We’re just about down to the wire with Solomon’s Perjury, meaning we’re this close to the end of our trial and, hopefully, the end to all the secrets. While I do go flailing for any piece of new information thrown at us, this episode proves that the truth to So-woo’s death isn’t the most important aspect of the show (don’t get me wrong – it’s definitely still up there). What’s important is every character’s separate journey as they experience this trial and the smaller truths about themselves that they come to discover along the way.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
We jump all the way back to eleven years prior as Kyung-moon (who was a prosecutor at the time) hurries into the police station to see a witness. A police officer takes Kyung-moon to an interrogation room, filling him in on the case: A woman was beaten to death by her intoxicated husband, but the husband is adamant that he is innocent. The officer shows Kyung-moon the little boy sitting inside the interrogation room, saying the son hasn’t shed any tears, much less revealed anything. His name is Yang Ji-hoon.
Kyung-moon enters the room with positive energy, greeting Ji-hoon with genuine warmth as he even offers his jacket to him. But as he drapes the jacket over Ji-hoon, he notices a fresh wound on Ji-hoon’s arm. Before Kyung-moon can further inspect it, Ji-hoon snaps that he’ll get scolded.
It doesn’t seem like Ji-hoon will open up, so Kyung-moon offers up a deal: If Ji-hoon can look into his eyes for ten straight seconds, he’ll let the boy escape the scary police station and go on home. Kyung-moon begins counting and keeps Ji-hoon’s gaze, but he can tell Ji-hoon is growing more scared the closer he gets to one. Finally, Ji-hoon tears up and cries that he doesn’t want to go home. Oh, this poor kid.
Kyung-moon asks, “Is that why you didn’t say anything? You were scared they would send you back home?” Little Ji-hoon nods. Kyung-moon keeps a comforting hand on Ji-hoon’s shoulder and promises that Ji-hoon’s father was taken by the police, and so he won’t be able to hurt Ji-hoon anymore. Kyung-moon urges Ji-hoon to say what he saw last night.
“My dad…” Kyung-moon and the officers watching are on pins and needles as Ji-hoon tries to speak. “My dad did it,” he finally confirms.
Kyung-moon can’t seem to get little Ji-hoon’s terrified expression out of his head even when he’s at home. He gets a sudden call that makes him jump up and switch on his TV. And there on the news, he sees that Ji-hoon’s father committed suicide.
Kyung-moon’s next stop is the orphanage that Ji-hoon was placed in. Alone while other kids are playing outside, Ji-hoon writes his name into the ground with chalk, only to cross it out. When Kyung-moon approaches and calls out his name, Ji-hoon actually smiles, making Kyung-moon smile in return.
Soon after, Kyung-moon is able to announce that he can bring Ji-hoon to his home for a day. Once he does, Kyung-moon does everything within his power to make Ji-hoon happy – buying him toys, taking him to the movies, and making him feel right at home. As he tucks Ji-hoon into bed that night, Ji-hoon admits that this was the first time he was able to go to bed with such a nice feeling.
Wanting to do more, Kyung-moon asks if Ji-hoon would like to stay for another night then. “Family,” Ji-hoon says in a small voice. “What I want is family.” Kyung-moon is surprised, but he smiles with understanding. And the next thing we know, Kyung-moon is sitting at his desk as he admires a drawing Ji-hoon made. The drawing shows the two of them happily smiling, with the words “My dad” next to Kyung-moon’s figure. Gah, here come the tears.
We return to the present, right after Ji-hoon’s big reveal to Woo-hyuk and Joon-young. As he puts his jacket back on, Ji-hoon tells Woo-hyuk that he wasn’t able to say anything while living with his birth parents. But after his mother died, Ji-hoon was filled with a lot of regret, always asking himself what would’ve happened if he’d acted a bit sooner. “But you still have a chance,” Ji-hoon says, tears in his eyes. Still stunned, Woo-hyuk can barely look at Ji-hoon. It looks like Woo-hyuk may start crying too, but instead, he just walks away.
Seo-yeon’s dad releases Woo-hyuk’s mom from the station after she had confirmed the connection between her husband and the Flame Master, a professional arsonist. Detective Oh is surprised to hear about the violence CEO Choi used in the household, and is even more surprised to hear that Ji-hoon came to the police knowing all of that. “So we could arrest CEO Choi,” is the conclusion Seo-yeon’s dad comes to.
