It’s reassuring that You’re All Surrounded solidified its footing and pace by the second episode now that the action remains in the present timeline completely and the set-up is done. This drama did a swell job with its opening salvo, splicing the teenage past sequence in the middle of the first episode with just enough information to set the stage but without dragging anything out. The writer smartly eschewed the need to hammer home some sort of first love connection between Soo Sun and Dae Gu. Adult Soo Sun is way less annoying and abrasive than the younger version, and also kudos to Go Ara‘s deft handling of her character, but in general this story flows better with less romantic fate claptrap. Lee Seung Gi fully owns Dae Gu by episode 2 and he’s so gorgeous to behold as silent but verbally deadly Dae Gu. Sometimes my brain shorts out for a moment during his scenes and I miss dialogue here and there. He started off being known for having really bad hairstyles in his dramas but it’s been getting better over the years and has culminated in the this particular bundle of angry prickly perfection.
Dae Gu hasn’t particularly grabbed me with his character emotional turmoil just yet but the drama is doling that out little-by-little so it’s sure to flip the switch at some point. It works that Dae Gu arrived at Gangnam precinct holding a grudge and aiming to take down Captain Seo Pan Seok, but he’s also locking horns with him over Pan Seok’s gruff zero patience mentoring style. These two would get off on the wrong foot no matter what so what works is knowing that through the antagonism Pan Seok will grow to care for his rookies and Dae Gu will understand that Pan Seok isn’t the right target for his mommy-revenge wrath. The rookie foursome is delightful to watch with all four characters having distinct and interesting personalities and are assembled to create maximum entertainment for the viewers. Please avoid piling on an obligatory love triangle (ugh) and instead allow whatever romance to be understated and develop alongside the more interesting police cases and inevitable rookie screw ups. I’m not taking this drama seriously as a police procedural but enjoy it for being a fun human scale work place drama that happens to be set in a police station.
Episode 2 recap:
Captain Seo Pan Seok and his partner Lee Eun Do take their team of four rookies out on their first mission. Rookie Ji Kook drives the police van which is currently stuck in Gangnam traffic. Captain Seo orders rookie Eo Soo Sun to put a police light on top of the van and she grabs something red out of Ji Kook’s bag and puts it on top as ordered.
It immediately falls off and shatters, revealing it was a Ji Kook’s precious limited edition Starbucks cup he waited in line to buy. Another call comes through the intercom to hurry up to the crime scene so Captain Seo devises another plan to get through traffic. He tells everyone to take out their handcuffs and waves it out the window which gets all the cars to move aside.
The police van arrive at the incident scene which is two gangsters sitting on a stool blocking traffic. The two gangsters get into a black car and book it. We’re now back to the cold open in episode 1 where the cops chase the gangsters through Gangnam. The gangsters are pretty fierce and even toss a soju bottle as the van pulls up alongside it. Finally Captain Seo disables the getaway vehicle by broadsiding it with the van.
The gangsters take off on foot with the cops chasing them. They split up and one gangster gets a hold of rookie Ji Kook and menaces him with a knife. Rookie Dae Gu walks up pointing his gun at the gangster. The other cops yells at him to put it away and he does only to grab his stun gun and fires it at Ji Kook which takes out both him and the gangster.
The team returns to Gangnam precinct headquarters and finds it teeming with cops dealing with criminals brought in for various infractions. The rookies return to their desk and pass by a group of high school students fighting over their respective idols. The girls notice cutie Tae Il and scream over him while taking his picture. Tae Il poses for them willingly and relishes the attention while Ji Kook pouts over being ignored.
Soo Sun stands up to chastise them only to have the girls fawn over her for being a female cop. They then swoon over Dae Gu’s fierce expression and start taking pictures of him. All of this finally drives Captain Seo over the edge and he tosses his neck pillow at Eun Do and storms off.
Pan Seok goes to his team director Cha and asks for a few rookies to be switched out of his team. He doesn’t need all of them out but he can’t have such inexperienced kids in the major crimes unit. Director Cha yells at him to stop looking down on police academy graduates and tells him to bring his complaint all the way to the police commissioner if he wants. Pan Seok storms out tossing things along the way with the director calling him a rude bastard.
