Netflix’s “The Glory” is a suspenseful revenge story that will keep audiences captivated throughout its 16 episodes.
The series kicked off Netflix’s 2023 releases with a bang. With its first part being released in December 2022, “The Glory” follows the story of Moon Dong-eun (Song Hye-kyo). Severely bullied by a group of five wealthy teenagers during her high school years, Dong-eun vows to exact her revenge as an adult.
Jumping 10 years into the future, Dong-eun begins to set her elaborate plans into motion, systematically exploiting the weaknesses of each of her old bullies. For example, Dong-eun aims to unravel the picture-perfect life of newscaster Park Yeon-jin (Lim Ji-yeon), the former ringleader of the group.
The first half of the show illustrates Dong-eun’s hardships, both mental and physical, and audiences cannot help but feel a sense of hopelessness as they watch Dong-eun be ignored by teachers, police officers and even her own parents as she tries to report her abusers.
Commenting on the bullies’ wealth and connections within the community that keeps them from being held accountable, the show sheds light on the links between class and exploitation. However, during the show’s latter half, Dong-eun successfully challenges the notion that the wealthy are untouchable, and the payoff is irresistibly satisfying.
While audiences get a taste of Dong-eun’s revenge plans during the show’s first part, her plans only fully unfold during the show’s second half, which was released in March 2023. This two-tiered release plan added to the show’s suspense factor, overcoming the unsustainable binge-watching model that certain Netflix shows such as “Stranger Things” have seen.
Despite the successful two-part release strategy, the show’s pacing somewhat fell apart during its final two episodes. By focusing too heavily on Dong-eun’s love interest, Joo Yeo-jeong (Lee Do-hyun), who had an already unnecessarily convoluted backstory, the episodes were primarily filler.
However, in general, the rest of the show’s storytelling is balanced. In the show’s first part, episodes three to seven focus on a single member within the group of five bullies. Filled with flashbacks to her high school days, Dong-eun slowly lets the audience in on her plans, as she uses each member’s weaknesses to her advantage. For example, Dong-eun uses the playboy attitude expressed by Jeon Jae-Joon (Park Sung-hoon) to manipulate the emotions of Choi Hye-jeong (Cha Joo-young). She also exposes the hypocrisy of Lee Sa-ra (Kim Hieora), highlighting her drug dependence despite her family’s church presence.
Beyond its storytelling, “The Glory” boasts an impressive cast. Its lead, Song Hye-kyo of hit show “Descendents of the Sun” fame, displays acting mastery in her role as Dong-eun. From her portrayal of Dong-eun’s emotional breakdowns to her tension-filled confrontations with the bullies, Song was the perfect choice for this role.
Ji-Yeon, who plays the main antagonist in Park Yeon-Jin, is also a standout. Behind a beautiful smile, Lim acts out some of the most sadistic scenes in the show. Yeon-jin’s outbursts of anger, coupled with calculated actions of retribution, induce fear in the audience, making for a complex yet terrifying villain.
“The Glory” also highlights some up-and-coming actors. For example, Jung Ji-So and Shin Ye-Eun, who play young Moon Dong-Eun and young Park Yeon-Jin, respectively, are stellar in their characterizations.
Backed by its strong cast, the writing in “The Glory” is equally as good. Demonstrating screenwriter Kim Eun-sook’s ability, each episode opens or closes with Dong-eun narrating a letter she wrote, but never sent to Yeon-jin. Through the letters, Kim lets audiences into the mind of Dong-eun in an innovative way — viewers truly feel Dong-eun’s obsession with Yeon-jin and her thirst for revenge, raising the stakes of Dong-eun’s plans and making her fury more palpable.
Ultimately, “The Glory” is a riveting yet heartfelt story of exacting vengeance — audiences should strap in and enjoy the ride.
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