“Pride and Prejudice” episode 10 quickly answers the question, is Kang-Soo actually Han Byul? But the answer raises more questions.
“Pride and Prejudice” Tuesday saved the biggest twist for the final ten seconds—as always. This show loves last-minute surprises. I’m half-expecting the final episode to contain a major revelation right before the credits roll.
But if my blood pressure can handle the twists and turns, I’ll remain hooked. This episode shows how far our characters have already come—Yeol-Moo in particular.
The entire first half of the episode deals with Kang-Soo’s mysterious past, while the second half dives back into office intrigue. Structurally, the episode doesn’t cohere because it’s divided almost precisely into two halves. But by spending a full half-hour on the Kang-Soo revelation, “Pride and Prejudice” avoids the irritating K-drama practice of drawing out the characters’ suffering in order to cut to another storyline. It’s refreshing to see characters who ask important questions immediately instead of brooding for weeks.
Does this grown-up behavior hurt the flow of the episode? Maybe. The first half of the episode could have been tighter. Perhaps sensible, mature characters don’t necessarily lend themselves to conventional drama editing. Luckily, I enjoy spending time with these characters even when the plot isn’t rushing forward at full speed.
After last week’s cliffhanger, “Pride and Prejudice” doesn’t make us wait for an answer about Kang-Soo. Dong-Chi asks him why he left work abruptly. Kang-Soo explains it’s probably a simple coincidence that he was abandoned on the same day Han Byul went missing. He doesn’t know that Dong-Chi was a witness, however. Prosecutor Koo is already considering the possibility that there were two little boys in yellow jackets at the factory that day.
Last week set up the possibility—almost the expectation—that Kang-Soo is Han Byul, so it’s surprising to learn that there were in fact two boys. The show makes good use of simple objects, such as the two shoes side by side: the shoe Kang-Soo wore when he was found as a child and its mate, which Dong-Chi took from the crime scene. Dong-Chi is rattled to find that his assumption all these years was wrong. The boy he tried to save wasn’t Han Byul, but Kang-Soo.
Everyone in the boarding house love triangle is endearingly considerate of each other. Kang-Soo and Dong-Chi don’t want to tell Yeol-Moo anything new unless they’re sure, though she overhears anyway. And Kang-Soo and Yeol-Moo don’t want anyone to worry about them. When Kang-Soo says he was abandoned and his grandmother is family by adoption, he has a sweet smile on his face to suggest it isn’t a big deal. Yeol-Moo pulls the same trick a few minutes later, smiling through tears when she says she’s glad Kang-Soo survived, even if it means Han Byul didn’t.
We learn more about Kang-Soo’s past via Moon Hee-Man and Jang Chang-Gi. Frustratingly, Jang Chang-Gi doesn’t explain the adoption papers. He appears so shocked that it’s almost as if he didn’t know.
But we do see that Moon Hee-Man helped Jang Chang-Gi escape the consequences of the traffic accident fifteen years ago. Only Moon Hee-Man knows that a boy in a yellow jacket (young Kang-Soo, we presume) witnessed the accident that killed his mother. Chang-Gi sees the boy at the funeral later, and he leaves money on Grandmother’s doorstep. But he may not know the boy witnessed anything.
Moon Hee-Man took the lead in the cover-up by sending Jang Chang-Gi away from the scene. Later, we see him give Chang-Gi a plane ticket, presumably to somewhere far away. In classic Moon fashion, he hands it to Chang-Gi while talking to someone else on the phone, then turns his back in dismissal.
The evidence points to Han Byul having died because someone mistook him for Kang-Soo—that someone being a hireling of Moon Hee-Man. It doesn’t make sense for it to be simply about the traffic death, however. Wasn’t Kang-Soo too young to memorize the license plate or serve as a convincing witness in court? I suspect we’ll understand more when we uncover whatever larger plot Moon Hee-Man and Jang Chang-Gi were working on when the accident took place.
Yeol-Moo has put aside her past suspicions and increasingly trusts Dong-Chi. Although at the office she keeps him at arm’s length with good-humored flirting, we see at home how much she trusts him. Their sweetest moment in the series so far occurs in this episode right after Kang-Soo’s revelation. After smilingly assuring Dong-Chi and Kang-Soo that she’s okay, she leaves for her room. Dong-Chi follows and gently stops her in the hallway. She’s not really okay, of course—she wants violent revenge. But their conversation is touching because after so much anger and distrust, they’re comfortable together.
When someone promises to seek vengeance in a melodrama, I do worry about what complications the author is plotting. Dong-Chi has promised to help Yeol-Moo, but his feelings may waver when he discovers that he knows people involved in the case. (I still wonder if his father had a role in covering up events at the factory.) Yeol-Moo has a black-and-white sense of justice and will find it easier to hate anyone she decides is guilty, just as she hated Dong-Chi for years.
