shakily asks how Ha-kyung is, only for him to tell her she’s in serious condition. And that it’ll be bad for her if she wakes up, so Minister Yoon better pray she doesn’t.
Minister Yoon actually seems to be shocked at his suggestion, even as he adds that they can’t afford for Yoon to go to prison. If Tae-joon is the last man standing, Ho-sung won’t be able to convince himself he did the right thing by abandoning his friends for Yoon.
At least he remembers they’re in a church as he advises Minister Yoon to close her eyes and pray. If he closes his eyes too, no one will find out about the accident. Wow, Ho-sung. Even if you don’t fear God, you should fear Jung-hwan.
Jung-hwan’s initial shock and sorrow at seeing Ha-kyung soon turns to terrifying rage as he grits out Minister Yoon’s name.
He can’t stand unassisted yet, but that doesn’t mean he’s not trying every second he has. Detective Oh and Yeon-jin are on his side when it comes to suspecting foul play in Ha-kyung’s accident, so he puts Oh on finding out where Minister Yoon is getting her car repaired along with any other evidence linking her to the case.
As for Yeon-jin, she finds it fitting that the last investigation they’ll do together involves an independent prosecutor in a hit-and-run. Yeon-jin isn’t afraid of the difficulties ahead—the bigger the challenge, the greater the reward.
Ho-sung updates Minister Yoon on the state of things, including Ha-kyung’s worsening condition. He’s already taken care of Dr. Mechanic to prevent Tae-joon from trying to reopen her enlistment fraud case, while she’s taken care of the chip by flushing it.
Tae-joon still thinks Ho-sung is on his side, and entrusts him with the list he’d made for Minister Yoon of all the people he gave bribes to in order to call them for a meeting… but not one of them shows up. Tae-joon sighs that this is the way of the world.
He asks Ho-sung WWJHD (What Would Jung-hwan Do), only for Ho-sung to reply that Jung-hwan wouldn’t have gotten himself into this situation in the first place. Tae-joon agrees and adds that he wasn’t always someone who would have put himself into this situation—same goes for Ho-sung. Though I’d debate that point.
While Yeon-jin and Detective Oh investigate the crime scene for forensic evidence, a newly-freed Dr. Mechanic pays Jung-hwan a visit on the latter’s request. He wants to submit the evidence his father left him to the justice department, but he needs Jung-hwan to put in writing that the evidence wasn’t fabricated.
Jung-hwan hands him over the full statement he had Ha-kyung record, which includes what Dr. Mechanic needs. But that’s not all—he wants to finally give the two of them his blessing, even though he lists Hyun-sun’s failings beforehand: cooking, cleaning, and being the sister of the now infamous Park Jung-hwan.
Dr. Mechanic doesn’t hesitate to say yes, even to Jung-hwan’s request that they move into his old room so they can take care of Mom. It’s sweet how they all understand each other in that moment, which has to give Jung-hwan a feeling of peace.
Ho-sung reports to Minister Yoon that Tae-joon plans on exposing the list of all the officials who took bribes from him to the Chief of Staff so that she can move to undermine him before that.
In order to do so, she rounds up her independent prosecutors to issue summons to everyone on that list as of yesterday. She’ll hold a press conference on the case within the hour. And when they balk at the idea of publicizing so many high-ranking officials without more investigation, Minister Yoon reminds them hypocritically that the law is equal to everyone, regardless of rank or title.
After exchanging threats, Tae-joon and Minister Yoon meet with the Chief of Staff, where Tae-joon drops the bombshell that Jung-hwan laundered that twenty-seven billion won for him, and not for Kang-jae.
He hands over the list of the people who accepted all that bribe money from him, acting like he’s prepared to resign while knowing the Chief of Staff would want to downplay any investigations into such high-ranking politicians.
And that’s exactly what he planned on doing, at least until Minister Yoon announces that she’s already released the list to the media. They now have proof Tae-joon was behind ‘Park Jung-hwan Gate,’ which is not what Tae-joon wanted when he gave over the list.
