Hindsight Review: Strong Cast and Storytelling Makes Netflix’s “The Glory” a Resonant Experience

Hindsight Review: Strong Cast and Storytelling Makes Netflix’s “The Glory” a Resonant Experience

Minor spoilers. Click here for the First Impression Review.

The first eight episodes of Netflix’s The Glory (더 글로리) were familiar, yet refreshingly unflinching as it depicted the journey of Moon Dong Eun from victim of school violence to a woman carefully putting the pieces together for her ultimate revenge. Song Hye Kyo led an excellent ensemble cast in delivering captivating performances that drew such visceral reactions from the audience.

It was an impactful first half of the series and set the stage for this final group of eight episodes which deserves just as much praise and applause. Any maybe for a few different reasons.

One of the constants, however, is again the excellent cast. Song Hye Kyo especially delivered a quiet tour de force performance. That is, Moon Dong Eun may not have had the huge emotional moments or outbursts that one might come to expect in a story about revenge. But the character exuded a quiet resilience with a mix of both confidence and vulnerability. Song Hye Kyo skillfully navigated this challenging material with the necessary nuance that she has not had the opportunity for in years. It is not so much a revelation, considering she has had some excellent performances during her career already. But perhaps it is a reminder that Song Hye Kyo can definitely deliver. And she did that and then some.

This second half was much more of a character portrait, especially for Dong Eun, than a simple soapy revenge plot. The first half of the series focused more on the juicy psychological torture Dong Eun is able to exact on the perpetrators before actually starting the main event. That is of course in addition to horrific scenes of the actual abuse and assault Dong Eun experiences at their hands.

There might be a feeling that the actual “revenge” might feel tame compared to the pain and suffering imposed on the victims. (I certainly felt that way at times.) But Yeon Jin and her minions (more on them later) still got what was coming to them. Even if the first half of the series drove a hunger for much more extreme and maybe even outrageous fates for them.

The Glory Netflix Korean Drama Review

But what this second half was much more focused on, however, was having Dong Eun at the center of a story about finding peace and healing. Yes, she was able to exact revenge on the vile perps. But even more than that, Dong Eun was able to feel fulfilled and satisfied by what she had accomplished.

Many times, revenge stories play up the idea of regret or doubt. They may focus on the downsides or negative aspects of holding on to such anger and pain. But The Glory was refreshing in that Dong Eun did not necessarily waver in her quest.

And more importantly, Dong Eun was able to find peace and healing through the people she was able to meet such as Joo Yeo Jeong (Lee Do Hyun) and Kang Hyeon Nam (Yeom Hye Ran). Both of them were basically her sidekicks throughout, but the two of them also had much pain and suffering to overcome as well. Both Lee Do Hyun and Yun Hye Ran, of course accomplished actors themselves, had several opportunities in the spotlight too and they had no problem stepping up to the plate to hit many balls out of the park.

The Glory allowed for these characters to be able to find each other and help them realize that there are people you can reach your hand to out there even when you think there are none. The bonds they were able to form, including the enlightening final episode twist involving Dong Eun’s landlady (Son Sook), really expressed how there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter how dark it might be at the moment.

Of course, the darkness could not be possible without the absolutely vile pieces of work that were Park Yeon Jin (Lim Ji Yeon), Jeon Jae Jun (Park Sung Hoon), Lee Sara (Kim Hieora), Choi Hye Jeong (Cha Joo Young) and Son Myeong Oh (Kim Gun Woo). In this second half, The Glory did an amazing job in being able to flesh out each of their characters. And that is in a way to add depth to the characters without having to willingly or unwittingly open a path to redemption for them. It isn’t always necessary to redeem villains. Sometimes, they just have to suffer their deserved fates. And The Glory delivered those fates while the actors delivered chilling and engaging performances.

Jung Sung Il as Yeon Jin’s husband Ha Do Young slowly emerged in the first half of the series. And this second half, he was a fascinating character who more often than not, remained in the shadows as a sort of quiet observer of the shocking debauchery in front of him. There were moments where you might even question his character and morals. But that merely added to the steady tension that resonated through these eight final episodes.

The Glory Netflix Korean Drama Review

And finally Park Ji Ah as Dong Eun’s mother deserves special mention as well. Her performance perfectly leads up to what might be two of the most emotionally charged moments in the entire series. The confrontations between Dong Eun and her mother were incredibly intense moments. And Park Ji Ah and Song Hye Kyo delivered what are perhaps two of the scenes of this second half, if not the entire series.

The Glory is a school violence and revenge plot on the surface. But its most affecting moments involved the simple connections and bonds one is able to make with another. Those relationships are what can help get them through difficult journeys. Those friendships can help guide them toward the light at the end of the tunnel. And those bonds provide the hope to keep one moving toward healing and peace.

The Glory Netflix Korean Drama Review

An excellent cast and strong storytelling make The Glory a resonant series.

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