A New Leaf: Episode 8
When a fiancée you don’t remember walks into your life, things are bound to get interesting. I was ready for hilarity, but the sweetness of this episode caught me by surprise. There are complicated feelings all around, as Seok-ju’s fiancée meets a man she no longer knows and Ji-yoon starts to question the nature of her regard for her boss. We take a step back from the deluge of cases and legal complications this week, allowing the spotlight to land on the relationships for a little while. And although the tone is a bit lighter this episode, storm clouds are brewing on the horizon.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
The atmosphere at the firm is cautiously optimistic, now that Seok-ju’s gamble has paid off with an acquittal for Jung Hye-ryeong. Calls are coming in from interested reporters and potential clients, hinting that the Cha Yeong Woo law firm may not lose as much business as they thought. CEO Cha says it best, when he tells Seok-ju that although he shouldn’t have taken this case, at least he managed to win.
Enter the monkey wrench, a.k.a. Seok-ju’s mystery fiancée, Yoo Jung-seon. CEO Cha tells Sang-tae to entertain their guest while Seok-ju retreats to the restroom for some hyperventilation. Jung-seon tells Sang-tae that she just returned from a two-month trip to the US and the UK, cluing us in to why it’s taken her half the drama to arrive.
In the restroom, CEO Cha offers all the information he has to Seok-ju, which isn’t much. He heard rumors from Chairman Gwon (Jung-seon’s grandfather) that marriage talks were in the wind, but he didn’t think much of it because the two of them saw each other so seldom. Seok-ju’s first instinct is to tell Jung-seon about his amnesia, but CEO Cha cautions him that this may only make problems.
Outside the courthouse, Ji-yoon runs into Ji-won. They talk about Seok-ju briefly, as Ji-won witnessed a few of his trials years ago when he was a Supreme Court law clerk. As we might expect, Seok-ju stood out even back then. Ji-yoon says that Ji-won seemed pretty sharp himself during Hye-ryeong’s trial. He offers to drop her off at home, which is how he learns that Ji-yoon has moved and they’re no longer neighbors.
Seok-ju meanwhile enters his office, greeting his fiancée awkwardly. She has come about the meeting between the bride and groom’s family, which Seok-ju’s father has rescheduled because of his hospital stay. Seok-ju glances at his desk, and finally realizes what the circled date on his calendar was. Jung-seon proposes dinner with her family first, and Seok-ju replies that there’s something he has to tell her…
Meanwhile, CEO Cha takes a call from the chaebol whose son was murdered and tells him that it’s a good thing that the true murderer can now be brought to justice. An employee asks what is to be done about Seok-ju now that he won his case, and CEO Cha says that they’ll have to find “an alternative.”
At a coffee shop with his newfound fiancée, Seok-ju proceeds to drop the truth bomb. Jung-seon is pretty shaken up to hear that he doesn’t remember when they met, or how he proposed (and I can’t wait to hear that story). However, a call to CEO Cha is enough to convince her of the truth. She requests his presence at dinner anyway, saying that it’s important, and that they’ll figure out what to do about the amnesia later.
In preparation for the family dinner, Seok-ju has yet another study session, this time trying to remember the names and faces of Jung-seon’s relatives. Her two uncles will attend the dinner along with her grandfather. Her mother passed away eight years ago, however, and it doesn’t seem as if her father gets along very well with his in-laws. He lives in the country, spends half the year in the Philippines, and apparently “isn’t very important.”
It’s intriguing, and Seok-ju is intrigued as well. He asks to see a picture of her father, since he’s curious about him, but Jung-seon says that he’ll come to the wedding. It should be interesting to see what kind of family problems Jung-seon is working through, and whether any of them are connected in some way with Pre-Amnesia Seok-ju.
Jung-seon’s grandfather Chairman Gwon greets Seok-ju warmly, and scolds him gently for not letting them know about Seok-ju’s father being in the hospital. As they sit down to chat, Seok-ju learns that his future grandfather-in-law is golf buddies with Chairman Park, the father of the murdered playboy. Seok-ju’s decision to represent Jung Hye-reong created some tension between the two businessmen, but Chairman Gwon defended Seok-ju.
Dinner is a fairly informative affair, for us as much as for Seok-ju. We learn that he helped Chairman Gwon’s company reorganize its financial affairs, helping it past a significant crisis. We also learn that although Jung-seon has ambitions to work “outside the home,” possibly in the family business, her oldest uncle thinks that “the best way to serve her family and her country” is to have babies while she still can. Ugh – I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.
