This episode is Ba-reun’s episode. It’s his time to shine and he inarguably shines very brightly when he finds himself caught up in a court case that he personally can relate to. I never knew how much I needed to see hard-working and reserved Ba-reun be so invested in a court case, but now that we’ve gotten glimpses of that in this episode I’m afraid to say that I’m going to be needing more. A lot more.
*Content/Trigger Warning: Suicide
Miss Hammurabi: Episode 8 recap
Episode 8 starts off with Ba-reun working late into the night in his office. He seems to be struggling with work because he’s not feeling so well. Meanwhile, the drama also interjects with scenes of another man who shows the same symptoms as Ba-reun while he’s working in his own office.
The next day at work, Ba-reun continues to focus on the trial he’s been assigned: a man is suffering from depression because of work. Oh-reum checks in on Ba-reun and notices that he doesn’t look too healthy. She apologizes for the wild dinner party the night before that he had to stay the entire time at. Ba-reun shrugs it off and claims that it was fun.
The two gossip kings of the court district enter the restroom again and this time their target is Do-yeon. Apparently, they saw her at the club the night before after she had left Oh-reum’s birthday party celebration early. Judge Jung exits his bathroom stall, still clearly hung over from all the drinking the night before. He doesn’t threaten the two guys though like how he did the other times (LEAVE MY DO-YEON ALONE).
Back in the office, Ba-reun’s reminded of the night before at dinner when Oh-reum had told her Aunts that she wasn’t attracted to Ba-reun and only appreciated him as her colleague. Ba-reun had actually heard their conversation, but was just pretending to be asleep the entire time. Oh-reum then randomly ponders over how Judge Jung must be feeling about Do-yeon. It’s obvious he likes her, but he just doesn’t have enough courage to ask Do-yeon out. Ba-reun leaves the office frustrated and heads to the restroom.
He’s still a little upset that Oh-reum doesn’t feel the same way he feels about her. While he talks to himself in the restroom, Presiding Judge Han exits from his stall and approaches Ba-reun. Ba-reun just spoke about how he detested someone. Who is it that he apparently detests? Ba-reun clarifies that it’s not Presiding Judge Han he’s talking about though so Presiding Judge Han walks away in relief. LOL.
Do-yeon hands Oh-reum a document about a court case. Before she leaves the office, she notices something different about Oh-reum. She’s wearing perfume. EEEEEEK. Oh-reum is wearing the perfume that Ba-reun had given her as a gift.
Ba-reun still isn’t feeling so well although he claims that he’s doing fine. Oh-reum worries for him, but he insists that he’s okay. She leaves for home before he does.
Department 44 tackle on another court case the next day. This time, it’s a case between two parents who claim their son, Lee Young-soo, was brutalized physically and mentally at work by his company and resorted to a suicide attempt as a way to escape. Of course, the company he used to work for claims that they didn’t do anything and rather blames the son’s introverted personality and personal issues for the suicide attempt that he undertook. They try to settle by offering the family a compensation, but the family rejects it.
All of Team Department 44 use their break to discuss the case. It doesn’t make sense that a student from one of the top universities who has a family of his own and who worked at a big corporation would attempt to commit suicide. But Ba-reun notes that you never really know what a person is going through. The team wonders what really happened to cause Young-soo to be in the vulnerable position he is in currently.
Oh-reum and Ba-reun discuss about the case in their office and still find everything suspicious. They also pity Young-soo who is now not only physically disabled, but also mentally ill.
Ba-reun gets down to business in a meeting between the two teams. He first speaks with the Manager that the son worked for. Contrary to what the Manager claims, the Manager has yelled at Young-soo at work before for trivial things, like not attending the department’s dinner party or wearing a different colored shirt to work. Young-soo’s also had to do other ridiculous things like participate in weekly marathons and a traditional ceremony for their chairman. Employees from the company claims that they were just trying to teach Young-soo lessons about teamwork and fitting into the company. (Random note, but Ba-reun is so attractive when he’s seen facilitating these meetings and actually working ADKFJD).
Do-yeon is distracted for once while working at her desk. She stares at the photo sitting near her desk and is reminded of her conversation with Judge Jung the night at Oh-reum’s birthday dinner: working at the court district has given her the opportunity to do what it is that she’s always wanted to do. Do-yeon realizes that Judge Jung is the first person she’s ever opened up to about this.
