Evil never sleeps, except perhaps in the office, feet propped up on the desk, waiting for a midnight cell phone call.
“Pride and Prejudice” ep. 12 spans Koo Dong-Chi’s last day before transferring. It’s another one of those 24 hour days, in which none of the main characters sleep or even doze off. Are they taking amphetamines or just drinking a lot of coffee?
This episode provides evidence for both theories about Chief Moon. For viewers who believe Chief Moon is up to no good, we have plenty of scenes in which Moon Hee-Man manipulates our heroes this way and that, using them for his own purposes. For viewers who think he’s secretly fighting corruption, we have a flashback to the 1999 case in which it appears he was secretly investigating a corrupt group of prosecutors.
If the Plot Gets Any Thicker, We’re Going to Need a Hack Saw
Emotional developments balance well with plot twists this episode. I really want to discuss the central characters and their slow relationship, but first the key plot developments.
- Koo Dong-Chi doesn’t know what to make of the 1999 hit-and-run.
- But when Director Cha chews Dong-Chi out for failing to protect Song Ah-Reum, Chief Moon unexpectedly stands up for him. In typical Moon Hee-Man fashion he says, “I despise him, but he’s still on my team.”
- Koo Dong-Chi asks Moon if he’s defending him because he’s afraid Dong-Chi might look into the 1999 hit-and-run. Moon responds by daring Dong-Chi to investigate it. He says he doesn’t care one way or another, but that a conscientious prosecutor would probably investigate, right? Dong-Chi can’t figure out if this is a warning or encouragement.
Moon’s character is at its most compelling and contradictory here. Chief Moon might be bluffing Dong-Chi into thinking the hit-and-run is unimportant. But there’s a hint in his voice that part of him is tired of the cover-up—and he knows the truth will hurt other people, maybe even Dong-Chi, more than himself. Moon Hee-Man is never going to reveal the truth himself, but he’s prepared for the truth to come to light. This is one of those moments when I admire him even though I don’t trust him. Whatever his faults, Moon Hee-Man doesn’t scare easy.
- The investigation of sexual predator Joo Yoon-Jang continues. The court delays issuing a warrant, so Dong-Chi bluffs, pretending he already has it. He gets Joo Yoon-Jang’s confession with this trick.
- Moon encourages the team to move forward, but only to prosecute Joo Yoon-Jang and Kim Tae-Shik. He’s still protecting the other two suspects.
In this scene, Dong-Chi is unwilling to cooperate with Chief Moon, knowing Moon is using him. Prosecutor Lee—of all people—steps up to play along with Chief Moon instead.
- Moon finds out about the warrant. He orders Dong-Chi to leave the office immediately. Joo Yoon-Jang goes free.
- Dong-Chi leaves, but goes with Yeol-Moo to search for Jae-Shik’s phone. They find a phone, and get into a brawl with a dozen thugs who are also looking for it. The Broker arrives, stops his men, and backs down for the moment. His name is Park Soon-Bae, a familiar name to Dong-Chi.
- Park Soon-Bae turns to Kang Soo and says, “Do you remember me?”
- The cell phone has nothing useful on it. Then a sudden lead: the emergency medical technicians who took Jae-Shik to the hospital found his cell phone dropped inside the ambulance. Dong-Chi gets it from them and finds the recorded call in which Joo Yoon-Jang orders Panda’s murder. The team arrests Joo Yoon-Jang. It looks like the charges will stick this time.
- Dong-Chi nervily returns to Chief Moon’s office and confronts him. Who is Park Soon-Bae? Was he really the officer at the hit-and-run scene in 1999? How does he know Kang Soo? Was the victim Kang Soo’s mother? Did Chief Moon kill Kang Soo’s mother? If not, does he know who did?
- Right at that moment, Jang Chang-Gi knocks on the office door and enters. Moon invited him, ostensibly to talk about the attack on Song Ah-Reum. Moon reveals that Ah-Reum and Jae-Shik have died at the hospital.
- It’s late in the day. Dong-Chi sends Yeol-Moo and Kang Soo home, saying he’ll wrap up. Moon doesn’t want to do the paperwork, apparently, so Dong-Chi’s allowed to stay a bit longer.
- The conclusion cross-cuts between three big moments :
1. Kang Soo visits Park Soon-Bae and asks him about his mother. The broker says he knew Kang Soo’s mother, but that she’s dead—or rather that she was killed.
2. Dong-Chi investigates the hit-and-run. He discovers it took place right before Moon indicted a corrupt group of prosecutors. He searches for information on the “anonymous source” who helped Moon. Perhaps this was the other person present at the hit-and-run? He calls around and is shocked when he gets an answer: the man helping Moon was Jang Chang-Gi.
3. Chief Moon plays and replays the recording of Jae-Shik’s phone call to Oh Taec-Yoon. The phone call in which someone in the background tells Attorney Oh it’s okay to kill Dong-Chi. Moon investigates to find out who Oh Taec-Yoon is taking orders from. The last shot of the episode shows Chief Moon visiting Board Game Guy late at night and handing him the valuable cell phone. He asks Board Game Guy—who he’s supposed to be taking orders from, remember—”Are you really going to kill Prosecutor Koo Dong-Chi?”
