Law School: Episodes 12-13 Open Thread
This week we get resolutions for both of the cases that have had our study group tied in knots. And we finally know who the Law School Murderer really is, but as we know, there’s someone powerful arranging things behind the scenes—who looks to be our final baddie as we enter the last quarter of the show.
EPISODES 12-13 WEECAP
Our poor beleaguered study group and their faculty advisors pulled off not one, but two victories, huzzah! It’s great to see Jong-hoon publicly vindicated, but Ye-seul’s arc has been my favorite part of the drama so far. Yes, even more than Joon-hwi and Sol A’s adorable dynamic! (Speaking of—we didn’t see Joon-hwi say who he’s crushing on, but it seems clear that he said “Kang Sol” and Sol A assumed he meant her roommate, because she’s just that oblivious.)
Out of all the subplots in Law School, Ye-seul’s is not only the most well-written and -executed, but the most moving and relatable as well. We’ve seen hints of her abusive relationship from opening week, and as time went on, the people around Ye-seul began to notice that something was wrong and try to intervene, to no avail. Ye-seul herself tried repeatedly to defend herself from Young-chang, first by documenting the injuries he inflicted on her, then by standing up to him and his father by testifying on behalf of Jong-hoon—and later, stopping him from sharing the spycam video.
Every step of the way though, Young-chang was gaslighting her, beating her, threatening her and emotionally blackmailing her. He sank to new lows having himself wheeled into the courtroom to put on that disgusting show of victimhood. I’m so glad that the writing showed all of that, and how difficult it is to break free of.
It was hard to watch and must have been rough to portray—showing Ye-seul’s trauma, her guilt, her torment and humiliation at having to not only face the fact that the person she loved raped her, but declare it in open court. But not showing all that would have undermined any attempt to portray intimate partner violence realistically and with empathy. And actress Go Yoon-jung did a great job; she’s definitely one to watch.
Sure, it’s dramatized and softened for television, but the show touched on every aspect of the issue: how difficult it is for a woman to leave an abusive partner, how baffling that can be to those around her, the absolute violations that come with reporting a rape and trying to get any kind of justice through the system. The way women who report sexual assault are treated by prosecutors, judges and juries, and the unseen scars this violence leaves on so many people, as with Sol A’s family. And all that while respecting Ye-seul’s agency through the process. It was powerful to see her understand and embrace what Jong-hoon was encouraging her to do: accept that she’s a victim, that she did nothing wrong, and that she has a right to speak up and defend herself. I wanted to cheer.
I loved seeing Ye-seul get off with self-defense, even if, having lived as a woman in this world my whole life, I know exactly how unlikely it is. Isn’t that why we watch legal and crime dramas, though—to feel the catharsis of seeing justice done when it’s so often denied us in real life? That’s certainly the enjoyment I get from the best of this genre. I wouldn’t necessarily put Law School in that superlative category, but in this one aspect I think the show definitely succeeds.
Speaking of what it does less well—was anyone else laughing at that super dramatic chair turn by Assemblyman Go at the end of Episode 13? As if it hasn’t been obvious for a while that he’s the Big Bad that’s been pulling the strings this whole time. He’s almost too overtly villainous, and I’ve mentioned before how it seems everyone in the drama is connected to these few people that keep popping up: Ji-ho’s father, Lee Man-ho, Seo Byung-ju, Kang Dan…it’s all a bit much.
But the other day I realized something that changed my feelings on that interconnectedness a little. Law School reminds me of those small town murder mysteries, where everyone involved in the case has history with each other. Like Prosecutor Bae getting rejected by Jong-hoon back in law school, which he ultimately used to make Bae invalidate one of her own arguments against Ye-seul. The drama is set in Seoul, but it portrays well the slightly incestuous feeling of academia (and I’m sure the criminal justice system, though I have less experience with that), where everyone has a long list of petty grievances, and the webs of power that tangle everyone together are that much harder to break. (And they all know your dad, who may or may not be the Vice Dean.) Plus, y’know, murder.