Masked Prosecutor: Episode 2
Things come together a little more this episode, as our leads’ greater agendas are exposed, or in Dae-chul’s case, created. With Min-hee and Dae-chul working a case together, there’s bickering and eye-rolling enough to keep you chuckling even if you can’t keep track of who all those old men are.
But the problem with those power-greedy patriarchs is that they don’t give a damn about anyone else, which means they’re generous in causing suffering. Maybe the only thing they’re generous with.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Dae-chul threatens the girlfriend-beater guy, who spills the beans since he’s a wimp.
Elsewhere in the same building, a man lies dead in a pool of blood. His killer escapes with some papers, and evades the CCTV. Dae-chul isn’t as careful, so when he exits a little later, he’s caught on it full-frontal. Oh dear. At least he has the mask on?
We watch the killer burn the incriminating papers, and send Sang-taek a picture of a ringed hand. Deleting it, Sang-taek reports the job done to Joong-ho, who is anxious to erase all trace of their connection. He reassures Joong-ho that his guy is too meticulous to be caught, plus, they have their own hidden aces — namely, Chief Prosecutor SONG MAN-SEOK (the man he called “hyungnim”) and rising star, Prosecutor KANG HYUN-WOONG (Eom Ki-joon), aka Joong-ho’s son. Cue ominous music.
His night work done, Dae-chul hides the mask away in a drawer. On his way out, he glances back at a half-hidden photo of teenage Min-hee, and grins happily.
Dad warns Dae-chul that now he’s come to Seoul, to beat the heavyweights, he needs to grow his strength. Dae-chul asks Dad the thing we’ve all been curious about: How did he find him so easily back then?
“Easily?” Dad cries out, indignant. He put an entire voice-phishing ring on the job and it still took days! Dae-chul retorts that with a prosecutor son, his criminal past is hardly a thing to be proud of, but his hidden smile makes it clear he is pretty proud. He suddenly has a thought, and asks Dad if he can get him an unregistered (illegal) phone. Dad: “How many?”
It’s night at a remote barn, and a shadowed man seizes a woman, dragging her inside while she screams — and Min-hee screams herself awake from the nightmare, alone at uncle Dong-chan’s gym.
He finds her there the next morning, and recoils at her masked face. Ha! They bicker about her cosmetic concerns and whether it doesn’t make her laughable as a detective. She coolly argues that her female intuition is a big asset in catching criminals, if anyone dared to mock her, she’d make their blood dry up. Even Dong-chan is intimidated by her implacable tone.
Min-hee receives an anonymous text about the hotel assault — the perp drank alcohol after committing the crime (while they’ve played it off as happening while drunk, to reduce his culpability). “Find proof,” the message instructs, and signs off with a row of hearts. HA.
At work, she tries to track the message, but it’s unregistered, so she doesn’t know if the information is legit. Detective PARK DONG-PYO (Kim Byung-choon) says that if it’s true, it changes everything. Since the liquor bottle found at the scene isn’t one supplied by the hotel, it could have been brought in deliberately to manipulate the situation and support their story.
They track down the shop selling that particular brand, and sure enough, the CCTV shows the slippery lawyer buying it, and the time matching up. Min-hee describes the likely sequence of events to Dae-chul: Guy beats up girlfriend. While she’s knocked out, he frantically calls his lawyer, who rushes to supply the drink for the perp to knock himself out on. And bam, mischief managed.
Dae-chul shoots down the scenario as entirely circumstantial. His laissez-faire attitude gets on her nerves, but she has to admit they don’t have any proof. She wants him to issue an arrest warrant for the lawyer, but he laughs in her face at the idea of extracting a confession from him.
She fumes in her office, where Detective Park says they should just give it up. She’s not ready for that, but wants to try some other way, since they can’t rely on good-for-nothing prosecutor Dae-chul.
Meanwhile, the good-for-nothing (masked) prosecutor breaks into the lawyer’s car and steals the black box video.
