Open Thread: Signal Episodes 1 & 2

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Thank you for joining me on this group watch of Signal! After all this time, I’m finally going to complete this show – because I’ll have your company. Thanks, y’all. 🥰

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT, before we begin:

1. We will be adopting a ZERO SPOILER POLICY for this Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point.

We don’t want to spoil anyone’s watch experience with spoilers. The spoiler tags don’t work in email notifications, therefore, please take note that WE WILL NOT BE USING SPOILER TAGS FOR THIS OPEN THREAD. ANY AND ALL SPOILERS WILL BE REDACTED to protect first-time viewers in our midst (although, I’d appreciate it if you would save me the trouble of having to redact spoilers, heh 😅).

This includes, but is not limited to, how characters &/or relationships develop, later in the show.

We need to protect the innocent! 😉

2. HOWEVER!! If you’d like to discuss spoilers from a rewatcher’s point of view, I’ve created a SPOILER ZONE for you, where you can discuss all the spoilers you’d like, without the need for spoiler warnings. You can find it here!

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 1

Ohhh. What a fantastic first episode this was. I honestly don’t recall being this thrilled by this first episode, when I’d first attempted to watch this show, maybe.. 5 years ago or so?

At the time, I think I just wasn’t quite ready for this show. I’d understood in my head that Show was very solid, but I didn’t instinctively love it, and then, I’d gotten stressed at the episode 4 point, because of all the intra-show tension, and ended up backing away indefinitely, with vague good intentions of coming back to it.. someday.

Well, someday is finally here, and I gotta say, love really is all about timing, it looks like. I am loving this in a way that I didn’t think was possible. I certainly have been evolving as a drama fan, eh? 😁

For a start, I am pleasantly startled by how funny Show is, when it moves to the 2015 timeline.

First, there’s the whole paparazzi schtick, where Hae Young uses his criminal profiler skills to predict celebrity scandals – and the celebrity scandal is an unabashed poke at the cast of Misaeng, with Kang So Ra supposedly in some kind of love triangle with co-stars Im Si Wan and Byun Yo Han.

And there’s even that whole nudge-nudge, wink-wink thing where Jang Hyuk Jin’s entertainment reporter character goes, “I know this drama. The manager was cool,” – because Jang Hyuk Jin had played a manager in Misaeng. Pfft. THE META. 😂

On top of that, there’s how Hae Young goes on about finding definitive proof that Lee Bo Young and Ji Sung are dating – when this is 2015, and Lee Bo Young and Ji Sung had gotten married, in 2013. Pwahaha. Is Show trying to tell us that Hae Young’s not really very good at this profiling thing, after all? 🤣

I hafta admit, I think all this humor flew over my head when I first watched the show, and it’s only now, that it’s hitting home for me.

Also, for the record, I don’t think Show’s trying to discredit Hae Young’s abilities as a profiler. I think Show just wants to have a bit of meta fun, is all.

That said, I do think there is a level of suspension of disbelief required, in this show. I mean, I get that Hae Young’s supposed to be a very good criminal profiler, but the fact that he can predict so many details about the perpetrator, and have such an eery degree of accuracy in his predictions, does lean somewhat magical to my eyes, so far.

However, I do love me a protagonist with superhero-esque capabilities, so I’m happy to just roll with it, and think of Hae Young as having some kind of X-Man-like ability to read minds. 😁 Plus, it’s just pretty thrilling to see his predictions be proven correct, from the big broad strokes, to the minor details.

I am also loving Kim Hye Soo in this. In our 2015 present timeline, she’s all hard-nosed, seasoned, no-nonsense cop, but in the 2000 past timeline, she’s distinctly tentative and shy, particularly around Lee Jae Han, who looks to be her romantic interest.

Off-topic, but I just need to pause for a second and say, Jo Jin Woong!!! Han Seom-ah!!! 🤩🤩 It’s only been a year or so since our Chuno group watch, so his turn as the portly Han Seom is still very fresh in my mind. It’s really a bit of a mindbender, to see ol’ Han Seom all slimmed down, and living the detective life. 😁

We don’t know much about Lee Jae Han yet, but just from this first episode, he strikes me as a very decent sort of guy. He wants to honor what appears to be Soo Hyun’s love confession, by giving her the proper attention she deserves, and he also wants to do a good job of solving the case at hand.

And, when everyone else had been running off in pursuit of more obvious case developments, it had been Lee Jae Han, who had said that it would be beneficial to further look into the suspect’s hidden girlfriend.

