As of episode 4, this show is perfectly balancing office conflicts with personal drama. The narrative braids the two together tightly. Yeol-Moo is making waves in the office because she’s driven by her personal history. The office conflicts lead to more revelations about the past and confrontations with Prosecutor Koo. I’m not sure where her character is going. I hope we can get past the tragic Yeol-Moo to see other sides of her as well. But she’s compelling to watch.
Here I’m simply giving an “uncap” of episodes 2–4, rather than a recap—just a taster where I take the lid off and give you a chance to look inside. I can’t be the only person watching this show! Come join me! And post comments below if you’re also watching. Or click here to read a quick summary of episode 1.
“Pride and Prejudice” [K-drama] Episode 2 Uncapped
Episode 2 is intense right out of the gate. We open five years in the past, with Prosecutor Koo Dong-Chi trying to negotiate his car past a loud argument between two women. The older woman is weeping emotionally. The younger woman is Yeol-Moo.
Dong-Chi actually taps her with his car as he tries unsuccessfully to edge past the fight. She scrambles around the side of his car, opens the passenger side door and climbs into the car, locking the car door behind her as if she’s afraid the older woman will come after her. She begs Dong-Chi to drive away.
“P & P” is the opposite of a romantic comedy at times like this. It’s almost a “meet cute,” except for the minor detail that it’s a moment of major trauma. Over the next few minutes, Dong-Chi adapts to the situation, going from shock, to silently passing her Kleenex, to lending her money—without asking any questions. Dong-Chi convinces her to meet with him for a date once a month for ten months. (Odd way to schedule your social life, though he does seem to be a workaholic.) In trying to brush him off, she refuses to let him introduce himself. This leads him to say that when she does ask for his name, he’ll consider it a confession that she likes him.
When we rejoin our crew in the present, Dong-Chi is brooding over a relic of his time with Yeol-Moo, a small green toy truck that fell out of her bag when she escaped in his car on the day they met.
At work the next day, a new case opens involving a mysterious petty criminal named Jung Chang-Gi (played by Son Chang-Min). Yeol-Moo starts work on the case but Dong-Chi quickly takes the case away. Jung Chang-Gi has a past connection with Dong-Chi and Kang-Soo, perhaps a close connection. One remark even suggests that Kang-Soo is his son, but the series has kept us guessing.
Yeol-Moo confronts Dong-Chi about taking the case away from her, prompting a flashback.
We join them on the last of their ten dates four years previously. Seeing Yeol-Moo smiling and relaxed is surprising. I didn’t realize how unhappy she was in the present until I saw these flashbacks. She asks Dong-Chi his name. He savors the moment. But less than a minute later, Yeol-Moo discovers something that upsets her deeply, though we don’t know why—a scrap of paper inside one of Dong-Chi’s law books sitting on the table. It’s just half of an old grade report with Dong-Chi’s name on it. As her face changes, we have no idea what’s bothering her. But it’s painful to watch her smile disappear, horrifying to see her walk out of the bar without another word to Dong-Chi. He tries to follow her, not knowing what we know—that four years will pass before he sees her again.
Like the opening scene, the scene of Yeol-Moo’s discovery takes place with very little dialogue. In the absence of a pop music soundtrack, it feels almost a silent film. Baek Jin-Hee and Choi Jin-Hyuk tell the whole story in their facial expressions, and the director lets us focus on them. These scenes are beautiful exceptions from the K-drama rule that background music must accompany every Big Moment. The silence makes these scenes feel relatively naturalistic.
Back in the present, Dong-Chi tells Yeol-Moo that yes, he is interfering with her work, but that it’s her fault for disappearing like that. They’re almost having a real argument, but Yeol-Moo doesn’t want to clear the air. She lies, denying she liked him.
“Were you playing me?” he asks, “Because I wasn’t playing with you. So that’s why I’m getting my revenge now.”
Yeol-Moo doesn’t want to let it drop. She suspects him and Kang-Soo of covering up Jung’s case. When she tattles on him to Chief Moon, however, Dong-Chi and Kang-Soo reveal that Jung is helping them with a small drug sting operation. The exact details of the plan are confusing, but the whole office joins in to work on the operation.
Around this time, Dong-Chi discovers someone has rifled through his papers. (Ironically, he notices because his paperback copy of Pride and Prejudice is awry on the shelf.) He checks the building CCTV records and discovers that Yeol-Moo visited their shared office for hours in the middle of the night. But he confronts her about it obliquely—turns out he thinks she’s sleeping in the office. He hasn’t suspected that she’s deliberately going through his stuff. He hands her a hotel reservation and forbids her to spend nights in the office. He’s not completely wrong, either—she has been sleeping in the women’s overnight room, one of those features of Korean workplaces that makes excruciatingly long working hours more “humane.”
