Defendant: Episode 14
It’s a tense and emotional episode as Jung-woo fights his hardest to get to Ha-yeon despite the obstacles that face him at every turn. Jung-woo and Min-ho are locked in a battle of wits and nerve, and as they get closer to their final confrontation, one of them moves beyond rage to cool and deadly calculation, while the other starts to become truly unhinged.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Min-ho wishes Jung-woo luck with an evil laugh, and Jung-woo turns to see police arriving on the motel rooftop. He runs to the opposite staircase and dashes down, cops chasing him in increasing numbers now that he’s been spotted. Once he reaches the ground floor, he runs toward the street, then escapes detection by hiding under a truck.
Joon-hyuk arrives at Sung-kyu’s motel room with detectives who have preserved the scene as he requested. Police are still searching the area for Jung-woo, and the detectives tell Joon-hyuk that the 911 call was made anonymously from a pay phone. None of the surveillance cameras work since the motel is old, but they confirm that the stabbing victim was Jung-woo’s cellmate. While Sung-kyu undergoes emergency surgery, Joon-hyuk orders the detectives not to allow anyone to meet him once he’s out.
Min-ho calls Joon-hyuk and tells him that since he found Ha-yeon, now Joon-hyuk has to find the knife used to kill Ji-soo. The prosecutor asks if Min-ho was behind what just happened, but Min-ho simply says that a retrial mustn’t take place. Min-ho then checks in with Seok, who tells him that Sung-kyu is in the hospital and that he understands what he is to do. When Seok asks what to do with the sleeping Ha-yeon, Min-ho tells him to take her to the villa and lie low.
Jung-woo finally rejoins Eun-hye and gives her the bad news. She tells him that an ambulance took Sung-kyu and reveals that Min-ho is being investigated by prosecutors. Chul-shik calls and says he’s on the move to evade the police, and they arrange to meet up.
Yeon-hee watches a news report about Chamyung Group’s fraud investigation, thinking back to when she went to visit her father in jail. He’d told her to choose Sun-ho if she wanted to save him, because she couldn’t gain anything from Min-ho. Sometime later, she arrived home, only to collapse in shock at finding that her father had hanged himself. Now, she promises her late father that she’ll regain everything that was taken from him.
In his lair/office, Joon-hyuk ponders where Jung-woo might have hidden the murder weapon, rereading his investigation report as he tries to figure it out. Wow, this guy is reaching new lows every day.
Eun-hye arrives home to find detectives waiting for her, but she’s alone. When the detectives question her about where she went today, she tells them to get a warrant, and once in her bedroom, she collapses against the door while remembering her last conversation with Jung-woo.
She cautioned him against his course of action, telling him that it was too dangerous, but he told Eun-hye that he didn’t want to drag her into this further. He returned her phone and left with Chul-shik, promising to be in touch. Now she looks at Ha-yeon’s left-behind backpack and tells him to make sure he brings the little girl back.
Min-ho leaves the prosecutor’s office, fighting through a mob of reporters. His car is stopped at a light when it’s lightly rear-ended. Secretary Kim, who was driving, gets out to take care of it, and the car soon sets off again with Min-ho dozing in the back.
The car stops in a quiet lot, and Min-ho is told to get up… by none other than Jung-woo, who is in the driver’s seat. Chul-shik opens Min-ho’s door and drags him out, throwing him against a pile of junk so Jung-woo can have at him. Jung-woo punches Min-ho repeatedly, asking where Ha-yeon is. He pulls out Min-ho’s phone and forces him to call Seok, and he tells Seok to bring Ha-yeon if he doesn’t want Min-ho to die.
Min-ho laughs and says Jung-woo has just killed his daughter, and he orders Seok to do it. Jung-woo punches him repeatedly, but Min-ho just keeps laughing madly. Min-ho says that Jung-woo can’t kill him, but Chul-shik pulls out a mallet and declares that no one will know if he kills Min-ho right here. He swings at the man and misses by inches. Jung-woo holds him back, and when they hear sirens nearby, they leave after warning Min-ho not to harm Ha-yeon.
Joon-hyuk examines a map of Jung-woo’s route the night of the murder, trying to figure out where he might have hidden the knife, when he notices a rest stop along the way and leaves immediately to check it out.
Min-ho emerges from the emergency room to meet his similarly banged-up secretary, who apologizes for being unable to protect him. Min-ho asks him not to tell his father about it or report the incident to the police.
As they drive, Chul-shik urges Jung-woo not to worry—they’ll find the knife and get Ha-yeon back. He grins and says it felt good to beat up Min-ho after all he’s put them through. Jung-woo asks where he got the car, and Chul-shik says he got it from his gang’s maknae, the only member that still believes in him, adding, “Isn’t it comforting to have someone to trust right now?”
