You’re only as strong as your weakest link and a team-con is only as strong as the least loyal person. Ties shift this episode, and some may surprise you while others may stun you. Yes, I know surprise and stun are similar words. But I had exactly those reactions.
Police Unit 38 Episode 15:
SungIl gets the shock of his life to see Choi ChulWoo sitting in their secret lair and he’s so stunned speechless that he barely manages to utter a question about how Choi ChulWoo can be there. Fortunately for him, JungDo arrives and takes over, much more calm and collected, though no less tense.
JungDo asks how he’d come to know of their hideout and Choi ChulWoo just gives him a hard stare and vaguely remarks that it’s why they’ll never be able to beat him before shuffling out. They don’t know what’s important. Huh.
SungIl suspects that Choi ChulWoo saw everything on their table, but is certain that he never saw the plans to con Cho SangJin and Cha MyeongSoo into doing loan fraud.
Choi ChulWoo arrives back at his office and sits with his one and only competent high-ranking employee, Director Ahn, planning how they’re going to get Cho SangJin and Cha MyeongSoo. Oh damn, so he knew. He muses that he’s going to make use of his Police Commissioner friend to deal with his corrupt subordinates, thinking to arrest them the moment they turn up at the bank. Director Ahn thinks one step ahead and suggests that they get those goons even before the reach the bank, since the doctored papers that they’ll have will deliver a blow to Kukjin Construction. No one else must have them. Choi ChulWoo thinks that’s a good idea, since he can use those papers as insurance in case Mayor Chun doesn’t get elected into his second term, which is looking likely.
If Mayor Chun doesn’t get elected, then he’s planning to go ahead with the loan scam, but this time, he’ll take the money and leave Cha MyeongSoo to take the blame and rot in jail. After all, money is the most important. Wow, you’re scary. Even Director Ahn looks a little taken aback at his ruthlessness.
Director Ahn recovers and asks what’s in it for him then. Choi ChulWoo looks him in the eyes and asks him what he wants – money or power? Director Ahn wants both, so Choi ChulWoo tells him to stick close by him. In four years, he’ll make Director Ahn the mayor of the city.
Meanwhile, JungDo sits with Secretary Kim, who got a call from his informants in the prosecutors’ office and and had learnt that JungDo has been compromised. Previously, the prosecutors office only had circumstantial evidence of their scamming activities, but now, they have solid evidence of the gang conning people, right from the con with Ma JinSeok.
That means that there’s a spy in the gang, though they don’t know who, and JungDo asks Chairman Wang what they should do now. Continue or shut down the operation? It’ll be very dangerous to go on when they’re so exposed like this.
JungDo acknowledges that he shouldn’t suspect his own people, especially when he was the one who betrayed them 2 years earlier. He decides that he’ll be going ahead.
Chairman Wang concedes to his decision, but warns him do his absolute best and succeed since he’s even dragged him into their plans. Chairman Wang never bets on a losing game, so JungDo had better deliver. JungDo asks SungIl for his opinion and SungIl suggests to come clean to the rest of the gang.
JungDo gathers the rest of the gang the next day and while they’re all smiles and happiness, he’s much less carefree, looking at them with a hint of sadness.
BangShil quietens the young ones down and lets JungDo take the stage. He comes out direct and tells them that there’s a spy in their midst. The room falls into a dead silence, and JungDo continues in a small voice.
He confesses that he knows that someone gave information on him two years ago and fears that the same person just sold them out again this time to Choi ChulWoo. HakJoo demands to know who the “vermin” is.
JungDo doesn’t know who the spy is, but he does know this: getting exposed two years ago resulted in only him getting the fall. But this time, if their operation is blown apart, there’ll be lots of people who’ll get hurt, from SungHee, to Dami and her grandfather to the people who are still fighting for Maseok-dong. Therefore, he pleads the betrayer, whom he suspects did so in order to exact revenge on him for his own betrayal years ago, to hold back for now.
He thinks back to SungHee’s words about playing with people’s feelings hurting the other side and making one lonely and entreats the betrayer to just endure it, just this once, because he can’t bear to see others get hurt ever again.
