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.
But really, my main issue with “Criminal Minds” taking more influence from its American progenitor is because of the villains. Criminal profiling relies a lot on simplified Freudian psychology, which means taking individual traumatic events and then inflating them beyond proportion so that characters with maybe one or two clear personality traits become comically evil supervillains. The explanation Gi-hyeong gives for why the serial killer murders women is just horribly mundane. And it doesn’t explain what the deal was with the huge box and the timer, which were the main interesting aspects of the crime I wanted an explanation for.
The most convincing moment of profiling doesn’t even come from the main case at all, but from when Hyeon-joon comes back to the police station. That was a genuinely interesting example of cold reading, because it fairly convincingly extrapolates a plausible explanation from limited details. That the perpetrator in question was just a normal hustler, rather than a wide-eyed over-emoting psychopath only enhanced that plausibility.
My harshness, of course, does need to come with the caveat that my issues tend to be endemic to this style of crime drama in general. “Criminal Minds” isn’t really any worse than the genre standards in this regard, although it’s not improving either. Well, I guess it does have the advantage of crazy cliffhangers that at minimum make me curious about the next case. Although, really, I do hope they explain where the gun came from. I know that in the United States you can buy those thing s in every corner drug store but in South Korea they’re a little harder to come by.
Review by William Schwartz
“Criminal Minds” is directed by Lee Jeong-hyo and Yang Yoon-ho, written by Hong Seung-hyeon and features Son Hyun-joo, Lee Joon-gi, Moon Chae-won, Lee Sun-bin, Yoo Sun and Go Yoon.
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“[HanCinema’s Drama Review] “Criminal Minds” Episode 2″
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