A New Leaf: Episode 4
With Ji-yoon by his side, Seok-ju gamely struggles to resolve the financial crisis of the day, although he’s working with a considerable handicap. CEO Cha defends his ace lawyer against criticism from clients and coworkers alike, but as Seok-ju questions his place at the firm we can see the future conflict already taking shape. There are many questions that need answering, but first Seok-ju has to satisfy his clients, save his firm and salvage his own reputation. There’s pressure to spare, but even without his memory Seok-ju is not one to accept failure easily.
EPISODE 4 RECAP
Last episode left Seok-ju in a dangerous situation, forced to justify actions he can’t remember to Taejin’s top brass. Faced with CEO Kim’s demand to know the reason for Seok-ju’s supposed incompetence in quoting a losing price for the acquisition bid, Seok-ju replies that if he or the firm made a mistake, they should compensate their clients accordingly.
As this offers no insight into why Seok-ju, normally so meticulous, made such a huge mistake, the CEO is understandably upset. He even goes so far as to accuse Seok-ju of intentionally making a mistake on the financial report for the Taean Group. Tempers are flaring, so CEO Kim’s colleague suggests they table the meeting for now. Seok-ju is temporarily off the hook, but the matter is far from resolved.
After the meeting, CEO Kim orders his subordinates to continue looking into Seok-ju’s mysterious disappearance. He’s worried that the law firm may have been approached by his competition. Whether he’s dealing with betrayal or mere incompetence, he’s still facing real trouble and wants to know why.
Seok-ju goes back to his office after the tense meeting and sinks into his swivel chair. “What a tough gig,” he reflects. He is momentarily distracted by a date on his calendar: the day has been circled, but there are no events written down. His secretary fails to shed light on the matter, only adding that Seok-ju himself asked her to clear his events for that date.
Team Leader Kang arrives at the CEO’s office to complain about how Seok-ju handled the meeting with Taejon Electronics. He should have apologized profusely after screwing up, and he certainly shouldn’t have offered to pay their clients a penalty so easily. CEO Cha hears him out, but continues to defend Seok-ju. “If you can’t think of a better solution, then just keep quiet and bear with it,” he says.
That would have ended the conversation, but then an underling arrives to report that Seok-ju is leaving for the night. That doesn’t sit well with the team leader, who thinks that Seok-ju damn well ought to stick around and clean up his own mess. He storms out of the office, ready to have a few words with Lawyer Kim Seok-ju.
Team Leader Kang ensures that Seok-ju is in his office, then bursts in after a perfunctory knock. He tells Seok-ju off in no uncertain terms, pointing out that his abrupt offer to pay Taejon Electronics for the losses they incurred actually made it seem like he had bad intentions.
At her desk, Ji-yoon receives a phone call from Seok-ju’s father. He’s returning the call that he missed when he was in the hospital. He hears that she was trying to reach him on Seok-ju’s behalf, and he’s immediately sure that something must have happened.
Ji-yoon puts off explaining, saying that something happened but Seok-ju should be the person to explain. Seok-ju’s father guesses that Seok-ju isn’t calling to check up on his health, because “people don’t change that easily.”
Ji-yoon goes to inform Seok-ju about his father’s call, only to hear Team Leader Kang reaming him out from all the way out in the hall. He yells about the implications and ramifications of Seok-ju’s behavior in the meeting, while Seok-ju listens with a placid smile fixed on his face. It’s hilarious that Seok-ju is actually learning more from this rant, while Team Leader Kang thinks he’s not taking this seriously enough and keeps getting angrier.
“Now I understand,” Seok-ju says affably, and he promises to take steps to resolve the problem. He thanks Team Leader Kang for his helpful advice with another big smile. The team leader marches away down the hall, while interns and staff make way rapidly. If looks could kill, Seok-ju would be done for.
Ji-yoon lets Seok-ju know that his father called, which generates an entirely new problem for our amnesiac lawyer. How is he supposed to talk to a father he doesn’t remember? Ji-yoon tells him what everyone knows; namely, that his father is a human rights lawyer who became a judge and a politician.
They decide to set a date in the future for Seok-ju to visit, since Seok-ju doesn’t want to call him right away. Ji-yoon observes with a laugh that Seok-ju is quite different from his father. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he demands. Ji-yoon apologizes, but Seok-ju insists that she explain.
