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Kairos: Episodes 1-2 Open Thread

I wasn’t sure what to make of this show’s promotional materials, but just two episodes in, I’m completely sold. In its first week, Kairos has neatly set up an intriguing and suspenseful premise, all its important characters and relationships, a dark and thrilling tone—and most importantly, it had me deeply invested in the lives of its protagonists from Episode 1. Bring on the mystery, the tears, and the suspense!

 
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP

We meet our leads as they go about their daily lives. KIM SEO-JIN (Shin Sung-rok) is a high-powered construction company executive, capable to a degree that provokes envy, despite the trauma of a past building collapse that still gives him nightmares.

His ambition drives him to push his violinist wife KANG HYUN-CHAE (Nam Gyuri) to continue a career she’s starting to lose confidence in, and treat both her and their daughter DA-BIN (Shim Hye-yeon) with an irritable, peremptory affection.

Little Da-bin disappears one night, and after a couple of frantic, hellish days her parents receive her finger in a box. Oh God, I did not sign up for this.

When the police tell them the finger indicates that Da-bin is already dead, Hyun-chae lashes out at Seo-jin for always putting his career first, and later jumps into the Han River in despair.

HAN AE-RI (Lee Se-young) is a student who works part-time, saving for her sick mother’s heart transplant. Ae-ri’s mother disappears from the hospital under suspicious circumstances, and then a “friend,” IM GUN-WOOK (Kang Seung-yoon), scams Ae-ri out of all her money, leaving her desperate and afraid.

Meanwhile, Ae-ri repeatedly calls her misplaced phone, and reaches Seo-jin on his phone. He sends her the missing poster for Da-bin, and Ae-ri recognizes her.

At first each thinks the other is lying, but strange details begin to add up: the date on the poster seems wrong to Ae-ri; they can’t meet despite showing up at the same cafe; Ae-ri has already canceled that number, etc. Though I was a teeny bit skeptical that it took them that long to realize they could only communicate at 10:33 PM.

Seo-jin realizes he’s living one month in Ae-ri’s future, and that in his timeline, she’s in jail for murdering Gun-wook. Seo-jin successfully convinces Ae-ri not to kill Gun-wook, though it’s a near thing. He vows that they’ll save each other—and gives Ae-ri the proof she needs to team up with him.

I’m really loving this show. Thrillers that make me perch anxiously on the edge of my seat and twist my heart up into knots as I barely breathe aren’t my first choice when I reach for a drama, but a really good one can rocket to the top of my all-time favorites (see: Signal). So far, Kairos has all the elements of a keeper—instantly engaging main characters, a high-stakes mystery, an intriguing sci-fi/fantasy premise, and excellent performances from its leads.

There isn’t a single bad apple in this cast, but Shin Sung-rok is doing particularly well as the initially aloof father and husband who so wrenchingly sees the error of his ways. He portrays grief and desperation brilliantly, violently seesawing back and forth in a frenzy of hope, fear, rage, and hopelessness. Although I could have gone my whole life without hearing Shin Sung-rok crying like that. Damn, show.

Lee Se-young is also doing well in her role, as a young woman with a ton of responsibility on her shoulders that suddenly faces two kinds of grave loss—and the craziness of a man calling her from the future. I’m officially over the bad taste left in my mouth from the rage-inducing The Best Hit.

I was expecting a literal time-travel drama, but I enjoy this communication across time more, because it allows characters (and viewers) to immediately know the consequences of their actions. There’s an element of finite chances—as in Signal, once the past actor moves out of the window where they can make changes, nothing can be done. And that’s heartbreaking, but it also heightens the tension and the feeling of time running out. It’s now August 18th in Ae-ri’s timeline, which means that they have less than three weeks to figure out what happened/will happen to Da-bin and avert it.

The transitions between August and September are subtle but clear, and the directing is stylish but not flashy. Unlike other shows with more dramatic contrast between past and present, I like that the color grading, bright and warm in Ae-ri’s summertime, cool and dark as Seo-jin moves toward fall, is noticeable but not immediately obvious. It slowly dawns on the viewer, only a little ahead of the protagonists, that the two aren’t quite in the same world.

