Innocent Defendant Finale

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Have not been able to blog about the second half of Defendant due to various commitments, but it’s the only show I’m currently following loyally every week. I’ve dropped Missing 9 a long time back ever since it became mainly about Tae Ho and his murdering sprees. I’ve started Tomorrow with You and Strong Woman Do Bong Soo, but the shows just haven’t drawn me in so I just watch them here and there when I have the time. The k-drama verse seems to be in a little bit of a slump, so I’m thankful for Defendant which is a truly solid drama in many ways.

I’ll be first to admit that it isn’t a perfect show and there are several plotholes surrounding the murder of Ji-Soo and a few easy solutions to move the plot ahead. However, for all that it’s worth, I’ve truly enjoyed how the show keeps moving the story ahead and we’re always on our edge thinking of what Min Ho or Jeong Woo’s next move is, even right into the finale. This, to me, is truly impressive. I always enjoy shows where the good and bad guys are equally matched in terms of wits and will, because it’s satisfying when you see them outsmart and outplay each other. In this sense, both Min Ho and Jeong Woo have been very well-written because their battle for power has been engaging from start till end. Min Ho fights till the end, even pulling out the insanity card. Unfortunately, because it was already the final episode, it was also rather predictable that this trick wouldn’t work, but kudos to the writers for trying to keep things moving towards the end.

The finale also left me wanting to know more about Min Ho’s back story, especially what transpired between him and Yeon Hee, and his love for Eun Soo. Yeon Hee’s final appeal to Min Ho in court could have been so much more powerful if we had seen more of Min Ho’s love for Yeon Hee and his son. I felt that this was a point that was more told to us, rather than shown and I honestly didn’t feel that Min Ho truly loved Yeon Hee. Rather, it seemed like she was just someone he really needed to help keep up his pretense as Seon Ho. I’ve always felt that Min Ho’s characterisation was a little lacking, but I did think that it picked up in the second half especially when his dad’s betrayal happened and he was forced to turn his back on his dad. I liked also that inheriting Seon Ho’s identity brought along benefits, but also burdens like Jennifer Lee as well as the slush fund incident. Both of these incidents could have been used to explore the conflicts and dilemmas faced by Min Ho in taking on his brother’s identity, but I personally felt the writers took the easier route by ending both story-lines in deaths which reinforced how far Min Ho had fallen into the dark side.

While I’ve been relatively disappointed with Min Ho’s characterisation, I truly enjoyed Jeong Woo – both in terms of his characterisation and especially Ji Sung’s portrayal of him. I’ve not seen an actor who has really put in so much physically into making the character come alive. Ji Sung brings so much raw energy to the character of Jeong Woo that you can literally feel his will power and determination pulsating through his veins when watching each episode. And he brings so much heart to the character of Jeong Woo as well – I loved the scene with him talking to Ji Soo at the columbarium, telling her that he would apprehend Min Ho. I loved the scene at the end of episode 15, where he finally catches Min Ho and reads out his crimes to him with a tear in his eye when he mentions the murder of Ji Soo. That moment just captures everything that Jeong Woo represents – his integrity, his sense of justice, his determination and resolve and most of all, his immense love for his wife and family. You can see Ji Sung bringing his own experience as a dad into his role and he speaks to Ha Yeon with such love, tenderness and protectiveness. Every scene between him and Ha Yeon was so fantastic in the finale and just brought tears to my eyes, especially the scene of them singing a lullaby at Ji Soo’s grave – OMG, that scene just killed me.

This series is one of the very rare K-drama series without an OTP to root for, yet contains so much heart and warmth because of its focus on friendships and family ties. I certainly cannot write an finale post on the show without talking about Jeong Woo and his prison-mates who gradually grew on me. I have to admit that early in the series, I found the scenes with them boring. However, once Chul Shik came into the picture, and Jeong Woo started plotting his escape, the bond between his cell mates became closer and I found the brotherly, protective bond between them so real and so natural. One of my favourite scenes was that of them celebrating Jeong Woo’s birthday for him. Of course, it does seem a bit neat that all of them have happy endings – well, except for Seong Kyu – but it’s a point I’m willing to let go, because they are all such endearing characters! Mir Yang doesn’t get much screen time, but he certainly shone in all the scenes he was in – especially the one between him and his wife in the finale, which brought tears to my eyes. Moongchi and Wooruk just crack me up all the time and they bring much needed humour and lightness to the otherwise intense and dark storyline.

As for the other characters, I’m just glad Jun Hyuk finally came to his senses and was instrumental in bringing the truth to light. I did find it hard to believe that both as a prosecutor and a very good friend, he would be so willing to hide the truth and cause harm to both his friend and his daughter. This was especially surprising given that he did also like Ji Soo. However, he did come to his senses at the end and paid the price for it. As for Eun Hye, she wasn’t utilised much, but I felt she was adequately used to move the plot ahead where necessary. Yeon Hee’s character came to life when we learnt that she had handed over the slush fund documents to the police and wanted to bring down the Chamyung group. That was the start of her exercising her sense of agency, and of course, her final act of handing Min Ho over to Jeong Woo further displayed her taking control of her and her son’s future.

Defendant has been certainly a great series from start to end. Even with the episode extension, the pace never flagged and there was never a sense that the show was intentionally dragging out any plot-points. The first half was suspenseful and intriguing as the pieces of Ji Soo’s murder and Ha Yeon’s kidnapping were gradually put together and the second half remained exciting with Jeong Woo’s escape from prison and attempts to put together a case against Min Ho. The show’s ratings have been phenomenal and it has truly deserved it! I’ll definitely be looking out for Ji Sung’s next show, or looking for his past series.  However for now, I’m looking for the next k-drama series that will hook me in! Hoping that the upcoming slate of dramas will be more refreshing and engaging!

Innocent Defendant Episode 9

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For all the flaws in the writing of the show – both in terms of the plot and the characterisation of Min Ho, I have to say I’m really really enjoying the performances of both Ji Sung and Uhm Ki-Joon and they play off each other extremely well in this episode.

Ji Sung’s performance as the tormented, floundering Jeong Woo has been compelling and engaging thus far, but I enjoy his performance of Jeong Woo pretending to be crazy and out of his mind even better. What’s even more perfect is how he overplays it in such a frenzied and exaggerated manner that those of us who’ve seen him actually break down can tell the difference, but not Min Ho. We also learn get an explanation regarding Jeong Woo’s repeated loss of memory – it happens when he recovers all his memories because of his desire to protect himself. It’s not the best explanation in light of what’s been going on because I always thought Min Ho had a role to play in ensuring Jeong Woo lost his memories – wasn’t that why he kept arranging for Jeong Woo to be sent to the prison cell?

Min Ho is vicious as always and we finally get to see what happened on the night of Ji Soo’s murder. The act of him pausing before stabbing Ji Soo and then changing to his left hand was so devious, creepy and shocking at the same time. In prison, he truly turns on his manipulative prowess, provoking Jeong Woo in such cruel ways by firstly pretending to perform a scene from a play which is actually Ji Soo’s last words, and then bringing Ha Yeon to prison. I loved how sharp and smart Jeong Woo was in both those instances, especially when Min Ho acted out Ji Soo’s last words. He indeed lost control of himself and wanted to get Min Ho, but realised that he needed a decoy to divert Min Ho’s attention hence he pretends to be angry instead over his bread.

Beneath Min Ho’s deviousness is a huge sense of insecurity as we witness a nightmare of his with Jeong Woo strangling him. He’s grappling at all ways to regain control over Jeong Woo and his condition; while he is able to use his power to manipulate the prison warden to put Jeong Woo in a separate prison, it is in the area of psychological warfare that he loses out to Jeong Woo because if there’s anything we’ve seen from Jeong Woo’s time in prison, we know that he’s not just smart, but also very mentally strong and determined. I found his act of stopping himself from seeing Ha Yeon very admirable, because it showed how he could see in the long term and overcome his most heartfelt desire to be with his daughter, so as to ensure she’s safe. While not explicitly mentioned, Seong Kyu’s previous visit must also have given Jeong Woo a sense of assurance that Seong Kyu is protecting and keeping Ha Yeon safe, hence he cannot do anything now to jeopardise that situation.

We’ve had a little less focus on Jun-Hyuk and Eun-Hye recently, but I’m glad Eun-Hye is proving her worth in the short appearances she has. This time, she manages to spot a key detail even before Jeong Woo tells her about it, which is that two knives were missing from the kitchen and not one. I’m keen to see the latest development of Min Ho getting Eun-hye to defend him and am wondering what he has up his sleeves. Now that Jun-Hyuk has heard Ha Yeon’s voice, I’m sure that will prompt him to take more action, but that also potentially means his promotion and career could be on the line, since he was so resolute in putting Jeong Woo behind bars. Will he finally make the right choice this time?

Besides the Jeong Woo-Min Ho drama that we got in this episode, I also enjoyed the brief insights we got into the struggles of the Cha family, especially the scene between Min Ho’s dad and mum at the altar of Seon Ho. They know the truth but the tension they face is genuine as revealing the truth would mean they lose both sons and also means the whole reputation of the family goes down the drain. We see Yeon Hee increasingly losing her nerves too and becoming increasingly frazzled when she remembers Jennifer Lee’s cry before dying. How long will she be able to keep up the pretence before she breaks down completely?

I’m glad to hear of the two episode extension, because I feel there’s much scope to flesh out some of the relationships that may not be critical for the main storyline, but useful nonetheless. Of particular interest would be Min Ho’s relationship with his mum over the years, and also with Yeon Hee. It’d be nice if we got clearer sense of Min Ho’s gradual downfall over the years to the cold-hearted murderer that he is right now. I don’t necessarily need him to be softened or redeemed as a villain, but at least it’d be nice to see him humanised so that we understand how he became who he is today.

Nonetheless, in spite of certain plotholes, I’m really enjoying this drama because we see two equally intelligent, capable protagonists continually trying to outsmart each other. Now that Min Ho knows that Jeong Woo remembers, one has to wonder what his next step is going to be.

Innocent Defendant Episode 8

InnocentDefendent8.jpgFor most of this episode, I was enjoying the way it delved more deeply into the Min Ho storyline by exposing darker aspects of Seon Ho that Min Ho wasn’t aware of – namely that he had a mistress! Of course, since he wasn’t aware of it, that was a part of Seon Ho that he couldn’t replicate convincingly, so he pleads with  Yeon Hee to help him out. She helps him out by lying about how he had to go through therapy after his brother’s death, which buys Min Ho some time.

However, Seon Ho’s mistress isn’t buying it and she hires a private investigator to verify if Min Ho/Seon Ho is really suffering from amnesia. Even after the report is received, she’s still suspicious and Min Ho is certainly wise enough to know he needs to ensure all bases are covered, so he takes her to the villa that she used to go with Seon Ho, so that he can get a sensing of whether she believes that he’s Seon Ho. When she checks his chest for a scar, and later on serves him white wine, he knows that she’s still suspicious and hence needs to be silenced. Just as he silences her, she actually calls Yeon Hee, who hears what happens. Yeon Hee is traumatised by what she hears and she seems like she can no longer live with a murderer who continues to kill.

The hit-and-run accident is where I feel the storyline started to fall apart. The story would have been perfect and  more interesting if Yeon Hee didn’t somehow get into a hit-and-run accident. It would have provided opportunity for genuine exploration of how Min Ho convinces her to keep up the pretense and not mention what she heard. However, the hit and run accident shifts the direction of the story and Min Ho decides to take over the vehicle and use this as an opportunity for him to enter prison and get rid of Jeong Woo, since he has decided not to go for the final appeal.

This decision of Min Ho’s really didn’t make sense to me. Firstly, as the President of Chamyoung Group, him getting into such trouble would cause so much sensation and affect the company negatively, which would further reinforce the dad’s negative impression of him. We know Min Ho has good relations within the police force who may be able to keep this arrest under wraps, but the more important question is why Min Ho feels the need to go to the extent of becoming a prisoner just to kill Jeong Woo. Doesn’t he have other people in there who can help him, for example, the people who have been helping to drug Jeong Woo so that he keeps losing his memory? Also, what would he have done if Yeon Hee didn’t get into an accident? Was this a plan that just somehow came to his mind when he saw her get into the hit-and-run accident? It all seems like an extremely miscalculated step for Min Ho, who has thus far been shown to be rather shrewd and sharp.

I was disappointed we didn’t get to see the interrogation between Joon Hyuk and Min Ho and immediately skipped to Joon Hyuk putting Min Ho in prison. That interrogation would certainly have been interesting to watch, especially to see how he asked to be put in prison and how Joon Hyuk responded.

