Defendant: Episode 12
It’s a nail-biting hour as Jung-woo and his co-conspirators plot the most dangerous mission of their lives. Will they be able to outsmart and outmaneuver their adversaries, or will the many obstacles that lie between them and freedom ultimately lead to a crushing defeat? Only one thing is certain—it’s going to be a hell of a ride.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Vowing to escape as he crouches on the roof, Jung-woo spins around when he hears the warden’s voice behind him. Luckily, the man is on a lower level berating the head of security about the illegal items that have been smuggled into the prison lately, reportedly by a staff member. The head of security nervously says he’ll look into it, but the warden says he’ll do it himself; there will be a prison-wide inspection.
Jung-woo carefully levers himself off the roof and back into the warden’s office, but the man is still nearby, talking on his phone in the hallway. Jung-woo ducks down as the warden re-enters his office and turns on the lights. The warden looks around suspiciously, but finds nothing before leaning out the window to smoke and failing to see Jung-woo standing on the window ledge next to him.
A guard arrives, and the warden takes him along to do cell inspections. The officers move out in force, and Chul-shik anxiously watches for Jung-woo’s return. The others panic, certain he’s been caught.
Jung-woo silently exits the warden’s office and gets down the stairs undetected by the guards, though a camera catches him passing by. Meanwhile, two guards arrive at his cell, and realizing that Jung-woo is missing, they ask his nervous cellmates where he is.
Suddenly Jung-woo exits from the bathroom, claiming a stomachache, and the guards receive word that the inspection is over. Once they’ve left, everyone sags in relief, and Chul-shik snaps that Jung-woo almost gave him a heart attack. (Me too.)
The next day, Raccoon is missing from the yard, having been caught during the inspection last night. He was working with the head of security, who gets a dressing-down in the warden’s office. He begs to be let off this once, offering the warden a bank book as a bribe, which his superior takes.
Since they’ve tested the route to the rooftop, Jung-woo and his co-conspirators now have to figure out how to get past their next obstacle: the five surveillance towers. Chul-shik and Mong-chi bicker over this seemingly impossible task while Jung-woo thinks it over carefully.
Min-ho arrives in his office to find his mother, accompanied by her nurse. The old woman greets him as “Sun-ho” and says she came because she missed him. Once the nurse leaves, Mom says she had a bad dream recently—that the supposedly vacationing Min-ho is actually in a cemetery. She asks him to call Min-ho so she can talk to him and lay her fears to rest. Min-ho tries to put her off, but she insists, so he gets up and “calls” before turning to tell her that Min-ho must be asleep.
He’s startled to find his mother standing right in front of him. “Min-ho,” she says, completely lucid. “Where’s Hyung?” She repeats his name agitatedly, grabbing his clothes and shaking him. She asks why he’s wearing his brother’s clothes and glasses, and tells him to explain. She demands again where Sun-ho is, then suddenly becomes faint and seems to fall into one of her episodes, murmuring, “Where are you, Sun-ho?” As the nurse wheels her out she turns to her son and says “Min-ho,” before shaking her head.
The deputy chief of prosecutors meets with Joon-hyuk, telling him to do well in his UN posting, and then asks again if Jung-woo’s case was wrapped up properly, startling the younger man. The deputy chief says there’s nothing more humiliating to a prosecutor than conducting an investigation wrong—he did it once, and he covered it up. “A prosecutor acknowledging and correcting his mistake? It’s admirable. But we know,” he says meaningfully, “that moment is the end for him.”
Joon-hyuk goes to his office and opens a locked drawer in his desk, where he’s hidden Ha-yeon’s Nemo. He presses the stuffed animal to play its recording of his and Ji-soo’s voices, then puts the toy into a box, looking anguished. “Why did you have to go that far, Cha Sun-ho?”
Our prison break crew examines their map, and Gangster Hyung asks Jung-woo if he’s decided on an escape route. To everyone’s surprise, Jung-woo says a surveillance tower is the only way to get to the front gate. Rockfish and Chul-shik balk at the danger of getting shot, but Mong-chi says he’s on board, inadvertently spilling the beans about his winning lottery ticket to the rest of the group. Rockfish tackles him and rips the ticket off Mong-chi’s stomach, then he, Gangster Hyung, and Mil-yang marvel at the two million dollar payout. Mong-chi begrudgingly agrees to give Rockfish five thousand dollars of his winnings.
Back to business: Jung-woo says they’ll go through tower three, across the yard—it’s the the only one with a railing, which Jung-woo will tie a rope to so they can climb down. The next day in the yard they map the route: out the warden’s window, across the roof and down the water pipe, then it’s through two doors to get to the yard.