Tae-joon is floored by the blow he’s just been dealt, especially after he sees Kang-jae give a public statement that Tae-sub did kill the researcher, and that Tae-joon ordered him to cover it up.
Minister Yoon gets to force the Chief of Staff’s hand in the wake of all this damning news, so that he sanctions a swift arrest for Tae-joon and a request for his immediate retirement.
Ho-sung and Minister Yoon know they have Tae-joon cornered now, and plan on purging the office of any remaining supporters he has after he goes. She sighs that it took them seven years to accomplish their goal, to which Ho-sung replies that it cost them too much.
“A better world always comes at a cost,” Minister Yoon says. “A world where the law is equal to everyone… I’ll make it happen. That’s how we will take responsibility for our faults, Ho-sung.” O RLY. I guess that law doesn’t apply equally to people who, I dunno, run other people over with a car.
Yeon-jin found the relative Minister Yoon used to have her car fixed, and used blackmail to get him to open his mouth. With that proof, Jung-hwan leaves the hospital against his doctor’s orders.
“There are too many people who want me to stay here. I can’t give them what they want,” Jung-hwan replies, after taking a look at the news blaring headlines of Tae-joon’s unprecedented and historical arrest.
Turns out Jung-hwan was getting dressed for Hyun-sun’s intimate wedding, but first, he has what sounds like a farewell conversation with Mom. He tells her about a retirement fund he’s set up to keep her comfortable, and asks her again to live a hundred years—long enough to see Ye-rin grow up and get married.
That’s when Ye-rin comes out to find him, though she’s just realized that she won’t have a father to walk her down the aisle one day. Jung-hwan scoops her up in his arms and apologizes.
As if things weren’t sad enough, Ye-rin asks why Ha-kyung isn’t coming to the wedding—is she sleeping in? Oh no. No one’s told her yet.
Jung-hwan walks his sister down the aisle to give her away, the only guests being Mom, Ye-rin, and Dong-hoon’s son (he’s part of the family now, I can’t keep calling him Dr. Mechanic).
He invites Tae-joon for jjajangmyeon, and even after everything, the two talk like old buddies. Only Tae-joon has now made peace with the fact that he’s going to prison, they’re just waiting until after he gives his resignation speech to arrest him.
But he knows Jung-hwan only has a few days left and can’t help but ask if he’s afraid of dying. Jung-hwan: “Dying is easy. Living is scary.” Tae-joon can’t help but respect that.
As to whether Tae-joon is just going to give up, he replies that he’s out of options—no one is on his side. In fact, Jung-hwan is the only person who invited him out for so much as a meal, so after a moment of silence, he apologizes for putting Ha-kyung in prison while Jung-hwan was incapacitated.
If he’s truly sorry, Jung-hwan says, then he can help him bring down Minister Yoon. Tae-joon laughs at this, since they couldn’t even touch her when Jung-hwan was at the height of his power. Now that she’s erased her enlistment fraud case off the map, what could they possibly use against her?
“Attempted murder of my wife,” Jung-hwan says. He takes Tae-joon to the ICU ward where Ha-kyung is lying comatose, explaining how he’s making a case against Minister Yoon.
But strangely he keeps stressing the attempted part of attempted murder, which makes it seem less like a delusional hope and more like a guarantee.
Meanwhile, Minister Yoon and Ho-sung plan eagerly for Tae-joon’s retirement speech set to come later that day, sure that there’s no way for him to weasel out now.
The ghost of a smile on Tae-joon’s face as he rides up the elevator with Jung-hwan says otherwise, even though he’s not greeted by his usual crowd of adoring prosecutors. If Jung-hwan has his way, Tae-joon won’t be out of a job today.
He accompanies Tae-joon to his meeting with all the chief prosecutors who ask for his resignation, and plays it like he’s acting against Tae-joon’s saintly orders by reminding the men gathered there that they’ve all accepted bribes from Tae-joon in the past.
