signal : a review of sorts

if you could change your fate, would you?

go away merida

no, seriously, would you? would you change the past to fix the future? this question fascinates me, because it's not simply answered. changing one simple detail of the past can change everything in the future, as most time travel movies have pounded into our skulls. so would you risk it? would you change the past so you could save someone, even if it destroys everything you know in life?

Park Haeyoung would.

when this 29 year old profiler with a broken family life and pent up anger issues discovers a handheld radio--a flaky piece of trash that looks broken and useless--he thinks nothing of it...until a voice from the past addresses him by name, reporting about a case from the past. a case where Haeyoung was the last person who saw the victim before her kidnapping. this development turns everything about this angry, skeptical dork's life upside down.

when Lee Jaehan's radio handheld turns on, and an officer who belongs to no precinct of that time speaks of upcoming crimes, his life is turned upside down as well. he becomes the instrument of a present day cold case squad, changing the past by tips from the future. together, the two men must convince each other that this is really happening and that they can change things, all the while trying to discover who is behind the same evil lurking both in the past and in the present.

I didn't think I'd like this show. I mean, cop shows are hit or miss for me. I haven't liked a kdrama from this genre since You're All Surrounded. I really think it's the weird time-travel angle that really sold it for me. at first, I thought it was weird and a little cheesy, but after an episode or two, I realized I'd fallen in love.

she is so smooth and cool like HOW???

the characters are precious and need to be loved. I adore Park Haeyoung, mostly because the actor did an amazing job of expressing his emotions. just from his tired eyes you can tell that this guy has been through too much, and his delivery is strong without being over the top. Haeyoung is a very determinated, goal oriented character, but he's also a very loving person. he just doesn't realize it. he's spent most of his adult life shutting people out, because you can't get hurt if you have no one around you, but once he joins the cold case squad, you see how caring and worried he can be about others.  he's also awkward, which is hilarious. I fell in love with this character from episode one.

his arc of development is beautiful. like I said, he tends to reject people in the beginning, but at the end he puts everything on the line for his coworkers. he begins the show as a skeptic and ends with a smile on his face. I wish you could've known more about him from the beginning, though. his story doesn't really start to develop until midway through the episodes, when they get to the 1999 Inju rape case. little bits of his shell are stripped away over the course of the episodes, and once you get to know the very dark details of his painful childhood, you see just how far he's come. you look at the bristly young man, trying to make his way through the police force, and see the neglected child who lost more than his brother--he lost his best friend before his very eyes. no child should have to see what Haeyoung did.

Lee Jaehan, our detective from the past, is a very interesting character, partially because you get to see him over such a large time span. he works hard, wants to make the world a better place, and shows his affection in the awkwardest of ways. the biggest part that I love about this grumpy old detective (who is actually a big fluffball, don't let his scowl fool him) is how he never gives up. even when Soohyun tells him when he dies, he still does what he feels is right. even when they solve the crime in the future, despite Haeyoung's warning, he takes what he knows and tracks down the real criminal in his time. I really admire that about him.

he also stands up for his home-girl when the other force members are being chauvinistic jerks
Jaehan  also developed in a beautiful way. he's almost the opposite of Haeyoung. at the beginning of the show, he is a bright, enthusiastic policeman, rather than jaded and angry...and then slowly grows more and more withdrawn and distrustful as his time as an officer lengthens. he never loses the essence of himself, though--the past of him that believes in justice and protecting the weak.

this scene. I CRIED A LOT OK.

Cha Soohyun is my hero. I actually disliked her at first--she seemed flat and boring--but as you see her in both the past and the present, you really get to see the entirety of her personality. you see the shift from wide-eyed newbie to the guarded team leader who would do anything to find the man she lost. she doesn't take crap from anyone either--any time she picked a fight or beat someone up, I was alternately shouting "YASSSSS GIRL GET 'EM" and "NOOOOOOO DON'T BE AN IDIOT!!" her pink track suit cracks me up. like Haeyoung, you can see her exhaustion and pain just from her tired eyes. when she runs to the morgue to check the unidentified bodies, terrified that it's Jaehan, you see just how hard these past sixteen years have been on her. she's always waiting for that phone call, and this actress portrays that anxiety perfectly.

