Nothing to Lose: Episodes 1-2
Yay new shows! Legal dramas seem to be the trend these days, but what sets Nothing to Lose apart is that rather than focusing on the lawyers and prosecutors, we zone in on the judges. And our pair of judges are a quirky duo to boot. They may not start out on the right foot, but I’m happy to follow their journey to wherever it may lead.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
Rain pours down in sheets as a female high school student frantically stumbles along a stretch of road, illuminated by the headlights of the car slowly creeping along behind her. Fumbling with her phone, she attempts to call for help but there’s no answer. Suddenly, the car swings around in front of her, blocking her path.
Dropping her phone, the girl turns to run but the driver jumps out of the car and yanks her back by her hair. Clad in a black raincoat, we can’t see her assailant’s face but he drags her to the car. One of her shoes falls off in the process and he throws her in the backseat, crawling in on top of her.
Flashes to the prosecution report tell us that her name was Kim Ga-young and she was raped and murdered. The defendant is listed as Choi Kyung-ho.
Her body had been found on the train tracks in front of a tunnel, missing a shoe. There hadn’t been any suspects or evidence left near the body. The camera zooms in on the girl’s battered corpse and when it pans out, it changes to a photo in the prosecution report.
A girl’s trembling hand reaches out for the report but freezes when a woman’s voice says that case files are the judges’ lives, warning her to be careful. The hand belongs to high school student CHOI JUNG-JOO (Park Eun-bin), who’s doing volunteer work for the woman, Judge YOO MYUNG-HEE (later played by Kim Hae-sook). Jung-joo retracts her hand but continues to eye the file.
Judge Yoo smiles and picks up the file, adding it to the pile on her trolley. Smiling, she tells Jung-joo to go home for the day before a phone call pulls her back into her office. Taking the opportunity, Jung-joo snatches the file. She runs down the hallway and darts into the bathroom, locking herself into a stall.
Shaking, she stares down at the file through angry tears before ripping off the cover page and crumpling it in her hand. She moves to throw it in the trash, but thinks better of it and shreds the page to flush down the toilet. Grasping at the second page, Jung-joo is startled by a knock on the door. A woman’s voice asks, “Trying to destroy the case file?” and Jung-joo drops the file to the floor in terror.
10 years later.
Jung-joo’s head lolls back and forth, gum threatening to fall out of her mouth, as she sleeps standing up on the subway. The pervert next to her cautiously reaches out to touch her butt, but recoils when her phone starts blasting a loud hip-hop song with thinly veiled swear words in the lyrics. The rest of the passengers eye Jung-joo in annoyance, but she doesn’t seem to hear it.
The grandmother sitting in front of Jung-joo jabs her in the stomach and snaps at her to stop the racket. Half-asleep, Jung-joo answers the phone and tells the caller she was up all night “doing a murder.” The pervert’s eyes bug out as Jung-joo continues that the corpse was hacked to pieces and her body aches from working on it all night long.
Jung-joo says that murders are growing on her and the surrounding passengers skitter away. The seat in front of her now clear, Jung-joo plops down and loudly says that she’ll be starting a serial murder… and then glares up at the pervert as she says she’ll do a rape next week.
Stepping off the subway, Jung-joo breaks into a sprint, calling someone to say she’ll be there in ten minutes and to fib to the chief that she’s constipated. Racing out of the station, Jung-joo drops her gum and then promptly steps in it. Exasperated, she sets her purse down in order to scrape off the gum just as a thief on a motorbike swipes it.
Jung-joo runs after him, shouting like a mad woman. She lobs her shoe at the thief, but he takes a sharp turn and the shoe sails into the open window of another vehicle. It smacks into the head of SA EUI-HYUN (Yeon Woo-jin) and he scans the crowd to find a crazed Jung-joo screeching, “That case file is more precious than my life!”
He notes her single shoe, and then registers her words. Following her line of sight, he sees the bike swerving away through traffic and puts his car in drive.
Jung-joo calls the police to report her bag stolen as she hobbles along on her way to work. Someone holds out a shoe to her and she looks up to see a boy (he’s a man, but his mentality is childlike). The sign he bears reads, “My mom, Jang Soon-bok, is innocent. She’s not a murderer.”