Of course, there’s also how he goes off to Sunil Psychiatric Hospital on his own, in pursuit of a lead, which is where he finds Seo Hyung Joon’s body – and then gets clunked on the head. Eep. I’m already worried for him, and I realize that it’s partly because I’ve already come to care about him, as a character.

Who is this Lieutenant Park that Lee Jae Han is trying to reach on the walkie-talkie, and why had Lieutenant Park told Lee Jae Han about the hospital – and then told him not to go there..? That’s definitely something that I’m very curious to know more about.

As for the Kim Yoo Jung case, it really is quite poignant, to think that Hae Young has carried this burden of being an eye witness, all these years, as the statute of limitations looms closer and closer. I do wonder if his decision to become a profiler had anything to do with this?

At first glance, it doesn’t appear to be the case, because from what we can tell, he doesn’t use his skills proactively towards the case, until the magical walkie-talkie lands in his hands.

However, since he himself talks about the subconscious mind in his first few minutes on our screen, I do wonder if his decision to pursue profiling, had been influenced by his desire to close the Kim Yoo Jung case, albeit subconsciously.

The entire way the Kim Yoo Jung investigation unfolds this episode, had me on the edge of my seat.

It’s literally a race against time, and as the clock runs out, and Hae Young and Soo Hyun and the rest of the team race to beat the clock, while following Hae Young’s gut instinct predictions, I couldn’t help but hope against hope, that Hae Young’s every prediction would be proven right.

The way Hae Soo jumps in front of those reporters and reveals that the perpetrator is a woman, and describes her in detail, is so audacious, seriously. But, as he points out to Soo Hyun, this really is their only chance at apprehending the culprit, in the little time that they have left.

It feels like such a personal risk, with Soo Hyun even promising to take responsibility, if they’re not able to apprehend the culprit before the statute of limitations comes into effect. I mean, that’s a very bold promise, given that they only have 27 hours left, at that point.

I got a thrill every time they took a step according to Hae Young’s best estimate, and found things maybe-possibly about to work out.

Yet at the same time, there’s this extra layer of anxiety that’s built in, because Superintendent Kim seems adamant on covering up the case.

This makes me wonder whether it’s just a matter of him not wanting to admit police incompetence, or whether it has to do with Lee Jae Han’s disappearance, or if it’s because he’s involved in deeper corruption, and the case cover-up has something to do with some kind of dirty deal that he’s struck. Hmm.

Of course, at the same time, it begs the question of what exactly had happened to Lee Jae Han? That’s definitely something I’m eager to know, as I look forward to the next episode.

Plus, of course, I need to know how Hae Young and Soo Hyun work together to solve the Kim Yoon Jung case, now that they’ve cornered their prime suspect, with just 20 minutes to go, before the statute of limitations comes into effect. Ahhh!

Episode 2

Gosh, that was a good twist, at the top of the episode.

I was holding my breath, hoping against hope that Soo Hyun &/or Hae Young would be able to get that confession out of Yoon Soo Ah before time ran out – and they fail. Gah.

BUT THEN.

Just as Yoon Soo Ah smugly sashays away in her fancy dress and red lipstick, forensics uncovers the details on the parking ticket in Seo Hyung Joon’s clothes, and that gives Soo Hyun the extra time that she needs, in order to arrest Yoon Soo Ah for the murder of Seo Hyung Joon.

Because, that parking ticket effectively means that the statute of limitations kicks in 24 hours later than they’d thought, since Seo Hyung Joon had died after midnight.

Guh. That was a pretty great twist, and I was on tenterhooks the whole time.

At the same time, I have to admit that I felt pretty callous, when Kim Yoon Jung’s mother asks blankly, why Yoon Soo Ah is getting away with her daughter’s murder, because in my mind, the more important thing is that our guys have managed to pin Yoon Soo Ah for murder, and she’s going to be put away for it.

In my mind, I’d conveniently conflated the price of Seo Hyung Joon’s murder, with the price of Kim Yoon Jung’s murder, and.. that’s not quite how it works, particularly in the hearts and minds of the family of the victim.

To Kim Yoon Jung’s mother, it’s cold comfort that Yoon Soo Ah is put away for murder. What she wants, is a clear conviction, that Yoon Soo Ah had killed her daughter, and is specifically being put away for that crime. What she doesn’t want, is the consolation prize, that, Oh, Yoon Soo Ah’s being put away for someone else’s murder, so that ought to cover your daughter’s murder too, right?

