We’re already halfway through “The Devil Judge”! This week, it’s an all-out war between the elite and Yo Han (Ji Sung) as each side seeks to outmaneuver the other. Ga On (Jinyoung) continues to waffle back and forth on whose side he’s on, but the time for decision-making has finally arrived, and both sides still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Here are the most shocking reversals from this week’s episodes!
Warning: spoilers for episodes 7-8 below.
1. Sun Ah’s advice to women
If last week gave us a peek into Sun Ah’s (Kim Min Jung) psyche, this week delves deep into what (or rather who) made her the tigress she is. During the lecture she provides at a center for troubled girls, Sun Ah veers off-script and gets personal. She paints a picture of her childhood as abusive and neglectful: with an alcoholic mother who turned into a devil when drunk, hunger, stealing to support herself, and a tragic backstory that appears to explain her character. Worse, she excitedly instructs the girls to garner evidence in any fashion possible when (not if but when!) they’re sexually assaulted and torment their assaulter forever, because the police won’t care.
It’s horribly grim watching the girls smile and agree, like they’ve already experienced how ugly the world is and are grateful to have pointers on how to navigate it.
Yet, how much can we trust what Sun Ah says? She’s known to bend the truth, as seen in her rendition of how she fell from the second floor of Yo Han’s home. Plus, the Sun Ah that Yo Han met was a manipulative, half-insane girl to begin with. Did her mother truly die of “tripping” down the stairs? Sun Ah pushing the director of the center for troubled girls down the stairs and her consequent murder of Chairman Seo (Jung In Gyeom) prove that nothing she says can be taken at face value.
What’s for certain is that her advice to the girls came from a place of intimate knowledge, because Chairman Seo is her sexual assaulter.
2. Chairman Seo’s death
Sun Ah may have the most powerful people in Korea in the palm of her hand, but before then, she was a young woman working her way up the Foundation’s corporate ladder, who caught the eye of the wrong man. She’s used that man as a shield to cover her real role in the Foundation for years, but a game has begun that warrants playing in the open, and that means the shield has to go.
Chairman Seo has little more to him than lechery. The man was so excited at the thought of Yo Han having created an opening for him to attack Sun Ah that he failed to see that this same opening gave Sun Ah free reign to get rid of him. He barely knows anything of the elite while Sun Ah’s been involved in every enterprise. Thus, it’s no wonder that when push comes to shove, the elite discard him in favor of her.
The scene is brilliantly acted, with an incredible performance by Kim Min Jung. Sun Ah brings up her vendetta for one last time. There’s pain and bitterness in every word when she asks Chairman Seo why he did that to her. He grovels one last time before she drives her blade home, and for a moment we see the real Sun Ah between all her cruel sweetness: a woman furious at the system that failed her but doomed to repeat its mistakes. There’s a fierce pride in her eyes at having cut him down at last. Now, she’s ready to hunt.
3. The man in the jail cell
Ga On’s been a frustrating character due to his determination to see nothing but evil in Yo Han. There are small moments when light shines through the cracks and the man sees reason, but he immediately runs to Min Jung Ho (Ahn Nae Sang) or Soo Hyun (Park Gyu Young), who promptly make up reasons for him to distrust Yo Han. And worse, Ga On just listens to them instead of following his gut, which has been screaming for weeks now that Yo Han isn’t a bad guy.
Yo Han hones in on the heart of Ga On’s cognitive dissonance. This isn’t about his parents being conned, and therefore him not wanting to resort to conman-ish tricks. This is about the lies he let Min Jung Ho and Soo Hyun feed him in order to keep surviving. Both Yo Han and Ga On buried their rage in order to survive, but while Yo Han channeled his into vengeance, Ga On warped it into naïveté bordering on the unfathomably ridiculous – a La La Land where everyone and everything will be rainbows and sunshine as long as one worships the sainted laws and systems.
But that delusion hinges on the illusion of justice, and Yo Han brings it crashing down on Ga On’s head. The conman who took everything from his parents? Gone. Replaced with an aging man who was either bribed or forced into substituting. Ga On’s faith in the almighty system finally shatters, and so does he. The righteous fury Soo Hyun asked him to hold back rears its head. And Ga On finally realizes just how horribly wrong he was about everything.
Yet, predictably, Ga On still finds a way to distrust Yo Han, wondering if he is engineering the whole thing. Yo Han, on the other hand, is using every means he can to bring Ga On to his side, but perhaps he’s too focused on Ga On. Because there’s a third judge on that panel, and she’s had enough.
4. Jin Joo going over to the dark side
Judge Oh Jin Joo (Kim Jae Kyung) is an intelligent ambitious woman, and it’s become blatantly obvious to her that she’s being left out. Yo Han entrusts everything to Ga On, but absolutely nothing to her. Those two are in their own world, and she’s had enough of being on the outside looking in (likely a familiar position for her growing up underprivileged). So it’s no wonder that she finds Sun Ah’s offer so fascinating.
