Fly Dragon: Episode 5
Though the cases are grim, Fly Dragon is never about the deaths or murders per say, but about the people tied to these unusual situations. The stories of the victims as well as the criminals are the crux of this show, and nameless faces slowly become human. Despite all the heartache our heroes have experienced, they still manage to hold onto their humanity, and through the power of tears, they’re slowly changing hearts.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Now that the true mastermind has shown his face, Tae-yong turns to Attorney Hwang for advice. She tells him that nothing has changed, but her encouragements don’t help the lawyer with finding the witnesses. She suddenly recalls a useful tidbit and tells him that the clients met with the real culprits once.
At a café, Sam-soo accuses Yoo-kyung of spying for the other side. She denies it at first, but recent events play in her head and it finally clicks that she has been “spying.” She still objects to his accusations, showing her hiking shoes as defense. In a huff, Sam-soo tells her to see what can’t be seen and hear what can’t be heard.
Tae-yong calls Sam-soo to inform him about Sang-hyun who may know the real culprit’s face, but Sam-soo is skeptical of the claim. Nevertheless, he gets up to interview the client, and before he leaves, he warns Yoo-kyung that betrayal means death.
While Tae-yong runs around town looking for the other witness, Sam-soo meets with Sang-hyun who hands him the only can coffee in his refrigerator. After apologizing for his behavior during the settlement meeting, Sam-soo gets down to business: Does he remember the murderer’s face?
Sang-hyun tells him about the time Prosecutor Jang forced the two groups to meet, and while Sang-hyun recited a confession, Chul-kyu raised his head and cried. Sam-soo finds it hard to believe that the young man would remember the murderer’s face when he can’t even remember his father’s burial ground, but Sang-hyun asserts that he remembers the important things.
To Sam-soo’s surprise, Sang-hyun remembers the exact date of his mother’s death eighteen years ago, so the reporter tests out a theory. Returning the can coffee, Sam-soo claims to only drink a certain brand, but Sang-hyun reads the label and tells him that it’s the correct one.
Sam-soo asks why Sang-hyun lied about not being able to read, so Sang-hyun tells him that he learned from an inmate in prison. However, he still doesn’t know how to write, but Sam-soo continues his interrogation, asking how he remembers his mother’s death.
As Sang-hyun recounts the events of that fateful day, we see little Sang-hyun run off on an errand for his ill mother. He picked up a bottle of pesticide and dutifully handed it over to her, unaware of the tragedy about to unfold. His mother drank the contents right in front of him, and immediately foamed at the mouth. In her final moments, she opened up her arms for him, and Sang-hyun snuggled next to her and fell asleep.
Unfortunately, Sang-hyun no longer remembers her face, but he does remember her smell: pesticide. The scent reminds him of his mother, which is why he chose to live by farms. As Sam-soo tries his darnedest to compose himself, he asks why Sang-hyun remembers the murderer’s face, and he tells him that it was the first time someone cried for him.
All the while, Tae-yong continues his fruitless search, his sweat-soaked shirt evidence of his efforts. Despite another dead end, he repeats his mantra: “Be ignorant. Don’t use your brain.”
When asked about his happiness memory, Sang-hyun sheepishly admits that he doesn’t have any, and Sam-soo yells at him to remember since even he has one. After some thought, Sang-hyun recalls one moment: the last time his mother gave him an arm pillow. Though it was brief, he remembers her warmth.
Hiding his tears, Sam-soo says that he understands that feeling, too. His favorite smell of his mom is the humid bathhouse smell, which reminds him of the times he was happy with her even if they didn’t have much.
As Sam-soo leaves, Sang-hyun runs out to hand him the can coffee. He bought it specifically for him, and though Sam-soo points out that this is his only item, Sang-hyun doesn’t mind since he never had anything anyways.
