I wasn’t expecting Pinocchio to have the depth for one more emotional wring out of me but I’ve never been happier to be served wrong. Throughout this drama I tried hard to keep my expectations level, neither underselling the consistent writing or giving it too much due that it was bound to let me down. A good drama is hard to come by and being good without rising to exceptional is nothing to scoff at, the only downside is to heap on too much praise that the whole thing slinks to a puttering end. My quibbles with Bum Jo being a throwaway second male lead are finally laid to rest as he gets the biggest stage to shine in the last and final arc of this story and hoo boy does he deliver big time.
I figured Ha Myung and In Ha had enough ammunition to bring down Bum Jo’s mom now that they had helping former co-conspirator Cha Ok on their side. Too bad Bum Jo’s mom was like the roadrunner, coasting on her own momentum for too many years of dirty dealing and unable to stop on her own with enough force to keep on going. She went a tad overboard in the last episode orchestrating an assault on the rival newsrooms but settled back to trying to undermine through her riches and the seediness of human nature. In the end her son showed her that good and bad may coexist in people who love each other but then the consequences might end up being to mutually shoulder the burden of crime and punishment.
Episode 19 recap:
Cha Ok runs into Ha Myung as she’s walking into the police station for questioning. He asks to interview her afterwards while she brings up his vow to one day know what it means to be a reporter and come back to confront her. Ha Myung confirms he knows a bit now and Cha Ok believes Ha Myung is ready to roar at her and she’s going to answer his questions one-by-one. They smile at each other.
The YGN chief reports on Cha Ok being charged for ruining Chan Soo’s reputation with her false reporting and going to the police station for questioning. Chan Soo’s police sunbae watches the report and muses to Chan Soo that things have gotten so big all because of him. Chan Soo coolly raises his fingers for a victory sign. The news reports that Cha Ok gave testimony that her false reporting was at the orders of her superior at the network in addition to other powerful people.
The MSC reporters watch the YGN report where Cha Ok also opens up that 14 years ago she also followed higher up orders to false report on firefighter Ki. Reporter Lee can’t believe Cha Ok is turning against their own network but the other reporters think she’s doing the right thing finally and showing what it means to be a real reporter even if this is very embarrassing for MSC.
Ha Myung and PD Hwang watch his reporting delve into the way Cha Ok framed Ha Myung’s dad for dereliction of duty 14 years ago and then reveals the text messages where Bum Jo’s mom told Cha Ok what to do that deflect attention from the real reason for the factory fire. Ha Myung’s eyeglasses secret camera footage is then shown where he confronted Bum Jo’s mom about sending those text messages and she implicated herself by claiming it was too long ago and she doesn’t remember when he never told her when the messages were from.
Cha Ok and In Ha also watch the news report before turning off the TV when it’s done. In Ha asks her mom if she’s alright but Cha Ok isn’t fine at all. She orders In Ha to tell Ha Myung to put the most critical parts of the report first rather than leaving it for last. The interview with Bum Jo’s mom should have run first not at the end! Cha Ok then gets serious and warns In Ha that the real fight begins now as Bum Jo’s mom will use her wealth and connections to weasel out of it, starting with avoiding going to the police station for an interview.
Bum Jo’s mom meets with her team of lawyers and their first suggestion is exactly to find ways to avoid going in for questioning. The lawyer also suggests she move to a villa to avoid summons for the time being while word is spread that’s she’s overseas She gets a call from the worried congressman but assures him that everything will be fine and they will see each other at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new department store.
In Ha tells Ha Myung the tactics Bum Jo’s mom will use to delay and obfuscate the police investigation such as claiming to have gone overseas but hiding away in a villa in Korea. Ha Myung reports this to PD Hwang and reveals he got the tip from Cha Ok who has seen Bum Jo’s mom do this before. PD Hwang sends a rookie to report showing Bum Jo’s mom lied about being overseas but is hiding within Korea.
The police send a new summons to Bum Jo’s mom to come in for questioning and this time even her lawyer can stop it from happening. The lawyer assures Bum Jo’s mom that if she goes in for questioning his prosecutor buddies can end it there. Bum Jo’s mom answers another call from the worried congressman and assures him that she’ll go in for questioning.
Cha Ok tips off all the reporters that Bum Jo’s mom will pick early morning or weekend to go in for questioning and will enter from an underground private access. All the reporters from every network gather underground and ambush Bum Jo’s mom as she arrives at the police station to answer the summons. The reporters keep shouting questions at her but she refuses to answer anything.
Ha Myung asks what the congressman behind her will think when he sees this news report, he must be getting nervous right? That gets under Bum Jo’s mom’s skin finally and she screams at Ha Myung to shut up!