The detectives interview the victim in hospital, but she can’t remember if her attacker was drunk at the time or not. Detective Park persuades her to try harder, but Min-hee notices her distress and puts a stop to it.
Detective Park reproaches her for cutting off their best lead, but she’s firm, not wanting to upset the victim further. Just then, she gets another anonymous message, “Check the black box,” followed by yet more hearts. Lols. She asks fellow detective, Baldy (fine, his name is PI SONG-HO, played by Hong Suk-chun) to get more info on the sender. She reveals that their liquor bottle tip came from the same source.
Dae-chul smiles over his phone, and returns to the stolen video. He notes the licence number of the car parked opposite…and we zoom out to Baldy extracting the video chip from the car in real life. The car-owner confirms he was at that hotel at the time of the incident, and the detectives hit gold with the black box video, which clearly shows the two men’s deception.
When confronted with the evidence, suspect and lawyer are speechless. Dae-chul hovers over them like a disappointed uncle, and tuts that there’s no way out this bind. Min-hee, reciting law to him, says they can detain him now, right? He looks every inch of unwilling, and later, Min-hee chirps with glee about getting one over on him.
But she sobers up when she admits the only reason she solved the case was because of the texts. She tries to figure out the sender — they knew she was on the case. Baldy figures it’s either someone who wants justice for the victim, or has a grudge against the perp. It could be, she agrees, but she’s troubled by those hearts.
Lawyer-guy confides to Dae-chul that his black box was stolen recently, and his client was even forced into a confession, but Dae-chul apologetically says there’s no evidence of either being linked with the police. In a last effort, the lawyer even name-drops his (very convoluted) connections, which makes Dae-chul smirk that a piddly connection like that ain’t gonna do nothin’ for him.
Police break into an apartment and find the now decomposing dead body that appeared at the beginning of the episode.
Min-hee’s thoughts are busy with figuring out the mystery of the hearts while she cooks. Uncle Dong-chan is chuffed by the hearts decorating his omurice. “You must love your uncle a lot!” he delights. Aww.
She suddenly realizes that hearts = love. OF COURSE THEY DO, SILLY. Could her secret helper be a boy who crushed on her in the past? Uncle scoffs that a man would have to be mad to chase her when she’s so scary. Their bickering is interrupted with news of the murder, and she heads out.
The detectives survey the scene, where Dae-chul surprises her. But his serious façade cracks as he whispers into her ear how awesome it is to land such a big case so soon after his arrival to the city, much to her disdain.
Even when they’ve left the crime scene, he continues to wax enthusiastic (and expository) about the murder of such a wealthy and connected man. Min-hee shuts him up with a kick, asking how he could have changed so much for the worse, before stalking away.
Unfazed, he reminds her of her old promise to consider dating him if he really became a prosecutor. Without turning around, she says that he’s not even worth considering. He just grins and tells her to call him when she’s done thinking.
He turns back to the apartment block, now troubled by the memory of being at the scene himself the other night.
We finally meet Joong-ho’s son, hotshot prosecutor Hyun-woong, who meets his father for dinner at a restaurant. Meanwhile, Dae-chul lets himself onto Mom’s elevator at the last moment as she goes up to meet her family.
“Mom,” he says. She finds him gazing at her, and he tries the word again, savoring it.
Before Mom gets there, Joong-ho asks his son to take on the murder case as a favor to “President Jo” (Sang-taek), whom he owes a lot. He confides that Sang-taek and the dead man had shady dealings they don’t want coming out, and if Hyun-woong is on the case, he can protect him. Hyun-woong easily agrees, and asks Dad if he happens to be involved in it.
We rejoin Dae-chul, now apologizing to Mom profusely — he was momentarily shocked by her resemblance to his dead mother. She turns back to ask how old he was when he lost her, and he quickly lies. She says that he must miss her a lot. Left alone, he whispers that he misses her like crazy.