The drug operation proceeds. In the middle of the affair, Jung turns tail and ditches the team. Yeol-Moo volunteers to make contact with the dealer instead. She rushes into action before a plan is set. She probably suspects, quite rightly, that her male colleagues wouldn’t let her serve as bait. But she’s taken abuse from Chief Moon and Dong-Chi all day for her alleged uselessness and she’s determined. At times like this, her impulsiveness might look like standard K-drama idiocy required to propel the plot. But Yeol-Moo appears smart enough to be afraid in these situations. It seems that she’s overcoming her fear because of whatever dark obsession is driving her. Whatever makes her do stupid things, it doesn’t appear to be stupidity per se. I don’t understand her, but Baek Jin-Hee is making me believe the character is real.
The operation doesn’t go as planned, with Yeol-Moo getting herself into—and out of—a scrape with the local hoodlums. By the time they arrest the two suspects, Dong-Chi is angrier at her than we’ve seen him so far. “Stop disappearing like that!” he says.
Despite the unclear plotline about Jung and the drug case, this episode provided important information about the past and introduced new questions about the present, particularly, who is Jung? Dong-Chi also seemed to develop his thinking about Yeol-Moo. Even though he’s angry, he seems to relax after he tells her straight-up that she was wrong to walk out on him and that he was serious about her. Now, despite feeling wronged, he still worries about her and offers help despite her cold attitude. So why is she so hostile? The opening scene established her as someone with mysteries in her past, so I’m letting her get away with the hostility thing until I learn more.
Uncapping “Pride and Prejudice” Episode 3
The awesomeness that is episode 3 starts out light. Chief Moon is reprimanded by his younger, female boss in front of most of the office, but it’s humorous watching Moon’s ego take a hit. Unnamed Female Boss prohibits the team from pursuing their drug case any further and insists they hand the files over to narcotics.
Meanwhile, Yeol-Moo has taken Dong-Chi’s advice to heart and she’s finding a place to live besides the office overnight room. And by coincidence or not, it’s the boarding house where Kang-Soo and Dong-Chi rent rooms. When the young men come home from work and find her there, grumbling and flirting ensues. Kang-Soo is sweet and awkward toward Yeol-Moo, the quintessential nice guy second lead who doesn’t stand a chance. He’s an important counterweight to Dong-Chi. Given the thick tension between Yeol-Moo and her old crush, Kang-Soo is the only character she seems to relax around.
Now that she’s living with them, she’s bound to find out more about the two men. Sure enough, the next morning Jung comes around reeking of booze and Kang-Soo has to stop him from picking a drunken fight with a cab driver. This episode gives further hints that Jung is Kang-Soo’s father, but when Yeol-Moo asks “Grandmother” if that’s the case, she replies no. The Korean tendency to call every old lady “grandmother” whether relatives or not is endearing, but confusing to viewers trying to get the relationships straight. The grandmother running the boarding house may simply be an honorary grandmother, but there are also suggestions she’s Kang-Soo’s grandmother.
At work, Chief Moon is angry about losing his drug case—angry, too, that when he approaches a higher-up for support, he just gets a reminder that he’s in disgrace (we still don’t know why). His team isn’t supposed to achieve anything. Moon is there so that he’ll disappear into obscurity, he’s told. We learn for the first time the reason this team seems so pieced together: this is the office where they send the people no one else wants to work with.
We can see why Prosecutor Lee would be unpopular. He arrives late every day and leaves early. He fiddles with his cell phone during meetings and he’s not too smart. His assistant is a young woman who failed the bar three times. We don’t yet know the story of Kang-Soo or the older man in the office. And Dong-Chi—why is he here? Later this episode, Yeol-Moo asks Kang-Soo that question. The answer: because Dong-Chi doesn’t get along with his superiors. He does things his way. As a result, he’s one of the top three most successful prosecutors, but no one wants him.
The central narrative this episode is Yeol-Moo’s conflict with Chief Moon. She volunteers to take a case that looks straightforward—the accidental death of a child in foster care. Before handing over the file, Moon delivers one of his long, discursive speeches about the importance of speed, telling her to finish the case by the end of the day.
This same day at work sees Dong-Chi relaxing more around Yeol-Moo, to the point that he flirts with her and pats her on the cheek. Yes, you read that right. Pats her on the cheek. I think they’ve introduced an entirely new way for the K-drama male to condescend to women—like a more hairstyle-friendly update to the pat on the head. Still, you can’t blame Yeol-Moo for getting weak at the knees. What is Dong-Chi up to? I think his feelings are just running ahead of his thoughts, to borrow his words from earlier. Even if he doesn’t trust her, he still thinks she’s cute.
Midday, Yeol-Moo gets a call from downstairs. She has a visitor: her mother, wearing a designer dress and carrying a picnic basket of sandwiches, eager to meet her daughter’s co-workers. She’s embarrassingly loud on the subject of “her daughter the prosecutor,” while Yeol-Moo is immediately on the defensive and tries to forcibly remove her mother from the building. At that moment, Dong-Chi and Kang-Soo pass by. Dong-Chi recognizes Yeol-Moo’s mother as the older woman involved in the fight five years previously. He intervenes in the present-day altercation only when Yeol-Moo’s mother starts to angrily undress herself in the middle of the lobby. This woman really knows how to throw a histrionic fit.
The argument between Yeol-Moo and her mother continues outside, with Dong-Chi watching from a distance. The reasons for the argument are obscure, but the anger feels all the more real for that. We sense they’re repeating an old, old debate, in which they even remind each other what they’re supposed to say next.
“I know, I’m a bitch,” Yeol-Moo says bitterly, before her mother can. Her mother suggests Yeol-Moo doesn’t care about her brother (we have yet to learn what happened to the brother). Yeol-Moo’s eyes start to fill with tears as she says, “Aren’t I your kid, too?”
But as her mom drives away and she turns back towards the building, she puts her impassive face back on again. I love this character. Although she’s a tiny, youthful, delicate-looking thing, she’s not looking for anyone’s sympathy.
She walks up to Dong-Chi and says in a neutral voice, “My mother’s erratic. As you can see, today was one of her good days.” The look on his face is revealing—a good day? and aren’t you a little erratic yourself?—but he just nods and changes the subject. Is he a considerate mensch or is he really, really conflict-avoidant? I’m still not sure.
As the end of the day nears, Yeol-Moo asks Chief Moon if she can have more time for the case. She’s concerned the death might not have been accidental and she wants to investigate further. In the hallway in the middle of the office, Moon gives Yeol-Moo a dressing down for failing to finish. Everyone else in the team comes to their doors to listen in horror. Chief Moon concludes his lecture by telling her and everyone else that they have to come out with him for drinks after work.
The hour around sunset finds Yeol-Moo still out investigating, with Kang-Soo by her side. They meet the dead child’s younger brother, and he reminds Yeol-Moo of her brother at that age—around the time he disappeared. A tear-drenched flashback shows that he went missing. They searched for some time before finding him dead in what was ruled an accident.
Meanwhile, Chief Moon convenes the team at a drinking establishment. He’s furious because Yeol-Moo and Kang-Soo aren’t there yet. He’s magnificent in his pettiness as he takes out his ill humor on everyone, particularly Dong-Chi, perhaps because he suspects him of supporting Yeol-Moo. After a few minutes, Prosecutor Yoo—the older man in the office—sneaks out and calls Yeol-Moo.
“You know I’ve been a prosecutor for thirty years?” he asks her. “You have to come right now.” When she starts to argue, he just repeats himself, “You have to come now.” This character appears to be the one sane person in the office, so I look forward to finding out if he has a dark secret. The actor who plays him, Jang Hang-Sun, is a K-drama regular who I remember best as Master Pal Bong in “Baker King.” Yes, the wise Confucian master baker who teaches Kim Tak Gu the secrets of yeast and life! So I have hopes for his character to remain on the side of good, not evil. (This show has a great cast, listed here.)
Chief Moon, by this point, is totally given over to evil. When Yeol-Moo and Kang-Soo arrive, one of those amazing awkward silences settles on the table. Yeol-Moo doesn’t sit. She confronts the chief without speaking a word, though as they’d say in the military, she’s eyeballing him. I won’t say anything more about the scene that follows. It’s good. And half of it takes place in total silence, again showing how just a few images can tell a story.
One scene remains—a conversation between Dong-Chi and Yeol-Moo on the steps outside. She’s had a long day at work, and she finally lets him have it. Or at least she reveals one fact about herself—her brother’s name—which means something to Dong-Chi, though we’re still in the dark. His face changes as she talks, then he turns without speaking and hurries away.
As Yeol-Moo walks home alone (with Kang-Soo protectively walking a few yards behind her), we catch up with Dong-Chi. He’s in his office breathing heavily and covered in sweat as if he’s run some distance. He hurriedly unlocks his mysterious third desk drawer—the only part of his office Yeol-Moo couldn’t search when she ransacked the office.
Inside is a file with a copy of the little brother’s “Missing Child” poster.
He stares at the poster in a horrified daze. And we’re out of time.