Exciting new sci-fi series Apple TV + Dr. Brain continues to unravel its mysteries this week. Brilliant neuroscientist Sewon is approaching the full form of the crimes that took his family’s lives, thanks to “brain synchronization” with both his wife and an unexpected source.
Meanwhile, numerous questions hang in the air. Who is just that private detective helping Sewon find the answers? Who is the man in Jaeyi’s memories? And who is still alive – and who is really dead?
Dr. Brain review: ‘chapter 2’
When Sewon (played by Sun-kyun Lee) tries his first round of brain sync sessions to communicate with his wife Jaeyi (Yoo-Young Lee) in a coma, what he sees looks like an ugly dream. He sees her in their bedroom, first blissful and loving, then in panic over their son Doyon (Jeong Si-on), and then angry because Sewon let him die.
Then Sewon is in a red room that becomes a kind of blood bath from which he comes out, looking like an older woman in room 237 at the Overlook Hotel. He wakes up and sees that Jaeyi’s true vital elements are growing, while the woman in the coma is suffering from some sort of seizure.
From dream worlds to murder investigations
Lieutenant Choi (Seo Ji-hye) comes to inquire again about the murder of one of Jaeyi’s friends, and she reveals something to us: Jaeyi tried to commit suicide before drowning which left her in a coma. Of course, Sewon has an answer to his accusations – amazing an elaborate home setting that he has for Jaey’s constant care while she remains unconscious. If he wanted to kill her, why go through all that trouble?
Police leave just in time for Sewon to experience a hallucination, a kind of memory fragment left in his brain from synchronization. See Junki Lim (Kim Ju-hun), a man suspected by police of killing him, with his young daughter Heejin. Sewon is looking for Kangmu (Park Hee-soon), the detective Junki he hired to investigate Sewon.
Junki became close with Jaeyi (they met because their children went to the same school with special needs). And when she had an accident, Junki naturally assumed that Sewon had tried to hurt her. Now that Junki is dead, Sewon wants the information that Kangmu found out, that is, what the connection was between Jaeyi and Junki, how they met and whether their death / near death experiences are related.
Kangmu takes Sewon to Junki’s house and he has another attack of foreign memory, this time watching Junki’s death as if it were happening to him in the hallway. Sewon increasingly sees Heejin in an uncontrollable flood of memories he receives from his wife’s brain, and witnesses the moment the little girl tells Jaeyi that Doyoon is not dead. And then he finds only a dead cat in Junki’s yard. Maybe your pet has some information worth syncing …
If this part is film noir, this part is a mystery
Catalan director Jaume Collet-Serra 2018 (Shallow, Jungle Cruise) directed a pilot episode for a short-lived TV show called Reverie about a detective sent to the dream world through software to solve a mystery. It only lasted one season, so we never managed to see the full potential of a director with a truly idiosyncratic visual style directing hallucinations and nightmares on TV from week to week.
Dr. Brain, among its other good qualities, is finally the realization of that potential. Screenwriter / director Kim Jee-Woon may not be considered primarily a director with a surrealistic trace. He is not bent when it comes to directing fantastic things. But, if nothing else, his security is what makes his dream language so amazing. You trust the real world enough that the intrusions of the dream world feel like true invasions, a betrayal of stability.
This week’s episode may be a little slower than Brain ‘a head-scratching pilot, but no less likable. Indeed, my internet was constantly canceling while I was watching it, so it took much longer than 49 minutes to finish watching the episode, and yet it was flew by. It’s incredibly rare to see a step like this on TV. (Another Apple TV + sci-fi series, Foundation, approaches this, but that show is sometimes just an action.) Dr. Brain it shows a relentless momentum, where every zoom and pan drags you down a corridor of uncertainty, second-hand longing and mistrust, incredible scenes and sounds.
Director in complete control
This week’s episode, called simply “Chapter 2,” begins to show where director Kim Jee-Won’s head is in vis-à-vis nightmares and dreams that Sewon will eavesdrop on. My favorite picture of the series so far is when, after a sudden change of mood, Jaeyi crashes against a wall just to spray it. The wall behind her becomes a wet picture before she is completely indulged in a red room where Sewon sees his wife coming out of a pool of blood.
It turns out to be miraculously disturbing because it doesn’t distort the visual language the series uses, so you really feel like a creepy logical failure has taken over your senses.
Later, when Sewona calls Choi and says he is that man to think Kangmu is a cheater, and then there is knock on the door… causing shivering.
Dr. Brain puts me in a space I appreciate, which I may have first encountered watching either Henri Georges-Clouzot devilish or the final twist in Gore Verbinski’s remake The ring, where something impossible and terrible happened, and now the new reality on the other side of the door is just a few steps away from you. no, you shouldn’t, be realistic, but there is still a knock.
Kim speaks openly about her generic traps (the coroner invokes film noir as she shows Junki’s body to Choi) and therefore prepares you for what will happen. He plays fair and still realization of any dramatic idea through professional sound design, framing and camera movement. With Dr. Brain, we find ourselves in the hands of a great director who does his best job.
Look Dr. Brain on Apple TV +
New episodes of Dr. Brain arrives on Apple TV + on Thursdays.
Look at: Apple TV +
Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of a long-running series of video essays The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He wrote for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books i Nylon Magazine. He is the author Cinemaphagy: About the psychedelic classical form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films and author of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.
Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.