Suits: Episode 12
An old enemy is back at the firm, making new threats and throwing everyone into a tailspin. His only purpose seems to be to create havoc among the lawyers at Kang & Ham, and he has a way of digging at their weaknesses and forcing them to react. Kang-seok and Yeon-woo are just beginning to work as a team — can they survive this latest hurricane?
EPISODE 12: “If you have blind faith about your ideals, you’ll be betrayed by the reality.”
Director Ham announces to the firm that he’s coming back. He confesses that he acted immorally when he was an acting partner, but adds that if he keeps hiding out of shame, it will only become his weakness. In the interest of transparency, he tells everyone that two years ago, he embezzled from a client’s account.
He asks them to give him a chance to show that he’s changed, and promises to focus on what’s best for Kang & Ham. His sappy speech seems to win over many of the associates, but Kang-seok whispers to Yeon-woo to go to his office immediately and not to let Director Ham catch him.
Director Ham goes straight to Kang-seok and Ha-yeon and wonders out loud how he would have repaid Ha-yeon for sending Kang-seok to threaten him, if he were still a bad guy. Oh sure, if. He says that he told his daughter everything about the embezzlement and his affair. He tells Kang-seok that if there’s something you want to keep, you have to turn into a demon to keep it, then gives a dark chuckle and claims he’s only joking.
In Ha-yeon’s office, she tells Kang-seok that their deal is off since he failed to keep Director Ham from returning. She orders him to send Attorney Kim back to the prosecutor’s office, but when he balks, she gives him a choice… fire Attorney Kim, or resign himself. He says that the fair thing is for him to resign.
But he also says that if Director Ham came back this quickly, it’s because he’s prepared and will go after the weakest link first. He tells Ha-yeon that the firm needs him, and that Director Ham isn’t here to become second-in-command, so they need as many people on their side as possible.
Meanwhile, Geun-shik pesters Da-ham at her desk, asking whose side she’s on, Ha-yeon’s or Director Ham’s. She correctly guesses that he’s trying to figure out which side is most likely to get him promoted to senior partner. She thinks about it carefully… then says she doesn’t care. HA.
But Geun-shik waves a pair of tickets to “Man of La Mancha” under her nose, a musical she’s always wanted to see. She whines that she doesn’t know the answer to his question, so he tucks the tickets away and says that his doors are always open.
Yeon-woo asks Kang-seok what kind of person Director Ham is, and he replies that he’s a viper — he may have shed his skin, but he hasn’t changed. Since it was Kang-seok who had Director Ham kicked out of the firm, he’s sure that he’s back for revenge. He warns Yeon-woo not to catch Director Ham’s attention, but tells him not to worry too much for now, because he’s not his weakness.
He doesn’t explain what he means, just asks about Yeon-woo’s grandmother and whether she’s still in Haram Sanatorium. The hospital has hired Kang & Ham regarding the union strike, and Kang-seok says that the union leader is so clever that she’s already fooled two of their attorneys.
Yeon-woo wonders if his grandmother should move to a new hospital, but Kang-seok says he’s about to put an end to the negotiations. He and Yeon-woo meet with the union leader and her attorney, where Kang-seok informs her cheerfully that he’s not like the previous lawyers she met with.
He offers a ten percent raise, a nurse’s lounge, and regular breaks, but makes it clear that the hospital won’t be hiring more nurses. He tells the union leader that as one of the best sanatoriums in the country, the hospital spends a lot of money on facility maintenance and the best medical equipment.
When she asks why they can spend money on machines and not people, Yeon-woo points out that the money was donated specifically for medical equipment, so using it for other expenses would be illegal. She sneers that they just proved they’re exactly like the previous lawyers, and starts to leave. Kang-seok warns her that if she leaves, there will be no more negotiation, but she goes anyway.
Later, Kang-seok tells Yeon-woo that they need a restraining order to stop the nurses from striking. Yeon-woo says it will be difficult to prove that the strike is illegal, but Kang-seok asks if he’d still feel that way if a nurse endangered his grandmother’s health or safety.
Yeon-woo remembers passing the striking nurses the other night. He says they can get the restraining order on the basis that they’re being too loud and disturbing the patients. Kang-seok says they don’t just need to buy time — they need to find their weak spot and strike.
