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Fly Dragon: Episode 13

We are back! After a three-week hiatus, we return to our ragtag team of lawyers, reporters, and one retired detective as they deal with their latest crisis. Though the solution to the problem is straightforward, it doesn’t make the decision any easier for our heroes. However, if they wish to win their upcoming retrial and their battle against the corrupt justice, then they will need to make some sacrifices.

 
EPISODE 13 RECAP

In the middle of the night, Tae-yong marches up to the courthouse and comes face to face with Chief Justice Jo. He introduces himself to the justice for the first time and asks if he maneuvered the press into slandering his name. Justice Jo tells him that he doesn’t have the free time to bother with a neighborhood lawyer, but Tae-yong purposefully cuts him off, saying that he’s busy, too.

Justice Jo seethes at the slight, but Tae-yong isn’t finished. He vows to work until the justice apologizes for his mistakes, and Justice Jo asks if he’s threatening him. Tae-yong chuckles at the absurd accusation since he was merely stating his goals. Justice Jo points out that it sounds like a declaration of war, but Tae-yong corrects him: “The war started a while ago.”

In his office, Justice Jo chucks items across the room, fuming over Tae-yong’s insolence. At the same time, Tae-yong calls Yoo-kyung to vent about the justice, but when she hears about his reckless confrontation, she scolds him. Remembering her own clash with the justice, Yoo-kyung apologizes for her comment just then, and instead, returns the encouragement he once gave her. She promises to support him as they work together to catch Justice Jo.

Meanwhile, Sam-soo walks home after his disastrous meeting with Doo-shik and blames his new clothes for bringing him bad luck. He finally gets in contact with Tae-yong and warns the lawyer to protect their funds no matter what the prosecution may do.

While he was out, the prosecution ransacked the office, and Tae-yong sighs at the mess—his symbolic flying dragon picture now hanging upside down. Even when little brother Tae-sung rushes over to help clean up, all Tae-yong can think about is his next plan of action.

The prosecution also searched Jin-shil’s apartment, and Sam-soo comes home to find her cleaning up the aftermath. When she sees him, she asks if he has anything to hide, and he swears that he only has integrity, innocence, and the truth.

She believes him, but since this is his mess, she tells him to clean it up. Once she goes into their bedroom, he tiptoes over the chaotic jumble of books to check on his prized possession: his contract with Tae-yong. Luckily for Sam-soo, the prosecution left it behind.

The result of the prosecution’s search and seizure gave them just one contract under Sam-soo’s name. Though it’s not much, Prosecutor Jang gives his permission to proceed with the interrogation since taking down the mouth piece first is the only way they will win.

In his meeting with Legislator Kim, Justice Jo makes it clear that he is displeased with the current affairs surrounding Tae-yong and asks him to delegate the task to just one person (aka, give him full control over the matter). The legislator hears his “request” for what it really is—a threat—and his expression turns icy.

Behind the scenes, Justice Jo’s plans start taking its first steps as the chief judge in charge of Osung calls in Judge Choi to personally assign him the retrial. Judge Choi points out that case assignments are supposed to be randomized, but the chief judge scowls, advising the younger judge to play along if he wants to succeed in this field.

The news surrounding Tae-yong gets worse by the day, and the stress is slowly pulling the team apart. Tae-yong’s latest stunt with the justice puts even more strain on the group, and Sam-soo calls him crazy for attacking the third most powerful person in the country.

When Yoo-kyung comes to Tae-yong’s defense, Sam-soo gawks at the pair and tells them to date since they both like causing trouble. She quickly disparages his remark since they’re at war, but Tae-yong flounders for a counterargument since he believes love can blossom in any environment.

Retired Detective Sang-man puts the group back on track and asks Tae-yong how much each person received from the funds. He tells them that the victim and assailants’ families each received 5 million won (approximately $4,600) because he gave them his share, as well.

Sam-soo stares in disbelief at Tae-yong for not giving him some, too, but Tae-yong laughs it off since Sam-soo got him, instead. Still vexed by the million won difference, Sam-soo agrees to drop the matter as long as he gets his cut of the current funds and leaves the meeting early to see Kwi-hyun who is in a predicament because of them.

Sang-man asks Tae-yong what his goal is, and he shares with the group his intentions to bring down Justice Jo. Since Tae-yong has neither money nor connections, Sang-man tells him that his only weapon is public support. In other words, if Tae-yong intends to win this case, then he needs to give up the funds besides Doo-shik’s share.

Though Sang-man’s ultimatum is clearly the path Tae-yong needs to take, memories of his past hold him back. He promised Sam-soo to make justice a lucrative business but in the end, it seems they need to find justice first. While it pains him to say it, Tae-yong announces his decision to give up the money.

