Crash Season 1 Review – A well-written, intriguing crime K-drama on wheels

Season 1



Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 11 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 12 -| Review Score – 4/5

The structure of episodic TV shows has served Korean dramas well in the recent past. Shows like Signal (2016), Taxi Driver (2021), and Flex X Cop (2024) prove that the episodic format retains merit even through the rise of streaming content.

It’s not a surprise then that a crime drama like Crash with a relatively niche focus — traffic and automobile crimes — was not just greenlit but also given the privilege of being directed by Taxi Driver’s director, Park Joon-woo, and starring actors like Lee Min-ki and Kwak Sun-young. And for the most part, this drama lives up to the name of its genre and crew.

The narrative of Crash Season 1 revolves around the Traffic Crime Investigation team which does pretty much as the name suggests. The police department is headed by Jung Chae-man, who created the department after losing his wife to a traffic accident.

He is joined by four other detectives, two of which are the show’s main leads — Min So-hee, the team’s ace, and Cha Yeon-ho, the rookie detective. Of course, there’s more to Yeon-ho. He’s not just a detective with a near-photographic memory and a shortage of social skills, he’s also haunted by a car accident from his past.

Over the course of twelve episodes, the TCI team tackles a variety of different cases while simultaneously Yeon-ho’s past is brought to the fore as someone sends blackmail letters to all the people involved in his car crash. It’s a deft combination of self-contained cases per episode and a larger, overarching narrative that unpacks the truth about the past.

And Crash does the episodic format justice by offering something fresh and different with each case. We get a range of crimes, from insurance fraud and serial rape to even a mysterious ghostly sighting that is causing cars to crash.

Meanwhile, the broader story of Yeon-ho’s car crash becomes more and more relevant — we get an interesting set of rich, easy-to-hate antagonists, as well as a web of statements and missing evidence and an unknown connection to the TCI’s very leader Jung Chae-man. There’s plenty of intrigue to keep viewers hooked to the show and even though the “what” becomes quite obvious, the “how” retains the mystery.

The K-drama balances out both elements very well, giving the episodic sequences the same amount of attention as the larger storyline. In fact, the second half of Season 1 intertwines one of the episodic cases with the larger narrative, making it a smooth transition of changing focus from one to the other. When it’s time for things to conclude, all the loose threads are tied up neatly, even though the finale stumbles a bit and is longer than required.

What’s great about this drama is how focused it remains on its goal. Unlike other K-dramas that are tempted into fusing multiple genres and making last-minute detours, Crash sticks to its bones. It offers plenty of action sequences and dynamic car chases, with So-hee deftly swerving her car through hordes of gangsters.

But it doesn’t, for example, add an unnecessary romance between the protagonists where many other dramas would have done so. There aren’t a lot of side stories either — where supplementary elements are introduced, they always end up being relevant to the case.

Crash is ultimately rooted in its identity and it’s clear that the writer and director knew exactly what they wanted. The TCI characters all have their own quirks and together they form a family of sorts, inspiring a heartwarming sentimentalism as you watch them band together to keep their underdog department going. Season 1 brings together these highly likeable characters in tough situations, often reflecting the greyness of society but also infusing the story with hope — all in all, an engaging crime drama that is well worth the watch.

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  • Verdict - 8.5/10

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