Angry Mom: Episode 15
This drama should really be titled Angry Moms—and if you thought one angry mom was a force to be reckoned with, that’s nothing compared to the united fury of all of the moms. This episode is full of twists and turns, in the best sort of way—I knew we had a lot of conflict left to work our way through, but the show manages to keep me guessing as to who’s got the upper hand, who only thinks they’ve got the upper hand, and who’s able to force a lesser hand into a winning one. Hint: It may involve an angry mom or two.
SONG OF THE DAY
Aberdeen Orange – “Teleport Me” from the Angry Mom OST [ Download ]
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Public opinion is deservedly harsh following the school building collapse, and the main players are taken to court for their role in the disaster. Kang-ja and her gang arrive at the courthouse for the first hearing, where they exchange greetings with the prosecutor in charge. He assures the team that he’s prepared to go all-in and stake his job on this case, determined to take down all the perpetrators.
The defense’s entourage arrives, looking sharp with their army of legal sharks. Chairman Hong is absent, hiding once again behind the pretext of bad health, but the prosecutor vows to strip him of that excuse.
The prosecutor presents a strong case, presenting the detailed log that Jin-sang kept of all his exchanges with his higher-ups. Jin-sang had listed his concerns for the unsafe construction and wrote of the chairman’s orders to proceed on a rushed schedule. But the defense objects to the evidence and counters that all of the construction orders given from the chairman were reasonable—if not for Jin-sang’s corruption and bribery.
Dong-chil bolsters that false claim with perjury, saying that while his company bears responsibility for the disaster, it was Jin-sang who masterminded the bad construction (and siphoned away the funds). Bank records show a large deposit made in Jin-sang’s account, because the bad guys have made sure to flesh out their cover story. They’re “cutting off their tail” by letting one guy take the blame, which allows Dong-chil, Jung-woo, and Chairman Hong to claim that they knew nothing about the bad construction.
The prosecutor makes sure that Jung-woo and Dong-chil explicitly state that they didn’t know anything before he plays a video for the court. It’s the clip that Yi-kyung’s mother secretly recorded at the hospital, clearly showing that they knew of the construction and scrambling to cover their asses.
The clip is damning, and the parents sitting in the courtroom burst out into angry exclamations, calling them murderers. The defense lawyers get the judge to agree that this is not properly submitted evidence and the prosecutor retreats, but he got what he wanted.
Jung-woo backtracks a bit but the prosecutor rips into him and the absent Hong, and the day wraps up with Kang-ja feeling optimistic about the outcome. The prosecutor tells her that nothing’s over yet, and he anticipates the defense will do what they can to cover themselves. As for the Scooby Gang, they need to find evidence that’s legally admissible, because the defense team is notorious for their tactics.
The defense attorney assures Jung-woo that the video can’t be used as evidence, but he knows that public opinion could very well be swayed by it and warns his team to do a better job.
Jung-woo also presses Chairman Hong to switch up his tactics, because this is too big to pin only on Jin-sang. As he and the chairman discuss their strategy, Sang-tae suddenly bolts up from the neighboring bed, shooting his father a disgusted glare.
Ae-yeon also guesses that the higher-ups are going to look for another “tail” to cut off, and feels pretty sure that she and Dong-chil will be the next targets. She’s appalled at how nonchalant Dong-chil seems about his fate, while he advises her to get out, because Jung-woo won’t protect her.
Jung-woo takes Ae-yeon out to dinner at a restaurant run by an acquaintance, telling her that she’s welcome to come here and drink on his tab anytime, only needing to give his name to the owner.
Ae-yeon asks half-warily whether Jung-woo will abandon her, and he sighs that she still doesn’t trust him. She opens up about her background and why it’s hard for her to trust people, describing how her father’s business was ruined when she was a child. He was wanted as a con artist and wandered the country to avoid arrest, leaving her and her mother at the mercy of debt collectors. She confides that she must be looking for a father-like figure to love and protect her—but her whole life, every man has abandoned her instead. She asks him not to.
Jung-woo assures her that the “tail” being cut off will be Dong-chil, not her, and asks her to trust in him and wait.
The defense team digs up dirt on Kang-ja to use as a diversionary tactic, going for the ad hominem attack strategy. They feed the press the news of her criminal past and possible psychological disorder, and it’s enough to worry the other school mothers. They know that it’s a dirty tactic, but fear that the noise will drown out their children’s story.
