Fly Dragon: Episode 15
The retrial sways in our heroes’ favor, but their victory only lasts for a moment before their opponents attack them again. With the outcome of the case depending on two people’s decisions, the odds are stacked against our team. Despite the obstacles in his way, our lawyer refuses to give up and remains optimistic about their win, choosing to believe in the goodness of people until the end.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Realizing his mistake, Doo-shik returns to Tae-yong’s team and apologizes for misunderstanding their sincerity. Though he has no right to ask, he would like them to take on his case again, and Tae-yong accepts the role with a renewed sense of responsibility. Sam-soo applauds the heartwarming reunion and snaps a few photos to mark the occasion.
Sam-soo spreads the news to the rest of the team, and the others chuckle in relief since the world is right again. Unfortunately, Attorney Hwang discovered some bad news and tells Tae-yong that Judge Choi was assigned to the retrial.
On the drive home, Sam-soo can’t believe so much has happened during his absence and dives right back into work. Since the others have started a fire, it is now his time to catch Justice Jo once and for all. Tae-yong smiles at his partner, joking that he feels encouraged by him for the first time.
As Tae-yong drops Sam-soo off, he asks how he persuaded Doo-shik to rejoin the team, and Sam-soo tells him that he baited him with mackerel. When Tae-yong looks at him confused, Sam-soo points out that Tae-yong doesn’t even realize what he did.
Mustering up the courage, Tae-yong thanks Sam-soo for coming back, but the latter merely raises his hand as he walks away. Tae-yong shouts at him that he missed him and even loves him—the last comment finally getting him a response. Despite nearly gagging, the two men fling finger hearts at each other and laugh.
Jin-shil welcomes Sam-soo home after days of missing each other with her usual jabs about his appearance. Grabbing his hand, she recalls the time he told her about his past and credits the day he failed to open the door as his defining moment. She says that he looks the best when he writes articles and hugs him.
The trio meets up at Tae-yong’s office and lists off all the attacks they received from their enemies. Tae-yong declares that they have a new goal and vows to make Justice Jo stand before the law. Yoo-kyung approves of their plan since even justices should be judged for their crimes.
Meanwhile, Judge Choi hears an earful from his superior about the retrial delay. Though the younger judge wants to do his best on the case, the chief judge scolds him to have some tact. He warns Judge Choi that the justice is watching and dismisses him from his room. Once alone, the chief judge looks down at his desk at a report about controlling the younger judge.
Sam-soo and Yoo-kyung discuss their next course of action, and for now, they direct all their attention to the current retrial. Yoo-kyung wonders what their enemies’ weakness might be, and Sam-soo tells her that they need to target the murderer.
Joining forces, the two reporters highlight the switched fates between the two teenagers as they aim to shake the public with this tale. Armed with her new assignment, Yoo-kyung goes out to meet Jae-sung in person.
The second date for the retrial arrives, and Tae-yong takes his rightful spot alongside Attorney Hwang in the courtroom. When Boss Kim and Partner Kim saunter into the room, both of them gape at the switch, but there is nothing they can do except watch from the audience.
Once the retrial commences, Judge Choi lists all the evidence and witnesses they will summon. Tae-yong’s side requests additional people for the case while the prosecution remains silent, still looking rather unprepared because of the tight schedule.
The court adjourns for the day, and in the hallway, Partner Kim confronts Doo-shik for the dismissal. As emotions flare, Boss Kim grabs Partner Kim in an attempt to retreat, but the lawyer shouts at the gangster for touching him. With no need to keep up with their pretenses, Boss Kim asks about his fee, and Partner Kim tells him that they are over.
The sudden change in attorneys was also a surprise for Judge Choi who has no explanation to offer his superior. As for Partner Kim, he informs Legislator Kim about his firing, and the latter snaps his orchid in anger.
As the only ones summoned to court, the police scramble for a solution, unwilling to take the fall for this mess. Their top priority is keeping Jae-sung on their side, so Chief Ahn orders Detective Bae to meet with him.
Sang-man opens his house for the team to use and excitedly asks if they will win the trial since they have the knife. Attorney Hwang expresses some doubt, mentioning the lack of fingerprints, but Tae-yong remains optimistic about the future.
