Fly Dragon: Episode 11
Empathy can be a tool and a strength, bringing people together and motivating them to action. However, it also means sharing the feelings of others, including their pain and sorrows. While our protagonists follow the right path, it’s a perilous road filled with heartache and unease. At times, our team may want to quit and blame themselves for their misfortunes, but as long as they march forward, they’ll eventually find the end and come out on top.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Tae-yong praises Yoo-kyung’s latest article for emphasizing the police mishandling the case rather than the culprit, but all Sam-soo can think about is money. On top of supporting Doo-shik’s family, they have to pay Yoo-kyung a salary. On cue, their newest team member walks in after quitting her job, and Tae-yong exchanges worried looks with Sam-soo.
Not everyone is happy with the article, though, and Mayor Kang scolds Prosecutor Jang for messing up again. His daughter, Kang Chae-eun, defends her husband, and Prosecutor Jang explains how they will shift all the blame to the police.
Mayor Kang advises Prosecutor Jang to keep an eye on the judges as well since their alliance with Justice Jo will eventually end. While his inferiority complex is evident to everyone present, the mayor swears that he isn’t acting out of spite.
Addressing his daughter, Mayor Kang asks about the school she runs, and she tells him that the teachers’ complaints will die down when hiring season comes around. It’s clear who she takes after as Chae-eun badmouths the politicians who keep asking their family for jobs and favors.
Yoo-kyung tells the others about her plans to move out, and Tae-yong suggests living in his neighborhood. Sam-soo acts more practical, showing concern for her finances, but Tae-yong chides him for talking about money.
Tae-yong answers a call from Sang-man who sounds less hearty than usual. He asks if Tae-yong can come down for a chat, and he agrees, noticing that something is wrong. Yoo-kyung offers to come with him, but before they head out, an unexpected guest barges into the office.
The building owner is here to collect his overdue rent, and Tae-yong glances over at the others and laughs. He pretends to have merely forgotten to pay, but Sam-soo and Yoo-kyung see through his lies. Still, they play along with his ruse, and Tae-yong decides to meet Sang-man by himself.
Once alone, Tae-yong calls his younger sister to borrow some money, but the amount he needs is more than her month’s salary. Back in the office, Yoo-kyung asks for the bank account number, but Sam-soo refuses to stoop so low… and proceeds to get on his knees. He asks for her help and texts her the information.
Kwi-hyun’s boss berates him for the new article and reminds him that they are an internet company that simply distributes articles. He orders Kwi-hyun to get permission before he publishes anything else, and Kwi-hyun has no choice but to concede.
Prosecutor Jang laughs at Prosecutor Yoon’s nervous pacing and tells him to stop fretting. He encourages his junior prosecutor to chose his sides wisely since acting out now will mean turning against Partner Kim. Prosecutor Yoon is skeptical of his advice, so Prosecutor Jang tells him that humiliation is brief while glory is long.
The police are also meeting to discuss how to deal with Yoo-kyung’s article, and Chief Ahn asks Detective Bong what happened to the knife. Detective Bong tells them that he threw it off a bridge, and the others relax since the only evidence to open up the case is gone.
Unlike the rest, Detective Bong displays a sense of guilt for what they did, but neither Chief Ahn nor Detective Bae are sympathetic to his woes. They tell him to divide up the guilt—the prosecutors and judges are equally if not more guilty than they are—and treat it like a light feather.
In the past, Detective Bae overheard Jae-sung telling Sang-man about the knife’s location, and before Sang-man got his search warrant, the three officers went to the house and found the knife. Unwilling to dirty their own hands, the others tasked Detective Bong with destroying the weapon.
Back in the present, Tae-yong arrives at Sang-man’s place and finds him mediating in the dark. The ex-detective has a favor and asks Tae-yong to meet with Detective Bong instead of him. In exchange, he offers to meet Jae-sung since he still wants to believe in his juniors and their integrity. Tae-yong wonders if the other officers will know his feelings, but Sang-man isn’t doing it to garner appreciation.
Sang-man looks over to Tae-yong and wonders where his courage comes from to be able to fight these difficult battles over and over again. Tae-yong calls Sang-man an even more incredible person than him since he dedicated his life to solving cases and sympathizing with those in pain.
Answering his question, Tae-yong tells Sang-man that he works in order to keep smiling. The real bad guys live without an ounce of guilt, so he refuses to let them steal his smile, too. Tae-yong believes that the selfless will reach the top in the end, and he asks Sang-man to keep smiling with him until they reach that end.
