I’m disappointed to say the latest work of Writer Park Kyung-soo kinda reminds me of one of his earlier works Empire of Gold – full of meandering comeuppance and backstabbing. I felt Whisper wasn’t as thrilling and attention grabbing as The Chaser or Punch, both of which I wait eagerly every week during their runs. Show had its characters running after one another, OR one pulling strings and the other trying to cut it, OR for a character to pretend to fall in a trap but ending up trapping the one who sets the trap. Phew, that was a mouthful but that pretty much summarises Show, imho.
The premise is no doubt interesting, a policewoman out to avenge her maligned ailing father, a David vs Goliath story which never fails to get its audience rooting for the underdog. However, where this story fails is at its overly ambitious attempt to have one too many smartass character, trying to outmanuever one another. To complicate the story, the policewoman Shin Young-joo (Lee Bo Young) is not the only character trying to take revenge for her father. Her main nemesis(es) are also at loggerheads with each other but that doesn’t necessarily means “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”.
The whole story started when Young-joo’s father was framed to kill his fellow journalist who’s also a close friend, and Young-joo’s out to prove her father’s innocence. The judge assigned to the case was Lee Dong-joon (Lee Sang Yoon), who is well-known for his righteousness. Dong-joon was however, trapped to setence Young-joo’s father and also made to marry the Big Bad’s daughter Soo-yeon (Park Se Young). Thus begins a whole cascade of events spearheaded by Young-joo because she’s just that badass and determined to take down the corrupted lawmakers.
I remember feeling restless somewhere in the midpoint, until our Big Bad Chairman Choi (the ever wonderful Kim Gab-soo) succumbs to his anger and kills his friend (?) Chairman Kang aka the second lead (?) Jung-il’s (Kwon Yul) father. I thought that’s going to be a gamechanger in Show, but before long it slipped back into the same old trappin-go-round. That begins the not-so-tragic “your Dad killed my Dad therefore we’re no longer lovers” troupe between Jung-il and Soo-yeon.
I guess we can say that the Bigger Bad is actually Chairman Kang, as it was the corruption between his firearms company and the Ministry of Defense that was what the late journalist wanted to uncover. The corruption was something that was decades-old and Chairman Choi’s law firm was in charge of covering it all these years. Their children were therefore involved as well, although they were first passionate lovers before turning into mortal enemies.
The beginning of Show where Young-joo blackmailed Dong-joon by having a one-night stand (?) before his wedding with Soo-yeon was controversial and kind of unnecessary imo, although I understand from the character’s point of view she had nothing to lose and was all rage-y at that time. Thus, I thought the loveline between them was kind of forced and too quick in its development and I wonder if it’s really important to have a loveline at all (of course it’s a waste not to, when it’s a Lee Bo Young and Lee Sang Yoon reunion in years).
I really enjoyed the performance by Kwon Yul though, and the Punch cameos and references in the last episode. Kwon Yul was fantastic as Jung-il, ruthless and determined but knew when he had to accept defeat (and plan for his comeback secretly). Soo-yeon stepped up her game a little too late, but at least she wasn’t a vase as we thought in the beginning and I thought Park Se Young did a good job in portraying the changes Soo-yeon went through. It does make me wonder if Jung-il and Soo-yeon were ever really in love before; if they did then it’s really scary to see how greed and the desparation to survive can turn love into hate.
I guess what didn’t make Whisper tick like some of its predecessors did was the characters here felt distant and not relatable. It was drama for drama’s sake, with high stakes but not so much of emotional investment, at least for me. It’s definitely not a bad drama, but sometimes too much twists and turns take away the enjoyment of watching a drama from the viewer.