Week 1 Review ~ Episodes 1-2: The Girl Who Sees Smells (2015)
Truth be told, i didn’t intend to start The Girl Who Sees Smells, the name of the drama itself was pushing me away from this attempt. I couldn’t help but think of possible spinoffs like the boy that hears colors, the girl that eats sounds or something like that, plus i couldn’t help but think of possible toilet humor scenes, but the latest one wasn’t that much of a problem, it’s a necessary evil in the real world as much as the drama land. A possible question would be “then why did you start this drama in the first place, Know Kwon?” Well, i will tell you. Even though i didn’t finish Blade Man, there’s something that attracts me towards Shin Se Kyung. I like her more realistic beauty, she’s more like the South Korean girl next door rather than the model of the high class neighborhood many scales above and she shines through that. Plus, i was kind of curious of her acting in The Girl Who Sees Smells and here i am. Another reason has to be Park Yoo Chun. You see, i recently finished Miss Ripley and i enjoyed his low profile character in that drama, he was rarely depicting his inner tension and i thought it would be nice to see how he deals with a more dynamic role! So here i am and after the first two episodes i can say i highly enjoyed this ride and its humorous tone along with the more darkening aspects of the story.
To be honest, i was rather curious how they’d depict the special attribute of Shin Se Kyung’s character as a girl who can witness the very aesthetic of scents and visualize it in front of her very eyes. While Shin Se Kyung’s character was empowered with another sense, Park Yoo Chun’s figure finds himself at loss since he ceased feeling the pain and lost his ability to smell and taste. Two interesting figures nevertheless and i wanted to find out how they would pace together in terms of interactions and chemistry. So, just like Hyde, Jekyll, Me who was based on a web comic and was SBS‘s previous Wednesday-Thursday drama, The Girl Who Can See Smells is based on one too, Man Chwi‘s Naemsaereul Boneun Sonyeo.
Everything started on a seemingly tranquil night as Choi Eun Seol (Shin Se Kyung) was returning back home unaware of the dreadful events that were taking place inside her humble house. By the time she opens the door she has an unexpected face to face encounter with the shady figure that had left her parents unconscious. She would have become the next target had she not started running, something that eventually led her being hit by a car. Aware of her name, the killer headed towards the hospital to finish her off in case she recognized him in the future. In the meantime, a bus accident had taken place and the students were being taken to the hospital for further examinations. One of the girls was the sister of detective Choi Moo Gak (Park Yoo Chun) who rushed to the hospital to see if everything’s fine. At that point, he had the first encounter with the mysterious figure that commits murders and his sister was one of the victims. Her only mistake was to have the same name as Shin Se Kyung’s figure, Choi Eun Seol and the killer mistook her for the fishermen couple’s daughter. Moo Gak, instead of finding his sister recovering, found her lifeless lying on the hospital and his personal tragedy had just began.
193 days later, Shin Se Kyung’s character wakes up from a coma, but the world doesn’t feel the same, she gets overrun by a sudden attack of visualized smells from all over the place, on top of that, amnesia has made her forger anything related to her prior life. One of the detectives that were on the spot where her parents were found appears as her father, a character performed by Jung In Ki, i couldn’t help it but relate him instantly to Gap Dong! Choi Eun Seol’s new name is Oh Cho Rim (Shin Se Kyung) and she dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian, but for the time she’s her seniors’ slave and does everything they tell her to do. In order to hide her abnormal eye? She’s wearing lenses to keep the secret hidden and look like common people!
At the same time, Moo Gak tries to investigate a case and catch the culprit in order to become a part of the crime investigation team. He’s eating and eating and eating, God, he’s not a human, he’s a dinosaur! As for the hot coffee? He can drink it as if it was crystal clear water in room temperature! Hence the cashier’s priceless reaction! As expected, by the time he’s about to catch the culprit, he passes out and gets scolded at the police station, even by his lazy and useless colleagues (Choi Tae Joon and Jo Hee Bong) who were nearby and didn’t even notice what was going on in time!
One day, Cho Rim goes to buy food for her seniors with her rival’s car and crosses paths with Moo Gak by simply hitting him with the car while he was chasing a thief! In the name of the law, he uses the car to chase the culprit and that’s where their interaction begins! Without revealing her special attribute, she uses her ability to see scents masterfully and step by step she helps Moo Gak catch the man he was after inside the public bath! An overly hilarious scene with Cho Rim as an undercover operation specialist that eventually gets revealed that she’s a woman! Moo Gak will have to take care of the car’s expenses since it’s not in its finest condition whereas Cho Rim takes him to a clinic to take care of his wounds since she was responsible for them! And that’s the workplace of her parents’ and his sister’s murderer with the second encounter with him taking place there for both of them respectively. After the hot coffee and the colossal amounts of food, another characteristic of Moo Gak gets revealed, the one of being unable to feel pain, even if his shoulder got dislocated! The shock of his sister’s loss must had been immense, hence the permanent analgesia condition, as if he felt all the tremendous amounts of pain at that very moment and eventually abolished the sense of pain.
