Witch’s Court: Episode 15
This might be the most perfect episode of Witch’s Court so far. Not perfect quality, but the perfect representation of the show, in all its strengths and weaknesses: infuriating coincidences disguised as plot, surprisingly effective minor characters, boring bad guys, fist-pumping moments of triumph, great emotional pay-off—and above all, Ma Yi-deum at the center of it all. So come on folks, let’s get ready for the showdown.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
We rewind a little, to just before Nurse Choi and Mom ran away from the hospital. Jo Gap-soo, having discovered that Mom was still alive from Sang-ho’s diary, orders his henchman to kill the completely unaware pair.
Meanwhile, by coincidence Dr. Ko is filming a segment of her show on the island, and runs into Nurse Choi in the halls. Although Dr. Ko is pleased to see Nurse Choi again, the nurse is antsy at the encounter, and rebuffs Dr. Ko’s offer to catch up over tea.
Instead, Nurse Choi finds out that there has been a package delivered to her—and to Mom. On high alert, Nurse Choi clocks what is going on when she spies the “deliveryman” hunting through her room. Nurse Choi urges a very confused Mom to grab her important items because they need to leave NOW.
The henchman arrives at Mom’s room… to find it empty and ransacked.
Nurse Choi and Mom make it safely to the dock, but Mom refuses to go any further without an explanation. Nurse Choi sighs and tells a half-truth—that she owes money to a loan shark, who will kill both of them if they are found. Satisfied for now, Mom follows Nurse Choi outside.
Desperately searching for cover, Nurse Choi hustles Mom away—and straight towards Dr. Ko’s car. Indignant at the intrusion, Dr. Ko’s surprise turns to horror as she realizes her passenger is none other than Mom, although Nurse Choi lies that it’s her sister.
Unfortunately, the henchman spots Nurse Choi and Mom from afar, even though they duck low in their seats. Nurse Choi pleads with Dr. Ko to save them, andDr. Ko drives away from the henchmen. Their luck hasn’t run out yet—Dr. Ko drives onto the ferry just in time, but the henchmen in pursuit (quite literally) misses the boat.
Furious, the henchman orders the security at the other end of the ferry to search for Dr. Ko’s car and remove Nurse Choi and Mom.
Which does him no good, since Dr. Ko was savvy enough to switch places with her assistant. All three are safely ensconced in the back of the production van as the security futilely search Dr. Ko’s car. To Dr. Ko’s consternation, Nurse Choi admits that she and Mom don’t have anywhere to go now.
Predictably, Jo Gap-soo is not happy that Mom has been lost, and he beats the henchman in displeasure. The henchman promises to find the pair through their cellphones.
Meanwhile, our team triumphantly announces their special investigation to a cadre of eager reporters. It’s nice to see Lawyer Min back in total command as she declares that the team will focus on finding the truth behind the crimes, and will not be swayed by rank or privilege in their duty.
Ma Yi-deum takes her turn in the spotlight as she steps up to field questions. She brandishes Sang-ho’s diary as the evidence which contains details of Jo Gap-soo’s lobbying, and promises to release the contents as soon as they can.
With few alternatives, Dr. Ko hides Mom and Nurse Choi in her home. Alone with Dr. Ko, Nurse Choi explains that she couldn’t allow Mom to be killed after Mom had saved her from the fire, and that it was easy to live as sisters because Mom woke up from her coma with amnesia. With a heavy heart, Nurse Choi admits that she knew about Ma Yi-deum’s existence.
In disbelief, Dr. Ko berates Nurse Choi for abducting a mother away from her daughter, and threatens to reveal everything to Mom. Inside, however, Mom doesn’t recognize her daughter on the TV at all, and Dr. Ko pauses as she discovers that the team is investigating Jo Gap-soo. Nurse Choi pleads that if Mom finds out now and goes to Yi-deum, Jo Gap-soo will kill her—but if Dr. Ko waits a short while until Jo is arrested, Nurse Choi will tell Mom the full truth.
