Defendant: Episode 2
After the prey he was chasing turns around and starts hunting him, Jung-woo wakes up to a nightmarish reality, and he begins to understand that no matter how many times he runs away from what happened, it’s going to keep catching up to him. But there are so many gaps in his memory that it’s impossible to know the truth, and while he’s not without allies, they’re just as much in the dark as he is.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
The doctor pronounces Min-ho—who is actually Sun-ho—dead, but Jung-woo cuts in and and says they need to do an autopsy before they can decide if it was a suicide or not. Min-ho objects, saying they’d need the family’s permission for that, but Jung-woo glares at him and sends Investigator Go to get a writ of autopsy. Min-ho’s secretary announces the arrival of his father, Chairman CHA YOUNG-WOON (Jang Kwang), and Min-ho clutches the bedrail tightly, which Jung-woo notices.
Min-ho goes to his father’s office (wait, he’s not going to go see his dead son?) and as soon as he sits down, Chairman Cha says grimly, “Cha Min-ho!” Min-ho ducks his head and begins to plead for mercy when his father continues, “Is it true that he’s dead?” Min-ho breathes a sigh of relief and confirms his own death, and his father says that’s fine then. Min-ho freezes.
Chairman Cha says things have worked out for the best for both Chamyung Group and for Sun-ho, since Min-ho has taken his sins with him. “You two shared the same blood, but he’s not like you. Let’s just pretend that he didn’t exist.” He tells his son to forget about Min-ho and take care of this properly, because everyone is watching them now. Min-ho agrees and then leaves, though he pauses outside the closed door for a moment, his father’s words echoing in his ears.
Min-ho goes to visit his mother in the VIP ward. She lights up when she sees him, calling him Min-ho. The nurse gently corrects her, but Min-ho pretends to play along. The nurse tells him her symptoms have been getting worse lately, and he whispers to her not to mention his brother’s death, as the shock will be too great. As the nurse leads Mom off, she mumbles, “Where’s Sun-ho? Why isn’t he coming?”
Min-ho sighs and turns around to see Jung-woo giving him a death glare, and wonders to himself how much the prosecutor knows. Jung-woo tells him an arrest warrant will be issued soon and stalks off, leaving Min-ho stewing in anger. In his office, Chairman Cha sits looking at his family photos. I’ve lost a son, he thinks to himself. I can’t lose the one I have left. Omo, he knows!
At the NFS, the autopsy begins, with Jung-woo and Min-ho observing. The doctor begins to try to determine the cause of death, but Jung-woo asks him to verify the identity of the deceased first. Surprised, the doctor begins to take fingerprints, but is unable to do so because Sun-ho’s fingertips are all ruined from clutching the edge of the balcony before he fell to his death. Jung-woo tells him to do it with Sun-ho’s fingers instead then. Min-ho stares at Jung-woo for a moment, then agrees to have his fingerprints taken, and the doctor tells them he’ll have the results tomorrow.
The chief prosecutor berates Jung-woo for conducting an autopsy without his approval, saying that this is a bad case for both the prosecutors and Chamyung Group; why stir the pot when there’s a suicide note? The older man asks him what he’s thinking the truth is, and what he’ll do if he’s wrong about it. Jung-woo says it will be revealed tomorrow, and asks the chief prosecutor to believe in him.
Min-ho has a tantrum in Sun-ho’s office, thinking of Jung-woo and the soon-to-be revealed test results. Jung-woo stares at an evidence board covered with photos of young women and then at Min-ho’s picture above them, mentally promising him his comeuppance tomorrow.
The next day, Min-ho stands on a roof surveying the city as Jung-woo receives a call and runs to the autopsy room. The doctor tells him the fingerprints have been proven as Sun-ho’s, and thus the dead body has been confirmed as Min-ho’s. Jung-woo stares at Sun-ho’s dead body in shock, asking if he’s really Min-ho.
As he leaves, he runs into the real Min-ho, who smiles slightly and says he’s here to get “our Min-ho” for his funeral. Jung-woo asks Min-ho as he walks away, “Your brother died, and you’re smiling?” Min-ho simply smirks and keeps going.
Alone with his brother’s body for a moment, Min-ho uncovers him and tells him he’s sorry, that he couldn’t help it, and thanks him. As he’s signing out the body, the doctor asks him if the deceased used to wear glasses, as there were imprints of them on his face. Min-ho says he used to love sunglasses, and the doctor accepts the explanation, although he doesn’t seem to buy it completely. Min-ho gives him a long look. (Oh dear, I have a bad feeling about this.)
