Two Cops: Episodes 1-2
MBC’s got a new cop drama on the scene, and Two Cops moves at lightning speed when it comes to both action and information. This first episode is mostly backstory, but as setup episodes go, I found it riveting and exciting, and it left me wanting more. Jo Jung-seok is at the top of his game, but I have a feeling that we haven’t seen anything yet.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
On a dark night, two men face off with a biker gang, managing to hold their own despite being handcuffed together. During a lull in the fight, one man asks the other, “It’s really not you?” They turn back to the bikers and leap simultaneously into danger.
We go back a few days to see one of the men, CHA DONG-TAK (Jo Jung-seok), paying his respects at a funeral. He says to the son of the deceased that his mother looks kind in her photo, and the man fires back that he’s awfully rude for a detective, since he didn’t remove his shoes.
Detective Dong-tak says calmly that he doesn’t have time to take off his shoes, because he’s here to catch a gangster. Said gangster, YONG-PAL (Lee Shi-un), arrives right on time, and the moment he spots Dong-tak, he takes off like a shot.
Dong-tak chases Yong-pal out of the building, leaping over the hood of a car without missing a step. The driver jumps out and follows, catching up to Dong-tak and introducing himself on the run as DOKKO SUNG-HYUK (Hoya), his new partner. Dong-tak: “Are you my new wife?”
They pursue Yong-pal into an alleyway, where Sung-hyuk catches up to him first. Yong-pal pulls a knife and begins taking jabs at Sung-hyuk, who barely manages to dodge the weapon. But Dong-tak comes flying at Yong-pal and knocks him down with a kick.
Sung-hyuk pulls a gun, but Dong-tak pushes it away, saying that Yong-pal knows that the first shot out of a detective’s gun is a blank. He deadpans that his fists are better, informing Yong-pal that he knows taekwondo, hapkido, judo, and kendo. Damn.
Yong-pal doesn’t look so confident anymore, but he lunges at Dong-tak, only to find himself on the receiving end of Dong-tak’s lightning-quick fist. He tries again but Dong-tak knocks him to the ground, and a third attempt has Yong-pal landing in a pile of garbage.
Dong-tak takes his knife and hands it to Sung-hyuk, then cuffs Yong-pal. He tells the impressed Sung-hyuk that he’ll take every knife that’s meant for him from here on out, and not to be afraid anymore. Dong-tak says that someone once said that detectives survive if they share the knives headed for them. Sung-hyuk asks who said that, but Dong-tak just mutters, “Someone cool.”
Back at the station, Dong-tak changes shirts in front of his colleagues (ha, Sung-hyuk eyes his muscles enviously), who complain that he treats the station like his home. After he leaves, another detective, Detective Park, tells Sung-hyuk that Dong-tak has been strange since what happened to his previous partner, and sighs that he probably won’t go home until he catches the culprit.
Dong-tak stops in front of a memorial wall to look at the photo of his former partner, JO HANG-JOON (cameo by Kim Min-jong), who died while on a stakeout only a few weeks ago. Dong-tak unwraps his bandaged left hand to reveal a half-healed slash in his palm, and he relives the events of that night.
He and Hang-joon had been on the stakeout, and Hang-joon had admonished Dong-tak to keep his shoes tied. Dong-tak was suspicious of the tip that brought them here, and he asked Hang-joon if they were really going to drop their taxi driver murder case without even investigating.
Hang-joon said that their superiors ruled it a suicide, but Dong-tak argued that the driver wouldn’t have destroyed his own car. Hang-joon agreed that it felt wrong, then revealed that he actually found something, but he realized that he forgot to bring it.
He told Dong-tak that as a detective, he’d eventually find one person that he wants to arrest so badly it makes him cry, and then he can call himself a real detective. Dong-tak nodded, but under his breath, he muttered that that’s bullshit and ended up in an affectionate headlock.