In Ha then discuss the next tactic which is to deflect public attention away from this investigation by another bigger news item such a dating news or sex scandals. Sure enough Bum Jo’s mom is pissed that her garage interview is number one on the search terms and her secretary suggests diverting attention to another case. She heard an entertainer was reportedly using drugs, how about get the police to investigate him?
Male idol FAMA (cameo by Lee Joon) is being investigated for using propofol and poor sasaeng fan Yoo Rae is shocked that her beloved oppa is a druggie. She screams that it’s all lies! Female fans of FAMA are gathered outside the police station holding up supportive signs for their oppa as he arrives for questioning.
FAMA arrives and walks through the throngs of reporters and screaming fans without saying a word. Finally he faces the media with his head lowered and apologizes for letting his fans down as a public figure. He claims to have only used propofol in hospital settings. Reporter Yoo Rae yells back that she believes him! After FAMA marches into the station, Yoo Rae yells that she believes her oppa isn’t that kind of person and she’ll investigate to give him back his innocence.
After the investigation, FAMA walks out smiling after he’s exonerates from the charges. A doctor is interviewed explaining the drugs were prescribed to FAMA after he overexerted himself during performances.
This news is over and now Bum Jo’s mom’s case is back in the spotlight and she loses her cool and screams her head off at her lawyer and secretary for not doing better! She answers another call from the congressman and keeps trying to placate him. Her lawyer then tries to ask Bum Jo’s mom to settle with Chan Soo since the defamation charges is not a very serious crime.
Cha Ok has already anticipated Bum Jo’s mom will take the route to try and buy off Chan Soo. If Chan Soo accepts then everything will be over. Cha Ok asks if Chan Soo is likely to be bribed and In Ha hiccups when she says no. She confesses that Chan Soo has three kids to raise so she’s not sure.
Chan Soo meets with In Ha and Ha Myung and assures them that he won’t be bribed even with three kids to raise. In Ha hiccups when she claims to trust Chan Soo to do the right thing. Chan Soo assure them that he is doing this for Ha Myung, because of what he did in high school and because of Ha Myung saving him this time around. He puts his conscience on the line and promises not to be bribed. He then announces that In Ha and Ha Myung are invited to his place for a housewarming, even though he moved there three years ago he’s only recently reunited with his old friends. So they better bring a suitable housewarming gift, got it!
In Ha and Ha Myung go home and hear that Grandpa went to the apartment and brought more clothes back for Ha Myung. In Ha follows Ha Myung into the bathroom to squeeze toothpaste for him and discuss whether Chan Soo can really withstand the temptation. She leaves Ha Myung to brush his teeth which is when he switches hands to brush better. In Ha comes back to offer to help him shave and discovers that his so-called injured arm is all recovered and he’s been faking it for who know’s how long now.
In Ha confronts Ha Myung on why he’s lying about his arm, making him admit that he likes living at home. If so then he should just move back home instead of living alone and eating skimpy meals. She tosses his sling while he stares sadly at the family picture.
Chan Soo and Ji Hee stare in shock at the envelope of money and presents Bum Jo’s mom has sent over. Both are torn and hesitating when the YGN news van pulls up and starts covering the attempted bribery. Chan Soo hands the envelope of money back and declares that he’s a police office and can’t be bribed. He only wants an apology by Bum Jo’s mom.
The lawyer goes back to pass word to Bum Jo’s mom that her personal apology is all that’s needed to end this. She doesn’t think she did anything wrong that requires her to grovel and apologize, screaming at her underlings for failing at getting her out of trouble. She can’t apologize because doing so means admitting she did something wrong and will eventually land her congressman in trouble. She vows end things her own way. Bum Jo is standing outside the office listening to and crying, praying that his mom will stop not.
The reporters are gathered to read the latest human resources announcement that Cha Ok is summoned to the disciplinary committe. In Ha goes to see her mom napping by the office window and stands over her to block the sunlight. She points out that it’s the first time she’s seen Cha Ok sleeping at work. Cha Ok explains she hasn’t slept well in 15 years so all that sleep debt is catching up to her. She tells In Ha that she’s still sleep but when In Ha moves to leave, Cha Ok grabs her hand and asks her to stand there as she naps for just another 5 minutes. In Ha smiles and says “yes, Mom.”
Ha Myung finds In Ha zoning out at the police station and goes to make sure she’s fine. In Ha claims she’s fine and can endure this because if she can’t even endure this amount of pressure then she’s letting her mom down. She then hiccups so Ha Myung pulls her in for a hug. In Ha remembers that back then she tried to confront Ha Myung but he didn’t want her help, except now she feels so comforted with him holding her.
