I believe it’ll take a few episodes for Hyde, Jekyll, Me to really showcase what the whole point of the drama is about other than one dude with a split personality. Nothing about the premiere episode stands out other than Hyun Bin, but in my little world that’s more than enough to enjoy the little it offers up because it’s just that tasty and my craving so long overdue to be sated. I’ve long regretted not recapping Secret Garden, those who have followed me since the beginning know I mostly loathe it, but hate watching and recapping can be so fun and that drama really had so much to discuss. Mostly what was wrong with it, but most of the time I couldn’t stop watching.
It was also the last chance I passed up to recap a Binnie drama and I’m not going to do that again. Who knows when he’ll do another drama, and if he does another incredible masterpiece like Friends, Our Legend, I’ll watch and be amazed but not have the capacity to recap such greatness. So Hyde, Jekyll, Me is it, a Binnie drama that I am happily recapping even if the first episode was underwhelming. Except for one scene, and that one scene really swung the excitement barometer from zero to 100 in a nanosecond. Let’s see if tomorrow’s episode gets better but this one would have been a pass if it wasn’t for the Binnie star power.
Episode 1 recap:
The cameras pan over the vast expanse of Wonder Land amusement park, complete with rides and even a castle.
Executive Director of Wonder Land amusement park Goo Seo Jin encounters a little boy holding a balloon while walking through park. He coldly bats it away from the crying boy and watches in growing alarm as the balloon floats up towards a strobe light hung above a stage.
Seo Jin stares and his eyes open wide to see the strobe light about to fall on the figure of a girl walking right under it. Seo Jin darts forward and pulls the girl to safety as the strobe light falls and shatters on the ground.
Seo Jin wakes up with his heart thundering from this dream/nightmare. He puts on a special pair of glasses that reads his heart rate which is highly elevated at 132. Seo Jin gets out of bed, showing us that he has abominable taste in floral sleep pantswear, and also wears a very distinctive necklace around his neck.
Seo Jin gulps down a drink of water in the kitchen before running into the atrium garden and immediately sitting down to meditate. He turns on the music and chants along with the calming hymn. Seo Jin appears to be quieting his heart rate down and opens his eyes a crack to see its dropped down to 124. Seo Jin grits his teeth and keeps chanting and grabs his necklace and repeats “every day, in every way, I am getting better.”
Suddenly the nightmare scenario of him pulling the girl to safety from the falling strobe light flashes in his mind and his heart rate goes up again.
Seo Jin’s assistant calls a professor to report on Seo Jin’s vitals before arriving to pick him up. He finds Seo Jin doing yoga in the atrium but already calmed his heart rate down and breathes a sigh of relief. He checks the vital monitor on Seo Jin’s waist and happily declares all is normal. Seo Jin doesn’t look comforted and angrily storms off to change.
Seo Jin can’t believe that, for the first time in 5 years, his heart rate hit 132. Assistant Kwon Young Chan isn’t as worried as long as it doesn’t go above 150 and he already reported today’s incident to Professor Kang who will call Seo Jin after her lecture today to discuss something important.
Seo Jin wonders if Young Chan shared the dream with Professor Kang and is told that it must be a good omen dream. Seo Jin reveals the him in the dream wasn’t really him because he would never save someone’s life. Plus his heart rate in the dream went above 150.
Seo Jin heads to work at Wonder Land and shushes Young Chan from discussing the dream further, coldly ending all discussion of Robin.
Jang Ha Na is arriving at Incheon airport and does magic tricks for a very impressed little girl on the people mover. She stares at the Wonder Land ad on the wall and smiles.
Seo Jin walks through Wonder Land and the sight of balloons and a little girl holding one turns his mood foul. He orders that all balloon sales, and anything related to balloons, be banned today at Wonder Land.
Seo Jin encounters Ryu Seung Yoon, the Director of Wonder Hotel and his cousin, shepherding a group of school children for a day. He orders Seung Yoon to leave the amusement park immediately since balloons have been banned starting today at the park. Seo Jin calls out Seung Yoon for using kids for promotional purposes and coldly orders him again to leave. Seung Yoon takes the kids to ride the train truck while shooting one last dirty look at Seo Jin.
After he leaves is when Seo Jin orders Young Chan to organize a day at the park for ten thousand disadvantaged kids, clearly trying to one up Seung Yoon. He watches as one of the balloons floats into the air which is when the sound of screams reach Seo Jin as the park goers start running away from a rampaging gorilla.