After a coffee where they set the post-accident details Moo Gak and Cho Rim part ways. While leaving a passer by refers to Cho Rim with her real name, Choi Eun Seol, something that awakens Moo Gak’s memories. It was the day his sister acquired the certificate of highest honor and went to find him at the aquarium where he was diving. I have to admit that it’s one of the most beautiful hand-heart scenes in the world of dramas, no matter how much pain it encloses knowing Eun Sol’s tragic fate and Moo Gak’s living remains. The urge to find his sister’s murderer grows stronger and the next morning he asks the crime investigation team chief to make him a part of his squad. The chief (Lee Won Jong) doesn’t want to cooperate and gives him a mission that is condemned to remain in silence, a serial killer case 10 years old that wasn’t solved no matter how many forces the police used. At the same time, Cho Rim doesn’t have a partner for the comedy skit she has to present at the troupe and recalls the fact that Moo Gak’s reactions before catching the thief at the bath house were hilarious! She contacts him via messages using the car expenses as an excuse, but he doesn’t seem to care since the dinosaur within has awakened anew and he devours tens of plates filled with food one after the other!
Eventually, he decides to meet her, but he doesn’t intend to be Cho Rim’s comedy skit partner! Disheartened by the fact that he can’t solve the serial killer case, he sends a message to Cho Rim by mistake instead of the chief of the crime investigation squad and… there she is! Cho Rim reveals her special ability to see smells in order to convince him even more and sheds more light in the way she was able to find the robber at the bath house! It’s simple, she will help him solve the case whereas he will become her partner! He’s not that convinced and he intends to test her! The first test will be to find him outdoors, a test she succeeds in after following his exact footsteps and course! He’s not totally convinced and another test takes place, she will have to find the hidden mint candy who will be in one of the carton cups! Throughout various comical tries by filling her nostrils with paper or even shutting her nose with a clothespin outdoors, even when the mint candy was inside Moo Gak’s mouth, Cho Rim always found the hidden candy and it’s a… deal!
A renowned chef returns from abroad, Kwon Jae Hee (Nam Goong Min), and tries to find his girlfriend Joo Ma Ri (Park Han Byul), a model who’s been missing for some time and we witness her locked inside a room unable to do anything. Lieutenant Yeon Mi (Yoon Jin Seo) arrives at the police station and the overall case is more serious than it appeared to be. Ma Ri and another young man are missing and chances are high they are possible future victims of a weird serial killer. The murderer likes variety, he doesn’t follow a specific plan when it comes to the gender, the profession or the economical status of the victims. All cases begin as missing person cases, the bodies of the victims are being discovered on the 7th day and they were suffocated to death on the 6th day of their missing status. He’s not in a rush either, he kills someone every 12 months and scenario-wise we find ourselves on the 12th month on the serial killer’s calendar, so Ma Ri or the young man could be possible victims. The serial killer’s most specific trademark is the barcode he carves on the wrists of the victims and Moo Gak points out something very important, what if these barcodes actually do exist and there’s more specific meaning behind them? It’s something that intrigues Yeon Mi, but it doesn’t please his superiors and colleagues that take him out of the office. However, he does find a place in the case due to the lack of personnel and rushes to the first place of investigation which is the clinic he had visited with Cho Rim! Doctor Chun Baek Gyung (Song Jong Ho), who was one of Ma Ri’s last contacts, is nowhere to be found since he’s on a journey as a traveling spirit! In fact, he’s stalking Cho Rim since she’s an incomplete piece of art for him since she managed to escape and she could possibly recall his face.
I just found her cute.
Cho Rim and Moo Gak visit Ma Ri’s model agency and all they need is a… sniff! In order to trace Ma Ri, Cho Rim will have to see her personal scent in order to be more helpful during the investigation. And the journey begins, but the first suspect they witness is Jae Hee, Ma Ri’s boyfriend. Moo Gak nearly arrests him, but his colleagues prevent him from proceeding. Now it’s Moo Gak’s turn to return the favor to Cho Rim and they perform together the Green Light at the troupe! Cho Rim doesn’t quite succeed in being comical and eventually Moo Gak, with his weirdo recitations and reactions, steals the most positive of impressions in front of the artistic director! Late at night, a couple’s riding and they are hitting a parked car that falls off the edge of the road. And we all know that inside that car was one of the missing people since it was the 7th day, it’s just that the killer was… unlucky and it wasn’t revealed.
