The teasers for Catch the Ghost made it look like the newest funny crime show on the block, and I’m pleased to report that the first episode does justice to the hype it created. Moon Geun-young and Kim Sun-ho have electrifying chemistry in this comedy slash thriller, which is something I wasn’t expecting. This drama is not groundbreaking and sometimes struggles to decide if it wants to make the viewers laugh or feel fear. But it has enough heart and thrill to make sure I return for the second and third episodes!
The series opens with Subway Inspector Go Ji-seok (Kim Sun-ho) inspecting a train, and establishes him as a scaredy-cat detective right away. This is followed by the Subway Police hilariously demonstrating how they catch pickpockets in front of reporters, which ends up with them discovering a dead body under the seats. This is what I meant by the show struggling with its tone—the scene of the dead body being found should have been shocking, but the context makes it funny, and you’re left feeling a mixture of two completely opposite emotions.
The biggest issue plaguing Seoul’s subway police is the Subway Serial Murder Case. We find out that the killer, dubbed ‘Subway Ghost’ by the media, somehow manages to kidnap victims from the busy subway stations. This is what I call a real mystery, because, imagine getting whisked away while being surrounded by people? Metropolitan Detective Division’s Lieutenant Ha Ma-ri (Jung Yoo-jin), who has an impeccable case-cracking record, is handling the case. Something that stands out about her is that she seems to have a history with Inspector Go.
Go Ji-seok has an unfortunate first encounter with a woman police officer who baits a pickpocket. In a hilarious comedy-of-errors sequence, the woman ends up handcuffing Go, believing him to be the thief’s partner, in the train as she runs off to catch the thief. It’s clear from the get-go that this is no ordinary officer. She seems to have the map of the entire Seoul Subway Station in her head and uses it to catch the thief with incredible precision, while Ji-seok struggles to break free.
You can’t blame Ji-seok for hiding under his desk when the same officer shows up to an interview to join his team. She introduces herself as Patrol Officer Yoo Ryung (Moon Geun-young). Turns out that she pulled that stunt the day before in order to secure this job. Ji-seok smells ulterior motives here and asks Yoo Ryung why she would go to such an extent for the job. Ji-seok and Yoo Ryung’s scenes together are pure gold, and I’m hoping to see more of their comic timing and chemistry as we progress.
Needless to say, Yoo Ryung doesn’t get the job, and I can’t blame the careful and responsible Ji-seok for steering clear of her. Then, predictably, our leads get involved in a case that will push them to work together. I like the case they chose, which involves a man who puts a camera in his shoes and then sticks his foot between the legs of women… you get my drift. This was one of those moments I didn’t appreciate the comic tone of the show, because here I was, angry at this man, while the show was trying to make me laugh.
Tailing this man leads Ji-seok to a more horrific scene of a crime. Not only does this man share hidden camera footage, but he also plans to kidnap one of his victims and throw a “party” to molest her. Yoo Ryung gets involved because she’s one of the hidden cam victims. When she gets wind of the larger conspiracy, she volunteers to take on the case alone. Here we notice significant differences between how Ji-seok and Yoo Ryung work—while he plays by the rules, she treats crime with the urgency it needs to be treated with, breaking rules in the process. Of course, neither of these approaches is smart but one of the show’s central themes will be both our detectives learning from each other, and I’m into that.
As our unwilling partners race against time to save the target of these men, Yoo Ryung’s knowledge of the subway system comes in handy. Despite their efforts, the men manage to drug their victim and drag her into their car, before Yoo Ryung spots them. Then, in a rare moment of daredevilry, Ji-seok pulls a hilarious stunt to seal the deal on catching them. Yoo Ryung’s words and actions have already begun pushing him out of his comfort zone, and I always enjoy seeing this kind of character development.
One of my favorite moments of the show is when the hidden camera mastermind gets arrested and scoffs that it’s not like he killed someone, Yoo Ryung responds with, “posting photos and rape are psychological murders.”
After the comedy and action, however, comes the emotional sequence as we discover the reason why Yoo Ryung wants to be part of the subway police team so badly. Her twin sister has been missing for a while, and through her own personal investigations, Yoo Ryung believes that her disappearance is related to the subway serial murders. This is why she has every corner of the subway network memorized.
Meanwhile, despite an impressive show in the hidden camera case, Ji-seok is still reluctant to hire Yoo Ryung, but his sense of justice finally prevails and she gets hired. They’re partners now, and I’m excited to see how they work together because while their methods of working might on the opposite ends of the spectrum, they have their hearts in the right place.
Catch The Ghost‘s feisty heroine has arrived to bend the rules like a breath of fresh air. I sympathize with Ji-seok because he’s about to be in for a wild ride cleaning up after his partner but I’m sure even he can’t deny how much fun working with Yoo Ryung is going to be. While both the comedy and thriller parts of the show aren’t very satisfying, the combined effect they have is enough to pique my interest and make me check out the next episode.
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