If you are on the lookout for a drama thriller that has you on the edge of your seat throughout the minutes, then look no further ‘cuz My Beautiful Bride will give you that and then some. Not only will its suspense keep you seated, but its mystery shall keep your eyes glued to the screen as every detail counts. That every cut scene has a continuation, every gesture holds deeper significance, and every word is a key to past or future events.
Have enough of crime thrillers, grown tired of same ol’ procedural cop dramas? Is what i keep reminding myself as i was checking the pretty standard pilot episode… then got positively hooked by the second episode. For one, it focuses on the disappearance of the titular beautiful-bride-to-be Yoon Joo-young (Go Sung-hee) which sends her fiancé hell-bent on finding her. Even though we’re only dealing with a single case, it is an extremely complex one. Why? Because Joo-young is no ordinary woman. She was part of a convoluted underground world, the gangsta boss’ lady at that, and we soon learn that it’s a highly structured hierarchical system easy to enter, perhaps impossible to quit.
A hell of a lot of things have happened in the past 6 episodes that i’m not sure where we’re at now in terms of story arc. We’re not even halfway through the series; 10 more episodes genuinely feel like a really long way to go because they hit the ground running right from the start and waste no time diving into the thick of the mystery, peeling multiple layers at once as they go that every turn and plot twist feels like the most gripping sequence. But of course each given answer/revelation only raises more questions as we go deeper down the rabbit hole. We think we have gathered enough information when really we have just scraped the surface.
That’s exactly what makes the show intriguing though; i feel it’s safe to assume that the PD and writer know what they’re doing judging from the level of thoughtfulness each scene and dialogue is shot and written. In that there seems to be no fillers or superfluous characters. Everything is unique crucial interconnected puzzle pieces that shall fit together and form the big picture at the end. Can’t we cheat and take a peek at what it is? My curiosity is mountain-high, my mind is full of burning questions! Thankfully, instead of holding all cards, My Beautiful Bride generously drops essential hints here and there just enough to give us necessary information/backstory, which effectively keep us second-guessing and invested.
If we take away the messed-up system, what lies in the center of it all is first-love story between Yoon Joo-young and Kim Do-hyung (Kim Moo-yul). Meeting him drives her to become the informant which sees mob boss Song Hak-soo (Lee Jae-yong) arrested. Problem is, he is released on parole only three years later, right when our lovebirds are about to build a family. The plan is put on hold (hopefully it’s only postponed, not canceled) as Joo-young disappears soon afterward and Hak-soo is found lying rigid inside Do-hyung’s trunk. This is where the police come in.
The case is headed by Team Leader Cha Yoon-mi (Lee Shi-young) with the aid of her sunbae Detective Park Hyung-shik (Park Hae-joon). She curiously takes special interest in Joo-young’s case and gets so worked up about Hak-soo’s death, which may suggest that her connection with Joo-young runs deeper than mere cop-informant. So does Joo-young/Do-hyung’s relationship, which isn’t built on love-at-first-sight cheese. Turns out, their history stems from school days although they only start going out as adults, believing that he doesn’t remember her. Which is ludicrous once we know of their near-couple status back then; plus, she isn’t that different from her high-school self, appearance- and character-wise.
As Do-hyung becomes the prime suspect for murdering Hak-soo (and later Joo-young), i expected the subsequent episodes to be filled with procedural proceedings and case solving… or so i thought. Instead, it has been more ‘finding Joo-young’ as Do-hyung actively takes the matter into his own hand. Which is a weird and gutsy thing to do for a low-key banker like him… but not so much for a trained UDT member, which he also is. Don’t judge a book by its cover, folks! Who would’ve guessed tho, since he started out as this rigid formal guy who bikes anywhere when he’s loaded enough to buy a chic spacious apartment and a nice car for his love to use?
Of course there will always be more to people than meets the eye. Like how our characters withhold a thing or two even from their closest circle when the other party believes the best in them. Do-hyung trusts Joo-young and claims he knows everything about her (past) but doesn’t seem to know about the workings of her previous job and the key players. Yoon-mi trusts her sunbae and seems close to Joo-young yet unaware of her life post-Hak-soo’s incarceration. Do police not protect their informants? Also, did she naively believe the trafficking business stops just because the head is captured, or that he was the head of the heads? Detective Park trusts only himself and his survival instinct, apparently, and is dangerously familiar with the main players himself. Does he think he can get away with being dubious double agent or the rat in the force? Joo-young on the other hand trusts that female gangster boss, but does the latter truly cares for her sans any hidden agenda? Hmm…
Haven’t we all learned that there is no such thing as trust and loyalty in this kind of organization? You’re only alive as long as you’re useful and/or nonthreatening to other’s position and safety.
At this rate, some of the protagonists are heading toward a rude awakening. Above all else, i’m curious to know how long the relationship built around certain degrees of lies is gonna hold up. But for now, i’m into 1) the role Joo-young has in the black organization if everyone still looks for her even after Hak-soo’s demise — but then, who killed him and when/why his body was placed inside Joo-young’s car? Is it to frame her? and 2) what awaits at the end of the line. My heart goes from simply pounding to bleeding to breaking for our distraught groom seeing the lengths he’ll go to be reunited with his bride.
Kim Moo-yul blows me away with his portrayal of Do-hyung which goes from bland rational banker to enigmatic murder suspect to a loose cannon when it comes to his other half. How much he treasures and loves Joo-young is written all over his face that i’m unsure whether it’s tears of relief or pain he sheds in that dingy warehouse. Because even a simple gesture like he putting socks and shoes on her is so heartbreaking to watch. It also says a lot about his character when the first thing he says upon seeing her (with Elsa Kopf’s Days and moons in the background) isn’t the usual “Are you okay?” or “Why you left (me)?” but “Should we just go somewhere far away to live? Somewhere nobody knows us?”
Aforementioned, we’re only at episode 6 thus far but the couple has been through so much that my only hope is for them to end up together, alive, intact, and happy. I don’t think i ever want a happy ending as badly as i wish for these two; seriously, first-love story has never been this dark and compelling. Judging from current development and how surreal their happy moments feel, the chance is pretty slim. However, i’ll be glad to be proven wrong.
That said, i guess what’s more important is for show to keep being thick in plot, tight in pace, gripping in general without letting up till the very end because we’ve witnessed how many titles burst into scene with a bang and bow out with less than a round of applause. My Beautiful Bride — don’t be one of ’em.