There’s development of all sorts in this episode. Relationship developments between our two leads, our three judges, and their department team as well as personal development for all of our characters. I’m certainly loving this character growth and development and am looking forward to seeing all this growth continue and blossom in the future. For now, let’s just enjoy things as they are.
Miss Hammurabi: Episode 2 Recap
Episode two starts off with Oh-reum on the subway, staring at her employee badge. She had gone after work that night to go visit her mother at a senior care to show her mother the badge she had worked so hard into earning. Her mother – who seems to be mentally ill – stares at the badge and then back at the TV screen of a girl playing the piano. After shedding a few tears, Oh-reum bids farewell with her mother.
She heads to the farmers market right after to meet with her grandma and all the other Ahjumma’s. They’re ecstatic at the sight of Oh-reum’s employee badge and add that her mother must be proud of her. Of course, Oh-reum can’t forget her grandma who played the biggest role in helping her become the judge she is now. After sharing a few seconds of a warm and loving hug, Oh-reum is then consumed by the worries and concern of a close “Aunt” who reveals to Oh-reum the results of her court case.
The lady confides in Oh-reum the details of her court case and about how the judge of her case basically shut her down for not having enough evidence. Oh-reum is bewildered and promises to not only testify as a witness to the case but also to fill out all the court papers for the aunt. But that’s not the only concern the aunt has; she’s also terrified and afraid of the judge whose social status is so much higher than hers. She doesn’t dare to look him into the eyes because of how intimidated she is. But Oh-reum reassures her that it’s not her fault for feeling this way and that she’ll help the best that she can. Grandma is in on this too.
The next morning at work, Oh-reum apologizes to Ba-reun for yelling at him the night before. It wasn’t that she was mad at him, but because she was angry at the corruption and inequality within the court. That’s one of the biggest reasons why she became a judge: she wants to change the system to make it better. But Ba-reun remains pessimistic and wishes her good luck on trying to do that.
After a feisty and straightforward interaction with Do-yeon, Judge Jung enters Oh-reum and Ba-reun’s office to introduce himself to Oh-reum. Along with claiming himself as Ba-reun’s best friend, he also compliments Oh-reum for her intelligence, humility, and down-to-earth personality. Ba-reun – being the person he is – tries to push Judge Jung to leave, but Judge Jung stays a little longer. He goes on to asking Oh-reum more questions like what did she argue with Presiding Judge Han about, if Ba-reun brags a lot, and how she feels about her first trial in court today. After answering the first two questions (“yes, Ba-reun does brag”), she goes on to add that she is nervous about her first trial today, but she’s also determined to make things right. Unlike what Judge Jung recommends, she won’t be sitting still in her seat.
Just minutes before they enter the court, Presiding Judge Han helps put Oh-reum’s robe on her as it’s tradition for the Presiding Judge to help put the robe on a newly hired judge on their first day of trial. He gives her a small pep talk before the three enter the court.
Oh-reum is clearly nervous upon entering the court. She stands a little too close to Presiding Judge Han who then has to remind her to scoot over a little bit. Hahaha. The three judges witness a wide variety of things on their first day of trial together: an idol group suing their company for severe mistreatment, a foreigner protesting over not getting paid, and a fight breaking out between Ahjumma’s in the court. It’s a wild day and Presiding Judge Han isn’t having any of it. But it’s different for Oh-reum who’s close to tears upon thinking about the court cases. Turns out there’s a story behind each of the cases such as how the foreigner needs money to take care of his ill son or how alongside not getting paid the idol group doesn’t even get fed by their agency either. It’s so unfair Oh-reum expresses.
The day of court cases continue. After reaching a conclusion of a case regarding loans, the three judges move on to a case about a reconstruction near an apartment complex. Everything seems to be fine until Oh-reum nods at the lawyer representing the construction company which arouses everyone’s suspicion. Wait, does Judge Oh-reum and the representative know each other and if so, how? Wouldn’t that be biased?