Geun-shik tries to suck up to Ha-yeon at the office, but she purposely ignores him. He sighs that he shouldn’t plant flowers that won’t bloom, while in the elevator, Ha-yeon figures out that he’s trying to decide who to side with.
When Kang-seok asks a judge to grant a restraining order against the nurses, the judge says that they’re not doing anything illegal nor are they causing financial loss to the sanatorium. Kang-seok says that the hospital will suffer financially if the strike goes on for long, but the judge still rejects the request.
As they leave, Kang-seok tells Yeon-woo that it’s not uncommon for a restraining order to be rejected. But he’d noticed that the judge had an odd look on his face, and Yeon-woo agrees that he seemed to have something against Kang-seok.
Back at the firm, Geun-shik lets his recent loyalty shift be known by the new “CEO” nameplate on his desk. He gleefully tells Ha-yeon and Kang-seok that Director Ham has asked him for a summary of all of Kang & Ham’s current cases. Ha-yeon says that he’s obviously the best man for the job, and that of course she already knows about his task.
Geun-shik leaves chuckling, and Kang-seok asks if they really need Geun-shik. But Ha-yeon says they may be sorry someday that he’s not on their side.
Suspicious of Ha-yeon, Geun-shik calls Director Ham, then gloats over Yeon-woo’s employee file. As part of his report, he gives Director Ham Yeon-woo’s file and tells him about Kang-seok’s current case, and they laugh that Director Ham “took care of” the restraining order request.
Attorney Kim brings Geun-shik a latte and an apology for not understanding how important he is on her first day. He perks up when she calls him a “prince,” and when she says she wants to be on his side, he brags that Kang & Ham will soon be changing, with him at the center.
There’s a partners’ meeting, where Director Ham tells everyone that Ha-yeon is still in charge at the firm, and to think of his as more of an adviser. But when Ha-yeon brings up the Haram Sanatorium case, he interrupts to say that he’s taking care of it, and he asks Kang-seok why he couldn’t get a restraining order. Kang-seok informs him tightly that strategy details should be discussed in private. But first he meets with Ha-yeon, telling her not to worry so long as he’s around.
He finds Yeon-woo asleep at his desk, and Yeon-woo says he’s been working so hard on the publishing company merger that he forgot to look into the nurses’ union’s weaknesses. Kang-seok tells him to give him some of his pro bono cases, and when Yeon-woo says he doesn’t do those now that he’s an associate, Kang-seok calls him a liar.
He says that if Yeon-woo has fewer than three sympathy pro bono cases in his desk, he’ll be his associate. Yeon-woo sheepishly pulls out a huge pile of pro bono cases he’s taken on, and Kang-seok takes a few, telling him to get back to work.
He finds Director Ham waiting in his office and tells him that even if he claims to have changed, the firm has changed a lot, too. Director Ham ignores him and rifles through the stack of pro bono cases, and Kang-seok likewise ignores him and tells him to prove he’s changed through his actions. But regardless of Director Ham’s reasons for being back, Kang-seok orders him to keep his paws off his cases.
Director Ham reminds Kang-seok that the signs say he’s the managing partner, but Kang-seok retorts that he himself said he’s number two, and Kang-seok only reports to number one. Dropping his friendly tone, Director Ham says he doesn’t care who Kang-seok reports to: “But in the end, you’ll have to learn to respect me.”
He implies that he won’t be number two for long, but Kang-seok gives Director Ham the pro bono cases and tells him to take them, since he has nothing better to do. He says it’s not to prove anything, but to test himself to see if he’s the same, or if he’s become worse.
Da-ham invites Ji-na out for a drink after work, saying that she needs to talk about Yeon-woo. She adopts a worried expression and tells Ji-na that Yeon-woo asked her to be his girlfriend, but Ji-na quickly figures out that she’s yanking her chain. Da-ham says she likes Yeon-woo, but that dealing with him and Kang-seok is like trying to raise two sons.
Geun-shik tells the junior associates (or as he calls them, the “baby lawyers”) that now that Director Ham is back, he won’t have much time for them. He hands their care off to Attorney Kim, and as she’s introducing herself, Geun-shik tells Yeon-woo that he’s still keeping his eye on him.
