Why Her: Episodes 9-10
The romance is kicked up a notch as our leading lawyer begins cohabitating with her man, but the relationships among our evil trio are far less harmonious. With their faith in each other dwindling, tensions rise, and an unexpected incident may be the opening our heroes need to fight back and settle old scores.
EPISODES 9-10 WEECAP
Last week, I asked the drama gods to cut back on the superfluous Group 8 scenes and give us some much needed answers to all the mini side-mysteries we have going on, and — surprisingly — the drama gods delivered! But along with the exciting plot development, there was an uptick in the number of tropey romantic scenes between Soo-jae and Chan, and we also had to spend — what felt like to me, at least — and unfortunate amount of time watching Tae-kook sow seeds of discontent between In-soo and the (unexpectedly flatulent) Sung-beom.
The decline in our Terrible Trio’s relationship has been hinted at for some time now, but we see the start of the eventual fallout this week when Soo-jae is released from prison — despite the fact that In-soo ordered Tae-kook to eliminate her as a threat. Tae-kook responds to In-soo’s frustration and suspicion by showing In-soo some incriminating photos he has of him, a not-so-subtle reminder of who really has the upper hand.
Meanwhile, since being released from prison, Soo-jae has moved in with Chan because she isn’t comfortable living at her old company-managed apartment. She owns a building — the one where her secret office was housed — that used to belong to her father before he went bankrupt and lost it, but it will take some time to remodel the upper floors and convert it into an acceptable living space. Plus, you know, Chan’s place is convenient to both the law firm and school…
Sure, sure, whatever helps you sleep at night, Soo-jae. Oh wait! Staying over at Chan’s place cures her insomnia, too! I’m just going to chalk that last one up to the fact that she feels safe and secure living under the same roof as three protective men.
Speaking of Soo-jae’s protectors, Yoon-sang quits his volunteer work with the law school clinic and moves back into his family home, which is full of its own drama. Joo-wan is — to put it bluntly — an incompetent, philandering ass with a massive chip on his shoulder, so it’s no wonder that Tae-kook is rejoicing over the return of his youngest son, who is infinitely more competent — when he puts his mind to it — and has no skeletons in his closet.
And now that the prodigal son has returned to the fold, we’re seeing what appears to be the start of Joo-wan’s downfall. His soon-to-be-ex-wife kept a blackmail file on him, and as part of the divorce negotiations, she gave it to Soo-jae. Joo-wan is also growing increasingly frustrated that his father is excluding him from the darker side of Tae-kook’s business (e.g. killing Suk-pal and getting Gi-tak to admit to it), and his lack of knowledge is reflected in his “friendship” with In-soo and Sung-beom’s sons.
While Tae-kook appears to be the chairman and assemblyman’s yes-man, they also fear him and what he knows. Joo-wan, on the other hand, is simply his father’s son. He’s not even the lawyer they call on to bail them out when they get involved in scandals. No, that’s Soo-jae, as we’ll see later.
But first, some romance. Because Soo-jae and Chan’s cohabitation is bound to bring them closer, right? Right?! Ehhh… On the surface, yes, our leading couple is doing and saying all the right things in classic K-drama style. We even got to see Chan get jealous over the charming — and more age appropriate — Se-pil.
As much as I loved the fact that Chan had to go up to the roof and lift weights to keep himself from spying on his crush and her dinner companion, my amusement was overshadowed by my disappointment that Se-pil used to be engaged to Jin-ki’s daughter KANG EUN-SEO (Han Sun-hwa) — the mysterious woman he and Jin-ki have been visiting at the nursing home. Given how he talks about her, it’s obvious he still loves her, and my Soo-jae and Se-pil ship sank before it even left the harbor.
Through a series of conversations and flashbacks, we’re able to piece together some of the events from ten years ago that led to Eun-seo’s current condition. Somehow she was cornered in Sung-beom’s house, where she was sexually assaulted. She managed to escape and flee to a nearby convenience store — wait a minute, is that the same convenience store where Chan’s step-sister worked?
Next, we see a woman wearing an employee vest run out of the convenience store and get hit by a car. But is that woman Eun-seo or Chan’s step-sister? Eun-seo’s current brain injury — and last week’s flashback — indicates that she was involved in another accident following her sexual assault, but why would she be wearing the vest? As a disguise? To cover up her disheveled clothes and signs of her assault? While these questions remain unanswered, we do learn more about the fate of Chan’s step-sister…
But wait! There’s more romance first! See, after Soo-jae’s very annoying mother gets arrested for drunk driving and Soo-jae has to bail her out, Chan unilaterally decides that she needs to destress and see the sunrise. So he drives the restaurant van — which is oh-so-conveniently built for glamping — to an intimate spot on the beach. It turns out, Soo-jae is immensely impressed with the van, and she accidentally admits that she likes it — I mean, Chan.
