'Stranger 2' Finale Week: Shi-mok, Yeo-jin stand strong in the face of influence and power, uproot corruption
The 'Stranger 2' finale week sees Yeo-jin and Shi-mok continue to look into Park Gwang-su's death despite Chief Prosecutor Woo Tae-ha's belief that Hwang Shi-mok would now stop investigating into the case now that Seo Dong-jae has been saved. It is in looking deeper that the two of them realize how both a person from the prosecution and the police departments have been involved in burying a case. Turns out Gwang-su had died due to myocardial infraction at the vacation house itself, but to avoid any connection between the prosecution and police of colluding together for personal benefits, Tae-ha and the concerned officer's junior at work resort to moving the body away from Hanjo's vacation house.
One of the best things about the 'Stranger' series is how brilliantly the show portrays two opposing sides strategizing each other's downfall and two players who unexpectedly thwart all their plans to uncover a disturbing plot that people in power had schemed together. The plan, then the counter plan following which, the consequences play out at a nailbiting pace is what makes the show extremely intriguing. Especially the reasoning that we see from Shi-mok while he makes each move is completely devoid of emotional attachment and is based solely on logical reasoning.
What we also learn from the finale week is how change requires not only dedicated, sincere and successful people, but also for a change within the ones that are not so sincere, or ones who had previously even strayed away from the path of serving justice. In the first season, we saw this change in Lee Chang-jun (Yoo Jae-myung) as he decided to bring his own family down in an attempt to uproot corruption. In the second season, change was brought forth by the chief of the Reformative Unit and Intelligence Bureau Choi Bit who had assisted Tae-ha in cleaning up after her senior's mistake. After all, being entertained by a corporate company in the form of having women over, involving prostitution and bribery to their repertoire as prosecutors and police officers wouldn't be for the best. So when Choi Bit gathers courage and decides to come clean about her involvement in Park Gwang-su's death case, she chooses how she goes out -- with respect or tossed out after being used by Tae-ha.
Despite their best efforts, both Yeo-jin and Shi-mok do not really attain complete success like in the previous season. This season leaves both Yeo-jin and Shi-mok feeling a bit worn out from continually chasing the truth. The truth about how people in powerful positions had colluded for personal benefit, the truth about how one corporate organization has the power to influence the decisions of key lawmakers and government officers who have taken the oath to protect the rights of the people. In fact, one of the things that Yeo-jin asks Shi-mok when he tells her that he is now being transferred to another branch as the reformative unit has been disbanded is if they can trust the officials in the upper echelons of the department to be sincere anymore. Not once, but twice the two of them have been burned by their senior officials' corruption.
This is also the reason why Yeo-jin decides to stay back in the intelligence bureau despite the animosity from other team members instead of switching back to field duty. Everyone around her believes that she is the reason for their boss Choi Bit resigning and so they alienate her and even go to the extent of attempting to force her out of the intelligence bureau itself. However, it seems her sincerity has won Choi Bit over because the new Intelligence Bureau boss seems totally impressed with her and interested in working with her. Despite uncovering the corruption by Tae-ha and Choi Bit, neither Yeo-jin and Shi-mok manage to completely kill the influence that Hanjo has over either department. Instead, they have only managed to uncover another layer of secrets and out another group of people who have been defending the wrong kind of people so far.
Lee Yeon-jae's fight against her brother for control of Hanjo continues and what is worse is that Seo Dong-jae has gotten better, but we are not certain what his answer to the prosecution would be in regards to the connection between Park Gwang-su and Hanjo. Also, what exactly had Hanjo tried to do by bringing a member of the prosecution, a member of the police together? The fact that Shi-mok had always been unattached to his offices or even his title turns out as a frustrating characteristic this season because we as the audience are left to ruminate over the consequences of what Shi-mok and Yeo-jin had managed while both of them have moved on towards different goals.
'Forest of Secrets 2' aka 'Stranger 2' can be streamed on Netflix.