K-drama midseason recap: Beyond Evil – serial killer drama keeps its knives sharp, twisting all the way
- Beyond Evil reaches its midway point having managed to surprise viewers with big revelations without sacrificing the integrity of its characters
- Through multiple episodes the show leads viewers into believing the killer may be one character, only to introduce suspects that launch us in other directions
This article contains spoilers of the show.
For writers of murder stories, it is essential viewers be convinced that any character can be capable of murder. Yet at the same time, artistic licence gives creators the opportunity to employ misdirection that leads us to suspect someone, only for the blame to ultimately lie somewhere else.
Beyond Evil has had two main cases to solve: the probable murder of Lee Yoo-yeon (Moon Joo-yeon), sister of Lee Dong-sik (Shin Ha-kyun), two decades in the past; and the disappearance of Kang Min-jung (Kang Min-ah), daughter of Kang Jin-mook (Lee Kyu-hoi), in the present.
Before becoming a police officer, Dong-sik was a suspect in the original case and becomes one again in the present. Several other red herrings, not to mention Shin’s nervy and slippery performance, accumulate over the first four episodes, each giving more credence to his culpability. Then, suddenly, he’s in the clear, but he remains in the bad books of his new partner, young hotshot Han Joo-won (Yeo Jin-goo).
Dong-sik suggests to Joo-won that he knows the killer is one of the characters we’ve come to know from the small community of Manyang, and he proceeds to list out his colleagues at the precinct and Min-jung’s father. Now we have a full-blown whodunnit on our hands. Could the killer be a police officer? Might a physically handicapped shopkeeper be capable of these horrific crimes? All these scenarios are suddenly up for grabs.
There have been other disappearances as well, and the cases are connected by several similarities, namely the discovery of Yoo-yeon and Min-jung’s severed fingertips, but the National Police Agency is unwilling to assign the various disappearances to one criminal, especially as the existence of a serial killer would depress land values.
The spectre of guilt starts to shift from one character to the next as a timeline of the night of Min-jung’s disappearance starts to form. Officer Oh Ji-hoon (Nam Yoon-soo) had been waiting for her near the precinct, then we learn that Lieutenant Park Jung-je (Choi Dae-hoon) was actually the one to walk her home. Later still, we discover that Jin-mook had witnessed all of this from the shadows.
Once our suspicion falls on Jin-mook, the show quickly gives us more damning evidence and then goes so far as to show us a bound Min-jung in the basement as Jin-mook sharpens a blade. It’s only a matter of time before he is fingered as the culprit – but before that, we learn that Dong-sik knew all along but kept it all to himself so as not to jeopardise the investigation.
Despite their contentious relationship, Dong-sik and Joo-won team up to arrest Jin-mook, and their unusual interrogation of him in the Munju precinct later on is one of the show’s highlights. The task now is to connect Jin-mook to other missing persons and to retrieve their bodies. For Dong-sik, the main goal is to find his lost sister.
With much of the investigation seemingly wrapped up, Beyond Evil nears the end of its halfway point and then launches us in another direction. Jin-mook kills himself in lock-up and his last words, scrawled in blood on the wall, are that he didn’t kill Yoo-yeon.
Episode nine picks up three months later, as more characters in Dong-sik’s orbit becomes suspects in another crime – someone broke into the Munju precinct and abetted Jin-mook’s suicide. Meanwhile, after poring over videos of Jin-mook and his sick mother, Dong-sik finally discovers where his sister is.
Yoo-yeon was with Dong-sik all along, within the concrete in his basement. In a cruel irony, she is found within the very wall he had used to affix all the evidence in the case of her disappearance over the years.
Jin-mook may have hidden Yoo-yeon’s body, but at this point it seems as though he wasn’t the person who killed her. At the same time, a mysterious figure is going around erasing evidence and kills another major character.
Beyond Evil has done a terrific job of keeping the mystery surrounding the various disappearances taut throughout the show’s run and has managed to surprise viewers with big revelations, without sacrificing the integrity of its characters.
Young star Yeo Jin-goo has done good work so far as Joo-won, but his character remains something of a prickly puzzle, a well-heeled officer guided by moral rectitude but who seems to be missing something – either because we haven’t been let in on it yet, or because it isn’t there.
On the other hand, Shin Ha-kyun has had a very rich characterisation to work with, yet Dong-sik’s murky complexity and intensity would appear over-the-top in just about anyone else’s hands. Shin sells the mania and edginess, but also alludes to a heart beneath it, as well as the fierce loyalty, dark cunning and morbid sense of humour that drive him.
Beyond Evil is streaming on Viu.