I also really like that we don’t have one person in trouble, reaching into the past for help; both Seo-jin and Ae-ri have hit rock bottom. They’re without resources and can only rely on each other for some hope of saving their loved ones. I doubt that their meeting in Episode 3 will go well (both of them are tough and smart enough to ignore a random stranger making outlandish claims), but I’m still excited to see them properly interact for the first time.

This is way too early for us to find the villain, so clearly the kidnapper reveal is some kind of misdirect—my money’s on Seo-jin’s colleague SEO DO-KYUN (Ahn Bo-hyun). Just look at that face.

I’m wary of the suspect being a disabled man, though. We know this man blames Seo-jin for his daughter’s death. Did she die in that building collapse nineteen years ago? Did his disability come from injuries sustained then? If so, the portrayal has narrative cause, but I’m always uncomfortable when the only visibly disabled character in a show is labeled as a villain. (There’s also the fact that he was wearing a similar shirt to the man who came to see Ae-ri’s mom in the hospital.) But I’ll withhold judgment for now.

That’s my one reservation, however. On the whole, Kairos is gripping, moving, beautifully directed, and incredibly suspenseful. I can’t wait for next week.

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So far, I love love love this show! Looking forward to more episodes, cross fingers it keeps up its pace 🤞🤞🤞

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I'm kind of on board but nervous, because it seems a lot of "catching the wrong person" and considering how it'll end up being frustrating (cuz the voice over the phone is DEFINITELY not either suspect lol) if they keep this up I'm just cautiously optimistic

Ok but dad Sungrok! He! He did it for us!

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A theory.

The assistant planned the kidnapping.
The assistant's father is the guy who turned up at the police station. He confessed to the kidnapping to protect his son.
The wife is having an affair with the assistant.
The assistant kidnapped the child because she broke it off with him.
The wife is alive.
She has amnesia.
She is...somewhere.
She will appear right when our hero falls in love with the spunky heroine.

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You really think Seo Jin will fall for Ae Ri in less than a months time YY? 😂

I hope no affairs because that would be too cliche...but its a kdrama. The chance his wife has an affair with his underling is very high. Be different show! Be different and have no affairs please. Leave the affairs in Penthouse hahahaha 🤣

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Same! I hope there's no affair too!

Although I did saw someone on twitter shared an earlier relationship chart and it listed Seo Do-Kyun and Hyun-Chae as ex-Lovers, but I'm not too sure if the chart is legitimate or not and I can't seem to find it again, so who knows? And ex-lovers seem very vague too, did it happened during her marriage or before that?

Personally, I'm sincerely hoping that Hyun-Chae isn't involved with the kidnapping or the kidnapper and is simply one of the victim of the situation too and that her life and relationship with Seojin could change and improve too. Hopefully Seojin of the past would listen and start treating her as a beloved partner instead of just a trophy wife.

I wonder if Aeri could succesfully convince the past him though... and in the preview it looks like future Seojin are possibly getting conflicting memories. I wonder how that'd works. As the story moves toward the eventual timeline where Dabin wasn't kidnapped and killed, will Seojin still remembers these phone calls to the past?

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Sigh... sigh...

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Hahaha. I assume you've seen ep 4 sic? 🤣

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Whatever could have given you that idea Katak... 🙄🙄🙄

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I love the theories @yyishere!

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I don't think the man who turned up at the police station is the assistant's father because he's too young to be.
But I'm with you with the wife having an affair with the assistant, although I think she's dead until it's changed by our leads actions.
Even so, some amnesia would be always welcomed.

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Thanks for recap. I think i will start watching this based on your recap.

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Thank you for the recap @laica!

I'm totally sold too!
Shin Sung-rok and Lee Se-young, both leads are fantastic.
And Kang Seung-Yoon's performance is awesome too.