Mom enjoys a lively reunion with her darling son Hyun-woong, while Dae-chul watches the happy family from a distance.
Later, Hyun-woong gets the lowdown on the case from his team. Finding out Min-hee is in charge seems to mean something to him.
The detectives go over the preliminary autopsy results of the victim, who was the CEO of a construction firm. Dae-chul gatecrashes and cajoles Min-hee to share, so Detective Park describes the lethal precision of the victim’s wounds. Dae-chul’s an over-excited schoolboy, but between him and Min-hee, they conclude it’s the work of a professional hitman.
The arrival of CCTV footage is bad news for him, but his disappointment at the speedy resolution is nothing to the shock he gets when Detective Baldy reveals their suspect is the guy in the pro-wrestling mask.
He tries to block them from watching the video, citing it as protecting the poor man’s civil rights, but Min-hee isn’t buying it. He argues (quite sensibly) that a professional wouldn’t show his face (or mask) in such an obvious way after committing murder — therefore the masked man is absolutely not the culprit. Oh you are in a bind, mister. Hehe.
Min-hee misreads his deflection as him trying to steal the credit for solving the case. He loses the fight and they watch the video, where Dae-chul is further outraged when Min-hee wonders if he’s a pervert-killer, with a mask like that.
But that’s as far as they get — the next thing we know, Hyun-woong arrives to officially take over the case, and he asks them to hand over all their data to his team. Dae-chul’s eyes dart to the video they’re watching, anxious.
Min-hee takes Hyun-woong aside to ask why the bigshots are picking up their case, but he diverts her with circular reasoning. Interestingly, they speak casually with each other — aha, he calls her sunbae. He promises to make it up to her later with a meal. Dae-chul watches their friendly exchange from afar.
Bent Chief Prosecutor Song congratulates the new Justice Minister, and they have a conversation of veiled barbs and doublespeak. Song makes it clear that he’s not happy with a certain appointment, and wants it “corrected.” And if he doesn’t, the minister asks, what happens?
“Then a tidal wave will come,” Song threatens — a wave he won’t be able to handle. The minister tells him to bring it. Pretty badass for an old man.
Min-hee gets home just as Uncle Dong-chan finishes performing memorial rites for her mother. He encourages her to at least pour her mom a drink, but Min-hee won’t. She grumps that she never asked to be born, and then Mom just upped and died like that. But Dong-chan senses her real feelings, and urges her to let the past go.
“How can I forget?” she asks bitterly. “I’m the evidence of that terrible crime. Until this miserable body disappears, I can’t forget, Uncle. Ever.” Oh, that’s awful.
But she does tend her mother after all, and vows to her portrait to catch the criminal with her own hands and see him punished.
Chief Prosecutor Song presides over his very own Evil Council of Evil (which includes Hyun-woong), and declares war against the Justice Minister. Afterwards, he tells Hyun-woong to wrap up the murder case quickly without leaving any loose ends.
Dae-chul takes out his mask and frets about it. He quickly stuffs it away when Dad pops in, but the latter doesn’t miss that his boy’s hiding something.
Over a ramyun dinner, Dae-chul gives dad an update on his progress (= very little). To bring Joong-ho down, he needs to climb higher, he says. Their talk turns to banter as Dae-chul teases Dad (in what must be a ten-year running joke, lol) about his past, and they share a sweet moment.
Hyun-woong tells his investigators that they’ll treat the case as a simple robbery-murder. They argue that that means there’s no reason for the Seoul Central office to handle it, but Hyun-woong disagrees: It resembles other unsolved murder cases, therefore it’s a serial killing. Uh, if you say so.
Dad watches news reports of the masked murder suspect — which attribute a further five killings to him — and confirms with horror that the suspect’s hoodie is identical to Dae-chul’s. Elsewhere, Sang-taek watches the same report with the real hitman, impressed with what he thinks is Hyun-woong’s fiction.
