Forest of Secrets: (aka Stranger) Episode 16
February 1, 2018 6:32 PM - Season 1, Episode 16 - Subscribe

Sorry I flaked on posting individual episode threads, I ended up not being able to watch them on any regular schedule, and the structure of the plot/character twists didn't seem to lend itself to episodic discussion. (I mean, it totally would if this was a currently broadcasting show where we had a week between episodes to speculate, but, not so much for streaming where people don't have to wonder what happens next.) Anyway, I just finally made it to the ending today, so, I wanted to have one thread up for finale/full season talk.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:31 PM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I won the will-they-kiss bet! When the lipstick appeared it was looking very bad for Team No Kiss, but a stunning victory was snatched from the literal jaws of defeat.

I really liked Chief Secretary Lee (aka Drac-in-law) as a villain. Even though he tries to do good at the end, our boy Prosecutor Shi-Mok is quick to correct that to that he's still a crap monster.

I like the scene where Lee calls his big oligarch dad out of the blue and tries to trick him into confessing to the murder of Eun-Soo. It doesn't work, and he's like, welp it was worth a shot, and then he kicks off his final plan.

But the moment with him I really love with that character is on the building just before his death. It's the setup we've seen a million times, where some guy will jump to his death instead of letting himself get caught. After Lee and Shi-Mok have talked it out, Shi-Mok says Lee needs to come with him and advances, and Lee says something like, "You don't have to go so fast."

It's such a great line. It would be a good line in any story, but it's a really great line here because it's delivered to Shi-Mok, the inexorable clod, in the same chiding tone that everyone who knows Shi-Mok has been using the whole show. Like, "You don't have to be QUITE so hasty forcing me to die, you know."

This show has never given us the slightest whiff of preachy-ness

They say this, but a couple screens up Doona Bae is ready to binder-whip the prostitute who doesn't appreciate her suffering mother, which seemed preachy to me FWIW.
posted by fleacircus at 5:38 AM on February 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Even though he tries to do good at the end, our boy Prosecutor Shi-Mok is quick to correct that to that he's still a crap monster.

I think that was what I was most impressed with in the end, the thing that really distinguished the series from what I'm used to in a lot of (US) procedurals--that it was firmly on the side of the ends NOT justifying the means. I wasn't sure how they would fill the time left in the finale once there were no more plot twists left to the crime plot, and every killer and motive had been revealed. But then we got that heart wrenching scene between Yoon and Park's son, where Yoon had to really face that for as much he felt that Park had earned his death for causing the death of his son, by killing Park Yoon had created an orphan. And then Si-Mok's "he was a monster" speech about Lee at the news station just caught me completely by surprise--not that it wasn't completely in character for Si-Mok not to allow Lee's intended public fiction to stand (of having collected all the evidence as blackmail material in case of betrayal, so that people wouldn't discount him like the whistleblower) but also to deny his believed fiction/rationalization of being a righteous martyr.

And it's not like the show is saying that the law will bring justice for all, even Si-Mok acknowledges that despite all their work and evidence, who knows how many of the cases will be overturned due to powerful influences. But that they have to continue to try to make the system work anyway. I don't know, I can't quite get my thoughts put into words, but I was just really blown away by that finale.

Of course, I also just adored Si-Mok/Han. I don't think I'm on Team Kiss or Team No Kiss - definitely Team Smile though, that last one was spectacular. And I really enjoyed Si-Mok's glasses-wearing clerk - I got a very 'queer-coded guy in a Doris Day movie' vibe off him. And Lee's wife was spectacularly creepy at the start, I could believe her capable of anything after that team dinner scene. Anyway, I both hope and don't hope that there is a second season - I worry that it would only be a let-down, but I'd love to see more of these characters and whatever new ones they created.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:29 AM on February 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah the legal assistants were great, they were their own little comedy team. I wanted to see more of them though they kind of faded into the background a bit towards the end. (The glasses guy less so.)

Lee's wife was great, there were some good scenes where she was definitely doing the very polite and deadly social chess moves. And it's clear that at the beginning of the show, neither she nor her father have any respect at all for her husband.
posted by fleacircus at 11:34 PM on February 7, 2018

Just watched this and really enjoyed it. It’s the first Korean drama mr hgg and I have watched, and I fear nothing else will be quite as good!

We initially watched it because we liked Doona Bae so much in Sense 8. I LOVED her character in this show—very different from her character in Sense 8 but just as wonderful. Even though I didn’t expect Detective Han to get together with Si-Mok, I liked their friendship and wanted them to hang out more, at least. So despite my disappointment when he got transferred, it made me happy to see he had kept the photo from their rooftop party and had her drawing of his smiling self clipped to his computer.