Jung-woo finally smiles, causing Chul-shik to grin and declare, “Park Jung-woo, I believe in you. You’re the only one who can prove my innocence.”
They arrive at Munan Rest Area, which is also where Joon-hyuk was headed. Chul-shik runs to the bathroom as Jung-woo retrieves the knife, which he buried at the base of a tree the last time he was here. As soon as he has it in his hands, Joon-hyuk calls his name. Argh!
Jung-woo asks how Joon-hyuk found him, and Joon-hyuk says that he knows everything before he tells Jung-woo to turn himself in. Jung-woo asks if he also knows who killed Ji-soo, and Joon-hyuk nods as he says that it was Cha Sun-ho—or rather, Cha Min-ho.
Jung-woo can’t understand why he’s doing this, but Joon-hyuk claims that there were no mistakes in his investigation; Jung-woo forged the evidence too perfectly (as though that’s somehow an excuse). Jung-woo says he had to do that to save Ha-yeon, but Joon-hyuk counters that he should have told him that Ha-yeon was alive.
“How could I trust you when you act like this?” asks Jung-woo. Joon-hyuk says he’s sorry, but he’s come too far now to turn back. (That old chestnut?) Jung-woo says he has to find Ha-yeon, but Joon-hyuk says the police will arrive soon.
Suddenly Chul-shik hits Joon-hyuk on the back of his head with a tree branch, and he drops in the most satisfying way. Jung-woo follows after his right-hand man, ignoring Joon-hyuk calling after him. Once they’re in the car, Jung-woo tells his absent ex-friend, “I’m going to turn everything around.”
Realizing he’s being scapegoated to take responsibility for Chamyung Group’s crimes, Min-ho goes to his father’s office and asks why he’s the one who has to take the fall for everything. Chairman Cha replies that someone has to, for Chamyung’s sake. Min-ho doesn’t understand why it needs to be him, but his father tells him that there was a whistleblower; besides, he should pay this price, since eventually everything will be his. Min-ho wonders if his father would have done this to Sun-ho, until it hits him that the old man has known all along that he’s Min-ho. His hands start to shake violently.
“Min-ho ended up like that because he didn’t want to spend fifteen years in prison,” says Chairman Cha. “But if people knew everything he did, his sentence wouldn’t be a mere fifteen years. Sun-ho, can’t you serve just a couple of years?” Recognizing this for the threat it is, Min-ho acquiesces and leaves. As he’s walking out, he ignores a call from Jung-woo, delighting at the thought that the man must be going crazy.
Detectives question Sung-kyu about who stabbed him, and he tells them that it was Jung-woo as Seok ordered him to do, since the baddies still have “evidence” that can frame Sung-kyu for Ji-soo’s murder. Meanwhile, Min-ho leaves work with a full escort of bodyguards as Jung-woo and Chul-shik watch and ponder their next move.
The deputy chief asks Joon-hyuk why he called for the police to go to Munan Rest Area the night before; he says he’d mistakenly thought Jung-woo was coming there. Prosecutor Choi comes in and asks Joon-hyuk if he’s heard anything about Jung-woo, and the deputy chief snaps that if he wants to help Jung-woo so much, he should just quit and become his lawyer. Prosecutor Choi replies that he’s prepared to resign, but first, he has something left to do. At that moment, Jung-woo calls Joon-hyuk saying that he wants to turn himself in.
Min-ho asks what will happen if he continues to deny all charges, but his legal team says that things are already settled between Chamyung and the prosecution. Once they leave, he asks Yeon-hee what Sun-ho would have done in his place. She says his father would never have done this to Sun-ho. Surprised, Min-ho asks why she never told him his father knew his true identity, but she says it wouldn’t have made a difference—he won’t be able to get out of this. He asks Yeon-hee what he should do now. She replies, “Abandon your father. Like he abandoned you.”
He’s mulling over her words when Joon-hyuk calls to tell him that Jung-woo plans to turn himself in. Taken aback, Min-ho immediately calls Jung-woo to ask to meet. Jung-woo demands to hear Ha-yeon’s voice first, and Min-ho transfers him to her (via conference call?) where she’s being held by Seok. She cries that she’s scared, and Jung-woo tearfully promises to pick her up soon. She asks about Uncle Sung-kyu, and Jung-woo tells her they’ll go see him next time. Min-ho agrees to make the exchange, but Jung-woo must come alone. Chul-shik is reluctant to let him go, but Jung-woo sees no other choice.
Mong-chi calls Woljung Penitentiary from a pay phone to ask why he wasn’t on the news, and the warden tells him that no one knows he’s gone, so he’d better get back quick or he’ll lose his job. Delighted at this unexpected leverage, Mong-chi asks for a favor.