Ha Myung gets a text from Chan Soo reminding him about tonight’s housewarming party. He asks Yoo Rae if she’s going? If so does she want to go with him and In Ha? Yoo rae doesn’t think she is that desperate she needs to do with a guy who already has a girlfriend. In Ha asks another rookie to go but gets turned down and her next invite to PD Hwang shockingly gets a yes.
Everyone is sitting around watching PD Hwang chowing down and hear that the attempted bribe was so generous they could have bought a mansion and their kids could have attended international school. Chan Soo says at least they brought a little housewarming gift unlike someone who came empty handed. Chan Soo and Ji Hee decide to hide the second plate of beef while In Ha and Ha Myung mutter that PD Hwang is such an embarrassment to them.
Everyone has sat down to fruit with Yoo Rae taking selfies with the oldest child who compliments noona on being as pretty as a star. Ji Hee snaps a few pictures of In Ha and Ha Myung toting their youngest baby. Chan Soo plays the video from their game show appearance from high school,
Bum Jo arrives outside Chan Soo’s apartment and stares before considering ringing the doorbell. He hears laughter from inside and walks away. Ha Myung walks over to the window and sees Bum Jo leaving so makes an excuse to run outside and talk to him. Ha Myung knows Bum Jo is here to see Chan Soo but he didn’t know everyone will be here. Bum Jo wanted to apologize to Chan Soo and ask him to let this go, revealing that his mom will never stop. Now he knows how In Ha feels, but even then he can’t reveal his mom’s wrongdoing.
Ha Myung understands that and won’t ask him to. Ha Myung grabs Bum Jo and reveals that he likes Bum Jo even if he likes In Ha even more. He just feels time passes too fast and they are so good to him. He worries that they haven’t spent enough happy time together so now he’s decided to let go of revenge and anger and just be a real reporter going forward.
Ha Myung tells hyung that he’s letting go and Jae Myung approves. Ha Myung doesn’t want to become someone fixated on something to the point where he loses himself like Cha Ok did. Jae Myung supports Ha Myung forgiving whereas Jae Myung killed someone so he has no right to forgive or let go. That’s why he’s happy that Ha Myung is doing that.
Bum Jo finds his mom practicing a speech for the groundbreaking of the new department store. He gives him mom a tight warm embrace, telling her that he never realized how hard it was for her to live and provide for his happiness. Mom hugs Bum Jo back and tells him to just enjoy it. Bum Jo apologizes to his mom.
Yoo Rae shows her rookie partner the selcas she snapped at the housewarming party and come across multiple pictures where PD Hwang is staring at Yoo Rae behind her back. Reporter Jang catches the discussion about how weird PD Hwang is acting and hands Yoo Rae his headband while cackling that she’s turning out so much like him. Heh.
Bum Jo pays a visit to the newsroom attacker in jail and introduces himself as the son of Chairman Park of Bum Jo Department Store. He assures the young man that he’s here to make a deal.
In Ha hears that Bum Jo came by Chan Soo’s place yesterday and then hears that Bum Jo was secretly investigating his mom this entire time. She feels bad for misunderstanding him and knows how hard it must’ve been for Bum Jo all this time. Ha Myung gets a call from Reporter Jang to confirm that he’s ready to cover the groundbreaking ceremony of the new department store.
In Ha gets the same call from Reporter Lee who wants her to make the coverage about how many jobs the new store will generate. In Ha sighs that she’ll be hiccupping during this report and wonders if she should just quit. Ha Myung reminds her of the promise to endure and she gets annoyed at the way he’s downplaying her plight and grabs his cheeks the way he does to her.
Bum Jo arrives at the police station and sees all the rookies sitting around making him flashback to his early days working with In Ha. He runs into In Ha in the hallway and they fall back into their nature banter before In Ha realizes Bum Jo should be at the groundbreaking today. Bum Jo asks In Ha for a favor to say something to his mom when she interviews her today.
Yoo Rae is bugging the detective for tips when Bum Jo walks in. He’s all serious and announces that he’s here to confess and turn himself in. Bum Jo claims that he was behind the recent newsroom attacks. The rookies are all furiously typing up the report outside the police office as Bum Jo sits inside confessing to ordering the attack to warn the reporters off investigating his mom. Bum Jo claims the attacker was promised lifetime employment after just serving two years jail time. Yoo Rae reluctantly tells Reporter Jang that Bum Jo confessed even though she doesn’t believe it either.
The stage is set for the groundbreaking ceremony and the congressman is on the phone being driven there when he hears that Bum Jo confessed. He orders the car turned around and his involvement cancelled at the event. The other big wigs hear about the confession one after another and all quickly turn around, no longer willing to be associated with Chairman Park now that her son is a confessed criminal. Bum Jo’s mom sits waiting as no one arrives at the ceremony other than the gathered reporters there to cover it.
