"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
Deep In My Heart (Native Title: 我心深触) is a 2019 Mainland Chinese, crime-thriller web drama, that is currently in its final week of airing. With 28 episodes, (of which only the first 7 are under discussion here) of thirty minutes duration each, the drama wastes no time in grasping the watcher's attention from the get-go, leaving you wanting more after every episode ends.
It was, therefore, disappointing to see how little love this drama is getting from the audience, with only 275 potential watchers (as of the time this article is being written), here on MDL. Which is why I decided to write this article in order to persuade readers to give this drama a shot. As always, I'll be trying my best to dodge any and all spoilers to the best of my abilities.
Before we begin, there are two terms integral to the story that need to be explained here:
Psychometry: The ability to deduce relevant information from an object of unknown origin through physical contact. In the drama's case, these abilities apply to living beings, as well as corpses who haven't undergone rigor mortis.
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)/ Split Personality Disorder: A psychological disorder characterized by a minimum of two distinct personalities — each with its own consciousness — inside one body. This drama deals with only two distinct personas.
Now that we have defined the two most important terms, we're ready to move on.
You might be wondering, how on earth are these two interrelated?
Are you intrigued?
Great! Let's jump into it, shall we?
Ever since he was a child, Kong Yi Fei knew he would never be able to enjoy his life the same way other children did. His weak heart was always there to remind him of his physical limitations, preventing him from fully immersing himself in society. Miraculously, thanks to a donor's heart, Yi Fei returned from the brink of death back to a new life. However, this new life was not quite what he was expecting it to be. With his newfound psychometric abilities, Yi Fei's status as a pariah in society was further solidified, with his only friend, Xu Gao Sheng (a homicide detective) to rely on.
Yi Fei's life is full of interesting events and encounters. A music teacher at a prestigious art school by day, and a forensic analyst (civilian assistant to Gao Sheng) at night, he makes the most of his abilities trying to better comprehend the people around him. While tailing his rebellious student Yv Si Min in a nightclub, Yi Fei has a particularly interesting encounter with the beautiful, enigmatic Han Bing: an investigative journalist by day, and Han Xue (her second persona), the party animal, at night.
When an undercover mission goes awry, and Han Bing (under the influence of Han Xue) witnesses a murder take place, her fate intertwines with Yi Fei's. With their lives taking a horrendously sharp turn, Yi Fei must work together with Han Bing, (the only person his abilities fail to work on) in order to uncover the truth behind the now serial murders, find out the history behind his strange abilities, and fight for the chance of finally getting to live a normal life.
Zhou Chen Gao as Kong Yi Fei
Our protagonist Yi Fei, is a man of many talents. He has a background in medicine which qualifies him as a forensic analyst, he's vocally talented, which qualifies him as a music instructor, and to top all of that, he has awesome superpowers that enable him to look into the most recent (and in some rare cases, old) thoughts and memories of any person he makes physical contact with. Talk about being the complete package!
Alas, no one really knows what a huge catch our male lead is, except for a few, trusty good men. He has never quite been able to fit in society in the past, and his heightened abilities make him come off as an arrogant jerk towards most people, resulting in him getting in trouble. However, he's a real sweetheart at the core.
Upon having his life intertwined with Han Bing, Yi Fei starts to see the possibilities of him having a normal life (of course unaware of the emotional and psychological baggage as well as her own set of secrets that Han Bing carries) for once.
Nina Wang as Han Bing & Han Xue
Han Bing, our female lead, is a determined, passionate, and impulsive investigative journalist, who (not so surprisingly) somehow always ends up face to face with danger.
Smart and persistent most of the time, she does tend to exhibit some qualities of a damsel in distress, though that might be an intentional move on the writers' part to further widen the contrast between her and her alternate persona; Han Xue's characters.
Han Xue, oh Han Xue! The best character of the entire drama. As Han Bing's alternate persona, she is straightforward, loud, obnoxious, and unashamedly flirtatious; a manifestation of everything Han Bing lacks, which is why it is awesome to witness their personas switch.
Han Xue is smarter than her counterpart, knowing full well how to utilize her sultry and seductively good looks to her advantage. She is also extremely protective of Han Bing and distrusts most people. Therefore, she never hesitates to give a piece of her mind to anyone she thinks is deserving of it, especially Xu Gao Sheng.
Caesar Li as Xu Gao Sheng
A homicide detective and Kong Yi Fei's best friend. He is the leader of the team in charge of investigating the serial murder case.
The only person aware of Yi Fei's psychometric abilities, he strives hard to better understand his friend and is always there to bail him out of jail in the event of any misadventures. That's a 'Best Friend Ever' awardee right here.
Meticulous, and patient as a saint, his calm personality only cracks in front of Han Bing, whom he is often at loggerheads with.
Cui Xin Xin as Zheng Xiao Zhen
A policewoman. Han Bing's housemate, best friend, and confidante. She is the only person aware of the duality of Han Bing's personas.
A smart, caring and resolute woman, Xiao Zhen is the voice of reason for both Han Bing and Han Xue and is a surrogate family for them.
Ex-girlfriend to Xu Gao Sheng, she had been indebted to Han Bing in the past, and as a result, chose to dedicate herself to Han Bing's welfare, much to the dismay of Gao Sheng, who had to end their relationship.
Sun Ya Li as Yv Si Min
Kong Yi Fei's student. A promising young idol who is subjected to bullying by her peers due to her quick ascent to fame.
Si Min is a troubled soul. As a young, impressionable girl, she often finds herself in the midst of controversial political figures, due to her part-time job as a hostess in a nightclub.
She later becomes an important pawn in the serial murder case.