Nam Gyuri is on the promo poster as a lead so I wonder if Hyun-chae, Seo-jin's wife is still alive... And I hope Da-bin is not dead.
To be honest, I didn't care much about Shin Sung-rok until now but this drama, first two episodes changed my mind completely.
This year, Shin Sung-rok and Choi Jin-Hyuk (because of Zombie Detective) became my new favorites.
I'll have to watch The Last Empress...

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I agree! They're both my new favs too! 🤩🤩

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I'll have to watch The Last Empress...

Yes watch The Last Empress~ be mesmerized by Lee Hyuk's robe, suits and long coats hahaha 🤣

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I had started The Last Empress back when it was airing, but I never continued. I am wondering if I will have to watch it at some point as well. ;)

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Yes you will continue and be mesmerized by Lee Hyuk's fashion + coffee too 😂

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;)

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I'll have to watch The Last Empress

If you're not into makjang, don't 💀

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This so far reminds of of a couple of previous kdramas that had phones or radios in a time warp. So far interesting, but not sold yet.

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how & whn did ae ri lost her mobile phone? (she is currently holding her sick mother's mobile)

if the timeline is a month apart (ae ri in aug, seo jin in sept) in the same year, how is it both having the same mobile number? didnt mobile companies hv a certain policy on recycling terminated numbers only after a dormant period of time?

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You are right about the number, but I guess this is a drama license. In my country at least 5 years have to pass until an old number can be given to other person.

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Supposedly the old number was reissued, but I never heard of any place that reuses a phone number that fast. In the US I think it is a year.

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Thank you for making this Open Thread @Laica !

I hadn't watch a K-drama (well, any drama to be honest) for aaaages (also hadn't log on to this account for almost as long), the last being Kill Me Heal Me and that was 2015. Was only checking it out for Seungyoon, but I hadn't plan to actually watch it since it's a thriller and all and that's really not my thing (that said, I still haven't properly watch Prison Playbook in full either eventhough that is certainly the type of story I like, so...).

Anyway, I was checking on how it's doing (on twitter, which is full of spoiler) and all the screencaps and tidbits being shared look so interesting I ended up watching both episodes in full. Admittedly though, I didn't watch in proper sequence and instead started from the end of ep 2 and backward :D

I had tried starting from the beginning, but I find the beginning of episode 1 - the whole meeting scene and the start of that dinner party(?), a little dry and uncomfortable (especially everytime the aide?assistant? guy, Seo Do-Kyun, does stuff on Seojin's 'behalf' even though Seojin himself wasn't saying anything as such and right in front of Seojin too, who wasn't paying proper attention and... just... that's going to bite him back, isn't it?); watching it backward and knowing what will happen definitely give the seemingly mundane details whole different shades. I will definitely try watching in proper sequence for the next two episodes so I could enjoy the suspense :D

Overall, it's more interesting than I thought it'd be and more importantly I find the characters (the most important element of storytelling for me) are all so vibrant, not what I had expected from a thriller; that and I'm blown with the cast's acting. I'm unfamiliar with the main cast members (except for Seungyoon), I checked their wiki page and I definitely haven't seen any of their previous dramas, but in just these two episodes they've all impressed me. Some scenes are just so intense I had to look away because they feel like such private moments.

Also, the cinematography is beautiful and that shaky camera definitely adds to the anxiousness throughout, I do wish that it'd still a bit when looking at details like Daebin's past photos and such though, lol. There are, however, some scenes where I find the lighting a tad too low and it's hard to see the details, but that might've also been because the version I was watching is kinda LQ and probably also because there's a window behind my monitor so everything on screen looks extra dark during daytime, so I will probably try to rewatch the episodes at night over the weekend.

I read some speculations of whether or not Hyun-Chae actually died and the possibility that she might be working together with someone else? Right now, Seo Do-Kyun definitely looks most suspicious, but as per storytelling's rule, the one who looks most suspicious first is almost definitely NOT the culprit, but who knows? He...

