Rating:
Average user rating 4.9
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Watcher: Episodes 9-16 Final (Series review)

Wow. What a very excellent show. It was hard to do the first half justice, but I feel like it’s going to be even harder to capture the breadth and depth to which the second half took us. Watcher is a show that deserves a close watch, and then a rewatch, and then a thesis, to fully encapsulate every theme and every dark side of human nature that it took upon itself to delve into.

 
[Warning: The following review assumes you’ve watched the first half, and contains major spoilers for the second. Proceed at your own risk!]
 

The murder of Kim Jae-myung (Young-goon’s father) marks the midpoint of the show and takes the show’s trajectory to a completely new level. It clears him of his wife’s murder this is where it all begins to unravel for the villains, as the team finally start to ask the right questions. The Muil ledger, the cause of Jae-myung’s murder, also becomes his legacy. We’re told that the ledger is a comprehensive record of the corruption of law enforcement officials among both the police and the prosecution service.

The search for the ledger dominates the third quarter, driving all of our greater and lesser characters. The big question, though, is why each person is after it. Is it because they want to catch the people in it, or because their own names would be found inside? It’s a question Chi-gwang does not fear to ask, and he asks it at every level, from his direct superior, Deputy Commissioner Park (Joo Jin-mo), all the way to the Commissioner herself, Chief YEOM DONG-SOOK (Kim Soo-jin).

There’s something blackly entertaining about the way Chi-gwang approaches people, whether they’re his suspects or his superiors, or indeed, both. It’s always been impossible to tell who to trust, but it’s also impossible to tell who trusts whom. Between the inscrutable triad of Chi-gwang, Deputy Park and Chief Yeom, the probing edge to their verbal matches creates a sharp expectancy, and the sense that everything is a carefully orchestrated performance. Whether that’s a performance of truth or lies is deliciously difficult to tell, but we’ve reached the half of the story where answers begin to slowly seep out.

The team chases up every lead they can, and uncover a drug distribution ring run by—wait for it—the prosecution and police, as they filter confiscated drugs back into the market. It’s all part of a vast operation where Jae-myung’s thumb-clipping killer (known as “Turtle”) is only the smallest part. The team uncovers a secret society within the organization known as “Jang Sahwae” (or Jang Society), who profess a mission to punish the bad guys when the law can’t.

Thus, we learn that the bodies found in the pit in the first half were gang leaders cleaned up by Jang Sahwae. Jang Sahwae then took over the gangs and used them to sell drugs, and ran their operation on the proceeds. And make no mistake about it, it’s big money business. I’m not sure how Jang Sahwae thinks this makes them righteous, but that right there is the billion-won question, isn’t it?

Deputy Park unmasks himself as a member of Jang Sahwae, and really tries to get Chi-gwang to join, though that could also easily be a ploy to get him off their tail. Park makes no apology for Jang Sahwae’s operations, considering them a necessary and lesser evil for justice to prevail. Chi-gwang certainly has no time for grand ideas like justice, but more on that later.

Young-goon finally discovers the tiny memory card with the ledger on it hidden in his shoe, a last gift from his father. But it’s incomplete, with the data on Jang Sahwae and Jae-myung himself missing. But Turtle steals it away almost as soon as he acquires it, and makes a harrowing attempt on Young-goon’s life.

Anyone suspected of having the ledger becomes a potential target for Turtle, and it’s a fact Tae-joo quickly exploits, luring out the killer by pretending to have it. But while it goes to plan in some fashion, it also ends with a murdered chief prosecutor, and Tae-joo comes face to face with the hooded nemesis. It reawakens her trauma, and the rush of fear almost paralyzes her—almost. But she manages to land a shot on the fleeing Turtle, and the blood left on the scene finally gives them a lead on their identity. Man you’ve got to hand it to this woman, she is bold, and does not let her fear choke her.

Tae-joo has been a character who hasn’t wavered in her motives for a single moment, even when the direction of her decisions fluctuate more than anyone else’s. She still wants only one thing, and that’s to discover Turtle’s identity. Chi-gwang accuses her of wanton revenge at one point, and she tells him it’s nothing so grand: She only wants to sleep at night. It’s a line that is just… so simple but so stark.

