365: Repeat the Year (2020) Episodes 3-4

This is shaping up to be an excellent drama. At least it can't be accused of being dull. The pacing is good and I'm usually on the edge of my seat. At times I feel like I'm being bombarded with information. Despite spewing out a whole heap of theories last week, I honestly have no idea what in blazers is going on. In a good sort of way. I've even started jotting down questions and notes just to keep up with things which I almost never do. This show is full of twists and turns so it's not really possible to be entirely sure about the mechanism that's at work here.

My general feeling is that we're only seeing the tip of the iceberg so far -- the show is still in setup mode. But after the last couple of episodes I think we are getting a glimpse of what's at stake. It does appear that everyone in the drama is operating as if they have been transported back in time. What's really fascinating, I think is that the assumption that a "reset"... another bite at the cherry as it were... is under serious attack here. There seems to be a tacit indication that it's a really bad idea in most instances. The crux of the matter it seems to me is that a second chance doesn't necessarily engender wisdom, growth or positive change of behaviour. That much is clear... for a show of this kind. It seems to be a consistent thread running through these early episodes. From the evidence presented, the show is saying that "reset" doesn't equal to "change for the better". For some a "reset" only means another chance to do the same thing while dodging the consequences. I don't think it needs to be overemphasized that human beings are self-centred creatures. We do what's best for us and those closest to us because there are immediate benefits to doing so. Few like change and few find change easy.

A peek into a mysterious "trophy room" on the other hand seems to suggest that there's an opposing force at work -- a serial killer perhaps on the prowl for unworthy candidates/recipients. My guess is that there's someone... at least one person who isn't keen on the whole "reset" idea because it is in essence a form of cheating fate. Take the lottery guy... formerly a security guard. He was prevented from bucking the system and enjoying his winnings. The stockbroker is stopped in his tracks before doing a runner. He doesn't get off scot free. He was going to continue with his double life and carry on the facade of being a family man. Someone is out to stop individuals from using "reset" in egregious lawless fashion apparently. So perhaps the Death Note reference made by the gamer lad last week is not beyond the pale. It is possible that the killer sees himself as a dispenser of vigilante justice. So who's sending the death blossoms?

Episode 3 in particular, with all its twists and turns led me to think of David Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner. The elaborate layers of deception in both the drama and the film leaves you wondering who can be trusted or if... it turns out... anybody can be trusted. Trust is an important foundation of our social interactions that it is often taken for granted. We don't assume people are lying to us when they tell us things about themselves. They could be, of course but that's not our default position. In an Agatha Christie whodunit... A Caribbean Mystery or Pocket Full of Rye... can't remember which... Miss Marple says something similar. These days particularly because there is generally much more movement around the world, long-term connections are not easily maintained. It's hard to be sure that what we see or here is the truth. We tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. Our institutions function for the most part in this way.

In that vein, Hitchcock also came to mind. It's not surprising given the obvious psycho-thriller elements. "Who's going to be next?" has that kind of nerve wrecking buildup that the master of suspense was famous for. People are dying unexpectedly and now we have clear indications that there's at least one person behind the recent deaths. On the surface they look like natural causes or suicide but given the presence of death blossoms in each case, it's looking increasingly like foul play.

The Hidden Killer webtoon needs to be a consideration in all of this. Even if it isn't the key to why people are dropping off like flies, it should clue us in on why that particular cohort of participants came together in the first place.

Needless to say, the reset has a cost attached to it. The leads are feeling the brunt of it considering what they do for a living and their natural curiosity. It does feel like they were all sold a bill of goods. Their lives are now increasingly consumed by these mysteries. Not being able to tell people how and why you know things. Very awkward. Then the lies... one lie after the next. One lie to cover up another.

I like how the leads are written. They're hardly perfect as individuals but as a duo, they seem a good fit. The UST seems to be working. The perspective they provide on the entire mystery and their investigative partnership seems to be going from strength to strength. The lying was pretty clumsy at first but they're getting better at it. :P Romance is possible. I don't discount it entirely although murders are keeping them on their toes. Hyeong-Ju's colleagues are keen for him to be romancing his favourite graphic novelist. They keep needling him about spending so much time with her. I won't object if it means an overload of adorable LJH. I also noted that he was quick to pick her up for interrogation and I doubt it had anything to do with zeal for justice. ;) My opinion is that he did for himself because he was really worried that she could have done it so he needed to allay his own fanboy fears that his favourite webtoonist is guilty of murder.

As if there weren't enough guessing games to keep the viewer occupied for a while, the show throws a new element into the mix... "who is the person in the trophy room" :D