If you’re looking for a good mystery that tugs at the heartstrings, keeps you on your toes, provokes thought and throws in some futuristic sci-fi action as well, tvN’s 2017 drama Circle: Two Worlds Connected (써클 : 이어진 두 세계) is just the series for you.
Circle takes place in both 2017 and 2037 with half of each episode devoted to either.
In 2017, Kim Woo Jin (Yeo Jin Goo) struggles to help his twin brother Beom Gyun (An Woo Yeon) who insists an alien is involved in the disappearance of their father 10 years ago, based on a mysterious encounter they had one night as children. Woo Jin is initially skeptical and just wants his older brother to get the proper treatment he needs. But he soon unravels the truth with the help of college classmate Han Jung Yeon (Gong Seung Yeon) who looks strikingly similar to the alien from their childhood.
Meanwhile in 2037, detective Kim Joon Hyuk (Kim Kang Woo) has lost his memories, but feels the answers lie in the new Smart City which is in contrast to the desolate, post-apocalyptic world outside of the insulated, futuristic. In Smart City, humans’ emotions are regulated by an implanted chip connected to a super computer known as Human B. And through this new technology, humans are supposedly happier and allows them to live in a crime-free world.
Joon Hyuk works to uncover the truth as well, with the help of detective Hong Jin Hong (Seo Hyun Chul) and Human B security agent Lee Ho Soo (Lee Gikwang).
The separate, but parallel stories soon reveal surprising and unexpected connections. And amidst all the sci-fi action is a fascinating discussion on memories and human emotion.
Circle is a thriller and mystery. The secrets behind disappearances, alien arrivals and futuristic technology in a post-apocalyptic world keep you guessing throughout the series’ 12 episodes. Some legitimately shocking twists and turns have you clinging to the edge of your seats.
Even more interesting is how the series discusses the idea of how important memories are in directing our thoughts and futures. There is a fascinating ethical and philosophical discussion about whether or not memories (specifically painful ones) can help shape our lives for the better. And if just erasing such memories can open up an easy, straightforward path.
Or perhaps, memories and experiences from the past actually help us learn and grow. And that is regardless whether those memories are happy or sad.
The excellent cast helps solidify the engaging premise. Yeo Jin Goo again shows how he is indeed leading man material. Much of the series’ initial episodes focus on his character and the emotions Yeo Jin Goo is able to express and portray immediately hook you into the story.
No doubt Kim Kang Woo’s experience shows as he carries the 2037 half of the series almost on his own back. Able to balance the heavier, more dramatic scenes with the lighter and cheekier moments, Kim Kang Woo’s signature bad boy with a heart charisma is put to excellent use here.
Gong Seungyeon does perhaps the heaviest lifting of the series as, in reality, she must actually play more than one character over the course of 12 episodes. Any more about that will be a spoiler. But rest assured, Gong Seungyeon shows off her talent as a strong and versatile leading lady.
An Woo Yeon as Beom Gyun is able to get some meatier material here than he had been getting in some previous roles (at the time). Getting a chance to also show what he’s capable of, An Woo Yeon effectively makes Beom Gyun the catalyst to much of the series’ emotional high points.
Seon Hyun Chul is a great mentor figure as detective Hong. And Lee Gikwang gets some standout moments to shine as Ho Soo.
Overall, an engaging and thought-provoking story, a great cast and tight writing and direction