Poor Ji-yoon is let off the hook when Sang-tae pokes his head in, asking Seok-ju if he’s okay. Seok-ju, who doesn’t remember his friend, responds politely as he would to a superior. At Ji-yoon’s frantic head-shaking, Seok-ju switches belatedly to banmal, thoroughly weirding out his friend. He prepares to leave, but it’s only Sang-tae who remembers where Seok-ju actually parked his car.
After a scavenger hunt in the car park, Seok-ju manages to locate his vehicle. Inside the car he finds some dog hair, prompting him once again to wonder if he had a dog. He arrives at the hospital for a check-up, to see how he’s adjusting.
In the doctor’s office, Seok-ju hears that his internal bleeding was stabilized without the need for surgery, and that the doctor is optimistic about his eventual recovery. The doctor asks how it felt being back at work, and if it was stressful. Seok-ju admits that it was, since there were no signs to work from and so much money is riding on his performance.
He admits further that he felt uncomfortable at the thought of calling up his father and admitting that he has lost his memory. The doctor asks if Seok-ju has any memories of his father, which prompts Seok-ju to share a few hazy recollections.
He remembers dirt, and an empty seat. “My father held me and then left,” he recalls, although he doesn’t know if it’s a memory or just a feeling. We see a flashback, however, of a young Seok-ju sitting in a doorway while his father leaves the house with several other men.
The doctor, who’s starting to seem more like a psychologist than a brain trauma expert at this point, says that it’s how Seok-ju feels about this memory that’s really important. Seok-ju also mentions the evidence that points to his owning a dog, though he doesn’t know whether he still does or if it was in the past.
The doctor can’t give him any answers, but as long as Seok-ju isn’t experiencing any head pains, he’s in good shape. He cautions Seok-ju to call him if he feels any pressure or headaches.
Meanwhile, Ji-yoon takes a break from babysitting the adorable amnesiac in order to meet with her recently married friend, Mi-ri. Mi-ri recommends marriage for the shopping, and Ji-yoon asks Mi-ri what kind of relationship she had with Seok-ju. She declines to answer, only saying that they weren’t dating, and she really hates insensitive men like him.
They turn to happier topics for a while, gossiping about the hottie from the wedding. This, of course, is Jeon Ji-won, who has so conveniently moved into Ji-yoon’s neighborhood. Ji-yoon swoons over the memory of him quoting her book, and Mi-ri suggests that they should ‘accidentally’ meet and have a double date that weekend.
Here we swing back to Seok-ju, as Ji-yoon thinks she should spend time to help him. She feels guilty that he’s lost his memory, since she kept wishing before that he would be punished for his lack of ethics. While she wants to keep assisting him because of that guilt, Mi-ri insists that she should carry out the CEO’s request in order to secure a job with the law firm. “Beggars can’t be choosers,” she says, while Ji-yoon looks troubled.
While walking back to her apartment, Ji-yoon pauses to buy some beef jerky from a convenience store. As luck would have it, her hot new neighbor runs into her just outside. Ji-yoon hilariously tries to hide her snacks behind her back.
When he calls her out on it, she shamelessly claims that she likes to feed the beef jerky to the neighborhood cats. She throws a piece aside, and Ji-won lets her get away with the harmless deception.
They part ways, and her ear-to-ear grin as he walks away makes it pretty clear what she’s thinking: I hate it when you leave, but I LOVE watching you go!
It’s still dark outside as Seok-ju gets to work at the office, trying to gain access to his password-protected computer. Ji-yoon comes in early as well, and finds Seok-ju already laboring away with stacks and stacks of paperwork in front of him.
Ji-yoon breaks the silence by mentioning Park Sang-tae, Seok-ju’s friend. Seok-ju reflects that they did seem to be close, but Sang-tae also seems like the type to make silly mistakes. Ji-yoon intends to talk with Sang-tae about Seok-ju’s earlier life, in the hope that hearing more details about himself might jog Seok-ju’s memory.
Then they settle into serious paperwork, with Seok-ju explaining his strategy to an attentive Ji-yoon. He’s looking for any loans that Taean Group may have taken out, because the situation changes depending on if they used cash or loans to fund their buyout. It would be good to find their loans, if they have any, but they wouldn’t willingly release that information. Explaining all of this to Ji-yoon triggers an epiphany, and Seok-ju wonders aloud if his pre-amnesia self intentionally quoted the wrong figure, guessing how the other company would react.