I also love how she loves Haeyoung. I was terrified that they would make the two of them into a couple, but they remained in a very adorable friendship. I did love her mom constantly trying to set them up, though. despite their rocky beginning, they exchange sass like old friends, worry about each other constantly, and tell each other their darkest secrets. they really care for each other, and they are the epitome of platonic partners. in the end, Haeyoung proves that he would do anything for Soohyun's sake if necessary.

thank you, drama writers, for making a show without romance as the central theme

in fact, the three way relationship between our detectives--the past, the present, and the one who spans the two--fits together in a wonderful way. Haeyoung, who didn't get a normal family and lost his only role model at an absurdly young age, looks at Soohyun and Jaehan for guidance and affirmation. Soohyun lost her man and her hope and her desire to care until she bumps into the awkward profiler, and she now takes care of Haeyoung and searches for evidence that Jaehan might be alive. And Jaehan, who feels the weight of the world for losing the girl he never got to love, as well as the rest of his cases with unhappy endings, believes in something that he cannot see and watches over young, lost Haeyoung in the past. their stories intertwine into a story across time--they form more of a family than Haeyoung ever had before.


another thing I love about our three not-so-merry detectives is the fact that every single one of them is vulnerable. Haeyoung witnessed his brother's suicide, Soohyun was nearly murdered after being kidnapped, and Jaehan couldn't save the girl he loved in time, even though he had the future on his side. they've all lost something dear to them, and except in Soohyun's case, at the end they can never get that something back. a part of them is lost in time, unable to be restored in their manipulation of the past.

normally police corruption is a drama trope I can't stand. I typically roll my eyes and fast forward through (*coughs* You're All Surrounded).  in Signal, this story is tastefully woven through the plot, making it a little less obnoxious and more appealing. without the police corruption, the plot wouldn't float, actually. you need the chaos and confusion and betrayal to add to the mystery of it all. it actually made me think really hard about who is good and who is evil, because Signal portrays various "levels" of corruption and evil. I found myself rooting for some of the bad guys, even when they did wrong things to save themselves. I'm still crying about Chisoo. I trusted you, man. and you know what happens when you betray people's trust? you get SHOT.

this show made me scream so many times. not from anger or frustration, but from sadness and surprise. just ask my sister. I would figure out something minutes before it went down--or figure out that time could go down two potential roads--and yell at the screen. it made me cry, especially every time something took place that time could not change. when it came down to the final episode, I honestly had no clue how things would end. would they be able to save the detective from his past fate? would Haeyoung die just to make things right? would they sacrifice everything...only for nothing to change?

it is by no means perfect--I have several bones I'd like to pick with the writers, particularly how the last episode didn't have the same rush as the preceding ones. also--that whole corruption plot? did it really get wrapped up? or just shoved under the rug as an easy out? another thing I didn't love was how grainy and blurry the "past" footage was. I loved how they changed the color correction with the time change (the past was very warm, yellow, and brown, while the future was very blue, white, and cold), but the blurriness really made it difficult to watch sometimes (and hard to screenshot, lol). I've already mentioned my dislike of how they kept information about Haeyoung back until later in the show, and even though that's a key part of the story, I think they could've given him a little more back story from the beginning. I know I was confused when we had his first ever screaming flashback with absolutely no explanation.

me on my way to find answers

Signal is in my top five favourite shows right now--it's number one in my kdrama favourites. it's the first time I've really fallen in love with a dark and serious kdrama--and absolutely had to finish it. as someone hates finishing really good shows, that means a lot. I'm really glad I gave it a shot. it's not for the light of heart--and it can be potentially triggering, as it shows people before and after committing suicide (although after closer inspection I saw they do blur out Sunwoo's wrists, thankfully) as well as two heavy scenes where rapes are implied. it is emotionally draining, but it's also a very funny show. not in a happy go lucky way, but in a subtle sarcastic style. it perfectly balances out the darkness without creating a farce.

THIS SCENE. this was what sold me. smack dab in a serious moment and he turns into THE WORLD'S BIGGEST DORK

if I could sum this show up in one sentence, it would be this: not everything is as it seems. there is betrayal, there is mystery, and there is manipulation of fate. people who should've lived died. those who never should've seen light of day escaped. and every one had their life changed, whether they knew it or not. I definitely recommend this show to anyone--it is one that I think veteran kdrama fans will LOVE, as well as those who are new to this tv show culture. just beware--it is a very open ending, with enough potential for a sequel that might leave you screaming. at least, I did.

also you should watch the behind the scenes stuff because THE ACTORS ARE PRECIOUS

let's just hope they don't pull another Let's Eat 2 on us and CHANGE THE ACTORS. ugh. *shudders*

^^ really amazing mv, but once again, trigger warning^^

go watch this amazing show, guys! it's fully subbed, fully available, and fully amazing here! (click it. you know you want to. be brave and check it out.) tell me if you do, because I need someone to love my babies with!

hope you guys have an AMAZING week!!!



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