Two Weeks: A Review

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Two Weeks! Written by my favorite screenwriter So Hyun Kyung, the drama had one of the most ridiculous premises ever: A young man discovers he’s the father of an eight-year-old girl with leukemia and must save her life while escaping from authorities for a crime he didn’t commit. It sounds like the plot to another historical drama, like Heaven’s Will: Fugitive of Joseon a.k.a. Mandate of Heaven, except set in modern day times. Despite the potentially repetitive plot, I think this drama managed to successfully pull off the premise. I really believed that he was framed for a murder that just so happened to be at the same time he discovered his daughter’s existence.

In short, I really enjoyed this drama. More than I thought I would while watching it.

Nell – “Run” from the Two Weeks OST – my fave song of the summer.

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Plot Summary

 

Taking place in a span of two weeks, gambler/gangster/pawn shop dealer Jang Tae San (Lee Jun Ki) discovers his old girlfriend, Seo In Hye (Park Ha Sun) actually has a daughter… and she belongs to him. Tae San is shocked at the news, especially since eight years ago he had broken up with In Hye and told her to abort the baby. He left her in the hospital alone, thinking that she went through with it. The viewers learn Tae San had been working for an evil mob boss, Moon Il Suk (a terrifying Jo Min Ki), who wanted to frame Tae San for a murder. Tae San had to accept Il Suk’s conditions or else In Hye would be hurt so, before he “turned himself in” to the police, he broke up with In Hye and told her to get rid of the baby.

 

In Hye didn’t listen and had the child anyways. And she grew up into the most adorable little girl ever. I swear I could listen to Soo Jin say “Appa!” every single day of my life because she’s just so bright and happy. Unfortunately Soo Jin has leukemia and, desperate for a bone marrow donor, In Hye reaches out to Tae San to see if he could be a match. Turns out he is. Suddenly Tae San finds something that could turn his life around.

Problem is, he’s got a murder on his hands. Right when Tae San is in the hospital and learns he’s a match, Il Suk kills his “girl toy” for betraying him to the authorities. His “girl toy,” Oh Mi Sook, is actually friends with Prosecutor Park Jae Kyung (Kim So Yeon), who’s been trying to catch him making dirty drug deals with Senator Jo Seo Hee (Kim Hye Ok). Mi Sook discreetly filmed them with a digital camera when they met in her house and then quickly pawned it to Tae San when she realized Il Suk knew of her betrayal. Tae San didn’t bother storing the camera away and kept it in his pants pocket, which led to his roommate and best friend Man Suk to borrow it for his trip to the beach. Tae San then gets knocked out and framed for Mi Sook’s murder, being placed at the scene of the crime and having drugs injected in his arm.

 

Tae San is arrested by Im Seung Woo (Ryu Soo Young), who happens to be In Hye’s fiancé. He insists upon his innocence but later decides silence might serve him better because he doesn’t know who to trust and no one believes him anyway. Meanwhile Jae Kyung learns of her friend’s death, and her reckless driving prompts a huge car accident while Tae San is en route to her office. Because of the pileup caused by the accident, Tae San’s guards are killed and he manages to get away.

Commence a very long chase scene as the police and prosecutors work together to bring Tae San in while he continuously eludes them. To add to the chaos, Il Suk needs that camera with the evidence so he has an assassin, a Mr. Kim a.k.a. Martin Ramirez (Song Jae Rim) who is also his adopted son raised abroad, chase after Tae San. As Tae San tries to figure out his next moves, he receives help from kindhearted people along the way despite his criminal reputation and status as a fugitive. Tae San also encounters Han Chi Gook (Chun Ho Jin), a man he supposedly killed years ago. (Again, Tae San took the fall for it.)

Jae Kyung is the only character to know all the parts of the puzzle: Why Moon Il Suk and Jo Seo Hee are guilty and how to get them arrested, why Tae San is on the run, why he isn’t guilty, and why Seung Woo should not hate Tae San but can’t blame him if he does. Everyone else figures it out slowly, and it’s only when the truth comes out that Jae Kyung, Seung Woo and Tae San are able to effectively work together to bring down Il Suk and Senator Jo. They have to deal with a lot of leaks within the prosecutorial office and police department, and also with their overall ineptitude in capturing a mob boss.

 

Finally, it’s time for Soo Jin’s surgery and Tae San is racing against the clock to get Il Suk arrested. He knows that Il Suk will never leave him alone so he strikes a deal with Senator Jo to betray Il Suk. It works out for her (she gets Il Suk’s share in the drug deal) and Tae San finally gets Il Suk alone and vulnerable in a construction area. He ties Il Suk up but does not realize that the mob boss is actually quite close to some gasoline. An explosion blows right before the police can go and arrest him. But we get justice because Il Suk ends up with a facial injury and partial blindness, and still can go to jail. Jae Kyung arrests Senator Jo on the way to the airport and manages to indict her for her crimes before the senator takes a cyanide pill.

