Falsify: Episodes 17-18
There’s pressure on both sides as our heroes begin to close in on their formidable adversaries. Finally, Moo-young and So-ra begin to realize that they’re in much more danger than they expected, and Seok-min is thrown for a loop by Chief Gu’s nefarious plotting. As a new character emerges who seems to be at the center of this convoluted web of corruption, an old one also returns, and there’s little doubt that there’s a big reveal on the horizon.
EPISODE 17 RECAP
The judge officially announces his ruling to reopen Seon-woo’s case. Overcome with emotion, Seon-woo breaks free of his guards and gives Moo-young a tearful hug. In the background, Killer stalks around and witnesses their heartfelt hug with his lighter flicking, but only Seok-min notices that something is off.
Chief Gu and Lawyer Jo have a secret meeting in a parked car, and they start turning on each other in the face of adversity, accusing each other of incompetence that led to this situation. Chief Gu laughs, treating Lawyer Jo indulgently as if he were a child, while at the same time threatening that if he is thinking about betraying him, he should know that Chief Gu has never lost in a power struggle.
Editor Jung reports to Chief Gu that Seok-min has made a proposal: He wants independent editorial rights over all of the Splash Team’s articles in exchange for keeping quiet that Reporter Na’s source was actually Chief Gu.
Chief Gu doesn’t want to listen and barges out, taking a minute to think. As he walks along Daehan Daily’s halls, he remembers one of his last conversations with Chul-ho, who had come to him saying that he couldn’t write fabricated stories any longer. Although Chief Gu attempted to persuade him otherwise, Chul-ho had stuck to his guns in front of his mentor, saying that he couldn’t bear to lie to himself and the world any longer.
Back in the present, Seok-min receives the server analysis results that show that Seon-woo’s article was written by Chul-ho. He also remembers a conversation he had with Chul-ho, when he had found out that Chul-ho had been fabricating stories. Chul-ho couldn’t reveal to him who was feeding him this false information, but Seok-min hadn’t asked.
He had just told Chul-ho that he expected him to recover from this, and that he needed to keep writing and revealing the truth as a way to pay the world back for his wrongdoings. According to Seok-min, anyone can fall into temptation, but the way one decides to repent is the true measure of a real reporter. His last words to Chul-ho were to tell him that he trusted in him.
Seok-min meets Moo-young outside, and Moo-young finally shows him copies of the tattoo symbol on the killer. He’s initially angry that Moo-young didn’t tell him from the beginning, but he accepts that Moo-young couldn’t trust him back then. Moo-young then admits that that Seok-min was right the first time: They should have used Lieutenant Jeon to follow the corruption all the way to the core.
Seok-min tells him that there’s another way, and reveals to Moo-young that Chul-ho was the one creating falsified reports regarding Seon-woo. Moo-young can’t believe it and almost punches Seok-min for saying it, but he stops right before his fist connects. Seok-min begs him to look at the situation rationally so that they can get to the bottom of this case.
From afar, the blank-faced killer sees Moo-young and recognizes him.
So-ra, who also witnessed Seok-min and Moo-young’s confrontation, has a chat with Seok-min after. She reveals a little more about her past as she tells him that her father had been involved in an embezzlement case. Although he had been framed, for a long time even she, his daughter, didn’t know what to think and half-believed the news reports that said her father was a thieving criminal.
Even after he was judged to be innocent, she adds that it took a long time for her to forgive him, and an even longer time to forgive herself for doubting him. She suggests that Seok-min give Moo-young a little bit more time, since Seok-min has had five years to accept this truth while Moo-young has just found out.
Yeon-soo barges into Prosecutor Im’s office, bearing gifts from her recent travels to China. It’s a gaudy headdress, and when she profusely compliments him upon wearing it, he pauses to take a selfie.
She then brings up the topic of So-ra, and seems to sympathize with Prosecutor Im regarding how stubborn So-ra is. However, when he begins to rant about how So-ra is disloyal for suggesting that the prosecutor’s initial investigations were mistaken, Yeon-soo disagrees. She says that because prosecutors are human, there’s always a chance for mistakes to happen, and in those cases it’s correct to make apologies.
She then fishes around and implies that there may be something corrupt going on in this case, if two prosecutors have directly conflicting opinions and the evidence is unclear. After she leaves, Prosecutor Im gets the willies, knowing that if Yeon-soo has caught a whiff of his corrupt dealings, she’ll never let go until she finds the stinker at the end of the scent.