He turns the floor over to SungIl who tells them that they don’t have a Plan B for scamming Choi SangJin and Cha MyeongSoo, nor are they stopping now. He asks if they have anything to say and when no one makes a peep, he sighs that they’ll just continue with their plan as agreed then.
Commissioner/Director Ahn sits in a coffee shop waiting for someone… and that someone turns out to be HakJoo, his informant. What the ****… well, he was the angriest at being betrayed by JungDo 2 years ago, so it makes sense.
HakJoo tells it straight to Director Ahn that the gang has found out that there was an information leak, though they don’t know for sure that it was his doing. He still continues to play spy, informing Director Ahn that JungDo is pushing ahead with the current plan of loan scams without suspecting anyone, for real, but Director Ahn doesn’t fall for his words so easily and implies that HakJoo could be feesing him false information right now. HakJoo flies into a temper, shocked that Director Ahn suspects him.
Director Ahn of course waves his worries off and wants to know when the gang will be starting their con on Cha MyeongSoo and Cho SangJin. He’s going to use their con to get rid of those two Choi ChulWoo betraying weasels.
Ignorant Cho SangJin sits in his office anxiously, waiting for his document of doom to be ready and once the poor innocent and ignorant employee that he’d tasked with creating it is done with it, he rips it out of her hands and leaves to meet his partner in crime. Along the way, he calls Cha MyeongSoo, whose departure from office catches the attention of Director Ahn. He in turn calls Choi ChulWoo, who’s just waiting in his corrupt Police Commissioner friend’s room waiting for the show to start.
Cho SangJin also puts in a call to Ma JinSeok, who takes the call in HakJoo’s office, surrounded by the rest of our team. He leaves, cheerful and upbeat with his usual cheeky grin, none the more wiser that he’s walking into a trap. JungDo watches him go and when MiJoo asks if it’ll be okay, he replies that it will be. They’ll have to make it work.
Apparently, Ma JinSeok isn’t that innocent after all because he’s made a deal with JaeSeong too, both having planned to get 5 million each from Cho SangJin and Cha MyeongSoo and Choi ChulWoo. Whoa, these people…
Unaware of everything, SungHee goes to Mayor Chun’s room as he’d requested. He requests that she quit her work and join his campaign, and she asks if he has to run again too this time. She’s of the idea that he should give up the seat to someone new who may do better than him by working away from Choi ChulWoo. Mayor Chun gets indignant, saying that this is only just the start of creating his dream Seowon city but he also comments that no one has ever seen a Seowon city without Choi ChulWoo.
He stands to leave and swears to her that he’ll show her just what kind of mayor her father is from now on.
The moment of the con with Cho SangJin and Cha MyeongSoo comes and Director Ahn hides in his car with HakJoo at his side, only mere meters away from those blind bats. The blind bats meet and are ridiculously happy, especially when Ma JinSeok comes along and checks their papers and declares them perfectly done. He congratulates the two on being set for life.
The three musketeers start to walk out of the café, with their heads held high, but are soon stopped by the Police Commissioner and his subordinates. They’re arrested and of course they struggle, which is when Ma JinSeok loses the document of doctored accounts which is their ticket to a long, relaxing stay in jail.
The Police Commissioner picks that up and passes it along to a smug Director Ahn, who in turn passes it to HakJoo to give it to Choi ChulWoo while he himself goes off Cho SangJin’s office as planned earlier. At the same time, JungDo, SungIl and MiJoo wait in HakJoo’s office on tenterhooks.
At the same time, men in black from Kukjin visits Cho SangJin’s office and calls out for the lady who created the doctored accounts. But… but where’s Director Ahn?
Huh, there was more to JungDo’s confrontation with the gang about the betrayer. Apparently, HakJoo had fessed up to selling JungDo out. He was livid, growling that he did it because JungDo betrayed them first two years ago, and had admitted that it was all done in revenge against JungDo. Even now, he’d rejoined them only to get back at him.
