There we go! Now this show is picking up the pace. As the adults continue to keep the school’s students as far away from this murder case as possible, our heroine may finally have to step out of line and find her own way to the truth. And while the truth may seem like it’s only an arm’s length away, she and the rest of the students still have a long way to go before they can start their trial.
EPISODE 3 RECAP
One year ago.
The Jeongguk Arts School rock club had given a performance for children in a hospital, with Ji-hoon happily playing the drums. And watching them from the second floor was the (now late) Lee So-woo, wearing a hospital gown and a not-so-happy look on his face.
As the band packed up and left, Ji-hoon had stopped at the sound of So-woo’s voice saying, “It’s dangerous.” So-woo had explained that it was dangerous for Ji-hoon to come to the hospital, since someone could recognize him.
So-woo had tauntingly wondered if he should just let everyone know about Ji-hoon’s past – that the boy who is attending a fine arts school once resided in the psychiatric ward. Ji-hoon scoffed and told So-woo to do whatever he wants. Stepping closer, Ji-hoon had said that since he had nowhere left to fall, So-woo could spread all the rumors he wanted.
That remark had made So-woo smile, and all the tension disappeared from his face. So-woo: “Hey, Han Ji-hoon.” Ji-hoon: “You’ve gotten taller, Lee So-woo.” The boys laughed, both asking how the other had been.
We fade back to the present with Ji-hoon ominously standing in his room after recalling these memories. Kyung-moon comes in to announce dinner, but Ji-hoon has something else in mind as he turns toward his father and says, “So-woo didn’t commit suicide.”
Seo-yeon is feeling overwhelmed with all of the recent events, including her bold confrontation with Reporter Park. She receives a text from Joon-young reporting that he arrived home, which seems to spark an idea in her.
Fresh out of the shower, Joon-young gets a response from Seo-yeon asking if he has time to meet. His eyes adorably light up, and he quickly tears off his pajamas and bounces around trying to look suitable. But once he arrives to the meeting place, he finds Seo-yeon eating with the gang – besties Yoo-jin and Soo-hee, and class clown CHOI SEUNG-HYUN. Aw, Joon-young’s smile drops as he shuffles over to join them.
Everyone wonders why Seo-yeon assembled them tonight, and it takes some prodding before she admits that she might be causing some trouble soon. She’s not willing to reveal what exactly she’ll be doing, but her friends assure her that no matter what it is, they’ll all have her back.
Meanwhile, Detective Oh approaches Woo-hyuk and his friends at a bar to chat (though not before confiscating their drinks and chugging them herself, ha). She asks what they did the night before Christmas, and when the boys insist they don’t remember, she tries again by asking who they were with that night. Woo-hyuk claims that the three of them were together, though one of his friends, KIM DONG-HYUN, looks away shiftily. Dong-hyun lets out a shaky laugh and tries to make a quick escape, but Woo-hyuk screams at him to sit down.
It looks like Woo-hyuk might start getting aggressive, so Detective Oh jumps up and grabs him by the collar and demands to know what was so scary about that night that he can’t tell her anything. She tells him that she doesn’t believe Woo-hyuk is capable of actually killing a classmate, but if he doesn’t have an alibi, he can’t prove his innocence.
“Then how can you prove my guilt?” Woo-hyuk spits back. “You don’t have proof that I killed him.” He gets up to leave while his other minion, LEE SUNG-MIN, follows close behind. But Dong-hyun hangs back and tells Detective Oh in a hushed tone that he wasn’t with Woo-hyuk and Sung-min the night of the murder, and that he has no idea what they did. Detective Oh tries to get more out of him, but when Woo-hyuk calls out to him, he has to leave her with that.
Detective Oh returns to the police station and rejoins Seo-yeon’s father. However, moments later, they come across a wealthy-looking woman making a fuss and asking to see Detective Oh. This woman must be Woo-hyuk’s mother, and she goes off on Detective Oh for bothering her son when the case is supposed to be closed.
Detective Oh explains that they must reinvestigate, considering the letter of accusation that was sent out. This only angers Woo-hyuk’s mom even more, and she calls her lawyer with the intention of suing the kids who sent the letter.
At the school, Kyung-moon listens to the principal’s worries over the letter and his request to reinstate him as soon as possible. As soon as the principal leaves, Kyung-moon calls in his lawyer in the hopes that he can find the senders of the letter.
The school broadcasts an announcement, with the vice principal now speaking as acting principal. The class doesn’t even bother paying attention to what their new principal has to say, resulting in several glares from the dean of students. Yoo-jin suddenly sees something on her phone and exclaims that Joo-ri could be getting sued, which is right when the dean barges in again, yelling at them to be quiet.