I just love everything about Tae-joo, and she and Chi-gwang have some of the best dialogues in the whole show. They’re intense, combative and honest, and the fact that they are so deeply frank yet so unrevealing is a testament to both the actors and the writing. It’s fitting, therefore, that it’s to her that Chi-gwang confesses his sin: that believing Jae-myung to be guilty, he fabricated the evidence that put him away. It’s why he’s obsessed with police corruption.

After all our doubt about Chi-gwang and the reliability of Young-goon’s memory, learning the truth tells us so much about what has been driving him ever since, and moreover, the subtle change in what drives him now, after learning that he’d jailed an innocent man through his own suppositions. Before, we know he was dead-set on rooting out all the “bad cops,” but in the latter half, it becomes an atonement from a man who believes he doesn’t deserve to forgive himself. That’s what makes him warn Young-goon so seriously not to be blinded by preconceived ideas, and even not to let him off the hook.

I said it before, but I’ll say it again: the synergy of this trio is really remarkable. They’re such very different characters, and often want very different things. But on the rare occasion that they are all on the same page, they have the kind of single-minded accord that is pure artistry to watch. Where Tae-joo is bold, Chi-gwang is devious, and next to them, Young-goon’s unyielding pursuit of right remains a grounding force. He’s like a point of calibration between the extremes of the others. Rather than make his character insipid, it gives him a kind of aching gravitas. Far from ringing hollow, his principles are clearly a product of his own painful experiences, and it makes him impossible to dismiss.

Young-goon is the one who finally manages to catch Turtle—who unexpectedly turns out to be Jang Hae-ryung’s underling (a fact which Jang himself seems to be unaware). Which isn’t right at all, because he’s far too young to be Young-goon’s mother’s killer and Tae-joo’s torturer. But he does seem to be Jae-myung’s killer, and for that, Young-goon wants to kill him, but he’s held back by both Tae-joo and Chi-gwang, in what is a really emotional, heart-in-your-throat scene.

Tae-joo learns from the wrong Turtle that she had her man—it was the crooked detective Kim Kang-wook (played by Lee Jae-yoon) who was dispatched way back in the first half of the show. Well, wow. What a letdown for Tae-joo. I love the way the show really goes there with the characters: It just steals away the thing that drives them, and the characters are left to catch themselves, to think about “after.” “What happens once you get your revenge?” was always a relevant question, but what happens if you can’t? What is left?

We’re treated to some really poignant scenes where both Tae-joo and Young-goon have to confront that world. It’s a huge question for Tae-joo, and she actively has to find a purpose again—a reason to wake up in the morning, now that she can allow herself to sleep at night. It’s touching and symbolic that it starts with watching over Young-goon, for whom the situation has evolved once more. Though he’s found his father’s murderer, he hasn’t found his mother’s. At the center of it all, he needs to know who is giving the orders. In that, he and Chi-gwang have a common goal.

But he takes Chi-gwang’s advice not to trust him to heart. When Chi-gwang stages a murder (in order to catch one of their bad guys), Young-goon traces it back to him. He has to trust the facts, and the facts all point to Chi-gwang. It turns Young-goon’s faith in him into an equal amount of fury, driving him to confront Chi-gwang in a ferocious, no-holds-barred fight.

The choreography of the fight scenes in this show is so impressive. They’re executed with an economy of motion that heightens the excitement and makes it genuinely thrilling to watch. This fight is one of the best examples: It’s savage, silent, and brimming with feeling on one side and restraint on the other. There’s as much betrayal as there is anger in Young-goon, and it’s not the first time that I wonder how much of a surrogate father he sees in Chi-gwang. He learns that it was a ruse not a moment too soon, but it’s interesting that Chi-gwang himself doesn’t confess to it.

The second half also sees the unexpected return of Tae-joo’s ex-husband YOON JI-HOON (Park Hoon). We knew they had been tortured together, but it’s a shock to see him sporting two poorly reattached thumbs. His motives for returning are unclear, but he appears to have been recruited by Jang Sahwae, who use his rage as their own weapon.

