Hidden Identity Episodes 1-2: Win Or Die Trying
As expected from a tvN drama, Hidden Identity started off with a bang this week! Our first two episodes were beautifully shot, acted, and very, very bloody. (Exactly how we want our crime capers to be, right?) In this week's drama club post we’re talking about the win-at-all-costs mentality all of our characters seem to be cursed with.
Watch the premiere:
Cici: You know how a lot of Kdramas take a few episodes to warm up and draw you in? Not this time, folks. Get in, shut up, and hold on, cause we are in for a ride!
Aunnie: Yes, I was gratefully surprised by how quick everything started happening. There were a few flashbacks but the main plot was so easy to understand despite being plopped right in the middle of the story.
Stephanie: Hidden Identity is one of those dramas, right from the very beginning, right from the first swells of the music, I knew, I KNEW, I was going to be in for a fun time. There’s nothing like a good score to clue you in, right?
Cici: You know, the OST is one of the things that really sets a good Kdrama apart. I noticed the emphasis on music the first time I watched one. It really does set the mood. And the cinematography is pretty cool, too. AND the cast. Okay, so I’m hooked already. I was so pleased to see the transformation that Kim Bum has gone through. I haven’t watched him in anything since Boys Over Flowers, and wow, has he ever grown up.
Aunnie: Interestingly enough, I barely noticed the background music--yes, I know, I’m shocked myself. I was immediately drawn into the story so I didn’t really even have time to note the music--I was too focused, I guess. However, besides Boys Over Flowers, I have seen Kim Bum in That Winter, The Wind Blows and watching him transition from super cool guy to *spoiler* “I’m going to kill my best friend to save my girlfriend” totally had me convinced he could pull this role off.
Stephanie: He’s been on my radar since Padam Padam. If you like him here, check out that drama, as this is when he really started coming into his own. He seems to be doing something a lot of other popular actors don’t do, going for the meaty roles rather than just grabbing for the leading ones. I didn’t think I’d buy him as a badass detective with the (obligatory) tragic past, but he really does. Right from the start, I bought his character and, getting to our theme, his need to try to protect those around him.
Aunnie: That’s kind of typical for this type of character, though. Especially after his girlfriend and then his partner . . .
Cici: Protect, yes, but we also get a hint that he feels he has something to atone for. He blames himself for the death of his girlfriend, who just happened to be Detective Min’s sister. It’s no wonder the special investigative team was able to guilt him into joining them.
Stephanie: GAH! You are so right. Moving from him for just a second because I need to vent--it really bothered me how the boss Jang Moo Wong tried to keep it a secret that Detective Min had been found. That is just bad form. Gun Woo’s put himself into harms way in order to go get this guy and then the boss doesn’t tell him he’s been found so he can use Cha Gun Woo’s undercover position? He’s putting his life on the line here, don’t you think he needs all of the information?
Cici: It really does make him look suspicious. Either he is one crazy dedicated cop, and he really is willing to sacrifice his team members to get his man, or he’s playing for the other side. I’m still on the fence about that one. The fact that Detective Min actually insisted on staying captured does weigh slightly in Moo Wong’s favor, though.
Aunnie: See, and I took it as keeping Gun Woo on target and focused as per Tae In's wishes to stay in captivity. Not to mention, knowing how Gun Woo feels towards Tae In's--I have a feeling that he’d be a hard guy to control if he knew the truth--like he’d be irrational and go off gung ho and mess up 8 years of work and sacrifice. Let’s take a moment to remember what happened after his partner died.
Stephanie: Yeah, I don’t think he’s crooked, I just think he’s also too invested in this case to think clearly and, like Detective Min, is too willing to do anything to win. Neither of these men (or at least not Detective Min as I think we saw a bit of vulnerability with Jang Moo Wong when the elevator doors closed) consider anything besides themselves and their own goals. They don’t consider the cost it will bring to their team by keeping him in danger. If he dies, he’s putting all of those people he worked with in the same position as he was in with his sister. Look at where we were at the end of the episode. If he had allowed himself to be rescued Cha Gun Woo would not be faced with the choice that he is now. Kill the brother of his dead girlfriend or die himself at the hands of Asthmatic King Pin's minions.
