Kairos (2020) Early Impressions Episodes 1-6
The show is aptly named in just about every respect. It fills a gaping wound left behind by Alice and it is a drama that sees its protagonists taking advantage of precious time to prevent tragedy at every turn.
Although the first episode didn't really impress me that much with all the overmuch histrionics, the subsequent episodes have. The best thing so far about this show is that it has kept the temporal mechanics simple and consistent while paying close attention to the storytelling in how the two timelines affect each other. It behaves in large part like Signal and has taken up all the best things about its predecessors while putting its own stamp on the product. Of course there's still the danger of the whole thing going off the beaten track and derailing... but I'm hopeful because MBC did give us the wonderful 365: Repeat the Year earlier in the year. Like Signal, this involves a combination of technology and the supernatural. The technology is wonderfully exploited here although the timing of these two people finding each other might well be beyond any kind of operational or conventional science. Fate is likely to be the connective tissue as it often is in these sorts of drama dealing with time distortions. Changing time, as we've seen in previous productions, is a double-edge sword but the biggest drawback is that one never knows what other dangers lurk around the corner even if one mishap has been averted.
In a discussion I had with a drama buddy on Janghaven Forums, I said that I believed Signal to be science fiction in the broader sense and the same I would think, apply to Kairos as well. I posited a "ghost in the machine" thesis first on Janghaven. Not so much in the philosophical mind-body dualistic debate but much more literally. The "ghost" here is perhaps the deceased father -- it's his phone number that the two protagonists connect over -- his soul or wandering spirit has invaded the technology and for some reason at a given minute of the 24-hour day, the number is activated and the two timelines connect briefly to exchange notes. I appreciate how the benefits of the smartphone technology are exploited in different scenarios by both parties as they deal with the limitations of access they have with each other. There's even a moment when a text message seen by a friend who happens to have Han Ae-ri's (Lee Se-young) phone is crucial to saving her life. So far the show is consistent in the way the temporal mechanics allow for changes made in the earlier timeline to affect the future one via the information the male lead gives to the female lead.
Initially I was concerned about how they were going to maintain the momentum for the slated 16 episodes but a recent twist and ensuing revelations have provided a much broader picture and deeper web of deception than the initial set-up alluded to. It's clear that human evil manifests itself not just among the levers of power in Big Business but also much closer to home. Kim Seo-jin (Shin Sung-rok) isn't just a dad and a husband who has lost his family overnight, he is also a victim of all manner deceit that goes back into his youthful past. As much as this may be about second chances offered by the window into the past, this too is a fable about cosmic justice and the apparent supernatural intervention is meant to call attention to serious evil-doing and injustices. Murder for some is all in a day's work.
It was business as usual until Seo-jin's life was turned upside down by his daughter's disappearance. But there are indication that something was already rotten in Denmark for some time. The cracks in his relationships with his wife, his daughter and colleagues as well as the pill popping point to a man in dire need of being rescued. Despite the trappings of success, (or perhaps because of it) he was blindly on the fast track to corporate glory while missing all the signs that things at home were far from satisfactory.
Of course the bad guys here can't be too complacent even if presently they're a step or two ahead of the quick-witted, shrewd Seo-jin. Their conspiracies are formed on shifting sand and probably not as much trust as they like to pretend that they have. But it does feel like Seo-jin is very much on his own in his timeline trying to navigate precarious waters with people he thought he knew well. One wrong move could mean the end for him or Ae-ri.
I'm trying hard to stay away from spoilers because this is a show worth watching. So far. Especially if you, like me, have a penchant for nail-biting, edge-of-the-seat thrillers. There's plenty to look forward to each week and I enjoy the twists and unexpected turns taken by the drama.