After the case ends, Presiding Judge Han scolds Oh-reum for her behaviors and reactions on her first day of trial. Ba-reun does the same by criticizing Oh-reum for reacting on her emotions in the court. However, Oh-reum advocates for herself and claims that she won’t be expressionless in the court case; she’ll consider each court case as if it was personal. Keep doing that and you won’t be a judge for long Ba-reun warns.
The two head over for dinner with their department after work. Oh-reum easily gets along with the others in her department, such as with co-worker Lee Dan-Di. After talking about her for a little bit, she invites both Ba-reun and Oh-reum to play tennis with her and the tennis club the next day. When Ba-reun expresses hesitance in playing tennis, their co-worker Maeng Sa-Sung invites Ba-reun to play foot volleyball with him and their colleagues since there’s been a lack of judges playing with them. But he’s quickly interrupted by Presiding Judge Han who distracts Sa-Sung to get his attention. LOL Presiding Judge Han please!
A few minutes later, Sa-Sung pretends to get drunk and brings up one of his biggest concerns to Presiding Judge Han: the extensive amount of workload they’ve been doing lately. He recommends that instead of being told what to do, everyone in the department should be able to come to a consensus and discuss as equals as to what to do in the department. Presiding Judge Han isn’t too impressed with Sa-sung’s honest and direct speech and has his suspicions about how the entire department feels about their workload.
Assistant clerk Do-yeon leaves early because of prior arrangements. Sa-Sung tries to get her to from leaving, but Presiding Judge Han allows her to leave the dinner party. Meanwhile, Sa-sung moves on to his next target: Ba-reun (NOOOO! Haha). He invites Ba-reun to drink some beer with him, but Ba-reun is slow to accept.. he’s not that great of a drinker (SAME BA-REUN SAME). Ba-reun secretly hates this request, but has no choice but to drink as Presiding Judge Han pushes him to do it. Welps, here goes nothing. Ba-reun one-shot’s the cup of alcohol and sure enough, he knocks out by the end of the dinner party. Poor Ba-reun.
Ba-reun is so drunk that he spits out his honest feelings and emotions such as how futile and pointless their team dinners are and how he just wants to go home after work. Everyone is shocked at his drunk talk for they’ve never seen him like this before.
The next morning at work, it’s obvious Ba-reun has a hangover. Upon arriving at work, he finds Oh-reum calling co-workers Sa-Sung and Ji-young to make a few requests. She asks them to send her some reports and files which they seem a little hesitant in taking. They’re already swamped as they are, but they also can’t reject Oh-reum’s request. So they do what she says. Ji-young enters their office with a wagon full of stacked papers and documents and lays them on Oh-reum’s desks. Ba-reun takes note of this, but doesn’t say anything. Instead, he notices the documents that Oh-reum’s reading about: it’s for the court case they had the day before regarding the grandma who borrowed money from another lady. Oh-reum – similar to the other cases – is worried for the grandma and is trying to find ways to help her, but Ba-reun is as “cold as ice.” While he speaks about the importance of evidence, Oh-reum takes the side of sympathy and feelings.
The small debate – which is quickly becoming a daily routine – clearly affects the office. Judge Jung notices the intense atmosphere upon entering Ba-reun and Oh-reum’s office. He quickly moves on to the reason as to why he’s there at their office: they have a tennis match to play today!
And so they head out to court — the tennis court. It’s Judge Jung and Oh-reum on one team versus Ba-reun and Dan-di on the other. Just like Ba-reun warned, he’s not the greatest at tennis and fails to hit the ball many times. Every hit is accompanied by some teases and jokes by Judge Jung as well as disappointment by Dan-Di. It’s one round in particular that stands out the most. After rushing to hit the ball, Judge Jung’s ball soars up into the sky. Ba-reun rushes over to where the ball is descending, but before he knows it, he somehow ends up right in front of Oh-reum with his arms over her shoulder. He hugs her while they stand on opposite sides of the court, with the net being the only thing in between that separates them. As they pull apart, Judge Jung’s ball that Ba-reun was looking out for finally comes flying down only to hit Ba-reun’s head. Hahah. Poor Ba-reun! Judge Jung pokes fun at Ba-reun and calls his move intentional. Puahaha. We know Ba-reun, we know! (It totally wasn’t, but ya know what I mean!).
