I’m reviewing 6 & 7 together even though both aired on different days because I watched them in one sitting and felt I had a lot to say about both and didn’t want to lump episode 8 into the mix as well.
I’ve seen the term ‘drama crack’ used a lot on dramabeans before to refer to dramas that are just so addictive and enjoyable. I’ve never really experienced that before – perhaps also because of my preference for more intense dramas and the previous lighter dramas failed to really draw me in. Those I tried to watch include Strong Woman Do Bong Soo and Jealousy Incarnate. However, I sense that Suspicious Partner may be my first experience of a ‘drama crack’.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s by no means a perfect drama. I find some of the comedic elements very overdone, especially the unnecessarily wacky sound effects – especially so because Ji Chang Wook and Nam Ji-hyun are perfectly able to convey humour through their acting without the additional embellishments. Take the scene in ep7 of her recapping the night before when the killer was in her office – Nam Ji-hyun’s portrayal of Bong Hee is able to capture that combination of fear and exhilaration so well. That was a very well done scene overall – moving from her fear and anxiety, to humour, to Ji Wook’s bewilderment at her reaction to a more sombre mood as she recounts her pain over the past two years and finally more tender, romantic tone as Ji Wook invites her to his place. The tonal shift is done really well.
I don’t think I’ve met a character so cut off and as lonely as Bong Hee in the kdramas I’ve watched. She has not a single close friend within the drama, no siblings and while she is close to her mum, she lives alone and chooses not to burden her because her mum has grown disappointed in her. Her loneliness makes her strength and courage all the more admirable. I did find it rather odd though that given her will and determination to prove herself, that she didn’t do much within the 2 years time-leap to prove herself. Perhaps she was too caught up in the survival needs of life – needing to first find a job to provide for her mum. She’s ‘stalking’ and leaning onto Ji Wook now because he’s the only person who has really shown her care and protectiveness, but even so, she can’t fully get close to him because she feels so indebted to him, for causing him to lose his job to save her. Also, as he indirectly tells her in the courtroom scene, her stalking behaviour also has negative repercussions on him.
Ji Wook isn’t in very much of a better place himself after the two year leap. He carries himself with a certain limpness in his spirit, without the previous sharpness or strength. It’s evident that being an attorney has sapped his energies, because he’s someone who is a man of honour, who stands on the side of the law and stands up for righteousness. This is also because of his promise to his dad. He has spent two years just going through the motions, lost, yearning to go back to his life as a prosecutor.
While him and Bong Hee running into each other after 2 years in the courtroom is one too many coincidences even for me, I liked how it sparked off a reminder in him of what he used to stand for. Beyond just breaking the monotony of his life, her re-entry into his life brings back in him his sense of protectiveness – something that he has arguably not felt for a long time. He springs into action to protect her, because he realises that leaving her alone for 2 years has not helped. Not that Bong Hee is helpless as a person, but she’s up against much bigger forces that she can fight against. The District Attorney has made it his personal agenda to ensure she fails – the unforgiving media has ensured that her label as the woman who killed her ex-boyfriend can never be erased. Courageous and smart as she may be, she cannot overcome these forces. She may be able to save a woman from her stalker, but that means nothing in light of the bigger picture of her personal circumstances. Hearing her account of her past two years, Ji Wook decides he can’t leave her on her own anymore, that his decision to walk away has not helped and he agrees first to work together with her to find a murderer – which is arguably the first thing in two years that he’s genuinely felt convicted to do.
On his own accord, he even walks up to the District Attorney to confront him about his ‘bullying’ of Bong Hee, unafraid and uncaring about his own reputation. Once again, he puts his career on the line for Bong Hee, but not exactly for her either – more for what she represents to him. I’m liking all the little touches of Ji Wook catching Bong Hee and preventing her from falling further – especially the courtroom scene where he just firmly gripped the chair to prevent it from rolling back – such a gentlemanly, sweet and protective gesture. Her tea may not be able to solve his insomnia, but having her in his life allows him to sleep more peacefully. Perhaps his insomnia stems from a troubled soul that Bong Hee is able to calm, that she fills a void in his life that he never acknowledged or realised.
I’m liking how fast the relationship is progressing and that Ji Wook has moved past denial land and we’re getting our characters confronting their feelings, taking action about it and drawing closer. With Bong Hee moving into Ji Wook’s home, there’s now a more natural, logical setting for them to interact, without having to rely on even more coincidences. Of course in dramaland, things will never be so smooth and we know there will be more farewells between both of them, but as long as these farewells continue to bring our characters to new places, I say bring it on!
Am also loving the 2nd OST song released this week: