To my everlasting relief You’re All Surrounded righted itself after last week’s abrupt plunge to horrible-ville. It’s hard to say if that was an aberration or the drama might end up see-sawing between inept character writing for plot tricks or start the steady and perilous climb to turn a bunch of inexperienced rookies into decent cops. Last week’s stumble was making Soo Sun beyond inexperienced to the extreme end of pure unmitigated failure on every level. Dae Gu got tossed in the ringer primarily so he could experience an epiphany of sorts and take his cop job seriously and not just as a way to secretly investigate Pan Seok for his involvement in his mom’s murder. Soo Sun was already an irksome character but last week placed her at the edge of stabbity GDIF territory. Thankfully she’s been pulled back from the brink and now can exist in the story without making me see red. The P4 head into a new case today involving a hit-and-run that leads to the death of a child. It’s clearly designed to pull out the backstory behind formerly married couple Pan Seok and Sa Kyung, and while the process was overly obvious the result was an effective transition into showcasing their characters.
Pan Seok finally gets fleshed out as more beyond hardworking exacting cop, showing us that he was also a good husband and father who failed at both when it came into conflict with his profession. It’s not surprising but hopefully humanizes him in Dae Gu’s eyes because he’s so adverse to connecting with Pan Seok on any level. If Pan Seok and Dae Gu joined forces then the bad guys don’t stand a chance, the former with his years of experience and dogged determination and the latter with his razor sharp memory and deductive abilities. I wish the police cases were more interesting but so far the procedural matters are crafted simply as the vehicle to carry the characters from situation to situation. There is also a lot of potential for great character interactions during the investigation, the banter and discovery if you will, that doesn’t get tapped into by this writer. YAAS dips a toe in a lot of different threads but hasn’t yet made any one element really stand out and hook me. I suppose shower and gratuitous shirtless scenes of the very buff Lee Seung Gi is enticing enough but unless my boy is doing bare-chested fanservice in every episode then the overall storytelling really needs to pick up steam.
Episode 5 recap:
Dae Gu gets the first big break in his quest to find his mother’s killer. The killer arrives in Korea and promptly calls Pan Seok to gloat with an “it’s been a long time” and asking if he’s forgotten his voice? Dae Gu has duped Pan Seok’s cellphone so listens in on this call. Pan Seok asks if he’s back for good and the killer asks to meet.
Dae Gu broods in his room after the call and knows the killer’s voice is the one who killed his mom. He remembers the killer on the phone afterwards saying that Officer Seo will clean up and not to worry. Dae Gu answers a call from his unidentified handler and confirms that the killer contacted Pan Seok. Dae Gu only heard his voice but he’s certain it’s the same guy because he will never forget that voice. He also splashed acid on the killer that day so the guy will have a scar. Dae Gu is also waiting for the guy who threatened his mom to reemerge. He decides to keep 24/7 surveillance on Pan Seok from now on.
As Dae Gu resumes surveillance on Pan Seok in his apartment, suddenly his calm is broken by singing and hollering outside in the living room. It’s Ji Gook, Tae Il, and Soo Sun coming back with drinks and chicken to hang out. Soo Sun marvels at this nice living arrangement and wants to check out Dae Gu’s room since he lives alone but he bars her from entering. Tae Il reveals Soo Sun has no place to live since she was swindled out of the temporary housing she was living in after prepaying three months rent.
Dae Gu stands by his room with his arms folded looking mightily annoyed while the other three dig into their “You From Another Star Chicken Combo.” Super LOL. Soo Sun starts her monologue about the P4 being a family and living together. She tries to sell herself as a good roommate by having cooking skills and can spruce up the joint. Dae Gu immediately tries to drag Soo Sun out so she ceases trying to wheedle her way into living with the guys.
After munching on chicken and gulping beer, the P4 are drunk and discussing their tackling of the hostage taker at the restaurant. They toast to doing a good job but Soo Sun brings up how they were all in a dog pile fighting and took in a lot of carbon monoxide and she’s not sure if that was the reason but her heart was really beating super fast. She looks around and the other three have fallen asleep so Soo Sun says out loud she might have discovered the profession that makes her heart beat. Dae Gu isn’t asleep after all and heard that.