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after stranger 2 ended i have no drama that make me excited to watch anymore but this one really going beyond my expectation! i'm so thankful for this high quality drama! it worth all my time and my emotions

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i'm loving the first 2 episodes. it make me anticipate the next week eps but wary too cause I get burned so many times by amazing premiere eps tbh (gumiho is the latest ngl)

having said that, when seojin just get up and goes to work, goosebumps. the way he dealing that shocking news by trying to brush it off and do what he supposed to do, that scene affected me. and his scene at the bridge, superb.

i hope it keeps its pace and pls dont kill his families show....

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First. Kat, where are you?

Next. All the important things.

1. SSR looks good in glasses.
2. I got so excited I saw his forehead. Alas, midway through, it had disappeared. Not showering and constant crying had wiped off that clear, smooth forehead faster than you can shout, "Hyuk, you so hot!"

3. The buzzing of the phone is creepy. Even though my chills were soothed by SSR's manly, capable hands and long, elegant fingers and that throbbing pulse in his wrist...just kidding haha

4. Questions that kept me awake: Does he eat? Shower? Drink? Sleep? What brand is his shoes? Is his wife dead? Drowned? Did she fake her drowning? Is the assistant the bad guy? Is he in love with the boss's wife? When will coffee PPL make its first appearance?

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👀

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You are late, kat.

*shakes head*

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Am I? Or did I lurk from 0 comments to now? 🤔

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I was lurking too and waiting for your comment 😆

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I do think that that quiet driver/assistant might have feelings for Nam Gyuri's character. Don't all such quiet, brooding, dark-clad body guard/assistant types harbor such feelings?

All those other thoughts and observations of yours are also very important.

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And just to clarify, by assistant/driver, I am referring to the character of Lee Tae-kyu, not the colleague mentioned in the weecap, Seo Do-kyun.

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It was a great and thrilling start!

Ahn Bo-Hyun and Nam Gyuri are looking suspicious together. I don't know, there always was a stranger vibe in their encounter.

I guess the past accident will have a big place in the kidnapping and murderer, Kim Seo-Jin is guilty or is it a misunsterdanding?

I wonder how the mother's case is connected to that. I mean if the leads are connected by their phones, I guess their cases too.

I hope this time, the past can be changed because in Signal...

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I also believe the mother's disappearance is related to the little girl disappearance. I have some theories, but it is too soon.

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Looking forward to reading those theories. :)

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Thanks for the great first Kairos weecap, @laica!

I amazed that despite he turned down (temporarily) on The Penthouse: War in Life (I hope he'll be on second season), Shin Sung-rok was great acting and even his voice on Kairos... and look how Penthouse's ratings did well and I hope Kairos will be a runner-up in terms of ratings. Also, I'm also proud of the Kairos team for being my saddest time-travel action drama and of course, it had a lot of great editing and cinematic, unbelievable time-travel moments.

I glad that in real life, Kairos didn't started for Mon-Tues drama at 10:33pm since it didn't have time to starting Kairos. Absolutely, my only answered prediction for 10:33pm fictional events was to have a tearful reunion with their children. I hope my predicted answer is correct.

I hope by the coming episodes, I will cry a lot because of some characters will have an emotional peaks and in my opinion, all my excellent characters was already fitted me enough for solving problems together during from episode 3 onwards. At last, Kairos made me one of the best K-dramas of 2020 and it really amazing.

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I really enjoyed the first two episodes. They gave a great background story for each person. I hope it continues to be good.

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Yay!! You're here too :)
Glad you enjoyed it, after last week's disaster with dramas.

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Yes, I definitely needed this!!!

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I wonder what's the significance of 10:33 p.m. I have started thinking about somethings, including some possible past connection between the two leads. And what about the building collapse that still haunts Seo-jin? Does that too connect our leads?

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I read some theories in twitter...1033 is an angel number. Something to do with guardian angels.

So....I think it's Aeri's dad looking out for her and someone (still unknown) looking out for Seojin. Since Aeri is in jail in Seojin's timeline maybe 'guardian' dad wanted to prevent his daughter from commiting the crime which led her to jail.

