Zone Blanche, or Black Spot, is a dark and twisty show. (I’m still not clear as to how a show with the name ‘White Zone’ gets an English title of Black Spot, but I digress …) It follows the residents of a small French town, Villefranche, which is surrounded by miles and miles of forest. It has a murder rate six times the national average and very little technology. (Even microwaves are known to fritz out.)
Prior to the events of the show, the mayor’s daughter went missing. No one knows anything, but everyone’s holding out hope that she’s just run away. When Prosecutor Franck Siriani arrives in the town, he begins poking around in everyone’s business. He immediately butts heads with Laurène Weiss, the head of the local police with a dark past. And when I say dark, I mean dark. There’s a tradition in the town that every teenager spends a night in the forest alone and let’s just say we see it end poorly in more than one episode.
While Laurène and her partner Martial Ferrandis (Nounours, or ‘Teddybear’) try and solve the numerous murders and mysteries of the town, her daughter Cora delves deeper and deeper into a radical group determined to mess with the town’s mayor. The mayor and Laurène have a complicated history that resurfaces as she tries to find his daughter; meanwhile, Nounours is one of the few out of the closet gay men in the village and in addition to dealing with backlash from some of the less-than-open-minded locals, struggles with his burgeoning relationship with a closeted man.
There’s some seriously twisted sides of the town that are slowly revealed as the episodes unfold. Often the characters talk about the forest like it’s speaking to them, and you’re left wondering if it’s a metaphor or if the forest is, in fact, sending them messages. I feel like the forest becomes its own character in the show.
One of the first things I loved about the show is the imagery. It’s so, so atmospheric and beautiful. If you like foggy small town mysteries, this one is for you. It fits right in with Øyevitne and La Forêt, which I just started. Kind of reminds me of, like, a less creepy genre of The Ring. It’s not nearly as horrific, but the atmosphere and creeping quietness are similar. It’s a genre I really, really like.
I definitely recommend this to fans of crime dramas and small town mysteries!
**gifs found online, not mine
Suspicious Partner (수상한 파트너) took me completely by surprise. It’s a courtroom drama with romance and a murder mystery to boot. (It’s on Netflix, if you’re looking!) Honestly, the premise sounded cutesy and kind of bubblegum, but give it one episode and you’ll fall in love. It has swallowed me whole. I watched the first eight episodes in one sitting and the entire show in a weekend.
The show follows Eun Bong-hee, a newbie lawyer, and Noh Ji-wook, a prosecutor known for his dislike of criminals. They meet on a train one day when Bong-hee is groped by a random man – unfortunately, she thinks Ji-wook is the one who groped her and she tells him off, much to his chagrin. They part ways, with Bong-hee going to confront her boyfriend at a hotel with another woman, and Ji-wook on his way to a business meeting. As it happens, they’re going to the same hotel.
Ji-wook is still reeling from walking in on his ex-girlfriend Cha Yoo-jung with his ex-best friend Ji Eun-hyuk. When he overhears how poorly Bong-hee’s boyfriend is treating her, he intervenes and offers her an out. Despite the fact that neither particularly like each other, they spend the night drinking and then part ways. Later the next day, however, they realise that he’s her new mentor. Things really kick off, though, when Bong-hee accidentally witnesses a murder and someone else gets killed. Suddenly, she’s accused of the crime and Ji-wook is the prosecutor on her case. And everything spirals from there.
The murder mystery of the show gets super intense (in a wonderfully well written way). I was not expecting some of those twists! The suspense gets quite stellar and keeps the pace of the show moving along briskly. It doesn’t drag along and the villain is scary, complex and well-explored. A very interesting, well done character. The comedy and the drama mesh really well and the actors have amazing range. I’m talking slapstick comedy to serious, intense, heart-breaking angst. This show has it all.
I loved the core group of lawyers and their family banter. Other than Ji-wook, Bong-hee, and Eun-hyuk, there’s Bang Eun-ho and Byun Young-hee. The group dynamic is so, so cute. And a great counter to the angst of the mystery storyline. They have a chore chart and everything. They bicker like a family and it’s so adorable. Mr Bang really stole the show, though! He was like everyone’s dad and even refers to them all as his four children at one point. Mr Bang is just PRECIOUS. I loved his relationship with Ji-wook and Eun-hyuk especially.
On that note, Eun-hyuk was a treasure. He did something in his past to Ji-wook that has never been forgiven, but he spends every moment of the show trying to prove how sorry he is and how much he wants them to be best friends again. His atonement is A+ and I really adored his characterisation. I liked Yoo-jung less as a character until the middle/end. At the start, it seemed like Eun-hyuk really fought for his atonement, while she just wanted to be forgiven without working for it. By the end, though, I realised that she was awesome, too. This show does that! Every character assumption you had gets turned around.
I thoroughly recommend this to anyone who likes slow-burn romance, murder mysteries, court-room dramas, and comedy mixed with their action and angst. This is a brilliantly done one! (●＾o＾●)
**gifs found online, not mine