Dae Gu takes a shower in the morning and thinks about Soo Sun believing that being a police officer makes her heart beat faster and is her calling. He gets out of the bath shirtless and wiping his hair when Soo Sun staggers up to go to the bathroom. Her lips make contact with his chest (really?) and she takes note of his tasty strawberry scent and asks if he uses strawberry scented body wash? Dae Gu furiously tosses her right out of the apartment.
Soo Sun wakes up on the roof of the apartment building after making herself at home in her own tent abode. She washes up and we see that she’s cut her hair short. Pan Seok heads out in the morning and Dae Gu follows in a vehicle behind him.
Pan Seok has gone to Sa Kyung’s apartment and she’s currently being hounded by a guy she went out with demanding to know why she doesn’t call him back. Sa Kyung calls a taxi for him and tells him to go home in the kindergarten transport she called for him. Sa Kyung rounds the corner and finds Pan Seok leaning against the wall. They enter the elevator together and Dae Gu wonders if those two are in a relationship?
In the elevator Pan Seok brings up how that young man back there looks no more than twenty five and probably just barely over twenty. Sa Kyung points out the popularity of noona-dongsaeng romances and Pan Seok counters with her role model status as the captain of the missing persons unit. Sa Kyung isn’t embarrassed since the guy is of age. Pan Seok asks if she wants to keep living like this? Sa Kyung says she is living like this because of whom? Who makes it hard for her to live? Pan Seok asks what she wants him to do? It’s been ten years now! Sa Kyung says nothing and storms out.
The P4 return to work to find the missing persons unit has moved in since their office is being renovated. Ji Gook notices how flashy Sa Kyung is dressed and grouses that this isn’t Hollywood. He asks Eun Do about why Sa Kyung and Pan Seok were considered the Brangelina of cops and hears that they used to be married. Soo Sun pops up and everyone marvels at her snappy new haircut. Ji Gook is especially taken with how cute she looks now. Dae Gu just stares for a moment before walking away with his usual poker face.
Soo Sun pulls Dae Gu aside to talk privately and wants him to officially apologize to Pan Seok for getting in a fight with him and leaving after the fallout. Dae Gu changes the subject and asks why Soo Sun cut her hair since it was the only thing about her that he found acceptable and then adds that the reason was because Pan Seok hated it. Dae Gu refuses to apologize and would rather have his tongue cut out than apologize to Pan Seok. Soo Sun won’t let him go because she wants to keep working here. She wants to work hard and earn the right to give up if she can’t hack it in the end.
Dae Gu sighs while Soo Sun switches tactics and uses aegyo to wheedle him. Dae Gu warns her that she’s dead if she ever does that move again! He storms off and Soo Sun asks if he’s decided to apologize?
Pan Seok arrives at a Team 3 meeting and notices Soo Sun’s short hair. She promises to work hard and apologizes for the stalker incident failures. Pan Seok stares at Dae Gu and Soo Sun tugs his hand repeatedly until Dae Gu says a curt “I’m sorry.” Eun Do speaks up and asks Pan Seok to forgive them.
Pan Seok lectures them not on making mistakes which everyone will do. He doesn’t see in them the makings of a cop, they don’t have urgency and drive, no determination and perseverance. They rashly act before thinking and cause more problems, they just have empty passion without any protocol. They are like idiots who can’t control their emotions and understand what true rage is. They are like a bunch of elementary school students and like he predicted can never become cops. But…..even his observation can be proven wrong, like they proved him wrong by rescuing the school girl hostages first and then managed to resolve the situation. Pan Seok says “you did very well.” Eun Do smiles while Pan Seok tries to stifle a grin. Eun Do invites all the P4 out to a police station dinner gathering tonight and warns them not to be late.
The Gangnam cops toast each other for the P4 doing a good job a the hostage situation and Chief Kang makes a speech to encourage the P4. Their toast slogan is adorably “You’re all surrounded!”
Director Cha goes on stage and grabs the microphone and performs for the crowd. Then the MC calls up Pan Seok and Eun Do to perform and Soo Sun summons the P4 onstage to join their team leaders. Sa Kyung gets a page and heads out.
The singing is very loud and gets the attention of another table. One guy looks over and appears to recognize Pan Seok. He walks to their group and bumps into Director Cha who looks alarmed and turns off the music. The guy greets Pan Seok with a long time no see and Pan Seok respectfully returns the greeting to Prosecutor Han.