The special investigation team sighs at how much evidence they have to get through, but Yi-deum is laser-focused as she declares that they should only go after the big hitters. Jin-wook agrees, and has already made a list of five to go after, including the current district attorney and Chief Prosecutor Oh. Jin-wook cautions that the notebook is helpful, but they still need firsthand evidence to prove their case.
Lawyer Min encourages the team to greatness as she looks around and says, “The public has given us the chance to get rid of the rotten parts of society. It’s a chance you won’t get again in your career. Please do your best.”
The team calls in two of the key figures, the district attorney and the prime minister, for questioning, although both are confident as they declare they had nothing to do with Jo Gap-soo. Despite their protestations, the two are hounded by journalists (and I’m not ashamed to admit I enjoyed watching them squirm).
Lawyer Min is satisfied that everything is going to plan, and Yi-deum confirms that Young-woon (the guard) has given details of staff that worked at Kingdom for the team to pursue. However, Min-young rushes in with bad news—every single one of the Kingdom girls who was going to testify has disappeared.
Jo Gap-soo has paid them all to leave the country, and without evidence of sexual favors being exchanged, there is no way to prove political lobbying. Disappointed at the huge blow this deals to their case, Lawyer Min declares that they will just have to find another way. Yi-deum’s expression turns to a smirk as she thinks of a way—they will get the culprits to admit to the crimes themselves.
The prime minister is joyous as Jo Gap-soo informs him that he has taken care of everything. However, his expression turns to horror as he reads online about the positive AIDS test that one of the Kingdom girls posted, and he furiously searches for a home test kit.
It looks like Chief Prosecutor Oh got the message too, as he surreptitiously tries to order an AIDS test kit from the pharmacy (by whispering in the disgusted pharmacist’s ear). He cringes hard as the pharmacist announces his purchase to the whole shop (ha!).
Chief Prosecutor Oh and the District Attorney scurry away to the woods to discreetly test each other, and rejoice at the negative results… while Investigator Gu hides like a champion in the bushes taking photos of their sneaky behavior.
Triumphant, the team confronts Jo Gap-soo’s conspirators again. This time, their bubble is burst by the reveal of the pictures. Yi-deum in particular gloats as she interviews her old nemesis Chief Prosecutor Oh, pointing out that these photos can be evidence of sexual favors for lobbying.
Chief Prosecutor Oh shoots her a poisonous look, but knows when he is defeated. And squee, Jin-wook and Yi-deum give each other the cutest little fist bump when Oh agrees to talk.
Proud of her team, Lawyer Min praises the bashful Investigator Gu for doing such a good job, and is pleased to hear that the accused parties have turned on Jo Gap-soo to save themselves. Lawyer Min declares it is finally time bring Jo Gap-soo in, and shares a weighted glance with Yi-deum.
While Jo Gap-soo waits inside the interrogation room, our three lawyers take a moment to watch him through the two-way glass in anticipation of the battle ahead. I’ve got chills, people.
Inside, Jo Gap-soo lightly taunts that he must be important if Lawyer Min is here, but Min’s cool demeanor doesn’t slip as she replies that of course she had to come greet her old friend of twenty years. Getting serious, Jin-wook states that all of Jo Gap-soo’s accomplices have turned on him.
Before Jin-wook can begin the true interrogation, Yi-deum pauses to ask if Jo Gap-soo is hungry. Yi-deum leans in, her smile dropping away and her tone ice-cold as she promises, “Just wait. I’ll get you back for what you did to my mother. I’ll teach you what it feels like to wish you would just die. Until then you have to be healthy.”
After the interrogation, the mood in the office is exuberant, but it quickly sours when Yi-deum discovers that Sang-ho’s diary—their most important piece of evidence—has gone missing. Oh, sigh.
Lawyer Min, Yi-deum and Jin-wook convene to determine which of their team is the sneak, and sit down with the perpetrator…
…Hoon-soo. Nervous, Hoon-soo tries to jolly his way through the conversation, but Yi-deum’s fuse is short and she yells in his face. Hoon-soo shamefacedly admits that he stole the diary, after Jo Gap-soo threatened him with past transgressions.
