Why Her?: Episodes 13-14
As our story enters its penultimate week, our lawyer is blindsided by a shocking secret, while the rest of our heroes finally start gathering the hard evidence they need to tie our killers to their past crimes.
EPISODES 13-14 WEECAP
This week’s episodes have left me unable to articulate exactly how I’m feeling, so I’m going to remind everyone of the scene from Smart Prison Living (a.k.a. Prison Playbook) in which Je-hyuk (Park Hae-soo) draws a graph of his life. When he gets to the year he was sent to prison, his happiness line plummets.
Why Her? — much like Je-hyuk’s happiness line — has been steadily declining over the weeks, but after Episode 14, I’ve officially reached the point where Je-hyuk reaches the wall and just keeps stabbing at it to release his pent up frustration. If you’re all caught up on Why Her? then you can probably guess the scene that had me wanting to pick up an ottoman and hurl it out a window.
But before that, in what has become a bit of a pattern for this drama, the first twenty minutes were excruciatingly slow, with lots of dramatic music, crying, and the unnecessary use of cell phones to create metaphorical distance between two people who are within shouting distance of one another. It all eventually culminates with our leading couple’s reconciliation.
Soo-jae isn’t immediately swayed after overhearing Chan’s bold assertion that her faith in his innocence was more important to him than her upholding her oath as a lawyer. Chan even insists that their bad deeds somehow cancel each other out, but Soo-jae disagrees. Her failing him as his lawyer is far worse than him hiding his real identity from her.
But then Chan discovers that she has built her own conspiracy white board, and once he knows that she’s trying to find his step-sister’s real killer, Soo-jae can’t not let him be a part of the investigation. So, I wouldn’t say they are back together as a couple, but they’re at least talking and collaborating on the case again, which is probably the most tolerable version of their relationship.
Now that Soo-jae is talking to him again, Chan’s next move is to ask Jin-ki to fabricate an opportunity for him to meet Tae-kook, and this is when we learn that Jin-ki — despite being woefully passive for the last ten years — actually has a flair for the dramatic (and maybe even a fondness for Hamlet). Before he steps down as director and is sworn in as the next Minister of Justice, Jin-ki has the Group 8 students participate in a mock trial, and the details of the case are intentionally similar to the events from ten years ago.
But instead of rehashing the old murder trial, the students are tasked with enacting what would happen if the plaintiff (a.k.a. Chan) were to try and sue the former prosecution (a.k.a. Joon-myung) for his wrongful imprisonment.
Tae-kook is invited to participate as the acting judge for the mock trial, and it should come as no surprise that he rules in favor of the defendant, stating that the prosecution — at the time of the original trial — was under no obligation to identify the owner of the unknown fingerprint found on the weapon when the plaintiff’s (coerced) confession and fingerprints on the murder weapon were sufficient enough evidence to move forward with the trial.
All this pomp and circumstance just so Chan can get close enough to talk to Tae-kook, and even then Chan still had to chase after Tae-kook’s car in order to have a private conversation. And what does he do? Throw down the proverbial gauntlet. I just love it when heroes warn the bad guys that they’re coming for them. Who needs the element of surprise?
From this point on, the plot moves forward at a fairly decent clip. The rest of Group 8 (minus Yoon-sang, of course) are looped in on the latest developments, and when news breaks that Na-jung’s body has been found, the law students begin fueling the online speculation and rumors. They want people talking about Chan and Na-jung’s murder because, as long as Chan is in the public eye, he’s (theoretically) safe from Tae-kook’s deadly machinations.
A funeral is held for Na-jung, and Chan and Soon-ok find closure. Soon-ok apologizes to Chan, explaining that she hated him so passionately because it gave her the strength to keep moving, and once she found out he wasn’t her daughter’s killer, her anger towards him changed and became a manifestation of her own self-loathing and guilt for not believing him. Now that Na-jung has been put to rest, Soon-ok releases Chan from the burden of secretly caring for her, and she officially calls an end to their tenuous relationship.
Meanwhile, Soo-jae, who did not approve of Jin-ki and Se-pil’s passive approach to revenge, goes on the offensive and leaks bits of information from the blackmail flash drive to the press. When she meets with Tae-kook next, his phone is blowing up with calls from Sung-beom and In-soo, who are caught up in newsworthy scandals. Tae-kook ignores them, though, because Soo-jae commands his undivided attention.
It is at this point that we learn that Tae-kook was completely in the dark about the kidnapping and rape of Eun-seo. The Second Generation Terrible Trio only called on him after they had kidnapped Na-jung, and they failed to disclose their crimes from earlier that evening.
As Soo-jae weaves together the full story of what really happened ten years ago, we see that Tae-kook is affected by this information. How can he be assured that he perfectly covered up his son’s involvement with Na-jung’s murder and Eun-seo’s rape if he wasn’t aware of all the variables?
Feeling backed into a corner, Tae-kook whips out his trump card: Jae-yi is Soo-jae’s daughter. It’s not much of a surprise for those of us who have been expecting this plot twist, but the news shocks Soo-jae. She slips into a haze, barely able to hear Tae-kook encouraging her to marry Joo-wan (gag). Soo-jae wasn’t good enough to be his daughter-in-law eight years ago, but now — after she’s become extremely successful and is sitting on a mountain of blackmail information — is the perfect time for her to join his family and become her own daughter’s step-mother.
She’s still in a daze when she leaves his office, but she’s not so out of it that she doesn’t stop to give Joo-wan a satisfyingly public slap across the face when she sees him in the hallway. The slap is only the beginning, though, because when Yoon-sang overhears Joo-wan telling Hwa-ja that Soo-jae is Jae-yi’s real mother, he gives his older brother a solid punch to the face, too.