Min-hee tries to figure out with her team why their case got scooped when Dae-chul pops out at her like an unwelcome jack-in-the-box. She totally rolls her eyes at his theatrics, hee. He says it’s odd how their little case got blown up, with randomly added facts here and there that don’t make any sense. Conclusion: It’s not mask-guy. He hams it up, saying he knows because of his super-duper special intuition. Min-hee’s expression is just priceless.
To the assertion that a masked man must have something to hide, Dae-chul makes the best comeback ever: Why does Spiderman wear a mask, huh? Is he a bad guy? Everything about this scene is hysterical, Dae-chul even pretends to shoot webs at everyone.
But Min-hee says none of it matters anyway since it’s out of their hands now, and they call it a night. The couple end up walking together, and she semi-threatens to put him in handcuffs (not the fun kind). He objects, and she rounds on him for using banmal with her. Their relationship isn’t so close, she says, making a point to address him by his title, before marching away in annoyance.
He muses to himself whether they’ve really never met since that time. A flashback shows us Min-hee, in her uniform-cop days, being stalked by a scruffy young man, who’s apprehended by none other than Dae-chul (doing a bit of stalking of his own?). He warns the guy to stay away from Min-hee since she’s spoken for. Watching her go, he tells her to keep her promise — he’ll make sure to become a prosecutor, so he can stand in front of her.
He’s not the only one thinking of the past tonight. Min-hee sits in the darkened gym, remembering Dae-chul’s determined fight to win permission to date her, and her lips quirk with the tiniest smile.
He arrives home to find Dad waiting with his mask and avenger-gear laid out in front of him, demanding an explanation and fearing the worst. Dae-chul quickly explains that he’s being framed, and admits to his other vigilante activities that got him tangled up with a murder case.
Dad wants to know why he, a prosecutor, is beating up random people. “Because of you, father,” he sighs. Because of Dad’s expectations for him to climb to the top, and his lack of ability to meet it, he had to make himself successful by finding evidence to solve his cases in ways that his prosecutor position didn’t allow. The reason he’s come this far, he says, is because he wore the mask and used his fists.
Dad becomes increasingly stricken and asks what happens now. Dae-chul replies that he has no choice now but to go and beg the guy he beat up to testify that he isn’t the murderer. He knows he’s finished as a prosecutor, but he’ll get Dad his revenge — isn’t a knife in the belly enough? He tells Dad to just say the word: “I’m ready to wear the mask and become the devil.”
That night, Dae-chul overhears Dad’s nightmares, as he cries out to be saved.
Dad is gruff at breakfast. Dae-chul admits that if he doesn’t confess, all the people he’s beaten up will emerge, and he’ll become the target of the investigation. Finding the real killer won’t be so easy either, since he’s not an ordinary criminal. Dad concludes that what he needs is to buy time, right? Oh no, Dad. What are you thinking?
He apologizes to Dae-chul for cornering him into becoming a prosecutor, but says he was so proud when his boy made it that he even forgot his revenge. He begs him to hang in there and not give up, for the sake of his own life — this crisis’ll work out somehow.
Prosecutor Hyun-woong gets a call from someone who wants to confess. He lights up, and arranges to meet away from the office, because of the media circus. Oh no.
Before he goes to meet the prosecutor, Dad calls Dae-chul one more time and just thanks him.
A car picks Dad up. He explains the misunderstanding to the man, whose face we don’t see, that he wore the mask and beat someone up, but he didn’t kill anyone. The man wants to check if it’s the real mask. Dad eagerly shows him, and at his request, puts it on. As he does, the camera finally pans out to reveal the driver’s face — it’s the hitman.
Dae-chul gets home that night and finds a note from Dad which sends him running. Elsewhere, police recover a masked body found bobbing on the water, while Dae-chul searches the streets for his father.
Nooo, not dad!