But they needn’t worry, because the public is smarter than the lawyers gave them credit for, and they realize that the defense is trying to cloud the issue. They voice support for Kang-ja and turn their ire back where it belongs, to the corrupt education foundation officials. Noah leads a protest outside the office of education, decrying the tactics and demanding truth.
Chairman Hong agrees to stall to buy their side for time, and makes an appearance before reporters to play up the worried ailing father routine to the hilt. He denies any knowledge of the construction—after all, his son goes to that school—and exaggerates Sang-tae’s injuries as dire. And just as he’s saying that Sang-tae is lying unconscious on the brink of death, Sang-tae walks right into the midst of reporters, making Chairman Hong fidget uncomfortably at his lies.
Sang-tae arrives at school for a silent vigil for their deceased classmates, the mood is heavy and solemn. And great, the show has to score the scene with “Arirang” and now I’m crying even harder. Sang-tae joins Ah-ran, who asks whether it’s okay for him to be here, given who his father is. He merely picks up a sign reading “Chairman Hong Sang-bok, tell the truth!” Ah-ran takes his hand, and they sit together in silent observance.
Kang-ja and Noah watch news of the vigil from the hospital, at Bok-dong’s bedside. Gong-joo hurries there the second she’s released from jail after being interrogated, and urges Bok-dong to wake up. Kang-ja assures her that he will. He will! He must!
When Dong-chil arrives to speak with the chairman, Ae-yeon warns that he could be backstabbed. Dong-chil tells her, however, that she’s the tail, and horror dawns on her face as she checks her bank balance to see that a huge deposit has been made in her name, from Jin-sang’s account.
Stunned, she stammers that Jung-woo had said it wouldn’t be her. Dong-chil points out that he’d obviously say that to her face and buy time to falsify evidence against her. He advises her to quietly take her two years in prison—and the fat payout the chairman will send her way—and then go her own way once she’s out.
But Ae-yeon grows panicked at the thought of going to prison over this and desperately fishes for a way to strike back first, begging Dong-chil to help her steal evidence against their bosses. She insists that she can’t just lie down and die nicely for him, but Dong-chil counters that she could die a dirty death instead. She’s best off doing nothing and taking the fall.
Kang-ja’s gang hears of the money transfer between Jin-sang and Ae-yeon, and tries to think of other ways to get to the guys at the top. They’re still looking for some kind of evidence on Minister Kang’s slush fund, and wonder whether tracking down Sang-tae’s mother would be helpful. She formerly held a position at the foundation before leaving for the States—she might know something.
Just then, Ah-ran receives a phone call—and the caller is Yi-kyung’s phone. To her mother’s crushing disappointment, it’s just a police officer on the line, but still, it provides a clue.
Kang-ja goes to the station to recover the phone, which is actually Bok-dong’s—it was retrieved at the school site and nobody had claimed it. In a flashback, we see what happened when Bok-dong stole into Dong-chil’s office looking for evidence to help the team. He’d found a memory card and popped it into his phone—and that’s how he got access to Yi-kyung’s old files.
The team doesn’t know how the files ended up on Bok-dong’s phone, but Ah-ran can confirm that they came from Yi-kyung’s. And as her mother looks through her daughter’s old photos, she comes to a video file and presses play. Oh god, what a horrible thing for a mother to watch. Everybody freezes in horror as they watch Yi-kyung’s death play out in live action, her mother devastated by new grief. They don’t see—though we do—that Bok-dong’s finger twitches.
Ae-yeon confronts Jung-woo about this betrayal, pointing out that his abandonment of her is just like what his father did to his mother. Jung-woo argues that it’s different because his father never loved his mother—but he did love her. His argument is that love isn’t enough, and Ae-yeon rightly calls him trash.
He suggests that she ride out her two years in prison and then return to him, like that’s all it takes to resume their relationship, and she flings her drink in his face. Not only is he like his father, she sneers, he is his father.
Jung-woo washes away some of that self-loathing with liquor, and then receives a text message from Yi-kyung’s phone, asking, “Why did you push me off the roof, Teacher? You didn’t have to kill me.” And then, “Save me, Teacher. I’m on the school roof. Please save me, Teacher.”
He assumes its a prank but looks spooked nonetheless as he heads for the rooftop, yelling for the jokester to come out. He actually hallucinates Yi-kyung standing there for a second, and sinks to his knees screaming, “But Jin Yi-kyung, you’re dead!”
Around the corner, Gong-joo captures the scene on camera as Kang-ja and Noah watch. They must also be the ones who release that clip to the world, which makes Jung-woo look mentally unstable, to his father’s displeasure. Jung-woo accuses Chairman Hong of being behind it, and then asks if it was Ae-yeon. But Dong-chil has an inkling, and says he thinks somebody under him got wind of that video.
