Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Netflix Picks: Partners for Justice

Binge-watching series (should we still call them TV series if it is not technically on TV?) has been the norm for me lately. I tend to watch them in the mornings when I work out. I have been watching Netflix often lately, which is how I recently discovered the Korean drama Partners for Justice. It popped up as one of my suggested shows and I decided to try watching it. I ended up watching and finishing the series.

The show is a crime/medical drama that revolves around Eunsol, a newcomer prosecutor who solves cases with the help of forensic doctor Baekbeom. I am normally the type who watches K-Dramas of the romance and drama category so watching a Korean crime drama was new to me. I have seen Criminal Minds Korea, but since it is a US franchise show, Partners for Justice is my first in terms of crime-themed K-Dramas. 

It was interesting to watch the dynamic of the young, optimistic prosecutor combined with the grumpy, eccentric older doctor as they teamed together (albeit reluctantly on the part of Baekbeom) to solve the cases assigned to Eunsol. I enjoyed the combination of these two characters, and I loved that they had a great supporting cast for both seasons 1 and 2 which made their show both exciting and fun to watch. Ensemble casts where there are too many supporting roles whose background stories are mixed into the plot are common in K-Dramas, but they can be a hit or miss. Sometimes they can take away time from the main plot, but sometimes they tend to enhance it. For this show, it was the latter.

Baekbeom reminded me so much of Dr. House because he is such a brilliant doctor who does not get along well with other people and speaks his mind even if it disappoints the people around him. I like having lead characters who tend to go against the norm of being super likable people, so I enjoyed seeing him as the male lead. However, I felt that audiences did not have time to explore his personality more despite the story development, even if there were two seasons of the show. It seemed to me that there was still more to him than meets the eye that the viewers did not get to see. I do not know if the writers meant for it to be that way or if this is something that the actor wanted to portray.

I was a little curious about Baekbeom and Eunsol’s dynamic throughout the two seasons. I felt like they were being set up with a will-they-or-won’t-they kind of relationship despite the age gap and the contrasting personalities. It was like the writers started something but changed their minds by the end of it. It made me wonder what the writers’ real intention was with the moments these two had together.

If there is one thing that I did not like about this show it is that there are so many scenes with blurred-out parts. This is because of how conservative/strict Korean broadcast regulations are in comparison to other countries. As a crime and medical drama, I already expected the show to have a bit of blood, body parts, dead people, and such so to see them blurred out in the scenes that featured them was new to me. I am not so much annoyed as I am weirded out by the whole thing. For me, the show would have been better off not showing those scenes if they were going to blur them out anyway. Just show the scene at a different angle so that there would be no need for blurring.

In the two seasons of Partners for Justice I admired how the writers were able to blend in the various elements of the show: the stories of the lead characters, the background characters, the stories that came from the cases they were solving, and the story of the corruption that they all had to overcome to do their jobs. It was such a balanced combination that I did not mind all those stories coming together in one show. The pacing was also fast, so I did not have to drag or force myself to finish the two seasons right away.

It is rare for K-Dramas to have a second season, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this show had one. It was, however, disappointing to see that there were select cast members from season 1 who were no longer in the show in season 2. As much as there were characters who sometimes annoyed me, they still grew on me enough that when one of them appeared near the end of season 2 in a guest role I let out a bit of a scream of excitement when I saw him. That part made me happy, and I was grinning the entire time that I was watching this character on screen.

Another thing that I enjoyed in season 2 was the whole mysterious killer/assassin storyline that revolved around a character with a multiple personality disorder. I enjoyed watching the season because the reveal at the end – the part where I realized the story was not at all what I had assumed or expected it to be – made me want to watch everything all over again. 

The ending of the season teased a future storyline for a group of characters. It is too bad that they did not have another season after that (or at least get a spin-off show out of it) because those characters would have been fascinating to follow.

For fans of crime dramas who do not mind watching shows with subtitles, this is one K-Drama that I would recommend watching. It has a great ensemble cast, interesting plots that can surprise you, and fast pacing that keeps you watching. Blurred-out scenes aside, this was an entertaining one to watch.


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