Bad Papa Episodes 23-24 “Zero Sum”
Detective Cha Ji Woo (Kim Jae Kyung) and new partner Lee Hyun Soo (Kim Wook) now know that Ji Cheol was a test subject. Ji Woo asks Hyun Soo to allow her to talk to Ji Cheol alone and not to tell the chief for now.
Yoo Ji Cheol (Jang Hyuk) tells the fighter trying to blackmail him with the blue pill during a boxing match video that being willing to crush another’s family is low. Ji Cheol asks the other fighter what his kids will think when they find out their father is a blackmailer. The fighter says he’s going to the TV station with the video. Ji Cheol slips money into his hands and tells him to buy good food for his pregnant wife. Ji Cheol leaves. The two gangsters watching the encounter wonder what the money exchange was about. The leader calls the ZD producer.
Ji Cheol thinks about the path he’s walked since taking the blue pills. Is everything in life a gamble? He doesn’t pick up when Ji Woo calls.
Ji Woo recalls Ji Cheol’s reaction when she described the tattoo on the unknown dead man’s body.
Kim Yong Dae (David Lee) tells Ji Cheol that his most recent opponent is still unconscious. Yong Dae declares the opponent also hit other fighters after the referee stopped a fight. Ji Cheol sighs.
Ji Cheol’s wife Choi Sun Joo (Son Yeo Eun) watches the news report recent opponent is still unconscious.
Ji Cheol sits in the gym and drinks. He looks in the mirror and sees his inner self who berates him for injuring the other fighter, hiding behind his family for his shameful actions, etc.
Ji Cheol’s daughter Yoo Young Sun (Shin Eun Soo) asks her mother if she’s heard from her father. Sun Joo assures her daughter that he’ll come home and they need to trust him. Young Sun tells her mother she’s got to practice for the dance competition and leaves.
Lee Min Woo (Ha Joon) and his boss discuss the fighter in the hospital. Min Woo is understanding of Ji Cheol hitting the fighter after the referee told him to stop.
Flashback…17 years ago…After losing a fight, Ji Cheol mentors Min Woo with the advice that one must fight to protect something to hold out in the ring. Hitting your opponent isn’t violence, it is protecting your some special something.
Min Woo tells his boss that Ji Cheol was foolish to let his arm almost get broken without giving up. Min Woo says Ji Cheol’s family is what he is fighting to protect. Min Woo notes he doesn’t have family to fight for. Min Woo likes the beast side of Ji Cheol.
I agree with Min Woo’s assessment. Ji Cheol’s everything is his family. Min Woo probably can’t wait to get raw and real with Ji Cheol in the ring to right the wrong he believes Ji Cheol committed against him years ago. I also like seeing Ji Cheol as a mentor to Min Woo.
Ji Woo and Young Sun meet in the park. Young Sun explains that even though her father is winning, he’s still troubled. She decides to has to talk to him.
Young Sun isn’t happy to learn that her father isn’t at Yong Dae’s house as she and her mother were told. Yong Dae admits he has no idea where Ji Cheol is. Young Sun calls her mother for ideas where he might be. Sun Joo realizes Ji Cheol might be at the old gym he trained out.
Young Sun, Yong Dae, and another of the training trio arrive at the gym. Young Sun tells her father it is time to come home. Yong Dae agrees.
Alone in the gym Yong Dae offers her father food. Ji Cheol jokes he needs to run away more often to get yummy treats from his daughter. Young Sun tells her father that what happened it part of fighting. She tells him it isn’t any reason to run away from his family. Ji Cheol struggles to keep his emotions in check.
My favorite scenes in this series are between Young Sun and Ji Cheol.
As Young Sun and Ji Cheol walk home, she says her legs are tired. She notes as a girl he’d give her a piggyback ride. Ji Cheol gives his daughter a piggyback. Young Sun protests she’s too heavy for him to carry her for long. Ji Cheol tells her to love the moment. He promises to give her rides for the rest of her life.
I love their scenes. I love Ji Cheol’s advice to live in the moment.
Sun Joo is visibly relieved when Young Sun and Ji Cheol arrive home. She covers and says dinner will be ready soon.
At the dinner Young Sun sees her mother looking at her father with longing. She excuses herself. Sun Joo tells her husband without him; the fancy house means nothing. She needs him to be there. She misses him. Ji Cheol apologizes for actions that cause him to apologize. Sun Joo says as long as he comes home is it okay.
Lovely scene. Sun Joo was raw and real. Ji Cheol is a lucky man to have two such women in his life.
Young Sun and her friends spend time together in supportive fun.
Ji Woo and Ji Cheol meet. She mentions the tattoo, the unidentified man that they’ve identified, and the young son that has lost his father. When Ji Cheol reacts, he claims he has to go. Ji Woo puts the bottle of blue pills on the table. Ji Cheol is riveted. Ji Woo explains the young son gave these pills to the police. Ji Cheol asks if those are nutritional supplements. Ji Woo denies this.