Kang-seok and Da-ham are eating lunch in his office when Geun-shik lets himself in. He says he’s contented with Attorney Kim as his associate and won’t hire another one when he’s promoted, and he waxes poetic about the day he becomes senior partner and can fight Kang-seok as equals. Kang-seok and Da-ham just chat like he’s not even there, hee.
Finally Kang-seok acknowledges Geun-shik, telling him that the day they’re equals hasn’t come yet. He asks if Geun-shik is tired of fighting all by himself, and Geun-shik gives him a cranky thumbs-down. He reminds Da-ham that “Man of La Mancha” is tonight, but she just frowns at him.
Kang-seok is called to the courthouse, and he arrives to find that Director Ham has convinced the judge to grant a temporary restraining order against the striking nurses. When Kang-seok asks Director Ham what he’s doing, he says he’s cleaning up Kang-seok’s mess, and that Kang-seok didn’t get the restraining order because he used the wrong reasoning.
With a huff, Kang-seok snarls that he knows Director Ham plays golf with the judge. Director Ham just says that Kang-seok should use his talent for digging up dirt on people to handle his own situation.
On his way to a meeting, Yeon-woo passes the protesting nurses and recognizes the one who forgot she’d already taken Grandma’s blood pressure. She’s exhausted, nodding off until someone wakes her in time for her shift.
Kang-seok tells Yeon-woo that Director Ham got a temporary order prohibiting the nurses from striking for a week. Yeon-woo jokes that Director Ham must be a genius snake, but Kang-seok says that one day he’ll let that snake loose in front of Yeon-woo.
The union leader already knows about the temporary order, having heard about it from Director Ham. Kang-seok informs her that Director Ham Isn’t not his superior, tearing up the order that Director Ham procured. He hands her another offer which allows the strike to continue, but shuts down the entire hospital while they’re striking.
When the union leader protests, Kang-seok says that she’s a nurse who should be looking after her patients. He says the offer also includes a five percent raise and breaks, which is a lot less than his first offer. He tells the union leader that the nurses won’t be paid at all while the hospital is closed.
On their way out, Yeon-woo accuses Kang-seok of torpedoing the entire negotiation, but Kang-seok is confident they’ll take this offer now that they can’t work. He snaps that someone has to end this, even if it means getting blood on his hands, and tells Yeon-woo to move his grandmother to another hospital.
The sleepy nurse is finishing a blood pressure check on Grandma when Yeon-woo arrives at her room. Grandma is worried about the nurse, who looks upset and told her that her sunbaes are bullying her.
Director Ham confronts Kang-seok when he hears that he changed the plans, but Kang-seok says that he’s doing something to end the strike instead of kissing up to judges. He tells Kang-seok that they’d better take his offer, because if nothing is solved after his cheap move, Kang-seok will have to take responsibility for putting the firm in danger.
Kang-seok just fires back that if Director Ham hadn’t played dirty, he wouldn’t have made that cheap move. He says that Yeon-woo thought of the same tactic for getting the restraining order that Director Ham used, giving Director Ham a sideways insult by saying that he thinks just like his newly-minted associate.
The ladies get a little tipsy on wine after work and discuss the different reasons for drinking. They decide that things that taste good are dangerous, and Ji-na says that Yeon-woo is also dangerous, so Da-ham playfully offers to kill him, ha.
Ji-na says that her mother used to tell her, “You don’t need the hope of becoming an attorney. What you need is the courage to give up on being an attorney.” She says that her mother is smart, but Yeon-woo keeps telling her there’s hope and making her think she should go for it.
Watching Ji-na carefully, Da-ham muses that hope isn’t the only thing Yeon-woo’s put in Ji-na’s heart. Ji-na says she remembers what Da-ham told her (that it’s difficult to maintain a relationship in their business), but that she can’t seem to do as her mind tells her.
Da-ham apologizes for interfering and tells Ji-na, “Do it. If you want to do something, do it while you can. If it will break you, you can just break when the time comes. Don’t regret not having tried, like me.”
Poor lonely Geun-shik waits outside the theatre for Da-ham, who never shows up. Even the banner won’t allow him any dignity as it flaps in his face while he tries to record a dramatic poem on loneliness, and he finally gives up.
