It took a while, but our friends at Jeongguk High have finally made it to the trial they’ve worked so hard for. And with the beginning of their trial, we get a small glimpse of the truth, and it wasn’t at all the truth I was expecting. I’m starting to realize that with this drama, if you want one answer, you’ll only receive three more questions in return.
EPISODE 5 RECAP
Rewinding a bit, we see the conversation we’d missed between Ji-hoon and Woo-hyuk after they’d met at the school gates. Woo-hyuk had taken them to a convenience store and poured soju into a small cup, ordering Ji-hoon to drink it.
“I don’t drink alcohol,” Ji-hoon said firmly. Ji-hoon tried to stand his ground as Woo-hyuk only got angrier, but started to waver when Woo-hyuk clarified that he wanted to see Ji-hoon at his worst in order to confirm whether or not Ji-hoon was lying about believing in him.
Ji-hoon had stared at the cup, his gaze strained with an interesting gleam of fear. But he’d needed Woo-hyuk’s trust, so Ji-hoon had no choice but to take the cup.
Later that night, Kyung-moon had returned home to find Ji-hoon’s shoes and clothes thrown about, the bathroom door locked. Upon hearing his father call out for him, Ji-hoon calmly answered that he was showering.
Only, once we actually see him, Ji-hoon was anything but calm, his face twisted in pain as he stood underneath the shower fully clothed. His own tears had mixed with the water as a certain memory barged its way into his head: a much younger Ji-hoon hiding and witnessing a presumably wasted man giving his wife a brutal beating. Ji-hoon’s real parents?
Ji-hoon stepped out of the bathroom only to be confronted with Kyung-moon, who’d had a feeling Ji-hoon came home drunk. Ji-hoon immediately apologized, but Kyung-moon just smiled at his son’s guilt-ridden expression and said that his son must’ve had a good reason, since he isn’t a careless person. Kyung-moon: “Because you take after me.”
Ji-hoon lifted his eyes and earnestly asked if he really resembled Kyung-moon. Kyung-moon still seemed lighthearted as he pointed out their physical similarities, and he’d gotten a small laugh out of Ji-hoon. But once he was alone again, Ji-hoon had looked as if he might break down.
We rejoin Seo-yeon in the present as she stares at the envelope So-woo’s brother Tae-woo had given her. She thinks over Tae-woo’s claim that So-woo’s death wasn’t suicide and texts the Sentinel her thoughts: What if it really wasn’t suicide?
Ji-hoon reads the text in his room, his expression unreadable.
The next morning, Seo-yeon freaks out when she realizes she woke up late for school. She hurries out the door, surprised to see Joon-young waiting for her like usual. Instead of leaving first like she’d texted him to do, he brought his bike so he could get them both to school quicker. What a cutie.
Joon-young pedals them to school as fast as he can, keeping a few smiles to himself as Seo-yeon holds on to him tightly. They make it to class in the nick of time, and as they settle into their seats, it’s Seo-yeon’s turn to smile as she sneaks a peek at Joon-young when he’s not looking.
Later, the trial club goes through a selection process for members of the jury. Things seem to be going well until Teacher Kim drags in their next candidate, a girl named Hye-rin. Ji-hoon is confused when everyone seems so uneasy, so Seung-hyun explains that Hye-rin has been dating Woo-hyuk on and off again since middle school, and they’re known as a rather crazy couple.
Teacher Kim encourages the club to give Hye-rin a chance, but it’s a little difficult when Hye-rin doesn’t even seem to respect what the club is doing. She throws around insults while smacking her gum, and instead of letting them interview her, she demands they just let her in.
Hye-rin wonders what right the club has to be in charge when it was the students’ signatures that got the trial approved, her own signature included. Seo-yeon turns it back on her and asks what right she has to join. Hye-rin smiles, saying it’s a given, since she’s the prettiest in the school.
“It’s probably because of Choi Woo-hyuk,” Ji-hoon cuts in. Hye-rin finally ditches her cool demeanor and admits that he’s right. With that said, the club regroups outside to take a vote on it.
Seo-yeon is against Hye-rin joining, since she believes that having someone close to the defendant would ruin the trial’s objectivity. On the other hand, Ji-hoon is all for it, believing there was no objectivity in the first place with the trial being held at the defendant’s school. In his mind, adding Hye-rin would balance things out. Soo-hee and Seung-hyun take Seo-yeon’s side, while Joon-young and Yoo-jin see some truth in Ji-hoon’s words and take his side.
