Thursday, October 22, 2020

First Thoughts: Tale of the Nine-Tailed Review

We're headed into week three of Tale of the Nine Tailed (aka 구미호뎐 or Tale of the Gumiho)

It's always interesting to see how a new drama will take on the gumiho myth, so I was excited to jump in to this one. Not to mention that Kim Bum is our second male lead! Spoilers ahead, obviously.

First week's episodes gave us a taste of the world building. I like that the storyline is dark over fluffy, and appreciate that there's a bit of mystery. WTH happened to Nam Jia's parents? Is Nam Jia really Ah-Eum? Why can't Lee Yeon and Lee Rang stand each other? And what was the real reason behind Yeon leaving the mountain and the chaos that ensued?

Yeon as the cynical gumiho that's been living among humans for way too long for his liking really speaks to me. Such a fan of the bored, over it attitude. If you had to do your job for hundreds of years, you'd be annoyed, too. I also enjoy how Rang knows how to play pretty much anyone to get what he wants. He simply offers to "help" with something and "innocently" shows the consequences after he's done. It's such a high-level lesson of be careful what you wish for. 

I initially liked Jia as a character, but I'm already tired of her. I get that she's a strong, smart woman and has been all her life. The way she sensed that something was off with her parents, tested them, and discreetly grabbed and hid the scissors to protect herself was *chefs kiss* so badass. From the get go as an adult, she was clearly the same... until she wasn't. I thought jumping off a high rise as soon as you meet someone you *think* is superhuman does not follow, but I was willing to let that go. But she constantly gets herself into situations where she becomes the damsel in distress and needs to be rescued. I also think she's doing way too much to just be a PD. I get that the show is a connection to her past, but it doesn't warrant the types of investigations she's doing. It would've worked better if she were a cop. But then we wouldn't have her convenient blackmail camera.

What really did me in was Episode 4. For someone who's supposedly astute, how did she miss all the signs of danger? If you see The Shining twins in a funeral home hallway at night, don't engage! And she didn't hear the beans fall loudly on the ground in a silemt room? I would've appreciated her going to pick up the beans, thinking she had them all, but missed one or two that rolled under a bench. Or the bag being cut, but falling out gradually unnoticed as she's moving about talking to her coworkers.

And then there was Shirtless Mountain. Really? Really?! So. annoying. Yeon's supposed to be there for 7 days that feel like 7 years, but he was only there a couple of hours? But he had the option of sword bridge the whole time? Yeon's all worried that he might not make it across in his half frozen state, but why not just go and get it over with from the start when you're healthy? I'm all for the "I'll accept mt punnishment for breaking the rules" trope, but not when there's another, better option right there. He wasn't gone long enough for the savior scene at the end to hold the emotional weight it should have.

As far as side characters go, I really like bestie Gu Shin-Joo and everything about the Snail Bride resstaurant. It seems like the hangout place for mystical beings, so more of that, please. I don't get Gi Yoo-Ri. She has the potential to be an interesting, layered character, but just seems to be a prop. OMG, I'm so hot and rich. Like, who carries around that much cash (and only cash) in their bag? And she's already throwing herself at men? Please stop. I don't quite know what to make of our Afterlife Immigration Office couple yet. How can you be comic relief and an integral key to the main character's past at the same time. I think I'm more annoyed than intrigued.

Do I think this drama is worth a full watch? Not really. I think it's going to fumble it's wonderful set up (let's be honest, it already has) and fall back on a lot of kdrama tropes. The story would do much better if it tightened its focus on the supernatural brothers and actually went into detail about all these mysterious forces set in motion, versus vaugue and too short scenes with random people from the past and tailsman-swaddled bundles. Get. To. The. Point. I do think the love story will be forced; I already lost interest as to whether Jia is or isn't Ah-Eum. The story is really the beat when the Lee brothers are going at it. They know how to get under each other's skin, but they still have mundane sibling moments, too. ("How can you eat this? It tastes like toothpaste!" LOL) Their arc is what is holding the drama together, and that should be the focus.

But will I keep watching and torture myself? Yes, I've definitely suffered through worse. It's also been a while since I've watched a darker drama, so I'm up for tbe change of pace. I'm also happy to have Kim Bummie back on the small screen. Oh, what we'll do for love.

Sources: 1

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