The Fiery Priest: Episodes 39-40 (Final)
It’s time for our fiery priest to face his demons, and whether he caves under the pressure or emerges victorious is all up to him. Thankfully, he’s not alone anymore, and there are plenty of people who love him and want to help him. They believe in him even when he can’t — which is what it means to be a team.
Hae-il arranges to meet with Agent Lee, but Agent Lee is one step ahead of him and brings Sister Kim along as insurance. Hae-il asks why he’s doing this to him, and Agent Lee replies that even before those children died, Hae-il had the most kills in their NIS unit.
He says it was really annoying to see such a brutal guy acting like a saint, criticizing Agent Lee and beating him up. Hae-il sighs that those children weren’t their enemy, but Agent Lee counters that he killed dozens of other people, so it was pretentious for him to cry over a few kids.
Hae-il coldly tells Agent Lee not to even think of begging for mercy, because he’s no longer a priest. He single-handedly fights Agent Lee’s hired men, holding out well until one thug hits him hard on the head, and Hae-il falls to his hands and knees.
He staggers to his feet, blood pouring from a head wound, but he just shakes it off and goes right back in. He dispatches the last few thugs, then faces Agent Lee’s mercenaries. They come at him with knives the size of swords, but Agent Lee calls Hae-il’s name and he looks up to see Agent Lee holding his gun to Sister Kim’s head.
While he’s distracted, the mercenaries slash at him, slicing open his arm and leg. Sister Kim bravely grabs Agent Lee’s gun and yells to Hae-il, “We’ll never blame you even if they kill all of us! So pull yourself together and fight with confidence!” Agent Lee pistol-whips her and she collapses, unconscious.
Furious now, Hae-il knocks one mercenary out, uses his knife to stab the second one, then hamstrings the third. Agent Lee approaches, shooting Hae-il in the shoulder. Hae-il goes to one knee and Agent Lee aims at his forehead, and Hae-il chuckles, “Our relationship really isn’t easy, is it?”
Agent Lee cocks the gun, but just as he shoots, Hae-il knocks his gun away, shoulder checks Agent Lee in the chest, and in an instant he’s standing over Agent Lee with his own gun in hand. He tells Agent Lee that he only brought one bullet, and prepares to finish this.
Sister Kim’s weak voice begs Hae-il, “Don’t do it. You can’t…” Dae-young runs in, followed by Seung-ah, Kyung-seon, and the violent crimes team. Everyone else stays back as Kyung-seon and Dae-young go to Hae-il and try to talk him out of shooting, while Agent Lee taunts him to do what he does best and kill him.
Shaking, Hae-il lurches closer to Agent Lee, pressing the barrel of the gun to his forehead. Kyung-seon pleads with Hae-il to look at her, to trust her, promising to make sure Agent Lee rots in prison for life. Agent Lee continues talking, asking why Hae-il is making this so hard: “Just hurry up and shoot me. Let’s put an end to this.”
The gun in Hae-il’s hand is shaking violently as Kyung-seon wails that Agent Lee isn’t worth it. Seung-ah agrees that Hae-il belongs in the church, and Dae-young promises that Hae-il can smack him around any time he wants and they can work together like they used to.
Sister Kim says that these are all Hae-il’s people, the people who were saved by him. She says he just has to save himself, but Agent Lee croons that there’s no salvation. He yells, “Kill me… kill me, you bastard!”
Slowly, Kyung-seon reaches out and touches Hae-il’s arm, and he finally moves. He paraphrases a quote from the Bible: “I tell you, not seven times but seventy-seven times, I must forgive you.” Kyung-seon gently lowers his hand holding the gun, and a tear slides down Hae-il’s face.
Everyone relaxes, and Detective Lee arrests Agent Lee and the thugs. Kyung-seon and Dae-young lean on Hae-il in relief, telling him that he did well. A short while later, Hae-il and Kyung-seon sit on the bumper of the ambulance, and Kyung-seon tells Hae-il that he looks awful, teasing him until he cracks a smile.
He asks if she meant what she said about bad things happening to him by chance, not because he deserves them. He says that he always thought God was testing him, but today it felt like God was waiting to see if he could overcome through sheer will.
Dae-young and Seung-ah join them after putting Sister Kim in the car to rest. Agent Lee is led past them in handcuffs, and he calls out a “hey” to Hae-il, and they think it’s strange that he’s smiling as he’s being arrested. When the cop comes close to put Agent Lee in the car, Agent Lee suddenly bashes his head into the cop’s, grabs his gun, and whirls to aim at Hae-il.
Hae-il grabs Kyung-seon and Seung-ah, throwing himself between them and the gun. The violent crimes team pulls their weapons and a shot rings out — but none of them got off a shot. It was Dae-young, who shakes with shock as Agent Lee staggers, falls, and dies.
