REVIEW: The Silent Sea Is A South Korean Netflix Original That Works As A Subtle Sci-Fi Thriller
Netflix seemingly has an endless library of original content. And even more so now with their investment in non-English content. While K-Dramas were already huge for the streamer, a recently released one has me hooked! The Silent Sea is a compelling space drama that is also very substantial when it comes to the emotional core of the story. The Silent Sea takes place in a drought-filled future where water is a highly sought-after commodity. The human race is nearing extinction, while a group of astronauts make their way to the moon for a mysterious mission that could hold the key to the future. Check out my The Silent Sea review.
The Silent Sea Is A Dystopian Space Thriller That Surprises
When it comes to K-Dramas, I’m pretty uninitiated, having seen only a handful. But while they can seemingly range from the very gory and violent Sweet Home, they can also be as subtle and endearing as The Silent Sea. The setting is all about a world in the future, where drought has taken over, and water rationing is the way to survive. Given that it’s a K-Drama, we see this world rom the South Korean Perspective. The story begins with Dr. Song (Bae Donna), a scientist recruited for the latest mission to the Moon. Their mission is to retrieve something from an abandoned science station on the moon. The ‘something’ is a sample, but the authorities are purposefully vague on the details. Something that Song picks up on that leads to a mysterious mission. Even her recruitment raises questions. Especially given the confrontational reaction to her assignment, from the captain of the mission.
With a crew assembled, the mission is underway. But even from orbit, things start going wrong as the ship crashes onto the moon’s surface. From then on, things don’t go as well as anyone expected, with a lot of twists and turns. There’s spies, ulterior political agenda and a secret within the station and none of them could have prepared for. Even after the crash, when they finally make their way to the station, things aren’t as they seem. What follows is very subtle and slow drip storytelling to reveal what the sample really is and how much bigger the stakes are.
The Storytelling Of The Silent Sea Is Top Notch
What’s most surprising about The Silent Sea, is how subtle everything is. For a science fiction show that becomes very suspenseful and mysterious, it’s not as overtly obvious as you’d think. Each episode of the Netflix original series has just enough plot points, reveals, twists and cliffhanger endings to keep an audience invested. It’s not edge-of-your-seat entertainment, but when things ramp up, it definitely is exhilarating.
Director Choi Hang-Yong has to take a lot of credit for this storytelling approach. There are incredibly mind-blowing sequences that are done with such restraint that you don't realize how amazing until you’re in the middle of the sequence. It totally just sneaks up on you. Like a particular scene down an outdoor elevator shaft that is particularly haunting. The camera work goes beyond a 360-pan and creates a stunning visual that takes your breath away.
The Silent Sea Cast Gives Incredible Performances
The Silent Sea could easily have been a very slow-moving dialogue-driven show. And at many times, it totally is. But the performances and deliveries of the main cast keep things moving at a very well pace. Gong Yoo as Captain Han, co-lead to Donna’s Song, is amazing. His quiet performance as the leader of this mission, with his own tragic backstory, is spectacular. And of course, there’s Donna, who recruitment itself into the mission has an ulterior motive. And what she learns on the space station adds to her understanding of her relationship with her sister. Both characters also have quiet character moments in their back story that connects to the present day storyline. It’s these beautiful personal moments connected to the larger story that really makes The Silent Sea an engaging watch.
Where The Silent Sea stands out from other shows in this genre is how its dystopian setting doesn’t look like how an American series would show it. South Korea still looks clean, organized and well maintained. Society doesn’t seem to have broken down as quickly as American media would have us believe in the same situation. There’s also a lot of behind-the-scenes politics of this world that are interesting. The reveal in the last few episodes also sees a shift from how things would play out in an American show. The characters are united in their goal, once they decide on a plan of action, without any selfish or self-serving debates.
The Silent Sea is currently streaming on Netflix.
Featured pic credit: Netflix.