Later, Dong-tak had left the car for something, and Hang-joon realized that he forgot his umbrella when it began to rain. Dong-tak returned to find Hang-joon gone and an umbrella lying on the ground. He grabbed the umbrella and stopped to tie his shoe again, then went looking for his partner.
A man wearing a motorcycle helmet passed him, but Dong-tak only stopped for a moment before continuing on. He then found Hang-joon on the ground, bleeding badly from a stab wound to the belly, and he called for help. But as he waited, the helmeted man came back and plunged a knife into his stomach.
Luckily, Dong-tak managed to catch the blade in his fist, and he tried to get a good look at his attacker. But the dark helmet combined with the driving rain prevented him from seeing the man’s face, and the man knocked him out and ran.
Back in the present, Dong-tak clenches his not-quite-healed fist before heading to interrogate Yong-pal. He tells Yong-pal to put on a motorcycle helmet, then tosses him a pen and instructs him to stab at him with it.
Yong-pal plays along, and Dong-tak knows right away that it wasn’t him that night. Removing the helmet, Yong-pal says that even when he was a “legendary butcher,” it was rare for anyone to use a stab-and-twist move. Dong-tak says ominously that he didn’t mention that the attacker twisted the knife, and Yong-pal realizes too late that he’s made a mistake.
He clams up when Dong-tak shows him Hang-joon’s autopsy results and asks who did this. Dong-tak tells him that Hang-joon was a good detective with a beautiful wife and kid, and vows that until Yong-pal speaks, he’s staying right here.
At a nearby news station, a reporter, SONG JI-AN (Hyeri) and her reporter partner MI-NAM watch as a pretty newscaster prepares for her broadcast by plumping up her generous cleavage. Mi-nam realizes that the newscaster is stealing Ji-an’s story, and Ji-an quips that they should call the cops for theft.
After the broadcast, Ji-an approaches the newscaster, Na-mi, while snapping pictures of her chest. She says she’s doing a story on the lost conscience of reporters, using Na-mi as her model since she stole both her story and her informant. She promises to blur Na-mi’s face, but gasps that the viewers will probably recognize her breasts anyway, ha.
Ji-an is called to the chief’s office, where he tells her that they’re giving her next story to Na-mi as well. Ji-an yells at Na-mi for stealing her work, then swears to get a great scoop in return for the right to report it herself.
She collapses at her desk, where Mi-nam shows her a video online that’s getting tons of views. It’s Dong-tak’s barehanded fight against Yong-pal’s knife, but Ji-an reads it as a thug cop beating up a civilian. She vows to get the scoop, especially when she learns that the cop’s partner was recently murdered and that the department is so corrupt that they’ve been forbidden to investigate.
Dong-tak is brought before internal affairs, who mention the envelope of money that was found in Hang-joon’s desk. Dong-tak wants to know who bribed his partner, but the investigators just say that they’re trying to quiet the rumors of corruption surrounding Hang-joon’s death.
Temper flaring, Dong-tak goes to his team leader, Detective Yoo, who sighs and tells him to lay low. Dong-tak says incredulously that Hang-joon was family, unclear why he needs permission to go after the person who killed him.
Detective Park agrees, saying that Hang-joon would never have taken a bribe, but Detective Yoo won’t be moved. Dong-tak quietly hands over his badge and quits on the spot.
He gets a call from Ji-an before he even leaves the building, asking to interview him. When she asks about Hang-joon’s supposed corruption, Dong-tak blows up at her. He says that Hang-joon was not a dirty cop, but Ji-an says that’s why she wants to investigate, so that she can discover the truth for herself.
Dong-tak warns Ji-an never to let him see her face, hanging up on her when she calls him a thug. They pass each other moments later as he leaves the station and she enters it, but they’re both too busy seething to realize it.
Another cop, Detective Lee, refuses to answer any of Ji-an’s questions. It only makes Ji-an even more curious to know what the police are hiding.