Among the many changes Sun Ah’s made upon becoming the Foundation’s chairwoman, one is to get herself as head of the committee that oversees Yo Han’s live court. It is yet unclear whether she means for Jin Joo to spy on Yo Han or actively sabotage him (likely the latter), but regardless of the mission, Jin Joo’s evidently in.
But Yo Han doesn’t include her for a reason. While Ga On has never been comfortable with the spotlight, Jin Joo’s actively sought it at every turn. She talks the talk: good intentions, helping people, etc, but somewhere deep down, she craves power and attention and has let it slip on more than one occasion. There’s nothing wrong with ambition but she’ll always side with the person who can give her the most exposure, as is clearly happening here. Yo Han didn’t want someone wishy-washy, but someone capable of commitment, someone who gets angry at power rather than swayed by it. Ga On fits the bill, and Yo Han’s doing whatever it takes to have him.
5. Yo Han being transparent
“If there is a devil, it is the self-pity of the powerful.” These words have been Yo Han’s guiding philosophy. Yo Han has never felt sorry for himself. His rage is directly outward. He knows exactly when he crosses the line, when he deserves Ga On’s rage, and when he doesn’t.
Yo Han might have set out to manipulate Ga On but has rapidly found himself pulling out all stops to earn his trust. He ceases holding his cards close. When Ga On cries, it’s like he can’t hold himself back and tells Ga On about how he felt when the elites barged into his hospital room post-fire and all but begged for free land and money.
He’s done everything possible to show Ga On who he is and what his intentions are. As he tells K (Lee Ki Taek), Ga On could be dangerous on the other side. Rather than have Ga On at his back with a knife, Yo Han wants him at his side, or else would have to get rid of him altogether, which is something Yo Han clearly can never go through with.
After even the prisoner-swap corruption fails to sway Ga On, Yo Han finally shows him his inner circle: K, Lawyer Go (Park Hyung Soo), among others. All were failed by the system Ga On’s worshipped for so long. Ga On tries to argue that they’re just people Yo Han bought, but is struck silent by the trauma they’ve been through.
Yo Han patiently waits as Ga On conducts his own background investigation into the conman who robbed his parents. He finds that it was Cha Kyung Hee who arranged for the conman’s release. Shaking, Ga On rages at Yo Han (for the 1000th time), demanding why Yo Han didn’t tell him sooner. Yo Han shuts him up by astutely pointing out that Ga On would never have believed him. He lays himself bare, says he would have done anything, even faked the prisoner swap himself if it meant having Ga On on his side. He waits for Ga On to finally see, to finally break free of the toxic ideals that have constrained him for so long. And oh boy, does Ga On deliver.
6. Ga On choosing Yo Han
The moment of truth is here at last. Surprisingly, it’s Min Jung Ho who brings things to a head, demanding that Ga On join with him and tear down the live court. With everything Ga On has seen and heard thus far, it’s impossible for him to agree. Instead of suggesting that they fight corruption, or tear down the elite, Min Jung Ho argues that it’s the court that needs to be dismantled, completely missing the root of the problem.
Ga On points (parroting Yo Han) that it’s not that the court is instigating all the madness overtaking Korea, but that the court (or Yo Han, really) reacted to a widespread problem that everyone knew existed and never did anything about. And judges like Min Jung Ho are responsible for that problem, for not doing their jobs and focusing more on pure ideals rather than on protecting people with the law.
The real instigators are out there, and they want Yo Han’s court taken down. Playing into their hands would be a real slap in the face to the memory of Ga On’s parents. At last, Ga On sheds his righteous mantle and walks into the dark. Because the light was so blindingly bright, he never saw what it was hiding. So, he finally takes Yo Han’s hand and prepares to fight a corrupt world.
YES! Ga On’s finally seen the light!
Next week’s preview shows things getting much darker, with Ga On fully immersing himself in vengeance and the fight for justice. Sun Ah ups her game by introducing a wrench in the live court in the form of Jin Joo. Cha Kyung Hee seethes as the elites close ranks and leave her out to dry. Soo Hyun’s gotten herself into a sticky situation, and put Elijah in danger by possibly being the worst cop in history (who leaves a minor in a wheelchair two feet away from a gunfight. She should have at least called for back-up and stayed with Elijah instead of leaving her unguarded!)
Every time it appears the stakes cannot get any higher, they go through the roof. But Yo Han and Ga On are fighting this dreadfully unjust game together now. So let the games begin!
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What did you think of this week’s episodes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she works as a lawyer, fangirls over Ji Sung, and attempts to write the greatest fantasy romance of all time. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!
Currently Watching: “The Devil Judge,” “Undercover,” “You are My Spring”
Looking Forward to: “The Veil”