Chief Gu brings an old tape recording music to his wife, and they reminisce about old times, when they first met in college. She remarks that when she first saw him, she liked the way he didn’t pay attention to what was happening in the world and just focused on what he was doing. Clearly, this statement stimulates his guilty conscience, because now he’s been corrupted by worldly vices like greed and power. She says she no longer wants to continue treatment because she knows she’s at her end.
When he goes to see her doctor, her doctor confirms that her body is beginning to show signs of organ transplant rejection, and that he probably needs to prepare for the worst. But when Chief Gu presses him, the doctor does reluctantly say that if she received another heart transplant, her life may be extended. But the doctor adds that she’s already very weak from past treatments, and there’s no guarantee she’d survive the surgery.
Lawyer Jo receives information that Moo-young is Chul-ho’s brother, and laughs to himself that the game has become more interesting. After seeing that Chief Gu is calling him, he decides to make the Daehan CEO wait and lets the phone ring on.
Chief Gu and Moo-young pass each other by in the hospital lobby. Moo-young remembers his brother’s last moments where he vomited in anxiety and talked about how he needed to turn things back, realizing now how these instances could have been indicative of Chul-ho’s self-ridden guilt regarding the fabricated reports. Then the flashback changes to a point even further in the past.
A young Moo-young walks up to Chul-ho, who is taking a cigarette break from working his menial pay job at a truck loading company. Moo-young yells at Chul-ho for enrolling him into another competition without his permission, and Chul-ho just laughs it off, saying that he did it because Moo-young’s dream is to become a national athlete.
But Moo-young feels bad that Chul-ho is working two part-time jobs just to make ends meet for him, knowing that his brother is sacrificing his time to study for the civil service exam (Chul-ho’s dream career) in order to make sure Moo-young gets an opportunity to pursue his dreams. Even so, Chul-ho cheerfully says that it’s the burden of all firstborns, and tells his brother not to worry.
On his bench in the present, Moo-young starts tearing up at his memories of his brother. But when he suddenly also remembers Lieutenant Jeon’s last words regarding his cigarette, he thinks he’s stumbled onto a clue.
Yoo-kyung presents her findings on the truck driver’s fingerprints to Seok-min. The fingerprints belong to a man is someone who’s been missing for six years, and had been living as a homeless person since.
So-ra searches the local library for a witness in Seon-woo’s case, a former officer of the coast guard. Through notes, she asks him for his help, and they hold a brief conversation outside. He remembers that there had been rumors that the coast guard member who had been murdered was involved with a smuggling ring because he needed money to pay off his gambling debts.
This new clue leads them to a young inmate who was involved in the smuggling ring. Initially, he disrespects So-ra, which causes Paralegal Park to start playing bad cop, which scares the youngster into submission.
The young man reveals that right before the coast guard was murdered, he had been involved in a deal to smuggle a businessman abroad, but the young man had seen reports of the businessman in the news stating that the businessman was dead.
EPISODE 18 RECAP
In a private room, Chief Gu demands that Lawyer Jo influence the organ transplant commission to look more favorably on his wife’s case (so that she can get a second transplant). Lawyer Jo says that Chief Gu should at least bring something to the table when he comes begging for favors.
He mentions that the elders are worried about Daehan’s Splash Team, which Chief Gu takes as a threat. He goes on the offensive, saying that they were the ones who approached him first, and that they need him. Lawyer Jo corrects him, saying that they needed Daehan, not necessarily Chief Gu, and he tells the chief that he needs to show them again why he is their only way to control Daehan. Chief Gu doesn’t take this humiliation sitting down, and tells Lawyer Jo to remember this day carefully before storming out of the room.
Yoo-kyung has found out that the homeless man, whose fingerprints were taken as the truck driver’s, was the department head of a company that had been engaged in white-collar fraud. The company, New Harvest, had been headed by a criminal named NAM KANG-MYUNG, who had been reported to have died years ago.
In conversation with Seok-min, Yoo-kyung proposes her theory that maybe the homeless man had been trying to reveal the secret that Nam Kang-myung was also alive when he had been kidnapped and made to live as a homeless person by the nameless corrupt powers above.
Yeon-soo shuts and locks the door as she briefs her team on the Nam Kang-myung case. He’s still alive, she says, but he’s changed his face so completely through plastic surgery that he’s unrecognizable.