As Dong-tak walks the streets, a man in a motorcycle helmet stops to clock his location. He doesn’t notice, and he’s distracted by a strange woman who asks who he’s chasing, then offers to read his fortune.
Skeptical but willing to try anything, Dong-tak takes her up on it. The fortuneteller says that a blade changed his life, then orders him to unwrap his hand. She grins when she sees the knife wound, and she tells him that he’ll find an incredible partner soon, but that the only way they’ll survive is to stay close as if they’re one person.
Alone in his office, police SUPERINTENDENT MA frowns down at the photos on his desk, remembering a recent meeting in which he’d agreed to cover up the internal corruption that was unearthed when Hang-joon’s death was investigated. He’d also sworn that Dong-tak wouldn’t go against orders, but his superior’s odd behavior had unsettled him.
Superintendent Ma makes a call to a man, LEE DOO-SHIK, instructing him to frame someone. Doo-shik assumes he means Dong-tak, but Superintendent Ma tells him to frame someone else in a way that makes it impossible for Dong-tak to ever mention the case again.
We cut to a man as he’s released from prison: this is GONG SU-CHANG (Kim Sun-ho), con man extraordinaire. He goes right back to his old ways, taking incriminating photos of a jeweler as he visits his many mistresses.
He pretends to be a wealthy customer, and he knows the jeweler is falling for the bait by his dilated pupils. Su-chang signals an accomplice to approach and mention his healthy stock portfolio thanks to his tips, and with that, the jeweler is putty in his hands.
They meet for dinner a few days later with some lady friends, and the jeweler brings an expensive necklace along that Su-chang ordered. But the jeweler’s wife storms in, screaming at her husband’s infidelity (no doubt tipped off by Su-chang himself). In the kerfuffle, Su-chang stuffs the necklace into his date’s purse and they make their escape.
Detective Yoo must have changed his mind, because Sung-hyuk briefs the other detectives on Su-chang, informing them that Hang-joon arrested him for fraud six months ago, and he was released the day before Hang-joon died. Evidently Su-chang called Hang-joon often from the prison, and he was overheard vowing revenge for having been locked up.
What’s more, they’ve found a witness who claims to have been there the night Hang-joon died. He says that the attacker took off his helmet after knocking Dong-tak out, and the witness clearly recognized Su-chang.
Unfortunately, the nearby CCTV cameras were down that night, and no evidence was found at the scene. Dong-tak asks Detective Yoo if Su-chang is really the killer, and though the evidence is circumstantial, it does seem pretty damning. Detective Yoo wants to observe Su-chang, but Dong-tak believes that won’t work and devises a plan.
He proceeds to arrest every con man (and woman) who has ever met Su-chang, then offers them their freedom in return for valid information on where to find Su-chang. HA, they all jump at the opportunity.
Su-chang takes his stolen necklace to a doctor he met in prison, charming him into helping find a buyer among his wealthy patients. As he leaves, he narrowly misses Dong-tak on his way to question the doctor about him. The doctor insists he barely remembers Su-chang, and never performs illegal surgeries anymore.
He shrieks in alarm when Dong-tak discovers the hidden door to his surgical room and palms an incriminating breast implant, pfft. Dong-tak offers to make a deal with the doctor, though we don’t hear what he suggests.
Meanwhile, Ji-an is still hanging around the police station, and she dresses as a janitor to gain entry into the closed rooms. She overhears that Su-chang killed a detective, so she calls her boss to let her report the story.
But Dong-tak sees her and snatches her phone, demanding to know who she is and what she’s doing. Ji-an tries to escape, but Dong-tak prevents her from leaving, thinking that she seems familiar.
He calls the number of the reporter who called him earlier, smirking triumphantly when Ji-an’s phone rings. Busted, Ji-an admits she’s a reporter, vowing to investigate with or without his help.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Dong-tak tells Ji-an that the hardest thing for a cop is to meet the families of the victims, because they can’t always keep their promises to catch the criminals. He sighs that there’s one criminal he wants to catch more than anyone, because he promised a child he’d catch his daddy’s killer.
