The Law Cafe: Episodes 9-10
To forgive or not to forgive? That’s the question on everyone’s minds this week as our leading lady struggles to accept our hero’s lies and family secrets — which have only grown more complex now that his evil uncle perceives him as a threat to his claim to the company throne.
EPISODES 9-10 WEECAP
Last week I complained that there wasn’t nearly enough Pyun-woong, and once again the drama gods listened to my prayers and delivered my request. Seriously, it’s like the writers are reading the weecaps and lurking in the comment section, because Pyun-woong returned with a vengeance — and violence. But before our villain starts creating havoc, Yuri and Jung-ho face one another in the aftermath of the breaking news report that revealed Seung-woon omitted evidence from the Dohan warehouse trial.
Yuri is understandably shocked and upset by this revelation, but it’s not Jung-ho’s maternal relatives, per se, that cause her to avoid Jung-ho and put up barriers. Instead, it’s his lying. How, she wonders, could he remain silent after seeing her grieve her father’s death and after witnessing her and her mother struggle to find a lawyer willing to petition the court to rule the fire an industrial accident? It’s hard for her to forgive and forget when all her memories are now tainted with the knowledge that he’d been keeping a massively relevant secret the whole time he’d comforted her through her pain.
While Yuri avoids Jung-ho and distracts herself by helping the neighborhood ajummas (who have gotten themselves in a major financial pickle after investing in cryptocurrency), Jung-ho gets pulled into his maternal family’s drama. His grandfather, CHAIRMAN LEE BYUNG-WOOK (Jeon Gook-hwan), knows Jung-ho is the whistleblower that handed over the evidence that put his own father and the Dohan warehouse fire trial under investigation.
Instead of being upset, Byung-wook has a renewed interest in his grandson, and he extends an invitation — er, make that a command — for Jung-ho to come work for Dohan Construction and become the new heir apparent. But let’s be real, Byung-wook’s decision to bring Jung-ho back into the family fold has little to do with Jung-ho impressing his grandfather with his gumption and moral compass. It’s 100% because Byung-wook really, really dislikes his psychotic bastard son.
And speaking of Pyun-woong, he has a hissy fit — like a full on rolling-on-the-ground-because-he-didn’t-get-his-way tantrum — when he finds out that Jung-ho has become the apple of Byung-wook’s eye. Even though Jung-ho wants nothing to do with his mother’s family or their company, Pyun-woong is threatened by his nephew’s claim to the throne, so he pays Yuri a calculated visit.
He’s all smiles at first, but when Yuri tells him to leave, his behavior escalates. Instead of leaving, he becomes agitated that she didn’t welcome him and cheer him up as he’d expected — a textbook stalker response when the object of his interest doesn’t respond as he’d desired. Pyun-woong crowds Yuri’s personal space, spouting creepy nonsense about liking the current look in her eyes, until she’s left with no option but to create some room for herself. She headbutts Pyun-woong, but he escalates the violence — grabbing and choking her.
Jung-ho comes to her rescue, but as Yuri calls the police and watches them wrestle, she remembers her recent encounter with the shaman who told her to avoid the two men fighting over her. One, the shaman prophesied, would bring blood, and the other would bring tears. Well, I think it’s safe to say we know which one is which, especially since Jung-ho feels compelled to explain, in the aftermath of his uncle’s visit, that he lied by omission because he loves her and feared losing her.
Although Yuri walks away from his love confession at the moment, the encounter leaves her emotional, and she returns to the shaman and pays him to perform a ritual to drive out her bad luck. But of course, the shaman — despite his eerily accurate insights — turns out to be a fraud, so the next time Yuri faces Jung-ho, it’s embarrassingly at the police station.
But she’s not alone. See, while Yuri was swindled out of the money she paid for her bad luck exorcism, many of her neighbors were scammed out of significantly larger amounts when the shaman tricked them into investing in his shell company. After a few months, he then closed down his so-called business and ran off with their money.
