Perfect Wife: Episode 17
For anyone who’s ever been a parent, this episode is the stuff of nightmares. Jae-bok’s worst fears are coming true, because she can’t even count on the one person she should be able to trust to have her children’s best interests at heart. Thank heavens for Bong-gu, who seems poised to become much more than a friend — he could very well be the the one person capable of saving Jae-bok’s life.
EPISODE 17 RECAP
While fighting with Eun-hee, Na-mi is pushed over a railing and down a short hill, hitting her head hard on a rock. Eun-hee flees the scene, and not too long after, Jae-bok finds Na-mi’s purse and joins her at the bottom of the hill. She sees that Na-mi’s head is gushing blood and calls the police.
Someone has already notified the police that two women were fighting here, so a pair of officers shows up while Jae-bok is still on the phone. Jae-bok tells them that she found Na-mi injured, and that she was meeting with Eun-hee earlier. One officer asks Jae-bok to come to the station to give a statement, noticing the blood on her hand.
As he’s driving around looking for Na-mi, Bong-gu gets a call that Na-mi has died. He pulls off the road and sits, silent and shocked.
Equally as shocked, Jae-bok tells the detective at the station how she found Na-mi already unconscious. She repeats that Na-mi was meeting with Eun-hee, describing Eun-hee as a dangerous woman.
Another cop informs the detective that Na-mi was having an affair with Jae-bok’s husband, and that the last time Na-mi was hurt, Jae-bok was a suspect. She confirms everything, though she protests her innocence both then and now. But the circumstances look pretty bad, so Jae-bok is arrested as the prime murder suspect in Na-mi’s death.
Meanwhile, Eun-hee changes clothes in her car, purposely ignoring a call from the police department. She heads to the office to tell Jung-hee that Na-mi has died. He naturally assumes she did it, calling her a liar when she says it was an accident, and he shakes Eun-hee viciously, screaming, “Why? Why?!”
It’s eerily similar to the moment he shook and accused Jae-bok of killing Na-mi after her previous accident, and Jung-hee draws back at the memory. Eun-hee physically blocks him from calling the police, calmly informing him that if anything happens to her, he’ll lose his job, his children, everything.
Again she insists that Na-mi’s death was an accident, and that she never intended to kill her. Jung-hee can only shake his head and sob as Eun-hee reassures him that all he has to do is follow her directions so that they can be together with his children, and everything will be fine.
Bong-gu has the heartbreaking task of identifying Na-mi’s body for the second time. Crying, he says over and over, “Na-mi, I’m here. Oppa is here,” hoping that she’ll wake up again, but this time there’s no happy ending. She’s really gone.
Hye-ran and Won-jae rush to the station to see Jae-bok, followed closely by Bong-gu. Despite his obvious numb grief, the first thing he does is ask if Jae-bok is okay, then he nods when she asks if Na-mi is really dead. Jae-bok swears that she didn’t kill her, but Bong-gu says that he knows, because he trusts her.
Starting to cry, Jae-bok asks if Bong-gu is okay. He covers her hand on the cell bar with his own, softly but resolutely promising to prove her innocence and catch the real murderer.
In order to create an alibi, Eun-hee pours glass after glass of wine for Jung-hee while they wait for a call to come in from the police station. When it does, Jung-hee barely holds it together as he pretends to be hearing the news of Na-mi’s death for the first time, sending Eun-hee a glare of pure hatred.
Jae-bok watches as Bong-gu argues with the detective over whether the blood on Jae-bok’s hand is evidence that she’s the murderer. Unfortunately there were no CCTV cameras in the area where Na-mi was killed, so there’s no way to prove who did it.
Bong-gu glares daggers as Jung-hee and Eun-hee enter the station and pretend to know nothing of Na-mi’s death. Eun-hee spins an alibi that she’s been with Jung-hee all night making up after a fight, prompting Bong-gu to sarcastically congratulate her on her quick thinking.
Jae-bok is allowed to speak privately with Jung-hee, and once they’re alone, he says that he knows she didn’t kill Na-mi. Jae-bok turns down his offer to hire a lawyer for her, saying that his help is worthless to her when he already knows who did it.
Jung-hee says that he doesn’t know any such thing, only that he trusts that Jae-bok didn’t do it. Jae-bok snarls at him not to trust her, since he’s changed so much that she doesn’t trust him anyway.
Bong-gu confronts Eun-hee in the station hallway to ask why she killed Na-mi. When she tries to walk away from him, he slams her against the wall and asks again why she killed her. He keeps asking, growing louder and more strident when Eun-hee doesn’t answer, until he’s pushed her to the ground by the shoulders.