The rookies line up in front of Captain Seo and he tells them that he is the famous Seo Pan Seok and he doesn’t just lead and mentor anyone. If the rookies are self-aware of their own limitations then they should quit now while pointing to Soo Sun and Ji Kook in particular. For the safety of the residents of Gangnam and for his own mental stability, can they please just quit. The rookies bow in apology to him.
Missing persons team captain Kim Sa Kyung walks in and Pan Seok goes to greet her. He’s very polite and asks when she came back from overseas and why she didn’t tell him so he could welcome her. Sa Kyung slaps him hard and asks if he’s doing well? He says he’s doing well and she asks if he know why she slapped him? Pan Seok knows because he’s not that much of a clueless bastard. What happened…..Sa Kyung slaps him again and says he’s less than a dog bastard for telling her to forget about it. Sa Kyung screams for an Officer Kim to meet her in the missing persons unit in 10 minutes before storming off.
The rookies stare in shock at the confrontation that just occurred. Pan Seok leaves looking very dejected. The rookies asks Eun Do what the two captains relationship is and Eun Do says it’ll become clear in the future. Eun Do pairs the rookies up into partner duos with Ji Kook-Tae Il as partners and Soo Sun-Dae Gu as partners.
The Police Commissioner is reading the news about Precinct Director Kang and her rookies program and murmurs about why she keeps creating news. She arrives with Director Cha in tow and the Commissioner greets them both with fake friendliness. He brings up hearing about Director Kang accepting new police graduates and says she can only succeed. He warns her not to have new problems created in her district by the rookies working there.
Soo Sun sits with the suspect gangster and takes his statement. She hears that he blocked the street with the other gangster in a mental showdown to see who can last the longest. Ji Kook asks how long he planned to sit there, until a car ran him over? The gangster notices a paper cutter on Soo Sun’s desk. After taking his statement, Soo Sun ties him up with a rope and Eun Do orders her and Dae Gu to take him to lock up. Soo Sun runs off to use the bathroom first and the gangster looks around for his chance.
Soo Sun tries to make conversation with Dae Gu on their way to delivering the gangster to lock up. She complains about why Dae Gu is so silent and wonders if they’ve met before and thinks he looks familiar? Dae Gu curtly claims they’ve never met.
The gangster makes his move as they head up the stairs, pulling Dae Gu down until he tumbles to the bottom of the stairs on top of Soo Sun. He then runs away and the two rookies get up to chase him but Soo Sun can barely run since she’s wearing slippers.
The gangster manages to hijack a police van and is about to drive out of the precinct when another police van rams into it. The two rookies catch their breath and realizes the driver of the other van is a very angry Captain Seo. The other cops grab the gangster and chastises Captain Seo for how his team handles prisoner delivery and the trouble they would all be in if the gangster managed to escape.
Captain Seo lines up the rookies to chew them out for leaving a paper cutter on the desk. Did they learn nothing from police academy. Did they learn not to leave any potential weapons on their desk, did they learn to wear shoes instead of slippers when delivering prisoners? Soo Sun keeps apologizing for her slipper mistake but insists she didn’t leave the paper cutter on the desk. Dae Gu remains silent so Captain Seo goes to ask if Dae Gu didn’t also do anything wrong? Dae Gu curtly retorts that he did nothing wrong.
Dae Gu’s only mistake was assuming his partner had the same level of ability as him and trusting her. But Captain Seo also didn’t give enough oversight on his rookie team members so Captain Seo shares the blame as well. Captain Seo snickers and wonders where the hell this crazy dude came from to talk this way to him. Before Captain Seo can confront Dae Gu is when Director Cha storms in kicking trashcans and screaming about this latest mishap. Director Cha screams at Captain Seo to tender his resignation because someone needs to take responsibility for this!
Soo Sun complains to the other two rookies about Dae Gu throwing her under the bus. Shouldn’t they remain loyal to each other since they are all members of the same rookie team?
Captain Seo meets with Director Kang who tells him this matter is closed and he can go back to work. Captain Seo wonders again why she started this project of letting rookies work with him? He’s willing to work hard because he gets paid and this is his job. But working hard doesn’t mean a rookie should be a cop in the major crimes unit. He brings up multiple major incidents in recent years where cops made a mistake in apprehending criminals and caused the loss of life of innocent citizens.