We flashback to Sang-hyun’s last moment with his mother, but this time, the memories overlap with Sam-soo’s as he recalls the day his mom was covered in blood and handcuffed. Moved by Sang-hyun’s gesture, emotions well up until Sam-soo openly weeps. Unsure of what to do, Sang-hyun sits by the reporter and keeps him company.
Sam-soo works hard writing up Sang-hyun’s story and vows to Tae-yong that he’ll bring Chul-kyu out with this article. Tae-yong scolds him for not writing about him, but Sam-soo is convinced that he can move the murderer’s heart again.
Once the article is finished, Sam-soo brings it to Kwi-hyun for approval, and his junior is smitten by his latest work. He thinks Chul-kyu will come bawling when the article posts, and Sam-soo is excited by the money that will flow in as well. Kwi-hyun points out that the biggest tragedies always generated the most hits for newspapers, and they upload Sam-soo’s article with bated breaths.
Yoo-kyung congratulates Sam-soo on his article since this was the kind of writing that made her respect him, and Sam-soo swears to return to his rightful spot after rebuilding his reputation. He then calls Jin-shil to brag about his article, but she’s meeting her father right now.
He tells her to mention the box of plums he got for her father, but Sam-soo’s meager peace offering only angers him more. He asks what Sam-soo does, and Jin-shil sends him a link to his article. Retreating to the kitchen, her father wipes away his tears and allows her bandit-looking boyfriend a visit.
The real murderers read the article as well, and their responses are varied. Deok-jong flings his phone in anger, Won-bok shakes in fear, and Chul-kyu reads every last word well into the night. Tae-yong also reads the article, and though he grumbles at first, he ends up crying like everyone else.
Reading about Sang-hyun’s mother reminds Tae-yong of his own, and he flashes back to the day he heard about his mother’s cancer. He carried his sick mother on his back, and during the walk home, she told him to watch over his siblings. She believed that her eldest would become a dragon like in her dream as long as he continued being kind. By the time Tae-yong made it home, his mother had already passed.
In the present, Tae-yong tells his little brother not to feel indebted to him since his mother was the one who helped Tae-yong pay for his studies. Flashing back, Tae-yong carried Tae-sung on his back, set on returning his brother to his birth mother since he could walk now. However, when he saw her enduring the harassment of her male customers, he turned around and decided to raise Tae-sung until he entered school.
Years later, Tae-yong took Tae-sung fishing and told his little brother to stop calling him “mister” since they were brothers. He then asked Tae-sung’s mother to address him comfortably, and in exchange, he would call her “aunt.”
Won-bok’s mother finds her son shivering in bed, and he steps out of the house for a walk. She sees the article on his phone and thinks back to the day he came home after the incident. Hearing about the case on the news, she put the pieces together and threw any incriminating evidence into the sea. Shaking her guilt-ridden son, she urged him to run away. More recently, she saw the witness summons for her son, and once again, she begged him not to go.
Continuing their hunt, Tae-yong drags Sam-soo with him to look for the witnesses, but Sam-soo argues that they just need to wait. Brandishing his phone, he shows off the money he raised from the article (over $12,000), and Tae-yong’s tune changes, shaking hands with Sam-soo to reaffirm their partnership.
CEO Moon and Chief Shin treat Yoo-kyung to a meal and ask about Tae-yong and Sam-soo. Yoo-kyung has a few questions of her own, and makes it clear that her duty as a reporter isn’t spying for them. CEO Moon chuckles at her declaration and then hands them an earbud each. He plays a recording he received from Prosecutor Jang, and Yoo-kyung’s eyes grow large. With a smirk, CEO Moon asks if she really isn’t interested in this ticket to the Blue House.
Tae-yong asks everyone he comes across if they know Won-bok, but neither adults nor children have heard the name. It isn’t until he rests at a convenience store does he get his first lead. The store owner knows Won-bok’s mother, but she tells Tae-yong that he should have come a bit earlier. Meanwhile, Sam-soo “searches” for Deok-jong by sitting at a café under the shade.
