Flower of Evil (2020) Early Impressions (Episodes 1-6)

This show has surprised me. I hadn't expected to like this as much as I have after the first episode. While I enjoyed the Hitchcock, The Talented Mr Ripley reverberations that came through, I wasn't sure what to make of the lead character except for the surprising fact that he didn't kill the reporter, Kim Moo-jin who recognized him immediately or even later. Because this is still a K drama I didn't really believe that the character would go full-blown villainous on the audience. It's already a downer that the lead character who has been diagnosed with ASPD is lying to this family about his identity and past. Of course it's completely understandable considering his predicament. While lies abound, I'm not convinced that Baek Hee-seong aka Do Hyun-so is responsible for any murders. In fact, everything he does demonstrates that he'd rather not kills. Whether it's Kim Moo-jin or Park Kyung-choon, he does his best to avoid killing anyone where possible. In fact it is reflection of his intelligence and perhaps some goodness that he prefers taking a less messy and perhaps a more humane route.

Flower of Evil reminds me of two other psychological thrillers from recent past dealing with individuals with psychopathy of some description: Beautiful Mind and Voice S2 and 3. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the men who were blamed for everything are likely to be innocents in all of this. The so-called weird, abnormal, anti-social people are perhaps the most misunderstood, maligned. They seem to be the scapegoats of a dysfunctional society that demand absolute conformism with no attempt to show any understanding. In fact, most of the violence that's played onscreen has come from so-called normal people acting on their passions. For instance, we see the bullying that Hyun-so was subject to as a teenager in a forced exorcism and then later when an old school acquaintance exacts violence to rob him of some quick cash. Do Hyun-so's memories contain a litany of ill-treatment, abuse and ostracization from his hometown folk.

Lee Joon-gi as Do Hyun-so is, as I had expected, absolutely brilliant. Recalling his multi-faceted performance in Moon Lovers, it was obvious he was the man to do this role justice. And indeed he has. Hyun-so is a man that dons many masks while finding himself in all kinds of situations. Lee Joon-gi gives a wonderfully nuanced performance and the character transitions are seamless. Moon Chae-won, admittedly is much better here than I had expected. The camera flatters her but she's holding her own as the horrifying truth sinks in. Her Cha Ji-won seems rather naive initially, happily living in a bubble forged by the husband but as she begins to grapple with the fact that her beloved husband might not be what he seems, she takes a far more hard-headed approach to the entire matter.

Aside from Lee Joon-gi, the next best thing seems to be the writing. There are several mysteries that revolve around Do Hyun-so and it's clear that even he isn't cognizant of everything that happened back in the day.