The lazy woman’s Pride and Prejudice recap: the Episode 5 Uncap
K-dramas often don’t hit their stride until around the fourth or fifth episode, which is really good news for shows like this that start out strong from the get-go. This episode went so quickly I was surprised when it ended. Had it already been 63 minutes?
Time goes fast when you start the episode with one lead character accused of murder, and end the episode with a different lead character accidentally killing someone. And in the middle we got the brother’s death, a mysterious bathroom corpse, an old serial killer case, and a couple pounds of cocaine. (I know they use metric in South Korea, but “a couple pounds of cocaine” has a better rhythm than “one kilo of cocaine.” An obsolete measuring system has to be good for something, right?) I’m eager for the next episode. I’m also glad the wait gives us time to process it all.
If you’re watching P&P, let me know what you think! You can also check out my “uncap” for episode 4, or the detailed recapping of week 2 over at Couch Kimchi. If you love this strong cast as much as I do, or you want to figure out who’s who, take a look at Asian Wiki’s casting info.
I love how Choi Jin-Hyuk plays the opening sequence. I haven’t paid much attention to the series’ title up till now. But now we can see that Dong-Chi has a lot of pride, not just in his skills as a prosecutor. He’s proud of doing the right thing, or at least always trying. After he failed to rescue Yeol-Moo’s brother, he gave up med school to become a prosecutor. What more can you do to prove you’re a Good Guy?
I’m not surprised he covers up his hurt by correcting Yeol-Moo’s approach, as if she’s questioning a suspect at work. Choi Jin-Hyuk excels at showing the anger underneath Dong-Chi’s refusal to argue with her or justify himself. The quiet naturalism here is a contrast to the scenery-chewing in some K-dramas. Dong-Chi gets angry very quietly, but that makes it scarier.
Till now, he’s treated Yeol-Moo with friendliness even when she was unpleasant, as if he didn’t believe she really hated him. It’s hard to imagine him trusting her again, though. After all, she came to this particular job—not to mention the place where he lives—because she wanted to trap him. I understand why he’s mad.
The flashback and the conversation in the office the next morning tell us that Dong Chi’s report card was dated the same day as the murder. And then it was at the scene of the crime, ripped in half, wrinkled up, with “Help me” written on it. If this document was just printed out, how did it so quickly come to be ripped up at the scene of the crime with her brother’s handwriting on it?
It’s no excuse for Yeol-Moo thinking he’s a killer, but it does suggest he’s connected to the murder. I’m disappointed that she jumped to the wrong conclusion, but I can at least see why she would put Dong-Chi on the list of suspects. Her life has revolved around Byul’s murder for the past 15 years. The prosecutors declared it an accidental death. The only potential clue at the scene was this scrap of paper. And she became convinced that it was the key to the murderer’s identity, if only she could find out who the report card belonged to. Before meeting Dong-Chi, she spent a decade believing that Report Card Man killed her brother. And after the shock of finding out it was Dong-Chi’s report card, she spent several more years hating him. It’s going to be hard for her to change a central theory of her life.
If Report Card Man isn’t the killer, then she doesn’t have any clues. In fact, if it isn’t Dong-Chi, then everything she’s done the past few years has been a waste. If she can’t get revenge on him, then who can she get revenge on?
But in this episode, Yeol-Moo’s single-minded pursuit of revenge is starting to make her feel flat as a character. Compared to Choi Jin-Hyuk, Baek Jin-Hee doesn’t produce the same range of emotions. Luckily, the script in this episode does show Yeol-Moo noticing Kang-Soo for the first time, giving her a few lighter moments. I love that Kang-Soo gets sick at the crime scene they visit. By the time Yeol-Moo feels ill, she’s already outlasted the professional investigator.
Kang-Soo’s character gets a lot more development in this episode. The conversation between him and Yeol-Moo was the first time the two of them have talked in a relaxed way outside the office. (His following her home at the end of episode 3 doesn’t count because he doesn’t talk to her! K-dramas love those silent types, don’t they?) For the first time, he looks less like a puppy dog with a crush and more like a potential contender. With his relaxed, noncompetitive nature and his desire to defend the unjustly accused, he’d be a good change of pace for Yeol-Moo.