Seo Jin freaks out when a girl grabs his hand to beg him to save her. Instead of saving her, he bites her arm to make her to let of him before pushing her away hard and scrambling to safety on top of a stand selling souvenirs.
Seo Jin covers his ears as his assistant scrambles on top of the stand with him to quickly hand him ear phones. Seo Jin puts the headphones on to listen to the calming chants while behind him the gorilla circles the fallen girl while the park goers watch from the sidelines.
Ha Na is stuck in a taxi heading back to the amusement park when news blares over the radio of the gorilla on the loose. Seung Yoon also gets the same report from his person at the amusement park to report that Seo Jin has freaked out and likely will faint shortly. Seung Yoon is thrilled at the disaster unfolding while acting all nice to protect the kids with him,
The gorilla doesn’t appear to be violent or in attack mode as it merely stands in the circle of scared park goers and occasionally looks around.
Park security finally arrives to subdue and capture the gorilla. The gorilla is shot with a tranquilizing dart which only agitates it more and it turns to charge towards Seo Jin but the arrival of a familiar voice calling its name “Bing Bing” immediately neutralizes the danger.
Bing Bing turns and scrambles towards Ha Na who is calling it back and away from the park goers. The gorilla Bing Bing happily and playfully greets the returning Ha Na. Seo Jin realizes that his heart rate went up dramatically more than when gorilla was headed towards him but when the gorilla was heading towards Ha Na. Seo Jin’s heart rate goes down once the danger to Ha Na has passed as he watches her playing with Bing Bing.
Seo Jin angrily stomps into his office still rattled about what just happened. He pulls off his heart rate monitor and orders Young Chan to check if it’s broken. He places a call to Professor Kang about a Code Blue and his heart rate hitting 148, almost passing 150.
Young Chan wants to know what Seo Jin ate for lunch and then pulls out a taser when he thinks Seo Jin’s answer is incorrect therefore he must be Robin. Seo Jin barks that Young Chan is mistaken before sitting down to mull over the heart rate weirdness earlier. It went up to 130 when the gorilla was headed towards him but it was when the gorilla was rushing towards Ha Na that it went up to 148. Young Chan wonders if Seo Jin knows the woman but Seo Jin has no clue who she is but wants her brought to him immediately.
Ha Na is interviewed by a reporter covering the great gorilla escape at the amusement park. She’s interviewed as the daughter of the former circus leader at Wonder Land. Ha Na apologizes for the gorilla incident today and explains she is coming back from a few years in the US to take over the circus now. After the interview ends, she asks the reporter not to just write about the circus mistake in letting the gorilla get out but also how there have been no maintenance provided over the years by Wonder Land so the cages are very old which is how Bing Bing got out.
Ha Na is summoned to Seo Jin’s office to meet with him and she is immediately very apologetic and polite with him. All Seo Jin does is stare at her before turning on his heart rate monitor and rudely pulling Ha Na close to him.
Seo Jin stares while Ha Na tries to struggle out of his arms while demanding to know what he’s doing. Seo Jin smirks when his heart rate remains steady at 98 and then releases Ha Na and orders her out of the office. Ha Na is confused thinking he wanted to talk to her about the gorilla incident. Seo Jin fires the circus then and there but Ha Na demands Wonder Land also be responsible for what happened today.
Seo Jin is willing to take some responsibility as well as pay termination fees for ending the contract, but he still wants to fire the circus claiming it’s crap and not putting on a good show with declining attendance every year. Ha Na is insulted that he would call Wonder Circus crap since the circus has been around since Wonder Land opened.
Seo Jin takes back his insults but still orders Ha Na to leave. Ha Na pleads for another chance for the circus now that she’s back and she trained with Cirque du Soleil. Seo Jin doesn’t care what great show she wants to put on as long as it’s somewhere else. Ha Na storms out of Seo Jin’s office still in disbelief over what just happened. Young Chan returns the heart rate monitor to Seo Jin and confirms it’s working just fine. Seo Jin still can’t figure out what happened to spike his heart rate so high but has this sinking sensation today is not a good day.
Ha Na walks into the big top to see the circus troupe members discussing the dire straits the circus already is in and what might happen if Executive Director Goo fires the circus over it. Turns out one member recorded video of Seo Jin biting the woman begging him for help and then pushing her down before scrambling to safety away from Bing Bing. Ha Na asks to borrow her phone and goes right back to renegotiate with Seo Jin.