The dean gives the girls demerits, and every time Soo-hee musters up a defense, the dean adds yet another demerit. Seo-yeon tries to speak up this time, but the dean clarifies that they’re not in trouble for talking – they’re in trouble for trying to spread rumors when the adults are trying to return to normalcy. The dean yells that all of this is because of all the childish students here. Sheesh, lady, calm down.
The dean starts to walk out, but Seo-yeon can’t seem to sit still. She stands up and calls the dean back, asking why she’s blaming the students for what’s happened at the school. The dean saunters right up to Seo-yeon’s face, wanting to know whose fault she thinks it is. “The school’s,” Seo-yeon answers.
The dean looks as menacing as ever as she starts pulling Seo-yeon out, but Seo-yeon yanks her arm free. Her voice now loud and confident, Seo-yeon tells the dean to say whatever she needs to say here, earning the entire class’s attention. Damn, even I’m shocked. That was badass.
Of course, this only makes the dean’s blood boil. She screams at Seo-yeon, and the homeroom teacher runs in to see what all the fuss is about. Just like that, phones are whipped out left and right, recording the scene. The dean threatens to take their phones away if they don’t stop, but only more pictures and videos are taken.
The dean turns back to Seo-yeon, accusing her of being the worst person in the room for receiving the letter of accusation and pretending not to know anything about it. Seo-yeon swallows hard with guilt before she answers that she’s decided to stop pretending and hiding. “Doesn’t it frustrate all of you?” she says, turning towards her fellow classmates. “We’ve sat back and listened to whatever the adults told us.”
Seo-yeon ignores the dean’s outbursts and continues saying that when someone points at the moon, they should look at the moon and not the finger pointing at it. So instead of trying to blame someone, they should all focus on what they’re curious about: what happened to Cho-rong, why the principal tossed the letter, if the letter was real, and if Woo-hyuk really hurt So-woo. Seo-yeon says that So-woo was the beginning of all this, and if no one will tell them why, they have to find out themselves.
Smack! The dean slaps Seo-yeon hard across the face, and the whole room goes silent. And then she hits Seo-yeon a second time, which gets a stronger reaction from the class. Joon-young immediately gets in between them to shield Seo-yeon from the dean’s blows, and everyone goes crazy either trying to pull people off each other or trying to catch everything on their phones.
Later, Joon-young and Seo-yeon sit in the infirmary, a little scuffed up but overall okay. Once class is over, Joon-young asks if Seo-yeon’s going home. In a small voice, she replies that she’d rather leave when everyone else is gone, so Joon-young sits back down and waits with her.
Seo-yeon’s mom finds the video of the dean hitting Seo-yeon, and she rushes home to find out what happened. Though it really upsets Mom, Seo-yeon insists that she meant what she said about investigating So-woo’s case.
Seo-yeon hates the fact that she stood back and did nothing while Soo-woo was treated unfairly, so if something’s wrong, she’s determined to say that it’s wrong now. Dad calmly states that this is something the adults should worry about and that she shouldn’t let this stress her out, which only frustrates her further. She says that this is the clearest she’s ever thought and that nothing will change her mind before she storms out of the house.
At the same time, Ji-hoon also finds the video, and he rewatches Seo-yeon’s declaration to find the truth about So-woo over and over until he seems to come to a realization.
He texts Seo-yeon as the Sentinel, claiming that he has an idea. He says that there is a certain way that they can discover the truth with factual evidence and debate.
The next thing we know, Seo-yeon and Ji-hoon are busy studying for their big plan separately, only contacting each other through their messages.
Seo-yeon is up all night, and when her dad comes in to check on her the following morning, he sees all the work she’s been up to. Mom sees this too and asks if Seo-yeon really has to go this far. Seo-yeon nods meekly, and Dad actually looks quite proud. He puts a gentle hand on her shoulder, while Mom walks out fuming.
Detective Oh pays Joo-ri a visit at her home, though Joo-ri still seems rather unstable. Unable to speak, she has to write down what she wants to say on paper, and even then, she doesn’t have much to say to Detective Oh. But when Detective Oh reveals that Woo-hyuk’s family plans to sue Joo-ri for defamation, Joo-ri furiously writes that the letter was all Cho-rong’s doing. Detective Oh tries to explain that she’s only trying to help, but Joo-ri decides that she’s heard enough, and drags Detective Oh out the door.
Seo-yeon and Mom march into the acting principal’s office to discuss yesterday’s incident, and Mom keeps a pleasant smile on her face until she hears that the dean of students isn’t coming to the meeting. Furthermore, the principal doesn’t see the need for the dean’s presence since it was Seo-yeon who went against a teacher’s orders, and it’s Seo-yeon who’s in trouble.