Ma Ri’s case gets downgraded into a missing person from a potential victim of the serial killer’s schedule, but they were lucky enough since someone used her credit card that was found at a resort. The suspect leads Moo Gak and the other officers to the place where he found her wallet and Cho Rim later on tries to uncover possible evidence by seeing its scents. Her ability and the information around the wallet misguide her and she considers the scent of leather as the original material’s scent. There was also an immense sense of water that makes Moo Gak suspect that Ma Ri’s body could be near the river, but his colleagues and the chief don’t take him seriously since he can’t prove his assumptions! Later on that night, by luck, she finds out that the wallet was made out of fabric. The police force searches the nearby mountains, but Moo Gak and Cho Rim try to uncover how the fabric wallet got a strong leather scent and the course leads them to a nearby leather factory by the river. Cho Rim and Moo Gak have the intention to search the banks of the river and they move by the road, until Moo Gak notices signs of a car accident that was never reported. Cho Rim’s ability indicates that Ma Ri’s scent breathes on the spot and the accident signs lead under the edge of the road where Ma Ri’s exact body location lies.
Preview: As the preview indicates, the fact that Moo Gak’s personal investigation was pointing towards the riverside will eventually earn him a position in the crime investigation team! As for explaining how he reached to that conclusion, well, it will be tough. I suspect things are going to get a bit complicated in the future since Cho Rim’s glasses fell on the spot and i’m really curious whether the police will start suspecting the dynamic duo as possible culprits since the police is not aware of Cho Rim’s ability. It would be tough for common logic to understand how Cho Rim and Moo Gak managed to find Ma Ri (and possible future bodies) since the clues so far weren’t pointing towards that direction. It’s not only Moo Gak’s part, it’s also Cho Rim’s comedy skit that awaits its presentation and the team is proceeding through the preparations with glorious hilariousness! Will Moo Gak appear and help Cho Rim? What could be holding him back? The fact that he didn’t earn his position on his own and he received major help from Cho Rim or the ghosts from the past started haunting him anew since from now on he will be able to give it a shot and try to get the murderer of his sister? And if yes, will it appear as if he was using Cho Rim for his own purposes? Well, questions, questions, but i’m looking forward to the actual progress of the drama and the way the paths of our heroine and our hero will blend more in the future to find out that they had reached a crossroad before they even met.
Thoughts: There’s definitely darkness lying in the background, especially when Se Kyung’s character will recall her past alongside Yoo Chun’s figure who lost his ability to feel after going through so much pain. I’m highly looking forward to Cho Rim’s remembrance of the past and how she will deal with it once she realizes who she really is and what happened to her real parents. It’s a part of her she was forced to “sacrifice” in exchange for the past trauma and her new ability. Eun Seol was buried in lost memories and Cho Rim was born. I’m curious whether she’ll sense something familiar to her parents’ murderer once they get face to face, even though she doesn’t remember anything, it could be a trigger event that would lead her backwards and uncover the truth. And let’s not forget Moo Gak. His sister’s loss cost him a lot, more than he could bear. It cost him their common memories, but most and above all, it cost him the future with her, all the dreams they made together but also the ones Moo Gak made alone for his younger sister seeing her growing up. Everything was lost in a blink of an eye which was enough for him to suffer the utmost pain, hence abolish the sense of pain and the ability to feel other senses. That night both Cho Rim and Moo Gak lost something in various aspects, but gained something else, under a different perspective.
We’ve got serial killer cases from the past that continue at the present, but also possible ones in the future. Cho Rim is the only surviving victim of the serial killer’s legacy, she’s already found herself in the eye of the storm since the doctor recalled her face the moment he saw her again at the present. Before embracing the darkness in this drama’s course, hints of which we’ve already cherished, there’s a whole world filled with humor and comical aspects that made me laugh a lot. The funny scenes at the bath house, Elena Vashilivnashivanova’s call, Moo Gak’s tests, the skit practice with Moo Gak and while she was fantasizing herself as a renowned comedian at TV panels and Running Man were utterly priceless and memorable! As the scenes were flowing, i was getting overwhelmed by Se Kyung’s facial expressions and in the way she was presenting her ability to see scents. The fact that she’s a lively and vibrant person due to her standup comedy dreams paced perfectly well with Cho Rim! At the end of the day, i can’t help it but love Se Kyung every time she wears sunglasses and uses them as a camouflage or an attempt to hide unwelcome smells from her… sight!
The cinematography flows pretty well so far, i like the effects used to present her scent-seeing attribute and they never felt out of place or as something foreign when seen through the overall filter as one! The scents floating around and the iridescent left eye pace perfectly well with the drama’s purpose and apart from that, the closeups, angles and perspectives do justice to the interactions and in the way the actresses and actors present their characters in front of the cameras. I’m not aware of director Baek Soo Chan‘s previous works, but during the pilot episodes of The Girl Who Sees Smells i enjoy what i see! As for the screenwriter, Lee Hee Myung (known for Rooftop Prince and the controversy around Queen of Ambition and/or the drama itself), it’s too early to talk about the drama scenario-wise, we’re only at the very beginning, but i can say that The Girl Who Sees Smells is intriguing and i’ll definitely keep watching. I expected it to be more a bit of everything, but it breathes a more specific air as it steadily nurtures the past at the present through the characters’ ongoing progress on a journey to find themselves anew and cleanse the demons of the past that actually never fell asleep, they were moving in the shadows.