He snaps and lashes out, demanding to know how JungDo feels to be conned now, though it all sounds like words of a regretful and angry man than taunts of derision. Understandably, the rest of the team is flabbergasted and MiJoo asks him how he could do that, questioning his humanity.
BangShil snarls and asks if he’d therefore sold them out this time too.
HakJoo breaks down, demanding to know why they’re treating him like he’s the one at fault when it was JungDo who back-stabbed them all. He screams that he’ll quit and chases them out.
All these while, JungDo had just looked on, his eyes a little red-rimmed, with regret and sorrow and it is only now that he speaks up. He apologizes to HakJoo, calling him Hyung and by name and puts the ball in his court, asking HakJoo what he wants them to do now. He’ll go along with whatever he tells them to do.
That puts HakJoo in a tough spot, and he walks off to wash his face as he comes to terms with his own anger and regret.
This time, he thinks back to when the team was at Dami’s restaurant rebuilding it, warm and kind. Aw, he’d looked so lost and remorseful then, unable to smile sincerely. That thought prompted him, back at his tell-all with the rest of our team, to continue with their operation. He warns JungDo that he’s not forgiving him, but he agrees to play double-spy and asks the team to turn the situation around, back with them, 100%. At least now they know that Choi ChulWoo knows everything, courtesy of HakJoo’s anger.
HakJoo decides to go the 21st century route, going with internet leakage of Kukjin’s doctored accounts rather than insisting on the the cumbersome loan fraud with Cha MyeongSoo and Cho SangJin.
In the present, HakJoo takes the document to JaWang’s place, commanding him to scan it all. Only thing is, Director Ahn is sitting right in JaWang seat while JaWang himself lies limp in a corner, having been beat up by Director Ahn’s Men in Black. Uh oh.
HakJoo knows that he’s in trouble and so decides to make a run for it, but not without putting in a secret call to JungDo, informing him that they’ve been found out. Unfortunately, he didn’t major in martial arts and is caught by the Men in Black and is beaten to a sad limp sack and then thrown together in a pile with still-unconscious JaWang. Eeps!
Slimy Director Ahn takes the papers and leaves.
JungDo goes into full panic mode when he doesn’t hear from HakJoo over the phone and dashes off to JaWang’s place, SungIl and MiJoo in tow.
Choi ChulWoo is having the time of his life in his office, when he’s told that Mayor Chun is suddenly here for a visit. He’s put off, but he allows the mayor a meeting, where he is shocked by Mayor Chun’s declaration that the fate between them is over (i.e.: he’s backing out).
Nononono! JungDo finds HakJoo completely beaten up and scarily unresponsive. SungIl proves to work well under stress and he commands MiJoo to call for an ambulance.
Mayor Chun fights words with Choi ChulWoo, rhetorically asking him if he’s always thought that he always had the upper hand between them. Director Ahn joins them, with the incriminating document in hand but while Choi ChulWoo smiles at him proudly and expectantly, Director Ahn gives the papers to Mayor Chun, looking pointedly at Choi ChulWoo, the guy who’d forced his ex-boss to throw him away. Did… did they just team up against Choi ChulWoo? HA!
Director Ahn just sends a short apology and a curt bow in Choi ChulWoo’s way and saunters out of there, having shown him what happens to people who throw others away like sweet wrappers.
With the incriminating documents in his possession, Mayor Chun now has the upper hand. In return for its secrecy and therefore the protection of his money source, Mayor Chun wants Choi ChulWoo to disappear. He swears that he’s going to become the people’s upright mayor from now on, so he commands Choi ChulWoo to disappear from both his life and Seowon City.
Choi ChulWoo just snarls that if he were going to do this, he shouldn’t have held his hand. If he were so upstanding, his dirty money would never have been able to entice Mayor Chun. However, he understands Mayor Chun’s words and agrees to back out, but not without retorting that they’re both the same kind of person, something that Mayor Chun will come to realize soon enough. Even though Mayor Chun makes to leave, he continues with his questioning. He’s sure that Mayor Chun has gotten another sponsor, because he’s too confident otherwise.
