Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 11 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 12 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 13 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 14 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 15 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 16 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Split across 16 episodes, Netflix’s latest Korean drama Abyss has been a show of two halves. Part romantic comedy, part crime thriller, Abyss’ muddied identity is jarring, oftentimes damaging both narratives in a bid to try and appeal to everyone. Thankfully, the two lead stars Se-Yeon and Cha Min, have enough chemistry to see this one through to the end. Unfortunately, Abyss is unlikely to be a show to remember, with a narrative littered with inconsistencies and an uneven pacing across the 16 episodes.
The story begins relatively well, with a fantastical plot line revolving around a strange orb called abyss. After being flung from a rooftop and brought back to life with a new face, Cha Min comes into possession of the abyss. When his friend Se-Yeon is found dead in her apartment, he brings her back to life and she too adopts a new face for herself. From here the story forks in half and therein lies the issue with the series. The first narrative sees Se-Yeon and Cha Min slowly grow closer together and inevitably fall in love. As they grapple with their newfound appearance though, another narrative rears its ugly head and it’s here where Abyss comes undone.
A lacklustre crime thriller grips the other half of this Korean drama, revolving around the generic archetypal villain Oh Young and his son, whose appearance I won’t spoil here. The abyss does come up a few times but largely feels like a plot device, something that comes and goes at will whenever the writers decide to add another rule to the show. Suffice to say, the narrative does have its moments but for the most part, these moody, gritty segments feel at odds with the romantic angle which is much better written. I can’t help but feel Abyss should have stuck to this instead and if it had, we could be looking at a decent romantic offering.
While most shows these days have product placement in them, Abyss takes things to extremes with its obvious affiliation with Subway. A lot of the colour choices in the episodes feel designed for the bright green and yellows to stand out and at times, it does feel a bit much. On the whole though, Abyss sticks to all the usual tropes you’d expect from this genre including flashbacks, dreamy segments and inner monologues. It works reasonably well but there’s two shows in here – one good and one bad. This makes Abyss a real tough sell, especially given the 60+ minute run time of each episode.
Abyss is not a Korean drama to remember. There is some good material here but it feels wasted in a show that can’t quite decide what genre it wants to be. In trying to appeal to everyone, Abyss fails to deliver a compelling crime thriller, with its romantic subplots becoming the dominant narrative far too late in the game. With so many options in this category, Abyss is a hard one to recommend and if it wasn’t for the romance between Cha Min and Se Yeon, Abyss would border on abyssmal.
Verdict - 4.5/10