Falsify: Episodes 21-22
Just when I thought that our three main heroes—Moo-young, So-ra, and Seok-min—had all gotten on the same page, everything starts going awry as each pursues his or her own path to the bottom of the case without sharing any of the information they know. But we’re still left with questions about the criminal stowaway who seems to be at the center of it all: Who is Nam Kang-myung?
EPISODE 21 RECAP
Seok-min asks Moo-young to stop his pursuit of revenge so that he won’t ruin the lives of the people around him. In an angry rage, Moo-young asks how Seok-min can even ask that of him when real people like Seon-woo are suffering from injustice.
Seok-min replies that Moo-young lost the right to champion the cause of the wronged when he allowed people to get hurt and killed in order to accomplish his objectives. Moo-young doesn’t relent and says that he won’t give up, but as he’s walking down the road, he reflects on Seok-min’s words and cries.
Prosecutor Cha Yeon-soo escorts So-ra out of the emergency room, chiding her for not tending to her injuries first. But there are more important things to discuss, as So-ra fills Prosecutor Cha in on Lieutenant Jeon’s death, the USB, and the killer.
After she’s done, she asks Prosecutor Cha to tell her what case she’s on as well, but she refuses and instead asks about Moo-young’s relationship to So-ra. So-ra replies that Moo-young is just a reporter she’s working with, and Prosecutor Cha is taken aback because she can’t imagine how So-ra can trust reporters after the Chairman Min event that caused her demotion.
However, So-ra insists that Moo-young is different, and that she’s confident she won’t fall into a similar situation as she did back then. She feels that their alliance is necessary in order to learn any more about the case, since they can target it from different angles. Prosecutor Cha leans back after hearing So-ra’s idealistic talk and says that maybe she’s not ready to join her team yet.
Seok-min fills Yoo-kyung in on Chul-ho’s wishes that they stay out of the case, since Chul-ho wanted to protect his friends and family. Yoo-kyung is shocked, and when Seok-min suggests that they do as Chul-ho wanted, she’s outraged.
She doesn’t want him to discriminate because she’s a mother — she wants to continue pursuing the case because it’s their duty as responsible reporters. Seok-min agrees that, even with all the danger involved, he does want to continue as he glances down at her notebook that contains the killer’s tattoo symbol.
Prosecutor Cha lets her task force team know that So-ra is also on the tails of the Nam Kang-myung case. They can’t let her in, but they also can’t leave her alone to make mistakes that would compromise their carefully laid plans.
Lawyer Jo speaks to someone on the phone about never bowing down to Chief Gu, despite all the negative press he’s receiving these days. He gets to his car and sits to drive, when suddenly, out of nowhere, a hand grasps his throat from behind. The sinister killer doesn’t even look at Lawyer Jo as he chokes for air, and just gives him a warning: Lawyer Jo won’t be given a second chance — he needs to take care of the situation, or else.
Lawyer Jo tries to threaten the killer, but in his toneless manner, Killer says that they’ve been trained to not care about those consequences. (Curious.)
Subsequently, Chief Gu receives a call from Lawyer Jo; the killer’s threat worked. But Chief Gu ignores it the way Lawyer Jo ignored his desperate calls last time.
Moo-young returns to his attic house, where Chief Yang is waiting for him. He fills Chief Yang on what Seok-min told him, and tells him that he still can’t give up on his brother’s case. Chief Yang tells him that if he does want to pursue the case further, he should find a reason greater than revenge to get to the bottom of the case.
Late at home by himself, Moo-young stares at his article-covered wall and tries to connect all the dots. He ponders what all of these separate cases mean and how they’re all connected before finally deciding to start again with the first case: the dead woman found in Boss Park’s warehouse wall.
He asks So-ra for more information and is given the background history of Seo Hae-young, the victim. There were rumors that she had credit card debt that forced her to move into her company-sponsored dorms, but there were no records of her bank accounts or her employment. Finding that suspicious, Moo-young decides to dig deeper.