Director Kang calmly asks Captain Seo to remember when he was a rookie himself? Didn’t he itch to get experience and want to become better cop? Captain Seo says this is an insult to him but leaves her office looking resigned.
Dae Gu walks alone at night and puts on a cap to hide his face. He goes to a store and asks for a duplicate cell phone made. He then sneaks into Captain Seo’s apartment and plants a recording device on his ceiling fan.
Soo Sun takes the paper cutter out of the evidence locker and gets a CSI to analyze the fingerprints on it to prove that she didn’t leave it on the table. The guy agrees when she spews all sorts of justice talk.
Dae Gu goes back to the precinct office and swaps out Captain Seo’s cellphone with the duplicate he made. Soo Sun walks in and asks why Dae Gu is here? He chews her out for being an incompetent cop, as she was tying the suspect with a rope she was staring at his hands for fifteen minutes and didn’t even notice he was holding a paper cutter. She so stupid it’s unbelievable. Dae Gu asks if she came because she wanted to earn money by working in a division that pays more for special assignments? Those assignments are hard and with her lack of brains he suggests she quit now since she’s never going to succeed. Dae Gu strides off leaving Soo Sun sputtering.
Dae Gu goes back to the dorm apartment shared by the three male rookies. He gets a package in the mail and then heads inside to find Ji Kook setting up in the living room. He’s so happy to see Dae Gu and calls out the third roommate Tae Il. Dae Gu silently stares at them before heading to his room which happens to also be Ji Kook’s room.
Ji Kook is super excited to be roommates with Dae Gu on top of apartment mates but Dae Gu orders him to not talk. Dae Gu complains about the air freshener used by Ji Kook and then tells him not to make any noise. Dae Gu orders Ji Kook not to turn on the lights and not to share the same bunkbed.
Poor Ji Kook finally leaves Dae Gu’s room and goes to bunk with Tae Il. He reveals how particular Dae Gu is and he’ll go crazy living with him. We see Tae Il looking at a picture of a smiling guy. His brother? Tae Il welcomes Ji Kook to be his roommate and is very easy going which makes Ji Kook relieved to have a nice guy to room with.
Pan Seok goes back to his lonely apartment and Dae Gu starts his surveillance and watches him on the computer video feed. Pan Seok takes out his phone and scrolls through calls and looks sad. Dae Gu makes note of the names on the phone log. Pan Seok heads to bed and Dae Gu closes the computer.
Dae Gu sits in his room and projects his investigation file on the wall. He thinks about all the events that led up to his mom’s death. He gets a call and tells the caller “It’s me, I received what you sent. Captain Seo didn’t recognize me at all but there is a girl on the same team from Masan and I’m a little concerned.” Dae Gu flips through a file about his mom’s death which includes pictures of his mom at the crime scene as well as a teenage him. Dae Gu quickly closes the file.
Dae Gu goes to the memorial hall to visit his mother’s altar. He cries and asks if she’s doing well? He’s finally here now. Dae Gu lowers his head and cries some more.
Pan Seok and Eun Do discuss a new crime in Gangnam – a new breed of flower snake women go on dates to fancy restaurants and then use expired credit cards to pay and can’t be tracked down afterwards. The women order the most expensive dishes and bottles of wine at the restaurants which are reeling from the losses. Soo Sun hands the fingerprint report to Captain Seo to clear her name that she didn’t put the paper cutter on her desk. She accepts the slipper mistake and promises that will never happen again. She awkwardly walks back to her desk and everyone stares at her.
Tae Il delivers his report on a two new investigations – one is credit card fraud, the other a theft of a name brand watch, both happened after meeting a girl at a nightclub. Eun Do reveals that someone tipped them off about a meeting today with one of those girls so Captain Seo sends them off.
Before the rookies head off, Captain Seo stops them and says he knows about how their generation is very lax now. If they are sick their parents will call in for them, their parents wait in lines at testing centers for them, they are coddled and pampered. He points out that Tae Il looks like a rich boy and he’s wearing clothes that cost two months salary. He doesn’t even bother to critique Dae Gu but points out Soo Sun is more interested in her own honor than doing her job.
