Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Victims’ Game’ Season 2 on Netflix, the return of the Taiwanese mystery thriller and its Asperger's Syndrome protagonist  (2024)

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The Victims' Game

  • Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Victims’ Game’ Season 2 on Netflix, the return of the Taiwanese mystery thriller and its Asperger's Syndrome protagonist (1)
  • Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Victims’ Game’ Season 2 on Netflix, the return of the Taiwanese mystery thriller and its Asperger's Syndrome protagonist (2)

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The Victims’ Game returns to Netflix with eight new episodes, four years after its award-winning first season. For the forensic investigator at the center of the series, his neurodivergence is just how he’s wired, and while Victims’ Game depicts this in different ways, it’s not interested in cheaply sensationalizing his behavior. Instead, it’s a significant factor in how he solves cases as part of a larger forensic investigation. In season 1, there was lots of grisly crime show detail. Bodies being dissolved in acid. People burned beyond recognition. And a cult of believers who longed for death as release. Now it’s some time later, and our investigator’s been doing some work on himself, as well as his interactions with those in his life, especially his formerly estranged daughter. But there are new murders afoot, with their own bloody details, and somebody has an agenda to make him take a fall.

THE VICTIMS’ GAME – SEASON 2: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?

Opening Shot: In a flashback, we meet police investigator Lin Ching-jui (King Jieh-wen), who interviews a young man accused of konking his classmate over the head with a brick. They bond over the solution of a numbers puzzle. “Have you played this before?” Lin asks him. “I think it’s like a police investigation.”

The Gist: That student was Fang Yi-jen (Chang Hsiao-chuan), and Lin became his mentor in criminal forensic investigation. As the events of Victims’ Game season 1 detailed, Fang has a knack for fixating on hidden clues that tell the story of someone’s life, as well as how they lost it. But Fang is also on the autism spectrum, and interactions with professional colleagues and even individuals in his personal life tend to be brusque. Fang’s eye for detail and wish for regimentation is illustrated early on in season 2, when his daughter Chiang Hsiao-meng (Moon Lee) opens their fridge to find a paradise of perfectly-ordered prepared meals. Hisao-meng’s previous involvement with a suicide cult has been settled. But she’s still bullied and ostracized at school – “Hey, isn’t that the Final Wish Killer? Whom did you tell to die today?” – and while Hisao-meng agreed to live with Fang and work to ease their estrangement, his intense professional focus and trouble expressing empathy continues to create distance between them.

Lin Ching-jui is dead now. But at a memorial service in his honor, Fang is approached by his police force ally, Detective Chao Cheng-kuan (Wang Shih-hsien). Prosecutor Cheng Keng-hao (Dean Fujioka) has reopened a 15-year-old murder-suicide case involving a teenage couple that Fang cleared with Lin. There is new DNA, tissue samples from the scene of the crime that didn’t belong to the victims, and Cheng Keng-hao questions Fang’s competence. But those suspicions deepen when the mother of one of the victims falls from a parking structure to her death. She had contacted Fang about new evidence, evidence she claimed exonerated her daughter, and pointed to Yuan Chi-ling (Karencici) as the murderer. Now a popular singer and social media influencer, Yuan was once a high school classmate of the victims.

Mysterious new evidence in old cases he worked, new deaths with links to Fang – Detective Chao tells him straight up. “Clearly you’re being framed.” With Chao on his side, and the help of new police medical examiner Dr. Hsueh Hsin-ning (Tarcy Su), Fang will work to clear his name and resolve the questions surrounding the formerly closed case. But that won’t be easy with even more deaths piling up. Fang is also striving to repair his relationship with Hsiao-meng, and while he has trouble showing it, he’s grateful for the support of his partner, journalist Hsu Hai-yin (Hsu Wei-ning). Even if he’s not so hot with social interactions, Fang is on fire when it comes to numbers and hidden details. And those details will be key to figuring out the bigger picture in this latest victims’ game.

Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Victims’ Game’ Season 2 on Netflix, the return of the Taiwanese mystery thriller and its Asperger's Syndrome protagonist (3)

What Shows Will It Remind You of? Chang Hsiao-chuan also starred in Nowhere Man, which became Netflix’s first Taiwanese series when it premiered in 2019. There’s also a similar intensity to the criming and crimesolving in Victims’ Game that should appeal to fans of Hannibal and Hugh Dancy’s portrayal of profiler Will Graham.

Our Take: We’ve all watched a katrillion crime and murder shows by now, perhaps inuring us to gross murder scenes and people spread open on autopsy tables. Or perhaps not, because The Victims’ Game manages to cause more than one shudder with its portrayal of humans in death. This series is very much in the crime procedural realm, with scenes shifting between cops on the case, visits to the M.E., conflict within the law enforcement apparatus, and the personal toll all of this takes on these peoples’ personal lives. But there’s a twinge or two of horror here, too, with all of the corporeal destruction on display, and the shadow of death that seems to follow around Fang Yi-jen’s daughter Chiang Hsiao-meng like a persistent and not entirely innocent imaginary friend. It’s a smart way to illustrate the world that surrounds Fang, as he navigates these spaces while managing his Asperger syndrome. Sure, Hsu Hai-yin dissociates a little when he seems to ignore her – even though he called her for a ride – but even in this, it’s just a fact of life, not a hindrance. “It takes time to get used to Fang,” Hai-yin reassures Fang’s daughter. Who he is as a person is part of a larger constructed world in Victims’ Game, one with violence and darker impulses that might require someone wired exactly like Fang to reveal.

Sex and Skin: Nothing here, though the depiction of the dead in The Victims’ Game is often quite gruesome.

Parting Shot: “Find the evidence. Reconstruct the scene. Get the truth.” It’s a mantra for Fang. And given his late-episode discovery, it’s also a kind of defense mechanism.

Sleeper Star: Karencici, also a singer in real life, adds an immediate spark to The Victims’ Game as pop star and influencer Yuan Chi-ling. Lots of Gen Z indifference to deal with! “Just ask your questions. Can I go now, Mr. Policeman?”

Most Pilot-y Line: “Fang Yi-jen, you are now a major suspect in this case. We are going to detain you.”

Our Call: STREAM IT. The Victims’ Game returns for its second season with another exceptional performance from Chang Hsiao-chuan as Fang Yi-jen, a forensic genius with Asperger’s who’s up against a whole new glut of grisly murders to solve.

Johnny Loftus (@glennganges) is an independent writer and editor living at large in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Guide, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift.

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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘The Victims’ Game’ Season 2 on Netflix, the return of the Taiwanese mystery thriller and its Asperger's Syndrome protagonist  (2024)
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