Two episodes in and Hyde, Jekyll, Me remains decidedly underwhelming. Not sure if this drama will pick up intensity and pace but there is really no draw to watching other than for Hyun Bin. Can’t say if it’s a testament to his star power and charisma, or sad commentary that he chose this particular drama for his comeback. It’s not as ridiculously shallow and dumb as Rain wasting himself on My Lovely Girl as his comeback, but there is a disconnect between the talent of the male lead and the limited everything he’s asked to do there. The story really doesn’t snap, crackle, and pop and that’s the ultimate rub.
It also rankles that Han Ji Min has zero chemistry with Binnie so far, so devoid of any spark between them and I lay the blame on her cool brittle aura. I could see this frothy drama working so much better if Kim Tae Hee were cast, picking another big name actress but someone who can sell the cute and spunky in the same vein as her My Princess character. The kind of bubbly charm that melts ice cold chaebol princes rather than coming across like an uptight school marm. The ratings are reflecting the audience disappointment with HJM and the unexpected allure of direct competition Kill Me Heal Me. For Binnie I shall forge on, hoping still that there is much room for improvement.
Episode 1 recap:
Ha Na asks the incredulous Seo Jin whether he saved her? All she remembers is falling in the water and someone holding her. Seo Jin grabs his head and yells at Ha Na to get out! She doesn’t know why he’s getting mad at having saved her. Seo Jin barks that he didn’t save her because he couldn’t possibly have risked his own life to save a woman.
Ha Na is about to leave when she turns back and asks about the necklace around Seo Jin’s neck. Before he can answer she gets irritated and huffs out of the room, leaving him to stew some more in the sinking sensation that his alter ego Robin is back.
Ha Na stands outside Seo Jin’s hospital room and calls him a bastard for refusing to admit he saved her just to avoid discussing the circus contract termination issue. She suddenly flashes back to 15 years ago when she was a little girl and hanging off the side of a small bridge. A young Seo Jin (Robin?), wearing the same necklace, reaches down to grab her hand but she slips out of his grasp. Young Seo Jin dives in and saves little Ha Na. She thanks him for saving her and he replies that no thanks is needed because this is his personality.
Seo Jin’s dad Chairman Goo is informed by Seo Jin’s head of security that Robin may be back. He doesn’t have firsthand proof but Seo Jin went to see Professor Kang and saved a woman’s life at the university. Daddy Goo is not happy at all.
Seo Jin keeps mulling over why Robin is back after 5 years of nothing happening. He suddenly remembers Professor Kang and is informed by assistant Young Chan and she’s missing.
The police have opening a missing persons investigation into the disappearance of Professor Kang. Her office was found totaled and a pool of her blood was on the ground, indicating she was injured. Discussion turns to the person who fell into the pool below the roof and Detective Na explains it’s not Professor Kang. Seo Jin flashes back to seeing Ha Na scream as she ran out of Professor Kang’s office with a man chasing after her.
The police discuss there was no signs of her struggling in her office and the CCTV was turned off from her office, her floor, the parking garage, and there was no CCTV on the roof indicating this was premeditated. Lead investigating Detective Na calls Ha Na’s cell phone asking to schedule an interview tomorrow. Jin Joo answers the call and passes word along to Ha Na.
Ha Na discusses her annoying encounter with Seo Jin in his hospital room, calling him a cold ass who has no emotion and no interpersonal skills. Jin Joo laughs and asks if Ha Na is sure that Seo Jin is not her childhood prince on the bridge.
Chairman Goo orders Seo Jin to leave his post now but Seo Jin refuses. Dad doesn’t want any problems to arise so close to Seo Jin finishing his term as Executive Director of Wonder Land. Seo Jin reminds his dad of how hard he worked in the last 5 years, doing everything Professor Kang recommended and Robin has never shown up during this time. He hasn’t done anything, felt anything, in order to keep himself tightly controlled.
Dad points out Seo Jin had to do all that in order to stand in front of him today and doesn’t appear the slightest bit warm and caring towards his condition. He leaves Seo Jin with the warning that he’s worried about his condition which Seo Jin takes as a threat. Dad is certain Robin will come out again and tells the security guy outside to keep a closer watch over Seo Jin.
Young Chan wants to encourage Seo Jin for standing up to his dad but is told to zip it while Seo Jin changes to check out of the hospital. Seo Jin goes home and immediately heads through the atrium and presses an electronic lock to open the door to a secret lair. Inside is set up like a CCTV security feed room and Seo Jin sits down to watch old video footage of Robin saving lives all around Wonder Land.