When Tae-yong arrives at Won-bok’s house, his mother claims that no one by that name lives here, but he notices the mail and calls her out for lying. He begs her to talk with him but stops mid-sentence when he sees Won-bok’s funeral portrait in her house. Tae-yong bows in apology, and then scours the town for a store that sells fruit.
After buying a box of the supermarket’s best grapes, Tae-yong drops it off at Won-bok’s house and gives his condolences. His actions open up the mother’s heart, and she tells him that her son drowned himself out of guilt. She blames herself for not helping her son confess and hands Tae-yong Chul-kyu’s number.
At the train station, Sam-soo makes friends with a nearby homeless man while he waits. When Tae-yong arrives, he shows the reporter the results of his successful search, and Sam-soo promises to find their next target: aka, the philanthropist. Pffft.
After losing a game of rock-paper-scissors, Sam-soo reluctantly calls the number. When Chul-kyu answers, Sam-soo can barely speak, so Tae-yong snatches the phone and introduces himself, instead. He asks if they can meet, and Chul-kyu tells him that he won’t be coming out alone.
On the day of the meeting, Sam-soo waits outside while Tae-yong stakes out at a nearby café with his nephew’s binoculars (which he borrowed without permission, ha!). Tae-yong calls Chul-kyu, and Sam-soo notices their witness first. However, he’s just as terrible as Tae-yong at playing spy, and Chul-kyu runs when he sees the reporter.
Despite Chul-kyu’s head start, Sam-soo catches him, and over dinner, he explains to the perplexed witness that he excels at two things: running and looking old. Chul-kyu explains that he ran because Sam-soo looked like a detective, and the person he brought along is his wife.
Though he willingly agreed to meet them because of Sam-soo’s article and Won-bok’s death, Chul-kyu isn’t keen on confessing his crimes after all these years. He points out that he admitted the truth in the past, but the prosecutor was the one who set him free. Now he has a family to feed, and their request feels a tad unreasonable.
Understanding Chul-kyu’s predicament, Sam-soo tells him to hide until the statute of limitations passes, but Tae-yong knows that isn’t an option. He begs Chul-kyu to remember the innocent men who were framed, but his wife begs them to consider their family, too. Reaching a stalemate, Sam-soo asks why he cried back then, and Chul-kyu says that he isn’t heartless.
The two men walk the beach, conflicted over what to do, and Sam-soo notes how this is the first time he sympathized with the culprit. Attorney Hwang finds them looking glum, and after hearing their worries, she offers to help since she likes their kindness. Meanwhile, Chul-kyu lies awake at home and promises his nervous wife that he won’t waver.
The day of the trial arrives, and only Deok-jong comes to court as a witness. As rehearsed with Prosecutor Jang, Deok-jong renounces his previous confession and blames Attorney Hwang for coercion. Judge Heo sets the next trial date six days from now, and though Tae-young objects, the judge reminds him that he was the one who wanted to speed things up.
After the trial, the clients are worried about losing, and to make matters worse, Chul-kyu won’t pick up their calls. Attorney Hwang suggests another meeting with the witness, and Sam-soo whispers to her to keep it a secret from Yoo-kyung. She frowns at her senior and then turns to Tae-yong, asking if he trusts his clients. She heard a different recording concerning the case, but can’t share the details with them. Sam-soo scolds her for changing sides, and his outburst only pushes her farther away.
Chul-kyu’s absence means bad news for Prosecutor Jang, too, and he sends a threatening text message to the witness. However, Chul-kyu ignores the prosecutor, and calls Tae-yong, instead. He asks if the trial really can’t be pushed back, and hangs up disappointed when Tae-yong apologizes.
Taking the day off, Chul-kyu invites his mother out to lunch, and at the restaurant, she asks if he came to a decision. She heard everything from Won-bok’s mother, and when Chul-kyu doesn’t deny it, she tells her son to not choose the same path as his friend. Above all else, she begs him to live longer than her.