Sang-man marvels at Tae-yong’s energy, and Tae-yong promises to let the ex-detective get the last laugh. They both comment on how lucky they are to be partners, and Sang-man places his arm around Tae-yong’s shoulders.
After Sam-soo pays the rent for Tae-yong’s office, he sits with Yoo-kyung and tells her that it might take a while for her to receive a paycheck. She understands their situation and tells him that if they follow the right path, then they’ll eventually find a way to support themselves. He hopes that’s true and thanks Yoo-kyung for joining them. She tells him that he thanked her twice in one day and leaves with a smile.
Still in the neighborhood, Tae-yong meets Doo-shik to buy him food and give him some cash since his business is going through tough times. Earlier, Tae-yong asked Attorney Hwang for some money, and she lent it to him in a heartbeat. Now that he has some cash, Tae-yong pays for his family’s living expense as well, and his little nephew is excited to eat out today.
News about the Osung case plays on tv, and Jae-sung reveals his face in an interview to claim he was wrongly accused. The news paints his family as the victims, and Tae-yong’s face darkens as he listens. Meanwhile, Prosecutor Jang praises Chief Ahn for the clever trick with Jae-sung, and the chief tells him that it was easy since the real murderer thinks he is innocent now.
When Tae-yong reaches his office, he sees the building owner chasing away two people vandalizing the property. The building owner sighs at how quickly the public turned their backs on Tae-yong, but he still believes in the lawyer. He also thanks him for the rent and informs him of a “philanthropist” who sent him the money anonymously. When Tae-yong hears that the philanthropist paid the exact amount (including the small discount), he seems to realize the identity of his secret sponsor.
Attorney Hwang comes up to Seoul to meet with Prosecutor Jang and accuses him of orchestrating the latest media stunt using Jae-sung. He scoffs at the allegations, and instead, offers her position over at Daeseok Law Firm again. She asks what it’s like on the other side as the farmer’s son who was sold off to a rich family, and he chuckles at her old phrasing.
Getting back on topic, Attorney Hwang asks why he’s involved in the Osung case, and he tells her that he needs to compensate for the previous damage they did to his image. He isn’t satisfied with ending his career here and wants political power as well. He threatens to crush their team this time around because he won’t let anyone get in his way.
Sam-soo reads the article about Jae-sung, and seeing the daughters reminds him of his conversation with Doo-shik from before. The moment he feared has arrived, and Sam-soo asks Yoo-kyung to put a hold on their plans for a while.
While Sang-man watches Jae-sung from afar, his wife calls to scold him about his obsession with the case and hangs up before he can explain. Returning to his current task, Sang-man joins Jae-sung as he helps an old man pick up recycling. Jae-sung frowns when he recognizes the ex-detective, but Sang-man smiles back and tells him to keep working.
After they finish dumping the cardboard, Sang-man faces Jae-sung and asks when he changed his name. Jae-sung claims to not remember his past, but Sang-man tells him that it doesn’t change what he did. He tells the ex-detective that he goes by Lee Yong-sun now, and Sang-man replies by stating his own name.
When Jae-sung flinches at his intimidation tactics, Sang-man tells him to loosen up and asks why he lied about the knife. Looking him in the eyes, Jae-sung says that he told the truth back then, but the police and prosecution were the ones who freed him.
From a distance, Detective Bae spies on them and reports everything back to Chief Ahn. The chief calls Detective Bong to make sure the knife really is gone, and the detective assures him that he destroyed the weapon a long time ago.
Sang-man calls Tae-yong to share his findings about Jae-sung and asks him not to act overly forceful with his junior. With a heavy heart, Tae-yong goes out to meet Detective Bong, and as soon as he sees him, he comments on his kind eyes. He tells the detective that Sang-man was hesitant about joining the case and mentions the ex-detective’s son. Even without Detective Bong telling him, Tae-yong figured out that Sang-man’s son had died since he read about it in his notes, and he hands the journal to the detective.
Tae-yong asks if Detective Bong knows Sang-man’s mantras, but the detective only knows his famous “I’m Han Sang-man” catchphrase. He tells the detective that Sang-man always talks about not getting involved because it would make things difficult for the police, and he informs Detective Bong that Sang-man was afraid to see him. He tells the detective that the only way to rebuild trust is to tell the truth, and leaves behind the notebook behind since Sang-man wrote a lot about the detective as well.
Detective Bong reads through the notebook and cries as he realizes just how much Sang-man trusted him. Later that night, he calls Sang-man out for drinks, and after a few bottles, he asks why Sang-man would be afraid to see him. Sang-man tells him that with age, one comes to fear the weak and frail.
