Defendant: Episode 16
This episode flips us up, down, sideways, and upside down with every new development. We’re nearing the home stretch now, and as all the plot threads start to converge, our hero and villain are on a collision course with each other that can only end with destruction for one of them. But will evil continue to win, or can good eventually prevail?
EPISODE 16 RECAP
When Prosecutor Choi arrives from the hospital, Jung-woo asks anxiously about Sung-kyu, but the man shakes his head.
Joon-hyuk holds a press conference to announce that Sung-kyu has committed suicide, claiming that he was unable to take the pressure once evidence of his crimes was discovered. Reporters question Joon-hyuk about what will happen if Jung-woo is proven innocent, but he says they’ll see once the retrial is over.
Jung-woo meets with Prosocutor Choi and Eun-hye, certain that Sung-kyu didn’t commit suicide—it was definitely Cha Min-ho. Prosecutor Choi agrees, but unfortunately there’s no evidence of foul play. He says he’ll keep looking into it before asking Eun-hye to take care of the retrial.
Eun-hye predicts that the prosecution will portray this as a suicide and make Sung-kyu into the sole culprit. Jung-woo agrees, as Min-ho’s goal was to block Sung-kyu from going on trial as an accomplice to the murder. Eun-hye says if it does happen that way, they can do a retrial and clear Jung-woo’s name of Ji-soo’s murder, but he refuses and becomes upset.
Jung-woo remembers Sung-kyu giving him a clean uniform and food, Sung-kyu confessing his crime in order to stop Jung-woo from hanging himself, Sung-kyu telling him that he’d be fine after he was stabbed, and then Sung-kyu being taken out on a gurney the morning he died. “Sung-kyu,” he says, and closes his eyes.
Min-ho agrees to the deputy chief prosecutor’s plan, although it means Jung-woo will get out of jail. He gathers up the documents Yeon-hee gave him and goes to his father’s office; outside the door, he hears Yeon-hee declare, “That’s right, it was me!” and the sound of a slap. He storms in and grabs Chairman Cha’s arm before he can hit her again.
The old man angrily tells Min-ho that Yeon-hee was the one who gave the evidence to the prosecution, but Min-ho says he knows, and sends her outside. When Chairman Cha asks how he can ruin Chamyung after what he did to his hyung, Min-ho replies, “You’re the one who ruined Chamyung.”
At this, his father says, “I shouldn’t have closed my eyes when you killed your brother. I shouldn’t have gotten rid of that knife either. I was wrong.” Min-ho replies that no matter what he did, all Chairman Cha cared about was Chamyung. The old man hits Min-ho with his walking stick, shocked when Min-ho is unmoved.
“Stop now,” says Min-ho, blocking another hit, saying he’s no longer the cowering son who used to cry and take beatings. Clutching his chest, Chairman Cha tells his son to decide whether he wants to remain as Sun-ho and take the fall for Chamyung, or whether he reveals his crimes and returns to being Min-ho.
Min-ho refuses to do either and throws the files he has on the table; he tells Chairman Cha that if he keeps pushing him, they’ll go to jail together. He asks his father who should be the one to make the sacrifice for the company he loves so much.
The old man claims it was all for his sons, but Min-ho scoffs, saying he’s never once wanted Chamyung. “How much did I suffer because of you, Father? Why do you think I turned out this way?” He says Chairman Cha didn’t need sons, just someone to take care of Chamyung. He tells him to consider what’s truly best for the company and turns to leave, when his father suddenly collapses, clutching his heart and gasping, “Min-ho.”
Min-ho looks back to see him lying on the floor, suddenly concerned, and remembers Sun-ho’s last moments. He goes to his father and takes his hand, saying that Hyung helped him, so this time Father can help too—no one will know. He thanks him and promises him he’ll protect Chamyung, then lets go of his hand and starts to walk away.
Chairman Cha grabs his ankle, and Min-ho stops in fright—but after a moment the old man loses consciousness and his hand falls. Min-ho, relieved, leaves the room and runs into his father’s lawyer in the hallway. He tells the lawyer the chairman isn’t in his office and quickly leads him away.
