First Impressions and Unfiltered Thoughts: Through the Darkness

If you love true crime stories, Through the Darkness is going to make you SO HAPPY. Featuring the incomparable Kim Nam Gil, this new crime drama is focused on the very beginnings of criminal profiling in Korea. Come join The Maknae and Kmuse as they discuss their impressions of the first four episodes. This might be the drama you were looking for!

The Story

(Plot synopsis courtesy of In Seoul, South Korea, in the 1990s, the nation is gripped with terror after a series of brutal murders strikes terror into the hearts of its citizens. A mysterious figure known as Red Hat has been stalking the streets, following women, terrorizing them, and then killing them in apparently motiveless attacks. The police are baffled – the killer seems to strike at random. They struggle to understand when this murderer will attack next and why the killings are taking place.

Having heard about the way that the American FBI is using criminal profilers to build “profiles” of killers in such cases, the head of the Criminal Behavior Analysis team Gook Young Soo turns to Song Ha Young, a quiet, reserved, but incredibly perceptive team member for help. Gook Young Soo thinks that using this new method, the police might stand a chance of identifying the killer – and making the murders stop. But the police – including the homicide expert Yoon Tae Goo are now in totally uncharted territory. Will their radical new approach to fighting crime work? And does Song Ha Young really have the skills it will take to track down this fiendish murderer?

Kmuse: I have always been fascinated by this time period of solving crimes (1990s) and how new ideas were brought into play. I especially am excited that the writer of this work was a profiler and used this to create a stellar drama (at least so far).

The Maknae: Criminal profilers are fascinating to me – I’m always impressed with their ability and their willingness to get inside a criminal’s head. The writer and the director seem to be brand new, since this is their first listed project, but the drama is being shot exactly the way I would expect it to be and really sets the stage well.

The First Two Episodes Were Rough

The foundation of Through the Darkness was very carefully, thoroughly laid out. Before Team Leader Gook Young Soo recruits Song Ha Young to the Behavioral Analysis Team, we get a glimpse into regular life in the police department. A suspected murderer is beaten into confessing and sent to prison, with Song Ha Young quietly protesting the man’s treatment because the evidence just does NOT fit. 

Kmuse: I was very nervous about the blatant abuse and dishonesty showed in the first episode. So much so that I was worried that it was going to ruin the whole show for me. There is nothing that I hate more than the brutal stupid cop trope. Thankfully, it cleared up in the following episodes, and while you see a bit of cop politics in the story, it isn’t the main focus.

The Maknae: I canNOT even begin to imagine how people survived the acceptable police brutality that seems to have run rampant in the latter part of the 1900s. (Ha! That makes it seem so long ago.) I can understand the anger at criminals and their behavior, but beating a confession out of someone? UGH. NO. I’ve been known to yell “follow the evidence” at my screen, though. It was hard to watch Song Ha Young be so very against this methodology, and yet this is the only way he can help catch criminals. I was surprised when his team lead actually softened up and listened to him. It was a relief.

A Very Small Light Shines

After quiet Song Ha Young is recruited into the Behavioral Analysis Team, there’s still the struggle to get traction on cases as departments jealously guard their jurisdiction. On top of that, the Behavioral Analysis Team isn’t treated with respect or given a lot of resources – they’re just an experiment that everyone expects to fail. But the underdogs join forces with one of the few female team leads in tracking down a child murderer, and as they work together, there’s hope for the future. 

The Maknae: Team Leader Gook’s enthusiasm for this new way of investigating, by following the US’s example and getting inside criminals’ minds, is refreshing to watch after the very difficult-to-watch first two episodes. I can see why he was the driving force behind getting the Behavioral Analysis Team started, since he has the social ability to pull together disparate personalities and appease the higher ups, as well as the absolute passion to get the idea off the ground. The resistance to this new way of doing things is believable, and it’s been interesting to watch all kinds of leaders straddle the line between wanting the team to succeed and writing them off as nonsense.

Kmuse: To be honest, I am not really feeling Team Leader Gook’s character. The over-the-top enthusiasm is slightly annoying. I am much more a fan of Kim Nam Gil’s intense and quiet focus on crime. I do love the female Team Lead. She is as focused as Kim Nam Gil’s character, just in a different way. They make a great crime-solving team.

Would We Recommend?

Kmuse: I am a huge Kim Nam Gil fan and love watching him become all his various characters. This drama is no different. The acting on his part is brilliant. While some of the other characters don’t have that subtle talent, they still do a decent job of creating tension. I do wish that we got a bit more gritty vibe from the show, although that might come with time. If you like crime-centered dramas, I would recommend this drama. I have a feeling it is going to be steady from start to finish.

The Maknae: So here’s the thing. The show does an excellent job of blurring out EVERYTHING – there’s no glorying in the blood or the trauma – and the victims are treated with respect. However, Song Ha Young feels things deeply, according to his backstory, and it’s easy for me to get pulled into the devastated families’ feelings as the story progresses. That’s a heavy emotional load to carry, y’all! It’s also somewhat disconcerting to watch Kim Nam Gil being so serious and soft-spoken, since that is NOT the image I have of him in my head. I’ll blame Fiery Priest for that one. LOL. But the directing and the writing and the performances are all solid. It’s really my own issues getting in the way of my enjoyment. I would recommend it to a select group of drama fans, for sure. It’s looking good. But I’m not sure that I personally will be continuing. Time will tell.

Until the next criminal profile, we remain –

Kmuse and Karie the Maknae

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

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