Seok-ju changes gears abruptly, asking Ji-yoon how she’s adapting to the firm and its atmosphere. She says it’s going well, and that she’s been with the firm for three weeks. “If I’m not fired,” Seok-ju muses, “maybe I can adjust in three weeks, too.” Ji-yoon looks at him with sympathy in her eyes, and asks if he’s having a hard time.
We cut briefly to a security officer, who appears startled when he sees something on his monitor. Seok-ju is copying company files to his own computer, which probably looks fishy to the security guard.
Meanwhile, Ji-yoon struggles with her budding sympathy for Seok-ju. She knows she shouldn’t feel bad for him, since he can pay his own hospital bills and he’s even back working without any problems. “He’s an evil genius, and you shouldn’t feel sorry for him,” she admonishes herself, but she still looks concerned as she takes a sip of her morning coffee.
In his office, CEO Cha receives a report from Team Leader Kang and the security officer who caught Seok-ju downloading the files. He didn’t break any company rules, but downloading all the files within his access raises red flags because it’s something lawyers often do before they quit. Team Leader Kang voices his worry that Seok-ju was bribed by their client’s opponent.
Ji-yoon gathers information from Seok-ju’s secretary, trying to track his movements over the past few years. Apparently he traveled to France a lot, and in recent months he also made trips to Switzerland. The hotels he stayed in were all near the financial districts, which sounds pretty significant to me.
CEO Cha calls Ji-yoon in to his office, and presses her about Seok-ju. Is she truly confident that he hasn’t regained his memory? She claims to be sure, citing the fact that he never used to joke around in order to demonstrate that he’s changed, but CEO Cha won’t be reassured until he has hard evidence.
The financial hijinks take a turn for the complicated when Seok-ju presents his recent findings to the client. Seok-ju has discovered that two high-powered banks intend to sign an agreement called a Memorandum of Understanding, or MOU, which will apparently throw the nation into chaos and mess things up for the client’s company. Basically, the MOU is Bad News Bears, and it’s going to happen in four days at the very latest.
If they can’t keep the banks from signing the agreement in the first place, the only reliable way to beat the opposition will be to locate their hidden funds. If, as Seok-ju suspects, they gave up management rights in order to raise enough capital to outbid his clients, then locating the source of their capital is of paramount importance.
He’ll focus on that angle, while the client will try to contact the banks and delay or prevent the signing of the MOU. In an ominous turn, the head of the national bank doesn’t take CEO Kim’s call, so the meeting ends and he rushes off to talk to the bank manager in person.
Despite CEO Cha calling in a favor to get Shinhan Bank to drag its heels, the firm is unable to prevent the MOU from going through. The laywers have a damage control meeting, where they discuss what they have to do now. Seok-ju breaks off mid-sentence. A younger lawyer observes that he must be under a lot of stress, since he normally speaks without hesitation. CEO Cha covers for him, but things are looking bleak for Seok-ju as well as his client.
Seok-ju seems pretty shell-shocked by his slip, and walks out of the conference room without a word. CEO Cha later finds him on the company rooftop and offers him a coffee. Seok-ju confides in his boss that he’s worried that he might really have conspired with Taean Group against the interests of his own client. CEO Cha expresses his faith in Seok-ju, which visibly reassures him.
However, Seok-ju still intends to resign after the case is over. He doesn’t want it to seem like he’s running away after doing something dishonest, but he also doesn’t want to continue working for the company. CEO Cha doesn’t want to hear this resignation talk, and promises to give Seok-ju time to recover after the case is wrapped up. Seok-ju doesn’t press his point, but the question of his resignation seems likely to cause more friction in the future.
When the whereabouts of the elusive bank managers are finally discovered, Seok-ju takes off with Ji-yoon to track them down. On the way, Ji-yoon fills him in on his earlier trips to Geneva and Paris. After learning the name of the hotel in Paris and its proximity to the financial district, he asks for the number of one of the employees of the Paris Bank. After a cute squabble with Ji-yoon, who doesn’t know French and refuses to speak English because “you said my English sucked,” Seok-ju calls the Paris Bank and speaks in execrable French.
Finally the break we’ve been waiting for, as the mysterious banker knows Seok-ju and assures him that the money is secure and the bank is “prepared.” We finally know where the money came from — a loan — a fact which was kept hidden so that the competitors could artificially inflate their cash value.
Seok-ju leaves the car to confront the two bank managers, who are visibly upset at his arrival. They refuse to divulge information about the loans, using the law as an excuse. But all it takes is one mention of Paris Bank, and the men retreat in disarray. “Take your time,” Seok-ju smirks as they dart for their car.