All the trails lead to him, as So-ra’s investigations have also pointed him out as the supposed businessman who boarded the smuggling ship the coast guard member was murdered for.
Paralegal Park brings the toxicology report for Lieutenant Jeon, and it lists that he was negative for any drug substances. Remembering Moo-young’s testimony that he saw Lieutenant Jeon being stabbed with a syringe, So-ra begins to follow this other lead.
Back at Patriot News HQ, the gangsters are throwing the recently released-from-jail reporters a party for their graduation from “school” (criminals in Korea refer to prison as school). Chief Yang is super nervous, but Moo-young comes by and blows out the candles as if a room full of gangsters is a harmless sight.
He asks Na-rae about the new invention she showed him the other day, a pen that contains a USB, while ignoring the mob boss’s annoyance at his nonchalance. As he’s walking to his car, So-ra catches him and tells him about Lieutenant Jeon’s autopsy results.
He asks whether there were any cigarettes or lighters in his personal possessions, and when she confirms, he then tells her about the clue that Lieutenant Jeon gave him with his last breath. Unbeknownst to them, they’ve been overheard by the killer, who has been watching their conversation in his car the entire time.
Seok-min brings his folder full of evidence against Chief Gu, containing USB files in which Reporter Na recorded each one of their conversations in which he was told to fabricate articles by Chief Gu. Chief Gu claims that he could’ve been fooled by a different source as well.
Then, another department head from Daehan Daily shows up and starts confessing his guilt for being the source who told Chief Gu about the articles regarding Seon-woo’s suicide and Patriot News’s involvement. Seok-min knows that this is all a farce—the department head wasn’t involved at all, but he guesses that he’s probably being coerced by Chief Gu to take the fall.
Seok-min takes him by the collar and tries to get him to stop, but it’s useless. Chief Gu returns Seok-min’s folder and tells him that this is his answer to Seok-min’s proposal for the Splash Team’s independence.
He walks back furiously to the Splash Team room and slams the folder back down on Reporter Na’s desk, but the reporter finds a USB that isn’t his. It’s new evidence in the coast guard case of a witness who knew about the boat that smuggled the supposedly dead Nam Kang-myung out of the country.
Seok-min realizes that Chief Gu has given them something: It could either be a trap or a scoop.
Chief Gu tells Editor Jung that he did give them the tipoff on Nam Kang-myung’s case, but that he’s using the Splash Team to target his enemies. In the end, he says he’ll throw them away if need be.
Given that Lieutenant Jeon recognized the tattoo killer, Moo-young deduces that he knew who the killer was because the killer probably killed the coast guard member in the CCTV footage. So-ra and Moo-young wonder why people are going to such lengths to protect Nam Kang-myung.
Lawyer Jo invites Prosecutor Im to lunch in order to sway him over from Team Chief Gu to his own. But in the middle of their pleasant greeting, Prosecutor Im receives a call that So-ra is poking around Lieutenant Jeon’s possessions.
So-ra comes out of the morgue carrying Lieutenant Jeon’s cigarettes and lighter. However, instead of meeting her, Moo-young calls her and tells her that he’s spotted the killer across the street just a block away from her. He warns her to duck into a nearby alley quickly.
He can’t move very quickly due to his injury, and because he can’t keep up with her, he tells her that she should quickly hail a cab back to the office to lose the killer. She tries to protest because he might be in danger too, but he brings up that she’s the one with the evidence bag, so she acquiesces and gets into a cab.
She verifies that the lighter contains the hidden USB that may contain the CCTV footage of the coast guard member being murdered, but she senses something suspicious. When the taxi driver lifts his arm to adjust the mirror, So-ra catches sight of the globe tattoo.
So when Moo-young calls, she surreptitiously says that it’s a spam call while she puts him on mute. She gives the driver exact directions for where she wants to go and tries to get off at the next corner, but the doors are locked. So-ra demands that he let her go because she’s a police officer, but the killer calmly says that he wants the contents of the USB, adding that no one needs to get hurt if he can just get that.
Recognizing the killer’s voice on the phone, Moo-young steals a motorcycle to follow the cab. As a deliveryboy tries to stop him, Moo-young encourages him to call the police and puts a GPS tracker on himself so that the authorities will know his (and So-ra and the killer’s) whereabouts.
