Though the formula of opposites attracting in dramas has been tried and tested, there is just something inherently appealing about banter between two people with completely different personalities who band together to fulfill a common goal. This appeal increases two-fold when the common goal is solving a crime before time runs out.
Investigation Couple, also known as Partners of Justice, delivers on this formula by throwing together Eun Sol (Jeong Yoo-mi), a warm-hearted rookie prosecutor with curmudgeonly forensic doctor Baek Bom (Jung Jae-young) to solve crimes and serve justice. I live for the occasions where the cynic melts under the rookie’s warmth and cracks a smile, and the rookie begins to recognize the cynic’s harsh words as a guise for keeping people away, and gets close to them anyway!
The first three minutes of Investigation Couple consist of forensic doctor Baek Bom solving a case brought to him by Detective Chan Soo-ho (Lee Yi-Kyung) in a matter of minutes after performing an autopsy on the victim, and then yelling at the detective to do better. These three minutes are extremely effective in establishing Baek Bom’s Sherlock-esque, push-pull personality.
The scene then cuts to Eun Sol driving to her new job at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutor’s Office’s Criminal Division Eight. She is mistaken for an intern by her co-workers due to her beauty, despite her being top of her class according to her senior and fellow prosecutor, Kang Hyun (Park Eun-sok).
This foreshadows that Eun Sol might have a hard time being taken seriously and is expected to fail. The foreshadowing comes true when the prosecutor chief (Ahn Suk-hwan), whose name is unknown as of episode 4, assigns a high profile case to newbie Eun Sol.
Eun Sol comes off as a bit unlikable at first. She tells her mother (Han Mi-mo) that she won’t quit her job because it’s “fun,” and makes frustrating mistakes that would have been understandable had she not graduated at the top of class. She is a trust fund baby who, out of boredom, guilt, and a love for crime shows, decided to become a prosecutor to experience excitement. I am simultaneously wary of her yet compelled to keep watching the show to see if Eun Sol proves me wrong.
One might surmise that the prosecutor chief is, well, a chief supporting character in the show, as he is responsible for assigning Eun Sol cases. However, he isn’t treated like it, which is frustrating. His name is unknown, even by episode four, and it’s unclear whether or not he is to be trusted. The show could do a better job highlighting his moral ambiguity — if that’s what they’re aiming for — through a sharp change in background music, shots that show his sinister facial expressions, or perhaps subtly integrating some background information about him. Thus far, it’s grasping at straws to establish an overarching villain in this show.
In their first meeting, Baek Bom scolds Eun Sol for ruining his crime scene and intimidates her into leaving. Eun Sol doesn’t let his cold personality deter her, however, and more than holds her own against him in subsequent scenes. The banter between the two is witty, entertaining, and encouraging. It promises a growing relationship between the two — which again is the main appeal of this show — where Eun Sol’s warm personality thaws the reluctant Baek Bom, who comes to respect Eun Sol after witnessing her dedication to her work.
The other supporting characters, like Detective Chan Soo-ho, Prosecutor Kang Hyun, and Eun Sol’s co-workers, Detective Kang Dong-sik and Cheon Mi-ho, aren’t introduced well. The show resorts to telling the audience about the latter two’s personalities rather than showing them, and hints poorly at Kang Hyun’s sinister side through shots of his troubled face at news of Eun Sol being assigned a high profile case as her first. Though frustrating, the zero-point-five-dimensional personalities of these characters also drives me to continue watching the show to see if and how the writers flesh them out.
Investigation Couple moves at a very fast pace and is riddled with surprising twists. The show often ends on cliffhangers, which keeps me on tenterhooks, waiting for the next episode — even though MBC airs four episodes a week. I want to see how Eun Sol will get justice, whether or not Baek Bom will help her, and what wordplay the two will exchange if he does or does not!
This fast pacing, however, also allows for many plot holes. Eun Sol discloses to her chief that she is a fan of crime shows, yet she forgets to don gloves before examining her first crime scene, leading Baek Bom to yell at her. The show contradicts itself to create disagreements, which is exasperating because it either undermines the character’s intellect or the audience’s. Since the show is a few episodes in, I hope that the show overcomes this weakness to deliver well-constructed conflict.
The trope of two people with somewhat clashing personalities working together to solve crimes is not new nor groundbreaking. However, Investigation Couple convinces the audience to give it a chance by providing entertaining banter between the two leads, promises of future character development, and a fast-paced plot riddled with intriguing twists and turns.
(Images via MBC)