A suspenseful story that asks the key question, “What if we could identify psychopaths in advance?” A crazed serial killer’s ruthless murders have left the entire nation gripped with fear, and chaos reigns. Justice-seeking rookie police officer, Jung Ba Reum, comes face to face with the killer. While he survives his dangerous encounter with the psychopath, Jung Ba Reum finds his life completely changing before his eyes. (Source: MyDramaList) Edit Translation
Where to Watch Mouse
Cast & Credits
I have a few unpopular opinionsFor what I expected to be my favourite drama of the year, I've concluded it with lukewarm feelings. As much as I know a lot of people really loved this show, I have a lot of issues with it from morals to general plot progression and characterization. I don't think it was all bad and the premise really showed a lot of promise, but for me, it failed to reach the potential that I thought it deserved.
Let's start from the beginning. My hype for Mouse was at its peak before I ever started watching it, back when the description was just a vague blurb about a world where psychopaths could be determined before birth and the societal response to that. That right there is interesting to me, extremely. Just that short, nondescript idea was enough to get me really invested in what this show would become. So I was already past the point of no return when I realized that the writer for this drama was the same writer as Black. For anyone who has actually watched Black, you may understand why this set off alarm bells for me. But whatever, I was already set on watching it. I was even more excited than I was for Beyond Evil, which has so far been my favourite mystery/thriller this year.
From the very first episode, something did not sit well with me, and that was the portrayal of psychopaths. You know, the entire focal point of the drama. I knew going in that it wasn't going to be realistic because of the introduction of the psychopath gene and the prenatal test for it. Okay, fine. But the drama heavily referenced psychopaths being serial killers. Actually, all of their arguments centred around the idea that every psychopath was a serial killer when, really, most aren't. And the fact that the show was demonizing unborn children? It bothered me. But well, that's what I signed up for! I knew going into it that it would do that, and my hopes were that the drama would challenge the biased opinions it set out at the beginning throughout the drama. And well... it didn't. Not even a little bit. It just reaffirmed them throughout. Hm. Well okay. Maybe I won't agree with the morals, but I can still enjoy the story, right? Well...
I found the start of the drama a little fun. The moments of suspense reminded me of a b-horror movie which could be both cringy and fun, so I was okay with that. But the further I watched, the more I realized that it wasn't very enjoyable. To be enjoyable, a drama doesn't necessarily need to be funny and charming. Dark, gritty shows that make you think can be entertaining, too. But as I watched, I realized I didn't like any of the characters. They were all characters who had been deeply scarred by past events and losses in their lives so I didn't expect them to be happy, good, fun people, but their flaws didn't seem to justify their actions and, honestly, they felt a bit like caricatures. Those singular events in their past defined who they were as people.
Take Moo Chi - he's an off-the-walls alcoholic detective with anger issues. Why is he that way? Well, his parents were murdered and beheaded by a serial killer and his brother was seriously injured in the same event and had to go through many operations just to keep his life. His brother never recovered. That night still lives with him and he can't escape it. Okay, makes sense. So, what does he like? Well... alcohol, I guess. His brother? His team, maybe? Half the time he's fighting with them, so I can't be sure. What are his interests? Hm. Drinking? Chasing criminals? Being depressed in his room? Depression makes a lot of sense for his character, especially after his brother's death, but he has no interests. There's nothing in his room that indicates that he's cared about anything but catching criminals his entire life and that just isn't a character. You can say that he's obsessed, but even people who are will have things they've picked up over the decades of their lives that they care about. And it isn't even like he's a good detective - he's very slow to piece things together. While watching Mouse, I never really cared for the moments he was on screen. And I don't think it's at all the actor's fault. He's doing his best with what he's been given. He's a good actor. But there wasn't much to work with there.
