“Black” A (Spoiler Free) K-Drama Review
Black is a very weird show. The Netflix description doesn’t do the show justice, because it is a steaming pile of questions. Like, “What the heck just happened?” and “Who is that? How do they tie into the big fat murder case?” What Black is actually about is a detective who kinda befriends a psychic woman right before getting shot, and the Grim Reaper that possesses his dead body for his own purposes. Oh, and the psychic and the reaper develop feelings for each other, because of course they do.
For the sake of spoilers, I am going to try to only discuss the first two episodes here. This includes characters, world-building, and plot points that are set up, then I will discuss the ending in a separate post.
The main female character is Kang Ha-ram, an unfortunate woman who is able to see black smokey clouds on the backs of people who are about to die. Then, if she touches them, she can see exactly how they die. She lives alone, has trouble keeping a job, and has a terrible relationship with her family. Out of all the characters in this show, she is the most relatable. She cares about human life and constantly tries to save the people who have shadows on their backs. She has clear motivations and a multi-faceted personality. It’s nice to see a headstrong female character who is also compassionate and damaged.
That said, the first episode tries to misdirect the audience into thinking that the detective, Han Mu-gang, is the main male character. His is the day that we follow before it turns sour. We get an insight into his job, his quirky personality, and his relationships; however, he ends up dead by the end of episode one, and the Grim Reaper No. 444, or Black, as he calls himself, possesses Mu-gang’s body and becomes the hero of the story. Black is the serious, cool looking detective that always gets what he wants. While I appreciate that he now looks prettier, he also obtains a few traits that I’m not a huge fan of. He is manipulative, he is petty, and he is controlling.
With the exception of two characters, most of the supporting cast is quirky and shallow. They are entertaining and fun to be around, but they aren’t very well developed.
The story proper starts when Black possesses Mu-gang because his newbie partner abandoned his job and jumped into some unknown human. Black wants to find him and return him to the Grim Reaper authorities. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the ability to find him on his own. But once he discovers that Ha-ram can see the shadow of a Grim Reaper inside a human body, he attempts to obtain her cooperation in this… without actually telling her what he is doing. He tricks her into working with him by letting her think that he is actually her long-lost childhood crush Kim Joon.
Additionally, a woman is found dead in a freezer, another character changed her identity at some point in her past, and Mu-gang had his own private investigation going on behind the scenes. There is a lot set up in these first two episodes, and all of it is confusing and doesn’t make much sense. However, the further you go into the series, the more it starts to click. I’m not really a big mystery fan, but I liked this one because it gives you all the necessary hints early on, but not too many, and explains the full story at the end.
Additionally, the rules of the Grim Reapers and how they operate are explained in Episode Two, and I found it quite interesting. There are two types of Grim Reapers, those that are “born” and those that become Grim Reapers when they commit suicide as a form of penance. Black is a born reaper, and therefore considers himself better and more legit than the others.
Black is the perfect show for someone who really likes the girly, lovey dovey, boy meets girl type of shows and needs a change of pace. There is a lot of interpersonal relationship things that happen to keep you entertained, while also providing an interesting and detailed mystery. However, it really drops the ball the further into the story you go, and the final episode has more problems than solutions (but that is a topic for another day).
Overall, I rate it an 8/10, and I hope you have an amazing day!