I don’t think I’ve ever come across a series as charming, loveable and exciting as the 2018 MBC drama series My Secret Terrius (내 뒤에 테리우스/Terius Behind Me). The series achieves the almost impossible feat of having the perfect balance of exciting spy action, hilarious comedy and sweet romance.
So Ji Sub plays Kim Bon, a legendary National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent who has been in hiding while he tries to uncover the truth about a failed mission that resulted in the death of the woman he loved. Jung In Sun is Go Ae Rin, housewife and mother of twins, who lives next door to the mysterious Kim Bon.
When Ae Rin suddenly loses her husband, she unknowingly gets caught up in the vast conspiracy that Kim Bon is investigating. In order to learn more about Ae Rin’s possible connections and realizing her family’s life may be in danger, Kim Bon becomes babysitter to the twins Joon Soo and Joon Hee (Kim Gun Woo and Ok Ye Rin).
Helping Kim Bon is NIS agent Yoo Ji Yeon (Im Se Mi) and NIS tech wizard Ra Do Woo (UNIQ’s Kim Sung Joo) who operate their secret mission out of the basement of a luxury bag store. (Yoo Ji Yeon also harbors feelings for Kim Bon.) And key to unraveling the conspiracy is con man Jin Young Tae (Son Ho Jun) who ends up being Ae Rin’s boss at the company he uses as a front to the criminal dealings.
In Kim Bon’s way is ambitious NIS chief Kwon Young Sil (Seo Yi Sook) who has been searching for him since the failed mission years ago. She is also in a delicate tug of war with NIS director Shim Woo Cheol (Um Hyo Sup).
But of unexpected help is the KingCastle Information System led by Shim Eun Ha, Bong Sun Mi and Kim Sang Ryeol (Kim Yeo Jin, Jung Si Ah, Kang Ki Young). The KIS is a network of housewives (and one househusband) at Ae Rin and Bon’s condo complex whose stellar intelligence and surveillance capabilities do more than just share the latest gossip and could rival any government spy agency.
That’s a very full story already and that’s only scratching the surface. That is, the first few episodes. My Secret Terrius takes off from there for an amusing and thrilling ride.
The series’ balancing act is truly one of the most successful I’ve seen. Not only are there equal parts secret agent action, domestic comedy and innocent, but sweet romance, all those elements and genres intertwine and work together to give a full, well-rounded story.
Many of the series’ most enjoyable and memorable moments are when the different slices of the larger pie intersect in creative ways. And it never feels contrived. It’s all fun and silly, but in a good way. The situations and circumstances still feel believable and authentic. And that allows the series to be down to earth and relatable.
There is a great sincerity that runs through the heart of the series. And it connects both the NIS and KIS sides of the story. Neither side undermines the other. The secret agent spy action always works hand in hand with the domestic, family comedy.
The premise is so solid, the series probably could’ve done even more. Especially with more possible intersecting NIS and KIS missions, for example.
The glue that holds all of it together is the cast of characters. They are a loveable bunch.
That may be a surprising way to describe characters involved in a spy thriller. But that’s the ultimate charm that they bring to the table.
Whether it is Son Ho Jun’s signature comedy-drama versatility and Lim Se Mi being a badass with a heart or Kim Sung Joo’s playful charisma and the always scene-stealing shenanigans of Kim Yeo Jin, Jung Si Ah and Kang Ki Young; this is an excellent cast. Definitely one of the best ensembles I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying for 16 episodes.
At the forefront of course are So Ji Sub and Jung In Sun.
Jung In Sun is immediately endearing as Ae Rin. Unexpectedly becoming a single mom, Ae Rin’s love and care for her family is matched by her resourcefulness and sharp mind. Jung In Sun easily balances the heavier and more emotional moments with the lighter and funnier moments.
So Ji Sub is an actor that doesn’t have much more to prove at this point in his career. But he is perfectly cast as Kim Bon. A legendary agent by night and a socially awkward baby sitter by day; it’s a fun contrast that So Ji Sub brings to life so well. It is easy to connect to his character and understand his struggles and fight for justice. And even more so when Bon takes his secret agent hat off and interacts with the KIS housewives or Ae Rin and her twins.
Jung In Sun and So Ji Sub’s chemistry is also a highlight. As romantic as their two characters can get with each other, the series does it in a careful and nuanced way that relates to the story and the characters’ journeys. There is no need for grand displays of romance. The writing and their performances are able to convey so much emotion without having to exert very much effort like other series are forced to do.
If you are looking for a series that goes all-in on one of the aforementioned themes, this may not be the show for you. But the appeal of the series is how all those themes come together in a fun and refreshing way. As familiar as many of the series’ qualities and plot points are, the fast-paced story and irresistibly charming cast of characters make My Secret Terrius an absolute joy to watch.