I have many favorite Korean actors, and I label them either as oppa or namchin (boyfriend) or nampyon (husband), but there is only one I swear my allegiance to, and that is oppa Lee Joon Gi. Naturally this is a drama that I’ll watch, because oppa has only one drama a year since his release from army. And he is EVERY bit the man on the run, Jang Tae San. I’m not singing praises because he’s a bias, but oppa is really convincing as the guy framed for murder.
This year has seen its fair share of dramas that promises alot, but fizzles into nothingness, much to my disappointment. And it has also seen a good portion of dramas that should deserve a higher viewership, but did not. Two Weeks belong to the latter, and I blame it on its competitor, The Master’s Sun. Don’t get me wrong, The Master’s Sun is an addictive drama to its credit, and I watch it religiously weekly, and live broadcast when I can. I do suppose Two Weeks makes a better watch when watching it continuously (which is why I waited until it finished its run and watch it), as opposed to two episodes per week, because I feel it’d take off the momentum waiting for new episodes each week (which was what I felt with watching Tree with Deep Roots when it was airing).
So Two Weeks is about a man with no purpose in life, one day finds out that he has a young daughter who has acute leukemia, and on the day he knows he is a positive match to donate bone marrow to his daughter, he gets framed for a murder (and the murdered has a crush on him, no less). The man, Jang Tae San, decides to flee for his life and keep himself safe for two weeks, which by the end of two weeks, is the operation for extracting the bone marrow for his daughter. The basic premise for Two Weeks is pretty similar to Mandate of Heaven, only the latter was set in Joseon era. Although both dramas see two fathers trying to clear their names for a murder they did not commit, as well as trying to save their sick daughters, the execution is vastly different, and there is no limited time set for Mandate of Heaven (if I never remember wrongly).
Being a 16 episodes drama, the first 2 episodes were spent on setting up the case, and the remaining 14 episodes (or if you would, 13.5 episodes) were done such that one episode covers a day of happenings as a fugitive. We spend the first few days on the run at random houses of villagers that Tae San went to, all of whom he helped out in some ways or another, and when the police caught up with his trails, the villagers were doubtful if he really is a murderer painted by the police and media.
Poor guy can’t catch a break because not only the police is after him, there’s a prosecutor AND the mobster who framed him, all want to get a hold of him. Everyone who was after him had their own agenda, for the detective Im Seung Woo (Ryu Soo Young) is the fiance of Tae San’s ex-girlfriend Seo In-hye (Park Ha Sun), who is also the mother of his daughter Su-jin (Lee Chae Mi); Park Jae Kyung (Kim So Yun) is the prosecutor who wants to get hold of Tae San because she wants to bring down the mobster Moon Il Suk (Jo Min Ki). Moon Il Suk has a secret partnership with Jo Seo Hee (Kim Hye Ok), who is a member of the Parliament and a very good reputation among the common people, but secretly these two people are in cahoots for lots of shady dealings, which includes drug dealings. For a good part of the drama, the prosecutor and the mobster both thought Tae San holds the evidence that the prosecutor wants to bring down the mobster and the politician, and it took quite awhile for Tae San to even realise that evidence may prove his innocence.
What I like about Two Weeks is there is not much political bullshit going around, and it is very much focused on Tae San’s struggle to stay unharmed (for the sake of Su-jin’s operation) and to find evidence to prove his innocence. A particularly nice touch that keeps Tae San sane is the appearance of imaginary Su-jin when he’s on the brink of breaking both mentally n physically. Even though it is imaginary, the father-daughter interaction is very real and tugs at the heartstrings. It showed how much Tae San wishes to lead a normal life, as well as love the daughter whose existence he did not know until a few days prior to his escape. It is even more poignant that 8 years ago he forced In-hye to have an abortion (which thank goodness she did not, unkown to Tae San). Things got even better when Tae San decided that he cannot get through the two weeks unharmed, alone. The prosecutor also realized that Tae San could very well be framed, and the two work together to turn the tables against the bad guys.
Prior to the airing of Two Weeks, there were already alot of buzz going around, one of which was, unfortunately titled something like Lee Joon Gi “molesting” Park Ha Sun. Of course it was all done in good jest, and even though it is just for a drama scene, I applaud Park Ha Sun for being as professional as those who poses as bronze statues in the name of art. Alot of the Tae San-In-hye scenes in the drama took place 8 years ago in the drama timeline, which serve both as bittersweet memories that helped Tae San remain sane during his run, as well as in an instance, saved their lives.
What I particularly like about Two Weeks is the intricate weaving of recollections from 8 years ago, into the current timeline, and also the desire of Tae San to right his wrong to In-hye and Su-jin. The success of this drama lies in the realism – there’s no one who is altruistic; everyone had a personal agenda. The good guys may not necessarily be saints, the baddies are no outright evil lords (ok maybe Moon Il Suk the baddie is the only one who is outright evil). The pacing of the drama is also well done, with hardly any lull felt throughout. And the open ending is befitting, for the two weeks Tae San went through is only life-changing, but his transformation is not yet complete. Others may have forgiven him and give him a second chance, but ultimately the second chance has to come from him to himself, and his departure at the very end is the beginning of the second chance he is giving himself. All in all, Two Weeks is one of the better written drama that delivered with what it promised.