4 Reasons Why “Beyond Evil” Is One Of The Best Dramas Of The Year
“Beyond Evil” is one of those rare masterpieces that sticks long after its end. Tightly-plotted, enthralling, and altogether addictive, this show will have you on the edge of your seat, covered in goosebumps. It starts, as most stories do, in the sleepy town of Manyang where evil first bloomed 20 years ago. Women went missing, with nothing found but their fingertips. When a popular, well-liked girl joins the vanished, her brother, Lee Dong Sik (Shin Ha Kyun), is accused of killing her. 20 years later, in the present, Lee Dong Sik has been long acquitted of the murder. A policeman in Manyang, he endures the suspicion and dislike of the locals there who still haven’t forgotten the past.
But change comes to Manyang in the form of Han Joo Won (Yeo Jin Goo), an up-and-coming star who is also the son of the future Police Commissioner. Assigned as Dong Sik’s boss, the two form a reluctant partnership. But Joo Won is keeping secrets. When the disappearances of 20 years ago begin again, the two men are forced to question everything they know, especially each other.
At 16 episodes, “Beyond Evil” is an easy binge and easy to fit into a rainy weekend. If this isn’t enough to convince you to watch the show, read on for more reasons!
1. The chemistry
It goes without saying that actors like Shin Ha Kyun and Yeo Jin Goo are going to deliver powerhouse performances. They don’t disappoint here. While this is certainly no romance, there’s such a spark in the way the actors play off the characters that it can’t be called anything but chemistry. We’ve got drawn out stares, deep gazes, heartfelt pleas, and a hate-to-love dynamic that’s nothing short of electric.
80 percent of this show revolves around their characters. In the hands of less skilled actors, this could fall apart at the seams, but both Shin Ha Kyun and Yeo Jin Goo anchor the show with nuanced, vivid performances that go above and beyond. “Beyond Evil” thrives on subtext. Many scenes have few lines and those lines often contain multiple miniature conversation within. Yet the actors convey all that hidden meaning through their eyes and minute changes in their expressions and body language while never revealing everything the character is thinking. It’s a tightrope they walk between showing too little and showing too much, and it’s done so so well! It’s no wonder the show scored four nominations at the 57th Baeksang Arts Awards.
2. The people of Manyang
For a show that relies heavily on its two main stars to carry the plot, one might think that the remaining characters would be paper thin, but this isn’t the case at all. From Manyang police chief Nam Sang Bae (Chun Ho Jin) to shaky, timid Park Jeong Je (Choi Dae Hoon), fiery Yoo Jae Yi (Choi Sung Eun), newbie Oh Ji Hoon (Nam Yoon Su), and all the way down to flamboyant, Russian-speaking Lee Chang Jin (Heo Sung Tae), the people of Manyang are vivid and realistic with flaws, insecurities, and dreams of their own. This seems like a male-dominated show, and there’s no denying that it is in some ways. But the women are the heart and core of this story.
Every detail down to their professions aren’t afterthoughts. Jae Yi is a butcher, a hands-on laborious job, which is rarely seen on-screen and often played by men. Oh Ji Hwa (Kim Shin Rok) is one of Dong Sik’s best friends and is an incredibly successful cop with nary a loveline in sight. And Councilwoman Do Hae Won (Gil Hae Yeon) is running for mayor, unchecked by any man. Even the ahjummas who secretly gamble in the town’s beauty salon outwit the police at times. The women hold the power in Manyang, and the show doesn’t neglect these characters or treat them as periphery to Dong Sik and Joo Won’s story. They’re integral to the plot, to each other, and to Manyang as a whole. This makes it all the more interesting because all of these characters are hiding something.
3. The mystery
Too often thrillers begin by giving everything away and telling viewers who the killer is. It makes for a somewhat frustrating watch as we are in the possession of knowledge that the characters are not, and we have to watch them struggle to realize what we know is going to happen. But the really great mysteries are the ones that leave you guessing until the very end. That’s exactly what this show does, but not with a series of unrealistic twist after twist after twist. “Beyond Evil” knows exactly when to pull the rug out from beneath its characters and when to hold back. We know only what the characters know, and sometimes even less than that. Like Dong Sik and Joo Won, we also play detective, trying to figure out who is abducting women and why they’ve started again after 20 years.
This multitude of characters is especially important because they all have secrets. This drama often circles back to its title as each secret is revealed, but it doesn’t ask what “evil” truly is – a trite question. Instead it shows us that evil isn’t glamorous or over-the-top, but often quiet, ordinary, and all too easy. The directing truly shines here. It’s honestly top-notch. Tight close-ups, slow pans, and tracking shots get viewers into the sense of claustrophobia in small towns, and how trapped the characters feel in their own heads. The director, Sim Na Yeon, previously directed “Moments of 18,” which could not be more different from this show. It’s evident that she’s incredibly talented and her skill truly elevates this show to a masterpiece of acting, writing, and directing.
4. The OST
A drama like this requires atmospheric music. Nothing too cheery or overtly sinister but something that manages to straddle the line between tense and solemn. That’s exactly what the OST for “Beyond Evil” manages to do. There’s seriously such a great team behind this drama. It hits it out of the park even with the background music.
The best song from the album is Choi Baek Ho’s “That Night” which also plays at the end of every episode. It’s a stunning piece that somehow conveys loneliness, weariness, and fear, and it’s so incredibly addictive.
The old-timey feel of the song fits perfectly with the small town setting, and with the idea of time standing still for its residents like Dong Sik. The song’s lyrics speak of the narrator searching for someone, seeing their traces everywhere, and wondering if they’ll ever find them. This message ties into the story in so many ways and intersects profoundly with each character’s life. And the rest of the album is just as amazing.
To say more would give away too much of this excellent show, but it’s suffice to say that it is worth all the accolades and love it has been receiving. “Beyond Evil” isn’t flashy or the sort of show that one can watch and forget. It’s a slow ache that’ll stick long after the ending, a weary protest to the banality of evil, and a love letter to small towns and unlikely friends.
Check out the drama below:
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Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she works as a lawyer, fangirls over Ji Sung, and attempts to write the greatest fantasy romance of all time. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!