What’s great about Suspicious Partner is that things keep moving around and dynamics keep getting shifted – so much has changed once again from the end of Episode 8 to the end of Episode 10. Ji Wook goes from being an attorney employed by CEO Byun to being a prosecutor who hires CEO Byun, Eun Hyuk, Bong Hee and Mr. Jang. Our protagonists have yet another farewell, but once again reunite. From being isolated and lonely, Ji Wook and Bong Hee now almost have a new sort of ‘family’ in Ji Wook’s new firm. Everyone’s at a better place emotionally – especially our two protagonists and yes, I’ve never heard the word ‘hostage’ used in such a cool and sweet manner. Eun Hyuk and Ji Wook’s friendship have moved an inch ahead as Ji Wook has accepted Eun Hyuk into his firm.
This show is certainly turning out to be a lot of fun and I’m really enjoying the energy of the entire ensemble, not just between our two protagonists. Can I just say how much I’m loving CEO Byun? He’s cares a lot for Ji Wook, in a somewhat overbearing and imposing manner that Ji Wook can’t stand, but also cannot turn down because he’s just such a warm and fuzzy figure. I loved that scene of him scheming with Mr Jang to fall on the floor crying and asking Mr Jang to flip over the table – and he actually did it! Mr Jang is also equally hilarious and Eun Hyuk’s unabashed, persistent ‘love’ (in his own words) for Ji Wook is endearing. While I was previously annoyed by the unnecessary sound effects, I thought they were done very well in this episode – just subtly inserted into the scenes between Ji Wook and Bong Hee, like little embellishments to make a moving scene that little bit more quirky and cute. The tonal shifts continue to be well done – I especially liked how we moved from the deep, serious and painful interaction between Ji Wook and Yoo Jung at the start, to the playful tone as Bong Hee has way too much fun pretending to be Ji Wook’s partner. Loved how the show moved from the more deep conversation between Ji Wook and Eun Hyuk in the park to the comical fight scene between them and the teenagers, which started with the two of them evaluating the legal implications of their actions.
Mixed in with all the humour is more important revelations on what happened between Yoo Jung, Ji Wook and Eun Hyuk in the past. We learn that the three of them used to be close friends, with Yoo Jung and Eun Hyuk being Ji Wook’s only friends by his side after his dad left. Eun Hyuk liked Yoo Jung first, but she liked Ji Wook. He tried to give up his feelings for her but couldn’t, which resulted in the betrayal. We’ve always sensed that the friendship between Ji Wook and Eun Hyuk went deep, and now we know just how deep it went. This explains why Ji Wook can never forgive Eun Hyuk, but also why Eun Hyuk is so persistent in ‘winning’ Ji Wook back. The set up seems almost too neat and we can see how everything will eventually fall together nicely with both Ji Wook & Bong Hee and Eun Hyuk & Yoo Jung pairing up at the end, but there are definitely emotional hurdles on many fronts that need to be overcome before everything gets tied together in a neat, happy bow.
On the note of emotional hurdles, our protagonists also take strides ahead. I admire Bong Hee’s courage and independence. In spite of her desperate situation – financially and emotionally – she chooses not to cling to Ji Wook and leaves his place. While it’s an act of courage, it’s also in part an act of cowardice because she’s fearful of getting overly attached to him, which can in itself become a source of weakness and lead her to become emotionally vulnerable. I liked how Ji Wook went to find her to get her back, yet in that conversation, they still keep their distance and sit far apart. Unlike Bong Hee who is indeed shameless and keeps all her emotions at the surface, Ji Wook’s emotions runs deep. Ji Wook can immediately tell from Bong Hee’s eyes that she wants to know more about Yoo Jung, but Bong Hee is unable to tell from his face if he’s serious about wanting her back. When she tells that she can’t tell he’s serious, Ji Wook has to artificially and uncomfortably force his face to display his seriousness – which is very telling of how he may have grown so cold and distant from the world around him that he no longer knows how to display his emotions, except through actions. Even in showing his care for Bong Hee, he phrases it very business-like, as him having to keep her hostage so as to catch the killer. However, we know it’s more than that because we get insights into how he feels when she’s gone and that whole sequence of him walking throughout his house with scenes of Bong Hee packing snacks for him, tidying his fridge and packing her bag was so well-done – so heartfelt, poignant and tender – a beautiful combination of strong writing, great acting and competent direction.
Oh – and on the directing – wasn’t it great how we were first shown the scenes between Yoo Jung and Ji Wook from the past from Ji Wook’s perspective, and then later on, we got shown the exact same scenes, but from Eun Hyuk’s perspective. Both flashbacks were deeply painful, but for very different reasons.
And finally, we also have a murderer on the loose, whose intentions seem slightly murky at the moment. The murderer storyline is getting slightly less attention at this point, which is fine by me because it is no longer the key driving force of the narrative as it was in episodes 3 and 4. Nonetheless, it continues to intrigue me and I’m sensing and also hoping that we’ll get to know our murderer better, that he’ll not just be a one-dimensional, cold-blooded killer, but someone whom we’ll come to understand and relate to. For now, it does seem like he’s a lonely, but smart person. His awareness of forensic procedures gives him that edge that allows him to always escape being captured. His crime goes beyond simply killing people, but also setting it up such that others get accused. While he doesn’t actually kidnap them, his act of framing them keeps them ‘hostage’ and trapped, stuck with that label of murderer that can never be removed – as we’ve seen with Bong Hee.
The only character who isn’t quite working for me at the moment is Yoo Jung, who still seems rather one-dimensional as the ex who’s bent on getting her partner back at all cost. Of course, her air time in the present day storyline has been rather brief, so I may be judging her too soon.
With so many new kdramas beginning this week, we’re spoilt for choice and I could only follow one show due to the busyness of my schedule. I’m glad I chose Suspicious Partner, because it’s turning out to be one of the most fun yet meaningful shows I’ve watched!