His answer upsets Detective Bong, and he shouts at Sang-man, demanding an answer to his question: why does he trust him? Sang-man wishes he could hate him, too, but he just can’t. Unable to face him any longer, Detective Bong leaves in a taxi, and in his drunken stupor, he stumbles through a neighbor and recalls the day he betrayed Sang-man.
Contrary to what he told the others, Detective Bong hid the weapon inside an old wall, and in the present, he finds his way to the same location and falls to the ground, weeping. Memories of Sang-man fill the detective with guilt, and he remembers how much he admired the ex-detective.
Detective Bong looked on with awe as Sang-man arrested two gang members by himself. When he asked how he did it, Sang-man offered to share his method, but it only consisted of declaring his name, staring down criminals, and arresting them. Since Detective Bong’s eyes were too kind for this tactic, Sang-man made him practice growling his name in order to intimidate criminals.
In Tae-yong’s office, Yoo-kyung tells the team that they need to reveal all the officers’ names, but Sam-soo is against the idea. A call from Detective Bong puts their argument on hold, and Tae-yong goes down to meet with him. At a café, the detective returns the notebook since he’s leaving to someplace far away, and Tae-yong agrees to pass it along to Sang-man.
The next day, Tae-yong and the crew drop by Sang-man’s place, but the ex-detective barely registers their presence as he watches the news. Everyone’s attention turns to the tv, and they stare in shock at the news of Detective Bong’s suicide. Prosecutor Jang calls Sam-soo to blame him for another death, but his goading is unnecessary since the whole team already looks devastated.
Sang-man attends the funeral to pay his respects, but on his way out, Chief Ahn grabs him and yells at him for causing another death. The mention of his son enrages Sang-man, but from the corner of his eye, he spots Detective Bong’s son. For the child’s sake, they both calm down and separate without further altercations.
While Tae-yong and his team mourn the detective’s death, Legislator Kim laughs at the situation, calling it a fortunate happening for them. Justice Jo agrees and offers to treat the legislator to a meal as a celebration for their win.
Tae-yong joins Sang-man for drinks and apologizes for making him experience so much pain. Tipping back another shot, Sang-man shares the story of his son’s death. The two of them went fishing one day, and coincidentally, the person next to them was a wanted rapist and murderer. While Sang-man chased after the criminal, his son fell into the lake, and by the time he looked back, his son was nowhere to be found.
Sang-man weeps for his son and tells Tae-yong that his son was the same age as Doo-shik when he died. He wanted to help Doo-shik because he reminded him of his son, but now he lost his most cherished junior as well. He blames himself for both deaths, but Tae-yong says that he isn’t the one at fault.
Tae-yong mentions how all his clients blame themselves for something they didn’t do while the ones who should feel guilty don’t suffer at all. He wants to change this reality and allows Sang-man to cry just for today since starting tomorrow they have to continue their fight.
Returning to his car, Tae-yong finds Yoo-kyung waiting for him and openly cries in front of her. He admits to feeling frustrated about the situation since he wanted everyone to smile as they worked together, but instead, they’re all suffering. She tells him that those who can cry, can go far, which means Tae-yong is bound to win.
After Tae-yong accompanies Sang-man to Detective Bong’s funeral, he returns to his office to work. Though Yoo-kyung worries about him, Tae-yong says that he is fine thanks to her comforting words, and he wonders why Sam-soo always disappears to the mountains when something happens.
Visiting Detective Bong’s urn, Sang-man places a photo of the old team and breaks down into tears. The detective’s wife finds him, and they sit down to chat. While she still resents Sang-man, she isn’t here to blame him for her husband’s death. Sliding over the suicide note, she asks Sang-man to uncover the truth since that’s the only way to bring him peace.
In the detective’s final letter, he left a message to Sang-man, revealing the location of the knife in the notebook. Now that they know where the weapon is, Sang-man quickly rounds up the others, and Sam-soo runs down from the mountains to rejoin the team.
A crowd of reporters gather around the wall Detective Bong hid the knife, and Sam-soo takes the stage to introduce the stars of the show. Amidst the flashing cameras, the two attorneys escort Sang-man to the wall while he carries a sledgehammer on his shoulder.
Tae-yong invited everyone here today in order to prove the credibility of the weapon as evidence for the case, and lets Sang-man take the spotlight for the big reveal. The ex-detective asks Tae-yong to help him break down the wall, but Tae-yong wants him to close the case with his own two hands.