Smirking, the thief cruises down a side street only to wipeout when an SUV suddenly blocks his path. Stepping out of the car, Eui-hyun explains that he needs the bag so he can return a shoe. Staring at Eui-hyun like he’s off his nut, the thief brandishes a knife and shouts at Eui-hyun to back off.
In the same calm tone, Eui-hyun warns the man that use of a weapon upgrades his charges to armed robbery. The thief threatens to stab him if he gets any closer and Eui-hyun takes a few more steps. Pointing out that a homicide charge won’t be lenient, Eui-hyun says that he’s so weak that just touching the knife could kill him.
Two officers appear and the thief takes off in the opposite direction. In one swift movement, Eui-hyun snatches up the motorcycle helmet and throws it, knocking the thief to the ground.
Jung-joo races through the halls at the courthouse (still sans a shoe) and skitters into her boss’s office, apologizing for her constipation. Too late, she sees her coworker, Judge JUNG CHAE-SUNG waving frantically at her. Her boss, Chief Judge OH JI-RAK says he’d heard she had diarrhea and Jung-joo quickly fumbles that she’d taken too many laxatives for her chronic constipation.
Chief Oh isn’t convinced but Chae-sung springs to her defense while Jung-joo texts the police about her missing purse. Snapping back to attention, Jung-joo describes the case she’d been working on. The defendant Jang Soon-bok has requested a retrial, claiming to have been coerced into making a false statement and framed by police.
As Jung-joo speaks, we see Jang Soon-bok being transported to the courthouse and dissolving into sobs when she catches a glimpse of her son (the boy with the sign) sitting outside. Jang Soon-bok had confessed believing that her son had committed murder but after discovering his innocence, she’d recanted. However, the police insisted she was the culprit and she claims that they intentionally discarded any evidence in her favor.
Unfortunately, there’s no proof that the police omitted anything deliberately and Jang Soon-bok’s attorney resigned after filing for the retrial. For the past ten years, she has firmly retained that she’s innocent, refusing to work and sometimes even eat. All the while, her son has held a one-man-protest in front of the court.
Nodding, Chief Oh says they should review the case file before coming to a final decision and Jung-joo blanches. She lies that she forgot it at home, earning herself more reprimands.
Eui-hyun finally arrives at his office and opens Jung-joo’s bag. He pulls out her case file on Jang Soon-bok and notices that he also has a case on the same defendant. Next, he pulls out Jung-joo’s badge and we see that she’s changed her last name to Lee. Scanning the list of judges he keeps on his desk, he finds her division and places a call. Unfortunately, he can’t get a hold of her because she’s in court.
And that’s where we find her—distractedly making notes on the purse-snatching while Chief Oh opens the trial. The defendant, Kim Joo-hyung, is charged with sexually assaulting elementary students. Disagreeing, Kim claims that he was only “educating” them, which causes the spectators to erupt in fury.
Jung-joo grows increasingly agitated at Kim’s audacity as the parents sob from the other side of the room. When Kim says that they should be thanking him for teaching what schools don’t, it’s the final straw and Jung-joo throws her water bottle at his head. Chief Oh hisses at her to chill but Jung-joo doesn’t seem to hear him.
Kim says he prefers minors but Jung-joo is riling him up and she whips off her robe, ready to hurl herself over the judge’s bench. Chief Oh and Chae-sung struggle to hold her back as she launches into a stream of insults and curses. The courtroom devolves into chaos as Jung-joo rampages from atop the judge’s bench.
Afterwards, Chief Oh sports a fresh black eye from Jung-joo’s wayward elbow as he reprimands her on her conduct in the courtroom. To make matters worse, the whole thing was recorded by a spectator and is now trending on the internet. While apologizing profusely, Jung-joo accidentally slips that she lost her case file, setting Chief Oh off on yet another tirade.
Meanwhile, Eui-hyun prepares for his own trial, sliding on his robe in an elaborately cool fashion.
His trial is for Jang Soon-bok and Prosecutor DO HAN-JOON (Dongha) explains that while serving a life sentence, Jang Soon-bok stole from her fellow inmate. The defendant doesn’t seem to even be listening as she stares intently at the courtroom doors.