That night, Jung-woo goes out again to test whether the keys they have will unlock those two doors. The first one opens right away, but the second has Jung-woo trying every key until he realizes that none of them work. He shares the news with his friends at lunch the next day, saying he’ll need to cut out a part of the fence to get of the second door.
Tae-soo arrives then, and Jung-woo follows him to the guards’ office and thanks him for the other day. Tae-soo shows him security footage of Jung-woo in the hallway on the night of the inspection; he says he figures Jung-woo is trying to get out again to meet Ha-yeon. “I saw Ha-yeon’s picture. That day at the hospital, you met Ha-yeon, right?” Jung-woo nods. Tae-soo asks why he’s hiding it from him, and what exactly happened. Jung-woo tells him the story of what happened the night of Ji-soo’s murder.
Tae-soo is in a murderous rage after hearing the full story, but Jung-woo warns that one wrong move will put Ha-yeon in danger, and apologizes for being unable to protect Ji-soo. Tae-soo asks what he can do.
At Maria Clinic, the doctor gives Ha-yeon a clean bill of health, and his nurse shows Sung-kyu and Ha-yeon a place they can stay. Sung-kyu tells Ha-yeon that if she waits a bit, her dad will find them here, and she agrees cheerfully.
Eun-hye comes home with shopping bags full of men’s clothes and shoes, and her aunt asks suspiciously if she has a boyfriend. But Eun-hye tells her that the clothes are for a client and herds her out of her bedroom as she thinks back to the last time she visited Jung-woo.
He told her he’d found Ha-yeon, but wouldn’t tell her where she was for fear of putting Eun-hye in danger, saying he’d find his daughter himself. Eun-hye asked what would happen if he couldn’t get out, but Jung-woo didn’t allow for that possibility. He also gave her a list and asked her to leave those things at a closed-down school next to Woljung train station, telling her he’d contact her once he got to Seoul. Now, she looks for the school on a map.
The warden asks Jung-woo again for some kind of evidence to pin Min-ho for the crime, but he reiterates that he hasn’t yet recovered his memory. The warden shows Jung-woo a transfer order that arrived this morning to that dark, inescapable prison he was to be sent to before, and asks if this might jog his memory.
In their cell, the six men stare at the transfer order, dated four days from now. Chul-shik tells him to give the warden what he wants, but Jung-woo declares that they’ll just have to escape before then.
Seok shows up at Maria Clinic asking about his “friend” who was there recently, but the doctor pretends not to recognize Sung-kyu’s picture. On his way out, however, Seok spots a car and identifies it as Sung-kyu’s by… empty chip bags?
Tae-soo eats with his mother at her restaurant, thinking of Jung-woo’s request to keep things a secret from her in order to prevent undue shock. She hesitantly asks if he can take a bowl of food to Jung-woo, and he surprises her by saying yes while mentally asking her to wait a little longer.
That night, Jung-woo stealthily works on cutting a hole in the fence leading to the prison yard. Now they only have one obstacle left, and the next day, the three conspirators eye the tower, trying to figure out a way in. Spotting some guards, Jung-woo gets up and tells the others to follow him.
They pretend to exercise near the base of the tower as the guards unlock its door to change shifts. The lock is huge, impossible to break, and they don’t have its key; Chul-shik suggests they find another way, but Jung-woo insists that there isn’t one.
Yeon-hee and Min-ho watch Eun-soo’s recital, and Yeon-hee looks over at him, full of smiles as he films the performance. As the three eat together afterwards, Min-ho thinks, This is right, Hyung. Yeon-hee was always my woman.
A flashback shows his confrontation with Sun-ho when the engagement was decided. He asked how Sun-ho could do this, but his brother calmly replied that it was their father’s decision. Min-ho angrily said that Sun-ho neither knew nor loved Yeon-hee, but Sun-ho replied that although Min-ho loved her, Sun-ho was making a business deal, so feelings didn’t matter—he didn’t care who he married.
That evening, Min-ho meets Joon-hyuk on a bridge, and asks why the man wanted to see him. Joon-hyuk says he’s curious: He knows Min-ho had a history with Jung-woo, but why is Sun-ho so interested in him? Min-ho asks why he needs to know when he’ll be leaving soon, but Joon-hyuk says he looked at the black box videos again and saw Sun-ho exiting Jung-woo’s apartment right before the incident, and again one day later; it didn’t take Joon-hyuk long to figure out what that meant.