Hae-il goes to Agent Lee’s body and prays, “Lord, please shine Your light on this soul. Please do not look at his sins, and show him mercy. Since You teach Your ways to evildoers, sinners shall return to You.”
Chul-beom is hiding out in a hotel room, and he learns that he won’t be able to get a fake passport because all the brokers are suddenly gone. He decides to settle his score with Agent Lee instead.
Kyung-seon runs into Yo-han at the convenience store, and he tells her that he’s busy feeling the Earth’s gravitational pull. He explains that ever since the night at Rising Moon when he took a blow meant for her, he’s been able to look up at the stars and see their movement from the Earth’s rotation. Yo-han says that recently he noticed a new movement, so he emailed NASA about it, and Kyung-seon looks at him like he’s lost his adorable marbles.
Dae-young, Seung-ah, and the violent crimes team happily watch a news report saying that Father Lee has been cleared of the suspicions of embezzlement, sexual harassment, and suicide. It’s now known that corrupt officials are responsible for his death, because he refused to hand over the welfare services so they could use them to launder money.
Hae-il tells Father Lee’s photo that it’s all over, and that he can rest in peace. He informs Sister Kim that he’s leaving once Sung-kyu wakes and can take over the church, because he’s done a lot of things lately that make him unworthy to be a priest. She argues that he was only fighting demons, but Hae-il says that while fighting demons, he became one himself.
Chief Prosecutor Kang saunters into Kyung-seon’s office with his fancy lawyers that the CEO of Hanjoo Group paid for in return for Chief Prosecutor Kang protecting his son, Kyun-young (who sold drugs and tried to have Kyung-seon killed). Hae-ils lawyers say that there’s not enough evidence against Chief Prosecutor Kang for a warrant, but Kyung-seon wonders out loud how long they’ll support Chief Prosecutor Kang, then turns on the TV.
The news is reporting that a voice recording has surfaced of Kyun-young ordering the hit on Kyung-seon. As son as they hear this, the lawyers’ loyalty shifts back to CEO Kim and they hurry out of Kyung-seon’s office, freeing Kyung-seon to have Chief Prosecutor Kang arrested for Father Lee’s murder.
He’s taken for questioning, but he refuses to say a word. Hae-il barges in and tells him that it’s almost over, but Chief Prosecutor Kang continues to be stubborn, so Hae-il and Dae-young decide that they need to catch Chul-beom and have the two face each other. Since the fact of Agent Lee’s death hasn’t been released yet, Hae-il get an idea to flush out Chul-beom.
Dae-young takes the violent crimes team to bring in Chul-beom while Hae-il stays at the station. Seung-ah brings him a bag of hidden cameras that were found under the seat of Agent Lee’s car, as well as a memory stick where he’s probably uploaded a lot of interesting stuff.
Dae-young leaks to a well-known mole that Agent Lee is staying in a certain hotel, and the information gets back to Chul-beom. When Chul-beom arrives at the hotel, he finds the cops waiting for him instead, and he asks if they can take him without Hae-il.
He and Hoon-seok fight hard, and for a minute it looks like they have the upper hand. But then the guys manage to pin Hoon-seok to the wall, and Dae-young smashes his head into Chul-beom’s several times, ringing Chul-beom’s bell so loudly that he just grins at Dae-young with respect as he cuffs him.
They put Chul-beom and Chief Prosecutor Kang together and show them a video they got from Agent Lee’s memory stick. Agent Lee was so suspicious that he nearly always wore a hidden camera, and he’d been wearing one the night that Father Lee died. The recording shows Chief Prosecutor Kang shoving Father Lee into the table, then Chul-beom agreeing to dispose of his body.
Afterward, Kyung-seon tells Hae-il that she plans to atone for her involvement in Chief Prosecutor Kang’s illegal dealings. She’s written down her crimes, and when she’s got everyone safely in jail, she’ll turn herself in. Hae-il seems unsure that it’s necessary, but Kyung-seon reminds him that he once yelled at her to pay for her sins, and cheers that she always rises up like a phoenix.
The head of the prosecutor’s office (cameo by Kim Hong-pa) asks an underling if she really investigated Rising Moon and Gudam’s corrupted official alone. She claims she did and he doesn’t believe her, so she admits that she had help from Prosecutor Park Kyung-seon.
Kyung-seon listens impatiently as Chief Prosecutor Kang, Dong-ja, Chief Nam, Chul-beom, and Young-moon all sit in her office bickering over who started the whole thing and who’s just a victim. Kyung-seon screams at them to shut up, and Chul-beom asks why she’s not sitting with them in a prison uniform. She tells them she plans to go to prison after taking care of them.