Okay. Bong Yi. Where to start? Well, she was a victim of sexual assault when she was younger and is scarred ever since. Same deal as with Moo Chi. She's traumatized and that's entirely valid. She loves her grandmother, but also somewhat blames her grandmother for what happened to her. That comes out when she's angry. She has a temper, like Moo Chi. She knows how to fight - I can assume maybe self-defence classes in her past. She... boxes? I guess? Great, a hobby! And she has a crush on Ba Reum. Okay, so she has interests! Right? Well... not really. The strange thing about this writer is that she's actually not great at writing women. You can see it in Black, too - the badly written female characters. She tries to follow the 'strong female character' trope that's become popular over the years but doesn't go far beyond the trope. The girl can fight, great, but whenever there comes a time where she actually needs to fight, she's useless. She'll almost catch a criminal here and there, but mostly her confrontations will end in her being a victim that needs to be saved. Throughout the series, she was just a magnet for every serial killer and rapist. They all gravitated to her house like there was a big red sign out front that read 'TARGET'. As for her crush on Ba Reum, that was her entire role. She was meant to be the love interest and victim of the serial killer in order to add more angst, drama and tragedy to the script.
Ba Reum. Well, personality-wise, he was a bit likeable. He was meant to be. In fact, his kind act was so caked on that most of the viewers realized in episode 2 that he was going to turn out to be the serial killer while the show was trying to act like it was some big twist to be revealed at the 3/4 mark. It was predictable. But what bothers me with that is that him being a genuinely nice guy who likes to take care of animals would have been the better twist. Everyone also figured out early on that he was the Head Hunter's biological son, too. It would have been a good chance for the show to challenge the earlier morals that it established but, well, it decided that no, psychopaths are determined at birth and they all need to be aborted because the only route they'll take in life is murder! I won't go into that rant. That aside, his character was... okay. He still didn't really have many interests, but they at least established more of his history through his friends. We got more info through the backstory of his family and their murders... but I really don't want to touch on what a mess the family history is in this show. 'Serial killer turned nice guy' was his entire personality and we can just leave him at that.
This goes for most of the other side characters, too. They're very one-dimensional and when you look back on it, it makes them hard to like. This isn't a Mouse exclusive problem and actually tends to be a big issue I have with a lot of thrillers, but the writing of the focal points matters a lot in whether these simple characters bother me or not. Unfortunately, the story wasn't enough to detract from that. What a mess. It bothers me that this drama isn't tagged as sci-fi because of the brain-transplant element later on in the show. And the psychopath test. Of course. The plot was really inconsistent from thereon. Looking back, it feels like the entire middle of the show could have been cut out and we would have still ended up in the same place. Ba Reum's amnesia only succeeded in dragging out the show. It could have been 16 hour-long episodes or less and I feel that the takeaway would have been the same. Actually, how interesting would it have been to have Ba Reum wake up remembering that he is a serial killer, but now also being able to feel the guilt that he never could have before? Following that character would have been very interesting. That's not the show we have, though.
There was too much going on at once I think. The story was vast, but it didn't amount to much. The OZ conspiracy was honestly unnecessary. The government being involved felt a bit silly. If this show had stayed solely about the serial killer and was shorter in accordance with that, I think it would have had more of an impact on me. That was the part that was interesting. That was what I hung onto. But by the time we reached the end, it felt like the spark just sort of... fizzled out. The last episode was focused on wrapping up loose ends but by the time Ba Reum was arrested, I realized I didn't care about what was happening to any of the characters. I didn't like Bong Yi, Hong Ju or Moo Chi. They, like I said, didn't feel like real characters. Then the law was passed to abort fetuses with the psychopath gene, and I was wondering whether that was supposed to be considered a victory or if it was supposed to be seen in a negative light. I wasn't sure how I felt. Especially after the show essentially showing Ba Reum's mother starting everything. She misinterpreted Ba Reum's intent to kill his brother and told his adoptive mother to kill him. Ba Reum's family was murdered before him, and his first murder was of the man who killed them. That was the trigger. It does make me wonder how he would have turned out had it not been for the actions of the people around him. I assume that was the writer's goal, so props for that.