The day of the trial returns, and Sam-soo paces nervously for Chul-kyu. He has faith in people’s tears, but Attorney Hwang isn’t as trusting. As she tells him to keep a healthy distance from people, Sam-soo pulls her forward, and they watch slack-jawed as Chul-kyu walks towards them.
Attorney Hwang thanks him for showing up and apologizes for not fixing things earlier. He chuckles at the sight of the ex-prosecutor apologizing to a criminal, and then he turns to Sang-hyun and bows his head since he owes him an apology. To his shock, Sang-hyun doesn’t show any resentment, and instead, thanks him for coming.
In the car, Attorney Hwang gives Chul-kyu one last chance to change his mind, but Chul-kyu reminds her that he didn’t run away back then either. They thank Chul-kyu for taking responsibility for everyone’s mistake and drive towards the courthouse.
While they wait for the others, Yoo-kyung wonders if Chul-kyu will tell the truth, but Tae-yong doesn’t know either. Contrary to their worries, Chul-kyu seems set on confessing as he answers a call from his mother who only cries. He tells her that he’ll see her when he comes back, and once he hangs up, he openly weeps.
The first witness on the stand is Chief Oh who claims that the clients looked cunning and had the “DNA of criminals.” Next is Detective Jung who lies about Sang-hyun writing down his confession completely unaided, and when Tae-yong points out that he can’t write, the detective feigns ignorance and denies all accusations of coercion. Tae-yong also mentions the missing money he supposedly found, but the detective conveniently doesn’t remember.
The court takes a five-minute break, and during that time, Prosecutor Jang sits next to Chul-kyu, acting like best buds. He greets Attorney Hwang and offers her a job in Seoul with the largest firm. She scoffs at the thought of entering that hell, and Prosecutor Jang chuckles.
Once they reconvene, Prosecutor Jang takes the stand and claims that Attorney Hwang coerced the witnesses. He stands by his original arrests, and to back his statement, the prosecution plays a recording of Sang-hyun’s confession. The prosecution asks how Prosecutor Jang got the recording, alluding to the possibility of forgery, but Prosecutor Jang laughs at the idea of a man who can’t read memorizing such a detailed confession.
Flashing back, we see that Prosecutor Jang heard from his paralegal that Sang-hyun was a model inmate who even learned to read Korean, which gave him an idea. Going back to the meeting between the two groups, Prosecutor Jang had Sang-hyun read the confession he wrote out on large posters, proving once again that the prosecutor was and is a piece of trash.
Chul-kyu is the last to take the stand, and the prosecution asks if he went to the crime scene at the time. Chul-kyu looks over his shoulder towards Prosecutor Jang, and everyone in the room waits for his answer. Facing forward, Chul-kyu answers, “Yes, I went there.”
Flabbergasted by the confession, the prosecutor grasps at straws, wondering if he went to buy cigarettes or water, but Chul-kyu spells it out clearly for them. He and his friends broke in to steal money, and in the process, they caused the grandmother to die.
The judge reminds the witness that the statute of limitations hasn’t passed, but Chul-kyu points out that lying in court means punishment as well. Attorney Hwang whispers to Sam-soo that the judge is on the hot seat, and proving her point, Judge Heo stutters as he addresses Tae-yong to begin his questioning.
Tae-yong asks Chul-kyu why he came, and he tells the court that he read the article about Sang-hyun and his mother. He cried all night because of it, and afterwards, his mother told him to confess as did Won-bok’s mother. When Tae-yong asks if he remembers any of the clients, Chul-kyu points to Sang-hyun and explains how he wept after hearing his false confession.
As the bad guys grow nervous, the judge questions the validity of Chul-kyu’s claims, so Chul-kyu reveals information about the crime scene only he and Won-bok knew: they spilled water. The judge has the photo of the scene pulled up, and because of the angle, it’s hard to see the spill unless you know where to look. The reactions throughout the room range from relief to anger, and sitting in the middle of it all, Chul-kyu sheds a tear.
