It may be too early to make a decision, but I think it’s not too bad for a start.
I always love a good mystery, especially those that analyse the criminal’s behaviour (haha simple Agatha Christie stories are my faves), so I was happy to learn that there’s a South Korean remake of the American series, Criminal Minds.
The episode starts off with a failed attempt to defuse a bomb because the police commander believed the words of the criminal (press “pass” to defuse), rather than the profiling of Kang Ki-hyung (Son Hyun-joo) (press “bypass”). Due to this incident, Kang leaves the force and Kim Hyun-joon (Lee Joon Gi), who loses his friend, Sang Hyun, in this explosion, similarly quits EOD and turns to being a normal police detective.
Today, a serial murderer has been abducting and killing girls. He lures them by selling used goods on second-hand websites and abducts them during meet-ups. Ha Seon-woo (Moon Chae Won) tries to convince Kang to return to the NCI. Although Kang is still deeply traumatised by his failure a year ago to save Sang Hyun, he is convinced by Seon-woo and his wife, who is bearing a second child, to return and face his fears.
As NCI has identified the abduction as the work of a serial murderer, the team led by Seon-woo has decided to cooperate with the ground-level police team to investigate. Based on profiling, the murderer will kill this current victim within 4 days. Due to a botched initial investigation, they only have 2 days left. Hyun-joo ends up reluctantly working with Seon-woo to work out who the criminal was. However, Kang returns to the scene with the news that they are too late – as the fourth victim went unnoticed by the police, the fifth victim would have been killed within 3 days, not 4.
Hyun-joon’s “sister”, Na Young, notices that he has been wearing dirty, worn out shoes and decides to buy a pair of good, used shoes. Alas, she ends up being the sixth victim of the serial killer. She notices something is wrong when she is in the killer’s car and quickly calls Hyun-joon. When he calls back, the sounds of a scuffle and screams immediately alerts him. Knowing that the murderer abducts girls on a public holiday, this falls in trend with the previous murders, so NCI knows they are on the same guy.
NCI manages to narrow down to the main suspect, Park Jae Min, and correctly arrests him. They deduce that there’s an accomplice and think that it’s Ma Hyun Tae, the room leader back in the youth detention center which Park Jae Min entered since he was 15. Seon-woo tracks down Ma Hyun Tae, only to find that he’s already dead and the culprit escaped. Even though she sustains an injury, she continues to give chase, together with Hyun-joo who just arrives on the scene, but ultimately loses the guy. Irrelevant note but I would have been petrified to see police cars dashing down pedestrian-only areas.
Min-young (Lee Sun-bin), the media expert, and Lee Han (Go Yoon), the genius who has PhDs in every conceivable area (I kid), in the meantime try to crack the password of Park Jae Min’s computer.
Turns out Na Young isn’t Hyun-joon’s sister, but Sang Hyun’s. After Hyun-joo shares this, Seon-woo opens up a little and tells Hyun-joo that she’s so determined because she was tasked to the Violent Crimes Unit only to meet the female quota and brewed coffee for two years. While bickering, Lee Han deduces that Jae Han, who hasn’t been loved by parents and has been in the youth detention center, may have used his beloved cat’s name as the password. True enough, they unlock his computer and see a live-footage of Na Young being held captive, with an 8-hour count-down.
Jae Han initially told Kang a story about how Ma Hyun Tae asked him to beat up a guy in the detention center who tried to commit suicide, but Kang guesses rightly that Jae Han wasn’t the one beating guys up; he was the one being beaten up for committing suicide. Having successfully broken Jae Min a little, he ‘fesses that even after hanging him upside down, the two room leaders continued to beat him up and later even took out his pants (to probably hit him there). A mysterious guy at that time turned up and offered to kill one of the two boys – which is why a boy ended up dead in the furnace room, while Ma Hyun Tae and Jae Han refused to talk about the incident.
Kang knows this mysterious guy has to be someone connected with the boys and is in a position of power. With their collective brain power, Hyun-joo and Seon-woo realise it’s Ahn Sang Cheol, the probation officer in charge of the boys at that time.
While watching the footage, Lee Han sees that the light in the container shakes at a constant rate, thus inferring that Na Young is being held somewhere near the waves. Kang breaks Jae Han by pretending that they have already caught Ahn Sang Cheol and that he has placed all the blame on Jae Han. I assume Jae Han does confess to the location of Na Young, because the duo rush there next. Na Young brilliantly tries to escape but she is too late as Ahn Sang Cheol finds her first.
The police and NCI comb the nearby forest area. Kang and Hyun-joo end up running into each other and visit a closed-down center, after Kang learns that Ahn Sang Cheol used to be there every weekend and that there was a fire thereafter. True enough, the two guys run into the scene of Ahn trying to strangle Na Young. Kang provokes him by saying that he probably confessed to a girl before but got rejected and later, “Your thing stopped working.” Ahn shoots him and Hyun-joo shoots Ahn, thus saving Na Young.
Kang stumbles away from the scene with an injured arm. The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary. Men alone are quite capable of every evilness – Joseph Conrad. (Fyi, Joseph Conrad was the writer of Heart of Darkness!)
After this case has been solved, Kang recommends Hyun-joo to the NCI force. Turns out Hyun-joo graduated first from his profiling class in the academy. Hyun-joo finally learns that the person who gave the last order was the police commander, and not NCI/Kang. He makes up his mind and joins NCI, but is immediately tasked to a new job – there’s an assailant who has taken a train hostage and alas, Min-young is on that train.
I initially wanted to write a review, but it just somehow ended up into a quick recap of sorts. There are some details which I’ve left out but given that this is just the start of the series, I was hoping to give more of a background context, rather than a detailed recap.
Anyway, what do I think of this? I actually quite like all the characters and cast actors so far. Son Hyun-joo has the eyes and aura which fits Kang as a troubled but decisive (most of the time) character. Lee Joon Gi and Moon Chae Won are really good actors who have impressed me in the past, so I’m also looking forward to their future interactions. I was pleasantly surprised to find Lee Sun-bin here, having crushed on her in Missing 9, although I must say I miss her highlights and wavy hair. Almost didn’t recognise her with bangs! I read that Go Yoon apparently doesn’t really resemble the original Dr Spencer in Criminal Minds, but I can’t really comment on that because I’ve only watched 2/3 episodes of Criminal Minds before. Which brings me to my next point – does anyone have any views on how closely the first two episodes are tied to the original? I have very ambivalent views on Criminal Minds – I remembered always not being very surprised by the eventual pick for the murderer, but that the suspense was quite well-done.
As for the filming of Criminal Minds (KR), things are moving a little choppy and the lighting is always dark (reminds me of how I always had to turn my screen’s brightness to the max when I watch Pretty Little Liars). It’s probably to accentuate the mood, since everyone has an emotional trauma.
I can’t wait to see how the characters develop as a team, although I do hope that there is a backstory which links everything together! While Criminal Minds run across seasons, this is a 20 episode series, so they have to come up with a linking thread that cohesively runs through an arc. Otherwise, we will just be watching them solve cases in 2-episode tranches.