Presiding Judge Han interrupts Do-yeon’s daydreaming and asks if a package for him had come in. Do-yeon had placed the package on his desk and also saw what the package consisted of: some prostate medication. Presiding Judge Han quickly gets embarrassed and tries to play it off, but Do-yeon already knows who the medicine is for. She even gives Presiding Judge Han some tips as to how he can become healthier.
It’s the parent’s turn to share their side of the story. We learn that their son had wishes to be a Korean literature major, but due to the pressures of his parents he was forced to study law. Young-soo fortunately got into a big corporation thanks to his intelligence and good grades, but unlike what they thought, work there wasn’t so good. His mother’s phone calls to the Manager and her visits to his workplace herself wasn’t any better. It just made things even more stressful and overwhelming for Young-soo.
Ba-reun and Sa-sung have a conversation about family expectations and how Young-soo had to endure the strenuous expectations that his family had of him. Sa-sung goes on to share how his family and hometown believes that he’s a judge just because he works at the court district although he’s attempted multiple times to clarify that he’s not. But it’s what makes his parents feel good and proud so he’s stopped trying to explain himself. Family expectations sure are dangerous.
It’s stories like these that Ba-reun can relate to. He’s reminded of the own family expectations he has just because he’s a judge or how his position as a judge has been used against him and his family many times by others. He recalls these moments while standing at the roof of the court building and recites lines from one of his favorite books to process everything.
That night at work, Oh-reum advises Ba-reun to go home and get some rest. He’s been too invested in the case with Young-soo and it’s been affecting his health. She throws the same words at him that he did to her when she too was involved with their many court cases (“you’re going to affect the team if you get sick!”). Now it’s his turn to distance himself from the court cases and to take care of himself. Omg, they’re too cute.
Ba-reun meets with Young-soo’s wife the next day. Along with arguments over moving to a bigger, better, and newer apartment, she also filed for divorce with Young-soo because he had rented a studio apartment without her permission and approval which he was apparently using for his affairs. Everyone else is brought into the meeting room to discuss the future of the court case. Ba-reun announces that mediation won’t be the solution to concluding the case. Everyone – from the corporation to Young-soo’s family to even Young-soo himself – are all responsible for what happened and, therefore, will have to face the necessary consequences. They will resume with the court case by holding hearings in the courtroom.
While walking back to his office, Ba-reun walks past Chief Presiding Judge and Presiding Judge Sung who are heading out for lunch together. There are no exchange of words between the two, but they definitely do notice each other.
Some judges and court employees are invited to a luncheon with Chief Presiding Judge, Presiding Judge Bae, Presiding Judge Sung, and a few others. Everyone requests for the same meal that Chief Presiding Judge wants except for our two brave judges of course. They order separate dishes for themselves and explains that it wouldn’t be fun to all be eating the same thing. Hahaha, I love our rebels!
Ba-reun gathers his courage and prepares to ask Oh-reum out on a date, but before he can utter a word, she has some work to take care of (NOOOO!). Meanwhile, Judge Jung walks towards Department 44’s office, but stops in his track when he sees Do-yeon at her desk. She also notices him walk towards their office, but neither of them says anything to the other.
The work that Oh-reum had to suddenly attend was for one of her court cases. She’s at a childcare center, observing a dad play around and interact with his two daughters. Claims of how the daughters are scared and afraid of their father are disproved as it’s obvious that they love their dad and enjoy being around him.
However, Oh-reum has to step in to save the two daughters when their dad attempts to show them something on his phone about their mother. They take the case to court and the dad apologizes for painting the mom in a bad light to his two daughters. He just wants to have custody of his two kids, but this remains difficult as it’s the mom who’s responsible for taking care of the kids. But things aren’t so easy for Mom either as her job is demanding and difficult. Dad barely has time to visit his two daughters either because of his job too. Their two daughters are stuck in the middle of all this trouble.
In the hearing for the court the next day, Dad proposes that his two daughters live with him at a farm in the countryside. He’ll live near his relatives and his two daughters will be able to enjoy their childhood while he works to provide for his family. They’ll be much happier there at the farm. But Presiding Judge Han is worried how things will play out since he’ll be busy working. Oh-reum, Do-yeon, and Ji-young (the single mother working for Department 44) discuss about the case in their office. It’s not entirely sure if the Dad will be able to support his two kids, but they should also consider how the two daughters feel and what they want as well.
At home, Presiding Judge Han is ordered around by his wife to take his medicine and then to wash some dishes. He’s not only busy at work, but also at home.
