Big Mouth is the perfect example of a classic thriller. The increasingly high ratings for all the episodes indicate just how riveting the show is. Sadly, where one would expect it to end with a bang, it concludes with more of a fizzle.
The story follows Park Chang-ho, an incompetent lawyer with a less than 10% success rate, who gets dragged into a murder case. Soon, he finds himself framed as the famous con man Big Mouse and must work to clear his name. Along the way, he is forced to deal with corrupt policemen, brutal prison mates, and a group of rich, powerful men belonging to a group known as the NR Forum. Conspiracies, backstabbing, secret laboratories — Big Mouth has everything.
Most of the show is written really well in that it keeps you wanting to move to the next episode. The plot is fast-paced, and gripping and ticks all the thriller check-boxes. There are twists and turns, alliances and political games, and a realistic look at how hierarchies and power structures work. Packed with suspense, the moments of revelation are some of the show’s best scenes. If you’re looking for intrigue and shock, then Big Mouth has it for you.
A special shout out to the romance, which is subtle but powerful. Even with minimal focus on romance, Chang-ho and his wife Mi-ho come across as a great power couple. Their bond and the strength of their relationship keep viewers rooting for them throughout the show. Mi-ho is as much a protagonist as Chang-ho and seeing her step up and take charge is gratifying.
The set design and costumes are great. While Chang-ho spends a lot of the first half in prison, the latter half makes up for it by putting Lee Jong-suk in sleek coats and snazzy suits. A shout-out to the background music and sound too, which is effectively used to ramp up the thriller vibe.
The show addresses several themes including law and order, revenge, and the inequalities between the rich and the poor. It translates the issues of a big city to the screen — from flawed prison systems to dirty politics.
The speedily moving story and multiple character dynamics keep you glued to the screen. However, the focus on the plot does mean that the chosen themes and ideas in the show aren’t explored as deeply as they could have been. There is a missed opportunity here, to send a stronger message or social commentary. Nevertheless, the web of people, companies and secrets, backed by a setting like Gucheon, is a delicious combination.
Similarly, the show has a wide range of unique and fascinating characters, but a further look into backstories and motivations would have benefitted them and the overall show. The women in this show are well-written and portray various levels of badass, which is a pleasure to watch. Unfortunately, none of them gets their due in the end. This brings us to the show’s last two episodes.
A story is only as effective as its ending. If it can’t stick the landing, all the preceding hours of excellence can feel like a waste. This is the problem with Big Mouth. While it gave us fourteen enthralling episodes, the last two just don’t live up to the same quality.
For a story running on the fuel of high-octane scenes and dramatic reveals, the ending was anti-climactic. It lacked the thriller factor and was overall, underwhelming.
The finale was terribly paced. It put too much focus on a plotline that wasn’t interesting and then rushed to resolve everything in a quick montage in the last few minutes. It didn’t answer all the mysteries that were set up, leaving viewers with several plot holes. The few significant events that took place were not executed well. They were hasty and you’re left waiting for an emotional payoff that never comes.
While this is a bit of a spoiler, and you may avoid it if you like, a certain character’s death is also responsible for the dissatisfactory ending. It was also rushed and did not add anything to the plot apart from a severe emotional blow. Had the death been avoided, nothing else would have changed. After seeing the character’s impressive journey through the show, it felt wrong and undeserving. Even the reactions to the character’s death felt watered-down.
Because of this, a tonal shift takes the story from thrilling to, well, bleak. If the creators wanted to depict the harsh truth of reality, they did it without finesse. The result is an ending that leaves one disheartened and aching for the show’s initial promise.
So is Big Mouth still worth watching? Absolutely. Watching Lee Jong-suk and I'm Yoon-ah is a treat as they both show a wide range of acting skills. And the first fourteen episodes do take you on an exciting rollercoaster ride. Just prepare yourself for an anti-climactic ending.