A drama can be frustrating to watch in good ways, challenging our perceptions and crowding our comfort zones. Episode 3 of You’re All Surrounded was exactly the opposite, frustrating in ways that pushed the boundaries of sense for the sake of hammering home a point. The P4 are inexperienced and incompetent, yes, but to have a snowball of bad judgment, poor police work, shoddy police ethics, and muddy professional integrity all converge together is the type of drama writing that throws characters under a bus to create tension. It’s clear this drama is about four rookies training to become capable cops but the writing hasn’t even sustained the baseline requirement that the four rookies have to posses the basic fundamentals of being cops to begin with. They can make mistakes due to inexperience, what doesn’t work is showing them making terrible decisions based on incompetence of the degree that goes beyond lacking experience. So the last episode turned into two of the rookies showing us they aren’t even qualified to graduate police academy much less be on the street yet there they are wielding badges and cooking up undercover sting operations to nab a stalker. That’s why it’s so frustrating to watch.
Thankfully episode 4 did not drive the entire bus over the cliff and barely pulled back enough so that I can stick with this drama without wanting to stabbity someone onscreen for their abject stupidity. YAAS at least offers uniformly good acting without any weak link to stink up the joint. Sadly there isn’t any good chemistry anywhere to write about – the guy tension between Pan Seok and Dae Gu is explosive but not very engaging since all they do is act combative around each other, Dae Gu and Soo Sun have zero chemistry even as partners much less as potential OTP material and I would be happy if this drama cut any romance from its story line between these two, and overall the P4 aren’t gelling to the degree that would make their scenes together crackling with energy. I always ask myself if I’m having any fun watching a cotton candy drama that doesn’t offer much in the way of deep emotional or mental nourishment, if I am then it’s easy to let the flaws go and just enjoy the parts that work. So far the only thing that works in YAAS is my love for Lee Seung Gi, which turns out to be strong and deep enough to keep with this drama even when I don’t even like his character at this point! Crazy, I know.
Episode 4 recap:
Soo Sun and Dae Gu stand around in a stunned daze as the stabbed stalking victim is taken away on a stretcher while Captain Kim’s missing persons unit has apprehended the stalker and he’s taken into custody. The stalker nods his head towards Dae Gu as he enters the police vehicle, recognizing him as the victim’s supposed boyfriend and maybe posturing a bit like he got the upper hand.
Sunbae Eung Do walks up to Dae Gu and Soo Sun wondering how they happen to be here? Good question. Turns out the missing persons unit out on patrol happened to see the stalker stabbing the victim and intervened before more harm could be done. So a coincidence is going to get Dae Gu and Soo Sun off the hook by turning what ought to have been murder into just attempted murder. Lucky incompetent rookies.
Captain Kim walks up and hands over a video camera and recorder found in the victim’s purse and asks if this belongs to Team 3? Eung Do and Captain Kim ask how the items came to be in the victim’s possession? Dae Gu and Soo Sun are speechless to answer their questions.
A furious Captain Seo storms back to the precinct and hears from Tae Il and Pan Seok that the victim has been moved from surgery to the ICU and is expected to survive and the stalker is in custody. He hears Dae Gu and Soo Son are currently in interrogation with Captain Kim and Eung Do which is when Captain Kim stalks out to chew Captain Seo over for his supervision. How dare he hand a stalking case off to two rookies and then leave without checking in with them? She clearly blames him as well for how things got so out of hand!
Soo Sun tries to get reassurance from Dae Gu that the victim will be fine. Damn it, shut up Soo Sun! Whether the victim survives or not doesn’t lessen your incompetence or the suffering she endured because of you. She keeps talking and pushes Dae Gu to say something. He finally yells at her to shut up! He wishes he could sew her mouth shut! You and me, brother, you and me.
Dae Gu brings up how he told her they should just leave and not get further involved and create more problems. Soo Sun blames him for his part in the mess, how he was so sure the stalker wouldn’t show up past midnight and then left by himself. That’s why she picked up the phone and missed the victim’s call and led to the victim believing the cops would follow and protect her. Dae Gu slams his hand down on the table and turns away from Soo Sun.
Captain Seo barges into the room and immediately delivers a kick to Dae Gu that sends him flying back. Captain Seo lists the mistakes made from escalating a stalking case without reporting, leaving a protective detail, and then not answering his superior’s call after things got out of hand. He reminded them that cops can’t resurrect dead people but a mistake can lead to someone dying. One mistaken judgment call can end a life which is why he said not to make decisions alone without being sure.