Seok-ju defuses some of the tension by saying he’s happy to become a stay-at-home dad to support Jung-seon. The chairman treats it like a joke, but I’m of the opinion that this needs to happen now! Seok-ju puts some food on Jung-seon’s plate and gives her an adorably sweet smile, while she looks at him in consternation, as if to say: Who is this dude and what did he do to Seok-ju?!
Seok-ju prepares to leave, and the family gathers to send him off. Chairman Gwon lets Seok-ju know that he intends to stop by the Cha Yeong Woo Firm later, though he doesn’t say why. Jung-seon then offers to drive him home, but he says that she looks tired and he intends to take a taxi instead.
Meanwhile Ji-yoon, as yet unaware that her favorite boss is now engaged, has made good on her promise to treat Seok-ju to fried chicken. She prepares everything in her apartment, worrying that she ordered the food too soon and it might get cold.
She moves out to the balcony with chicken and beer, waiting for Seok-ju to arrive. The chicken grows cold while she waits, and every time the buzzer rings she jumps up to peer over the railing and see if it’s Seok-ju. He makes it back to the apartment just as it starts to rain, and Ji-yoon gathers up the food and drink and hurries inside.
Jung-seon drove Seok-ju home after all, and they talk about how his amnesia has changed their situation. Meanwhile Ji-yoon comes tearing out of the apartment, only to see Seok-ju in an intense conversation with a woman she doesn’t know. She attempts a Stealth Retreat, but is betrayed by an empty beer can that clatters noisily to the ground. Seok-ju makes the introductions, and explains to Jung-seon that his boss assigned Ji-yoon to him because of his amnesia. Jung-seon prepares to leave, and wishes Seok-ju a good night’s sleep.
Seok-ju reaches his apartment door while Ji-yoon is scrambling to type in her password with hands full of chicken and beer. “I didn’t know I had a fiancée either, so don’t look at me like that,” he says. Ji-yoon can’t get into her apartment and close the door fast enough.
Ji-yoon trudges into her living room with a face like a wet weekend. “I really wanted to celebrate today,” she mopes, and curls up on the couch. Then again, Seok-ju wins trials all the time so he might not attach as much significance to winning this one.
That’s not all that’s bothering Ji-yoon, though: “A fiancée? He had a woman he was going to marry, and he still went around having one-night stands?!” HA! I’d almost forgotten about that, but I’m glad Ji-yoon hasn’t. She recognizes the strangeness for her to be feeling this upset, and it only makes her madder. “Irritating,” she declares to an empty apartment.
In the next apartment over, Seok-ju looks back through his photos. He was planning to marry Jung-seon, and yet he doesn’t have a single picture of her.
Back at her home, Jung-seon finds her grandfather reading a newspaper. They talk about Seok-ju, and Chairman Gwon mentions that he’ll be a very useful son-in-law to have. He can be the company’s legal consultant, and he “has all the inside information on other firms.” That’s a red flag for Jung-seon, who asks what will happen if Seok-ju turns out to be useless to her grandfather. “Don’t you have an eye for people?” he scoffs, but it seems that Seok-ju’s amnesia may be an even bigger problem for the marriage than we originally thought.
Alone in the hall, Jung-seon takes out a well-worn picture of an older man — presumably of her father — before calling Seok-ju. She asks when would be a good time to visit his father in the hospital, but Seok-ju tells her not to bother because he’s getting discharged soon.
Seok-ju says that he’s very curious about their relationship, how they met, when he proposed, and so on. He was worried that it might have been an arranged marriage, but he doesn’t understand why her family would agree to that since he’s “just a lawyer.” Jung-seon laughs that he must not know much about his former life if he can describe himself that way. Seok-ju admits that he doesn’t much like what he’s discovered so far, and Jung-seon wonders whether he’ll also dislike the truth of their past relationship.
In a flashback, we see the first time that Seok-ju’s path crossed that of Jung-seon and the Gwon family. We’re in a courtroom, and Seok-ju is roasting Jung-seon’s uncle for taking out a high-risk loan that, thanks to some unforeseen interference from the labor union, he couldn’t pay back. Now stockholders can’t even sell their shares, and the company is suffering from its management’s incompetence.
After the embarrassing (for Jung-seon’s uncle) trial, Chairman Gwon further scolds his son for his failures and demands that Lawyer Kim Seok-ju be brought on to oversee the process of helping the company recover from its disastrous loan problems.