Joon-hyuk turns to look at him. “You’re Cha Min-ho. That’s the only way this all makes sense.” Min-ho turns as well and meets his eyes. “You’re saying the same thing as Prosecutor Park.” Jung-woo didn’t believe him when he said he wasn’t Min-ho, he says—will Joon-hyuk?
Joon-hyuk grabs Min-ho’s jacket and says if he had known earlier, he wouldn’t have believed him. Min-ho says he knows how Joon-hyuk feels; they both have a lot to lose. He wishes him luck at the U.N. and leaves, and Joon-hyuk smacks his steering wheel in frustration.
On his nightly excursion, Jung-woo remembers the circuit breakers going out earlier that day, a seemingly common occurrence. He heads to the breakers and switches off the power to surveillance tower three. A guard grumbles as he comes to turn it back on, and a hidden Jung-woo checks his watch: It took six minutes for the guard to arrive.
In his office, the warden is watering his plant when he notices dirt on the windowsill. Oh no! Angrily, he looks closely at and around the window.
Jung-woo tells his prison break buddies how long they’ll have to get through the fence and into the tower, but Mong-chi asks what they’ll do about the padlock—it’s too thick to cut with a saw. Chul-shik asks Rockfish if he can pick the lock, but Rockfish refuses to risk his life to help them. Jung-woo says he’ll just have to get the key.
Gangster Hyung asks what they’ll do once they’re out, since the police will be out in full force searching for them. Jung-woo says they’ll go to the nearby Woljung train station and take the first train, hopefully before anyone notices they’re gone. Chul-shik wonders what they’ll do about money and a change of clothes, but Jung-woo says he’s already asked someone—this is Eun-hye, of course, who we see going to the old school at night to drop off the requested items.
Jung-woo heads out one last time on a practice run; they’ll do it for real tomorrow. When he goes into the warden’s office, however, he doesn’t notice a red light blinking from the potted plant by the window.
At Jung-woo’s checkup the next day, the doctor wonders why his wound isn’t healing, telling him he mustn’t exercise. She says he’s the most mysterious patient she’s had, since he went from trying to break out of the hospital to being a model prisoner. He thanks her for all her help, which sounds suspiciously like a goodbye, but he says it’s because he might be transferred soon.
The warden checks the hidden camera from his office and sees the head of security entering not long after the video starts. He angrily gets up to check his wall safe, but smiles in relief to see it hasn’t been tampered with. He leaves his office to summon his underling, completely missing Jung-woo’s appearance in the video. Whew.
The warden tells the head of security to resign, as he’s used up his one chance. The man kneels and asks for mercy, saying he’ll do anything. In the guards’ office, one of the officers packs his things to transfer somewhere else, and they wonder why Tae-soo also applied to go, as his term here isn’t up yet.
During a lunch stop at Subway, Eun-hye looks up the penalty for breaking out of prison and finds out that it’s ten years.
That night, Ha-yeon can’t sleep, so she asks Sung-kyu to sing her a song like her dad used to. Sung-kyu says he doesn’t have a dad so he doesn’t know any songs, so she sings to him instead, and he hides his tears.
At Woljung Penitentiary, as soon as the night guard passes, Jung-woo and his friends spring up out of bed. They test the strength of a rope they’ve made from knotted blankets, and wrap it around Mong-chi.
Mil-yang tells them to be careful, and Rockfish jokes that they’ll have lots of space now, before he remembers that tomorrow they’ll all be in solitary. Mong-chi says he’ll buy him whatever he wants once he gets his two million. He asks Jung-woo how long he’ll have to serve for breaking out if he gets caught—six months, a year? He decides he doesn’t mind, and they say their goodbyes.
It’s go time. Jung-woo counts down, and they exit one by one through the window. Their cellmates carefully replace everything; by morning the sirens, or lack thereof, will let them know whether their friends succeeded.
The three escapees carefully follow the route Jung-woo has painstakingly plotted, timing each section according to the camera cycles. All goes smoothly until they reach the warden’s office, which now has a electronic door lock. Jung-woo’s transfer is the next morning, so they have no choice but to proceed—he tells Chul-shik to take off his shirt and put it against the glass window in the door, and then he breaks it with a fire extinguisher.
They exit safely through the window, up onto the roof, and down the water pipe, ducking to avoid the searchlight each time it passes. Jung-woo goes to turn off the circuit breaker, and when he rejoins the others, they have three minutes. The guards in the office receive notice to go turn the breaker back on, but they remember that someone’s on patrol, and radio him to do it instead. Uh-oh.
