Helmed by three masterful directors, A Murderous Affair in Horizon Tower is one of only a handful of dramas in recent years that is truly female-centric and brave enough to tackle sensitive subject matter such as gender discrimination, domestic violence, rape, PUA and victim blaming.
The story begins with the death of coffee barista Zhong Meibao (Angelababy) in her apartment, and the brilliant opening sequence below introduces pretty much all the suspects.
The show devotes 2 episodes to fleshing out each of the character’s backstories, and I’ve singled out two that really stood out to me:
Episode 5 & 6: Zhong Meibao x Novelist Wu Mingyue
Zhong Meibao and Wu Mingyue (Kong Yan) both have their own nightmares from the past, so the scenes where they helped to heal each other’s emotional wounds and rebuild self-confidence was especially poignant. Wu Mingyue’s segment was driven by an animated feature of her popular novel, which is in fact a retelling of Zhong Meibao’s own story. The animation already paints Yan Yongyuan (Jiao Gang) to be a despicable monster without a shred of humanity, yet the details revealed in the later episodes actually made me sick. The character definitely takes the cake for most repulsive villain of 2020.
Episode 9 & 10: Li Guilan & Zhong Jie
Li Guilan (played wonderfully by Liu Dan) is an emergency department doctor who first meets Zhong Jie (Ni Hongjie) in hospital. She realises the latter is a victim of domestic violence, and slowly becomes involved in Zhong Jie and her children Meibao and Ah-jun’s lives. Zhong Jie was completely broken inside after suffering years of abuse at the hands of her rotten husband Yan Yongyuan, but works hard to break the cycle of violence and become a responsible mother for her children with the help of Li Guilan. Unfortunately, everything ends when she is just one step away from freedom.
The drama is pretty flawed in the whodunit mystery-solving department, what with incompetent police and careless autopsies. However, I do think the show did well in the development of the female characters and the strength of their friendships, and for that I give the show an 8/10.
Source novel: Horizon Tower by Chen Xue
Directors: Leste Chen, Wu Zhongtian, Xu Zhaoren (the team behind Moonshine and Valentine)
Screenwriters: Shu Qiao, Shen Yang, Ren Peng, Yi Shuaijie