“Missing Nine” continues to hit all the right notes in the second episode and is absolutely engaging from start to end. Just as it gives more answers, it opens up more questions and we get slowly drawn into the characters’ lives and predicaments.
The stuck-on-a-deserted island premise isn’t new, but the show manages to breathe life into it through its unique narrative style of unfolding the story on the island through the eyes of Bong Hee and situating the story in very modern contexts like the frenzy of social media and Sino-korean relations. While the characters are key to drawing us into the story, it’s a very thematically rich show too, with the second episode looking into themes of identity, hope and truth. I’m also loving the soundtrack thus far, and the OST captures that wistfulness, desolation and beauty of surviving such an ordeal.
In this episode, Bong Hee starts to recall what happens on the island following the crash in a largely chronological manner through an interview with Investigator Oh, who has Hee-Kyung monitoring the situation and feeding him prompts and responses through the earphone. While Bong Hee claims to have forgotten what has happened, she does recap the happenings in relatively rich detail and we learn that from a medical perspective, there’s no reason why she should have forgotten what has happened. In fact, even if she did not have any amnesia, I would imagine someone returning from such an ordeal to have to take quite a long while to piece everything together.
Joon Ho and Bong Hee end up on the same stretch of beach following the crash. While Bong Hee may have been bumbling and awkward in the first episode when handling the media world, she is completely at ease on the island, taking charge immediately by sorting out food and water supplies and portioning it appropriately for her and Joon Oh. Joon Oh on the other hand is not only absolutely useless at survival skills, he has no sense of the gravity of the situation and keeps eating up the food supplies.
However, physical survival is not the main journey as it’s ultimately about the emotional journey and the show explores this deeply as Bong Hee moves back and forth from hope to despair continually throughout the episode. Her survival instinct is certainly drawn from her memories of her mum, who gave her both practical skills and the sheer will to live. While initially subserviant to Joon Oh and complaint to his threats to fire her back in Seoul, she realises that she’s the one in control here when Lee Yeol emerges and informs her that he has seen skeletons of people who have died on this island. It makes her realise that going back to Seoul may be a very distant reality, and in the world of the island, she’s the one who’s ultimately able to survive and whom Joon Oh needs to depend on.
The group gradually grows as shortly after Lee Yeol is discovered, they also find Ji Ah, who then brings them to a cave where they meet a lady who’s been there for a while – So Hee. We learn that she is eventually killed by someone and a man, who claims to be her brother, is likely to be seeking revenge for her. Just as the happenings on the island remain a mystery, the web of relationships in the world where Bong Hee returns to also continues to unravel in intriguing ways.
Nonetheless, in the midst of the good stuff, I did feel that the physical realities of living on the island weren’t fully captured. Bong Hee and Joon Oh’s clothes still seem almost pristine clean, with only minor stains and that’s after several days where they’ve gone to look for food and even set up a good shelter for themselves. There’s no sense of the weather too as they seem to be wearing the same attire all the time, which for Joon Oh is his turtleneck from morning till night. There’s almost no struggle in getting food or buiding a shelter – in fact, it almost seems too smooth. Nonetheless, I’m willing to overlook all the above since the drama does depict the emotional journey very well.
We’re certainly in for a ride and there’s so much to think about and keep you at the edge of your seat in each episode! It’s still early but I can foresee this show doing well in the ratings.