On his way home, the NFS doctor stops at a light behind another car, and a large truck that has been following him hangs back as the driver calls someone and asks what to do next. Once the driver has received instructions, he rams his truck into the doctor’s car hard from behind, leaving him motionless and bloody. In his office, Min-ho tells someone they did well and hangs up the phone.
Fake Sun-ho delivers a public apology from Chamyung Group via press conference, pledging to donate all of Min-ho’s assets to charity and promising to cooperate with any investigations and to compensate Min-ho’s victims. In the prosecutor’s office, Jung-woo is finishing up his case report when he remembers a detail—Min-ho, unlike Sun-ho, was recorded as having an extreme fear of sharp objects.
Jung-woo goes to Min-ho’s funeral, offering the report as an excuse for his visit. He points the sharp corner of the envelope toward Min-ho, who stares at it and falls into a flashback. We see young Sun-ho and Min-ho fencing, and the former had accidentally stabbed the latter in the eye, drawing blood and presumably causing Min-ho’s phobia.
Taking an unsteady breath, Min-ho snatches the envelope from a watchful Jung-woo and thanks him. Alone in the bathroom, Min-ho splashes water on his face until he calms down, but upon exiting, he sees the prosecutor waiting outside. Jung-woo walks away without a word. Man, if looks could kill, these two would both be dead.
Min-ho thinks his ordeal is finally over upon leaving the crematorium, but when he walks to his car with the urn, he spots Jung-woo staring at him from the sidewalk. Startled, he looks again, only to see no one there. On the way home, Min-ho ponders over what he should do about Jung-woo.
Four months later. Jung-woo sits in solitary confinement, struggling and failing to remember anything after his last happy memories from his daughter’s birthday. A lawyer arrives to meet him, greeting him familiarly, but Jung-woo doesn’t recognize him.
Dismissing the guard, the lawyer grins and tells Jung-woo to drop the act; that memory loss thing doesn’t work nowadays anyway, or he’d be in a mental hospital rather than a prison. When Jung-woo continues to stare at him, the lawyer complains that they’d already agreed he would admit to everything — doesn’t Jung-woo remember murdering his wife and daughter and abandoning their bodies?
Jung-woo punches him, then grabs him by the collar. The lawyer yells that they’d already agreed on everything the day before with Prosecutor KANG JOON-HYUK (Oh Chang-seok), and Jung-woo goes still at the name. He stumbles back in shock at the news that his friend is in charge of his case. The lawyer shouts that no one else would take Jung-woo’s case, so he’d better sign quickly.
Joon-hyuk meets with a doctor, concerned that Jung-woo lost his memory again this morning. It’s the fifth time; each time he loses his memory in his sleep, unable to recall anything after Ha-yeon’s birthday party. The doctor explains that it’s a rare type of memory loss—the fact that he always goes back to that night four months ago means it’s the moment he wants to return to most. Joon-hyuk asks if it’s really possible to keep losing one’s memory repeatedly, and the doctor replies that it can happen as a defense mechanism after an unbearable, shocking event.
Joon-hyuk thinks back to the day he found out about the incident. The police had brought Jung-woo to their office in handcuffs, and Joon-hyuk helped a stunned Jung-woo inside through a swarm of reporters. The higher-ups forced the chief prosecutor to brief the press, overriding his request to do an investigation first, as that would make the prosecutor’s office look like they were covering for their own. The chief prosecutor told Joon-hyuk to take on the case, and when he went into the interrogation room, Jung-woo could only cry and say he needed to find Ha-yeon.
In the present, Joon-hyuk asks the doctor why the memory loss keeps happening, and she replies that each time the burden on Jung-woo grows too heavy to bear, his mind tries to escape by erasing his memory. She’s worried, however, that the repeated memory loss will cause him even more trauma and may keep him from recovering. She tells Joon-hyuk that the only hope for him to get a bit better before the next trial is if something helps him to accept what he’s done.
In a courtroom, SEO EUN-HYE (Kwon Yuri) calls the next witness to the stand, and the judge calls her up to the bench. He asks her wearily to finish up already, but she insists that she still has witnesses to question. He tells her she doesn’t need sixteen witnesses for a simple theft case and orders her to wrap it up.
Afterwards, Eun-hye barges into the judge’s chambers angrily, asking how he could do that when the defendant’s life rests on this case. She accuses him of taking the prosecutor’s side, but he retorts that she’s the one who made a one hour trial last for five—how will he finish the day’s cases if everyone takes this long? Eun-hye snaps that his argument is tantamount to denying the right of the accused to be properly defended.
The judge’s clerk comes in to ask if he’s done evaluating the public defenders, and he is about to hand the forms to her when he removes Eun-hye’s from the pile. “There’s one I must re-evaluate,” he says, and rips it into pieces.