With Chairman Cha’s death, Min-ho is cleared of all charges, having put the blame on his late father. At his retrial for Ha-yeon’s murder, Jung-woo reluctantly testifies that Sung-kyu was Ji-soo’s real killer as Sung-kyu had wished him to do, although it pains him greatly.
Two months later. Jung-woo arrives at Min-ho’s inauguration as Chamyung’s chairman. The two men greet each other, and Jung-woo asks pleasantly why Min-ho is having such a grand ceremony when he won’t even last a month in the position. Min-ho replies that they’ll have to wait and see.
The two sit down for a weirdly civilized meal. Min-ho says he’s heard that Jung-woo got his position back after promising not to go after Chamyung, but Jung-woo counters that he was only ever after one person. Min-ho remarks that his voice has changed after his thyroid operation; his hands are damaged as Jung-woo knows, and his dental records have all gone missing recently. He suggests that Jung-woo join Chamyung’s legal team and just defend him whenever he gets investigated.
Jung-woo says he’ll join him at the courthouse—as a prosecutor. Min-ho asks what Jung-woo will do if he never does anything wrong for the rest of his life. Amusingly, says Min-ho, no one actually knows who he is, but they’re all busy hushing it up for him anyway, except for Jung-woo. Jung-woo says the food tastes awful, and leaves.
Jung-woo takes flowers to Ji-soo, promising her he’ll make Min-ho pay for his crimes while assuring her that Ha-yeon is well-cared-for. Sung-kyu’s urn is there too, and as he looks at it, Jung-woo remembers the young man’s request to see Ha-yeon one last time. He puts up a picture of Ha-yeon and her “Uncle” that she made, telling him that Ha-yeon misses him very much and that he’ll bring her next time he visits.
Rockfish has finished serving his time, and although Mil-yang and Gangster Hyung tease him a bit, they tell him earnestly to never come back. Rockfish says that even though he’s free, no one will be glad to see him, nor will anyone hire him—prison life is easier, comparatively. Mil-yang tells him to try his best anyway, and Rockfish agrees, though Gangster Hyung doubts his sincerity.
They complain that they haven’t heard a word from Mong-chi since his release, and then it’s time for Rockfish to go. The three men say goodbye jokingly, but once their friend leaves, Mil-yang and Gangster Hyung look wistful. Rockfish turns at the end of the hallway and looks sadly back at his former cell until the guard smiles and calls his real name. Rockfish smiles and says it’s been a long time since he’s heard it.
As the guard escorts him out, Rockfish asks him to take care of his friends. Rockfish exits the prison with a group of men who all have someone waiting for them except him. Once he’s left alone, he sighs and starts walking, bumping into a man in a suit as he goes.
Suddenly a voice calls, “Oi, Rockfish!” He turns to see the man he bumped into: Mong-chi, decked out in a fancy suit and sunglasses. The two men greet each other happily, and Mong-chi offers his friend tofu before offering to buy him a meal; they walk off in high spirits.
Back inside the prison, Mil-yang is surprised by his first ever visitor: Eun-hye. She’s here at Jung-woo’s request, who described Mil-yang as someone who also framed himself, and he’d asked her to get him a retrial. It wouldn’t be easy, he knew, but he asked Eun-hye because she was the one who changed his mind (or more literally, moved his heart).
Mil-yang says it’s been almost twenty years already, and declines. Eun-hye says once twenty years have passed, the records will be destroyed and he’ll no longer be able to apply for a retrial; she asks who the prosecutor in charge of his original case was.
Cut to the deputy chief laughing in delight as he tells Joon-hyuk that now that Cha Sun-ho is chairman, a UN post is no big deal (I had a feeling that was the answer to Eun-hye’s question). He says the key to being a successful prosecutor is to forget you are one. He recites the Prosecutor’s Oath, then says he doesn’t need to be such a prosecutor—that’s for those who were born that way, like Jung-woo, who is returning today.
As he walks back to his office, Joon-hyuk remembers happily taking the oath with Jung-woo moments before he runs into the man himself. They go to Joon-hyuk’s office, and Jung-woo asks him if he really thinks Sung-kyu committed suicide. Joon-hyuk reiterates the lack of evidence for any other conclusion, but Jung-woo points out that they both know it was Min-ho.