I’m looking to see how the show will deal with Min Ho and Jeong Woo in prison storyline subsequently, especially now that Jeong Woo has finally recovered his memory of what happened that night and confirmed that Min Ho was the one who killed Ji Soo. I like how the show has made it such that the appeal route is no longer viable, because Jeong Woo had arranged all the evidence in such a way that made it look like he was the one who killed his wife. This results in Jeong Woo having to resort to a more criminal route of having to break out of prison, which he has actually before. There’s lots of interesting, creative work in how this show constructs its storyline and I’m really enjoying how things are gradually pieced together from different time periods. I’m sure we’ll get to see more of his first attempt at breaking out and what happened then. It’d be a nice contrast to his second attempt now, which I’m sure will be thwarted by Min Ho to a great extent.

Now that Jeong Woo has almost pieced together everything, I’m sure we’re in for a reset of some kind, i.e. him losing his memories once again. I’m wondering though if he might decide this time to pretend that he has lost all his memories, just to throw all those who are against him off guard, and allow him to finally bring the truth to light. This would certainly be a more interesting story to tell than him really losing his memories again. Nonetheless, my sole concern now is to see how Min Ho’s character can ‘recover’ from this mis-step of entering prison and whether the show can convince us that it’s a meaningful move on his part.

Innocent Defendant Episode 7

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As much as I expected Ha Yeon to be alive, it brought a smile to my face when I saw her in the Seong Kyu’s car at the end of the episode. Yay!

All this while, we’ve been seeing the murder of Ji Soo being reconstructed through Jeong Woo’s recovery of his memories. However, in this episode, we start to see it through Seong Kyu’s perspective and his involvement in getting rid of Ha Yeon. From a villain’s point of view, it’s a smart move to only kill one of Jeong Woo’s family members and hold the other as hostage, so as to still have a bargaining chip to ensure that he goes through with the confession. And in this episode, we learnt that Jeong Woo’s confession was made to ensure Ha Yeon was alive. Finally, the question of whether Jeong Woo actually murdered Ji Soo is answered. It’s always a good thing when a show keeps moving ahead and answering pertinent questions, because you know it’s going to take you to new places that you didn’t expect, rather than allowing questions to drag on for too long.

While the show generally does a good job with Jeong Woo’s character, I’ve always felt the show could certainly go deeper in exploring Min Ho’s character. I found it very telling when Yeon Hee asked him at the hospital how long he would keep the truth from his mum, and his reply was, “What can I tell her? That the Min Ho she once knew is dead? Or that I am Min Ho?”. It shed light on how Min Ho is looking upon this new identity as Seon Ho – while he takes on Seon Ho’s identity, he’s shedding away his ‘old’ self and proving himself to be as capable as his brother. We certainly saw that in the fencing sequence, where he tried to overcome his fear of needles, wearing Seon Ho’s fencing suit and taking on the young champion fencer. I wish we saw more of the ‘old Min Ho is dead’ storyline, because there is so much scope for story telling there. However, it’s also rather confusing as we seem to see Min Ho descending deeper and deeper into darkness as he continues his killing streak. It would help if we knew more of how Min Ho was like before he killed Seon Ho so that we can see his character trajectory better.

I do enjoy the scenes between Min Ho and his dad, because his dad clearly knows what happened – which makes the conversations between them so layered and tense. The scene in this episode with Min Ho asking his dad why he always treated him so harshly was a good one and I could almost sense the resentment and anger simmering to the surface when Min Ho heard his dad’s response. I wanted the scene to go on for a while longer, for more questions to be asked, but that seems to be the case with Min Ho scenes which tend to be more focused on him planning what to do next, rather than about delving deeper into his psyche and struggles.

Back to the Seong Kyu and Ha Yeon storyline, I’m wondering what happened to Ha Yeon during the period when he was in prison. And why was she so trusting of a stranger who simply took her into his place, away from his parents – unless she had already seen him around before and spoken to him? There are still some questions that need answering, but I do find Seong Kyu a compelling enough character that I’m interested not just in what happened to Ha Yeon, but his own emotional journey and investment in this. I was actively rooting for him in the previous episode to win the appeal and what I’ve seen in this episode continues to paint him in a somewhat positive light, because he’s clearly on Jeong Woo’s side. That definitely means he is in danger, which gives greater impetus for Jeong Woo to find a way to get to him and Ha Yeon.

