First Impressions: Pride & Prejudice is an Intriguing Chemistry-filled Legal Drama with a Kick

The first two episodes of K-drama Pride and Prejudice are so much win I can’t even. It’s like MBC finally got its act together and did something right from casting to writing to directing. It’s not perfect but all the working elements have aligned to create a drama that’s watchable either as a legal procedural or a character building team narrative story. How bad P&P’s predecessor Records of a Night Watchman was right off the bat is conversely how good P&P is. The drama retains the big network prime time flair, this is definitely not a cable drama, but I say this as a compliment for how P&P does justice to its big budget origins.

P&P is a legal drama centering around one team of prosecutors working in a department assigned to the small and oddball cases that the more high profile teams disdain. Watching episode 1 immediately made me think that the story is basically K-dramas doing the famous Kimura Takuya dorama Hero (which spawned a sequel this year) where the main cast interacts while processing and investigating legal cases. I’m loving this drama so much including the firing on all cylinders cast led by Choi Jin Hyuk and Baek Jin Hee admirably showing off their chemistry and acting charisma that proclaims both ready to headline their first major K-drama.

I loved P&P’s cold open for episode 1 as we’re dropped right into the moment when Han Yeol Moo encounters Gu Dong Chi for the first time outside the offices of the Seoul prosecutorial departments. Her shocked and tense reaction implies some shared past that hints it was unpleasant with the way Yeol Moo ignores Dong Chi and just walks into the offices. Dong Chi also spots Yeol Moo and his reaction is different, directly approaching her to talk (and flirt), all with an underlying sense of something unresolved. It’s been four years since they’ve last seen each other and Dong Chi is surprised Yeol Moo has passed her legal exams and become a prosecutor. Even more surprising is that Yeol Moo knew which department Dong Chi works at and purposely selected to come work with him. Interesting. She claims it’s for “revenge”, whatever that means. Dong Chi is neither upset nor happy that she’s back in his life, his muted reaction pretty professional even if he keeps bantering with her.

Their department is led by Department Head Moon Hee Man, played by a delightfully restrained Choi Min Soo. Dong Chi is his right hand man as the Chief Prosecutor while second-in-command is Prosecutor Lee Jang Won. Yeol Moo makes three as she becomes the most junior Prosecutor and this is her training period. The prosecutors are assisted by the prosecutorial assistants who help with the administrative work. Dong Chi and Yeol Moo end up sharing the office with assistant Kang Soo while Kwang Mi backs up Jang Won. Department Head Hee Man gets his own seasoned assistant in former cop Yoo Dae Gi. Everyone on the team is interesting while remaining professional which is such a relief to watch.

Yeol Moo’s first case is a neighborhood flasher who has been pulling his pants down to the ladies for the last three months. It seems relatively minor and the flasher suspect even has an alibi – a teacher customer was buying hula hoops in his convenience store at the time of the flashing so he couldn’t have been in two places at once. Yeol Moo, Dong Chi, and Kang Soo go to the crime scene to retrace the flashers steps back to the convenience store to see if the suspect could have run back in the short time between the flashing and the hula hoop sale. Commence more thinly veiled banter between the leads during the investigation, and then Dong Chi gets the upper hand when he reveals to Kang Soo that he and Yeol Moo know each other because they dated in the past. Dun Dun Dun!

The investigation takes a serious turn when Yeol Moo finds a little girl hiding in the convenience store who exhibits the behavior of someone who has been sexually abused. Her teacher turns out to be the eyewitness for the flasher suspect as he was buying a hula hoop at that time, which happened to be during school hours. The little girl disappears after she’s returned home and an all out search commences for a missing child. Dong Chi and Yeol Moo figure out that the two men may be giving each other alibis, the flasher and the teacher sexual abuser, and both are guilty of their respective crimes. Both suspects are arrested and separately interrogated but neither breaks. The child is located and IDs the teacher as her abuser while Dong Chi’s independent investigation unearths more evidence that implicates the flasher without needing to break his alibi. Done and done, episode 1 flew by in a breeze and some fantastic dialogue that made up for the clunkier aspects of the legal investigation.

Having a cold open works so well in this drama because the writer lets the characters behave like human beings. Dong Chi and Yeol Moo clearly have unresolved issues with each other but it doesn’t overflow into their professional roles. That also allows the audience not to bemoan the lack of context in episode 1, which is swiftly addressed in episode 2 when we witness first hand the meet cute between Dong Chi and Yeol Moo. She’s running away from her distraught mother while clutching a duffel bag and gets in his car as an escape route. Dong Chi takes one look at this pretty sad thing and is smitten, driving away Yeol Moo and bringing her into his life. He plays it cool by not asking for her number when she asks to borrow money for a meal, instead leaving her a note on where to met him to repay it. Then Dong Chi wanders around refusing to accept the money back, and ends up boarding a tour bus with Yeol Moo and paying her bus fare, leaving her owing him even more money.