Eun-hye pleads with the clerk, who says all of the judges have the same opinion: She doesn’t plead cases but instead obstructs trials by going overboard in her arguments. Eun-hye is offended, saying she simply takes her clients’ cases seriously.
At the next desk, Jung-woo’s public defender hands his resignation to another law clerk and storms off while the clerks wonder who will take the case now, with all other public defenders refusing it days before the second trial. Her Lady Justice senses tingling, Eun-hye shakes her head disapprovingly at the other lawyer and loftily says that she’ll take the case instead, if it will make her eligible for reappointment. They agree as long as she gets officially appointed by the defendant, and she assures them that’s no problem… oh, and which case was it? Hah.
At home that evening, Eun-hye sighs at ending up with Jung-woo for a client. She remembers losing a murder case to him in which he disproved her argument of self-defense. She followed him afterwards and asked why he couldn’t have shown mercy in light of her client’s circumstances; he replied that giving a proper sentence according to the law is the mercy of a prosecutor. He told her that if she’d wanted to win, she shouldn’t have trusted her client; her mistake was always choosing losing cases. As he walked off, she yelled at him to wait and see, since she’d definitely win her next case.
Eun-hye wonders now if he will allow her to defend him, and sighs as she reads an article about him getting a death sentence in his first trial. She opens one of her law books and looks at an old picture of her and her dad. She thinks back to visiting her father in jail where he assured her of his innocence, and she promised to save him. She wipes away a tear in the present and promises Jung-woo’s picture, “You’re going to let me take your case, Park Jung-woo.”
Joon-hyuk comes to see Jung-woo, who is near tears with relief at the sight of his friend. He walks out of his cell, saying he has to get out of there and see Ha-yeon. When Joon-hyuk stops him, Jung-woo pleads with him to let him go, saying he knows this is a joke before yelling at his friend to tell him it’s not true. Joon-hyuk is silent, and Jung-woo begins to cry, begging over and over, “Please, tell me it’s not true.” He sinks to the ground, sobbing and clutching at his friend.
They sit in the visiting room, and Jung-woo asks, “Is it really me?” Joon-hyuk replies that so far, yes. Jung-woo drops his head at this wording, saying he knows Joon-hyuk wouldn’t make any mistakes. Crying, Jung-woo picks up a photograph of his wife with a man, and asks if he suspected Ji-soo of cheating on him. Joon-hyuk says that every photo but that one was burned, but Jung-woo says it makes no sense that she was having an affair.
Joon-hyuk asks if he really doesn’t remember, and Jung-woo reiterates that it’s all a blank after Ha-yeon’s birthday. Joon-hyuk tells him that according to the doctor, his last memory may be distorted, but the other man scoffs at this notion. “But, Joon-hyuk,” asks Jung-woo, “why am I still alive? If I really killed Ji-soo and Ha-yeon, why am I still alive?” He yells and bangs on the table, “Tell me! Why am I still alive? WHY?!”
Jung-woo cries that Ha-yeon’s birthday is still vivid to him, but he can remember nothing else. He asks Joon-hyuk what happened to her. His friend tells him that Jung-woo hasn’t yet remembered the exact spot where she is, and at that, he breaks down completely.
We then see Ha-yeon’s uncle in the woods, furiously digging hole after hole in an attempt to discover her body. He promises Ha-yeon that he will find her.
Joon-hyuk leaves the incident report with Jung-woo, telling him it might help his memory return. Jung-woo is allowed to go back to his regular cell, where maknae inmate Sung-kyu greets him cheerfully as “Hyung.” He helpfully explains where things are and tells him that the others have gone out to work. (The other four are convicted prisoners; Sung-kyu is still on trial.) Jung-woo tries to look at the materials Joon-hyuk gave him, but he can’t bear to read them and instead stares into space, swallowing his tears.
That night, Jung-woo pretends to sleep when the guard checks on them, then gets up to read the report. The next day he participates in roll call, but at lunchtime, he reads again while the others eat and discuss Sung-kyu’s meeting with a prosecutor the next day. Sung-kyu brings him some food, and the oldest inmate tells Jung-woo that the young man has been taking care of him all this time.
The prisoners are allowed into the yard after lunch, and Jung-woo sits and watches the others as they exercise. Sung-kyu joins him, asking if it’s true that he caught some of these prisoners, and Jung-woo nods. Sung-kyu says that those prisoners don’t dare threaten Jung-woo on the off chance that he’ll be acquitted.
