Muism (Korean shamanism) is a popular theme in Korean film and television. The clash of tradition and modernism, religion and science and the prominence of scammers conning the desperate make for interesting drama. "Vampire Detective" has its own take on the topic this week and it almost coveys it well. Unfortunately, some of its choices end up sabotaging its own point. Being almost-good is a recurring theme in the drama, but I wish it could cross that line.
Religious fanaticism is a very prominent topic in our society. The more we push forward, change and adapt, the more those of us clinging to old systems of power and the stability of tradition panic. Unfortunately, that panic sometimes manifests as bigotry and abuse. It is easy to understand why the notion of solving all of our problems with a ritual appeals to so many of these individuals. Individual beliefs aside, a weakened state of mind caused by tragedy, fear or other such conditions makes us more vulnerable.
The episode does a good job in showing how blind acceptance and fixation can be harmful. Hwang Jae-yeon (Han Bo-bae) is clearly a girl suffering from trauma, but because her mother (Kim Jung-young) refuses to see the real problems, she ends up making her daughter suffer more. The same goes for Jae-gook (Kim Ki-moo). Her character is emotionally and mentally abusive towards her children, because she places her beliefs above her relationships.
The real treat of the episode is Seol Yong-cheol (Jo Seung-yeon) and his intricate display of smoke and mirrors. What makes him a terrifying villain is that he is very real. These people exist and they will take advantage of pain and faith to get their way. He also accentuates a major problem in "Vampire Detective", which is the main story's villains. How can I fear them when I barely see them and they harm no one the series wants me to care about directly?
While the episode's case is entertaining, I find the choice to include the afterlife a bad one. I can hear your thoughts already. This is a series about vampires, so why are ghosts a problem? The vampirism in the series has been shown as an illness with psychic results, but another plane of existence has never been a part of things. It feels as if they jumped the shark here and showing spirits renders the cautionary tale about belief in such practices moot.
I understand they might not want to offend their religious viewers and individual faith can be a beautiful thing when it does not manifest in abusive ways, but the twist does harm this particular story's impact. As for the main plot and vampirism, we get a few seconds of them again. I do not expect more before the finale.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Vampire Detective" Episode 8"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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