Why Her?: Episodes 3-4
Our hero still remembers our leading lady as the kind lawyer who held his hand and told him that she believed he was innocent. How will our hero react when a new case has them working closely, and allows him to get a more accurate glimpse of the woman she has become?
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
Last week’s introduction to our leading lady left me feeling a bit conflicted — but in a good way. I admired Soo-jae’s ability to break through the glass ceiling and thrive in a hostile, male-dominated world, but I also didn’t approve of her methods and techniques. Personally, I find her flawed characterization appealing because I suspect her murky motives will keep us guessing and (hopefully) create some suspenseful storytelling. Plus, if this week’s episodes are any indication, I think it’s safe to say that we can’t believe everything the drama reveals or implies about Soo-jae’s character either.
Case in point: the conversation we saw last week between Soo-jae and So-young in the hallway of TK Law Firm. Soo-jae’s words were harsh and completely unnecessary, and it seemed entirely probable that the exchange provoked So-young into committing suicide. But — unlike what we were initially led to believe — that was not the last time the two women spoke to each other.
So-young’s younger sister PARK JI-YOUNG (Park Ji-won) releases a video proving that Soo-jae met with So-young on the rooftop garden at TK Law Firm shortly before her death. The video angle is misleading and people believe Soo-jae pushed So-young off the building, but — as we already know — Soo-jae was on the first floor at the time of So-young’s death. But maybe she said something else that prompted So-young to commit suicide?
A flashback to the night in question reveals that Soo-jae followed So-young up to the roof after finding a piece of So-young’s shoe in the elevator. So-young claimed that she was on the roof to commit suicide, and she chose the roof of TK Law Firm because she wanted the whole world to know that Soo-jae was the one who shamed her into doing it.
Soo-jae was doubtful, though. Instead, she suspected that someone called So-young up to the roof for a private meeting. Soo-jae offered to help So-young, knowing that the someone likely had So-young backed into a corner. So-young was understandably distrustful of Soo-jae, and — as far as we know — So-young never divulged who she was there to meet.
In the present, Soo-jae uses the allegations brought against her as a teachable moment and has her class discuss whether she could be charged with aiding and abetting suicide. The lesson culminates with Chan gallantly standing and insisting that Soo-jae is innocent. It doesn’t matter what conversation she had with So-young before she died because Soo-jae was on the ground floor at the time of So-young’s death.
At this point, Chan is still a bit naïve about who Soo-jae has become in the years since they last met, but he’s one of the few who can see past her mask of indifference. He suspects she’s feeling guilty and worn down by the public’s abuse, and he’s determined to comfort her and assure her she’s not responsible. After class, he loans her an umbrella, and when she follows him home — either out of curiosity or to give him a ride in return for the borrowed umbrella — he and his prison hyungs, Jo-gab and Hyung-chil, treat her to comfort food.
The controversy over So-young’s death does not die down with time, so Soo-jae has the Group 8 students look into the case. Their investigation yields proof that Ji-young installed a tracking app on So-young’s phone and was at TK Law Firm at the time of her sister’s death. Despite her presence at the murder scene, Ji-young lacks the motive to kill So-young. All evidence points to the sisters having a loving relationship, and instead of wanting the case quickly ruled a suicide and buried — like a true killer — Ji-young called more attention to her sister’s death when she released the video and accused Soo-jae of murder.
Even though Group 8 dismisses Ji-young as a potential suspect, she’s arrested shortly thereafter without a warrant, and the Group 8 students conclude that Soo-jae turned the evidence from their team investigation over to the police in order to protect her own image. Chan confronts Soo-jae, expressing his disappointment over her possible betrayal, and the conversation shifts to his recent love confession. Soo-jae puts up boundaries, but Chan assures her that he’s fine with his crush being one-sided.
But the wall that Soo-jae was so quick to put up crumbles almost instantly when she accidentally breaks a glass in her office, and Chan comes rushing back into the room to investigate the noise. The tension in the room builds when he gently places her on her desk so she doesn’t step on the glass with her bare feet, and she stares at him intently as he cleans up the broken pieces. When he finishes, she initiates a kiss. (Woah, that was fast!)
Although they both have lingering thoughts about the kiss, they continue on — business as usual. Soo-jae and Group 8 are now in charge of the law school’s legal clinic, and they take on Ji-young as their first client. The students question Soo-jae’s motives. Why would she turn over the evidence that implicated Ji-young and then take her on as a client? Most importantly, Chan wants to know if Soo-jae believes Ji-young is innocent. She replies that believing in their client’s innocence is not what’s most important. Instead, a good lawyer must believe in their ability to defend their client.
