Prison Playbook Episode 12: New perspectives change the story

Episode 12 of Prison Playbook weaves in more perspectives and new information. People we thought we could trust are not as they appeared, and people we might have looked down on have a story of their own. It is an episode that slowly peels back another layer or two. These are my unfiltered thoughts and impressions of Episode 12.

Hey! Don’t leave Crony unattended. Did you hear me??

The police officer guarding Crony in the hospital gets called away and leaves his phone unattended. Crony searches for a list of drugs that are banned for athletes. Seriously? He is going to ruin Je-hyeok’s future this way? Bad, Crony!

Umm… Those two guys are fighting.

I love that everybody just seems to ignore Looney and Captain Yoo rolling on the ground and fighting with one another. It is just such a usual occurrence. Nobody even notices these days. Looney definitely seems to want to provoke him, though. He even eats his food and gets Je-hyeok to eat it too. I just love every scene where we see a couple of them tussling, and everyone else either carries on with their conversation, or they simply move the table out of the way.

Don’t use words if you don’t know what they mean.

Je-hyeok says he has to emasculate the evidence, and Looney corrects him. I just love that Looney has these random moments where we can see how intelligent and well-educated he is, but it is just hidden by his drug addiction. Captain Yoo says he does not like Looney because he is a spoiled rich kid who is weak from addiction. My heart absolutely aches for Looney. I see his potential and I see the incredibly difficult path he has before him. I think being shackled by addiction might be a more difficult sentence than any prison term.

Joon-ho and Je-hee are adorable

Joon-ho is supposed to take his colleague (Lt. Song) for an endoscopy procedure. Instead, he calls Je-hee’s bluff and takes her to the movies. I love that he knows her so well that he was able to figure out she wasn’t really at the theater with her boss. We even get some decisive hand-holding. These two make my heart melt. I am definitely team Bestie/Sister! But, if he went to the theater with Je-hee, who went to the hospital?? Oh! Little brothers are the best!

Captain Yoo worked hard to get here

Captain Yoo diligently works and cleans, and the others refer to the pampered life he must have led. They are surprised to hear that his parents were hardworking, but average. He and his brother worked multiple jobs in order to afford their studies. Captain Yoo says he worked very hard in life to get where he is now. Looney, never missing a beat, sleepily says from the comfort of his Je-hyeok lap pillow, “Yes. You worked hard to get here. Jail.” I can’t help but laugh. Especially as everyone tried to get him to shut up.

So, THAT’s why Lieutenant Paeng wears long sleeves

Lieutenant Paeng doesn’t participate in the fire drills. He wears long sleeves even when it is hot. Does he think he is better than everyone else? Well, a smoke-filled wing of the prison seems to push him into panic, so he runs wildly through the prison and hits the button to unlock all of the cells. It turns out it was only something minor, and there was no need to overreact, but Joon-ho learns from Lieutenant Song that ten years ago there was a prison fire. Lieutenant Paeng doused himself in water and rescued all but one of the prisoners under his watch. He risked his life and he also ended up with a disfiguring scar on his arm. He does not wear the scar as a badge of honor as others might. Instead, it reminds him of the one prisoner he could not save. He keeps the scar hidden by wearing long sleeves, even when it is a blazing hot summer day.

The Warden has a backbone?

Lieutenant Paeng clearly lost control and put people in danger by releasing all of the prisoners from their cells at once. He certainly meant well, and if it had been a real fire, it would have saved lives. Regardless, Captain Nasty (or Na) is out to get him, so he demands punishment. He tells the Warden he wants disciplinary action including having his pay docked. The Warden agrees. Then, Na goes on to say he wants Paeng transferred to a different prison. He cites constant rule breaking and being too friendly with the prisoners. The Warden lets him finish, and then suddenly gets steely eyed. He agreed to the disciplinary action, but not to the transfer. He explained that the prison needs flexibility to make it run properly, and Lieutenant Paeng offers flexibility in his thinking. And then he sticks his toothbrush back in his mouth and is off to being the simple-seeming Warden once again. I felt a bit like I was watching one of Looney’s shifts from spaced-out to scholar and back again. It made me reconsider my opinions on the Warden.

