Whisper: Episode 3
Dong-joon continues to deal with the relentless push-and-pull of everyone demanding something from him, yet no one cares to listen to what he wants — not that there’s a place for truth and justice in this world of greed and power, anyway. If he’s going to learn to survive in this new life he’s been suddenly thrown into, then he’s going to have to learn to play just as dirty as everyone else does.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Jung-il enters the restaurant to meet with Sang-gu, who notes with mild surprise that he was expecting someone else. Namely, Soo-yeon, who calls him just then to warn him that it’s a trap. Wait, I thought Dong-joon cancelled his voicemail warning her about the trap. Sang-gu grabs the waitress and threatens to harm her unless she tells him what’s going on, and she nervously glances at the hidden camera that Young-joo set up.
Sang-gu throws a bottle against the camera, and watching from her video feed, Young-joo realizes in annoyance that her trap is ruined. As he stands to leave, Sang-gu tells Jung-il that he’s gotten his hands dirty cleaning up after Taebaek — now he wants to know who will clean up after him. He declares loyalty to whomever will support him.
As Young-joo watches the men leave the restaurant, she recognizes Jung-il. Just then, Dong-joon gets a call from his wife, who tells him that friends get closer when they share secrets, which means that the two of them must have just gotten closer, too.
He goes to meet her at the fishing site where Sung-shik died. He asks how involved she is in the case — did simply order his death, or did actually kill him herself? Cutting him off, she quotes Hebrews 10:19: “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,” adding that Dong-joon now has the right to enter Taebaek thanks to the blood shed by Sung-shik.
He can’t believe her casual attitude and earnestly reminds her that they’re standing on the spot where someone was killed. She just smiles, telling him that he was the one who manipulated the trial. He protests that he had no choice, and she muses that married couples do start to resemble each other after all, because neither did she have a choice.
She then reveals that Jung-il is looking into who’s behind Sung-shik’s death. She’s relieved that Jung-il arrived at the restaurant before she could, but then reiterates that if she is taken down, her father and Dong-joon will also be dragged down with her.
Lawyer Kim and Chairman Kang are enjoying an afternoon bird hunting. The chairman is clearly a better shot than Lawyer Kim, a fact he rubs into Lawyer Kim’s face, adding that he’ll share his birds so that Lawyer Kim can enjoy some dinner. After all, he’s already been helping Lawyer Kim make a living for the past thirty years, so what’s one more meal?
Lawyer Kim grins and bears all the underhanded remarks from Chairman Kang, but as soon as the chairman walks away to retrieve his bounty, Lawyer Kim reloads his shotgun and points it at Chairman Kang. He pulls the trigger, and bang! Either he swerved at the last second or is truly a terrible shot, because Chairman Kang remains unharmed, and if anything, vaguely amused.
Young-joo and Hyun-soo investigate Chairman Kang’s records, discovering that he and Lawyer Kim grew up together and went to the same high school. Chairman Kang is now an arms dealer and in the defense industry. Taebaek Law Firm handled all their legal and litigation issues, and Young-joo is convinced that Jung-il must have had a hand in preventing Sung-shik from revealing the corruption behind a case regarding bulletproof body armor.
Back at the fishing site, Soo-yeon reveals that she was the one who handled the body armor case. But when the case files leaked, she hired Sang-gu to help take care of it. She sighs, though, as she tells Dong-joon that now it’s becoming more expensive trying to clean up Sang-gu’s mess.
She then asks who told Dong-joon that Sang-gu would be at the restaurant. Is it a friend? Or someone who can’t be a friend? Who is her husband’s “shadow?” Pushing her aside, Dong-joon walks away, telling her that the “shadow” will disappear in a few days.
Later, Young-joo looks up any information about the bulletproof body armor from her Taebaek computer. But the search results come up empty for any results in Taebaek’s general files.
At her mother’s shop, two men buy a large portion of side dishes. Mom is delighted that they’re going to be using it at a party for the elderly, and cuts them a deal to sell it to them for 200,000 won. Her face falls when they hand her a note for 1,000,000 won, and when they insist they don’t have any smaller bills, she tells them to wait while she goes to get change.
It turns out that those men are Dong-joon’s ex-criminal buddy Ki-yong’s men — and he’s temporarily returning to his gangster ways to help out his friend. As his men purposefully block access to the ATM so Mom has to wait to get her change, the other guys search through Young-joo’s room, using modified metal detectors to look for any hidden memory device that could have the sex video on it.
