Starring: Namgoong Min, Lee Chung-ah, and Kim Seol-hyun
Plot: Three very different detectives named Do Jung-woo (Namgoong Min), Jamie Layton (Lee Chung-ah), and Gong Hye-won (Kim Seol-hyun) team up to solve a series of mysteries all linked to a case that took place in a small village twenty-eight years ago.
I previously crowned Awaken as one of my most anticipated dramas for the second half of 2020, and I must say it doesn’t disappoint. Everything from the eerie opening to the hunt for the serial killer is well done. I also love all the action and the injection of humor. It makes the drama feel lighter amidst the death and murder.
From here on out, I’ll be doing mini reviews for each episode, complete with something I’ve dubbed “Three Yeses and a No”. The three “yeses” will be three things I like about the episode (or the drama overall) and the “no” will be something I don’t. The “no” could also be a teensy weensy criticism or something I feel could’ve been improved.
If the episode is so phenomenal I can’t think of a “no”, the review will just be all “yeses”.
As usual, I encourage you guys to list your own “yeses” and “noes” in the comments.
Yes to that creepy intro
The orange flames, people descending into madness as (what I assume) is a young Do Jung-woo makes his way through it all. Goosebumps. I got goosebumps everywhere. This is clearly the mysterious case that took place twenty-eight years ago, and it’s horrifying. It kind of reminds me of a M. Night Shyamalan movie called the Happening mixed with Bird Box. (I didn’t see either, because I’m a wimp).
I can’t wait to see why everyone’s going crazy. I just hope I don’t get blindsided with horror. I probably won’t be able to find the night light I used as a kid.
Yes to the predicted murders
Whoever’s tipping off reporter Lee Ji-wook about the murders (that look like suicides) is bold. Of course, Lee Ji-wook could be committing the murders so he has something to report, but that seems too obvious.
It’s hard for crime dramas to stand apart these days, but the victims killing themselves with an eerie smile on their faces is something new. I’m interested in seeing how the murderer makes it happen, and how it links to the case from twenty-eight years ago.
Yes to Do Jung-woo’s character
I love him already! Sorry, but the unconventional detective archetype is my favorite. Especially since these quirky, seemingly irresponsible detectives usually have tragic backstories, and the goofiness is to mask the pain.
So far we’ve seen Jung-woo:
- Shoot at a criminal holding a hostage
- Ask a random kid on the street for money (I laughed so hard!)
- Steal his co-worker’s credit card and give it to a teen witness just so they would give him information (That kid probably had a nice little shopping spree)
I’ve noticed Jung-woo has impeccable aim as well. He takes that shot at the criminal, because he knows he can hit the sign above the criminal and the hostage, so that it falls on just the criminal. He also sinks one of the lollipops he loves so much into a trashcan from across the street. So yeah, Jung-woo has a gift and I’m sure it’ll be expounded upon soon.
No to the same old crime team dynamics
Whereas I’m a fan of the quirky detective archetype, I’d love to see a change with how the crime units or teams are presented to us. In every crime K-drama that focuses on a team, I feel like that team is always the same set of characters. The team leader is always either stoic or quirky, the one female detective is always sensible (sometimes we’re lucky and get two female detectives on the same team), and there’s always a young newbie there for eye candy. To round out the team, there’s usually a jaded veteran who’s been on the force for decades.
I end up falling in love with these teams anyway, but it would’ve been cool to see a different dynamic with Awaken.
With that said, I really enjoyed the first episode. It’s got a unique mystery, a likable lead, and the possibility of getting even better.