Tae San makes it to his daughter’s surgery, and she has a long road of recovery ahead. Martin Ramirez turns out to be Han Chi Gook’s biological son (kidnapped by Il Suk out of jealousy) and goes to jail, reformed. Seung Woo apologizes to Tae San for all the troubles and more or less breaks up with In Hye, knowing that she still loves Tae San. And as for our hero – he gets his criminal record wiped completely clean and spends his first day with his daughter, who is out of the hospital. He and In Hye may or may not get together but, no matter what happens, he vows to be a father Soo Jin can be proud of. And thus begins his second chance at life.

Thoughts and Comments

Two Weeks is quite a unique drama in that each episode of the 16-episode series represents one day, so one must temper one’s expectations of the drama. Of course we want criminals caught right away and revelations to come out one after another. But because of the short time period we are forced to suspend our disbelief, for no person can necessarily bring down a crime ring in such short time span. Thankfully the story is good enough to propel us forward.

The first half was rocky and I understand that it’s difficult to make an episode interesting if you just have one guy running, and the police and prosecutor sitting around planning. It doesn’t help that this writer tends to have a slower pace in the beginning and then rushes the ending. There were good cliffhangers for the first few episodes, such as Tae San getting shot or almost captured. But that didn’t make up for the episode. How he managed to survive without any major injuries is a miracle in itself. The first half of the series also had strange montages from Hollywood films cut into Tae San’s flashbacks, such as a clip from “The Fugitive” or a clip of Geena Davis changing her hairstyle. These movie flashbacks are meant to inform Tae San’s following decisions in the drama, but they make no sense because we never got the context that Tae San is an avid movie watcher. You need a shot of him watching these movies for these montages to work. They also interrupted the pacing of the episode.

  

The second half focused mainly on Tae San and Jae Kyung working together to bring Il Suk and Senator Jo down. It was a relief when they united because you know that they have the same goals, and that Jae Kyung has no interest in truly arresting Tae San. Flashbacks in the second half focused on their conversations and their plot as they tried to anticipate Il Suk’s next moves. I liked that we never got a full explanation of what they were going to do next because it kept me surprised and engaged throughout the episode. We got hints of it, and then when they make a surprising decision we get a scene that explains that it was all planned before. An example is when Tae San and Jae Kyung manipulate Il Suk and his second-in-command Hwang Dae Joon against each other; it was all a deliberate act to get Dae Joon to betray Il Suk. It might seem a bit ludicrous, but it works. We have a time crunch, and two heads are always better than one.

The ending was a bit rushed – as I had expected of the writer. It was all coming down to one more operation, one more betrayal, one more chance to get Moon Il Suk. And yet the show threw one more escape scene for Moon Il Suk. Ugh. It was the final straw for me for the police’s ineptitude, and I was angry that it had to be Tae San risking his life by causing a car accident just to get Il Suk in the end. At one point, the constant elusion from the police felt contrived and just a necessary way to keep the plot stretching to the final minutes. It became predictable and not at all enjoyable to watch.

Other than that I did like that Tae San got some closure for his past. He really grew as a character from someone who just lived day to day to someone who decided to plan a future so that he could be a true father to his daughter. Episodes three to nine were sluggish because he was so helpless and lost in dealing with his situation, which is understandable. He always had the gang to rely on, but now they turned their backs on him. So he constantly had to turn to the goodwill of strangers, which then made those episodes feel repetitive and formulaic: he runs, he gets help, he nearly gets caught, he escapes. When Tae San finally realizes that the answer to all his problems is that digital camera, and actually makes plans to reenter Seoul to get it (with Han Chi Gook’s help), that’s when the drama gets really interesting. We finally realize just how intelligent he is, and how much he absorbed from being a pawn under Moon Il Suk and being his pawn. Tae San became a hero we could get behind and could possibly crawl his way out of this deep hole. It seemed an insurmountable task before, and his seeming powerlessness did not help in assuring the viewers that everything would be all right. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for long.

All of my favorite parts of this drama had to do with Soo Jin’s relationship with Tae San. I absolutely love how he became attached to her all of a sudden just by interacting with her once. Not only is she an adorable child but there’s something undeniable about loving someone who shares your blood even if you’ve never met them before. (Suspicious Housekeeper proves the opposite point in an equally poignant way.) The scenes where Soo Jin served as Tae San’s conscience while he was on the run was a little contrived because she was really only there to move the plot forward and give him ideas on how to get back at Moon Il Suk. However I’ll take my father-daughter scenes where I can get them.

