Lookout is a 16 episode revenge kdrama (2017) about a group of “under the radar” individuals who work together to garner justice for their murdered loved ones. They are led by a mystery boss who directs their activities. We watch their unit form, function, and be tested as they search for the truth. Will the fugitive police detective Soo Ji be able to find closure and catch the murderer of her young daughter? Will hacker Kyun Soo determine what happened to his missing mother? Will reclusive Bo Mi find out why her family was murdered? Will the boss reveal himself and his motivations? Will the evil perpetrators be caught? Will justice be served?
Corruption of personal ethics for goals of power, money, and revenge was the thread that bound all the characters. The evil duo of father, Prosecutor Yoon, and son, Shi Wan, were classic sociopaths. “Four percent of ordinary people are sociopaths, an often undetected mental disorder, the chief symptom is that the person possesses no conscience. They have no ability whatsoever to feel shame, guilt, or remorse. One in 25 everyday people is secretly a sociopath. They could be your colleague, your neighbor, even family. And they can do literally anything at all and feel absolutely no guilt”. The evil duo had an alliance of enablers, people who bent or broke their personal ethics for money, power, or to avoid their past sins being exposed. Even our justice team had to face whether they were willing to act against their ethics for the overarching goal of catching those that had wronged their loved ones. In the end, every character explored whether or not they would uphold or compromise their ethics, sometimes in extreme situations.
Logic gaps throughout the drama. I don’t like being aware that a plot point is contradictory, not feasible, or ill thought out. It takes me out of the viewing experience. While Lookout was often gripping, there were multiple times I wanted to ask what Writer Kim was thinking behind certain plot decisions.
Characters that worked for me:
Jo Soo Ji (Lee Si Young). Her child was cruelly killed without a clear reason other than jealousy of the happy mother and daughter. Soo Ji KNEW Shi Wan killed her daughter but couldn’t prove it. He knew it and relished laughing in her face (literally) every chance he got. When she decided to take matters into her own hands and get justice at the point of a gun, she was captured, escaped and became a fugitive for the justice team. She was the muscle of the justice team. She was a bad-ass bare knuckle fighter effectively using gravity and surprise to disarm her male opponents. The first two episodes of the drama revolved around Soo Ji. The death of her daughter was riveting delivered an emotional punch that demanded justice and made her path understandable. I loved her friendship with former boss Team Lead Lee Soon Ae (Kim Sun Young). There wasn’t any “women issues” e.g. jealousy, sniping, etc. between these two. They supported each other no matter what.
Jang Do Han (Kim Young Kwang). This was a flawed and flamboyant character. His smile, his swagger, his belief that he would beat the evil duo was a driving force of this series. His secrets were slow to be revealed as the drama focused on the other members of the justice team. In his pursuit of vengeance, he crossed ethical boundaries, and trampled on others. Initially he was able to effectively manipulate and juggle the forces at play. But it spun out of control. His carefully laid plans went up in smoke. Do Han struggled to find a way to achieve justice. I approved of his choice to rectify his wrongs. Shout out to his “annoying brother” relationship with Prosecutor Kim.
Kong Kyung Soo (Key). This hacker saved the team multiple times with his just in time solutions eked out by his nimble fingers. Over time he developed a romantic interest the other justice team member Bo Mi. He was sweetly supportive as she struggled to overcome her challenges. She did the same for him. They blossomed with the glow of a new relationship.
Seo Bo Mi (Kim Seul Gi). This reclusive CCTV monitoring justice team member was the eyes of the team. Her demons had to be fought and it wasn’t easy. Her budding relationship with Kyung Soo was a bright spot in a drama that often was mired in the battle against corrupted power. I liked that Seul Gi was considered pretty in this series. Many times the comedian/actress has not been tagged as pretty in her roles.
Father Lee (Shin Dong Wook). This quiet priest was Do Han’s half-brother and understood what drove Do Han better than anyone else. He was a touch stone for Do Han. He was calm and supportive regardless. He helped others face themselves without judgement.
Shi Wan (Park Solomon). I didn’t like this character. His brand of sociopath evil was more compelling than his evil father. He killed Soo Ji’s lovely young daughter and laughed in Soo Ji’s face every chance he could because she couldn’t prove it and his powerful parents protected him. Park Solomon did a great job bringing this sweet looking evil monster to life.
Writer Ruminations: Writer Kim (Kim Soo Eun) has no other kdrama credits. Writer Kim won an honorable mention with the script in an open contest held by MBC in 2016. The kdrama industry must wear down writers because I’ve watched several dramas this year from new writers (Voice, My Sassy Girl). Writer Kim’s initial episodes were strong. Then there were ups and down before settling into solid episodes until the end. My ranking chart is below:
Would I recommend this series?
Yes. Lookout was often gripping. At the end of the drama I was fully vested in obtaining justice and defeating the evil father and son duo. The flawed flamboyant male lead and justice seeking tough female lead was a winning combination. Lookout wasn’t perfect but it was enjoyable ride.
Lookout has released a 6 song OST. I’m hoping a complete OST is released as there were other songs I enjoyed.
The playlist includes a superb fan video that captures the essence of Do Han and is embedded below or check it out via the link.