Defendant: Episode 1
Defendant promises to be a gripping drama as it introduces complex characters and situations right off the bat. Ji Sung is riveting as a prosecutor who suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the prison bars, and Eom Ki-joon is not to be missed playing dual roles. This episode takes viewers from cute to tragic, with not a second wasted as we are dropped into Jung-woo’s present, which contrasts ever so sharply with his idyllic past. As a prosecutor, Jung-woo was committed to finding the truth, and he will need that resolve now more than ever.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
Guards patrol a prison at night as an escapee runs through the surrounding woods. A siren begins to sound, alerting the facility of the escape. Woljeong Prison begins a search for the missing prisoner and, as dogs bark in the distance, the escapee runs for his life. He stumbles and falls just as he makes it to a street. An oncoming semi-truck honks insistently as the battered prisoner stands up and stares straight toward the truck.
A sedan stops at a light, allowing the driver time to call someone named SHIN CHUL-SHIK, and he screams as he accuses Chul-shik of being a backstabber. The caller is his boss, but Chul-shik seems unconcerned as he enjoys the hostesses in his private lounge room. Another car stops behind the boss as a dump truck pauses before accelerating into them.
The prison escapee from earlier carries his young daughter to school. She sings a song, substituting a cat into the lyrics so that she can ask her father, yet again, about getting a cat. Before running in to school, she gives her dad a fist bump and a cute “Meow!” As he walks away, the father answers a phone call from a detective.
A number of sedans pull up to a hospital, and Chul-shik emerges from one of them dressed for a funeral. He is now the new boss and he is announced as such to the many men already gathered. They scramble to line up and greet him, causing him to smile, until he sees the photograph for the deceased boss, KIM YONG-JOO. Chul-shik tries to look serious, but one of the men struggles with a pair of sandals much too small for him. It’s our prosecutor, PARK JUNG-WOO (Ji Sung), who stands and stretches, and when he is instructed to bow, he answers, “Should a prosecutor bow to guys like you?”
Inside, Chul-shik pays his respects, making a huge display of grief without shedding a single tear. The prosecutor has waited, so Chul-shik sits across from him, calling him Prosecutor Park. The new boss proceeds to pick his nose before sticking that same finger into a bowl of soup that he serves to Jung-woo.
Jung-woo downs the soup before serving Chul-shik with an outstanding summons. Chul-shik rips it up and orders the men to take care of Jung-woo in a nearby room. As they lead him away, Jung-woo holds up a pen that plays a recording of Chul-shik ordering someone to get rid of Boss Kim Yong-joo, either by hitting him with a truck or drowning him. The men start asking questions of their new boss as Jung-woo arrests Chul-shik for the murder of the Kim Yong-joo.
It’s pandemonium as Chul-shik ends up fighting for his life alongside Jung-woo. The two manage to get away, running in their socked feet to a waiting car. And, just like that, Jung-woo gets his man. Later, Chul-shik shouts from a cell, protesting his innocence as he asks for Jung-woo.
Jung-woo returns to his office with his colleague, who scolds him for not arranging for police support. Jung-woo insists that he is fine, but gets questioned about his missing shoes, causing both men look at his feet and notice that he is bleeding. Jung-woo limps into his office to find that someone is waiting for him.
His visitor is a lawyer, YEO SUNG-SOO, who explains that he has come to offer Jung-woo a job with his prestigious firm. He places a generous contract before the prosecutor, detailing how much Jung-woo’s life will improve with the increase in salary while the rest of the office listens in. Jung-woo explains that it’s too big of a decision to make on his own, and asks to make a call.
Jung-woo puts his phone on speaker to call his wife, YOON JI-SOO. He explains that he has an offer from a law firm where he could earn his annual salary as a prosecutor in only one month. Ji-soo scoffs at the money, reminding her husband, “I married you because I wanted to be a prosecutor’s wife. Don’t even think about it.” She then asks him to pick up a cake on the way home before hanging up. As Attorney Yeo leaves, Jung-woo picks up a thick file with a photo on top, promising to examine it carefully.
Outside of the office, Attorney Yeo makes a call, and the man on the other end looks like the man in the file photo. As the call ends, the man, President CHA SUN-HO (Eom Ki-joon), is approached by an assistant who tells him, “It’s time.”