It culminates in him kidnapping both Tae-joo and Young-goon, and staging his own torture session. Under his smooth veneer, he’s as bitter and broken as Tae-joo, and we soon learn why. Back when they had been tortured, Tae-joo—sobbing and terrified—had volunteered her then-husband to get the snip in her place, and he was never able to forgive or get over that. When he threatens Young-goon with the same fate, she pleads for him to do it to her instead, and that breaks him again. Why couldn’t she do that then? What’s special about Young-goon?

It’s an interlude that really reveals how Tae-joo sees herself as someone who’s already given up on her humanity, which is why all that’s left for her and Ji-hoon now is just a raw need for revenge, or maybe just an end to fear. But it also strips bare her regrets over who she is and has become, as if she wished she had been able to be different, but is prevented by her own limitations and inability to grow past them. It’s hard to blame her for it though, when her wounds are so visible that she’s practically still bleeding. But somehow, the “replay” of their trauma gives the one-time spouses some closure in their relationship. For Tae-joo it’s a personal catharsis, too, as if finding herself capable of self-sacrifice puts something back into place inside her.

I have really loved the way the relationships have been developed so subtly as the show has progressed, and I love most of all the one that grows between Tae-joo and Young-goon. Tae-joo always seems to harbor some remorse toward Young-goon, which she confessed to Chi-gwang was because she feels responsible for steering his testimony as a child. Knowing now that it robbed him of his father, there’s something soft about her when it comes to Young-goon. You could actually say that’s true for both her and Chi-gwang, but the one Young-goon seems to instinctively trust is her. She’s not a particularly motherly woman, but there’s something disarming about her all the same. Maybe it’s the fact that both of them are victims, and they recognize that brokenness in each other.

“Where do you think a person’s humanity comes from?” The question that haunted Tae-joo is one that comes back to play a significant role, though not exactly as we expect. Our favorite bodyguard Jae-shik (♥) has an answer to that question: opposable thumbs. Thumbs, it turns out, are important, and we learn it was an assault method favored by Jae-myung, which he taught to his team to incapacitate their quarry. With a broken thumb, you can’t hold a weapon. Is it as simple as that?

The question gives way to a really deep interrogation of what it means to be human—whether it’s merely to have opposable thumbs, or having emotions and empathy, or whether there’s something much more complex about the moment-to-moment negotiation of doing good or evil, of crossing the line for a greater good and how you justify those actions to yourself, that separates humans from beasts.

The full and unabridged ledger eventually comes into Young-goon’s possession, thanks to his dad and a secret safety deposit box. It also includes an audio recording from Jae-myung confessing that he was the original founder of Jang Sahwae. So… Jang Sahwae is not an elite organization but an illegal side-operation by rogue cops? Or it was once. But even if Jang Sahwae was originally conceived as an engine to resolve injustice and clean up society’s trash, it was quickly co-opted by the personal agendas of its members. Arguably, that’s the fate of any enterprise involving humans.

I’m fascinated by the show’s refusal to exceptionalize: To be a murderer requires no special qualification, as Chi-gwang notes. Anyone can do it, with or without any kind of elite status or particular power, and it’s an overarching theme that characterizes the show. The grey morality is a consequence of the sometimes infinitesimal difference between the two, and in nobody is that duality more pronounced than in Do Chi-gwang.

The unveiling of the true culprit in Young-goon’s mom’s murder is just as shocking. The way that information comes to Young-goon is deceptively low-key, and stands out in contrast to the way Chi-gwang arrives at the same answer, torturing it out of Deputy Park. It’s a clear line that he crosses with no compunction, and it’s the show it at its most disturbing, but more on that later. I feel appropriately sheepish that the person I previously relegated to “little fish” turns out to have been the answer all along. But of course, it makes total sense. I love/hate that at the very moment when Jang Hae-ryung has made some kind of peace with the team, that’s when the tables turn.