Cici: I’m also wondering about the relationship between Detective Min and Jang Min Joo. I love her, by the way. That woman can kick serious bad guy butt, and she actually seems to enjoy it. But did you pick up on her concern for Detective Min? It seemed to be a little deeper than just what you’d feel for a team member.
Stephanie: First off--how much did you love the fact that this lady detective was actually wearing sneakers?? Usually in these sorts of dramas you see women in high heels and inappropriate (for their line of work) clothing. Nope. She came to kick butt and she came prepared LOVE IT. Secondly--oh yeah, I think she totally has the hots for missing detective. Makes you wonder if they are a thing or if it is unrequited--he has been out in the field for 3 years.
Aunnie: And I totally agree with you both! Not gonna lie, I was super pleased about her fight scene for a few reasons: 1) Tae Pyung didn’t even hesitate in handing her three, well-built men to fight off. He was totally confident in her abilities to take the men down, it was awesome. 2) And yes, she kicked total butt and it was believable of her character--as believable as her convincingly playing a lady of the night and being outraged about being asked to be discounted. As far as feelings go . . . I’m reserving judgment . . . I tend to see feelings where I want to see feelings.
Cici: There is that. So maybe I was reading more into her demeanor than was really there. But Cha Gun Woo certainly isn’t vague about his feelings. I was stunned when he went after slimeball #1 and took him out by tackling him OFF THE ROOF. Is that even possible?
Aunnie: So you guys have never worked with me before but word to the wise--anything medicine or medical practice in Kdramas always irks me so it’s no surprise that I watched that scene and went “No, that was like a 5 story building and even with the body to “break his fall” he’d still be more severely hurt than he was! But it’s a Kdrama, just remember that Aunnie . . .”
Stephanie: What a great moment for our character and fits nicely in with what we’re saying. In order to get revenge on the death of his partner (and come on, who didn’t see that one coming from a mile away--from the moment we were introduced to him) Cha Gun Woo was willing to--and I almost think--expected to die. Come here Cha Gun Woo, Stephanie will give you a hug
Cici: LOL. You may have to get in line for that. So all in the first episode, we have a great bar brawl, an epic battle against “the best in the 707”, a dive off the roof, and a touching funeral scene. My heart may not be able to take this. By the way, whoever that little girl is that played Dead Partner’s daughter--she’s GOOD. Her sobbing at the grave site tore me up. And that scene let us know that beneath Gun Woo’s tough uncaring exterior beats a heart that feels all too deeply.
Stephanie: Agreed. Not only is he afraid to let anyone close because he doesn’t want to get hurt, but he truly believes that by allowing people to get close to him, he’s putting them in mortal danger. Awwww… From the high tension in this drama (some scenes I had to stop myself from FF’ing because it was almost too much to take) something tells me this is not the time for him to be healed by the love of the usual Kdrama Woman. It’s the characters within this story, and their blinding need to win, makes this drama really edge of your seat tv.
Aunnie: I’m sure he’ll eventually get a love interest but I’m more intrigued with how they are going to bring this Teacher Jang down--which is a weird feeling for me since it’s the love story aspect of Kdramas that brought me into Kdramas in the first place. I find myself pleasantly not needing a love story here--maybe that’s why I’m cool with reserving judgement Min Joo.
Cici: I’d say that’s a fair analysis. Every single member of the undercover team must be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, because they operate without the overt sanction or support of the police. It’s sort of like the old Mission Impossible series, where the agent is always told that if he gets caught, the government will disavow any knowledge of him or his mission. Taking on that kind of job pretty much demands a win at all costs attitude. Knowing that is the only thing that makes watching the torture scenes evenly remotely bearable. Well, that, and the angsty shower scene.
Stephanie: That’s why they said something to the effect of him being on his own when they gave him the secret identity. He now has the background of a criminal and if he’s picked up by the police…. I just wonder what will happen next week? If he lives will kidnapped detective be upset with captain for involving Gun Woo? Will kidnapped detective go so far in his need to get the big bad to allow himself (now that he knows Gun Woo is there to pick up his mantle) to be killed? Sacrificing himself for what he thinks is the greater good? I don’t know and that’s a nice place to be in a drama.
So what did you think of the first episodes? Was the angsty shower scene everything you hoped for? Do you think Gun Woo is going to have to kill Detective Min so they can get their revenge? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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