Using their tag team method, Tae-joon is able to get a day of reprieve from the chief prosecutors that he’ll supposedly use to convince Jung-hwan not to mention their names.
Ho-sung runs to Tae-joon’s office when he finds out Jung-hwan is with him, but his pleas against his old friend’s involvement fall on deaf ears. He gets to be present when Yeon-jin presents the evidence they’ve compiled placing Minister Yoon at the scene of Ha-kyung’s hit-and-run.
They can even use the skid marks to prove Minister Yoon didn’t use her breaks until after she hit Ha-kyung, and more importantly, they have pictures and documents to show that Yoon had her car fixed up overnight.
Ho-sung tries protesting at every turn, especially when Jung-hwan makes the suggestion that they have forensics check Minister Yoon’s car for any traces of Ha-kyung’s DNA. But Ho-sung can’t stop Tae-joon from ordering the investigation, since only one of them is prosecutor general. Hah. Eat it, you bastard.
He calls Minister Yoon to try and warn her, but she’s not quick enough to escape the forensics team. They do find evidence that there was blood on the car and take samples, but for whatever reason they peace out afterward. Wouldn’t they take the whole car apart?
Jung-hwan’s team gets notified about the bloodstain, but they’ll have to wait till the DNA is identified before they can arrest Minister Yoon—a job they give to Ho-sung. Mistake #1.
Ho-sung gathers the independent counsel to make an arrest of the suspect before a warrant is issued, but declines to say who it is. He meets with a panicked Minister Yoon afterward, and worries her even more when he says that there’ll be no way to deny that it was her car that hit Ha-kyung.
Minister Yoon starts scrambling to keep Ho-sung on her side, reminding him that if she falls, his dreams of ending Tae-joon’s reign of power fall with her. Ho-sung doesn’t deny that, which is why he won’t let her fall. He’s already arrested the culprit in the hit-and-run case, the only other person capable of driving her personal car…
“Your son, Lee Sang-young,” Ho-sung finishes. Holy shit.
The news of the arrest comes as a setback for Team Jung-hwan, but at least they know whose side Ho-sung’s really on now. But even Tae-joon doesn’t know how they can win against a woman who would frame her own son for a crime she committed. “We have to,” Jung-hwan says resolutely. “Ha-kyung bled for this.”
Minister Yoon doesn’t even know how to process what Ho-sung’s done, but she won’t allow her son to take the fall for this. Ho-sung’s coldness when discussing the time her son will serve is chilling, added to the fact that he told her son that his mom got into the accident trying to cover up his enlistment fraud.
She still says no, and Ho-sung all but screams, “Why won’t you make any sacrifices? I’ve lost my friends. Two of them.” He vows to keep the investigation closed to minimize the impact, and advises her to resign for a couple years after Tae-joon does to make it seem like she’s penitent.
But she still reaches for the phone, intent on freeing her son. But Ho-sung tells her that the only way to do so is to turn herself in—though she’d be damning her son to punishment for his enlistment fraud if she’s arrested for attempted murder.
Whereas if her son serves time for just a hit-and-run, she’ll come out fine, and they can keep their dreams alive. “Put down the phone,” he cautions her. “And pray for your son this time.” He leaves her a sobbing, heaving mess.
Ho-sung doesn’t even blink when Team Jung-hwan calls him out for being a double agent, as he unabashedly announces that the chip is gone and Tae-joon will soon follow. Jung-hwan remembers Minister Yoon saying that exact same thing at the scene of the crime.
Which means he knows now that Ho-sung was there too. He doesn’t let it show, even when Ho-sung tells him he’ll be taken into custody by the independent counsel. Tae-joon knows it’s Ho-sung’s way of keeping Jung-hwan locked up while they wait for him to die.
As Jung-hwan prepares to face the counsel prosecutors waiting for him, he reminds Tae-joon that he hung out of an interrogation room window seven years ago until he came to get him. Can Tae-joon hang on until he gets out?
