Review: TEN 2
I love procedurals and watched both TEN and Vampire Prosecutor for both seasons. While VP had an added supernatural flavour which gives it extra spice, I'm actually a leeeetle bit fonder of the TEN series. I started off with VP then got enticed by the promotional ads for TEN during the commercial breaks of VP...and the rest is history. Both series had strong, sexy, broody male leads and a supporting cast of colourful personalities. And because this is a review on TEN, I shall try to limit my discussion to the cast of TEN.
[Spoilers for Season 1 and some of season 2]
I am pretty sure most who actually watched TEN2 are lured back by the cliffhanger of the first season. In short, first season is about Yeo Ji-Hoon (Joo Sang-Wook), leading the Special Affairs Team TEN which also consists of the experienced and streetsmart veteran detective Baek Do-Sik (Kim Sang-Ho), astute and meticulous Nam Ye-ri (Jo An) who is good at reading people, and lastly cheery maknae Park Min-Ho (Choi Woo-Sik). TEN is a special criminal investigating unit tackling especially gruesome or complicated crimes. As the team solves one murder case after another, there is an overarching plot revolving Ji-hoon's ultimate purpose in assembling the team - to hunt down a serial killer nicknamed "F" who kills on Fridays and wraps duct tapes around his victims' face, one of whom was his fiancee.
The first season had pretty dark and scary cases, sometimes with resemblance to the F cases which haunt Ji-hoon. And the fact that Ji-hoon keeps his thought to himself certainly doesn't help. Naturally, the team bonded and respected Ji-hoon so it comes as a blow when Ji-hoon disappeared in the midst of an investigation of which Ji-hoon is the prime suspect. He leaves behind an ambiguous message which is vague and implies that he intends to become a monster in order to capture a monster (referring to F). The team rallies together and goes through Ji-hoon's notes and compiled information on the F cases to help their boss clear his name. The final cliffhanger shows Ye-ri captured and someone with the duct tape is standing over her. She screams in fear.
Second season keeps the ball rolling by showing more of the investigation by TEN sans Ji-hoon. The team is baffled and faltered when all evidence seem to indicate that Ji-hoon is F. I think it's not a spoiler to say he isn't - since when do we have a serial killer as a main lead eh....but the show does a good job building the pieces and planting doubts in our minds. The first arc completes the Ji-hoon is F plot, but leaves a little twist behind - F is not the real F.
Time jump. 1 year later, Ji-hoon is still with TEN, as is Ye-ri and Min-ho. But where is Detective Baek? He's decided he's had enough of the gore and reassigned himself to a security guard of a high school. LOL. I miss him in the team and thankfully he's drafted back into the team after he works on a case which is also taken over by TEN. I love this arc because he gets to butt heads with Ji-hoon and show that he's everybit as good an investigator as Ji-hoon. Baek and Ji-hoon has different approaches but both are equally effective and you can see that they would be even better together than against each other. But the conflict is great and it's so fun to see them duke it out and discover whose deduction is correct.
They solve a few more cases but the theme in season two is more of guilt and forgiveness - the very thing that is still plaguing Ji-hoon, made more complicated by the "truth" Ye-ri deliberately keep from him. So now and then, we catch glimpses of Ji-hoon in a tortured state of mind, which is frankly the description of every k-drama hero ever right?
Finally when Ye-ri and Baek tells Ji-hoon everything, the mood is somber but there is no time to dwell on that because *gasp* Min-ho is abducted!! So now they have to fight against time and within an invisible enemy in the police force to save Min-ho. This last arc is my favourite because there's nothing like trouble for the team member to bring on the tension and raise the stakes. I won't reveal the ending, but tears did flow.
The ending for season two is a bittersweet farewell, but I'm still hopeful of a third season because I think they've got a good thing going. Especially since the F case has not received its proper closure. Yeah, not even after two seasons. So I think season3 would be enough to tie the loose ends.
There is not a lot of seasonal procedurals so there're bound to be comparisons. I won't say which is better than the other because I did enjoyed both TEN and VP (I'm gonna pretend Virus never happened...until I find the mood to actually want to finish that show). However, I give TEN that extra edge because the cases didn't have the convenience of blood-induced visions to aid their investigations. That said, TEN do involve a tad more talking since they need to verbalize their reasonings and VP have that much more action because you can't have a hero with superhuman powers and not let him wield it. I also think TEN have slightly better written cases, perhaps because of their longer running times. Besides Min-ho's abduction, I was also quite affected by Song Hwa-young's story (Lee Hee-jin's cameo) which was really sad and sick.
Acting-wise, I think everyone put in their due. My favourite-st character is actually Detective Baek. Yeah, over Ji-hoon. I still love everyone else but frankly Detective Baek kinda stole Ji-hoon's thunder. He is smart, righteous, calm, funny and really the greatest friend to have. I'm so glad he seems to have found a girlfriend as well, though that was hinted more than shown. Ye-ri is also smart and provides the emotional output since well, guys are yunno guys...I don't think they are suppose to show much compassion and all. Min-ho is the greenest of them and I enjoy his cheekiness and cheerful attitude.
The camerawork is also fine and most of the time, the show are in shades of gray which works fine with the dark stories. I don't have much to say on this aspect since I'm no expert but I love, absolutely love the OST. I'm no kpop fan but I love Nan Ah-Jin's voice. Chase by Nan Ah Jin is both sultry and sexy and fits the show like a glove. Still, I actually prefer Mad Soul Child's rendition of 숨결 (Breath) for season 1 and beginning of season 2 which is similarly sultry but has that added haunting quality. Check out the MVs below.
All in all, I rate this show an 8.5/10. And I'm really glad I marathoned it in one sitting. The wait between episodes would have been unbearable.