So close and yet so far.
Sometimes “Pride and Prejudice” gets me by the throat—episode 5, say, or episodes 17 and 18. And sometimes the pieces don’t add up, like in episode 19. It’s a bumpy ride here as we close in on the finale.
It does appear that “Pride and Prejudice” will have two episodes next week, bringing its episode count up to 21, but I get the sense in episode 19 that the writer is scrambling for solutions. Even with an additional episode, we might not get satisfying answers. We almost had some resolution, but the introduction of a second murder (of Kidnapper Baek) and the possibility that Chief Moon was at the factory that night—these new revelations are making the plot increasingly unwieldly. Not to mention the resurrection of dead witness Song Ah-Reum. What next?
The opening of the episode finds Dong-Chi stamping both indictments—the one for himself and his father. But he simultaneously comes up with new legal reasons why Moon can’t pursue the case. After a bitter argument, Moon insists on arresting him and his father anyway, telling Yoo Senior that this is the only way to keep Dong-Chi alive.
Yeol-Moo then comes through with a clever legal maneuver of her own. She frees Dong-Chi, but her defiance will probably mean the end of her career. Dong-Chi gets angry at her, but has the good grace to apologize. He calms down and thanks her for sacrificing herself so he can be free to finish the case.
Dong-Chi pursues Baek Man-Geun full throttle for the rest of the episode. We learn that no one knows what Baek Man-Geun looks like. Possibly the reason he wants to kill Song Ah-Reum is in case she can identify him. But if he’s invisible, his goons aren’t. Dong-Chi and Kang Soo are cornered by the same group of thugs we’ve encountered before, and they take a few punches. This time, though, Dong-Chi has called Yoo Senior for help. Yoo arrives with police back-up and they arrest the whole gang.
Amusingly, Dong-Chi puts Prosecutor Lee in charge of interrogating these guys. Lee makes me laugh as usual as he attempts to scare the goons by throwing things around his office. No surprise, it’s Gwang-Mi who interrupts to say the right things and actually get their testimony. She and Lee also help with tracking down that damn necktie pin, which may have belonged to Baek Man-Geun. But once again, the pin doesn’t tell us anything conclusive. Till now I’ve been hoping this is a statement on the elusive nature of justice, but it’s possible the writer doesn’t know whose necktie pin it is.
Dong-Chi brings in the thugs’ boss, who is the Fixer, acting as amiable as always. Moon and Dong-Chi try to get him to turn in evidence against all the other prosecutors he has worked for, including Baek Man-Geun.
Chief Moon’s motivations become clearer in a conversation with Dong-Chi. Dong-Chi says Moon isn’t just trying to find Song Ah-Reum, he’s trying to force Dong-Chi into compromising with Hwa Young. This would account for some of Moon’s actions, it’s true—but why?
One possibility is that Moon is trying to keep Dong-Chi from getting killed. But another theme here is that Moon is trying to mold Dong-Chi in his image. Moon doesn’t just want to get a promotion. He doesn’t just want to control people. He wants Dong-Chi to agree with him that it’s impossible to catch the real bad guys. He wants someone as smart as himself to tell him he’s right.
Dong-Chi asks if his life is in danger and Moon more or less assents. He asks Dong-Chi how he intends to prosecute people who are above the law. Dong-Chi answers with a speech that strikes me at first as self-righteous twaddle—the first twaddle we’ve heard from the normally canny young prosecutor. He insists that he won’t be killed if he and Moon do their jobs as prosecutors.
The naive pomposity of his argument is somewhat offset by a great bit of direction: as Dong-Chi leaves Moon’s office, he sags and leans against the wall in fatigue. He looks like a man who has already been defeated—a man who does realize it might be impossible to catch the real bad guys.
In that light, his declaration looks like a dangerous move, but not a foolish one. When he says he won’t be killed if he and Moon do their jobs, he’s laying his cards on the table. He intends to pursue the case no matter what, and he’s daring Moon to join his side instead of standing in his way. He’s suggesting that if Moon actually helps him, they could catch Hwa Young.
He’s also showing that intense whistle-blower’s determination of his. He can’t stand to back down. But his stunned look as he leaves Moon’s office might indicate he’s aware of the danger.
Dong-Chi keeps the pressure on Moon throughout the episode. Moon has a choice: join Dong-Chi’s cause or else support corruption. Dong-Chi tells Moon and Jung Chang-Gi that he needs a photograph of Baek Man-Geun and he’s counting on them. This is how they can save him, he says. He delivers the request as if it’s an ultimatum. In fact, it is an ultimatum, except that the person he’s holding hostage is himself.