It’s a belated birthday flashback, but I want more prison-life scenes

So, I am just not feeling the Je-hyeok/Krystal OTP thing. I think the flashbacks help us understand a little more of Je-hyeok’s personality, but I am so fully invested in the lives of the supporting characters. This romance angle just feels like filler to me. Feel free to disagree, but I would rather focus on Joon-Ho and Je-hee or even the love/hate relationship of Looney and Captain Yoo. Maybe the romantic storyline will capture my attention later, but for now, I want to spend my time with the cellmate buddies and guard bestie.

Captain Yoo’s brother fights on

Captain Yoo’s brother lost his job, sold his home, and is living in a hoshiwon (a tiny room usually reserved for poor students studying for exams). He did all of this because he is determined to prove his brother innocent. In the meantime, they have one witness willing to testify, and he is diligently working to get others. It seems there is no movement, but then suddenly, one after another it seems they have had a change of heart. Or…maybe the guy paying them off was just arrested for embezzlement and has fallen from power…. Although it is not as noble as realizing they need to do the right thing, it is still fantastic news for Captain Yoo!

Bad Crony! Bad errand-boy! Yay for Looney!

I knew Crony was up to no good when he looked up banned substances on the guard’s phone. I thought he might be able to coerce the errand boy into drugging Je-hyeok’s food, but I really didn’t expect he would do it for money. I feel a tiny bit personally betrayed by the errand boy. Luckily, Looney happened to see the medicine Je-hyeok was about to take. Thank goodness he has expertise in pharmaceuticals. He was able to immediately identify the pills and their chemical make-up. Looney saved Je-hyeok from ruining his career by accidentally ingesting a steroid.

And the lucky team is…

So, there was so much speculation. Je-hyeok could have chosen any team, but his condition made many stop in their tracks. He wanted a team with close connections to reporters; he wanted to be able to control the media. That was his only condition. We find out later that his motivation was to ensure no mention of his sister made it into the papers. I should have known. Once again Je-hyeok puts the interests of others first. There was only one team willing to do that without hesitation. The Nexen Heroes agreed to welcome Je-hyeok back. Of course, prison guard bestie helped out by sending some creatively filmed footage (courtesy of police body cams) to the people with decision making power. It helped prove that he would be worth the investment because he would bring more than ratings. He has the skill and is rebuilding his strength. So, Je-hyeok will be playing for the Nexen Heroes, and Je-hee will not have to worry about being the center of the media circus once again.

Keep your friends close and the ones who stab your shoulder, attempt to burn you alive, and ruin your career closer

I did not see that coming! I know Je-hyeok is not known for being the brightest, but did we seriously end with him asking Crony to be his catcher? My first thought is No Way! However, if you consider how Crony tends to become the obedient hunting dog of the strong, Je-hyeok kind of fits that description. Je-hyeok has absolutely asserted himself as the alpha male; he even put Crony in the hospital. So, going with the wild wolf analogy, I could see Je-hyeok bringing him into the pack to keep him under control. Ooh! I really hope that is what happens! Otherwise, you better watch your back, Je-hyeok!

Final Thoughts:

I love the character development of Joon-ho in this episode. We get to see him make some movement toward a relationship with Je-hee, and we see him re-evaluate his views of Lieutenant Paeng. It is a subtle transformation, but he goes from looking at Paeng with disdain and even calling him out for not participating in the fire drill, to luring the other officers away with the promise of showing them Je-hyeok in training, just so Lieutenant Paeng can get undressed in private. I am not sure the Joon-ho we first met would show such quiet respect. It is just a slight shift, but it feels very realistic. It echoes the sentiments of the cellmates in the beginning of this episode when they were discussing Captain Yoo. You truly cannot judge someone from the outside. This is something Prison Playbook does so well. I am constantly reflecting and changing my opinions as we learn new information or see a different side of the characters. Everyone has their story; once we know that story, I think it changes us, maybe in imperceptible ways, but even that slight shift in perspective will leave us different than before.

Until the next roll call…

Kdrama Jen


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