Though I can foresee one or two dramatic conflicts still to come between Yeol-Moo and Dong-Chi, Kang-Soo will always be there for her. She considers him her younger brother so much that when Dong-Chi says he and Kang-Soo are having a war with each other, she immediately says she supports Kang-Soo’s side. The sad irony isn’t lost on our love triangle boys, but Kang-Soo is still ridiculously happy to have Yeol-Moo cheering for him. Fighting, Kang-Soo!
Kang-Soo started this episode by asking Grandmother for information about his past. Later in the episode, he asks Jang Chang-Gi. Even though the man is carrying Kang-Soo’s oldest childhood photo in his wallet, he doesn’t want to answer any questions.
“Is it because you’re my father?” Kang-Soo asks. It explains a lot about their relationship that Kang-Soo appears to have had this suspicion for awhile. Jang Chang-Gi denies it, and Kang-Soo responds with a coldness we’ve never seen from him before. As the young man grows more curious about the past, he’s quickly becoming less trusting.
The remainder of the episode focuses on the office. For weeks now, a confrontation has been looming between Moon Hee-Man and Koo Dong-Chi. When Chief Moon instructed “the kids” to pursue the Panda-related cases, Dong-Chi said he wasn’t sure he was going to join in. In this episode, Moon finds that Dong-Chi is skipping a meeting and bursts into Dong-Chi’s office with a furious expression.
The following scene is the confrontation I’ve been waiting for, except that they don’t say a word. The scene takes place without dialogue, like so many great scenes in this series (Yeol-Moo’s sudden departure five years ago, Moon’s drinking challenge to Yeol-Moo after she defies him, the murdered girl’s sign language call for help). The question with wordless scenes is, so what happened?
In episode 9, Koo Dong-Chi already said he might not help with Chief Moon’s political games. They both know that by not going to the meeting, Dong-Chi is announcing he won’t play along. The resulting Battle of Intense Glares is a formality. Chief Moon isn’t going to beat Dong-Chi through force of will and he acknowledges it by nodding and turning to leave.
Dong-Chi then pushes his luck by speaking up. The ensuing dialogue puts into words what they’ve already expressed in macho posturing. Dong-Chi won’t work on the case unless he can do things his way. And Chief Moon surprisingly agrees to let Dong-Chi have his way—even though he’s so angry about it that he lets loose a violent tirade as soon as he exits the office.
Chief Moon remarks that he doesn’t think he can fire Dong-Chi, suggesting that he’s trying to think of other ways to hobble the young prosecutor. When Director Cha visits Moon later, the Chief has an idea what he wants in exchange for supporting her. (Note: I’ve previously referred to her as Director Oh, because that’s how she’s listed in the cast info. But this wouldn’t be the first time a character’s name changed mid-drama.) The surprising announcement at the end of the episode that Dong-Chi is getting a promotion to another office is likely the result. (Life lesson: in a large bureaucracy, promoting someone is the easiest way to get rid of them. I’ve noticed this tactic is popular here in Washington.)
If Dong-Chi’s promotion changes the situation, so does the appearance of new villains: the Broker and Hotel Guy. The Broker has attempted to bribe Chief Moon in recent episodes. We learn here that he works for Oh Taec-Yoon. He’s in charge of getting things done for the crooked lawyer, through connections with the underworld and the police. He’s probably the man who traced the connection between Kang-Soo and Chang-Gi—a dangerous fellow.
Hotel Guy appears to be a low-level hoodlum. He has a killer’s swagger. When he fails to kill Dong-Chi in this episode, he has a look on his face like he intends to be back. I’m starting to worry for the safety of our main characters. (Update: It turns out in episode 11 that Hotel Guy is actually Jae-Shik, the man the team arrested for drug charges several episodes ago. When he was arrested, his lawyer was Oh Taec-Yoon. So was it Oh Taec-Yoon or the Broker who gave Jae-Shik the all-clear to kill Dong-Chi?)
The last exciting thing about this episode is that Yeol-Moo has officially turned into a Plucky Heroine. When the team goes after evidence, it’s Yeol-Moo who finds the crucial memory card that Song Ah-Reum hid in a hotel room. She overhears Hotel Guy’s phone conversation, in which someone gives him permission to kill “the Prosecutor from Incheon.” And she quickly follows him downstairs and foils his attempt to hit Dong-Chi with his car. Yeol-Moo’s rashness irritated me in earlier episodes when it led her to jump to conclusions or speak without thinking at office meetings. But in a situation calling for action, her lack of hesitation is a virtue.
Now that the script is giving Yeol-Moo a chance to do more than look angry, her character is growing richer and easier to like. She has chemistry with Dong-Chi that was mostly missing when she distrusted him. Though I enjoy all this nefarious scheming, I’m happy to see more romance developing as a counterpoint. Hopefully, our central couple will now focus on the narrative’s real antagonists instead of antagonizing each other.