Given how fast the answers are coming, I’m excited to see where the show takes us next. While the show certainly does a good job in moving the storyline forward, I would appreciate too if it could take time to flesh out its characters more concretely – that would truly make this show an excellent one.

Innocent Defendant Episode 6

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The great thing about this show is that each reveal opens up even more questions and deepens the mystery of what exactly happened on that night even further. Just as we think we are getting closer to the truth, we receive yet another piece of information that pushes us further away. The constant shift in chronology also helps keep things interesting given that we don’t always get the full context of what happens and often see events in isolation.

Take for example Jeong Woo’s confession to Jun Hyuk that he killed Ji Soo and Ha Yeon. IT seems so straightforward that I’m sure there’s more than meets the eye. What was the context of that confession? Why did he decide to do it? Was it just to give himself a peace of mind and end the torment and investigation into the death? I wouldn’t put it beyond Jeong Woo to ‘sacrifice’ himself so that Ji Soo and Ha Yeon can die or live in peace (since we don’t know whether Ha Yeon is alive or not). We see in this episode that he also confesses to Ji Soo’s mum that he killed her, even though he had no recollection of it. Or was he being threatened to confess or else Ha Yeon would die? Is Ha Yeon now being kept as hostage to be Cha Min Ho’s final trump card in the case that Jeong Woo does recover his memories? There are just so many possibilities and as much as I find the repeated amnesia too convenient a plot device, it is very meaningfully used to create suspense and intrigue about what actually happened.

The list of suspects keeps growing and we get two new characters thrown into the mix this episode. The first is Seok who serves as Min Ho’s right hand man, investigating what he needs and also doing his dirty work. He was involved in Detective Ko’s car crash and in the murder, but we’re not quite sure how. Given that he was dressed in black in this episode, is he the man in the video? However, it seems a little too straightforward and simplistic to have Min Ho ask Seok to kill Ji Soo, so I’m sure he’s not the murderer. Then, we have Seong Kyu – oh my Seong Kyu, I never knew you had it in you. His confession at the end was a real curve-ball and I never saw that coming. However, it comes so far afield that I’ll have to reserve judgement to see how this is played out, because I also don’t want the show to go down the route of ultimately pinning the blame on someone who’s completely peripheral to the main storyline. I am hoping that the murderer is someone within the mix of the existing characters, because I’d rather we deepen the existing network of characters we have and reveal new twists and turns to their relationships, rather than keep introducing new ones.

Beyond all the fascinating twists and turns, I’m really enjoying Ji Sung’s performance as Jeong Woo. He’s been consistently good throughout, portraying to perfection his confused, tormented yet determined state. I especially loved the moment of clarity and peace that was so evident in his face when he saw the video of his confession. There was even a subtle smile on his face, because he finally received confirmation about who killed his wife. As a character, Jeong Woo is also very well-written and we see how his morality and sense of righteousness go so deep that his focus in appealing is not really to prove his innocence, but to find out the truth for the sake of his wife and daughter. He’s perfectly willing to be punished by death if he really did murder his wife, but right now, he doesn’t even know if he did.

It’s unfortunate though that not all the other characters are as well-written as Jeong Woo and I’m starting to find most of them rather ‘thin’ and certainly deserving of more fleshing out. The most disappointing one currently is Min Ho, with most of his screen time spent planning his next move or covering up his mis-steps. I was really hoping he’d be built up as a more compelling villain in the likes of Yoo Jin from K2 or Moon Sik from Healer. These were good villains because they were evil and ruthless, but their motivations were clear and they also had a softer side with people in their lives that they cared for. Right now, I don’t even see Min Ho caring for Yoon Hee or Eun Soo genuinely. They seem to be used mainly as a means to carry on his farce of being Seon Ho. If Yoon Hee was his first love, then shouldn’t he show more affection towards her? Also, what was the trigger point for Min Ho exhibiting such violent tendencies? How did he get to this point?

