Sunday, June 13, 2021

[A Very Serious Not-A-Review] Dark Hole

Oh ye of little faith who dropped this drama somewhere along the way! How could you NOT appreciate this intricately symbolic, and allegoric, and allergic show? My mind is completely numb blown away just by the sheer amount of issues this drama touched upon. 
With the subtlety of a water buffalo.
So, let's not waste another minute, just like the writers didn't waste theirs for any character development, and delve deep into the dark hole that exists in the heart of every human. Because, dear readers - THAT was the message that show was trying to convey. We all have our dark holes we can fall into and emerge as either unharmed or changed into a monster (with tentacles. Japan approves)
One day, a perfect hole appears in the middle of nowhere, where teenagers like to bully other students. And one of the characters, the irritatingly bland Han Dongrim, is the ideal target - she just takes the punches. Instead of standing up, or even reporting it, she always waits for someone else to rescue her.
The assemblage of characters and also places where drama takes place is astonishing. And like in US series "Lost", most of them is connected somehow, even if by passing. Because Dark Hole Entity likes variety of food. So we have aforementioned bullied girl, a guy who wants so bad to become her pimp, a teacher with clingy issues, his despot father, a detective from Seoul, police officers from Muji, ex-police officer from Muji, pregnant wife of one of the police officers, one kid who could eat the monster if confronted, a girl that imprinted on the detective, a music teacher with a secret, a doctor at the hospital, few nurses including one bad apple (borrowed from "Partners for Justice"), a mudang who lost her powers, a gangster who apparently loves to sow discord, a slightly crazy pastor borrowed from "Save Me" drama, and the usual motley crew that only lives to be eaten.
Image taken from here

Those who left the show will never know how perfectly fine the hair of main characters looked, even after a fight with infected people. I bet it's Schwarzkopf. 
The tension is multilayered and runs deep, entangling past and present of the characters which makes the more or less susceptible to the enticing words of the Dark Hole Entity. OK, I was joking, the tension is non-existent. Characters are set at they exactly the same at the end like they were at the beginning. Except for the pregnant wife - she gave birth. So yeah, she changed.
The logic of people here was on such level I could not comprehend, but basically can be summed up as: we are at the safe place, someone messes up, we are overrun and have to flee to find the next safe place to repeat the ending from the previous situation, and again, and again.

There is some logic to it though - when they're short on ratios of food (like chocolate bars and other junk) they find on their way a supermarket to hide. What's more important - it's empty and there is lots of food. So what do they eat? Junk. What this represent?
It's a metaphor for any pandemic and hoarding stuff - people stock up on chips, cookies and ramen. There was ramen, true. Which leads me to another theme of this highly logical and well thought drama. The main characters didn't eat through ENTIRE 12 EPISODES!! The rest was barely eating too, maybe because they died too quickly before making something. But this, this lack of eating builds up the image of a character. Our detective is fueled by the vengeance towards the murderer of her husband, she's haughty, cold and gets things done. Imagine what slurping ramen would do to such characters. Yu Taehan (ex-cop) doesn't eat either, probably because eating would remove his secretly acquired power - to teleport. Or maybe they are both breatharians, what do I know and if so, it's smart.

So they move from one place to another, losing people faster than you can say saram. All wearing masks so to not inhale the "black smoke" which is in fact white fog and that black smoke are tiny particles that can enter... the ear. Don't ask. So later the ear mutates. Do you not see what it means?? We are living in a Covid-19 world now and this stresses out the importance to wear a mask, unless you want to die! Those unfortunate whose ears got penetrated by the tiny particles of the "black smoke" are those who are wearing their masks on the chin or under the nose. They deserved what they got. 

This drama is packed with so many social issues you won't believe. First, we have bullying. The bullied Dongrim writes a journal in which she writes the names of all the people who have wronged her by covering up what really happened to her father and who in fact kill him. And lo and behold! - those people start dying up. Light Yagami could learn a thing or two from her. We have corruption in the police force - officers making deals with gangsters and framing other officers. We have not one but even TWO cults (see? what drama gave you THAT!) - one represented by Im Juho (from "Save Me"), which the galloping script leaves, never to return to. And the other, led by mudang, who lost her abilities but acquired quite a new set by becoming the helping hand for the Dark Hole Entity. Which of course led to a newly formed cult of the dark hole, artistically painted on a linen (it was no doubt inspired by the Black Square painting and proves that the shaman is very well versed in early 20th century Polish painting). Those people can be seen as anti-vaxers - they rather rely on the circle painted on the hand for protection (probably organic, made under the waning moon after the rain).

