Back at the office, the young folks pull together some evidence for Director Lee’s case, but even these people get tired eventually. The whole team gathers for a meeting looking like they’re in the final stages of terminal exhaustion.
Chief Moon is in fine form. He predicts a dire future for the team as “outcasts” of the Justice Department, whose undereye circles will keep growing darker and darker. Finally, Yeol-Moo says her dream for the team is to go home and sleep—and everyone gets up and leaves without waiting for permission from Chief Moon.
Moon Hee-Man doesn’t go home, of course. (Does he have a home?) Jung Chang-Gi stops by with a message from the big guy at Hwa Young, whom I’ll call Park Man Geun, though they don’t name him aloud often. The big guy decided to let Director Lee fall, because he was becoming difficult, “too greedy.” And he’s going to allow Chief Moon’s team to continue working.
Chief Moon quickly negotiates something for himself too. Jung agrees Moon will get a promotion. He’s finding it hard to believe that Moon wasn’t involved in Kang-Soo’s kidnapping in any way, and he predicts that Moon will soon be as dirty as Lee was. Moon scoffs and reminds Jung that he’s now the chief dirty-work lawyer for Hwa Young. Jung has already destroyed the sex trafficking evidence on Hwa Young’s behalf.
Finally, Moon asks Jung who will be Park Man Geun’s next target. Jung implies that one person is in a lot of trouble for his stubbornness. They both know who he’s talking about: Koo Dong-Chi.
Back at home, our boarding house trio fight their way past grandmother, who insists that “you need energy, even to sleep. You have to eat!” Luckily, they make it to their beds. Even since they started going 24 hours a day (was that two days ago?), I’ve been expecting someone to get in an accident like Jung Chang-Gi did 15 years ago. Thank goodness Dong-Chi hasn’t run over anyone yet.
When Yeol-Moo wakes up, she finds her mom is asleep next to her in bed. Her mom wakes up, and Yeol-Moo tells her they apprehended the culprits in Han Byul’s murder. Yeol-Moo also apologizes for her impatience with her mother all these years. She understands better why her mom has so much grief.
Everyone gathers in the kitchen to eat. Except for a sad moment when Kang-Soo finds himself setting a place for Jung Chang-Gi, the occasion is happy. Afterwards, we get a lovely scene on the terrace between Dong-Chi and Yeol-Moo. He’s already working on the next part of the case, and she teases him about being a workaholic. Their rapport together hints at what a great romantic comedy these two could make. Yeol-Moo off-handedly says they should date, leading to a moment of fangirl squeeing around the world:
But in this dark story, nothing is ever as it seems. I can’t be the only viewer feeling homicidal rage towards the writer when we learn this is all in Dong-Chi’s imagination. The only part that’s real is that he’s a workaholic and he’s fallen asleep while reading the files for the next part of the case. Writer, I hate you. But the next sequence is sad, so in retrospect I’m glad the writer at least gave us a happy scene first.
Major correction: Readers have convinced me that despite the odd editing, this scene really did take place. The camera moves as if it isn’t real: the kiss scene ends with the camera panning right and fading out, then fading in again—still panning right—on the image of DC asleep. But despite this “fake-out” transition, the narrative suggests the scene really happened. I hereby officially transfer my rage from the writer to the director. I also hereby love this show anyway. The kiss scene was what scholarly types would technically describe as Made of Pure Awesome.
Dong-Chi is puzzled by something in the files and calls the office. In the final scene of the episode, he’s in the interview room with the kidnapper again. We’re back in the scene that concluded episode 16—Dong-Chi is asking the kidnapper why he doesn’t remember the details of the murder correctly. And then, Chief Moon comes in and drops a bombshell. A big one. One so absurd I’d love to gloss over it quickly and pretend it didn’t happen. Here it is: the kidnapper actually went missing 15 years ago. Dong-Chi is talking to his twin brother.
Back to that digging machine at the old factory site. It turns up a human skull. The kidnapper’s, Moon informs Dong-Chi and Surprise Twin Brother. His remains have been found and Twin Brother is free to go.
Chief Moon, on his way out, tells Dong-Chi that he’s the last person known to have seen the kidnapper alive. Dong-Chi asks him about the body: what was the cause of death? Blunt force trauma to the skull, Moon says. Dong-Chi is stunned. He remembers striking the kidnapper with a pipe that day and concludes that he must have in fact killed the kidnapper himself.
Wow. One thing “Pride and Prejudice” does not screw around with is cliffhangers. This director lures us right to the edge and then, ten seconds before the credits roll, gives us a little nudge. It’s unbelievable to me that a police department could find a 15-year old skeleton and figure out who it is within minutes. But the director moves us along quickly past this implausibility to the scary “what if.” What if Dong-Chi actually killed the kidnapper? What if Dong-Chi wasn’t just an eyewitness but affected events, maybe made them more complicated? What if this is the lever that Park Man-Geun can use to destroy Dong-Chi?
For a few minutes this episode, we got to think of Director Lee as a clear villain. But now we’re back to the stormy waters of moral ambiguity.
And on the topic of moral ambiguity, we have more insight into Chief Moon this episode. Newly freed from suspicion, he talks to Director Lee, who has just been arrested. Moon acts as if he expected this ending all along, though we know even if he predicted Yeol-Moo’s reaction, he couldn’t bank on it. Moon takes credit, though, when Lee congratulates him on steering his horses well.
“She was my weakest horse.” Moon says, “Because the strongest one wouldn’t be able to beat you.”
Sweet! Moments like this, the show’s at its strongest. A little Taoist perspective on interoffice politics, a little dig at the fact that we all tend to underestimate Yeol-Moo because she looks so young and fragile, a sense that Chief Moon likes to root for the underdog. Brilliant.
In fact, the last scene hints that maybe Moon did set up his own arrest. He had some kind of arrangement with the kidnapper’s twin. Is it possible Moon decided his best hope for defeating Lee was to get arrested? If he didn’t want to be under suspicion, he could have accepted Dong-Chi’s resignation letter, as Dong-Chi points out. So was Moon taking a gamble on Yeol-Moo’s stubbornness? He knows her personality well, having received a lot of her criticism himself. Who else would storm into Director Lee’s office?
“Pride and Prejudice” falters when it springs twin brothers on us, but it succeeds when it focuses on these strategic maneuvers. The show also sticks to its principles. It was satisfying to see the self-righteous Director Lee brought down by his own pride and ambition. And yet the show doesn’t give up on its basic premise that you can’t prosecute the powerful without support from someone even more powerful. Dong-Chi indirectly had Park Man-Geun’s permission to go after Director Lee. Now that Park Man-Geun is turning his eye towards discrediting Dong-Chi, it’s hard to see a way out of it for Dong-Chi.