Ultimately, I feel the show is suffering a from having way too many characters which helps to keep up the suspense regarding the murder, but also makes it more difficult to build them all up in a compelling manner. Nonetheless, it’s still early in the series and the show still has time to develop its characters more concretely. There’s still plenty to keep us engaged and thinking and the main question bugging me now as I wait for next week’s episodes is what does 16k refer to and why Jeong Woo thought it important enough to inscribe it.

Innocent Defendant Episode 5

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Murder mysteries are not new and in fact rather common in the drama-verse. What’s refreshing about this show though is how it implicates our protagonist in the whole murder and keeps us wondering whether he is one who committed the murder. Of course, most of us would be inclined to think that Jeong Woo wasn’t the murderer, but honestly, I would find it an equally interesting story to tell if it turned out that he did murder his wife and daughter.

Right now, the strongest suspect would be Min Ho – even if he didn’t commit the murder, he certainly had a role to play in it. However, given how many surprises we’ve gotten so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if Min Ho wasn’t involved at all, because Min Ho might be ensuring that Jeong Woo continually loses his memory for the sake of self preservation to ensure that his fake identity as Seon Ho is not exposed.

We know that Joon Hyuk was there on the night of the murder between 12.30 a.m. to 1.30 a.m., which is reported at the time of death. He made a recording in the fish soft toy about 1 a.m. and left soon after. The impression we’re being given now is that he’s just trying to protect himself because it would be suspicious that he was there on the night at such a late timing. Nonetheless, it does seem a little too easy that he just removed a piece of evidence from a police office? Wouldn’t anyone have noticed that the soft toy fish disappeared since it had already been labelled as item 16? That seems a little slipshod on the part of the investigators, and on the part of the show. In fact, we haven’t been shown any concrete evidence why Jeong Woo was determined to be the culprit behind the murder, given also that he lost his memories regarding what happened. Given how the show shifts back and forth in its chronology so often, I’m sure we’ll see more of the investigation scenes in time to come.

This episode represented Jeong Woo slowly gaining greater grasp of reality and becoming who he previously was again. Even though Joon Hyuk tells him that the doorbell was spoilt, Jeong Woo remembers clearly that he did hear the doorbell. He starts exercising his sense of righteousness and sharp thinking to score points and get him ahead in prison. It was nice seeing him finally step out of his shell to help his fellow prison-mate, Seong Kyu. I thought it was already smart of him to know the best way for him to get the cigarettes, but was even more impressed when I saw how he outsmarted the warden and head of security by passing Chul Sik an empty cigarette box. I honestly didn’t see that coming and I can see him gradually gaining the respect of his fellow prison-mates.

As for Min Ho, I was starting to feel slightly more sympathetic for him after learning about his abusive dad and how distant Yeon Hee had become from him, refusing to even stay with him for a minute after he woke up. However, he then goes and crushes the young fencer’s hand to completely destroy his future, and orchestrates the death of Detective Ko, which makes him completely evil once again. Right now, all that he does is largely being portrayed as an act of self-preservation to prevent his murder of his brother from being revealed. I’m hoping to see more of how he makes use of this as a second chance to prove himself as someone capable and more importantly, someone worthy of love.

So what exactly does the clue of 16k mean? We know Ha Yeon weights 16 kg, but why would that be something important enough for Jeong Woo to note it down? How is that linked to the murder? Also, while we see Tae Soo crying, we don’t really get to see what’s inside the suitcase. It could be Ha Yeon’s body, or it also be something else (like a dummy or a set of weights that total 16 kg) which causes Tae Soo to despair as well because he wants certainty and closure over the whole case. I’m still believing that Ha Yeon’s alive, so my theory now is that it wasn’t Ha Yeon in the suitcase and that Jeong Woo might have deliberately put 16kg worth of weights inside to convince someone else that it was Ha Yeon inside.

Now that Detective Ko is dead – or in coma – we only have Eun Hye to rely on to find out what really happened. Detective Ko’s accident is confirmation for her that there’s more than meets the eye and that someone is keen on hiding what happened. It wouldn’t be too hard for her to trace back and find out where Detective Ko came from before the accident, so I’m sure it will only be a matter of a few episodes before she starts suspecting Min Ho – and then her life will be in danger as well.

It has been a thrilling ride so far, and I can’t wait to see where episode 6 takes us!