When So-ra makes a grab for the steering wheel, the killer is able to subdue her with a single hand as he weaves back and forth between lanes. Using the seatbelt to momentarily stabilize the wheel, he drives into a dark tunnel, where he turns around and begins to choke So-ra.
She turns red from not having any air, but successfully manages to break a rear window by kicking it out. She uses the lighter to light a fire on the sleeve of the arm the killer is using to choke her, finally forcing him to let go (though it doesn’t seem to pain him in the least). In the process, she drops the lighter in the car, and so the killer drives off with his prize in hand.
So-ra wanders the streets like a madwoman as she knocks into everything and anyone, completely unaware of her surroundings. Moo-young spots her and grabs her in a hug, which she falls into.
Seeing the level of her distress, Moo-young apologizes and reassures her that it’s all over now. So-ra just pounds her fists against him while crying on his shoulder.
Those last scenes were excellent, thanks in part to an excellent performance by Eom Ji-won. Her frantic running through the streets was so realistic, exactly conveying the horror she’s going through from the trauma of a literally life-threatening experience. Many a drama heroine shrug off these near-death encounters without so much as a frown, so I’m glad that Falsify is going a more believable route, because now I feel more empathy toward So-ra as a character.
She was never my favorite, but that was because she seemed so rigid and unbending and always saw things in black and white, no matter how great the stakes or the temptation. So to me, she seemed more like a robot than a human, one who was just programmed to be righteous. Her core beliefs haven’t changed, but I think through this experience (having had the bejeezus scared out of her), she’s coming to realize that external factors (such as fear) can motivate someone to act against the law.
Speaking of which, I really hope that she swiped the USB before the killer made off with the lighter. But then again, that might be too easy a solution. At the same time, Falsify has been pretty predictable this entire time, with the clues (like Lieutenant Jeon’s last words on the cigarette) being almost spoonfed to our heroes, so it’s definitely a possibility that she has the USB. The killer definitely has a motive for wanting the USB (because it clearly incriminates him), but I’m still wondering why he became involved in the first place. Does he have any ties with this Nam Kang-myung person?
For now, he just seems like a follower who just does whatever Lawyer Jo tells him to do, which is a grave disappointment for me. Before his face was revealed, I had built him up in my mind to be the ultimate mastermind assassin. And to an extent, I still think he’s awesome (primarily due to that crazy awesome seatbelt-steering wheel stunt), but so far, he hasn’t impressed me on his smarts.
In my book, any villain that monologues is just stupid, and killers (that aren’t mentally unstable) that do so irk me even more because they should be vigilant about any possibility of getting caught. But almost every time, this killer speaks to his victims and then sometimes doesn’t finish the job (like with Moo-young and So-ra), which leaves stray ends loose. Sometimes I wonder why he even bothers with choking/stabbing people if he’s going to let them leave after having seen his face and heard his voice.
Moo-young’s naivety regarding Chul-ho’s involvement in the falsification stories baffles me, because he’s been the one who has been following the leads on his brother’s stories all these years. He’s the one who knows the stories inside and out, so he probably knows that there was a pattern where certain ones set up the background for other events to follow. I guess it shows that where family is concerned, Moo-young has held onto his shred of innocence. Seok-min, on the other hand, seems to be the only one who has an idea of the main players in this game and how to strategize to capture them. So I’m glad that he’ll be given an opportunity to showcase his talents in the next episodes, where he’ll grapple with Chief Gu’s trap/scoop.
Sometimes I do get confused in this story though. There are so many threads to keep track of, and as one subplot ends, another one begins. I’m glad that Yeon-soo has popped back in, and I hope she stays for good because the screen was on fire whenever she was on it. Hopefully this Nam Kang-myung chase doesn’t drag on for long so that maybe we’ll finally get to some type of closure on this coast guard coverup business, even if only for Seon-woo. That kid really deserves a second chance at life.
- Falsify: Episodes 1-2
- The news and the law come together for Falsify
- Righteous prosecutor and journalists challenge the corrupt in Falsify’s first teaser
- SBS’s Falsify finds its female lead in Eom Ji-won
- Two more actresses decline SBS’s Falsify, show still without leading lady
- Search for Falsify’s female lead narrows in on Kim Ok-bin
- Namgoong Min offered spot on Jeon Hye-bin’s Falsify team
- Jeon Hye-bin up to join SBS’s Falsify as photojournalist
- Chun Woo-hee, Yoo Joon-sang consider new SBS legal thriller Falsify