Eui-hyun calls for her closing argument and after seeing her son enter the room, she stands to speak. Her son cries out that he misses her and through her own tears, Jang Soon-bok says that she will pay the fine for her theft. However, she says that she stole in order to be in court and asks Eui-hyun to record her.
Han-joon protests that it’s irrelevant but Eui-hyun shushes him and presses the button on the security camera. Jang Soon-bok declares that she didn’t kill her husband, swearing on her son’s life. She says that she’s not even trying to have hope—she just wants to remember that she’s not a murderer.
After ten years in prison, Jang Soon-bok says even she gets confused about her innocence and unbuttoning her uniform, she proclaims that she can’t wear it anymore. Eui-hyun motions for the female bailiffs to redress her, while she cries that she was framed. Sobbing, she wonders why she and her son are being punished and Eui-hyun calls for a recess.
Han-joon follows Eui-hyun into his office and asks why he called a recess when the trial was over. Exasperated, Eui-hyun tells Han-joon to leave, but Han-joon notices something weird with Eui-hyun’s hair… gum from Jung-joo’s shoe. Hee.
Sinking into his seat, Eui-hyun sighs at the offending shoe. Following his line of sight, Han-joon immediately identifies the shoe as Jung-joo’s. Just then a colleague rushes inside to inform them that there’s an emergency.
Back in the courtroom, now empty save for a few bailiffs, Han-joon and Eui-kyung stare at the message, scrawled in blood, on the judge’s bench: “My innocence is your guilt.” The younger bailiff explains that Jang Soon-bok had been shaking from low blood sugar so she’d run out to get a juice and the other bailiff admits she’d been in the restroom.
Currently, Jang Soon-bok is being rushed to the hospital. Han-joon sighs that he can’t not investigate after such a spectacle and takes numerous pictures with his phone. The chief justice arrives with Chief SEO DAE-SOO and Han-joon runs off to start his investigation.
The chief justice tells Eui-hyun that it’s vital that the public doesn’t learn about today’s incident with Jang Soon-bok. Chief Seo thinks that they should delete the recording as well. Eui-hyun disagrees, thinking that they should consider Jang Soon-bok’s claim, but the chief justice cuts him off. He says that the judge panel in charge of Jang Soon-bok’s murder case will handle it, noting that they’re very competent…
In their office, Jung-joo reflects on her misfortune while Chae-sung tuts that Chief Oh’s disappointment is warranted, considering he was eyeing a promotion to High Court. Jung-joo admits she had hoped to tag along, but then today happened. She decides to visit the police station but the chat window on her computer suddenly erupts with messages from her fellow female judges, commenting on her recent internet fame.
Jung-joo meets her mother, who works as a janitor, and receives a beating for her actions. She whines that she could charge Mom for assault, but Mom reminds Jung-joo she’d promised to keep her “sense of justice” (aka temper) in check. They’re interrupted by a phone call and Jung-joo balks to see that it’s the chief justice.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Outside the chief justice’s office, Jung-joo dreads going in. Gathering her courage, she squares her shoulders and… walks straight into the door that Eui-hyun opened from the inside. She bends over, holding her forehead and Eui-hyun asks if she’s okay. Jung-joo snaps that of course she’s not okay and seems ready to launch into a speech when she stands up and sees Eui-hyun’s face.
They stare at each other for a beat and then she excuses herself. Recognizing her, Eui-hyun holds out a hand to stop her and introduces himself. He starts to say something else but Jung-joo cuts him off rudely. She slips past him and into the chief justice’s office, leaving Eui-hyun bewildered.
Inside, Jung-joo apologizes for her conduct and Chief Seo cryptically replies, “Depending on the situation, that trouble can cover a bigger trouble.” Jung-joo doesn’t understand and he simply says that disgracing the court once is more than enough. The chief justice chimes in that she’s covering Jang Soon-bok’s retrial, and beseeches her to do her best.
Afterwards, Jung-joo gets a soda from the outdoor vending machine and wonders if their odd behavior is because they found out about her lost case file. She looks up when Han-joon calls out, referring to her as “Judge Dog.” Laughing, he suggests that since he’s the mad dog of prosecutors and she the same for judges, they might as well become the legal world’s Dog Couple. In fact, he playfully wonders why they don’t just get married.