Innocent Defendant Episodes 3 & 4

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I’m impressed at how fast this show is moving, with significant reveals in each episode that open up more questions with the latest being that Jun Hyuk was the one who visited their home on the night of Ha Yeon’s birthday. I don’t think Jun Hyuk was involved in the murder of Ji Soo and Ha Yeon (if she’s even dead), but he certainly knows more about what really happened on that night. Yet we also know from Jun Hyuk’s recount of his past encounters with Jeong Woo (if we can even rely on those) that Jeong Woo had confessed once to killing Ji Soo and Ha Yeon. While I’m almost 100% sure he didn’t kill them, why would he confess to it? It’s a fascinating journey where the protagonist isn’t sure of his innocence – he wants to know the truth, not only to defend himself, but also so that he can get his just punishment if he was indeed the one who murdered his wife and child.

It’s also enjoying how the story still remains coherent as we move back and forth in time to earlier times of happiness, to the time of Jeong Woo investigating Seon Ho’s death and then to the time when Jeong Woo first lost his memories. The show is being very creative with its chronology, but still maintaining a good momentum in moving the story ahead. The shifting back and forth in chronology helps to ensure a good balance of tone throughout the episodes and serve to emphasis how far Jeong Woo has fallen.

The direction of the series is stellar as well. I really liked the scene where both Jeong Woo and Chul Shik are in the punishment cells and we are shown both of them, with the wall separating them. There’s a lot of thoughtful crafting of scenes, as the scene after that also shows us Min Ho’s face from behind the window blinds as he questions why Jeong Woo is making an appeal again. As a whole, the show is well-written and well-directed and looks well positioned to be a ratings hit.

I have to say though the whole Min-Ho pretending to be Seon-Ho plotline is starting to become less and less convincing. I find it hard to believe that nobody can tell that he’s not Seon-Ho. In ep3, we see that he has a secret wall in his office with photographs and details of the previous clients of Cham Young, which he uses to prepare for each meeting. However, certainly there would be details that he wouldn’t be aware of? Furthermore, given that we’re led to believe that Min Ho and Seon Ho had very different personalities, wouldn’t anyone have been able to sense it? The only way this storyline can become more convincing is if we have more people realising that he’s actually Min Ho, but then colluding in this lie for reasons of their own. This is the reason why I’m fascinated by the theory that his dad actually knows that he’s not Seon Ho, but is playing along because he cannot afford to lose another son and heir to his inheritance. We certainly get strong hints of that in episode 4 when the dad asks him to joust with Lee Chan Young.

I’m also wondering about the repeated loss of memories, which seems to be taking the amnesia trope to an extreme. I know it’s a common trope in k-dramas, but I have rarely seen it used well. In this case, I really hope that we get a convincing explanation of how this repeated memory loss is happening, most likely due to the prison chief and warden’s arrangements. I can foresee that it won’t be the last time that Jeong Woo loses his memories and he’s likely to lose them at a critical moment in our story when victory is near. Eun Hye would certainly have an important role to play in ensuring he retains his memories.

Nonetheless, this has been an excellent start to the series and I hope it can keep it its wonderful blend of mystery, suspense and excitement!

Innocent Defendant Episodes 1-2

We’re certainly starting 2017 off on a darker note with Voice, Missing Nine and now this series. It’s tough for me because I love shows of such nature, more so than more romance-focused shows that ended off 2016, yet it’s a busier period so I won’t be able to write as much about them. I may thus be exploring more mini-reviews or clustering of episodes together.

Summary of Episodes 1 and 2

The premise of Innocent Defendant is relatively simple. Park Jeong Woo is a prosecutor at Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. He lives a happy life, with a wife and six year old girl and is successful in his career with a group of supportive colleagues. However, he wakes up one day and finds himself locked up in prison, with completely no recollection of what happened in the past four months. His most recent memory is the night of celebrating his daughter’s birthday. To his shock and horror, he realises he has been accused of killing his wife and daughter. His second trial is coming up and he is currently on death row.

The most recent case that he was investigating prior to his imprisonment involved two brothers who are successors of the Chamyung group. We learn through backstory that the Vice President, Cha Min Ho, is less successful than his brother Seon Ho, who has been made the president. In a very dark sequence, we see a psychotic Min Ho, holding a golf club and beating a woman till she’s unconscious. The investigation led by Jeong Woo leads to him as they manage to find the golf club. Jeong Woo goes to Chamyung group’s office to find Min Ho, but ends up finding Seon Ho instead.