There’s a look in Young-goon’s eyes when he first confronts him that is so dangerous but also completely heartbroken—because the truth doesn’t set him free so much as drop him out of a plane without a parachute. The fact that his mother’s death was ultimately an accident does cast Jang in a slightly more sympathetic light, but it’s undone by the many more crimes he commits to cover that mistake, as he embarks on a career as the original “Turtle” under the auspices of Deputy Park. But his roots go deeper than that, and we learn that Jang’s daughter had been abducted by one of the men whose bodies were found in the pit. The had cut off her fingers in retaliation for Jae-myung’s team breaking his thumbs, and Jang in turn killed him.

The only reason Young-goon is able to hold himself back from killing Jang is because he needs to clear his father’s name. He hears that Deputy Park has the evidence in his possession, but he’s soon found murdered. Once again, Young-goon has to deal with the thought that the thing he wants is out of his reach forever. But Chi-gwang doesn’t give up, and they find the evidence bag hidden underwater at Deputy Park’s fish farm, and that really does signal the end of the line for Jang Hae-ryung, who goes down for Deputy Park’s murder at least.

Chi-gwang reveals everything in a press conference, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that that would be the end… but of course it isn’t. In Jang’s last exchange with Young-goon before he’s taken away, he names the true instigator of Deputy Park’s murder: Chief Yeom. In a chilling moment of revelation, we see the UV markings from Deputy Park all over Yeom’s office, that prove her connection to his death… and Young-goon quietly leaves after confirming that. Oh, I knew it. I never trusted her for a second, but damn, she played one hell of a close hand.

A month later, Young-goon finally confronts Chi-gwang about it. He knows Chi-gwang cut a deal with the chief, literally letting her get away with murder in exchange for being allowed to go after the people in the ledger. It’s a riveting closing scene for them. Chi-gwang has always been blisteringly self-aware, but is this his blind spot? As cognizant as he is of how easily a person turns, he seems to trust himself to “do the right thing,” even though he has literally proven himself wrong multiple times.

It’s intentionally disturbing, I think, every time we have to confront that duality of his. We have to reconcile these opposites to make sense in a single person, and I don’t know if they do. Maybe that means he’ll always have these two conflicting sides to him, one the dark, diabolical one that is willing to make a deal with the devil itself, versus the one who wants the world where not even small sacrifices are necessary.

Or maybe he’s living up to that ideal by making himself the sacrifice—he’ll sacrifice his own conscience and descend into hell, if it achieves that same end. But whether he sees it as penance for his original sin or as a moral duty, maybe even he doesn’t know. But there is one thing he knows for certain: He is not a hero. He’s not even a protagonist in the grand scheme of things. He’s a small cog in the machinery of power, with the ability to rotate the right way or the wrong way at any given moment, immaterial except in the choices he makes.

In a sense, I think that’s his conclusion. He accepts that he, a watcher, needs Young-goon to be his watcher, the person who’ll make sure that he turns the right way. This is how we answer the question, “Who watches the watchers?” I’ve replayed the closing scene between them so many times, and I still don’t fully understand what we’re seeing in Chi-gwang’s face. Is it challenge or assurance? Either way, I want to see what happens next. I’ve said before that Young-goon formed the moral compass of the show, but to actively play conscience is, perhaps, his final evolution.

There’s so much more to unpack in this second half than is possible to do in the scope of this review. It’s worthy of an episode-by-episode thesis with separate discussions on justice, morality, victimhood, conscience, vengeance, purpose, and so much more. I’m ready to call Watcher my best of 2019, even though it’s barely September.

What were the best moments of the show for you? I’m excited that it seems to have been left open for a second season, and I badly want to see it. Given its very good ratings for OCN, between them and Studio Dragon, it could happen. What do you guys think, do you want a second season?

 
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This show was very well acted. I believed every bit of the characters. That being said I believe @saya that your assessment is correct. Chi-Gwang needs his own watcher and Young Goon is perfect for that. Of the 4, he is the only one that didn't "betray" the team. He wanted to find the truth. So Young Goon is the watcher for the watchers and will hopefully keep them on the straight and narrow.

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Second season?! Yes, please. @saya, thank you for the review!

