Falsify: Episodes 25-26
It feels like we’re gearing up for the finale as our heroes begin closing in on the main mysterious criminal and the shadowy forces propping him up. The pace is slowly ratcheting up and links are finally clicking into place, but there’s still a small bit of the big picture missing. Moo-young comes up with a plan to take all our villains down once and for all, but it comes at a cost. So-ra and Seok-min acquiesce while being forced to take on the brunt of public scrutiny, and we’re left to wonder whether they’ll ever be redeemed in the public eye.
EPISODE 25 RECAP
Prosecutor Cha enters the morgue and asks So-ra whether she still trusts the media. When she replies in the affirmative, Prosecutor Cha says good, because she’s going to need that faith in order to weather out the rough days ahead—she’s just become the target of an internal investigation. So-ra and the rest of the team are confused until they look up the news.
The press has already gotten ahold of the fact that the man lying in the morgue is not Nam Kang-myung. In addition, the clip that Ji-won recorded during So-ra’s pursuit of Boss Park has somehow been released to the public, and it’s been said to have been leaked by the Splash Team. So the story that’s going around is that So-ra intentionally delayed her arrival on-scene, and her dereliction of her duties led to the death of an innocent man, who turned out not to be Nam Kang-myung.
Yoo-kyung doesn’t understand how the leak of the audio clip happened, but Ji-won guiltily admits that she turned in her company computer that contained the clip without checking. Seok-min apologizes to So-ra on behalf of his team, but the crestfallen expression on her face tells all—it’s already too late. Prosecutor Cha looks pitifully at So-ra, who has become a scapegoat to distract the public from the real criminal, Nam Kang-myung.
Paralegal Park is upset at the Splash Team and Patriot News, their supposed allies, for causing unintentional harm to his boss, but he says that they should probably address the reporters who are swarmed outside soon. So-ra makes a move to leave, but Moo-young holds her back. He tells her not to say anything to the reporters who are out for her blood, and he promises her that he won’t hang her out to dry.
Reporters crowd the entrance of the prosecutor’s office, and they bombard So-ra with endless questions regarding the audio clip and her involvement with the Splash Team. She rapidly walks in silence to the van, but she’s clearly uncomfortable at their accusatory questioning. Then, Moo-young steps out and formally declares himself as a reporter from Patriot News.
Because the way that the man who was not Nam Kang-myung died and the way that Boss Park died was so similar—death by the vigilante justice—it’s become part of the public narrative that Patriot News was the mastermind media outlet for both. It’s said that Patriot News planned to incite violence by enflaming public outrage toward Nam Kang-myung and revealing his supposed location.
However, Moo-young tries to set the reporters straight, and he says that this simply isn’t true. Patriot News wasn’t a part of this man’s death, and using the facts they know about Nam Kang-myung’s medical condition, he vows that they’ll catch the criminal no matter what. He encourages anyone to call up the Patriot News phone lines, just in case they have any further information.
Seok-min forcefully pulls him back, and the rest of the Patriot News gang barricades the door. Seok-min walks Moo-young down a private stairwell and asks him what he was thinking by turning the spotlight on himself. Moo-young tells him that they’ve already begun this fight, and he needs to use anything he can, whether it be positive or negative press, to get to the end of the game.
Then, Seok-min receives an anonymous text from the same number that told him not to go to Gongpyung port last night. It says: “Prove yourself by freeing yourself from this trap. I will follow through on the promise that Chairman Min failed to keep five years ago.”
At Daehan Daily, Editor Jung smirks as he discovers Moo-young’s previous doping allegations. Although a reporter on his team tries to point out a discrepancy, Editor Jung kicks him and tells him that the headlines on Moo-young should be as sensational as possible.
The slimy reporter from Seoul Post interviews Prosecutor Im, who doesn’t allow the session to be recorded. However, off the record, he has a few ideas about how they should ruin So-ra’s reputation. The reporter relays that information to a pleased Editor Jung, and the Seoul Post reporter also promises that they’ll take care of ruining the Splash Team’s reputation as well.
