The Law Cafe: Episodes 7-8
This week our story is decisively split into two parts as our heroes first tackle the fallout from their lies and try to rectify their mistakes in an honorable and legal manner. But when emotions run high during a suspenseful situation, our hero steps over the line he wasn’t prepared to cross yet, and his annoyingly mixed signals leave our frustrated leading lady wanting to hurl objects at his stubborn head.
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP
I was already a pretty big fan of Yuri, especially after her recent story arc exploring sexual harassment and consent, but I became her personal cheering squad this week when she voiced the same objections I had in the aftermath of Eun-kang’s misguided vigilante justice. At the police station, Jung-ho and Eun-kang are fully committed to their lie, but Yuri has a poker face that’s almost as bad as Park Shin-Hye’s character from Pinocchio. Her face clearly telegraphs her objections.
To make matters worse, Seo-yeon — straight off maternity leave — is the officer in charge of their case, and she’s immediately suspicious of everything coming out of their mouths. Even if you ignore the fact that Seo-yeon has known Jung-ho and Yuri forever and is familiar with all of their tells, their story reeks of bull feces. Why would good samaritans, who supposedly followed the bullies when they saw them grab Min-kyu, not try to interfere? Why stand by idly and film everything instead?
Everyone sticks to their fabricated version of events while they’re at the police station, but after they’ve reassembled at the cafe, Yuri voices her dissent and tries to convince the others to correct their mistakes. It’s a crime for them to report a false kidnapping and frame the bullies for the arson, she reminds them, and two wrongs don’t make a right.
Thank you, I yelled at my TV screen, at least someone has some sense! I swear, the longer this show airs, the more convinced I am that Yuri is a real person that has somehow been magically transported into a K-drama, and now she’s on a mission to contradict all our trope expectations and call out the fictional characters for their idiocy.
Joon and Woo-jin — like me — agree with Yuri, and after a little more convincing, Jung-ho and Eun-kang promise to right their wrongs and recant their story. But in doing the proper thing, Jung-ho swears to punish the bullies in an honorable way. And how might he do that, you ask? Well, after Jung-ho and Eun-kang recant their previous lies and somehow go unpunished for them — yay, for convenient circumstantial loopholes! — Jung-ho, with support from the rest of the team, prepares to prove the extent of the bullies’ crimes at Min-kyu’s school violence hearing.
At the hearing, the opposing lawyer, who’s there primarily in defense of lead bully HONG JI-HOON (Park Sang-hoon), is quick to point out that this is not a courtroom trial when Jung-ho starts using a bunch of technical jargon. Unfortunately, pointing out the distinction backfires on the lawyer, and Jung-ho takes advantage of all the ways the hearing is not an actual courtroom trial. Namely, there’s no need for his video evidence to have been obtained legally, and when the other lawyer tries to paint Min-kyu as an equally culpable delinquent because of the recent arson, Jung-ho reminds the lawyer and parents present that the fire was started by an unrelated adult who only got involved because even he — a practical stranger, no less — was appalled by the extent of the bullying.
Jung-ho turns the whole hearing into enough of a circus that the only obvious outcome is to punish the bullies, but the bullying case doesn’t end there. Seo-yeon and the police continued their own investigation into the school violence and discovered — with some additional help from Team Law Cafe, of course — that Ji-hoon’s father, the mayor, had been blackmailing the school and teachers to cover up the bullying scandal. But that isn’t even the extent of his father’s crimes. Given that Ji-hoon’s father was golfing buddies with Pyun-woong, it’s not all that surprising that he had some additional criminal skeletons in his closet.
Even after his father’s arrest, though, Ji-hoon is primarily concerned for himself. Jung-ho had led Ji-hoon to believe he’d obtained incriminating videos of Ji-hoon and his friends from their phone, so when Ji-hoon sees Jung-ho at his house in the aftermath of his father’s arrest, he follows him and whacks him over the head with a brick.
When Jung-ho regains consciousness, he’s tied up and Ji-hoon is trying to unlock his phone in order to delete the incriminating videos he thinks are stored on there. Ji-hoon’s fellow bullies are anxious, though, and sensing the growing tension between the teenagers, Jung-ho is able to convince the other two to leave and call for help, which is how Seo-yeon and the police are able to locate him.
While the police struggle to gain entry to the house, Yuri shows up, and she isn’t about to waste time when her man is in danger. She hops behind the wheel of her SUV and drives it through the garage door — reckless, but very effective. Can’t argue with those results.
The police swoop in and detain Ji-hoon, and Yuri frets over Jung-ho’s wounds. She’s overcome by emotion as her fear and adrenaline collide, but even when she’s shaking and crying, she still has it in her to give Jung-ho shit for getting kidnapped by a middle schooler. To calm her down and show her that he’s all right, Jung-ho does the only logical thing: he kisses her. And then he promptly runs away — literally.