Chief Nam blames Representative Park for everything, and the others go along with it, thinking that it’s easier to blame the dead guy. But the door opens and Representative Park enters in a wheelchair, alive and well. It turns out that the two men who supposedly killed him were actually Hae-il and Ssongsak, who only pretended to beat up the cops guarding the hospital room. The man in the bed that they “suffocated” was just Dae-young, as Representative Park had already been safely relocated.
Young-moon suddenly stands to loudly declare that his believers won’t allow this to happen, and will eliminate Kyung-seon. She says sweetly that they’ll see. In jail, Young-moon’s assistant sees him on the news — she had recorded him on her “lost” phone, saying that his followers make him sick and that all he’s interested in is their money. HA, busted.
Meanwhile, Koyazev and his minions have been hiding out in the tunnel they built into the vault for two weeks, hoping that the authorities will eventually stop looking for them. But Dae-young and Seung-ah bust into their hidey-hole saying that they’ve known where they were for a week now, and Koyazev wails, “Then why didn’t you come for uuuuus?!” Dae-young offers to come back later, but they decide that prison is a better option.
Ssongsak visits Jang-ryong (and his brand-new haircut) in jail and gets fussed at for embarrassing him. Ssongsak says that if he’s still in Korea when Jang-ryong is released, Jang-ryong can stay with him if he has nowhere else to go. Jang-ryong says no thanks, but he’s fighting back tears, and Ssongsak just smiles and says, “Take care, my friend Long Dragon.”
He gets up to leave, but Jang-ryong calls after him to say a grumpy, “Thanks for coming, friend.” Awww, I luff them so much.
Sung-kyu finally opens his eyes and Hae-il rushes to the hospital. Sung-kyu blinks when they talk to him, showing that he can understand them. He whispers a tiny, “Hae-il,” and Hae-il wilts with relief that Sung-kyu is going to be okay.
Team Tsunami gathers at the church, excited that it’s all finally over. Dae-young says that this is his last week as a cop, and Hae-il tells them that he’s leaving (for this two-year punishment mission trip) once Sung-kyu can resume his duties at the church. The others argue that he belongs at their church, but he says the decision is made.
As they planned, Dae-young and the rest of the violent crimes team turn in their resignations. Detective Lee gets mad, having planned to take the blame for their earlier negligence himself, but Dae-young says they’re a team. Detective Lee sighs and adds his letter to the pile.
Kyung-seon prepares her confession of her involvement in the corruption case, and Hae-il walks with her to turn herself in. He tells her that it’s not too late to find another way, but she reminds him that he said that to confess and become the Lord’s child, you have to apologize to those you’ve wronged.
When they arrive at the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office, Hae-il tells Kyung-seon that she followed God’s words well, and she thanks him for leading her down the right path.
Yo-han is at work at the convenience store when he gets a visitor from NASA, who received his email that led them to the discovery of a new planet. He invites Yo-han to come to NASA give a presentation, and Yo-han jumps at the chance.
The head of the prosecutor’s office is suspicious of Kyung-seon’s motives for turning herself in, but she says she genuinely repents and wants to serve her time. He tells her that as soon as she’s sentenced, certain people will get in trouble. So instead he offers her a job working for him, rooting out the evil and corruption in the government, especially the Rising Moon case.
Confused, Kyung-seon says that’s not exactly a punishment. But he chuckles and informs her that death threats are a daily occurrence, reporters make up stories about him, and even his distant relatives are harassed, so working for him is no walk in the park. Kyung-seon thinks, then takes the job on one condition — she wants to choose her team.
She starts right away, attending a schmoozing dinner with some corrupt colleagues while wearing glasses fitted with a camera. The chef and servers enter the room, and HAHA, it’s Dae-young and half of the violent crime guys, while the rest wait out in the car with Seung-ah and curse at the guys’ shaking hands. Aw yay, Team Phoenix Sun!
Dae-young finally gets to cash in his bet with Hae-il, when they first teamed up and Hae-il promised to buy Dae-young beef if he solved the crime of Father Lee’s death. Hae-il grumbles that Dae-young didn’t even do that much, but that’s not how Dae-young remembers it. He exercises his mouth while Hae-il reminds him that priests aren’t rich, then goes in bellowing for all the beef.
We see all of our friends diligently going about their jobs then getting together at the church to hang out (yay, Sung-kyu is back!), as Hae-il narrates:
The Lord never abandons those with courage. The courage the Lord wants is to fight through the fear, and the courage to put yourself last. Justice brought about with such courage will stand strong and firm, and bring about a world where justice rules over power and power is used justly.