As Dong-joon and Ki-yong wait in the car outside the shop, Dong-joon sees Young-joo returning home. In order to keep the men inside from being discovered, he gets her attention and steps out of the car to speak to her. She wants to know what’s so important that he had to tell her face-to-face instead of just calling, and he asks about Hyun-soo, wondering how much he knows since he was at the restaurant stakeout with her.
Amused by his concern, she reassures him that they’re the only two who know about his false ruling and the night they spent together. She adds that the’s looked into the body armor case, and there’s no record that Jung-il or Taebaek ever touched it. She wonders if perhaps someone else was involved, but she’ll need to look at Jung-il’s computer first.
Having found nothing in Young-joo’s home, the gangsters slip out of her room and back into the main shop. Dong-joon relaxes a little when he sees them, telling her it won’t be easy to get access. But Young-joo asks if it was easy for him to sentence an innocent reporter to fifteen years in prison as a murderer. Furthermore, does he think it was easy for her to spend the night with him? She reminds him that he has one week left until his face is revealed on the video.
When Dong-joon returns to his car, Ki-yong reveals that his men weren’t able to find a memory device with the video or any trace that she saved a digital copy. Dong-joon is despondent, wondering how he’ll prevent the video from eventually being fully shown.
He calls his mother, who’s working late filling out governmental forms her for patients at the nursing home (aw, is that where the side dishes will ultimately end up?). He wonders sadly what would have happened if he’d decided to become a doctor. He muses that he’d probably be working at the nursing home with her, and wishes he could go back in time and change things.
When he arrives home, he finds his step-mother and mother-in-law waiting for him. His mother-in-law happily reveals that his father is planning on opening a plastic surgery center, but there are legal issues standing in the way. She was hoping Dong-joon would take care of that for her, and he curtly says he’ll look into it.
In private, Lawyer Kim tells Dong-joon that he’ll take on his parents’ case. In fact, he’ll help them ten times and only ask repayment once. Dong-joon despondently asks how he’ll use those other nine chances — perhaps to buy a judge’s ruling? Or pay someone to commit perjury?
Lawyer Kim tells him that Dong-joon threw away his powerless justice to gain justiceless power, the latter of which is, in his mind, clearly the superior choice. He orderns Dong-joon to attend some important events the next couple of days, knowing that being seen there will prove how much power he has and thus he’ll become the envy of others.
But Dong-joon laughs to himself, musing that the envious ones wouldn’t be able to tell that the Lawyer Kim aka the “king of law,” through his daughter who couldn’t even pass the bar exam, is afraid of losing is company to his friend’s son. Lawyer Kim picks up a book of poetry by Seo Jeong-ju, telling Dong-joon that just like the poem “Self-Portrait,” his father was also a servant whose only source of pride was that his son went to a prestigious law school.
The family he worked for, their son — Chairman Kang — was the one who provided the money for Taebaek. Lawyer Choi, the servant’s son, was the one provided the brains behind the business. He thought it was a partnership with Chairman Kang, but it turns out he’s really nothing more than a servant caring for the chairman’s property.
He turns to Dong-joon, telling him that he’s nothing more than a doctor’s son who was abandoned as soon as his mother got pregnant. He asks Dong-joon to join him, the servant who’s about to lose everything he’s worked for, to fight for their right to become their own landlords. Lawyer Kang will be leaving for Australia for a few days to find ammunition to use against Chairman Kang, but he’ll leave it to Dong-joon to pull the trigger. Probably a good thing, especially if Lawyer Kim’s metaphorical aim is as terrible as his real aim.
Dong-joon uses his Taebaek connections to persuade the terrible prison doctor to get Chang-ho a proper evaluation at a real hospital. He also requests that Chang-ho be moved to another prison — one as far from Seoul as possible.
It’s another day of work at Taebaek Law Firm, but Jung-il knows there’s something going on with Lawyer Kim. Just then Young-joo enters, introducing herself as “Yeon-hwa” and handing him a copy of the keynote speech for an upcoming conference. It’s really just an excuse for her to subtly scan the room and see what he might be hiding.
Dong-joon arrives at the office, and his brow furrows in concern when he sees Young-joo with Jung-il. When she returns to Dong-joon’s office, she tells him that Jung-il has two phones — one must be a burner. He also has a hotel key card in his desk, and she deduces that he must be meeting with someone that no one else should know about.