Welp, there it is folks, the prophesied kiss-and-run. Sure, it’s two episodes later than we were expecting, but it’s not terribly surprising that Jung-ho would default back to his previous cowardice when gut-punched by his ongoing internal conflict. Jung-ho may have taken a step towards Yuri last week, but he’s still got that ugly, unpruned side of his family tree to contend with before he’s ready to approach her romantically. Plus, when he finally did get around to wooing her, he wanted to do it the proper, romantic way.
Jung-ho goes to great lengths to avoid Yuri — much to her confusion and frustration. But after meeting with a trusted sunbae and handing over proof that his father omitted key evidence during the trial for the Dohan warehouse fire, Jung-ho resolves to tell Yuri the truth. But then he finds out that Woo-jin has invited Yuri and her staff to join him on his travels to a small rural island where he regularly provides free medical checkups for the locals. Now that he plans to tell her the truth, he can’t let her travel — with his cousin, no less — without him.
Jung-ho unexpectedly beats the cafe crew to the island, and he’s waiting for them when they arrive. Yuri is not amused with his cavalier and unannounced reintroduction to her daily life after his unexplained absence, and so the two resume their usual bickering. This leads to them both separately offering free legal advice to the locals. Inadvertently, they take opposing sides on their next case, which is actually a not-so-subtle allegory for their relationship.
On the surface, their case is about PARK WOL-SUN (cameo by Kim Young-ok) and NA MAK-RYE (Kim Ja-young), two friends who have neighboring properties. The catch is that Wol-sun’s property can only be accessed via a road that cuts through Mak-rye’s land. The two women have lived harmoniously for years with this arrangement, but then Wol-sun started behaving oddly. She wouldn’t let Mak-rye cut across her property to gain access to the mountain to collect herbs, and she was also inexplicably stingy with her mugwort rice cakes. In retaliation, Mak-rye blocked Wol-sun from using the only road leading to her property.
As Jung-ho and Yuri argue in defense of their clients in front of the town council, their words become overly passionate and personal. Yuri sympathizes with Mak-rye, who doesn’t understand why her friend has suddenly become secretive and mean, but Jung-ho can relate to Wol-sun’s desire for privacy. She’ll share her problems on her own time. Ultimately, both sets of friends tentatively reconcile, with Yuri and Mak-rye both deciding to be more patient and understanding of their friends who are very clearly dealing with something they aren’t ready to talk about.
And what exactly is Wol-sun going through? Well, after Yuri sneaks a few bites of Wol-sun’s mugwort rice cakes, just to see what all the fuss is about, Wol-sun’s secret — make that her secret ingredient — is exposed. She’s been growing marijuana! Initially, she started harvesting and consuming the plants she’d found growing in the wild for medicinal purposes, but then her son found out about her weed plants and began to grow and sell the marijuana.
While Yuri sleeps off her high, Wol-sun and her son are arrested. Jung-ho accompanies Wol-sun to the station and assures her that as a first time offender, she will likely be let out with a warning. (Just for the record, I feel all sorts of conflicted seeing actress Kim Young-ok — everyone’s favorite halmoni — behind bars for cooking up edibles. It’s an odd combination of depressing and amusing.) Her son, on the other hand, will get a stiffer punishment. After reflecting on her current situation, Wol-sun offers Jung-ho some sage advice: don’t waste time pushing away and hurting the people you care about.
With Wol-sun’s words in mind, Jung-ho runs back to tell Yuri the truth, but it’s too late. She’s already seen the breaking news report exposing his father’s corruption and connection to Dohan Group. Yuri tearfully looks at him and admits that she’s starting to hate him, just as he’d predicted and feared. This time, though, Jung-ho seems to have found the courage to hold on. He tells her that she can hate him, but he begs her not to leave him.
Finally the secret is out! If they’d dragged it out one more week, I would have found a way to tell Yuri myself — a la W: Two Worlds style. As funny as it was to see Jung-ho run away from his most recent kiss with Yuri, the back and forth of Jung-ho’s commitment was emotionally exhausting, and I half-wished the brick to the head would have knocked some sense into him. Alas, the brick didn’t help, but a poorly timed news report did.
And funnily enough, we can thank our villain Pyun-woong for finally exposing the dark family secret that has been keeping our lead couple apart. He didn’t get a lot of airtime this week, but I found myself missing his chaotic evil. The more he’s on screen, the more I want to try and figure him out.
How much of his behavior is calculated? And is it all an intentional ruse to remain unpredictable and unassuming, or is he just acting like a man-child because he knows it pisses off his father? Probably both, but what I wasn’t expecting was for him to expose — rather than bury — the scandal about Dohan Group’s influence over Jung-ho’s father and other prosecutors. Does he really hate his father so much that he’s willing to self-sabotage if he can bring his ungrateful bio-dad down with him? It certainly seems that way, It makes me curious to see what he does next.
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