Chan is visibly disappointed in her teaching, as her response further highlights that she is no longer the lawyer who sat beside him in court all those years ago and promised that she believed he was innocent. His disenchantment — combined with the rumor that Soo-jae is dating the CEO of SP Partners — has Chan wallowing in self pity. He gets drunk and regales the restaurant ajumma with stories of his unrequited crush, and unbeknownst to him, Soo-jae is a few tables away listening to every word.
He ponders Soo-jae’s circumstances and admits to understanding that her climb to the top was long and hard. Even if he doesn’t approve, he acknowledges that she likely had to behave badly in order to fight and get to her current position. He then concludes his sad conversation with the ajumma by woefully revealing she’s already in a relationship with a man worth 70 trillion won. Chan insists that his heart is worth 70 trillion won — even if his bank account isn’t.
While the students continue to track down more leads in Ji-young’s case, Soo-jae digs through the Hansu Bio files and discovers a flash drive that’s so password protected and encrypted that her personal IT guy is only able to open one file. That one file, however, is enough for her to understand its importance. The flash drive is Gi-tak’s insurance policy for the inevitable day his uncle turned against him.
Soo-jae meets with Gi-tak and offers to hand over the flash drive in exchange for his answer to three questions. First, how was So-young connected to Sung-beom, In-woo, and Tae-kook? Second, what’s the identity of the person who helped Gi-tak squirrel away 27 billion won? And third, who halted the Hansu Bio sale and can push Gi-tak for the sale to be resumed?
At the same time, the members of Group 8 discover CCTV footage of a suspicious man with a unique gait breaking into Ji-young’s house and stealing So-young’s backup phone. They also learn that So-young was pregnant at the time of her death and sought an overseas paternity test. If So-young was murdered, as they’re all starting to believe, then the unidentified father is now a potential suspect. The last bit of evidence they find is video footage recorded by a vlogger with a view of TK Law Firm. The night of So-young’s death, the vlogger unintentionally filmed a man pushing her off the roof.
It is this video that Soo-young shows to the police, and they promptly release Ji-young, who — it turns out — was willingly arrested as part of Soo-jae’s plan. In order to reopen So-young’s case, Soo-jae needed to give the police a plausible murder suspect to trigger a reinvestigation. Then, once she found enough evidence, she promised to get Ji-young released and point the police in the direction of the real killer. So, it turns out Soo-jae wasn’t as heartless as her students suspected, and unknown to them, she also paid for Ji-young’s mother’s medical bills.
Chan calls Soo-jae to apologize for misunderstanding, and in return she tells him he did a good job on the case. As a parting gift before she hangs up, Soo-jae also explains that she isn’t dating the 7 Trillion Won Man. Chan is, of course, (adorably) embarrassed to realize that she overheard his drunken, lovesick ramblings, and Jo-gab and Hyung-chil, who are watching him nearby, assume his animated reaction means he was rejected by a woman.
After hanging up with Chan, Soo-jae arrives at her secret office, where she’s been storing the Hansu Bio case files. The lock on the door is broken, and — like every woman who dies first in a horror movie — she enters the building anyway. She at least has the forethought to call Chan, but as she gives him the address to the building, she’s attacked by the intruder. Chan runs to her rescue, and we end on a suspenseful cliffhanger.
Another great week for this drama, and I’ve got to commend the writers for bringing our story back around to So-young. The conversation between So-young and Soo-jae in the first episode was uncomfortable to watch, but it was pivotal in establishing Soo-jae’s characterization and revealing that she’s not, by any means, a saintly character. Given the weight of that conversation, it would have been a pity if So-young’s death had been a mere plot device used to kick off Soo-jae’s adventures in teaching. So I’m glad the writers chose to have her murder tie to the larger story.
I still can’t say I’m fully on board for the romance, though. I mean, that scene in her office where Chan put her on the desk so she wouldn’t step on the glass? Totally hawt. But they still don’t feel like they’re quite on the same page in terms of maturity. They might be getting there, though, because the rose-colored glasses Chan’s been using to view Soo-jae are slipping, and once he stops putting her up on a pedestal, I might be able to see them as a real couple. Until then, that scene in her office does nothing to dispel my current belief that someone involved in the production of this drama has been reading too many X-rated hot-for-teacher webtoons.