Sun-ho approaches a nervous looking young woman, wondering why she isn’t smiling on a good day. He takes her hand and leads her to a room filled with people and photographers, along with a banner announcing the inauguration of him as president of the company. Smiling, Sun-ho places his arm around the young woman’s shoulders as the assembled group claps in congratulations.
Back in his office, Jung-woo announces the end of the work day. His colleagues present gifts for his daughter, teasing that because of her, they get to go home on time once a year, leading them to inquire about plans for a second child.
Jung-woo stops to pick up the cake, giving his name to receive it. It turns out that there is no order under that name, but there is a cake for Park Bong-goo. Jung-woo later walks into his home with the cake, announcing, “Bong-goo is here.”
Jung-woo picks up his daughter as wife Ji-soo greets him as Bong-goo. He welcomes a friend, YOON TAE-SOO (Kang Sung-min), who has stopped by. Their daughter, PARK HA-YEON, wonders why her father called himself Bong-goo, and he explains that it was her mother’s name for him when they first dated. Ji-soo explains to Ha-yeon that her dad used to look countrified, making everyone laugh at the thought.
Tae-soo has to leave, explaining that he was waiting to greet Jung-woo. Ha-yeon shouts after him, “Bye, Uncle.” The celebration continues as the family dons festive birthday hats. Jung-woo sings an enthusiastic birthday song while Ji-soo records the event, shaking her head when he mistakenly declares their daughter five years old instead of six.
Ha-yeon looks expectantly at her dad as he presents her with her gifts, which are all stuffed animals. She looks visibly disappointed that not one of them is a cat, but after an encouraging look from her Mom, she acts excited. At the end of the happy day, Jung-woo sings a familiar lullaby to Ha-yeon. Ji-soo later finds both father and daughter asleep.
Ji-soo shakes Jung-woo awake, and he gazes lovingly at his sleeping daughter. In their bedroom, Ji-soo treats the injury on Jung-woo’s foot, wondering what happened to his shoes. At his complaining, Ji-soo marvels how a prosecutor can be such a coward. Jung-woo asks about Ji-soo’s mother, who is traveling, and he promises that they will join her on the next trip. Ji-soo gently tucks in Jung-woo as he mumbles, “I need to follow the rules.” He asks Ji-soo to wake him up at six o’clock before falling asleep, and his wife kisses him on the forehead before turning out the light.
As Jung-woo sleeps, he hears his wife and daughter trying to wake him, and suddenly his smiling face disappears. Appearing pale and worn, Jung-woo opens his eyes to men in prison garb, who are looking down at him anxiously. They call him Inmate 3866, and Jung-woo jumps up, disoriented.
Jung-woo doesn’t recognize the men, prompting one of the men to comment that Jung-woo has gone mad again. He orders a younger prisoner, LEE SUNG-KYU, to keep a lookout at the door. Jung-woo is told that he is in prison, where his explanation that he is a homicide prosecutor seems to have been one they all know well.
The prisoner reminds Jung-woo that they showered together the day before, which causes Jung-woo to lunge at him. The other inmates break them apart as Jung-woo calls out the names of his wife and daughter. They call him crazy as he demands to know where they are. A smiling inmate tells him that he killed them, and jabs Jung-woo on the red inmate patch on his clothing for emphasis.
That earns him a slap on the head as he is reminded not to joke about the red tag, which indicates a death penalty. As Jung-woo tries to take in his clothing and the red inmate number, the smiling inmate notes that after Jung-woo ate his dinner, he woke up mad again.
Jung-woo swears that he was sleeping in his house, only to be told that he has been in prison for three months. The smiling inmate shoves an unbreakable mirror in front of him so that Jung-woo can see for himself that he is a prisoner. His eyes widen at his reflection as the other prisoners comment on how believable he can be.
Sung-kyu announces, “He’s coming,” and the men help Jung-woo as they all sit down. A guard knocks on the door and Jung-woo leaps up, asking to make a call. Sung-kyu appears at Jung-woo’s side, explaining that he had another nightmare as he promises the guard that he’ll take care of him. He wrestles Jung-woo back to the floor while the guard informs the men that the warden will conduct roll call, warning them to behave.