Seo Jin records a video message to Robin reminding him of their last negotiation, their 19th negotiation. Back then Robin agreed to never come out again because Seo Jin didn’t need him anymore. If he doesn’t follow that agreement then Seo Jin will make it so he disappears for good.
Seo Jin goes to mediate in the atrium and repeats over and over “this will all pass.” Haha, good luck with that buddy. Seo Jin clearly also doesn’t believe it himself as he struggles to keep his emotions under control.
Seo Jin walks through Wonder Land with Young Chan and gets a report on Professor Kang’s disappearance and all the CCTV cameras being turned off. He’s desperate to find her and when he sees the circus packing up he remembers Ha Na being there and a potential witness.
Ha Na is checking out of the hospital and hears that Seo Jin is already gone but she vows to track him down and get him to reconsider terminating the circus. Detective Na arrives to interview Ha Na and shows her a picture of Professor Kang. Ha Na remembers seeing her laying on the ground yesterday and is alarmed to hear that the professor is missing.
Ha Na goes to the crime scene with Detective Na to provide a witness statement. Ha Na arrived in the office to find Professor Kang already laying on the ground with a pool of blood around her head. The police don’t believe her statement as a witness since there is not CCTV footage of her entering the building. Seo Jin walks up and provides Ha Na an alibi and explains she rappelled into the building via a rope line.
Detective Na is flabbergasted while Seo Jin and Ha Na argue about why she rappelled into the building on a rope in order to talk to Seo Jin. He orders Ha Na to concentrate and cooperate with the investigation before walking into Professor Kang’s office. Ha Na follows and demonstrates how she got in through the window and what she saw.
Ha Na tries to remember the man who was also in the room. She remembers turning around and seeing his face directly but can’t remember now. Seo Jin is frustrated that Ha Na saw the face but now has lost that memory for whatever reason. A quick visit to the doctor confirms she likely has short term memory loss from the PTSD of the incident.
Seo Jin is a bit skeptical that Ha Na conveniently forgot only the face of the assailant and wonders if she’s doing this to spite him. Ha Na isn’t but she’s happy that her lost memory is upsetting Seo Jin. He decides to have Ha Na undergo hypnosis to summon her repressed memory because someone is missing and she’s the link to an important clue. Ha Na refuses to do it unless Seo Jin gives her something she needs in return since she’s not so stupid this time.
Seo Jin and Ha Na sit down to sign the new circus contract with Wonder Land. Ha Na demands an apology and doesn’t like the first half-assed one Seo Jin spit out. He then delivers another one by enunciating I. Am. Sorry. Ha Na gets down to business negotiating the term of the contract and the two go back and forth with Ha Na hunkering down to lock in ten years for the circus and Seo Jin countering with three years. Ha Na insists on ten years and tells Seo Jin to take it or leave it.
Seo Jin reluctantly accepts and then orders Ha Na to leave with zero interest in hearing her discussion about the future of the circus. Seo Jin explains that this is not the place for that discussion and she should prepare it in advance for a presentation to him. Seo Jin wants to move Ha Na on to her hypnosis therapy but she takes a moment to thank him for saving her life yesterday. Ha Na wants to know if he’s always owned that necklace but chalks it up to just a coincidence.
Seo Jin catches up with Ha Na in the elevator to ask what she means by coincidence? Ha Na doesn’t want to talk about it but Seo Jin is really upset and wants to know why she even asked about the necklace and keeps wanting to know if he saved her life? Seo Jin pushes Ha Na against the elevator wall and yells at her but then his heart rate is sent racing so he releases her and tries to calm down.
Ha Na rides in Seo Jin’s car to meet the hypnotist and takes note of all the religious iconography and items hung inside the car. Ha Na doesn’t believe in that spiritual stuff or hypnosis but Seo Jin points out that hypnosis isn’t just spiritual belief and is rooted in science.
Ha Na takes off her necklace and dangles it back and forth in front of Seo Jin claiming to be hypnotizing him. She then takes a coin out from behind his ear and claims he can now bend the coin. Seo Jin snatches the magic trick coin and calls out Ha Na on her circus tricks before explaining that hypnosis is about calling forth repressed memories and even dreams and is not a joke to be treated lightly.
Ha Na is dropped off at a building and Seo Jin leaves her with the reminder to come out with a composite sketch of the assailant. Ha Na heads into the building and steps inside the elevator to find a guy inside and the floor she was headed to already pressed. Once the elevator arrives on the floor is when the guy introduces himself as Yoon Tae Joo, the hypnotist she’s meeting, and greets Ha Na before inviting her inside his apartment.
