Stranger 2 -- Episodes 1 & 2: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
I was not surprised to see Hwang Shi Mok (Jo Seung Woo) and Yeo Jin (Bae Doo Na) back fighting to uphold the justice system's integrity. But this time, rather than do together, they find themselves on opposing sides where the prosecution is after discretionary power over investigations while the police want complete investigative authority independent of the prosecution office.
Stranger 2 is as dazzling as expected and worth the over three-year wait. Having Lee Chang Joon’s voiceover to start the episode was just brilliant. A reminder that the road to justice is long and rife with political tension. And, of course, where there is a crime to be solved, there is Hwang Shi Mok. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed how meticulously he observes and sizes up a situation before questioning or jumping to conclusions.
It is good to see Bae Doo Na back as Han Yeo Jin and Detective Jang (Choi Jae Woong). I love seeing the team from Stranger 1 back together again; they all click so intuitively. In the same breath, it's always great seeing a woman in roles typically reserved for men, and Jeon Hye Jin as Choi Bit in the role of Chief of Police with the National Police Agency at that, seeking autonomous authority to conduct investigations. Opposing her from the prosecution office, Woo Tae Ha (Choi Moo Sung) in the role of Deputy Chief Prosecutor fighting for control over all investigative proceedings
With all that said, I cannot wait to see what she brings to this show as the police and ever-powerful prosecution office fight over independent investigative authority. I’ve always thought it quite weird how the prosecution has sole jurisdiction over investigations. So, I am interested to see how this fight will go down and how it will affect Shi Mok and Yeo Jin’s fight against injustice but more how the drowning case ties into everything because if one thing I've learned from the writer of this drama by watching Stranger 1 is that nothig is by happenstance, everything connects somehow in the end.
Fighting corruption shouldn't be an end in itself. I understand Chief Choi Bit's need for change as absolute power corrupts absolutely. I believe, however, change is needed for both the prosecution and the police. In that sense, I hope she's doing what she's doing because she genuinely cares for justice rather than a means to an end -- because those who fight corruption should be clean themselves. I loved how awkward but familiar Shi Mok's and Yeo Jin's first meet in three years was -- it made me smile.
I doubt Shi Mok and Yeo Jin's bosses realize what they've gotten themselves into picking them on their teams. I wonder if they thought they could be push-overs. I was saddened to find Lee Yeon Jae (Yoon Se Ah) worse off than in the first season and where her dead husband started, corrupt; I hoped Lee's sacrifice (at least that's what he thought of it in his mind) would be for nothing, but it seems like it may have been as everybody seems to be precisely where they left off in Stranger 1, if not worse. Even Seo Dong Jae (Lee Joon Hyuk) is still at it, chasing after his own benefit; he would sell anyone the shoes on their feet if he could. I love Choi Moo Sung and think the role of Woo Tae Ha suits him perfectly. And what's more, he and Chief Bit seem so similar in that they each believe they are doing the right thing even if they go about it the wrong way. I already know their fights will be epic.