United Effort to Accomplish One Thing: Episodes 1-2 Open Thread
Money makes the world go ’round — at least for the family and friends of a famous millionaire painter. Who will be named in his will? And more importantly, what are our characters capable of doing to be the person that inherits said fortune? United Effort to Accomplish One Thing digs into these questions with an interesting tone of half mystery and half satire.
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP
United Effort to Accomplish One Thing isn’t exactly the drama I was expecting, but sometimes that’s a good thing, right? If a Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie novel had a baby, this would be it in screenplay form. It’s full of the colorful characters that populate many a Dickens novel — especially stories where wealth and fortune are at stake, and greed is the driver of many a character.
But it also has a mysterious whodunnit edge like we’d find in an Agatha Christie mystery novel (or even the game of Clue!), where we meet a collection of characters, often thrown together under the same roof, each plotting against the other as mayhem unfolds. Because mayhem certainly does.
The famous, wealthy, and curmudgeonly painter is YOO IN-HO (Nam Moon-chul). He’s terminally ill, and has a fortune to settle on someone… and as one might expect, all his family and faithful friends come crawling out of the woodwork to win his favor.
At the center of our story is his past mistress KIM JI-HYE (Oh Nara), noted as “materialistic and greedy to the bone.” She’s also 100% entertaining, and Oh Nara is absolutely owning this role already, with a range of cheeky to devious to distraught. Her daughter, and our painter’s only child, is YOO BIT-NA (Kim Hye-joon). She’s the polar opposite of her mother and it’s actually a miracle they can exist under the same roof. If Ji-hye is a greedy sycophant, Bit-na is a disaffected youth with a devil may care attitude — but we also get the sense that her insouciance is covering up some deep (and creepy!) scars.
Our mother and daughter are called to the painter’s mansion for his birthday celebration (and come to stay, with a multitude of suitcases with the excuse of construction at their house) — and so are all the others that are related to him, or close to him. First, there’s his scam artist step-brother (who was just released from prison for the umpteenth time) and his daughter, who is perennially taking selfies and at war with Bit-na.
But there’s also his nephew YOO HAE-JOON (newbie Choi Kyu-jin from Class of Lies), his ex-wife (and current common law wife) JI SUL-YOUNG (Kim Jung-young), and let’s not forget his friend/agent, and the knows-too-much housekeeper — who really does seem to know too much.
Episode 1 is the introduction to our characters, and we watch them converge at the mansion, clash with each other, and act out a painful display of feigned affection for our dying painter. Clearly there’s a lot of water under the bridge for many of these characters, but everyone is too conscious of making a good impression on In-ho to do anything too devious, right? Not really. Bit-na narrowly misses getting a massive vase dropped on her from a balcony when she’s out for a jog, and her mother wakes up one morning to a mysterious letter with instructions on how to open In-ho’s secret will-holding safe.
The story is interesting, but even better than the story is the way it’s told. The first episode is pretty straight forward, but the scenes of our characters interacting is intercut with studio interview footage. Here, our main characters answer questions about the actions we’ve just seen on screen, and it has the perfect effect for such a self-aware drama.
I really like the direction here, and between the direct address of these interview scenes, and then the actual drama, it feels very much like we’re watching a stage production — and I think that’s intentional. We’re watching actors act out a story, but we’re also watching them act out roles within the drama, like Devoted Housekeeper, Loving Wife, and Faithful Friend. Everyone seems a little too squeaky to be real. And truthfully, every single one of them is suspicious.
The sudden passing of In-ho is what really sets our whodunnit into motion, though. Bit-na is strong-armed into waking up her father the morning after his disastrous birthday party, but instead she discovers his dead body. He’s clearly been poisoned. Investigators quickly determine that the crime was committed by someone in the house — and just like that everyone’s dislike and distrust of each other grows tenfold.
Every character has a motive, every charactger had an opportunity, and United Effort to Accomplish One Thing is already proving high on suspense and heavy on twists! At the end of our premiere week, Bit-na is digging for evidence to prove her safe-breaking mother wasn’t the murderer, but she instead discovers a shocking truth: her father’s cancer was cured, and he wasn’t terminally ill after all. The entire thing was a ruse to smoke people out — but did it work? I feel like this isn’t the last twist we’ll see in this drama, and thanks to its shorter run, I think we’ll have a steady string of gasps before we reach our conclusion.