Mil-yang, Gangster Hyung, and Rockfish are locked in the solitary confinement cells wondering about the fate of their friends when guards suddenly come to release them. The sudden end to their punishment makes them uneasy, and they’re even more surprised when they return to their cell to find a flummoxed Chinese food delivery man. Ha! He grumpily tells the delighted prisoners that the food is from Mong-chi.
Jung-woo and Min-ho park some distance away from each other in an empty lot and slowly exit their cars, communicating via phone. They start walking toward each other, but Min-ho suddenly says he’s changed his mind and throws Ha-yeon in his car. He speeds away while Jung-woo runs hopelessly after them. They’re soon beyond his reach, and Jung-woo drops to his knees, howling in despair.
Jung-woo surprises Prosecutor Choi in a parking garage, and he immediately asks his friend if he’s innocent, which Jung-woo affirms. The older man sighs in relief and gives him a long hug. When Jung-woo explains what happened, Prosecutor Choi suggests they handle it with the law so that Jung-woo can prove his innocence in a retrial, but Jung-woo says he must find Ha-yeon first.
Min-ho and his lawyer return to the prosecutor’s office, summoned by the Special Unit, and Min-ho waits alone in the interrogation room. A voice comes over the intercom: “Cha Min-ho. It’s me.” Min-ho laughs, recognizing Jung-woo’s voice, and remarks that he must be very angry. He tries to exit the room, but finds the door locked. Jung-woo tells him that no one will come for the next two hours.
Min-ho plays it cool and tries to bait Jung-woo with the false story of his crimes, but he ignores him and says, “Bring Ha-yeon.” Min-ho asks why Jung-woo is asking him for his dead daughter, and Jung-woo asks if he’s afraid of being recorded. “Don’t you know that our situation won’t change because of mere recordings?” Min-ho drops the act and asks flatly why Jung-woo is here, since there’s nothing he can do.
“I found something I can do,” says Jung-woo. “Make you go insane.” Min-ho asks how, and Jung-woo holds his phone up to the microphone. “Mom,” comes Eun-soo’s voice, and then we hear Yeon-hee tell him to go to his room while she talks to the visitor. Oh, snap. Jung-woo’s not playing nice anymore.
Hiding his anger, Min-ho smiles and asks why Jung-woo is suddenly involving his sister-in-law and nephew—is he going to kill them? He mocks Jung-woo, saying he doesn’t have the guts to do it. Jung-woo recalls Eun-hye telling him about a rumor that Eun-soo is actually Min-ho’s son, and says, “You’re right. I can’t do it, but it won’t be a big deal for Shin Chul-shik, who’s in your house.”
Chul-shik asks from Jung-woo’s phone, “When should I kill them? Just say the word.” Min-ho remembers Chul-shik threatening to kill him with the mallet and finally loses his cool, banging on the one-way mirror.
We flash back to reveal their plan: Jung-woo gave Chul-shik an envelope and told him to take it to Min-ho’s place and stay there for two hours, but he warned him not to scare them. Now, in Min-ho’s living room, a smartly dressed Chul-shik puts his phone down and shows Yeon-hee some documents on the pretext that Prosecutor Choi sent him to confirm a few details.
In the interrogation room, Min-ho screams that if something happens to Eun-soo, Ha-yeon will die, and Jung-woo says, “So it’s true that he’s your son.” Min-ho freezes in the act of pulling out his phone, and Jung-woo says if he calls, both Yeon-hee and Eun-soo will die. Regaining his equilibrium, Min-ho mockingly praises Jung-woo for his plan, then suggests again that they exchange Ha-yeon for the knife. But Jung-woo’s not playing anymore, and he refuses. “I’ll give you an hour. Bring Ha-yeon.”
Min-ho completely loses it, laughing madly as he repeatedly throws a chair at the glass. Jung-woo tells him it won’t break—he’s tried it. Outside, Prosecutor Choi guards the door, unsure if he’s doing the right thing. The Special Unit prosecutor approaches to question Min-ho, but Prosecutor Choi tells him to come back in two hours.
An hour passes, and Jung-woo calls Chul-shik, holding the phone up to the mic again. The gangster asks who he should stab first. At this, Min-ho caves, and Jung-woo orders him to make the call.
Eun-hye and Tae-soo drive to a busy playground to search for Ha-yeon among the children. They spot a girl at the edge of the sand with her back toward them. Tae-soo runs up to her and says her name, and Ha-yeon looks up at her uncle. They embrace, both sobbing in relief.
The door to the interrogation room opens, and Min-ho rushes to the observation room next to it, but it’s empty. He calls Yeon-hee and frantically confirms that she and Eun-soo are okay, then asks Seok where Ha-yeon is. The henchman says he let her go, and Min-ho furiously yells at him to go get her back.
In a church, Mother Oh prays earnestly, while behind her, Ha-yeon walks through the door and calls, “Grandma.” The old woman stares at her granddaughter in joy and disbelief, and the two have a tearful reunion as Tae-soo and Eun-hye look on.
