Fly Dragon: Episode 16
Another retrial comes to a close this hour, but the results leave our lawyer feeling bittersweet. He dreams of a world where those in power are held accountable for their actions, yet from his current position, exacting change seems like an improbable feat. With still so much to do, our team continues their fight for justice and hope for a better tomorrow.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
After Jae-sung’s confession (or lack thereof), the retrial comes to a close, and the prosecution upholds the past sentencing. Tae-yong stands up to give his closing statement and addresses the judge, asking if he remembers the first day of this case. Back then, Judge Choi asked Doo-shik why he would admit to a crime he never committed, and at the time, the defendant could not answer.
Tae-yong wishes to share Doo-shik’s response and repeats his words verbatim—including his more colorful language. Describing Doo-shik and his mom, Tae-yong explains how they endured mistreatments based off of the sole hope that the judge would believe them. However, the judges were no different from everyone else.
Tae-yong holds the young judge’s gaze and implores him to see the world through his defendant’s eyes. He accuses the police for manipulation, the prosecution for suppressing the press, and the courts for odd case assignments.
Judge Choi yells at him for insulting the court, but Tae-yong refuses to back down, asking for an explanation as to why the perfectionist judge would hold a retrial without adequate preparation. When the judge fails to answer, Tae-yong makes it clear that all he wants is for the judge to follow the law, and a smattering of applauds rises from the audience.
As soon as the retrial ends, reporters bombard Tae-yong with questions about his accusations, and soon, his inflammatory remarks are blasted on the news for all to see. The justice department quickly releases a statement denying the allegations and requests for disciplinary action against Tae-yong.
Prosecutor Jang calls Sam-soo to rub salt in the wound, but the reporter has heard enough of his jokes and hangs up. The team eagerly turns to Tae-yong, trusting him to have some secret evidence up his sleeve, but he has none. The others sigh at his recklessness, but Tae-yong assures them that his claims were necessary in order to pressure their opponents.
Judge Choi storms back to his office in frustration, though from the look of things, his anger appears to be directed at himself. On the other hand, Justice Jo has no qualms blaming the chief judge for this fiasco and brazenly acts as if they did nothing wrong.
Tae-yong also feels the repercussions of his words as the president of the Bar Association calls to warn him about his disbarment if his charges are proven false. The team lets out another sigh since they now have two pressing matters on their hands: winning the retrial and finding evidence to prove the allegations.
Ignorant of the machinations behind the legal system, Mayor Kang asks Legislator Kim if the courts really make backdoor deals. The legislator tells him that nothing would be possible if judges always followed the law, and the mayor frowns, wondering why he got seven convictions then. Heh.
Moving onto to more serious business, the legislator informs the mayor of his plans to cut ties with Justice Jo if he fails once more, and the mayor gasps at his decision. He then asks if the mayor took care of his school foundation and blows his fuse when he doesn’t give him a firm affirmative.
Judge Choi looks back and forth between the two opposing verdicts on his desk and finally chooses one. On his way back to the courtroom, the chief judge blocks his path and asks if he made a decision. When the younger judge remains silent, the chief judge reminds him that the prosecution will appeal, and eventually, the higher-ups will have their way.
The last day of the retrial commences, and Judge Choi asks Doo-shik to stand up as he reads the verdict: the court finds him not guilty. The team cheers for their win as the judges bow, and Doo-shik smiles as tears stream down his face—after eighteen years, the truth has finally been revealed.
Legislator Kim orders Prosecutor Jang to proceed with the next step of their plan, and when Justice Jo calls to beg for another chance, the legislator tells him that he missed the news. Turning his attention to the tv, the justice watches in disbelief as Prosecutor Jang holds a press conference and announces that there will be no appeal.
Outside the courthouse, reporters ask Tae-yong about his accusations, and he promises to release a statement soon. He steps aside to answer an unknown caller and looks shocked to hear Justice Jo’s voice. The justice invites him to tea, and Tae-yong agrees to meet tonight.
As the team gathers around Tae-yong, they notice Sang-man’s missing presence, but before they can figure out his whereabouts, a car pulls up to them. Assemblyman Tak steps out with a huge grin on his face and congratulates Tae-yong for the win. (Insert collective groan.)
The assemblyman snaps a few photos with the trending lawyer for his social media accounts and reminds him that now is the time to cash in on his popularity. Sam-soo calls the assemblyman out for his crass behavior, and Tae-yong has enough sense to send the man away before heads start rolling.
Over lunch, Attorney Hwang asks if Tae-yong really intends to run for office, but he changes the topic instead. Frustrated with the situation, Sam-soo berates him for causing a fire and leaving them behind with his mess. Tae-yong flings down his spoon to express his anger, but Sam-soo leaves the table first.
Judge Choi hands over his resignation letter and takes responsibility for his actions. Despite the chief judge’s attempts to hold him back, the younger judge won’t change his mind.