BangShil and daughter finally get news of the incident and arrive at the hospital to see both guys terribly beaten up. BangShil cautiously asks MiJoo, who’s there, whether they’ll live or die and MiJoo tells her not to misunderstand. They’re just sleeping after having stuffed themselves with snacks, which is their cue to snore and grind their teeth. HAA!
JungDo and SungIl meet with Secretary Kim, who rips JungDo a new one for failing the operation. He barks that Chairman Wang only supported JungDo because behind his arrogance were actual skills. But now, all he sees is arrogance and a bunch of failures. SungIl interrupts the moment and sighs that he’s waited for 2 years already. Since this is a fight that needs to be won, then they should continue to the end until they’ve won. Without getting tired, they should see it to the end. Right now, they’ve only barely thrown one jab. He says that they should continue hitting Choi ChulWoo until he falls.
In a separate meeting, Chairman Wang begins to have cold feet as he darkly notes that Choi ChulWoo is no easy rival. And at the same time, that rival calls for Sa JaeSeong.
Mayor Chun sighs in his office to hear from the news on television that he and his rival are only decimals apart in the opinion polls. Director Ahn comes to meet him, smiling, and asks to become Seowon City’s vice-mayor, as he’s cut all ties with Kukjin. He has decided to follow Mayor Chun to the end.
Mayor Chun half-smirks at him, wondering why such a smart person is offering to do something this foolish, especially when there’s no guaratee of Mayor Chun getting a second term.
Director/Commissioner Ahn refutes that last claim, deadpanning that he did all of Mayor Chun’s dirty work only because he wasn’t smart. He knows all of Mayor Chun’s dirty secrets and turns that into his credit, saying that Mayor Chun needs someone like him to win the votes.
He claims that he isn’t threatening. He’s just begging Mayor Chun… begging him not to let him give into telling Choi ChulWoo the truth of what Mayor Chun did with Bang PilGyu 8 years ago in desperation.
He reads the public sentiment and knows that the outcome of the election all boils down to money, plain and simple. Now that Mayor Chun doesn’t have Choi ChulWoo, what’s he going to do to fight for his place?
Director/Commissioner Ahn ruefully sighs at Mayor Chun giving Maseok-dong to Choi ChulWoo so easily. Such a wonderful bargaining chip shouldn’t have just been given away as a parting gift.
He should have used it for politics, and Commissioner Ahn offers to deal with Kim ChangSoo (AKA Secretary Kim) for him.
At the same time, Choi ChulWoo gives Sa JaeSeong his requested money and demands to hear what information he has. It must be something big, because Sa JaeSeong smirks, completely comfortable and confident.
From her office, SungHee gets a call from Mayor Chun telling her that he knows about the conmen’s relationship with Secretary Kim. He warns her that Commissioner Ahn is meeting with him right now. Er… rather, he’s meeting with the top dog, Chairman Wang.
Director Ahn sits with Chairman Wang and tells him to betray JungDo, speaking to his ego and reputation, calling it beneath him to work with conmen like JungDo. He admits that he’d known of Chairman Wang because he’d looked into BangShil and when Chairman Wang doesn’t look like he’s about to give in, he offers the businessman Maseok-dong. JungDo and SungIl wait in HakJoo’s office, nervous and anxious.
Mayor Chun isn’t that much of a snake because he spills everything to SungHee. He leaves her with a parting phrase, “look at the world through naive eyes, but don’t live naively”, and leaves her to inform SungIl about the latest hitch in their plans.
SungHee calls SungIl and informs him that Mayor Chun knows all about JungDo’s relationship with Chairman Wang.
Commissioner Ahn dangles Maseok-dong right in front of Chairman Wang, warning him that he doesn’t have a lot of time to think. The businessman bites. Chairman Wang tells Secretary Kim to put JungDo’s operation on hold.
Mayor Chun gets a call from Choi ChulWoo, who tells him that he has something shocking for him while BangShil gets the call from Chairman Wang, ordering her off JungDo’s case.
Poor JungDo gets told of that and his face turns to stone.
