Yong-pal: Episode 15
Our heroine assumes full control of her empire after dishing out a taste of what she had to go through at her brother’s hands, leaving it up to Tae-hyun to remind her that with great power comes great responsibility to not be such a terrible person. It’s surprising what Tae-hyun’s willing to tolerate in his significant other, and short of murdering his family and eating his sandwich, I don’t think there’s much Yeo-jin can do at this point to change his opinion. Lucky her.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Tae-hyun and Yeo-jin spend a restless night in their respective rooms, each thinking of what the other said—Yeo-jin with her talk of revenge, Tae-hyun with his reason and compassion.
He glances at the rings he bought and considers texting her but doesn’t, while Yeo-jin hesitates before dialing his number, unable to get what he said about stopping her revenge against underlings like Chief Lee out of her mind. But her call goes straight to his voicemail, since Tae-hyun’s just taken another call.
It’s Chae-young on the other line, calling him from the hospital and begging him to help her. Yeo-jin is pissed that Tae-young didn’t answer his phone, and calls up a lackey to find out who he was on the phone with. She must have his phone tapped, and is not happy to find out that he left after getting a call from Chae-young.
Tae-hyun finds Chae-young sobbing and alone in the most desolate hospital waiting room ever (we all know Hanshin isn’t a real hospital, even in this fictional world), sobbing as she asks him to save her husband, who’s currently undergoing some macabre brain surgery in the operating room.
After watching the procedure from the observation deck, Tae-hyun assures Chae-young that her husband will be fine: “This isn’t like you. Cheer up.” But all that does is give Chae-young an existential crisis: she doesn’t know who she is anymore.
She thought she was herself when she was the shallow chairwoman’s wife, but now that everything’s changed, she realizes she feels bad for Do-joon. She swears under her breath that if anything happens to him, she’ll never forgive Yeo-jin, which doesn’t register with Tae-hyun until she says more directly, “Yeo-jin did this.”
At first Tae-hyun doesn’t believe it, even when Chae-young says that Yeo-jin was the only other person who knew where Do-joon would be. Still, Tae-hyun tries to make excuses, only for Chae-young to look him dead in the eye and tell him that she saw it herself. It wasn’t just a random attack, it was planned.
While Secretary Min updates Yeo-jin on the goings-on with her husband and sister-in-law, Do-joon’s doctor addresses the two of them on how the surgery went. Everything should be okay, even though Do-joon has a hole in his skull the size of an irradiated softball.
But during the transfer from recovery to ICU, Tae-hyun and Chae-young lose track of Do-joon, since Hanshin is where people go to die. They finally figure out that there’s only one place where he could be: Yeo-jin’s old room. And they’re not allowed inside.
Out of the hospital room comes the chief of security, and a suddenly healthy-looking Chief Lee, now overseeing Do-joon’s care. They’re keeping him the same way they kept Yeo-jin, with no visits allowed. Claiming to speak for Do-joon, the chief of security tells Chae-young that her husband has agreed to grant her the divorce she wanted.
Tae-hyun catches her when she faints in despair, which is exactly how Yeo-jin sees them when she and her retinue come up to the restricted area. Yeo-jin spares a hard glance toward her husband before marching into Do-joon’s new prison and ordering Chief Lee to lessen the coma-inducing drug’s dosage so her brother will be conscious enough to hear her.
Yeo-jin waits until she’s sure Do-joon can hear before she leans over his prone body much like he once did to her with an eerie smile on her face. She mentions how Chae-young is causing a scene outside in an attempt to see him, musing that she must’ve come to love her husband now that he’s in here. For whatever reason, that thought is very, very funny to Yeo-jin.
Satisfied now that Do-joon is experiencing the same pain he once put her through, Yeo-jin says she’ll keep him there for a term of three years—and then she’ll slit his carotid artery like he did to her. Chief Lee, who wielded the glass shard that almost killed her, bows from across the bed: “I’m sorry, Chairwoman. I deserve to die.”
Yeo-jin just levels a terrible smile at him as she tells him to thank Tae-hyun, not her. But as she leaves the VIP floor, she sees Tae-hyun at Chae-young’s bedside and just glares at him before marching onward.
Chief Lee does end up pulling Tae-hyun aside to thank him for putting a good word in with Yeo-jin and thus saving his life. Having learned nothing from the past, Chief Lee also promises to be like a loyal dog to both him and Yeo-jin from this moment forward.
Yeo-jin attends the shareholder’s meeting that will decide whether she officially takes Do-joon’s place as CEO of Hanshin Group, which of course is met with resounding support. As she’s sworn into her new position of power, Tae-hyun sneaks in the back and watches the last of the ceremony.
He accompanies Yeo-jin to her fancy new office, for the most part seemingly in denial that he’s married to a monster. He does allude to the struggle with morality when he talks about his time spent on the VIP floor of Hanshin, a floor he describes as an ongoing crime scene.