Eventually a pair of cops pull Bong-gu off of Eun-hee, though he continues kicking and screaming at her as they drag him away. Jung-hee follows the noise and sees the commotion, and though he snarls at Bong-gu, he doesn’t move to help Eun-hee either.
Bong-gu stays at the station with Jae-bok all night, sitting outside her cell like a loyal guard and refusing to leave even when she tells him to go home. Jae-bok tearfully apologizes to him for getting to Na-mi too late to save her, but Bong-gu says that it wasn’t her fault.
After they arrive home, Jung-hee informs Eun-hee that he’s bringing his children to live here. He firmly reminds her of her promise when she tries to stall him, saying that he doesn’t care if she likes it or not. He barely makes it to his room before he sinks to the floor, keening Jae-bok’s name.
Bong-gu goes home the next morning to find the dinner that Na-mi left for him the night before, now gone cold. He sits wearily, imagining her clumsily but cheerfully cooking for him, and he finally lets himself cry.
Jung-hee stops by Won-jae’s to let her know that he’ll be taking the kids. Won-jae objects, pointing out that he doesn’t have legal custody. Jung-hee tells her that he’s only taking them until Jae-bok is free again, promising to tell Jae-bok about this himself.
Eun-hee acts like having the kids back in the house is the best thing in the world, and while Jin-wook seems happy, Hae-wook doesn’t look convinced. Jung-hee hurries them upstairs along with his mother and forcefully grabs Eun-hee’s arm when she tries to follow them, saying through gritted teeth that she has plenty to do downstairs.
He takes his mother aside, and they agree that Eun-hee isn’t stable, so it’s Mom’s job to make sure the children are never alone with her. Mom promises to be careful, even if she has to take the kids to her home to avoid Eun-hee.
True to his word, Jung-hee tells Jae-bok that he has the kids, promising to bring them back once Jae-bok is out. She accuses him of helping Eun-hee with her alibi so that he could get Jae-bok out of the way and take the children, asking frantically how he isn’t worried about them being in the same house as the woman who killed Na-mi.
Bong-gu visits the location where Na-mi died, convinced that she wouldn’t have given up without doing something. Since her cell phone is missing, he wonders if there might have been something on her phone that could prove that Eun-hee killed her.
He goes back to Sam-kyu for help searching the cloud for any pictures or recordings Na-mi may have taken before she died. Before they get a chance to look, the detective calls Bong-gu to tell him that they found a piece of leather in Na-mi’s head wound, which they think may have come from a blow by an assailant’s purse or wallet.
Eun-hee’s spy hangs around the police station and reports this information back to her. Eun-hee worries that she could lose everything just when she’s finally got Jung-hee while Hyung-sun stares at her daughter, concerned.
Bong-gu urges Sam-kyu to find something in Na-mi’s cloud storage, insisting that they have to free Jae-bok before the end of the day, though he changes the subject when Sam-kyu asks why. Sam-kyu manages to find something quickly, and they both stare at the last picture taken by Na-mi’s phone.
When Na-mi had weakly grabbed her phone as she lay bleeding, she’d snapped a picture of Eun-hee standing at the railing above her. Although Eun-hee’s face is cropped out, the distinctive striped dress she was wearing that night can be clearly seen. Even though he knew who Na-mi’s killer was, seeing the proof in literal black and white stuns Bong-gu, and he screams in frustration.
Eun-hee serves the kids a snack, but Jung-hee’s mom rushes in to grab the bread from Jin-wook’s hand and taste it herself first. Hyung-sun tells Eun-hee that she’s going out, and after a minute, Eun-hee runs out after her.
She tries to see what’s in the bag Hyung-sun is carrying, but Hyung-sun does her best to keep it a secret. Bong-gu races up in his car and interrupts them, striding straight to Eun-hee to inform her that even though she got rid of Na-mi’s phone, a picture of her was uploaded to the cloud. It seems to take every ounce of strength he possesses to stay calm as he accuses her of causing Na-mi’s death.
The police arrive then to arrest Eun-hee, but Hyung-sun surprises everyone by confessing that she did it, and was in fact on her way to turn herself in. Bong-gu calls her a liar, pointing to Eun-hee as the guilty party, but Hyung-sun holds out her proof — the striped dress she claims to have been wearing that night, and the purse that was used to hit Na-mi.
Jae-bok is released and is informed that Hyung-sun confessed to killing Na-mi. Jae-bok protests that Eun-hee is the true murderer, but Hyung-sun snaps at her indignantly, accusing Jae-bok of trying to frame her daughter.
