A Killer Paradox Season 1 Review – An exceptional crime drama that loses steam towards the end

Season 1

 

 

Episode Guide

Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3/5

 

A Killer Paradox has all the ingredients for a nail-biting thriller. A morally grey protagonist who stumbles onto becoming a murderer. A deadpan detective with a propensity for chewing gum. Hallucinations of dead people. Psychos in yellow dresses. A supernatural touch. It’s the perfect blend of eerie and macabre with appropriate bits of dark humour. It’s clever, offering up little details that later turn out to be pieces of the puzzle. It switches up timelines to keep you on your toes. It’s an exceptional crime drama until it shifts direction, and then, it’s just a good drama.  

For the uninitiated, Lee Tang is a college student who works part-time at a convenience store but desires more from life. He gets it when an altercation with a drunk customer leads him to bash the man on the head with a hammer. Now, he’s a murderer. But Tang soon finds out that the man was a murderer and that Tang himself has a prickly, supernatural instinct that lets him know which bad guys to kill. Of course, a detective named Jang Nan-gam picks up Tang’s scent pretty quickly and a chase follows.

For the first four episodes, A Killer Paradox puts all the above elements together in a near-perfect manner. The scripts are short and tight. It’s like the show hits the ground running and amps up the thrill almost immediately. Smooth camera movements, dim lighting and music are all used to draw up the story’s suspense. If anything, Director Lee really knows how to build tension. And it’s all been edited by a deft hand, employing quick jumps between scenes, match cuts and visual parallels that give the series a sleek, aesthetic look. Things move quickly and before you know it, you are already a few episodes into the show.

Not a second is wasted. You are dropped into Tang’s life as he commits murder and then discovers his uncanny ability. The hammer goes missing and the security camera footage is conveniently blocked by a fly. He’s always gotten away with things but he only now realises it. And here’s the highlight of the whole season — Tang is an incredibly fascinating character. He’s not on either side of right or wrong, good or bad. He straddles the line and he’s not even always likable.

But the story takes us through his psychological state as he slowly transforms from an unsure, fearful boy to someone confident in his abilities to a man haunted by his own deeds. It’s a delight to watch Choi Woo-sik, a star actor, don this role and play it with nuance.

The problem occurs about halfway through the season when a new character is introduced. The focus slowly shifts away from Lee Tang and moves in a new direction. Even his murders and their victims seem a little forgotten. If this new character had been captivating enough it might not have been an issue but he’s not. Compared to the delicious complexity of Tang and his charismatic portrayal by Choi Woo-sik, the new character and his entire arc comes off as bland. It’s an even worse offense when you realise that Tang’s role in the show is almost secondary now. Instead of leading the show by the horns, he now seems to be helplessly dragged along.

It’s not just this. The entire second half of the season slows down. Episodes are longer and the plot lags a bit. The scripts lose their crisp structure and become a little sprawling. While their execution is still incredibly elegant, the previously enjoyable stylistic flairs take a backseat and the plot takes precedence. The thrill and tension don’t hit quite as hard, lacking that pull of mystery.

That’s not to say it’s bad. The ending of the show does tie up loose ends and the mystery doesn’t leave any loopholes. The conclusion itself is sufficiently satisfying. Maybe the expectations were simply too high. But when you’ve been given a clever and fascinating thriller like in those first few episodes, you don’t really want to settle for less.


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  • Verdict - 8/10
    8/10
8/10

2 thoughts on “A Killer Paradox Season 1 Review – An exceptional crime drama that loses steam towards the end”

  1. I agree. The introduction of Chon really took away Tang’s magic, and i still don’t think that it was necessary. We could’ve gotten an epic, thrilling cat & mouse chase between Tang & Detective Jang from start to finish, just like how Kira & L (and N) did in Death Note. But all of a sudden it’s all about Chon & Detective Jang and their past. It’s such a weird turn. But then again i really enjoyed the first half of the series.

  2. This is such a spot in review and put into words how I was feeling! The random new killer character who is randomly hunting Lee seems random and a bit confusing like parts were missing that should have been explained more. Maybe if I read the web comic I wouldn’t feel that way but it just felt random. Kind of the same feeling with Roh Bin. He’s a good side kick with a great name play (Robin, side kick to Batman) but a lot of how he helps is confusing as he keeps going to the detective and the random teeth surgery at the end of the show… Idk I just think it should and could have been a lot better. Firs half was AMAZING second half luke warm.

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