I feel suitably chastised for not considering the feelings of Kim Yoon Jung’s mother, and I feel like I’ve learned something, from this lesson.

I’m glad to see Hae Young go to the steps at his elementary school, where he’d last seen Kim Yoon Jung, to pay his last respects to her. This feels like him getting some measure of closure, after carrying the burden of guilt all these years, and I’m glad for him.

While Yoon Soo Ah’s conviction for Kim Yoon Jung’s murder is still in question, I feel like Hae Young can at least take some comfort in the knowledge that he’s finally done something, towards the culprit’s capture.

What a poignant nugget of information that we get, that Hae Young’s own hyung, had been jailed for a crime that he apparently hadn’t committed. And, it looks like he’d died, while still labeled a criminal.

I wonder what crime Hyung had been jailed for, and how that had happened.. I am hoping that Hae Young will get the chance to clear Hyung’s name, sometime in the course of our story.

It’s coming together in my mind, that we’ve got a bit of a time loop situation going on here, in the sense that when Hae Young last speaks to Year 2000 Lee Jae Han, Lee Jae Han had said that this would be his last transmission, and then we hear a gunshot, indicating that Lee Jae Han probably dies, of that gunshot.

At the same time, during this “last transmission,” Lee Jae Han also makes mention of the Gyeonggi Nambu Serial Murders, and tells Hae Young that he will need to convince the 1989 Lee Jae Han, when the time comes.

That’s so mind-trippy, honestly.

This means that when Hae Young first hears that transmission from Lee Jae Han from Year 2000, it actually isn’t the first time that Lee Jae Han speaks with him.

And so, the Lieutenant Park whom Lee Jae Han refers to, that I’d assumed was someone else, is actually Hae Young. Lee Jae Han, in 2000, had memories of communicating with Hae Young, back in 1989.

And, Lee Jae Han had understood the time difference, and knew that even though this was the end for him, this was just the beginning, for Hae Young, and that Hae Young would get to speak with him again, albeit the 1989 version of him.

Dang. This messes with my brain in the way J-movies about this kind of time loops folding on themselves have messed with my brain in the past. It’s trippy, and heartbreaking, but it’s also laced with hope, and I’m left feeling a little winded, honestly.

I’m still very curious to know what happened to Lee Jae Han in 2000, and I can’t help hoping that somehow, with these upcoming communications that Hae Young’s going to have with 1989 Lee Jae Han, that they’ll find some kind of way, to save Lee Jae Han in 2000. A girl can hope, yes?

If Yoon Soo Ah is telling the truth, that she hadn’t seen Lee Jae Han in 2000, then who had intercepted Lee Jae Han, when he’d discovered Seo Hyung Joon’s body?

I’m glad that Show doesn’t waste time and immediately dives into connecting Hae Young with 1989 Lee Jae Han, as the investigation for the Gyeonggi Nambu Serial Murders is under way, but I also hope that we’ll come back to save Year 2000 Lee Jae Han, at some point.

Because, the more I see of Lee Jae Han, the more endearing I find him. I mean, that little scene of 1989 him being too shy to approach the girl he likes, is so cute. He trails her home like some kind of stalker, to make sure that she’s safe, but runs away like the wind, the moment her mom looks in his direction.

Tee hee. He’s such a shy bear. I like him even more now (which is why I so hope he survives this! 😭).

How very trippy, that with the information that Lee Jae Han’s heard from Hae Young, he discovers the would-be 8th victim, in time to save her – thus changing history as it appears, in 2015.

Even trippier, is the fact that Hae Young is actually able to witness the moment when that history changes, and even seems to remember what the history had been, before it had changed. Woah. What does this mean, for our cold case team, going forward?

Will they solve the cold cases, by.. preventing the murders from happening? I guess that’s one way of doing it..? 😅

WHERE TO WATCH:

Available on iQIYIVikiWeTV and Netflix.

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J3ffc
J3ffc
3 months ago

Just wondering, when Lee Jae Han and Soo Hyun are doing that cheesy photo op in the patrol car….does anything else think that she’s posing with that walkie talkie?

manukajoe
manukajoe
3 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

Interesting idea!

eda harris
eda harris
3 months ago
Reply to  J3ffc

yes, posing.

manukajoe
manukajoe
3 months ago

Wow there is a lot fewer of us watching Signal compared to the flood of discussion about Healer!

