One Dollar Lawyer: Episodes 3-4
Our wannabe employee has a messy case to solve, but as she learns to think outside the box, a solution — albeit a little nonsensical — is there. But no sooner does our team enjoy their victory when a murder case lands in their laps. Even though our heroes swore they wouldn’t take on anything ~scary~ they find themselves in the woods in no time. No pun intended.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
Well, the ratings are pouring in for One Dollar Lawyer, which peaked at an impressive 12.9% this week — and the show has definitely found its stride. After Episode 4, everything feels completely solid, from the character dynamics to the way the drama balances intrigue and comedy — and all with virtually zero backstory (so far).
Interestingly, the cases this week are drastically different in tone, but we move just as swiftly through them as during our premiere week. We pick up with Mari’s utter outrage over trying to resolve Ji-hoon’s case — what with running a cart at full steam into the luxury car of CHEON YOUNG-BAE (Kim Hyung-mook). She doesn’t see a solution to the case besides paying for the damage; Ji-hoon, on the other hand, is just miffed that the guy shares his last name haha. It’s little weird details like this that make the drama so colorful.
While Mari is alternately working the case and quitting before she’s even hired, she also finds out that Ji-hoon only charges 1,000 won, which she can’t make sense of. She asks Moo-jang — who’s adorably supportive of her and even brings her a hot chocolate to her desk! — but he doesn’t know either. However, we do learn that Moo-jang was his first client, and a little bit about the protest he was involved in.
Meanwhile, Ji-hoon is in prison visiting a mysterious chairman who’s practically begging him to take his case. Ji-hoon refuses to do so until the man beats him at bingo, so they continue to play, but Ji-hoon always wins – or, knows when the chairman is cheating. As we’ve seen before, Ji-hoon isn’t much interested in defending people who have done wrong, and he says if the chairman was so worried about his defense, he shouldn’t have committed a crime in the first place.
As their clients are wont to do, they wander right into Ji-hoon’s office with a cautious step and an envelope of paperwork. And next up, it’s a sweet chauffeur who is regularly abused by the executive he drives around. If that sounds familiar it’s because it is — that man is the very same Young-bae who’s also abusing the grandpa security guard.
The intersection of all these cases turns out to be the way to solve it all, and just as Ji-hoon counsels Mari not to think about using the law to solve the case, but to think about the most ideal solution — well, that’s what they wind up doing.
In a quick bit of exposition, Ji-hoon defends the chairman successfully, and no one is more shocked to see him on the scene than Young-bae, who — in this totally interwoven chaos — works for the chairman. Oh, and Ji-hoon had been investigating their company back when he was a prosecutor, so he has all the knowledge he needs to bring justice to literally all the employees via… bingo?
In the most epic bingo match you’ll probably ever see, Ji-hoon faces off against Young-bae. It’s a hilarious scene from top to bottom, what with Ji-hoon cheating (by way of secret codes to caller Mari) in order to win, and the dramatic reaction of everyone on the scene. Ji-hoon wins — of course — because as we are learning, he’s never lost a case.
After their success, Mari becomes official, and the team drinks away to their success. Mari asks Ji-hoon the significance of the 1,000 won, and he says that he wishes he also knew. So either it has deep-seated significance to him in that it stands for something, or it’s absolutely nonsensical. I’m still leaning towards the former, but we’ll see. There’s been startlingly little about Ji-hoon’s character outside of his appearance in the office and on cases — so strange for a K-drama! — but I can’t tell if we’re going to get a flood of backstory or just keep with the light manhwa-esque feel of just meeting the characters in their setting and that’s that.
Speaking of manhwa, the drama’s characters definitely lean towards a comic book feel — in a good way, if you like the exaggerated behaviors and mannerisms — but it’s the small moments of comedy that really make this fun. And as we move into Episode 4 and a new case, the comedy really has a chance to shine, all thanks to contrast.
A woman comes to the office and begs them to take the case of her younger brother, but when Mari, Moo-jang, and Ji-hoon look at the files, they recoil with (comedic but still horrified) horror. It’s a murder case that happened in their very neighborhood two weeks ago; a wealthy family’s son is suspected of killing his mother (found stabbed in their house) and his father (missing and presumed dead).
The best part of this whole thing is that Moo-jang and Ji-hoon are self-admitted scaredy cats, and they have no interest in taking on violent crimes cases. In fact, as Moo-jang says, “We promised not to do anything scary!” The boys don’t want to take the case for that reason alone, and Mari doesn’t want to take it because it’s already been dropped by several high-vis law firms, including… Baek Law Firm.
Despite everything, Ji-hoon is curious enough to look into it, and first that means crashing a Baek Law Firm meeting to find out about the case. Here, Ji-hoon gets away with his rude entry, and we see Mari’s grandfather’s respect for him yet again. We also see her trying to hide her identity from Ji-hoon. He plays dumb, but do we really think that he doesn’t know?
After all, Ji-hoon rides purely on his rock-solid intuition, and we see this at play again when he and Mari visit defendant KIM MIN-JAE (Park Sung-joon in a great performance so far). The kid is creepy all right, but Ji-hoon seems to believe his claims that his father is the murderer, is very much alive, and most likely has the murder weapon.
The team reviews the case (Mari is awfully good at this stuff), and although everything points at Min-jae being the culprit, Ji-hoon is committed to what his client said being the truth. The three head over to the crime scene, and — suspension of disbelief required here — they wander around the house, reliving the alibis of the night, testing the sound proofing, and more. Until they spot someone in the woods behind the house, thanks to the fact that everything is pitch black and they’re all wandering around with flashlights.
The running gag is that Ji-hoon and Moo-jang are too chicken to do much of anything in such a creepy situation, and their comedic terror is more fun than the actual case. Mari is constantly put in the front as the fearless leader, and the same goes for the mysterious figure in the woods — she goes running after him/her, while the boys stay behind. But Mari soon finds herself over her head when the person-definitely-with-a-giant-knife turns back towards her.
But that’s when our hero pops in out of nowhere, to put a hand on her mouth to quiet her, and then to take his rightful place as the one who’s going after the shadowy baddie. Our epic theme song plays as Ji-hoon walks through the misty woods, and it’s half hilarious and half badass, which is the exact cocktail this drama serves up.
While we wait for the cliffhanger to be resolved next week (the agony!), there’s another character turning up regularly that must be mentioned. Though side-lined for now, daddy’s boy SEO MIN-HYUK (Choi Dae-hoon) also works in the field. He’s anxious to get into Grandpa Baek’s good graces because he’s madly in love with Mari — who seems to view him as nothing more than a childhood friend. His scene at the restaurant and mental proposal to Mari were quite funny.
But of course the real stars of the show are Ji-hoon and Moo-jang — their banter and carrying on together is enjoyable no matter where the plot is going, whether they’re gushing over their next manhwa read, trying to saw through a steak (Moo-jang, in literally my favorite off-handed moment this week), or impressing the table with his French skills (Ji-hoon, and I’m sure he’s got more secrets than that up his plaid sleeves).
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