Afterward, the internet headlines say that the Splash Team betrayed the public’s trust by trying to hide So-ra’s audio clip. Na-rae tries to turn on the radio, but Moo-young turns it off, saying that they should have a respite from all the negativity, if only for just an hour.
Moo-young thinks back to his conversation with Seok-min, who thinks that the anonymous person is promising him a list of people who are the key corrupt movers and shakers of the nation. Both of them know that this anonymous tip could be another trap, but they have no choice but to pursue it.
So-ra and Paralegal Park review CCTV footage showing the cop car that contained the real Nam Kang-myung, but even her fellow law enforcement officers working around them gossip about her. Later, when she’s alone, she replays videos that are playing in the news where people who know her have explicitly stated rumors about her coldness, along with other faults. Prosecutor Cha catches her doing it, at least.
Back at Patriot News HQ, both media teams squabble amongst themselves and blame each other until Seok-min yells for them to stop. He says that they’re both at fault, but they really need to work together, and he turns to Moo-young, who claims that they have no choice but to prove that Nam Kang-myung is alive and catch him. Clearly, they don’t expect people to give information to the most hated media teams in Korea, and when Seok-min asks what he has planned, Moo-young turns to them with a smile.
So-ra is still optimistic that the truth will be revealed and that things will right themselves when the truth comes out. However, when Prosecutor Cha speaks to So-ra, she tells her that it’s not a matter of right or wrong, but a matter of success or failure. So-ra wasn’t in the wrong, but she failed again, leading to her downfall.
Paralegal Park lets So-ra know that the stolen cop car (that transported the real Nam Kang-myung) has been found. A cop calls them from a parking garage, and he tells them that unfortunately, all of the CCTV’s around him don’t seem to be working. But in actuality, they’re all blinking red, a sign that they’re all in working condition and recording correctly.
Having called remotely, So-ra and Paralegal Park don’t suspect that the cop is lying, and they resolve to start again from the beginning and comb through the videos to see if any more clues appear. The cop receives the CCTV video files from the parking garage security office, and proceeds to enter his car, where Killer is waiting.
He calls Killer informally by his name, Jin-woo, and asks why he hasn’t been able to leave the man’s service yet. (Perhaps referring to Nam Kang-myung?) He confides to Jin-woo that he’s become a family man, but he still sometimes gets uncontrollable violent urges.
He frantically wonders aloud if they’ll ever be free from their childhood influence, and demands why Jin-woo asked for this favor. Jin-woo tells him that this will be the last time, and leaves. After seeing his friend go, the cop lowers his sleeve, covering the globe tattoo on the inside of his wrist.
Chief Gu and Lawyer Jo have lunch together and discuss how well their strategy is working until Chief Gu brings up the topic they talked about at an earlier meeting. Lawyer Jo says that Chief Gu shouldn’t concern himself with the business of the elders. However, Chief Gu is vehemently against their plans, because he thinks that it’ll be an act of war and not just politics.
As a reporter, Chief Gu says that he has a duty to say when he thinks something is wrong. Lawyer Jo shows that Chief Gu is being hypocritical by handing him a picture of the man who was bumped from the organ transplant list because of Chief Gu’s wife, and the newspaper mogul has nothing to say in return.
Suddenly, he gets a call from the hospital saying that his wife is in critical condition. When she stabilizes, he paces back and forth in the doctor’s office. He half-rages at the doctor, wanting there to be some way to save her life, and the doctor gives him a last ditch opportunity: an artificial heart transplant to tide her over until they can get a real heart for her.
Immediately, Chief Gu tries to convince his wife to get the surgery, but all she wants to do is go home and live like a real person until her peaceful death. She then asks him the question she’s been afraid to ask before: How has she been chosen for a heart transplant twice when it’s usually difficult for a person in a single lifetime to receive the surgery? The episode ends as he looks at her with a haunted expression of guilt.