Mom immediately gets offended and assumes the principal is saying that it was perfectly okay for the dean to hit Seo-yeon. The principal stutters that that wasn’t what he meant, but Mom is far too angry now, and she demands to have the dean show her face and apologize. Mom ignores the principal’s attempts to calm her down and calls Dad, asking for directions on how to file for unfair discrimination with the Ministry of Education.
The principal looks as if he’s about to pass out as Mom walks out, still yelling into her phone.
Worried, Seo-yeon follows Mom out, only to pause in confusion when she sees Mom smiling. Mom reveals that there was no one on the other line, but that in the real world, you have to intimidate those who won’t accept responsibility. Ha, love it. I can see where Seo-yeon gets some of her sass.
Mom gives Seo-yeon an encouraging “Fighting!” and sends her back in alone. The principal is still flailing after Mom’s grand exit, so Seo-yeon promises to handle her mom as long as he also does something in return. She hands him the documents she spent all night working on: a school trial proposal for So-woo’s death. The dean finally shows up and isn’t too excited over this proposal, but when she tries to raise her voice at Seo-yeon, the principal immediately shushes her, not wanting any more disputes.
Some kids eavesdrop on Seo-yeon’s meeting, and they report back to the classroom, where Yoo-jin announces the “trouble” Seo-yeon must’ve been talking about. Quiet Min-seok’s head snaps up at the mention of a school trial, and he suddenly gets up and exits the room.
The principal tells Seo-yeon that while he understands her intentions, holding a trial will only extend the drama with So-woo’s incident. Seo-yeon lowers her head, not sure how to respond, when Min-seok suddenly lets himself in. He faces the adults and states that he won’t just sit back on this issue either – not when he’s in a school where a student gets slapped for stating their opinion.
“You said students come first, right?” he asks. “Please prove it.” The principal cries out in agony, ordering the students out. I guess the new principal has had enough stress for one day.
When Seo-yeon and Min-seok return to class, Seo-yeon stands in the front of the room to announce her plan for a trial. However, most of the students don’t want to waste their time on a trial. And when Seo-yeon requests everyone’s signatures to gain the school’s approval, the only hands that go up are those of her friends.
The gang regroups after class, wondering how in the world they can pull this off with only five people. They try to remain optimistic, though they all deflate a little to learn that they have to get five hundred consent forms in only three days. Even so, everyone agrees to take on the challenge and help Seo-yeon’s plan happen.
They get right to work, and they go all the way from bribing fangirls with EXO tickets to simply handing out the consent forms. And though they get a good number of signatures, the majority of students simply ignore their efforts.
Exhausted from a long day of rejection, Seo-yeon rests in an empty classroom only to be startled when the Jeongguk Arts School student, Ji-hoon, plops into the next seat. She asks what he’s doing here at her school, but instead of answering, he starts hammering her with questions about the trial preparations. He wants to know who the defendant would be, and wants to know how Woo-hyuk can be the defendant if no one at the school is willing to defend him.
Ji-hoon stands up as he tells Seo-yeon that she’ll need someone who can defend Woo-hyuk fairly, and the only person who can do that is a student from another school. “You?” Seo-yeon asks incredulously.
Now confused, she asks why he just acted so harshly towards her. “I wanted to know how prepared you were,” he answers. He doesn’t think she can handle a trial if she can’t even handle this.
Seo-yeon seems tired of his games, and she tells him that though she appreciates the offer, she won’t be needing his help. She walks out on him with Yoo-jin and Soo-hee right on her tail, both having seen the entire exchange. Seo-yeon ignores their pleas to accept his help and goes the rest of the way home alone. Once she’s in her bedroom, she makes sure to give her stuffed animal a few punches, pretending that it’s Ji-hoon, lol.
In a meeting with the school’s director, the acting principal is reprimanded for allowing the possibility of a trial. Kyung-moon looks especially bothered, saying the principal never should’ve left it in the hands of the students – if things blow up, they will only get worse. However, the principal is sure that the students will never get enough consent forms to make it happen.
Elsewhere, Joon-young showcases some of his skills in a PC-bang, expertly finishing off games for people in return for signatures. He runs out to the park to meet with Seo-yeon and deliver the good news, but he’s taken aback by her slumped figure on the swings.
Seo-yeon raises her head to reveal her tear-stained face. “I don’t think I can live anymore,” she cries. Joon-young joins her on the swings and listens as she explains how Yoo-jin and Soo-hee blocked her online for being angry with her.
She demands to see Joon-young’s phone so she can see what her friends are trying to hide from her. What she finds is the last thing she expected: a flyer for a Jeongguk Arts rock club concert, with Ji-hoon as a special guest. Seo-yeon and Joon-young head to the location of the concert, surprised to see a room full of pumped up students. And in the crowd, Seo-yeon notices a flustered Seung-hyun and Yoo-jin running out of sight with a handful of consent forms.
Joo-ri arrives home to a letter from the police station. She frantically rips it open, her eyes wide with horror to see a request to come in as a reference. She crumples the paper up and screams at the top of her lungs, tearing her room apart. Her mom rushes in and embraces her, though she’s still thrashing around in total anguish and screaming, “I saw it! I saw Choi Woo-hyuk kill him! But why am I the only one suffering?!”
Back at the concert, the band does one last encore. Ji-hoon tells the audience that he chose this song with a specific friend in mind, and that he hopes this friend who left his side will be listening from wherever he is. The band plays through their ballad, and all the while, Seo-yeon can’t take her eyes off of Ji-hoon as he plays the drums, numbly singing along.
Afterwards, Seo-yeon visits Ji-hoon backstage. He watches her as he looks at himself in a mirror as if he’s expecting a “thanks,” but instead, she calls him awful. She insists that she and her friends could’ve handled this themselves. And most importantly, they’re not doing the trial for fun – it’s something that has to do with Seo-yeon and her school, so she doesn’t want Ji-hoon interfering.
Nonetheless, she’s still grateful for the consent forms. Ji-hoon stops her before she leaves, saying that he has genuine feelings toward this trial too. Seo-yeon stares at him. “Did you know Lee So-woo?” she asks. Ji-hoon takes a moment before quickly saying, “No.”
You lying liar… Why are you lying? I was curious to learn more about the relationship between Ji-hoon and So-woo after their sweet little flashback montage in Episode 1, but I must admit that back then, I was only expecting it to be a typical bromance thrown into the show to give the male lead some angst. They seemed pretty darn close and pretty darn happy, but the more details we’re given, I’m seeing less of a forced drama bromance and much more potential for a different and complex friendship.
The one detail that stuck with me throughout this whole episode was the fact that Ji-hoon was once hospitalized in the psychiatric ward. And I’m only assuming that since So-woo was wearing a hospital gown in the opening scene, he must’ve been in the psychiatric ward too. If that was where the two friends met and bonded, I am so excited to see where this goes. The friends did seem like extremely troubled young kids, so I can see how they might’ve ended up in the hospital. But Ji-hoon obviously got out much earlier than So-woo and hadn’t seen him for quite some time. Though they ended that opening scene on a friendly note, I still got the feeling that Ji-hoon might’ve been a little ashamed to have a friend like So-woo.
So-woo might’ve been joking, but perhaps Ji-hoon really was scared of his past. For all we know, Ji-hoon could’ve lived separate lives – as the real Ji-hoon with So-woo and as the fancy arts student Ji-hoon with the outside world. I’m just guessing now, but perhaps Ji-hoon eventually decided to ditch the real Ji-hoon, and as a result, So-woo. It could explain how very alone So-woo seemed in the first episode, and how nervous he seemed when Kyung-moon brought Ji-hoon up. I’m having fun putting all the missing pieces to this story together, and I hope that once we get the whole picture, it’ll be worth it. I also hope for more Seo Young-joo, because he’s a true delight to watch onscreen. I demand more!
But onto the good stuff. How awesome was our girl Seo-yeon in this episode? She’s been overwhelmed with all that’s been happening, and I could see the wheels constantly turning in her head as she contemplated what to do, so I was glad to see her finally come to a decision that she firmly believes in. Her speech in front of the dean and her entire class was oh-so-satisfying to watch. The slap not so much, but I loved that Seo-yeon told her parents she wasn’t fazed from the slap itself – she was just thinking, as she always is. And that became an important moment to her because for the first time in her life, her thoughts became clear and she knew she wanted to defend what was right. Once she had a plan in mind, she jumped straight into action, just the way I like it. Though I’m sure the short episode count has a little something to do with that. Twelve episodes may not seem like much, but with the pace we’re going at now, I think it could be a good number.
Seo-yeon’s small breakdown on the swings was a minor setback, but seemed totally understandable. Sometimes it’s easy to puff out our chests and lay all our confidence out on the table, but when the road gets tough, it’s just as easy to fall apart again. It was a nice human moment from Seo-yeon, and I appreciated it. And the best part was that shortly after breaking down, she was back to her old self, voicing her opinions to Joon-young. I haven’t doubted this girl yet, but it was still gratifying to see her pick up her own pieces and keep on marching forward. I’m sure it helps that she has awesome parents and equally awesome friends who are always there to march along with her.