The fight between both parents for custody rights over their children proves to be challenging for our three judges. We find out that the Dad actually doesn’t have any blood-related relatives living in the countryside like he claimed he did; he’s an orphan who became close to the lady he now refers to as his aunt after working for her. Dad became really busy after working over a decade to save money and to provide for his children which is why he became distant with them. But the divorce between the two parents was not his fault in any way as it was the Mom who actually cheated on him since she became lonely in the marriage. It’s a tough decision to make as to who’s responsible for what happened and which parent is going to have custody over the two daughters.
Presiding Judge Han returns home to find his two daughters asleep side by side, arm in arm. He’s reminded of the earlier days when they were still little kids and one incident in particular that made him especially proud of his daughter. Fast forward a few years later and they’ve grown up so much. It’s a bittersweet moment for Presiding Judge Han as he stares at the numerous photo frames of his kids and realizes just how fast time is passing by.
Presiding Judge Han presents the final decision about the custody case to the two parents in the final hearing the next day. They unfortunately cannot let the Dad have custody rights over his two daughters as it seems like he isn’t exactly prepared yet. Dad breaks down into tears and so does Oh-reum later on in the bathroom.
Oh-reum shares to Ba-reun that she cried because she was envious of the two daughters. They have a dad who loves and cares and supports them and although she has a mother who also loves her, it’s difficult because Mom isn’t in the best condition right now. Speaking of her mother, Oh-reum receives an update about her mother at that moment and rushes to the hospital with Ba-reun.
While Oh-reum leaves her mom’s hospital room to go talk to one of the doctors, Ba-reun is left alone with Mom. At first, he tries to keep her busy by talking to her about how great Oh-reum is doing at work, but she doesn’t seem too interested. So he changes methods and starts playing the guitar that had been sitting on the other side of the room to Mom. Oh-reum returns to the room to find Ba-reun playing the guitar and Mom clearly enjoying the performance, a small smile plastered on her face as she sways back and forth to the piece that Ba-reun is playing. Oh-reum’s eyes swell with tears as she watches this beautiful moment unfold.
The tune that Ba-reun is playing for mom is a song called ‘You Are the Apple of my Eye.’ In a voice over, he utilizes the title of the song to describe Mom’s relationship with Oh-reum saying,
In English-speaking countries, the word apple refers to the pupil since it’s round like an apple. When you look at someone, you can see that person’s reflection in your eyes. It means that the person you look at the most is always in your eyes.
We are then shown flashbacks of Mom tucking Oh-reum into bed when she was a young child and staring lovingly at her daughter as Oh-reum sleeps. The voice over continues,
When Oh-reum was born, how many times did you look at her? Your daughter is… the apple of your eye. Whatever the doctor says, those memories… remain somewhere. They’ll last forever.
Oh-reum continues to remain in tears as the scene in front of her continues. In his mind, Ba-reun reassures Oh-reum,
Oh-reum, you won’t be forgotten.. ever.
The episode ends with Ba-reun continuing to play the guitar for Mom while she listens blissfully. Oh-reum stands behind them in the room with tears in her eyes and allowing the beautiful moment to sink in.
I’m a mess right now. This drama has some things that it can definitely improve on, but I wholeheartedly believe that one of its biggest strengths is the ability to produce stories and tell us more about our two leads in ways that tugs at our heartstrings. The ending to this episode was such a beautiful way to wrap everything up because it related back to the case of the two parents as well as Presiding Judge Han’s honest feelings about his two daughters.
As we’ve seen with prior episodes, each episode has a theme or topic that it explores and utilizes different court cases to get some kind of message about that theme across. Episode eight was a combination of family expectations with the first court case and then the second case was a continuation of last episode’s theme which was family. Essentially, both episodes had some kind of correlation to family which was so touching, moving, and nice to watch. The subtle, small, and slow details that we’ve been getting on Oh-reum’s mom proves to be an emotional one because we know just how much Oh-reum loves her mother and we’ve seen what happened that lead them to their current situation. They’re both remaining strong for each other and even when they don’t have anyone else, Oh-reum and Mom will always have each other. That much we know.
This episode was actually my least favorite so far in the series just because of how disjointed it felt. I actually didn’t like how there were two different court cases in the same episode. They weren’t similar to each other and the second one was actually pretty random. The episode focused a good chunk of time on the first court case with Young-soo and I was actually invested in that court case because the drama did a great job in setting it up and providing us context on the situation. Then the episode suddenly shifted to an entirely new case and suddenly forgot about the first one which was distracting and disappointing. It’s the first time the drama has attempted to do something like this and it wasn’t so smooth nor satisfying. Placing two different court cases in the same episode meant using half the time on each compared to if we had an entire episode dedicated to just that one court case.
