Now I know why the k-drama blog-o-sphere went into unexpected explosions over a drama that was supposed to be an also-ran to Shark. Now I know why pictures of this guy began popping up everywhere. And right now, I’m incredibly happy that I managed to avoid all information (besides the positive buzz and some of the pre-show PR info) and enter this world completely innocent of what all I was in store for.
If you haven’t watched Heartless City my advice is to come back to this post when you’ve watched it (at the very least, watched through episode 6). Because this is a show that (thus far, anyway) deserves to tell its story its way — not have all the carefully delivered details burbled out in some sap’s blog. Because right now? Right now I spoil everything through episode 6…
First off… I am beyond adoring Jung Shi-hyun, aka: Doctor’s Son (and — let’s be honest here — aka: Batman. See above, brooding over the city all inscrutable and badass, pic.)
I love his cold analytical style. I love that he’s quiet and calm…
…until it’s time to stop being reasonable.
This is exactly the kind of anti-hero that works for me and Jung Shi-hyun is working it.
From the little I’d heard, I’m not surprised I fell so hard. Pleased as all get out, but not surprised. What did surprise me is how much I loved Lee Kyung-mi. I kind of expected her to be… annoyingly saintly. Since I knew it was her death that kicked the plot into motion I was expecting more a martyr than a flesh and blood character. Happily, I was totally wrong.
She was awesome! I loved how tough she was. Hotheaded, yes. But able to back up her hotheadness with gritty ability. I loved that when she chased the pusher / kiddy-pimp / dirtbag into the elevator there was a brutal fight (I mean — really brutal — she took some real hits) she totally won.
Ditto the whole interlude that ended with her death. Kyung-mi did not die stupid. Yes, she ran into danger — but that was her job. And she did run carefully — keeping out of sight, stepping forward when she was armed and there was only the one guy to deal with. (I noted she did her best to run away when the numbers were too big for her. Again — not stupid.) The shot that took her out came from an unexpected place and, even if she’d had backup, couldn’t have been avoided. Her entire team could have been ranged around her and the sniper could have killed her. Which I really, really appreciate because it means her character isn’t belittled. Which means the characters that loved her aren’t belittled either.
(I do think her death was a little too heavily foreshadowed, with that lingering backwards glance to her boyfriend, and a little too heavily tragic — I’m not sure what the point was to throw in her being pregnant. It wasn’t horrendous — just a little thick for such an otherwise subtly told drama.)
I did like that it wasn’t really Kyung-mi’s death that caused the plot. It certainly stirred the plot. But the games were afoot before. Her big lug of a boyfriend, and also her team leader (and also, not really a lug in that he’s incredibly smart and physically quick — but seriously, that jaw line…), Ji Hyung-min, was circling towards a confrontation with Shi-hyun before. This just sped it up. And made it personal. And may have pushed him into slightly-psychotic territory. (The jury’s still out on his decision to use Kyung-mi’s little sister. As of right now, it’s teetering on cruel. I’m watching to see how it falls out.)
The jury is still out on Yoon Soo-min as well. Thus far, I liked how Soo-min’s gone from best day ever…
to worst day ever.
And I adored that she beat the crap out of her would-be rapist. But as of episode six we’ve not seen a whole lot of her. Which is fine! It was important to establish her sister’s background and various connections. But I’m eager to learn more about Soo-min. (I’m assuming, based on names, that she and Kyung-mi were a found-family rather than blood-sisters.)
Actually — that whole thing about found-families seems to be a theme. (Which is another thing I adore.) I love that Shi-hyun has just two people in his life that he loves: Lee Jin-sook and Kim Hyun-soo. And I’m totally on edge that they seem to hate each other. (Because, come on guys! He has two people! Two! Can’t you suck it up and get along for Shi-hyun’s sake?) It was his unselfish love for them that tipped me over into total adoration of his character.
Hyun-soo is another character I’m waiting to find out more about. Why are he and Shi-hyun so close? What are his hopes and dreams? Favorite color? If he were a tree, what tree would he be?
But, Jin-sook is another character I adore completely. (I hope to God she’s not gaming Shi-hyun. I mean, I doubt she is in her head — but if she’s screwing him “for his own good” I’ll be really upset.) I love, love, love the relationship she has with Shi-hyun — this weird mix of mother and flirty neighbor. (The scene where she offers to let little Shi-hyun touch her boobs to cheer him up… unexpectedly hilarious and sweet.) And I loved that when that messenger goon tried to rape her it ended with her beating the crap out of him with her heels. (Shoes: not just an accessory.)
For our resident bad-guy, Safari is hitting all the right notes. I love how he has the bumbling lout kind of persona on the surface, but underneath that mask he’s just as cold and analytical as Shi-hyun. (Whoo boy, talk about a relationship I want to learn more about! It seems like Safari was father-figure to Shi-hyun — the daddy-makes-three addition to their little found-family — and I really, really want to find out how it all went wrong.)
But that’s another thing Heartless City is doing right: carefully doling out little dollops of information and causing my jaw to hit the floor more times than I can ever recall a drama doing. The bombshell that Shi-hyun and Kyung-mi knew each other… I was completely surprised. And then they filled in the blanks so perfectly and with such knife-twisting sweetness. That they were each other’s first loves, that Shi-hyun became almost a daddy long legs for her. That she had a total crush and was trying to pretend to be tougher than she was and that he totally saw right through her and was amused and touched and gave her the advice that she used to direct her life (that she in turn shared with Soo-min who’s using it herself)… I may be overusing the word awesome, but seriously — that was so, so awesome.
And then came the other shocking news that Shi-hyun is actually undercover himself! I did not see that coming. Didn’t see it coming strongly enough that I was actually weirdly disappointed by the bombshell. I pondered and have realized it’s because I really liked Shi-hyun as a solitary agent, doing his own thing for his own reasons. I didn’t like the idea that he was being run by anyone. Even if it meant he wasn’t an actual drug-dealer. (I’ve since been appeased by his refusal to actually be run. He’s working with the police chief, directing his own investigation. So he’s still “waving his wild tail, and walking by his wild lone” and I’m happy.)
So the plot is getting thicker and thicker and I’m loving more and more characters. And I am incredibly impressed with myself that I stopped long enough to type this. Heartless City is indeed as gritty and as good as promised. Thus far…