As if getting hit on the head wasn’t enough, Ba-reun protects Oh-reum from a fast flying ball with his face. OOH, that must have hurt! As he massages his injury with a boiled egg, Oh-reum is back to work. While she focuses on reading different documents respective to each case they have, Ba-reun focuses on her reading the documents. It’s amazing how he knows which case she’s reading about based on her facial expression. He’s able to conclude the case for each reaction until the very last one. Turns out that last reaction of her smiling and looking fondly at the screen wasn’t due to a case, but because of images of cheesecakes she was looking up. Hahaha. Ba-reun invites Oh-reum to get lunch with her, but she kindly refuses. She’s swamped with work.
Oh-reum uses her lunch time to meet with protesting Mom and further studies the case even though it’s not necessarily hers to take on. Still, Oh-reum feels a sense of responsibility to help the mom uncover the truth. She adds that she also knows an attorney who could help represent the mom and later contacts him to discuss about the case. If the attorney – who also happens to running for office – want to win the election, he should take on the case which other lawyers running for office are also eye-ing. He would definitely gain some good publicity from it. He takes the offer into consideration.
Oh-reum returns to the office in a good mood, but that mood quickly turns sour and grey. She is first visited by Sa-Sung who complains about the amount of workload that Oh-reum has been requesting of them and warns that he will contact the District Court’s labor union if she doesn’t stop. Additionally, he shares the challenges and hardships that Ji-young in particular faces as a single mother. Let her breathe he pleads to Oh-reum.
Without a break in between, Oh-reum is visited this time by Presiding Judge Han who’s furious at her for the way she handled the case about the Grandma who borrowed money from another lady. She was clearly biased towards the Grandma, making the plaintiff of the case bewildered and upset with how they handled the case. Presiding Judge Han marches out of the office after yelling at Oh-reum. Ba-reun leaves the office to give Oh-reum – who’s crying of embarrassment and shame – some time to herself.
That night, both are visited by Judge Jung who invites them to join him for a small late dinner. He tries to impress them by talking about the amazing spicy beef soup he’s going to order for them to eat, but contrary to what he thought, the both of them aren’t really that impressed with the beef soup. The mood at dinner is down and dark and work is clearly affecting Oh-reum whose nose starts to bleed during dinner. Ba-reun expresses his disappointment in her for working so late and hard everyday; he tells her to head home early that night so that she can get some rest.
Judge Jung teases Ba-reun about the situation while they clean up after dinner. It’s obvious that Ba-reun clearly worries for Oh-reum. Ba-reun – fed up with Judge Jung’s jokes – heads to his office after cleaning up. He finds Oh-reum still working even though he had told her to go home. She finally gives in to leaving when Ba-reun warns that her health could affect the rest of the team which clearly shouldn’t happen.
Oh-reum heads to the farmers market after work to talk with her grandma and the other Aunts. She admits that she’s made some mistakes and didn’t take into consideration Presiding Judge Han and Ba-reun’s feelings regarding work. Grandma and the other Aunts console Oh-reum and reassure her that it’s fine to make mistakes along the way. Aww, I love this family. Oh-reum eats the food that the Aunts made her until she jolts up, suddenly reminded of something.
The next morning at work, Oh-reum asks Ba-reun about the foot volleyball competition happening later on that evening that most of the clerks are joining. She’s interested in competing so he should go watch the competition if he’s not going to play. She also heads over to the clerks office to pay a visit to Ji-young. As a sign of appreciation and gratitude, Oh-reum hands Ji-young some documents that would make work easier for her. She also gives Ji-young a small red car toy as a gift to Ji-young’s kid. Lastly, Oh-reum informs Sa-Sung of her wish to participate in the foot volleyball competition before leaving the office.