Much to Yi-deum and Jin-wook’s disgust, Hoon-soo admits to sabotaging their investigation all along, and asks for forgiveness. Lawyer Min coolly informs Hoon-soo that if he really is sorry, he will submit to investigation and states, “I’m going to hand you over to the police.”
Lawyer Min stalks out and past the whole team waiting outside. Yi-deum and Jin-wook silently shake their heads at the upset gang.
Collecting herself, Lawyer Min calls the subdued team for a meeting to strategize. The team lament that even though they have multiple testimonies, without the original diary Jo Gap-soo will almost certainly receive a reduced sentence. Yi-deum thoughtfully speculates that Jo wouldn’t destroy the diary—even though it is dangerous to him—because of how much powerful information it contains. Excited, Investigator Gu declares that the team can just apply for a search warrant then.
Lawyer Min cautions that they don’t want anyone to know the diary has been lost (which makes it difficult to search Jo’s place) but Yi-deum turns to Jin-wook and states there might be a way. Jin-wook smiles and mysteriously asks, “Is it time to collect on our insurance?”
Reveling over his new possession and the scandalous information it contains, Jo Gap-soo smiles, “Sang-ho, you are still helping me even after your death.” Interrupted by Lawyer Heo, Jo quickly hides the diary—but not well enough. The eagle-eyed Lawyer Heo spots the diary, but gives nothing away as she recommends Jo Gap-soo take care of the rumors flying about.
Armed with this information, Lawyer Heo visits Chairman Ahn to ask if his offer of a job still stands, and promises to bring the diary with her. However, Lawyer Heo is taken aback as the chairman points out that he can hardly trust her after Tae-gyu’s trial went so badly. Chairman Ahn huffs that she doesn’t even have the diary now: “Don’t talk big if it isn’t a sure thing.”
Outside, Yi-deum and Jin-wook try in vain to gain entry to Chairman Ahn’s office, and are therefore in a prime position to see the piqued Lawyer Heo leaving. Yi-deum and Jin-wook share the briefest of glances before they both race after Lawyer Heo.
As Heo is trapped waiting for the elevator, Yi-deum brightly compliments her, “Wow, you’re a pro when it comes to survival. You’ve latched onto Chairman Ahn now that Jo Gap-soo is useless.” Heo’s glare is withering as she advises Yi-deum that she should be looking for a new way to make a living too since Sang-ho’s diary has gone missing.
Heo steps on the elevator to make her escape, while Yi-deum and Jin-wook both pause in confusion. Jin-wook wonders how on earth Lawyer Heo knew about the missing diary. The spark connecting, Yi-deum and Jin-wook jump into action, and into the elevator along with a pissy Lawyer Heo.
At a cafe, Yi-deum passes over an envelope to Lawyer Heo, and warns, “Once you open this, the deal is complete.” Lawyer Heo rolls her eyes but accepts the deal. Inside is a patient’s medical record. Lawyer Heo looks up and asks, “What must I give you?”
The special investigation team gears up and heads out—and at the same time Jo Gap-soo receives a text that warns, “Search team coming. Get ready.” Jo removes Sang-ho’s diary from his safe. Smug, Jo reads the paper in his office… but no one comes.
Because it was a fake-out! The team actually takes their search to Jo Gap-soo’s comatose wife’s hopsital room, and find Sang-ho’s diary “hidden” in her pillowcase.
Aw, yay, it was Hoon-soo that sent the text as atonement. And Lawyer Heo was the one to search the GPS on Jo’s car for where he went after he received the text. (Teamwork!)
Yi-deum and Jin-wook announce to the waiting reporters that Jo Gap-soo has had another crime added to his list—attempted murder of his wife, who has been in a medically induced coma for years and would have died soon from the drugs.
The blows keep coming for Jo Gap-soo, as he is informed that Lawyer Heo has resigned. Jo Gap-soo rushes to his brother-in-law Chairman Ahn for support, and tries to claim that the prosecutors are lying about what he did to his wife (the chairman’s sister). The chairman doesn’t waste any time and calls for his lawyer—and in walks Lawyer Heo with divorce papers. The chairman orders Jo to sign them.
