Thursday, September 13, 2012
Review of Higashino Keigo Mysteries Ep 3 - Endless Night
Just six months into their marriage, Yoichi came home very excited over the prospect of being allowed to set up a new branch in Osaka by his father but was met with a cold response from Atsuko who objected to the idea of moving there. She gave all sorts of reasons which were easily dismissed by Yoichi and finally resorted to threatening to live apart if Yoichi insisted on going to Osaka. That was why the couple had to live apart in Tokyo and Osaka and Atsuko would not visit Yoichi there no matter how hard he tried to persuade her.
Atsuko reaches Osaka and meets Banba Juuzo (Osugi Ren), a police detective in charge of Yoichi's case. He brings her to the crime scene and asks Atsuko about when Yoichi last contacted her. According to her, Yoichi had called her the day before yesterday and tried to persuade her to come to Osaka for a holiday but she refused the suggestion again. Banba tries to probe further about a possible reason why Yoichi was killed but Atsuko can think of nothing.
After the crime scene inspection, Banba offers to drive Atsuko to a hotel so that she can take a rest but she indicates that she wants to go to Yoichi's apartment instead. It is there when she finally breaks down as the reality of her husband's death hits her although she had been pretty much emotionless ever since she got the call from the police.
That night, Atsuko is struggling to fall asleep when she hears noises in her apartment. She tries to check things out and is startled to see a man with a knife charging at her. Luckily, Atsuko manages to get out of the apartment quickly and gets someone to help her call the police. When Banba and his colleagues get to Yoichi's apartment, they find a visibly shaken Atsuko trying to describe what happened. Banba then suggests bringing Atsuko to a hotel to rest as she cannot stay in Yoichi's apartment anymore.
However, as the investigation progresses, it is becoming clearer that there is something more to Yoichi's death and Atsuko's strong dislike for Osaka actually stems from a bad experience during her childhood. Banba suspects Atsuko for being involved in the case and sets out to prove his theory...
Of all the episodes so far, this takes the cake for being the slowest in terms of pacing and the most boring. Although there was an attempt to show that Atsuko is merely the victim's wife, there were telltale signs that she wasn't as innocent as she seemed. From the time she answered the call, you can see that she wasn't really surprised by it although you can actually argue that she wasn't one to show her emotions freely except when she was trying to show her obvious dislike for Osaka. That's when she tended to get a bit hysterical. Of course, when you hear the story why she hates the city, it has got partly to do with what her mother instilled in her rather than her own direct feelings. And the subsequent appearances of that skinhead as if he really wanted to kill her really felt like it was a make-up story because he wouldn't have dared to show up in broad daylight or expose himself to danger after the first attempt on Atsuko's life failed.
Matsushita Nao's acting tends to be a bit erratic at times. There are occasions when she comes across as quite good but in this drama, her performance was simply bland, if not bordering on boring. Of course, it has to do with the fact that Atsuko showed mainly brooding and hysterical faces for most of the story but you just don't get the feeling that there is more to Atsuko than those two expressions. It was a pity though but somehow, I can understand that in 45 minutes, it's rather difficult to make an impression. On the other hand, Osugi Ren's acting was good as usual and he really made the screen light up even though he wasn't the lead. Actually, among all the three detectives portrayed so far, he actually comes off as rather mild-mannered compared to the first two who were a bit more forceful in their investigation tactics. Banba's strong observation skills served to help him notice the discrepancies in Atsuko's words and I like that he wasn't actively digging holes for her to fall into. If Atsuko had been a role with more meat, the interaction between Banba and her might become more interesting. The only saving grace was that, it was lucky for Atsuko that she could actually pour out her inner thoughts to him as if Banba was a fatherly figure so at least, it would have brought her some inner peace, no doubt she was still heading for prison.