Detention (2020) – Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review


We begin episode 1 of Detention with a lesson about the three principles of a country, courtesy of President Chiang’s teachings. One of the students there looks outside and sees Counselor Chang Min-Hui and student Wei Chung-Ting taken away and arrested.

A few days later, another students called Ms. Fang falls to her death from the school roof. Who could have done this? What caused it? Could it be ghosts? Well, the people at the school seem to think so as as Hancui Building is closed down and abandoned.

As we cut forward to the 88th year of the Republic, a woman (whom we later see is Yun’s teacher, Ms Chao) creeps through the hallways looking for her students, Cheng and Lui. Unfortunately something grabs her and pulls her inside a closet.

We then cut back 3 days ago as a shy transfer student called Yun-Hsiang prepares to travel toward Greenwood High School. The bus they’re on is heading for Jinluan. On the way, the bus passes through a tunnel and it causes her to see frightening images of a police officer walking purposefully toward her. Only, when she opens her eyes that’s not the case at all.

Anyway, the bus stops and Yun travels with her Mum to the house they’re now living in. Curious Yun goes rooting through the belongings nestled in a wardrobe and finds an old school photo. It’s not confirmed of course but this seems to be Min-Hui and Chung-Ting along with Fang as well.

Anyway, Yun’s Mother calls her out to dinner, proceeding to brush her hair and tell Yun that they’re there for a fresh start. She hopes Yun-Hsiang will make a good impression and kisses her on the cheek. Eventually Yun heads up to Greenwood for her first day.

As a transfer student, she’s immediately called out for the books she has in her possession – including 1984. Anyway, not long after she’s shown around campus by Ms Chao and told about the rules they have in place. It’s clear this is going to be very different to what she’s experienced before and tentatively takes her seat among the other students.

One of the boys there, Cheng Wen-Liang, has a strange wooden plaque round his neck that reads “Devil”. Alongside him is class rep Su Chieh-Yu who greets Yun warmly while Wen watches suspiciously from afar. After class, Yun speaks to Su who fills her in on the ghostly details surrounding the old high school building. She hands over a gift to Su as thanks and decides to go investigating herself.

And by investigating she sneaks up to the roof to have a cigarette there. However, she’s not alone as Wen joins her, commenting on Yun’s rebellious streak. It turns out he’s been listed as a Devil because his grades are lowering down the class average.

As they talk, both of them hear the door open and hide behind the furniture kept up there. Only, a girl called Li Tzu-Chi suddenly appears and jumps down to her doom after telling them she “doesn’t remember who she is.”

As Yun and Wen scramble out the buiding, Yun drops her pills on the stairwell. Outside she looks over the dead body lying on the ground and a strange light begins shining on her. As they take off, the principal hears what’s happened and asks the officer there whether the ritual went well or not. It’s clear he’s involved in some way but quite how remains to be seen.

Yun meanwhile deliberates over what the girl told her until Wen tries to make her feel better. That evening, the duo head home to their respective families, where Wen brandishes a cigarette hiding inside his red pen. Yun meanwhile continues to see flashes from the terrible incident on top of the roof and tries to work out what it means.

The next day, while the school whispers and wonders what happened, Yun takes Su Chieh-Yu aside and tells her she was at the building during the time of the suicide. As Su tells her to keep things quiet and not tell to anyone, they take off as it’s revealed that someone was inside the toilets during the time.

Anyway, in class Wen is confronted by Instructor Pai who questions who he was with at Hancui Building. When Wen says nothing, he’s forced to do laps while a fellow classmate calls out Yun for being there. For her troubles, Yun’s forced to brandish the Devil placard and scrub toilets. Unfortunately this is only made worse when the students pass back the wrong exam paper to her with a zero mark in class. Ms Chao beats her too when she questions the score.

Meanwhile, the teachers gather and discuss the incident at Hancui building. Specifically, they want to root out troublesome students and ask all of them to collect up a list of students that fit the bill.

After class, Yun heads back to Hancui building to find her pills. Eventually she finds them inside the toilets but as she grabs them, the door slams shut and she struggles to get out.

A ghostly voice suddenly bleeds through, coupled with growling bass drums, before the door swings open to reveal… nothing. Instead, Yun heads home and greets her Mother, tentatively placing a cover over her and eating food alone.

That night while she’s sleeping, Yun sees a strange vision of herself outside Hancui Building where she witnesses the teacher tied up and being tortured by a ghost. Now this spirit appears before her in the form of Fang!

The Episode Review

With a simple but effective hook, Detention begins with a fair whack of exposition before settling into a more consistent rhythm. The tone and atmosphere are pretty good and the characters are engaging enough to stick with for the time being.

The decision to drop 2 episodes a week is a good one too, with the whole season wrapped up by Boxing Day too. There’s a lot of potential to really lean into the paranormal and ghostly occurrences now as Fang’s spirit materializes before Yun at the end.

And what of Yun’s visions? We haven’t seen a lot of that so far so hopefully the next episodes will start to shed light on her past and what’s happened to her. Interestingly though, a lot of the scenes from the past lean into the martial law that gripped Taiwan between 1947 to 1987, adding extra weight to these scenes.

I’d imagine as the episode tick by, we’ll see a lot more of this. Thankfully we don’t have to wait very long to find out what happens next!

Next Episode

Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!


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