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Connection: Episodes 1-2

When a narcotics investigator finds himself addicted to drugs against his will, he must fight tooth and nail to maintain his grip on sanity and uncover the truth behind a dubious death. An intimately familiar code draws him back to the bygone days of his youth, hinting at a connection that runs deeper than he could have ever imagined.

 
EPISODES 1-2

Connection: Episodes 1-2

Set in the strictly drug-averse city of Anhyun, our story wastes no time introducing us to its morally ambiguous protagonist JUNG JAE-KYUNG (Ji Sung). As part of the city’s narcotics unit, he’s leading a crackdown on a notorious drug cartel, and he’s apprehended them all save for the gang leader JANG CHUL-GU (Choi Young-woo).

After a moment of distraction on Jae-kyung’s part, the pursuit of Chul-gu culminates in a rooftop scuffle where Jae-kyung easily gains the upper hand — then shoots the defenseless Chul-gu in the Achilles tendon. It’s stone-cold revenge for Chul-gu slashing Jae-kyung’s junior detective AHN MYUNG-HO (Bae Jae-young) in the exact same spot a month ago, and Jae-kyung doesn’t look the least bit conflicted about his bloody vengeance.

Composed and remorseless, Jae-kyung lies smoothly that he’d merely been following protocol in self defense, and his successful arrest nets him a special promotion. Later that night, his old friend PARK JOON-SEO (Yoon Na-moo) pays him a visit to offer both a congratulations and an apology — but Jae-kyung asserts the latter comes 20 years too late.

There’s high school history between Jae-kyung and Joon-seo, former best buddies who found a kindred spirit in each other after Jae-kyung attempted to expose the bribery in their school’s administration and class president Joon-seo got suspended as a warning. They even shared a special distress signal between them, which Joon-seo playfully pranks Jae-kyung with; one text with the code “1882” and Jae-kyung immediately comes sprinting over to Joon-seo, aww.

Despite their opposite dispositions and shared attraction to a transfer student, the pair forged a close bond. We’re only privy to the beginning of their falling out — Joon-seo lied about not witnessing something despite Jae-kyung urging him to testify — but it was enough to irrevocably fracture their friendship.

Connection: Episodes 1-2

As for our heroine, she’s both the aforementioned transfer student and brief distraction. Reporter OH YOON-JIN (Jeon Mi-do) is all too willing to trade her scruples for money; Jae-kyung had witnessed her attempting (and failing) to leverage connections and angle for bribes. Yoon-jin’s materialistic avarice comes from a well-intentioned place, though. As a divorced mom, she’s trying to supplement her meager salary in order to provide for her young daughter through child support to the deadbeat dad overseas.

Still, Yoon-jin is deeply passionate about her job, relentlessly pursuing leads for better or for worse. When she coincidentally witnesses a woman gulping down pills, panicking at the sight of her young daughter, then running away into the path of a truck, she immediately latches onto the potential scoop. The yellow pills seem to be a new narcotic drug, and Yoon-jin realizes — while giving her witness statement, no less — that the police don’t know much about it yet.

Connection: Episodes 1-2

Later that night, Joon-seo enters a deserted construction site. Elsewhere, Jae-kyung enjoys a celebratory team dinner, after which he gets a text from an unknown number. Identifying themselves as “Doctor,” the sender points Jae-kyung towards a specific location, then ends the message with the code “1882.” Oh no. Fearing the worst when Joon-seo doesn’t answer his calls, Jae-kyung heads straight to the location — only to get accosted by a plastic bag over his head and a needle up his veins.

Fast forward three psychedelic-tinged days later, and a dazed Jae-kyung finds himself being shaken awake by fellow officer KIM CHANG-SOO (Jung Jae-kwang) in a subway station. Supposedly, Jae-kyung had sent Chang-soo a similar meetup text as well — complete with “From Doctor” and “1882” — despite having no recollection of it. The text points to their current location, where they witness a drug handoff and promptly pursue the criminal.