He tells Ji-an that if she reveals what she knows, he’ll lose all his leads on his suspect. She seems moved, but remains reluctant to let go of her scoop.
As they walk back to the station, Ji-an is nearly mowed down by a scooter, and Dong-tak pulls her into his arms. She’s a bit stunned by the close contact, but Dong-tak doesn’t even seem to notice. She pushes him away and chides him for not asking if she’s okay, but he just deadpans that he was expecting a thank you.
Ji-an thanks him and asks if her work is truly interfering with his. She promises not to interrupt him so long as he keeps his promise to the victim’s family.
As she’s waiting for her bus, a woman sits next to Ji-an and surreptitiously slices into her purse. Ji-an catches her stealing her wallet and attacks, screaming and wrestling until a man runs over to handcuff the pickpocket. He says she’s under arrest, but LOL, it’s just Su-chang and his female accomplice.
Su-chang looks over at Ji-an, and despite her disheveled state, he goes a little slack-jawed and loses his train of thought. He regains his wits and asks if she’s all right, saying that she should only get surprised three times a day, turning on the charm as he asks if Ji-an knows that she’s pretty when she’s surprised.
He and his accomplice, BONG-SOOK (Im Se-mi), go to a restaurant for lunch. Bong-sook is clearly besotted, grinning at Su-chang as he eats, making him uncomfortable. She asks him to marry her, promising to support them with her sticky fingers, but Su-chang fusses at her for breaking their promise not to steal from the poor, the nice, or the sick.
He takes Ji-an’s wallet, going a little goofy again when he looks at her ID picture. Bong-sook pouts that Ji-an isn’t poor, nice, or sick, and when Su-chang moons that pretty girls are nice, Bong-sook brandishes a childhood photo and crows that Ji-an was an ugly kid.
Speaking of kids, Dong-tak visits an elementary class and referees an arm-wrestling match between two kids, one burly and one small. The bigger boy wins easily, and the little guy, Joon-soo, shoots Dong-tak a look of utter betrayal.
After school, Joon-soo’s mother apologizes, but Dong-tak says sweetly that he’ll always be in Joon-soo’s life in place of his father, Hang-joon. Awww. Hang-joon’s wife tells Dong-tak that there was a hole in the pocket of the jacket Hang-joon was wearing the night he was killed, and that she found a lighter inside, which is strange because Hang-joon didn’t smoke.
Before he goes, Dong-tak repeats his promise to little Joon-soo to catch the bad man and punish him. He says he can make it so Joon-soo wins the next wrestling match, but Joon-soo says he’ll play fair because he wants to be a detective like his dad. It’s cute that he calls Dong-tak “Wife” just like his dad used to.
Su-chang visits Hang-joon’s memorial, and we see that Hang-joon used to visit him in prison. Bewildered as to why the cop who arrested him even cares, Su-chang had asked if Hang-joon likes him, or wants him to be a snitch when he gets out.
Hang-joon had said that he was upset that Su-chang used his smart brain to con people. He’d offered to help him start over when he got out, and to introduce him to someone who’s just like him. Su-chang had scoffed sarcastically at the idea that he and a cop would ever be friends, and that night he’d sworn to get out and get his revenge, though he’d said it with a happy smile.
In the present, Su-chang talks to Hang-joon’s photo, laughing at his promise to help him start over. But he has difficulty holding his smile, and he quickly walks away.
The cops go out for a drink to welcome rookie Sung-hyuk, and Dong-tak pours an extra shot in honor of Hang-joon. Detective Yoo swears to Dong-tak that they’ll catch the man who killed Hang-joon, then begs Dong-tak to laugh again, because he has to go on living without his partner.