EPISODE 26 RECAP
Moo-young trudges up the hill to his attic apartment, carrying a bag full of beer. He finds So-ra waiting at this front door with a bag full of soju; she’s there to take him up on his offer of comforting her when she’s down. She asks whether she’s imposing, and when he says yes, she moves to leave. However, he breaks into a smile, takes her bag, and leads her upstairs.
Over drinks, they talk about her career. She says she’s wanted to be a prosecutor ever since she was young, and she believed in justice until the Chairman Min case, after which she was demoted. When she was first relegated to the country office, she received cases where good people committed crimes because they had no choice in order to survive. Through tears, she says that each one was convicted by her own hand, so that when she saw Boss Park, an actual murderer, go free, she didn’t think that a ten-minute delay was a big deal.
However, she thinks that it’s all useless now because she’ll probably be stripped of her prosecutorial license. But Moo-young disagrees; he says that they won’t know what happens until the end. He then unveils his big plan to her, and in a flashback, we see the Patriot News/Splash Team meeting.
The plan was that they’d use the phone line as a cover—when people give them tips regarding Nam Kang-myung, Patriot News will pursue those tips. But the real plan is this: Since they know that Nam Kang-myung has returned to Korea for two reasons, his heart surgery and to gather the remainder of his laundered money, they’ll use the money to make him reveal himself.
The Youngbum gang (the financial sponsors of Patriot News) are probably the third biggest black market money launderers in the business, so they figure that if they can somehow freeze Nam Kang-myung’s funds, he might resort to revealing himself in order to reclaim his money.
Moo-young asks Seok-min to approach Prosecutor Cha about the plan, because they need the intelligence on Nam Kang-myung that her team has already gathered. Although the Youngbum gang can freeze Nam Kang-myung’s funds, they still need to know which banks his assets are stored in so that they can do so.
Thus, Seok-min asks Prosecutor Cha for her cooperation, and she asks why she should accept his offer when she could potentially be sacrificed and implicated in media collusion.
Back on the rooftop in the present, So-ra realizes this is exactly like five years ago. But back then, it was the Splash Team who had the plan and the evidence, and they had asked the prosecutors to help them execute it.
In a hidden haven, Nam Kang-myung goes off on a tirade against Lawyer Jo for allowing rumors of him being alive to spread. He says that he’s only being patient because of his friendship with Lawyer Jo’s father, and that he still has a lot of influence with the elders because his skills are still useful. Lawyer Jo promises that he’ll shut down all the remaining rumors and that he’ll make sure Nam Kang-myung can reach China safely again.
Calming down, Nam Kang-myung asks him what he’s planning to do about Chief Gu, who nearly caused Nam Kang-myung’s demise with his plan. It’s shown that Lawyer Jo is one step ahead of Chief Gu, having arranged something with his wife’s doctor regarding the artificial heart transplant surgery. (Oh no, the wife didn’t have anything to do with it! Why does she have to die for her husband’s mistakes?)
The scene switches to Moo-young, who strides into an upscale office lobby and goes up the elevator to the top floor. It’s dark and filled with threatening individuals, but he just walks right past them. He opens the door to the office, and we see our friendly neighborhood Youngbum gang leader in a clean suit and sharp glasses, which makes him look extraordinarily intelligent.
All around the room, there are signs of his economic genius, from his diploma from Penn State and various financial market awards. Moo-young presents him the plan and bargains with him, saying that he has some critical information regarding a building that the gang leader has invested in recently. Moo-young asks if him if he’s willing to sacrifice a building, or if he would like to join in on their plan.
Initially, the gang leader speaks to him intimidatingly as he asks to know who Nam Kang-myung is to Moo-young, considering that he would go to these great lengths to catch him. His henchman jokes that maybe Nam Kang-myung may be Moo-young’s father, but it’s a bad joke. Moo-young just asks again whether the gang leader is in or out.
