Hyde, Jekyll, Me: Episode 1
SBS’s new Wednesday-Thursday series Hyde, Jekyll, Me got off to a good start today, with solid character introductions, a mystery, and a touch of whimsy. As expected, it’s the Hyun Bin Show, but he doesn’t disappoint, managing to be funny, grumpy, assy, and swoony all in one episode.
I’m pretty happy with this drama’s presentation of the split-personality premise because it’s rooted in an interesting lead character, and more importantly because it flip-flops the Hyde-Jekyll expectations that the dormant personality is the monster inside. This drama asks, What if the Hyde that Jekyll wants to keep desperately hidden is in fact every nice, wonderful, amazing thing about him?
SONG OF THE DAY
The Film – “누구시죠” (Who Are You) [ Download ]
EPISODE 1 RECAP
An overhead shot takes us through Wonderland, an amusement park where children laugh and play, with every corner decorated in colorful lights. A child runs with a red heart balloon in hand and runs smack dab into a stone-faced man, who coldly knocks the balloon out of his face and sends it flying up into the rafters.
The child cries, while the man watches the balloon and suddenly notices the giant mirror ball fixture overhead begin to shake. He looks down in alarm to see a woman walking right into its path, and at the last second, he grabs her out of the way and they go sliding on the ice rink below, as the giant mirror ball crashes behind them.
He wakes up with a start. It was a dream… or was it?
This is our hero, GU SEO-JIN (Hyun Bin), who looks rattled as he sits up in bed and scrambles for his glasses. They’re super hi-tech glasses that give him a digital reading of his pulse, along with other biometrics. His rapid heartbeat seems to freak him out more than the dream itself.
He gets out of bed (omg, what are those crazy pants, and why do you look better in them than I would?) and walks through his palatial house to go meditate in his greenhouse garden. He chants, he breathes, he clutches the necklace he’s wearing (which appears to be in the shape of the Big Dipper), but he doesn’t seem satisfied with how fast his heart is still beating. Something tells me stressing about meditation is not an effective strategy, but what do I know.
Seo-jin’s secretary rushes to find him while chatting on the phone with Seo-jin’s doctor. Clearly other people are hooked up to his biometric alerts as well, because Chief Secretary Kwon approaches with trepidation to ask if he’s okay.
Seo-jin remains calm as he finishes his morning yoga, gets Secretary Kwon to confirm that his heart rate is back to normal, and then yanks his monitor off. After showering (thanks for wasting no time with the requisite army abs!), he’s quick to put the monitor back on, and worries that it’s the first time in five years that his numbers have been this high.
Secretary Kwon says that as long as they stay under 150, they’re safe. But Seo-jin says he did go over 150… in his dream. He looks into the mirror and adds, “It wasn’t me.”
His chauffeur arrives, so Secretary Kwon whispers as they head out, wondering if he saw Robin in his dream. Seo-jin snaps, “Don’t talk about that bastard.”
At the airport, a woman arrives and spends her time on the moving walkway showing a little girl a magic trick. This is our heroine JANG HANA (Han Ji-min), and she lights up when she passes by a sign advertising Wonderland.
It turns out that Seo-jin is the boss at the theme park, and he makes his morning rounds with a team of security guards scurrying behind him. He stops in his tracks at the sight of a stray balloon flying towards him, reminiscent of his bad dream. He catches it and refuses to give it back to the little girl, making her erupt in tears.
He barks at Secretary Kwon that balloons are banned for the day, and bans everything even remotely balloonish—the inflatable dancing clown, the spinny hot air balloon ride—with no concern for lost revenue.
A group of children holding the red heart balloons grabs his attention, and Seo-jin smirks at the man who’s with them. This is some sort of publicity stunt for Wonder Group, the chaebol conglomerate that owns the theme park, and Seo-jin faces off with the man, speaking to him in banmal.
His name is RYU SEUNG-YEON (Han Sang-jin), and all we know for now is that his managing director title is equal to Seo-jin’s, and they dislike each other immensely. Seo-jin asks if he got a permit for this event, and kicks them out of the park, confiscating all the balloons.
Seung-yeon gapes, “You banned balloons? At an amusement park?” Seo-jin just snipes back that this is HIS amusement park, and the balloons give him a bad feeling. Seo-jin calls this stunt ridiculous and says he feels bad for the children who are being used, and notes sarcastically, “You know I have a weak heart.” Hur.