Captain Seo knows they were laughing about another Team Captain who looks like a gangster. He explains that Captain is working with a coffin on his back as his partner was stabbed to death three years ago. He warns them not to play a cop game and if they don’t want to do their job then they can stay at the office or request a transfer. All the rookies silently stand there and accept it.
After Captain Seo and Eun Do leave, Ji Kook chews out Soo Sun for doing the fingerprint analysis and she yells at Ji Kook since his fingerprint was the one that showed up in the analysis. They start bickering until Dae Gu orders both to shut up and points out that Captain Seo left them behind to go on a mission.
Pan Seok and Eun Do are dining at a fancy Gangnam restaurant and keeping an eye for a suspect to come in. A well-dressed girl walks in and is about to join a guy at his table when she spots the two cops. She makes a beeline for the front door and makes a getaway. Eun Do yells at Pan Seok for not bringing the rookies since Pan Seok and Eun Do look just like cops. Eun Do asks Pan Seok to hand the investigation to the rookies now since they will be recognized if they take the investigation to the next level and go undercover at the night club.
The rookies are sitting at their desks moaning about their plight when Tae Il gets a call from Captain Seo and the four of them head out. Captain Seo takes their gun and badges and gives them marching orders. Have nothing on them to indicate they are cops and stay out of trouble especially getting into fights.
The undercover rookies head into the nightclub with the mission to remember the flower snakes faces or even better get their numbers. Soo Sun goes to the bathroom and stakes out a stall to record. Ji Kook bribes a waiter for help. Tae Il makes the rounds on the dance girl and all the girls flirt with him. A few guys sit in a booth and snap pictures of people dancing.
Dae Gu checks online for expensive luxury good and then scans the dance floor. Tae Il walks up and hears that Dae Gu is observing the women to narrow down their suspect list. He notices ladies who don’t seem to be regulars such as ones that are just visiting and others that are regulars. He suddenly notices a woman wearing the brand of watch that was stolen. Ji Kook comes by to complain no girls are flirting with him so Tae Il offers his jacket to Ji Kook. Tae Il then manages to go flirt with the girl wearing the watch.
Soo Sun starts recording when she hears two girls talking about how many they’ve hooked today. One girl says she spotted cops at the restaurant earlier and tells the girl to be careful.
That girl then bumps into a very bitchy girl and steps on her show. The bitchy girl confronts her and throws her shoes away and then tosses money and water in her face. The bitchy girl takes off her limited edition Louboutins and says she can’t afford to pay for ruining these. She then smacks the girl and Soo Sun watches them and wants to angrily go over and intervene but Ji Kook stops her.
After the bitchy girl starts to wail on the flower snake is when Dae Gu walks over and stops the bitch girl and launches into a speech about how she can just pay for the cleaning of the limited edition show. The bitchy girl then grabs Dae Gu by the hair and tosses him on the table. Soo Sun and Ji Kook intervene when the bitchy girl grabs both of them by the hair and tosses them on the dance floor.
Turns out the two guys sitting taking pictures of the dance floor are also undercover cops here for a drug raid. Once the commotion begins the guys take off. Dae Gu is tossed to the side and he notices a guy sitting on the ground. He crawls over and finds the man stabbed in the belly and bleeding. The blood causes Dae Gu to flashback to his mom dying and he freezes.
Soo Sun notices and quickly goes to help the injured man. She asks Dae Gu for his cellphone to call for help but Dae Gu is in a daze. The confetti falls from the ceiling and the dance floor is a mess until Soo Sun notices one of the other undercover cops has a gun in his holster. She grabs it and tries to fire at the lights when Dae Gu grabs the gun and shoots the strobe lights out. The lights come on and Soo Sun screams for someone to call the cops. The cop whose gun Soo Sun took gets it back from Dae Gu and smacks him across the face.
Pan Seok and Eun Do watch as the club is emptied out with an ambulance waiting to transport the injured. They see Dae Gu taken away in handcuffs.