One of the things I like in watching So Hyun Kyung’s dramas is the father-daughter relationship that comes out of the story. I liked that in this drama the father had to prove himself to be worthy of his daughter. She always believed in him, but he wasn’t necessarily someone respectful enough to look up to. Tae San is different from the fathers in Shining Inheritance and Prosecutor Princess, who start out as upstanding, respectable men and then they do something that makes you lose respect for them. Tae San eventually earns the viewers’ respect but must now earn Soo Jin’s respect in a way she can understand — by being a good father with an honest occupation. On the other hand, Seung Woo starts out as the trustworthy stepfather, only to betray Tae San and lose the viewer’s respect for him. He doesn’t lose face in front of Soo Jin, but he doesn’t get to see her anymore. I feel kind of bad for him because I really liked him, and had hoped there would be a happy ending where Soo Jin has three parental figures.

 

Speaking of Seung Woo, I was quite disappointed that he ended up ensnared in Moon Il Suk’s web of bribery. I didn’t think he could ever be corrupted! But Moon really knew how to target people’s weaknesses. Despite his betrayal, the audience learned that he only meant well because Moon targeted Soo Jin’s life if Seung Woo did not comply. He was redeemed quite quickly, which I did not mind in his case. However I generally did not like how all the other characters who made betrayals redeemed their honor so quickly. For example, in Detective Park’s case I knew he was the traitor in the police force, and it was satisfying to know that Jae Kyung and Seung Woo knew,too. But then they quickly humanized him by inserting a scene where he explained he was the sole caretaker for seven people, and had actually been leading Moon Il Suk on under Jae Kyung’s orders after he was found out. We were all tricked for about five episodes! Instead of being characterized as evil all the way, he got an “out.” Martin/Mr. Kim got a similar treatment where, despite all his cold-hearted ways, he crumbles at the sight and sound of his biological father, whom he seems to not recognize until they meet face to face. Am I supposed to feel bad that he grew up without his father’s good influence? Even though, arguably, Han Chi Gook is probably not the best example of a “good father.” We were also misled to think that Jae Kyung’s boss, Prosecutor Han Jung Woo, was also in cahoots with Senator Jo when he told Jae Kyung to get a warrant that delayed her ability to charge Moon Il Suk properly for his crimes. But in the end it’s revealed that he was never in cahoots with them, but was merely concerned that Jae Kyung would not get the evidence she needed to properly prosecute Moon Il Suk.

What frustrated me about all these “seemingly traitorous” characters getting an out was that I would not have minded if they were evil! To see betrayal at every corner would have upped the suspense for me. While having characters you want to trust betray you would have left me feeling gutted, it would have been memorable. The people who were never trustworthy to begin with end up in jail, which is morally right but also boring. That’s what we expect of the world. But to have someone we trust betray us? That makes the plot even more interesting. If Prosecutor Han was truly evil, I would have been heartbroken because I liked him. But it would have made the drama that much better because it would have underlined the theme of “who do you trust?” That was a question that Tae San and Jae Kyung had to struggle with for most of the series before they finally joined forces.

 

In regards to the villains, I really liked Moon Il Suk and Jo Seo Hee. They were well-written, though I won’t go so far as to say they’re the best villains of the year. Jo Seo Hee was humanized quite early in the series as a mother who uses her position to help her disabled son in Switzerland. We really got an idea of what she was trying to do to protect her son using her abilities and her power. On one hand she was cruel and calculating. But she was still a mother that anyone could relate to and the only three-dimensional villain in the story. What’s more is that you suddenly feel bad for her when she tries to kill herself with a cyanide pill after she’s arrested, and only stops because of her son. She’s someone with redeeming values who ended up falling short of our moral expectations. Moon Il Suk on the other hand is a straight-up goon with no redemptive values whatsoever. Though he’s given the backstory of being a poor child that grew up stealing food from his siblings’ mouths, he doesn’t have something tangible (like, a disabled son or frail mother) that makes you feel bad for him. He’s responsible for his own actions and has nothing but his own greed driving him towards crime.

There were a lot of bits about the drama that frustrated me, or made me go, “What just happened here!?” but it did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the show. I definitely enjoy Lee Jun Ki as a leading man now and feel somewhat obligated now to go back and watch his previous drama Arang and the Magistrate. As for Kim So Yeon, she can do no wrong in my eyes, although I felt her character needed a good scream from the rooftops. That way she could stop grabbing her short hair in frustration.

Verdict: 8/10 – a must watch if you like thrillers, or just SERIOUSLY ADORABLE little girls who make you want to have children of your own so they could call you “omma! appa!”

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