I think the drama plans on dragging out the court case with Young-soo since it hasn’t actually wrapped up yet so if the drama did plan on doing that, I can understand. But regardless, it didn’t leave a good impression in my eyes. I wanted to see that court case the whole way through in this episode and I was sad that the episode suddenly forgot about it and introduced an entirely new court case in the second half of the episode. The second court case of the episode was emotional and touching because it focused on two parents struggle to love each other but want to be given the chance to show their love for their children. However, I had difficulty investing in the case because I felt like it was randomly introduced and there was little time to establish much of it.
I am glad that the drama gave us a little bit of Chief Presiding Judge and the other presiding judges after they suddenly disappeared in the last few episodes. It was a bit disappointing to build up so much tension and momentum between our two judges and the Chief Presiding Judge only to have it all disappear once Oh-reum and Ba-reun got the meeting that they had fought for. I wanted to see the aftermath of the short meeting and the consequences that Oh-reum and Ba-reun were going to face for it (if any), but the drama resorted back to its formula of court cases. That’s not to say the drama’s return to its case by case narrative was bad or anything, but it did feel a bit odd that the drama focused so much on Oh-reum and Ba-reun rebelling in the court district and being threatened by the higher-ups only to have nothing happen to them when they did manage to shake the court system up.
Now that we saw a little bit of Chief Presiding Judge (and Presiding Judge Sung who never actually got dismissed which I’m surprised and a bit upset about), I’m assuming that the fight isn’t exactly over yet and Chief Presiding Judge is still the biggest hurdle that our two leads are going to have to overcome. I admit, I jumped a little bit out of my seat when I saw Chief Presiding Judge in today’s episode since he had disappeared in the last few episodes. I totally wasn’t expecting to see him and when I did see him in this episode, I was reminded of just how much power, authority, and control he has in ruining Oh-reum and Ba-reun’s career if he wanted to. *shivers*
I can see Oh-reum slowly start to change her mind about Ba-reun even though she repeatedly denies that she has any feelings for Ba-reun. Maybe a part of it is that she genuinely really does only appreciate Ba-reun as her colleague and high school friend, but on the other hand, she just maybe doesn’t realize what her feelings for him are yet. I think the ending to this episode is really going to steer her into that direction though and help her reconsider her feelings about Ba-reun. Not only did he give her a small gift for her birthday, but he made her mom feel happy and at peace at the hospital while she was away. Her mom obviously means a lot to her so to see her mom feel so comfortable around Ba-reun who Mom had just met for the first time that night means a lot to Oh-reum. The best thing about it all is that Ba-reun is doing this with genuine feelings and emotions and not so he can impress Oh-reum in any way. He understands and respects that Oh-reum doesn’t feel the same way about him and he would actually prefer that she not explain why she doesn’t like him. He has accepted things the way that it is and is willing to wait for her. Ba-reun used one of his many talents to comfort and support Mom, but both he and Oh-reum were comforted in the process as well. It was truly a beautiful moment for everyone in that room and a beautiful sight for us viewers to see.
Moving forward, I’m definitely anticipating the case with Young-soo and how his case will end. Episode 8 was definitely Ba-reun’s episode and he shined the most yet with this specific case. He was clearly invested and dedicated in uncovering the injustice that Young-soo faced because of the abnormal expectations from his parents and his workplace. I especially loved it when Oh-reum reminded him the same exact thing that he had told her when she first started out: don’t be so invested in the case and remember to maintain a distance away from them. Now he’s the one who’s seriously committed to this case and it’s honestly such a beautiful sight to see. I was so glad to see Ba-reun take on the case with Young-soo and to be so passionate about a case that he can personally relate to. He knows what it’s like to give in to family expectations and understands the pain that comes along with doing that. Now that he’s finally found a case that he can relate to and has met his match, he’s doing more than he usually does as a judge and I love every single second of it.
Ba-reun this entire time had been the backbone and right-hand man to Oh-reum, but he was never really seen. He kind of stayed in the back and did his share of the work to support Oh-reum in her fight. Then he slowly started to become more visible and now he’s even explicitly rebelling and protesting against the court system as we saw in this episode with the luncheon. I never knew how much I needed to see Ba-reun so committed to a case and how sassy he can become, but now that I’ve seen it, I want more of it. Of course, I want him to remain just as passionate and dedicated while also taking care of himself and his health. As Oh-reum and Ba-reun often remind each other, we wouldn’t want them or the team to be affected.