With the tally now three to three, all heads turn to Min-seok for the deciding vote. Min-seok thinks both sides have strong arguments, but if he had to pick, it’d be…
We cut away (argh!) to Joo-ri being picked up after a session with her psychologist, getting knowing looks from fellow patients and clinic employees.
In the car, she tells her mom she wants to stop going to these sessions. Mom guesses that the people who recognized her made Joo-ri uncomfortable, so she suggests that they just move. Joo-ri looks at Mom incredulously and asks why they should move when she’s done nothing wrong. Mom can see Joo-ri’s anger boiling up again and begins to apologize, but Joo-ri doesn’t want to hear anymore. She makes Mom stop the car and let her out.
Back at the school, Seo-yeon stresses over how to text Joo-ri. After drafting a few different versions, she finally decides to go for a more neutral response stating the time and location for the trial tomorrow.
The text stops Joo-ri in her tracks, and she responds by asking why Seo-yeon is telling her this. Seo-yeon: “I’d like for you to see it. Because this trial is for you.” Joo-ri seems moved by this, but she shoves her phone in her pocket and keeps walking.
A few boys from Jeongguk High play games in a PC-bang while joking about the upcoming trial. They start badmouthing Woo-hyuk when someone in front of them stands up and gives them a menacing glare – it’s Sung-min.
Sung-min stalks out and heads to where Woo-hyuk and his family are staying. Sung-min calls his buddy out and asks what good it would do Woo-hyuk to attend the trial. Woo-hyuk sighs and says that “that punk” Ji-hoon promised to make him innocent no matter what. He tells Sung-min to come to the trial if he wants, and to make sure Dong-hyun keeps his mouth shut.
The acting principal and homeroom teacher visit Seo-yeon’s mom at home. The acting principal asks Mom to convince Seo-yeon to stop the trial, and while Mom is concerned about Seo-yeon too, she has no intentions of forcing Seo-yeon out of it. The acting principal is naturally upset, but I’m curious about the nervous look on the homeroom teacher’s face. I wonder what’s there.
Seo-yeon, Soo-hee, and Yoo-jin make their final preparations when Seo-yeon receives a photo sent from Mom containing a list of all the members participating in the trial. Seo-yeon panics and quickly warns everyone that the school sent this text out to all the parents. The club members immediately stop what they’re doing and race home to delete these texts.
Joon-young pales at Seo-yeon’s warning and springs up from his desk, but his mom is already at his door, phone in hand. Ah, this can’t be good…
Before Joon-young can get one word out, Mom slaps him hard across the face. She demands to know what the text is about, and when he doesn’t answer, she slaps him again. “You must think you’re something special now,” she seethes, “but do you know how much of an insult this is?” In a burst of rage, Mom starts screaming and tearing things from Joon-young’s desk.
“PLEASE STOP!” Joon-young’s desperate cry makes Mom pause. She gets in his face, ignoring his tears, and berates him for being so immature and useless. Joon-young looks away and mutters that he hates her. She tells him to say that again, so he looks her straight in the eye. “I said I really hate you,” he repeats, his voice hard.
Mom is shaking with anger now and takes another swing at him, only this time, he swiftly dodges it. And then he’s out the door, running off into the cold night.
Seo-yeon is just now leaving the school, and she catches Ji-hoon staring at the spot where So-woo’s body was found. She approaches him and asks how he knew what this spot was. He swallows before saying he saw it in the trial’s data (though we know better).
Seo-yeon nods and then segues into an apology for saying he had a lot of secrets. She admits that she’s always felt somewhat perceptive when it came to people, but when she met Ji-hoon, she couldn’t figure out what kind of person he was or what he was thinking. It was then that she started to feel that he had a wall up.
“Isn’t it better to not know what someone else is thinking?” Ji-hoon wonders.
He continues that someone once told him that knowing something when you didn’t want to know or seeing something when you didn’t want to see was actually extremely painful.
Seo-yeon turns to him. “How much of me can you see?” she asks. “I’m not sure,” he answers, facing her as well. “I can’t see much. Could it be because you’re too short?” Ha.
He chuckles at her confusion and gives her a genuine compliment instead, calling her admirable for accepting Joo-ri’s mom’s wrath. Seo-yeon smiles at that, but reminds him that starting tomorrow, they’ll be on opposite sides as prosecution and defense. Ji-hoon agrees, suggesting they put on a great trial, and holds out his hand to shake on it. Seo-yeon smiles again and warmly takes his hand.
