At midway point, You’re All Surrounded is getting grippier while Doctor Stranger is getting stranger.
Both are 20-episode series; however since we have only one episode of Dae-gu Dae-gu this week due to elections, will there be #21 to even it out? Both have ‘dark’ theme; the former detective-police, the latter medical-spy melo. Both heroes’ parent got killed; and while Dae-gu’s ultimate goal is to get even with whoever responsible for mom’s death, Hoon’s not to avenge those behind dad’s deployment to DPRK. Instead, he moves heaven and earth to be re-united with the love of his life.
By episode 9, Dae-gu’s secret identity was leaked and revealed and we are privy to the instigator behind mom’s murder. Doctor Stranger, on the other hand, remains a whirlpool of mysteries/conspiracies and keeps dancing around the subject by episode 10. Characters allude to the grand mission(s) all the time but we are not wise to any of it. None. Nada. The drama leaves us in the dark for far too long I began to lose interest. I don’t like second-guessing or overthinking a drama.
A turn of tables. I initially found Doctor Stranger’s premise more intriguing and leaned towards it more in first few episodes. Plus it’s directed by the PD who did Master’s Sun and City Hunter. (It did give off City Hunter’s vibe with similar ensemble and beginnings – Kim Sang-joong sent to the North and then betrayed post-mission by the same guy. Twice.) And yes, Lee Jong-seok and Park Hae-jin factor too.
I didn’t read much about You’re All Surrounded pre-broadcast – I guess I’ve watched too many police/detective dramas to care about its plot – and checked it mainly because Cha Seung-won and Lee Seung-gi are in it. It set off nicely, Kim Ji-yong was winsome and adorable, but its case of the day doesn’t excite me (except the hit-and-run since it was a throwback situation for Pan-seok and Sa-kyung which also enabled them to turn a new leaf over).
[happy moment, albeit surreal]
Conversely, I found Doctor’s Stranger’s medical stuff more appealing than the over-convoluted secret missions they’re executing. I thought it did better in casepatient of the day department since we’re given enough time to get to know the patient to care for their survival when under the knife. I wanted Hoon to save the patient not only because it shows his skills and flair is his job as a doctor but also because we see that the patient is important to our characters (e.g. Soo-hyun’s mom, Chang-yi’s mom, Smuggler Ahjussi). I enjoy the hospital scenes, including some of its politics.
The pace, however, slows down tremendously when it comes to Jae-hee/Seung-hee. Like episode 5~6 wherein they’re playing a no-fun hide-and-seek game, or episode 9~10 wherein they’re on a meandering round of “najunge” (let’s talk later). Let’s say Seung-hee indeed is Jae-hee, I find the recent turn of events puzzling. Even in the happy together moments, I can’t help feeling wary. In the beginning Agent Cha was so adamant in letting Seung-hee get near Hoon, and now they are free to be lovey-dovey? If since the beginning their plan is to make Hoon the one in charge of PM Jang’s heart, why stalling? Why must she assume a new name and pretend not to recognize Hoon? Her two-face coupled with “I’ll live as Song Jae-hee afterwards” statement keeps my guard up. Not to mention her transformation from the meek and rather weak Jae-hee to the unfazed spy Seung-hee in merely two years, after all of those trauma…
It’s probably because I enjoy Quack pairing more. Hoon is a way blither and more interesting persona around Soo-hyun (while a complete fool around Jae-hee/Seung-hee). Their interaction also spurs the other to be a better doctor. Dolpari is a rare dramacase where I root for the second female lead…
[my favorite scene of the strange drama thus far]
Back to You’re All Surrounded, we’ve seen Pan-seok and Sa-kyung straightened out past misunderstanding, Tae-il and Gook ended the cold war (I’m pretty disappointed at Tae-il’s top secret though), and Dae-gu opened up to Soo-sun, isn’t it Pan-seok-Dae-gu’s turn to make up next? I don’t expect it to happen next week, but I’m glad Pan-seok and Soo-sun follow their hunch up and confirm their suspicion in their own way in the same episode. I feared he would buy Dae-gu’s denial and it’d take longer for him to get a clincher. This way, although we only have one episode this week, I’m totally satisfied.
‘Cuz isn’t episode 9 the best so far? I think I’ve rewatched it like 3~4 times now – so many good moments there! I also teared up a couple times – first when Dae-gu’s typing and deleting text message for mom, second when Soo-sun backhugs and tells him, “jalnada… jeongmal jjangie”* and Dae-gu starts crying…
*) ignore any misspelling.