Light the Night is a soapy and lightly melodramatic character drama that’ll probably divide audiences, but there’s enough mystery to keep one engaged just about to the end.
This review of Light the Night Season 1 is spoiler-free.
You can learn a lot about a show from its opening scene, but the one that introduces Light the Night – some teens stumble on a body hidden under a tarp while hiking through some restricted woodland – suggests a very different experience from the one that the eight-episode East Asian series ultimately provides. But just because Light the Night is soapier than you might expect doesn’t mean it’s no good; that tone might be a turn-off for some, but there’s a decent murder-mystery here, albeit one made somewhat ungainly by odd pacing, cliches, and go-nowhere subplots.
Light the Night is, essentially, about two madams who run a nightclub called Light, a Japanese-themed club in Taipei’s red-light district catering to the surprisingly chaste whims of wealthy businessmen. Madame Rose (Ruby Lin) and her business partner Sue (Cheryl Yang) are close, but naturally, their romantic lives and their pasts begin to intertwine and cause issues in their relationship, and so on, and so forth.
The focus on the proprietors of an exclusive “club” is reminiscent of Sky Rojo, though that comparison gives the wrong impression. Light the Night isn’t as speedily paced and deliberately provocative as that show. On the contrary, it can sometimes drag its feet a little too much and there’s a lightly melodramatic tone rather than a frantic one.
The drama lives or dies on the central relationship between Rose and Sue, and their friendship makes for a solid foundation, especially as it’s tested in different ways. When the show veers off into other personalities, though, it can feel as though it’s missing the point a bit, and it makes you work for its revelations. For some people, the strength of the mystery isn’t going to be enough to justify the investment (all eight episodes run between 45 and 50 minutes.)
There are supposedly three parts of Light the Night, this eight-episode batch being the first, though it’ll be interesting to see whether an audience sticks around for the second and third. There’s enough character drama and mystery here to carry a curious viewer through to the conclusion, but whether or not they’ll return for a second helping is another matter entirely.