Right before he hangs up, Moo-young asks So-ra again if she’s all right, and tells her that from his experience, the feeling of anxiety doesn’t get any better. However, if she needs any emotional support, he says he’s here to talk to her and listen. She simply replies that she will call him if she needs it, and he’s suddenly the one who becomes shy about his own offer.
Patriot News’s friendly neighborhood mobster boss has been eavesdropping on Moo-young’s attempts to connect with So-ra. He calls Moo-young over, teases him about his girl So-ra, and tries to give him tips on dating. However, Moo-young denies his attraction to the prosecutor, and when the boss begins to talk romance again, he just walks away.
The boss’s henchman asks whether he should send Moo-young to the grave for disrespecting him, but the boss just says that they should take pity on Moo-young because he’s not handsome like them; according to the boss, Moo-young’s so ugly that he can’t get any woman to like him. Ha.
At Patriot News HQ, Moo-young debriefs his team on why they’re pursuing the case now. Even without Chul-ho’s death, they have plenty of reason to pursue this story: A huge corrupt shadowy organization is going around killing innocents and causing general moral decay in the journalistic world.
Chief Yang thinks that it’s definitely not what trash reporters like them usually pursue, but he thinks it may be worth a shot to pursue a story that gets their blood pumping.
So-ra has a different lead on the case as she thinks back to her run-in with the killer. She knows that there must have been a tipoff at some point for the killer to have known where she was and when. So, she deduces that someone in the police or prosecutor’s office is a traitor.
Meanwhile, Seok-min and Yoo-kyung are at Daehan Daily, tired after hours of trying to find evidence to no avail. Finally, after a second rewinded watch of the dark video of Nam Kang-myung’s ride on the boat out of the country, Yoo-kyung catches an error in the footage.
She realizes that someone has already photoshopped and edited the video to hide a man’s face, and that it must have been another person who was with Nam Kang-myung on the boat. Seok-min gets the idea that maybe they can catch whoever was with Nam Kang-myung by looking at his funeral photos, and so the entire Splash Team gathers to look at the three principal mourners who are now their three chief suspects. Seok-min plots a way to check who it is by baiting them into revealing themselves.
Chief Gu sits down with his right-hand man, Editor Jung, and two other men for a lavish dinner. He’s clearly flattering his two guests, who are leaders of major trash reporter paparazzi sites, when they know that they’re not on the same level as Daehan Daily. At the end of the meal, Chief Gu proposes a partnership, and though both men are puzzled by the offer, they accept when he brings up the matter of Patriot News.
After they leave, Editor Jung tries to warn Chief Gu that those men have no qualms about responsible journalism, but Chief Gu knows exactly what he’s getting into. He wants to use them as media arsenal; although the end damage could be catastrophic, as long as he’s the one that’s directing their target, he thinks he can control them.
A waitress enters with Lawyer Jo’s message to Chief Gu, asking to meet. Lawyer Jo promises Chief Gu that he’ll do whatever it takes to get the organ transplant center to approve his wife’s surgery. However, Chief Gu isn’t very forgiving; he recalls his first supervisor telling him that journalists are the brains of war, and as such, they shouldn’t forget wrongs committed against them so easily.
Chief Gu warns that Lawyer Jo isn’t the only one with a direct tie to the “elders,” and that in a contest of power, he (Chief Gu) would win. And as if that wasn’t enough to crush Lawyer Jo’s ambitions, Chief Gu adds that it hasn’t even been forty-eight hours since he fired the first shots at Lawyer Jo, and he’s already come begging.
With the little bit of fight in him, Lawyer Jo brings up the Nam Kang-myung problem again. He demands to know how Chief Gu is going to solve this seemingly out-of-control problem, which can’t be covered up now, even with Daehan’s large influence. But Chief Gu just smiles and begins to talk about his plan…
Meanwhile, So-ra is hatching a plan of her own: She wails to her colleagues, exaggerating her emotional distress from her incident with the killer. Seeing their peer in such a weakened state, they’re all in an indignant rage as they ask what they can do to help her. She asks them for a favor: to support her in her request for an internal investigation.