Jung-joo warns him to stop teasing and Han-joon demurs that he’s only worried… after all, who else will marry her? She barks that if no one will marry her, she’ll just marry them. Scooting closer and throwing an arm around her shoulders, Han-joon clarifies that he’s saying she should marry him and promises to let her live a life of luxury.
Removing his arm from her shoulders, Jung-joo says she needs to get down to the police station because her purse was stolen. Chuckling, Han-joon asks if her shoe wasn’t missing as well and Jung-joo asks how he knew.
Which is how they end up in Eui-hyun’s office and Jung-joo excitedly kisses her recovered case file. With a smile, Han-joon mutters that he wishes he were that case file, but Jung-joo ignores him and asks Eui-hyun what happened. He curtly replies that she can just ask the police when they call but she wonders why he can’t just tell her himself.
Irritated, Eui-hyun reminds her that he tried and she’d told him, “No, thank you.” She starts to protest but then remembers their run-in earlier when she’d interrupted him. He tells her not to worry about it, and urges her to be more careful with her files… and not to take off her robe in court anymore.
Jung-joo bristles and declares, “If I take off my robe in court ever again, I’m your woman.” Eui-hyun is taken aback by her brashness and she clarifies that she means she’ll remove it over her dead body. Looking down at his papers, Eui-hyun says he’s busy and asks them to leave.
Before going, Jung-joo expresses that she’s extremely grateful to him for finding her files, but that he’s also at fault for the “No, thank you” because he hit her with the door. Pushing her bangs up, she leans close and shows him the lump on her forehead. Eui-hyun also leans in… and turns his head to the side to show the gum in his hair. Jung-joo is confused until Han-joon waves her lost shoe (with gum on the bottom) in front of her face.
Han-joon ushers Jung-joo out as Eui-hyun receives a call. She turns when she hears him mention Jang Soon-bok but Han-joon pulls her away.
Jang Soon-bok’s son wails in front of her hospital room and a man reports to Eui-hyun that the doctor says she could wake up soon but it’s too early to tell. For now, they’ll just keep her under observation.
Eui-hyun thinks back to that morning when he’d been shown Jung-joo’s tirade video in the chief justice’s office. Chief Seo had noted that if the video goes viral, Jang Soon-bok’s suicide attempt could easily be buried. Noting that the public would find a judge’s outburst more interesting than a defendant’s, Chief Seo had suggested they sacrifice Jung-joo to cover up the other incident.
That night, Jung-joo scrolls through comments on the internet and wonders why she’s the only one being criticized when defendant Kim was a total creep. She answers a call from the police station and learns that Eui-hyun is a sort of celebrity. Searching his name on the internet, she finds a news report that he’d intervened at a shooting at Harvard Law School.
The same report plays in Eui-hyun’s house when he arrives home to find his father watching it. Dad asks if Eui-hyun would like to drink with him and he smiles. Sitting beside Dad, Eui-hyun tells him that he’ll defer since today’s been a rough day.
He starts to tell Dad about the incident in court but Dad perks up at Jang Soon-bok’s name, revealing that he’d judged her first trial. He reveals that the victim, her husband, had managed the cottage of Assemblyman Do Jin-myung (Han-joon’s father). Dad is surprised to learn that Jang Soon-bok has applied for a retrial.
The next day, Jung-joo fidgets in front of Eui-hyun’s office as she debates whether or not to knock. Finding herself too nervous, she bends down to listen at the keyhole and is startled when Eui-hyun appears behind her to ask what she’s doing. She cries that he scared her and he wonders if blaming others is her hobby. Hee.
Jung-joo explains that she hadn’t meant to sound that way and offers her sincerest gratitude and apologies. Eui-hyun motions for her to move aside so he can get into his office but when she moves to follow, he closes the door in her face. Undeterred, Jung-joo comes in anyway. She starts to say that she wasn’t finished talking but accidentally gets trapped by Eui-hyun’s robe-donning ritual.