When they leave, Seo-jin decides to invite ten thousand children to the park for charity. Secretary Kwon guesses exactly what his intent is—to show up Seung-yeon in their never-ending pissing contest.
As the tram takes Seung-yeon away, one stray red balloon flies up into the sky. Uh-oh, it’s the bad omen that Seo-jin was dreading. And on cue, someone starts screaming in the distance.
Seo-jin whips around and his eyes widen to see the crowd behind him part… as a giant gorilla (seriously?) stomps down the main causeway. Everyone runs screaming, and a woman runs up to Seo-jin to grab his arm and scream her head off for him to do something.
But he just stands frozen in place. He’s so terrified that he can’t move, and looks over at the woman like she’s crazy. He tries to pry her off his arm, and when she won’t let go, he bites down on HER arm to wriggle free.
HA—and then he pushes her to the ground right in King Kong’s path, giving him time to run away like a coward. His security team surrounds him while he scrambles up to the roof of a street stall, and Secretary Kwon hurries up there to give him headphones.
Seo-jin races against his racing heart to put the headphones on and meditate, and it’s pretty hilarious to watch King Kong run around and scare people while the mediation track plays.
Hana is stuck in traffic just a block away from Wonderland, and she perks up to hear the park mentioned in a radio broadcast. At the same time, Seung-yeon gets a call from one of the workers at the park, who reports with a satisfied smirk that Seo-jin is seconds away from passing out.
Seo-jin manages to get his heart rate down and braces himself to face King Kong. Now that he’s calmed down, he asks for the walkie-talkie and makes sure that the security and animal control teams are on the way.
They arrive looking pretty scared, and one guy fires a tranquilizer dart with perfect precision… only it bounces right off of King Kong’s chest. Um, what? That just pisses off the gorilla, and he starts charging right at Seo-jin.
Suddenly a voice calls out, “Bing Bing!” The gorilla skids to a halt and the crowd parts to reveal Hana, waving and calling for Bing Bing like they’re friends. The gorilla turns around and starts running at full speed for Hana, and Seo-jin notices that his heart rate suddenly shoots up into the danger zone.
He asks what’s happening, and starts convulsing and choking. The gorilla goes for Hana and takes a flying leap right at her, and Seo-jin’s heart rate spikes, nearly at 150.
But then he hears laughter, and looks up to see the gorilla dancing in circles around Hana, who’s smiling and dancing too. Immediately Seo-jin’s pulse slows, and he wonders what is going on with him.
He goes to his office and yanks his heart rate monitor off and tells Secretary Kwon to have it fixed, because it must be broken. When he says he neared 150 just now, Secretary Kwon takes a step back and asks suspiciously, “Robin?”
Seo-jin snarls and tells him not to overreact, but Secretary Kwon sneaks a taser out of his pocket and asks what they had for lunch yesterday. Seo-jin rolls his eyes but says they had bibimbap, and Secretary Kwon lunges with the taser, only to be reminded that he’s the one who’s misremembering.
It’s extra amusing because Secretary Kwon speaks to Robin in banmal, and hurriedly switches back to jondae the second he realizes his mistake.
Secretary Kwon guesses that Seo-jin’s heart rate spiked because he was scared, but Seo-jin says that’s the confusing part—he only went up to the 130s when he was in immediate danger, but it wasn’t until the gorilla was lunging at the mystery woman that he went up 148. He decides that this is about her, and asks for her to be brought to him.
Outside, a reporter interviews Hana about the gorilla scare, and introduces her as the daughter of the late circus troupe leader of one of the country’s last few remaining circuses. She asks the reporter to please include the fact that Wonderland failed to reconstruct the cages after multiple requests from the circus to do so.
Secretary Kwon arrives to interrupt and take her to see Seo-jin, and since she’s just arrived, she has to be informed that he’s the boss. Seo-jin straps his monitor back on just as Hana arrives in his office, and she introduces herself as the new Wonder Circus leader.
He just stares at her without a word, and then all of a sudden yanks her close. Really close, like kissing distance, without so much as a word of explanation. She squirms and asks what the hell he’s doing, but he just holds on and looks right into her eyes.
What he’s really looking at is his heart rate, of course, and smirks that lopsided grin of his, satisfied that it must’ve been a fluke. She’s not making his heart race anymore, and he just rattles off his current physical state aloud to himself, as if she’s not even there.
Hana grows increasingly agitated, especially when he just dismisses her. She wants to talk about the gorilla, which he sort of remembers as an afterthought and just cuts her off with, “The circus is fired.”
