Overall Rating: A-
Subtitles: Solid subs.
Brief Synopsis: A group of four new detectives joins an experimental squad led by a disillusioned former top detective. The lead and some of the new recruits are tied together by the mystery of a gruesome murder sixteen years before. Watch it on Viki
**Full show spoilers below the image. If you do not wish to be spoiled, do not proceed**
Ending Type: Certainly a sweet and happy ending.
Characters: THIS CAST THOUGH. This show suffered a few things that kept it from being a slam dunk for me, but it hit it out of the park in terms of characters and cast. This might have been my favorite ensemble cast in a K Drama (oh no my heart cringes a little at that thinking of Hwayugi but lol half the cast is the same). For real though the main team of Detectives was just all over the board in terms of personality and emotion but their chemistry together and group dynamic was just freaking incredible.
Team Leader Seo Pan Seok (Cha Seung Won) is a former (is it former?) star detective with a dark personal history. We meet him first in the past timeline as he’s desperately trying to secure a woman’s witness testimony, she ends up being murdered, he’s trying to protect her kid, and that kid disappears. In the present timeline he’s a lot rougher in general, with little to no patience for the inexperienced recruits and a temper that is no joke. He still has his charms, as all Seung Won’s character’s do. He oscillates perfectly between disappointed superior, reckless subordinate, determined detective, father-figure to the kiddos, and puppy dog in love. He gets to run the gambit in terms of emotional expression and he does it all well. The beauty of his character is that his personality is a wild card but his moral center is never in question–this dude will do the right thing. Period. How he does it is always an interesting question, but that he will be the hero is a guarantee. He was a freaking excellent leader, a wonderful character, and his romance with his ex-wife gave me way more feels than the main romance. A+ character and story all around.
Eun Dae Goo (Lee Seung Gi) was a much moodier and darker character than I’m used to seeing from Seung Gi. He was very much a stick-in-the-mud type of dude and the comedy of his character existed entirely in the reactions of his teammates to his general emo air (it was priceless). Dae Goo was still a great dynamic character, showing moments of warmth and care between his cold anger and clear emotional issues (the dude watched his mom die in front of his eyes and dedicated his life to finding her killer, he had it a bit rough). As always Seung Gi delivered incredibly well on the emotional moments and everything between–no matter what character he plays he really gets into it and you know what the character is thinking and feeling at all times. While he was the least fun or exciting of the main bunch he was lovable in his socially awkward way and it’s impossible not to feel for him or root for him.
Eo Soo Sun (Go Ara) is his partner and love interest and I am so glad I got to see this show because I loved Go Ara in Hwarang but kind of hated her character. In this I got to experience her in all her glory. Soo Sun is the literal cutest. Her energy was infectious, whether she was cheering everyone on or basking in her own righteous anger. She was such a wonderfully determined person, and her moments of raw emotion were perfectly written and executed. She really got a bad rap for most of the show and had to prove herself more than her other teammates and had the fun experience of homelessness, but she was relentlessly wonderful and completely there for her team (and her man). The light and life she brought to every scene she was in was golden, and I adored everything about her.
I think I need to talk about Ji Kook (Park Jung Min) and Park Tae Il (Ahn Jae Hyeon) together because 95% of their scenes involved their interactions with each other and this is pretty much my favorite side character duo of all time in terms of total entertainment value. Ji Kook is a wonderfully nerdy and often clueless dude who really doesn’t know why he wants to be a detective and is not at all prepared for it. Park Tae Il is a former doctor who quit to become a detective in part out of guilt for the fact that his brother died in a car accident while chasing after him. Tae Il is sweet and capable and he can do anything–the man cooks, he cleans, he takes care of his friends’ medical needs, he is emotionally available and very loyal to his people, and he’s a decent and passionate detective on top of all of that. Living together and being partners makes these two close really quickly, and their interplay is touching and absolutely hysterical. Props to the writing and to the cast chemistry for giving us this blessing.
Relationships: The group dynamic between these five and the squad leader who I don’t have time to talk about was just on point from the first second to the last. The journey they all go on together and the really intense situations that bring them closer were all perfectly written and wonderfully done. The cast chemistry was perfect, their interactions with each other always top notch whether they were comedic or emotional. I loved this ensemble experience to the moon and back.
This is the OG Ma Wong/Son Oh Gong drama or, as my friend and I like to call it, the prequel to Korean Odyssey. Cha Seung Won and Lee Seung Gi have amazing “adversaries who secretly care a lot about each other and don’t know how to show it” chemistry and work just so well together. The way they play off each other’s anger and emotions feel so real–it’s such a good parent/child or sibling dynamic, especially when it’s cut with all the moments when they’re on the same page, consciously or unconsciously. This was a relationship packed with emotional punches and it was SO FREAKING WELL DONE. A+++.
The romance in this between Dae Goo and Soo Sun was really just sweet. Like yes they start as the classic “we annoy each other, he’s a jerk I hate him” dynamic but they actually have a really cute history with each other and when Soo Sun figures out who Dae Goo really is the sort of warm co-operation that had been growing turns into full on adorableness and I loved it. Dae Goo was not great at emotional anything but when he started to care about her it was super obvious and their dynamic was just freaking sweet as heck. It was not the most feelings filled or intense of romances, but it definitely hit the spot.
**For some reason I have convinced myself we’re going to get a gay subplot one of these days and I am always proven deeply wrong but in my heart Tae Il and Ji Gook will live a happy, beautiful life together.
High Points: The characters and the group dynamic were by far the strongest thing for me, in case that wasn’t obvious. Like honestly the whole plot could be ignored and you could just watch these really wonderfully messed up humans do things together and it would be perfect. The pacing was also fantastic–there wasn’t any point in this show where I was bored or checking the episode number to see how close I was to the end.
Low Points: There were a lot of really unanswered questions here, or plot points that made me scratch my head. The overall just didn’t seem to all fit together nicely which was a little disappointing.
Final comments: This is really a delightful show and I definitely loved it and recommend it. Like all crime shows it does involve some heavy content and some tame violence (it’s a K Drama, there are Rules that must be followed) so be prepared for that. Overall I’d really just like to spend a weekend on vacation with this group of people and laugh my heart out and then give them all like, huge hugs.