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Adamas: Episode 1 (First Impressions)

Ji Sung extravaganza Adamas is off to an ~intriguing~ start with a great tone, suspenseful vibes, and lots of room to play around for maximum thrills and twists. I liked this drama’s intro way more than I was expecting to.

Editor’s note: Continued drama coverage is pending based on Beanie feedback.
 
EPISODE 1 FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The drama opens with one of our twin heroes eerily hinting at the drama’s setup via narration: Mother’s last words. An Anonymous letter. He claimed innocence. It all ties to Inmate #2006 somehow, and we find ourselves briefly in the penitentiary, where we hit a super gory opening that made my stomach turn (read: bloodbath).

But all’s not lost, because the intrigue level is 10/10 and everything we see is purposeful — that much is clear. The mass murder that takes place in the prison sets off a chain reaction in the country around reinstating the death penalty (abolished in 1997), and that will be the linchpin upon which our plot turns.

After a one month skip, we are (thankfully) on to greener pastures as we pan through a fancy apartment featuring a gigantic photograph of one of the twins (okay, now I feel like I’m watching a K-drama).

The montage that follows introduces us to both twins simultaneously, and we’ll meet them shortly as novelist HA WOO-SHIN (Ji Sung) and prosecutor SONG SOO-HYUN (also Ji Sung). As we watch the brothers wake up and get ready for their day, there’s an intentional contrast drawn between them: one seems meticulous and serious, sleeps ramrod straight fully pajamaed, and lives in a swank apartment. The other brother seems to live more sloppily, sleeping in his boxers, falling (literally) out of bed, and so on.

Drama logic would immediately suggest that the serious and successful twin is the prosecutor, and that the messy and more playful one is the novelist. However, the drama is very sneaky in that it very much seems the opposite is true. And from what we see of the brothers in the first episode, it does seem like they’re in the opposite personalities/careers one would expect.

This is confirmed for us when we meet them both (separately) at work. Woo-shin — who’s famous and successful — is reviewing an offer to ghostwrite a memoir for CHAIRMAN KWON (the ubiquitous Lee Kyung-young) of Haesong Group. The offer comes with a huge paycheck and super creepy rules. But Woo-shin surprises his agent by signing the contract; she assumes he’s doing it for the money, but we know better.

In contrast, we meet Soo-hyun as he’s called into a gathering of higher-ups at the prosecution office. As they do their wheeling and dealing, he’s standing there trying not to crack up — it’s hilarious. And when they call him out, he calls them out for their clearly biased support of CANDIDATE HWANG (Kim Jong-goo), a presidential hopeful that’s riding high on his promise to reinstate the death penalty. There are sooo many strings being pulled already and we’re only a few minutes into the drama.

Later that day, we are treated to the brothers interacting — and by that I mean bickering over burgers as they talk about losing their mother, Woo-shin mentions the month-long “trip” he’s going on, and then they fight over whether Woo-shin will recognize Soo-hyun as hyung or not. It still blows my mind to see an actor playing two roles side-by-side, and this drama really nails it. It’s dumbfoundingly real, and it literally feels like there are two different Ji Sungs chomping burgers on a park bench.

The rest of the episode turns mainly to Woo-shin, as we follow him on his ghostwriting project, which is a lot more creepy than it should be. Upon arrival at the Haesong mansion-compound-palace, he’s scanned and probed and biometrically logged so that the intense security system (and staff) can confirm his identity, location, and biometric data at all times. He’s also prohibited from taking any personal items with him, from contacting the outside world, etc. If the red flags aren’t flying free, then I don’t know what to say.

As suspected, though, Woo-shin knows full well what he’s getting into. As a super successful novelist (with fanboys flocking around him even amongst the security team), he doesn’t need to ghostwrite anything… but he wants to be there, because reasons.

As if the setup wasn’t sus enough, tons of weird things continue to happen. First, Woo-shin’s assistant writer LEE DONG-RIM (upcoming newbie Shin Hyun-seung) appears in his chambers — turns out they will be working together, and Woo-shin is none too pleased, since this wasn’t a part of the plan, and he doesn’t need a fresh-faced puppy to have to protect.

Woo-shin is also almost immediately aggressed against by the dragon lady housekeeper MS. KWON (Hwang Jung-min) who later complains to her ~beloved~ chairman that Woo-shin wasn’t intimidated by her like she hoped. I dunno what’s going on there.

The weirdness continues when Woo-shin wanders around in the night (knowing he’s been forbidden to enter certain areas of the house, all very fairy-tale-esque) to find a maid collapsing and convulsing on the floor. No one seems to care; everyone that works there either seems to live in sheer terror, or be sheer terror incarnate.

The fun of the setup, of course, is that we are utterly clueless and just following Woo-shin around as he explores — it feels almost like a video game as we follow him into rooms and he notices things, from the cameras that are everywhere, to the writing instruments they’ve provided for him (identical to his own), to the very illegal opium poppies that are being grown onsite.