Posturing, the gang leader begins to say that he’ll do it—not for the sake of his building, but because he feels that it’s his patriotic duty. But after he gets his affirmation, Moo-young brushes the beginnings of his speech off, and tells him the plan will probably take a week or two at most.
One week later, the Patriot News team chase a baseball-capped man across rice fields, until Moo-young catches him and uncaps him. The man begins babbling on about his sick daughter at home, but when the Patriot News team realizes he’s not Nam Kang-myung, they’re all disappointed.
Moo-young glimpses the gold chains around the man’s neck, and realizes that his protestations regarding his sick daughter were all nonsense. So, he gets his team to call the cops. From afar, the Seoul post reporter has been watching him the entire time, and Chief Yang and Moo-young have been aware of it.
Patriot News gets a prize from the county police center for catching the local thief, which is reported in the news by Seoul Post as a failure in their promise to catch Nam Kang-myung. That report is given to Chief Gu, who is satisfied by their overall (lack of) progress.
Later that night though, it’s shown that Moo-young is up to something else, as we see him and Yong-shik staking out a money exchange. The gangsters involved grew in prominence because they bribed cops to give them confiscated illegal drugs and mixed them with the alcohol they sold in their clubs.
Meanwhile, back at the prosecutor’s office, So-ra is being interrogated by two men regarding her ten-minute delay in Boss Park’s pursuit. Prosecutor Im and Prosecutor Cha watch behind the one-way window as So-ra endures the internal investigators’ questioning.
Prosecutor Cha professes to Prosecutor Im that she feels bad, but she’s willing to step on So-ra in order to reach her goal of getting promoted. Prosecutor Im is surprised, but seems to believe her. When So-ra mentions his name, he flinches, outraged that she has the nerve to accuse him again.
In the interrogation room, So-ra says she’ll take responsibility for lowering the reputation of the prosecutorial office. However, they (the two men investigating her) have the duty to understand why she did the things she did. She tells them she was ashamed to be complicit in Boss Park’s release, and that’s why the only thing she could do for the victims’ families was to give them that ten-minute lead time. She tells that that they should also be ashamed for turning a blind eye and covering up Prosecutor Im’s corruption.
Prosecutor Cha watches gang members being arrested as she remembers her conversation with Seok-min. She goes back to a flashback where she promised to cooperate under one condition—she wanted Seok-min and So-ra to put their careers on the line and become paper tigers that will serve as the smoke screen for their operation, to disguise them from potential snitches.
In the present, she receives documents from Moo-young: the photos he took previously at the stakeout, showing the gang’s illicit activities. She asks how he got the information, and when he gestures to the Youngbum gang boss who smiles back in Moo-young’s direction, she looks back at him in disbelief.
At Daehan Daily, Seok-min is at a disciplinary panel because of the Splash Team’s supposed coverup of So-ra’s audio clip. Editor Jung nearly gloats in Seok-min’s misery as he painfully tells them that he’s willing to resign and take responsibility for the situation. Seok-min just asks for the chance to write one last article at Daehan Daily, the company he’s devoted his life to.
Chief Gu agrees to his terms, but tells him that editorial rights will be under Editor Jung’s purview, not Seok-min’s. After the meeting, Chief Gu expresses his discontent that Seok-min couldn’t last at Daehan Daily. Even though they are adversaries, it seems that an old affection still remains in Chief Gu’s blackened heart.
Seok-min reminds him of the old days, when Chief Gu was the one who taught him the righteous principles of a reporter, but Chief Gu just sighs and looks away. Seok-min tells him not to become an even larger monster than he is now, and leaves.
In the black of night, our heroes drive to a mausoleum that’s supposed to contain Nam Kang-myung’s parents’ ashes. However, according to Prosecutor Cha’s sources, she already knows that the memorial ceramic vase doesn’t contain ashes, but keys to Nam Kang-myung’s bank vaults. When Moo-young grasps it, he realizes it’s too heavy for just one or two keys, and when he opens it, he finds a leather canvas containing rows upon rows of bank keys.