Yeon-woo is nonplussed to find Director Ham in his grandmother’s room when he goes to see her that night. In private, Director Ham says that he heard that Yeon-woo had the same idea as him for asking for the injunction, and Yeon-woo says he thought it was the only way to stop the strike yet continue negotiations.
Director Ham says he thought the same thing, and that he doesn’t plan on going against Kang-seok, but he wonders what to do now that things are urgent. Yeon-woo says they need to make amends with the union leader and convince her to negotiate again.
Director Ham says that she hates both him and Kang-seok, and Yeon-woo guesses that he wants him to talk to her. Director Ham tells Yeon-woo that Kang-seok said he’s the right person to convince her, because he has a talent for understanding others, and asks if he thinks he can handle it.
Yeon-woo tries to call Kang-seok a few times first, but Kang-seok doesn’t answer his phone. Yeon-woo finds the union leader and leads her to Grandma’s room. He says that Grandma has told him how hard things are for the nurses, and Grandma pipes up, saying that they shouldn’t be hard on the newer nurses.
The union leader looks a bit ashamed and agrees, saying that she’s been trying to stop it, but they’re short on hands and overworked so they tend to disregard or pressure the hoobaes. Yeon-woo points out that if the hoobaes have to learn on their own because their sunbaes won’t teach them, a patient could suffer.
The union leader agrees that it needs to change, but the hospital still needs to address the problem of not enough nurses for the number of patients. Yeon-woo says there must be a way, quoting his grandmother that people make mistakes in order to change, and promises to be more open-minded when negotiating with the nurses. The union leader says that if he does that, they’ll end the strike.
In the morning, he proudly tells Kang-seok that he’s re-opened negotiations, and promises to make him look good in front of Director Ham. He mentions the bullying and says that he negotiated a wage freeze and a twenty percent hiring increase. He’s even worked out the budget to make it all come together, and he celebrates when Kang-seok seems to approve.
But Kang-seok is actually furious with Director Ham for lying to a new associate. Director Ham insists that Yeon-woo only heard what he wanted to hear. Kang-seok says that Director Ham may have managed to cut him out of his own case, but that he still hasn’t figured out the hospital board’s intention.
He tells Director Ham that there was a precondition when the hospital hired them — they wanted to invest more on marketing and the hospital’s exterior, which means downsizing the staff. Unfortunately, those two areas are where Yeon-woo suggests cutting the budget in order to hire more nurses. Kang-seok says that the board will never agree to hire more nurses, and enjoys telling Director Ham that since his dirty trick caused this, it’s up to him to fix it.
Yeon-woo is so happy that when he sees Ji-na, he grabs her in a big hug, surprising them both. He tells her that he handled a problem that Kang-seok and Director Ham couldn’t solve, and they agree to go out to celebrate after work.
He heads to a meeting with Director Ham and the union leader, and Director Ham tells him that Kang-seok is in hiding after hearing how things went downhill. He leaves Yeon-woo alone, but luckily Kang-seok quickly shows up. Not so luckily, Kang-seok hands the union leader a layoff notice, requiring that twenty-three nurses with at least five years’ experience be let go, including the union leader herself.
He explains that it’s punishment for the bullying and orders her to sign the original agreement offering a ten percent raise to the nurses who are left. The union leader turns her anger on Yeon-woo, spitting that his grandmother must be proud of him. He follows Kang-seok to ask how he could do this, when he was trying to reach an amicable agreement.
Kang-seok says that their duty is to carry out their client’s wishes, even if it means using the opposition’s weakness against them. He says that he knows Kang-seok hates cases like these, but it’s part of the job. Yeon-woo asks if he sent him in to get information to stab him in the back, but Kang-seok says that he got tricked by Director Ham.
Yeon-woo remembers Kang-seok saying that he’d show him what the snake is capable of. He says that Kang-seok may not have sent him, but he knew Director Ham would try something if he gave him a hint. Director Ham knew that Yeon-woo is smart and compassionate, which he could only have learned from Kang-seok.
Yeon-woo says angrily, “Director Ham was the one who tricked me, but you were the one who used me.” Kang-seok argues back that if Yeon-woo had told him that he met with Director Ham, this wouldn’t have happened. Yeon-woo starts to say he tried, but instead he just leaves.
