There’s a certain amount of trepidation one has going into the second part of a solid and compelling show like Netflix’s South Korean original, The Glory. Especially since a lot of the pressure is for it to be just as compelling and explosive as the first part, which released earlier this year to much acclaim.
Part 2 of The Glory, goes above and beyond, with its razor-sharp writing, compelling narrative, and impressive performances. And this is no easy feat, given that the story here has its focus trained on a rather complicated plan of revenge coming to fruition.
The Glory Part 2 (Korean)
Writer: Kim Eun-sook
Director: Ahn Gil-ho
Cast: Song Hye-Kyo, Lee Do-Hyun, Lim Ji-Yeon
Synopsis: After being incessantly bullied in high school, a woman returns years later with an elaborate plan to seek revenge on her tormentors
After being incessantly bullied in high school, Moon Dong-eun (Song Hye-kyo) comes back after nearly two decades to set in motion a complicated plan of revenge that she hopes will bring about the ruin of her high school bullies who are now unrepentant and depraved adults.
In an early scene, there’s even a barbed reference to how easy revenge movies make it all seem when Dong-Eun tells chief bully, heiress and weather forecaster Park Yeon-jin (Lim Ji-yeon) how challenging it is to make a living while working on her plans. While much of the first part focussed on Dong-eun’s careful planning, we see it all unravel slowly and steadily as it impacts Yeon-jin and her cronies, rich heir Jae-joon (Park Sung-hoon), his lackey Myeong-oh (Kim Gun-woo), artist Sa-ra (Kim Hi-eora) and flight attendant Hye-jeong (Cha Joo-young) in the newer episodes.
Dong-eun has by her side, affable plastic surgeon Joo Yeo-jeong (Lee Do-hyun) and housekeeper and amateur investigator Kang Hyeon-nam (Yeom Hye-ran), both of whom prove to be invaluable with regard to how her plans take shape. These two are a breath of fresh air in Dong-eun’s world, which has been cruel and unforgiving to her as a teen. She reserves her smiles for them, and we see her thawing, even if ever so slightly, under the warmth they infuse into her life.
The stage has already been set. We go into the newer episodes having seen just how distressing the bullying was, and how it has impacted Dong-Eun’s life thus far. There’s a very evident class hierarchy at play here, not just with regard to how the bullies pick on girls who are from the other end of the class spectrum in high school, but also within the depraved group itself which sows the seeds for betrayal, distrust and their ultimate unraveling. “Why do the poor believe in things like poetic justice and karma?” Yeon-jin wonders out loud initially in the show. As viewers, we’re left as invested as Dong-eun is, for this poetic justice and her ultimate salvation.
Unlike Part 1 which had several graphic scenes depicting the gruesome high school bullying Dong-Eun is subject to, the newer episodes are a lot more toned down despite the show delving into the life of another victim of bullying. The scenes however depicting domestic violence are extremely triggering, and some of it could have been done away with.
With the bullies now on her tail, Dong-eun has to be doubly on guard and a few steps ahead of them at every turn. It is here that writer Kim Eun-sook puts to use her best flourishes. The twists the story takes, never once gets predictable and admirably every single character in the show feels well-written and fleshed out despite the number of subplots the viewers wade through. This is especially refreshing given how the show also keeps flashing back to the past. The attention to detail and care taken in crafting how the episodes come together is evident.
The actors too are back with their best. Hye-kyo once again turns in a measured, vulnerable, and powerful performance as Dong-eun. While she keeps the theatrics to a minimum, Hye-Kyo shines every time she silently introspects, breaks into a small smile, and especially when she breaks down when a family member gives her grief. She has a worthy adversary in Ji-Yeon who is consistently deplorable, and unhinged. It isn’t easy playing a character who remains as unlikable as she is, and props to the writing as well which makes no attempt in trying to redeem her actions.
While Sung-Hoon is good as the loud-talking heir Jae-Joon, Lee Do-hyun and Jung Sung-il get to play characters with more intrigue, as Yeo-Jeong and Ha Do-Yeong respectively. Do-Hyun in particular is a revelation and keeps us constantly on the edge. The show ultimately however, belongs to its women- the ones out to get revenge, and the antagonists.
In a revenge thriller, viewers are almost always certain of the trajectory the story will take, and it is this predictability that often becomes the undoing of the genre. In both parts, The Glory manages to steer clear of the ordinary and constantly impresses. The show is a clear winner for the genre, bolstered by terrific performances.
The Glory is currently streaming on Netflix
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