Oooh, a vigilante drama. Usually these come in 2 types – the bad vigilantes, who disrupt law and order, or the good ones, who help those victims who fall through the gap (so to speak). Thankfully, Lookout belongs to the latter group.
· Lee Shi-young (from My Beautiful Bride) as Detective Jo Soo-ji. She loses her daughter when a high school kid pushes her off a roof. Unfortunately, the suspect is the son of the Chief Prosecutor, so he gets off scot-free. Angered, Soo-ji takes matters into her own hands, and naturally loses her job. The vigilante group ropes her in (partly cos she is a sharp shooter, and a good detective) and she gets her revenge thru them.
· Kim Young-kwang (from Sweet Stranger and Me) as Prosecutor Jang Do-han. On the surface, he plays the typical corrupted prosecutor, interested in only furthering his career via sucking up to the wrong people. However, he is part of the vigilante group, and his job as a prosecutor is merely a cover for revenge on Chief Prosecutor, who persecuted Do-han’s daddy on the premise that he is a suspected spy for the N. Koreans.
· Kim Tae-hoon (from Angry Mom) as Prosecutor Kim Eun-joong. He carries a torch for single mother and fellow co-worker, Soo-ji. Unlike Do-han, Eun-joong is your Good Prosecutor, through and through (even though his father is Chief Justice). (and it feels mighty strange to see Kim Tae-hoon in 500% Good Guy role)
· Kim Seul-gi (from Oh My Ghostess) as Seo Bo-mi. A hermit who hides in her studio filled (literally) with screens that access all the CCTVs Seoul has to offer. She is literally the “eye” of the vigilante operation.
· Key (from Drinking Solo) as Kong Kyung-soo. He plays the Runner role and the Hacker in the vigilante group. From the debut, he appears to be a thrill seeker, but not exactly very bright. Thankfully, there’s Bo-mi to guide him.
Present day: Soo-ji carries out her duty for the vigilante group to stop a man who is speeding on the road, with his wife held hostage. The detectives (her former colleagues) rush in to arrest Kim Woo-sung, when his car finally careens to a stop.
Rewind to May 2016: we learn how Soo-ji entered the vigilante organisation. Kim Woo-sung waltzed into the station and confessed that he stabbed a man in 2008 (another innocent guy took the rap for him). Woo-sung claimed that he had to confess, otherwise “someone” will leak this info to the press and destroy his family and career. Soo-ji tried to take his statement, only to be stopped by smarmy prosecutor Do-han. It seems like the Prosecution knew that they HAD arrested the wrong guy, and is now trying to cover up their previous mistake. Soo-ji later learnt from her co-worker, Prosecutor Kim, that Do-han may be very intelligent, but he suffers from an inferiority complex from his poor family background and now spends his career trying to move up the ladder, no matter what it takes.
Kim Woo-sung’s case still made it to the press though, as a reporter suddenly turned up at the Prosecutor Office one morning, annoying Do-han’s boss (who was in charge of Woo-sung’s case in 2008). Do-han placated his boss and assured him he will “settle” the issue. He managed to convince the police that there were too little incriminating evidence against Kim Woo-sung. In order to make the arrest, Soo-ji and her superior staked out Woo-sung friend’s (whom Woo-sung claimed has knowledge of the murder) night club. In the car, Soo-ji received a phone call from her daughter (Yoo-na), who sulked that mummy “forgot her promise for Children’s Day”. Soo-ji assumed the promise to be the pair of new shoes Yoo-na wanted, and said that she had already told Grandma to pass it to her.
2 days later. Children’s Day. Yoo-na and Grandma attended a magic show at the welfare centre. Midway, Yoo-na slipped out. She met with a high school boy (Yoon Shi-wan) whom she befriended earlier, cos he helped out at the centre frequently. She asked him to take her to a “place nearest the sky”.
Soo-ji and her superior managed to capture Woo-sung’s friend for questioning. On the way back to station, she received a call from her frantic mum, informing her that Yoo-na was missing. Soo-ji rushed to the centre, only to witness with dread, a stretcher bearing her unconscious daughter to hospital. She had fallen from a tall building. At the hospital, Soo-ji received a CCTV video from an anonymous source showing Yoo-na entering the building with Shi-wan.
