Does anyone else feel like the more we find out, the less we know? This show does “alternative facts” like nobody’s business. We can’t even answer the most basic question underlying this whole entire show: Did he jump or was he pushed? I don’t knoooow! Nobody knows! Maybe Ji-hoon knows! All I know is, finale week needs to come fast, if only to put me out of the (really fun) misery of speculation.
EPISODE 10 RECAP
Ji-hoon asks if Woo-hyuk ever thought about how the person he was tormenting felt about his “jokes,” and whether he’d ever really looked to see if they were laughing or crying. Woo-hyuk’s eyes remain downcast and Ji-hoon carries on, calling him to account for his actions against his peers, until finally Woo-hyuk bolts up and yells at him to stop.
Turning to the audience, Ji-hoon affirms that Woo-hyuk was falsely accused (of murder). But he closes by saying that the letter of accusation came as self-defense against the tyranny Woo-hyuk wrought. Woo-hyuk looks out at the sea of student faces, and haunted by the realization of his wrongdoings, a tear rolls down his cheek. “I’m sorry,” he says to the assembled students, “I’m sorry.”
Watching from the back of the hall, Joo-ri shouts, “No!” and runs to the front, desperately insisting that she saw him kill So-woo. She cites the clink-clink sound as evidence, but Ji-hoon refutes her, saying she heard the sound when she went up there herself.
She freezes for a moment, and then resumes her denial. “Choi Woo-hyuk is a murderer! He must never, never be forgiven!” she screams. Looking at her with tears in his eyes, Woo-hyuk apologizes. Raising his voice to address everyone, he says again, “I’m sorry. I [really] am.” But with her eyes rolling back, Joo-ri faints, marking an end to the day’s proceedings.
Seo-yeon silently brings a humidifier to Joo-ri’s bed in the infirmary. She’s about to leave when Joo-ri tells her she really did see someone on the rooftop that night, and when she reached the school, she saw someone running away. “This is the truth,” she says. For the first time, I believe her, but it looks like Seo-yeon is done. She simply tells Joo-ri to rest.
Meanwhile, the jury retires to deliberate. In the clubroom, the club kids sit in silence until Ji-hoon lets himself out. The second he’s gone, Seung-hyun leaps up and curses him for misusing his research. Soo-hee figures that the student locked in the shower room overnight was Joo-ri, but thinks accusing him of murder was going too far. But then she admits she doesn’t know how she would react to that, either.
Ji-hoon finds Woo-hyuk alone and stands silently beside him. Woo-hyuk wonders if Ji-hoon fed him all those lines about being on his side just to throw him under the bus like this. Turning to him, Ji-hoon replies that he got Woo-hyuk acquitted of the murder charge, but covering up his other wrongdoings wasn’t his job.
“Choi Woo-hyuk. Cursing someone, raising your voice, throwing punches, hurting people on a whim, and then not being able to remember it… doesn’t that remind you of someone?” Ji-hoon asks. Woo-hyuk knows that it makes him like his father, but asks what he can do when that’s how he’s made.
Almost tender, Ji-hoon tells Woo-hyuk that even in a life where there are few choices, he realized that there was one that always remained: “How I live [my life] is my choice.” Smiling, he tells Woo-hyuk that he’s cheering him on: “As a friend.” Despite his silence, it’s clear Woo-hyuk is moved.
Seo-yeon broods at her usual spot in the stairwell when a message arrives from the Sentinel telling her to raise her head, because it’s not over yet—they still haven’t discovered what happened to So-woo. Eyes widening, she bolts up, searching for someone watching. But there’s no one there, though out of a window, she spies Ji-hoon striding away.
The next morning, Seo-yeon tells her mom that the trial will be over once the judge gives his verdict after talking to the jury. Waiting for her outside, Joon-young hurriedly checks his appearance and even puts on a little chapstick, hehe. But Seo-yeon stops short at the gate, staring at the message she just got.
It’s from Ji-hoon as the Sentinel, a screencap of a report Joo-ri made at 12:30 a.m. on the night of So-woo’s death, saying she saw a male running out of the building. Seo-yeon shares it with the girls, and tells them that Joo-ri actually told her this earlier, but she had a hard time believing her after everything. Now, Seo-yeon wants to investigate it before their time is up.