She argues that he can’t fire them when they have a contract, but he counters that the circus brings in no money anyway, so paying them the fee to break contract is better business in the long run.
But Hana refuses to be kicked out so easily, and tells Seo-jin that the Wonder Circus is part of this park’s history—it was there at the start in 1975, and her father played a big part in making Wonderland what it is today.
She demands that he take back everything he said about the circus sucking, and it’s infuriating the way he takes it all back just like she asked, but with zero sincerity behind his words. Hana says that she came from Cirque du Soleil and has all sorts of plans to update the circus act and make it better, and Seo-jin encourages her to do just that… anywhere but here.
Hana asks how a person can just decide something so monumental at the drop of a hat, and Seo-jin says matter-of-factly that he’s someone who can. She leaves his office fuming mad. Secretary Kwon brings back the first heart rate monitor and reports that nothing’s wrong with it, and Seo-jin is left wondering if maybe it was just the gorilla after all.
Hana trudges back to the circus with her shoulders slumped and overhears her troupe members worrying about whether they’ll be out on the street. The eldest of them sighs that his kid’s got some new tutoring thing to pay for, and another of them says that if Seo-jin fires them, she’ll get her revenge by releasing that super embarrassing video of him during the gorilla incident.
That gives Hana an idea and she asks for the video. Moments later Seo-jin is watching said video with a look of horror on his face. It’s him pushing a woman into the gorilla’s path like a giant wimp, and he stammers, “I-I didn’t know it was this bad… that I looked this… pathetic.”
He looks near tears as he trembles and watches the video on repeat, and Hana goes from smug to sorry pretty quickly. She says that she didn’t want to go this far, and that it’s a natural reaction to have when you’re afraid. All she wants is a new contract and the video will disappear, and Seo-jin calls for a new contract to be drafted immediately.
He asks her for a moment alone, still looking distraught, and she tries to pry the phone out of his hands. But he’s just so upset and fixated on the thing that she decides to tiptoe out and gives him a moment.
Secretary Kwon shows her the new contract that he’ll bring over soon, and Hana returns to her troupe with the good news. They’re all skeptical though, because they’ve dealt with Seo-jin directly for a while now, and he’s not exactly the type to cave so easily. The cutie pie maknae (named Eun-chang) argues that Seo-jin is a sociopath who doesn’t have an ounce of sympathy or compassion.
The unni who took the video sits down with Hana to discuss Seo-jin, not having gathered much about him other than the roundness of his ass. Lol. Hana found him to be surprisingly remorseful for being such a jerk, while the unni says that’s the appealing thing about bad boys—to the right girl, they become the nicest guy in the world. Hana scoffs that that’s ridiculous.
In Seo-jin’s office, Secretary Kwon gets another dressing down for missing the fact that it was all an act, and he has no plans to sign a new contract. Seo-jin just wanted to keep the phone so he could erase the video, and Secretary Kwon cringes as he watches it, sighing in relief that it isn’t all over the internet.
Seo-jin asks defensively why it would matter. He counters that this isn’t about chivalry—it’s because it’s a woman that he had to bite her to get her off his arm. He asks Secretary Kwon if he’s forgotten why it is that he lives like a zombie (“with a body like this!”), and reminds him of the rules: No women, no skinship, no arousal, no lust, otherwise his heartbeat goes out of control.
OH. Oh, you mean you can’t… get excited. Suddenly finding it in my heart to feel sympathy for you. Seo-jin finally says the thing he hasn’t been saying outright: When his heart rate goes above 150, “that bastard Robin appears.”
Secretary Kwon’s reaction tells us that this would be a terrifying development. He cries that that can’t happen, especially after all the effort Seo-jin has been putting into maintaining control, practically living like a saint.
Seo-jin slams his fist into the table, “LIKE a saint?! You mean totally, completely a saint!” He’s not talking about good deeds either, and sighs that he’s a man too. Poor, frustrated buddy.
Hana shares all her ideas with the troupe about revamping the circus act to be a big musical performance stage, and they’re all eager to get started, grateful that she’s come back at a time when they really need her. But they hear commotion in their theater and find people tearing it apart, with the order to vacate. The phone gets returned to them sans embarrassing video, and Hana realizes that she’s been played. Behind her, the maknae Eun-chang mutters that Seo-jin is two-faced.