In the ICU, Yoo-na woke up briefly to accuse Shi-wan of pushing her, before lapsing into unconsciousness again. Infuriated, Soo-ji tried to arrest Shi-wan, on the basis that Yoo-na (who was afraid of heights) would never go near a tall building. But Soo-ji later realised from a torn drawing found at the crime scene, which Yoo-na had made for her daddy (Soo-ji told Yoo-na he died, instead of him abandoning them), that she had earlier promised Yoo-na to “send” her picture to Daddy in Heaven.
However, Do-han had use Yoo-na’s case as leverage for Woo-sung’s – in exchange for the Chief Prosecutor agreeing to drop Woo-sung’s case, Do-han would ensure the innocence of Shi-wan. Yoo-na eventually died from the fall, thereby eliminating the sole witness for the case. Crazed with anger and the injustice of it all, Soo-ji took her gun to Shi-wan’s high school intending to shoot (?) him. Although Shi-wan never did confess, the smirks he secretly sent Soo-ji confirmed her suspicions. Soo-ji was arrested by her superior for taking Shi-wan hostage in school.
Unknown to her though, a vigilante group had noticed her plight. The leader (a priest?) informed Bo-mi, whom we see hiding in a darkened room with surveillance cameras, to save Soo-ji as she was to be the new recruit. On the way back to the station, their car went out of control (thanks to the pile of screws placed by Kyung-soo, which punctured the tyres) and Soo-ji and her boss got into an accident.
What is even more surprising…we learnt that Do-han plays a two-faced character. On the surface, he is attempting to stop Soo-ji and the police from re-opening Woo-sung’s case. But he is the one orchestrating the entire event (maybe not for Yoo-na’s murder, which we know he regretted), in order to make himself closer to Chief Prosecutor. Do-han has a private vendetta against the Chief Prosecutor, who arrested (and tortured) his father on account that he sold military secrets to the North.
Other than Lee Shi-young’s rather over-the-top acting as a young mother who dotes on her daughter, I think Lookout is pretty promising. I like Lee Shi-young in action roles, since she has a real life background as a lightweight boxer, her fight sequences look less scripted. Kim Young-kwang has always been a good actor, imo, juz that the scripts he take on do not do him justice at times (re: D-Day). Hopefully Lookout won’t be another one. Add Kim Seul-gi in for another eccentric role (she has done so many I’ve lost count), I’m in.
The vigilante narrative isn’t new, and requires the basic premise of a society where Law and Order have failed. Again, a corrupted judicial system is a common theme in Kdramas – which copies from the country’s current political turmoil and its citizens’ increasing cries to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots. Even if Lookout may be part-fiction, I still love the idea of a secret organisation meting out justice on those baddies who use their powerful background and money to evade capture. It’s probably a Lilliputian thing – I can’t stand the mighty Gullivers.
The debut has been pretty slow, and we get a long flashback on the reason why Soo-ji throws away her badge and joins “the Dark Side”. Technically speaking, police officers detest vigilantes. Cos the latter has the potential to become another “Law” unto itself – there’s a thin line between a vigilante and a terrorist. So for Soo-ji, who the debut has set up to be an officer who is PROUD to be one and who has ALWAYS believed in the judicial system, to throw away her badge…it’s a big issue. Although Lee Shi-young’s acting when she (as Soo-ji) lost her only daughter, didn’t really connect with me, the horrifying storyline does. As a mum myself, I can juz imagine the anger and powerless-ness Soo-ji must be going through when her daughter’s murderer is juz at arm’s length, but she can’t arrest him since he is the son of Someone Powerful. She already shows she can’t care less about proper policing when she recklessly brings her service piece to Shi-wan’s school to force a confession out of him. I am quite sure she won’t shoot him, her police instincts are too powerful to allow her to do that to an unarmed person.
But to have Shi-wan lie through his teeth and smirk at her while publicly hiding behind his powerful family – no wonder Soo-ji let loose a bullet towards him. I can’t wait for the next few eps to have Soo-ji and her new “company” wipe that smile off his face. Shi-wan is a sociopath who needs to be locked up; he may appear to be popular, but I am guessing he is unhappy with his family (particularly his dad), and cannot stand it that a little girl who ONLY has a mother, thinks so highly of her mum, and her (absent) dad. Yeah, definite sociopath.