As murder storylines go, I must admit that insane office worker is among the more socially relevant that "Criminal Minds" could have adapted for a South Korean audience. Really, that particular psychosis is probably far more well-known in that culture than it was in the United States. This, naturally, proves to be the main overall thrust of the episode. It's less about the permanent cast and more about how Ki-tae (played by Jo Han-chul) slowly yet surely lost his marbles.
At times this social commentary is relevant, like when we see Ki-tae going into sales pitches that are obviously completely contrary to his personality. The montages are quite good at explaining how minor indignities turned Ki-tae's minor mental problems into outright mental illnesses. We very much get the impression that it would only have taken one of Ki-tae's work colleagues being genuinely nice to him once in awhile to prevent that whole tragedy.
This is the logical implication of the episode, and it is, in context, well-argued. Yet when I try to parse this logic in terms of the real world, I can feel my eyes roll over all too easily. Serial killers need some planning skill and foresight. Not necessarily a lot but really, anyone who was ready to go into a murderous rampage over having to deal with rudeness at work would probably have gotten unbent over some other minor reason sooner or later anyway.
"Criminal Minds" does attempt to address this with the ultimate flashback, which features the indisputably traumatic event that led to Ki-tae's current psychosis. But that entire scene, completely with the annoying stupid child, is just too silly to take seriously. I feel like while "Criminal Minds" is trying to make a broader ethical point, the inability to map this ethical point on a relatable personal experience almost completely kneecaps the sentiment.
Mind, this is all criticism I could just as easily lob at the original "Criminal Minds", so the drama is at least achieving the original's fairly minimal bar of technical competence. Like, I could question why the investigation team has so much authority over normal public officials here than we've seen so far, but I'm sure this contradiction also existed in the original episode. Also, the whole random shotgun murders on the road factor is such that, imperfect criminal profiling or not, everyone's probanly pretty desperate to put an end to that one way or another.
Review by: William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Criminal Minds" Episode 8"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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