Dong Chi gets Yeol Moo to repay him through one date a month for ten months, a pretty ballsy move on his part. He can’t exactly track her down since she refuses to give him her name so this is his only way to keep her in his life until he convinces her to give him a chance. Fast forward ten months and on their late date at a bar, Yeol Moo is almost about to tell Dong Chi her name when he steps aside to take a work call and his bag falls on the floor. He indicates for Yeol Moo to help him pick it up and as she’s putting the folders back into the bag, she finds a torn slip of document that makes her freak out. She runs out of the bar leaving Dong Chi clueless and devastated as to what just happened. That was their last meeting until the beginning of episode 1 when Yeol Moo arrives to join the prosecutors office. Yeol Moo appears to be there both to fight for justice for the victims as well as do some investigation of her own as she sneaks back to the office one night and rifles through Dong Chi’s drawers.

Episode 2 has a more investigative heavy case that also brings in neighborhood thug Jung Chang Gi who is currently in jail for eating and not paying. Chang Gi knows both Kang Soo and Dong Chi, and appears to recognize Department Head Moon. Dong Chi takes Chang Gi’s case from Yeol Moo and then has him released, leading to Yeol Moo tattling to Department Head Moon that Dong Chi is corrupt and released a criminal he is close with. Department Head Moon tells Yeol Moo to stop throwing accusations around and go do her own job properly, before calling Dong Chi in to hear that Chang Gi is going to be the bait connection for a drug deal that is going down. The prosecutors set up the drug bust themselves and Yeol Moo almost gets hurt in the raid but luckily the team pulls through and the perps are apprehended. Bonus points for Dong Chi being so utterly stricken with worry when he fears Yeol Moo is in danger.

At the end of the episode, Yeol Moo moves into the same share house that Dong Chi and Kang Soo live in, after Dong Chi offers it to her when he realizes she has no place to live and sleeps in the night office at work. The chemistry between the two are already ridiculous at work, I can’t wait to see more sparks fly when they are living under the same roof. What makes P&P work is that it takes the Hero format and corrects adds the K-flavor for more romance and secrets backdrop for the characters. Even better is that it does so without the ham-fisted approach that made You’re All Surrounded such an exaggerated narrative parody.

Basically P&P is what YAAS should have been except we trade cops for prosecutors is all. It’s nice to see professionally trained characters behaving with intelligence and common sense even if there are the occasional overreaches that thankfully don’t cross the line for me. The per-episode cases aren’t intense or interesting enough as standalone fodder but wrapped into this drama which is more about character interactions and subtle cues, the legal matters serve its purpose nicely enough. What seals the deal is the fantastic romance set up between the OTP with enough background for layered conflict but nothing that is traumatic enough to beat the love/hate each other dead horse that so common in exes reuniting stories. I’m pleased with another Mon-Tues drama to follow again and hopefully the promising first two episodes will explode soon into full-blown crack drama potential.


First Impressions: Pride & Prejudice is an Intriguing Chemistry-filled Legal Drama with a Kick — 23 Comments

  1. So glad someone is writing about this. I also watched the first two episodes and loved everything about them. I love all the characters who are all professionals at their job but also have their own ‘spark’. Can’t wait for next episodes!

  2. I totally agree. The first 5 minutes suck you in immediately – I think that’s the fastest I’ve ever been on board with the main couple in a drama. The banter and the chemistry were top notch.

    I’m not really familiar with Baek Jin Hee but I think she’s doing a great job so far, and this is the most I’ve ever liked Choi Jin Hyuk. It’s only the cases that aren’t particularly thrilling, but I think the great directing and the characters make up for it. I dropped Tomorrow Cantabile for this and I’m glad I did. It’s a much better show overall. MBC are finally getting their act together.

  3. Compared to all the duds we have had recently, this drama is technically perfectly watchable. That said, I like it but not love it yet. Plenty of time to rectify that.

  4. I personally did not like it. I really love Baek Jin Hee, but she looks like a junior highschool kid pretending to be a precocious lawyer. She is so physically mismatched with her male co-star Choi Jin Hyuk. He looks like he’ll smush her. That being said, I like these actors, but my first impression is that I don’t think they make a good pairing. I’ll probably wait for it to end and see what the verdict is before I complete this drama ^^

  5. I’m so in love with this drama. I’ve been on a kdrama slump in the first half of the year but I’m happy to welcome P&P in my life. The OTP’s chemistry is just sizzling that I can watch them all day. Their bantering is not overbearing too and everything feels just nice.

