First, let me say thank you to everyone who voted in the Twitter poll to decide which BL to review first. I know it’s been a hot minute since I’ve written anything or talked about anything besides WHYRU, but I feel ready to tackle some new shows now.
I have been anticipating Manner of Death for a while now because I especially enjoy watching crime dramas. At its heart, Manner of Death is a crime/murder mystery with a non-heterosexual central pairing. I have only watched the first episode, but it seems similar to other shows I’ve watched previously. My favorites are Marcella, Luther, Dark, and Borderliner. I forgot to mention my absolute favorite one, which is Broadchurch. I realize my bar is set high, but I’m going into this with an open mind. Plus, I am excited to see a different scenario that doesn’t involve school uniforms.
Another reason for anticipation is the couple pairing. Max & Tul (“Max” Nattapol Diloknawarit & “Tul” Pakorn Thanasrivanitchai) are amazing together. They are comfortable with each other; they have an easy camaraderie & their on-screen chemistry sizzles. Max & Tul have been favorites of mine since Together with Me. I watched the show in the order everyone should, in my opinion. I began with Together with Me. Then I watched Together with Me, the Next Chapter, followed by Bad Romance, set in the middle of the two, but filmed first. It’s the weakest of all three, in my opinion.
What do we know about Manner of Death? It’s an adaptation of the novel with the same title by Sammons. The official English translation of the novel is available on MEB books. https://www.mebmarket.com/index.php?action=BookDetails&book_id=134258
Disclaimer : This will contain spoilers. Also this deals with heavy subject matter like rape, drug use and murder.
I have not read the novel as I didn’t want to have spoilers. I usually read the book, like Oxygen, first and then watch the show. But given that this is a murder mystery, I want to be surprised.
Here is the novel’s plot description: I’m paraphrasing the Google Translate version on the MEB site.
The Manner of Death is divided into five categories.
They are suicide, homicide, animal attack, an accident, or natural disease. These are key to investigating cases.
Dr. Bunnakit Songsakdina (Bun) is a forensic pathologist at a provincial hospital. He issues a ruling of what happened at the crime scene by identifying the cause of death. But his life is changed forever after being called to the scene about a hanged woman’s death.
His job is to listen to what the corpse is telling him.
Chookiat Sakveerakul, nicknamed Ma-Deaw or Matthew, directs the show. He is a film director and screenwriter, born in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He has many directing credits under his belt; the one most associated with the bl world is the movie Dew.
We begin with Bun as he is driving through the sleepy town in the northern region he’d left 15 years earlier called Viang Pha Mork. He recently transferred there from bustling Bangkok.
When he arrives at the crime scene, he seems comfortable with the routine procedures, such as putting on gloves & other protective covering. He looks around, making mental notes of things in the room as he is led to the body by an officer. He reminded me of Sherlock Holmes with his ability to take in information to process later. His skills of observation aid him in his job, I’m sure. I’m also sure his eidetic memory will be how he will solve this case in the end.
The body of a woman sits next to a hot tub with a noose around her neck. Dr. Bunn looks visibly shaken upon seeing her. Though she is cold and blue, there is no blood. Why is he shaken? As a forensic pathologist in Bangkok, we assume he’s seen his fair share of bodies in various scenarios and situations. To find the answer, we rewind five days in time.
Dr. Bunn tells us this story. We only have his point of view. As he drives to work, he talks about his love for this sleepy little hamlet and the quiet life. He’s moved back from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok to be in this, his home town. He appreciates the slower pace of life. At least, that’s what he thinks.
A young woman wanders the streets. She is bleeding from under her dress. She collapses in the middle of the road, as blood pools around her. People try to help, but nothing can be done. We shift back to Bun as he suits up in scrubs, getting ready to examine her body.
His apprentice/intern, Oat, played by MD Nuttapong from My Engineer, helps him perform the autopsy on the young woman’s body. Bun asks Oat what his observations are, and we learn there are signs of uterus damage, but Oat missed the signs of needle marks and bite marks on the body. They run a toxicology screen on her as well to identify what drugs were in her system. Bun calmly says this is probably due to sexual abuse and drug use. I don’t understand why they didn’t perform a rape kit because if she had vaginal bleeding when she died from possible sexual trauma, there could be evidence. I’m sorry if that bothers some of you. I will put trigger warnings in the front of my post, so everyone will know it deals with sensitive subjects.