As soon as Woo-hyuk’s mom returns home, she gathers Woo-hyuk and their belongings and gets them into a taxi, despite his protests. To Woo-hyuk’s complete shock, Mom tells the driver to take them to the airport.
Joon-young trails behind Ji-hoon as they walk home. Ji-hoon breaks the silence and says that there’s nothing to worry about – Joon-young should just act normally and ask questions if he wants. Seeing his friend’s flustered face, Ji-hoon assures him that he has a loving father now and that his life is pretty comfortable. “So are you happy?” Joon-young asks, wondering if one can go on after experiencing something as terrible as Ji-hoon had.
Ji-hoon pauses. After a moment, he says confidently, “It does get better. It will get better. You can trust me.” Joon-young smiles, now able to walk in unison with Ji-hoon comfortably.
News breaks out about CEO Choi starting the fire in his own home. To Ji-hoon’s dismay, the comments online only get nastier, calling Woo-hyuk’s entire family psychopathic. Meanwhile, Seo-yeon is bombarded with questions at school (since her dad is in charge of the arson case), but she avoids answering for now, needing some time to mull things over.
In his office, the principal is fretting over all of the complaints he’s been getting from parents. He wonders if they should stop trying to protect Woo-hyuk, but Kyung-moon insists that Woo-hyuk isn’t the problem. Upon hearing that the previous principal has been in contact with students in the trial, Kyung-moon advises the acting principal to confront the trial club with the new school policy as soon as the current trial ends.
The trial club is feeling down since they feel as if they chased Woo-hyuk away, but they’re all smiles when they’re visited by Teacher Kim, who offers to take them all out to eat.
The mood is light and cheery until Teacher Kim suggests they stop the trial for a while, seeing that there’s now an imbalance with everyone against the defendant. With the situation not being so great, Teacher Kim is worried for everyone, especially Woo-hyuk.
Ji-hoon interrupts, saying that what Woo-hyuk needs isn’t protection. Ji-hoon: “He needs the experience of someone trusting him and fighting along with him. Someone who’s on his side, someone who is willing to work hard for him. He needs to see it and hear it.” Which is why Ji-hoon thinks they should continue with the trial.
Detective Oh starts piecing together all the subtle clues Ji-hoon has been leaving and decides to look into So-woo’s case files again. She visits the hospital that So-woo had stayed in and comes across some new information. She calls Reporter Park out to reveal what she’s just learned: So-woo had had a roommate in the psychiatric ward. And that roommate was Ji-hoon.
While that solves the Sentinel mystery, Detective Oh says that she’s still not sure why Ji-hoon would be working so hard to defend someone accused of killing his best friend.
The trial club regroups, with Seo-yeon still thinking of Teacher Kim’s words. She feels guilty for pushing Woo-hyuk so hard, especially now that more people are focused on him rather than the trial itself. Ji-hoon tells everyone that Woo-hyuk came into the trial knowing that might happen, but that he wanted to do the trial anyway.
Seo-yeon turns to Ji-hoon, still unsure of why he’s choosing to believe Woo-hyuk when there’s no evidence to back it up. When Ji-hoon points out that the prosecution has no real evidence either, Seo-yeon reminds him of the mysterious phone calls So-woo received. If So-woo really committed suicide like Ji-hoon says, Seo-yeon argues, then who was the boy that called? The question makes Ji-hoon tense up, but he smoothly replies that they can find out in the trial.
At home, Ji-hoon gets frustrated as he still can’t gain access to the Sentinel’s page. As he stares at the page’s cover photo of a painting, he suddenly recalls a time when he and So-woo had inspected the same painting. So-woo had numbly asked who Ji-hoon thought the unhappiest being in the picture was.
Ji-hoon had pointed to a man being dragged off, while So-woo had pointed to a lone magpie sitting atop a gallows. Ji-hoon tries to use So-woo’s answer as the page’s password and, sure enough, he’s in. What he finds inside are the VIP documents in full, with Woo-hyuk listed among them. Ji-hoon looks surprised, though it’s unclear if it’s because of the documents or the fact that So-woo knew about them.