Later that night, Tae-yong arrives at the courthouse and drinks tea in Justice Jo’s office. The justice asks why Tae-yong keeps causing trouble and orders him to hand over any evidence of backdoor deals.
Catching the lawyer’s moment of hesitation, the justice realizes that the accusations were all a bluff and advises him to stop before things get worse. Tae-yong reads between the lines and realizes that someone else must be in charge. He quickly takes his leave, but the justice hisses at him to know his place. Facing the justice, Tae-yong chuckles since he can’t stop climbing when the summit is right there.
After the meeting, Justice Jo reports to Legislator Kim about his findings and reassures him that Tae-yong has nothing. The legislator expresses his doubts about the justice’s skills before hanging up, and on his desk, he skims over a file on Judge Choi.
Mayor Kang tells Prosecutor Jang about the legislator’s desires to drop the justice and worries about his own fate as well. He wonders if he will have to listen to the legislator after all, but his son-in-law promises to protect him and the school.
Tae-yong comes home with food for the family, but contrary to his hearty laugh, his expression has a tinge of unease. Once alone in the living room, he looks up his name and sighs at the headlines about his accusations of the court. He also searches Judge Choi’s name and learns about his resignation.
Early in the morning, Tae-yong waits for Judge Choi to finish his run, and unlike the last visit, the judge welcomes his presence. Tae-yong finds it regrettable that the judge quit instead of fighting from within, but Judge Choi disagrees.
He tells Tae-yong that the higher-ups hate judges who do not care about succeeding because those are the one who do not listen. However, the majority of judges are obedient, which means change will never happen from the inside.
Judge Choi asks how Tae-yong knew about the backdoor deals, but the lawyer tells him that it was a hunch. The judge chuckles at his rash action and offers him a gift if he truly intends to fight until the end. He sends him a video, and Tae-yong’s eyes widen as he watches what sounds like the sycophantic sports event held in the justice’s honor.
Tae-yong invites Yoo-kyung to a cemetery where they visit the victim from his first retrial. He tells her that his life changed because of this case yet everything remained the same for this high school girl. Though he was able to clear the defendant’s name, the police didn’t even bother to re-investigate, which means the real culprit was never caught.
Sometimes Tae-yong feels like his efforts are futile since no one ever takes responsibility for their mistakes. He wants to change the world and make a law that punishes those who make deals with other people’s lives. Yoo-kyung asks if he plans to accept the nomination then, but he ponders the implications and questions his own motives for running.
At a café, Tae-yong continues sharing his doubts with Yoo-kyung, but she gently reminds him that his intentions are good. No matter what he chooses, she believes that he will excel as he always does.
Seizing the moment, Tae-yong takes out a box and presents a pair of couple rings. He says that these represent his heart, and she extends her hand for him to place the ring on her finger. She does the same for him, and Tae-yong exclaims in joy that this is the best feeling in the world. He wonders if marriage might be right around the corner, but that’s a little too soon for her.
The new couple giggles in the office over their secret, and do a terrible job of hiding their relationship. Luckily for them, Sam-soo is ridiculously dense in this regard, and Tae-yong easily distracts him with the video from Judge Choi.
The team cackles at the images of the judges fawning over Justice Jo and uses this as a starting point to gather more evidence. Yoo-kyung leaves to meet with the bear mascot—who they instantly recognize as Judge Heo from the Samjung retrial—and Sam-soo decides to visit different courthouses. As the reporters rush out, Tae-yong asks if he gets any thanks, so Sam-soo does him one better: “I love you.”
Yoo-kyung waits for four hours in the cold and ambushes Judge Heo when he leaves his office. Noticing his neck brace, she asks if he got hurt during the National Gathering of Judges and shows him the video. He doesn’t deny being the mascot and complains about Justice Jo weighing a lot.
She thanks him for his verdict on the Samjung case, but Judge Heo tells her that it cost him his health and career. She feigns exaggerated shock over the unfair treatment, and Judge Heo opens up to Yoo-kyung. Witness her dedication as a reporter, he hands over the evidence he gathered concerning Justice Jo and requests that she keep her source a secret.
Yoo-kyung immediately shares the good news with the others and sends over the files containing countermeasures regrading Judge Heo for the Samjung case. Tae-yong and Sam-soo smile at first, but as they consider their options, they wonder if this will be enough to bring down Justice Jo.
The mayor and his son-in-law pay another visit to Legislator Kim, and Prosecutor Jang happily notes that Tae-yong must not have any evidence. The legislator says that there were no dealings in the first place and comments on how the prosecutor has grown more brazen.
The three of them have gathered to discuss the upcoming election, and Legislator Kim informs them of (ex-) Judge Choi’s nomination. He also decided to have Tae-yong run for a district in Seoul—the very one Prosecutor Jang had his eyes on.
In an attempt to break the tension, Mayor Kang tells the legislator that he will split the foundation and give him the middle and high schools. His proposal backfires, though, since the legislator wants everything. He plans on retiring to focus his attention on education, and Prosecutor Jang snidely comments on how he never knew about the legislator’s interest in being an educator.