    • Ditto…it’s no joke on trying to sink your teeth into something good or alest watchable. Hahaha I’m also watching Incomplete Life, which I though I wasn’t going to like it but was pleasantly seems Legal Dramas is the trend right now because the Japanese ones seem to be on the bandwagon! Lol
      My fave is one call “Women won’t allow it!” (If the translation in goggle is right) Their is another one but haven’t been able to find out the tittle translation. Anyways I just wanted to say “I feel you pain” and got carried away. Sorry 😉 have a great one.

  6. I’m afraid to get my hopes up. I’ve been disappointed with recent dramas that started off so well….skidded in the middle….crashed and burned at the end.

    Choi Jin Hyuk is one of my k-crushes, so like one of the earlier commenters said, I’d tune in to watch him read a cereal box. LOL!

    Let’s just say – I’m in….for now.

  7. Other than the OTP, I’m also curious with Jung Chang Gi and Prosecutor Moon relationship. I think it’s obviously connected to something in the past?
    Baek Jin Hee and Choi Jin Hyuk are a joy to watch.. at least for now.

  8. indeed.. it’s not perfect yet interesting. i adore the casts.. especially the main actors..
    can’t wait for ep.3, i’m curious about their ‘secret’..

  9. I’ve watched the first 2 episodes and like it so far. Great chemistry between the 2 leads and am intrigued by the 2 torn pieces of paper, one with each lead. Love Choi Jin Hyuk’s voice. First time watching Baek Jin Hee and liking her here. The other members of the prosecutor team are interesting too. Yes, it reminds me of HERO, one of my fave J dramas.

  10. A solid opening for me too, but what draws my attention is as you said, the chemistry between the leads. Choi Min Soo is also great, unsurprisingly.

  11. It’s a surprising drama for sure. I wasn’t expecting much either, especially from the teaser trailers, but I checked it out for the mancandy that is Choi Jin Hyuk. So far, not regretting it at all. I am starting to see where the Pride and Prejudice comes to play for both lead characters.

  12. Fallen badly. Been rewatching eps 1 and 2. Been sometime since i’ve done that. Just love the banter and control. Haven’t seen BJH, the lead actress in anything and pleasantly surprised. Tough cookie. Hope she doesn’t crumble midway through. CJH, you got me at the first syllable uttered. Why does no one mention the bus scene where a pretty milestone was laid — **ask my name and it’s a confession you’re interested**? Daebak!

  13. The ratings look promising as well. 11+% for the three first episodes. If the storytelling is stable viewership could easily grow. Meanwhile, both Cantabile Tomorrow and Secret Door are dying a slow death ratingswise. It’s actually really quite remarkable how MBC keeps dominating Mondays and Tuesdays, while SBS is perpetually on top on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

    KBS, of course, is doing its best to turn even its last loyal viewers off!

      • The problem for KBS is that, while it’s fine and dandy to be on top Saturday and Sunday that’s, at then end of the day, only two days out of the week. The other 5 days of the week it’s consistently falling behind. And low ratings = less money to buy new, good dramas for = continued low ratings.

  14. This is a legal drama, and by the eyes of a professional, Ms. Ockoala approved it. So I’ll trust that it’s worthy to sink my teeth into.

  15. im up to ep3 now.. and i think i find my new ajushi crush – Son Chang Min, kekekekek…

    what is funny for is when we have a bunch of prosecutors in the office waiting for the outcome in the field. after being conditioned by so many others dramas, i was like telling my monitor, why didn’t they go & do it themselves?

    and I like that awesome Angel Eyes Mom is alive and well, and kicking ass..

  16. i wish i could like this coz choi jin hyuk is so mighty fine looking but it just seems like its trying to be an american series like special crimes investigation but not getting it right for me. i havent made it to epi 2 though. should i??

  17. OMG, I LOVED Hero.

    Just really gelled together with interesting, quirky cases solved by interesting, quirky lawyers acted by some good actors.

    If it’s half as good as Hero, I’m gonna watch it for sure!

  18. I’m loving this show. Am writing short recaps at my blog–and posting tons of screencaps. I started watching for Choi Jin-Hyuk, but I’ve been impressed the entire cast. Even small characters–like the incompetent young prosecutor Lee, who is played by a familiar face with great comic timing. Episode 5 got everything right. Hoping the show stays on track!

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