Can I be next in line to punch Joo-wan? He’s such an awful person, but unlike Tae-kook — a villain embodying a level of charisma and intelligence that I can begrudgingly respect — Joo-wan is just a coward who uses filial piety as an excuse to be a terrible person and cower to his father’s bidding. He’s the weaker of Tae-kook’s sons, but his loyalty and rank as the oldest son have made him Tae-kook’s favorite — even though it’s abundantly clear that Yoon-sang is more competent and the better successor.
Tae-kook can no longer avoid Sung-beom and In-soo, and when he finally agrees to meet with them, they whine, complain, and blame their latest scandals on his inability to cover them up. Tae-kook calmly drinks and bides his time until Joo-wan arrives with Dang-oh and Shi-hyuk.
Tae-kook confronts the younger trio about Eun-seo’s rape while their confused fathers watch the exchange. Dang-oh and Shi-hyuk confess to drugging and raping a woman, but neither of them know Eun-seo’s identity because — ugh — there was no need for them to know her name. Joo-wan, however, calmly denies any involvement or knowledge of the incident, and his dissent riles up Dang-oh and Shi-hyuk, who think Joo-wan is trying to avoid blame and pin the crime on them.
After Sung-beom and In-soo finish beating their disgusting offspring, Tae-kook points to Joo-wan as a model son. He tells the other fools to be like Joo-wan and deny any knowledge of a crime if they’re ever questioned. The little performance also served to humble Sung-beom and In-soo, who are properly contrite after being reminded that Tae-kook can either save them or take away everything he helped them build.
Little do they know, Soo-jae is already chipping away at their empires, but first she needs to confirm that Jae-yi is her daughter. She’s understandably suspicious of anything that comes out of Tae-kook’s mouth, but Hwa-ja claims she had already figured out Soo-jae was Jae-yi’s mother just by watching the two of them together. She lets Soo-jae have a private moment with Jae-yi on the beach, and Soo-jae exhibits an appropriate amount of awkwardness and hopefulness as she spends time with her daughter.
When the DNA test comes back as a positive match, Soo-jae drafts up a contract to give to Tae-kook. Not only does Soo-jae refuse to marry Joo-wan, but she also requests full custody of Jae-yi and stipulates that Tae-kook must withdraw his managing rights of TK Law Firm and appoint her as the CEO in order to maintain her silence regarding Jae-yi’s true maternity.
Tae-kook argues that she’s asking for too much, but this is where Soo-jae reveals her own trump card: she has a paternity test proving Tae-kook was the father of So-young’s baby, which is a solid motive for her murder. She gives him two hours to sign the paperwork.
As Soo-jae makes her dramatic exit, we see the secretaries outside Tae-kook’s office scrambling to answer the phones, which are blowing up with people asking about the latest scandals to hit Sung-beom and In-soo — all is going according to plan. While the bad guys work to do damage control, their attention and resources will be diverted from Na-jung and Eun-seo’s case, and Group 8 has been hard at work interviewing old witnesses and collecting their prime suspects’ fingerprints to compare to the unidentified fingerprint on the murder weapon.
That night, Soo-jae agrees to have dinner with Chan, but when she pulls up outside his place, Joo-wan calls. Jae-yi has gone missing. Chan, who saw Soo-jae drive off abruptly to go help search for Jae-yi, worriedly hops in a taxi and follows her, but his driver is cut off and he loses Soo-jae in traffic.
While Joo-wan works with the security guard to comb through the CCTV footage, Hwa-ja and Soo-joo split up to search for Jae-yi on foot. Soo-jae decides to start with Jae-yi’s school, and on her way there, she finally answers Chan’s frantic phone calls and tells him where she’s headed.
Sure enough, Soo-jae locates Jae-yi at her school, where she’s picking flowers for her mom. Earlier that day, Hwa-ja told Jae-yi that she would be going to the United States without Jae-yi, but Jae-yi — who loves her mom more than her father (and who wouldn’t?) — ran away because she thought her mom didn’t love her. She thought if she picked flowers her mother would take her to the United States. Oh, my heart!
After talking to Jae-yi, Soo-jae calls Hwa-ja to let her know she found Jae-yi. She also tells her to put off her trip to the United States, and it’s clear that Soo-jae is reconsidering her custody arrangement for the sake of Jae-yi’s happiness. Thank goodness, because I really thought this drama was going to gloss over the whole taking-a-little-girl-from-the-only-mother-she’s-ever-known thing. Whew! Crisis avoided. Or so I thought.
Just when I wanted to give this drama credit for doing something right, it turns right around and pisses me off.
Dear Beanies, sweet little Jae-yi spots her parents across the street. And she’s so eager to reunite with them that she rushes into traffic, despite her established fear of crossing the road.
And Jae-yi is hit by a bus. This drama just Truck-of-Doomed a little girl.
And for what reason? So we could once again see Seo Hyun-jin’s superb acting range as she cries hysterically over her dead daughter’s body? So we can watch Chan show up just in time to witness the gory aftermath and then be an awkward penguin with no understanding of why Soo-jae is more distraught than the dead little girl’s (presumed) mother?
Much like the suicide from Episode 1 that got replayed over and over, this feels like another stunt intended to shock the audience leading up to the finale week. I absolutely loathe everything about this writing decision, and I don’t have faith that this gratuitous death will have any significant impact on the story or Soo-jae’s character development in the final two episodes. But on the bright side, there’s only two episodes left. So, yay?