Prosecutor Han wonders why this group is so loud and it’s hard to tell the difference between cops and thugs. Chief Cha speaks up and tries to defuse the situation with a laugh. Prosecutor Han tells Pan Seok to get him the blood sample of the a guy so they can test it for drugs. Pan Seok asks if he wants it done right now and Prosecutor Han wants it done within the hour. Pan Seok says that guy died of a suicide and all signs point that with no indication of murder. Prosecutor Han sneers and says it doesn’t matter, if the prosecutor is telling him to do something then he needs to do it.
Pan Seok says he can’t get blood anymore since it’s past 24 hours and the blood will coagulate. Prosecutor Han screams at him to get the blood even if he has to cute the corpse open. Pan Seok sighs and says he’ll get whatever blood is available and walks off with his team trailing him and everyone giving Prosecutor Han dirty looks.
The P4 wonder in the van over to the hospital to collect the blood sample why the Prosecutor was so disrespectful and purposely rude to Captain Seo back there. As the Team collect the blood sample, Soo Sun thinks that she’s always seen her captain like superman but today it was like discovering he was human as well.
Pan Seok and Eun Do head up to the prosecutor’s office to deliver the blood while the P4 wait in the lobby. Tae Il reveals that Prosecutor Han is notoriously antagonistic towards Pan Seok because he was one year behind Pan Seok in high school and very competitive. Three years ago Prosecutor Han almost went to jail after a fight because of Pan Seok and since then he’s hated him. Ji Gook thinks their captain was very cool today and Soo Sun agrees but pulls Dae Gu away to visit the stalking victim.
The girl is happy to see Soo Sun and Dae Gu and says she’s fine. She reveals that Captain Seo comes every day to visit her and always brings her a cake and she can’t eat so much. Soo Sun smiles and thinks that her team captain is still like superman and doing so much.
Sa Kyung arrives back at the office and gets briefed on a case involving a missing 7 year old child raised by a single mother after divorce. She was supposed to pick the child up at the playground but when she got there he was gone. The missing persons unit canvas the area where the boy disappeared and Sa Kyung notices very fresh skid marks on the road.
She notices that there is a bridge overpass and heads below to search the high grassy area. She finds the missing boy all bloodied and laying in the grass. Sa Kyung carries the boy while begging for him to pull through. The boy is rushed to the ER but dies of his injuries. Sa Kyung watches and seems way more overcome than she should as a cop.
The case turns into a hit and run death where the boy was struck by a car and flew off the bridge into the grassy area below and died of the impact trauma. Team 3 takes on the case and starts investigating by collecting evidence and then pulling up the CCTV black boxes on the road near that area. The collect the tire impressions and discover it comes from a very expensive rare car that only has six imported registered vehicles in Korea. Pan Seok sends his team to talk with each car owner to get their alibi at the time of the accident and look at the car.
They find the CCTV showing the exact car that struck the boy and can see the license plate so they know it’s a particular driver. Pan Seok takes a team to interview that car owner while asking for the other five vehicles to still be inspected.
Pan Seok arrives at the rich assholes house with Soo Sun and Dae Gu in tow. They see the car owner berating his driver for not opening the garage door before he came out because he hates to wait. Pan Seok notices the car doesn’t have damage in the front. Dae Gu walks up and identifies himself as a cop and asks where he and his car was the night a hit-and-murder happened. The guy isn’t talking and tries to get into the car when Soo Sun stops him. He calls her a wench and mockingly asks if she’s the kids mom and here to make a buck.
Finally Pan Seok can’t stand it and walks up to the guy and asks how he knew the victim was a little boy? He now knows the guy was driving rather than maybe someone else. The guy tells Pan Seok to bring evidence. Pan Seok reveals that if he had taken the child to the hospital then he would have survived. The guy drives off and tells Pan Seok to bring the evidence.
Ji Gook reports to Pan Seok that the car repair shop claims it didn’t perform repairs on the car though he notes that they seem to be hiding something. Pan Seok gets called in to see Prosecutor Han and he decides to go since he needs to ask for an prohibition order against the rich guy leaving the country.
Dae Gu sneaks into Pan Seok’s home to look through his cellphone for records of his calls. Pan Seok comes back and Dae Gu quickly hides. Pan Seok grabs his stuff and pauses to go to the closet to take a box out from the top shelf. Dae Gu is hiding in the closet but Pan Seok doesn’t see him. Pan Seok takes something out of the box and leaves.