Ha Na shows Seo Jin the video and he watches in distress at how pathetic he is. Seo Jin agrees to continue the contract with Wonder Circus and asks Ha Na to leave him be. She wants the phone back but Seo Jin holds tight to the video and calls himself trash for behaving this way. He gets her to leave the office and Young Chan assures her that he’s working on a new contract and will call her in to sign when it’s ready.
Ha Na delivers the good news to her circus mates that Seo Jin is continuing the contract with Wonder Circus but not everyone is so sure that Seo Jin will do as he promised. Ha Na is certain Seo Jin will follow through since he was so affected watching the video. Ha Na’s circus unni Cha Jin Joo points out how good looking Seo Jin is and is certain his terrible personality stems from some sort of pain in his past. He uses being cold and rude as a shield of sorts but once he meets the right girl to melt his heart then he becomes the perfect guy. Jin Joo sighs that 2/8 split (Seo Jin’s hairstyle) really needs to find a girl fast.
Seo Jin coldly orders Young Chan to delete the original video from the phone before returning it to Ha Na. He also tells Young Chan that he has no intention of continuing the contract with Wonder Circus and that display of emotion earlier with Ha Na was his great acting. Young Chan watches the video and finds it also ridiculous that Seo Jin bit that woman before pushing her away. Seo Jin had no choice since she touched him and he’s lived like a monk for the last 5 years away from women and anything that get him excited. He doesn’t want to live like this either but once he gets excited then Robin may show up.
Ha Na shares her new circus ideas with the troupe and hear that most of the attendees are children so the show needs to be tailored to their tastes. Ha Na is thanked profusely for returning to lead the circus.
The troupe runs out to the big top when they hear noise coming from there. They find maintenance guys cleaning up and hear that the circus will be dismantled soon and the space opened up. Ha Na gets the phone back with the incriminating video deleted and finally realizes she’s been played by Seo Jin.
Professor Kang gives a lecture on people with dual personalities, i.e dissociative identity disorder (DID). In such situations the person will not remember what happened when the other personality comes out. Professor Kang shares of William Stanley Milligan, a serial killer and rapist who suffered from DID and claimed his other personalities committed the crimes. The DID started when he suffered childhood abuse and dissociated endure the trauma. After the lecture is when Professor Kang checks her voicemail and hears Seo Jin’s call about a Code Blue.
Professor Kang calls Seo Jin back and he immediately asks to go see her. Professor Kang heads back to her office and reveals she wanted to see Seo Jin as well because she may have found the perfect treatment for his DID. She assures Seo Jin that this won’t be like 5 years ago when he was in danger. Professor Kang promises this will work and won’t be like last time, Seo Jin won’t be in danger and he’ll be completely cured. Seo Jin tells her he’ll be right there.
Ha Na arrives outside Wonder Group headquarters demanding to see Seo Jin who ignores her and gets into his car. Ha Na runs in front of the car and forces it to stop while glaring at Seo Jin. He tells her to get into the car but then orders the driver to leave once Ha Na gets out of the way. Ha Na gets into a taxi to follow Seo Jin.
Seo Jin is a bundle of nerves on his way to see Professor Kang, remembering how she claimed to have found the ideal treatment method for him. Ha Na tells her taxi driver not to lose Seo Jin’s car and she’ll pay him double.
Professor Kang records her planned treatment for Seo Jin today for his DID and if it works then this will be her last case recording. She explains that 15 years ago Seo Jin exhibited DID when his alter ego Robin appeared. Rather than Seo Jin being the nice guy Jekyll and Robin the mean Hyde, it was actually the opposite. A man is seen walking up to Professor Kang’s office and knocking before walking inside.
Seo Jin arrives at the university hospital and orders his driver to not let Ha Na inside because this place is still Wonder Group owned territory. Ha Na scopes out the hospital and isn’t cowed in the least. Seo Jin washes his face and orders himself not to get his hopes up before getting into the elevator to go see Professor Kang.
Seo Jin gets out of the elevator and is walking down the hallway when he looks out the window and sees Ha Na sliding down a makeshift rope line strung between two buildings to enter the balcony outside Professor Kang’s office.
Ha Na lands safely on the balcony before climbing in through the window. She finds Professor Kang dead on the ground with signs of struggle around her. The man walks up behind Ha Na and she turns around in alarm.
Seo Jin hears Ha Na’s scream and then she runs out of Professor Kang’s office followed by the man chasing after her. Seo Jin reacts quickly and turns and runs as well. Seo Jin gets into the elevator and finds his heart rate super elevated almost to 150. Ha Na grabs Seo Jin begging for help but Seo Jin pushes her hand away and shoves her outside the elevator before the door closes.
