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First Impressions and Unfiltered Thoughts: Stranger 2 (Forest of Secrets 2)

Hwang Si Mok & Han Yeo Jin are back and ready to fight corruption in season 2 of the hit drama Stranger. Come find out if it is as good as season one and whether you should start watching along with us.

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Hwang Si Mok is back

Kmuse: I truly love this character and his disconnect from polite society. As much as I enjoy Han Yeo Jin’s character, it is Si Mok that I come back to watch. I love to watch Si Mok’s micro-expressions as his brain hits on a mystery.

Telzeytalks: Si Mok is fun to watch because he is stoic without being wooden. He isn’t emotional about things, they are what they are. When he comes to Seoul and doesn’t have a place to stay, we see his eyes squint as he contemplates dropping in on his mother, and without being disappointed that he would be a disturbance, he just goes to a hotel.

Drama Geek: My favorite parts of the last season were with Hwang Si Mok and Han Yeo Jin so I need LOTS more of them together. They both shine as characters and actors when they’re together.

Dramatic Directing

Kmuse: I have been a fan of several of Park Hyun Suk’s dramas. The most notable being Uncontrollably Fond. So I was fine with him taking over the series. Thankfully, his vision has fit right in with the vibe of season one. I especially enjoy how he is filming Cho Seung Woo. Cho Seung Woo getting many closeups, makes me a happy fangirl.

Telzeytalks: I have no idea why Si Mok was driving along the beach in the beginning, but fog in the darkness is a good metaphor for the confusion of too many events obscuring the significant ones. Like last season, a lot goes on, and you still have to pay attention as they keep dropping little tidbits of information along the way. All the close-ups without using fill lights gives everyone little shadows in their faces that make them look tired. But there are still little humorous touches, like Si Mok never getting to finish a meal! Haha!

Drama Geek: Mr. Drama Geek pointed out how the light is more harsh this season and everyone feels very real and gritty. I think it plays well with the writer’s vision, and the editing is superb. It really helps you get into his thought process with the way they’re seamlessly inserting scenes from the cases.

Goddess Bae Doona

Kmuse: Anytime you have Bae Doona join a movie or drama, it is a real treat. She just provides gravitas to any performance she gives, and this is no exception. I really am enjoying the conflict of her wanting to solve crimes and make a difference to the system. I look forward to seeing her connect more with Cho Seung Woo’s character in future episodes. So far, they have not had a lot of scenes together, and I really want them to team up and take down corruption.

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Telzeytalks: I miss Yeo Jin’s short perky hairstyle, but she still has spunk, although she is more subdued with her new boss. I love that she still calls up Si Mok (and reminds him to say hello) and Detective Jang and falls back into their old working friendships. She and Jang work pretty well together, ganging up to intimidate the hotel clerk!

Drama Geek: Yup she is a goddess. LOL. Okay, I may be a huge fangirl and I have no clear opinion. I am looking forward to her character breaking out of the position she’s found herself in. She isn’t happy with her current duties, and she’s itching to stir up trouble.

Slow burn plot

Kmuse: If you have watched season one, then you know that this writer is huge on the layered narrative buildup. Already there are multiple stories/crimes that are building the story and will hopefully combine into something special. This is a show you really have to focus on and is not for someone looking for something light and fluffy.

Telzeytalks: Yeo Jin’s new boss Choi Bit remarks that everything is connected, and that is already proving to be true. Yeo Jin wonders why seemingly unimportant seaside drownings have already caused a cover up and favoritism. Si Mok has discovered that details have been dropped out of the official reports, and has told Chief Kang that closing the case so fast robs the accused of the opportunity to reflect and feel remorse. We know it’s all going to lead to something else big.

Drama Geek: I will admit that both seasons start slow for me, and I have to just be patient and trust the writer to weave everything together and ramp it up at the right time.

New and old side characters

Kmuse: One of the things that make this drama enjoyable is its ethically questionable side characters. I’m especially enjoying the return of Seo Dong Jae (Lee Joon Hyuk). He is just so enjoyably slimy. The addition of Choi Moo Sung as the head of the prosecutors is also a great casting decision. He is one of those character actors that really shines in whatever he is portraying.

Telzeytalks: Oh yes, the return of Prosecutor Seo. I loved his expression when he saw that Si Mok was already ensconced in the Supreme Prosecutor’s office! I also loved the Chief asking Si Mok what he thought of Seo and saying, “I thought he was fishy too.” Hahaha! Seo is really feeding into the storyline of the prosecutors vs the police. And speaking of police, don’t you think Choi Bit seems a teeny bit suspicious?

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Drama Geek: All the new characters make me side eye them in suspicion. We know where Dong Jae stands (wherever he will reap the benefits, but not evil) so I am suspecting everyone else. LOL

Would we recommend?

Kmuse: If you like a slow burn, and well written, well-acted drama, then I highly recommend this series. Start with season 1 and go on to season 2 and enjoy.

Telzeytalks: I agree that you will enjoy the new season more if you’ve seen the old one and are familiar with the characters. This is a deep and clever show without being too dark. I’m very happy with getting more of Si Mok and Yeo Jin! We are in for a great ride!

Drama Geek: I completely agree with Kmuse on this one.

Til our next first impression,

The Fangirls

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