Of course they have no idea how close to the truth that is, and we cut to Dr. KANG HEE-AE (Shin Eun-jung) giving a lecture on split personalities with an example from Primal Fear and the real-life case of Billy Milligan. Dr. Kang explains how early trauma can lead to the creation of alternate personas in the mind, leading to dissociative identity disorder, where it’s possible for one personality to have no memory of the others’ actions, even in the same body.
After the lecture, Dr. Kang checks her voicemail and is alarmed to hear an emergency message from Seo-jin. He finally relaxes when she calls him back, and she tells him to listen up because she has good news: She’s found a treatment method that’s safe for him. He asks if it could be dangerous like the time they tried five years ago, but she assures him that it’ll be different: “You’ll be free, Gu Seo-jin.” He lights up, genuinely moved, and rushes off to go see her in person.
Hana shows up just in time to try and stand in his way when he’s in a big hurry to see Dr. Kang, so Seo-jin tells her to get in and then tells his driver to take off without her. That just makes her more determined to ruin his day though, and she follows him in a taxi.
Dr. Kang records her notes on Seo-jin’s case, which conveniently gives us the exposition we need. He’s a patient with dissociative identity disorder, with an alternate personality named Robin. Robin first appeared 15 years ago, and she says that while most patients have a violent Hyde to their rational Jekyll, Gu Seo-jin and Robin are the opposite of that.
A mysterious visitor in a long black coat visits Dr. Kang unannounced, and when he enters her office, she quickly closes Seo-jin’s case file. We never get to see Long Black Coat’s face.
Hana follows Seo-jin all the way to the hospital, where he just waves his chauffeur at her to keep her away from him. She challenges him that this isn’t his land and she can step foot wherever she wants, but the driver points out that actually, Seo-jin owns the hospital too.
It’s clearly a big deal that Dr. Kang has found a treatment method that she’s sure will work this time, but Seo-jin douses his face with water in the bathroom and tells himself not to get his hopes up again.
He walks down the corridor towards Dr. Kang’s office, when a crazy sight catches his eye: It’s Hana, crossing from one building to the other in midair on a zip line. This is your way of not setting foot on the grounds? Appropriately, he calls her crazy.
She climbs her way into an open window with an apology for the intrusion… but when she looks around, she finds Dr. Kang dead (or just unconscious?) and bleeding on the ground, surrounded by broken glass. Eep.
Worse yet, her attacker is still in the room. Ack, ruuuun! That’s exactly what Hana does, and Seo-jin rounds the corner to see her running for her life from a masked man in black (and it appears that this is a different man in black, not Long Black Coat).
Seo-jin immediately turns and runs and reaches the elevator just ahead. His heart rate rises dangerously high as he looks back out to Hana, but even when she reaches the elevator before the doors close, he purposely pushes her out. Dang.
He’s struggling to breathe and clutching his heart the whole time, but even when he’s out of immediate danger, his heart rate only goes higher when the attacker goes after her. Just like the gorilla moment.
The elevator doors close, and soon Seo-jin is overtaken by his pounding heart. He falls to his knees and clutches at his throat in pain, gasping for air. His last thought is, “No!” as his head falls limp.
The hitman takes Hana to the rooftop ledge, where he holds her over the edge, choking her. Her last thought: “Save me, somebody…”
Back in the elevator, Seo-jin’s fingers twitch and he suddenly stands up tall. He ditches the jacket, the tie, the heart monitor, and the glasses. The camera slowly pans up from his feet, revealing a totally different man—this is Robin, who notably wears his collar open, showing the Big Dipper necklace that Seo-jin otherwise keeps hidden under his clothes.
He walks down the hall and looks out the window to see Hana being strangled out on the ledge, and runs to her. Though he manages to pull the hitman away with a swift move, it also sends Hana flying off the ledge.
She falls in slow motion, and he takes off in a big hero run. Suddenly so very hot.
I’m fully expecting him to catch her, but she’s already too far out of reach, and he doesn’t hesitate a beat, launching himself over the edge after her. It almost looks like they’re flying, and they fall slowly enough for me to wonder if he’s crazy.
He grabs her into an embrace midair, and they land with a splash, ohthankgoodness, into the lake below. He cradles her gently in his arms, and Hana opens her eyes and looks up to see him before passing out.
She wakes up in the hospital some hours later, with her circus members fretting overhead. She’s fine but doesn’t remember how she got here, and slowly recalls the hazy memory of coming here and discovering Dr. Kang’s body.