The two part ways, with Ji-hoon stopping by the club room to pick up some materials. There, he finds Joon-young curled on the couch with a flimsy blanket. Ji-hoon laughs at the sight, wondering if he got kicked out, while a defensive Joon-young clarifies that he left on his own. Ji-hoon takes this in and asks if Joon-young wants to sleep at his place instead.
Seo-yeon checks the club’s group chat to see what happened to everyone, seeing that Seung-hyun and Soo-hee got busted while Yoo-jin and Min-seok managed to save themselves. Seo-yeon asks about Joon-young and is surprised when it’s Ji-hoon who responds: “Joon-young’s okay. He’s with me.”
Joon-young tosses and turns in Ji-hoon’s bed, feeling a bit awkward staying over at someone else’s house. Ji-hoon smiles and reveals that it’s been a while since he’s had someone over. Ji-hoon sets up camp on the floor, but neither he nor Joon-young are able to fall asleep.
Breaking the silence, Joon-young asks why Ji-hoon took on the role of defense attorney. Instead of answering, Ji-hoon fires the question back – why is Joon-young defending Woo-hyuk when the majority of the school won’t?
“I saw Lee So-woo,” Joon-young reminds him. “Lee So-woo’s last moment.” Ji-hoon tenses up and hesitantly asks how So-woo looked in that moment. Joon-young thinks for a moment before saying that So-woo had looked at peace, as if he’d chosen his fate since the beginning. But Ji-hoon’s eyes say that might not be true.
Joon-young sits upright, remembering that he’d seen someone else when he found So-woo. Joon-young hadn’t thought anything of it before, but it does seem strange to him now. Ji-hoon’s eyes widen with panic, but he manages to keep his voice calm as he asks if Joon-young said anything to the police or the club. When he confirms that Joon-young didn’t, Ji-hoon relaxes a bit. But we see that he’s still shaken as he recalls that day.
At long last, we’re at the first day of the trial. The trial club sets everything up in the school auditorium, but then they hear that because of the text sent out to the parents, five of the jurors have backed out.
They try to weigh their options, but Ji-hoon dismisses all of their suggestions and says that they’ll go on as planned. He tells them that they can’t let the school intervene – if they fall once, the school will push them back twice. And if that happens, the whole trial falls apart. After everything they’ve been through thus far, the group agrees that they can’t let that happen. So to get everyone’s spirits back up, they all put their hands in for one last “Fighting!”
The trial commences, and as both the prosecution and the defense are called in, their eyes widen to find the auditorium’s seats completely filled with parents, students, as well as Detective Oh.
Min-seok is called in last, dressed to the part in judicial robes. Once seated, Min-seok explains to the entire auditorium how the trial will work and how the overall purpose of the trial is to discover the truth, not to give out punishment.
A mother in the crowd stands up and cries foul on the trial. Min-seok tries to remain professional and quiet her down, but this woman doesn’t take his orders seriously and yells at all the students to stop wasting their time and get back to studying. Hye-rin steps up (aha, so Min-seok voted to let her join) and tries to give this woman a piece of her mind, but Teacher Kim has her sit back down.
Another parent tells the woman off, urging her to stay out of it, and an argument breaks out. Exasperated, Min-seok grabs his microphone, sending a harsh screech across the room and silencing everyone. His voice firm, he announces that anyone who causes a disturbance will be kicked out.
Just as things calm down, another woman stands up, telling Min-seok to give up the act and step down from the bench. Min-seok tenses, realizing it’s his mother, but he doesn’t back down. He tells her in the same professional tone that she can get kicked out. When Mom still doesn’t quit, Min-seok jumps from his seat and yells that if the students stay quiet, no one else will help.
Min-seok: “Someone in our class died. He wore the same uniform as us. He studied in the same classroom as us. He ate at the same tables as us. I’m saying that he died. At this very moment, whether we need permission or not, whether we can get into universities or not… is that really what’s important?”
Mom refuses to let this go, so Min-seok orders her out of the auditorium. And with one last glare, she goes. Min-seok regains his composure and calls Woo-hyuk in as the defendant. To the crowd’s surprise, Woo-hyuk shows up and take his seat by the defense. Phones are whipped out, and it’s not long before the entire school – the acting principal and Kyung-moon included – hears that Woo-hyuk made an appearance.
Min-seok calls Seo-yeon to the floor, where she presents So-woo’s case as the public knows it – how So-woo skipping out on school and showing signs of depression led the police to think his death was a suicide. However, Seo-yeon states, the students know something the public doesn’t know. She tells everyone about the fight between So-woo and Woo-hyuk, and how the fight was more of a one-sided attack on Woo-hyuk’s part.