Prosecutor Yoon grills Kwi-hyun’s boss about the article funding and scares him into shutting down the site within a month. After Kwi-hyun hears about the decision, he meets up with Sam-soo and apologizes for the early termination (all the while parodying Kwon Sang-woo’s famous hat scene). The only silver lining is that they can keep the funds they already made.

Meanwhile, Tae-yong uses his measly resources to secure a spot on the eight o’clock news, and after begging the producer, he lands himself a quick interview. He agrees to only talk about the donations, but after he hangs up, Tae-yong asks Yoo-kyung to prepare documents on Justice Jo’s previous rulings.

Celebrating their win early, Mayor Kang brags to Prosecutor Jang about his days in Africa and laughs at Tae-yong for failing to steal such a meager amount. Not having learned his lesson, the mayor wears his criminal offenses as badges of honor, and Prosecutor Jang plasters on a smile for his father-in-law.

On his way out, Prosecutor Jang calls Sam-soo to gloat and warns him to make better friends in the future since he might take the fall for everything. His threat unnerves Sam-soo, but one look at his contract with Tae-yong calms him down for now.

The next morning, Tae-yong tells his niece and nephew to watch his interview tonight, but unlike the excited kids, Tae-yong’s sister is frustrated at him for giving up his share of the funds. Today is also the day Sam-soo finally meets Jin-shil’s father, and she tells him to wear the suit Tae-yong bought for him. Sam-soo insists on never touching the clothes again, but she persuades him to put them on for the visit since his regular outfit will not work.

Later that evening, Tae-yong arrives at the broadcasting station where the producer reminds him to stick to the script. Tae-yong assures him that he can trust him, but of course, it is a blatant lie as he hides the documents he brought about Justice Jo’s Jeju island case rulings.

Looking spick and span, Sam-soo meets up with Jin-shil outside her father’s place and links arms with her before heading inside. When they enter the apartment, they find her father watching the news segment on Tae-yong, which portrays him in a positive light. This seems to earn him some brownie points since her father remains calm even after hearing about their five-year cohabitation.

As a retired Korean teacher and poetry lover, her father praises Sam-soo’s writing and asks if he likes poetry, too. Sam-soo says that he does, and at her father’s request, he recites a line from his favorite poem:

“When the heavens created this world, they made its most precious and beloved beings poor, lonely, lofty, melancholy, and made them always live with overflowing love and sorrows”

During his interview, Tae-yong starts off by mentioning Justice Jo’s wrongdoings and then announces his plans to donate all the funds they earned besides Doo-shik’s share. The news anchor asks if Sam-soo agreed to this decision, and Tae-yong claims that this was all his partner’s idea.

Watching the news with Jin-shil’s family, Sam-soo grasps the table for support and hangs his head while the others commend him for being so selfless. Jin-shil’s father assumes Sam-soo is just acting modest, unaware of his true despondent feelings.

Tae-yong explains that they decided to donate the money in order to clear away any misunderstandings about his motives as well as to achieve his two goals. He shares that his first one is to clear his client’s name, and for his second, to make Justice Jo apologize and take responsibility for his mistakes.

The news team scrambles to cover his last statement, but their attempts to quell the fire only gives Tae-yong more fuel as he brandishes the documents about the Jeju Island rulings. He ends the interview by stating how the majority of public servants face punishments when they make grave mistakes, yet those responsible for misjudgments like Justice Jo and the other judges have never faced any consequences.

Addressing the audience at home, Tae-yong tells them that his colleague, Sam-soo, has a lot of tears, but those who know how to cry can soar high. On live television, he pledges to make all those in power take responsibility. His interview garners mixed responses from the viewers ranging from adulation to outright fury, and among those watching is Doo-shik and Boss Kim.

Boss Kim asks how much of the donations are Doo-shik’s share, but he already has the answer: 60%. He pressures Doo-shik to get the proper amount since he owes him money, and forces him to sign a debt repayment agreement.

Legislator Kim calls an emergency meeting, and the others quickly gather at his office despite the late hour. Since everyone has failed to stopped Tae-yong, the legislator appointed Justice Jo to be in charge of this matter now, so the justice briefs the others about their new assignments.

He orders Daeseok Law Firm Partner Kim to fix the problem he created with the Osung case and makes Prosecutor Jang report directly to him about the ongoing investigation into Tae-yong and Sam-soo. As for Mayor Kang, he has two tasks: stop all funds to stations that side with Tae-yong and end all talks about the lawyer running for office.