Dae Gu refuses to take the umbrage laying down and gets up to yell back at Captain Seo for declaring they can’t ever become cops but then handing them real cases without supervision. The others try to calm Dae Gu down but he’s on a rampage and screams that even three year olds can do better than Seo Pan Seok, calling him rudely by his full name. Plus he can’t just kick a subordinate in this day and age, this room is under surveillance and he’s going to report this human right’s violation all the way to the legislature! Eung Do tries to shut Dae Gu up but he’s totally off-the-cuff and chews out Captain Seo for only being good for yelling at and beating them. He better watch out because Dae Gu will get rid of him!
Captain Seo gets right up in Dae Gu’s face and it’s on between the two of them as they start fighting in the interrogation room with the rest of the team trying to separate them. Dae Gu gets on top of Captain Seo and he’s so angry he tries to choke him and Captain Seo’s eyes open to realize Dae Gu is serious. After they’re pulled apart, Dae Gu screams that Captain Seo has no right to hit him and he better watch out because Dae Gu will end him!
Tae Il and Ji Gook manage to drag Dae Gu out and he shakes his buddies off and storms out of the precinct. Eung Do keeps watch on Captain Seo until he calms down enough not to chase after Dae Gu but Captain Seo upends the table and stalks off.
Ji Gook can’t believe how Dae Gu flew off the handle rather than beg for forgiveness back there. Soo Sun is worried about the stabbing victim and goes to check on her. Tae Il doesn’t find it fun here anymore, he came to avoid table death but now it’s even more stressful. Ji Gook wonders what table death means and Tae Il leans in and tells him to guess.
Soo Sun stands outside the stalking victim’s hospital room and peers in the window to see her mother sitting beside her and holding her hand. Dae Gu is at the train station and buys a ticket to head back to Masan. He thinks about the stabbing victim and his own mom dying before his eyes.
Soo Sun stops Captain Seo the next morning to apologize profusely. He sighs that people can’t change and he knew he couldn’t raise a long-haired army to be of any use. He walks into the precinct office and Soo Sun moves to follow him but he turns to ask how she has any right to enter? Captain Seo finds the rest of the team reading a news article questioning the use of rookies at the Gangnam precinct. Chief Cha walks up to rail on Captain Seo for being unable to manage his own team despite his reputation as some sort of legendary police officer.
The stalking victim’s mom arrives and slaps Soo Sun hard in the face after hearing she was a big reason why her daughter is in the hospital. She yells at Soo Sun for daring to come to the hospital to see her daughter. The rest of the team can only watch this confrontation and do nothing because Soo Sun kinda deserved that.
Dae Gu walks through Masan and some passing high school students bring back memories of his own high school experience such as the group fight by the jetty to protect the honor of the girl he liked. He heads back to his old house which is now occupied by another family and the familiar surroundings overwhelm him with memories of the night his mom died.
Dae Gu runs to the beach to scream out his anger and frustration. Suddenly he sees his mom sitting next to him asking why he’s not answering his phone? Did he create a problem and then run away? She can tell from the look on his face that he’s in trouble. Dae Gu admits he’s in a big mess and his mistake almost caused a person to die. He’s so angry at himself and wants to kill himself. How could he be that certain the stalker is not showing up past midnight? He was so wrong!
Even if he never wanted to be a cop and is only doing this to follow Captain Seo, how can he almost cause another person to die after experiencing his own mother’s death? Mom tells him to go back and be a good cop from now on but Dae Gu doesn’t think he can. Mom thinks he can do it since he has such a good memory and assures him that her death wasn’t his fault. But he needs to go back now instead of running away like a coward. That’s not his personality, only a person who can forget and let go can be a coward and run away. He has such a good memory and can never forget anything so he can never run away. Dae Gu asks if she’s sure and Mom is absolutely sure like the Earth circles the Sun.
Dae Gu starts to cry and asks if his mom must resent him but his mom just smiles back at him. A few kids kicking a ball on the beach send their ball rolling towards Dae Gu and asks him to toss it back. He tosses it back and then looks over to find his mom fantasy gone. He chokes back his hears.
Director Jang is reading the same news articles chastising the Gangnam precinct for how their rookies handled the stalking case and escalated it to attempted murder when they promised to protect the victim and failed to follow up. Chief Cha comes in to ask Director Jang to have lunch and they shoot the breeze before she wonders how the case details got leaked to the press? It has to be someone who doesn’t support the rookie project. Chief Cha claims the walls have ears around here.