Director Ham follows Yeon-woo from a distance and makes a call. He tells whoever he’s calling that Kang-seok isn’t an easy opponent, but not to worry, because he still has a lot planned.
Ji-na studies while she waits to hear from Yeon-woo, but he never texts her like he promised. Finally she gets up to go home, and on her way out, she narrowly misses Yeon-woo, who’s sitting outside thinking about his argument with Kang-seok. He goes back to Kang-seok’s office, but Attorney Kim is there, so he turns and leaves.
Kang-seok asks Attorney Kim how it’s going, keeping an eye on Geun-shik. She says it’s easy, but it’s not the picture he’s been expecting to see. She decides to consider herself Kang-seok’s real associate, and he morosely accepts.
Yeon-woo bikes home, only to find Director Ham waiting outside his door. He asks how Director Ham knew he lives here, and Director Ham just smiles.
The first half of this episode really didn’t say anything that we didn’t already know. I mean, Director Ham is back. We already know he’s a bad dude without a shred of moral fiber, and we already know that Kang-seok and Ha-yeon want him gone from the company. All he really did was to throw his weight around and make a lot of vague threats, but we still don’t know why he’s come back now, or what his intent is. The only new thing that happened was Geun-shik getting a big head about being Director Ham’s toady, but he gets a big head about everything so that was no surprise.
Then, in the second half of the episode, Kang-seok and Director Ham finally had a good old-fashioned verbal battle, and suddenly things heated up. I loved the angry, masculine energy flying around the room when they showed their true emotions towards each other instead of sugarcoating every interaction. I’ve been wanting for Kang-seok to bump up against a true match for his strong personality, and while David Kim was interesting, he was more underhanded and snarky than a true equal to Kang-seok. But Director Ham is someone whose mere presence in a room can be construed as a threat, and he proved it by buddying up to Yeon-woo, who we know is a bit too willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Director Ham may just be the person that finally makes Kang-seok lose his iron control over his temper, particularly if he’s threatening his relationship with Yeon-woo, and I can’t wait to see Kang-seok blow up.
The writing in this version of Suits can be a little on-the-nose at times, often clunky and expositional. In real life, lawyers wouldn’t explain how the law works to each other, but it’s understandable in a drama where there’s so much legal information to convey to the audience. But there are some truly beautiful moments when the characters are simply talking about life, such as Yeon-woo and Ji-na’s first conversation about fears and “rabbits,” and in those scenes, I find myself really connecting with the characters. I particularly loved Da-ham and Ji-na’s wine-tinted talk about not regretting the things you didn’t try, because it revealed a lot about both ladies.
Ji-na doesn’t hide how she feels about Yeon-woo (I love how open she is with her heart), but Da-ham also gave herself away when she told Ji-na to go for it, unlike her. I’ve suspected that she’s harbored feelings for someone — most likely Kang-seok — for quite some time, and by confessing that she regrets not taking romantic chances, she pretty much admitted that she loves him but has never had the courage to tell him. I hope that seeing Ji-na take a chance with Yeon-woo inspires Da-ham to do the same, and I can’t wait to see the expression on Kang-seok’s face when she does. (Though honestly, I wouldn’t even be mad if she let Geun-shik convince her to date him if Kang-seok isn’t up for it, because Geun-shik wouldn’t be nearly so annoying with a strong lady like Da-ham keeping him in line.)
I appreciate that Yeon-woo is finally learning how to work for his client while using his compassion for the underdog to smooth the way. He did that wonderfully when he negotiated with the nurses, but unfortunately, he let Director Ham manipulate him into it right after Kang-seok told him never to talk to his opponents alone again. At least Yeon-woo tried to confirm Kang-seok’s approval, but when he couldn’t reach him, he should have waited, because Kang-seok had information that made Yeon-woo’s deal impossible. Yeon-woo’s worst flaw is thinking that his moral goodness gives him the right to act on his own, which would be fine under most circumstances, but again, we’re talking about tricky legal situations. He’s not even a real lawyer, and Kang-seok is right to expect him not to run off making deals without guidance. Still, it was horrible of Kang-seok to use Yeon-woo’s inside information of bullying to blindside the union leader, and between that and their fight, I’m not looking forward to the upcoming rift in their relationship.