Political Power Plays
Stranger returns this week with another deeply political episode. With plenty of drama bubbling up between the prosecution and the police, this Korean drama continues to impress.
However, it also comes at the expense of any dramatic tension which feels very different this year compared to 2017’s effort.
Episode 5 of Stranger season 2 begins with Yeo-Jin discussing the case with the officer in her care. She berates him for not realizing sooner that Sergeant Song was being bullied. Rumour has it though Song was stressed with the transfer request because of him reporting the Chief.
While they talk, we cut to the police station where Chief Choi and Yeo-Jin discuss the implication of what it may mean if Song’s report mentioned his Uncle. Only, given the Intelligence Bureau weren’t told about this, it was never taken higher.
Choi promises to track down Kim and gleefully remarks that they have a lot of ammunition to use against the prosecution. Before Yeo-Jin leaves, Choi thanks her colleague for due diligence in the case.
Meanwhile, Si-Mok visits Won-Cheol looking for help in resolving his query. However, this is a very different Won-Cheol to the one he remembers from season 1 and he refuses to confront In-Tae about the case.
As they walk together, they discuss the implication of what would happen should the police be allowed to issue warrants themselves.
Their attention then shifts to Sungjoon and the articles. He tells Si-Mok to post a comment when the time comes and promises to take the fight head-on to the reporters. As Si-Mok leaves, Won-Cheol phones the Chief.
Meanwhile, Yeon-Jae receives reports back from the medicine labels. It turns out the drug is an experimental cure used for PTSD. Only, Yeon-Jae has bigger fish to fry. At work she learns that Sung-Jae could rally the shareholders around him and oust her from the company.
To combat this, Yeon-Jae instead launches a petition on the company intranet to reveal to the staff exactly what’s happening at the top. All of this will be followed by an anonymous poll to decide whether Yeon-Jae stays on or Sung-Jae takes over.
However, the crucial vote may actually fall to Sungjoon and the last 7% to swing the vote in her favour. For now though, things don’t look good.
At the Anyang Correctional Institute, Yeo-Jin heads in to check the inmate visitation reports. No one from the prosecution have arrived to visit Dae-Seong, which gives her an opportunity to swoop in first.
Ironically, Si-Mok and Dong-Jae show up not long after and learn that only one person can visit a day. That position is obviously already taken.
As fate would have it, Yeo-Jin happens to find Se-Won inside. He hasn’t spoken to anyone from the outside about what happened last season. There’s definitely unresolved issues between them but it seems like there’s definite water under the bridge too.
She tells him to stay strong and watches as he heads back inside.
Eventually Yeo-Jin sits with Dae-Seong and asks him about what happened with the police. There, she learns more about the bribes and how they were distributed out.
Given he and Kim both said the exact same statement about the bribes, she probes him over exactly why both men received different sentences. Something clearly doesn’t add up.
Yeo-Jin’s loyalty and pride in the police force spills over as Dae-Seong rubs her up in the wrong way. He bemoans his luck and talks about how being a police officer should be taken with lots of welfare and perks to stay on. Yeo-Jin refuses to play ball and walks away.
Outside, Dong-Jae and Si-Mok sit and eat together. Of course, given Dong-Jae’s desire to climb high, he tries to find out Si-Mok’s secret for ascending where he hasn’t been able to go.
After querying what Chief Woo’s likes are, Dong-Jae lets loose and reveals everything that’s bothering him.
Eventually, Si-Mok and Dong-Jae bump into Yeo-Jin. After a respectful bow, the pair speak to Yeo-Jin about Dae-Seong’s refusal to see the prosecution. As Dong-Jae puts his arm on Si-Mok’s shoulder, he proudly calls Si-Mok his assistant. Obviously Si-Mok shrugs him aside.
After some playful banter, they get down to brass tacks. It turns out the Captain also accepted bribes. Only, Yeo-Jin is suddenly called away by the Chief, much to Dong-Jae’s annoyance.
Only, he’s not the only one. Si-Mok is also called away by his Chief too. Together, they intend to visit Assemblyman Nam and try to get him to drop the charges. If that fails, Woo intends to use his power to try and prove he abused his power.
Only when he gets there, Woo is held back and not allowed to head in. Instead, he tasks Si-Mok to try and figure out what Yeo-Jin is up to given she was the one who seems to be one step ahead of them.
As they talk, Si-Mok tells Woo to speak to reporters and reveal all. Given what’s been happening, he asks Woo to tell everyone that a police representative who joined the council got sued for unjust investigation.
Si-Mok encourages him boss to allow them to sue not stop them. In doing so this would actually stop this turf war and fizzle out the issues within the council. Figuring out that Woo is directly responsible, Woo brushes aside these concerns.
With things at Hanjo hanging by a thread, Yeon-Jae prepares for her fate being sealed. At the same time, Si-Mok finds himself face to face with Yeo-Jin and Chief Choi. As they stare one another down, the episode ends.
The Episode Review
With lots of politics and inter-department issues, Stranger 2 settles into a more methodical pace than the frantic first season. It’s hard not to feel like this show has taken on a completely different identity and this will almost certainly be make or break for nay people.
Instead of the tight-knit group investigating a murder with an air of mystery, this one is far more political. Personally I’d prefer this show to ease back into the action as a lot of these political issues will be lost on International viewers.
I must admit, I actually had to re-watch parts of this two or three times to try and understand all the intricate power plays between the departments.
That’s not to say this series is bad though, and the issues with the corrupt police and prosecution are certainly interesting. However, it does also feel like a bit of a missed opportunity given this could have showcased a more exciting season of action and thrills.
Still, the episode itself does well to bridge the gap between the first and second seasons. It looks like Si-Mok and Yeo-Jin are playing on different sides of the fence now which should give an intriguing perspective on things.
Even more surprising though is the inclusion of Yoon who, as we know, was involved in the killings last time out. Seeing him repenting and Yeo-Jin seemingly forgiving him is definitely a nice touch.
Quite what will happen next remains to be seen but one thing’s for sure – this is a very different season to what we received in 2017.
|Expect A Full Season Review When This Season Ends!|