Team Law Cafe decides to take matters into their own hands, and Yuri puts her inner turmoil aside to temporarily team up with Jung-ho. She follows him to meet with CEO GIL (Shin Seung-hwan), Jung-ho’s publisher who moonlights as a computer hacker and investigator, and she realizes that Jung-ho is the one who wrote the whistleblower book that CEO Hwang gave her.
All this time, he’d been trying to undo the wrongs of his father in his own way, and even though she still isn’t able to forgive Jung-ho, she does soften as she acknowledges that her quick judgment of his character had been unfair. She only saw and believed what she wanted, and given her tunnel vision, it’s unlikely that she’d have listened if he’d said he’d been suffering silently along with her.
CEO Gil interrupts their intimate moment with news that he’s tracked the shaman to an illegal gambling den, so Team Law Cafe and the neighborhood ajummas go undercover to win their money back. It’s all going well until the shaman catches on that Jung-ho is cheating, and that’s when things get a bit chaotic and the neighborhood good guys face off against the shaman and his goons.
It’s mostly a verbal battle until the shaman whips out a knife. Upon seeing it, Yuri reacts entirely on her true feelings for Jung-ho and protectively jumps in front of him — about ten full seconds too early. Her heroic bodyguard moment is so premature that Woo-jin has enough time to insert himself into the situation, too, and he takes the knife to his shoulder to protect Yuri. ‘Tis but a flesh wound, though, because Woo-jin seems unfazed by the injury and the blood on his shirt when he and Team Cafe are told that their unsanctioned sting operation successfully aided the police in recovering the stolen investment money.
While they celebrate their victory, Jung-ho takes a phone call from Pyun-woong, who had just finished telling the prosecution that Byung-wook pressured Seung-woon into omitting evidence during the Dohan warehouse fire trial. Gleefully, Pyun-woong asks if this is how Jung-ho felt when he stabbed his own father in the back, unintentionally revealing that the files Jung-ho submitted to the prosecution — the evidence that implicated Seung-woon — was actually leaked by Seung-woon himself.
Jung-ho confronts his father, who admits that he gave Jung-ho the evidence (via a third party), and his confession leaves Jung-ho feeling used and betrayed. He’d spent years being weighed down by his father’s sins, feeling torn between doing the right thing and knowing the ethical choice would have a negative impact on his father. And yet, the whole time Seung-woon could have saved Jung-ho from his emotional pain if he’d just found the courage to confess. Instead, he took the coward’s way out and had Jung-ho do his dirty work.
Stunned by his encounter with his father, Jung-ho accepts a phone call from a worried Yuri, who has been waiting for him to return to the cafe. Coincidentally, when he takes her call, they’re on opposite sides of a street, and he tearfully watches her from a distance as he apologizes through the phone for all his lies. They close the gap between them and meet in the middle of the street, which seems like a massively dangerous idea — both in the real world and in dramaland, where your chances of getting hit by a car are astronomically high.
And wouldn’t you know it, this drama actually went there. As our characters gaze longingly and emotionally at each other, a car comes careening towards them. Neither Yuri nor Jung-ho reacts — even though they have ample time to do so — and the car hits Yuri.
She wakes up with both her arms in a cast, but thankfully Joon and Eun-kang were on the scene to make sure she didn’t have amnesia — and confirm that we weren’t dealing with any additional major tropes. Aside from minor injuries to her arms, she’s fine, but while she’s been unconscious, Jung-ho has been on a warpath, picking a fight with both the police and Pyun-woong — Jung-ho’s primary suspect — and the latter encounter results in a nasty set of bruises and the knowledge that Jung-ho — not Yuri — is Pyun-woong’s target.
But after reuniting with Yuri at the hospital, Jung-ho’s anger and fear gives way to tearful relief. Battered from his earlier encounter with Pyun-woong, Jung-ho ignores Yuri’s inquiries about his injuries and demands that she never get injured again because he thought he would die from the fear of potentially losing her.
