Military Prosecutor Doberman: Episode 1 (First Impressions)
Ooh, what a fun premiere! Our hero may have been pushed into his job by circumstance, but he’s quickly found a niche for himself. Still, the arrival of a new player seems poised to shake things up; there are intriguing secrets behind every character, and these ticking time bombs are on the road to detonating.
Editor’s note: If there is sufficient interest, drama coverage will continue with weekly Drama Hangouts.
EPISODE 1 FIRST IMPRESSIONS
In a fancy restaurant, diners are enjoying their meals when a body suddenly drops into view, hanging upside-down outside the glass windows. The suspended man is our hero, DO BAE-MAN (Ahn Bo-hyun), who’s literally hanging on by a thread.
Up on the rooftop, a hooded figure takes out a knife and cuts through the rope, causing Bae-man to plunge to his — well, not-yet-death, because it’s time for a rewind.
We head back to Bae-man in his school days. An unrepentant troublemaker who’s been expelled from three schools for breaking the rules, he gets a scolding from his police officer aunt. She’s his only relative, and she yells at him for trying to drop out of high school so he can avoid getting drafted for the military.
Contrary to expectations, though, Bae-man manages to study hard and pass the bar exam. He applies to several law firms, but both the interviewers and his fellow applicants all look down on his lack of a high school diploma. (The interviews all end with him throwing his chair at the interviewers, HAHA.)
After failing all his interviews, Bae-man’s tucking into a sad supper of instant noodles when a man gives him a pack of kimchi. Upon recognizing the stranger, Bae-man chokes — it’s YONG MOON-GU (Kim Young-min), the managing partner at Law and One. It turns out that Moon-gu’s done a background check on Bae-man, and he tells him breezily that he’s passed his interview. What?
Moon-gu takes Bae-man to his opulent office, where he pours a glass of exquisite whiskey for him. He suggests that Bae-man take up a stint as a military prosecutor, to which Bae-man laughs incredulously. Declaring that he’s exempted since he never finished high school, Bae-man turns to walk right out.
Moon-gu’s next sentence gives him pause, though — the recently-arrested military prosecutor used to earn five times the salary of a typical lawyer, along with a ten percent commission. That could be Bae-man’s, if he fills the empty position.
It’s a tempting offer that could pay off the debt Bae-man incurred while studying for the bar. However, there’s a deeper reason he refuses to go anywhere near the military. Both his parents were military personnel, and they’d passed away in a car accident after being distracted by a call from a military superior. A young Bae-man had watched his parents die right in front of his eyes, clad in military uniform.
Moon-gu drawls that the military is like a gold mine, because the rich and powerful view it as a ticking time bomb. Offering Bae-man wealth and connections, he promises a job at Law and One if he serves as a military prosecutor for five years.
That seals the deal, and we fast forward to five years later. Bae-man has settled comfortably into his position, making friendly banter with the soldiers. However, his affable demeanor turns out to be a front. He’s actually investigating a particular sergeant, Ahn Su-Ho, for receiving preferential treatment, since his father is the president of Gusan Bank.
In the interrogation room, Bae-man reveals his fangs, refusing to listen to any of Su-ho’s explanations. Though the people around Su-ho willingly bent over backwards to curry favor, Bae-man is determined to pin the guilt on the sergeant.
This nets him a briefcase full of cash from Moon-gu, but that’s not all. It’s revealed later that Su-ho once beat a guy to death, then changed his name and pretended to live like a model soldier in order to escape his sordid past.
Bae-man knew of this when cornering Su-ho, suggesting that he might not have entirely abandoned his morals in favor of money. It seems like his choice to prioritize money over justice may be more of a pragmatic choice rather than an immoral one. He’s able to turn a blind eye and serve under Moon-gu for now, but when push comes to shove, his conflict would be an interesting one to watch play out.
Meanwhile, CHA WOO-IN (Jo Boa) is sworn in as a newly-appointed military prosecutor. Woo-in’s righteous ideals seem to run counter to Bae-man’s; in an interview with the department chief, she declares that she is a prosecutor first and foremost. Bae-man advises her to keep to the social order to avoid having her life turned into a nightmare, but she’s unperturbed.
Woo-in is spunky and stands her ground; there’s a bright-eyed idealism to her defiance that makes her likable and easy to root for. She exudes a confidence that means she doesn’t falter even when snubbed, and she doesn’t fall into the tomboy-or-Candy dichotomy that we often get.
Moon-gu may seem like a master monopolizer, but it turns out there’s someone even higher-up who’s pulling his strings. That person is NO TAE-NAM (Kim Woo-seok), the young chairman of IM Defense.
Tae-nam is charismatic, but very decidedly unhinged. Smiling dangerously, he insults and beats up a man who disrespected his dog in a club. Yes, you read that right — this rich kid let his dog loose in a club without a leash, then humiliated the guy that dared to complain about it. I’m an animal lover too, but sheesh.
Colluding with his idol friend ALLEN (Park Sang-nam), Tae-nam spikes a girl’s drink. Later, she stumbles into a police station with bruises on her face, while Allen’s friends titter and cackle in his luxurious apartment.
Woo-in transforms herself with red lipstick and a wig, and then gains entry into the apartment. When Allen pulls a golf club on her, she swiftly takes him and his friends down with just her stilettos and her bare fists. Atta girl!
She confiscates the phone he used to film the assault on the girl, but Allen threatens that Tae-nam won’t let this slide. Woo-in smirks, then tells him that’s exactly what she wants.
Bae-man checks Woo-in’s files and finds out she’s a Stanford Law dropout that disappeared off the grid for three years, only to pass the Korean bar exam immediately upon her return. He’s intrigued, because he’s realized that she never flinched, not even when an aggressive soldier wielded a sharp glass shard right in her face. Who exactly is she, and how did she become a military prosecutor?
That question is left open for the rest of the series to answer, though we do get a hint at her childhood. Her father once gifted her a necklace with her initials, though he isn’t alive in the present day. It’s likely that her father’s death is the reason she’s so driven and determined, and her fearless fixation on Tae-nam seems to suggest that he might have had something to do with it.
I’m already enjoying the dynamic between Bae-man and Woo-in. Their bickering banter is a joy to watch, and I like that they can trade barbs and disagree without crossing into disrespectful territory. They both have scars from the past that led them to the path they’re on now, and I look forward to seeing how they help and heal each other.
So far, the show seems to be treading familiar waters: there’s a morally dubious male lead, a plucky and spirited female lead, and rich kid corruption that’s waiting to be exposed. Still, the drama executes its story with a brisk pace and amusing doses of humor, making it a fun watch. I’m already rooting for our protagonist pair — bring on the clever maneuvering and satisfying fistfights!