The sting of betrayal hits its mark, and Jo Gap-soo pleads for his “hyungnim” to understand his position. Chairman Ahn brusquely turns to Lawyer Heo and tells her that if the prosecution wants any more information on Jo, she should give it to them. The chairman points at Jo and proclaims, “Do whatever it takes to send that rat Jo Gap-soo to jail for the rest of his life.”
Meanwhile, Yi-deum earnestly asks Lawyer Min to charge Jo Gap-soo with her mom’s murder, and give Yi-deum the chance to investigate after all her years waiting. Although understanding, Lawyer Min gently says that it wouldn’t be appropriate for Yi-deum as a family member to take the lead. Lawyer Min says she does have someone else in mind to investigate, though… Poor Jin-wook.
Yi-deum is intense as she asks Jin-wook, “You understand what it means to take this case, don’t you?” Solemnly, Yi-deum says that she wouldn’t be able to take this case if it were her—because Jin-wook is going to have to send his mother to jail. With a pang, Jin-wook nods his head.
Yi-deum, tears in her eyes, sincerely asks Jin-wook to do his best anyway because he is the only person she can trust right now. Bowing, Yi-deum says, “I want to punish Jo Gap-soo with my own hands, but I can’t. So you do it for me.”
Dr. Ko ashamedly watches Mom help out around the office, but is interrupted by Jin-wook, who asks to meet with her. Jin-wook tidies up his home (after Yi-deum and her mess lol) in preparation.
Dr. Ko sighs that her son must be so tired, but Jin-wook cuts through the pleasantries to ask, “Did you think about what I asked you last time?” Dr. Ko falters, but she nods that she has, and is ready to be punished for her crimes. Dr. Ko softly adds that she is only thinking of Jin-wook now, and asks whether a prosecutor having a criminal for a mother will be a problem.
Jin-wook answers that of course it will be a problem for him—and turns it around as he demands, “What son would be okay prosecuting his own mother? When I think about the pain you will go through, my heart breaks. But I have no choice. I’m sorry, Mom.” Poised, Dr. Ko answers that of course Jin-wook must do his job, and comforts him that everything will be okay.
And then, once his mom leaves, Jin-wook breaks down. And my own heart breaks for him.
Back at Dr. Ko’s office, Mom watches Yi-deum on the TV announce Jo Gap-soo’s arrest warrant. Without knowing why, Mom weeps silently at the sight of her daughter. Beside her, Nurse Choi looks on with regret.
Building up her courage, Nurse Choi phones Dr. Ko to say that it’s time Mom is told everything. Dr. Ko agrees and tells Nurse Choi that she is going to visit Yi-deum right now and tell her the truth as well.
Meanwhile, sitting alone in the dark, Jo Gap-soo seethes at his new circumstances while Yi-deum’s contemptuous words blare from his TV. Outside, a mob waits for Jo, where they jerk and shove at him before he can get in the car.
Hesitantly, Nurse Choi tries to prepare Mom for what is coming and says, “Listen carefully to what I say and don’t be too shocked, okay?” At the same time, Dr. Ko meets with an irked Yi-deum, and takes a rather more blunt approach—and simply tells Yi-deum that her mother is still alive.
Mom is shocked to learn that her life is a lie, and asks why Nurse Choi is telling her about this now—and is even more shocked to learn that she has a daughter. And we see, at that very moment, Yi-deum in the car beside Dr. Ko as they drive to the clinic.
Distraught, Mom asks her “sister” how she could have done this. Nurse Choi unsteadily apologizes, and explains that Mom’s daughter has relentlessly searched for Mom for the last twenty years and is coming over now to see her. Mom asks what her daughter’s name is, and tearfully repeats the answer, “Ma Yi-deum.”
Just then, the doorbell rings. Apprehensive to meet her forgotten daughter, Mom nervously answers the door… to Jo Gap-soo. Confused, Mom asks, “Who are you?”
Unaware of the danger that Mom is in, Yi-deum smiles as she thinks about the reunion she has waited all these years for.
