Saturday, February 13, 2021

Thoughts of the Week

With some shows finishing up their run, it's back to some old dramas to fill in the gap. Of course, I'm still watching Mr. Queen, but not sure which drama to pick up next. . .
Goblin Poster
But I'm hoping that the upcoming dramas with Song Joong-Ki and Lee Seung-Gi will be available in my region, tbh. C'mon, licensing rights!

Mr Queen: I think we're at an interesting point in the story heading into the final week. I didn't expect for Byeong-In and the Grand Queen Dowager to drag Cheoljong outside of the palace to execute him. I figured they'd try to kill him and/or So-Young, but I assumed it would happen inside the palace walls. I guess we're past that point after the staged murder attempt during the banquet. 
I did expect the pregnancy story line, mainly because people love giving away spoilers and commented that it happens in the webtoon this story is based on (Go Princess Go). Aside from being mad at the spoilers, I'm upset that the show didn't give So-Young a chance to reconcile his/her feelings for the king before pregnancy was confirmed. They were already two seconds away from the kiss – just let it happen and then have him/her vomit. That's the piece that I feel is truly missing from the story. Yes, we know that s/he loves him, but *s/he* didn't realize that yet. There needed to be a clear step forward and clear acceptance of his/her sexuality and gender identity first. Taking away that autonomy is very disappointing.  

Although I am mostly glad how the drama dealt with his/her feelings on pregnancy. I loved when Cheoljong said that he realized that for other people having a baby is a blessing but for So-Young it's not, and he accepts that. It was very real how So-Young said that even if s/he had settled down and gotten married as Bong-Hwan, s/he didn't want children. I think it's very real for adults to wonder if they're doing the right thing by bringing a child into the world and what that means for them as people and if they're ready to be fully responsible for another human being. And I thought that the pregnancy log was adorable, the way both parents-to-be wrote their feelings and wishes for their unborn child. 

Back to the attempted murder plot, I'm unsatisfied with how it's going. It all feels very rushed, and I'm not sure how all of a sudden all players are all knowing. The only thing I find really believable right now is Hwa-Jin's departure, which is funny because I grew to dislike her so much but am ready to like her again with her progress in these two episodes. So-Young always wanted to be friends with Hwa-Jin since s/he arrived, so it makes sense that they would call on each other to protect the king once Hwa-Jin decided to stop being an enemy. 

I also think So-Young and Byeong-In's final conversation in the palace was forced. Why bring up the whole "I'm not So-Young" thing again now? We're far past that and everyone has accepted the personality change. And to be honest, it's not that shocking. We're shown that Original So-Young was kind growing up but became rude and harsh once she entered the palace and realized the king didn't love her. And since New So-Young has all of Original So-Young's memories, it would've been easy for him/her to tell Byeong-In that he was never in So-Young's heart. Plus, they've already had this conversation; why again? It's just obviously forced drama at the last minute, which this show doesn't need.

Goblin Promo Poster

Goblin: I've always heard people talking about the amazing drama Goblin, but I could never find it. Then I learned that the show changed its English name from Goblin: The Lonely and Great God to Guardian: The Lonely and Great God very soon after it began airing, so silly me never made the connection! I didn't want to watch Guardian; I wanted to watch Goblin, so I didn't pay Guardian any attention. Time jump (heh) to three years later, and here we are. 
I have to say that I really wasn't on board with the romance between Kim Shin and Ji Eun-Tak. I can't say it's strictly because she's 19 and he's (900 and) 39 because there are some good noona/oppa romances out there, but this just isn't it. (Keep in mind that in Korea, 19 is underage and still a student.) You would think that having to grow up without a mother, run away from death, and suffer under her terrible aunt and cousins would make her mature and responsible, but she's really just an annoying high school student who throws temper tantrums all the time because a grown man doesn't want to marry her the moment they met. Because of that, I never felt their love grow organically; it was very forced and seemed like a means to an end. 
It doesn't help that the next youngest person in the story (Yoo Do-Hwa) is in his mid- to late 20s. There's just a level of maturity that isn't there with a high school student. Do-Hwa is proof that you can be an adult but still be very childish, which I think is the point the story was trying to get across with Eun-Tak. She didn't have to be a child to have a sunny disposition and youthful outlook. And having her primarily be around 30-somethings made her immaturity stand out in a negative light. Everyone's talking about their serious lives – Reaper being a literal grim reaper atoning for his wrongs in his past life and Shin living an endless life with the burden of his past life – and here's this kid who's crying because she wants Shin to follow her like a puppy.