She holds out her hand for the security information to access Jung-il’s computer, but instead Dong-joon tosses her a copy of the request to transfer her father to another prison. He tells her that her father will be moved to a place by the ocean, and there will be yellow dust in the air from sand storms from China. Basically it’s the worst place for someone with a lung condition to be.
He tells Young-joo that if she makes her father admit to the murder charge and then cancels her appeal, he’ll make sure to get her father out on a medical leave by next year. Young-joo reiterates that her father didn’t kill Sung-shik: “That’s the truth!” But Dong-joon grimly tells her that he was a good judge: “That’s also the truth!”
Young-joo: “You destroyed my father.” Dong-joon: “So I wouldn’t be destroyed.” He leans in, quietly telling her that both he and her father need to survive.
Young-joo visits her father at the prison, and hesitantly mentions canceling the appeal so he can get the medical help he needs. But Dad is adamant about seeking justice for Sung-shik. He’s watched his peers chase endless promotions just to get more titles attached to their names, but he wants to spend his life fighting for worthy causes up until the very end.
But then he tells Young-joo that she shouldn’t live like him. With tears in her eyes, she watches as he helplessly continues to cough.
As “Yeon-hwa,” Young-joo turns in the monthly security report, warning the security team that protocol says they should be changing the codes every month, but in reality they only do it quarterly. She cautions the security guy that Dong-joon won’t be so lax, and if he wants to keep his job, he should change the codes ASAP. The guy does, and while Young-joo waits, she secretly films the new codes.
That means she now can get access to Jung-il’s computer, and in the evening once everyone is gone, she slips into his office to search for anything pertaining to the body armor case and Sang-gu. But the search turns up empty. When she hears Jung-il returning to her office, she quickly ducks under his desk.
Thankfully, he’s distracted by the sight of Dong-joon still at work, and heads to his office, giving a chance for Young-joo to finish her search — this time pulling up years worth of hotel receipts, where presumably Jung-il has been meeting with his secret contact.
When Jung-il enters the office, Dong-joon quickly hides the file on Sang-gu that he’s studying. The men posture about their ranking with each other for a few minutes, which is enough time for Young-joo to slip away, especially after Dong-joon sees her and purposefully distracts Jung-il from turning around by telling him that he’ll be giving the keynote speech now.
Young-joo sends copies of the hotel receipts to Hyun-soo, asking him to look into it. He seems intent on having a serious discussion with her, but she just wishes him all the best as he pursues the promotion he so desperately wants.
In the morning, Soo-yeon lounges in Dong-joon’s office, telling him about how she grew up with Jung-il (calling him “oppa”) and all the games they used to play, including one about finding shadows. She reiterates that she’ll find Dong-joon’s “shadow” if he wants her to.
Speaking of which, Young-joo enters Dong-joon’s office to give him his daily schedule, and then pointedly tells him that the yellow dust will be weak this year and the ocean breeze tolerable. It’s a reference that flies past Soo-yeon, but Dong-joon knows Young-joo is referring to her request to get Sang-gu to confess — and in the meantime she’ll take care of Jung-il.
At the manager’s meeting, the security manager reports that it’s been a week since the video was uploaded. They still haven’t managed to find out who’s behind it, but there’s already the threat of it being leaked to the press. Jung-il reminds Dong-joon that he was supposed to take care of it, but when he gets a closer look of the back of the man’s neck, he realizes that the moles are exactly the same as Dong-joon’s.
He then asks his fellow attorney to send the video to their cyber team and have them quietly look into it, but Dong-joon protests that he’ll take care of it. There’s only a few days left, though, until the frame showing his face is revealed. Jung-il pointedly says that for “someone” those few days will feel like an eternity.
Dong-joon calls up his gangster buddy Ki-yong, requesting more information on Young-joo — especially anyone at the station who might have a vendetta against her. Ki-yong eventually finds a detective with a grudge against Young-joo.
It’s Dong-joon’s birthday, and he meets up with his mother and father for lunch. It’s uncomfortable and awkward between Mom and Dad until Dong-joon shows up. As they eat, Dad tells him that he bought Blue Dragon shares with hospital funds. Dong-joon is surprised, since Dong-joon hadn’t mentioned that Blue Dragon was selling their stock, but Dad admits he has other connections.