After autopsying, Bun is relaxing in the kitchen when a nurse asks him to speak to A reporter. He shows up to ask questions about the young woman and her death.
You can tell this reporter is used to getting his way. He asks for sensitive information about the case. And when Dr. Bun refuses, he offers him cash for information. He is surprised and insulted when Dr. Bun refuses to accept the bribe for information but leaves his card if Bun changes his mind.
Bun’s refusal to release information for money gives us a glimpse of his character, someone who has integrity and believes in going by the book not to screw up a case. I’m sure as he and Tan become embroiled in a relationship, it may become harder to remember what’s right and wrong. The reporter is eager for a scoop and willing to bribe officials, who may or may not have connections to the case.
We have Dr. Bun at a cafe, looking out at this beautiful idyllic village and mountain. It’s so peaceful I can almost feel myself relaxing by watching him sit there.
He is interrupted by the two inspectors who approach him. The main one is Inspector M and his partner Inspector Gun. They chitchat about the case, and Bun gives them a heads up that if the toxicology report comes back with drugs in her system, it will become their case.
The inspectors are aware that Bun lived in the area before. It leads to a discussion about how much the town has changed and grown. They offer to take him out & show him the nightlife. He takes a rain check, as he has plans, but they agree to go out the next night. We see that he’s meeting an old friend for dinner, Jane.
Jane is one of those childhood friends Bun left behind but was someone with whom he was going to reconnect. He’s happy to see her, and she’s delighted to catch up with him as well. Soon after greeting each other, she returns a book she borrowed in middle school. It’s the original Hans Christian Anderson tale The Little Mermaid. He’s surprised she kept the book, but there is a little mermaid keychain on her purse. It must have impacted her as she talks about how tragic the mermaid is because she dies in the end – maybe some foreshadowing right here. Also, Bun makes a mental note about the keychain. Whatever he focuses on, I’m sure, will be important details for later.
She’s a local high school teacher. She tells Bun that the teen he autopsied was her student and felt like she had failed the student. Jane looks troubled by this, but when pressed about the matter, changes topics. She isn’t ready or willing to share her concerns about the situation with Bun. They have a pleasant, relaxing meal. They smile while laughing and chatting away like the old friends they are.
The next day the director of the hospital pulls Bunn aside because he appears in the local news. The director warns him that this reporter likes to twists things and that the reporter has the community’s trust, so don’t get on his bad side. I wonder if the reporter has something on the director or if he is hiding something. Time will tell, I guess.
After class ends at school, Jane stares at Natty’s desk (the girl who died). She sees the reporter taking pictures of the desk. She orders him to leave, and he agrees, saying that he got what he came for. I was confused here. Wouldn’t any empty desk serve as a visual for the story? And how would this reporter know which desk was hers? Maybe these questions get answered, perhaps not, but it made me wonder.
Then we move on to Dr. Bun’s night out with the inspectors. We have Bun bumping into Tan outside the bar/club because he’s busy looking at his phone. Bun is immediately struck by how gorgeous Tan is. I don’t know if Bun is gay and out of the closet or this is his first attraction to a guy. Maybe he was out in Bangkok, a big city, but not in a rural town?
Bun joins M and Gun inside the club. They order him a special of the local drink, basically a flight of them (many shots in a row). A cute woman then whisks away the inspectors to catch up with them, leaving Bun alone with all the drinks. He downs one quickly, decides he likes it, then decides to let loose and enjoy himself. We see his vision double as he dances around to the thumping music, clearly drunk. He approaches the bar to order more drinks, slips and begins to fall.
Tan keeps him from slipping by catching him. The tension between the two of them stretches out until Bun pulls Tan in for a kiss.
Then Bun passes out.
He wakes up on his couch with a hangover. He gets to work and finds his assistant has videotaped him puking and stumbling as he attempts to carry Bun home. The inspectors called Oat to take care of Bun. Then we have Bun with slow reflexes gets the contents of a stomach splashed on him….yuck. I can’t imagine the smell. So Bun goes to take a shower. Now, here’s where I both roll my eyes and enjoy myself.
Since there are only ridiculous clothes to change into, Bun takes Oat to buy something suitable to wear. They buy clothes from a stall in a market area. Where I live, there are no stalls or shops like the one that Bun goes inside. I noticed that when I’ve traveled that a lot of countries have these. Maybe there are even some in parts of the US, but I’m from a biggish city, so if you want to shop, head to the Mall or one of Target or Walmart places.