No, Mom, no! Jo Gap-soo is a cornered rat at this point, and I’m not looking forward to what he might do out of desperation. Or insanity. Because he’d have to be insane to think that kidnapping or killing Mom right now is going to help him in any way, other than to satisfy preemptive revenge.
Overall, I have found this show to be… exasperating. Not because it’s bad, but because I wanted it to be so much better than it was. In particular, I wanted it to be better for Jung Ryeo-won. Ma Yi-deum has cemented her place as my favorite K-drama heroine of this year, and I’m just sad that she was stuck in the middling drama that Witch’s Court turned out to be. Yi-deum is brash, smart (and a smart-ass), determined and charismatic. But she’s also manipulative, morally grey, selfish and reckless. I adore her. I am impressed that the drama managed to create a tour de force personality like Yi-deum, and frustrated that it stumbled so hard on the rest of the drama. After a brilliant premiere and a few interesting insights into sexual assault cases, the show has settled in the doldrums for many weeks now. The focus on the bad guys drained the show of tension, and our heroes and villains are running around each other carrying out the most eye-rolling or simplistic plans. Threads have been dropped (what happened to Yi-deum’s childhood friend?) or never fully explored (why do we care about Lawyer Heo again?) and it has resulted in a very lopsided drama.
On the other hand, an episode of Witch will always have something good in it too. Like the team getting back together—I didn’t think I would, but I have missed the familial and funny vignettes our team brought to the show. So it was lovely to see them get a good outing in this episode as we come to the close. Mom’s amnesia means that she didn’t just abandon Yi-deum for noble idiocy reasons—and raises the intriguing possibility that Yi-deum genuinely did see Mom in the fog that night as a teenager. I also felt moments of genuine triumph this week—like when Jin-wook, Min, and Yi-deum stood outside watching their prey Jo Gap-soo inside the interrogation room. I have also loved seeing Min and Yi-deum come to a better understanding, and place of empathy, for each other—every shared look and private strategy they came up with together shouted that these two are finally working in sync. Yi-deum and Min are the only ones who have really gone through hell and back trying to catch Jo Gap-soo—not even Jin-wook can match them for length and intensity of hatred.
Which was the other great thing about this episode—Yi-deum and Jin-wook. Here are two people that shouldn’t work as well together as they do. They were so cute last week, and today their deeper connection is on display. It speaks volumes that Yi-deum was willing to let go of the reins of her mother’s investigation so quickly, simply because it was Jin-wook that they were being handed to. She trusts him fully, even knowing that Jin-wook will need to sacrifice his own mother for Mom’s justice. In that heartfelt conversation between the two, finally there was the raw emotion that I was looking for. Yi-deum understands the magnitude of Jin-wook’s task, and rather than issuing demands, or ignoring his feelings, Yi-deum honestly acknowledges how difficult this will be for him. This is not the same Yi-deum from the start of the drama, but a more thoughtful woman. I’m not sure what this means for their relationship, though, because Jin-wook didn’t go to Yi-deum for comfort after he confronts his own mother. Perhaps because he feels alone in his grief or because a small part of him blames Yi-deum for exposing his mother’s misdeeds, perhaps because he feels that it would be a betrayal of Yi-deum and her Mom to mourn his own mother after what she did. Probably for all of those reasons.
But just as Jin-wook is losing his mother, Yi-deum is getting hers back. Jin-wook worshipped his mother, and she was the prominent influence on the good person he became—and he has had the tragic misfortune of seeing his idol brought low. At the same time, everything that Yi-deum has learned about her mother has proven that Mom was a great and strong person who stood up for what she believed in. It is ironic that the person Jin-wook thought his mom was (and desperately wanted her to be) is the person that Yi-deum’s mom actually was—and Yi-deum doesn’t care. Yi-deum didn’t want Mom to be good—she wanted Mom to be there, beside her, during those missing years. And Dr. Ko was a large part of the reason Mom was gone. While it’s true that Dr. Ko made a grievous mistake years ago, and is paying dearly for it now, I am hoping that her redemption arc brings Jin-wook closure (or that he finds comfort in Yi-deum’s arms!). Because I don’t think I can watch him cry like that again.
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