Crime Puzzle -- Episodes 1 & 2 (First Week Review): Nothing is What it Seems
Crime puzzle, a psychological thriller that tells the story of a criminal psychologist, Han Seung Min (Yoon Kye Sang), who is sent to prison after confessing to murdering a political candidate who may have been a thug if not an outright crook, and a criminal profiler Yoo Hee (Go Ah Sung), who lost her father to that murder, only to find out it was none other than her boyfriend. From its onset, Crime Puzzle had an air of mystery and hidden truths. Nothing seemed to be what it was or what the show wanted us to believe, not the crime nor the killer, the people surrounding the crime, and especially not Han Seung Min.
Everything about Han Seung Min's cold demeanor as he confessed to the crime seemed planned, if not rehearsed. Like he was testing everybody's reaction through his confession. He definitely seemed to know something none of the others knew, not even his colleagues, or the person closest to him. It seemed like he was trying to keep not only his enemies close, but also his friends even closer. It's like they say the problem is that one can't tell an enemy from a friend nowadays. Love, friendship, colleagues, they are all double edged swords that can conquer one's happiness, but one wrong swing, and it can also cause a lifetime of misery, and Han Seung Min appeared burdened with misery.
And as I began to observe the reactions of the people surrounding the murdered political candidate, from Park Jeong Ha (Song Sun Mi), there was something ominous about her to the prosecutor, who seemed to hold a grudge against Seung-Min, but more of a torch to Yoo Hee. Add to these two Seung-Min and Yoo Hee's colleagues and friends, such as Kim Pan Ho (Yoon Gyung Ho), and others. I got the foreboding feeling that Seung Min may have stumbled on something huge enough to risk his life as a police officer. To confess to a crime he didn't commit to get to prison makes me the answers to the mystery lie with those running the whole thing from within the prison or outside, with those in prison being central, if not the crux of it all. It almost seemed like Seung Min was on a sting operation one too grand for him to be on his own.
Despite it being the first week of its premiere, what I appreciate most about Crime Puzzle is the detailed way it depicts the hierarchy of prison life from those housed in it to those who supposedly manage it, and more how gangs overtake prisons. Originally formed for self-protection, prison gangs have become the unlikely custodians of order behind bars—and of crime on the streets. Watching a sullen but semi-random parade of terrifying men—heavily tattooed murderers, thieves, drug dealers, and everything else in between clamoring for territory and authority. It's crazy how prison, the one place, the worst criminals are sent for punishment, and if lucky reform, end up gaining, if not rendering governance in a brutal but effective way.
Crime Puzzle brings back the psychological thrill of dramas past in Beyond Evil and Doctor Prisoner, of when the student surpasses the teacher. The way Yo Hee approached Seung Min at the prison for the first time after his conviction was brilliant. It proves attack is definitely the best form of attack, and she uses that to her advantage to get to Seung Min psychologically despite him catching on to her. That whatever happens within the prison directly relates to Jeong Ha, and however else Yoo Hee's father may have been involved with her and those around her is undeniable. The what, how and why remains to be seen.
What deepens the mystery is that one can't discern foes from friends, be it within or outside the prison system, and else where, which makes developing alliances even that much more important. To that end, I hope Kim Min Jae (Yoon Jong Seok), the prison doctor, is a friend to Seung Min, because even the best laid plans need all the help they can get to make them effective. I appreciate that even villains are emotional creatures, but an out of control temper tantrum throwing one is a nuisance at best. I knew the minute I laid eyes on Jeong Ha, she was nothing more than a female pimp who runs a brothel for money, albeit still dangerous.
Yoon Kye Sang is among the few actors I enjoy in whatever role he plays, but I find he shines most in the darker roles, especially in Last and Triple, to name a few. As for Go Ah Sung, I appreciated her and how she portrayed her role in Life on Mars. There is something so delicate about the way she approaches acting, which makes her so genuine and sincere. But despite that delicate nature, there is a strength, if not a conviction in her as Yoo Hee that I love, everything from her approach to the way she talks and even the way she sizes up her surroundings, but most significantly her persistent belief in Seung-Min's innocence despite her outward demeanor. Crime puzzle has my interest. Watch episode 1 & 2 here.