Listing off the terrible things that happen on that floor in the name of money, Tae-hyun doesn’t release himself from blame for taking part in those crimes as the hospital’s pawn. When Yeo-jin says he could’ve quit if he hated it so much, he doesn’t deny it, and says it was his choice to stay.
Instead of losing his medical license and having his sister die, he says, he chose to stay. Yeo-jin knows what he’s getting at and insists that he and Chief Lee are not the same because Chief Lee did what he did for himself, but Tae-hyun disagrees—his choices were for his own benefit too.
And besides, Chief Lee and the late hospital director are probably the biggest reasons why Yeo-jin is still alive today. He tells her the story of her hospital admittance the way it was told to him, and how every resource the hospital had was used to save her. Without the hospital director overseeing the surgery, he doesn’t think she would have lived.
At the time, Chief Lee was embroiled in a medical malpractice suit that wasn’t going in his favor, and wasn’t welcome in most operating rooms because of it. He was almost sent away from Yeo-jin’s room, only to be called in at the last moment by the hospital director, who knew that Chief Lee had the skill to save her despite his reputation.
We’re walked through Tae-hyun’s story in flashback as he tells it, watching as Chief Lee was directed to perform a difficult procedure on Yeo-jin, and how she lived because of his success. But despite the historic surgery he performed, he had to go back to court the next day, too tired and too unprepared for what would be thrown his way.
Just when the case was looking bad for Chief Lee, Hanshin sent a team of lawyers to defend him. “A lifeline was tossed down to a man in hell,” as Tae-hyun describes it. Chief Lee was so happy he cried and cried in court, though he was also sad knowing that he’d be forever indebted to Hanshin and thus under their control. (Why are we in Fuzzyvision when the camera’s back on Tae-hyun and Yeo-jin?)
Therefore, Tae-hyun adds, the situation Chief Lee was in when he put her into a coma and the situation he was in when he went into her room weren’t so different. “He was as desperate as I was,” he says, but mentions how Chief Lee fought to keep him away from the VIP floor, knowing what it could do to him.
This is all to remind Yeo-jin that while her father’s money played a part in saving her, all the doctors who took part in her surgery—even at the expense of other patients who died without treatment—are to thank for her sitting in front of him now. Specifically, Chief Lee was imprisoned on the VIP floor just like she was—but now she wants to kill his spirit too?
Tae-hyun pleads for her pity on Chief Lee, claiming he’s more a shell of a human being than a doctor anymore, but Yeo-jin fires back that he wasn’t a doctor the day he locked her up. If he was forced into it, that was the price he paid for his sins.
“Then… what price will you pay for the sins you’re committing now?” Tae-hyun asks. That gets Yeo-jin thinking, especially when Tae-hyun reminds her that she’d once told him she would destroy the prison that is the VIP floor of Hanshin. That’s why he wanted to help her get back to her throne, and why he said that day that he’d found a reason to do so.
“That place was also a prison to me,” Tae-hyun adds emphatically. “Now release your brother from that prison.” He’s already lost everything and has no hope of gathering allies to fight against her, so anywhere he goes will be like a prison to him.
Tears well up in Yeo-jin’s eyes as she says that she isn’t imprisoning him because she’s afraid he might lash out at her, but because she can’t ever forgive him for what he did to her. “Yeo-jin-ah,” Tae-hyun says softly. “Stop your revenge and come back to me. Back to the Han Yeo-jin I love.”
Yeo-jin doesn’t agree that she’s gone anywhere, but Tae-hyun says her anger is pushing him away. She thinks for a moment before deciding, “You should give in.” He won’t, and urges her to give in as the one with power. He trusts her to do the right thing. Hopefully that isn’t a mistake.
Secretary Min, who may have overheard their whole conversation, reminds Tae-hyun outside that he’s not to be weak to anyone except Yeo-jin. When Tae-hyun replies that he won’t be weak to anyone, Secretary Min whispers his goodbye after Tae-hyun’s gone. (Uh oh.) Meanwhile, Yeo-jin tasks Min with finding out if anyone died at the hospital on the day she was brought in for surgery.
Tae-hyun visits Chae-young in her hospital room to tell her that he’s talked to Yeo-jin, and that she needs time to get over her anger. He’s confident that she’ll change her mind, though. Chae-young admits that she found it hard to forgive her husband at first, but that she feels pity for him now. She hopes Tae-hyun can find it in his heart to forgive him, too.
Meanwhile, Secretary Min worries that Yeo-jin may lose her resolve when it comes to Do-joon, and doesn’t even like that she’d wait three years to kill him. He wants Do-joon dead, but plans to use someone else to do it.
Tae-hyun fights against the idea that he has to attend Yeo-jin’s inauguration celebration party that night, but in the end relents—the head maid tells him to invite some friends if he’s nervous, so he invites his nurse buddies from the hospital.