Chan is so excited he goes in for a quick kiss, but they put the kissing on pause to vaguely open up to one another. Without going into specifics, they both admit that they are keeping secrets that may make the other dislike them, but they both promise to disclose them with time.
Annnnnnd then they both proceed to lock lips for an excessively long time.
After they return to the real world, Chan seems keen on opening up about his past and real identity sooner rather than later. He asks Soo-jae to meet him on the roof after work, but Yoon-sang shows up, too, with stalker photos of the couple’s beach date in hand. He warns them that their cohabitation has put Chan on Tae-kook’s radar, but this bit of information — which he’d already warned Soo-jae about earlier — is also a parting gift of sorts.
He tells them that he will live as his father’s son from now on. Chan seemingly takes the betrayal harder than Soo-jae, and — I’m paraphrasing here — he tells Yoon-sang that he will protect Soo-jae while Yoon-sang is off being an angsty, jealous daddy’s boy. Ugh, I don’t like this change in Yoon-sang’s character, and his sullen demeanor has me believing he’s given up on being a double agent. Has he fully joined the Dark Side? Or is he going the extra mile to really sell it?
The end of Chan’s budding bromance is followed by an unexpected public reunion with his step-mother at the law school clinic. She and her friends, who were scammed by a cosmetics company, visit the clinic for legal counsel, and his visually-impaired step-mom recognizes Chan by his voice. Well, that’s a mighty convenient way to work around the whole drastically-different-face thing.
While Chan’s classmates chalk up her reaction to mistaken identity, Chan is shooketh. He retreats to a nearby bench, where he’s more concerned by his step-mom’s failing eyesight than her very public attack on him. Soo-jae spots him looking all sad and dejected, and when he sees her, Chan appears to be on the verge of giving her the Spark Notes version of who he is. Unfortunately, her phone keeps interrupting his confession, and it’s an issue that she cannot ignore.
We already knew Sung-beom was a shady businessman, but he rushed the construction on his latest project even though there is clear evidence that the ground was unstable. So no one is surprised when a massive sink hole opens up and buries several workers. As emergency teams rush to rescue the missing workers, Soo-jae is asked to assist with damage control. But when it rains it pours.
Not only is one of the unrecovered workers the son of Soo-jae’s former classmate — who Soo-jae was reunited with in prison — but Sung-beom’s son is caught in a scandal. The idiot was driving under the influence and caused a car accident, and supposedly In-soo’s son was drinking with him prior to the incident.
After the collapse at the construction site, In-soo tries to disassociate himself with Sung-beom, so the last thing he wants is his son caught up in a scandal with Sung-beom’s son. So Soo-jae is moved from working on the construction disaster to the supposedly high priority task of cleaning up a chaebol mess. She’s still on site at the disaster, though, when her classmate’s son is recovered from the wreckage.
But he isn’t the only person the rescue workers find under the debris. They also recover human remains, and next to the remains is a keychain that looks very similar to the one Chan’s step-sister gave him. Devastated at seeing photos of his step-sister’s remains online, he rushes home and digs through the boxes in his rooftop room for his matching keychain.
Shortly thereafter, Soo-jae arrives home and searches for Chan so they can resume their conversation from earlier. She finds the door to his rooftop hidey-hole unlocked, and curiosity gets the best of her. She enters and discovers that the space has been trashed from Chan’s frantic search, and his conspiracy theory white board is right there, practically begging her to take a gander. If seeing “the only person who believed I was innocent” written next to her own picture on Chan’s white board didn’t clue Soo-jae in as to Chan’s true identity, then locating Chan’s old driver’s license — the one with his old face and new name — sure did.
Ahhhh, it feels so good now that the secret is out. I know this is likely going to lead to some relationship drama and angst, but maybe that’s what the story — and this couple — needs right now. While it was nice-ish that Soo-jae and Chan got more screen time as a lovey-dovey couple, it didn’t do much to off-set the boringness of our Terrible Trio’s internal feuding. The only romantic scene that brought me true joy was when Chan acted all pouty and jealous of Se-pil, but even then I was more invested in the scene-stealing Se-pil.
It was also nice to learn more about the events from ten years ago. We still don’t know everything, but I’m fine with that. I just needed something — a little tidbit of information — as a reward for sticking with this story for so long without nary an explanation for my troubles. The last couple of weeks have felt stagnant, so I’m optimistic that this week’s information dump is a signal that the story is going to pick up speed again.
We also tiptoed around the issue of Jae-yi’s biological mother. Even though we still haven’t gotten confirmation, there were just enough hints to make me think my theory of her being Soo-jae’s daughter is correct after all. Plus, if Soo-jae is the mother of Tae-kook’s granddaughter, it would explain why he’s so confident that he can marry Soo-jae off to his son. Essentially, if he’s ever feeling backed into a corner, he can use Jae-yi as leverage. In exchange for Soo-jae’s compliance, he’ll probably offer her the “opportunity” to be her biological daughter’s step-mom, as if he’s doing some sort of favor for her. Gross.