Yi-kyung’s dying video clues the Scooby gang into the existence of the secret vault at school, and now Kang-ja’s itching to get to the school to investigate for herself. This must be where the minister’s slush funds are kept, and also why Yi-kyung died, but they can’t get a search warrant without more concrete evidence.
Ae-yeon arrives as the team confers, and Kang-ja immediately orders her out. She refuses to trust her after the last betrayal—but on the other hand, Ae-yeon has provided them with a potential lead. It’s a letter from San Francisco lawyers to Chairman Hong (back when he was dealing with divorce matters), which gives them a place to start looking for Sang-tae’s mother.
Dong-chil has surmised that Bok-dong got his hands on the video, and visits him in the hospital. Ack! It’s true that Dong-chil seems more resigned and weary than murderous these days, but there’s no feeling safe around him ever.
Bok-dong remains unconscious as Dong-chil asks why he did it, sighing that everyone’s making such trouble instead of just doing as they’re told.
Dong-chil explains to the chairman that Kang-ja’s in possession of the incriminating video, but promises to retrieve it. Chairman Hong has clued in to his curious reaction to Ah-ran and asks about his relationship to her and Kang-ja, which he half-answers by saying that Kang-ja is the enemy who killed his brother. The chairman is satisfied with that.
So Dong-chil charges his way into Kang-ja’s home, ignoring her terrified mother-in-law while he searches the place. He finds nothing, and next storms Gong-joo’s club and threatens her gangster family with a world of hurt if she doesn’t give up Kang-ja’s whereabouts.
Trembling in fear, Gong-joo says Kang-ja went to the school library. One of her other minions slips away to alert Chairman Hong about the proceedings—oh no, he’s been bribed into ratting out the team! This confirms to the chairman that Dong-chil is proceeding as promised.
Gong-joo does call Kang-ja immediately to warn her of Dong-chil’s movements, and Kang-ja doesn’t seem very worried. She’s been given the PIN from Sang-tae, and just means to get some footage of the vault and pop back out. Noah unlocks the school doors for her and warns her to be careful, and in she goes.
Kang-ja makes her way to the back bookcase and feels her way to the latch, which springs open the outer door. She doesn’t see Dong-chil watching quietly from behind, and makes her way to the keypad.
That’s when Dong-chil steps forward and shows himself. Gulp. She’s trapped.
He calls Chairman Hong, who heads to the school right away. Dong-chil informs him that he locked Kang-ja inside, and the chairman opens the chamber to confront her… only to find it empty. How could she escape?
Just then, a phalanx of reporters rush in, snapping photos wildly as a confused chairman tries to make sense of things. Aha! It’s a trap, and Dong-chil was in on it! Yi-kyung’s mother leads the reporters, while Kang-ja steps inside with her entire team behind her, standing shoulder-to-shoulder. Dong-chil is with them, and so is Gong-joo’s mole, who wasn’t a mole after all. (Gong-joo says proudly that there are no traitors in her family.)
A flashback takes us back to the moment of Dong-chil’s turn, at the hospital. Bok-dong had reached out to grab his hand—awake after all, phew!—and Kang-ja had approached him with the proposal.
Dong-chil had scoffed at her for trusting him, but she’d replied that it was Ah-ran who was certain that he would help them. And while Dong-chil could turn away from Kang-ja, and even away from Bok-dong, it’s Ah-ran’s plea that had stopped him short.
Cornered and exposed, Chairman Hong vows to make sure that Dong-chil dies at his hands. Dong-chil replies, “The reverse could be true.”
Then he turns to Kang-ja to tell her she’s made a mistake, because nobody who’s ever messed with him remained safe. Noah warns that he won’t remain safe either, not after what he did to those children.
Yi-kyung’s mother gives the news report on the chairman’s secret vault, and Jung-woo’s brain whirls, trying to find himself an escape route. “I can’t die alone,” he decides, and his eyes land on the old tape recorder left to him by his mother.
Minister Kang mulls over his options. Chairman Hong had asked for help in stalling a week, so that he could prepare everything to point at Jung-woo. He’d warned that if the chairman didn’t help, he’d take him down with him. It’s so satisfying watching them shackled to each other by their own perfidy. The ultimate karmic payback.
At the second hearing, Chairman Hong is seated among the defendants, with Ae-yeon as well. He tries to save himself by saying that he’s also a school parent who was shocked and worried at the news of the building collapse, and declares that it was all Jung-woo’s doing.
