The Fiery Priest: Episodes 37-38
In the aftermath of tragedy, the one thing I was hoping would never happen, happens – our priest goes dark. Nothing his friends do or say can get through to him, and not even the truth about his friend’s death can stop his thirst for revenge. He’s given up on his soul, and all he wants now is to take the one who caused him so much pain down with him.
Agent Lee and his mercenaries, having escaped arrest, separate Hae-il from Sung-kyu while they’re out enjoying a rare free day. Hae-il watches in horror as Sung-kyu is struck in the back of the head, unable to help his friend. Agent Lee relishes Hae-il’s anguish, but from the look on Hae-il’s face, Agent Lee has just signed his death warrant.
Sung-kyu is alive, but in bad shape when Hae-il finally gets him to the hospital. Hae-il doesn’t take his eyes from Sung-kyu, as though watching him is all that’s keeping Sung-kyu alive, but eventually the nurse pushes Hae-il from the room and Sung-kyu is taken to surgery.
Dae-young and Seung-ah come to wait with Hae-il, and Dae-young vows to kill Agent Lee himself, while the nuns wait and pray together. Kyung-seon arrives last, but all she can do is sit next to Hae-il in a feeble attempt to comfort him.
The doctors finally come to tell everyone that Sung-kyu survived the surgery, but he’s in very critical condition. They say they’ve done everything medicine can do to help him, and his chances of survival are low, so now it’s up to Sung-kyu’s will to live.
Hae-il leaves the hospital and goes to the chapel, where he lays on the steps to the pulpit and cries. He prays to God through his tears, “Aren’t you satisfied yet? Why? Why are you doing this to me?! Why are you making me go through such a hard trial? How much more do you need to take from me to feel satisfied? How much more? Why are you being so cruel to me?”
Kyung-seon comes in and hears the tail end of Hae-il’s sobs, but she can’t bring herself to go to him.
Agent Lee calls Hae-il that night and threatens to do the same to all of Hae-il’s friends if he doesn’t tell him where they money is. But Hae-il only tells Agent Lee, “You messed with a person who should never disappear from this world. It’s not just an act of killing one person. It’s the same as destroying this world.”
Agent Lee impatiently tells Hae-il to answer his question, but Hae-il only takes back the week he promised Agent Lee before: “I’ll kill you the moment I see you.”
Agent Lee is annoyed that Hae-il won’t tell him where they money is, and he seems worried that Hae-il sounds so angry. He tells his mercenaries that they need to go abroad, and try to find the money before they go.
Meanwhile, Chul-beom instructs Hoon-seok and Jang-ryong to pay his men for a couple of months in advance, then go into hiding. He says they can always start another business, but only if they stay alive and out of jail. Hae-il’s plan is also to leave the country for a while, but that he wants to see Agent Lee first — not to punish him, but to set the record straight.
At home, Kyung-seon talks to her photo of Father Lee, saying that it will be too harsh if Sung-kyu is taken, too. She says that her heart breaks when she thinks of what Hae-il must be going through, after everything he’s suffered.
At the same time, Hae-il thinks of the people he’s come to care for in Gudam, and how he must leave them in order to protect them. He goes to the archdiocese and gives his resignation, leaving his priestly garments behind at the church.
Kyung-seon’s people are still looking for Chief Prosecutor Kang and Chul-beom, though her assistant says that the NIS took over the search for Agent Lee because he’s so dangerous. Kyung-seon has to admit that that’s probably for the best.
Agent Lee goes to buy a van and four fake passports. He threatens to kill the fake passport seller when he tries to decline, and tells him to get the passports done in three days.
Hae-il also contacts an old acquaintance, the hacker who helped him once before. He tells the guy to make him an access code with an untraceable IP address — into the NIS records. The hacker whines that he’s dead if he gets caught doing something like that, but Hae-il just tells him to have it done in an hour.
The rest of Team Tsunami are worried about Hae-il, since they haven’t been able to contact him all day. Dae-young and Seung-ah show Kyung-seon the CCTV footage from the mountain on the day that Father Lee died, and oh no… it’s clearly Jang-ryong (and one of his lackeys) carrying Father Lee’s body towards the cliff.
Seung-ah says they didn’t get a chance to show this to Hae-il yet, so Kyung-seon tells her to send it to him, and in the meantime, she’ll have Jang-ryong arrested. She also has Dae-young send armed police to guard the church, just to be safe.