The poppies lead Woo-shin to the greenhouse which leads him to our heroine (of sorts?) EUN HYE-SOO (Seo Ji-hye) who seems very much the unhinged and captured princess. However, she makes no attempts to hide the truth, and not only confirms that the she is growing the opium poppies (“nothing is illegal in this house”), but that — wanting to do her interview for the memoir right then and there — announces that Chairman Kwon is capable of any despicable thing you can imagine for the good of his company. She also hints that the helicopter crash that killed his second son might not have been an accident.

Woo-shin doesn’t seem to know how to take any of that, and it only gets stranger when Chairman Kwon makes his return to the palace (as it’s called) and is treated every bit like the king returning to his castle.

In his first meeting with Woo-shin, Chairman Kwon not only knows he’s already met his daughter-in-law in the greenhouse, but basically asks him to relay everything that she said, or will say, about him. I find it strange that with all the omniscient surveillance around, they didn’t also tap the greenhouse so they could listen in on the conversation.

But maybe Chairman Kwon is just testing Woo-shin based on what he will say (that she said he’s capable of great evil) and what he won’t say (that she questions the helicopter accident).

We soon get more info on the situation, though, when Woo-shin’s great wit finds its match in Haesong’s head of security CHOI TAE-SUNG (Heo Sung-tae). Apparently, Woo-shin knows a whole lot more than he has let on (and far more than we know), and he confronts Tae-sung on being a corrupt cop that was bought by Haesong. But was he really?

Woo-shin then says that that’s just the cover story, and that Tae-sung is actually an undercover cop that’s been keeping an eye on the chairman. Which one is true? It’s kind of hard to believe with his fancy suit, intimidating presence, and shotgun perched over his shoulder that he’s a good-bad guy, but I love that the drama is already poking holes in the alliances we might expect. Keep us on the edge of our seats, please!

While Woo-shin announces (not sure why) that he’s going to steal “adamas” — a Haesong relic that’s a golden arrow with a diamond arrowhead), his brother is also uncovering some mysterious things.

Reporter KIM SEO-HEE (Lee Soo-kyung) has been aggressively following Soo-hyun around, and when she finally gets his attention it’s by calling out all the media manipulation that’s going on around Candidate Hwang and his seeming support by the powers that be.

Soo-hyun might not know it yet, but every word Seo-hee says is correct, and as we meet more baddies, we see that not only is Candidate Hwang only a pawn of Haesong, but there’s a freakin’ ton of media and internet manipulation going on to turn the election in Hwang’s favor.

As our new baddie TEAM LEADER LEE (Oh Dae-hwan) says: the internet is the catalyst for all events. And his team — on behalf of Haesong, it seems — is controlling basically everything.

It’s a ton of setup for one episode, but it somehow didn’t feel like it, likely because we are following the brothers around for most of it, and learning as they learn. If there’s one thing the drama totally nailed it was the tone — every scene, every character, every bit of sinister dialogue built the world of this drama, and left me wanting more.

It’s just the right level of intrigue and suspense for me, too — enough to keep me on the edge of my seat, but not too much to make me want to turn it off. Our twins are also quite likable, and I’m looking forward to learning more about them, from their intricacies to their history. Their father’s murder is at the crux of the story, and I suspect the more they unravel the mystery, the more there will be to unravel. If the tone and intrigue keep up, and the twists keep unfurling, this could shape up to be a fairly addictive tale.

 
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First off. Lee Kyung-young. Again! Adamas will make it 64 episodes in a row of seeing him doing the same thing over and over again, and 32 episodes of me watching. Talk of typecasting in a continuous loop. Why Adamas. Why?

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Director Gu faked his death in Doctor Lawyer and jumped into a bigger house, is richer and still evil. Jayden's revenge was for naught 🥲.

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If this was how Doctor Lawyer ended in an alternate ending or what the writer had in mind initially and ended up delivering, imma chase the writer down to the multiverse pits of hell. Through them all.

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I didn't watch Doctor Lawyer or Again My Life and dropped Why Her? halfway through, but even I'm tired of him. If dramas insist on having chaebol baddies, at least give me a different one.

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it was in his contract when he came back from being a bad guy in real life that he can only play bad guys in the dramas. but boy am i sick of him! did all the other bad guys end up in peratory which is where he belongs?

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Drama logic would immediately suggest that the serious and successful twin is the prosecutor, and that the messy and more playful one is the novelist
This got me really startled. I had to hit the backward button to be sure of this.

Very tight writing, and directing. The PPL was done pretty smoothly and sleek, it just blended in.

I wasn't expecting Heo Sung-tae here as an undefined character,and I'm happy he's not a definite bad guy I thought the trailers painted him as. At least not yet.

If the tone and intrigue keep up, and the twists keep unfurling, this could shape up to be a fairly addictive tale. To this, I pray a big fat yes.

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I also had to rewind that scene! Tricksy

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An interesting first episode that makes you want to see more. I was particularly gripped by the atmosphere on the estate.
Butler Kwon gave me shills. The other employees, who seemed like will-less robots, were also creepy. For a short while I had the feeling I was watching a Korean version of American Horror Story.

I don't have a clear idea of the direction it will take yet, but I want to find out.

