I’m not the biggest fan of ensemble shows with multiple storylines involving multiple couples because it becomes very difficult to invest in any one of them when they get so little screen time. This is a problem that I found with the first three episodes of Top Secret Together too, because there is apparently a total of five couples in the series.
The first episode sets up three of these couples, as friends Simai, Phob and MaiEak join a company for internships. We learn from the very outset that Phob has a one-sided crush on MaiEak. In the meantime, friendly and outgoing Simai wastes no time in finding himself interested in the stoic Lukmo, his supervisor at the internship. We are also introduced to Both and NewYear, literally playing themselves as a gay couple who gives love advice to the others.
Episode two introduces another couple and a staple of Thai BL – the university students. Copy, the head hazer and a junior who is very insistently pursuing him. By episode three, their story seems to not have progressed beyond standing very close to each other and exchanging vaguely flirtatious dialogue, with one or two scenes where they get to learn more about each other.
After the first three episodes, I find myself ambivalent about most of the couples we’ve been introduced to.
I’m not certain if Both and NewYear will have any actual plot or if they are the designated fluff providers in the series, as all I’ve seen them do is be cute and cuddly. Now, I’m not complaining, I like cute and cuddly, but it would be wasted potential if they don’t get to do anything else.
I said I’m ambivalent because I don’t… dislike any of the couples. I do wonder if MaiEak is so thick-headed that he can’t figure out that his friend has a crush on him, and watching him flirt with other people while taking Phob for granted is definitely not a new plotline (though it hasn’t gotten to Khai and Third levels from Theory of Love yet). The third episode introduced a welcome twist and it will be interesting to see where this couple goes from here.
As for Simai and Lukmo, the latter is a classic example of a tsundere – outwardly cold and disinterested as a front to hide his true feelings. It appears that the showrunners have chosen to spend more screentime on the Simai- Lukmo and Phob-MaiEak couples in these first few episodes, hopefully to establish them before moving on to the rest of the plot.
One of the biggest problems that Top Secret Together seems to have is the fact that they have so many characters and very short episodes – each one coming up to about twenty-five or thirty minutes in total runtime if you cut out the opening and ending songs as well as the behind-the-scenes footage that’s at the end of each episode. It not only takes away from time that could be spent on the characters but seems like unnecessary bloating. Considering that three episodes in they still haven’t introduced one of the couples, this is clearly affecting the pacing of the series as well.
On the plus side, it’s refreshing to see an office romance in a series, even if it just two couples out of an ensemble, and though I’m not expecting a great deal of complexity going forward, I am hopeful to see some new kinds of conflicts between the characters in future episodes. I’m getting the feeling that this is one of those BL series that you watch to pass the time and probably forget within a couple of days of it ending, but whether that proves to be right remains to be seen.
Rating: 3 out of 5