The Glory (2022) is the second collaboration between leading lady, Song Hye-kyo and star writer, Kim Eun-sook after Descendants of the Sun (2016).
It ended with a heart-palpitating cliffhanger which left many itching for the second season, slated for release this March.
Following the footsteps of revenge dramas like The Penthouse: War in Life (2020) and The World of The Married (2020), the eight-episode season found immense success in its formula of an anti-heroine and her brooding scheme to get back at her high school bullies years later.
Considering all the demeaning acts they’ve done to her, one would expect an action-packed payback from Moon Dong-eun (Song Hye-kyo). But her elaborate master plan consisted of slow, torturing mind games that would keep her hands completely clean as her tormentors turned against one another.
The clever use of mind games was heavily reflected in the traditional game of Go. It is a chess-like board game, something the protagonist learnt in the process of vengeance.
It was also what introduced Dong-eun to her potential love interests: Joo Yeo-jeong (Lee Do-hyun) and Ha Do-young (Jung Sung-il). They both expressed liking towards her despite her lack thereof. More scandalously, the latter is her bullies’ husband.
The leader of the pack and Do-young’s wife, Park Yeon-jin (Lim Ji-yeon), particularly shone as a standout character many love to hate. She’s the mean girl in school who later becomes a good mother despite a twisted affair.
The character also marks Lim’s first role as a vicious villainess which garnered her much praise. In fact, she pulled it off so well that it was hard to remember her sweet demeanour in her previous roles.
Props to the casting director as well, for the startling resemblance between the younger and older cast for Dong-eun and her bullies. From their physical appearances to the performances, there were many similarities which made the transition to the adult characters seamless.
Amidst the darkness in the plot and its incredibly flawed characters, there was still light in the character of Kang Hyeon-nam (Yeom Hye-ran).
Though her backstory was nothing short of tragic, Hyeon-nam managed to bring in some laughs when things were tense — even breaking the shell of Dong-eun.
Furthermore, the budding dynamic between Dong-eun and Hyeon-nam as the seasoned mastermind and the amateur assistant respectively, played a huge part in building stronger emotional connection to these characters.
On top of Dong-eun’s execution of her revenge, the sub-plot that stood out was the affair between Yeon-jin and Jeon Jae-joon (Park Sung-hoon). Along with the consequences of it.
The show writers rode on Jae-joon’s colour blindness to imply that Yeon-jin’s daughter was his, and not her husband’s. The shocking revelation stirred things up by looping Do-young directly into the mix.
This made Do-young, previously an outsider in the situation, much more involved which could possibly pose as a catalyst for Dong-eun’s revenge in the upcoming season.
Not everything, however, was as engaging as watching Dong-eun psychologically torment her bullies.
As the male lead, Yeo-jeong felt out of place in the revenge drama. The only linkage to Dong-eun was that he was her teacher for Go. This reignited connection years later still felt disengaging and almost impossible, considering how their relationship lacked a strong foundation in the first place.
But given Kim Eun-sook’s past iconic works with romance, having a heartthrob character feels like the missing piece to her puzzle. No doubt, it will be fun to watch how the second season will explore Yeo-jeong’s own revenge story aside from helping Dong-eun.