They retrace the steps described in her report: The male ran out of the building and towards the stairs. They follow the maze of stairs… which leads to a dead end. They wonder why he ran here, and Yoo-jin suggests that he didn’t know where he was going. The realization dawns on Seo-yeon that perhaps he wasn’t a student of their school. Soo-hee notices the car close by has an active blackbox recorder.
Detective Oh has called Ji-hoon out for a friendly meeting. Taking him by surprise, she asks if he was very close to So-woo, and why he kept the friendship secret. “Right now, are you the Jeongguk Sentinel?” she asks. He says he didn’t expect her to find out already, and admits that he wants to discover what really happened to So-woo. Revealing himself would get in the way of that.
He explains that becoming the defense counsel gave him a good pretext for taking part in the trial. “And Choi Woo-hyuk wasn’t the culprit to begin with,” he finishes. Though she’s surprised that he’s looking for another culprit, she warns him that he’s hurting his club-friends by deceiving them.
He asks her to keep his secret a little longer, until he reveals everything: “The kids might end up hating me, but I’m okay with that.” Detective Oh sighs heavily.
Meanwhile, the girls have acquired the blackbox footage and they find something: At 12:09 a.m., their male student runs by, although they only get a back-view of him.
The three girls march in on Min-seok and the jury, and Seo-yeon requests one more hearing. With the full club and jury in attendance, she tells them that new evidence has surfaced and plays the video footage. She also tells them about the calls on So-woo’s private line and the crying boy.
She says that they have yet to find out what happened to So-woo, and their new evidence shows that an unknown person was around him. They discuss continuing the trial without a defendant, and Seo-yeon says that Ji-hoon can continue to argue the case for suicide, while they oppose.
The dean finds a cluster of students gathered around an announcement for a fourth hearing. Furious, she tears it down and takes it to the principal, who is appalled and immediately informs Kyung-moon.
Kyung-moon comes to the school right away with a couple more officials in tow. They want the principal to implement the new expulsion policy, but he balks, saying that the inevitable backlash would be too much for him to handle.
Kyung-moon coolly tells the vice principal that they’ve discovered that he breached the school violence committee’s protocol, and brought the school into disrepute by allowing the trial. Therefore, he’s relieved of his position, says Kyung-moon.
And who should enter then but the old principal—this is obviously his bribe for dropping out of the trial. The vice principal is agog, stuttering that he only did what Kyung-moon told him, but Kyung-moon is indifferent to his pleas.
While the girls try to get a better look at the running boy, they’re shocked by a phone call from Cho-rong. They immediately go to the hospital, where she’s awake and smiling to see them. Cho-rong tells them she saw the trial and thanks them for taking Joo-ri’s side. She tells them that what happened to her was an accident, and not Joo-ri’s doing.
She says that although people think Joo-ri is a terrible person, “She’s a good person to me.” She describes Joo-ri going to see movies she didn’t like because Cho-rong wanted to, and how she bought her a friendship bracelet. “We have a lot more good memories,” she says, and tells them that Joo-ri isn’t at all what everyone thinks she is. “I really wanted to tell you that,” she finishes.
Joon-young finds his mother sobbing in her sleep, and rouses her in worry. Seeing him, she recoils, hatred twisting her features. “Mom… that dream again?” Joon-young asks. Pushing him aside, she rushes to his room and starts throwing his clothes into a bag. Packing frenetically, she asks how much longer she has to wake up to see his face.
“I’ll do it,” Joon-young says, distressed. That makes her even more angry, and she screams that he should be begging for forgiveness. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” he tells her firmly, but her litany of curses continues. Tearing up, he says the true reason she’s mad at him is his older brother, but it’s not his fault that Hyung died.
“How is it not your fault?” Mom asks, attacking him. “He died because of you!” Dad gets home just then and pulls his wife off his son. She goes eerily from sobbing to glaring, and then to screaming again. According to her, his brother Joon-seok died because he followed Joon-young somewhere he wasn’t meant to go.