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I think it would be hard to make a second season as compelling, since all three leads were deeply affected by the original crime underlying this season. Anything else would just be a case....

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Also, decent 2nd seasons seem to be really, really hard for EVERYBODY.

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i still dont understand this show and i am not sure if it was well written or not. i am leaning towards no and think that everyone involved is smart but too smart and it fails in what it presents. it's a shame and i would love to hear more critique and reviews of it since i think i oppose so much of what was done and found it polarizing. it's interesting to me that people loved it and found it an amazing thriller but fewer the opposite.

that being said, the director is talented. everyone was good in this show and i would rewatch it and need to finish it because it's interesting at the least (at worst, way too confusing and pedantic almost) but the way it was filmed and edited is beautiful. one of the most visually well done dramas i have seen. even more so than 'stranger' which the director did. i want to know what they filmed on. the blue tone wasn't too blue but fit the theme, the violence was grotesque and beautiful, and the blocking was insane. and honestly that alone would help me understand people drawn to the show.

on top of that while i think the writing fails, the acting succeeds. i'm really shocked at seo kang-joon--i just assumed he wasn't great. and maybe he wasn't outstanding but he was natural in this role and that's something i felt. everyone did a great job. han seok kyu and kim hyun joo are immensely capable. given that i literally cannot watch some scenes because i want to STRANGLE his character (the interrogation scenes where he's chewing gum oh my god it was so overwhelming and i hated it which means it was well done.) the noise of the gum and the irritations omfg! so lots to critique and criticize but plenty to praise.

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also i, personally, would challenge this morally grey idea. i know i'm coming from the perspective of someone who supports abolition of a police state but what crimes are true crimes and what is crime? so what would make a murderer or someone corrupt and what is okay? i don't believe that being an officer exists in an ethical system therefor does chi-kwang need to be ethical in this particular system himself? is that corruption? i can never tell what is and isn't intentional with this show which is part of the issue i have with it but i think it's a valuable question to ask that they have presented. thanks for the writeup and would love to see more thoughts!

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What this show did for you is make you think and ask questions. You can't ask for a better drama than that.
What is good? What is evil? What is black? What is white? These are the same questions Lan Zhan asked in Untamed.
When we're children we're taught good vs evil, black vs white. It's all well defined. As we grow and mature, we realize there are grey areas and some people can grow. Some states don't want us to question anything. Some people never grow.

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i agree to an extent. i think this particular question was intentional (obviously) and they didn't need to answer it because it isn't an answerable question. can i say i think these people grew? maybe not completely.

i struggle with black and white thinking but as i learn more about the world, i understand the complexities. what i mean is that in an inherently oppressive structure, what would be the grey area? but this brings up a lot more sociopolitical questions which i feel like they are interested in but didn't get enough to truly delve deep. for me, the question is more of who defines morality and benefits from this obviously skewed definition and to get out of it, to survive, there will be no straight path but does that, then, make the person 'bad' or as harmful as others? much to think about.

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oh and i am not sure if anyone has brought this up but a user, i forgot who and i don't want to mention them randomly so if they see this please reply, mentioned the US show 'the shield' which is based off a true case. the show (watcher) is clearly inspired by it and follows some of the patterns of the show (the shield) to a t.

this explains it “There were these cops who were running roughshod over this poor ethnic neighbourhood and yet they were effectively stopping a lot of crime. It was an interesting ethical question.”

i do not think it is an interesting ethical question at all....being part of the group that is hurt by this system, but the filmmaking makes it so. but i think a lot of people's takeaway was that exact question of morality. i have a very different perspective though. the quote is from this guardian article if anyone is interested! https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/apr/30/all-hail-the-shield-the-scuzzy-forgotten-classic-of-tvs-golden-age

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I haven't really thought about the writing, so for me that means it wasn't terrible, but that also means it wasn't excellent. The writing was serviceable if a bit predictable. What allowed this to be a good show is as you said the excellent acting and direction. It elevated a regular script and made it more interesting.