Prosecutor Han is on the phone with a Chairman who is calling about his son’s involvement with the hit-and-run. Prosecutor Han assures him it’ll be taken care of and suggests the son go abroad for a few months. He laughs that the cop investigating isn’t easy to deal with and Prosecutor Han can’t lose his job over this.
Pan Seok arrives to meet with Prosecutor Han who immediately asks him to go to Busan and bring a suspect back. Pan Seok asks Prosecutor Han for a no-travel order for the suspect but Prosecutor Han refuses claiming this guy doesn’t look like a flight risk. Pan Seok says it’s similar to a case a few years ago and Prosecutor Han says Pan Seok suspects everyone and it’s a disease. The then orders Eun Do to escort a suspect to Gwangju and says Eun Do can’t keep following behind Pan Seok’s ass.
Pan Seok gets fed up and turns back to ask when Prosecutor Han is going to follow behind his ass and keep creating problems? Pan Seok warns Prosecutor Han that he better pray that rich guy isn’t involved in the hit-and-run because he turned down the no-travel order request without even reviewing it. Pan Seok and Eun Do leave and clearly Prosecutor Han isn’t going to this slide.
The P4 are working late investigating the hit-and-run. Dae Gu gets distracted by Soo Sun’s cherry pursed lips and flashes back to her lip locking on his naked chest that morning. He pats his chest a few times like he wants to clear his mind.
The mother of the dead little boy is crying at the police station while meeting with Sa Kyung. Her ex-husband arrives and yells at her for insisting on raising the child when she didn’t have the means. He asks why she didn’t pick up their son on time, why she just focused on work. The mom yells at her husband for not paying child support on time.
Sa Kyung can’t deal with it and finally yells at the mom that she needs to shut up. What her ex-husband said is right, if she wasn’t late picking up the boy then he wouldn’t be dead. What presentation is more important than her own child! The kindergarten teachers are not her nannies, she needs to protect her own child. Why is she crying here after causing her son’s death. Sa Kyung says the mother has no right to be a mother.
Pan Seok arrives and tries to calm her down but she in turns asks him what right he has to say anything to her about this. Chief Kang goes to apologize to the parents of the dead boy for the outburst by the officer.
The P4 discuss afterwards whether the two captains had a child and endured a similar loss before? Tae Il reveals he heard during training that they had a son and lost him the same way. Pan Seok was supposed to pick him up but was late because of work. Their son snuck out of kindergarten and got hit by a car.
Sa Kyung stands outside on the roof and Chief Kang invites her to go have a drink. Sa Kyung turns her down because she still has work to do. Chief Kang thought Sa Kyung had let it all go which is why she agreed to let her transfer to the Gangnam district even knowing Pan Seok also worked there. Sa Kyung says that the worst thing a mother who lost a child wants to hear is that she’s let go. Her child is not like dust that she can just let go of. Chief Kang pats Sa Kyung on the shoulder before heading back inside so Sa Kyung can grieve alone.
Pan Seok drives home and flashes back to the scene at the hospital when he arrived to see Sa Kyung cradling their dead son and screaming for him to wake up. Man this is so heartbreaking.
Pan Seok sits at home and takes out a robot from a box that belonged to his son. He thinks about his son boasting that his dad was the bravest in the whole world and can catch all the bad guys. Pan Seok cries and then remembers Sa Kyung asking how he has any right to say anything to her.
Pan Seok goes back to the office and kicks the napping P4 awake and has them get back on the case full speed. He doesn’t like hearing that they have no new evidence and slams the table. He tells them to start from scratch and the site of the accident and fan out again to find witnesses and evidence. Pan Seok can hear from their weary voice their exhaustion and he encourages them to press ahead because a young boy lost his life before he had a chance to live his life. Even if they can’t bring him back they can give him justice.
Dae Gu stands at the site of the accident and uses his memory to conjure up images he watched of all the footage in the area during the night of the accident. He scrolls through to look for potential eyewitnesses. Ji Gook is on the computer and suddenly there is a new report that the model of car involved in the accident had a broken headlight that day. Pan Seok is about to run out when Eun Do says Prosecutor Han wants Pan Seok to deliver a suspect from Busan to Gwangju. Pan Seok grabs a broom and heads out without planning to run Prosecutor Han’s little errand.
