Law School – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

The Coffee Cup

Episode 1 of Law School begins in October 2020. A court case regarding drug poisoning is underway, with numerous adults watching these students carrying out the case. Things get pretty heated too, with one of the boys storming off. This is a mock trial, and as the group recess for 30 minutes, they discuss alternate strategies over what they should have done.

However, screams pierce the air when Professor Seo is found dead in his office. It looks like a drug poisoning (which we late confirm it is) and numerous question marks surround this case.

Prosecutor Yang shows up at the scene, checking the room and trying to work out what happened. Through some slick point of view shots, Yang moves through the room from the bathroom back to the officer. It seems like the coffee cup could well be the culprit here, but Professor Seo also has a suicide note in his inner jacket.

We then jump back to March 2020. Prosecutor Yang Jong-Hoon is actually working as a teacher for these students, going over the legality surrounding a sex tape case. Joon-Hwi is smart – so smart in fact he actually passed the judicial exam already. The other students are surprised but Yang tests the other students to see if they can keep up with him. Sol B seems like she can but Sol A struggles, stuttering and getting her facts jumbled up. Eventually she rushes out the class needing to vomit.

Yang follows her out and questions Sol A’s commitment, especially on the back of her impassioned plea to get into law school in the first place. Eventually Sol A composes herself and heads back inside. While she does, outside prison Lee Man-Ho is released after serving his time.

Meanwhile, Professor Seo speaks to Jung-Hee and asks her to make the best mock court trial they’ve seen. After agreeing to do so, they have pictures snapped together as part of their PR drive.

This becomes the focal point of Yang’s next discussion, as he mentions how Seo was convicted of bribery in the past but the supreme court overrule that. The prosecutor at the time was Yang, but the fact this alleged bribe was spun as a gift, gave Professor Seo a ‘get out of jail free card’, if you will.

That coffee cup we saw before? Well, Seo offers him a similar one in the hallway. He tells Yang he has quite the class and tells him to head back inside.

In October the group await the autopsy report. During an emergency board meeting, everyone agrees not to go to the press. Sol-A is certainly inquisitive though and she sets to work trying to figure out what happened to Seo. All the other students sit and study but she struggles to do so. However, she receives a post-it note claiming that she’s not the only one struggling.

Officers show up at Man-Ho’s apartment and begin asking him questions. Right now he seems like the most likely candidate for killing Seo. To try and back that up, we jump once more to March 2020.

Man-Ho arrives at the school, lurking about in the hallways. At the same time, Eun-Sook starts her class and promises to make her civil law lessons fun for them all. Only, this immediately goes awry when Man-Ho sits in class and smiles maniacally at her. It turns out these guys have bad blood, given the fact Eun-Sook was actually one of the judges for Man’s case way back in 2008. Thanks to the circumstances in the case, she was forced to lower his sentence.

During this March 2020 timeline, Man-Ho decides to get free legal advice. He’s going to pursue suing anyone who wrote hate comments too. This obviously rattles Eun-Sook, who holds her stomach and doubles over. Blood dribbles down her legs, prompting the students to frantically call an ambulance.

While she’s rushed into hospital, Man-Ho maniacally looks around and tells them all he’s not a killer but does want compensation. Yang manages to diffuse the situation, but it’s clear there’s unresolved tensions here. Sitting with Man-Ho, he brings up details of the case from 2008 – paying specific attention to the license plate of a vehicle. Yang knows Man-Ho is hiding something but right now that’s still unknown.

Back in October 2020 we go, and all the students gather and begin sifting through a number of different defamation cases. Sol-A shows up late and out of breath. She claims the professor was actually doing drugs, and the police found meth in his car too. When Joon-Hwi finds out, he leaves the room and pounds the wall behind him. Judging by what we’ve seen this episode, could he be involved in some way?

Meanwhile, Sol-A starts to go over the details of what happened during the mock trial. She remembers a deliveryman heading in the back and the door there is also used by other students too.

The next day, the mock trial continues but they’re interrupted by the police arriving and taking over. The professor was murdered by a drug overdose; meth mixed with sugar. It seems like it was put inside his coffee cup. With numerous footprints found in the office and lots of possible suspects (judging by the different shoes), Yang is eventually apprehended in front of everyone and arrested for Seo’s murder. Flashbacks to the past show Yang forcing the coffee cup into Seo’s mouth but is this really what happened? We shall see.

The Episode Review

Law School gets off to an intriguing start with a case that seems like it’s going to be split across three different timelines – 2008, March 2020 and October 2020.

The case itself is actually really interesting but the camera work is a real mixed bag. There are so many cuts while Sol A is being hounded by Prosecutor Yang early on that it distracts from the intensity of the scene. There are a lot of zoom shots, sudden and jarring camera movements and some stylish shots that don’t always work. Not to mention the Dutch angles as well.

However, this first episode does have some high points. I don’t know if it’s just me but I love that Ryoo Hye-Young (who played Bo-Ra in Reply 1988) plays a completely different character here in Sol A. She still has the trademark scowls but her character dynamic is completely different and her struggling to study seems like a nice juxtaposing wink to tvN’s slice of life gem.

In fact, this whole group of kids are interesting and they clearly have a lot of baggage too that we’re not seeing just yet. Yang being the killer does seem way too obvious and it’s not clear whether those end sequences are actually accurate or not.

Here’s my two cents. It could be that Seo is a drug addict (hence the headaches and inability to concentrate) and Yang found out. Him throwing the bag on the table is his way of making the man come clean. The angle following that with Seo drinking the coffee could be Seo and Yang wrestling with the cup, the former trying desperately to drink it while Yang tries to stop him.

Either way, it’s an intriguing mystery and the ending definitely sets up a lot of drama to come. Roll on tomorrow’s follow-up!

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