What more, we also have a foreign worker also entangled with the whole shaman mess. Madame Kim says that the One Whose Coming requires a sacrifice, so they dump the poor guy (who killed his supervisor) from the hospital roof onto the pavement. I bet you missed the heavy anthropological, sociological, racial implications to this. Throwing a foreigner, who spoke a really good Korean, is the emblematic behavior of the society on the verge of hysteria fueled by bad economy (they don't have many supplies in the hospital lobby). Because the first who take the brunt of it are always Others. Someone who doesn't belong. This poked into sometimes hidden sometimes not, racism in Korean society. Very subtly. Like meeting the pavement head on.

This drama has so much to offer, except logic, but let's not be too hasty harsh. Anyone from you who never behaved illogically may first throw the axe. Then we have illegal human experiments conducted in the closed ward by the hospital doctor Han Jisu. She tries to find the cure by eventually killing all of her subjects. Unit 731 would hire her. 
Yi Hwaseon, our detective, whose hair rivals the immovable hair of cpt. Pike (no matter the fight and chaos on Discovery's board) inhaled the black smoke but didn't turn into a mutant "because of reasons" (yes, she has people depending on her, bla bla) and of course that makes her the Dark Hole Entity's Bride Vessel. Which of course angers the shaman who thought she's the Chosen One. Sorry gal, you took the wrong pill.

By sheer chance (which makes such a significant amount of appearances here and should be credited) they discover the tentacled monster's weakness. And what do they do? Blabber about this immediately. 
They run, sometimes sit and have meaningful conversations with each other, like... errr... OK, I can't remember. Both Hwaseon and Taehan seem to be at the exact time in the exact place, they frequently rescue one another, because Taehan has an axe (and he's probably counting the number of kills just like Gimli did), but not even decimam decimæ of his personality.

People here are just figures, doing what the script is requested them to do. No character growth, no change. They exist out of time, out of context. They are a fixture. Maybe at the point of reading a script it seemed cool and fine, but no actors should salvage this. Kim Ok-vin is lifeless unless there's a hunt or fight, her deductive skills would make Sherlock Holmes start using cocaine again, because she always knows where to look. Granted, she can see through the eyes of every infected person, but this ability isn't explained and also is 
very selective. Lee Junhyeok for 90% of the screen-time looks constipated but somehow is able to move quicker than sound waves (343 m/s in air) arriving precisely at the time to chop off some head. Taehan/Hwaseon ex machina.

When they ended up in a chemical plant (I repeat: CHEMICAL PLANT) that conveniently stored lots and lots of liquid nitrogen, they fired also lots and lots of bullets. Both from the police-issued gun and from the rifle Taehan was using. At the CHEMICAL PLANT. I'd really want to know what they teach in Korean schools when it comes to chemistry (probably the kind between Park Min-yeong and any random actor she's paired with) because I can't believe any adult, seeing N2 on a container that froze the tentacle that hit it through would ask the dumb question what is N2. 
The drama was riddled with enough plot holes to create its own Plot Hole - equally disturbing, creating anyone who inhaled its vapor to forget what they wrote in the previous episode/test/email. 
But the design of the monster was OK, a fumbling mass of tentacles, glowing with everlasting fire. It may convey so many meanings. It can mean our own monsters we have to battle and overcome - by eating lots of ice creams. It can also mean the screenwriter saw any random Japanese porn and said: why not? It can also mean our burning desires that keep us unhappy and we have to remove them (again with ice cream) till they become dust and turn into nothingness and we along it (again, the writer introduced a very nuanced Buddhist principle). You, who dropped it, lost so much wisdom that could be acquired through this show. And you scoff at those who don't watch because they don't understand the labyrinthine intrigues of other shows. Just admit that a show that's mixing THREE planes of reality is too difficult! The past blends into present, the present blends into the mind world, deep into the hole (and fog). The mind world blends into nonsense, but it also blends into present. Oh, that makes even 5. Or 4. OK, now I need to draw a graph.
I watched it, so you don't have to. Someone had to be brave. Or stupid. The boundary between these two is very, very narrow.

Some may ask - why then I wasted 12 hours of my life? Oh, dear readers, I did not waste them - I crocheted two shawls, a pillow and half of the skirt.