Meanwhile, as Seo-yeon and Joon-young walk home together, Seo-yeon asks if Joon-young knows anything about Ji-hoon outside of what they already know. She admits that because they know so little, Ji-hoon is starting to feel more distant. But she quickly changes the subject to the cold weather, wondering if she’s getting sick. Joon-young’s eyes widen with worry and he quickly moves forward to feel her forehead for a fever, only to blush at the closeness. Seo-yeon smiles it off and tells him not to worry, but my poor shipping heart is hoping she felt something there too.
However, the next morning, Seo-yeon’s parents find her burning up with a fever and rush her to the hospital. Once she’s all settled, her dad goes out to buy her some food and ends up running into the entire trial club outside, who’d come running (and ditched class) as soon as they heard Seo-yeon was sick. Aw, you guys.
The kids get the okay and scurry off to see Seo-yeon in the emergency room, but Dad has Ji-hoon stay behind, calling him “Defense Attorney.” His face now serious, Dad decides it’s his turn to help Ji-hoon out.
Ji-hoon joins the group a little later to see that Seo-yeon is up and smiling again. Her friends chide her for working so hard and tell her to take it easy, but Seo-yeon says that she can’t stop when the trial is her responsibility. Min-seok agrees and assures Seo-yeon that he understands her since they’re rivals in studying. “Don’t think of us as rivals,” Seo-yeon says with a smile. “You’ve never won against me.” Heh.
As everyone bursts into laughter, an offended Min-seok stalks off, followed by the rest of the boys. Now that the girls are alone, Yoo-jin reveals that a special someone contacted her, wanting to testify. Seo-yeon instructs her to set up an appointment with this person immediately.
Ji-hoon’s texts to Woo-hyuk remain unanswered, so he visits the apartment Woo-hyuk had been staying at. When his knocks at the door go unanswered as well, Ji-hoon resorts to sending one last text: “Be sure to come to the trial tomorrow. I can prove you innocent.”
Before the third day of the trial commences, the prosecution team heads to a coffee shop to meet with the person who wishes to testify. Seo-yeon faces the former principal, asking what he plans to say in the trial. The former principal doesn’t reveal much, but he does say it has to do with the relationship between So-woo and the school.
The girls leave to prepare for the trial, and though Seo-yeon feels uneasy about this new witness, Soo-hee and Yoo-jin assure her that they hit the jackpot. They run off to the school, just as Kyung-moon enters the coffee shop and sits opposite the former principal, whose face instantly pales.
In the clubroom, the prosecution team lets everyone know that they’ve secured a new witness, though they don’t mention who it is. As for the defense team, they let everyone know that Woo-hyuk still hasn’t shown, so they’ll have to hold today’s trial in absentia. Even so, the club doesn’t let that bring them down – they swear to do their best today too.
The defense boys enter the courtroom to find coffee waiting for them at their table. Seung-hyun assumes they must have adoring fans, but Ji-hoon seems to have other thoughts. He bolts out of the room.
Ji-hoon walks into the defense HQ and smiles with relief, saying, “Choi Woo-hyuk.” He came! Woo-hyuk says not to overreact since he definitely didn’t come for Ji-hoon, but Ji-hoon thanks him anyway. Ji-hoon also tells him not to forget that he’ll be on Woo-hyuk’s side until the end.
Today’s trial commences, and before Min-seok announces that the defendant won’t be appearing, the defense boys scramble to signal to him that Woo-hyuk did, in fact, come. So Woo-hyuk is called in, and as he takes his seat, the harsh words from the crowd seem to sting him even more.
Min-seok calls the prosecution’s first witness in next, but no one comes through the doors. Yoo-jin runs out to see what’s going on, and she panics when she sees that the former principal is nowhere in sight.
Yoo-jin comes back to inform Seo-yeon that their witness didn’t show and that he’s not answering his phone. So Seo-yeon tells Min-seok to postpone their witness’s questioning for now. Instead, Min-seok has the defense bring out their witness first. Ji-hoon nods at Seo-yeon’s dad in the audience, giving Dad the cue to walk over and take his place in the witness stand.
Seo-yeon gapes as Ji-hoon prepares for questioning. She jumps up and objects, saying that her father is an irrelevant witness to So-woo’s case. “He is a witness that can prove the defendant’s alibi,” Ji-hoon claims. Surprised, Seo-yeon has no choice but to back down as her dad takes the oath.