The person who gives the final decision on whether an investigation is launched is none other than Prosecutor Im. He approves easily (which he shouldn’t have if he wanted to save his own skin, since he’s number one on the list of possible turncoats in the prosecutor’s office), which causes So-ra to become suspicious.
He even calls her to his office, gives her his condolences, and even gives her all the case files related to Nam Kang-myung as a peace offering. He adds a tip that Nam Kang-myung is expected to come back to Korea soon.
Of course, Prosecutor Im isn’t doing this to help So-ra, and it’s revealed in a flashback that he’s acting on Chief Gu’s orders to help So-ra feel like she’s pursuing righteous justice. In the meantime, they’ll use her to accomplish their own goals.
So-ra clearly doesn’t trust him, but she accepts the case files nonetheless.
EPISODE 22 RECAP
Moo-young goes to Seo Hae-young’s old house and asks the murdered woman’s previous landlady about her tenant. He learns that she may have worked as a pediatric nurse. Colleagues Yong-shik and Sang-ho go to sniff out some information from her brother, but they’re unsuccessful because he’s a gruff butcher who doesn’t want to reveal any more about his dead sister.
Chief Yang and Na-rae approach a hairdresser who was close to Seo Hae-young, but she remains tight-lipped until they leave. She then starts gossiping about Seo Hae-young’s death to a long-time customer, and apparently, she’s been keeping a letter that Seo Hae-young wanted to give to her mother. In the next chair over, surprise—Moo-young is getting his locks done and has overheard the entire conversation.
He asks her more probing questions, pretending not to know the Patriot News folks, all the while trying to get on the hairdresser’s good side by buying the most expensive hair treatment and peeling her fruit. He’s finally rewarded when she shows him the letter, which is addressed to a facility called Faith Center.
It’s plan execution time for everyone this episode, and Seok-min also is in the middle of finding out more about the three principal people who could be Nam Kang-myung’s co-conspirator. Reporter Na is part of the plan, but he’s in a cushy car while Seok-min rides a delivery scooter, pretending to be a service worker.
A beleaguered Seok-min thinks that maybe their roles should be switched in this scenario, but Reporter Na coolly reminds him they decided on these roles because Reporter Na’s entire demeanor is far removed from a delivery worker’s. More serious now, he asks Seok-min if he really thinks the plan will work.
Seok-min replies with firmness that whoever shows a reaction to this red folder will be Nam Kang-myung’s co-culprit. He delivers the first folder to a financial head, and Yoo-kyung pretends to be a wealthy charity chairwoman to get into his office, allowing her to see him ignore the envelope — it’s not him. The intern delivers the second envelope to the second potential suspect, but he’s reported to be away on a business trip.
Pretending to be a patient, Reporter Na follows up with the last man, a doctor who was Nam Kang-myung’s former brother-in-law. When the doctor receives the red envelope, he opens it and sees that it contains the still shots from the photoshopped cargo hold video showing Nam Kang-myung’s stowaway journey, along with an anonymous note that says they know what he’s done. Shaking in panic, he stands up and stumbles out of his office, with Reporter Na following in close pursuit.
Seok-min confronts the doctor as he’s driving out of the parking lot, introduces himself as the person behind the red envelope, and demands an interview. They proceed to a cafe, where the doctor shows them what Nam Kang-myung looks like after his surgery. Seok-min asks him why he recorded that video of Nam Kang-myung in the cargo hold, which could compromise his escape when he was a close relative.
The doctor replies that he felt guilty because a good friend had committed suicide after investing in his brother-in-law’s (Nam Kang-myung’s) business. So Seok-min asks whether they can publish any of the information that the doctor leaked in the Daehan newspaper, but the doctor vehemently says no, because his life is on the line.
He yells then that they should try to catch him themselves before proceeding to tell them that there’s an opportunity for them to do so, since Nam Kang-myung is scheduled to come back to Korea tonight to get maintenance done on his pacemaker.
So-ra and Paralegal Park follow-up on the coast guard smuggling case and find an old dockworker who has a grandson that sometimes gets involved with some shady business business with the coast guards. He confirms that Nam Kang-myung is coming back tonight because the man who is scheduled to arrive paid the exact same amount as Nam Kang-myung did six years ago.