It reminds Dong-tak of a time when Hang-joon had tied his shoe for him after he dislocated his shoulder punching a bad guy (having one shoe untied seems to be a recurring problem for Dong-tak). Hang-joon had said that he would take the knives aimed at Dong-tak, which Dong-tak thought sounded cool.
Now blind drunk, Dong-tak looks at the seat next to him to see Hang-joon sitting there. Dong-tak asks where Hang-joon has been and if he’s missed him, but Hang-joon doesn’t say a word; he just gives Dong-tak a sorrowful look.
Dong-tak tells Hang-joon, “I see you in every glass of alcohol I drink, and every time I touch my handcuffs. Everyone I see looks like you.” Hang-joon pours him another drink as Dong-tak asks, “Did you blame me? I bet I’m the only cop in Korea who let his partner get stabbed while tying his shoe.”
He hangs his head and notices that Hang-joon’s shoe is untied. He gets on his knees to tie it for him, not realizing that he’s really tying the shoe of his equally drunk new partner. Dong-tak lays his head on Sung-hyuk’s leg and begs Hang-joon to stay.
Ji-an and Mi-nam walk into the empty station, but all they find is Yong-pal, still handcuffed to a railing, hee. Yong-pal clumsily tries to flirt, but he ducks his head respectfully when Ji-an advances on him angrily for ogling her breasts.
The reporters decide to take turns waiting for someone to return, and Mi-nam takes the first watch. Ji-an slips into the women’s break room, carefully avoiding the sleeping figure huddled under a blanket, and soon she’s fast asleep.
In her sleep, Ji-an steals the other sleeper’s covers, revealing that it’s Dong-tak spending the night at the station. She rolls over and flings a leg over him, and miraculously, he doesn’t wake. It’s not until morning that he rouses and realizes that he’s not alone.
His reflexes kick in, and he jumps up with Ji-an’s leg in a martial arts hold. She screams bloody murder, kicking him across the room and yelling that this is the women’s break room, and Dong-tak yells back that the men’s break room is being renovated.
Traumatized, they argue until Dong-tak’s phone rings and he leaves, with Ji-an right on his heels firing questions about Hang-joon’s killer. He stops to promise to talk to her later, so Ji-an reluctantly agrees to wait.
He follows a tip that Su-chang is with a fencer right this moment and manages to interrupt the deal in progress. Su-chang runs, and on his way out he knocks Sung-hyuk down the stairs, injuring his shoulder. Dong-tak keeps up with him until Su-chang hitches a ride on the running board of a van.
Dong-tak catches up at a street market, but Su-chang ducks into a clothing vendor and steals a coat, sauntering out right under Dong-tak’s nose. He ditches the stolen coat once he thinks he’s safe, but when he arrives at his getaway car, Dong-tak leaps at him out of nowhere and busts him.
Su-chang loses his bravado once he’s caught, but when he hears that he’s being arrested for murder, he starts to loudly protest. Dong-tak cuffs himself to Su-chang and they get in the car, and he tells Sung-hyuk darkly that if Su-chang drives them anywhere else, he’ll just shoot him.
Accomplice Bong-sook peers worriedly at Su-chang from nearby, and he smiles and silently assures her that he’ll be fine. Sung-hyuk tattles to Dong-tak that Su-chang smiled, so Dong-tak whips his hand up, making Su-chang slap himself in the face. PWAHAHA.
They drive off, leaving instructions for Sung-hyuk to have his shoulder checked out at the hospital. Once they’re gone, Bong-sook exits the alley and body-slams Sung-hyuk on his injured shoulder, and he grumbles that she’s strong but pretty.
As he drives, Su-chang asks who he supposedly killed. Dong-tak tells him that he’s accused of killing his partner Hang-joon, and that a witness saw him at the murder scene.
Su-chang whines that it really wasn’t him and starts to explain. But they suddenly realize that an entire motorcycle gang is following them, though neither of them knows why.
