Storyline progress is mostly slow here. Certain facts became obvious to us as viewers last episode, and it's only through continued exposure that the characters themselves are able to figure this out. Hye-rim remains determined to try and save Seon-woo without actually explaining to him what's going on, and predictably only really succeeds in uncovering details of her son's healthy personal life. Apparently Seon-woo's strategy to avoid blackmail is to not have any dark secrets he can be blackmailed over.
Gi-cheol continues to exercise quite a bit of patience regarding his generally uncooperative conspirators. It is nice to see how by the end of the episode Gi-cheol has once again demonstrated that he doesn't mess around, and is perfectly capable of overpowering those foolish enough to oppose him. Provided that's what he actually wants to do. I get the distinct impression that Gi-cheol's motivation regarding Seon-woo is more personal than it is professional, because it really should not be taking him this long to make a direct strike against the main characters.
As spy genre fiction goes "Spy - Drama" is unusual mainly for its emotional, melodramatic take on spying. There's no real inner personal conflict here. As was well demonstrated last episode, Woo-seok knows that his wife used to be a spy and loves her anyway. The issues here are tangible ones. It's not the threat of exposure which frightens Hye-rim so much as actual physical danger. It's this element, I think, that keeps the characters from devolving into general noble stupidity, even if the plans they come up with instead aren't much better.
Still, there really isn't all that much yet that can reasonably be called a general arc. The ability of the story to take dynamic action is substantially limited by the fact that Seon-woo doesn't really know what's going on. The man might or might not be more competent than what we've seen so far- he certainly has the abs for high-level spy danger. But so far almost all of the energy in "Spy - Drama" has been dedicated to preventing him from actually doing anything.
What we're left with is a lot of domicility leading up to an explosive cliffhanger- a cliffhanger that unfortunately doesn't necessarily demand immediate action in the larger storyline. This drama really needs some kind of immediate plot twist- although in all fairness, if we treat the third and fourth episodes like a single unit, plenty of stuff did happen. That's really more an evaluation problem regarding the format than anything else.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Spy - Drama" Episode 4"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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