Don’t worry about trying to figure out who the bad guy is in the crime drama Watcher because you’ll be correct no matter who you guess. No one is upright and law abiding. To quote one of the characters in the show, “Everyone is in this mess together. No one is innocent.”
“Who watches the ones who watch?” – Watcher
The story deals with three people on the Seyang District Police Force and one attorney who form the newly established Corruption Investigation Team. We watch as they go after the immoral prosecutors and police officers who have talked themselves into believing it’s okay to bend, break, and even mutilate the law if it’s for what they think is a higher good.
Do Chi-Gwang used to work on the Crime Scene Investigation Team but is now the leader of Internal Affairs Team 4, also known as the Corruption Investigation Team. Attorney Han tells him, “Although you act as if you’re even-handed, you do whatever it takes to get someone arrested. That’s why all of your team members left, and you have no friends. Although you sometimes cross the line, you never initiate anything serious.” Officer Do is solely focused on finding the leader of the group of vigilante cops that have been delivering their brand of justice upon hardened criminals for the past 15 years.
As a young child, Kim Yeong-Koon was an eyewitness to his own mother’s murder. His police officer father was arrested, plead guilty, and has spent the last 15 years in prison for the crime. With his mother dead and his father in prison, Yeong-Koon jumped around from relative to relative until he went back to that same home after graduating high school, claiming it was better to be home than to have to walk on egg shells with others. Living in that apartment, he sometimes gazes on the spot where his mother died and replays that dreadful scene in his mind, insisting, “Dead people aren’t scary. Alive ones are scarier.” Yeong-Koon had been a traffic cop until he was recruited by Chief Do to be part of the Corruption Investigation Team.
After prosecutor Han Tae-Joo was cruelty tortured alongside her husband many years ago, she quit her job, disappeared for awhile, and came back as a criminal lawyer. Chief Do claims, “Things get tricky once she gets involved. She makes things worse, as if she wants everyone to get hurt.” She has a matter-of-fact, chilly personality and is infamous for plotting, negotiating, and making deals. She agrees to assist the Corruption Investigation Team in the hope of tracking down and catching the man who tortured her years ago. Revenge is her number one priority.
Officer Jo Soo-Yeon used to work with the Forensic Team but when she accidentally messed up some important evidence she decided to leave and was reassigned to the Corruption Investigation Team. She is a bit hesitant at first but soon dives into her new job and duties with enthusiasm and determination.
In my review of Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim you can read about Han Suk-Kyu, whose character is Chief Do Chi-Gwang. Like actor Kim Rae-Won, Han Suk-Kyu seems to absorb whatever role he plays. Chief Do’s character is just a cop version of Teacher (Doctor) Kim.
My Are You Human Too? review contains information on Seo Kang-Joon, the amazing and handsome actor who plays Officer Kim Yeong-Koon.
You can find out about Kim Hyun-Joo, the woman who plays the part of Attorney Han Tae-Joo, by going to my Fantastic review.
The plot is interesting but very dark and heavy. In trying to catch the group of bad cops the four Corruption Investigation Team members have one thing to go on – the fact that there is someone loose in society that goes around cutting off people’s thumbs! Sometimes the victim is just tortured by having their thumb severed, other times they are also murdered. So, time and time again the audience is subjected to that particular gruesome and horrifying act. It’s unsettling and sickening but that’s part of what keeps us on the edge of our seat. If you’re somewhat of a squeamish person, you’re going to be doing a lot of eye-closing during this drama.
Instead of having these rogue cops be psychopaths who were born evil, the writer decides to give them a reason for being bad. Because people are able to manipulate the system, these cops are only doing what they feel should have been done in the first place, since the justice system failed to hand out what they deemed was a fair punishment. Here’s how the head “bad guy” explains the reason for creating the vigilante group of cops in the first place. “Prosecutors and judges only see the perpetrators in court, but we see the victims in the crime scene and we empathize with them. Sometimes that makes you go blind from anger because you see too much misery. I created a system that manages crimes. We only eliminate the ones that are better off dead. I never did anything for myself.” Although what those bad cops did was illegal and immoral, it’s easy to see that with a little authority and the absence of high moral character one could easily be manipulated with that kind of thinking. Scary.
In high school I was trying to decide whether I wanted to major in journalism and become a foreign correspondent or go to the police academy to become a detective. A police officer friend of my father suggested I give up the cop idea because he said knowing my personality, he didn’t think I would do well working among evil day after day. After some serious thought I decided against becoming a cop and, if real life on the police force is even a tiny bit like this drama, I’m positive I made the right choice.
Although Watcher is an interesting crime drama with a difficult-to-solve mystery, in my opinion it was a bit too drawn out. It really wasn’t necessary to have it be 16 episodes. I kept wondering, “How long can they make this last?” Cutting it down to about 12 hours would have made it more concise and less like they had been instructed to pad the story.
While viewing Watcher I wasn’t all that cognizant of its music. The show has so many intense moments that my brain wasn’t always aware of what was playing in the background. However, there are a few songs that stood out. Elli K sings Blurry, which sounds just like its title suggests. Ha Jin performs Horizon, which asks the interesting, almost philosophical question, “If at I look at the horizon how far away am I seeing?” Nafla raps Watchin’ which has an intense sound that goes well with the grittiness of the show. Outsider is a depressing sounding ballad performed by Lee Seung-Yeol. Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for any of the songs but I have to admit they all fit well with the feel and plot of the show.
Watcher is dark, and I’m not just talking about it’s emotional impact. There aren’t a lot of bright colors in the show and it kind of looks like it’s always overcast, even indoors. One thing I liked was the fact that the Corruption Investigation Team’s office was located in the basement of the police agency, in what was formerly the officers’ workout room. You can see old gym equipment pushed over against the walls and usual gym markings on the floor. Even the sign by their office door has the words “workout room” scribbled off and “Internal Affairs Team 4” written underneath with a Sharpie. It’s a visual reminder that this team was haphazardly put together and is not thought of highly.
As far as crime dramas go, this is a pretty good one. It’s not what I would consider spooky but when you start making a list of shows to see in October, Watcher might be a good way to start out that soon-to-be-upon-us, haunting month. After all, aren’t most Halloween movies just slasher flicks?
Absolutely, amazing acting (worthy of awards)
Excellent chemistry between the three main characters
Dark subject matter