5 Moments From Episodes 11-12 Of “The Devil Judge” Where It All Came Crashing Down

The Devil Judge” takes us on a dizzying ride this week as the man with all the answers finally finds himself in a position where he has none. Kang Yo Han (Ji Sung) has always been several steps ahead of everyone else. He’s blossomed under Ga On’s (Jinyoung) companionship, and together they’ve been unstoppable. But everything comes crashing down when one of his fiercest opponents finally outsmarts him.

Warning: spoilers for episodes 11-12 below.

1. The barbershop scene

Our first indication that Yo Han is no longer in control comes when he opens his eyes to Sun Ah (Kim Min Jung) shaving him, his longtime barber unconscious several feet away. Yo Han’s muted, but obvious surprise is proof that he hadn’t meticulously prepared for this encounter. During the entire scene, he’s completely at Sun Ah’s mercy. And that’s a frightening position to be in.

Being Yo Han, he still manages to get inside her head. But both players are well familiar with this game, and Sun Ah knows exactly what he’s doing. At the end of the day, Yo Han’s only recently found that Sun Ah’s the mastermind behind the Social Responsibility Foundation. He hasn’t had enough time to study his enemy. Sun Ah, on the other hand, has been watching Yo Han for years. She knows his moves like the back of her hand because Yo Han has a line he doesn’t cross ever since his brother Isaac asked him not to: no innocent victims.

This is why it’s all the more dangerous that Yo Han introduces her to the people he loves the most.

2. Dinner is served

It’s sad watching Sun Ah enter the house that definitively shaped her life. She relives bringing young Yo Han his meals and watching him reading, and her eyes cloud over at the memory of her stealing the silverware as though she’s ashamed she had to do in order to survive. She seems so happy to have returned as a queen instead of a maid that’s it’s painful to watch her realize that she has gained nothing after all these years.

Yo Han brings her home to lure her into working with him but unwittingly gives her a taste of everything she doesn’t have: his live-in junior partner judge who cooks delicious meals for the family and makes them all smile and his prickly niece. Yo Han and Ga On seem like parents.

Sun Ah’s face falls as she realizes that she got what she wanted (money) but not what she needed (happiness). The elites are always looking for an opportunity to throw each other under the bus, so they’re not exactly friend material. That feeling is compounded when Yo Han gives her the necklace that he loves. In episode 7, he strangled Sun Ah for daring to take it. However, that was before Ga On became a part of his home, before they joined forces and took down corruption. Now, he doesn’t need it anymore. He’s giving Sun Ah what he doesn’t want while showing her what she doesn’t have. So, Sun Ah’s going to strip it all from him.

3. Death of the iron woman

Ironically, the first person to upend Yo Han’s carefully laid plans isn’t Sun Ah. Whatever can be said about Cha Kyung Hee, there’s no denying that the woman was a force to be reckoned with. She sucked the air out of the room just by entering it, and it was painfully evident that the rest of the elites (all men) resented her for it because they have the commanding presence of a pack of chihuahuas (especially Heo Joong Se (Baek Hyun Jin)). Yo Han cornered her many times, and while she reacted as he expected on some occasions, she surprised him on others: like when she picked her career over her son.

So it’s no surprise that when cornered in the most humiliating manner, trapped her by her own tactics, this proud woman refuses to bow. Cha Kyung Hee leaves on her own terms. She’s brilliant, cruel, and powerful but hampered and overlooked by the men she had to serve. It’s awfully sad because she would have been unstoppable if she turned her back on that life. Yo Han was insulated by his wealth and gender during his rise up the ranks. Kyung Hee built herself up from nothing, and Chairman Seo (Jung In Gyeom) was her sponsor. There’s a recurring theme here as the women in this show have had to make ugly decisions and fight to survive in a men’s world. Sun Ah and Kyung Hee pulled themselves up from nothing only for men to tear them down. Their evil decisions don’t change this as it’s arguable they wouldn’t have had to turn evil if the world had been fairer to them. In this interview with tvN, Kim Min Jung mentioned that she’ll consider her job done if viewers feel empathy and pity, and it’s hard not to feel that way.

The show’s goal is to show that there’s no clear line between good and evil. There’s nothing black and white about it. Thus, it’s unfortunate that after swimming in shades of grey, this unrealistic binary rears its head once more.

4. Caught in the act

Yoon Soo Hyun (Park Gyu Young) and Min Jung Ho (Ahn Nae Sang) are probably the only characters in this show who still see people in a black-and-white fashion. It was only a matter of time before they found out what Ga On’s been up to, but Soo Hyun’s eternally poor decision-making upends not only her friendship with Ga On but also Yo Han and Ga On’s bond.

It’s heartbreaking because right before Soo Hyun entered, Yo Han was about say something. He watched Ga On flinch and pick through Kyung Hee’s corpse with evident concern and could tell that Ga On was in shock but forcing himself to keep going. Yo Han has always had trouble expressing his feelings but was clearly going to say something comforting. However, that moment is gone forever upon Soo Hyun’s intrusion. Yo Han tries to comfort Ga On while driving home and stands by Ga On’s side facing Soo Hyun, so it’s all the more painful when Ga On lashes out at him (as always) and abandons Yo Han and Elijah (Jeon Chae Eun) when they need him most.