What a reveal! As usual, the writers came up with the one twist I would never have suspected. Why does Board Game Guy want to rub out Prosecutor Koo? How can Oh Taec-Yoon be working for Board Game Guy and his rivals at the same time? Is he a double-crosser? Is Board Game Guy playing an even more complicated game than we thought?
I can only update my Intriguing Web of Intrigue and hang on for the writer to tell us more.
Where Has the Love Gone?
The relationship between Dong-Chi and Yeol-Moo remains grounded in psychological reality, which will frustrate many fans. We don’t have any outpourings of emotion here. These aren’t outpouring kinds of people.
But the romance does move forward slowly this episode. Dong-Chi takes a step back and gives Yeol-Moo her space. But when he distances himself, Yeol-Moo isn’t as relieved as she thought she’d be. Several times on Dong-Chi’s last day at the office, she comes close to admitting how hard it is to see him go.
Dong-Chi plays the part of the perfect professional colleague with her in this episode. On the surface, he’s simply respecting her request that he back off. But he also knows that by ignoring her, he’s testing her resolve to remain alone. He refuses to enter the “friend zone.” The message is clear: if she wants to be close to Dong-Chi, she’ll have to date him.
Han Yeol-Moo faces a painful dilemma. We see it when Dong-Chi starts telling her how he’s organized his files in the office and she suddenly flees in the middle of the conversation. She locks herself in the women’s overnight room, and unsuccessfully attempts to do a headstand, probably remembering that Gwang-Mi said it helps her “cool down her brain.”
Dong-Chi follows her but hesitates outside the door. Finally he knocks. When Yeol-Moo tells him to go away, he doesn’t argue. But the worried look on his face says that he wants to comfort her, despite keeping his distance this episode. And Yeol-Moo is fighting a battle with herself between wanting to be closer to Dong-Chi, and wanting to remain loyal to her family’s pain.
Baek Jin-Hee and Choi Jin-Hyuk are doing a great job with the subtleties of these characters. Some viewers have wondered why Koo Dong-Chi fell for Yeol-Moo or why he’s so persistent. Others have pointed out that Dong-Chi’s past is relatively simple compared to that of the other characters. Is this character missing some motivations?
When a show has an antagonist as complex as Chief Moon, the “good guy” often looks boring in comparison. But I would argue that Koo Dong-Chi is no less complicated than anyone else in this show. He’s quieter than Chief Moon, but he’s not bland.
The first thing that stands out about this character is how hard he works. When we see him working late night after night, I suspect it isn’t just because of Yeol-Moo. He must have worked this hard for years to build his reputation as a top prosecutor. Who else but a workaholic would ask a woman he likes to go out with him once a month? Is he that short on free time?
Probably. We glimpsed him flirting with a girlfriend in the first scene of episode 1, but she never appeared again, giving the impression that Dong-Chi has a knack for avoiding serious attachments. He’s so devoted to his job that women probably give up on him first. That once a month schedule isn’t going to fly with most people.
Dong-Chi seems to recognize that Yeol-Moo is as intense as he is. Even though in their initial meeting he has no way of knowing why she and her mother are upset, she clearly doesn’t let her feelings stop her from taking action. The woman’s got determination and perhaps her own strange obsessions. Maybe she’ll be able to understand why he stays late at the office forgetting everything except the case at hand.
And Yeol-Moo is similarly drawn to Dong-Chi’s obsession with work. If he’d asked her to go out every day she would have turned him down, but once a month doesn’t feel like betraying her family too much.
But the two are very different in another way. Dong-Chi may be a realist when it comes to collecting evidence, but he’s optimistic about the people he likes. Despite dealing with crime day in and day out, he believes most people are okay. Why else would he care about establishing justice?
This easy-going and optimistic temperament allows him to tolerate Yeol-Moo during her mistrustful period. His trust in his friends also makes him slow to realize when Kang Soo is jealous of him—and allows him to find their “competition” amusing.
Yeol-Moo is the opposite. She assumes the worst of people—and the more she likes someone, the more suspicious she becomes.
Perhaps this pessimism has made her devotion to her family bearable. Isolating herself in grief might be easier if she can convince herself that everyone she likes has a fatal flaw. Or perhaps she doesn’t trust her own judgment and expects to be proved wrong. We’ve seen her pessimism in action, when it led her to think Dong-Chi killed her brother. Though she now trusts Dong-Chi more, she may be afraid he’ll let her down—as if it wasn’t hard enough that she’s afraid to be happy.
Dong-Chi is a good prosecutor because it’s in his nature to try to understand others. He can empathize with Yeol-Moo and respect her difficulties, even if he’s not a pessimist himself. And he understands how Chief Moon’s pragmatism operates, though he doesn’t want to play politics himself. The more I see of this character, the more I like him: he’s an idealist who never appears naive.
Given the dark situation the writer creates for him, we have to wonder if he’ll achieve his goals better by staying pure or diving into the game. When he bluffs Joo Yoon-Jang about the court warrant in episode 12, he’s risking his career to see justice done, but he’s also revealing his own pragmatic streak. He’s willing to lie and cheat in the pursuit of a higher goal. Is he really that different from Moon Hee-Man? In 1999 was Moon Hee-Man like Dong-Chi is now?
What do you think?