Tae-joon repeats words similar to what Jung-hwan said back then, after he’d pulled him from the ledge: “I’ve been hanging on for fifty years, I’m sure I can hang on for a few more days.” This prompts a respectful bow from Jung-hwan, who promises to return soon.
Instead of going down to meet the prosecutors, Jung-hwan confronts Ho-sung directly, even calling him “friend” like the old days. He calls on him to have a sense of humanity and let him spend his last days in the hospital near Ha-kyung.
And surprisingly enough, Ho-sung actually relents to this, but on the condition that guards be posted outside his room to prevent him from leaving. Nor can he utter a peep about Minister Yoon or Ha-kyung. Jung-hwan agrees.
He gets Ho-sung to drive him to the hospital, and even gets him to stop on the way by acting like he needs water for his medicine. While Ho-sung’s gone, Jung-hwan accesses his car’s black box recording (required by law to be in every car) and scrolls to the day of Ha-kyung’s accident.
There he sees Minister Yoon and Ho-sung with Ha-kyung’s prone form, in perfect detail too. He swipes the memory card and tries to flee…
…But his leg seizes up in another cramp, preventing him from standing. Ho-sung turns just then, and the two lock gazes.
Okay, Jung-hwan. You’ve got maybe fifty pounds on this kid. Leg cramp or no leg cramp, all you have to do is get out with that chip and you’re home free. Do whatever you have to do, but you make sure to put that miserable excuse for a human being down. I know you can. (Why can’t I stop talking to these characters like they’re people? I’ve really lost it this time, guys.)
I had admittedly forgotten that car recordings were a thing, and would have continued to do so if Punch hadn’t just pointed out what they’re capable of doing. It just leaves me wondering why that wouldn’t be the first thing searched when blood was found on Minister Yoon’s car, because that’s kind of what those recordings are there for, right?
But I can see where that would’ve been too easy a fix, and that there’s more dramatic oomph with Jung-hwan sneaking his way into Ho-sung’s car to find irrevocable proof that Minister Yoon not only committed the crime, but that Ho-sung witnessed the aftermath. He even held Ha-kyung as she lied there, and the fact that he seemed to feel something like sadness for her in that moment only to turn around and all but wish for her death in front of Minister Yoon makes him the worst kind of irredeemable scum there is. Not like we didn’t know that already, but man if this episode didn’t kill whatever shred of humanity we may have hoped lied dormant somewhere within the cold dark confines of what must have once been his soul. If he ever had one in the first place.
It’s honestly hard to decide on who’s the bigger psychopath between him and Minister Yoon, since both seem to be suffering from the same delusions of grandeur. Minister Yoon has now moved beyond my realm of understanding, and it wasn’t even because she tried to kill Ha-kyung in the heat of the moment. She’s insanely good at selling herself as a person literally coming apart at the seams, and her hysteria always manages to strike a chord—almost enough to actually feel bad for her.
The thing is though, she clearly knows the difference between right and wrong, enough to have this almost permanently stricken look on her face these past episodes where her crimes have just continued to pile up. Her and Ho-sung deserve each other because they both know exactly how morally repugnant their actions are, yet even an attempted murder isn’t enough to shake them into listening to their conscience. Somehow they still think they’re making sacrifices to further a goal that is right and just, which in the context of all their wrongs, makes them very sick people.
And while Tae-joon is undoubtedly a villain with a questionable moral scale, even now he still manages to feel sorry for things he’s done in the past. He never stopped feeling sorry for throwing Ha-kyung in jail, which is why I found his apology to Jung-hwan fitting, even in this late stage. Weirdly enough their teaming up on Tae-joon’s way down feels like we’ve come full circle, which is the best place to be before heading into the finale. There’s just one thing the finale needs to deliver, and that is scorched earth.
Also, I don’t think this needs to be said with such a cool group of commenters, but just in case: No finale spoilers here, or else there will be scorched earth. And not the fun kind.