Another flashback shows Chairman Gwon sitting down with Jung-seon, laying out a line of mug shots for her to choose her husband from. Apparently none of the wealthy heirs of chaebol families will have anything to do with her (possibly because of the absent father we’ve heard so little about), and these are all that’s left. Her grandfather urges her to choose someone smart who can help the family, and admits that his preference is for Seok-ju. It’s certainly not the most romantic of methods to select a husband, nor did Seok-ju have the most romantic first impression, so it’s easy to see why Jung-seon has been so affected by Seok-ju’s recent behavior.
Hurrah! Finally we catch up with KHAN, Seok-ju’s terminally ill dog. The vets worry that Khan’s tumor is growing, and that they may have to operate soon. They sent a text message to Seok-ju, but he hasn’t responded. It’s unlike him, since he always contacted them in the past, even before going away on international business trips.
CEO Cha holds a meeting with his top people to determine which judge they should try to recruit for their firm, out of a lineup of judges soon to leave the courthouse behind. However, CEO Cha expresses an interest in Jeon Ji-won, even though he has expressed no intention of leaving. He’s up for a Supreme Court position down the road, but he has an equally talented classmate who may have the edge because of her gender, which CEO Cha hopes will make Ji-won more amenable to being wooed by his firm.
When Team Leader Kang asks why recruiting Ji-won is so important, CEO Cha says that there’s an extremely important case that may reach the Supreme Court that needs Ji-won in particular. The CEO surprises his advisors when he determines to visit Ji-won in person, after a low-ranking employee who knows the judge offers to set up a meeting.
A woman who works with a local youth center arrives at the Cha Yeong Woo Firm in the hopes that they may represent a boy she looked after. He’s been arrested for murder, and is being investigated while in jail. Ji-yoon enters the conference room, and we find out that she knows the woman from when she also worked with the youth center.
After a short trip to the police station, where it is revealed that the victim is actually the boy’s father, Ji-yoon and the youth center employee visit the scene of the crime. Her friend is glad to see that Ji-yoon is following her dream of becoming a lawyer to defend the helpless, and Ji-yoon says that she’s trying to learn as much as she can, because good intentions are useless without ability.
The sad state of the house makes Ji-yoon fear that her firm won’t take this case. It’s clear that the boy grew up in a bad environment, and it would be risky for the pro bono team to defend him. She says they might have to go with a public defender, but she’ll try her best.
Ji-yoon tries to persuade the lawyers on the pro bono team that the accused boy deserves their help. She’s looked into the circumstances surrounding the case, and it turns out there’s much more to the story. His mother was murdered two years ago, and his father was a suspect. Based on what the neighbors say, it was also a common occurrence for the father to beat his wife, who was mentally ill. When Ji-yoon’s colleagues ask who should take the case, she says firmly and without hesitation: “Lawyer Kim Seok-ju.”
Sang-tae waltzes into Seok-ju’s office, singing a cute made-up ditty about his friend getting married. He congratulates Seok-ju on finding a fiancée with a great background and good looks, and wonders why he seems torn. Sang-tae insinuates slyly that Seok-ju must be upset, since he went home early to his apartment after reuniting with his two-months-absent fiancée.
Before he leaves, Sang-tae asks casually whether Khan has had his surgery yet. The truth FINALLY comes out, and Seok-ju learns that his dog is in the veterinary hospital and in need of treatment. The news, while sad, comes as a relief to Seok-ju, and he envelopes Sang-tae in a bromantic hug. “You are my best friend!” he declares happily.
Sang-tae confers with Seok-ju’s secretary after he’s requested a list of veterinary hospitals. According to her, Seok-ju has grown “forgetful” ever since his accident. Sang-tae looks intrigued, and calls out after his friend. He mentions rumors spreading about Yoorim Group (Chairman Gwon’s company) and potential bankruptcy, and asks if Seok-ju has a plan. Not knowing what he’s talking about, Seok-ju acts unruffled, which can only make our favorite ne’er-do-well more suspicious.
CEO Cha and his second-in-command meet with Jeon Ji-won. The CEO pitches his firm, and lays out the reasons why Ji-won should work there instead of going straight into academia.
Ji-won mentions that not everyone can succeed like Lawyer Kim Seok-ju did, even with the support and resources of such a huge law firm. CEO Cha replies that they’re actually looking for someone to surpass Seok-ju, and he believes that Ji-won can be that man. The bait is set, and we’ll have to wait to see if our handsome fish decides to bite.