Seo Jin then sinks to his knees while struggling for breath. He says “no, no…” before falling silent. Ha Na is dragged out up the roof where the assailant dangles her over the edge while trying to strangle her.
Robin stands up and strips off his suit jacket, tie, glasses, and heart rate monitor. He steps out of the elevator and strides confidently to go look for Ha Na. He finds her struggling with the assailant on the roof and takes off running.
Robin rushes up on the roof and pulls the assailant off Ha Na and in one effortless move flips the man over.
He turns to see Ha Na falling over the side of the building so he does a flying leap right behind her. Robin catches Ha Na in his arms as they plummet over the side and fall into the pool below.
Ha Na opens her eyes and sees Robin cradling her in his arms and closes her eyes again.
Ha Na wakes up in the hospital with her worried circus family unni Jin Joo and dongsaeng Eun Chang hovering over her. They’re relieved that she’s fine but don’t understand how she ended up at the university hospital. Ha Na remembers going there after Seo Jin and then seeing the crime scene with dead Professor Kang. She hears about falling into the pool outside the lab and realizes that wasn’t a dream.
Seo Jin is already wake in his hospital room and holding his necklace while hearing that it’s been six hours since the last thing he remembers which is getting into the elevator at the hospital. His heart rate went past 150 and then he doesn’t remember anything. Young Chan tries to downplay the situation and cautions Seo Jin not to jump to conclusions about Robin coming out.
Ha Na enters Seo Jin’s hospital room and asks if Seo Jin really saved her life? Seo Jin hears about diving into the pool to save her. Professor Kang’s recording explains that Robin appeared in Seo Jin’s life as a protector and savior because of Seo Jin’s overwhelming sense of guilt. Seo Jin confirms from Ha Na that he did save her life, which means Robin is back.
Thoughts of Mine:
As starting episodes go, Hyde, Jekyll, Me did all the perfunctory things needed to lay the foundation. We need male lead Goo Seo Jin, clearly a tightly wound typical rich chaebol, complete with his own tormented reason for behaving like a jerk to everyone around him. He’s trying to control the inner beast within, yo! Except the inner him turns out to be a super hero of sorts, saving the damsel in distress and doing so with perfect flair and even a hug to cap it off. If Robin was the second male lead then the drama is already off to second lead shipping paradise. Seo Jin isn’t just cold, in order to keep Robin tucked away he crosses so many lines of propriety and morality one wonders if it’s worth it. Is biting a woman’s hand to push her off and towards a rampaging gorilla acceptable because he’s trying to control Robin from coming out? Not in any reasonable way I can slice it. Seo Jin’s whole wrong MO is “I can/must do anything as long as it keeps my heart rate down”.
At least Seo Jin (and Robin) are interesting because right now no one else, not even leading lady Ha Na, is remotely worth watching as characters in a story. They exist to color the world around Seo Jin and currently don’t have any dimensionality. To use the laughable animatronic gorilla Bing Bing, all the other characters look like fascimiles of real people but imparts the aura of being flat scene fillers. I wasn’t a big fan of the commotion at the amusement park to tie together Ha Na and Seo Jin’s first meeting which immediately sent his heart rate racing. The only upside is getting them antagonistic towards each other real fast, and also bring out Robin in episode 1 rather and dragging out the personality switch for later. The inevitable comparisons to Secret Garden, which I made myself when watching the teasers, feel rather superficial and only pertain to Seo Jin coming across like Kim Joo Won because Binnie plays both characters. The entire drama dynamic is different and with the arrival of Robin to coexist onscreen with Seo Jin, hopefully the similarity feel will lesson quickly and this story given room to grow.
There are and will be even more comparisons to HJM’s direct airing competition in Kill Me Heal Me and those are worth discussion now and putting away to bed. I think it a waste of time to continue harping on the two further down the road when the viewer can chose either, or do like me and watch both happily. The writing in KMHM is much MUCH tighter and more intriguing right off the bat, but then KMHM becomes a character study and less a events happening vehicle now that 5 episodes have aired. The directing is also much steadier in KMHM which isn’t a surprise since I love that PD who also did Ireland and Scandal. With that said, I find HJM a lot more consistent in execution with this fluid flow that just needs a lot more flavor and oomph down the road to really spice up the pot. There is only so much Hyun Bin can do to keep the ship afloat without support from the rest of the cast and characters to do more, and the entire endeavor to prove that there really is a great story waiting to be told here. I have faith, or perhaps I have fervent prayers this one will only keep getting better.
Click here to watch Hyde, Jekyll, Me.