TL;DR: I am getting so many of the things that I had hoped for straight out of the gate that I’m both confused and delighted.
Solomon’s Perjury has a solid grasp on characterization and—perhaps most importantly for a murder mystery—knows how to tell a compelling story. Instead of giving us awkwardly timed information dumps, the drama actually gives us a scene that demonstrates whatever information it is that we’re supposed to know. After so many dramas this year being talking heads or explaining everything after the fact, it’s refreshing to be in the moment instead of constantly being yanked out of the narrative.
We hear Joon-young’s parents fighting and watch him play out a timid, ignored goodbye, which later escalates to the awful scene in the restaurant, after which he goes and posts a typical happy family picture on SNS and there’s absolutely no question that this poor kid has endured years of emotional abuse and neglect and that he is utterly miserable right now. Instead of being told about Ji-hoon and So-woo’s friendship, we get the creepy question from Kyung-moon of whether or not Ji-hoon knows about “that” incident, Ji-hoon’s brief flashbacks during the memorial service, and the sudden revelation that Kyung-moon is Ji-hoon’s father—and in that same low-key scene, discover that there is trouble in that household, too.
Solomon’s Perjury knows how to dole out information and raise new questions without skipping a beat. The cold open in the courtroom was wonderfully done (I actually had to hit pause and make sure I hadn’t selected the wrong episode), and it was a great way to promise the viewers that we will be getting to some serious mock-courtroom shenanigans in the future. It has been ages since I’ve felt that a kdrama actually knew where the hell it was going and what it was doing. I’m almost ready to trust this team.
Our characters are getting fleshed out in little moments, like when Seo-yeon bandages her pen to her hand to Joon-young’s happy family façade to the homeroom teacher’s little moment of devastation in the office. I love that Seo-yeon has a happy, loving family, with the cutest little twin sisters ever. I admire her compassion—and possibly even more, her regret. After failing to testify twice and being called out on it, she gathered up her courage to write a witness statement—but it was too late. That will undoubtedly be cited as the turning point in her life and one of the driving forces behind her decision to spearhead the mock trial.
And can I just say that I adore the fact that Seo-yeon has two girl friends? And that they hang out and have fun together and link arms and just genuinely seem to enjoy one another’s company? Maybe it was just the shows I picked, but kdramas this year have had a real dearth of female friendships, especially between young women. Girls don’t always have to be in competition with each other or be isolated or be “one of the guys.” They can be cute and silly together and team up to help solve a murder, too. (I hope.)
With the current exception of Woo-hyuk and his father, who are currently cardboard cutouts of Rich Teenage Terror and Pettily Evil Chaebol, respectively, our main players are rapidly gaining depth. After Seo-yeon, Joon-young stood out the most. His character arc in this episode was brutal to watch, but I am so proud of him for choosing to come off the ledge before Seo-yeon arrived to cry-at/lecture him. I’m crossing my fingers that he accepts Seo-yeon’s offer of friendship but also that he finds reasons of his own to push forward and survive. I’m also crossing my fingers that we get to know the other students that will be tangled up in this case just as well as him.
Particularly So-woo. One of the weaknesses of White Christmas it took me over 600 words to make a comparison, you should be proud of me is that its dead teenager was really little more than the catalyst for the main plot. He had a grand total of two minutes screen time, tops, and then everything else was about everyone else but him. Hell, most of the cast didn’t even know who he was and a good portion of them never met him. But here, in Solomon’s Perjury, So-woo is briefly a living, breathing character who interacted with and was known by a lot of the main cast. He wasn’t just the catalyst to kick of a more interesting adventure. I hope that Solomon’s Perjury can continue to shed light on So-woo’s character and keep some of the focus on him, not just the events leading up to his death and how that affects everyone else.
I’m not sure if we can trust the eyewitness—there are so many ways she could be an unreliable narrator—but I’m very excited about the delivery of the murder indictment and what this means for the next episode. Whether or not we’ll get into a courtroom before the end of it doesn’t matter so much as the fact that Seo-yeon now has the push she needs to use her regret to fuel her search for justice.
Something’s rotten in Jeong-guk High School, and I want it yanked out by the roots for the world to see.
By the Numbers
- Fight scene: 1
- Dramatic departures: 1
- Prince of a teenager’s life: $30,000 + a memorial service
- Color-faded scenes: 2
- Bechdel Test: 1 episode passed