But that’s not all, since a tuxedo’d Tae-hyun and his well-dressed wife welcome the priest, nun, and the child they bonded the most with from the church. Good Yeo-jin is all smiles when she’s on Tae-hyun’s arm, telling him that she’s glad he invited who he did.
Nurse Oh tsks at Tae-hyun for being so lovestruck, and even more so when he admits he hasn’t given Yeo-jin the ring he bought her yet. And much to my happiness, Tae-hyun’s also invited Doo-chul and his lackey, who hand him an envelope of money as a belated wedding present.
The party is crashed when CHAIRMAN CHOI of Daejung Group shows up, all fake niceties as he congratulates his almost daughter-in-law on becoming chairwoman before he pulls her close enough to whisper menacingly, “My child, we have much to talk about, don’t we?”
Tae-hyun is refused entry to the private meeting between Evil Yeo-jin and Chairman Choi, where she reveals that she knows he used his son to mock her and steal confidential information, while he reveals that he knows Do-joon conspired to kill his son. Therefore, he wants her to turn Do-joon over to him.
She refuses, and Chairman Choi becomes more and more enraged as he talks about how she lived while his son died, and how his wife went insane because of it. If she still refuses, it’ll be war between them—and Hanshin isn’t what it used to be, not after three years under Do-joon’s control.
But Yeo-jin claims it’s because he didn’t have the One USB that business was bad, and just her mentioning that she now has it changes Chairman Choi’s tune. “Han Do-joon must die by my hand,” Yeo-jin grits, and suddenly the chairman agrees wholeheartedly on the basis that he be allowed to extract his pound of flesh from Do-joon’s hide.
Also, he wants Do-joon dead within three days. If not, Chairman Choi threatens, there really will be a war between their companies. He leaves like that, passing Tae-hyun up in the hallway.
Inside, Yeo-jin clenches her jaw and kicks something.
I remember being worried last week that the story wouldn’t know what to do with Tae-hyun once it switched the focus to Yeo-jin and her affairs, and this episode didn’t do much to allay those concerns. While he performed the same duty he’s been relegated to since Evil Yeo-jin reared her head—playing the voice of reason for one long conversation before backing off—it does seem like a waste of the cunning he displayed much earlier in the series. Where’s the Yong-pal who’d take action to help the helpless even when the risk was great? Where would this show be if he’d started out just being the guy who makes moral recommendations in a lilting and totally low-pressure voice instead of the hero who takes action?
I’m not 100% on this, but if I found out I was married to someone who indirectly caused the death of one man and chemically incapacitated another, I’d be a bit more freaked out than Tae-hyun is. It’s hard to get a good peek into his thoughts when it comes to Yeo-jin, though it seems like we’re to take it on faith that he loves her so much he’s willing to look past what’s essentially become the two-faced nature of Yeo-jin. Maybe her turnaround wouldn’t be so hard to swallow most times if she wasn’t sending stone cold glares toward her husband in one scene only to be smiling like an innocent child the next—the shifts between the two radically different sides of herself end up coming off as jarring, and at times mildly confusing.
Of course Yeo-jin has a right to her vengeful feelings, and what strikes a bizarre note with me as a viewer is why I don’t feel more for her plight in taking down those who’ve wronged her. There’s never been any doubt that she was wronged in more ways than a person should ever be wronged, yet her quest for vengeance feels oddly juvenile when it theoretically shouldn’t. However flawlessly(?) she’s been able to pull off the death of Chairman Go and her brother’s comatose state, the Yeo-jin who stomped/kicked/punched something when she didn’t get her way in that final scene seems to be the Yeo-jin making all the dangerous decisions as of late. The same way she took vengeance on her father with the tennis racket is how she’s handling her current affairs, though I’m not sure if she realizes that ending lives is a lot different than ending her father’s ability to watch her hit a ball with a fancy stick.
That being said, Tae-hyun is handling Yeo-jin’s shift toward bloodthirstiness almost too well, and while he’s not doing much about it, at least he’s reminding her that morality exists. He knows the revenge she seeks is empty, that the people she’s trying to destroy have already destroyed themselves from within, but getting Yeo-jin to see things the same way is a tall order. I don’t know if spending so much time on Chief Lee’s life story was strictly necessary, but part of the flaw in Tae-hyun’s moralizing is that he’s telling her not to do something without giving her another plan of action that she finds even remotely acceptable. Yeo-jin may be many things, but easy to please is not one of them.
Yeo-jin doesn’t seem keen to take it on Tae-hyun’s word that Chief Lee would live out the rest of his life suffering in a prison of his own making, as would her brother, supposedly. It’s definitely a sticky spot to be in when it comes to doing what’s right versus what’s just, and neither side so far has come up with a solution that satisfies both. It’s up to Yeo-jin to decide whether she’ll be the bigger person, and up to Tae-hyun to decide whether he’ll make bigger decisions. With any luck, we’ll see more of the latter. Alternatively, more tuxedos would suffice.