Yoon Tae Joo is Professor Kang’s top protégé and Ha Na wonders why he didn’t greet her immediately inside the elevator. Tae Joo wanted to surprise her which would increase he trust him that he recognized her. Tae Joo plays music that will help put Ha Na in a hypnotic state and he earnestly asks for her help to in find Professor Kang. He asks that Ha Na trust him and understand that he’s really anxious to find Professor Kang.
Seo Jin reads Tae Joo’s bio in the car and wonders if perhaps Tae Joo knew what Professor Kang wanted to discuss with Seo Jin about the ideal treatment?
Seo Jin gets called into see Chairman Goo and is handed a plane ticket to go out of the country for the time being. Dad knows Robin came back already once now and he can’t have that happening because then no one will know what Seo Jin’s body is doing. He wants Seo Jin to leave the country now when he’s still in control of the body.
Seo Jin refuses because he needs to find Professor Kang who claimed to have an ideal treatment for his condition forever. Seo Jin asks for time to find Professor Kang with the help if an eyewitness and then undergo her recommended treatment. If even after that it doesn’t work then he’ll do as ordered, leave and never come back.
Tae Joo starts the session explaining that today they will just talk and play. He takes out a rope string and plays with Ha Na but the whole time he rapid fire asks her many questions leading to where she was on January 21st. Tae Joo effortlessly hypnotizes Ha Na and she walks through her memory of entering Professor Kang’s office and turning around to see a man behind her.
Ha Na screams during the hypnosis like she screamed when the assailant walked up to her in the office. He tried to strangle her there but she grabbed a letter opener and slashed him. That’s when she ran out of the office and he gave chase. He caught up to her outside the elevator and dragged her up to the roof to toss her over the side.
Ha Na can barely breath during her session like she was being strangled again so Tae Joo wakes her up. Ha Na remembers a mask, baseball cap, and sunglasses but more than that, she took his sunglasses off during the struggle and saw his whole face but still hasn’t remembered it yet.
Young Chan reports to Seo Jin that Ha Na took the mask off the assailant so saw his whole face but still hasn’t gotten that memory back yet. Seo Jin’s elation turns to worry when he realizes that the assailant is also aware that Ha Na saw his face and asks where she is now.
Ha Na is crying as Detective Na drives her home and asks if she’s scared. She remembers Tae Joo telling her that her fear is repressing that memory and when she gets over it then she’ll get her memory back.
A man in a cap and glasses is lurking outside Wonder Circus and hides behind the wall when Ha Na is dropped off. He then sets a Wonder Circus flyer on fire before following Ha Na inside. Ha Na sees a man wearing glasses and baseball cap walking towards her and pauses in fear but the man waves at his girlfriend behind Ha Na and walks off with her.
Ha Na continues walking but the real assailant continues to follow her. Ha Na runs into Seo Jin and Young Chan by the carousel and reveals her gut feeling that someone was following her.
Seo Jin orders Young Chan to check with security before pulling Ha Na off behind her to the circus. Her troupe is staring at the row of suited security guards outside the circus as Seo Jin explains to Ha Na that the circus will now have 24 hour witness protection for her. LOL.
Seo Jin doesn’t feel secure with Ha Na living at her own place so set her up inside the suite at Wonder Hotel. Oh nice! He does give her a choice of living here or agreeing to take a bodyguard home to guard her. Ha Na agrees to stay but needs to go out for a performance tonight but Seo Jin refuses. He warns Ha Na of the importance of her memory of the assailant because what if the delay leads them to a dead Professor Kang.
Ha Na points out that Seo Jin was also there that day and an eye witness. But he pushed her away and scrambled to safety on his own so why doesn’t he have any sympathy or concern for her? Seo Jin thinks he’s protecting her now but Ha Na calls this surveillance. Seo Jin sees it as behaving like the employer and Ha Na is the employee so she has to do as he says, and if she doesn’t want to then she can leave.
Ha Na knows Wonder Land has belonged to Seo Jin since he was born, right? But does he like Wonder Land? It has never belonged to Ha Na but she likes it a lot because her childhood memories are all here which is why she can’t leave. But can Seo Jin do that, leave his memories behind just like that. Seo Jin has a flashback to a scary childhood memory at Wonder Land and tells Ha Na that he can discard that memory easily. What does he like? Wonder Land is just something that belongs to him. If it’s so precious to Ha Na then she can risk dying to stay here.
Ha Na catches up to Seo Jin in the elevator and concedes that he’s right. She doesn’t understand how it’s possible but she’s now certain Seo Jin didn’t save her. She doesn’t know who he is but she remembers him and that person isn’t Seo Jin.