The same can’t be said for the den of evil as Mayor Kang ridicules Partner Kim for his failure. This sets off a chain of finger pointing as everyone in attendance blames each other for this predicament. The arguing only stops when the legislator kicks the table in exasperation and admonishes the group of leaders for squabbling.
Legislator Kim already has a headache because of the upcoming election and asks the group for a solution. The only cards left on the table are controlling the court and recruiting Tae-yong. The legislator puts the justice in charge of the first task, and for the second, he will personally see to it.
As the den of evil parts ways, Prosecutor Jang receives a call from Sam-soo who notes the prosecutor’s lackluster tone. He offers to buy him drinks this time, and the prosecutor agrees to meet.
Jae-sung plays with his family in the park, and from afar, Yoo-kyung watches them. When one of the daughters falls from her scooter, Yoo-kyung runs to her side, and Jae-sung freezes when he recognizes her. He wonders why she is here, and Yoo-kyung asks which one is the real Jae-sung: the model civil servant and family man or the murderer who stabbed a truck driver seventeen times.
Prosecutor Jang shares drinks with Sam-soo at their usual fancy bar since today’s enemies can become tomorrow’s friends. Pouring the prosecutor another glass, Sam-soo asks for a Korean history lesson focusing on the corruption of the higher-ups.
Jae-sung tells Yoo-kyung that he is what she sees, but Yoo-kyung asks what will become of his family when he stands before the court as his seventeen-year-old self. Her question angers him as he clenches his racquet and silently stares her down.
Back at the bar, Sam-soo asks if Justice Jo is the one on top orchestrating everything, and Prosecutor Jang neither confirms nor denies his guess. He wonders how far Sam-soo will dig into this case, especially when those in power won’t let him do as he pleases.
Jumping back to Yoo-kyung, she tells Jae-sung that he will be the only one punished since the statute of limitations has passed for everything besides the murder. She mentions how the truck driver had a family as well, but he shouts back that it was an accident. Unfazed by his outburst, she argues that his life was still luckier than the one who died and the one who was framed.
Prosecutor Jang advises Sam-soo to give up since those in power are like the constellations—never changing and shining in the sky. While the prosecutor dreams of becoming a star, Sam-soo wants to ruin the night skies with some shooting stars.
When Sam-soo gets up to pay for the drinks, Prosecutor Jang stops him for a little quiz: who is the big star above Justice Jo? Sam-soo asks if it is Mayor Kang, but the prosecutor’s look of mock surprise makes him reconsider his answer.
Yoo-kyung urges Jae-sung to confess to his family before the courts blame him for everything. Unbeknownst to them, Detective Bae witnessed their entire exchange from a distance and reports back to Chief Ahn.
In their makeshift office, Attorney Hwang paces around the room and wonders if the justice even controls the NFS and tampered with the evidence. Tae-yong warns her not to believe in conspiracies, and they turn their attention to Judge Choi. Tae-yong remembers a rumor that the judge runs every day, but Attorney Hwang cautions him to stay out of trouble.
That night, Judge Choi stays up late examining the evidence for the retrial, clearly not believing Justice Jo’s words about this being a simple case. In the morning, he goes for his run as usual, and frowns when he spots Tae-yong waiting for him. He reminds the attorney that it’s against the law for them to meet outside of court, but Tae-yong points out that the judges broke the rules first.
All Tae-yong desires from Judge Choi is his integrity, but his remark stings the judge’s pride. Judge Choi argues that they are people who make mistakes, too, but Tae-yong asks why those mistakes only happen to the poor and powerless. He requests Judge Choi to just follow the law, and his answer silences the young judge.
Sam-soo praises Yoo-kyung’s latest article and assures her that people will be lining up to publish their work. Unfortunately, the truth is far from it as Prosecutor Jang already met with the various media outlets and has them in the palm of his hand. When Justice Jo receives a copy of the articles, he seethes at his secretary, ordering him to stop the press at all cost.
Legislator Kim calls the mayor and Prosecutor Jang to his house for a private chat about recruiting Tae-yong. With the conversation not going in his favor, Prosecutor Jang whips out the articles about the retrial and blames the judges for being too slow with handling this matter. His method works wonderfully as the legislator tables the idea about Tae-yong’s nomination for later.
