Law School: Episodes 1-2 Open Thread
An on-campus death at the top law school in the country puts our protagonists at the center of a high-profile murder case, when they’re just settling in at the university. Suspicion abounds, relationships are more tangled than they initially seem, and the truth is hard to puzzle out. Who knew that law school would be actual murder?
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP
I know the murder was in the promos, but for some reason I expected there to be more emphasis on the school part of Law School. I don’t mind that the drama drops us into the action immediately though, with a mock trial that becomes the murder scene of law professor SEO BYUNG-JU (Ahn Nae-sang)—who turns out to be the linchpin in the wheel of connections between our central characters. Immediately, everyone in the classroom is a possible suspect, although it’s Seo’s friend-turned-nemesis Professor YANG JONG-HOON (Kim Myung-min) who’s arrested for his murder.
Jong-hoon, nicknamed “Yangcrates” for his aggressive use of the Socratic method in his class, is the kind of righteous hardass that Kim plays so well. Is the smart, ruthless teacher who’s secretly soft for his students a well-worn cliche? Yes. Am I bothered? Absolutely not, because in the hands of an acting master like this, I know Yangcrates will be very satisfying to watch.
HAN JOON-HWI (Kim Bum), the school’s star student and Seo’s estranged nephew, seems closer to KANG SOL A (Ryu Hye-young) than to their other classmates, though he keeps a slight distance from everyone. Joon-hwi wants to become the righteous prosecutor his uncle failed to be, whereas Kang Sol A is on a mission to “get an apology from the law” that mistreated her.
They’re the most compelling of the band of first year law students we’re getting to know—especially since, by the end of Episode 2, Jong-hoon has exonerated himself and pointed the suspicion towards Joon-hwi instead. (A misdirect, I’m sure, but the drama doles out reveals deftly enough that it keeps the tension up.) I like the unlikely mix of ages, backgrounds and academic standings of our main crew, who all got into Joon-hwi’s coveted study group by signing his petition against Seo Byung-ju a few months ago.
Kim Myung-min is of course perfect, bringing his usual knifelike charisma to every scene even (especially?) when he’s silent. I really like Lee Jung-eun as his affable friend and colleague, KIM EUN-SOOK, although so far she’s gotten criminally little to do—photographic memory for students’ names notwithstanding. Kim Bum is very reserved in this role, so it’s hard to get a read on his performance.
Out of the students, I’m most enjoying empathetic, idealistic Sol A, who might be lagging academically but has a heart for justice that gives all of her professors a soft spot for her. Even stone-faced Jong-hoon, who protects and guides his kids behind the scenes as much as he rakes them over the coals in public. It’s clear that even though Seo Byung-ju all but forced him out of being a prosecutor, Jong-hoon takes his new mission as an educator as a near-holy vocation.
Sol A seems to be an unacknowledged favorite, likely because he’s been invested in her journey since he saw her as a prosecutor. Ryu Hye-young brings a bright, frazzled energy to the character that instantly takes me back to my university days. I loved the scene in the hallway after he’d pushed her nearly to vomiting with his questions—his reminder of the bold claims she’d made in her admission interview, and his blunt push to keep trying. His teaching method isn’t one I’d want to be on the business end of, but I’m here for how this mentor-student relationship might change them both.
On the whole I’m really enjoying the fast-paced, witty dialogue, the tense and shifting mystery, and this excellent cast of characters. I only have two reservations; firstly, the pedophile takes up entirely too much of the drama for my personal comfort. It’s well done, but I feel like I need a thousand showers. And secondly, it’s a bit hard to follow the story when it constantly jumps back and forth in time. We don’t have any handy wardrobe of hairstyle changes to help us differentiate, either.
I joke (mostly), but this is actually an occasion when Character Development Hairdos would be a great help! Why so needlessly realistic, Show? I found my head spinning trying to keep up with the confusing editing, given a huge cast of characters that we’re still getting to know. (Though I do enjoy the unusual realism of having two of the main ensemble cast having the same name and thus having to be referred to as Kang Sol A and B.)
Hopefully this will get better next week now we’re through the bulk of the exposition, and we can get down to the business of proving Joon-hwi innocent, because you know he is. I’m also looking forward to more low-stakes campus drama, like classmates leaving mean notes for Sol A telling her to stop breathing so loud in the library. That’s the petty law school beef we’re all here for.