Though I knew it was coming, I still teared up at Sang-hyun’s story like everyone else. It wasn’t the dramatic portion that got me, but the almost mundane yet heart wrenching way he retold the memory. Despite how difficult and lonesome his life has been, Sang-hyun doesn’t display any resentment or bitterness. Instead, there’s a quiet defeat to his approach towards everything from the way he smiles at the fact that he has no happy memories to the casual manner of him announcing that he’s used to having nothing. Even one of his saddest moments is also his most cherished because it’s forever tied to the image of his mother. For Sang-hyun, the smell of pesticide doesn’t remind him of death but of his mother, and the memory of her arms as she died isn’t one of cold but warmth. The show deals with gruesome happenings from murder to suicide, but it doesn’t relish in the horrific nature of these acts. Rather, the show emphasizes the people within these situations and their reactions. It centers itself on emotions and wants the audience to emphasize with these characters instead of merely watching them with detached alarm.
When Sam-soo hears Sang-hyun’s story, he tries his best to not break down, but it’s the simple act of the young man handing him the last can coffee that finally tears down his tough exterior and leaves him a blubbering mess. As Sam-soo recalls his own mom, it’s definitely a terrifying scene for a child—seeing her bloody and handcuffed—but the dominant emotion in that flashback was one of longing and separation. Again, the show depicts a terrible situation (most likely a murder), but that moment isn’t about a woman who killed someone but a mom who made a decision that forced her away from her child. She says goodbye to her son, and as the scene switches back to the present, it becomes clear that the trauma for Sam-soo isn’t just about witnessing a murder scene but the aftermath of opening the door: the parting and farewell between mom and son.
Though this is a legal drama, for better or worse, the legal aspect of the show isn’t the most compelling. Last episode, the show reiterated the fact that Tae-yong and his team were in over their heads as they faced the “smartest” people from the other side. However, as the trial progressed, I was more surprised by the fact that my eyes didn’t get stuck in the back of my head from all the eye-rolling. It was no wonder Justice Jo and the den of evil had to rig everything in the trial from the witnesses to the judge because their arguments were weak. The witnesses were contradicting one another with Detective Jung claiming that Sang-hyun could write a confession without any help and Prosecutor Jang spewing the exact opposite, arguing that the young man was not smart enough to even know Korean. Then when Chul-kyu confessed, the best thing the prosecutor could come up with was asking if he just robbed the family and left (I was already laughing at this point by his feeble attempts to find an excuse for the witness). Clearly, the prosecution was not doing their job, and all of Tae-yong’s hard work paid off in the end. It was almost pathetic at how incompetent the other side was if it wasn’t as equally infuriating that they were still bound to win without Chul-kyu’s curveball confession.
Thankfully, the show goes through the court proceedings at lightning speed and focuses on the emotional payoffs more than the technical jargon and fancy arguments. By making its lead attorney a rather average lawyer, the audience doesn’t expect eloquent closing statements or brilliant questionings that change the tide in the courtroom. Tae-yong and Sam-soo’s humanity is what moves hearts and brings them wins. In that regard, the ridiculousness of the court proceedings were minor nuisances that paved the way to the final culmination of this case: the beginnings of reconciliation and atonement for both the victims as well as the guilty. The payoff of Chul-kyu’s confession and the emotional journey up to that point was gratifying, and I liked the parallelism of Chul-kyu also never forgetting Sang-hyun’s face. For the victim, it was the first time someone felt sorry for him, which must have stood out after months of people telling him to apologize. As for the guilty, it was the day Chul-kyu had to acknowledge the fact that someone else was taking the fall for his actions. The show doesn’t forgive Chul-kyu for murdering the grandmother, even if it was unintentional, but it does humanize him. As the show does best, the Samjung case isn’t just about nameless faces to a gruesome crime, but the people from both sides and their stories. Whether their tales were one of guilt, fear, or complacency, the guilty party each find their own end, and as for our framed clients, hopefully they’ll find the peace they always deserved.
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