During roll call, Jung-woo fails to call out, prompting the warden to enter the cell. The warden asks Jung-woo if he’s lost his memory again. When he insists that he has to go home, Jung-woo is told that the prison is his home now. Jung-woo asks again to make a call, so the warden hands him his phone. Jung-woo dials a number that no longer exists. The warden nods knowingly as Jung-woo dials again. He urges Jung-woo to accept reality as he retrieves his phone.
Jung-woo tackles the warden, muttering that nothing makes sense. The guards wrestle Jung-woo away, throwing him into a single cell. He remembers that the previous day was Ha-yeon’s birthday, calling it nonsense that he killed her and Ji-soo.
As the shadows lengthen, Jung-woo notices that the cut on his foot has healed. He begins to cry in grief as the reality that his wife and daughter are dead sinks in, his tormented screams echoing throughout the prison. Jung-woo narrates that even though he believed that Ha-yeon’s birthday was the previous day, in reality, it was four months earlier. He became a death row inmate for killing her and Ji-soo, even though he had no memory of anything at all.
Four months earlier, a man brags to a woman in a club that he has had every single woman except for her. She calls him funny, but he proceeds to suggest that they spend the night together. Excusing herself, the woman makes a call, promising the person on the other end that she will leave soon.
The woman explains that she thought that the man she was with was Cha Sun-ho, but instead, it’s his playboy brother. The woman defends herself to her friend, commenting that the men look the same. She hangs up and turns around to see the playboy brother standing in front of her.
A man staggers downstairs, dragging a golf club. It is the playboy brother, who proceeds to search throughout the house until he finds the woman from the club in a closet. Her face is battered and she kneels to beg to be let go. Instead, he strikes her repeatedly with the golf club.
Jung-woo interviews the brother, CHA MIN-HO (also Eom Ki-joon), and his attorney. The woman is barely alive after the attack that took place at the brother’s villa. The attorney instructs Jung-woo to get a warrant for further questioning. Addressing his client as “Vice President,” the attorney suggests that they leave. Jung-woo grabs the brother on the way out, suggesting he pray for the victim, since that means the difference between an attempted murder or murder charge.
At the villa, an investigation is underway. The golf club is retrieved from a pond on the property, and a detective identifies it as the weapon used by Cha Min-ho, the playboy identical brother of Cha Sun-ho.
The news reports that the Vice President of Chamyung Group, Cha Min-ho, is suspected of murder. Jung-woo arrives with a team at Chamyung Group, announcing that he has a warrant for the arrest of Cha Min-ho, but they are held back by a security team. Jung-woo sees Min-ho and calls out to him, only to be told that he is actually speaking to Cha Sun-ho.
Jung-woo produces an arrest warrant for Min-ho. Sun-ho orders his employees to cooperate with the prosecutor, allowing Jung-woo to continue with his investigation. As he walks off, Sun-ho asks after the whereabouts of Min-ho. The fugitive happens to be holed up in a very nice apartment, watching a news report on the investigation. Jung-woo appears onscreen, promising to find the missing suspect. The news reporter explains that because Min-ho is on probation, a murder conviction would result in a sentence of fifteen years.
Sun-ho finds his brother watching the broadcast. He asks Min-ho if he’s guilty, but his brother claims that he can’t remember. Sun-ho offers to accompany Min-ho as he turns himself in, but Min-ho only laughs before yelling about the length of his sentence.
Min-ho asks Sun-ho to buy him a ship, detailing how he would disappear, leaving everything to Sun-ho. He insists that isn’t what he wants, so Min-ho suggests that Sun-ho can go to prison in his stead. Sun-ho responds by slapping his brother across the face. He orders Min-ho to turn himself in before walking away, pulling his phone out to make a call.
Min-ho grabs the phone and tosses it away, telling Sun-ho that he can’t tell him what to do. Sun-ho explains that they have no choice, but just then, as Min-ho sees their identical reflections in a window, he gets an idea. Raising the liquor bottle in his hand, Min-ho advances on his brother, knocking him down with a blow to the head.
Min-ho is horrified by what he’s just done and begins to call for help, but stops to instead apologize to a semi-conscious Sun-ho. He becomes frenzied as he decides that Sun-ho has been privileged long enough, all while removing his brother’s watch and wedding ring. Dressed in Sun-ho’s clothes, Min-ho drags his injured brother to the balcony where he unceremoniously throws him over the railing.