After the meeting with Jin-shil’s father, Sam-soo tears off his suit and calls it ill-omened. She wonders why he is upset since she thinks donating is a good deed, but Sam-soo shakes his head at her and calls Doo-shik. Unfortunately, Doo-shik ignores his call and signs the contract with Boss Kim. Sam-soo calls Tae-yong next, but the lawyer avoids him, too.

Tae-yong has dinner with Yoo-kyung, and she mentions how he must have liked her words about those who cry. He tells her that he found her encouragement comforting and repeated it a thousand times. Despite his confident declaration, Tae-yong is unsure of his future, so Yoo-kyung reminds him that she’ll be by his side.

Yoo-kyung hands Tae-yong a poetry book which includes a note. It states, “I love the objects that are weak and resemble me or that I resemble.”

She thinks of him whenever she reads that line and explains how he is a kind person walks besides those who resemble him. He finds a renewed energy in her words and smiles.

At home, Sam-soo crumples up the contract with Tae-yong since it’s nothing more than a scrap of paper now. He grumbles about his destroyed dreams, but the more he complains about money, the more Jin-shil feels disappointed in him. She likes money, too, but she believes that if they can’t have it, then they should at least act cool.

Tae-yong calls it a night as well, but before bed, he drops by his sister’s room to look over his niece and nephew. He recites the poem from Yoo-kyung and promises to protect them. All the while, his sister lies awake and listens in silence.

Moments later, she comes out of the room and sits at the table while Tae-yong washes the dishes. She understands how difficult the decision must have been for him, but it doesn’t appease her heavy heart. While everyone applauds his selfless act, she can’t help but feel conflicted.

She wonders why accepting what is rightfully due to him be seen as greed and wishes they could enjoy what others have. He tells her that it would be too sad if they lost their conscience and says that he will show the kids that there are things better than money in this world.

Though Tae-yong says all this to his sister, he also shares her worries as he thinks back to their father. He warned young Tae-yong about being thoughtful when profiting from other’s misfortune, but Tae-yong argued that his father should be nicer to his mother instead of the dead. After all these years, it seems Tae-yong has found himself in his father’s shoes.

Assemblyman Tak drops by Tae-yong’s office unannounced and marvels at his office “concept.” He says that poverty is a hot commodity and offers Tae-yong a spot on their party’s ticket for the next general election.

He describes Tae-yong as socially disadvantaged and lists off all his hardships such as his poor family background and near-bankruptcy. The more the assemblyman rambles, Tae-yong’s smile disappears, and his interest in politics seems to dissipate.

Sam-soo barges in during the middle of their conversation, and witnessing Tae-yong talking with an assemblyman is the breaking point for him. He asks if donating the funds is a stunt for his political career, but his protests sound like bellyaching about money to Tae-young.

Taking out their contract, Sam-soo asks if it is alright for Tae-yong to decide things without discussing them with him beforehand and rips up the document since this is what Tae-yong wanted. He points out that Tae-yong was able to give up the funds because he’s a lawyer with certification, but to Sam-soo, that money was everything. He bursts into tears, and Tae-yong chases him around the office to apologize.

A sudden call from Doo-shik puts their conversation on hold, and all his tears dry up as soon as Sam-soo hears from their client. He shouts at Doo-shik to repeat what he just said and flings the phone to the couch for Tae-yong to answer.

Once Tae-yong grabs the phone, Doo-shik informs him that he’s canceling the attorney appointment, and sitting across from his is Boss Kim and Partner Kim. Back in the office, Sam-soo screams at Tae-yong, asking if this is what he wanted, and storms out of the room.

 
COMMENTS

The three-week break did not do the show any favors, and the production team’s attempt to keep the viewers up-to-date on the plot bogged down the pace, instead. The flashbacks were much longer than they needed to be, and unintentionally, they put too much focus on the show’s weaknesses. Rather than “showing,” the creators are telling the viewers how to feel and react. They don’t seem to trust their audience to make their own connections, and have opted to make everything a bit too obvious and simplified. In addition, the flashbacks pointed out how little the plot has progressed for these recent cases and character dynamics. The Jeju Island case has been on the back-burner for weeks (and I don’t mean just the three-week break), and Tae-yong has been doing the same awkward flirting with Yoo-kyung for far too long. It is clear that they both like each other, yet the show keeps making Yoo-kyung pull back whenever someone mentions the idea of them dating. The problem with this is that the show mostly uses these moments for a laugh at Tae-yong’s expense, so as opposed to developing their relationship and Yoo-kyung’s character, the show falls back on the same jokes over and over again.