The three convicts reach the yard and sprint to the surveillance tower. Jung-woo takes out a key from his sock and Mong-chi nudges his hand in approval, but it sends the key flying. Ack! They find the key just as the lights begin to turn back on, far too soon, and barely make it into the tower in time.
They head up the stairs, only to stop dead when they see Tae-soo—but then Jung-woo holds up the key and smiles, thanking him. Tae-soo smiles back and cautions them to be quiet.
The warden arrives at the prison as our trio reaches the top of the tower, where the sole guard listens to music on his headphones, totally immersed. They reach the balcony and let down the rope without being detected, though the guard startles them when he suddenly sings out loud. Ha.
Chul-shik goes first, followed by Mong-chi, and Jung-woo follows last. He’s about to descend when Tae-soo comes outside, and they say goodbye to each other.
Their cellmates wonder nervously whether their friends got out safely, finding hope in the silence. Jung-woo finally drops to the ground, and the three escapees hug each other in delight. Quick, Tae-soo, untie the rope!
The other guard takes off his headphones and turns around to see the rope, still tied to the railing. He grabs his gun and runs out to the balcony in time to see the prisoners running away. He tries to aim at them, but Tae-soo pushes his gun down, and the two men struggle. Jung-woo and his friends realize that they’ve been seen and make a run for it.
First, let me take a moment to retrieve my heart, because I think it burst out of my chest and ran away a while back. Every week I marvel at how intense this show is, and every week it ups the ante—no wonder the ratings go higher with each episode. That escape sequence was brilliantly set up and executed, and I want to praise both the writing and directing for giving us a satisfying, suspenseful prison break despite its long lead-up and intricate planning, which could easily have grown tiresome and repetitive. I loved how the show took us through the process of overcoming each obstacle only to find a new one in its place, and the details of how Jung-woo and his friends found solutions to each one; we’ve repeatedly been told that Woljung Penitentiary is impossible to break out of, so it had to be believably difficult for our hero.
Jung-woo was on top of his game this week in using his smarts to figure out a way to orchestrate his prison break without detection, and he also reminded us that he used to be a cunning prosecutor who never gave up on his cases. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the version of Jung-woo we started the drama with, and though he isn’t back to his old self, it was a relief to move on from the confused, traumatized amnesiac we’ve spent most of the show with to a purposeful man on a mission. It was also nice to see him finally ask for help and join forces with his cellmates and Tae-soo, who have all been asking for a while to be let into his confidence. The interplay between Jung-woo and his fellow inmates gave us some welcome comic relief, and I’m going to miss it.
Eun-hye, on the other hand, had only one job in this entire episode: to buy our escapees clothes (oh, and advertise batteries and Subway). She has less and less to do as the drama moves toward its climax, and I’m reminded of another work by this writer, City Hunter, which did the same thing with its heroine—the latter part of the show focused almost exclusively on the showdown between its major male characters. To be fair, that was an epic showdown, and I’m sure Defendant will give us an equally impressive one between our hero and his various enemies, but I can’t help being a bit disappointed that the writer seems to spend less time developing female characters than the male ones, who are consistently interesting and complex.
I can’t complain about Ji Sung and Eom Ki-joon being given meaty, dynamic characters that allow them to fully stretch their acting muscles, but I do wish Yuri had more to do than find USBs, especially since she’s actually doing a decent job in this role. I understand that it’s been hard for Eun-hye to be involved much so far since most of the action has taken place within the prison walls, but now that Jung-woo is on the run, I hope she’ll be fully involved in helping him find Ha-yeon and in hiding from the police. I’m also looking forward to Eun-hye and Jung-woo combining their considerable brainpower to find a way to prove Min-ho’s guilt and put him away for good.
Joon-hyuk certainly doesn’t seem willing to take up that responsibility—he’s growing more impotent as time goes on, and I’m wondering why he bothered to meet Min-ho and tell him that he knows all his secrets when he’s obviously made his decision. Besides, doesn’t he know that you never confront the serial killer with your knowledge of his misdeeds? Now, even if Joon-hyuk miraculously revives his dead conscience and decides to bring Min-ho to justice instead of leaving for New York, Min-ho will off him without the slightest hesitation. One thing is clear: Joon-hyuk isn’t a competent enough prosecutor to get the U.N. position or any type of award on his own merit, which is perhaps why they were such effective bribes. Fortunately, Jung-woo is out now and his allies are multiplying, so he no longer has to depend on his ex-friend’s tender mercies to clear his name.