Upon realising his brother is close to getting caught, Seon Ho goes to find Min Ho to ask him to turn himself in. However, Min Ho refuses and makes Seon Ho take the blame for him. He knocks Seon Ho unconscious, then puts his clothes and watch on Seon Ho so that he becomes mistaken from Min Ho, and then he throws him off the building and writes a suicide note. Min Ho thus takes on Seon Ho’s identity and gets off scot-free. However, Jeong Woo is extremely suspicious as he gets to hear Seon Ho’s last words in the hospital before dying, which are “Min Ho ah…”. We do not know exactly what happens but Min Ho certainly has a role to play in framing Jeong Woo.

Besides the core characters of Jeong Woo and Min Ho, we also get introduced to Yeon Hee, who is Seon Ho’s wife. She immediately recognises Min Ho, but is unable to say anything because he also knows the secret about her daughter’s actual father. In the second episode, we meet Eun Hye, a defense lawyer who always loses in court, but is most likely going to become Jeong Woo’s layer in the second trial because nobody else wants to take the cases. And we also meet Joon Hyuk, who is the best friend of Jeong Woo, and a fellow prosecutor who helps Jeong Woo regain his memories by passing him the case files.

Comments

love this kind of drama where we get to participate in the story by formulating theories about what happened through piecing together the little hints that we get. It seems pretty clear that Min Ho had a role to play in framing Jeong Woo, but how is the biggest question.

We keep rewinding to that memory of Jeong Woo’s daughter’s birthday, yet we are also told by Joon Hyuk that Jeong Woo’s memories might not be reliable because of the trauma he has undergone. Could it be that the night of his daughter’s birthday celebration was actually not as beautiful as he imagined? That actually it may have been a confrontation between him and his wife about her supposed affair that we hear about? I’m interested about the little detail we received in episode 1, that the wife bought the cake in the name of Park Bong Goo, and not his name. How about Tae Soo, the man that as in their home before Jeong Woo came back? My speculation right now is that things might not have gone as beautifully on that night of his daughter’s birthday celebration.

I even want to go as far as to say that the scene where Jeong Woo gets an offer from a law firm and then calls his wife, and she says that she loves him because he’s a prosecutor and not for his money, is a false memory. He may have realised she was seeing someone because he had neglected her and the family due to his over commitment to work. We see that he is not aware of his daughter’s age and even what present she likes. My theory now therefore is that he was so traumatised by his wife’s unexpected adultery and what we see in the first episode is a false memory that he created to mask that pain.

Ji Sung is doing an excellent job as Jeong Woo and he brings to life the trauma and loss that Jeong Woo feels in prison, which contrasts so starkly with his confident presence as a prosecutor. There’s such a depth in the portrayal of his pain, disorientation and fall from grace that he’s already such a compelling character.

My hope is that the show also gives us greater insight into Min Ho’s psyche and motivations and not just portray him as a one-sided villain. In his confrontation with Seon Ho, I sensed a little schizophrenia in him, as he moved from vengeful hatred to desperate guilt when asking his brother to help him once again. It was that moment after he hit his brother’s head with the wine bottle, then he just paused, looking at his hands, then asked himself “What have I done?”. It’s almost as if he’s unaware of what he is doing and is couching his murder of his brother in a way that assuages his own guilt by stating that it’s just like how his brother used to take examinations for him and get punished for him. His dad’s completely nonchalant response to his death is indicative of how Min Ho must have been raised and I’ll be glad for us to gain more insights into this.

It’s early in the series, but I have a sense that Seon Ho’s death is not the first, and I feel extremely fearful for Seon Ho’s wife, Yeon Hee. We already see signs of her cracking and being unable to keep up with the farce. She may become instrumental in the second trial and therefore likely to be killed as well. Another person I fear for is Min Ho’s dad – there will certainly be confrontations between them subsequently and I suspect he’ll be killed just as Min Ho continues to walk down the path of darkness.

The first two episodes have done a great job in drawing me into the story and the characters. This is certainly gone to be an intriguing and exciting ride and I foresee this being series dominating the Monday-Tuesday slot.