And… hurray! A news anchor announces the newly-discovered source of Taean Group’s loans, and Seok-ju’s firm gets together with their clients to celebrate their close victory in style. CEO Kim apologizes to Seok-ju for doubting him, and all is right with the world once more. Seok-ju, looking tired, heads out for some air, and a satisfied CEO Cha asks Ji-yoon to take good care of his favorite amnesiac in the future.
CEO Kim comes out to the balcony for a private chat with Seok-ju. In a surprising twist, it turns out that what we thought were loans were actually secret funds connected with the businessman’s father. It feels almost like a birth secret revelation, except with money.
Anyway, it seems that in outing the Paris Bank funds to the world, Seok-ju inadvertently settled matters in a way that CEO Kim’s late father would have approved of. The CEO leaves Seok-ju after reiterating his gratitude, and promising to pay him back if he can.
Seok-ju’s boss joins him outside, and Seok-ju attempts to give him his letter of resignation. He appreciates all that CEO Cha has done for him, but he wants to take a break now that the case is resolved. The CEO isn’t having it, however. He tells Seok-ju to take time off for treatment, and promises to lighten his workload in the future, but it’s clear that he’s not willing to accept Seok-ju’s resignation.
A while later, Seok-ju and Ji-yoon arrive at the police station to get an update on his amnesia-causing accident. Seok-ju carelessly flings his coat around Ji-yoon’s shoulders, while looking like he couldn’t care less if she’s cold or not.
Inside the station, the police officer asks if there’s anyone who might have a grudge against him, and Ji-yoon cheerfully offers to send him the list. “It’s pretty long,” she says with a straight face.
As they’re walking to the exit, Seok-ju badgers Ji-yoon to find out what she meant by that. Further explanation is cut off, however, when Jung Hye-ryoung enters the station, escorted by two officers. Of course, Seok-ju doesn’t remember the rape victim whom he tore down in the courtroom, but she recognizes him.
Her eyes widen, and she tries to break away from her guards to attack him. She curses him before the officers drag her away, and Seok-ju is left there in the hallway, wondering what he could have done to inspire such hatred.
I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. At first, I thought it felt slow, and spent too much time dragging out the financial case. As I thought about it, however, I came to like the decision more and more.
As viewers, we’re plunged into a case that’s hard to make heads or tails of, and people keep telling us it’s important, but not how or why. That’s almost exactly the situation Seok-ju finds himself in, and he has to deal with the immense pressure of his job while struggling with the fear that he might actually have been responsible for his client’s problems. I liked how Seok-ju’s internal struggle develops alongside the financial debacle, and only gets worse because he keeps getting pressure from his clients and coworkers to perform like the old Seok-ju.
Those quiet moments when Seok-ju bends – but doesn’t break – under the stress and pressure of the job were very moving, as were the moments when Ji-yoon begins to feel sympathy for Seok-ju in spite of his past personality. And although I am far more interested in Seok-ju’s emotional struggle than any number of MOUs, loans, or random secret funds, I thought this episode did an excellent job in setting the stage. The ending was very satisfying, as it’s hard to imagine Seok-ju remaining ignorant of his earlier self after the shock of his encounter with Hye-ryoung.
So while the last four episodes have moved at a slow pace, I find I like the effect. That said, if we don’t step things up soon, I worry that the show will start to drag. With this week’s ending, we have wonderful potential for self-doubt, which ought to get the ball rolling nicely. As Seok-ju begins to depend more and more on Ji-yoon and their relationship strengthens, I’m excited to see how Hunky Ji-won entering the picture will change things. There’s also a lot of room for heart-wrenching feels with Seok-ju and his father, so I hope we see more of the two of them together, very soon.
And last but certainly not least, can Seok-ju please find his dog already?! The poor thing is facing much harder challenges than its owner, and Seok-ju could definitely use a furry friend who loves him unconditionally right now. Please reunite them, show!
- A New Leaf: Episode 3
- A New Leaf: Episode 2
- A New Leaf: Episode 1
- Kim Myung-min turns courtroom shark for A New Leaf
- Stills from the courtroom (and wedding hall) in A New Leaf
- Jin Yi-han joins the cast of MBC’s A New Leaf
- Kim Myung-min dresses to impress for A New Leaf
- Park Min-young to play Kim Myung-min’s leading lady
- Kim Sang-joong faces off with Kim Myung-min in A New Leaf
- Kim Myung-min considers A New Leaf