Mom apologizes to Dong-joon for starting these birthday dinners in the first place. Turns out that Dad got Mom pregnant and then left her, but when Dong-joon was in middle school, she decided he needed a to have a father. But Dad’s hunger for more money, power, and prestige is never ending, much to her disapproval about his inability to be a decent role model, and Mom tells Dong-joon that next year he should just celebrate his birthday with his wife and in-laws.
Hyun-soo stakes out the Jung-il’s hotel. With his telephoto lens, he takes pictures of Jung-il and his mysterious guest.
When Young-joo returns home to her mother’s shop, she finds the detectives there, enjoying some ramen with her mother’s side dishes. Mom is happy to serve them, knowing they used to work with Young-joo. They tell her they were in the area to catch a criminal — someone who forged identification documents to get a job at a law firm.
She knows they’re referring to her, and she makes them hide their handcuffs until they step outside so her mother doesn’t see. As the detective arrests her for impersonating “Young-hwa,” Mom runs outside to give them some side dishes to go. She stops in shock when she sees her daughter in handcuffs, and Young-joo can only silently look at her mother as the detectives lead her away.
When they arrive at the station, Young-joo is reminded of the eerily similar moment when her father was escorted into the station in his own handcuffs. Waiting for her in the interrogation room is Dong-joon, who tells her to remove the video.
The official warrant for her arrest will be issued within the next day. She protests that as soon as she’s free, she’ll upload the entire video. But Dong-joon informs her that the judge in charge of her case is in Taebaek’s pocket, so there won’t be freedom for her — she’ll definitely go to jail.
She angrily calls him a jerk, and he calls her a prostitute, reminding her that prostitution — the act of selling one’s body to gain personal profit — is illegal. She fights back her emotions as she asks what he’s sold: his conscience? Principles? Sneeringly, she says that at least he got a lot of money for them.
But he can live without a conscience and principles — at least he will still see tomorrow. After all, you only have one life. Even if that life will be spent paying back the world for the debt he owes her.
Soo-yeon calls just then to ask him who his shadow is so she can get rid of them, but he reassures her that his shadow is now gone and there will be no one investigating what really happened the night Sung-shik died. Which is a good thing, because now he can focus on Sang-gu’s case.
She wishes him a happy birthday, adding that she’s leaving him a special present, something big that will effect the rest of his life. She pulls out a small baggie of drugs and sticks it in one of his desk drawers. Happy birthday, indeed.
After he hangs up with Soo-yeon, he turns his attention back to Young-joo, telling her that she can be sentenced for up to ten years for forgery. But if she begs him, maybe he’ll let her stay in the same prison as her father. As Dong-joon leaves the station, Young-joo fights back her tears.
Hyun-soo hurries into the room, shocked to find out she’s been arrested. But she’s more focused on the task she assigned him, asking if he learned anything about who Jung-il is secretly meeting. Boy, did he: he shows her photos of Jung-il and Soo-yeon looking pretty cozy and clearly in a romantic — or at least sexual — relationship.
Hyun-soo is surprised that Dong-joon met with her just now, considering he’s also the one that sentenced her father. But Young-joo says that even if he’s a jerk, they still need him on their side. Then she apologizes to Hyun-soo and punches him the face with her elbow. She asks for his assistance, telling him he’ll only get a pay cut for letting a suspect beat him up. Then she handcuffs him to the table and makes her escape. Ha!
Lawyer Kang returns to the office after his trip to Australia, asking to see Dong-joon, but Soo-yeon tells him that he won’t come. That’s because he’s meeting Sang-gu at a private room in a club, where he explains the options that Sang-gu can accept to minimize his punishment in his criminal case. Sang-gu offers him a drink, which Dong-joon refuses, so he then offers him a non-alcoholic option.
Sighing, Dong-joon reluctantly accepts out of politeness, and then Sang-gu brings in a handful of women that Dong-joon can choose from. Dong-joon insists on focusing on Sang-gu’s case, and Sang-gu waves the women away, telling Dong-joon he’ll like the next person, who is… Jung-il? Then man has a knack for arriving at unexpected moments.
Dong-joon starts to get sweaty and dizzy, and back at Taebaek, Soo-yeon tells her father that Dong-joon will be arrested for taking illegal drugs. Not only have they planted the drugs in his office, but they also drugged his drink so there will be proof that the drugs are in his system. Soo-yeon’s also made sure there will be reporters there to document the arrest.
Lawyer Kim is shocked, asking if Jung-il made her do this. She smiles and informs him that, no, it was her heart did that made her do it. Quietly, Lawyer Kim reminds her that Jung-il killed someone, and a flashback shows that Jung-il was also at the fishing spot that night. Soo-yeon watched in shock as Jung-il grasps the fishing pole in Sung-shik’s chest.
