A series of one-on-one conversations throughout this episode elaborate on incidents and details from the past and also triggers momentum for what is coming. But, are we ready for what is next?
Sung Il picks up oranges on his way home. It’s late. He checks on his mother-in-law and places a few oranges on her night stand as he pulls up her covers. When she stirs and asks if everything is okay he tells her that as long as she is okay things are fine.
Not a moment later Sung Il gets a call and leaves. On his way down the street he thinks back on Min Sik’s funeral, his wife’s tears, and the solemnity of the day. They came to pay their respects – Mayor Chun and Commissioner Ahn – but Sung Il could barely acknowledge them. When the Mayor stepped forward to give his condolences Sung Il told him not to say a word. Even as they sat as mourners at the table and ate and drank, Sung Il wouldn’t join them. He wrote out his resignation letter and intended to hand it to them but his wife stopped him. “We need to go on living,” she tells him.
It is Mayor Chun who has called Sung Il to meet him at a bar. The Mayor tries his best to stop Sung Il from continuing to fight an unbeatable fight. For the Mayor, the corruption is simply built in. He just wants Sung Il to stop what he is doing to get to the top tax offenders. No good comes from it, doesn’t Sung Il see that? “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” seems to be the Mayor’s motto. Sung Il won’t take that route. “I won’t give in just to survive. That’s too ugly.” He politely bows to the Mayor and leaves. However, this was the Mayor’s warning to Sung Il.
Deok Bae is busy in his department as well, going to his supervisor Mr. Park for classified information on Choi Chul Woo’s son. He plans to pass the file to Jung Do as his way of continuing to help him avenge his parents.
Mi Joo meets with Sung Hee. She wants to tell her that back then, when Jung Do told Sung Hee that he conned her, it wasn’t the truth. He was about to get arrested and didn’t want her to get hurt. In fact, Jung Do really did like Sung Hee. Mi Joo says that she is clearing the air; she knows Jung Do won’t tell Sung Hee himself. And, she is breaking clean with her own one-sided feelings for Jung Do. “It’s not my style to watch from afar,” she tells Sung Hee.
Jung Do visits his father in jail. He tells him that he’s dealt with Bang Pil Gyu and is taking on Choi Chul Woo by getting his son next. When that happens, he won’t be able to see his father for a while he says. He wants his father to keep a stiff upper lip, talk a little more, and know that he did his best. “Mom went to a good place,” he tells his father. So now we know that Director Kim – Jung Do’s mother, Detective Yang’s wife – has died. After Jung Do leaves, his father cries.
Deok Bae meets Jung Do and passes along the file on Choi Chul Woo’s son. By the way, he tells Jung Do, Sung Il found out that he helped him. It has hurt their longstanding friendship. He is feeling guilty, especially since Jung Do meant to frame Sung Il and Deok Bae didn’t know that. Deok Bae is in the middle; he wants to help Jung Do avenge his parents against the Woohyung Group but in doing so, he has inadvertently betrayed Sung Il, a friend of 30 years. Giving the file to Jung Do is his last contact with him he tells him.
Sung Il visits Pil Gyu in the slammer. Pil Gyu, predictably, shows no remorse. In fact he shows contempt for Sung Il. But this time, Sung Il has some things to say. For all the people he has hurt, and there are many, “…you should kneel and beg for forgiveness. If you have a conscience, you should apologize to them all.” Pil Gyu has no soul, though, and only talks about his money and power – two things Sung Il can’t touch. He is so warped. Sung Il tells him to rot in jail for six years and see how the world changes in that time.
Commissioner Ahn is out of jail but has been fired. He calls Sung Il into his office as he packs up. Although they’ve been enemies, Commissioner Ahn isn’t happy how he has been cut loose by Choi Chul Woo. He and Sung Il both know he received kickbacks but now that he is out, he wants to see CEO Choi taken down just as much as Sung Il. Furthermore, Commissioner Ahn tells Sung Il that within a year, the tax department will be abolished. That is also CEO Choi’s decision – a deal between him and the Mayor. Commissioner Ahn’s words are angry as he complains that all he ever did was fight for the tax team. Now it will be disbanded. Commissioner Ahn’s final words to Sung Il are to go after Choi Chul Woo, con or whatever, and get him. Do it for the team. Break the link between Choi and the Mayor. Can they let Choi Chul Woo be in charge of their government team? Can they?
Jung Do waits for Sung Hee as she heads up the hill toward home. He’s brought a bank book with 4.52 million that he saved to pay off Pil Gyu’s local taxes. He wants her to give it to Sung Il. She asks him why he didn’t tell her about the time he went to jail. She had to find out from someone else. He has nothing to say. Sung Hee tells him if he wants to give the money to Sung Il to pay the taxes he should do it himself.