Jae-bok gets even more upset when she can’t reach Jung-hee, so she insists that Bong-gu take her straight to Eun-hee’s house. He wants to speak to Jung-hee himself first, but Jae-bok is beyond calming, and she grows so panicked at the thought of her children in that house with Eun-hee that she suddenly drops like a stone, unconscious.
Hyung-sun tells the detective that she and Na-mi fought because Na-mi was demanding more money from her. She says she got angry and hit Na-mi with her purse, and in the scuffle, Na-mi fell over the rail.
The detective shows Hyung-sun the photo that Na-mi took right before she died of a woman in a striped dress standing at the railing above her. He asks where Na-mi’s phone is now, so Hyung-sun lies that she threw it into the river.
Jung-hee goes home early to confront Eun-hee when he hears that she let Hyung-sun confess in her place. She says that Brian will fix everything, but Jung-hee (calling her Eun-kyung now) just says that she’s a frightening woman. She asks haughtily if that makes him even more frightening for choosing her.
An unexpected visitor surprises Hyung-sun when her son Brian is led into the interrogation room. Brian asks his mother if she really killed Na-mi, already knowing the answer. She sticks to her story with Brian, who tells her to stop confessing until she speaks with the lawyer he hired.
We’re shown that on the night of Na-mi’s death, Eun-hee had her dress sent to her mother after changing out of it, telling her to dispose of them. Hyung-sun had instead changed into the dress and gone out, making sure to stand in view of the security camera at the front gate.
Hyung-sun says that this is for the best after the way she tormented Brian and Eun-hee when they were children. She struggles to smile as she says that this is her punishment for what she did to them. She sincerely apologizes to Brian for Na-mi’s death, knowing that they’d gotten close.
Bong-gu watches over Jae-bok as she lies in the hospital, leaving the room for just a moment to take a call from the detective about the CCTV catching Hyung-sun in the striped dress. He tells the detective to look for tampering of the time stamp and hangs up, but when he goes back to Jae-bok’s room, she’s gone.
Jae-bok somehow stumbles to Eun-hee’s house, still in her hospital gown, trying desperately to reach Jung-hee on the phone. She finds that the gate code has been changed, so she yells into the video monitor for Eun-hee to let her in. Eun-hee watches her for a minute, then calmly shuts off the monitor.
Jung-hee finally notices his phone ringing, and he picks up to hear Jae-bok screaming at him to let her in. Instead he tells her to calm down, warning her that acting like this will only hurt her when she tries for custody. He says that he’s just going to keep the kids for a few days so she can rest before hanging up.
Being cut off from her children and knowing they’re in the house with Eun-hee is more than Jae-bok can bear. She pounds on the door until Bong-gu finds her and pulls her into his arms. He talks her down by agreeing that he’s as angry as she is, and he promises to help her get her kids back.
That night Jung-hee reads Hae-wook to sleep, cuddling her tight as he remembers Jae-bok’s shrieks. He tells himself that he has to do this for the kids’ sake.
Back at the hospital, Bong-gu doesn’t leave Jae-bok’s side all night long and holds her hand as he watches her battling nightmares of losing her children.
Brian visits Na-mi’s resting place the next morning, thinking about the last time he saw her alive. She’d quit her job and told him she was moving away, asking him to keep his promise to help pay for her mother’s treatment.
He starts to leave when Bong-gu arrives and asks if he actually has a conscience, but Bong-gu stops him. He says gently that Brian is the only one who can intervene and stop Eun-hee. Bong-gu clarifies that he doesn’t actually think Brian will do anything, but Na-mi had faith that Brian was a decent human being.
Jae-bok finally gets to pick up her children, and she even finds the grace to ask Eun-hee how her mother is doing. Eun-hee can’t muster the same respect and ignores her, but Jae-bok just bundles up the kids and turns to go. On the way out, Jin-wook reminds his dad of his promise that all four of them will go to an amusement park soon.
That night, Eun-hee eavesdrops as Jung-hee talks to Jin-wook on the phone and tells him to take good care of his mother and sister. When Jin-wook complains about the divorce, Jung-hee tells his son that he’s been trying to think of a way they can all be together again.
Eun-hee walks back to her room in a daze, asking, “Jung-hee, are you planning on leaving me again?” She thinks of every time he’s rejected her, turned his back on her, or looked at her in disgust, and she gasps that she can’t let this happen. Suddenly she seems to get an idea and breathes a name: “Shim Jae-bok. Jae-bok needs to disappear.”
Jung-hee leaves on a business trip to the U.S. the next morning, and Eun-hee sends him off with a cheerful smile like everything is completely normal. Jae-bok is also off on a short business trip, and the way the scene lingers on her goodbye to Hae-wook is nerve-racking.