Back at the office, Oh-reum continues to work on an inheritance case. Judge Jung pays her a visit and expresses his pity for her upon finding out about the case she’s working on. It’s going to take at least two days for her to determine all the details regarding the inheritance – a huge contrast from Ba-reun who claimed it’ll only take half an hour using a calculating program. Furthermore, Ba-reun volunteered to help out with the inheritance case so Oh-reum would have the time to go home and get some rest. We’re then shown Ba-reun working late into the night to solve this inheritance case as no such program exists (aww, he did the work for her! how sweet. i’m gonna cry). Upon this realization, she reflects back on Ba-reun’s words about how people don’t do things for others, but rather for themselves. Great advice Ba-reun, great advice. You should probably follow that advice yourself. Hehe.
It’s finally time for the foot volleyball competition! Dan-di unfortunately hurts herself during the game, but Oh-reum comes right in time to play for her. After a while of playing, Oh-reum notices something different: Ba-reun stopped by to watch the competition. EEEEE! Upon finding Ba-reun, Oh-reum volunteers Ba-reun to babysit Ji-young’s son so that Ji-young could play as well. Ji-young enters the game while leaving Ba-reun behind with the cute little kid. They quickly become acquainted while Ji-young enjoys her game of foot volleyball.
Towards the end of the competition, three of Oh-reum’s aunts come to watch her. They greet Oh-reum after the game and shyly introduce themselves to Ba-reun. Gaaaah, this is too funny. Afterwards, they all hang out to have some food and drinks with one another. Oh-reum catches Ba-reun isolated from the others and approaches him. She first thanks him for coming to support them at the competition as well as for doing the inheritance calculations for her. She also apologizes for the mistakes she’s made and now better understands what she needs to do to not make the same mistakes again. Ba-reun timidly takes it all in, unsure of what to say back or how to respond. He also gifts her with a cheesecake since she seemed to be craving some earlier at work. The show then takes us back to the moment when Ba-reun caught Oh-reum staring at the images of cheesecakes. But turns out that it wasn’t the cheesecake she was staring fondly at.. it was a video of Ba-reun getting hit in the head by the tennis ball back during their tennis match. It’s not until Ba-reun approaches her that she quickly changed the tabs to the one with the images of cheesecakes. Smooth Oh-reum, SMOOOOTH. I see what you did there. Oh-reum scoots closer to Ba-reun and teases him to look her into the eyes while they’re talking. Ba-reun blushes and continues to struggle to look into Oh-reum’s eyes. OHHH, they’re too cute. Too cute. I’m the one blushing here.
The next day at work, the three judges handle a case between a restaurant owner and his employee and a customer. The customer claims that the restaurant employee had injured her son while she was changing their meat grill and burned her son’s face with the meat grill. However, the restaurant owner refutes that claim by stating that they didn’t and even if they did, the customer is just using that as an excuse to steal money from them. The scar on the son’s face isn’t even visible. As if refuting the customer’s claims wasn’t enough, the restaurant owner also share his plans of suing the customer for obstruction of business and defamation. Wow, this is such a mess. Presiding Judge Han encourages the two to mediate and to come to a settlement. He hands the responsibility over to Oh-reum to help with that. Though Oh-reum doesn’t agree with Presiding Judge Han’s choice, she moves forward with the settlement.
…until it’s actually the day of the settlement in which Oh-reum changes her mind. She rips apart their settlement agreement and confronts Presiding Judge Han about her bold decision. As judges, their responsibility isn’t to have the two sides come to a settlement; instead, judges should be finding out who is more responsible in a court case and have them be punished accordingly. Following protocols and going by the book won’t help at all. Presiding Judge Han – fed up with Oh-reum – becomes careless about her decision. He wishes her luck in questioning both the customer and the restaurant owner and trying to find out who’s telling the truth between the both of them.
Oh-reum gets working on the case immediately. She feels as if something’s strange about the case, but Ba-reun notes that all cases are strange. It’s not just this one in particular. He describes the customer in the case as dramatic and overreacting; she’s demanding too much money for something that wasn’t that big of a deal. But Oh-reum doesn’t agree. Something’s off and she wants to know what it is.
It’s the day of the re-trial. Judge Jung bursts into Oh-reum and Ba-reun’s office to wish Oh-reum good luck. He’ll be there to watch her debut performance of questioning both the plaintiff and the defendant. Before leaving entirely, he stops to greet Do-yeon. He compliments her hair and notices that it looks amazing. She must have done something to it. But unlike what he expected, Do-yeon calmly answers that she didn’t wash her hair. That’s why it looks the way it does. HAHAHAHA. Greatest and funniest plot twist ever. I love Do-yeon. She’s so funny without even trying.