Soo Sun is moping at her desk when Captain Seo mobilizes the team to head out on a mission. He takes only Ji Gook and purposely leaves Soo Sun out of it.
Soo Sun heads to the hospital to check on the victim and runs into Captain Kim who tells Soo Sun that she’s in luck because the victim is awake and moved to a non-intensive hospital room.
Soo Sun sits at her desk and writes her resignation letter while staring at a picture of her deceased father. She thinks to herself that when he died she decided to give up her own dream and become a cop because that was his dream. She puts the resignation letter in the folder on Captain Seo’s desk.
Dae Gu continues walking through Masan and remembers young Soo Sun and sighs that she hasn’t changed a bit from childhood until now. That is such a sad observation about Soo Sun. He walks off and a guy on a bike notices Dae Gu and wonders why he looks familiar?
Tae Il runs into Captain Kim and walks up to her and asks “Do you remember me?” Captain Kim says no and walks off. Ji Gook tells Tae Il the gossip that Captain Kim and Captain Seo were once married and considered the Jang Dong Gun and Go So Young of the police world before they divorced.
The rookies sit outside and Ji Gook hears Soo Sun wants to resign and tries to talk her out of it since the victim is fine now. Soo Sun didn’t want to become a cop in the first place and she’s worried something like this will happen again. Ji Gook spouts nonsense that Soo Sun was just unlucky in this case, how could she have expected a stalking case could escalate into attempted murder. Ji Gook freaks out when he hears Soo Sun already submitted her resignation letter which is when Dae Gu walks up.
Soo Sun calls him a bastard for coming back now and demands he apologize for running away and leaving her to deal with the fall out alone. Dae Gu thinks she ought to resign if she doesn’t think she can hack it but wants her to take the resignation letter back otherwise he might be forced to resign as well. Soo Sun calls him equally useless and all he can do is throw a fit and slam tables in front of the captain. She suddenly remembers Dae Gu rummaging through Captain Seo’s desk and wants to tell him before resigning.
Dae Gu grabs her cellphone and won’t give it back so she grabs his hair and then Ji Gook gets in the middle to break them apart. Finally Tae Il handcuffs them together and grabs the cellphone away from them. He’s so annoyed by their fighting each time they see each other. They promise not to fight if Tae Il uncuffs them but Tae Il and Ji Gook walk off to grab lunch and tells them to follow.
The P4 arrive at a small restaurant and sit down to eat. A young man at another table’s phone rings and he doesn’t answer so the high school students at another table snark at him to pick up because it’s loud. The restaurant ahjumma delivers his meal and doesn’t care that he had asked for the dish to be made differently, plopping it on the table and walking away. the ahujumma then kicks his boxes of hairspray as she walks past. When he leans down to pick it up he gets sauce on his shirt.
Soo Sun is annoyed at being cuffed with Dae Gu and wants Tae Il to uncuff them now. Ji Gook watches a girl group dancing on the TV and asks Tae Il which one is the cutest and Tae Il ruffles his hair and says Ji Gook is the cutest. Ookay. Soo Sun and Dae Gu’s arguing get the high school students to tell them to pipe down. The young man finds a hair in his dish and tells the ahjumma who just picks it out of the dish and then kicks his box of cans one more time for good measure. She heads out to make a delivery.
A high school student who walks past the young man to get water trips over the fallen cans and bumps into him, sending his face flying into the dish ans smearing it with sauce. He finally has enough and gets up to lock the front door and grabs a knife from the kitchen before grabbing a high school student as hostage. The ahjumma returns to the restaurant and sees the hostage situation inside and calls the cops.
Team 3 is mobilizing but Captain Seo and Eung Do can’t find any of their rookies. Back at the restaurant, all the rookies cellphones start ringing at the same time which makes the young man notice them. He orders all of them to raise their hands above their head but Soo Sun and Dae Gu can’t without showing they are handcuffed together. They pretend to be in love and ask if they can hold hands.
One of the high school students is really haughty and stands up to offer the man money if that is what he wants. She rattles off increasing amount of money and the man laughs that he makes so little when he could make a lot in thirty minutes just by doing this. The girl he’s holding hostage also offers to pay him which enrages him and he cuts the gas line to release carbon monoxide and then holds a lighter threatening to blow up the entire joint.