“I saw it,” she says, also explaining that other students witnessed the incident as well. She then describes So-woo’s actions in the aftermath as something a suicidal person wouldn’t have done, earning a warning from Min-seok for her to avoid assumptions and stick to the facts. So Seo-yeon gets straight to the point and uses the letter of accusation and Reporter Park’s broadcast as evidence to charge Woo-hyuk with So-woo’s murder.
The acting principal and Kyung-moon watch the trial in the school’s office as it’s broadcasted, and as Ji-hoon makes his opening statement, the principal wonders why a student from another school is getting in their business. “He’s my son,” Kyung-moon says, his tone grave.
Back in the trial, Ji-hoon comes on strong and cancels out every piece of evidence Seo-yeon had given, calling her accusation a fantasy. He questions Detective Oh as the first witness and presents her files from the medical examiner as his first piece of evidence. Meanwhile, Seo-yeon’s dad gets a phone call from the station and excuses himself, just as Joo-ri sneaks her way in.
It’s Seo-yeon’s turn to cross-examine the witness, and she asks Detective Oh how sure she is of the conclusion of So-woo’s investigation. Detective Oh answers that she’s 99% sure, leaving out the 1%, since any case has the potential to be overturned. Seo-yeon agrees with this and turns to the crowd, showing her 1% for this case: two movie tickets with the date December 26th, leading to the assumption that So-woo had made plans for the day after he died.
The room is floored to hear of this new evidence, but Ji-hoon objects to it being accepted. Unsure of what to do, Min-seok calls the prosecution and defense out of their court to settle on an agreement. Ji-hoon argues that the movie tickets are a piece of evidence to back a witness’s testimony. Without a witness, it proves nothing. “Judge,” Seo-yeon says as she faces Min-seok, “the prosecution requests a new witness. Lee So-woo’s older brother, Lee Tae-woo.”
Seo-yeon summons Tae-woo to the stand, where he stares right at Woo-hyuk and reveals his belief that his brother’s death was a homicide, with the tickets So-woo had bought for them as proof. Now that the tickets have the proper testimony to back them up, Seo-yeon officially submits them as evidence.
Ji-hoon is stuck in a daze, and it takes him a few seconds before he’s able to stand up and approach the stand. Once in front of Tae-woo, his eyes regain focus and he asks – almost knowingly – what type of brotherly relationship Tae-woo had with So-woo. The question causes Tae-woo to hesitate.
With downcast eyes, Tae-woo admits that they were not that close. More than that, the brothers had actually hated each other, and it had been the first time So-woo asked Tae-woo to the movies.
With this statement, Ji-hoon argues that when someone suddenly acts different from their normal selves, it’s a sign of suicidal intentions. Ji-hoon also brings up the fact that So-woo’s normal personality was quiet and reserved, and So-woo broke that normalcy when he got into the fight with Woo-hyuk. Seeing that he’s trapped Tae-woo, Ji-hoon asks if he can close the cross-examination.
“No,” Tae-woo says, lifting his head. “The fight in the science room was not abnormal at all from my point of view.” Ooh, now Ji-hoon’s the one who looks trapped. Innnteresting.
Tae-woo claims that So-woo was that person who would be in a fight. And it was the fact that So-woo was always trying to provoke people and find new ways to hurt them that made Tae-woo hate him. It also makes Tae-woo believe more than anything that this case is a homicide – because he believes So-woo was the type of person to commit murder, not to commit suicide.
For the first time, Ji-hoon doesn’t seem to have a rebuttal. Frankly, it seems like he’s desperately trying not to punch Tae-woo’s lights out. And with Ji-hoon’s silence, Woo-hyuk scoffs and storms out of the room, despite Min-seok’s protests. Coming back to his senses, Ji-hoon requests a recess. Once everyone files out of the room, Ji-hoon looks back at Tae-woo, saying he’s going to reveal everything that happened to So-woo. And then he walks away, leaving Tae-woo taken aback. Whoa, wait – was that a threat? Did Tae-woo have something to do with So-woo’s death? Arghhh, I just want to shake the explanations out of these boys.
Ji-hoon finds Woo-hyuk sulking in an empty classroom. He asks if Woo-hyuk knows what the biggest obstacle for them in this trial is. Woo-hyuk assumes it’s Joo-ri and spits out that he already plans to crush her. “No,” Ji-hoon says. “The biggest and strongest obstacle in this trial are those people out there.” So Ji-hoon instructs Woo-hyuk to be on his best behavior and just stick to their script. They go over it one more time before the recess is over.