Pushed over the edge, Joon-young cries out that it was better that Hyung died than to see her go mad like this, and that he never had to hate her. Mom goes crazy at those words and launches herself at Joon-young. Dad blocks her again, and Joon-young escapes, shaking with his own tears.
His dad catches up with him and begs him not to be like this. He reminds them that they decided to be grateful that at least Mom didn’t kill herself. “But I want to die!” Joon-young cries. He says he nearly did—he climbed onto the rooftop ledge, but got scared and came down. If not for Seo-yeon, he would have gathered his courage and done it, he recounts.
“I want to believe it will be okay if I can just bear it for a while, but it’s too hard,” he says, tears rolling down his face. Shocked into silence, Dad stays rooted to the spot, and Joon-young flees into the night. Once alone, Joon-young sobs his heart out.
Ji-hoon returns home to find Joon-young waiting outside his apartment building, without even a coat. He greets him smiling and jokes that he should keep a toothbrush for him in his bathroom. Joon-young laughs a little, bashful and glad.
Inside, Ji-hoon goes off to make ramyun for him and tells Joon-young to wear anything from his closet. Joon-young looks for something to wear, when a backpack with a distinctive Captain America charm catches his eye. He flashes back to the stranger he saw just before discovering So-woo’s body—that person’s bag had the same charm.
Ji-hoon calls him to eat. When Joon-young doesn’t answer, he rushes anxiously to his room, but is relieved to find him just dressing. Left alone once again, Joon-young looks troubled.
Seo-yeon ponders over the Sentinel forwarding Joo-ri’s report to her. Scrolling up, she reads the Sentinel’s past messages, which instruct her on the finer points of how to conduct a trial, and wonders suspiciously, “Why me?”
She goes to see Reporter Park, with Detective Oh in tow. She asks Park if he’s found out who the Sentinel is. She reveals that the Sentinel was the one who suggested a school trial, and that they planned it together. Detective Oh throws a surprised glance at Reporter Park.
Seo-yeon continues that the Sentinel was always a good friend to her, but now she feels like he’s been maneuvering her according to his own plans. Park is about to tell her who the Sentinel is when Detective Oh stops him. Looking from one to the other, Seo-yeon realizes they both already know. Looking unhappy about keeping the truth from her, Park just advises her not to trust the Sentinel too much.
The two adults stay behind, and Detective Oh tells Reporter Park that she didn’t realize Ji-hoon pulled the strings to open the trial from the outset. She wonders who his target is, if not Woo-hyuk. “I think… it’s the school. That’s my instinct,” says Park. But Oh can’t believe Ji-hoon would set himself up against his own father.
At school, the news spreads that the old principal is back. Summoned by the dean, Seo-yeon and the rest of the club are told to sign a form dissolving the trial club, which she classifies as unapproved group action as per the school’s (new) policy.
With each protest, the dean takes off points from them. She tells them they’re suspended for each day they don’t give up, and after one week, that becomes grounds for automatic expulsion. But she reminds them that even the suspension will remain on their permanent records.
The kids see the suspension notice posted up and worry about how it will affect their university entrance. Joon-young says he’s still in, but Seo-yeon says they should all go home and think about it, since it’s serious business that will affect their futures.
Outside, a man calls out to Seo-yeon, and she greets him joyfully. He turns out to be a one-time art teacher there, who just came back from traveling and only heard about So-woo now. Serious, the teacher tells her he wants to testify, because he doesn’t believe So-woo killed himself either.
A flashback shows So-woo staring at that familiar painting of the magpie on the gallows. “If I disappear one day, what will you do?” he had asked the teacher. “The school is telling me to leave.” The teacher had just laughed.
Seo-yeon’s parents are shocked to hear about her suspension. Her dad says he’ll sort it out, but Seo-yeon says she can’t let the trial be jeopardized. They still don’t know what happened to So-woo, and if they let go now, she’s worried it’ll just get buried forever. She admits she’s scared about the effect it could have on her future and on her friends, but no matter which way she looks at it, continuing the trial is the right thing to do.