Natalia
Natalia
3 months ago
Reply to  manukajoe

I guess time is a rare commodity for all, and even though Signal is a better show (imo), Healer is cool + has a romantic arc?

beez
3 months ago
Reply to  manukajoe

I’m coming. I just have to find time to rewatch Signal so that I know what’s going on.

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago

I am surprised by how immediately, Show grabbed me. No warm up, necessary, just get me to the next scene. It feels quite assured in its handling of a complex plot, so I’m already very willing to go along for the ride. I especially like that, while there is still So Much to learn about the rules of how time works in the show, and about key characters and relationships, I’m feeling 100% intrigued and interested, and not lost or frustrated. Happy!

I’m sussing that time travel/parallel universe genres are my thing, because I’m also watching Tomorrow With You (TWY), and totally drawn in by the possibility and/or danger of changing past/present/future events to impact one’s fate. On such little things (and good or bad information) do our lives’ paths hinge.

BTW, I started TWY after Signal, and half an episode in I thought, where have I seen this ML before? 😂 It’s either a sign that Lee Je Hoon is very good at creating distinct character personas, or I am, erm, slow-witted. Just leaving that there. 😉

beez
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

I didn’t watch TWY but Lee Je hoon is an amazing actor! I never paid much attention to him until I watched the movie Anarchist from the Colony. He is so “big, in that. I forgot he was a small guy. I said “was” because in the tv drama Move to Heaven, he’s really big and buff but he wasn’t at the time of the movie. In Anarchist from the Colony, it’s his character, his personality that just so big. I don’t know of another way to describe him. It’s based on a true story and Lee Je hoon becomes a totally different person here.

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez – I saw Lee Je Hoon in Move to Heaven, as well, where he really did look different (buffed up and bad haircut😬.) I figured that connection out, as the lightbulb was going on for my two current characters. Anarchist from Colony can be rented on Amazon Prime, I see, so I know it’s there when I need another Lee Je Hoon fix.

beez
3 months ago
Reply to  Leslie

@Leslie – Did you watch Lee Je hoon in Fox Bride Star? He was very good (as we’re all his costars). If you haven’t seen it, the backdrop is the goings on of the staff at an airport.

Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago
Reply to  beez

@beez – I’ll add it to my list. 😉

Jiyuu
Jiyuu
3 months ago

Signal was one of the first series I watched in my early kdrama bingeing days (mid-2020s). I liked it a lot that I got family and friends to watch it too. Think I ended up watching it three or four times because of them.

The first episode is pretty riveting, I was hooked immediately (some series are just meh early on). The fact that the stories are based on actual cases gives the series a certain haunting tone, it makes you think of the what-ifs and possibilities. Perhaps this is why the writer likes to put a dash of fantasy in her dramas? To temper the sadness somewhat.

Anyway, I’m glad KFG is giving this another try. Will be lurking around to hear everyone’s thoughts on this 🙂

Natalia
Natalia
3 months ago

Signal is such a great show. A little long, imo, but great. I will be following the rewatch just to see your reactions K! Oh, and Lee Jae Jan is in my top 5 Kdrama characters (actually he was no1 but I think he just lost his place to Park Dong Hoon).

manukajoe
manukajoe
3 months ago

Wow here we are! I’m like others and had a false start on this show before. Since then I’ve become more accepting of watching K crime dramas. Man I’m hooked!

When I first saw the the ML Lee Je Hoon I thought, I’ve seen him before? Ha ha because he looks like Seo Yea Ji, the FL from It’s Ok to Not Be Ok !!! Hahahaha. 

Ha ha shout out to Misaeng! Oh I didn’t remember that actor being in Misaeng. It’s like of those “who’s who” shows with every actor you’ve ever seen before!

Ah nice old school vs new school policing contrast. Like the time jumps in Someday or One Day. 

I gotta say, I’m not really a fan of “race against the clock” scenarios.

Ok off to watch eps 3-4.

Edit: Gee I have trouble with Korean names.

Last edited 3 months ago by manukajoe
beez
3 months ago
Reply to  manukajoe

– 😂😂🤣🤣🤣 that ML resembles Seo Ye-Ji.

Also I’m glad your changing your mind about Signal.

MC
MC
3 months ago

Ah this show. It’s going to be the death of me, right? I might either die from stress and tension watching things play out. Or from a lack of sleep since it’s very addictive (see: I was not intending to keep up because work has been crazy of late but here I am! Well not sure if I can keep to this for the 16 episodes but these pair of episodes have hooked me). It’s one of those noooo I’m scared I don’t want to watch (since I’m a proud member of the unicorn and puppy club) but yet I can’t turn away coz it’s just so good!

Anyhoo not much to add. This show solves one mystery and adds 10 questions. Like how does it work? Will we save Jae Han? What happens now that history has changed? Time travel shows are my kryptonite!

j3ffc
j3ffc
3 months ago

I first learned about Signal when it was the topic of a parody on the 2016 drama Drinking Solo. As an inveterate fan of Let’s Eat, I was honor bound to check out DS, sort of the black sheep of the franchise, which is set in a cram school in Noryanjin. There, competition for students is fierce, and one less talented teacher tried to attract students by doing “impressions” from popular shows. At one point, he ends up talking into a walkie talkie. To me, this was completely random, until I read a recap that explained it to me. Overall, this character was pretty funny. Now, this guy (below), was a total jerk as the school administrator. Hmmmmmm.

drinking-solo-kim-won-hae.jpg
Last edited 3 months ago by j3ffc
j3ffc
j3ffc
3 months ago
Reply to  j3ffc

Having trouble with the photo feature. Walkie talkie teacher here:

NelKQoA.jpeg
Deepa
Deepa
3 months ago

I have tried to join you on all your group watches, but have failed due to something or the other. But will follow you on this one for sure as I have some open questions on my mind about this show when i saw this last year. It was part awesome and part blah for me, unlike the rave rating status this show has..

eda harris
eda harris
3 months ago
Reply to  Deepa

deepa, same for me, minus the “awesome”. but here is my first question to all, how come this evil lady-killer is still wearing the same red shoes with the same black spiky heel? (we see it in her closet, but then also wearing it in the rain, when confronted by the detectives). didn’t they wear out from all these years, or she uses them specifically only when intending to “act in an evil way”? didn’t the fashion changed? or does she have somebody who custom makes it for her exactly as we see it more than a decade ago? does she wear this specific color and design for inspiration?
this question bugged me from the first time i watched it. can somebody explain?

eda harris
eda harris
3 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

kfangurl, may be, but she IS a fashionista, (that is how the drama presents her, and that is what the profiler picks up). and the fashion does and did change – there were times that spiky heels were totally out. shoe designs keep rotating: platforms, slick designs, thick heels, sculptured heels, spikes and so on – they all come and go but in different variations and combinations. i doubt that she would abandon her fashionista instincts. that is why i am questioning it. unless korean fashion is very backward, which i am not sure.

eda harris
eda harris
3 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

have to agree with you on that. but she’s not seducing anybody here, is she?

eda harris
eda harris
3 months ago
Reply to  kfangurl

all right. i’ll go with that. thanks for your deciphering.

Natalia
Natalia
3 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

Eda, I’m a fashionista myself and there has never been a time (well, in my adulthood) that there wasn’t a pair of red stilettos in my wardrobe (although I must admit I own an embarrassing number of pairs of shoes of every kind…😊). Of course, red stilettos or not, I don’t go around kidnapping kids!

eda harris
eda harris
3 months ago
Reply to  Natalia

natalia, hi,
sorry to bring you disappointing news: “Stilettos were sort of going out of style,” agrees Gabriella Santaniello, an analyst focused on fashion at retail research firm A-Line Partners. this is recent, but not the first time that stilettos are fading out.
i did like them also, at some point, but if you are a fashionista, the fashion does move on. of course, you can still enjoy your favorites. and i was asking the question because the shoes in signal looked identical. i thought, at least one detail would have changed throughout all those many years.

beez
3 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

@eda @Natalia – some women will always keep a pair of stiletto pointy-toed pumps no matter the fashion. They may not get to wear them other than at home *ahem* in the bedroom, but they have them. 😆

haha! I know that’s not your point @eda, but I couldn’t help myself. 😂😂😂

Medea
Medea
3 months ago

I remember the first time I watched this show, these first episodes stressed me out so much in a good way. It is so tense but also so tightly written that you want to look away but you can’t. While I enjoy Hae-Young and Soo-Hyun, my favorite character is probably Jae-Han, because he seems both like a very capable detective and a grumpy ball of fluff. The twist with the statute of limitations is so great because a) it’s completely unexpected – no one expects the main characters to fail, and b) that failure is the reason that our cold case team comes together. I think that the way that this show makes sure that every individual case actually contributes to the greater plot is awesome.