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Totally agree! I guess the biggest issue i failed to underline is that the show knew it was simple in itself so i dont think they had to throw in all these hoops and in fact they were unecessaryX wouldnt give it below a 7/10 tho! And all those factors rly made it compelling and their chemistry

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One thing I was sure when the show was ended: I need to re-watch it! There are so many things I didn't particularly understand but I really enjoyed it very much. Do Chi-Gwang as a character has given me so much chills, especially when he's smirking.....

I've never seen a show with so many grey characters, and everyone made mistakes and not purely clean police. What the show has done to us is "raising our suspicion" from one character to another. We do believe that each character has his/her own card. Like from the beginning, when Deputy Commissioner Park insisted Do Chi-gwang to find the ledger, we may have guessed that "his name is on it." Also with the Commissioner Yeom.. Her moves were suspicious from the beginning especially when she put Jo inside the team to spy on what they're doing.... Same thing goes to Jang Hae-ryung....

One thing I don't really understand is Jae-myung went to prison... I know it's because of Do Chi-gwang has fabricated the evidence... but couldn't Jae-myung to at least tell YG the truth that he didn't kill his wife? This, I still don't understand till the end.....

The relation between the characters is what I love the most:
- Jae-sik & Tae-joo: Jae-sik's loyalty to Tae-joo is what's impressed me.... He even told honestly to Tae-joo when Hae-ryung "bought" him in exchange with visit his son in the juvenile center. And Tae-joo nonchalantly said to just go with the game... and pretended that Jae-sik was doing anything HR had asked.
- Han Tae-joo to YG: she's the one who worried YG the most... checked him in the house, and offered him comfort as best as she could although it could be driven by her guilt to make YG the witness in his mother's murder.
- Chi-Gwang with Young-goon: i love their relation dynamic the most. At one point, YG considered CG as his protege and mentor; but when he started to suspect him as his mother's murder, he started to distrust him... and it took a while for YG to start (not really) trust CG.

I do wish this serial has season 2 with Ahn Gil-ho will be directing the show (Oh, it's too bad, he won't be directing "Forest of Secrets" season 2).

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I think my problem for me is they never have a proper time to develop their emotional baggage, it seems feels only the surface, never dig deeper, nothing of what their traumatic past resonate or touch me. They focus too much time on who is who, or connect the dot, busy doing countless investigation,figuring out shady politic, etc. And how many times ledger has been mention be in this drama? For example, They killed Kim Jae Myung too fast, might be it's good for the plot, for me we audience never get the chance to feel the importnt of his character, despite him being one of major plot point in the whole drama. And after that, they keep focus on investigation instead of dig deeper Young Goon's inner trauma. Same with Han Tae Jo's or. Chi Kwang's past for imprisoned YG's father.

Though, I admire the writers for make each character has their own moment and at times makes the audience side their point. from the main to supporting.

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Do we wver find out the original issue? Why the mom was murdered, what jae myung was beingn investigated for, etc? I havent watched the last 2 eps but they posed a ton of questions they failed to answer and by the show’s logic didnt make sense tbh

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Yess.. it's answered at the last 2 episodes. But it's not not my issue. I want an emotional paid off, after they tease me and we see what emotional struggle each character had went through. The writers is good making a good plot, plenty red herring to make audience engage. But the emotional conflict is lacking sincerity to me. I have to give this drama nother try.

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I really enjoyed watching this drama. For me, the actors were really great and the storytelling is good.

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I really liked this drama for the actors, they were all great, for the OST and the story was compelling.

I think the best description of Chi Gwang is Tae Joo who dit it : He is good with good people and he is bad with bad people. So he needs a Young Goon to watch him.

The BTS scenes are funny.

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I feel like writing in the second part was weaker or they build so much tensions that they were unable deliver on the promise? Tae Joo's husband plot line was weak and unnecessary no matter how much I usually like Park Hoon. The acting was top notch and characters writing was pretty consistent and that I always appreciate in Kdramas because the lure to flip everything on the head for the idea of some "surprising" plot twist in the end seems to plague Korean scriptwriters.

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Can i marry this review?
Thank you so much @saya for this perfectly written and well thought essay!