Despite my grievances, the episode was fine, and as usual, the show posed some excellent questions. While Boss Kim is a self-serving bully, he isn’t wrong to question Tae-yong and Sam-soo’s motives as well as Doo-shik’s claim over the money. The team has profited off of his story, and in a twisted sense, commodified his tragedy in the same way Assemblyman Tak spun Tae-yong’s situation into a political angle. Granted, intentions are very important, but once again, the show does not give a straightforward and easy answer to these questions. Through Sam-soo and Tae-yong’s argument, the show reveals how good intentions don’t justify bad actions. This applies to Doo-shik’s scenario as well, since Tae-yong and the team left Doo-shik in the dark about their plans. Consequentially, people like Boss Kim and Partner Kim were able to plant seeds of doubt and cause their relationship to splinter. While I’m not the biggest fan of this latest development—it is hard to believe that Doo-shik changed sides so quickly and easily—the overall message of the show is still interesting.

The other major source of trouble for our characters was the funds and what to do with them. The solution might have been simple, but as the show does best, it complicates matters by looking at the situation from different perspectives. Though it is hard for him as well, Tae-yong gives up the money because it would bring back public support for his cause. However, his sister makes a valid point when she argues that he’s merely accepting his fair due. The fact that even charging a lawyer’s fee is seen as “greedy” seems narrow-minded, yet the public still views it as such. As the head of his household, Tae-yong has multiple mouths to feed, but as others continue to scrutinize him and misconstrue his acts of kindness, Tae-yong is forced to clear away all these misunderstandings. Though their occupations are different, Tae-yong finds himself in a similar predicament to his father, and just like him, he ends up making the same choices. Rather than treat his family to a “flowery carriage,” he chooses to care for his clients.

The funds also concern Sam-soo, and his side of the story is different from Tae-yong’s. For our lawyer, it was a decision between his conscience or comfort, and in comparison, Sam-soo’s complaints came across as his typical materialistic behavior. However, when he confronted Tae-yong at the end, the show portrays his struggle as much more than greed. To Sam-soo, the funds were representative of his worth and validity as a reporter. Unlike Tae-yong, Sam-soo doesn’t have the credentials to justify his title of “reporter” and has no other way to make an income from his writing. Thus, in Sam-soo’s eyes, the funds were not only donations but a rightful payment for his work. As a result, when Tae-yong decided to donate everything without consulting him first, Sam-soo naturally becomes enraged and feels cheated because Tae-yong broke their promise about forging a partnership. In a sense, the contract Sam-soo cherished wasn’t just about money but representative of his position in the team. He considered himself a partner, but Tae-yong’s recent actions showed him that he was nothing more than an expendable piece whose input did not matter. Even if Tae-yong’s decision was the right one for the team in the end, the way he went about it was unfair to Sam-soo.

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I've just binged this show over a week or so, so luckily I didn't experience the three-week gap. To be honest, while I have intended to watch FD at some point, I only started in earnest because I like Bae Seong-woo and was shocked to hear about his scandal. I also like Jung Woo-sung even more, so I wanted to catch the whole thing asap so that I could observe the "hand over" when it comes. I want to be able to compare what the two actors make of Park Sam-soo, and I want to compare their acting.

Having said that, I was surprised to read at the beginning of the episodes that the drama is based on events that have actually occurred. Wikipedia tells me it was "Inspired by true stories of real-life lawyer Park Joon-young and journalist Park Sang-kyu, who succeeded in obtaining retrials for people who had been wrongfully convicted." Wow. Bearing in mind some of the horrible things that have occurred so far, it is hard to imagine the actual events. I'm thinking of the suicide of the mother with her child in her arms and that being the child's fondest memory of the warmth of his mother or the story of the girl who was accused of killing her father. The consistent disregard for those who were framed is gob smacking. I haven't properly grasped the historical context, but I don't understand why the police, prosecutors, and judges were in such a hurry to randomly frame the poorest and most powerless people as perpetrators. Surely it's more than disregard for the little people?

@lovepark you have done an amazing job of teasing out the multiple viewpoints that the drama reveals when it comes to money. I like that the drama does not shy away from "commodified tragedy". Tae-yong is in a difficult position. I like his character and I like the job he does in court. I loved that he went straight to Justice Jo and called him out. I also want to see him and Sam-soo receive their financial dues. I can't wait to see the slimy guys exposed.

I found Park Sam-soo unlikeable at first, but it's impossible to stay like that. He's certainly manic, excitable, and counts his chickens before they hatch. Sometimes I wish he wasn't so noisy, but my heart goes out to the little boy who blames himself for his mother's crime. I wonder what JWS does with his character. He won't have many episodes to do more than try to be consistent. I'll be thinking of his role as the jaded lawyer in Innocent Witness too.

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