'Stranger 2' aka 'Forest of Secrets 2' Episode 1: Shi-mok, Yeo-jin begin the new season with a gritty case
'Stranger 2' has arrived and it truly is off to a brilliant start as the first episode highlights everything that has changed and the most important things that have remained the same. Detective Yeo-jin (Bae Doo-na) is now a Senior Inspector who works at the headquarters with inspectors who are working on wrestling the power from the hands of the prosecution. Prosecutor Hwang Shi-mok (Cho Seung-woo), on the other hand, is not working in Seoul, but at some branch away from Seoul. He is in the process of being transferred to a different branch and yet, from the get-go we see Shi-mok involved in the case of two youngsters drowning.
This could very well be the overarching case of the season, similar to the serial murder that Shi-mok and Yeo-jin had investigated in the previous season. There are a few reasons why we believe this to be true. The first is the fact that the perpetrator of the crime is the son of someone influential and rich, and once his appointed lawyer turned out to be a former judge, the case was dropped by the prosecution. This very well hints at bribes, and unfair favors at play. Secondly, we see that the man who signed off on the case being dropped is none other than one of the good guys in the previous season — Kang Won-Cheol.
Previously, he had helped the prosecution bring down Hanjo Group CEO Lee Yoon-beom (Lee Kyung-young) with the help of former prosecutor Lee Chang-Joon's (Yoo Jae-myung) help. Of course, the latter was also corrupt, however, he paid the price for his sins by collecting evidence and submitting the same to Shi-mok. He did die by suicide, and some of the most influential figures were brought in for questioning in front of the law. One of the key figures who had helped Shi-mok in bringing these people down happened to be Prosecutor Won-cheol who was promoted as Chief Prosecutor.
Has power changed the Chief Prosecutor or is it a trap that was laid to teach him a lesson and also serve the purposes of the Police Department? Considering Shi-mok's reaction to Won-cheol's name, we are certain that this case will turn out to be a can of worms for both the prosecutors' side and the police. Considering the struggle for power for investigation, it is clear that both sides are looking for a weakness of the other that can be manipulated to serve their purpose.
In the grand scheme of things, it is still unclear as to where and how Yeo-jin and Shi-mok's loyalties will lie or if they will continue to collaborate together. However, their reason and their belief system seem to be the same. Yeo-jin is still against powerless people and their reasons being used in the name of the greater good and Shi-mok is still the same man who doesn't waver in front of desires and needs. It would be exciting to see how the two will walk through this all-new conflict.
Also, the most impressive part of the episode was the brilliant opening scene where we saw Shi-mok drive through heavy fog and all that we heard were the waves hitting the shore. As the headlights of his car lit his way in the dense fog, it was a clear visual metaphor for how the prosecutor would cut through layers of deceit and lies this season in the upcoming episodes.
'Stranger 2' is set to premiere on August 15, Saturday, and originally airs on tvN on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 pm KST in South Korea and can be streamed on Netflix.