We are into the halfway mark of Hidden, and I can’t honestly say that it isn’t rehashing old formulae, cos it is. Unlike the other non-OCN police procedural — I Remember You — Hidden is treading safe waters. The plot is straight as an arrow — capture the Hidden Boss, Ghost (who may turn out to be someone from the Law and Order side). The key players are also stereotypes of detectives commonly seen in film and other literature.
1. The Alpha
Leader of the pack, usually suave, plays it cool and totally inscrutable. Team Leader Jang’s doppelganger can be found in Ten’s Team Leader Yeo Ji-hoon, You’re All Surrounded‘s Seo Pan-seok, Bad Guys’ Oh Goo-tak, and many others.
Although he usually stays in the background, there’s no question as to who holds the command post as the team defers to him (grudgingly or not). Plus, even though we hardly see him in action, those times when he does fight, he proves to be a peerless fighter.
But his most important trait which makes his team mates toe the line is his absolute trust in their abilities. He doesn’t breathe down their necks or micromanage them, but sets their sights on the prey and let them hunt.
2. The Everyman Guy
This detective is the one who solves cases cos he knows the grounds — very well. He’s not aloof like the Alpha, who may have some difficulties connecting with the common men (likely the Alpha’s mannerisms will scare them). The Everyman Guy easily brings down the cautionary wall his targets set up, and he can weasel all sorts of information out from them by talking to them in the same wavelength.
In Hidden, this role is Sergeant Tae-pyeong (re: his role playing the homeless vagabond in ep3). His brother-in-arms will be Ten’s Baek Do-sik, or Bad guys’ Park Woong-cheol. They all share similar traits — very salt of the earth, able to rally people around them, no nonsense and yet sympathetic to the mundane trials of the man in the street.
3. The Unknown Factor
Usually someone who is in the team, yet seemingly not “in” it. Like Gun-woo and Bad Guys’ Lee Jung-moon. Both are brilliant, but very much prefers to work independently. That is not to say they don’t contribute to the team, they do…but usually they offer their intelligent insights with a sulky face. (ok, maybe “sulky” is too strong…”unwilling”?) [kooriyuki: Otherwise known as the loose canon]
They are also like lone wolves. Fearless hunters in their own rights, and a great addition to the pack. However, they are also volatile, and harder to keep in line. The Alpha usually spends more time on them — either by keeping a side eye close watch over them or verbally/ physically reining them in.
4. The Femma Fatale
As the title suggests, the female in the team. And cos she’s a policewoman, she imbues the team with positive female energies. In other words, she plays the one who has uncannily sharp instincts which usually are not based on logic, but on “the feels”. Like how Ten’s Nam Ye-ri channels the last thoughts and sights of the murder victims, by (sometimes, literally) being in their shoes.
Jang Min-joo in Hidden also displays her feminine instincts in ep2 when she gets this idea out of nowhere that maybe the murder of the judge is only a smokescreen. Proven later by Tae-pyeong and Gun-woo, when they troop down to the scene to “sniff around”.
It doesn’t necessarily spell failure even if Hidden is not re-inventing its police characters. Rather, there is a reason why tried and tested formulae work: seasoned police procedural viewers like myself expect a certain familiarity in a team’s makeup, cos we know (from our countless hours watching such shows) that such a team will emerge victorious.