It’s an extremely emotional moment, and I appreciated that the drama showed both the frustrated helplessness that he initially channeled as anger and violence and then his later vulnerability, once he’s seen her and been assured that she will be fine. Of course, once he’s past being deathly afraid, Jung-ho’s concern presents in a more comical overprotectiveness that frustrates Yuri and reminds her that she still needs some space to sort out her feelings and learn to forgive him for his lies.
Jung-ho takes a reluctant step back and uses their time apart to adjust to the ongoing changes in his family. Pyun-woong’s planned take over of Dohan Construction causes Byung-wook to double down on his insistence that Jung-ho should join the family company, but Jung-ho remains disinterested. Jung-ho, however, does learn that Byung-wook once threatened to take Jung-ho and his mother away from Seung-woon, and that’s when Seung-woon began cooperating with Byung-wook.
Although the revelation adds a new complexity to his understanding of his father’s situation, it’s Jung-ho’s relationship with his mother that takes the spotlight this week. She left Seung-woon and moved in with Jung-ho, but her relocation is not entirely a reflection of her choosing her son over her husband. No, she cannot stand Seung-woon’s actions, but she also admits to harboring a bit of resentment towards Jung-ho for shattering the peacefulness of their family. With time, though, she apologies to her son for having to struggle by himself for so long. Not to mention, beneath his mother’s calm, raised-in-a-chaebol-household demeanor, there is a (more benign) feistiness that mirrors her half-brother’s chaotic energy.
Meanwhile, Yuri has a conversation with her own mother that finally puts her on the path to forgiving Jung-ho. Mom tells Yuri that she would be happy if Yuri and Jung-ho began dating, which shocks Yuri, but Mom explains that Yuri’s father would not have wanted his death to leave behind unhappiness. The conversation with her mother, coupled with the passing of her newest client’s father, cause Yuri to consider the legacy her own father’s death left behind.
And so, Yuri meets with Seung-woon, realizing her anger has been misplaced. When she tells Seung-woon that Jung-ho has been receiving the punishment that Seung-woon has been avoiding, she’s not only referring to Jung-ho’s self-imposed martyrdom. She’s also reflecting on how she’s been rejecting Jung-ho and pushing him away, and so her conversation with Seung-woon is her first step towards directing her emotions towards the appropriate parties and allowing herself to embrace the person who makes her happy.
Following her dialogue with Seung-woon, Yuri meets with Jung-ho. She explains that she doesn’t want to be unhappy. She wants to let go of the sense of unfairness that has lingered with her since her father’s death, and she encourages him to let go of his guilt, too. She extends her hand and invites him to shed his negative emotions with her — together. He takes her hand, and we end on a hopeful note that our couple have now overcome their hurdle and will continue on side-by-side.
While I appreciate the emotional journey that both our characters have taken this week, I’ve got to say I’m a bit disappointed with the drawn-out execution. It makes sense that Yuri would be angry that Jung-ho lied to her all these years, but I don’t think she would have wallowed in her gut reaction for so long. She’s always been a logical and metacognitive character — albeit extremely passionate and trigger happy with her reactions, too — so it seems odd that she wouldn’t eventually pause to try and see things from Jung-ho’s perspective. I’m not saying he should have been given a free pass, of course, but after she took off her blinders at CEO Gil’s office and realized that Jung-ho had been suffering and secretly trying to make amends in his own way, that should have pretty much been the end of it.
But no, we had to have a car of doom shake things up and delay their emotional progress for another hour. Did I enjoy seeing Jung-ho go a bit crazy in the aftermath of the accident as he struggled to harness his fear? Absolutely. Was it funny seeing Jung-ho hover around the broken-armed Yuri like an overly helpful mosquito? You betcha! But was it really the best timing for this particular trope? Nah, but I guess one could argue that there’s never a good time for a truck of doom. But, hey, at least they didn’t give Yuri amnesia… yet.
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