The long-awaited second season of The Uncanny Counter jumps straight into the action: A gaggle of kindergarteners board a bus that’s about to embark, completely oblivious to the eerie crimson glow in the bus driver’s eyes. With a manic look in his eyes, the demon driver (Heo Dong-won) hurtles through the city, eliciting screams of terror from the children. Once the vehicle crosses into Counter territory, we are reunited with our dear protagonists – So Mun (Choi Byeong-gu), Ga Mo-tak (Yoo Jun-sang), Chu Mae-ok (Yum Hye-ran) and Do Ha-na (Kim Se-jeong) – who settle the score with the demon and save the children.
For the unacquainted, Counters are human beings whose bodies are occupied by souls called Yung, which is only made possible when the person is in extremely weak physical condition – either on the brink of death or in a coma with little chance of recovery. When linked with their human counterparts, these souls provide these chosen humans supernatural powers ranging from heightened speed, strength, telepathy and curly hair (for some reason). The human and Yung form a symbiotic relationship, both occupying the same vessel while having two separate streams of consciousness.
Kim Se-jeong in ‘The Uncanny Counter 2’. Credit: tvN
The morality and intentions of these Yung possessing humans are where things get complicated. There are souls with evil intentions of revenge, homicide and chaos, who make use of this ability to wreak havoc on the real world, while there are good souls who use their powers to protect the real world from these evil spirits. Our ragtag team of Counters – each of whom have their own tragic backstories as to how they became Counters and their own unique sets of abilities – fall in the latter category, working as a team to protect the townspeople of Jungjin as much as they can.
The Uncanny Counter season one ended off on a relatively conclusive note after they defeat a particularly powerful demon, but season two introduces viewers to an even bigger bad. A trio of ruthless demons, led by Hwang Pil-kwang (Kang Ki-young), Gelly (Kim Hieora) and Wong (Kim Hyun-wook), have just wiped out a team of Counters in China, absorbed their abilities and are now headed to Jungjin.
Meanwhile, a new spirit has found its way to the Spirits Immigration Office – a metaphysical realm where Yung are assigned to their respective human hosts – and Jungjin’s Counters are tasked to search for a new counter to join the team. However, once they’re notified of the immense threat Pil-kwang’s team poses to the people of Korea, the search for this new counter is forced to pick up steam. Cue Na Jeok-bong (Yoo In-soo), a carefree ranch hand who, despite his kind-heartedness and good intentions, has a long journey ahead of him before he is able to fulfil his destiny as a demon hunter alongside the team.
As new additions to an already well-loved show, actors Kang Ki-young and Yoo In-soo delightfully hold their own in this new series. The former commands a menacing presence as The Uncanny Counter 2’s primary antagonist, while the latter is a charming newbie and disciple to the Counter team who brings an air of youthful simplicity to the series’ otherwise complex turn of events.
With new villains and conflicts to introduce, The Uncanny Counter 2 spins the usual K-drama clichés you would come to expect of a crime-comedy show like this with cases like black market organs and real estate frauds, and digs its own grave as a result. It’s unable to neatly tie up these fractured stories together into one smooth, overarching narrative. One of the only bright sides to the new script is that it doesn’t require you to watch season one as a prerequisite – aside from some inside jokes and the backstories of the main crew, season two presents a completely new story with new conflicts and dynamics to watch on its own.
However, if you’re looking for a revival of the once-vibrant mixture of humour, camaraderie, action and emotional journeys in season two, you won’t find it here.The Uncanny Counter’s first season emerged as one of the best K-dramas of 2020, with its perfect blend of side-splitting humour, adrenaline-pumping action sequences and touching emotional arcs. Season two attempts to return to these highs, but fails to recapture that magic.
Although Bad and Crazy screenwriter Kim Sae-bon mostly succeeds in bringing back the elements people loved about the first season, the pure on-screen magic found in the tight, sprightly script by previous screenwriter Yeo Ji-na – who left the show mid-season one after a highly publicised creative dispute – simply could not be replicated. While we’re holding out hope that things will improve as the series progresses, from what we have seen so far, The Uncanny Counter 2 is shaping up to be a mere shadow of its predecessor.
The Uncanny Counter season two airs every Saturday and Sunday on tvN, and is also available to stream on Netflix in select regions