Moving away from Prosecutor Jang, Mayor Kang hands the legislator a record of all his wealth and assets. He explains how he hid away some funds in the school foundation and heartily laughs about loving education. Not only does he receive money from the government to help run the schools, the taxes he pays also end up back in his own pockets.
As the mayor brags about how easy it is to make money with the foundation, the legislator orders him to give up his director position. His request does not go over well with the mayor who calls the old man a thief once he leaves.
Still fuming over the legislator’s demand, Mayor Kang tells Prosecutor Jang that everything comes to an end, even the presidency, but education is forever as long as there are children. Coming up with an idea, Prosecutor Jang advises his father-in-law to no longer communicate through texts or writing since he will eventually have to cut ties with the legislator once he becomes president.
The mayor looks over in dismay since he already handed over a document of his assets to the legislator, but Prosecutor Jang promises to retrieve it back for him. Mayor Kang smiles at his son-in-law and sends him a finger heart to show his love. Alas, the prosecutor’s motives are all but virtuous since he plans to blackmail his father-in-law as well.
Before the trial, Tae-yong calls Doo-shik over, and after thinking about their previous conversation, he wants him to speak in court. Thus, when Detective Bong and Chief Ahn sit on the witness stand, Doo-shik takes the microphone and questions them himself.
He asks both officers if they remember dragging him to the motel and beating him up, but they claim to have no memories of the event. Their constant denial and indifference enrage Doo-shik who has never forgotten about that day. Jumping from his seat, he screams at Chief Ahn for feeling no remorse over his actions and stealing all those years from his life.
Sang-man takes the stand last, and Tae-yong asks why he worked on the case despite the repercussions. He tells the court that he pitied Doo-shik and knew Jae-sung was the real culprit. When the prosecution cross-examines him, they point out that the knife in question was found in a different location from the supposed killer’s confession.
Remembering the late Detective Bong, Sang-man struggles to answer, but an outburst from the audience clears his mind. Detective Bong’s wife beseeches him to speak, and with tears in his eyes, he looks over at her as he reveals the truth: Detective Bong hid the knife and told him the location in his suicide note.
Jae-sung and Doo-shik will take the stand next week, and the court is dismissed for today. As they pack up, Attorney Hwang commends Tae-yong’s decision to let Doo-shik question the witnesses, and from across the room, Doo-shik bows to the team in gratitude.
Over the phone, Justice Jo screams at the chief judge for the current state of the retrial. Judge Choi stands in the room as well, and he notices the document about controlling him on his superior’s desk. His composure breaks for a flash, but he quickly returns to his rigid expression as the chief judge berates him for not understanding the justice’s intentions.
The team gathers at Sang-man’s house, and in the back, Sam-soo calls the media outlet to ask about the delay in their articles. However, they have a new problem on their hands as they watch the news concerning Jae-sung’s arrest for embezzlement.
Detective Bae interrogates Jae-sung and shows him the articles Sam-soo and Yoo-kyung wrote. He presents him two options—go to jail as a murderer or probation for embezzlement—and Jae-sung asks if they will guarantee his safety if he chooses the latter.
After receiving a call from Prosecutor Jang, Sam-soo realizes that their articles were stopped and drops to the floor in distress. Yoo-kyung refuses to give up, suggesting that they publish the articles themselves, and scolds Sam-soo for giving up without a fight. Her words spur him into action, and Sam-soo orders Kwi-hyun to come meet them.
Jae-sung returns home after his interrogation, and his wife knows instantly that the charges are false. When he doesn’t reply, she tells him that she wonders who he truly is, but Jae-sung stays silent as he watches their daughters sleep.
Kwi-hyun groans at the two eager reporters for calling him in the middle of the night for a website, but after hearing their reasons, he agrees to help them out. By morning, they release the articles into the world for all to see. While Prosecutor Jang laughs at the idiots for really publishing the pieces, Justice Jo scowls as he reads.
Meanwhile, Tae-yong ponders over Jae-sung and the two opposing sides of his character. To figure out the truth, he visits Jae-sung’s neighborhood and asks people around town about the civil servant. Each and every person he speaks to only shares one thing: Jae-sung is a good man.