Ssongsak stops by the convenience store where Jang-ryong is sitting (ha, Ssongsak just calls Jang-ryong “Long Dragon Bastard” all the time now) and asks gleefully if he’s avoiding the Chinese restaurant because he’s scared of him. He asks Jang-ryong for twenty minutes of his time, and leads him to a new Chinese fast-food place where Yo-han works.
He buys Jang-ryong lunch, and when Jang-ryong asks if he’s doing this because he feels bad for beating him up, Ssongsak says, “No, I’m treating you because you’re my friend.” Awww. Jang-ryong says they can’t be friends, but when Yo-han agrees, he snaps at him to shut it, ha.
Ssongsak says they were always friends, because Jang-ryong was the first person who talked to him when he moved here, even though he wasn’t nice. Jang-ryong says that he was just lashing out, he didn’t actually like Ssongsak, but he looks oddly touched by Ssongsak’s declaration of friendship and even smiles at him.
As they leave the restaurant, the violent crimes team pops out of a nearby van to arrest Jang-ryong for disposing of Father Lee’s body.
Hae-il gets his code and hacks into the NIS website. He looks up Agent Lee’s current location, then heads there just in time to find one of the mercenaries killing the last of three NIS agents. He chases the killer, but he’s knocked off his feet by Agent Lee driving the getaway car. Agent Lee tries to run over Hae-il as they escape, but Hae-il rolls to safety at the last second.
When confronted with the CCTV footage of himself moving Father Lee’s body, Jang-ryong says he doesn’t remember. But he admits to beating Father Lee to death, and Dae-young has to stop Seung-ah from decking him. Dae-young tells him that it’s all over for him, and Jang-ryong actually looks chastened.
Chief Prosecutor Kang is hiding out in a swanky hotel, and he reaches out to the CEO Kim of Hanjoo Group for help. He’s cheerful and friendly on the phone, but the ugly truth is that he’s trading their help for his silence about Kim Kyun-young’s drug crimes (the spoiled chaebol who ran Rising Moon and tried to have Kyung-seon killed).
Kyung-seon hears that Chief Prosecutor Kang will turn himself in soon with a team of fancy lawyers to represent him, all of whom coincidentally work for Hanjoo Group. She goes rushing to the church when Seung-ah calls to tell her that Hae-il resigned, though there are procedures, so the church hasn’t accepted his request yet.
Sister Kim correctly guesses that Hae-il is staying away to protect all of them, but Dae-young says he’s probably also planning to go after Agent Lee. Kyung-seon tells him and Seung-ah to drop everything and focus on finding Hae-il, because if he does what they fear he’s planning, he’ll never be able to return to them or to the church.
In his hotel room, Hae-il washes the blood from his face. It reminds him of the time Sung-kyu doctored his battered hands after a fight, which leads to more memories of happier times with Sung-kyu, and Hae-il hangs his head.
Kyung-seon still can’t reach Hae-il, so she leaves him a message saying that she learned as a prosecutor that evil has no eyes or ears, nor does it care who its victim is: “No matter how you scream and ask why it’s you, it never answers. I want to tell you that all these bad things aren’t happening because of you. They’re just happening. So don’t blame yourself too much, okay?”
Hae-il visits an old contact to ask for an emergency kit, and his friend asks if this is related to the three NIS agents who were killed earlier. When Hae-il says it is, he happily hands over a kit, saying that Chief Oh, Hae-il’s former NIS boss, told him to give one to Hae-il if he asked. The kit contains money, a fake passport, a dagger, and a gun with special ammo.
Knowing that Agent Lee will flee the country as soon as possible, Hae-il logs back onto the NIS site and looks up known fake passport sellers. He’s positive Agent Lee won’t use anyone on the NIS’s radar, so he looks for someone who isn’t on the list.
He ends up in a matchmaker’s office, which is a front for a fake passport sales operation, and frightens the owner into giving him the names of sellers who aren’t on the NIS list. There are only three, so it doesn’t take Hae-il long to find the man who’s making Agent Lee’s passports.
He holds the man at gunpoint until he stammers that he’s handing over the passports tonight. Hae-il passes a message for Agent Lee go to a certain location at a certain time, then goes to wait in his hotel room and think about Sung-kyu.
Seung-ah sends him the video of Jang-ryong carrying Father Lee’s body through the forest, and Hae-il goes looking for Chul-beom. Seung-ah gets a notification that Hae-il turned on his phone, and they activate the tracker to find him.