And so we resume with the court case. Oh-reum asks for both the restaurant owner and the customer to share their side of the story as to what they remembered happened on the day of the incident.
Restaurant Owner’s POV:
The restaurant owner starts out his story by claiming that he was at the cash register when he heard commotion over at one of the tables. Upon arriving at the table, he tries to compromise with the customer who’s clearly mad at the employee who burned her son’s face with the meat grill. How about a free plate of meat to make up for the mistake? But the customer isn’t buying it and leaves the restaurant when the restaurant owner threatens to call the police. He concludes his story by adding that it’s been difficult running a business that hasn’t been so successful. Nowadays, you have to be bad in order to survive.
The female employee utilizes her opportunity to talk and shares about the difficulties and hardships she’s faced in life, such as getting married at a young age and having to work her entire life. How could the customer – who’s never worked a day in her life – complain about something as trivial as her son’s face slightly touching the burnt meat grill?
Oh-reum tries to dig deeper by questioning why the customer didn’t have her son testify in court since he was the direct one affected. The customer hesitates to share why she didn’t bring her son to court so she receives criticism by the restaurant owner and the employee for not doing so. But the customer finally breaks her silence after getting fed up with their comments.
The customer’s son is sick. He’s mentally ill. He also has trauma from pots and grills when he was younger which is why his mom was feeding him meat at the restaurant on that day. And even though the meat grill slightly touched her son’s face, he was clearly shaken by it. The yelling and shouting from the restaurant owner didn’t help either. It just reminded the customer and her son of his father who would yell at him when he was drunk. Her son has been ridiculed for pretty much throughout his life especially in middle school. It hasn’t been easy for her or for her son.
The customer’s story brings almost everyone to tears in the court room, including the restaurant owner and the employee themselves. The employee ends up apologizing and admitting for why she didn’t report the incident: she was afraid of the consequences her boss would impose on her and how it would affect her and her daughter. The restaurant owner also realizes his mistakes. Instead of yelling, he should have checked up on the customer’s son to make sure he was okay. But he didn’t and he’s sorry for not doing that.
While almost everyone in the court room sheds some tears (including Oh-reum), Presiding Judge Han and Ba-reun observe the room carefully with their inexpressive faces. Although they’re not crying, they still do care about what had happened. Ba-reun reflects on this exact moment, stating,
While wearing the judge’s robes, you should erase all facial expressions. But you shouldn’t erase all your emotions. I failed to see the things you can see only with your heart. But someone… never took her eyes off.”
And it was Oh-reum who never took her eyes off. She cared the entire time.
The court case ends with the plaintiff (customer) dropping the case without any conditions. The entire time she had just wanted someone to check in on her to ask if she was okay and it was Oh-reum who finally did that.
We then see each of our three judges hang up their robe in their closet. Presiding Judge Han is reminded of the time, twenty years ago, when his Presiding Judge helped him put on his robe. When asked what a judge is supposed to do, Presiding Judge Han answered then that it’s to make a judgement and to tell right from wrong. But his Presiding Judge responds that telling right from wrong includes doing so much more. It also includes listening and making sure to hear everyone out. Twenty years later and it’s still so hard for Presiding Judge Han to do that.
We then turn to Oh-reum who hangs up her robe in the closet. She takes another peek at her name badge on her robe before turning around only to find Ba-reun staring at her proudly (and lovingly I might add. Hehe). He quickly and nervously shifts his glance to his computer screen to pretend like he wasn’t staring at her, but he was clearly caught by Oh-reum. Oh-reum – in response – just smiles at him.
Aww, this episode sure was long, but it was also bittersweet with a nice and touching ending. Everyone got the ending that they seeked and wanted, and it was a nice example of proving Oh-reum’s worth. She’s a rebel within the court and goes by her own decisions and behaviors (which has its own consequences as we saw in this episode), but following her gut instincts doesn’t always conclude in negative results. As we saw with the last case, her wanting to reach out for more information lead to a struggling mother to finally feel like someone cared for her and resulted in honest feelings to be unleashed which would have never happened if both the defendant and plaintiff had just settled like how Presiding Judge Han originally wanted.