Before Ji-hoon begins his questioning, Dad confirms his position as a detective and states that because he’s here on behalf of a different witness, and since the witness’s case is still ongoing, Dad would prefer to leave certain questions unanswered. And with that, he allows Ji-hoon to start.
Dad says that he’s here on behalf on a witness they can call the Flame Master, who committed arson to Woo-hyuk’s home. Apparently, this person does forced demolition and receives payment in return. And because Woo-hyuk’s dad, CEO Choi, needed the land, he hired the Flame Master to burn their home down.
The Flame Master had visited the home prior to the accident a few times, the last time being on Christmas day. “Around midnight,” Seo-yeon’s dad says, “he saw Choi Woo-hyuk.”
Dad confirms that he can submit the witness’s statement as proof. But most importantly, Dad says, this means that on the night So-woo died, Woo-hyuk was at home, not the crime scene.
The courtroom erupts into murmurs, now convinced that it’s over with a solid alibi for the defendant. However, Seo-yeon still requests to cross-examine her dad. She nervously approaches Dad and then starts by asking how they can trust the Flame Master’s statement when he murdered someone. As a detective, Dad states that there are two types of murders. One is murder by clear intent and the other is—…
“Murder by willful negligence,” Ji-hoon fills in. Dad nods and says that the Flame Master claims he had no real intention to kill, but the police are still investigating, so Dad has no place to say that this person is an actual murderer. Hit with understanding, Seo-yeon chooses to end her cross-examination and returns to her seat. She looks up to see Dad giving her a comforting smile, and she smiles back, not totally defeated.
We briefly cut to Cho-rong in the hospital, where we see her hand twitch.
Ji-hoon calls the defendant to the stand next, so a reluctant Woo-hyuk trudges to his seat. Ji-hoon tells Woo-hyuk that because his alibi has been cleared, he is now innocent. But Ji-hoon asks why Woo-hyuk thinks he was accused of the murder in the first place. Woo-hyuk blames the letter of accusation that Joo-ri wrote, so Ji-hoon pushes him further, asking why she would’ve falsely accused him. “You never once wondered why you were being accused?” Ji-hoon asks, making Woo-hyuk finally look up in astonishment.
As Joo-ri comes in and hides in the back of the room, Ji-hoon starts hammering Woo-hyuk with yes-or-no questions. He asks if Woo-hyuk remembers kicking a student to the ground, making another student drink toilet water, and so on. Ji-hoon lists all these instances Woo-hyuk had bullied his classmates, while said classmates fidget in their seats. And all Woo-hyuk can do is look at his attorney helplessly.
Ji-hoon keeps throwing the accusations, so Woo-hyuk starts denying them, right up until Ji-hoon brings up Woo-hyuk spitting in a girl’s hair and then locking her in a shower room. Woo-hyuk’s eyes widen with fear as he remembers the very incident:
The girl had been Joo-ri, and after he’d spit in her hair, Woo-hyuk had taken her to the showers and completely drenched her to “clean her up.” He’d then locked her in the room, where she wasn’t found until a day later by the school’s janitor. Jesus.
Ji-hoon asks Woo-hyuk how many times he used violence at the school, whether it was physical or verbal. Ji-hoon: “A hundred times? Two hundred times?” Woo-hyuk: “I don’t know.” With that, Ji-hoon assumes that there must’ve been too many times to count.
His voice now desperate, Woo-hyuk says that all of that was just him kidding around. Ji-hoon urges him to try to think of it from the victims’ perspective – they probably didn’t find any of it funny like Woo-hyuk did, while Woo-hyuk trampled all over them and hid behind the confidence of his family’s wealth and power.
Woo-hyuk jumps to his feet and yells at Ji-hoon to stop. Having said what he needed to say to Woo-hyuk, Ji-hoon now turns to the crowd and explains that the letter of accusation could’ve been written by anyone trying to trap Woo-hyuk. Therefore, he calls the letter a lie with ill intentions. A form of self-defense.
Ji-hoon’s ends his questioning, but Woo-hyuk is still frozen at the stand, staring out into the sea of students and recalling every single time he’d hurt them. His eyes fill with tears as all the fear and pain on his victims’ faces suddenly come into sharp focus.
