Dramas about lawyers and prosecutors and even judges are not uncommon, but rarely is a law school the primary setting of a drama. Cue Law School, which follows a group of students and their professors as they navigate both school and real life applications of their knowledge. Intriguing and complex, Law School is a dramatic story that reminds us that there is always more than meets the eye.
The main trio leading the drama consists of Kang Sol (Ryu Hye-young), Han Joon-hwi (Kim Bum), and Yang Jong-hoon (Kim Myung-min) who is one of their professors. The drama kicks off with the death of another one of their professors who also happens to be Joon-hwi’s uncle, and the search for the culprit behind the crime is one of the main plots of the drama. Kang Sol, also called Sol A to differentiate her from her roommate with the same name as her, Joon-hwi, and Professor Yang dive into what justice is as a host of other secrets come to light along the way.
This review contains spoilers
Given its relatively unique setting and premise, the drama embraces dramatic reveals and uses its large cast of characters to continuously introduce cliffhangers and twists throughout. Starting off with a murder from the opening of the first episode, Law School is far removed from rom-com or slice of life dramas. Instead, some of the first episodes play out like a whodunnit as each of the characters are questioned about their involvement in the murder. The episodes build up a case against each accused only to tear it all back down as potential suspects are slowly ruled out. Flashbacks are significant as they serve as moments of recall when characters interact, and the drama leaves nuggets of clues that successfully keep you guessing until the end.
The plot is never straightforward and there is always someone to be suspicious of, and the drama requires focus to catch onto the little details that always foreshadow the next dramatic reveal. As the story progresses, many of Sol A and Joon-hwi’s classmates get tangled up in the crime, including med student turned law student Yoo Seung-jae (Hyun Woo), Joon-hwi’s roommate Seo Ji-ho (Lee David), and Sol A’s roommate Kang Sol B (Lee Soo-kyung). Each suspicious in their own ways, the drama forces viewers to constantly re-evaluate their opinions on characters as it slowly reveals their respective histories and motives.
Though the first half of the drama is primarily concerned with the search for the murderer, the drama quickly takes a turn to focus on another classmate Jeon Ye-seul (Go Yoon-jung) as she struggles to leave and face the repercussions of an abusive relationship. Ye-seul’s story does more than pick up the pace when the hunt for the murderer starts to feel stale; it also hints at new, undiscovered villains which pushes the audience to stay curious about the evil forces behind an interconnected web of lies and crimes. Indeed, the wide cast of characters have their moments of truth and redemption and all are relevant to the bigger picture.
However, the well-paced plot and big cast come at the expense of its two main characters. While characters such as the aforementioned Sol B are wonderfully written and acted, the same treatment is not extended to Sol A or Joon-hwi.
Though Sol A is clearly a crucial part of the story, she lacks a distinct presence for most of the drama. Like others, her character is also riddled with flaws and sketchy history with tons of potential for an intriguing character. However, most of the time she is a bumbling yet selfless and hardworking friend who is never as interesting as her classmates. In fact, oftentimes her most defining characteristic is that she struggles academically. While her moment to shine does eventually come, given her position as one of the most significant characters, it is lacklustre and Sol A does not stand out in comparison to her classmates.
In contrast, Sol B is easy to dislike at first due to her privileged background and stoic nature. It is slowly revealed that she is suffocating under her controlling mother, but she learns to stand up for herself and make her own decisions while never losing who she is.
The same critiques about Sol A can be made about Joon-hwi, as well as the relationship between the two. Joon-hwi is presented in the earlier episodes as a ruthless and naturally intelligent student who seems very capable of murdering one of his favourite family members. However, once it is revealed that he could not have taken part in his uncle’s muder, he is quickly portrayed as a happy-go-lucky student who is determined to look out for his fellow classmates. While it is comforting to have a character viewers can fully trust, Joon-hwi basically has no flaws to overcome. If he had learned and developed alongside his classmates, Joon-hwi would have been a much more relatable and admirable character.
The relationship between Sol A and Joon-hwi is also misleading. Though romance is not the focus of Law School, there were consistent hints that the two were destined for a romantic relationship. However, the drama comes to an end without addressing the dynamics between the two. While their friendship is arguably a better choice for the characters, the decision to keep the two as friends was a confusing conclusion because of the earlier buildup. Overall, the two characters were unable to stand out as their development did not match up to their classmates who had intriguing stories and struggles of their own to overcome.
A complex and captivating drama that keeps you second-guessing until the very end, Law School should be watched paying full attention. The drama stands out not just for its lack of romance, but for its plot twists and dynamic cast of characters that keep the drama intriguing until the very end.
(Images via jTBC)