Joon-hyuk sidesteps that statement, saying that a prosecutor should base his claims on evidence—he did that with Jung-woo’s case too. Jung-woo replies that Joon-hyuk only believed the evidence he wanted to, but Joon-hyuk says Jung-woo himself testified against Sung-kyu in order to be freed, which makes them both the same. (Um, no.)
Joon-hyuk says he understands that Jung-woo wanted to be free to catch Min-ho, but what if he can’t? Sung-kyu will forever be a murderer, making him just like Joon-hyuk. Jung-woo vows, “I’m going to investigate everything again, one by one. Who did what, and who covered it up. I hope you won’t come up in that investigation.” Joon-hyuk says coolly that even if he does, there’s nothing Jung-woo can do to him.
Jung-woo enters his old office, empty now, and remembers joking around with his team the fateful night of Ha-yeon’s birthday. The door opens to reveal Investigator Go, who is wheeled in by Prosecutor Choi. They greet each other quietly but emotionally. Oh man, I’m already in tears and this reunion has barely begun.
Investigator Go says he doesn’t know if he can help in his condition, but Jung-woo kneels down and takes his hand, saying it’s heartening just to see his face. They smile at each other and commiserate about the rough time each has had, but Investigator Go says he wants to get better soon and run around with him like the old days. Jung-woo says he soon will as he promises to bring everything back to its rightful place.
That night, Jung-woo meets Chul-shik in an alley, and the gangster points to a nearby spot where Seok has parked his car. Noticing Jung-woo’s suit, he congratulates him on returning to work; now they can catch the real culprit and Chul-shik can be cleared. Jung-woo apologizes, but Chul-shik tells him not to worry—only, Jung-woo will suspend his indictment for breaking out of jail, right?
Seok comes out and the two men follow him, ending up at an industrial-looking building, which Seok enters. Chul-shik grins, saying it feels like a real investigation, and Jung-woo smiles and says it is a real one. Chul-shik hoots with glee that he’s on an investigation with Prosecutor Park Jung-woo, and they both smile, reminiscing about running out of the funeral hall in only their socks. These two are too cute.
Suddenly, Seok’s orange Truck of Doom appears at the end of the street, picking up speed as it approaches them. Realizing it’s heading right for them, Jung-woo tells Chul-shik to hold on tight as he reverses and turns the car around in the nick of time. They speed through the industrial complex with the truck on their tail, going around and sometimes through obstacles, until Jung-woo turns sharply into a narrow alley where the truck can’t follow.
Once they get away, they realize they were lured into a trap and wonder how Seok knew their location. They check over the car for a tracker, and Jung-woo finds one under the rear bumper. Jung-woo says this was a warning; if Seok had intended to kill him, he’d have driven with the headlights off. He calls Investigator Go and asks him to run the truck’s plates.
Meanwhile, Seok reports to Min-ho, who tells him to lie low for a while. He joins Yeon-hee, who’s drinking alone in the living room, and asks how she feels now things have turned out the way she wanted. She says she didn’t know Chairman Cha would die—she just didn’t want Min-ho to get hurt.
Min-ho says he understood why she had to choose Sun-ho over him, and how much she must have resented Chamyung after her father died. He asks if her revenge is finished; he’s the only one left now. She says Chamyung wasn’t her objective, but he says it doesn’t matter, since what he wants isn’t the company. He puts his hand on hers for a moment, then gets up to leave.
Before he can go, Yeon-hee says she’s heard Jung-woo is back at work before reminding him to keep his promise to protect her and Eun-soo no matter what happens. He nods.
Mother Oh sits by a sleeping Ha-yeon and strokes her hair, crying as she thinks of how the little girl never asks about her mom so she won’t worry her family. Jung-woo watches sadly from the doorway, then joins Tae-soo for a beer. He asks if Tae-soo is frustrated having to stay home and says he’ll do his best to get him reinstated.
Tae-soo says he’s just happy to be with Ha-yeon. He tells Jung-woo to be careful, as Ji-soo wouldn’t have wanted him to be in danger, and he promises to watch over Jung-woo, who nods and thanks him. The next morning, Ha-yeon wakes Jung-woo up for work with a kiss, and he asks her if this is a dream, to which she adorably replies with more kisses.