Watching Jung-woo from his office window, the warden assures Min-ho over the phone that everything will go smoothly until the second trial. Min-ho exits his office to join (Sun-ho’s) wife Yeon-hee and son Eun-soo, who are waiting for him. Eun-soo runs excitedly to his “father,” and Min-ho picks him up and greets him affectionately, but Yeon-hee is stone-faced.
A new batch of prisoners arrives at the jail, and wannabe crime boss Chul-shik is among them. He looks around, muttering that he’s heard that Jung-woo is here. Elsewhere, Joon-hyuk stays late at work rechecking the evidence from Jung-woo’s first trial, which was open-and-shut even though the suitcase that was presumed to hold Ha-yeon’s body still hasn’t been found. He reviews CCTV footage that shows a man with a mask stowing that same suitcase in a van and getting in the driver’s seat.
The camera cuts to Jung-woo in his cell, looking coldly determined, and then back to the driver of the van, who removes his mask with bloody fingers to reveal none other than Jung-woo, wearing a deadly expression.
Joon-hyuk, staring at his screen, asks, “Why did you do it, Jung-woo?” We see Jung-woo in his cell again, and then the two versions of him side by side.
Oh, I hope that there is some very damning evidence of Min-ho’s guilt inside that suitcase, because otherwise it does not look good for Jung-woo’s innocence. I was hoping throughout the entire episode that we would get at least a hint that he didn’t do it. If we discount the fact that everyone who knew him was shocked by such uncharacteristic actions, all we’ve got so far is an apparently airtight case against Jung-woo, if Joon-hyuk is to be believed (so far he seems trustworthy), and an extremely shady ending scene. The expression on Jung-woo’s face was creepy as hell, and I’m starting to have my first doubts about whether he’s as innocent as I want to believe.
I knew Ji Sung could act after his virtuosic turn in Kill Me, Heal Me, but I was blown away by how easily he went from his badass prosecutor persona, able to intimidate murderers without saying a word, to the devastated and confused ravings of a man who has lost everything and doesn’t even remember it happening. He nailed every little expression and emotion, and I’m sure having a child of his own gives even more depth to his performance as a grieving father, but Ji Sung is so good that he probably could have pulled it off perfectly anyway.
My heart broke for Jung-woo in every moment when he sobbed at the realization of what he’d lost, but somehow nothing gutted me as much as his expression of relief when Joon-hyuk came to visit him in solitary. Those tears of relief that sprung to his eyes when he saw his friend, that little nod that said, Yes, finally, I’m going to wake up from this nightmare—and then the horror of the realization that all of it was true, even as he begged his friend to tell him the opposite. Oof.
Eom Ki-joon is equally skilled in his portrayal of villain Min-ho, and he’s excellent at giving the creepy murderer vibe without overplaying it like actors in these kind of roles sometimes do, with the popping veins and that weird neck twitch that has somehow become shorthand for Serial Killer. The small moments when he laughed to himself at Sun-ho’s deathbed, or when he told his brother’s corpse he was sorry in that light, almost affectionate tone, like he’d accidentally stepped on Sun-ho’s toe, those were truly chilling.
The family dynamics between the twins and their parents that are slowly being revealed are also pretty interesting. (Seriously, what kind of father would go along with one of his sons murdering the other and taking his identity?) I dismissed Min-ho’s “You made me this way” to Sun-ho last episode as the perennial excuse of the lazy troublemaker, but maybe there’s something to that, knowing what we do now about his fencing injury. The guy is still insane, but it seems like the two brothers have a complicated history, and I’m looking forward to seeing what more we find out about Sun-ho, who has mostly been a cipher until now.
Unfortunately, Yuri has yet to impress as Eun-hye, and her green performance stands out even more against the brilliance of her co-stars. She wasn’t bad in her quieter moments, but her shortcomings seemed to glare more anytime she had to show anger or enthusiasm. I’m hoping as the drama progresses she’ll settle into the character a little more and hopefully absorb some good acting juju from Ji Sung (I’m an optimist). I do find her character intriguing; she seems at first like a self-righteous and somewhat arrogant idealist, yet her backstory reveals that all that zealotry comes from her anger over her father’s unjust imprisonment, and that she’s spent her adult life making up for her inability to help him as a child. Add to that her promise to Jung-woo that she’s going to win her next case, and she’s pretty much the perfect candidate to take on his hard-luck cause.
I do wonder how Yeon-hee’s story will play out, because other than Jung-woo, she’s the only one who definitively knows the truth. I really felt for her in those scenes when Min-ho was putting on the happy family act, and you could just see her distaste for him. I hope she’s able to find the courage to reveal his secret, even if that means the exposure of her own, because at this point, I don’t think Jung-woo has any other leads to find out what really happened. And I’m still crossing my fingers, hoping against hope that he’s the hero of this story after all.
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