Sometime later, Seo-yeon gets a call, and she meets the (ex-)vice principal. He’s rueful about their suspensions, and says it’s a shame that they met a bad friend. He quickly clarifies that he didn’t mean Seo-yeon, but Ji-hoon, whose father was responsible for giving the order.
That’s news to Seo-yeon, and she’s shocked to find out that Ji-hoon’s dad is the head of Jeongguk Foundation’s legal division. The ex-vice-principal also mentions that Kyung-moon was involved in the Lee So-woo case.
Ji-hoon arrives home this time to find Seo-yeon waiting for him. He hasn’t heard about their suspension and the threat of expulsion if they don’t give up the trial. She points out that he took as much a lead in the trial as she did, and his school (Jeongguk Arts High School) is run by the same Jeongguk Foundation.
“So why are you the only one who’s okay? Isn’t it strange that nothing’s happened to you?” she asks darkly. He makes no reply, but as she leaves, he calls after her and asks, “You’ll carry on with the trial, won’t you?”
“Even if I have to do it alone, I’ll take it to the end,” she replies, voice hard.
When Kyung-moon returns to his darkened study that night, he isn’t even surprised to find Ji-hoon waiting for him. Ji-hoon says he didn’t expect Dad to be that crude, but Dad says it was an internal decision by the school, and argues that he can’t influence them for personal reasons. Ji-hoon asks why he’s the only one unaffected, then.
“If the kids get expelled, I’ll drop out, too,” he says, or get himself forcibly expelled somehow. “There’s nothing you can do to get expelled,” Dad tells him. That’s a little frightening, and Ji-hoon looks perturbed, too. He threatens to reveal the fact that he’s the son of a murderer. “That’s what you’re afraid of most… that I might get hurt,” he says.
Stricken, Dad says he’s doing this to protect him. But Ji-hoon asks if he isn’t really protecting himself, noting that Dad thinks So-woo didn’t tell him anything. He says he’s going through with the next hearing no matter what. Worried, Kyung-moon rounds his desk, but Ji-hoon recoils from his touch.
He returns to his own room, where Joon-young appears to be already asleep. But when Ji-hoon goes into the bathroom, Joon-young opens his eyes.
In the bathroom, Ji-hoon thinks back to So-woo asking him if he should tell him his dad’s secrets. He starts to cry, and it turns into racking sobs.
Elsewhere, Seo-yeon recalls Ji-hoon’s fighting words about whether he’d told only one lie. She taps out a message to the Sentinel to ask about Ji-hoon, but then stops short. Why, why? Did you figure it out?
It’s the second day of their suspension. Teachers Kim and Park drop into the clubroom where the kids are assembled. They’re sorry they couldn’t block the suspension, but it turns out they got suspended, too. Seo-yeon tells the teachers that she decided to take this thing to the end, but tells her friends not to feel bad and do what they need to do.
Seung-hyun and Soo-hee reluctantly admit that they have to drop out, but Ji-hoon, Joon-young, and Yoo-jin all say they’ll carry on. They turn to Min-seok, who grumpily asks how they can have a trial without a judge, plus, none of them can do what he does anyhow, so he has no choice.
“Of course, it’ll mar my perfect record, but there are many ways to overcome that,” he says. Aww, Min-seok. You don’t get enough love, do you, you giant dorkboard. (Anyone else think he’s like a cross between Grumpy and Doc?) Soo-hee and Seung-hyun promise to cheer them on (and start a fanclub), and the group is in good spirits, even Ji-hoon. Joon-young steals a pensive glance at him.
Working on their prosecution later, Yoo-jin wonders to Seo-yeon how they can go to trial with no more evidence or witnesses regarding their runaway male. Before they can say more, Seo-yeon is summoned to the principal’s office.
But when she arrives, it’s Kyung-moon who greets her. He invites her to sit, and introduces himself as Han Kyung-moon of the Jeongguk Foundation’s legal division. Her eyes widen.
