[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shark" Episode 2

Today "Shark" decides to take a sharp focus on fatherhood. In the flashback sequence of the story there are three men who are best defined by their paternal relationships. Han Yeong-man (played by Jung In-gi), the father of I-soo, does quite a bit to demonstrate his decency not just as a human being, but also in that he confides a great deal to his son I-soo. Whatever his past failures may have been, Yeong-man keeps trying, and it's easy to see how he's earned such loyalty from his son.

The other two are men from the Jo family line. We already know from the first episode that Hae-woo's father, Jo Ee-seon (played by Kim Gyoo-cheol) is both a lousy father and a lousy person. But it's only now in the second episode that we get a good grasp of just how pathetic he really is. He's not even evil so much as he is just a sad little man who repeatedly tries to assert his authority as a person of wealth and privilege only to be shot down by people who just aren't impressed by that.

But the much more interesting exploration this time is of Ee-seon's own father, Jo Sang-deuk (played by Lee Jung-gil). There were moments in the first episode where I was actually glad to see him set his son straight- by now, though, it's becoming quite clear that Sang-deuk, while better at being civil in general, has never had much of a relationship with his son outside of yelling and beating. It's a curious contrast to see him express apparently genuine sympathy with a near complete stranger, only to realize that, with his own son, Sang-deuk is only helpful in the literal sense of providing aid, and offers no useful emotional support at all.

What any of this has to do with sharks or the drama's greater themes I'm honestly sure. There was a lot of heart and genuine curiousity at character exploration in the first episode that's not quite here in the second. This is, perhaps, to be expected, given that these characters exist mainly as background context on the two actual leads. We find out exactly why they're villains this time around, and for the sake of I-soo's ultimate goals, they seem to fill that role quite well.

It's still very hard to tell where "Shark" plans on going from here. The question of whether we're even going back to the present anytime soon is still an open one. This lack of predictability is, for the moment, an asset. The drama is still technically well-done enough that I'm willing to look past the occasional strange plot point. Here's to hoping that whatever's in that file is interesting enough to justify the gravity of the situation currently being played up.

Review by William Schwartz

"Shark" is directed by Park Chan-hong, written by Kim Jee-woo and features Kim Nam-gil, Son Ye-jin, Ha Seok-jin and Lee Hanee