Her friends ask how she got into the lake, and she’s surprised to find out that it wasn’t a dream.
Seo-jin shakes in his hospital bed, as Secretary Kwon nervously tells him it’s been six hours since he left for the hospital. His last memory is of the elevator doors closing after he pushes Hana away, and his heart rate reaching 150. After that, he has no idea what happened, and that thought terrifies him.
He gnaws on his finger and asks, “Could it be… Robin?” Secretary Kwon jumps to say that nothing’s been confirmed yet, but then Hana enters the room and looks at him curiously. She asks carefully, “Was it… you? Did you really jump into the water and save me?” His eyes grow wide with fear.
As we see Robin open his eyes underwater and hold Hana close, we rewind to the rest of Dr. Kang’s notes, where she describes Robin as a personality born out of Seo-jin’s guilt. She says a phrase that can be taken two ways: That Robin saves and protects others, or that her intention is to save and protect Robin when she cures Seo-jin.
Back in the present, Seo-jin asks in disbelief, “I… saved you?” He looks over to his reflection in the window and thinks to himself, “Robin has appeared.”
The closing caption asks, Have you ever come face to face with another you?
Pwahaha, okay, that gorilla was ridonkulous. Unintentional CG hilarity aside, I actually really liked everything else about this first episode, which is a nice surprise given that the premise made me really wary. But the setup is rooted in a believable character—Gu Seo-jin—who makes it abundantly clear that he’s spent most of his life in a desperate attempt to control everything because his worst fear is losing control of his own body. The yoga, the heart monitoring, the insistence on his rules—everything about his control-freaky nature is driven quite believably by his condition, and though he appears to be your standard-issue assy chaebol type, there’s a nice complexity to the character that makes me sympathetic, even if I think he’s being a rude and selfish prick most of the time.
But turning the Jekyll-Hyde setup on its head is a great twist from the start, because it makes us want to meet Robin and draw him out. It’s basically taking the general metaphor of a cold Darcy hero who hides his mushy marshmallow heart behind walls to a fantasy-driven extreme, where instead of a walled-up heart he’s actually created a second personality to lock away completely. And I totally buy that when you do that in an effort to protect yourself, the other personality finds a way of coming out. I’m pleased that the explanation for his condition doesn’t make my mind jump through too many logic hoops, and that it sets us up for a potentially heart-tugging romance with an alter-ego who seems (so far) to be pretty awesome.
It’s funny that the mean one is so terrified of the nice one coming forth, but that sets us firmly on the rom-com side of things, which I like. The tone is a happy medium—not too broad, not too serious—and the slick production value sure does make it easy on the eyes. Or was that just Hyun Bin and Han Ji-min? A strong case could be made for them looking this sparkly on any camera, but it’s always nice when the show is as pretty. They were pretty cursory about many of the introductions in this episode with a lot of lazy exposition, so I’m looking forward to more character interaction that doesn’t need to go through as much obvious setup dialogue. I already like the leads together, and Wimpy Seo-jin makes me laugh out loud (the gorilla WAS good for that one thing).
The most clever device is the heart rate monitor, which is reminiscent of Best Love and Dokko Jin’s obtuse inability to connect heart to love. Here it serves as a constant gauge for Seo-jin’s control over his own body, because we get a clear trigger for Robin: cross the magic heart rate threshold and he appears. So it makes sense that Seo-jin runs from the first sign of fear or stress, but the poor guy also deprives himself of any pleasure, excitement, or joy in life, essentially keeping both personalities locked away from the world. But of course Hana is the anomaly, otherwise we’d never have a story. What is their connection, and why does seeing her in danger raise his heart rate into the danger zone? Does he subconsciously remember her somehow? And is Robin just a hero, or is he saving Hana because it’s her? I see a lot of potential, and I’d say curious about two Hyun Bins is a good place to be for a start.
- Hyde, Jekyll, Me teases fleeting fanciful romance
- Wonderland romance on ice in Hyde, Jekyll, Me
- First preview for split personality rom-com Hyde, Jekyll, Me
- Cast of Hyde, Jekyll, Me gathers for first script read
- News bites: December 13, 2014
- News bites: December 6, 2014
- Sung Joon signs on as second lead for Jekyll and Me
- Han Ji-min confirms Jekyll and Me opposite Hyun Bin
- Han Ji-min courted to romance Hyun Bin(s) in Hyde, Jekyll, Me
- Hyun Bin returns to dramaland with split personality