So-ra is suspicious because all of the information was given so voluntarily, and the dockworker says that he’s obligated to give the prosecutor’s office insider information because they let his nephew out of jail a couple years ago if he promised to do so.
Moo-young pays a visit to the Faith Center where Seo Hae-young once worked, and Chief Yang tags along. According to the current employee, the Faith Center is now an senior citizen home, but before it was burnt to the grown a couple years ago, it had been an orphanage.
However, Seo Hae-young’s name isn’t mentioned in any of the employee logbooks. When he sees a bulk food charity delivery truck outside, Moo-young asks the worker there if they have any records of the Faith Center that go back a while.
Moo-young and Chief Yang are given piles of yearbooks with photos containing records of all the charities the delivery service has supported. Chief spots Seo Hae-young’s photo in one of the books, and next to her, they find Nam Kang-myung, who was apparently the director of the Faith Center way back when she used to work there.
When the food delivery worker mentions to his colleague that reporters from Daehan Daily are here to look over their records, she mentions that she remembers them visiting before too.
Moo-young receives a call from So-ra, who has just read the voice analysis report for the killer. She mentions that Killer has the toneless voice of someone who experienced a childhood trauma. As he’s flipping through the photos, Moo-young discovers the tattoo symbol on one of the pillars from the old Faith Center, and realizes that one of the orphans must be the killer. He determines that Nam Kang-myung is the one who has all the information in his hands regarding the killer.
Nam Kang-myung is coming back to Korea on a little Chinese boat, and the sailor mentions that he remembers Nam’s face from TV. Nam Kang-myung, in an amused tone of voice, says in Korean that it looks like he’s about to commit a crime even before he’s landed on Korean soil.
The camera pans out to a wide shot of the little dinghy as Nam Kang-myung rises menacingly toward the sailor, and the voiceover concludes that one shouldn’t really show off his knowledge.
At 11:55 p.m., So-ra and Paralegal Park stake out the dock that Nam Kang-myung is supposed to arrive through with a platoon of backup with them. At the same location, but a different hidden spot, Moo-young and Yong-shik are also waiting for the criminal to show up when they suddenly see the bright lights of a car passing through.
It turns out to be Seok-min, who boldly just walks up to the dock and starts to light a cigarette. Moo-young strides out to stop Seok-min, because his lighting the cigarette could have scared Nam Kang-myung away. But then, they realize the entire Splash Team and Patriot News Team are there, and both are confused and suspicious that the other team may have spied on them in order to get this first-class scoop.
To make matters worse, So-ra comes out with her squad of men, and they realize they’ve all independently come to the same place. At first, Moo-young thinks it’s a leak, but So-ra gets the feeling that maybe all the different sources of information were released at once for a purpose — it could be a masterfully orchestrated plot.
The intern and Reporter Na get thirteen missed calls from an unknown number. They’re calls from the second man, who was on a “business trip” when the intern tried to send the red envelope to his office. He’s currently working with Prosecutor Cha on Nam Kang-myung’s case.
The two Daehan Daily Splash Team reporters tell Prosecutor Cha and her team that they’ve already heard everything from the doctor, and that he was the one who recorded Nam Kang-myung’s stowaway video. However, it looks like it’s the first time that Prosecutor Cha has heard any of this information, as Prosecutor Cha and the second red envelope man look at each other in dismay.
Meanwhile, Chief Gu is at his office as recalls his conversation with Lawyer Jo earlier. Editor Jung enters the room then and asks whether they should start the plan, and in Chief Gu’s flashback, Lawyer Jo asks how Chief Gu’s going to solve the Nam Kang-myung problem.
Chief Gu knows that Nam Kang-myung’s case can’t be covered up any longer because Prosecutor Cha’s team has already been pursuing him carefully for years. Instead, he plans on using the Splash Team, So-ra, and Patriot News as scapegoats. He promises to pay them back tenfold for all the trouble they’ve caused him.
