Hancinemas Drama Review Criminal Minds Episode 4

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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Criminal Minds" Episode 1

In the opener to "Criminal Minds", we meet Hyeon-joon (played by Lee Joon-gi), and his experience during a very unfortunate terrorist bomb threat. Flash forward a year later, and Hyeon-joon is a normal cop. Then, the special criminal profiling division in South Korean law enforcement takes an interest in Hyeon-joon's case, involving a serial killer. While Gi-hyeong (played by Son Hyun-joo) is the man in charge, Seon-woo (played by Moon Chae-won) is the team member who does the most talking with Hyeon-joon.

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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Criminal Minds" Episode 2

Unfortunately, Seon-woo ends up being saved by dumb luck. This ends up being a decent predictor for the remainder of "Criminal Minds", which is less about characterization and more about sticking closely to the crime procedural format of the original American drama. Any ambiguity Hyeon-joon previously expressed about criminal profiling is largely glossed over, since by the end he's just a normal uncritical team member.

I'm also disappointed by how not just Hyeon-joon, but also Seon-woo end up having the most boring possible motivation. They're sad because people they cared about were hurt by criminals and now they want to stop crime themselves. Yawn. I prefer Han (played by Go Yoon), who's into detective work because he's an autistic nerd who likes overanalyzing things, and Na-hwang (played by Yoo Sun) who likes having a job with enough authority that she can make comically loud fashion choices.

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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Criminal Minds" Episode 3

In a bizarre inversion of the previous story, the entire train incident only takes half an episode to resolve. Even stranger, while a big point was made of how Min-yeong (played by Lee Sun-bin) was on the train, she being the last team member. And yet, the train incident offers virtually no exposition of Min-yeong's personality or skills. Hyeon-joon actually gets more action than she does, quite literally solving the entire stand-off single-handedly.

At least the stand-off is well constructed. The editing in last episode's cliffhanger left this point unclear, but we find out right away that the hostage taker stole the gun from the detective. This does leave him a character relying more on luck and skill, since he correctly guesses the location of the gun and the detective rather inexplicably lacks the combat skills necessary to prevent being so badly embarrassed by what is, for all we can see, a random crazy person who for some reason was not sitting next to his shrink.

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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Criminal Minds" Episode 4

In the latest bizarre misstep, "Criminal Minds" attempts of all things, serious emotional catharsis based on catastrophic fate. This isn't a brand of storytelling I dislike on general principle, it's just, that's the kind of thing you're supposed to do at the end of a series for a proper climax. Doing at the beginning is nonsensical. How in the world is Gi-hyeong's personal life supposed to be relevant to his work if we only have te vaguest idea of who Gi-hyeong is as a person right now?

Although really, I can dispense with the "we" talk. Recall that Hyeon-joon, our perspective character, doesn't know anything about Gi-hyeong either aside from his professional reputation. Imagine that you started working with a relatively famous person in your professional field, and then you have to deal with a situation where his family might die. I mean good grief, awkward doesn't even begin to describe the emotions at play there, although that's the best description I could come up with for how I felt by the ending.

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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Criminal Minds" Episode 15

So the new case actually has quite a lot going on that's fairly narratively interesting. In the first place, this is really more of a three plot story than one. We've got the investigation team first, obviously. Then there's the terrified parents. And lastly, there are the three girls trapped in the cold room. So simple variety alone keeps the story interesting. Alternately, the episode is a procedural mystery, an emotional drama, and then a horror movie.

None of these are done exactly perfectly, in isolation. The investigation team's frustrating lack of clues makes speculation about the case difficult. The acting in the emotional drama could use a little work, considering that we're supposed to seriously believe one of the parents as a possible co-conspirator. And then there's the whole set-up of the icy room. Did the original episode (season two, episode seven for reference) take place in winter, or at least somewhere far north? Because the weather right now is really not of the freeze to death variety.