It looks like they’ll need a miracle in order to move all that money within their tight one-week deadline, but Moo-young looks more than ready for it.
Man, I wish Falsify were more nuanced. It’s just that everything is so slap-in-the face obvious. Sure, this last scene was shot well and I enjoyed the reveal, but one would think that a mastermind criminal like Nam Kang-myung, who has been able to evade the authorities and fake death for the past five years, would have known better than to stash the keys to his treasure trove with his parents. I mean, that’s the type of stuff I’d expect a toddler to do: give his favorite candy to his mom to hide just in case his sister came searching for it. Everything comes so easily to our heroes that the sense of suspense is missing. With a deus ex machina around every corner, what’s the point? Even the last scene, they could have added some resistance by creating some obstacles for our protagonists to face when trying to find Nam Kang-myung’s keys, but magically, Prosecutor Cha already had the information, and it all worked out the way Moo-young planned.
If he was supposed to be some Sherlock-level genius who planned and executed every single move with precision and judgement, I’d feel a lot better. But he’s just supposed to be a normal guy, so it makes all of our villains seem really stupid by comparison. There’s definitely a level of intelligence that’s lacking here, one that I normally look for in mystery-thrillers like this one. With only six more episodes left in this show, I’m not expecting a 180-reversal; just a bit more complexity and layers would be nice. Is that too much to ask?
I really wanted to root for So-ra this hour because she’s been through a lot, like becoming public enemy number one for something that doesn’t necessarily deserve that amount of criticism. But I still find her supremely unsympathetic, perhaps because of her rigidly black-and-white views, or maybe because of her overall incompetence. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed how she’s never the one to initiate plans for joint Splash Team or Patriot News team endeavors? Seok-min was the one who got all of them involved in the first place five years ago by proposing his plan to the prosecutors during the Chairman Min case. Moo-young has been the one who’s been orchestrating most of the plots in the present, from Boss Park’s public cornering (and unwittingly, his subsequent death) and Seon-woo’s non-suicide. However, So-ra hasn’t contributed any plot-moving actions or information yet, and we’re almost at the end! I guess at least we still have competent Prosecutor Cha, who can hold her own against the boys.
As always, the best part of Falsify was the secondary characters, at least when we’re shown glimpses into their personal backgrounds and motivations. Chief Gu’s self-denial that his wife is on her deathbed was especially touching, given that we know he initially crossed his moral boundary for her. But we were also shown that he holds shreds of conscience left during his conversation with Lawyer Jo, where he protested against the “big plan” that the elders had in store for the nation. Even though he ultimately was shown to be a hypocrite, because on a micro-level he’s completely willing to sacrifice someone else’s life in order to enhance his own, it was still good to see a possibility of redemption in the news CEO. Maybe learning that his wife’s death has something to do with Lawyer Jo will be the last straw for him, and he’ll think about switching sides.
In addition, I enjoyed the cop-Killer interaction because it gave us more context regarding Nam Kang-myung. It looks like he did brainwash orphaned children with abusive methods to become permanently emotionally scarred and physically branded. So far amongst our globe-tattooed orphans, one is a killer, one a needlessly violent cop, and one a suicidal patsy. It makes me wonder how messed up their childhood was such that they became so twisted on the inside. I think I would have liked to watch a drama just about them: Nam Kang-myung’s abused children and their incredibly complicated lives as grown-ups. There could even be an amoral reporter protagonist who is deep on the corrupt inside with respect to falsified news articles, who slowly turns good and takes the organization down from inside out after he meets a clear-eyed prosecutor with gumption. But alas, that’s not Falsify—instead, we have a hodgepodge stew of a revenge plot plus an underdog vs the corrupt system plot plus a mini-noona romance. I’m not too upset that it will be wrapping up soon.
- 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