First Impression: Signal

Hmm…I dunno if I juz watched ep0 or ep1 of Signal. But whatever, it’s a good show, and I won’t nitpick.

Main Cast:

  • Lee Je-hoon (from Secret Door) as Rookie Patrolcop Park Hae-young. He is a little distrustful of the police force, having prev bad experiences dealing with them. (ironic that he joined them though) Cocky, but possesses a keen sense of observation and ability to use what he saw/remembered to crack cases. (almost Sherlocky)
  • Kim Hye-soo (from The Queen of Office) as Team Leader Cha Soo-hyun. Used to work under Team Leader Jae-han, she now leads Homicide Team 1. Cynical in nature, but also willing to risk her neck when her gut instincts tell her to.
  • Cho Jin-woong (from Tree with Deep Roots) as Team Leader Lee Jae-han. Erm…he was the team leader of Homicide Team 1 in the 2000s, when Soo-hyun was juz a rookie detective. Your typical anti-establishment cop, who has hound instincts, but like to step on all the authorities’ toes.

Synopsis:

Only watched ep0 (or1??) subbed, so apologies again. I’ll follow up with weecaps, if Dramabeans doesn’t recap.

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Year 2000, a little girl (Kim Yoo-jung) sits alone and watches her friends play. She notices a little boy standing apart doing the same and approaches him. Unfortunately, the boy (Hae-young) ignores her and runs off. It starts to pour after class, and Yoo-jung is stuck in school without an umbrella. She waits for her parents at the gate. Hae-young passes her by…with an umbrella (big enuf to share). She smiles at him hesitantly, but all he does is dash off in the rain — without using his umbrella. (BOYS) Hae-young notices a well dressed young lady staring at the school. She later picks up Yoo-jung from the school gate.

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Dinner time, the news on Yoo-jung’s kidnapping is released, and police are on a manhunt for a medical undergrad suspect. Hae-young tries to tell the police that the suspect isn’t a man, but a lady, but no one pays attention to him. (in a flashback, we see that Hae-young’s hyung was captured for murder, even though he believed his hyung to be innocent)

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Years pass, and Yoo-jung’s case approaches its statute of limitations. In a day’s time, the case would be closed as “unresolved”. Hae-young is now a rookie patrol cop, he gets hauled in by Team Leader Cha for selling info about Kstars to tabloid papers. Hae-young huffs that all he did was search through the trash, so he isn’t breaking any laws. When he leaves the station, he is annoyed to find a police truck blocking his car. He tries calling the number on the windscreen…

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Flashback to Yr2000. Team Leader Lee brushes by a young Hae-young, who drops a note pointing out that the suspect is a woman. He picks it up by accident before rushing to present the latest findings on Yoo-jung’s kidnapping. Though his boss, Superintendent Ahn (Jang Hyun-sung) is adamant on the medical undergrad, Team Leader Lee has his misgivings. He points out that the suspect may have a girlfriend, since his credit card bills are all for payments of feminine products. Superintendent Ahn tells him to investigate on his own if he has issues.

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Which is what Team Leader Lee does. Someone has given him a tip-off to visit a soon-to-be shut downed mental hospital. He pokes around, and finds a corpse dangling from a manhole cover at the back of the hospital. It’s the medical undergrad, with his thumb loped off. (only thumbprints were found on the kidnapping note…which sparked off Team Leader Lee’s suspicions that there is more that meets the eye) He radios for help…

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…and his radio call gets picked up by Hae-young. Team Leader Lee reveals the location of the corpse, and asks for reinforcements…before he gets knocked unconscious by someone from behind. Hae-young is spooked, but mention of Yoo-jung’s case got him interested. He checks out the now disused hospital and really finds the dried out skeleton of the medical undergrad.

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Hae-young informs Team Leader Cha, who later questions him on how he knows about the body — and its identity. Hae-young reveals his involvement in Yoo-jung’s kidnapping case. Although Superintendent Ahn (who is now promoted to Police Comm) isn’t happy with the discovery of the skeletal remains, he tries to cover the case up by claiming the suspect died from suicide. Hae-young makes a bold decision to reveal it isn’t so…to the crowd of media reporters outside the station.

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So thanks to him, the case has to be re-opened — and resolved within the next 29h. Pooling what he remembered of the woman, he confidently says that it is likely that she was a nurse at the mental hospital a few years back. And since he had revealed that info to the media, it will be soon before someone calls to report their nursing colleague missing.

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And sure did. 2 calls were made, but both turn out to be duds. Late morning, a call from a Nurse Yoon from Seoul Hospital points that a nurse has gone missing after the news report. After going through the contents of the missing nurse’s (Nurse Kang) cabinet, which contains many expensive and trendy items, Hae-young is confident she is the murderer.

When Nurse Kang is brought in for questioning, Hae-young feels that something is amiss. She appears too plain looking. Totally unlike the psychological profile he had made for the murderer. And yep, Nurse Kang turns out not to be the suspect…but Nurse Yoon. She cleverly calculated the time to call in to “report” a “missing colleague” (who actually has applied to go on leave), knowing that the police will bite due to the short time frame.

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Hae-young is sure that Nurse Yoon is around to gloat during the final hours of Yoo-jung’s case…and sure enough, he spots her in a cafe nearby. He nearly misses her, but thankfully, Nurse Yoon is stopped by Team Leader Cha.

Review:

Oh man, so very action packed. The narrative is also tightly written, and Hae-young’s ability to profile the suspect is near supernatural. If this case is to be a flavor of what’s to come, I’d say “bring it on!”.

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Since this is only an intro to the team, not much is revealed yet about our characters. From the skimpy portions we had, we know that Hae-young has a natural distrust of authority. After witnessing his hyung getting hauled off for a crime — which he didn’t commit? (hopefully Signal will resolve that later) Team Leader Cha is the direct link between the past (Team Leader Lee) and present. I wonder also what exactly happened to Team Leader Lee, and who attacked him at the disused hospital. For some reasons, Signal seems to point out that Team Leader Lee has kinda gone missing. His old colleagues are still around, but they refer to him as though he is no longer with them.

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Well, since Signal is all about resolution of cold cases, maybe Team Leader Lee’s disappearance will be resolved.

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