Choi ChulWoo himself stuns Mayor Chun, by sharing that he’s heard that Kim MinShik, SungIl’s brother-in-law and his ex subordinate, didn’t commit suicide after all.
I CALLED IT! I CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLED IT! MinShik didn’t commit suicide after all! Damn, what kind of hole has Mayor Chun dug for himself? It’s one thing to take dirty money and roll in it but another to play with the death of another person. If the information gets leaked, his career is totally over, especially when there’s a rival with such strong support from the public just waiting in the stands.
Police Unit 38 has always kept the bar high, but this time, it’s raising it even further up by increasing the number of cons going on at the same time. I don’t believe that everything from the start of this episode on was part of JungDo’s plans like in the previous cons because there are just too many variables for him to control. In fact, I was surprised that the con that he got caught for 2 years ago was a legitimate attempt on his part to pull Choi ChulWoo down. I think I’d overestimated his skills and underestimated just how much sway JungDo’s emotions have on him.
This is the first time I’ve seen JungDo so defeated and lost. I’m much more used to the suave, charming and confident JungDo, who flashes that cheeky grin all the time even while he’s running away only by the skin of his teeth. From now on, if he’s going to pull this whole con off on Choi ChulWoo and Mayor Chun, he’s going to have to wing it properly and practice what he preached: cons are all about what you do in the situations. After all, he’s playing with the big guys now and compared to when he was conning Bang PilGyu and Ma JinSeok, there’s a lot that he doesn’t know about both guys.
SungIl takes a backseat this episode, but he remains the anchor for the entire team. He’s the only one who’s waited so long to get back at Choi ChulWoo, while the others have only just started and are therefore breaking down and getting impatient. I loved his sentence about not fighting a winning game but fighting until you win, because that’s something people keep forgetting in life. Most of us like security and most of us only choose to do what is safe. Anything else that doesn’t happen the way we like gets called impossible, like Mayor Chun noting that there’s never been a Seowon City without Choi ChulWoo and lamenting all those episodes ago about wanting to fight money but real change only comes when you keep fighting the good fight, until the very end.
Like Pocahontas sang, “how high does the sycamore grow? If you cut it down, then you’ll never know.” How far can our conmen go? If you stop now, you’ll never know.
HakJoo’s betrayal was surprising and yet not surprising at the same time. Surprising because I just never expected it – after all, but selling out JungDo, he’s incriminating himself too – but also not surprising, because, like I’ve written, he was the most angry of the bunch and when you get angry, you go a cuckoo. Also, he’s clearly not up to par with cons that require him to speak, because his “I won’t betray you!” with Director/Commissioner Ahn was just so unbelievably weak, haha.
The real MVP of the episode has to be Director/Commissioner Ahn, who played both sides well. He worked for Choi ChulWoo and now offers to work for Mayor Chun, but it’s clear that the only person he’ll ever really work for is himself and that’s the kind of guy you should always be wary of because you can’t trust him and you’ll never know which way he’ll turn, since you’ll never know everything about him. He’s like the bad guy version of JungDo, the less idealistic and blind version of Mayor Chun and the more ruthless version of Choi ChulWoo. In short, he’s the most political of the bunch and if there ever was a whole drama about him and how he plays people, I think I’d be very interested. Oh wait, there was a drama like that. Called Punch.
It’s already 15 episodes, and I think it’s appropriate to lament SungHee’s limited time screen about now. She was once insufferably idealistic, but after the kerfuffle with Bang PilGyu, she’s losing those rose tinted glasses and gradually crossing to our conman’s side. She was and is never part of the gang but it’s undeniable that she’s a really great influence on their operations, not just because she’s their informant, but also because she emotionally moors JungDo, who just about leads the gang. To be honest, I don’t think her role is challenging at all, since she just looks sad about 90% of the time, but Choi SooYoung should still be applauded for bringing the character to life, especially in the last episode when she was watching SungIl acting like a loser. There was exasperation, but there wasn’t disgust and to tell the truth, I couldn’t really read her then.
Tonight’s the finale and well, buckle up, because I’m pretty sure we’re going on a roller coaster ride. 1, 2, 3, wheeee!!!!!