This has been a hard year for many, but it’s true that there’s always a silver lining. In this case, it’s tvN’s Flower of Evil; a pulse-pounding thriller that delivers some much needed escapism.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but in the last decade or so there’s been a cultural shift of society being fascinated by anti-heroes. Back in the day, there was always a clear-cut hero and villain. Now audiences want more, because the truth is: people are nuanced. Very few of us occupy the black and white spaces of good or bad, and live in the gray area, so we want to see characters that reflect that. Three-dimensional people with real struggles and flaws.
Now the anti-hero craze has fully taken Korea by storm, and Flower of Evil is one of the results. It’s a suspense thriller about a man named Baek Hee-sung (played by Lee Joon-gi) who’s the perfect husband and father on the outside, but hides horrifying secrets from those he loves.
What I like about Lee Joon-gi is he pours everything into his roles. But this time he’s managed to outdo himself. I don’t know how, but he perfectly balances the coldness of someone manipulative and deceitful with the warmness of a devoted family man. His performance gave me chills, and heightened the tension of the drama in every episode.
I mean, the whole plot is Baek Hee-sung trying to keep up the charade of living under another person’s identity while his detective wife, Cha Ji-won (played by Moon Chae-won) tracks his real one right to their doorstep. So you’re rooting for her to find out the truth, but also get nervous for him any time she comes close.
I was split right down the middle, and the drama did a good job of keeping me that way. I questioned him in every episode, and wondered whether he was fooling me just like Cha Ji-won.
The story is interesting and layered, and jumps between past and present to give you the full picture. The flawed characters make realistic decisions that’ll have you questioning your own morality. I was never bored, because there was always something stressful happening in every scene; every episode! And there were one or two twists I didn’t see coming.
Another drama earlier this year called Born Again tried to take on what Flower of Evil did. It wanted to tell a nuanced story about a broken man set back by his own genetics and society. But where it fails, Flower of Evil succeeds by not trying to borrow too many elements from different genres, not adding an unnecessary love triangle, and keeping the pacing tight.
In my humble opinion, it’s the second best drama of 2020, but number one if what you’re looking for is suspense.