Seo Jin demands to know from Ha Na who that person is? Does he look exactly like Seo Jin? Ha Na stares and says no, he’s not like Seo Jin at all before walking away. Seo Jin wonders if it’s just a coincidence that anytime Ha Na is in danger is when his heart rate goes up dramatically despite the last 5 years of nothing happening.
Seo Jin chases after Ha Na through Wonder Land and remembers her mentioning an event at the Venice Hall tonight. Seo Jin runs over there and sees balloons put up everywhere and ties it back to his dream from earlier. He follows Ha Na inside and then notices that a balloon is floating up to the strobe light above the stage right where Ha Na is walking. Just like in his dream.
Seo Jin screams “Jang Ha Na!” to warn her but then collapses in pain in the ground. We see the cap and glasses guy who followed Ha Na hiding above the ceiling and caused the strobe light collapse. Ha Na looks up as the light falls on her which is when Robin pulls her to safety as the light shatters on the ground.
Ha Na opens her eyes and the first thing she sees is the familiar necklace before looking up to see Robin smiling down on her. Robin frets warmly over Ha Na and is relieved she’s not hurt anywhere but suggests she still go to the hospital to get checked out.
The security guards arrive and seeing Robin hovering over Ha Na is sign enough of his identity as the savior alter ego and not selfish Seo Jin. They close in on him but he notices their arrival, armed with tasers no less, and starts to back away. He apologies for not taking Ha Na to the hospital himself before running off.
Ha Na sees the security guards with tasers trying to apprehend Robin and runs after them. The guards lose Robin in the storage room of the circus but Ha Na sees him climbing out of a chest when the coast is clear. Robin is basically super man or at least learned parkour before because he leaps, jumps, and flips over the circus props to make his getaway.
Ha Na follows Robin up to the roof and sees him standing there with his arms wide stretched soaking in his return to the world.
Thoughts of Mine:
To say I’m thoroughly confused that Binnie passed up Kill Me Heal Me to do Hyde, Jekyll, Me is an understatement. Just the first two episodes alone of KMHM own HJM in terms of intensity, execution, and captivating storytelling. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of quibbles with KMHM and things I don’t like about it, but at least it’s interesting. That’s what’s lacking so far in HJM, this gut pull that makes me want to watch more of it. I may want to watch more Binnie but that’s not the same as wanting to watch more of the story unfold. It hurts that none of the characters save alter ego Robin shine, and Robin is basically doomed to disappear. Seo Jin sucks as a character not because he starts off as an asshole chaebol president like all who have come before him. He sucks because he is repressed and can’t/doesn’t act. As a character he is reactive and passive in order to keep Robin controlled, which then leads to his character being totally blah to watch. I don’t know enough about him to care that he gets cured of his DID.
Even worse is having a flat male lead paired up with an equally flat female lead. At least Binnie’s acting gives Seo Jin a glimmer of life, Han Ji Min makes Ha Na as unpalatable as soggy cardboard. She’s not hateful or annoying, I don’t like her because she only functions as a plot device so far and the acting makes her a charisma suck anytime she’s onscreen. She also has only one interaction with Seo Jin which is combative which has already happened too many times in two episodes. This drama isn’t that terribly written but for the big budget big name star trappings then it is definitely terribly disappointing. The circus troupe has zero personality and integration with the story line so far other than as a reason for Ha Na to stalk Seo Jin and then find herself conveniently in the middle of a crime that has implications for Seo Jin’s mental health treatment. Sung Joon’s character was introduced so abruptly and then two short scenes that felt awkwardly edited. Don’t even get me started on stock character chairman daddy, a caricature of the gruff too-demanding chaebol dad that I swear Lee Duk Hwa can play in his sleep.
I appreciate the drama’s attempt to build in mystery and tension with the missing professor storyline, complete with unknown assailant and danger to Ha Na. That doesn’t mean it’s executed well, so far the “danger” element has no actual danger because it’s clear Robin will save the day. I also would like some early hints on who could be behind it and whether the target is Professor Kang herself or preventing her from treating Seo Jin. The connection between Seo Jin and Ha Na from their childhood makes sense if they both hung around Wonder Land, but once again it was shown in such a perfunctory flashback manner there was no oomph reaction. The drama has one great background piece anytime Robin shows up and that really is the only time this drama comes alive. Too bad it’s 5 minutes in each of the first two episodes so far, no wonder viewers wonder why bother sticking with it. I hope this story does some magic hoodoo in the upcoming two episodes to prove that it has something up its sleeve otherwise this is going to be a Binnie misfire that will sting for a long time.
Click here to watch Hyde, Jekyll, Me.