Now that I look back, the Lord’s world that I dreamed of wasn’t too far away. Hurt people help to comfort others, live together across lines and walls, and willingly make sacrifices for righteousness. Even in the Lord’s world, I will stay angry. I’ll teach sinners with the right purpose and right method. Wherever I am and whatever I am, this is my calling and my fate.
Everyone comes to see Hae-il off for his mission trip, and he tells them that two years will go by quickly. They each say their goodbye, but suddenly an entire fleet of cars pulls up to the church. Someone steps out of one of the cars, and whoa, it’s the Pope!
Everyone stares, shocked, as the Pope thanks Hae-il for preserving the honor of Catholicism and his friend, Father Lee. Hae-il looks like he might have a heart attack and die happy when the Pope actually hugs him and says that he’s a true priest and must remain in the church. And then they all pose for selfies with the Pope, because of course they do.
Some time later, Hae-il stands outside a warehouse looking badass… then whines that Dae-young is late again. He’s joined by Dae-young in a monk costume, and Hae-il accidentally starts a Buddhist prayer before correcting himself and cursing, hee.
Kyung-seon saunters over looking fabulous as usual, and yells that Dae-young was supposed to be a priest, not a monk. Hae-il asks where Seung-ah is just seconds before she arrives in a dead-on Jang-ryong costume, LOL.
Once they have their act together (kinda), they turn their attention to the warehouse, which is pouring forth an army’s worth of thugs. Hae-il gets that familiar glint in his eye and orders his troops to go get ’em. They break into a run, shouting loud battle cries… then turn and flee for their lives.
HAHA, what a great ending! Everyone ended up right where they belong doing exactly what they’re meant to do, and they even got to keep chasing the bad guys as a team. What more could an audience ask for? I really, really hope that the “We will be back” at the end of the episode means that they’re planning a Season Two! I’m not generally a fan of second seasons, but this show is an exception. Of course, they’d need to get most, if not all of Team Tsunami back, because the show just wouldn’t work without them. But a lot of little hints were dropped, like Ssongsak offering Jang-ryong a place to stay after he’s released and Chul-beom talking about going straight, and Kyung-seon getting a job specifically aimed at stamping out corruption and choosing her team. Okay I’ll tell the truth — I want a second season so that Chul-beom can come back and team up with Hae-il, we didn’t get nearly enough of that!
I think that the scene where everyone was telling Hae-il not to shoot Agent Lee, that they had all been saved by him and he was worth saving, too, may just be one of my favorite K-drama scenes of all time. The emotion was palpable, and Hae-il’s inner conflict so painful as he struggled to hear them over his own inner conviction that he was a child-killer and unworthy. I loved the message that he had to save himself by forgiving himself, and that killing Agent Lee wasn’t the way to accomplish that. To truly find peace, Hae-il had to forgive the most unforgivable person, but he found the strength to to it and when he did, he was able to start healing.
I really love how much Hae-il and Kyung-seon have grown to understand each other, because they’re really not that different. They both felt that the world had abandoned them, so they were lashing out, though in different ways — Hae-il with his fists, and Kyung-seon by pretending nothing bothers her. But they always know exactly what the other is truly thinking, and I love it when one of them blusters and the other just gives them that look that says, “You’re not fooling anyone, you know.” So I’m glad that it was Kyung-seon who talked Hae-il through his lowest moment, because she’s the one who could understand how he was feeling and why, and she’s the one he would listen to when she said that evil isn’t targeting him, evil is just evil.
The Fiery Priest was one of those shows that, wonderfully, never suffered a slump and just kept ramping up the tension and suspense until the very end, and the explosive climax was absolutely worth nineteen episodes of buildup. I’ve gotten to a point where the signs of a show that will go this way are becoming easier to spot, and one of the big tells is how situations that prove crucial in the end, are set up early and well. A good example is when Dae-young saw the albino marten in the forest, which seemed like a throwaway moment until several episodes later when the marten is what led them to the proof of how Father Lee’s body was disposed. The show called back a lot of early moments like Hae-il and Dae-young’s bet, and even Representative Park’s supposed death, which seemed to be simple convenience when he no longer served the plot, but it turned out to have been part of a setup. Only a writer who’s confident about exactly where their plot is going can do that, and The Fiery Priest was absolutely riddled with these moments.
But far and away, the best thing about this drama was the hard-won relationships between the characters. The friendship and teamwork turned what could have been a dry show about a corrupted government into a show full of sweet, heartwarming moments where we truly cared about the characters. The friendships that Hae-il forged with Dae-young, Kyung-seon, and everyone else in Gudam were that much better because they didn’t come easily — almost everyone started out as enemies, and they gradually, over time, grew to like, respect, and even trust each other until eventually, they’d formed bonds so strong that they could even talk a desperate man down from the edge of Hell. I loudly applaud the show and everyone involved, and hope to see them fighting crime together again soon!
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