Connection: Episodes 1-2

The plot starts to go a little off the rails here; first, Jae-kyung gets his gun stolen by the drug dealer while in his weakened state. Then, when he faints and gets taken to the hospital, he breaks into the nurse’s room and drinks the test tubes of his blood in order to avoid a blood test. Sheesh.

There’s somewhat of a method to Jae-kyung’s madness — he can’t afford to get suspended for drug use, intentional or not, when he’s just found out his best friend is dead. Needless to say, he can’t quite think straight with the withdrawal symptoms incapacitating his system. Worse yet, Jae-kyung receives a text from the Doctor, advising him to take his “medicine,” alongside a video of a drug-addled Jae-kyung. The single yellow pill he finds in his pocket taunts him, and Jae-kyung resolutely crushes it beneath his shoe.

Jae-kyung manages to pull himself together by the time Chang-soo arrives to investigate the situation, brushing it off as an overreaction to the hospital taking his blood without his consent, but it isn’t quite convincing. Especially not when Chang-soo witnesses Jae-kyung violently threatening Chul-gu for information with a scalpel he’d swiped.

The outburst does net Jae-kyung a name, though. Chul-gu pinpoints BOSS YOON (Baek Ji-won) as the online distributor of the yellow pills, and it turns out she’s in cahoots with the gun thief GONG JIN-WOOK (Yoo Hee-je), who’s the intermediary between her and the Doctor. Jin-wook might not last long, though, because in exchange for removing the middleman, the Doctor had instructed Boss Yoon to abduct and drug Jae-kyung. Our cop catches on to the discord between the drug dealers, figuring out that his abductors dropped him off at the handoff location in hopes he’d arrest the guy.

Back at the precinct, Jae-kyung learns even more suspicious details about Joon-seo’s death that don’t quite add up. Not only had a post-mortem been done on Joon-seo unusually swiftly, but it’d also been signed off on by the deputy chief prosecutor. And who else would that be but PARK TAE-JIN (Kwon Yul), who also hails from the same high school. The official story is that Joon-seo likely ended his life in grief after his daughter succumbed to her illness, but Jae-kyung isn’t buying it.

At the funeral hall, Jae-kyung tries asking Joon-seo’s bereaved widow to permit a full autopsy, but he’s interrupted by the arrival of Tae-jin, WON JONG-SOO (Kim Kyung-nam), and OH CHI-HYUN (Cha Yub) — the last three people Joon-seo had spoken to on the phone before his supposed suicide. It’s obvious that they’re obfuscating the events of that night, but it’s neither the right time nor place for Jae-kyung to pursue his suspicions.

Then, as this week’s episodes draw to a close, our hero is thrown a curveball. Two weeks before his death, Joon-seo had approached fellow classmate HEO JOO-SONG (Jung Soon-won) to sign up for three life insurance policies with the beneficiary listed as his company “Audio File.” None of them can be claimed since Joon-seo’s death has been ruled a suicide, but Tae-jin receives Joon-seo’s will, which he reads out to the funeral attendees — Jae-kyung and Yoon-jin are listed as equal beneficiaries to both the policies and his company’s shares.

Phew, that was one wild ride with a lot of information crammed in; the plot is moving at a breakneck pace, with new developments at every turn. It does require the suspension of disbelief, especially given the extreme actions Jae-kyung is prone to taking, but it’s almost like watching a train careening down a hill in an incandescent blaze — there are signs of it ending up as a wreck, but there’s an intriguing sort of adrenaline to it that’s keeping me hooked so far. Or perhaps it’s just the stellar cast that has me holding on to blind faith?

Either way, there’s so much secrecy surrounding Joon-seo that it has me curious — what exactly was the incident that split him and Jae-kyung apart? Why did Joon-seo voluntarily go to the construction site, and why did he approach Yoon-jin a day before his death? If Tae-jin had a hand in the policies, why did he list Jae-kyung and Yoon-jin as beneficiaries — and if he hadn’t, why did he openly read out the will when he had the chance to doctor it beforehand? So many questions, and I’m hoping the answers are satisfyingly compelling.