Ji-yoon arrives in Seok-ju’s office with the details regarding the pro bono case, saying that he’ll need to make a decision before the end of the day. After she leaves, Seok-ju flips through the document, and the police report catches his eye. He reflects that it seems like an extremely risky case to take.
Chairman Gwon meets with his family about the company, and it seems their legal troubles are coming to a head. They plan to give up on three of their subsidiaries to stave off bankruptcy for now. Chairman Gwon prepares to pay a visit to Kim Seok-ju and CEO Cha. He also asks Jung-seon if it isn’t time to see Seok-ju, reinforcing how their relationship, in his eyes, is just one more lever to prop up the company.
Later that day, Ji-yoon follows up on the pro bono case. Her hopes are dashed, however, when Seok-ju says the case is too risky and that the pro bono team doesn’t have to take every case that comes in. He takes a call from Jung-seon just as Ji-yoon is leaving the office. She chases after him and stops him outside the elevator to ask him to reconsider, but he refuses and the elevator doors slide shut.
CEO Cha explains to his number-two guy why it’s so crucial to recruit Ji-won and not another judge. It all hinges on which candidate is most likely to end up as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. CEO Cha believes it will be PARK YANG-TAE, a Supreme Court Justice who is currently unpopular for his stance on a controversial case, but who may receive some positive press in the future.
Jeon Ji-won was a clerk for him years ago, and the court decisions he wrote were accepted and used by Judge Park without alteration, which apparently cemented Ji-won’s reputation as a rising star. If Judge Park becomes the Chief Justice, and Ji-won comes to work for the Cha Yeong Woo firm and handles every case that goes before the Supreme Court, then their battles are already won.
As CEO Cha reveals his master plan regarding Ji-won, the camera cuts to Seok-ju’s empty office and lingers on his nameplate. The implication is clear: He’s coming for you, Seok-ju!
I’d say I don’t know where to start, but I absolutely do… PUPPY! Thank heavens Sang-tae saved the day, and Seok-ju is soon to be reunited with Khan.
There was so much to love during this episode. A fiancée entering the picture immediately after Seok-ju’s first meaningful victory was an excellent way to shake things up, and the interactions between Seok-ju and Jung-seon managed to be funny, intriguing, and genuinely touching all at the same time. The dinner scene was especially good, when Seok-ju doesn’t hesitate a second before taking his fiancée’s side against a family that only sees her as a bargaining chip and baby-maker. The blink-and-you-miss-it smile he gives her at one moment was too sweet for words.
But if this show has demonstrated anything, it’s that no decision, no matter how kindly meant, is without consequences. We learned that lesson when Seok-ju finally listened to his conscience and stood up for what he believed was right, only to face pressure from his colleagues, his boss, and his clients. Now Seok-ju is trying to be a good fiancé to Jung-seon, who seems to really need someone in her corner. There’s one problem, however, and she’s sitting alone in her apartment while the fried chicken gets cold.
Seok-ju’s kindness to Jung-seon is forcing Ji-yoon to confront her feelings for Seok-ju, whatever those might be exactly. At the moment she seems to have a mixture of happiness that he’s changing, sympathy for his suffering, determination to learn from him, irritation at seeing him with another woman, and… maybe some other emotions thrown in there for good measure? Nowhere do I see romantic inclination (cross your fingers), but the stage is set for what I hope will be some very satisfying miscommunication in the future.
There’s also the question of Ji-yoon’s more straightforward attraction to the smooth-talking Judge Ji-won. Soon everyone will be together at the Cha Yeong Woo Firm, and I confidently predict shenanigans. Ji-won seems to be gunning for Seok-ju, lusting after his success and reputation for reasons of his own. Ji-yoon thinks he’s fine, but I’m guessing she’ll also side with new-and-improved Seok-ju if it comes down to a grudge match. And what will happen if Jung-seon starts to sense romantic tension between her fiancé and the girl next door? I have to say, I’ve never seen a love triangle (or square?) where the second female lead caught my interest and sympathy every bit as much as the main lead, and I have high expectations for the rest of the show.
I just hope that, even if the numerous court cases remain the main narrative tools that propel the plot forward, the burgeoning relationships stay front and center. Those are what I want to see, and thus far I’m sold. Even the interactions that don’t get much screentime are compelling. Seok-ju and his father together somehow break my heart and warm it at the same time, and Seok-ju rediscovering his bromance with Sang-tae is the best thing ever. This hug? Priceless.