TV Review: Chief of Staff S2 (Spoilers!)

The first season of JTBC’s political drama “Chief of Staff” was one of the few dramas that grabbed audience’s attentions last year, and many couldn’t wait for the second season to drop in November 2019, after the first season’s initial run from June to July 2019. Boasting a lot of familiar faces and some new ones, the second season was just as tightly paced as the first season, and developed the characters even more.

The second season of “Chief of Staff” was directed by Kwak Jung Han and Oh Seung Yul, and was written by Lee Dae Il. It ran from November 11-December 10, 2019 for ten episodes; and was also released on Netflix.

Lee Jung Jae as Jang Tae Joon
Shin Min Ah as Assemblywoman Kang Seon Young
Image Source: JTBC Drama Facebook Page

The second season picks right after the events of the first season, and right from the get go, you see the immediate changes in dynamics between the characters based on the actions and decisions that happened in the first season. However, as the season moves along, motivations are revealed, new alliances are formed and others are renewed or strengthened in order to achieve their goals and dreams, no matter how many times obstacles are placed in their way in the never ending struggle to fight back against those with power who are corrupt.

Elijah Lee as Yoon Hye Won
Kim Dong Jun as Han Do Kyeong
Image Source: JTBC Drama Facebook Page

It was such a joy to see the growth the characters of Jang Tae Joon (Lee Jung Jae), Assemblywoman Kang Seon Young (Shin Min Ah), Yoon Hye Won (Elijah Lee), and Han Do Kyeong (Kim Dong Jun) from season one to season two, what with the initial shift of dynamics between the characters, all the way to their own personal and inner journeys that helped them grow as characters. It was also interesting to see how they worked well together, especially as even if they had the same goals, the methods of how they got their end results were very different from each other.

Kim Kap Soo as Minister of Justice Song Hui Seop
Jung Woong In as Oh Won Sik
Image Source: JTBC Drama Facebook Page

Just like in the first season, Kim Gap Soo’s Minister of Justice Song Hui Seop and Jung Woong In’s Oh Won Sik’s more villainous turns were scene stealers, and I’m pretty sure that they relished acting every scene, as they made it so easy for the audience to not like them at all, while still remaining quite shrewd and sharp at the same time.

The new faces were welcome additions as well. There was newly appointed Chief Prosecutor Choe Gyeong Cheol (Jeong Man Sik), a righteous prosecutor who ended up suffering because of his determination to stick to the law; Lee Ji Eun (Park Hyo Joo), Assemblywoman Kang’s chief of staff who returned after taking some month’s off due to maternity leave; and last but not least, Yang Jong Yeol (Jo Bok Rae), a seemingly shady character who ends up becoming a chief of staff in Jang Tae Jun’s office.

(Clockwise) Jeong Man Sik as Choe Gyeong Cheol , Park Hyo Joo as Lee Ji Eun, and Jo Bok Rae as Yang Jong Yeol.
Image Source: JTBC Drama Facebook Page

Just like in the first season, there was never a dull moment, as the struggle to oppose corrupt officials and their struggle to stay in power no matter what the cost greatly intensifies in this season. Aside from this, this season also was take the opportunity to showcase how much ordinary citizens unfortunately have to suffer just so that the rich and powerful can line their pockets just a little bit more.

The acting, writing, directing and plot were all just as good as the previous season, and while many do want to see what might happen next if there ever was a third season, they gave us a pretty satisfying enough conclusion to its story and characters.

Now, you know the drill! From here on out, there will be spoilers!

The newly minted Assemblyman Jang Tae Joon

After the first season ended, many wondered if Jang Tae Joon would still be able to remember his end goal of getting rid of those who were corrupt around him once he became an assemblyman, especially as he got that position through the very people he wanted to go against. However, I’m glad that he never lost sight of his end goal, especially as every single move he made as an assemblyman worked towards tearing those people in power down, and most especially, the newly appointed Minister of Justice Song Hui Seop. This is also why I wasn’t surprised that nearing the end of the season, when he knew that things could be more handled by Assemblywoman Kang at that point in time, he stepped down from his position. At that point, he felt that he had accomplished what he had sought out to do from the beginning-to ignite that flame and to start the fight against the corrupt by bringing down those at the top of the food chain (Minister Song Hui Seop, Chairman Sung, and Lee Chang Jin). It would be interesting to see a third season with Tae Joon as a newly minted Presidential Aide, but at the same time, I also like leaving that up to the imagination.

Assemblywoman Kang fighting the good fight.

Last season, Assemblywoman Kang was shrewd like a fox as she was able to manipulate things to her favor without having to compromise as much as Jang Tae Joon did in the first season. However, in this season, she was more straightforward, as she did everything by the book, even when dealing with fellow politicians. This, I think, was mostly due what happened to her chief of staff, Go Seok Man (Lim Won Hee), in the first season. She went through a pretty intense emotional journey from Go Seok Man’s death, to doubting her lover (Jang Tae Joon), to learning that her father’s influence also helped her actually win her seat at the National Assembly. However, her determination helped her stay strong to stay the course, and even went as far as going against her father and willing to, in a way, re-start her political career without his influence. This determination, conviction, and the empathy she displays for the people is precisely why Tae Joon is comfortable with leaving these things up to her to accomplish.

The ever faithful Hye Won

Yoon Hye Won also went through an interesting journey this season. She never doubted Jang Tae Joon’s plan for an instant, and was ready to sacrifice herself not just for him, for but for the cause that they are working towards together. I like that she ended up going back to being a reporter, as she was able to find closure to her past by being able to help influence change behind the scenes, and is now actively putting herself out on the line once again to actively pursue the truth. I also like that she became a little bit more open to others this season. I think that her walls broke down a bit more after realizing that there were more people she could now trust in. I also like the fact that the ending kind of hinted at a possible romance between her and Do Kyeong, and that it’s even more possible now as she’s no longer his senior.

Do Kyeong, the ideal future Chief of Staff

Among all of the characters, Do Kyeong was the one who grew the most over the course of the series. He went from setting Jang Tae Joon as his role model, to gaining passion to do better and to prove Tae Joon wrong after he got disillusioned with him, to working for Assemblywoman Kang, and finally understanding what Tae Joon wanted to do which allowed him to see and choose the way he truly wanted to help change the world. Assemblywoman Kang is definitely the right politician for him to work under, and I also like that he also takes the initiative at times and prepares knowing what she would decide, like having a press release ready for her even though her initial stance was the opposite of what she ended up deciding to do. As Tae Joon told him, Do Kyeong will make a great chief of staff, and who know, he might even become a great Assemblyman himself. I think that Do Kyeong reminds Tae Joon a lot of his younger self, especially if he kept on going a more by the book path than he ended up pursuing, although he did say that he has no regrets for walking down the path that he did.

Once again, the storytelling was tight and well-paced, especially as they were only given ten more episodes to wrap things up.

Also, I love the fact that Sung Dong Il had a cameo appearance here as a judge, especially as he was one in the 2018 JTBC drama “Miss Hammurabi”.

All in all, both seasons of “Chief of Staff” told a tightly written, well directed story that showed us how much the people behind the scenes work on policies to help effect change in society today, and gives us hope that there are those just like Tae Joon, Do Kyeong, Hye Won and Assemblywoman Kang who are willing to fight for the people and against those who abuse their power.

What did you think of the second season of “Chief of Staff”, and as a whole? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Image Source: JTBC Drama Facebook Page

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