And bloody Dong-Jae, I actually did think he would change but no dice. I knew it as soon as he took that phone call in his new office and put his feet up on the desk. He’s incorrigible! They really do need Si-Mok to come back and straighten him out.

And oh yes, the legal assistants! Loved them, particularly glasses guy with curly hair. He had some pretty spiffy outfits, too—there was a grey and yellow one I particularly liked. I said to mr hgg I’d watch a whole show with just them.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:10 AM on May 5, 2020

Just watched this and really enjoyed it. It’s the first Korean drama mr hgg and I have watched, and I fear nothing else will be quite as good!

Welcome to kdrama-land! There are a lot of good ones on Netflix. I've been sticking to ones that have Dramabeans recaps, so I don't miss the stuff that subtitling doesn't cover (like whether people are using formal or informal language). If you want another crime-procedural, check out Signal. And for good romance + ensemble, I really loved 'Crash Landing on You' and 'When the Camellia Blooms'. And I'm enjoying 'The King: The Eternal Monarch' so far, but as they're releasing it weekly instead of all at once I have no idea whether it will end satisfyingly.

(And, mods - shouldn't hurdy gurdy girl's comment have bumped this thread back into my Recent Activity? I only saw it now because the post got a new favorite. Do Fanfare threads fade out of RA over time?)
posted by oh yeah! at 8:50 PM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Surprise (to me) news -- there's going to be a second season of 'Forest of Secrets' aka 'Stranger' starting in August 2020. Since it's going to start airing on tvN Korea after 'It's Okay Not To Be Okay' finishes its season, I think it's safe to assume it's going to be on Netflix US in new-episodes-weekly format too.

This was my very first Kdrama, so excited it's coming back!
posted by oh yeah! at 5:31 PM on July 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Weird, I didn’t see your comment from 2 months ago!

Thanks for the update and further recommendations...I’m really looking forward to that second season of Stranger. And the Dramabeans site is great!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:25 PM on July 18, 2020

All my drama peeps are very excited about this, especially because it will have a lot of the OG cast (including everyone's favorite weasel, Lee Joon-hyuk as Dong-jae!). The sequel has been talked about A LOT ever since the show ended, so it's almost surreal to see that it's finally happening (unlike the oft-discussed second season of Signal, which has yet to materialize despite vague promises and hints it could happen).

I'm super excited about the addition of actress Jeon Hye-jin (who is married IRL to Lee Seon-gyun, aka Mr. Park from Parasite). She's mostly done film but in recent years has made the jump to dramas. If Misty (her first major return to dramas) ever comes to Netflix, y'all need to watch it! She's phenomenal, and I can totally see her as the first female head of the National Police Agency -- tough and intelligent, but maybe a little sketchy, too. It's such a good casting choice (if the character is like anything I have in my head).

Another addition is Choi Moo-sung, a fantastic character actor (he's been in a slew of dramas that Netflix currently has in their library, my favorite role being Prison Playbook where he plays the prisoner who's been there forever -- the tough giant with a gentle heart). He will play against Hye-jin's character as the head guy at the prosecution's office. So there should be some excellent scenes between the two newbies (I hope!).

(ps -- and thanks for the Dramabeans love! I used to write for them, and I'm still friends with other writers, both past and present. It's a lot of hard work without much reward, so it's good to know they're still useful!)
posted by paisley sheep at 9:50 PM on July 19, 2020 [2 favorites]

UPDATE: according to my drama peeps, the second season should be airing on Netflix starting Aug 15. I don't see anything listed on the Netflix site (or even just a "new season coming soon" on the series itself), but they're pretty trustworthy so I think it's safe to assume new eps will be available on Netflix each week as the drama airs.

Which is a good thing, because I've forgotten so much about this drama except the ending in the years since I've watched, so I've convinced my mum (not someone who generally watches kdramas) to watch S1 with me, and we might just finish in time for the S2 premiere!
posted by paisley sheep at 10:30 AM on July 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

Netflix is finally showing "New Episode Coming August 15" on the 'Stranger' page, yay.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:27 PM on August 4, 2020

We just finished watching the first two episodes of Season 2—Netflix (in Canada, anyway; maybe everywhere?) seems to be releasing two per weekend, one on Saturdays and one on Sundays). It’s so good!!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:17 AM on August 17, 2020

new S2 premiere thread added
posted by oh yeah! at 10:12 AM on August 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

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