Awaken (2020) Early Impressions

To be honest when I started this, I wasn't immediately impressed. I had hoped to be, looking at the early teasers and trailers. The first couple of episodes felt clunky and most of the characters uni-dimensional. But I made the decision to persist last week mainly of Namgoong Min who is reliably brilliant and the crumbs of a decent thriller in the offing. Of course it remains to be seen if this show is worth pursuing in the long run purely based on his presence in it. Also the possibility that he would be in the middle of a love triangle made me roll my eyes. Every so often I worry about what that would do to the women in the show.

While I still think that this show has pacing issues and cliche characters, I did like Episode 3 more than the first two. I thought there were a number of good things about it. It certainly helped me understand why the so-called "Special" team feels so not-very-special-lacklustre. Because quite frankly, the show isn't really about Jung-woo's investigative team and any kind of sensational investigation that they do (like we're accustomed to with OCN dramas). The rookie, the computer guy and the bad-tempered female team member... are in actual fact, props for JW's real storyline. I'm hoping desperately against hope that they're not pairing JW off with Hye-won not only because I'm not feeling the actress but their chemistry gives off another kind of vibe... and it's not romantic. If there's any romance to be had... I don't need it, mind you... I'd rather JW end up with Jamie. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that Hye-won's infatuation and jealousy is nauseating, it's not something that I'm enjoying or I believe does anything to enhance the plot or the character. If anything, her infatuation is more of dead weight to the movement of the show.

I'm glad the show didn't waste our time in confirming that JW is a survivor of White Night village. It was always a no-brainer. He was looking for people he had fragmentary memories of. He always suspected that the White Night village angle had something to do with the serial deaths. I think he always knew who Jamie was from the facial composite he drew and sent to his mysterious connection. Her mysophobia or OCD tendencies were telling. Probably a traumatic consequence from her time at White Night.

It is still the case that Namgoong Min is doing most of heavy lifting here although I am gradually warming up to Lee Chung-ah's Jamie. Also fortunate, I think, is that the White Night story seems to be kicking into gear in a way that could be potentially far more compelling than the first 2 episodes indicated. It feels too that my initial theories weren't far off the mark. Experiments of some sort were occurring. Personally, I don't think it was just about some "wonder" drug either. If the kids rebelled and set fire to the place, I imagine something much more terrible was actually going on. Perhaps my idea of Dark Angel wasn't that far off the mark. At least I think the communal childcare has some parallels with Mantacore.

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