And...the collapsed building...I am suspecting both Aeri and Seojin's dad died in the rubble. His trauma might be because he was saved while the others weren't or because he saw them die in front of him.

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Yes, thanks for reminding me about 10:33 and the word for angel. I think other dramas have had similar references.

The idea of a parent looking out for his child does sound like an interesting theory.

I am also thinking that both leads are somehow connected to that past building collapse.

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Oh... fun info: the first episode ended at exactly 10.33pm in Korea 😎. They timed it to end at the same time as Aeri-Seojin's phonecall. I saw it in an article on Naver 😆.

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Cool!

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That's so nerdy lmao I love it.

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We all know that in shows and movies everywhere in the world that such events are always tied somehow to exactly 24 hours. The entire universe revolves around humans' made up time system.

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I loved the premiere. Both SSK and LSY are nailing it. I could feel their pain. Amazing job.

I have some theories, but too soon to share, but I can tell you this: they two are related by something in the past; the man that was with SeoJin in the rest room is important (is he AeRi's dad?); there's someone else who knows about what's happening and that's the person who took mum away (how, why and who I have no idea); AeRi is the one who gave her phone to SeoJin, but she can't remember because she hasn't done it yet.

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what an awesome show! what did we do to deserve Shin Seung Rok on our screens? i love Lee Se-young. this is suspenseful without giving me nightmares and something to look forward to each week until CHoi Jin Hyuk is back! and talk about love in a cowboy vest. Eric is slaying me again with his role in the spies who loved me along with you inna. this is the rain after the drought.

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Pleasantly suprised by this opening premiere, I was nervous about the time travel aspect but it totally works at the moment. I love that they focused ep 1 on seojin and dabin and ep 2 on aeri and the search for her mother.
I don't think it is possible for the wife's death to be reversed, but we didn't see the body so I guess she could be alive somehow.
SSR and Nam Gyuri killed it, their acting was brilliant and it's clear that their marriage was just for show. The assistant was probably having an affair with the wife.

Excited for next week and their first meet!

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Pyeha is killing it! I’m glad SSR picked this project instead of Penthouse. LSY, Nam Gyuri and Yoonie are amazing too!

I have my ‘theories’ too but I will save them later. Can’t wait for next week’s episodes.

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Me too. I'm glad he choose Kairos over Penthouse. On paper it sounds so similar to Return + The Last Empress, after watching it...it is similar to both plus a mix of SKY Castle hahaha 😂. I'm also contemplating my wish that he'll join season 2, no one is sane in that Penthouse 😱🙃🤣.

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Penthouse has season 2??? 😱😱😱
Oh gawd 🤦🏻‍♀️

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The one thing I found really annoying was her total refusal to listen to anything that he had to say for days on end. Other than that minor detail liking the show.

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Everytime shin sungrok had that building collapse nightmare, there's a blurred man standing on the sidelines wearing a protective helmet. My kdrama intuition is telling me he might be Aeri's dad 😱 and maybe that's how her father died. It might explain how their past and futures got tangled together.

BTW, the acting in this drama is top notch. Shin sungrok is already a given, but nam gyuri and Lee seyoung are also holding their own. I'm especially impressed by Nam gyuri in ep. 1 and Lee seyoung in ep. 2. I really felt her frustration while talking to SSR on the phone lol. I've only seen NG on 49 days and thought she was just ok, so she really improved in this drama.

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Did anyone actually look up the meaning of the word "Kairos"? It's a great title for this show!

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10:33, the kairos of Kairos. :P

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Now I finally finished the second episode and must say, I like it. From the promos, the one month gap felt very peculiar, but now I understand the appeal. *cue dramatic music* "Time is running out..."
That sequence where she almost commited murder was a bit too easily resolved, in my opinion. But perhaps the show will get back to that, later, and expand the story a little. For now, I hope the daughter and mother are alive in the end.

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