With the support of his new team, Sang-man takes a deep breath and swings. Yelling Detective Bong’s name, Sang-man destroys the wall piece by piece until he reaches the end. Everyone huddles closer to see what he found, and just as Detective Bong promised, the knife is there.
Another person takes his life out of guilt, and once again, our protagonists deal with the sorrow and pain that comes with it. As Tae-yong mentioned, the victims and those who help them tend to blame themselves for the tragedies that happen in their lives while the actual people responsible for these problems are often going about their day without an ounce of guilt. It should not come as a surprise that those without a conscience feel no remorse for their actions, but Tae-yong is right, this reality needs to change. Though Detective Bong’s suicide was still the cowardly way out—he never apologized to Doo-shik, left behind his family, and ran away from the consequences—I still pity him. As the rookie, you could argue that Detective Bong had the least amount of responsibility for this mess, yet out of everyone, he carried the most guilt. The ones who should have also been quaking in their boots and enduring nightmares are too busy shifting the blame to other people. Just as Jae-sung believes he’s now an innocent man, it appears as if the police and prosecution think they have no fault because if the others did their job, then none of this would have happened. However, like Jae-sung, their logic is utter garbage, and it doesn’t change the truth of the matter: they all framed an innocent boy and let the murderer walk away.
It infuriated me that Chief Ahn blamed Sang-man for causing the detective’s death because it shows how little he thinks of his past misdeeds. Rather than reflect on his actions and realize the harm he caused Detective Bong, Chief Ahn still thinks he did the right thing and uses his relative “powerlessness” as an excuse for his behavior. He’s a toxic person through and through, and it breaks my heart that Detective Bong’s family resents Sang-man more than they do Chief Ahn or Detective Bae. I was especially enraged at Chief Ahn when he brought up Sang-man’s deceased son because he should know about the circumstances of the son’s death. It was clearly an unfortunate accident, and in that situation, how could you blame Sang-man for chasing after a rapist murderer? I didn’t see his actions as a case-obsessed detective who abandons his family to catch criminals, yet Chief Ahn twists the narrative in a way to deliberately hurt Sang-man for his own benefit. By painting Sang-man as this crazed officer who heeds no one’s safety—not even his own family—it becomes easier to vilify him instead of dealing with their own shame and wrongdoings. Unfortunately, Sang-man believes a part of this narrative and blames himself for his son’s death as well as Detective Bong’s, but luckily, this time Tae-yong is around to tell Sang-man that he isn’t at fault.
In some ways, Tae-yong feels like the son that Sang-man never got to see grown up, and Sang-man feels like the supportive father that Tae-yong never experienced. Watching them playfully argue about who was luckier to have the other as their partner was sweet, but as the camera panned away, it didn’t just look like two coworkers. It appeared as if a father was lovingly patting his son on his shoulder, and in that moment, these two lonely individuals found comfort in each other’s presence. This is also probably why Tae-yong became so emotional after hearing Sang-man’s sorrows and also why Sang-man felt vulnerable enough to share his biggest pain with Tae-yong. While these two characters have just met in the grand scheme of things, they’ve quickly bonded over their mutual admiration for each other, and unbeknownst to them, they’re slowly filling in the role the other needed.
Though not directly related to this episode, it’s hard not to talk about the show without mentioning all the behind-the-scenes drama. With an episode cancelled this week since filming came to a halt after someone tested positive for COVID-19 and Bae Sung-woo’s drunk driving incident coming to light recently, the production of Fly Dragon has met a crisis. Fans are clamoring for a solution—varying from a cast replacement to early cancellation—and no matter the resolution, it seems unlikely for the creators to please everyone. As a Bae Sung-woo fan, I’m deeply disappointed by his actions, and while I loved his performance, a crime is a crime. Ignoring this incident and letting things remain the same would have contradicted the very essence of the show. However, with three episodes left to film, it seems difficult to replace the actor at this point and refilm his scenes. In the end, the production team has decided to edit out Sam-soo as much as they can, which seems like the best course of action right now. Most of the time, I have no problem separating an actor from their role—it is their job to convince the viewers, after all—but this situation is a bit different. Not only has the scandal occurred during the show’s run, Sam-soo isn’t just any character. He might be brash and materialistic, but he’s an empathetic journalist who stands for justice. Even if this means saying bye to Sam-soo completely, I wish for the best, and hope the creators can manage some semblance of closure. While I wouldn’t call Fly Dragon an amazing drama, I still really enjoy it, and hope that its core message isn’t lost because of one individual’s mistake.
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