It starts to dawn on them that the motorcycle gang is targeting them, and they’re forced to pull over when the gang busts their windows out. They stop on a bridge and get out of the car, and the gang members brandish weapons and advance on them.
Dong-tak tells them that he’s a cop, but his words have no effect. Under his breath, he tells Su-chang that they don’t seem inclined to let them go, and asks if he can throw a punch. They brace themselves, and Dong-tak says, “I need to use your body,” then throws himself at their attackers.
He fights viciously, using Su-chang as a shield, a weapon, or a base for his martial arts kicks as the situation demands. It’s impressive, and soon Su-chang enters the fight, throwing punches and even helping Dong-tak with his flying kicks.
They stop to catch their breath, and Dong-tak asks Su-chang, “It’s really not you?” Su-chang screams that he’s a con man but not a murderer, and Dong-tak almost seems to believe him.
Su-chang then sees a biker swinging viciously at Dong-tak with a baseball bat. He throws himself in front of Dong-tak, taking the blow to the head in his place, and Dong-tak catches Su-chang’s unconscious body in his arms.
Now alone in the fight and burdened with Su-chang’s dead weight, Dong-tak sees a familiar-looking helmeted man. He climbs on top of the car and realizes that there’s only one way out—the river below. He decides to take his chances and leaps, plunging them both into the water, and then drags the still-unconscious Su-chang to the surface.
Sometime later, Dong-tak opens his eyes to find himself in a hospital bed. He bolts upright and says to himself, “I almost died because of that damn detective, Cha Dong-tak.” He grins, and it becomes clear that this is Su-chang’s soul in Dong-tak’s body.
Whew, that was a lot of information in just one episode! Just to clarify things, what I understand is that Dong-tak’s partner Hang-joon discovered some internal corruption while investigating the murder of a taxi driver, and was probably killed for it. Then the detectives were ordered not to look any further into Hang-joon’s murder, but Dong-tak feels guilty for not paying attention and letting his partner get killed, so he’s refusing to stop until he finds the killer. Meanwhile, the police superintendent hired a man to frame Su-chang for Hang-joon’s murder, which explains the witness who popped up out of nowhere. But I believe that Su-chang is innocent (of murder anyway), and it will be fun to watch him use his sudden influence as a cop to clear his own name.
I particularly like the casting in this drama. Police dramas aren’t my usual wheelhouse, but Jo Jung-seok definitely is, and I found myself really liking Dong-tak despite his grumpy attitude and general unpleasantness. I can’t wait to see him take on the persona of the happy-go-lucky con man Su-chang—just based on the twinkle in his eye in the last few seconds of this episode, I think we’re in for a fun adventure. I’m unfamiliar with Kim Sun-ho as an actor, but I found him engaging and devilishly charming as Su-chang, and I hope that he doesn’t spend the entire show in a coma (or whatever is happening).
And I wasn’t just impressed by the two leads—Hoya’s character seems to be as adorably squishy as I’ve come to expect from him, and surprisingly, I actually like Hyeri as Ji-an. She seems to shine when she plays odd, quirky characters, so Ji-an’s personality appears to fit her perfectly. And I saw enough of a spark of chemistry between her and Jo Jung-seok to have me excited to watch her go head-to-head with him while he’s channeling the irreverent Su-chang. All of the characters feel well-realized and lived-in, and I feel confident that they’ll give us a great show.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much heart there was in the premiere, and I really hope that the tone and feel of this first episode continues. There were these small, beautiful moments among all the chases and fighting, like the scene where Dong-tak promised Hang-joon’s son that he would catch the bad man. I was particularly touched when Su-chang was talking to Hang-joon’s picture and momentarily struggled to keep up his unaffected act, and again when Dong-tak hallucinated his old partner and begged him not to leave him again. Clearly, Hang-joon was a man who touched many lives, and I have a feeling that even though he’s gone, he’ll continue to influence these two men to be better people.
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