Chief Gu tells Editor Jung to go ahead with the plan, and all over the public broadcast news, it’s reported that Nam Kang-myung is alive, and was smuggled back into Korea at 1:00 a.m. But the port that’s being reported is not the same harbor where Moo-young, So-ra, and Seok-min are currently stationed at.
Seok-min receives a call from Reporter Na, who tells him that the doctor lied and that the situation is a trap. Moo-young begins to question why the three of them have been gathered at this different harbor.
The scene then cuts to the killer; in his dead tone of voice, he responds to a phone call and says that all the preparations have been made.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that our heroes have found themselves in a trap, because I feel like I should be upset and sympathize with their circumstances. But on the other hand, I’m glad that they’ve finally been met with some substantial resistance from the corrupt side. Up to this point, and excluding the ruthlessly efficient killer, Moo-young has succeeded in almost all of his attempts to either get closer to the mystery or get justice for the wronged (e.g. Seon-woo). While there have been some hiccups along the way (like Boss Park’s death and So-ra’s attack), there haven’t really been any real consequences for Moo-young’s actions or any formidable pushback from the other side. Perhaps because it’s been such smooth sailing, there’s been a distinct lack of thrill and danger throughout the entire show, at least for me.
So to a certain extent, I’m excited that Chief Gu looks like he has an awesome master plan to wreak major havoc on our heroes’ plans. But the show has already established a pattern of having our “underdog” heroes always coming up on top, so my expectation is that no matter what, we’ll still get victory in the end. Because most of the scenes center around people in discussions or at their desks staring in shock at new evidence on their computers, thrillers (especially these legal-journalism types) need unpredictability to make them interesting and engaging. With only two more weeks left, I can’t say that Falsify has been the best at producing elements of shock and surprise to keep me curious and staying on the edge of my seat for the next episode. However, I’m hoping that with this new twist in things, we’ll start an upward trend and end on a high note.
Onward to the fluff, because apparently the show producers felt like they needed romance way after the midpoint of the show. I thought there could have been a thing between Seok-min and So-ra because they had that connection after they met each other on the crosswalk and had that meaningful conversation about their core values in the pre-Chul-ho-death days. However, this sudden connection between Moo-young and So-ra seems forced and unnatural. There was almost no buildup to this point, and narratively speaking, I can’t see how this adds any substance to the plot. At this point, it’s a glaring distraction that takes away screen time from the characters that are actually taking action in the show, like Chairman Gu.
Speaking of our favorite corrupt news CEO, he has a devilish devious charm to him that I hadn’t really noticed in previous episodes. I would compare him to a sleeping tiger that looks harmless and toothless when he’s undisturbed. But once Lawyer Jo challenged him, the sleeping tiger woke up and asserted his dominance in a remarkable fashion. The way that Chief Gu schooled Lawyer Jo into sycophantic submission, a complete 180-degree reversal from his previously pompous attitude, was enjoyable. But it leads me to wonder what his ties to “the elders” are exactly, if he’s able to control the toneless killer to betray Lawyer Jo, who he used to take his orders from.
But maybe the killer may not even have an ability to sustain any emotion, let alone an ideal such as loyalty. The photos from the orphanage seem to suggest that the killer may have been one of the children reared by Nam Kang-myung. Is that why he’s a central figure in this mystery? Was he in China squirreling away a school full of orphans training to become emotionless killers? Up until the past few episodes at least, I knew that Nam Kang-myung was a shady individual, but the reports all seem to suggest that he was involved in white-collar fraud, not the dark violent crimes that these episodes seem to suggest.
While we’re still on the topic of secondary special appearance characters, I’m still obsessed with Prosecutor Cha. Scenes are just better when she is in them. Admittedly, she hasn’t really done much as of yet, but give her time! She needs it to strategically and carefully gather evidence on Nam Kang-myung in order to catch the slippery criminal, something that should be the protocol every time instead of bungling head-on into matters the way Moo-young and So-ra do. However, I’m still holding out and hoping for some major action to occur when she actually arrests Nam Kang-myung. A perfectly choreographed, all-out gang vs. cops vs. professional killer fight scene would be nice right about now, please and thank you.
- 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