After paying for his new clothes, he runs into Pued. Pued is also one of his childhood friends like Jane. They must have been a close-knit group of people because they all seem to greet each other as good friends do. Bun sees a watch on Pued’s arm, and it triggers a flashback to the nightclub and the kiss with Tan. He asks Pued about the watch saying it looked familiar, but Pued reassures him it’s an expensive, limited edition. This watch is another clue we should pay attention to. They will see each other at the director’s birthday party.
When Bun sees Jane approaching, his heart sinks. Tan, the man he kissed the night he was drunk, escorts Jane. She introduces them, and to Bun’s relief, Tan doesn’t mention their previous meeting. Tan is an investor in Jane’s school. Later we see Dr. Bun at the bar when Tan approaches.
The chemistry between Max and Tul is incredible. I have missed this. Very few BL couples manage to pull off this level of sexual tension believably.
It’s worth noting that Bun decides to come clean and admit that he can’t forget anything. I think it’s a nod to his photographic memory. Tan also admits to remembering what happened between them. And as the two gaze at each other, we hear a couple arguing as they are coming closer.
Jane speaks loudly and sharply to Pued, demanding that he let her go. Pued is dragging Jane off somewhere, with a rough grip on her arm. Tan steps in and proceeds to punch and kick Pued for mistreating Jane. Jane pulls Tan off and tells Tan that what happened with Pued was none of his concern. The two walk off, leaving a bewildered Bun and an injured Pued.
Also, while Tan is beating up Pued, a photographer appears and starts taking pictures. Jane runs him off before pulling Tan off of Pued. I find it strange her first impulse is to drive the reporter away rather than stopping her boyfriend from beating up her other friend.
Bun asks Pued what the issues are that led to their argument. Pued dismisses Bun’s concern by claiming it’s a woman’s matter. I have no idea what that translation was supposed to imply. Is it a bad translation, or is that what he said? If that’s what he said, I don’t think it makes any sense. What is a “woman’s matter?” The scene switches back to Jane and Tan, still dressed in party wear and house slippers.
They appear to live in an opulent house. I can only assume it’s Tan’s since Jane said he was an investor at their school. The home, the watch, and the wardrobe show us Tan’s wealth and social status.
When Tan asks Jane about the argument with Pued, she refuses to tell him. She puts him off with the vague promise of “you’ll know soon enough.”
Bun is back home when he gets the toxicology screening report on the young woman. She had Meth (methamphetamine) in her system. He makes a call to check on Jane. Jane seems troubled, but when asked about what was bothering her, she said she felt responsible for her student who died and felt she let her student down. It appears there is more to it, as we see Jane hesitate, but in the end, she doesn’t talk to Bun about the issue. They make plans for Dim Sum the following day, and then Bun heads to bed.
The next morning begins as Bun reaches the house where a young woman’s body was found. As he walks into the scene, his eyes take in every detail. The little mermaid keychain on her bag, hanging on the chair, placed numbers for evidence found. He is led outdoors to a spa-type area where he is stunned and shaken to see Jane sitting on the floor next to the hot tub with a noose around her neck.
He and his assistant examine the body for signs of trauma. Bun is trying to determine if it is self-inflicted or someone else murdered her. According to needle marks and ligature patterns, Bun rules the death a homicide. Tan found Jane, and Bun learns that Tan was Jane’s lover. We end the scene on Bun staring at Tan while telling the audience that most murders are committed by the ones closest to the victim.
It’s off to a good start. I enjoy a real whodunit it type of murder mystery. This one will be even more interesting as to whether the boyfriend, who will become lovers with the forensic scientist, killed his girlfriend? And if he did, why? And will he use Bun to cover up the crime? Or is he innocent, and Bun will help him prove his innocence?
Also, what is going on with young women in the town? Is there a sex trade or booming drug trade? Who is corrupt and complicit? Who can Bun trust? Bun will want to find out who killed his childhood friend. I think he will begin his own investigation into things.
Were there negatives in this episode? Sure. I think they should do a better job explaining the forensic evidence and Bun’s job description. Also, despite his age, Bun appeared to be shy around Tan. Given how hot Bun is, it doesn’t make sense he wouldn’t be confident in his abilities to attract hotties. That’s the official term for Tan. Lol.
I am looking forward to the next episode. I will combine 2 and 3 so that I can catch up faster. Thanks for reading my review. Please drop me a comment and tell me your thoughts too.