“I’m sorry,” Woo-hyuk says, addressing the entire room. His words hit Joo-ri hard as she remembers waking up to the janitor finding her and running out the door, straight for the school’s roof. She’d hobbled onto the ledge, crying as she gazed at the ground below.
Joo-ri furiously wipes her tears and marches straight to the floor, screaming, “No!” Her voice shaking, she insists that she saw Woo-hyuk shove So-woo off the roof that night, and the fact that she heard the creaking sound on the ledge is her proof. Ji-hoon flatly states that the sound she heard was her on the roof, not So-woo.
Joo-ri shakes her head in denial, shrieking that Woo-hyuk is a murderer who can never be forgiven.
WOW. Okay, I’m still reeling from Joo-ri’s sudden outburst, but let me start from the beginning.
First of all, this episode probably had my favorite opening flashback to date. We’ve seen Kyung-moon interact with his adoptive son before, and they always seemed to genuinely care for each other, but going back to the roots of their relationship made me see Kyung-moon in a totally different light. I held so much suspicion towards him, and I still do, but something’s changed. I just don’t think someone who did whatever he could to make a little boy happy can be as big and evil as the show initially made him out to be. Seeing how the bond formed between Kyung-moon and Ji-hoon was so sweet and touching (though I wish we’d gotten the chance to see more of that bond in the present).
But I can’t shake off the uneasy feeling I get whenever Kyung-moon interacts with everyone but Ji-hoon. When Kyung-moon is with other people, it’s almost like a switch goes off and he suddenly has an ulterior motive with everybody. With this episode’s flashback, I’m convinced that Kyung-moon’s darker side may just be something that manifested out of concern for his son. He’s shown that he’ll do what he can to protect his son, so perhaps Kyung-moon is in the middle of all these conspiracies for Ji-hoon’s sake.
The only thing is, the less I suspect Kyung-moon in So-woo’s case, the more I suspect Ji-hoon. The show has made it pretty clear that Ji-hoon has more to do with So-woo’s death than Woo-hyuk, but it’s still uncertain as to how much Ji-hoon was involved. Ji-hoon has been consistent with pushing everyone to believe the death was a suicide, and with the hints we’ve been given, I am starting to open up to the idea. At this point, there’s no doubt in my mind that Ji-hoon was the one who called So-woo that night. And if So-woo really did commit suicide, that could suggest that the phone call was a desperate attempt to stop him from ending his life. That I could believe.
Though it wouldn’t exactly explain why Ji-hoon’s been so secretive up till now. It could be that Ji-hoon actually confronted So-woo at the school that night as a last resort, only to witness his friend commit suicide right in front of him. It could be that he let his friend die and the guilt has been eating him alive. I just can’t forget the expression on Ji-hoon’s face when he mentioned murder by willful negligence during Seo-yeon’s dad’s testimony. He blurted it out so suddenly and so knowingly, as if he understood the meaning all too well. Ji-hoon is a character we have to cling on to since he’s one of the few people with all the answers, but it’s statements like that that make me doubt him again. He’s fighting as hard as he can to prove that So-woo’s death was a suicide, but why does he make it seem like it’s much more than a simple suicide?
But let’s get back to that ending. So-woo’s story is still one of the most compelling in this show, but I loved seeing Woo-hyuk’s story spiral down to a very bittersweet close. Surely, his story with the rest of the Solomon crew isn’t over yet, but it felt like Jeongguk High’s resident bully had finally gotten his long-awaited epiphany. It’s so strange because every time we’ve seen Woo-hyuk bully the other students, he seemed so malicious and unremorseful. And yet, as Ji-hoon reminded him of all his wrongdoings, it seemed like he only then realized how truly awful he’d been – as if he’d been blind to all the people he’d been hurting. And it was sad for me as a viewer to see the realization and the immediate horror hit him all at once.
I’ve seen plenty of dramas deal with bullying, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an outcome like this. I thought the way it was filmed – with Woo-hyuk gradually remembering the reactions of his victims – was surprisingly beautiful and poignant. And Woo-hyuk’s sincere apology was the last thing needed for everyone to breathe a big cathartic sigh. Unfortunately, it looks like some people aren’t quite ready for catharsis. Joo-ri has been unstable since the very beginning, but now that we know exactly what she’s been through and how hard she’s tried to shield herself from it, I’m scared that this poor girl may never be ready.