The media starts to realize that the event is a total no-show past the start time and wonder what happened? The assistant takes a call before whispering in Bum Jo’s mom’s ear something that elicits a gasp from her. The assistant summons other minions over to help assist Bum Jo’s mom off the stage. Ha Myung gets a call from PD Hwang that Bum Jo has confessed to ordering the news room hit. One by one the other reporters get the same call and news spreads. In Ha flashes back to running into Bum Jo earlier at the police station when he asked her for a strange favor.
The reporters swarm Bum Jo’s mom shouting questions at her about Bum Jo’s confession. She’s about to get into the car when In Ha rushes to the front and gets her attention by yelling that Bum Jo asked her to pass word today. Bum Jo wants to tell his mom that everything he enjoyed had until now, he’ll share in the responsibility with his mom. He apologizes for acting like he didn’t know the truth this whole time but from now he will stand always with his mom.
The media take Bum Jo’s message as meaning that Bum Jo’s mom must also be involved. Bum Jo’s mom asks In Ha where her son is right now and hears that he’s at the Gangnam precinct. She gets into her car and drives off.
Ha Myung steps aside to take a call from Bum Jo and yells at him for what he just pulled. Bum Jo takes this as his last chance to call Ha Myung as he’s about to be transferred to the detention center. Ha Myung tries to dissuade Bum Jo from doing things this way but that makes Bum Jo feel even worse. He wished Ha Myung would have blamed him, then he could have ignored the truth for longer. This is his way of telling everyone that good is good and bad is bad.
Even for just a short period of time, Bum Jo really was a reporter. He told Ha Myung before that he was his fan, now will Ha Myung believe him? Ha Myung calls him a crazy bastard and replies that he believed him from the very beginning before both guys start to cry in earnest.
Thoughts of Mine:
Just when you thought Ha Myung was finally picking up the pieces of his shattered life for the last time, the drama just had to yank a potential happy ending away from him with Bum Jo’s self-sacrificing gesture. Jae Myung going to jail for the murders was justice albeit hard to bear. Bum Jo giving a false confession is just stupid even if it’s understandable that he wants to share in his mom’s guilt. I hope he did it partially to use himself as bait, use his mom’s love for him to get her to finally confess and spare him. Otherwise I don’t see what that serves if his mom lets him take the fall and continues on her merry way being evil and selfish. I don’t see that happening as this drama does show that even evil people have a small emotional window of being able to love. Last episode showed us that Cha Ok had her limits too and Bum Jo’s mom crossed it by threatening the wellbeing of In Ha. It’s not that Cha Ok never or always loved In Ha, just like Bum Jo’s mom could love her son and turn around and still be evil to others, the drama shows that deciding to do the right thing sometimes needs a trigger.
Bum Jo’s moral plight took front and center in this episode as he struggled to stop his mom but still love her as a son. He couldn’t turn her in so he turned himself in as her substitute, a gesture of noble idiocy but one that he reached after trying other ways to end her misconduct. Regardless of whether he hopes she’ll finally have an epiphany with his sacrifice and stop herself, I liked how the drama focused on his journey to reach that decision. It wasn’t lightly taken and meaningful because Bum Jo saw that his mother was impossible to stop and he was the only thing she cared about. He might even be the reason or justification behind her actions, clearly he feels partially responsible for his carefree enjoyment of the fruits of her misdeeds. His false confession only hurts because he really did nothing wrong, even the clueless enjoyment of being rich is not tantamount to turning a blind eye. I also loved the bromance moments in this episode when Ha Myung and Bum Jo are trying to work through this situation together, and how they have grown to care about and respect each other.
Tomorrow is the big final episode I can’t imagine the drama going awry with one episode left when the first nineteen have been this solid. Even Yoo Rae is confirmed to get her own romantic swan song now that PD Hwang has shown hand about having a crush on her. One great development nestled through this drama has been the spider web like relationship connections Ha Myung has made through his personal and professional life and that’s displayed so well in this episode with how he is finally letting himself go back home and how he has friends to laugh with like at the housewarming party. His conversations with Bum Jo and later hyung Jae Myung about how he’s ready to let go of getting revenge or vindication felt so earned even if there was never one big reason why (such as for In Ha) and came about because Ha Myung was loved and had a bright future to look forward to. Bitterness is the seeds of creating more pain and Jae Myung showed that not having found a home and friends left him with only anger and nothing positive to hold him back. Ha Myung’s forgiveness in this episode was more satisfying than even seeing Cha Ok calmly accept her due and Bum Jo’s mom losing her son to her own greed.
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