Yo Han senses this is about to end badly, but instead of drawing back like he did earlier, the Yo Han who never needed anyone shatters, practically begging Ga On to stay. That final argument in his study was a powerful display of vulnerability as he alternates between trying to comfort Ga On and pleading with him to see reason. He rightfully notes that they’re up against dangerous, powerful people, and having black and white people like Soo Hyun and Jung Ho around will only harm Ga On. Soo Hyun even threatened to arrest him if he continued with vigilante justice (which literally means that Soo Hyun is on the side of the oppressor, but she can’t even understand that). But Yo Han makes the colossal mistake of asking Ga On to cut Soo Hyun out of his life. It’s a perfectly valid request, but it’s too soon. Ga On’s struggling as is, and the last time someone forced a choice on him (Min Jung Ho), he did not choose him.

Ga On yells some nonsense about Soo Hyun being his world and storms out of the house, leaving Yo Han and Elijah in tears. Now, if this was framed as Ga On needing time to deal with Kyung Hee’s death, given how his parents died in the same manner, then this would be excellent. But to awkwardly shoehorn an unbelievable romance between two characters with parent-child chemistry and turn Ga On into someone who’ll throw away justice for said terrible cop is character assassination.

Min Jung Ho seizes upon Yo Han’s weakness and demands that the live court show be dismantled and Yo Han be investigated. He lectures Yo Han about how bad vigilante justice is while having the temerity to say that his (Jung Ho’s) justice is righteous. Yo Han dryly points out that Soo Hyun and Jung Ho seem to view Ga On as a child who can’t think for himself. Jung Ho quotes Nietzsche, going on about how the abyss looks back when you gaze into it.

 That’s dramatic. And rich, coming from someone siding with the elite

What a brilliant line!

But for all his sarcasm, poor, weary Yo Han loses everything overnight. His nightmares return in spades, and he can’t stop thinking about Ga On. While running, while eating, while sleeping, he thinks of the family he temporarily had.

This is powerful and heartbreaking

Yo Han valiantly still fights, but he’s numb and heartbroken. So it’s no wonder that Sun Ah captures him so easily.

5. Yo Han loses

The world of the elite remains male-dominated, and Sun Ah quickly discovers that joining its ranks under her real identity was a bad idea. She actually attempts to protect Yo Han from Heo Joong Se and crew’s machinations until she’s belittled (Heo Joong Se mocks that she must have slept with Yo Han!) and mocked to the point that she chooses to protect the wealth and security of her position at the expense of becoming Heo Joong Se’s dog. It’s an awful decision, but you can’t help feeling sorry for why and how she had to make it. Because between Yo Han and power, Sun Ah will always pick power.

Finding out that K (Lee Ki Taek) has been digging into the circumstances of her father’s death only adds fuel to the fire. So when Yo Han shows up to their meeting place expecting only him to be hurt (because bless the poor man, he’s so used to being hurt by others), he’s devastated to find K captured. Yo Han takes a bullet, trying to save K. While the other man begs him to leave and save himself, Yo Han determinedly keeps going to save his right-hand man because he always protects his own.

If Yo Han still had Ga On, perhaps he wouldn’t have failed. But Yo Han has no one now. And to his everlasting horror, K dies by Sun Ah’s hand. The fury and pain in Yo Han’s eyes is a sight to behold. He holds it back, numb and grieving, but vows to kill her in the most painful and lonely way, befitting her. And thus, Yo Han hits rock bottom.

Next week’s preview shows things going from bad to worse. Oh Jin Joo (Kim Jae Kyung), who seemed gung-ho about justice, sides with the elites to oust Yo Han and become chief judge. Soo Hyun remains a terrible cop who cares less about justice than about her personal vendetta against Yo Han as she hunts down witnesses to the church fire that killed Isaac (Soo Hyun, people are dying. Maybe do your job?). Sun Ah has a gun to Elijah’s head! She laughs that Yo Han is nothing more than a man with a stage. Take away his platform, and Yo Han is nothing (which is horribly true). Wounded and shattered Yo Han runs around still fighting. Someone help this man!

For a character billed as the heart of the show, Ga On remains frustrating. He keeps yelling that he wants to fight corruption but runs away the moment things get difficult. Justice isn’t easy, and if Ga On even cares about justice, he needs to understand that. He just threw away the only person who’s actually fighting for justice in favor of a terrible cop and equally awful judge (even after Yo Han helped him bring Do Young Choon (Jung Eun Pyo) to justice).

Now that’s he’s witnessed first hand just how corrupt the Foundation and President are as they frame a violent riot in a neighborhood as a virus containment effort, will he step up? Will he return to the man he so cruelly threw away ? Or will he join Soo Hyun and Min Jung Ho in spouting meaningless platitudes about justice while letting corruption run rampant?

Can these golden days return once more?

Ji Sung in suspenders should be illegal. 

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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” “Lovers of the Red Sky”

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