Deok Bae wants to amend the rift he has caused in his relationship with Sung Il. Plus, he wants Sung Il to understand Jung Do’s situation and for Jung Do to at least explain to Sung Il why he did what he did. He sets it up for Sung Il to meet Jung Do at the playground in District 7 to sort it all out. “Whether you become friends or enemies, you two decide.” He makes a round-about apology to Sung Il and says that people are not just good or bad, there are less good and less bad people. Sung Il doesn’t let him off the hook that easily and tells him that he is a very, very bad person – disgustingly bad – who lied to a lifelong friend. Deok Bae reminds Sung Il that he and Jung Do both have sad stories and that they should understand each other. With that, he leaves Sung Il to meet up with Jung Do.
Omo! These two! Bromance is in bloom as they scrap on the playground like schoolboys. Jung Do knows he deserves the punches that Sung Il throws at him but he has to defend himself, too. Flinging sand, pulling shirts, back attacks, clobbering ears, even biting nipples (@ouch!) is how these two wrangle. A small neighborhood crowd gathers and wouldn’t you know it, someone calls the cops.
They’re arrested for disturbing the peace – ha! Their bickering continues as they are detained in the same cell. Jung Do says all he’s been doing is apologizing but Sung Il won’t hear it. Sung Il says he should be respectful to him as his elder but crybaby Jung Do says his ear was injured – remember? – and he can’t hear a thing Sung Il is saying. Really, boys, can’t you act like men? They pout as they sit in the empty cell. “You hungry? They deliver,” says Jung Do (who knows the system well by now). Like a friend who’s been hurt and doesn’t want to make up but wants to at the same time, Sung Il casually tells Jung Do what he wants to eat like it’s no biggie even though he’s starving.
Time to sleep – they tussle over one blanket and a whiny Jung Do asks the guard for his own. He purrs and snuggles in the nice new blanket that he gets. Sung Il sniffs his blanket and holds it to Jung Do saying, “Smell it. Smell this. It smells funny.” Jung Do startles, “What is that? Did someone pee on it?” (I’m dying here – they are SO cute!) They end up sharing the new fresh blanket after all.
Jung Do hands the bank book to Jung Il over his shoulder. When Sung Il asks what it is, Jung Do explains it’s the local tax that Pil Gyu owes. He wanted to give Sung Il that at least. Then the story comes out: the reason he didn’t pay the full tax with all the money is because Pil Gyu said he would just get it back from the Mayor anyway. What would have been gained? Nothing. Sung Il begins to understand what happened. They talk more – how did Jung Do know Sung Il wanted to get Pil Gyu? Was it calculated, using him? What Jung Do answers is something Sung Il has come to know: “With cons, it flows with the circumstances. Winners and losers are determined by who can adapt to the changing circumstances.” Maybe it is just different means to an end.
Jung Do tells Sung Il that he plans to go after Choi Chul Woo’s son and to watch what he will do with that money. What the heck, they’re locked up together for the night, they may as well talk some. Sung Il tells Jung Do that the taxation department may disappear. It’s been decided by Choi Chul Woo and the Mayor. Still, he says he wants to protect his department. Jung Do asks the question that is always the catalyst for the next thing: “So, what will you do?”
Sung Il thinks back on Commissioner Ahn’s last words to him and, rephrasing it, suggests to Jung Do, “Let’s collect the 100 million that Chairman Choi owes in back taxes.” He says it will break the link between the powerful Woohyung Group and the corrupt Mayor once and for all. The taxes will be paid off, the tax department will be saved, and things will return to how they used to be. Peace will be restored. Should they trust each other and go after Choi Chul Woo? The first thing is getting out of the holding cell. With clasped hands in the air they call out, “Detective! We made up.” Aw. Cutest bromance couple ever.
The plan: First, they’ll get Choi Chul Woo’s son. He is Choi Sang Joon, in charge of Samjin Industries – a defense contractor. It is Choi Chul Woo’s cash flow entity. They specialize in electronic warfare and are currently working on an American military contract through Martin Kim. Mr. Kim will decide whether or not to renew the defense contract with Samjin Industries so Choi Sang Joon has to deal smartly. The two have never met. This is where Jung Do and Sung Il get in between – like when Jung Do first conned Sung Il with the car deal. It works like this: Sung Il will pose as Martin Kim and meet Choi Sang Joon and Jung Do will pose as Choi Sang Joon and meet Martin Kim. The two men will never actually meet one another.
Time to go shopping! Fashionista Jung Do takes regular guy Sung Il to get outfitted Gangnam style. Poor Sung Il is a fish out of water as he tries on jacket after jacket until Jung Do approves of one that says, “Let’s make a deal.” Looking the part, Sung Il confidently strides into Choi Sang Joon’s office and even gains admirable looks from some of the female staff. “I’m Martin Kim. How are you doing?” he smoothly introduces himself with just the right combination of English and perfect Korean.
Mr. Kim/Sung Il has the upper hand in the initial talks because Sang Joon is anxious for the contract renewal. Sung Il says he is thinking of going with another contractor. When Sang Joon asks what he can do to get it renewed, Sung Il suggests a “rebate” – kickback – for some of his key personnel to the tune of 90 million. Sang Joon laughs and refuses. Just then (as arranged by Jung Do and Sung Il) narcotics police step in to arrest Sang Joon who has an old drug record. While in the cell, Sung Il stops by and says that under the circumstances with suspicion about this drug bust, he is willing to look the other way if Sang Joon can now see the benefit of coming up with that 90 million. That will seal the deal, of course.