Min-ho arrives at Chamyung for his first day as the chairman, and eyes Secretary Kim in the elevator, thinking, He must know I’m Cha Min-ho. He asks him to have a drink with him in the evening.
Min-ho enters the chairman’s office and looks over to where his father died, remembering his last moments. He apologizes in much the same way he did to his brother’s corpse, then walks to the desk and admires his new nameplate. He asks aloud, “Hyung, do you like it? You finally became the chairman.”
Min-ho walks past the area where his father collapsed, and suddenly feels and sees his father’s hand around his ankle. Unable to free himself, Min-ho pleads for forgiveness, until Secretary Kim calls his name, and the ghostly grip abruptly disappears. Secretary Kim asks if he’s all right, and Min-ho says yes, though he’s clearly shaken. He decides to leave this office empty for a while.
Jung-woo has a strategy meeting with Prosecutor Choi and Investigator Go. He tells them that he has an inside source who will share Min-ho’s schedule and company information, though he doesn’t reveal who it is. He shows them a picture of Seok, telling them he was most likely behind Investigator Go’s accident and Sung-kyu’s murder—he’s the key to catching Min-ho.
Jung-woo says Min-ho has been staying out of trouble, but he must be feeling anxious about the people who know his true identity, especially Seok, who carried out so many crimes on his behalf. Jung-woo proposes they shake him up with the mention of Jennifer Lee, who is missing—and, he suspects, dead.
Joon-hyuk sits at his desk, holding the recording pen which Min-ho previously used to threaten him. He drives to Ha-yeon’s school and watches her as she plays with her friends. She suddenly turns in his direction and calls out happily, “Uncle!” but she’s just greeting Tae-soo, who came to pick her up. Ha-yeon suddenly spots Joon-hyuk, but when Tae-soo turns to look, Joon-hyuk has hidden himself. They soon leave with Joon-hyuk watching them forlornly.
Mil-yang ponders Eun-hye’s offer to represent him, and when Gangster Hyung sees the application for retrial, he urges Mil-yang to prove his innocence. He says the people who died deserved it—how could they do that to their daughter and sister? But Mil-yang just tells him to leave it alone.
Jung-woo thanks Prosecutor Choi, who says he agreed to Jung-woo’s plan since he got Jennifer’s family’s permission. Jung-woo and Chul-shik stake out a restaurant where Seok is eating, and Chul-shik asks how on earth they’re supposed to find Jennifer’s body with no clues. Jung-woo says Seok knows, and soon, he’ll guide them to her himself.
Inside the restaurant, a news report announces that Jennifer’s body has been found, and Seok rushes out in panicked disbelief. He speeds off in his car, and Jung-woo follows. He tells Chul-shik that they’re heading close to Min-ho’s villa, so he must have killed her there and buried her nearby.
Seok pulls into a field, followed by his pursuers. He runs into the nearby woods, but when he sees them empty and undisturbed, he sighs in relief—but then he hears his name and freezes. He turns around to see Jung-woo, who says, “Jennifer Lee is here, isn’t she?” Seok tries to run, but Chul-shik blocks him from the other direction.
Seok puts his hand in his pocket, and Chul-shik says, “You ran over my Hyung-nim, didn’t you?” Jung-woo says, “And you killed Sung-kyu.” Seok pulls out his knife and says he doesn’t know what they’re talking about. He comes at them with the knife, but between the two of them, they soon have him on the ground.
Min-ho takes Secretary Kim to the same bar his father took him to for their one drink. He says he knows Secretary Kim was passing information about him to the old chairman, but claims that it’s okay, since he knew Secretary Kim was his father’s man when he hired him. Min-ho asks if he can trust him from now on, and Secretary Kim says yes. He informs Min-ho of a breakfast meeting the next day.
Once Min-ho is gone, Secretary Kim calls Jung-woo and tells him that Min-ho just left for the office. We flash back to Jung-woo and Secretary Kim meeting in secret: Jung-woo asked what changed his mind, since he’d refused to help when Sun-ho died. Secretary Kim said back then he’d been following the old chairman’s orders, but now he knows that Min-ho was having him watched and will kill him as soon as he has no use for him.