Hoon-seok tells Chul-beom that Jang-ryong was arrested, and Chul-beom urges Hoon-seok to go into hiding. The moment he’s alone, Hae-il shows up and starts punching. They take a break, and Chul-beom whines that Hae-il should at least say hello, ha.
Hae-il says there’s no point when he’s just going to kill Chul-beom, because even if he didn’t kill Father Lee, he still tampered with his body and defamed his character. Chul-beom hangs his head, then says that Hae-il is right. Hae-il tells Chul-beom that he only let him live before because two priests begged him to be patient, but they’re gone now and Hae-il has no more obligations.
Chul-beom says he’s not trying to get away with anything or asking Hae-il to trust him, he just feels it’s unfair that he’s taking all the blame for Father Lee’s death. He reminds Hae-il how he pestered Father Lee about the foundation, and says that things got complicated.
We flash back to the evening that Father Lee was taken to Chul-beom’s villa. Chief Prosecutor Kang had been frustrated with Chul-beom’s failure to convince Father Lee, so he’d said he’d do all the talking, flicking Chul-beom’s head (I hate that!) and accusing him of being soft with Father Lee because he took him in when he was young.
Father Lee was brought to the villa, where Chul-beom had offered him anything he wanted to sign over the foundation. But Father Lee had declined, saying that whatever Chul-beom planned for the orphanage, it would go against God’s wishes. Chul-beom had pleaded, saying that he’d been as kind as he could because Father Lee raised him like a son, but Father Lee had said he was refusing because Chul-beom was like his son.
He’d thought they were alone, but Chief Prosecutor Kang had been waiting for Father Lee in the next room with Agent Lee. Father Lee had stood firm, he’d shown Father Lee photos of the people he was close to — Sung-kyu, Sister Kim, and others. He’d wondered if they would become martyrs if the church caught fire and they all died, terrifying Father Lee.
Father Lee had punched Chief Prosecutor Kang, then grabbed his lapels and yelled at him for taking precious human lives so lightly. Chul-beom had tried to pull Father Lee off of Chief Prosecutor Kang, but Chief Prosecutor Kang had violently shoved Father Lee off of him. Father Lee falls backwards, hitting his head on the glass table, and had been knocked unconscious.
All three men in the room had been shocked, and Chul-beom had seen that Father Lee was bleeding badly. He had screamed for Hoon-seok to call an ambulance, but Chief Prosecutor Kang had ordered him to clean this up the way thugs do. Wow, even Agent Lee had looked at Chief Prosecutor Kang like, “That’s messed up.”
For a moment, it had seemed like Chul-beom would fight Chief Prosecutor Kang, but he’d tamped down his fury and directed Jang-ryong to dispose of Father Lee’s body. Chief Prosecutor Kang had told Chul-beom to take responsibility for this, promising to help him if he got arrested.
He’d told Chul-beom that nobody would believe a common thug over a chief prosecutor, and that if he said otherwise, he would throw all of his men in prison and make sure their families starve to death. Chul-beom had just barely held in his anger, and Chief Prosecutor Kang had taken that as agreement.
After hearing Chul-beom’s story, Hae-il says that even though it was an accident, Chul-beom still knew that Father Lee was alive when he was carried to the mountain. He asks how Chul-beom can be so indifferent about the man who raised him dying that way, and Chul-beom snaps that saving his own men was more important to him when Father Lee was as good as dead anyway.
He doesn’t tell Hae-il how, once he was alone, he had cried like a child at the choice he was forced to make — instead he says he felt indifferent about it because he’s so used to doing unforgivable things. Hae-il tells him to turn himself in if he doesn’t want to take all the blame, but Chul-beom says that Chief Prosecutor Kang could still put the blame on him.
Hae-il offers to take care of Chief Prosecutor Kang, but Chul-beom prefers to find Agent Lee and make him confess, so Hae-il says calmly that he’ll just kill him right now. Chul-beom asks for some time first to uncover his own truth, and Hae-il reluctantly lets him go.
Sitting in jail, Jang-ryong thinks about that night when he’d taken Father Lee to the cliff. He’d hesitated, but in the end he and his lackey had thrown Father Lee off the edge. Traumatized, Jang-ryong had repeated over and over that he didn’t kill Father Lee, he was just obeying orders.
Dae-young is waiting for Hae-il in his hotel room when he returns. He reminds Hae-il of their promise to work together to the end, but Hae-il says that’s over and tells him to leave. Dae-young says it’s not over until they handcuff the murderers, and he asks if killing Agent Lee will really change anything.