Jung-woo looks stunned, though really, shouldn’t everyone be expecting to be backstabbed at this point? The only question is who can bleed the slowest. Even Ae-yeon toes the party line and turns on Jung-woo. Interestingly, though, as she’s throwing him under the bus, we see that the restaurant owner (whose restaurant they’d visited earlier) was given a box to hold for Jung-woo’s “fiancee.” The man waits for her to pick it up, but she doesn’t come.
Jung-woo sees that the tide has turned against him, and when asked for comment, he just says that his higher-ups must have decided to make him the fall guy. But he won’t die alone, he says.
The prosecutor presents one last witness, and it catches the defendant’s by surprise: Bok-dong. He’s awake and full of incriminating information, and the baddies’ table watches on tenterhooks as he is sworn in.
Bok-dong testifies to being there on the night Yi-kyung died, and watching Jung-woo push her off the roof. He’d gotten her pregnant and killed her, then pinned the blame on Bok-dong. Breaking down in angry tears, Bok-dong bursts out, “What was so important about that?! You didn’t have to kill her over it!”
The prosecutor submits the phone as evidence to back up Bok-dong’s claims, requesting Jung-woo’s arrest and a search and seizure warrant for the vault to be issued immediately.
As Jung-woo is escorted away by officers, Chairman Hong orders his people to move quickly. His henchmen search Jung-woo’s place for “it,” but come up empty. Must be that incriminating tape, and I’d bet my bottom dollar that the restaurant owner has it.
Minister Kang moves into action, trying to pull strings to delay the search and seizure by a week. His partymates initially refuse to help because of the heightened scrutiny, and tell him to resign his post before he does them more damage. But the minister but he has one last card up his sleeve and dangles a name: Jeon Hyung-shik, aka the ex-vice principal who’s now a homeless man.
That name is enough to get his colleagues to pull strings of their own, and suddenly the lead prosecutor is being told he must wait a week to conduct his search and seizure of the vault. He’s outraged at the obvious politicking, but his boss makes it clear he is to follow orders.
But all’s not lost, because Noah makes a breakthrough in getting through to the San Francisco number, which finally puts him into contact with Sang-tae’s mother.
Next thing we know, she’s arriving at the airport, and a nervous Sang-tae meets her with teary eyes. Mom holds out her arms and hugs him, saying tearfully, “I’m sorry. Mom is sorry. I’m sorry for being late.”
Noah notes that the rest now lies in Mom’s hands. Kang-ja wonders whether she’d betray the father of her child, and Noah replies, “The only thing we can trust in now is mothers.”
While the most recent couple episodes have taken the focus off Kang-ja a bit as the case is taken out of her hands, it ties in the new developments nicely with the theme of mothers and children, without reducing it to an overbearing motif. The mothers aren’t reduced to a singular entity, but they’ve got a laser focus on what’s important here, and that’s the fate of their children and the culpability of those who abuse their obligation to protect them.
So it’s gratifying to watch them press forward relentlessly, now that they’ve identified the common enemy, and refuse to be sidetracked with petty diversions. And in keeping the focus of their journey on their emotional realities, the drama wards off getting drowned in the minutiae of the politicking and corrupt dealings. I’m always worried that it’ll get too bogged down, but relieved when it keeps its attention where we want it most: its characters.
That’s why I feel like despite all the betrayals and flip-flopping going on—and there was so much flip-flopping—I’ve always been able to understand where the characters are coming from. Like Ae-yeon, whose allegiance may seem constantly shifting and therefore be difficult to pin down. But it doesn’t matter to me so much to know whether a character is ultimately good or ultimately bad—the drama will bear out that question anyway—as long as I follow them on an emotional level. And Ae-yeon’s grasping for a place and some security feels genuine to me, so that we can see her actions through a lens of self-preservation rather than good-evil.
Dong-chil, too, has occasionally seemed like a cipher, saying one thing but acting a different way. He’s shown such growth that it was gratifying to see him choose Kang-ja’s side in this, though I appreciate that it wasn’t a clean redemption for him. He still walks away from Kang-ja with head hung, no longer a part of the old fold, but not exactly a jolly new member of the Scooby gang, either.
I feel like we’re poised to wrap things up with the final episode, though I’m always bracing myself for a final twist or two. (Or three or four, knowing this drama.) I just hope that we’re allotted enough time to lock away our baddies and give us enough time to bask a little with our motley family, because after all that darkness and pain, surely a little basking is in order, isn’t it? Or even a lot of basking. Much basking would be good!