I decided to refer to this category as 'Art' even though it encompasses not just the promotional material for the drama, but the cinematography as well. As is evident, the promotional materials for this drama are exquisite, ever so subtly hinting at everything the drama contains, successfully drawing the viewer in to experience the story. Below are just a few of the many examples of this drama's well-executed promotional artwork.
Now onto the cinematography. Despite it being a web drama set in modern day China, Deep In My Heart has great cinematography. From unique camera angles to beautiful establishing shots, to scenes where you feel emotionally caged, (the same way the characters are) this drama really has it going for itself in terms of versatility in cinematography.
Screen captures from episodes 1-5
There are two designated OSTs for this drama though they are hardly heard throughout it, except perhaps for some instrumentals. However, the star of this drama's soundtrack is the (unnamed) music played in the opening and ending credits. Highly synthesized, resembling the soundtrack of sci-fi, action-thriller movies, it creates a sense of urgency and panic, elevating a scene's atmosphere ten-fold when inserted throughout every intense scene in each episode,
The other two songs are very contrasting to the drama's nature: "If", a sad, romantic song, and "Color", an upbeat, mid-tempo romantic song. Check them out below:
There's a lot to love about this drama. It is courageous enough to mesh two drastically different, and often difficult to execute, medical conditions together, explore into the political and societal evil territory, while following a murder mystery, and yet, still manage to make character interactions the heart of the drama. That's a tall and ambitious order, one that has been successfully executed till now. Here's an in-depth analysis of its merits and demerits so far.
Chemistry/ Relationships: The cast is the heart of any drama, and this especially holds true for 'Deep In My Heart.' All actors, primary and secondary, have a great rapport with each other. For a drama relying on character relationships as one of its main components, it has succeeded in convincing me of the importance of each depicted relationship. Be it Yi Fei and Gao Sheng's bromance, Yi Fei and Si Min's teacher-protégé relationship, Han Bing/ Han Xue and Xiao Zhen's beloved sismance, and of course, the romantic relationship between Yi Fei and Han Bing/Han Xue.
Note: The writer is a hardcore shipper of Yi Fei and Han Xue (and NOT Yi Fei and Han Bing), as their chemistry is explosive, despite the fact that the same actress portrays both characters. (Kudos to Nina Wang!) Alas, their interactions are limited for now, and I'm left pining for more.
The Villain: The drama's primary focus is the serial murder storyline, with its ties to the past, the present, and the future, and how it has affected everyone involved. While the main villain is currently kept under wraps (there are quite a few candidates for that position), that person is shown to be extremely cunning and convincing, almost in the way those who run cults are. There are multiple people who do that person's bidding, and their belief in that person is unshakable, their minds an impenetrable wall, which has brought the police to their wits' end.
The killer has a well-defined motive that justifies his doings for him. He is out to punish those who remained silent in a situation where it was crucial for them to raise their voice against treachery. It's a scary thought if you come to think of how real this problem is in the world today. He acts according to the following quote (repeatedly referenced throughout the drama) as his motto:
"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything."
Crisp and Simple Story Line: There's no embellishment or glamorization of any aspects of this drama's story. You won't get to see a murder mystery just for the sake of a murder mystery; it has deep ties to tragic pasts, and present politics. You also won't see the writers wasting time on unnecessary leads and dead ends, just for the fun of it. Nothing's irrelevant here. There's also no unnecessary elongation of the story or over-dramatic reveals just for the shock value. Everything's straight and to the point, which is exactly how it should be.
Pacing: There's something wonky about this entire affair. While watching an episode, you will definitely experience the following situations, lovingly named by yours truly:
The Road Runner
When the episode moves by so fast (in its already short span) that you get literal whiplash from everything that's happening. Of course, sometimes this is a good thing.
The Unending Vortex
When a particular scene is edited in such a way that it makes you feel stuck. It's not that it lessens the enjoyment of the episode, it just makes one feel like they're stuck in a churning vortex, with no way to go back, drowning slowly. Again, this sometimes works to the drama's favour.
As long as the latter episodes reach the sweet spot between these two conditions, my argument will (hopefully) be void.
Plot Conveniences: I believe this is a problem with most, if not all dramas. Sticking to the matter at hand, this drama has no (as of yet) defined set of limitations for Kong Yi Fei's powers. When the plot needs him to be, he transforms into complete Ex- Machina, and when the plot demands it, his powers fail to pick up some of the most basic hints. A second grievance is Kong Yi Fei's transplanted heart. It will function totally fine when Yi Fei needs to sprint a mile to rescue Han Bing like he's the next Usain Bolt, but starts acting up when he has to chase a criminal down an alley. Guess the power of love is truly invincible!
Zhou Chen Gao: This might be me being excessively critical, but there's something quite funny about our male lead. No, not the character. It's the actor I'm referring to. Zhou Chen Gao has the look of a boisterous, playful, doe-eyed young man, who sometimes looks oddly out of place in the drama. There are instances where you look at him, and it seems like he's either about to burst out laughing, or play a prank on his cast mates. It's definitely endearing to see, don't get me wrong. But it does take you away from the whole, solemn drama-watching experience a bit.
Regardless of these issues, 'Deep In My Heart' still maintains a solid framework, with decent attention to detail. All characters, be they the protagonists, antagonists, potential antagonists, and even mere extras, are doing a good job, with some definitely outshining others. I definitely recommend this drama to fans and non-fans of the crime-thriller genre, there's something for everyone here. Also, for those who are wondering: yes, romance is a central focus (among a few others) of this drama.
So there you have it. A mystery lover's attempt at convincing readers to give this little gem a shot! Was I successful? Or did I fail miserably? Please let me know.
Also, for those who are currently watching 'Deep In My Heart', what are your thoughts on it?
Thank you so much for reading! ♡