Friday, July 17, 2020

[First Impression] The Good Detective

It's less a crime story and more a story about how monolithic, and internally stifling police organization can be. It shows the tension and lack of camaraderie among two crime divisions with every result it entangles. It's a musing over what does it mean to be a competent journalist in times of post-truth and manipulation? It also paints a bleak picture of what happens to a cog in a machine when it's deemed expendable.

I don't think I will write much as the story is just getting started and we haven't seen half the cards yet, so that's going to be just a short, short introduction to the story produced by jTBC, which rarely misses the point. Also, just on a side note, jTBC, being a cable television, has a peculiar status - its journalists are known to be the most investigative and tenacious and it was jTBC that first published news about former President Park Geunhye corruption scandal.

First two episodes carefully laid out the sketch of the story - a narrative onion that each episode will be peeling off. The past rears its ugly head when a disruption comes in the form of a former correction officer Park Geonho who comes to the West Incheon police station and calmly states he killed a girl. From the beginning there is something uneasy about him and also it quickly becomes obvious he's not telling the whole truth.

But his arrival coincides with Minister of Justice signing on the death sentence for a group of prisoners. Among them there is a serial killer who has a dozen of victims on his account and also a man who claims he's innocent. How biblical nearly. Even with a proper hierophant leading the detectives to the truth.
And like a proper one, he paid the ultimate price for that.

And for our main detective everything goes sideways from that moment on - a murder case from few years before starts to be entangled with the present cases. Because it was Kang Dochang who arrested Yi Daecheol few years ago and the case was closed quickly, despite the man's claims of innocence. That it could be the case states also Kim Kitae - a former politician jailed for corruption exposed by Jin Seokyeong, our fearless journalist.

Turns out - the girl Park Geonho claimed to had killed - is alive and to make things more interesting - she's the daughter of Yi Daecheol. And their little ploy was to shed the light on the case from few years before - a case botched by the police and prosecutor's office that ended with one man awaiting the execution. Thing is, I don't trust 4 episodes just yet, so he might have killed someone, for all we know.

And even though Dochang's bosses advise against reopening the case or even touching it, his consciousness demands to set things right. In his talk with Yi Eunhye at the hospital, he wasn't above admitting his fault, and indirectly the system's fault as well (because the system fosters certain methods and behaviors), he apologized and he promised to take a look at this case properly, which implies that previously it was not done so. He is not alone though, despite the hostility of the "higher ups", despite the ongoing case by IA regarding his alleged bribery and despite Park Geunho's murder being buried as "accident". His teaming with Seokyeong and also Oh Jihyeok - his new partner. Just have to add that Jihyeok is so far a wonderfully constructed character - he's calm, analytic, seemingly free of worries because he's inheritance-wealthy, but it's visible that's something bubbles underneath that calm and nice façade.

The story is, for the most part, carried by the characters. And the characters here - they feel so real. Police officers telling younger, more idealistic colleagues, that they are just usual people, not heroes; disillusioned journalists too entangled with politicians, politicians for whom the people are barely names on the list - bodyless and functioning only as a murky category of "people"; detectives who chose the conformist life of servitude and plasticine, detectives who would be nothing if they weren't detectives.

There is quite a few shots from the "frog perspective" and the cinematography here doesn't use the flashy colors or technical gimmicks, but the camera can create the tension and uneasiness. The color pops up when it's needed.

So, I will be watching this one for sure. If anything - to get to know what's going on with Jihyeok's watch.