On the other end of the scheme, Jung Do meets the real Martin Kim at the airport and introduces himself as Jun Yo Han, representing Samjin Industries. He will be discussing the contract in place of Choi Sang Joon who has unexpectedly been called out of the country. Discussions proceed with Sung Il and Jung Do conning all along the way. The final document is signed, sealed, and delivered. Easy as pie.
No sooner has Sung Il arrived at work than he gets a call from the Mayor. The gig’s up. The Mayor is exasperated with Sung Il’s unwillingness to heed his warnings to stop going after Woohyung Group. In an even bigger con, the Mayor and Choi Chul Woo have taken measures to end once and for all Jung Do and Sung Il’s meddling antics.
Here’s who is in on stopping them: Choi Chul Woo, the Mayor, Commissioner Ahn, and Mr. Park. Here’s who gets caught in the backfire: Deok Bae, Sung Il, and Jung Do. How? For starters, Choi Chul Woo doesn’t have any children. His son, Sang Joon, was made up. Mr. Park gave Deok Bae false information to pass on to Jung Do about Choi Sang Joon.
While the Mayor explains all this to Sung Il, his boys are rounding up the others. As Jung Do waits for an elevator he realizes someone is stalking him. He dashes down the stairwell and blocks the door but there are others waiting and he is caught. Sung Il stands before the Mayor who spells it all out for him. And Commissioner Ahn, who egged Sung Il on to go after Choi Chul Woo to avenge the department – that was part of the plan to catch him and Jung Do, too.
Worst of all, Jung Do is told that Sung Il turned him in. All part of the set up to break down Sung Il and Jung Do. In return for testifying against Jung Do the Mayor will offer Sung Il amnesty. “This isn’t right!” Sung Il pleads with the Mayor. “Testify and live,” replies the Mayor. Sung Il is utterly flabbergasted. It really is all over.
He goes to the police station and wants to talk with Jung Do but Jung Do can’t believe that he turned on him. “How could you? You said we wouldn’t betray each other!” he yells at Sung Il as the police drag him away.
Sung Il is in no position but to go back to the Mayor with his tail between his legs. “I’ll do ask you ask,” he tells the Mayor. “I’ll testify and live like I used to.” There’s a condition, however. He asks that in return the taxation office be saved. “Then, I’ll do ask you ask.”
We see a defeated Jung Do back in jail again. That day, Sung Il appears in court in a black suit, ready to testify against Jung Do. He enters in handcuffs. Sung Il takes the oath and admits to running cons to steal money. He testifies that the defendant, Jung Do, approached him and promised to pay taxes with the illegally conned money. And that he helped him.
Defendant Yang Jung Do is sentenced to ten years in prison. He glances back at Sung Il – their eyes meet as Jung Do is led away.
- Now, I’m not sure how clever Jung Do is after all. But, as he said, a con is only as good as one’s ability to adapt and change as circumstances present themselves. It is very unpredictable – a big gamble, high stakes, risks, and great or terrible outcomes. Depending. I suppose it’s inevitable that a terrible outcome happens to the best of them.
- What an incredible game, though, to plot top down and anticipate the other side’s moves and thoughts. Choi Chul Woo has a lot of practice in that department. I’m guessing that his only rival is the Chairman. I’m also guessing that Jung Do will be right back in the Chairman’s company now that he has a lengthy stint ahead of him.
- Mayor Chun, despicable as he is, is more of a puppet now than ever. What is his relationship with his daughter? We don’t have much insight on that. We don’t know how much Sung Hee knows about her father’s corruption. We do know she looks out for Sung Il and trusts him.
- Sung Il is so likable with his heart in the right place. I don’t necessarily think he is an idealist; it’s just that he expects what people say to be what they mean. He believes that is it basic to carry out one’s job in a respectable and productive manner. And he believes that giving in to a corrupt system is a slow death in every way – psychologically, morally, emotionally, and physically. Sadly, he has seen others who have fought the good fight die anyway. Trying to beat the system seemed like an option at first, then the only option. Since when did conning the con men for a just outcome backfire – not outside but inside the government system? In the end, like Min Sik and the others, Sung Il is caught up in something bigger than he can handle.
- I know in my heart that Sung Il has a plan. I think things have become con-voluted: up until now Jung Do has led the way with schemes but somewhere along the way Sung Il got pretty good at scheming himself. Surely Sung Il has something up his sleeve.
- My prediction is that we will be seeing more of Sung Hee, Mi Joo, the Chairman, and Wallet and their underworld connections in getting Jung Do out.
- I love that this kdrama is complicated but laid out clearly enough to follow. I can’t wait until next week’s episodes. In the meantime, I am going to replay the cute playground fight and cellmates scenes – bromance break-up and makeup!