kooriyuki: Wow the first episode is intense. But then again when I saw the writer, I’m a weeeee bit wary (he made Scholar Who Walks the Night a mess!) that Show will go downhill. Unjinx unjinx! Anyway, the first episode is mostly introducing us to the main players of the game, and starts the death counter counting.


Joo Sung Chan (Shin Ha Kyun) is a professional negotiator, working for corporates and private organisations rather than the police force. He goes to the Phillipines at the request of the Chairman of K Group, to negotiate with a bunch of kidnappers to release their Korean abductees. The deal was struck only when the kidnappers killed one of the abductees who’s been sick for some time, and Sung Chan promised to attribute the death to sickness.


Sung Chan was hailed as a national hero when he brought the rest of the abductees home safe and sound, and at a press conference, a reporter Yoon Hee Sung (Yoo Joon Sang) asked numerous questions, most of which are skeptical to the death cause of the unfortunate abductee. Sung Chan skirted around the questions and Hee Sung was eventually made to stop the questionings. Hee Sung is still very much suspicious about Sung Chan’s success but there was no other methods for him to find out the truth.


We’re also introduced to our last main character, Yeo Myung Ha (Jo Yoon Hee), who was trying out for the SWAT team, but we eventually learnt that her true aspirations lie in the police force’s negotiation team. It happens that the negotiation team’s leader is also her uncle Oh Jung Hak (special appearance by Sung Dong Il), and it seems that they are each other’s only family. Myung Ha looks up to her uncle very much and he is the reason why she wants to become a negotiator.

Because of the Phillipines’ kidnapping, Sung Chan becomes the revenge target of one of the abductees, who turns out to be the younger brother of the abductee who was killed. The younger brother was furious that Sung Chan let his brother die and even suggests to the kidnappers to mask the real reason of his brother’s death. And as we see how younger brother holding some people in restaurant hostage with bombs strapped to himself, it is not a simple revenge but one that is staged with an unknown person who knows Sung Chan very well.


The choice of the restaurant is deliberate because Sung Chan’s girlfriend (special appearance by Kim Min Seo) works there, and Sung Chan turns up there on that fateful day itself. As the younger brother bomber tries to get Sung Chan’s girlfriend to call Sung Chan, he had to engage in a phonecall with the unknown, who pressurized him to reveal the truth behind the negotiation that took place in the Phillipines, to the media. This unknown person even calculated correctly that the clip of Sung Chan’s revelation will never be made known to the public, as Sung Chan’s political connections will prevent it at all cost. And so, the bomber detonates the bomb which kills himself, Sung Chan’s girlfriend and Jung Hak who happened to be there as a police negotiator.


I’m interested in knowing how Sung Chan ends up working for the police, and who is it that masterminded the killing of Sung Chan’s loved one. Given how this writer’s previous work (other than Scholar who Walks the Night) Liar Game was pretty well received (sab hates it though), I think Pied Piper may well be a gripping thriller drama. I just want to know why the title Pied Piper, and why is Sung Chan the mouse.

sab: I know, I know…I’m supposed to give Antoine‘s weecaps by this week…but I juz can’t resist another tvN’s police procedural. Although this isn’t one of the run-of-the-mill police thrillers from Kdramaland. For one, it’s not the fists-and-action type of thrillers, but focuses instead on the softer (?) side of threat removals — aka police negotiation.


Unlike HK serials which tend to stylize police negotiation as a very cool, and a no-firearms-but-effective method to disengage criminals, in Pied, it is obvious the Police Negotiation Team is the unwanted underdog of the police force. Made worse when the team took the brunt of the blame for the explosion that killed Sung-chan’s girlfriend (and almost-fiancée). And they did nearly got disbanded in ep2, had Sung-chan not intervened with his connection to K Group’s chairman (and later the Police Comm) to retain the team, on condition that he joins them (with the hidden agenda to find out who is the mastermind behind the explosion).


Coupled with the underdog theme is also the journeyman’s motif. In Pied, Sung-chan (and the deceased Team Leader Jung-hak) are seasoned negotiators. Though both of them start off on different footings. Sung-chan is the jaded, hardened and cynical negotiator, and while these traits make him clear headed and increase his chance of winning every negotiation, they also cause him to lose his “self” behind his mask. In contrast, Jung-hak (and also his foster daughter cum student, Myung-ha) approaches the negotiation table with enough empathy to put a counselor to shame. But, again, empathy cuts both ways — Myung-ha’s overflowing compassion nearly leads her to fall into the Stockholm Syndrome trap in ep2, had Sung-chan not pulled her back in time.


With the death of Jung-hak, Myung-ha takes tutelage under Sung-chan, and hopefully rein in her overabundance of emotions during negotiation. Likewise, Sung-chan can learn from Myung-ha, to figure out what exactly is his true self and desires behind that slick, grinning mask he wears.


And last point which makes me hooked on to Pied, is the mysterious whistling man who orchestrated the explosion. He is revealed to be Reporter (now News Anchor) Hee-sung. His antagonism towards Sung-chan is no secret in ep1. But to hate someone so much as  to plan an elaborate scheme to hurt him and “reveal” his weaknesses…hmm, I want to know his backstory. I will not be surprised if Sung-chan (in his earlier negotiations under K Group’s payroll), had probably “sacrificed” someone close to Hee-sung, leading the latter to seek revenge.


All in all, although Pied isn’t receiving much attention (most netizens whine that the cast is…ugly…and old. oh come on, go watch Sun then), it’s debut eps with its tight scripting and interesting characters make it a win for me.