There are some bright sides to this experience. In concept, it was interesting. I'm glad it went the route of Ba Reum being the original killer instead of Yo Han. And hey, the ending wasn't half as bad as Black's. But unfortunately, the whole journey felt a bit meaningless to me and that last episode especially left a lot to be desired. Episodes were focused on ending with big cliffhangers and shocking the audience rather than telling a well-written story and the characters were stereotypes that failed to break the mould. I can't say that I regret watching it though. It was nice to see Seunggi acting again and I had fun in some of the earlier episodes. There were moments I got excited, too. So I can't say it's not worth watching, but I also can't say that it is, either. I do get why so many people loved it, and I feel with some changes maybe I would have been one of them.
For me, Mouse will remain a terribly long journey and a cautionary tale not to get too excited by a drama's premise.
Messed-up plot. Try to to be clever but fail. Too many loopholes all over the place.(Review In Progress
-- done watching, in-progress reviewing, and after that still needs some edit.
-- sorry, it takes me some time as this such a headache.)
[+] This series is like an experimental work. After finishing, I highly admire the team that they really put a great effort in creating this drama. It's a complex story. The messageS they want to convey are difficult, thus meaningful. And the way to convey it isn't simply about plot writing. This series especially need the collaboration between the plot creating and filming/editing processes. So it's not only the story that is complex, the process for the aimed result is also a hard work here. I feel thankful they made this done. With this work of theirs, they challenge the new level of quality series in all aspects from creating to conveying processes.
[-] Anyway, they try too hard to be clever. In the end, there're still too many loopholes both in the main plot and sub-plots. To find a positive excuse for this, I'd blame the time constraint. The time limitation especially affects the writer. I feel that the writer only has solid ideas on the main things she wants to make happen, but she lacks the ideas to logically connect two or more dots, resulting in a messy resolvement that relies on cheating the audience.
Two main cheating ways of this series that are unaccepatable for me are:-
1) They indulgedly create many conditions in the story on their own without caring the universal laws. These conditions are not the kind of reasonable conditions that would serve them right if they had a unique universe of their own story. These conditions are just to serve their own conveninece in resolving the conflicts the easy way because they can't think of how to resolve it properly without cheating. Let me give an example,
- The conflict is A wants to kill B who is a criminal treated at a hospital, but B is protected by two polices standing guard at the patient door at all time.
- Resolution of this series to let A kill B is to let C who is another police says via the walkie talkie that there's some incident happening near the hospital area and he needs some support at the moment. On hearing that, the two polices both left their position immediately. They shouldn't leave their post in the first place, but when they do, they do it so naturally like it's the way the world normally is as they don't even need to disccuss or hesistate a bit before setting off running away.
The above is just one example. There're A LOT along the way. The plot needs media to be stupid, needs people to be stupid, needs doctors to be able to do things that normally they are not able to. All of these for the sake of connecting the solid point A to point B. Remember what I mentioned above? They only have the solid ideas on main points while have no idea of how to connect them.
Their self-indulgement frustrates me a lot. They look down on the audience like me.
2) Because they can't find the proper way to solve their conflicts, they trick the audience by manipulating the scenes. The plot is mean to deceive the audience at first, so that they can make a surprise twist later. The proper way to do it is to give the same set of information to the audience as to the investigative storyline (= the storyline of solving the conflicts). An improper way to do it is to hide some parts of the information that the storyline knows from the audience. This series make a worse thing by manipulating the information. In some crucial scenes that would become the surprised twists later, they film it in 2 different ways - one is the way that actually happens, the other is the way they want the audience to believe happening. Then, they firstly show the audience the wrong occurrence to mislead the viewers. And later, when they reveal the twist, they show the other occurrence. This is cheating. You don't have skills to make things right. You want to be wise, but if you cheat it doesn't shows that you're wise anymore. It shows that you're just pretentious.
As unskilled as you are, you still need to learn a lot more to not anger the audience this way. Find a place to learn? Go read more works of Dan Brown and Agatha Christie!