At the club, Jung-il thanks Dong-joon for getting rid of the pesky shadow that was looking into Sung-shik’s case. The familiar use of the word “shadow” and the lipstick stains on Jung-il’s collar cause Dong-joon to realize that there must be something going on between his wife and Jung-il.
Jung-il freely admits that there is. Up until yesterday they worked hard to hide their relationship, but now there’s no need to keep it a secret. Dong-joon starts to stand in indignation, but the effect of the drugs takes it toll and he staggers back to his seat. Jung-il tells him that narcotics cops along with reporters will be here in ten minutes, and Dong-joon will be caught up in a scandal that will destroy his career and character.
Having ascertained Dong-joon’s schedule, Young-joo hurries to the club. She runs through traffic in an attempt to cross the street while Jung-il and Sang-gu smugly watch Dong-joon try to helplessly fight off the effects of the drug. Jung-il tells him that he should just give up, since there’s no one who will help him.
Part of me feels like there’s no way the show can possibly keep up the breakneck speed that has been running relentlessly since the first minute of the first episode, and another part of me wants to say “bring it on” as each episode gets better and better, filled even more twists and turns and betrayals. I really like seeing Dong-joon struggle with his innate desire to be honorable yet also try to survive the cutthroat world he’s suddenly be thrown into. It’s like even when he’s trying to be bad, he still somehow has to balance it out with good.
Such as: he’ll make gangsters break into Young-joo’s room to try and find the video, but he’ll also make sure they pay her mother for the side dishes her purchased, which will then presumably be given to his mother to share with her patients. Or he’ll make sure that Young-joo’s father is moved far away, but still insist on making sure he gets proper medical care (even if he won’t let Young-joo know that he’s still a softie, at least we know he is). Even though he still seems like a helpless puppy just scrambling to survive, I’m relieved he’s finally taking matters into his own hands. Or at least attempting to, since everyone else feels like they’re one step ahead of him so far. But I don’t want him to outsmart everyone just yet because I happen to like my bad guys to actually be intelligent and good at what they do, which makes it challenging for the hero. Or anti-hero, as the case may be.
So even though I know they’re both ruthless and one of them certainly-probably-maybe killed Sung-shik, I’m still somewhat rooting for Soo-yeon and Jung-il. I feel like Soo-yeon just wants to break free from her father’s grasp and do her own thing, and for all I know she genuinely loves Jung-il (hey, she’s a hard woman to read — I can’t always tell when she’s joking or serious), so why not decide to implode her father’s corporation from the inside and reclaim it in her and Jung-il’s name? Okay, yes, it would also mean that Dong-joon’s life would also implode, for no reason except he was unwillingly dragged into the mess that is Taebaek. But I’m certainly not rooting for Lawyer Kim, no matter what kind of sob-story he tries to sell me about his childhood. He’s so intent on winning and proving that he’s better than everyone else that he doesn’t care whose lives he tramples along the way.
I continue get a kick out of the sly little digs at real-life corruption, with references that could have been taken from recent headlines. Young-joo’s theory that Jung-il was meeting with a “secret aide” is akin to ex-President Park’s unofficial aide Choi Soon-sil, who was at the root of most of the scandals that eventually lead to Park’s impeachment. Also, Soo-yeon mentioned her pastor grandfather’s embezzlement trial, which made me think of a similar embezzlement trial with mega-church leader David Yonggi Cho from a couple of years ago. Even though we still don’t know what happened with the case, the specific issue regarding the coverup with Chairman Kang’s bulletproof body armor makes me think of Samyang Chemical’s scandal with their faulty “liquid body armor.” Often with melodramatic thrillers, there’s a sensation that “no way can this be real,” but I feel like Park Kyung-soo is subtly trying to tell us that no matter how wild and crazy his script might get, the real world is even crazier and more unbelievable.
Also, while I know there are now director’s cuts available of the first couple of episodes, these recaps will solely be focused on what originally airs each week. Discussions about the additional scenes (which I personally have not watched as of yet, although I eventually plan to) are welcome, but be aware that my assessment of the show will strictly be based on the originally shown material. Which, honestly, is more than enough plot and character moments that I’m fairly certain my mind would explode if I had to deal with an extra ten minutes per episode.
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- Whisper: Episode 1
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