I appreciate how we took the time to give dimension to the father-son relationship, so we feel a real sense of sorrow when he goes. But still, it’s narratively necessary for the next step of Dae-chul’s masked-hero journey, because he needs a more primal motivation than secondhand justice. He’s been fairly complacent and aimless in his masked activities, and I think it lacked urgency because his everyday life was enough happiness, just being able to live companionably with his father. So the loss of that is sure to be both crucible and catalyst, giving him a clear goal and laser focus as we go from the lesser motivation of clearing his own name, to the acutely personal one of avenging his father.
We also saw this episode how he spends a lot of time at the fringes, watching and hidden, while others move forward. The more he gets involved with Min-hee and finding his dad’s killer, the more he will be forced to engage with the world. The backstory and current build-up has, in fact, laid the groundwork for his partnership with Min-hee effectively, as — driven by their private tragedies — their trajectories are set to converge. I don’t know how Min-hee is going to find a rapist of nearly thirty years ago, but…at least she has incontrovertible DNA evidence on her side.
She and Dae-chul are in a funny place of having to (re)define their old-new relationship, which is definitely more new than old, but made complicated by that briefest history (I think they’ve talked more in the present than they ever did in the past!). Like most of you, I found it weird that Dae-chul has such an enduring love for a girl he barely met a few times ten years ago (although maybe now I am talking about 75% of all dramas ever…), but I also think it fits in with his simple character to hold fast to one hope or one promise forever. Like he tells Dad, he’s a jump-first guy, not a calculating intellectual (although that said, he’s demonstrated a surprising amount of shrewd thinking, just very cloaked by his act). I think Dad’s death will also serve to give him more layers and challenge his easy personality, as his inner conflicts take him to war with his external enemies (not to mention that one of them is his half-brother).
I really like Min-hee’s hard-as-nails attitude and the contradiction they play with her character. She’s the pretty girl all the boys chase, but astute and un-self-absorbed at the same time, which makes her self-preserving and good at her job. She’s tough enough that nobody messes with her, but still has a keen sense of compassion and justice. That she’s so strait-laced and sharp-shooting is what makes her interactions with Dae-chul so fun, because he keeps disconcerting her but she finds herself impressed with him at moments, despite herself. And this is pretty much what we’re all here for, right?
But although Joo Sang-wook’s comic chops are still top-notch, character-wise, I do feel a disconnect between his cynical teen self and his present dorkball prosecutor. It looks like I’m a minority in really enjoying the backstory segment last episode — I actually thought I wouldn’t mind if that were the drama, forget the adults. No Young-hak’s earnest and laconic character is one of my favorite teen-types (sort of like our Bok-dongie or Tae-gwang, yes?). But what’s the point of an origin story if the continuity weren’t important?
The tone is still a little muddled, but although it seems like it’s beginning to settle just a smidge closer to the darker end of the spectrum, I have no doubt that the comedy will run strong (otherwise it’s a tragic waste of the leads). The opening episodes have been a long parade of old men, and it’s not easy to keep it all straight, or figure out which bad guy has what agenda, but I’m sure that’ll become clearer in the coming episodes. I’m keen to see the show make good on the really juicy conflicts that lie in store for Dae-chul with his mother’s traitorous family, and whether/how that crosses over with Min-hee and her quest to find her mom’s rapist.
- Masked Prosecutor: Episode 1
- Mercenary prosecutor by day, masked avenger by night
- Choi Siwon cameos as inept thief for Masked Prosecutor
- Oh Snap! Put your hands in the air for Masked Prosecutor
- The prosecutor rips off his robes and dons his mask
- Kim Sun-ah, Joo Sang-wook’s first stills for Masked Prosecutor
- Masked Prosecutor loses Ohn Joo-won, gains Eom Ki-joon
- First script read for KBS’s Masked Prosecutor
- Masked Prosecutor confirms leads, courts Ohn Joo-wan
- Joo Sang-wook and Kim Sun-ah for new KBS vigilante drama