There's so many things that i would want to say, but like you said it would be endless to start commenting:
" Watcher is a show that deserves a close watch, and then a rewatch, and then a thesis, to fully encapsulate every theme and every dark side of human nature that it took upon itself to delve into."

The level of intrication and complexity was mindblowing: it felt like the scriptwriter wrote a novel, and then broke it in scripts while editing and added a lot of dialogues, rather than working on a concept and trying to expand it without clear definition of the end like usually dramas do.
Everything about the dark atmosphere of the drama, the ambiguous motivation of its characters was kept so consistent from the beginning to the end within a constrained budget and limited locations and characters. It's incredibly impressive.

"There’s so much more to unpack in this second half than is possible to do in the scope of this review. It’s worthy of an episode-by-episode thesis with separate discussions on justice, morality, victimhood, conscience, vengeance, purpose, and so much more. I’m ready to call Watcher my best of 2019, even though it’s barely September."

It's very true: the drama touched on social and legal issues while never lecturing its characters. It felt real and relatable: i couldn't stop thinking to the Sunburn scandal and the level of corruption in the korean police force, and how much those questions on Justice raised in the drama were explained in a way to enlighten why it's a fundamental issue to any society, and not only used as a plot device to create a good mystery.
Howewer, It's not my best for 2019: Different Dreams still occupies the place but second best definitely. It's also one of my top 10 k-drama ever made.

"What were the best moments of the show for you?"

There's so many: it's hard to pick only few:
- Every scene with Han Suk Kyu: each time he's on screen, he steals the drama. Everything about his acting and character have been said and written all around the web. He is Watcher.
- Everything about the cop team: Do Chi Kwang, Kim Young Goon and Jo Soo Yeon's relationships and scenes were precious beyond words.
- The OST was made by genious: Very well balanced and fitting each character while mixing different genres. I'm listening on a loop the four perfect songs picked. I wish the soundtrack would be released including the BGM but i don't think it ever happened before for dramas made for OCN.

" What do you guys think, do you want a second season?"
If they don't make one, i will riot but like i said in a another thread, i'm confident that there will be one: there's too many clues with the continuation of the team, instead of dismantling it and closing the office to think that they don't have the project to come back.
Also the interviews with the writer, PD...

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Also the interviews with the writer, PD and cast showed that they were all deeply invested in the project and happy with the outcome and the ambiance on set.
With Secret Forest 2 and Signal 2 coming soon, it's really becoming a thing to make multiple seasons of one drama and OCN have already tested it successfully with Voice.
Fingers crossed that they will come back in 2020!

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Fixing few mistakes that hopefully weren't troubling too much:
- I couldn't stop thinking of the Brunign Sun scandal and the level of corruption in the korean police forcethe Burning sun scandal
- The OST was made by genius people

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A really good show! The story was a little ... confusing? different? Anyway, an interesting watch thanks to a talented trio of actors. A second season might ruin the first one, it is (almost) never a smart move

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This drama is so underrated and is easily one of the best this year. I am so impressed with the acting, directing, and script writing. I loved every plot twist and it kept me guessing every week. Honestly imo the script was clever and the dialogue was really good and makes you think and reflect on what is considered black or white. It was confusing at first but when everything started coming together it was amazing. If the whole cast can return I’m all in for season 2.

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thanks for the recap/review...agree with you...one of few shows aired this year that i watched till last episodes real time; i eagerly waited for each week's episodes...the actors did such a good job to their characters...there was so much grey in them and showed darker side to people...sometimes i did think few things didn't added up while other times i was like the writers are just misleading us lol, but i was totally engaged in the show...not sure if i would rewatch these episodes but if there is ever a second season i would definitely watch them:-)

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loved this show. it was catching my emotions every which way. loved the actors. so happy i watched it.

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Looking forward for season 2 since there's a big question mark regarding the mentioned of her name (police chief )included who made calls. The 3 leading casts were tremendous with their respective roles. For season 2( if ever) there will be, same casting please. Its a beautiful police story , which you can relate since its relevant in our present time. Full of suspense. Seo kang Joon he's so good actor inspite of being young, effortless acting ,so natural. Shall we expect for seadon 2 ???☺😍

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I liked this drama a lot. Although it was pretty easy to guess that the commissioner was part of the conspiracy, it still worked. If there is a second season, i would like to see her go down. Because she is as guilty of damaging our bitter lawyer and our cocky maknae cop as Turtle was. Would be a good season if that were to happen.