At the next trial date, Jae-sung takes the witness stand and denies the accusations. Attorney Hwang asks about his recent embezzlement charges, but when she questions him about the amount, he doesn’t remember the details.
When Tae-yong questions him next, he shows him images of the people from his neighborhood—the same people who only spoke well of Jae-sung. Tae-yong shares his findings and describes Jae-sung as a kind person who lived his life helping people except for one rainy night.
He believes Jae-sung will not lie and asks him one final question: Is the murderer in this room today? Wiping away his tears, Jae-sung answers that he is. Every pair of eyes falls on him as they wait for the rest of his reply, and Jae-sung points his finger at Doo-shik, naming him the murderer.
For a second, I truly believed Tae-yong’s tactic worked and thought Jae-sung would confess the truth on the stand since he isn’t a terrible person. He may have committed a heinous crime, but present-day Jae-sung seemed to live his life as if to repent for what he did. However, things are never that easy, and it seems that, alongside Tae-yong, I underestimated how strong a motive self-preservation is. With the police and court actively silencing him, Jae-sung has no reason to admit his crimes besides to ease his conscience. His odds are better placed in the opponent’s side, even if it is a risky gamble, because at the very least, they provide him an option to run away from his past. While Tae-yong held onto the hope that Jae-sung was truly a good person who made one mistake, his optimism was met with bitter results. Jae-sung may live his life helping others now, but it does not necessarily mean he feels guilt over his past actions. After all these years, it appears that the murderer truly believes that he holds no responsibility for Doo-shik’s circumstance.
Jae-sung’s decision at the end contrasted with Tae-yong’s previous Samjung retrial and emphasized the courage it took Soo-chul to confess his crimes. Like Jae-sung, Soo-chul had all the same excuses at his disposal—his initial confession, a family to raise, the corruption of the police and prosecution—yet he still told the truth on the stand. No matter who Jae-sung has become, his refusal to accept punishment for murdering an innocent man tarnishes all his achievements and good deeds. While the show depicts Jae-sung as a caring person, it does not pardon his past crimes. Soo-chul is the clear example of what a criminal can do in this situation, and thus, Jae-sung is held to the same moral standard. Even though the audience might feel bad for him, Jae-sung still killed a man that day, and unlike the unfortunate end of the driver or Doo-shik’s rotten luck, Jae-sung’s life has been much better than theirs as Yoo-kyung stated.
The show’s emphasis on Jae-sung as a relatively ordinary person sheds light on how often real-life cases aren’t about large conspiracies or outliers. In the end, Tae-yong’s retrials have been about average people struggling in a corrupt system that takes advantage of the poor and powerless. The problem isn’t simply about judges making mistakes but the fact that the legal system lacks any true checks and balances. If the judges recognize their own humanity and inevitable oversight, then why isn’t there any precautions to deal with this matter? The ugly truth is that those in power do not care. It is not a coincidence that all of Tae-yong’s clients are poor and uneducated. The marginalized become easy targets for police to frame, and when faulty investigations are passed to prosecutors, there are no incentives to do better. As a result of negligence, indifference, and most likely prejudice, the legal system makes bad rulings not due to human error but bias.
The show really shines when it deals with real-life cases and characters. Though this is merely a guess, I assume the den of evil is heavily fictional—not because it seems unlikely but because it feels so one-note compared to the things that I know are based on true events. While I still find the cast of villains comical and colorful, they have mostly done the same thing over and over again. Unlike the heroes, there has been very little development given to the antagonists, and all their motivations feel trite. The show portrays Legislator Kim as the “big bad” who cannot be taken down, but he doesn’t feel as imposing as the show claims. Part of the problem is that the drama fails to construct the villains’ side of this world and their stories. The audience is never shown why the retired legislator holds such immense influence and how these individuals came together. Despite the impressive cast of actors, the script does not give them enough material to work with, and consequentially, their characters aren’t as interesting as I hoped they would be. However, having the actual reporter pen the drama comes with its own unique strengths, and the insight we get into the two leads and the retrials more than makes up for any shortcomings in other areas.
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