Get ready for homely hairstyles and crime solving, because the “Mystery Queen” is here to beautifully combine both. The series spends its first four episodes introducing us to our main characters, their current situation as well as the ways in which the investigative part of the plot will progress. Two opinionated people form an unlikely frienemy pair and it is more glorious than I could have anticipated.
Before getting to all the things I love about this, let us talk premise and characters. Yoo Seol-ok (Choi Kang-hee) is a housewife constantly bossed around by her mother-in-law in a marriage Seol-ok does not seem keen on. Ha Wan-seung (Kwon Sang-woo) is a detective who believes in brawn over brains and who carries trauma and major anger management problems to go with it. Seol-ok is highly observant and intelligent, but lacks authority. Wan-seung has authority, but he lacks investigative skills.
The two solve crimes in their own way. Wan-seung using instinct and force to get any results. Seol-ok does not mind arrest quotas and wants the right results. I think the way the crime solving is handled is the show’s strongest point so far. Seol-ok gathers clues, but we are not made privy to their significance. This makes a viewer curious and it gives us time to beat the plot to an answer, which is how you properly engage audiences in a good mystery-driven detective story.
Aside from crime solving, we get a hefty dose of character and world building. Seol-ok is a genius hidden in marriage-slave form and she only interacts with one good friend in her social circle. Their relationship is lovely and their hijinks of hiding Seol-ok’s hobby from her family highly entertaining. Wan-seung is a complete mess, but he is also confident to the point of being cocky and willing to try methods which work. Both have flaws and they can learn from each other, which I hope will be a major story element.
At this point you are probably wondering about the idea of romance and I am happy to say that things are promising. The work done so far covers for friendship or romance and so does the leads’ chemistry. We have only seen Seol-ok’s husband once and her marriage is a mystery on its own. Whichever choice the creators make, Choi Kang-hee and Kwon Sang-woo‘s on-screen time is absolutely enjoyable.
I have very few complaints with “Mystery Queen” so far. The cases are presented as dead serious, but there are some comedic scenes which do not seem laugh-worthy given the stakes. Aside from that, we have exciting mystery, good chemistry, fun comedy, colorful characters and casting perfection. I have very high expectations of this and I hope that at least some of them will come true.