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Yes, for almost every episode I felt like I was in the back of the truck, barely hanging on for the ride. I never was sure that I was grasping the surface of what was going on, let alone what was happening below the surface. Sometimes I had to go back and watch an episode to connect that dots. That said, this was one of the very best dramas I've ever watched. It posed important questions of guilt, innocence, redemption, revenge (and its cost) and more in as compelling a manner as I have ever seen. The writing was superior. The characters were complex and distinct, not wholly good nor bad. The supporting characters were interesting.

If you want something fun and easily digested, this isn't your show. If you like to challenge your preconceptions, if you want to imagine your response to difficult moral questions, if you want to expand your capacity to empathize, this is a great drama.

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Saya, first of all thank you for the review. One of the reasons i was stalking this site in the last 2 weeks was to read it:) (i usually need recaps to understand better some reactions of the characters as i am far removed from the Koran culture, i am not familiar with how social interactions go down in Korea, i might misunderstand a full conversation as i will not always be able to decipher the true meaning of one little gesture and then a bad guessing game starts with wrong results). Thus the recaps on this site make my viewing experience a bit more complete. Thank you again;)

For me the drama started in a very compelling fashion, well defined characters ( experienced cop with a dark past, former prosecutor seeking revenge and young inexperienced cop joining his potential mentor). And the show was slowly peeling off the superficial layers of each character to reveal either a past experience that shaped them, or a new trait of character, or adding just enough information to mislead us. The first time for example when i realised there is more to the righteous character of Chi-Gwang was when he looked in the mirror, the scene was so disturbing that i only then woke up to the fact that, this is not it, he does/will cross the line *frantic rewind*. It takes an amazing actor like Han Suk-Kyu to do this in literally 20 seconds.
There were so many moments like this, that i will have to rewatch the show, and maybe other little moments will pop out.

Multiple commenters in this thread touched on the quality of writing, more precisely some lacking moments. I also had moments when i wished some more information would have been provided: how does Chi-Gwang come up so quickly with the names of the buried victims, the multiple parallel threads running at the same time that had to be followed upon constantly to converge into the one big reveal seemed a bit too complicated for the conclusion that his boss was actually the mastermind.
I tend to disagree with another comment that the husband character was not necessary, i guess we needed to get to see another possible outcome for the former prosecutor, that whilst we might have considered extreme her reaction and desire for revenge, she could have developed very differently as well (no drugs, no running away but facing head on, etc.) And actually in the end was capable of sacrifice for Young Goon. It was both a mirror in her past and a future she avoided.
I would love a season 2, give it to me tomorrow, and also a thread per episode:) i just realised what a goldfish memory i have, managing to write all of the above in 30 minutes whilst frantically searching for the episode numbers where the scenes i refer to happened, and giving up half the time, as i couldn’t find them;)

Thank you again for the recap, and looking forward to multiple season 2s (Stranger, Signal and hopefully Watcher).

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Thank you for that excellent write-up, Saya! I needed this. While I definitely enjoyed watching this drama, I found it hard to get attached to it mainly because it wasn't an easy watch. It's not something you can watch without giving your full, undivided attention. I had to pause a lot to reconnect the dots, as I kept forgetting what happened in the previous episodes. It's something that would be better to marathon rather than watch week-to-week for forgetful people like myself. LOL

I loved how gray the characters were from beginning to end. There was no true good guy or bad guy -- nearly every character was a bit of both, which is a true reflection of humans in general. And I loved the questions it posed for the viewers regarding the concepts of morality, justice, revenge, conscience, justification/rationalization, etc. The actors did a great job. Kim Hyun Joo and Han Suk Kyu were excellent, as expected, and I was actually pleasantly surprised by Seo Kang Joon. A season 2 would be good. I just hope it could be just as compelling, if not even better.

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