If there’s only one word to describe Show, it’s bromance. Full of it. In fact, bromance is the main thread throughout Show, without which Show wouldn’t be half as interesting. At 20 episodes, Show feels draggy at times, especially when the underlying “mysteries” were already shown to the audiences, but the characters are being kept in the dark. At times like these, the bromances are what made Show shine during the lulls.
Eun Dae-gu, or his original name, Kim Ji Young (Lee Seung Gi), had a huge misunderstanding with Seo Pan-seok (Cha Seung Won), for a good whole 11 years, thinking that Seo Pan-seok inadvertently caused the death of his mother, and also was out to kill him. The misunderstanding was resolved halfway through Show, which then gave us glimpses of the bromance to come, though it felt more like a father/son or teacher/student relationship. It is then heartwarming to see, at the end of the series, that Dae-gu appreciates Pan-seok for all the efforts he had put in in uncovering the truth behind his mother’s death, as well as how Pan-seok trained them rookies to have the unwavering passion for their work as cops.
Within the rookie group of four, with only one girl among them, the three guys have a lovely bromance among themselves too. Dae-gu, Ji Gook (Park Jung Min) and Park Tae-il (Ahn Jae-hyun) share an apartment, and though Dae-gu was all prickly and standoffish in the beginning, Gook-ie and Tae-il are always there for him, yet understanding enough to give him the personal space that he needed. They’re always ready to include Dae-gu as long as he is willing to join them, and eventually melted Dae-gu’s cold and untrusting exterior. That, is the best bromance offered by any dramas.
The Gook-ie and Tae-il bromance wasn’t without its hiccups; remember the time when they exchange their innermost secret, and Gook-ie behaved like the biggest asshole, ignoring Tae-il and giving him the cold shoulder throughout almost an entire episode? Easy-going as Gook-ie may be, he has his own inferior complex, and I applaud the scriptwriter for adding a touch of humanistic realism to the characters. It took an injury that Gook-ie suffered during a scuffle with a suspect, that Gook-ie and Tae-il become best buds again, and I heaved a sigh of relief.
It’s not only the young ‘uns that had lovely bromance blossoming at the Gangnam Police Station, Seo Pan-seok and Lee Eung-do (Sung Ji Roo) displayed unbreakable trust as long-time work partners, despite Pan-seok being Eung-do’s superior. Only when the elders and superiors lead with examples, could the rookies learn and correct ways of the trade and become an impenetrable team that takes down the baddies.
With all the bromances flying around, real romances take a backseat, and I’m totally okay with it. I do like how subtly Dae-gu develops his feelings for Uh Soo-sun (Go Ara), and it also helps that she kind of liked him since 11 years ago back in their hometown. And being the only girl around, Gook-ie also had a crush on Soo-sun, which was shown to have subsided when Dae-gu confessed to liking Soo-sun. I thought it was rather endearing that even to the characters, bromance takes the front seat over everything else. The trust the rookies have in each other is one of the winning reasons of Show.
In parallel with the bromance between Pan-seok and Eung-do, the overcoming of anger and hatred between Pan-seok and his ex-wife Kim Sa Kyung (Oh Yoon Ah) was a lovely touch in Show. I’d say that Sa Kyung sees firsthand for herself how truly passionate Pan-seok is about his job, which may have caused the unfortunate death of their son 11 years ago, she also sees for herself Pan-seok has never forgotten about her and their son, and all of these scored him cookie points. Their first date after divorce is like that of couples who’d just gotten together, with both of them properly dressed up. Their subsequent date is equally giggly and lovey-dovey, which just makes viewers go aww. It is sweet little touches like this that makes Show memorable.
The other supporting characters in Gangnam Police Station are also well written, the best of which would have to be that of Chief Kang (Seo Yi Sook). She may have supported Dae-gu financially when he was in the orphanage out of guilt perhaps, but she truly loved Dae-gu like a surrogate mother would. Her treading of the dark side was entirely fueled by her belief that our central villain would improve the power that cops have over investigative work, to give them equal investigative power that prosecutors have over the police. It is therefore, unfortunate that she placed so much faith in the central villain, who had been her superior before he left the police force and became a politician, and ends up doing all the dirty work at his bidding. Chief Kang is, in my opinion, one of the best written supporting characters, with all the layered complexity, in Korean dramas in recent years.
Plot-wise, Show is never strong with its crime of the day, or the overarching mystery of Dae-gu’s mother’s death. Despite so, it is the relationships and personalities of the villains that add color to the otherwise lacklustre motives. The big bad remains THE BIG BAD to the end, twisted in his methods of achieving his ambition. His character may not be as layered as others, but it is chilling how he is willing to sacrifice his own daughter to achieve his political dreams. It is therefore, understandable that when his real motives were unveiled, we audience find ourselves pitying the otherwise crazy and violent daughter of his. She is also a victim of circumstances, which she herself never knew till the end.
You’re All Surrounded is a drama that despite a comparatively weak plot, maintained the character consistencies, which is a true relief in drama watching. It is a heart-warming drama that tracks both the character and professional development of a bunch of rookie cops, as well as the people they interact with. Well worth the 20 hours spent.
PS: Thanks to dramabeans for all the screencaps! =)