Unlike what Ba-reun preaches and Presiding Judge Han practices, emotions and feelings aren’t always bad within the courtroom. They’ve been told that judges shouldn’t emote any expressions or reactions, but even when Oh-reum does emote for example, she still reaches a level of success that they didn’t know was possible. She proved them wrong with this case and I have a feeling she’s going to continue proving them wrong regarding their preconceived notions in the future as well.
Oh-reum is essentially such a likable character for many reasons. Yes, she makes mistakes because she’s an eager, ambitious, and curious rookie judge who just wants to make things equal for all. She was determined in telling right from wrong and improving situations for certain people in certain cases that she forgot about the whole team working behind her to ensure that she does those things successfully in court. I like how she owned up to her mistakes and made them up with the people that she had hurt. She acknowledges these traits of hers that caused her to get into some trouble, but she also moves forward learning from her mistakes. She’s that new rookie judge that’s going to shake and change the workplace and we’ve already seen some hints of that from her. From joining the foot volleyball competition which judges usually don’t join to breaking rules and working on cases that aren’t for her department, it’s clear she’s a rebel as a judge and Ba-reun and Presiding Judge Han especially aren’t used to it. It’ll be fun to see what else she has up her sleeves to surprise both judges even more than they already are.
I also liked how we got a little bit of context on the other characters in this drama, such as with Sa-sung or with mom Ji-young. Though not much, the drama has been able to share with us little details about the side characters and allow us into their lives as well. While all the other employees in the department are afraid to voice their opinions and thoughts, I’m glad that Sa-sung is the one who’s daring and bold enough to say something and speak up for the rest of the team. Or how mom Ji-young exemplifies the challenging life of a mother who’s willing to do anything just so her and her son can stay afloat and survive. Both characters make sacrifices to help not only themselves but others and it’s why they’re such easy characters to root for.
Also, can we talk about Oh-reum’s relationship with her grandma? Their relationship is my absolute favorite. It’s obvious that Grandma has played such a huge role in Oh-reum’s life, especially since Oh-reum’s ill mother hasn’t been able to spend as much time with her. Grandma is always a source of support for Oh-reum and I love that Oh-reum has a place and people she can resort to when she’s having a tough day at work or is going through some struggles. She’s safe and sound in Grandma’s arms for now and we know that she’ll get through anything just fine with Grandma there next to her.
I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the court cases in particular. If I’m being honest, none of them has stood out to me so far. I wonder if the protesting Mom’s case is one that’s going to continue throughout the entire drama and is the primary one that Oh-reum is going to focus on. I’m assuming we’re going to be getting different cases for each episode so it’ll be interesting to see what comes up in the future. I do expect each case to bring out different sides of Ba-reun and Presiding Judge Han that we haven’t seen from them before as the episodes go by. While I don’t expect them to change entirely by the end of this drama, I do expect them to somehow learn that emotions and feelings aren’t as bad as they think it is. It’s okay to feel things and it’s okay to open up.
I’m enjoying the relationship development between our two lead characters. While Ba-reun’s lectures to Oh-reum can be frequent, it’s fun seeing Oh-reum pretend like she’s listening when in fact she actually doesn’t really care what he says to her. It’s gotten old to her at this point. Ba-reun clearly still cares for Oh-reum like how he did back in high school and while it’s a little bit more difficult to see this from her viewpoint, I think Oh-reum still cares for Ba-reun as well. She’s slowly bringing him out of his comfort zone and little shell and it’s so cute watching him act nervously around her. He hasn’t forgotten about her this entire time so Oh-reum clearly still means a lot to him. Yes, Oh-reum and Ba-reun have their dull moments where their notions and thoughts contradict, but at the very end of the day, even after all the debates and small arguments, they still care for each other.. just like how they did twelve years ago. Though they might have changed in other ways, it’s this one aspect that has stayed the same all these years.