Connection: Episodes 1-2

 
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@solstices thank you for your fab recap in unravelling what was a red hot mess however at times oddly compelling! Major wtf moment is the notion that one hit of a drug will render Jae-Kyung a hopeless strung out addict, he is literally the physical evidence that can prove what happened...drug squad officers are usually randomly tested to ensure that they are not dipping into the candy so to speak.

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Loved the recap. I noted that he was abducted for three days. I assume they kept pumping him full of the drug during those three days. Also, if one is genetically predisposed to becoming addicted to something one hit of a strong drug could then possibly render some addicted. The drug must be a very strong drug. That's just how I rationales it. In my line of work I've met people who tried something once, got hooked and couldn't stop, destroyed their lives. It's really sad.

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But then again in drama land anything is possible....!

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My memory is a bit different from the recap on Jae-kyung’s abduction. I thought he was abducted going into his own apartment (the lights didn’t work.) He was held for 3 days I thought by evil boss lady.

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He went to a random bathroom of a nearby karaoke place after leaving the restaurant. Didn't help matters that he was all drunk. -_-

@ Mimimia I also thought he would have been drugged multiple times during those 3 days.

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Thanks for the clarification.

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Mimimia is right, one hit of the wrong thing can get you hopelessly addicted, even more so if you have a genetic predisposition to it. And the bad guys had three days. Thats not 'major wtf' its really, really, sad.

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This is filling my dark crime/action thriller void in my watchlist.
Jam-packed intro with extra dramatic moments (the blood tubes, ack!). Couldn't he have trashed them somehow or carry them out of the hospital? XD;; I agree that suspension of disbelief was needed.

Strong mysterious vibes, various adversaries, unclear characters. I'm already wary about possible betrayals. The reunion of the main players at the funeral hall was intense! Excited to see Ji Sung vs Kim Kyung Nam vs Kwon Yul. (Gosh, Kwon Yul in another bad guy role. His character name was also Tae Jin in Dal Li and Gamjatang). Baek Ji Won was a surprise.

I like that Jae Kyung and Yoon Jin aren't close at the moment, but they may begrudgingly form a team to solve the mystery behind their friend's death.

I'm reminded of old OCN crime dramas. With the multiple villains, I hope at least one of them has smart moves and tricks up their sleeve instead of just brutal ones.

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he can get sick from edta poisoning smh that tube not only containing blood

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Ah yes, there are additives in some blood tubes.

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These were two gripping first episodes that definitely leave me wanting more.

I've learnt not to pay too much attention to logic in KDramas and I usually only think about it when I'm bored, which is definitely not the case here. And I can even understand Jae-kyung's sometimes irrational actions. I myself have had quite a bit of tunnel vision in panic situations and made decisions that made me wonder afterwards what they were all about. And I was totally sober, unlike Jae-kyung.

Let's see how long Jae-kyung can keep his secret.

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Jae kyung must be one of the dumbest police officer who works in narcotic division. He works for narcotic division, he must know the side effect of narcotic yet still refuse to get help from doctor or even not report to his colleagues about his abduction and being forced to take narcotic. For this kind of stupidity, I can't continue Show. 🤌

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It starts off as an action movie with a police officer getting away with breaking the legal rules to bring down a narcotic gang. But he is suddenly set up apparently by an old friend to become a pawn in a game of revenge. The machine gun plot bullet points does not help set up the characters or their motivations very well. I came to the series to watch Jeon Mi-Do's (Yoon-Jin) comeback but her character of a divorced mom who lost custody of her daughter who is a shady reporter does seem like a cookie cutter support role. But really got me in episode 1 was that Ji Sung’s character (Jae-Kyeong) is the edgy cop who breaks protocol to get promoted but should know better that the “cover up” is worse than the offense. He was kidnapped and drugged - - - he should have told his colleagues 1) to properly de-tox and 2) follow the best lead: his own capture. Instead, he is turning paranoid vigilante and committing crimes to cover up his addiction. The director in interviews said he wanted to de-glamorize drug use as a harmful addiction. I don’t know if the ethical and professional violations are the best foundational supports for that story.