The P4 spend the night passing out flyers to seek eyewitnesses that was caught on CCTV while Pan Seok goes to the accident site to collect shards. Dae Gu spots an old man who collects boxes that was at the site of the accident and the four rookies take him out to lunch to take his statement. The old man heard a loud bang and saw the car hit something that went flying. He remembers the day clearly because it’s the day he got paid. We see someone watching the P4 interview the old man and later when he goes to the bathroom that man approaches him to talk.
Pan Seok runs back to the office all excited and sees everyone looking crestfallen. The P4 report that their eyewitness suddenly changed his statement after a trip to the bathroom. Eun Do thinks Prosecutor Han is involved since his subordinate is often at the police station and is aware of their investigation. Pan Seok tells them to find another eyewitness then before heading back out.
Pan Seok goes to comb through the grassy area under the bridge but can’t find anything. He gets a call from Prosecutor Han’s office to come and transport a suspect right away. Pan Seok says he can’t right now because he’s busy and tells them to do it. Pan Seok gets another call from Eun Do to report that another eyewitness has shown up and it’s a high school student. Pan Seok tells them to keep the kid under tight watch even if he goes to the bathroom. As he’s about to leave he notices broken glass in the grass that matches the broken headlights in the car.
Pan Seok storms into Prosecutor Han’s office to deliver the report on the hit-and-run. Another prosecutor is there and marvels at the great detective work by Pan Seok. Prosecutor Han has no choice but to order an arrest warrant drawn up for the hit-and-run rich car owner.
But then he places Pan Seok in custody for not following his order to transport the suspect. Pan Seok was expecting this and he wasn’t going to let his kids be adrift without him. Prosecutor Han sneers that he’ll eventually take Pan Seok down but Pan Seok isn’t scared. Even if Prosecutor Han has serious backing, he’s got urgency on his side.
Thoughts of Mine:
Better doesn’t necessarily mean something is good but for now YAAS braking at the edge of suck and then inching backward is enough for me. I can’t bear to drop a Lee Seung Gi drama unless I have to, and narratively this story still sounds interesting to me. It’s just a shame watching the writing let the great cast down when everyone is doing such a solid job. Dae Gu still feels like he’s in his own story (the dour revenge mystery) while everyone else is doing the slapstick cop routine. Then this episode plunges Pan Seok and Sa Kyung into their own tormented angry regretful ex-couple pool of pain and suddenly their romantic fate bubbles forth as meriting another chance. The drama elected to just sweep the stalked girl stabbing incident under the rug by letting her live and cutting Soo Sun and Dae Gu some slack. Can’t say that’s the right way to go but I’ll shrug and move on from that bumbling story line as well. The hit-and-run is a better showcase of Team 3’s investigative abilities and Pan Seok’s leadership, made all the more urgent because of the arrival of loathsome Prosecutor Han. From which hell did this dude drop in from because holy is he slimy beyond belief. Too bad he’s written as such a one-note villain, not just misusing his power vis-a-vis ordering Pan Seok around, we have to immediately see that he’s also corrupt and in the pocket of the rich and powerful to help stymie the investigation into the hit-and-run. With the faced-paced resolution of the police cases so far, I hope this case is wrapped up in the next episode and he gets his ass fired and maybe even prosecuted for his share of misconduct.
I’m glad to see Pan Seok and Sa Kyung fleshed out more and their back story is truly tragic though not surprising that Pan Seok could let his career mess up his personal life. Dae Gu seems to be absorbed all the details of Pan Seok’s life and tucking it away, hopefully he’ll begin to piece it together and maybe start seeing Pan Seok in a new light. I don’t know why Dae Gu is so antagonistic towards Pan Seok when it’s so contrary to his goal and makes no sense for a guy that smart. If he wants to investigate Pan Seok then he ought to be trying to gain his trust and becoming his favorite rookie to get greater access. Dae Gu’s approach doesn’t make sense unless it’s to tell us that Dae Gu can’t pretend because he loathes Pan Seok that much. If so then this whole undercover operation seems doomed for failure to begin with if Dae Gu isn’t able to adapt to the situation as needed. Still not feeling Soo Sun at all, or any romance between her and Dae Gu, but at least she’s less in-your-face in this episode and doesn’t do anything that she needs to apologize for. Tae Il and Ji Gook remain utterly in the background but they provide a nice break from Dae Gu’s extreme hard-ass attitude and Soo Sun’s eager chipmunk approach. The P4 need more funny harmless antics to bond which also adds the much needed energy back to this story. I find YAAS an easy watch now that I’ve had my say and made peace with what the drama is rather than what it can be.
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