At the police station the officer asks Dae Gu for his name but he doesn’t give it since the two flower snake suspects are sitting right behind him and he can’t give away their undercover mission. The cop sends Dae Gu to lock up and then assk the other three rookies for their names but they all stay silent as well. The cops then send the whole rookie team to lock up.
Pan Seok and Eun Do come to the precinct to bail out their rookies and the cop is angry because his two month long drug investigation is botched and the rookies even took his gun. He storms off and refuses to let the rookies out. Pan Seok has no choice but to call a very angry Director Cha to bail the rookies out.
Captain Seo drags the rookies back to the precinct and takes a very big stick to demand the truth from them. Who started the fight first. Dae Gu steps forward to take responsibility but the rest of the rookies follow suit. Captain Seo reminds them that this was their last chance and if they screwed up then it’s over for them. He especially warned them not to get into a fight and they did exactly that, and then took another cop’s gun. He demands all of them apply for transfer now. If he sees any of them before his eyes then he will kill them!
Suddenly Dae Gu takes out Soo Sun’s recording of the two flower snakes she recorded in the bathroom stall. Ji Kook reveals that he made a date with one of the flower snakes for tomorrow. He cries that they are all working hard and Soo Sun stayed in the bathroom stall waiting to record. When they got to the police station they even remained silent so as to not reveal their undercover identities in front of the two flower snake suspects. Eun Do sighs and pats Ji Kook on the shoulder while Captain Seo looks on like he feels bad for chewing them out so harshly earlier.
Captain Seo’s phone suddenly rings and he moves to get it but Dae Gu’s duplicate phone also rings in his pocket and the ringing is coming from two sources. Dae Gu drops the recording and grabs his pocket to hold the phone silent from vibrating while Captain Seo walks over to stare at him suspiciously.
Thoughts of Mine:
You’re All Surrounded manages to do all the important things right to the degree that it cohesively forms an interesting narrative in a way the individual pieces couldn’t attract attention on its own. My personal watching preferences have proven that even the sight of my beloved Seung Gi isn’t enough to keep me watching a bad drama like Gu Family Book, and sometimes an interesting story falters on one or two weak elements like an over-the-top villain and a lackluster male lead performance in You From Another Star. YAAS is good enough at everything to form a smooth ride to get on. The police rookie foursome (P4 henceforth) is comedic without being obnoxious. Even Soo Sun has calmed down and her in-your-face tendencies belie a more mature self-control. I don’t take this seriously as a gritty police procedural so the slapdash investigation and the silly cases so far just breeze by. The flower snake club investigation was clearly an attempt to get our P4 in a club setting just for the pretty and it’s pretty unbelievable how the P4 haven’t been written up for the litany of mistakes made so far in all their tasks, Dae Gu included. I get Pan Seok’s frustration and impatience with them, and it’s hilariously to watch him flip his lid constantly especially with Cha Seung Won’s patented emphatic delivery. It’s going to be nice to watch the entire team grow together since I already find them a nice make shift family that tries hard but keeps hitting road bumps.
I’m relieved the unsolved murder of Dae Gu’s mom seems to be a cold case that doesn’t yet place Dae Gu, or even Pan Seok, in current danger. That allows the drama to continue with the light comedic police escapades while Dae Gu investigates off to the side. I’m surprised he’s got someone working with him, but that makes sense since he was just a teenager when he was orphaned and it’s hard to imagine he managed to raise himself to adulthood without some assistance. I like Dae Gu more than I should because he’s played by Seung Gi. He doesn’t really have a stand out personality, a biting tongue, smart brains, and hidden vengeance issues don’t make for a fleshed out male lead just yet. I think that is where the other three rookies come in, he’ll start thawing by working alongside him and maybe some fun is what will make his other personality traits pop. It’s rare for a drama to have zero romance in the first two episodes and I don’t buy the teenage interactions between Soo Sun and Dae Gu, or their adult bickering as rookie partners, to be indicative of burgeoning romance yet. I was more taken with Pan Seok’s guilty demeanor and his ex-wife Sa Kyung’s fiery explosion of anger towards him, whatever happened must still be a raw wound for both of them and I’m looking forward to their interactions to find out more. I don’t want to get my hopes up too high but so far so good for YAAS.