Ji Cheol watches a news report that states his opponent still in a coma had illegal drugs in his system. The assumption is that the drugs may contribute to the coma. Sun Joo enters the room and hears the news report. Ji Cheol hangs his head as the announcers call for more drug testing.
The training duo watches the same news report, Yong Dae leaves to find Ji Cheol.
Yong Dae urges Ji Cheol to tell him the truth about the pills he took during the matches. Ji Cheol says Yong Dae is better off not knowing the details. Yong Dae believes the ZD producer knows about the pills. Ji Cheol counters that the ZD producer won’t say anything because it would affect his cash flow.
The gangsters eavesdrop and talk about the ZD producer’s actions, like releasing the photo of Min Woo and Sun Joo, to stir up Ji Cheol’s passion. The lead gangster says the ZD producer considers Ji Cheol a pet dog.
The ZD producer meets with Ji Cheol and Yong Dae. He surprises them when he admits he’s the one that drugged Ji Cheol’s water. He bemoans he only got one pill and doesn’t know who gave it to him. Yong Dae protests that the drug is only for headaches. The ZD producer laughs in disbelief. Ji Cheol asks if he’ll report him. The ZD producer claims they are on the same side. He wants the last fight with Min Woo to be memorable. Ji Cheol counters he wants to stop fighting. The ZD producer says Ji Cheol cannot stop per their contract. Ji Cheol still wants to stop. The ZD producer says the compensation clause will requires Ji Cheol to pay ten times his earnings to date. Ji Cheol says he won’t fight. The ZD producer tells Ji Cheol he will be going back in time to when he was poor and his family fell apart. He advises they think about the situation.
Sun Joo finds Ji Cheol staring out a window in their bedroom. She suggests a family trip when Young Sun’s dance competition is done. Ji Cheol demurs that for later. Sun Joo tells Ji Cheol not to feel guilty about the fight in the hospital because he took drugs. Ji Cheol says that fighter can’t go home like he can. Sun Joo suggests Ji Cheol stop fighting. She worries about the family’s happiness. She doesn’t want Ji Cheol to suffer anymore. She hugs him. He can’t hug her back.
Nice supportive scene. Ji Cheol is lucky to have wonderful women in his life. But he couldn’t accept his wife’s comfort. Not when she doesn’t know what he’s done. He doesn’t feel worthy.
Jung Chan Joong (Park Ji Bin) is ready when Mr. Park brings Doctor Cha and his assistant to his office. He tells them bring Ji Cheol to the lab won’t be easy. Chan Joong tells Doctor Cha to use his daughter to bring her former partner to the lab.
Ji Woo tells Hyun Soo that Ji Cheol only went to the lab for a blood test. Hyun Soo doesn’t believe that. Ji Woo retorts that as his former partner she’d know if he was lying.
Chan Joong tells Doctor Park what to say to Ji Cheol. Chan Joong wonders why Ji Woo hasn’t advertised who her father is. Chan Joong states Ji Woo must suspect her father is doing bad things. Ji Cheol’s family doesn’t suspect him yet. Doctor Cha vows to get Ji Cheol to the lab.
Hyun Soo complains they aren’t making progress. Ji Woo says Ji Cheol only had blood drawn, he didn’t kill anyone, he didn’t take the drug, he was merely desperate for money after being fired. Hyun Soo doesn’t like it when Ji Woo warns him that Ji Cheol is off limits.
Doctor Cha admits he is afraid of Chan Joong and his daughter. But if the testing on the drug isn’t finished, he’ll forever be a murderer. He vows to get Ji Cheol to the lab.
The fighter in the hospital is declared to be brain dead. Ji Cheol tells himself it wasn’t the drug that made him beat the fighter into a coma, it was him. He recalls the support of his wife and daughter. Ji Cheol tells himself he’s responsible. Tears fill his eyes. Doctor Cha calls Ji Cheol.
Good scene. Ji Cheol stepped away from the drug and concluded his inner demons hit the fighter into a coma. Is he right?
Doctor Cha tells Ji Cheol not to take the drug again. He warns it will kill him. Ji Cheol points out that Doctor Cha is doing this not for sick patients but for himself. The eavesdropping gangsters hear Doctor Cha admit his work has killed test subjects. Ji Cheol doesn’t want to hear the Doctor’s confession. Doctor Cha asks what Ji Cheol will do if his family is hurt because if his actions. Doctor Cha urges him to help. Ji Cheol asks if Doctor Cha gave him the drug during his match. He asks what Doctor Cha will do once the testing is complete. Doctor Cha vows he’ll turn himself in. Ji Cheol laughs in disbelief. Ji Cheol points out Doctor Cha’s family will be hurt. Ji Cheol is stunned when Doctor Cha admits his daughter is Ji Woo. Doctor Cha vows to erase all records of Ji Cheol from the system. He begs Ji Cheol to help him.