As Min-ho turns to walk back into the apartment, he hears his name. Sun-ho is hanging from the balcony, causing Min-ho to drop to the ground, where he listens as his brother struggles to keep from falling. Ignored by Min-ho, Sun-ho loses his grip and drops to the ground below.
Inside the apartment, Min-ho washes the blood from his hands and styles his hair like Sun-ho. He then places his brother’s glasses onto his face, making his physical transformation into Cha Sun-ho complete. Min-ho sits down to pen a suicide note before leaving the apartment, which is recorded on several surveillance cameras.
Min-ho shields his face when he reaches the crowded lobby. Sweating visibly, his heart pounding, Min-ho makes a beeline for the door. Once outside, he waves for Sun-ho’s car and gets inside. The driver asks about the vice president, and is told to find a ship for him abroad. Outside, a crowd gathers as a still-alive Sun-ho is wheeled into an ambulance.
At Sun-ho’s building, Min-ho is greeted by the desk attendants as “President.” He has no idea where Sun-ho’s apartment is located, but some delivered mail points him in the right direction. Not knowing the code to the apartment, Min-ho rings the bell. The young woman from the inauguration flings open the door to tell Sun-ho about Min-ho, but suddenly stops when she recognizes Min-ho. He slowly backs her into the apartment as the door shuts behind them.
Inside, the young woman notices the glasses. Min-ho calls her NA YEON-HEE (Uhm Hyun-kyung) before removing the glasses and admitting that he is Min-ho. A television airs the breaking news of “Min-ho’s” suicide attempt. Yeon-hee drops to the floor while Min-ho’s eyes widen with the realization that his brother is still alive.
Yeon-hee looks at Min-ho in shock as he crouches in front of her to say, “You can fool him, but you can’t fool me. I know who Eun-soo’s father is.” Standing up, Min-ho continues, “Think of this as an exchange of secrets.”
Jung-woo parks in front of the hospital and runs inside, where he is met by a crowd of reporters. He joins his colleague who is posted outside of the operating room where Sun-ho (as Min-ho) is undergoing surgery, informing Jung-woo that some trees caught him as he fell. As the men sit and wait, Jung-woo observes that Min-ho isn’t the type to commit suicide.
The colleague gets a call and tells Jung-woo that a suicide note was found. Jung-woo has the colleague stay at the hospital while he leaves to check on the note. At Min-ho’s apartment, Jung-woo is shown the note. He notices that room service delivered some food, thinking it odd for someone about to commit suicide. He questions the employee who delivered the cart, and learns that Min-ho was drunk and smelled of alcohol.
Back at the hospital, Min-ho enters the observation room for Sun-ho’s surgery. He loses his cool in front of the accompanying doctors, who hear him say, “Sun-ho, please. Sun-ho, please go.” They misunderstand, and a senior doctor orders a Dr. Kim into the operating room to help.
Jung-woo meets with the chief prosecutor, who instructs him to close the young woman’s murder case. Between the suicide note and the reality of dealing with Chamyung Group, the chief prosecutor is getting pressured by his superiors. The chief prosecutor worries that Chamyung Group will hold them responsible if Min-ho, who is actually Sun-ho, dies. Jung-woo promises to quit if that happens, vowing to complete the investigation.
Back at his office, Jung-woo’s colleague notes that the suicide note was very thorough, even providing details that the investigation didn’t have. Jung-woo asks for some information that he requested and discovers that the patient’s alcohol level was 0%. Just then, another colleague enters with the CCTV footage for the hotel, proving that Sun-ho was the last person to meet with Min-ho.
Min-ho sits at Sun-ho’s bedside, where he learns that the police have a copy of the CCTV recording from the hotel. Jung-woo enters the room and, upon seeing pretend Sun-ho, recalls his earlier meeting with the real Sun-ho at Chamyung Group. Jung-woo extends his hand and he introduces himself, so Min-ho introduces himself as Cha Sun-ho. As he reaches for Jung-woo’s extended hand, the prosecutor pulls it back, reminding Min-ho/Sun-ho that they actually met the day before, when the prosecution team was at the office.
Min-ho recalls Sun-ho telling him about the prosecution’s visit and covers his mistake by using his brother’s condition as reason for his confusion. The two sit down together, where Jung-woo presents the suicide note to Min-ho/Sun-ho, who reacts by saying that Min-ho wouldn’t to do such a thing. Jung-woo asks if he’s referring to murder, or to suicide. The prosecutor agrees that the Min-ho he knew wasn’t the type to commit suicide.
Faux Sun-ho suggests that handwriting analysis would confirm if the note was written by Min-ho. He then admits to meeting Min-ho and urging him to turn himself in. Jung-woo sits silently as he observes the real Min-ho. A nurse runs into the room to announce that the patient has regained consciousness.
The men run to the patient’s bedside and Sun-ho sees Min-ho and then Jung-woo. The real Min-ho keeps up the pretense and calls his brother “Min-ho.” Jung-woo has been watching the brothers suspiciously and pushes by the real Min-ho, telling the man in the bed, “Talk to me.” The real Sun-ho manages to say something and Jung-woo asks him to repeat it. As he hears what Sun-ho has to say, Jung-woo’s eyes widen in shock.
Sun-ho flatlines, and Jung-woo is pushed aside as the doctors work to resuscitate him. Min-ho looks on as the doctors shock the real Sun-ho’s heart, but then approaches them to stop their attempts. He sits next to his brother’s body, crying as he calls out for “Min-ho.” Jung-woo looks on in disbelief as he recalls what the dying man whispered into his ear: “Min-ho-ya.” All while the cries of the real Min-ho morph into a crazed laugh.
I expected to be impressed with Ji Sung’s portrayal of Park Jung-woo, but he surpassed my expectations with this episode. He managed to express Jung-woo’s contented life with his wife and daughter as well as the wasteland of his life in prison with equal conviction. The intensity of his performance as an inmate with a death sentence, oblivious to the deaths of his wife and daughter, made me hurt for him as he struggled to make sense of his situation. How many times has he had to grapple with the loss of the loves of his life, as he wakes up time and again with no memory of the past four months? I felt sorry for his cell mates, who have to live through the ordeal with him over and over while trying to make the best of their lives in prison.
In order to accomplish such a travesty of justice, someone close to Jung-woo must have been involved, making his situation even more tragic, if that is even possible. This episode didn’t reveal very much about the people who are close to him, other than his wife and daughter. I expect to be introduced to more of his circle in future episodes, and I will be considering them with suspicion. That suspicion extends to the people at the prison, including his cell mates. Obviously, someone is drugging him through his meals, but only him. How do the other prisoners in his cell manage to escape the effects of his food? I would imagine with so many cell mates, there would be some sharing.
Jung-woo’s tragic present is all the more heartbreaking when we see how very happy he was with his wife and daughter. The family scenes are filmed is such warm light, while the prison scenes are cold and gray. Jung-woo looks healthy and vibrant in the past compared to looking half-dead in the present. His smiles have disappeared, replaced by confusion and grief.
Jung-woo was a loving husband and father as well as a dedicated prosecutor. His relationship with Ji-soo was strong enough that she was able to refuse his chance to earn more money, insisting that he remain a prosecutor. His daughter, obsessed with her desire for a cat, was both adorable and honest in her disappointment with her dad. It was obvious how much Jung-woo loved them both. The look that he gave Ha-yeon as she slept next to him was so touching. He looked as if he wanted to freeze time so that he could enjoy her just a bit longer, as she was growing up so fast. The sad truth is that she will never be older than that in his memories. His memory loss serves to protect him from what must have been the worst day of his life, but is also means that Jung-woo has no idea who his real enemy is. Of course, we know all too well that it has something to do with the younger Cha brother, Min-ho, even though he is now supposedly dead.
As impressed as I was with Ji Sung’s performance as Jung-woo, I was just as impressed with Eom Ki-joon. The scene between Sun-ho and Min-ho, before their identities were changed, was a great showcase for Eom Ki-joon’s acting ability. He was equally convincing as the responsible Sun-ho and the irresponsible, murderous Min-ho. It’s even trickier to portray Min-ho pretending to be Sun-ho, but again, it’s believable. After first seeing Eom Ki-joon in Scent of a Woman, I prefer him as the good guy, but that only serves to make his Cha Sun-ho more believable for me. Now that Sun-ho is dead, that leaves Min-ho, who has revealed himself to be the worst brother ever. Not only did he murder Sun-ho, he’s using the birth secret concerning his son with Yeon-hee to keep her silent. What more will we learn about Min-ho? Whatever it is, I’m sure it won’t be good.
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