'Awaken' Premiere: Nam Goong-min is back with a thriller that sets his character up as a psychopathic murderer
'Awaken' premiere episodes see Nam Goong-min, who is well known for shows such as 'Good Manager' and 'Hot Stove League' among others, play the lead role
In the premiere episodes of 'Awaken', we saw an intriguing set up for what is the investigation of a serial murder case that has so far seemed to be disconnected in any possible way. The only connection between the crimes is drawn because a reporter of a news channel ends up getting riddle letters that tell the audience and the cops where the next murder is supposed to take place. However, every time the cops ended up at the indicated scene of crime, it was scientifically classified as death by suicide.
On further investigation, the cops led by Superintendent Do Jung-woo (Nam Goong-min), and other members Hye-won (Seol Hyun), Seok Pil and Ji-wan figure out that all the victims had been perpetrators of horrific crimes ranging between sexual assault, rape, murder and abuse. It seemed as if the man sending messages to the journalist was someone who was keen to punish these criminals who were left loose by law. The cops or the court had left criminals who hurt innocent individuals loose and this man who is planning and plotting behind his computer screen is taking care of them one by one.
What is strange however is that there is no sign of murder. Instead, each of the victims died by suicide. A student who fell from a high floor in a building that was still under construction, a man who stood in the path of a fast-moving train with a smile on his face or a young man who had fallen face down to his death at his own birthday party -- all of their death was considered self-inflicted. However, it is Jung-woo who realizes that the individuals may be pushed to take such decisions somehow and he also considers how each of them did not exhibit any reaction or reflex that is normal for humans in dangerous situations.
At this point, we see the arrival of a former FBI profiler Jamie Leighton (Lee Chung-ah) who is hired by the higher authorities of the police department to solve the serial murder case. However, there is more than meets the eye in the case of Jamie and we also learn that she could be in some way connected to Jung-woo. At the beginning of the episodes, it seemed that Jung-woo was in search of a woman and this Jamie could be the girl that he had met much earlier in his life and had been separated from. If she is the girl that he is in search of, their relationship dynamics would be something to watch out for. However, at the moment, the show concentrates on the case. Jamie and Jung-woo realize the flaws in the otherwise perfectly set up deaths that seemed to be death by suicide in the initial investigation.
For instance, the fact that each of the victims had died with a smile on their faces, or the way they kept glancing at their watch right before taking the shocking step of setting themselves up for death or the clue that the reporter had found with his source's help -- the building that all the victims had visited. All of this hints that there is a puppet master who is controlling everything from the shadows and the department must target this person. However, there is something that Jung-woo tells Jamie which she finds extremely suspicious. It is a detail that wasn't found in any of the reports, and it was a detail that only the murderer would be aware of. When she hears of this information from Jung-woo, she gets suspicious of him and at this exact time, the journalist who had been monitoring the CCTV footage of the building that all the victims had visited finds a person's presence on the third floor. This person is none other than Jung-woo and so the reporter comes to the same conclusion that Jamie does -- Jung-woo could very well be the murderer.
To add more to the mystery we see how Jung-woo, in a secret room plots something as he looks at the pictures of his teammate Hye-won, her father who happens to own a lab among others. There seems to be some connection between the serial murder in the present and an incident 28 years in the past which may also connect Jung-woo to Jamie. So we will have to wait and see how things unravel.
'Awaken' episodes air on Mondays and Tuesdays on tvN in Seoul, South Korea, at 9 pm KST and can be streamed on Viki in the US.