[What Mary Thinks] Criminal Minds episodes 1 & 2

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And through this drama I learned my hard lesson that you should never judge a drama by its first episode.

Because I had some free time this weekend, I decided to give Korean drama adaptation of American series ‘Criminal Minds’ a watch. Starring Lee Jun-ki, Moon Chae-won, and Son Hyun-joo, ‘Criminal Minds’ focuses in on the team composed of our characters and their journey in solving unsolved cases and mysteries from the perspective of the criminal.

I actually did not anticipate watching this drama at all or at least the first two episodes. I’m not a big fan of thriller dramas focused on investigations and cases like this and while I like the cast, I wasn’t invested enough in them to watch the drama. However, I decided to just give it a try since the drama did have Lee Jun-ki and Moon Chae-won and I had some hopes that maybe it might turn out to be something as great, intense, and amazing as ‘Signal.’

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When I finished the first episode to the drama, there were some things about it that just felt off and lacking. I just felt like there was so much wasted potential that could have made the drama a lot more thrilling and intense. The first episode failed to set up any foundation or context to our characters or the plot and was maybe a little too concerned on replicating the tone, mood, and feel that the American version maintained which affected the way that it was executed. The cinematography and camerawork felt boring, the editing made the episode choppy and disjointed, and the scenes weren’t filmed in ways where it’s thrilling and exciting. It just lacked the ‘unf’ that other dramas like ‘Signal’ had that made you sit at the edge of your seat and just anticipate in nervousness what would happen next.

Aside from execution, the characters are also so mundane and lack originality. Lee Jun-ki plays your typical male lead character who’s scarred from an incident in the past so he’s now an aggressive and reserved man who has trouble trusting others. We’ve seen so many of these kinds of characters in dramas and movies that you find it hard to like his character. Son Hyun-joo and Moon Chae-won’s team are basically a bunch of profilers and in the first 2 episodes you see them basically profiling certain people and possible culprits behind the murder cases, but you don’t understand how they profile or what the steps to profiling are. All you get are phrases and descriptions from them describing what the person is like or what the person is thinking which is essentially what they’re doing as profilers, but I think a little bit more imagery and visuals depicting them doing their jobs would be a little bit more helpful in adding more suspense and intensity to the drama.

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Additionally, I’m not yet really feeling the actor who plays the genius. I understand why his character is important and he’s definitely very helpful, but I wanna know how he comes up with all these facts or conclusions he spews out. Much like his profiler peers, he just spouts random details or comments without letting viewers understand how he got to those conclusions and while it’s okay for now, it could cause for a lot more confusion and misunderstandings in the future. The first 2 episodes also lack originality in terms of plot. The murder case is your typical story of girls getting kidnapped and murdered and because we’ve seen this so many times (with other dramas doing this in a much better way), this drama paled in comparison. Everything is happening at face value and there’s little room for suspense or excitement.

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But episode 2 was A LOT better (SO SO SO MUCH BETTER) and made up for a lot of the complaints and doubts that I had after watching the first episode. The concerns regarding lack of originality and foundation is still there, but through the second episode things started to improve and look better. We get to know a little bit more about our characters and why they’re doing what they’re doing now or why they’re so passionate about the work they do. While I don’t care as much for Lee Jun-ki and Moon Chae-won’s individual characters yet, I’m really liking the relationship that the two have with each other. This is one of those dramas where I want the two to be in a relationship because I can see why they would be fitting for each other and what traits they each have that would make for a good relationship. Already within the first 2 episodes, they understand each other so well and sympathize for each other. They even take care of each other in a nonchalant way and try to understand where the other is coming from. The two characters are very different, but that contrast is what makes them so appealing together and why I’m rooting for them. Their relationship is so fitting and well put together and unlike other dramas who force their couples to get together somehow, I can see Lee Jun-ki and Moon Chae-won’s characters falling in love in a way that doesn’t feel forced and instead makes sense.

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Of course, that probably won’t happen in this drama though because Lee Jun-ki revealed that he and Moon Chae-won won’t really be having any romantic scenes in this drama which is unfortunate because I’m really enjoying their scenes together. I especially liked the scene in episode one when Moon Chae-won and Lee Jun-ki were basically profiling each other while in the car and saying what their first impressions of the other were to each other. It’s through small scenes like those where you’re interested and engaged in what they have to say and you get to know what the characters are like. I’m hoping the drama will dig in a little deeper to the characters and give us more backstory on who they are and why they’re doing what they’re doing right now. Characterization and character growth is always important in every drama so I’m hoping to see more of that in ‘Criminal Minds’ too especially as our characters work together in teams to solve cases and help save people’s lives.

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Of course our cast members are great in this as they usually are in their other projects. Son Hyun-joo blows me away with his solid and strong acting and he definitely stood out to me out of the cast. Lee Jun-ki and Moon Chae-won are great too although I feel like they’re a little limited right now because of their characters. Maybe when the drama hopefully chooses to spend more time on them in the future episodes we’ll see more of them and their acting.

I had my hesitations and thoughts about ‘Criminal Minds’ with episode one, but episode 2 got rid of some of those hesitations. It was better executed and actually had that build up that surprisingly kept me at the edge of my seat (I might have been shouting a few times at one point.. or maybe two). Maybe what the drama is struggling with is not necessarily the suspense and intense because episode 2 was packed with that, but rather the process in building up that suspense because episode one primarily focused on that and it wasn’t the most exciting or interesting. Learning how to gather all the information and details about the criminals in a way that’s engaging and interesting and then weaving that into the build-up would make for a great case. Oh and better editing would be really helpful too.

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Overall, ‘Criminal Minds’ lacks a foundation and instead just dove into things without giving us a backstory or context to the characters or the plot and it could have been because it was trying too hard to emulate what the American version did. But episode 2 heavily improved so here’s to hoping that the Korean adaptation will learn to be just as good on its own especially with the amazing cast that it has and rely less on the American version. Episode 2 was great; I’m hoping the future episodes will remain just as exciting.

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