The ensuing struggle results with Jung-joo wearing Eui-hyun’s robe and she balks at his peculiar method, wondering if he was trying to attack her. Removing a strand of hair from her face, Eui-hyun points out that she’s the one wearing his robe. Promising not to attack her, he asks her to return his robe and she stutters that it’s not like she had wanted to wear it.
Han-joon pulls up to the courthouse on his motorcycle and calls Jung-joo (saved in his phone as “Judge Dog” with a heart). When it goes straight to voicemail, Han-joon mutters that her phone is just an answering machine.
Checking to ensure Jung-joo is a safe distance away, Eui-hyun performs his robe ritual again and asks what she’d wanted to talk about. She asks him about the incident yesterday with Jang Soon-bok, explaining that she’s in charge of writing the ruling for the retrial. Eui-hyun answers that she’s still unconscious and under observation.
Jung-joo says that Han-joon told her Eui-hyun recorded some of the trial and asks to see it. Eui-hyun replies that it’s already been deleted and moves to leave but Jung-joo blocks him. She asks why he bothered recording anything if he was going to delete it immediately but Eui-hyun explains that it was an order from higher up.
Jung-joo asks whether it was the chief justice or Chief Seo that gave the order. Chasing Eui-hyun out into the hall, she says that the chief justice personally asked her to do well with Jang Soon-bok’s case so it doesn’t make sense that he’d delete the footage. Eui-hyun merely replies that if she has questions, to ask the chief justice herself.
She asks how he’s going to act like this to her, of all people. Her choice of words gives Eui-hyun pause and he asks what she means. Jung-joo explains that they’re both special to Jang Soon-bok, noting that they both happened to receive her cases at the same time. Annoyed, Eui-hyun points out that larceny and retrials are two different things but Jung-joo continues that he even found the case file she’d nearly lost.
Eui-hyun snaps that he would’ve done the same for anyone and Jung-joo cries, “Aren’t you bothered that Jang Soon-bok attempted suicide during her trial and that she’s on the brink of death?” Her words stop Eui-hyun in his tracks and she says that she’s only asking because it’s bothering her too. Jung-joo wonders for whom Jang Soon-bok had wanted to be recorded.
Han-joon shows Jung-joo the blood message and she asks if Jang Soon-bok really attempted suicide. Han-joon confirms that medically speaking, she intentionally put herself at risk of death from low blood sugar. Jung-joo asks why and Han-joon explains that according to a prison guard, Jang Soon-bok had lost hope after her lawyer abandoned her.
Jung-joo wonders aloud if she was really wrongfully accused and Han-joon scoffs that it’s common for criminals to make that claim. She laments that she really wanted to see the video Eui-hyun had recorded. Han-joon asks if she knows who the original judge was for Jang Soon-bok’s case and although Jung-joo rattles off the name, she didn’t realize that it was Eui-hyun’s father.
Han-joon answers his phone and Jung-joo lights up when it turns out to be his mother, Professor Yoo (the judge Jung-joo had volunteered for in high school). They meet Professor Yoo in the cafeteria and Jung-joo happily races over to hug her. Professor Yoo warmly remarks that she thought Jung-joo would be in hiding after the video and Jung-joo admits that she’d hoped to regain her self-confidence by standing next to the esteemed professor.
They spot Eui-hyun arriving at the cafeteria and Professor Yoo invites him to join them. Eyeing Jung-joo, he politely declines. Jung-joo asks how Professor Yoo knows Eui-hyun and is surprised to find out that Han-joon and Eui-hyun used to be besties. She looks questioningly at Han-joon but he avoids her eyes.
Meanwhile, pedophile Kim Joo-hyung from yesterday’s trial steps off the prison bus.
Back in the cafeteria, Professor Yoo reveals that she’s been asked to evaluate defendant Kim’s mental state. Jung-joo offers Professor Yoo some of her omelet because it’s her favorite. Han-joon watches with envy and holds out his spoon, turning on the aegyo to ask for some omelet too. Jung-joo isn’t impressed and he’s forced to ask his mother instead, but she grumbles about being second best and throws some greens on his spoon. Hee.
Han-joon worries about his mom meeting defendant Kim alone and grouses about her switch to criminal psychology. Jung-joo marvels that Professor Yoo had been an amazing judge.