It suddenly feels really dangerous, doesn’t it? But it’s so characteristic of this show to give us people we can’t figure out, with opposing aspects that we can’t reconcile, whether it’s the speck of good lighting the bad, or the touch of darkness marring the good… especially when half the challenge is figuring out whether the good you see is the exception or the rule. Is Kyung-moon’s love for his son only his speck of goodness? Is he really our villain? Did Ji-hoon set out on the trial intending to catch his father? I don’t knoooow, but I do think Reporter Park has landed on Ji-hoon’s bigger picture—finding out what happened to So-woo is the motive, but exposing the school’s corruption could well be his endgame. There’s something a little anti-climactic about it, though… it’s pretty mundane after what the rest of this show has been like. But, I won’t borrow disappointment when this show has yet to disappoint me.
I think the timeline has become a tiny bit clearer, at least. I’m assuming Ji-hoon is the running boy as well as the crying boy (there’s that distinctive tan coat in the video), so we have him calling So-woo at 11:00 p.m. that night, in a call that lasted around twenty minutes, ending with him crying. By midnight, So-woo is dead, and at 12:09 a.m., Ji-hoon ran out of the building. He was there again the next morning. But here’s the problem with all this information: We still don’t know anything, and only Ji-hoon has those answers. What happened in between? What was said between the boys? Why was Ji-hoon crying?
Over the last few weeks, I was lulled into thinking that Joon-young’s life was all better now—now that he has friends, now that he’d chosen not to jump. But it’s not like that, is it? Nothing’s really changed the unbearableness of his life at home. He’s not like Ji-hoon or Woo-hyuk, who have in some measure put the abuses of their past behind them, even if it’s just days ago in Woo-hyuk’s case. Although he enjoyed some fellowship of shared experience with the two boys, he’s also isolated from them because they don’t know. Although the girls know, the empathy of someone who’s been where you are is different to the sympathy of friends. Still, I’m glad he has somewhere to go, and Ji-hoon is smart, I think he can fill in the gaps. That whole interlude raises a lot of questions about Joon-young’s backstory, though, although I don’t know if it will be revisited. What happened to his brother? Is it relevant to the broader story? Does his mom have a diagnosis? Can I give him a hug?
There’s really so much depression and sad parenting going around in this show, so it’s great that in the midst of that, we have Seo-yeon’s mom and dad. I like how much they respect her judgement, and give her the rein to make important choices about her own life, even though those choices have serious consequences. On paper, it sounds irresponsible, but as we see it, it’s I think it’s a fantastic expression of the trust and respect between them. As much as parents and families like this in real life (and indeed, in fiction) are few and far between, there’s something very real in the complex negotiation of identity, morals, and agency that takes place here. Allowing that growth to occur despite the risks is a brave, wise thing for her parents to do, and it strikes a sweet note in such an otherwise dark world. It says a lot about Seo-yeon, too, that she chooses to put her conscience before her own interests. There’s a clarity to her character I really like, and I enjoyed that visual juxtaposition of light and dark when she met Ji-hoon outside his apartment block. They’re both the type to burn hot and intense, but where Seo-yeon has no shadows and keeps no secrets (“heroine ingénue” indeed), Ji-hoon is practically made of them.
But as ever with this show, nobody is just one thing, and Ji-hoon has his moments of being the light to the dark, too. What he did for Woo-hyuk was really quite magnificent. By creating the opportunity for Woo-hyuk to apologize and be heard—and, more importantly, have his sincerity accepted—Ji-hoon made it possible for him to return to Jeongguk and have a fresh start, should he want it. His apology would be nothing without his remorse, and it’s such a powerful moment for him. In an environment that pretty much encouraged him to be a psychopath, it’s evident that Woo-hyuk was never given the tools to self-manage, particularly his anger, and his entitled lifestyle validated everything he did, no matter how terrible it was. But social morality is learned: what is allowed and what isn’t, how to take responsibility for your actions, how to pay for your wrongdoing. Ji-hoon’s been bringing him to this point slowly and with compassion, and I think we see the best version of him when he’s with Woo-hyuk. But most moving was their last exchange: Ji-hoon doesn’t close with an offer of friendship, but an acknowledgement that they’re already friends. Damn straight.