While the initial draw to the series may be its unique paranormal thriller premise, tvN’s He is Psychometric (사이코메트리 그녀석) keeps you watching for the relationships and the bonds the characters form with each other and the audience.
He is Psychometric centers around Lee Ahn (Park Jin Young) who develops the power of psychometry as a child shortly after his parents die in a fire. Psychometry is the ability to read a past or memory by touching a person or object related to it. He is saved after the fire by Kang Sung Mo (Kim Kwon) who takes care of him as a younger brother.
Fast forward to the present day where Ahn meets Yoon Jae In (Shin Ye Eun) and the secrets of that fire begin to unravel when they learn both of their connections to that tragic night.
The series starts out like a lighter, high school romance. Ahn and Jae In share a tragic past, but grow closer and are able to make each other happier.
But the series takes a much darker turn halfway through and the thrilling mystery kicks into high gear.
In a way, the lighter beginning sets the stage for a quite stunning shift that maybe highlights the series’ theme the best. What goes in to shaping a person into who they are today? Is it all set in stone? If not, what factors end up guiding that person’s development and is there room for change?
Ahn’s psychometric ability is the paranormal spice that helps keep the series’ plot fresh and different. It allows the series to eschew the typical traps of similar series.
One thing the series could’ve done was to throw in a few more “cases of the week” in which Lee Ahn uses his ability to solve smaller cases while relating those cases to the overarching mystery. Other similarly themed mystery-thrillers have done just that in a way that serves as a sort of world-building and to help character development.
He is Psychometric definitely could’ve used some of those extra side-cases to flesh out the idea of psychometry a little more and to hone the detective skills of our lead characters. Being able to mix a procedural with an engaging ongoing plot can make for a well-rounded series.
I don’t think anyone would oppose to seeing more detective-work from Kim Da Som’s Ji Soo, especially. We merely got teases of her as well as Ahn and Jae In doing actual investigating or getting into fights with criminals.
The weakest part of the series is perhaps that lack of extra suspense which then required the overarching mystery to be at the forefront at all times. And that in turn sort of hastened the run toward the climax in a way that perhaps slightly diluted the impact at the end. A lot of the steps along the way are unfortunately predictable, including a few of the eventual final pieces.
That said, the central mystery is actually not the main draw for the series.
He is Psychometric‘s strength is truly in its characters. Whether it is their personal, painful struggles or the relationships and bonds they form with each other, the characters are what keeps you hooked.
Each of our main characters are well-developed. You get an immediate sense of who they are on the surface before being able to dive a bit deeper into their personalities.
Part of peeling back the layers is watching the characters’ interactions with each other. The inter-personal relationships tell us more about the characters than the main plot of the series. In that sense, He is Psychometric leans toward being a character-driven story. The characters dictate the movement of the plot and not the other way around. Whether it is relationships between brothers or friends or romantic pairs or between a parent and child; the series presents several different connections that each open up another piece of the puzzle as well as reveal more about each character.
And as we learn more about each character, the series opens up the discussion about the effect those relationships can have on a person. As well as the idea of how the world around us can have an effect and shape a person’s life or personality. The series’ emotional high points all deal with characters’ relationships with one another.
A good character-driven story can be a major strength, especially with a good cast. And He is Psychometric has just that.
Park Jin Young steps into his first lead role as Lee Ahn. When we first meet Ahn, he seems like a typical high schooler. Not too bright, a little bit of a troublemaker. But a nice guy at heart. When we begin learning about his past and his ability, we see there’s much more to Ahn. Between lighter, more childlike moments and the heavier, more emotional moments, Park Jin Young is able to make that swift transition in a charismatic and endearing way. And that is most important for him playing the title character. For anyone that has followed his career as a singer, his bright personality will come as no surprise. But him being able to show a more dramatic and emotional side through the series should be a great treat that highlights his great potential for future roles.
Shin Ye Eun did a fine job on the web series A-TEEN. But she gets a much better opportunity to show what she’s capable of here in her first lead role as Yoon Jae In. Unlike the rest of the main cast, Shin Ye Eun has to do most of the heavy lifting early on in the series. She successfully establishes the series’ dramatic and emotional foundation that helps lay the groundwork for everything else. Her character is then allowed to soften a little bit, but still while maintaining that emotional backstory which she must draw upon several times. Shin Ye Eun does all that well and is a big accomplishment for her first lead role.
Kim Da Som is quite a revelation as detective Eun Ji Soo. Though not her first acting experience, Kim Da Som is a commanding presence as Ji Soo serves as the good, upstanding cop who doesn’t take crap from anyone. At the same time, she is a fun, older sister figure for Ahn. And she harbors seemingly unrequited feelings for Sung Mo. The multi-faceted character gives Kim Da Som plenty of opportunities to prove her talent. And she does so in such a compelling way.
But the series’ standout is certainly Kim Kwon as Kang Sung Mo. Sung Mo is a cold, all-business prosecutor, but it is very clear that he cares about his adoptive brother Ahn and the people around him. As the series progresses, Kim Kwon is called upon to take over the heavy lifting duties. And he does so in an excellent way. His carefully nuanced performance allows you to adequately follow the dark turn of events without skipping a beat. And he also makes the case for his character actually getting more material to work with as it really appeared Kim Kwon had much more to give in the series if given the chance.
The series’ best chemistry also belongs to Park Jin Young and Kim Kwon. And that goes a long way to making the series’ climax emotionally resonant.
These four lead a great ensemble cast that helps everything come together. That includes the late Jeon Mi Seon in her final television role before her tragic death last year. And Jung Ji Hoon and Joe Byeong Gyu as the young Ahn and Sung Mo, respectively, who provide the critical and emotional foundation for their grown up counterparts.
Overall, He is Psychometric features a unique and intriguing premise. But its strength is in its characters and the relationships they form and maintain. It is a fascinating series that touches upon connections and bonds and the effect of the world around us.