Min-ho enters his office and goes to his secret room to identify the person he’s meeting the next morning, but he finds its walls empty, save for a single photo of Jennifer. Jung-woo enters the office and says, “Jennifer Lee. You killed her, right?”
Min-ho asks him what he’s talking about, and Jung-woo says he found her, since Seok was kind enough to tell him. Jung-woo says, “I warned you that you wouldn’t last a month. But now I see you won’t even last a week.” Min-ho scoffs and calls Seok, but Jung-woo holds up the phone as it rings.
Min-ho finally loses his composure and grabs Jung-woo by the collar. Jung-woo says flatly, “You’re finished, Cha Min-ho.”
This episode took us from hopelessness to victory in an intense hour full of twists and turns that had me gasping every few minutes. I have to hand it to the cast and crew—they keep outdoing themselves with the acting, directing, music, and editing, especially when it came to the car chase scenes, which were incredible this week. Seriously, I’m surprised this show hasn’t given me a heart attack yet. I kept hoping that Sung-kyu would miraculously survive, and it was devastating to find out that he was truly gone. Did Ha-yeon and Jung-woo really need to lose another person they loved? It hurts even more because I can’t help wondering if Sung-kyu was sacrificed in service to the two-episode extension; after all, this was originally going to be the show’s finale. But of course that road leads only to frustration, so I’ll have to satisfy myself with my faith in Jung-woo to bring epic justice down on the heads of his enemies.
This hour was almost purely devoted to Min-ho and Jung-woo, and both had transformative journeys from beginning to end. Min-ho finally broke free of his father’s influence, defeating in death the monster he cowered before in life, although it took Yeon-hee to give him the courage to defy the old chairman. (And hasn’t she turned out to be a surprise.) I found it interesting how Min-ho feels more haunted by guilt and even hallucinations due to his father’s death than his brother’s, even though he was more definitely responsible for the latter. It’s unsurprising, however, given that every step of Min-ho’s descent into darkness was either caused directly by his father or by the desire to please him, to earn the love that was continuously denied him. In that way Min-ho is actually a tragic figure, though not one I can muster any sympathy for, given his tendency towards psychotic murder. I liked the symbolism of the moment when he felt physically restrained by the memory of his father grabbing his ankle; in Korean the expression “to grab the ankles” means to drag someone down or hold them back, and even though Min-ho has escaped his father’s physical clutches, he is unable to free himself of his psychological bondage to him.
In contrast, Jung-woo went from being devastated and backed into a corner to returning to his old job, which was a certain victory over Min-ho. I can’t see any way for Min-ho to get out of this now that Jung-woo has Seok (and his phone), evidence of Jennifer’s murder, and all the information leaked to him by Secretary Kim; Joon-hyuk seems to have rediscovered something resembling a conscience, so Min-ho has likely lost that avenue of escape too. I loved our new crime-solving duo, with their late-night stakeouts and exciting car chases. Chul-shik is one of the only people that can make Jung-woo laugh these days, and their friendship makes me so happy. Forget that backstabbing snake Joon-hyuk—I vote Shin Chul-shik for Jung-woo’s new bestie. (He’d just better not get ten years for breaking out of jail, because I need more buddy cop shenanigans from these two.)
It’s also heartwarming and lovely to see Ha-yeon blossoming again under the care of her family after all the trauma she’s had to endure. I hope that Min-ho has no more tricks up his sleeve, but even if he does, I believe our clever prosecutor and his allies will easily outsmart him at this point. Now all I want to see is Min-ho and Seok rotting behind bars for life, Joon-hyuk and the deputy chief being exposed as the slimy opportunists they are and losing their licenses, all our Woljung five to be free and clear to restart their lives, and lots of moments like the one we had between Ha-yeon and Jung-woo in this episode. You can do that for us next week, right, Defendant?
- Defendant: Episode 15
- Defendant: Episode 14
- Defendant: Episode 13
- Defendant: Episode 12
- Defendant: Episode 11
- Defendant: Episode 10
- Defendant: Episode 9
- SBS’s Defendant gets 2-episode extension
- Defendant: Episode 8
- Defendant: Episode 7
- Defendant: Episode 6
- Defendant: Episode 5
- Defendant: Episode 4
- Defendant: Episode 3
- Defendant: Episode 2
- Defendant: Episode 1