Law School: Episode 16 Open Thread (Final)
Law School ends on a high note, with a surprisingly satisfying finale that wraps up most of its loose ends and leaves us with a clearer thesis than it’s presented so far, and one that I can actually get behind: the law is not just, but it’s up to those who work in it, and especially those who teach the next generation, to do their utmost for justice anyway.
EPISODE 16 WEECAP
We see the lead up to that double sting operation from last week, the real Kang Dan finally stands up, and Assemblyman Go is arrested and brought to justice for solicitation of murder. A little too neat? Probably. No one as slippery as him in real life would ever confess verbally to something like that, no matter who he was talking to. But he’s been so hateful and conniving—from media manipulation, to using good laws to support his evil actions, to throwing his lot in with sexual assaulters like it’s going out of style—that I didn’t mind. It was just good to see our heroes finally put him in his place.
This production team has made a lot of baffling editing choices, but I’ve always enjoyed that the drama gives us plenty of well-done courtroom scenes—keeping the tension high, the emotional engagement present, and not going too long in between trials, even if it makes it look like the South Korean court system is the fastest in the world. My favorite court scene is still Ye-seul’s trial, but it was great to see Assemblyman Go come to a sputtering halt at the sight of the twins together.
We got a lot of study group friendship moments this finale, and I loved them all! I was hoping for more than an ambiguously close relationship between Joon-hwi and Sol A by the end, but we still got plenty of cute moments. I loved her promising to root for him in place of his uncle, and no one can convince me they weren’t flirting during that mock trial practice session.
I’m also glad we got that little moment between the Sols in the bar, of Sol B saying “Unni” and Sol A lighting up in joy at finally breaking down the cold girl’s epic walls. Their relationship has been slowly warming over the last few episodes, and this was a perfect ending for them.
It worked really well with both their character development, too: Sol B stepping out of her parents’ shadows and taking responsibility for her own destiny, and Sol A understanding what we (and Joon-hwi) have always seen—she may not be the best test-taker, but she’s brilliant at crafting arguments, seeing the law from creative angles, and advocating from a moral position that’s also smartly strategized. (I know Jong-hoon said there’s no such thing as a legal mind, but I honestly think Sol A has one.)
I enjoyed little moments like Ye-seul counseling a victim of intimate partner violence, and Jong-hoon’s genuinely funny admission that there was a “mastermind” behind him all along. (I support the sheer pettiness of taking even that small moment of undeserved credit from Prosecutor Jin.) Also, how great to see a dysfunctional family in a K-drama actually getting therapy! I want to see more makjang parents getting mildly told off by psychiatrists for their overly attached behavior.
I was a little miffed that Prosecutor Jin got off scot-free in exchange for simply dropping his former crony Assemblyman Go. The show doesn’t quite redeem him, but all the blame has been heaped on one villain, and none of the web of corrupt officials that enabled Go were penalized at all. The drama makes it seem like they were all just decent people taken in by a bad man, which I don’t think is the intention, but the execution doesn’t follow through on the complexities it’s aiming for.
For example, if they wanted to show a case of one person taking the fall for a whole system of injustice, making everyone else neatly fall in line and help with the investigation is both unrealistic and counterproductive. What’s more realistic is cold shoulders and stonewalling from the establishment, with the only the unavoidable concessions to truth and justice in the face of such damning evidence. And there’s no doubt that weaselly, infuriating officials like Prosecutor Jin abound, but with Epic Weasel Seo Dong-jae (Forest of Secrets) still fresh in my mind, it’s hard to find him remotely satisfying as a character.
Still, Law School leaves me with the warm feeling of comradeship, and the theme of fighting for perfection in an imperfect world. I did really like Jong-hoon’s imaginary conversation with Seo Byung-ju in the darkened mock trial court; this was the episode where I finally felt the weight of Byung-ju’s regret and Joon-hwi’s loss. Later, Jin’s offer to make a deal with Ji-ho shows that despite his rude awakening, he’s still up to his old tricks—but Ji-ho is determined to gain (perhaps imperfect) justice on his own, because he knows one compromise leads to more.
The crux of the drama is really Jong-hoon’s statement to Prosecutor Jin a few episodes back, when he declared that the reason he teaches is to make sure that there are no more legal professionals like Jin. Realistically, both men know that’s an impossible task; some students inevitably go into legal careers to game the system and line their pockets. But it’s a noble endeavor anyway, because even if he can alter the trajectory of one student’s life—as he does for several during the course of the show—that’s priceless. Eun-sook and Jong-hoon have shown us that a couple of great teachers can change you forever. I think that was my favorite message of all.