Under the Skin (TV Mystery Review)

Under the Skin


Rating: 5 out of 5.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Technical Elements

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Under the Skin” is definitely one of the better Chinese mysteries in a while and 100% worth a watch. It offered a fascinating discussion of “perception” and the role it plays in criminal investigations. Examining how the police and witnesses’ perception of the crime and crime scene can influence or distort the reality that exists within the setting. And how small changes to a scene can completely alter how the setting is perceived and how the people involved are understood to be connected.

The show worked through 5-6 crimes (each “story” taking up a few episodes) with the larger mystery of who killed the police detective five years ago underlying the later stories. In terms of unique plotlines, this show exceeded expectations – they went far beyond the usual romantic triangle with a touch of jealous slaughter on the side. The integration of small tidbits of historic intersections of art and crime were a fascinating addition as well.

Part of the series is a bit graphic but mostly in terms of its role as a forensic crime show. Some of Shen Yi’s ability lies in rebuilding faces from skulls and that can be a bit gruesome. But in general, it’s not too bad. There is not a lot of comedy and no particular romance — it’s most a show about the two men (and the police team in general) helping each other grow beyond a shared trauma and internal grief. Along the way, they strategically utilize art, psychology, and good old-fashioned detective work to uncover the trauma and motives behind the crimes that arise.

Although most of the stories start off with the “whodunnit“, they also spend quite a bit of time on the why it happened. Caught up in their own desire for revenge, both Shen Yi and Du Cheng are guided through the motives and rationale of others who took their stressors a step too far. Pushed to understand both the criminal and the victim, their profiling skills improve and strengthen as they move towards the conclusion and face their greatest threat yet.

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