A colleague stands with Eui-hyun in his abandoned courtroom and comments that things are quiet thanks to Jung-joo. He checks if Eui-hyun has already deleted the security footage but leaves without waiting for Eui-hyun’s reply.
Over in another courtroom, Chief Oh calls for defendant Kim to be brought in but then eyes Jung-joo suspiciously. He glances at the water bottles in front of her and she quickly hands them over. Chief Oh looks pointedly at Jung-joo as he opens the trial and warns defendant Kim to behave today. Kim interrupts him to say he needs to use the restroom, and exasperated, Chief Oh finally relents, calling a ten-minute recess.
Suddenly, Kim grabs the stenographer and holds a knife to her neck. The terrified woman begs to be spared and he tells her to ask Jung-joo. Kim shouts that he’ll only tell Jung-joo what he wants and demands that everyone else but her leave. Chief Oh and Chae-sung both try to take her place while discreetly pressing the security camera button.
Taking a breath, Jung-joo agrees to stay and tells everyone to go. She notices a smile twitch at Kim’s lips and tells him to let the woman go too, since she’s already promised to stay behind.
Outside, news reporters mull about between officers, covering the hostage situation. At the airport, a young woman, JIN SE-RA (Na Hae-ryung), catches the broadcast on one of the monitors.
Inside the courtroom, defendant Kim throws down his case file in front of Jung-joo. Flipping to his handwritten confession, he tells Jung-joo to get rid of it. She points out that destroying the file won’t change his crime but he roars that it was “sexual education.” Jung-joo doesn’t back down and Kim smiles that he doesn’t hate her fiery attitude.
Handing her a lighter, he tells her to burn the confession but Jung-joo refuses. Enraged, Kim tells her to remove her clothes instead, so he can show her that it wasn’t rape. He yanks her robe open and tells her one more time that she can either take off her clothes or destroy the file. Terrified, she’s unable to respond but someone else calls out to her. It’s Eui-hyun and he tells her to take it off as he struts into the courtroom.
This was a fun premiere and while a lot happened, I don’t feel overloaded. Admittedly, I was nervous jumping from one legal drama to another. I have complete faith in Yeon Woo-jin and Park Eun-bin in delivering satisfying performances, though, so I was willing to take the risk. Thankfully, it paid off and I’m happy to say that this was a light and fluffy watch. Considering the premise, we may delve into the dark underbelly in the future, but for now I’m enjoying the cotton candy sweetness.
Jung-joo is such a nutty heroine and while her outburst in court was certainly over the top, I love that she did it anyway. She’s fiercely emotional which is a nice contrast to Eui-hyun, who’s much better at keeping himself in check and letting logic rule his actions. Plus, I appreciate that even when she embarrasses herself, she doesn’t let it drag her down. A video is circulating on the vast interweb of her acting, for all intents and purposes, like a lunatic and she just grumbles that she’s the only one getting cursed out in the comments.
Alternatively, Eui-hyun seems like a calm and collected bookworm, but is actually a total badass. We still don’t know much about him, though. The one thing I do know is that he doesn’t have a clue how to handle Jung-joo. She’s weird and invades his personal space but she also piques his interest. Because while she may have gotten gum in his hair and mucked up his robing ritual, she’s passionate about her job. I like the chemistry bubbling with our leads and I’m always invested when they share the screen.
We’ve only gotten a glimpse of Se-ra so I’m not sure how she’ll affect the dynamic but I’m already in love with our main trio. I’m actually concerned with how much I adore Han-joon because I don’t see his long-suffering crush ending well. He’s so adorably in love with Jung-joo and I about died from secondhand embarrassment when his aegyo attempt crashed and burned. I’m also excited to explore his relationship with Eui-hyun because while on the surface they have a grumpy friendship, it was clear something had gone wrong in the past. Regardless, I’m looking forward to their bromance just as much as the romance.
I have less to say about this hostage situation with defendant Kim. I don’t know how the heck he got hold of a knife and then managed to hide it in his prison jumpsuit undetected, which is absurd, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief for the sake of the plot. I guess we’ll just have to see how it plays out. This first episode may not have sucked me in quite the way the best dramas do, but it was a good start and I have positive feelings going forward.
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