We see this script in action as the court is called back into session. Ji-hoon questions Woo-hyuk about the fight, and Woo-hyuk states that So-woo started it by giving him a weird look. When Ji-hoon asks if there was anything more than a look, Woo-hyuk goes quiet as he remembers the day of the fight: He had confronted So-woo for staring and asked if So-woo had some complaint in mind. So-woo had said that complaining is something people to do other people, and he didn’t think of Woo-hyuk as a human being at all. As he’d continuously pushed Woo-hyuk’s buttons, So-woo had an unsettling smile plastered on his face.
However, Woo-hyuk doesn’t mention any of this, and instead answers that the fight was merely over that one look So-woo gave him and nothing else. Ji-hoon closes by stating that the meaning behind the fight was too small and insignificant to kill someone over.
Seo-yeon questions Woo-hyuk next, starting off with a request to hear his alibi for the night of So-woo’s death. Woo-hyuk says through gritted teeth that he’d been drinking with his two friends, though Seo-yeon notes that it’s an alibi anyone could’ve come up with. His anger rising again, Woo-hyuk shouts that she should just ask Dong-hyun and Sung-min, since they’re present as well.
All eyes land on the two boys sitting in the crowd. Seo-yeon picks out Dong-hyun first and asks him to stand, to his obvious discomfort.
Seo-yeon asks Dong-hyun to confirm Woo-hyuk’s alibi by revealing where they were, what they were doing, and if there were any records to prove it. Dong-hyun nervously looks around him as he says, “I don’t know.”
Thinking he just doesn’t remember, Seo-yeon urges him to tell her whatever comes to mind. “I don’t know,” he repeats. “I wasn’t with him.”
Sung-min tries to stop him, but Dong-hyun completely breaks and shouts that Woo-hyuk’s alibi is a lie.
It’s interesting seeing this scene again now that we have much more information about the incident and all the people involved. When we first saw the scene in the beginning of Episode 1, it almost seemed like a simple case, with a clear victim in So-woo and a clear perpetrator in Woo-hyuk. But now that we’re almost halfway through the series (holy moly, already?), it’s definitely not as black and white as I’d initially thought. In fact, with every passing scene, it only gets more complicated. I’m starting to question everyone in this show, which is both maddening and exciting.
It’s maddening since I keep going back and forth on who I think the culprit is, but it’s exciting since it’s making me question characters that I’m really starting to like. I was all in for a drama about a misunderstood kid dying an unfair death and the eventual journey the students would take to bring his killer down. But now I’m actually suspicious of the boy these students are fighting to deliver justice to. I latched onto So-woo in the very first episode, but now it’s actually hitting me that we have no idea who he was. Like Seo-yeon and the rest of the school, we only saw So-woo as that quiet guy in the back of class who rarely got into trouble. The reveal that he most likely spent time in a psychiatric ward was a bit unnerving, but I’d only seen it as an interesting way he and Ji-hoon must’ve bonded. Boy, does that hospital scene seem different now that we’ve been given more insight on his character.
I couldn’t believe my ears when Tae-woo described his brother as a devil-like person who actually conjured up ways to hurt people. So when Ji-hoon threatened to reveal “everything,” there was a split second where I thought Tae-woo was involved with So-woo’s death, or at least involved with So-woo’s alarming behavior prior. Tae-woo’s testimony reminded me of 2015’s I Remember You and its dark theme of whether monsters are born or made. Could it be possible that Tae-woo’s hatred toward his brother somehow influenced So-woo to believe that he was someone deserving of hate? Solomon’s Perjury could be heading in that direction, but after watching this episode, I think almost anything is possible now. For all I know, the bumbling acting principal could’ve killed So-woo.
But in all seriousness, I love that the drama’s offered up so many possibilities. Now that we’ve gotten to know all our characters, we can understand why certain people might’ve wanted So-woo dead, while we can also understand why So-woo might’ve wanted himself dead. Even though it seems like we learned a lot in this episode, there’s still so much we don’t know. And it was Ji-hoon that I wanted to shake for the most information. I can see why he’s the male lead – when it comes down to it, he’s in the center of all the hidden secrets. He knows what Kyung-moon knows, he knows what Woo-huk knows, and as his best friend, he knew what So-woo knew. So if we just knew what Ji-hoon knew, we’d get aaall the answers. But alas, in dramaland, getting the answers is no easy feat. Thank goodness we have Seo-yeon at the helm, determined to retrieve those answers for us.