The gangster can’t believe that Ji Cheol was taking drugs all along.
Alone Hyun Soo visits the office that was used to recruit test subjects. He asks for the coordinator. The man claims he doesn’t know where the coordinator is. Hyun Soo notices there are two plates at the table. He finds the coordinator who claims he doesn’t know where the lab is. He says subjects were paid $3,000 for a blood draw. Hyun Soo recalls Ji Woo’s claim that Ji Cheol went only for the money. Hyun Soo doesn’t believe it. He calls the chief and asks for 4 days of leave.
Ji Cheol stares at a picture of his family and recalls Doctor Cha’s confessions that Ji Woo is his daughter.
Hyun Soo calls. They meet. Ji Cheol admits he went to the lab for the $3,000 dollars. Hyun Soo asks if more happened than the blood draw. Ji Cheol says that Hyun Soo meeting him solo means there is trouble in the partnership between himself and Ji Woo. Hyun Soo laughs it off. He claims he’s going on vacation tomorrow.
The assistant finds Doctor Cha brooding. Doctor Cha says he and Ji Cheol share the same weakness and he exploited that. He is confident Ji Cheol will call.
Chan Joong and Mr. Park listen to the recording of the conversation between Ji Cheol and Doctor Cha. Chan Joong tells Mr. Park to get the assistant. Chan Joong asks if anyone besides Doctor Cha knows about the drug project. The assistant denies this. Chan Joong declares the assistant can take over when Mr. Park gets rid of Doctor Cha. Chan Joong plays the audio of Doctor Cha declaring he’ll turn himself in. Chan Joong says he can’t allow Doctor Cha to implicate the company. Mr. Park reminds Chan Joong that Doctor Cha is working the case of the dead test subject. Chan Joong retorts that makes Doctor Cha even more of a liability. He orders Mr. Park to make it looks like suicide.
Doctor Cha and Ji Woo share a meal. They are both lost in thought. They watch the news report that the fighter is brain dead. Ji Woo and Doctor Cha think about Ji Cheol. Doctor Cha asks if his daughter is okay. She lies all is well. She asks if her father is well. He lies all is well.
When Ji Cheol gets home, Young Sun shows him her latest dance routine. Ji Cheol is a proud papa has he watches his daughter. He recalls Doctor Cha’s words about hurting his loved ones and himself. Ji Cheol stares into his daughter’s smiling eyes. Tears fill his eyes. He recalls Young Sun’s words that she doesn’t want to have regrets in life and wants to give dancing her all. Ji Cheol stares at his daughter…his role model…the one that will be destroyed by his decision…because it won’t be the same.
Great final scene!
Who didn’t put the emotional screws to Ji Cheol this episode? Writer Kim Sung Min cranked up the heat on Ji Cheol this episode but he didn’t crack. The ZD producer stunned with the admission he drugged Ji Cheol. Did Ji Cheol falter? No, he claimed he would not fight the final fight against Min Woo. The ZD producer reminded Ji Cheol that ALL the money, the possession, the good life would have to be returns and considerable debt would remain. Doctor Cha stunned with the admission that Ji Woo was his daughter and protecting family was the important thing. Did Ji Cheol agree to come to the lab? No, at least not yet. Ji Woo stunned Ji Cheol by possessing the blue pills. Did Ji Cheol reveal anything to her? No, he claimed he only went to the lab for a blood test. Ji Cheol was burdened by the sweet support and faith from his wife and daughter. Did he turn from his path or admit anything? No, Ji Cheol was stalwart in his silence. Ji Cheol is the poster child for lying consistently. “Consistency is essential to effective communication. Even if it is a lie, it should be consistently stated to earn credibility”. That sounds political but Ji Cheol is living this truth.
Yoo Ji Cheol (Jang Hyuk) is in a bind and doesn’t believe the truth will set him free. Ji Cheol’s shock that the ZD producer secretly drugged him was real. I was surprised by the bravado that he wouldn’t fight Min Woo under the influence. Doctor Cha’s reveal didn’t cause Ji Cheol to cave, but it got under his skin. He knows he’s a fraud to the important people in his life. He couldn’t accept his wife’s hug of comfort. He couldn’t follow the honorable path to give it his all. He stands alone in a pit he dug himself filled with the muck of his lies. When he listened to his honorable self in the mirror at the gym, it was like that part of him was detached from his current self. Can he find his way out and keep his family? They are his everything.
I rank this episode (on a scale from 1-10) as very good. My episode ranking chart is below.
The sixth and final song of the OST is “Forever with You” by Damsonegongbang: