Suspicious Partner Episodes 19-20

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As mentioned in my previous review, the writer is really using the mid-point episodes to set things up for the second half, as evident from what we learn about Ji Wook and Bong Hee’s dads in this episode. As a result of that, the episodes themselves feel rather slow in terms of plot development, unlike many of the previous episodes. The court case involving the mum who took the fall for her son was rather weak too – zipped through and closed with not much fanfare. Nonetheless, we have plenty of juicy, delicious character moments in these two episode, so I’m not really complaining.

While we spent most of the earlier episodes with awkward, bumbling Ji Wook, his charisma is slowly emerging in recent episodes after he admits to his feelings for Bong Hee. The Ji Wook we are seeing now seems liberated, confident and emotionally forthright, giving us hints of the man he was before Yoo Jung and Eun Hyuk’s betrayal happened. He’s persistent in his pursuit of Bong Hee, teasing her and endlessly trying to charm her. Bong Hee is no longer pushing him away, but neither is she fully embracing his affection either. They’re both taking small steps forward, opening up to each other gradually and that gives us plenty of sweet, humorous and heartfelt moments within this episode, like the dish-washing scene, Bong Hee’s confession in the carpark, and their almost-kiss that was hindered by their mugs! Nonetheless, I’m disappointed that he made the choice in this episode to hide the truth yet again from Bong Hee, especially since he knows she’s in such a vulnerable position in relation to Hyun Soo. Hyun Soo’s fascination with Bong Hee is evident, hence I really wish Ji Wook would stop protecting her unnecessarily and let her in on the truth, so they can investigate this together.

Moving on to Hyun Soo, he hasn’t really done much recently but he’s certainly proving himself to be more capable and sharp than your typical cold-blooded murderer. He has a certain method about his madness that’s fascinating and intriguing. More so than his evil actions, I’m truly keen to find out more about what’s going on in his mind and what his bigger game plan is. The exchange between him and Ji Wook was extremely well-played and I loved watching them pit against each other mentally. Hyun Soo never goes as far as to threaten Ji Wook – he’s wiser than that – whatever information he gains, he uses it to his advantage and plays the victim card, so that nothing he says can ever entrap him. Ji Wook also plays his cards close and never unveils his deeper suspicions of Hyun Soo. He’s continually apologetic during the conversation, also playing the unknowing, innocent card, saying that he’s just doing what he feels needs to be done as a prosecutor. The verbal sparring between them is intense and fun to watch and leaves me wondering what Hyun Soo’s next move will be. For a moment, I did wonder if the husband in the court case was killed by Hyun Soo, but I guess not. I foresee he might be taking a pause in his murder spree for the time-being so as to get Bong Hee and Ji Wook to stop pestering him. He might even try to get himself a job in Ji Wook’s firm.

And finally, the big reveal in this episode about their fathers. I’m still waiting to see how this pans out, but at the moment, it feels like way too much of a coincidence for me that their fathers are connected, which I’m certain will become a source of angst subsequently. I’m not sure that we really needed this complication in their relation or in the show as we do have several other storylines and characters I feel have been sorely neglected, like Eun Hyuk and Yoo Jung. However, more importantly, I feel that we really didn’t need yet another source of tension between Bong Hee and Ji Wook, which feels tangential from what’s been developing lately. Nonetheless, I place my trust in the writers who have thus far been competent.

Now that we’ve set up some key pieces for the next half of the series, I’m looking forward to returning to the tightness of writing and quick-footed pace that’s made this show so enjoyable for the first half. There’s indeed lots of material still left for the show to explore, so I’m hopeful for an enjoyable second half of this show.

Suspicious Partner Episodes 17-18

This episode felt slower – there were too many flashbacks and things just weren’t progressing very much. It was still an enjoyable and meaningful episode and I can see that the episode was also doing some setting up for the next half of the series.

Things have certainly progressed significantly for our protagonists and it’s not hard to see why Bong Hee is reluctant to sacrifice her current stability and satisfaction to enter into a relationship with Ji Wook. After working so hard to keep her feelings aside, she’s settling well into her job and has built a good relationship with her fellow colleagues. More importantly, she’s reached a stage of emotional stability where she can control her feelings for Ji Wook and does not latch on to him for stability. Ji Wook’s confession throws her into a whirlwind of emotions again and makes her vulnerable once again.

I appreciate how characters in this show talk things out, confess their honest feelings for each other and move ahead, rather than avoid their emotions or worse still run away. In that respect, I really liked the conversation the next morning between Ji Wook and Bong Hee, where Ji Wook asks Bong Hee for the permission to like her, a nice reversal from what happened just a few episodes ago. He looks at her with such warm and puppy-dog sincerity that you really have to wonder how Bong Hee managed to stand firm! Then, he gives his most genuine, sweet smile after confessing his feelings that you can see he’s no longer the emotionally detached man from a few episodes ago. I loved the little touch of weakness after they separate and Ji Wook’s bravado cracks and he tries to catch his breath.

The honest conversations continue as Ji Wook and Bong Hee go on an investigation and Bong Hee shares how she’s tried so hard not to like him. I’m really loving how Ji Wook and Bong Hee’s conversations move so smoothly from heart-felt emotional to fun and teasing. Ji Wook’s feigned broad smile after that was hilarious and I enjoyed how he immediately reminded her that now that it’s work, he has the upper hand and he’s boss! After that exchange, we move swiftly into our investigations where we learn new things about our Chan-Ho and Hyun-Soo duo, including the discovery of this photo:

Who’s the third person in this photo? Those certainly look like happier days between Chan-Ho and Hyun-Soo, so what happened in between then to lead to their current tense and unbalanced relationship where Hyun Soo has the upper hand?

Related to the investigation, I’m not liking how Ji Wook and Mr Bang feel the need to hide everything from Bong Hee, especially since Ji Wook already knows that Hyun Soo has been trying to contact with her. This over-protectiveness does not seem necessary, neither does it seem helpful. Obviously, Hyun Soo beat him to it and arranges to meet Bong Hee to tell her he didn’t actually have an alibi on that day. Hyun Soo is certainly a sharp man as he already saw Mr Bang investigating earlier and therefore ups his game. It’s a risky game he is playing though because that would certainly open him up to suspicion, but one has to wonder what game he’s playing then – is he trying to gain Bong Hee’s trust? Why? What exactly is his bigger game plan and why is Bong Hee such a critical piece in this?

I appreciated too that Yoo Jung finally has a bigger purpose to play in the grand scheme of things, after being assigned by the DA to reinvestigate the death of Hee-joon. I’m still not feeling much for her because I was hoping for more ‘softening’ and growth for her character after we saw some her reach out to Eun Hyuk last week, but she still seems to be stuck and dwelling on the past. Eun Hyuk, on the other hand, continues to win me over with his sweetness and supportiveness for Bong Hee. CEO Byun is certainly a ball of fun and just cracks me up in every scene that he’s in.

With Yoo Jung now part of the investigation and the mounting tension between Hyun Soo and Chan Ho, I’m all ready for the stakes to be raised!

Suspicious Partner Episodes 15-16

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Finally – the first kiss between Ji Wook and Bong Hee – that we know of! Heh.

We knew it was coming because the signs were all there – Ji Wook sheepishly following Bong Hee around, his pining looks at her in the office, his jealous stares when seeing her with Eun Hyuk and his overwhelming protectiveness and concern for her. As much as he very much wants to be emotionally distant from her, he just can’t seem to do so. Ironically, it is Bong Hee’s pushing him away that pulls him even closer. She’s determined to stand up for herself and tells him off when he tries to defend her against the District Attorney. She doesn’t want to be indebted to him and tells Eun Hyuk that she’s decided not to like him, but just to become his fan – because then she won’t have any expectations of him. However, in the scene with her mum at the pizza restaurant (seriously, is that the only place where the two of them ever meet?), she can’t hold back her tears anymore and her mum sees through her eyes how much she really likes this man.

On a separate note, we don’t see Bong Hee and Ji Wooks’ mums very often, but I’m really like the dynamics both of them share with their mums, especially between Ji Wook and his mum. The combination of doting, affectionate love together with over-brimming pride is so endearing, perhaps because she has also been trying to make up for the absence of a father figure in his life.

While the love story is making steady progress, it feels like we’re hurtling ahead in a good way with our murder storyline ever since the revelations started coming in. From a simple murder storyline, it’s become a twisted, complex power-play between two characters who still remain rather mysterious and shady. Chan-ho is coming off as the vulnerable one here, living in fear yet so close to cracking and exposing the truth to Bong Hee. So, now we also know that Bong Hee and her ex-boyfriend were actually unfortunate causalities, in the wrong place at the wrong time, and not part of Hyun-soo’s big plan. It makes sense that Hyun Soo would want to keep Bong Hee close, since he knows she’s determined to clear her name and now he knows Chan-Ho is getting close to her.  The dynamics between Chan-ho and Hyun-soo are clearer now, but I’m interested in both their backstory as well as what the next step is for them. Is Hyun Soo going to ditch (or kill) Chan Ho, now that he sees him trying to betray him? Honestly, it’d be a very bold move if the show decides to kill off Chan Ho, but even if that happens, I believe it won’t happen so soon because we don’t know enough about him to feel sad at his loss. A killer with a clear yet layered agenda is always more interesting than a killer who gets caught up in an endless cycle of having to commit more murders to cover up his previous ones. While I started this series being completely sucked into the individual stories of Ji Wook and Bong Hee, I’m now sucked into the murder storyline and keen to see what their next steps are.

Besides our love story and murder storyline, there’s plenty to love in the show. I’m really liking the friendship that’s developing between Eun Hyuk and Bong Hee – they don’t like each other, but they can relate and connect to each other very well, because they are both in similar circumstances. Eun Hyuk is such a genuine, good-natured and sweet man and it pained me to see him celebrating his birthday on his own. While he’s always been more jolly and cheerful than Ji Wook, deep down he’s hurting just as much, if not much more because remorse and repentance is always difficult to overcome as it is out of your control. At least Ji Wook sending him an incomplete birthday greeting and Yoo Jung’s present and remembering his birthday provided him with a glimpse of joy in this episode. If there’s something the show hasn’t started exploring yet, it is that journey of reconciliation between Ji Wook, Yoo Jung and Eun Hyuk and now that Ji Wook’s heart has been softened by Bong Hee, perhaps it’s time that he will start opening up and welcoming Eun Hyuk back into his life again. It’s a mark of masterful storytelling that even as the story progresses so swiftly, there’s still so much more interesting and engaging story left to tell that it doesn’t seem like the show is losing steam.

It seems inevitable that I’ll have to comment on the directing of this show in every review, but there’s just so much to say. That kiss scene was so masterfully done – the camera angles, the shots and the music selection – or rather, the complete silence when the kiss happened. Everything was perfectly executed without being overly showy or hyped up. It was a quiet, sweet, tender moment that was as much about two people falling in love as it was about two broken individuals finding their feet in this world again. I’m glad to say I’ve finally found my first drama-crack series of 2017!

Suspicious Partner: Episodes 13-14

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Suspicious Partner continues to keep things fresh by bringing different storylines to the forefront in each episode, while also moving the others in the background gradually. There’s a certain art in the way it balances its storylines that’s admirable and I’m hoping it keeps up this momentum because it keeps each episode engaging and interesting.

In this episode, the murderer storyline finally moves to the forefront, with Hyun Soo’s case seemingly providing the answers to everything. I’m honestly surprised that we got the answer to who killed Bong Hee’s boyfriend so quickly, which makes me suspect if this is a red herring. However, it is convincing somewhat that Hyun Soo could have killed Bong Hee’s boyfriend, based on his uncontrollable outburst against those who abused or victimised women. Even with this big reveal, there still remain many unanswered questions that I’m excited to find out more about. What exactly is the relationship between Hyun Soo and Chan Ho? We know they are both accomplices, but is Chan Ho cracking under the guilt of what’s going on? Is that why he seems to be getting closer to Bong Hee – to warn her? Also, why are they still keeping close to Bong Hee, when it would be easier to stay further away, since she’s after all an attorney right now? Perhaps it’s a case of keeping your enemies close, so they are also aware of how far she’s progressing in her investigations. However, what’s the bigger end-game then? If we know that Hyun Soo is against those who victimise women, isn’t his actions of framing Bong Hee also similarly a kind of ‘victimisation’? So many questions, which I hope will be satisfactorily answered.

With the whole Hyun Soo case at the forefront, Ji Wook also got a chance to shine and show off his investigative prowess as well as his keen intuition. I like that we’re getting to see more of his competence come to the forefront. However, he is once again placed in a position of conflict, that even as he has fought a good case to show that the evidence against Hyun Soo was flawed, his own sleuthing has in fact unearthed evidence to prove that Hyun Soo is the murderer. While he was recognised in Hyun Soo’s case for his competence as an attorney, what went unnoticed was his competence as a prosecutor. For Mr Bang, the lines are clear – finding out who the culprit is is not an attorney’s job, but a prosecutor’s job. However, for Ji Wook, things are more murky and I loved the morally grey territory that Ji Wook was treading in throughout the episode. You could see that conflict and uncertainty in Ji Wook’s eyes – as he delivered his final statement, as he heard the verdict and as he went back home that at night.

While the murder and court-room battle took centre stage in tonight’s episode, we certainly also got a good dose of sweetness and fun between Ji Wook and Bong Hee. Ji Wook’s defenses are gradually being broken down and we know it’s a matter of time before he realises he can no longer run away from his feelings. However, I’m really admiring Bong Hee’s maturity in the whole situation. She took a step of courage to confess her liking of Ji Wook, which was definitely not easy given the rejection and pain she suffered after her ex-boyfriend. When she’s turned down by Ji Wook, she tells him the next day honestly to stop treating her nicely, so as not to give her false hopes, and that she wants to go back to hating him, like back when he was her mentor. So, of course, Ji Wook takes the bait and hilariously treats her as she’s requested, sending her climbing through the window in a house to open the door for him. That was good fun! Loved the scene too where he asks her to stay with him, so that he can sleep. She knows that staying with him just that 5 minutes will be tough for her, because it goes against her earlier stated decision to hate him. However, she puts his needs before hers, and decides to stay with him so that he can sleep better.

With the upcoming confrontation between Hyun Soo and Ji Wook, we know that Bong Hee is going to be put in greater danger in the episodes to come and that will certainly mean that Ji Wook’s protectiveness and care for her must come to the forefront. There’s so much to look forward to, yet also so much uncertainty about where the show will take us. Am truly loving this show so much!