(1) Story [-]
- Too many loopholes
- Like ep.1-2 pretty much
- Ep.3 starts to have loopholes in the details.
- Ep.4-5 have too many unrealistic parts esp. about media, human behaviors in society, and decision-making relating to social impact. These surreal parts are essential for story development. If there's none of these, the story wouldn't go on the way it is written, which means the production team is not smart enough to make a proper investigative story without constructing some special conditions that would help them make the story progress easier. What a convenient way to solve a question that outwits them, right? They do it by making a condition that says whatever they say is true. Anyway, in the end, this just portrays that everything in the story is pretentious.
- Ep.8, 10 - more so-called loopholes - the self-conditioned parts that help the story to progress along the way they want.
[[ spoiled note: 8-the surveillance officers / 10-the physical call instead of phone call; the criminal didn't have father at first but now has?? huh; the criminal's mother supposed to give birth after Yohan's mother in the early ep but now she did it before for 6-7 yrs?? ]]
1) Why the TV producer takes that guy in her car?? -_-
2) How that kid gets to that man's house?? << It's like everyone is a character in an RPG game doing things without motive, no situation progresses in a logical process. It's like these characters and situations happening around them are programmed in a game.
1) Conveniently skip the memory about chasing on the road scene?
2) Suddenly the older police who usually fails to observe the details about everything notices the very subtle details of a victim. How convenient, the writer makes everyone change in a wink, makes any situation to occurs or changes from before like magic.
3) I also don't forget the alibi of everyone in the 1st case and waiting for you to properly explain, writer!
Ep.17 - The new paint on the wall can be removed by tissue paper??!!
- This story shows that polices are generally stupid. The supervisors would choose their subordinates to make an important decision instead of them while the subs are not clever enough.
- The media in this story breaks the law and their ethics all the time. It's the circle that there're only people who think about their own benefits. They dare to publicly take advantage of the situations even when there are other people's lives at stake. And no one at all blames the media. Nor does the media get sued. Very weird society.
- The story shows the people of Korea are stupid, always ready to be pulled to the left then dragged to the right without the ability to think on their own. They believe whatever words from TV. The people/audience in this story is much stupider than those characters in the novel 1984.
- Let me yell at this series a bit:- The real media don't work like that. The real polices don't work like that, either. And the people of Korea or most of the places in the world are not like that. The production team of this drama is just an imposter pretending to know what social psychology is, pretending to know how journalists and polices work while they actually Know NOTHING. What they do is just spreading the wrong perceptions about everything.
p.s. Damn to this drama, where the hell in the world that a TV channel would intentionally live broadcast a crime as a criminal wants? Furthermore, two TV channels even argue/criticize/condemn each other on TV-live-broadcasting to make the situation benefit the criminal. The media here are very much stupid and very much immature. Nonsense. In reality, this kind of TV station would surely be heavily investigated by law and backfired by social pressure.
P.S.2 And the ER doctors don't work in patients' rooms! You don't know how doctors work, either. You -writer, director, producer of this series- truly Know Nothing.
(2) Acting [~]
- The older police always overacts. The paradox is they mention about overacting represents the lack of understanding in the thing the overactor tries to depict (ep.7).
- The acting of the TV program's female producer is substandard. She doesn't know the way to show her character's expressions through her face. I don't feel that she feels what she acts. She just makes a subtly disturbed face, and continues to make it the whole time. There's only one kind of facial expression from her, which is the kind of expression that I don't feel that she feels it.
(3) Script [-]
- Bad script. It's like the characters in the series are the RPG-game players. They walk around talking to witnesses, interviewing people in the RPG-game style that we have to stop and talk on the way to certain people to get more information to complete each mission. The conversations in that kind of interviewing/asking strangers in the series are blocked and unnatural - if we get to the right person, the convo would flow as well as directly get to the point, no small talk, no introduction. No matter how weird or rude the questions of the characters are to the strangers, those strangers answer along the way that the characters want to know without opposing. No matter how private the information they get asked, they don't feel it and are willingly answer them.
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