Through The Darkness traces the journey of Crime Behavior Analysis Team in South Korea. The drama is based on a non-fiction book that highlights the field experiences of Korea’s first criminal profiler. It is a dark, thrilling, sometimes sad, and gritty show that captivates with its solid characters, direction, story and performances.
Song Ha Young (Kim Nam Gil) is a criminal profiler who tries to understand criminal behavior by interviewing various convicts by teaming up with Kook Young Soo (Jin Sun Kyu); and they use this analysis to help the police solve various cases in the process. This journey is shown through multiple years, starting with the formation of the Crime Behavior Analysis department in the late 90s.
Through The Darkness documents multiple cases across number of years. The early 90s setting at the start gives a freshness to the tried and tested premise of procedurals. The show expertly charts the change in different time periods over the years.
The show paints a realistic picture of the police proceedings and environment. It is filmed crisply, without any gimmicks. The police is not always successful in finding out the culprit, and at times they catch them by sheer luck. The drama doesn’t shy away from showing how sometimes the police uses unfair methods to extract confession from people, which can lead to wrongful imprisonment of the innocent. We also see how cops can feel competitive and jealous of fellow colleagues, despite being deft in their work. The misogyny prevalent in the system is also depicted.
Crime Behavior Analysis Team is at the core — we see its checkered journey from initial struggles to get official support, starting as a team of two in an office in a neglected basement; to becoming one of the most sought after departments in police. The drama also skillfully portrays the effect of their work on investigators, mentally and physically.
It is a gripping show that seizes your full attention. The different cases are unnerving, dark, at times disturbing. The show does not feel episodic because it takes its own time and multiple episodes to depict each case. It is not about whodunnit but how the police force and investigators would find the main culprit. The drama might remind you of Netflix series Mindhunter. Serial killer theme is done to death in Korean TV thrillers but Through The Darkness handles it with depth, authenticity and practicality.
The drama is soaked in urgency and it creates a sense of foreboding and tension as we see different cases unfold. The interrogation scenes are also very gripping. The way the protagonists try to find the culprit — gathering evidence, understanding the mindset, studying previous criminals as reference, various teams coming together with ideas, revelation of new information — it’s all shown adroitly. There is a lot of darkness in the world, but the hard work put by these investigators and police gives us hope that this darkness could be fought with the light of compassion and integrity.
The drama also has moments of light-hearted exchange between the characters, or introspective moments of the protagonists, or just heart-to-heart talks. I also love how different teams, that initially had differences and doubts, come together as one by the end of the show and have genuine affection and respect for each other. Through The Darkness has a cast that delivers in spades. The background score is pitch perfect.
The main protagonist is Song Ha Young. He is idealistic, progressive, intelligent and calm. His strength lies in focusing on the right things and dealing situations with calmness and confidence, instead of getting involved in unnecessary arguments. He gets deeply invested in his cases and the drama successfully translates his restlessness and determination to capture the guilty person – especially in the initial years when he doesn’t get support from his superiors as they are more focused on following traditional ways. He also has deep sympathy with the victims and their families – which fuels his sense of purpose. He is truly a hero to root for and Kim Nam Gil plays him outstandingly, displaying the nuances and grace perfectly.
Our hero’s partner is Kook Young Soo who heads the team. He is equally invested in the work and is a mature, sincere person who guides Ha Young sometimes and encourages him to find a work-life balance. I loved their camaraderie and their quiet, contemplative moments are beautiful. Jin Sun Kyu plays the role with warmth and is fabulous.
Special Crime Squad forms the other part of investigators and Yoon Tae Goo leads this team. She is a fierce and ambitious cop who is written with nuanced shades. She is loyal and sincere and devoted to her work but she is slightly envious of Ha Young. She is also someone who has faced misogyny. Kim So Jin delivers a tour-de-force performance.
Kim Won Hae excels as Heo Gil Pyo — a superior to the above teams. I love how he initially suppresses the idea of a criminal behavior team but low key supports them, with increasing encouragement as we move forward in the story. I loved his friendship with Kook Young Soo.
Ryeoun is cute as the newest member of the Crime Behavior Analysis Team and it’s great to see him grow while working there. I simply loved this team — their determination, ways of working, discussions, warmth and moments of jokes between them.
There are many characters on the show who form the police and criminals and victims and their families. The whole cast is superb in their respective roles.
THE MINUS POINTS
Through The Darkness does not really have any negative points. But a side track, if you can even call it that, involving the head of a media house and a journalist — seems unnecessary, it isn’t even funny. I didn’t understand the purpose of their uninspired workplace scenes. Just a very microscopic quibble.
IN A NUTSHELL
One of the best dramas of 2022, Through The Darkness is a deeply affecting tale of criminals, victims and determined investigators. It ultimately conveys that in the midst of darkness, light persists with a promise of hope.
MY RATING: 9.5 out of 10