The police and bystanders are all gathered outside as the restaurant is cordoned off as a crime scene. The perp is identified as a cosmetic’s company sales trainee and regular at the restaurant. Captain Seo orders the gas turned off and wants to know how much could be remaining in the restaurant. He’s told there are three student hostages and four citizen hostages.
Captain Seo peers inside with binoculars and sighs when he sees his own rookie P4 held hostage inside. Eung Do asks what he saw and is handed the binoculars to check for himself. Chief Cha storms over and also sees the rookies inside and yells at why they are involved yet again!
Everyone inside the restaurant is struggling with the carbon monoxide leaking into the air and the P4 whisper about doing something since they can’t just sit around. Dae Gu thinks about what he was taught, to remain calm and think about all the details of the situation and assess it. Dae Gu remembers walking into the restaurant and glancing down at the man flipping through his plan book.
Captain Seo’s voice beams over the loudspeaker calling out to the perp Choi Woo Shik. Captain Kim is there and gives him suggestions on how to talk with a hostage taker. Captain Seo knows he is very angry because he was supposed to be made a permanent employee today but instead got fired. He keeps trying to talk but Chief Cha waves placards in his face telling him what to do but Captain Seo shoves him aside.
Captain Seo calls out over the loudspeaker for the man to answer the phone. The phone rings inside the restaurant which sets him off and he stands up and starts to menace the hostage again. Dae Gu knows the man has grievance and says he can answer the phone and tell the world about his injustice. He knows the man’s mom’s death anniversary is coming up and he wanted to show up with a full time job for her anniversary. Dae Gu reveals that his mom also died when he was fifteen and encourages him to tell the world about his woes because this is his chance.
Director Kang arrives as everyone is waiting around for the hostage taker to answer the phone. Chief Cha is yelling loudly that there are four cops inside and can’t even take down a hostage taker! Suddenly they get a call from the guy who wants his old boss to arrive in three hours and apologize to him. The situation gets messier when the students parents arrive screaming and crying for their kids.
One of the girls in the restaurant starts to have an asthma attack and Tae Il quickly grabs her inhaler but it’s not enough for the severity of her attack. Tae Il asks the guy to let this girl go to the hospital. Soo Sun offers to be his hostage and reveals that they are cops so are better hostages. He should let he kids go because they are just kids. The man thinks they are trying to trick him to let the kids go and then capture him. Dae Gu takes out his handcuff and cuffs his other hand to the pole to show him that he’s not trying to trick him.
Ji Gook takes out his handcuffs and cuffs himself before walking over to offer himself as the hostage to guy. Tae Il cuffs himself to Soo Sun’s other hand and then asks the guy if he can release the students now? The guy sees all the cops are cuffed together and agrees to let the girls go as everyone outside sighs in relief.
The restaurant door opens and the girls stumble out to their parents while the cops stand around trying to plan their next move to save their own. Director Kang is proud that their rookies finally did something right.
The hostage situation goes on as the guy waits for his former boss to be brought to apologize to him. Captain Seo crawls through then air vent and peers down over the grate. Dae Gu happens to look up and sees him. When Captain Seo gets back outside, he hears the bad news that the former boss is overseas in Japan.
The cops discuss an assault and rescue of the P4 otherwise they don’t have enough time. Captain Seo asks for more time for the rookies to try and resolve the situation. He trusts them because they got the high school students out. The rookies are suffering inside with the carbon monoxide poisoning and the guy thinks his former boss isn’t going to come.
The guy puts down the lighter to take a drink of water and then complains about the boss making them work hard to sell cans of hairspray with the promise to make them full time employees but then firing them a month before their term was up. Dae Gu notices the lighter but the guy gets enraged when he thinks about the cops having guaranteed jobs while he’s jobless and grabs the lighter so they will all day together.
Soo Sun urges him not to do it and says her dad was a judo instructor and judo requires falling down first before taking another out. It requires failure to succeed. She notices the other rookies staring at her and Dae Gu yells at her for knowing that failure is required before learning yet she tried to resign. Soo Sun cries that Dae Gu just left her alone to handle the fall out and she didn’t know how to apologize to the captain or to the victim’s mom. She could only feel guilty about her actions but she did really want to help the victim. She cries and yells at Dae Gu to apologize to her for leaving her when he is her partner!