He asks Hae-il why he helps others find their peaceful place while he insists on returning to his painful place, but Hae-il says he’s not returning — he’s always been there. Dae-young tells him that the place he should be is with his friends, at Gudam Church.
Hae-il says he’s nothing to them and to forget him, but Dae-young says that if not for Hae-il, they would all be bound for Hell. Hae-il tries to leave without him so Dae-young grabs his arm and says he’s not going anywhere alone. Hae-il punches Dae-young in the stomach, but Dae-young jumps up and backhugs him, refusing to let him go. Hae-il twists Dae-young’s hands then turns and punches him in the face, tells him to take care of Sister Kim, and leaves.
Seung-ah is in the hall, and she says to Hae-il’s back that she was always happy working with him, even when she got hurt, because he always did the right thing. Without turning around, Hae-il says that this isn’t about right or wrong, and it’s something he must do alone. He even hears Kyung-seon’s voicemail saying that none of this is his fault, but nothing gets through to him.
Agent Lee gets the message from the passport fencer to meet him somewhere other than where they agreed. He senses something isn’t right and tells the mercenaries to gather some more good fighters.
Hae-il checks his gun, then heads for the meeting place. When he arrives, he sends Seung-ah a message: “Everything will be over soon. Please come and take care of the rest. Kyung-seon, please finish the rest of the investigation, and please make sure to achieve the Lord’s justice.”
He encounters the extra hired men first, but they’re no match for him. He finds Agent Lee waiting calmly with two of his mercenaries, and a moment later, the third drags Sister Kim into the room. Hae-il’s stony glare softens when he sees the gentle nun in danger, but he manages to redirect his focus back to Agent Lee.
He shows Agent Lee that he brought the passport from the emergency kit, then drops it to the ground at his feet and challenges Agent Lee to come get it. More hired men pour into the room, and Agent Lee silently motions to them to attack.
As the men advance, Hae-il never takes his eyes off of Agent Lee, and he even cracks a smile.
I can’t decide if I’m really excited for this confrontation, or really scared. Probably both – yeah, both. I’m scared because Hae-il is terribly outnumbered and Sister Kim’s life now hangs in the balance, but I’m excited because Hae-il has been counting down to this face-off with Agent Lee for a long time, and for a lot of reasons. Violence doesn’t solve anything, but in this case I’m willing to make an exception because if anyone needed a good beating, it’s Agent Lee, and it would be incredibly cathartic for Hae-il. Besides, as much as Hae-il relies on his fists, he also has a long history of outsmarting his enemies, and that tiny grin at the end makes me think he’s got a surprise up his sleeve for his old nemesis.
As difficult as this episode was to watch as a whole, I think the hardest part was seeing Hae-il sink so deeply into his grief that he pushed all of his friends away. The scene where Dae-young tried to hold him back was particularly painful, because just passively walking out of the church was easy, but Hae-il had to physically and emotionally hurt Dae-young to get away from him. It’s one thing to tell himself that the team won’t miss him, but another thing entirely to have them all saying to his face that they need him and want to help, and to forcibly push them away. The worst part is that Hae-il is in a state where he can’t (or refuses to) hear what they’re saying no matter how much his friends say they care about him, and I’m scared that nothing will be able to snap him out of it.
So now we know what happened to Father Lee. It wasn’t as shocking as I expected, except for the part where Agent Lee was involved, but it’s incredibly tragic that it was all a terrible accident. Mostly I’m glad that Chul-beom didn’t kill him, especially since we just learned that Father Lee raised him like a son. That does explain why, after that night, Chul-beom seemed a lot angrier and more belligerent whenever Chief Prosecutor Kang insulted him — Chief Prosecutor Kang had killed the only man he’d known as a father, then threatened him into taking the blame. Frankly, I’m surprised Chul-beom held in the truth as long as he did under those circumstances.
I don’t know how this show does it, but despite all the terrible things that Chul-beom, Hoon-seok, and Jang-ryong have done, I can’t help rooting for them. They’re thugs, and bullies, and thieves and liars, but they’re also somehow likable, and I can’t even explain why. Even knowing how they were involved with Father Lee’s death (though not responsible, they still besmirched his character and they still hid the crime), I still want them to turn out okay. Probably after a long prison stay where they do a lot of self-reflection, but I want them to have a happy ending eventually.
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