Unfortunately, she’s just not that into you, Kang-Soo. She has devoted 95% of her brain power to the vengeance thing. However, at the end of the episode, we see her reaching out to comfort him. She takes Kang-Soo’s hand and it’s a sweet, intimate gesture.
The two cases in this episode are really just chapters of larger story arcs. A suicide investigation starts in this episode, but then Chief Moon derails it in favor of his pet project—going after drug dealers. But the investigation shows potential to be interesting. The suicide victim may actually have been murdered, strangled with a yellow scarf. Chief Moon recalls that Dong-Chi once investigated a serial killer with a similar M.O., the killer known as “Panda” for leaving bamboo trinkets at the scene of the crime.
All we learn, however, is that the Panda killer is now dead, setting up the surprising puzzle at the end of the episode. It turns out the deceased drug courier has a distinctive tattoo on the palm of his left hand—a panda holding a stalk of bamboo. Earlier in the episode, the man had spoken to Dong-Chi by name, to the prosecutor’s confusion. How does this guy know who he is? The strange tattoo adds to the mystery. Is it overkill that at the episode’s conclusion we have yet another Mystery from the Past coming back to haunt Dong-Chi?
We learn more about Chief Moon as well. In a roundabout way, he admits to Dong-Chi that he originally hurried up Yeol-Moo’s accidental death case because one of his political connections asked him to. In the end, Moon didn’t sweep the case under the rug. But he did give his buddy insider information, warning him when they were going to make an arrest. Dong-Chi suspected all this, but Moon confirms it with a casualness that suggests everyone operates this way.
The flip side of Moon’s flexible morals is that he gets things done. Later in the episode, Moon figures out that his drug informant is double-crossing him. Moon gets him to reveal the real plan through quick thinking and force of personality more than threats. He appears to suspect the informant is wearing a wire to relay audio back to his boss. If that were the case, it would explain the odd tactics Moon uses—threatening and questioning the informant without a word or a sound. I can’t help but admire Moon’s aplomb at times like this.
In morals and personality, Chief Moon is the exact opposite of Dong-Chi. But Moon, too, is good at what he does. The two men argue again in this episode, about whether to get involved in the drug case. If they continue to butt heads, the conflict will only grow more intense. But it would also be interesting if they came across a case that required both their skill sets. I’d like to see Chief Moon use his talents for a good cause.
Like Moon, other secondary characters here remain consistently interesting. Jang Chang-Gi and Yeol-Moo’s mother have a funny encounter in which he tries to convince her to lend him two million won ($2000). Until now, Chang-Gi has looked like he might be a con man of some kind. But it becomes more clear in this episode that he’s more of a small-time entrepreneur, a wheeler and dealer with a restless streak and no aptitude for regular work.
Why does he need to borrow money two million won? To ransom the shipment of live iguanas he’s trying to import. He’s convinced the Iguana Scheme is going to result in big profit. He really is a bum, not a criminal. And he really appears to be Kang-Soo’s father, though we still don’t know why Kang-Soo calls Chang-Gi “ajusshi” (mister) instead of father. Chang-Gi’s character is growing on me. In this episode he was alternately funny and downright sweet, to Yeol Moo’s mom, to Chang, and lastly to Kang-Soo.
These characters are written strongly, and everyone grew more interesting over the course of this episode. Yes, even the callow Prosecutor Lee (Choi Woo-Shik), who looked positively intelligent for one thirty-second interval when he spoke passionately about an anime character whom he follows. But as usual, his assistant Investigator Yoo (Jung Hye-Seong) makes a better prosecutor than he does, a fact that isn’t lost on Chief Moon. I hope Yoo continues to show her no-nonsense competence.
Now if Baek Jin Hee will move her face a little bit more, I’ll be completely happy. Right now the boys are totally out-acting her. Time to turn it around, girl!