Episode 2 belabors the point when Jae-Kyeong plays the victim card at the hospital for illegal blood taking without a warrant when he himself plays fast and loose with legal perimeters. For that matter, Yoon-Jin also violates privacy and postal regulations by opening up the widow Ji-Yeon’s registered mail to learn she is to inherit 1/3 of deceased friend’s $5 million company (which apparently is all based on three recent life insurance policies) with Jae-Kyeong and Mr. Lee (who upon investigation is one of CEO’s Yoon’s minions.) Baek Ji_Won (CEO Yoon) makes drug boss Jang look like a kindergarten bully. This sets up the drastic need to do an autopsy in order to collect the insurance money. Joon-Seo’s will excludes his wife (but under the law she takes 50% of his estate.) But we get a messier plot entanglement relating back to corrupt high school days, a corrupt step-father, a bad divorce and the death of a child. Everyone is a suspect. Even widow Ji-Yeon when she cried out that her husband called all his friends before his death but not her.

For a highly addictive new drug, Jae-Kyeong must have a super tolerance its effects which has to end soon. His police colleagues including partner Chang-Soo, have been alerted to his possible drug use by the ER resident and his odd behavior. This show starts off with the main cast being unlikeable characters making bad decisions. The idea that someone waited 20 years to get revenge on Jae-Kyeong seems extreme.

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If shooting the gang boss “broke protocol to get promoted” I would have to disagree. Jae-hyung’s shooting of the gang boss’s Achilles tendon was pure revenge over what happened to his magnae (see I remember lol) Det. Ahn Myung-ho. Promotion probably never entered his mind. (At the promotion ceremony the other squad of detectives didn’t look too pleased.)

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Well, Jae-kyung certainly has his hands full with the realization that he lost all sense of time for three days after being kidnapped, with the fact that he's experiencing withdrawal symptoms from some unknown substance, that someone filmed him taking said substance and to top things off, with the mysterious death of his friend. To say he's having a bad week doesn't even begin to cover it!

I understand how his initial reaction is to keep his kidnapping and addiction/withdrawal situation a secret from his colleagues, but that's bound to bring more problems sooner rather than later. However, based on what we've seen so far, Jae-kyung doesn't seem to immediately think about the future problems. He kind of bulldozes through situations in the moment and deals with the aftermath and questions later.

It's early in the show, but already I'm curious about all the baddies. Boss Yoon, what is she all about?!

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I couldn't make, as they say, head or tail of this. Or tale either.

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The first two episodes started normal then it became chaotic as Jae Kyung dealt with the aftermath of his abduction and addiction. It seems like this will be a trainwreck but it has its moments that you feel for JK. I can't stand the violence though and I do not condone it.
It feels like the life insurance is more of a prize money if JK and YJ can prove its not suicide. Also it can also seem like taunting on his part to his enemies. I do not know what to think right now.
I will give this a few more episodes to make sense of what happened to Jae Kyung and the Jun Seo mystery.

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I can understand Jae Kyung keeping his kidnapping/forced addiction days under wraps considering how bad he wants to find out about Joon-Seo's suicide. Especially after seeing how averse his ex schoolmates were to having an autopsy done, (school "friends" he doesn't seem to like associating with at all). But when he saw their names on Joon Seo's phone call list from the night he died, PLUS even the police chief sided against an autopsy, it's pretty clear that if he doesn't folow this up there will be no one in this precinct interested in searching for the real reason his friend died. The case would be closed. So telling the police squad about what happened to him will only get Jae Kyung pulled off the case and into lengthy rehab...and his guilt about refusing Joon Seo's apology 10 ten times won't let him do that. I hope Jae Kyung can kick the habit before they kick him off the force because I don't want to see him hit the streets as an addict. But I am interested in seeing some great twists, surprising betrayals and maybe a lot of wise-cracking banter from our female lead if she has to fight for the insurance money along with Jae Kyung lol. She will be fun to watch.

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