The next day, Sam-soo eyes Tae-yong and Yoo-kyung suspiciously, but the lawyer is able to hide their relationship a bit longer by diverting his attention back to their goal. They agree to release the video first and will publish the files on their own website.
To deal with the technical stuff, Sam-soo called Kwi-hyun who took a day off from work to help them out for free. As their newest member takes a seat, Tae-yong stares at him the entire time, feeling awkward around a stranger.
Tae-yong receives a call about his upcoming hearing tomorrow, which puts them on a tight schedule. While they pore over their work, two people walk in looking for Sam-soo. They want to report their school, but he turns them away at first since they are busy.
However, when he sees the name of their school—Seungwoon Technical High School—both he and Tae-yong freeze. It’s the school that Mayor Kang operates, and Sam-soo promises to get back to them as soon as possible.
Sang-man invites Tae-yong to his house for one last meal since he is moving to the US to be with his family. He thanks the lawyer for an amazing chapter of his life and leaves him with a final request: “Change the world properly from up high.”
Hearing the news, Sam-soo calls the retired detective and promises to catch the evil people on his behalf. Sang-man thanks him as well for letting him live a cool life, and Sam-soo wipes away his tears as they hang up. With his suitcases in hand, Sang-man takes a final look around his home before he leaves.
Since Justice Jo wanted to see the evidence, Tae-yong goes to meet him again. Despite having to attend a disciplinary hearing, Tae-yong takes his time sipping tea, which irks the justice. He presses the lawyer to hurry up, but Tae-yong is in a good mood and asks for permission to sing a song. He dances around the justice as he sings and asks if he recognizes the tune.
Tae-yong plays a video to help him remember, and the justice fumes as he recognizes the sports event. Tae-yong sends him a link to the articles they published and snickers at the justice since he’ll be behind bars soon enough. Justice Jo hurls the teacup at the door as the lawyer leaves, and all the while, Tae-yong’s singing fills the halls of the courthouse.
The retrial wraps up, which means saying goodbye to the people of the Osung case. I shall miss Sang-man and his oddly encouraging catchphrase, but it makes sense for him to take his last bow. Through Tae-yong and Sam-soo, he got rid of his final grudge, which means he can finally reunite with his family without any lingering regrets. He no longer has anything tying him down to Osung, and after all those years of serving the community, Sang-man deserves his own happiness.
Thanks to Judge Choi as well as Tae-yong and his team, Doo-shik received his long-overdue apology, but diverging from the previous retrial, the show doesn’t have a neat ending for this case. Instead, Tae-yong visits the grave of the victim of his first, history-making win, and the audience learns about the limits of his work. Tae-yong may be able to clear his client’s name, but it does not always guarantee that the real criminal is caught in the process. In fact, sometimes very little changes. In cases like the Osung murder, the police, prosecutors, and judges are too busy blaming each other to actually care about a reinvestigation, and it’s implied that once the dust settles, things will go back to how they were. As a result, it leaves a bittersweet taste at the end, reminding the viewers that there is still much to be done. Clearing Doo-shik’s name was merely the beginning, but that’s as far as Tae-yong can take this case. His role ends there, and in a just world, the police, prosecution, and courts would take up the mantle and continue the fight. However, the show reveals how corrupt and selfish people are, and without proper reform, things will never get better.
The solution to this pervasive problem in the legal system cannot be found from within. While there might be morally upright individuals fighting from the inside, Judge Choi was right when he said that change would never happen that way. Like most things, real change takes time and is complicated. Toppling Justice Jo or even Legislator Kim may bring temporary relief, but someone else will simply take their place. With Tae-yong seriously contemplating a career in politics, it does feel like a possible route for the show to take. At the moment, though, it seems unlikely since the creators haven’t necessarily portrayed politicians in a positive light either. Much like the other institutions, the political sphere is corrupt and overrun with greedy people. Besides the obvious evil politician (aka, Mayor Kang), even Assemblyman Tak is another self-absorbed fool who only acts as an upholder of justice to garner votes. In the end, maybe there isn’t one solution to this problem, and Tae-yong is exactly where he needs to be.
With only two weeks left, it feels like we are headed towards the last arc, and I’m curious to see how the show will wrap things up. From the introduction of the woman and student near the end, it appears that their next case with pertain to Mayor Kang’s school which will eventually lead them to Legislator Kim. Once again, greed is the primary motivating force for our villains and quite possibly the cause of their impending downfall. They are already fighting over a foundation and willing to backstab each other without a second thought. As time goes on, their ties to one another grow weaker, and most importantly, they are aware of the internal strife and inevitable rupture. Hence, all the bad guys are too busy trying to save themselves and get the most out of this alliance rather than working together to preserve it. Hopefully, every member of the den of evil will get their comeuppance in due time, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Tae-yong and Sam-soo gloat when it happens.
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