Jung-woo walks in the door, and Mother Oh and Ha-yeon turn to see him. Ha-yeon calls, “Daddy!” and runs into his arms, and they hug each other tightly, saying how much they missed each other. Ha-yeon asks if this is a dream, and Jung-woo assures her it’s not while thanking her for being safe and telling her that he loves her. Excuse me for a moment — I can’t see through my tears to type.
Joon-hyuk receives the news that Jung-woo has both Ha-yeon and the knife and throws a little tantrum. The deputy chief comes into his office, looking grave, and they both go out to the front of the building, where a mob of reporters has gathered. A van pulls up, and Jung-woo exits, followed by Ha-yeon. Jung-woo kneels before his daughter and reassures her that the world won’t turn its back on them.
Then he stands before the reporters and tells them, “My daughter is alive. I’m turning myself in to prove my innocence.” Father and daughter smile at each other.
At long last, Ha-yeon is safe! There was a nice contrast between Min-ho’s apparent victory at the beginning of this episode and Jung-woo’s hard-won triumph at the end, although most of the hour was spent in too many near-misses to count. Part of me wonders if we would have had so many if not for the extension, because by the time Ha-yeon was finally found for good, I no longer felt any real tension. Not that it wasn’t satisfying to see her reunited with her family, because it absolutely was, but I found myself waiting for another fake-out.
The one time the near-miss felt narratively important (although completely heartbreaking) was when Min-ho reneged on his promise to exchange Ha-yeon for the knife. Not only was it perfectly in line with Min-ho’s slippery, evil nature, it also solved the problem which had been worrying me, of how Jung-woo would prove Min-ho’s guilt if he gave up the only definitive piece of evidence in his possession. Seeing Ha-yeon and then having her slip away before his eyes also sent our papa bear to new heights of protective rage, which was probably Min-ho’s intention, but he underestimated how far he could push Jung-woo before he would resort to using Min-ho’s tactics against his own loved ones (or seeming to). The groundwork was perfectly laid in this episode and previous ones; we had the enmity between Min-ho and Chul-shik in jail and the violent encounter with the mallet that convinced Min-ho to take the threat against his family seriously. (I also wouldn’t put it past Min-ho to be the kind of snob who is particularly horrified by the idea of an uneducated gangster anywhere near his wife and son, which I think Jung-woo probably understood and played on.)
But I love that despite his anger at Min-ho and the hell he’s been through in the last few months, Jung-woo was adamant that Chul-shik not scare Yeon-hee and Eun-soo. It shows us that despite his tribulations, he hasn’t lost his humanity or his capacity for mercy. This also reminds me of Jung-woo’s statement to Eun-hye in the past, that the mercy of a prosecutor is justice; in his eyes, Yeon-hee and Eun-soo are innocents, and it would be unjust to cause them even the slightest harm. I remember wondering if Jung-woo’s version of mercy made him a harsh person when this drama started, but I’m beginning to understand that it shows what a loving and kind person he actually is. It also shows us his integrity, because he is as hard on his own crimes as he is on the crimes of others, as we saw with his refusal to contest the death sentence when he believed he was guilty.
Joon-hyuk, on the other hand, has lost his capacity for both mercy and justice if those things might obstruct his personal path to success. What kind of monster can ask a man not to try to find his kidnapped daughter, and to give up the only evidence that can put away his wife’s murderer? All the more so when the two men were once friends, and he wrongfully put his “friend” in jail. I was yelling epithets at the screen during Joon-hyuk’s scenes with Min-ho, disgusted that he would even entertain colluding with the man that killed the woman he supposedly loved. No wonder Ji-soo never had eyes for this weasel and instantly accepted Jung-woo’s earnest, spontaneous proposal. (Because I must say, both Jung-woo and Ji Sung are A+ husband material.)
I did find it interesting that Jung-woo seems to have always known to some extent that his friend was untrustworthy, as implied by his unwillingness to confide in Joon-hyuk about Ha-yeon even before he lost his memory. His statement to Joon-hyuk in this episode seems to show that he’s never fully trusted the other man. Perhaps Jung-woo was more in tune with Joon-hyuk’s secret crush on Ji-soo than the other man knew and kept him at arm’s length because he wondered what else Joon-hyuk might be hiding from him. Ultimately, that mistrust proved to be well founded, and it’s tragic that Jung-woo’s closest friend became the instrument of his wrongful conviction. Fortunately, he’s no longer at his former friend’s mercy, because now that everything is out in the open and Jung-woo has both Prosecutor Choi and Eun-hye in his corner, it should only be a matter of time before he clears his name.
- Defendant: Episode 13
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- SBS’s Defendant gets 2-episode extension
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- Defendant: Episode 7
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- Defendant: Episode 3
- Defendant: Episode 2
- Defendant: Episode 1