The hostage taker listens to this outburst and offers his opinion that Dae Gu should apologize to Soo Sun. Dae Gu stares at him and he orders Dae Gu to apologize because it’s horrible to be looked down upon. Soo Sun yells at Dae Gu to apologize which is when she trips over a can of hairspray which causes everything to topple.
Everyone leans forward to pick up the lighter and the hostage taker grabs the lighter while Tae Il grabs a can of open hairspray. Tae Il sprays the guy in the face with the hairspray which takes him out and all four cops rush him to take him down.
The cops outside look in to find the situation has been defused and all the cops are on the ground holding the hostage taker down. They walk inside with an assault team and help the rookies out while taking the hostage taker into custody.
Eung Do compliments the P4 by the ambulance as they are breathing in oxygen to clean their lungs. Dae Gu greets Eung Do who asks if he’s back? He wonders how they ended up at the restaurant which leads them to remember Soo Sun submitting her resignation letter. They run off back to the office to grab it before it’s read and accepted. Soo Sun grabs her letter and happily tears it up.
The P4 walk down the park lane together and Soo Sun thinks to herself that being a cop isn’t her dream but she doesn’t want to give it up. She’s used to falling down in her life but that’s okay because she has these guys to support her now.
Dae Gu slows down from the pack and takes out the duplicate cellphone from his pocket as Pan Seok’s phone rings. A man in black exits the arrival terminal at the airport and says “Long time no see, Captain Seo. You haven’t forgotten my voice, have you?” Both Pan Seok and Dae Gu’s eyes widen and we see the guy has the scar behind his ear.
Thoughts of Mine:
I said in the last episode recap that the two royal screw-ups Dae Gu and Soo Sun needed to deal with real consequences for their litany of mistakes and poor judgment calls in the stalking case. It wasn’t one mistake, it wasn’t even two, it was so many and done with so little thought the degree of their incompetence is what makes this plot line not work for me as a learning lesson. That’s the poor writing, Pan Seok’s one mistake in not assigning a protective detail to Dae Gu’s mother as a material witness cannot compare to Soo Sun creating the circumstances that led to a woman getting stabbed. I blame her way more than Dae Gu because she blackmailed him into going along with her scheme when he repeatedly did not agree with that tactic. Dae Gu also had in hand in her stabbing when he decreed the stalker wouldn’t show up after midnight, but the cause and effect was clearly Soo Sun triggering the stalker to escalate the situation by sending the victim in to goad the stalker. Sadly the two of them don’t seem to have been punished for their professional failing, or maybe that will happen in the next episode.
I’ve calmed down enough to accept this drama just isn’t going to be a well-written as I had hoped it would be, or as entertaining as the first two episodes promised. And really it’s not terrible enough to drop or rail on its inadequacies all the time, unless Soo Sun continues her idiotic ways and then I’m going to be hard pressed not to wail on her in each recap. If Soo Sun died in the next episode and the rest of the drama involves investigating her murder then half my current gripes with the narrative will be gone in a flash, that is how much I detest her self-pitying whining and overeager beaver ways. It’s sad that the character with the most development so far is also the most annoying one, i.e. Soo Sun. I would rather learn more that Tae Il and Ji Gook than her. Soo Sun is a hard leading lady to play in order to make likable and sympathetic to her attempts to be a good cop but failing so often at it, Go Ara tries but she’s not able to elevate her above being an irritating hindrance to the team. I’m getting plenty of
Seung Gi Dae Gu but other than staring at his stony gorgeous face he’s not all that interesting beyond having a mommy-loss trauma.
Dae Gu’s purposely kept a bit mysterious, I get that, but his attitude veers from cold prick to hot blooded angry dude with nothing in between. He’s coming across like a guy with no life outside of tracking down his mother’s killer and punishing those involved in her death. I can’t see past his backstory to wonder if he has a hobby, what kind of food he likes, how he spends his free time. Those things should at least loom in the periphery of a drama character so that there is the presence of a fuller personality even if we only see the parts that involve the story proper. Same with Pan Seok, the legendary Captain Seo is terribly underused even if he’s getting his share of screen time. He’s either beleaguered and yelling at the P4 or being mopey about his past whether due to his rookie errors or his failed marriage. To have two great leading men in Lee Seung Gi and Cha Seung Won and not use them to their full potential is such a criminal waste. It would be okay if the police stories were interesting but thus far nothing other than Dae Gu’s mom’s murder holds any intrigue. I’m still waiting for this story to really start buzzing with a bigger picture rather than tripping over the small stuff.