When the most powerful weapon of the kingdom disappears, the best detective in the capital, Shi Jing Yao (Li Jia Ming) has to work with the sullen imperial guard Long Yao (Wen Sheng) to find it before it can fall into nefarious hands.
I knew as soon as they started promoting The Silent Criminal that I shouldn’t expect anything from it. Why? Because the very first poster they released showed both leads on top of each other, their faces mere inches apart. The target audience was pretty clear, which would be acceptable had the show been adapted from a BL novel, or had it intended to follow through on its promises. It was not, and did not. Instead, The Silent Criminal‘s marketing strategy relied, first and foremost, on queerbaiting.
With some effort, I could have gotten over that, because I really liked Li Jia Ming’s High God Yun Feng in Love and Destiny, and was very happy to see him as the main lead in this new drama. I could have worked with that and a good plot, or at least a good bromance.
Alas, I was right. 13 episodes is really too short to set up a bromance, and the relationship between the two leads ended up way off the mark. Sure, the show keeps forcing couple-like gestures down our throat (chin touching, repeated innuendos, tiny smiles, a lack of personal space, and so on), but they just don’t fit with the characters’ relationship at all. In fact, Long Yao and Shi Jing Yao have literally nothing in common, be it their origins, their values (or lack thereof), or their skills (or lack thereof). In fact, most of the time, you get the feeling that Long Yao barely tolerates Shi Jing Yao.
Which I can’t blame him for, really. Shi Jing Yao is a complete moron. They keep asserting that he’s “the best detective in the capital”, but if that’s true, then I feel very, very sorry for this soon-to-be-fallen country. Stupid, greedy and useless, the guy is the whole package, and most of the “humor” of the series, if you can even call it that, comes from his incompetence, cowardice and sheer lack of a brain.
Again, I could have gotten over it had he had one redeeming quality. Oftentimes, the dumb characters make up for it by being empathetic, lovable, and act as a bridge with the world for their clever, socially inept partner. Yes, I’m aware it’s cliché, but it would have been marginally better than what we got here. At first, I was sure that this guy was actually super smart and just playing the long game, making everybody believe he was dumb before revealing his grand plan, because surely there was no way he really was like this. I was wrong.
And on top of wasting its lead’s potential, The Silent Criminal seems to enjoy gathering promising story elements to then stomp them into shapeless paste. I can’t elaborate lest I spoil important things, but there were so many things which, handled properly, could have made for an epic story, and instead, they wasted everything.
Poor Li Jia Ming really deserved better.
Sadly, the plot was as bad as the rest: between characters who come back from the dead all the time, not one but two love triangles, and a big bad villain whose every evil was in the end turned into a gigantic misunderstanding of all things, there was nothing there to save The Silent Criminal.
All in All…
Between a commonplace plot, stupid characters and cheap production values (even if the photography’s alright most of the time), The Silent Criminal stands out as concentrated wasted potential and manages, in 13 episodes, to feel long and boring.
Except for the last five minutes. I loved the last five minutes. If only the entire show had been like the last five minutes.
Title: The Silent Criminal
Starring: Li Jia Ming, Wen Sheng, Fu Shu Yang
Number of episodes: 13
Genres: Costume, Fantasy, Bromance
My Grade: ★☆☆☆☆