Let The Games Begin
The Game: Towards Zero is certainly setting itself up as an interesting crime thriller and its opening duo of episodes do an excellent job setting the scene and tone for this Korean drama. With some clever exposition and a couple of genuinely unnerving moments, this Korean drama combines these elements with some humour that works quite well to lighten the mood. Having said that, toward the end the episodes dip a little too far into slapstick for such a dark premise.
The episodes begin with our protagonist Tae-Pyeong in the dark void of nothingness, taunted by ghostly figures around him. When he awakens, we learn that he’s been having the same nightmare for 20 years. In the morning, he meets with an old lady called Madame Jung and asks her if she really wants to know when she’s going to die. It turns out he has a gift of foresight and as she hands him a photo of her son, he seemingly knows when he’ll die.
Unfortunately this gets him into trouble as we learn the man he predicted the death of is actually a mob boss who abducts him and asks Tae-Pyeong outright exactly how he’s going to die. Stammering, he tells him to run as gang members enter with guns, signifying the beginning of the end for Oh Sung-Min. He plunges his knife into the gang member though but immediately collapses on the floor from a heart attack. It’s here we learn Tae-Pyeon’s predictions are never wrong and when he looks into someone’s eyes, he can see the exact moment they die.
From here, we’re introduced to a policewoman named Joon-Young, who receives a call surrounding the gang massacre and immediately shows an interest. On the phone she learns that Tae-Pyeong is the lone survivor from this shoot-out and is encouraged to meet him. However, when she arrives at the hospital she finds him gone leading to a chas as she marathon runs her way all the way to the basement and then up to the car park where Teacher Baek and Yeon-Hwa drive away with the wounded Tae-Pyeong in the back.
She manages to coordinate the vehicle to be stopped though and as she walks around the stationary vehicle, looks Joon-Young in the eyes but strangely doesn’t actually see her death. Instead, he sees a beautiful moonlit scene with the two of them together. Afterwards, he contemplates just what this means – especially given he can actually see his own death as an old man. He then speaks to Teacher Baek who happened to have the same power before he lost his eyesight.
Later that night, as rain drums against the windows, Madame Jung phones Tae-Pyeong and thanks him for telling the truth about his son, given they managed to spend precious time together. She continues on and admits she’s spoken to Joon-Young about his abilities. The next day, Tae-Pyeong laughs off Joon-Young’s questions around his powers and he starts exaggerating, telling him about a bulletproof vest he was wearing during the time of the shooting. Unimpressed, she eventually leaves and heads back to the station where she learns the autopsy report won’t be ready for 4 weeks.
After a failed attempt to fast-track the process, Tae-Pyeong is called in for questioning and told to sign a statement. On his way out the door, he runs into Jong-Young again and tells her he hopes they don’t meet each other again. Jong-Young is convinced that Tae-Pyeong has powers though and as he sits at home, we see him flashback to the station where various officers speak to him where he subsequently sees each of their deaths after making eye contact. In the restaurant, he looks outside and sees a girl called Mi-Jin stroking a cat. As he looks her in the eye, he experiences a vision and sees her trapped in a box with Joon-Young scrambling to break her free and save her.
Unfortunately this vision looks set to come true, as Tae-Pyeong hurries after the girl who’s kidnapped and taken by a mysterious man. As Tae-Pyeong keeps looking around, he finds the girl’s phone on the floor alongside her bag. Unfortunately as we see back at the station, the case Joon-Hee is looking into may well be linked to the man that’s just taken Mi-Jin. As Mi-Jin’s Mum hurries over to Tae-Pyeong’s location, we see Mi-Jin has been buried alive and her future hangs in the balance.
With a cliffhanger ending and plenty of big talking points during these duo of episodes, The Game: Toward Zero opens things up with a very intriguing opener. Why can’t Tae-Pyeong see Jong-Young’s death? Where is Mi Ra? And just what will happen next? There’s plenty of unresolved questions here and with a healthy dose of naturally delivered exposition, this Korean drama does well to keep things engaging. The entire premise is fascinating and set up really well here and it’ll be interesting to see what direction the show takes in the upcoming weeks.
To be honest some of the humour feels a little too silly late on, especially the bathroom jokes, but there’s enough intrigue with this to just about overlook that. Given it’s still early days there’s still time for this one to change but right now, The Game: Towards Zero gets off to a great start, setting things up nicely for the season ahead.
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