Eun-hee’s spy visits the place where Na-mi died, reporting back that he hasn’t found anything. Bong-gu finds him there and punches him out of nowhere, following it up with more punches and kicks as he asks what the spy did with the evidence of Na-mi’s murder. Afterward, Bong-gu calls Jae-bok to say he has a gift for her when she returns — Eun-hee’s spy, trussed up like a turkey in Sam-kyu’s office.
A van swerves in front of Jae-bok and slams on its brakes, causing her to hit its bumper. Jae-bok gets out to talk to a man about the accident, never even seeing the second man sneaking up behind her. He grabs her and they shove her into the van before driving away.
They take her to a run-down building, then drag her down a filthy hall into a dark room. There’s a nurse there who asks if she’s their new patient, Lee Eun-hee, and Jae-bok denies vehemently that she’s Eun-hee. She begs to be allowed to make a call, but the nurse and guards ignore her.
Some school-age girls watch through a dingy window as the nurse loads up a syringe and advances on Jae-bok. She screams for help, but there’s nobody to hear.
I’m very concerned about what Eun-hee’s next move will be now that she’s overheard Jung-hee planning to reunite his family. Clues point to this happening in the past, that they possibly did date briefly and that when Jung-hee broke things off, Eun-hee nearly killed them both. I seriously doubt that fifteen-plus years have made Eun-hee any more open to losing Jung-hee, particularly now that she feels she’s “earned” him back. This time the thing standing in Eun-hee’s way is Jae-bok, and I have a feeling that having Jae-bok kidnapped and committed under Eun-hee’s name is just the beginning.
I can’t even imagine how Jae-bok must have felt, knowing that her children were in that house with the woman who killed Na-mi while not even being able to see or talk to them. I’m not a parent, but I think that being unable to do anything when your child is in danger must be one of the worst, most helpless feelings in the world. I was crying right along with Jae-bok as she pounded on Eun-hee’s door, desperate to see her children safe but unable to go to them. And even though I don’t think Jung-hee’s intent was to ever take the kids away permanently, because he kept his word to send them home when Jae-bok was feeling better, he still should have let her at least see them to know they were okay. You have to be a cold-hearted bastard to hear a mother’s panicked screams and hang up on her. Just one more reason on my swiftly growing list of reasons to hate Jung-hee.
Speaking of Jung-hee, I can’t even begin to guess what he’s thinking anymore. Just the fact that he took steps to put his mother between the kids and Eun-hee proves that he’s aware of how dangerous she is. What’s wrong with him, that he thinks it’s appropriate to let his children stay in the same house as a stalker, psychopath, and known murderer (okay, technically Na-mi’s death was an accident, but Eun-hee’s out-of-control temper made it inevitable that someone was going to get hurt or killed after crossing her)? I think that Jung-hee’s biggest flaw is in thinking that he can control Eun-hee, even though he’s been utterly incapable of it to this point. So he repeatedly gives her access to himself and his children after witnessing her increasingly erratic behavior, knowing that she’s jealous of the time he spends with his children and has already violently lashed out at Hae-wook. He truly seems to believe that he can keep Eun-hee in line even though he hasn’t been able to so far.
Is Jung-hee really so desperate to be seen as successful that he’s willing to put his kids’ lives at risk? I mean, obviously he is, but why? He knows what she does when she’s jealous (he alluded to her even doing it when they were in college, after she ripped up Hae-wook’s rabbit, though we don’t know the details yet), he knows what Eun-hee is capable of. That’s what I don’t get, and it’s the first time I’ve been frustrated with the show’s way of withholding information. Generally it’s been an effective way of building suspense by redirecting the audience’s attention in order to surprise us with the truth later. But in Jung-hee’s case, I want to know what’s driving him so hard that he’s gone from a complete pushover to a man who would endanger his own children for money and prestige.
Bong-gu, on the other hand, has managed to elevate himself in my opinion from an annoying kid to a loyal steadfast friend, and now to a straight-up hero. Nobody would blame him if he withdrew from the hot mess Jae-bok’s life has become, but he just continues to step up to the plate, time after time, no matter how scary and difficult things get. He’s never far from Jae-bok when she needs him (and she needs him so much right now), when many people would see how Eun-hee is and be scared to stay involved. But Bong-gu’s shown no fear or inclination to let Jae-bok deal with things on her own — in fact, you get the feeling he would take care of everything for her if he could. He made me tear up when, even in the depths of his grief over Na-mi, his first concern was to make sure Jae-bok was okay. There’s just something between Bong-gu and Jae-bok that’s stronger than friendship, deeper than love, and more solid than family. I don’t even know how to describe their relationship, only that it’s pretty close to perfect.
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