Since the name Aramas refers to Greek mythology, I wonder if I'm reading too much into it when the company name Ares immediately made me think of the Greek god of war?

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Only 2 min. in & I'm out. I can't deal with sound effects described in the subs, too distracting. That should only be an option for those who need it.

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Was there no option to turn off the closed captioning so you could just have subtitles?

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Did some internet search and found out Adamas is a greek word. It means diamond or unbreakable.

Ep 1 was okay. There were so many character intros in ep 1, I was not able to keep track of all of them. 1hr 20 min eps is still too long for my attention span and was about to lose me but the ending was enough to reel me back in. The diamond arrow quest is intriguing. And from the glimpse that was shown, looks like there's blood on the diamond...I think it's the ML dad blood, that's why he wants to find it. But 22 years and no one cleaned the arrow? 😅

I started watching because the director is Director Park Sung Woo aka Kairos director. I can immediately recognize it's his drama. Also Adamas is making me miss Kairos, from the greek title to the editing, cinematography, music selection and the intro/outro title cards. Several Kairos cast members are also in Adamas 😆.

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But 22 years and no one cleaned the arrow? 😅
It's a souvenir/momento from the murder. They're kept as they are😁 - untainted.

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Yes, the show is gorgeously shot.

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I'm getting a little thriller-ed out, but I did like this. I like the tone and the twins. Mansions full of creepy people is kind of my jam.

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So the infamous whisper villain is back with his whisper villainy playing the same character again, powerful bad man. SIGH. Also Heo sung Tae is back as well. Maybe in this he is a good guy. Who knows? I do like him as an actor though. However, I am a little sick of him as well. That being said, it was a slow intro, probably to make sure we know all the players. Hopefully it picks up speed in episode 3.

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Lee Kyung-young and Heo Sung-tae are making me a little nostalgic for the days when Ahn Nae-sang was in everything. I guess he's taking a break this year. I do like Heo Sung-tae though and am glad Squid Game gave him a career boost.

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Yes, I do miss his Ahn Nae Sang's villany. However, we need new actor villains.

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I can think a few but mostly they are too young to do that. I get that most senior actors will play as villiant but I do share same sentiment with you.

I am all rooting for new generation to dominate antagonist part!

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Jung Moon-sung is one I'll recommend anytime. You can never predict how worse his character can descend.

For the veteran casts
1. Lee Jae-yong - Evil Prime minister in Jumong.
2. Jeon Kwang-ryul - sneakily evil in Royal Gambler.

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Jung Moon Sung is a little harder for me to buy the villainy, but only because he was such a teddy bear in hospital Playlist, lol.

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@kafiyah-bello, I believe you've seen Haechi and Life (I watched this few weeks ago and I was shocked with his character).
I had to ask myself where Dr. Do came from because I couldn't just put those characters together.

He's a little harder to buy, but I wouldn't put baddies past him anymore.

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Watching this because of Ji Sung. Thankfully it's not too dark (for me). The twin prosecutor & writer-nim both has lighter shades in their character; they're not all too serious- I guess that helps.

I had times where I had to pause to regain my bravery (the prison warden checking the prison cell alone...)

But overall the first episode was great.

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I am so fucking tired of seeing Lee Kyung-young’s ugly ass face again. What the hell is this actual convicted sex offender doing on the set of a television show? Send him back to jail! I may believe in rehabilitation for some criminals, but certainly not him. He’s a danger to every person on set.

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the first thing i noticed was the cinematography/CG -- the fly's introduction of the prison thru the fencing, gates... the twins walking, sitting, conversing.... i got hooked.

then the story hooked me.
; )

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Silly question here: where did anyone watch this drama? Any platform that I had under my subscription's belt?

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It's on Disney+.

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Dang! Must haven't be available in my region then 😌

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i'm watching on one of the d****c*** sites

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@missvictrix: Thanks for this great recap. I haven’t watched this as yet but will start soon.
In my first language, diamond is a word which is very close to ‘adamant’ so I was intrigued about its significance and/or symbolism to this drama. I can’t recall where I read this but the provenance of the word is from Ancient Greek as ‘adamas’ means invincible or unconquerable and it is the root of the word ‘adamant’ which means diamond.

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I will watch this one only for ji sung....its my kind of genre with my all time favourite actor, I am going to memorise each and every expression of ji sung and will patiently wait for his next project...adamas will be the only kdrama I might watch this year

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Mysterious and intriguing, with a dollop of creepy to top things off. It's clear that everything is not as it appears and no one is to be trusted. This show could turn out to be quite the interesting ride!

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I am enjoying this but finding Butler Kwon in the first two episodes a bit OTT Bond villainess. I just think her performance is a smidge jarring & overly melodramatic. Fine she doles out rat poison, has to know everything that goes on in the house, is a bit creepily fixated on her boss and is a tinge menacing with that walking stick but couldn't she do it in a slightly less overt way. Mrs Danvers (1940) was a lot more subtle than this.

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I started this for Ji Sung and though the premise of the drama seems basic, the story is intriguing and the plot picked up speed in ep 2. The writer seems to be a newbie, so I'm not expecting much expect that it stays engaging till the end.

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