I don't think that's a fault of the acting but of the writing, because 29-year-old Eun-Tak is such a better person. She's a strong woman with a good heart, and she still has a positive look on life through all she's suffered. I think the story would've been better if it started off with a 29-year-old who reconnects with Shin at 39 instead of 19 and 29. And I think the drama knew that because it even pokes fun at itself, with older Eun-Tak complaining that the leaf story sounds like something a kid would say (since she did say it as a kid).

But I was able to tolerate that due to the wonderful world that Goblin creates. They really did a great job with the supernatural aspects of the show, and it all felt very real. The epic story from Goryeo to present day was fantastic, and I enjoyed watching the past life just as much as the present one. I really loved the reluctant roommates and how they had to reconcile being friends now after realizing what happened to them in Goryeo. Shin and Reaper's friendship was so powerful (and hilarious), and I wish that this was the main story line of the drama and the goblin romance came second because it really was the most meaningful story of all.

The romance that was one for the books, however, was Sunny and Reaper. You could really feel the joy and the pain within their relationship(s), and it was such a joy to watch. I loved Reaper trying to figure out how to be a person and Sunny just rolling with it. I felt so sorry for Reaper when he got his memories back and had to live with being separated from his love not once, but twice. When him and Sunny were reunited for their deaths, I cried. And cried, and cried (and am teary-eyed even thinking of it now). I'm happy that they found each other in their reincarnation (although I'm not happy with their careers) and they finally get to live loving each other for their entire lives. 

I'm kinda sad that Do-Hwa got left out of the final story, though. Just doing math proves that the elderly gentleman serving Shin in Canada at the end can't be him. I think that the drama should've allowed the butterfly god to continue to possess him as needed. Plus, Do-Hwa was pretty smart when he actually tried, so I believe he could've figured out who Shin and Reaper were and grew to support them again. I didn't totally mind (okay, I minded a bit) that Eun-Tak's reincarnation was a 19-year-old girl, but at least she retained Eun-Tak's memories so there's a solid foundation to move forward. I am sad that Shin seemingly will be a guardian god forever, and that the butterfly god didn't give him release from his eternal punishment.

Extraordinary You Promo Poster

Extra-Ordinary You: I'm up through Episode 26, and I am absolutely in love with this drama. (I've been saying that a lot lately, haven't I?) I think it's because the romance between Eun Dan-Oh and Haru is engaging and flat out adorable. Acting by Rowoon is phenomenal; you can truly feel and see the difference between Number 13/Haru, Haru as Baek Kyung's buddy, and Haru who is aware of all his past iterations. Plus, he smiles so pretty (top 5 actor smiles of all time, for sure), he cries pretty, and he's just pretty to look at, haha. Kyung is such an obsessive jerk, and I want to like him but he keeps screwing himself. When he basically said, "I've always been selfish, so can't you let me have what I want," I was done. No, sir, you do not get to have your way just because you're a spoiled brat. Please have a seat and leave everyone alone.

The meta references are great (they're mainly Boys Over Flowers references) and I love how the self-aware characters roll their eyes at all the cliches, tropes, and cheesy lines the Writer uses over and over. I crack up when literal rays of light shine on the leads and when flowers bloom at just the right moment. It's also funny (and maybe concerning?) that when a character complains of something, the Writer pretty much makes it happen fairly quickly. Like when Do-Hwa complains to Kyung that he hates having to walk in a triangle formation in slow motion through a crowd, and *snap* they're walking in formation down the stairs with sunbeams, fangirls, and coordinating soundtrack! And the self-aware characters are always complaining that the audience can't like these stereotypical moments, as if they are reading our thoughts. 

I do feel that many of the other characters' awakenings are coming late in the game. I don't mind that some characters may not realize they're in a manhwa until the end, which is fine, but I'm not sure why we had to wait until now to hear from those who have been self aware for some time. Baek Joon-Hyun has been aware the entire series and Yeo Joo-Da has been for a while, too. Why are they just coming into the light now? I kind of understand Joo-Da figuring the world out on her own, especially since she rarely hangs out with the secondary characters, so she wouldn't have really interacted with the other self-aware characters much. But she does have plenty of scenes with Lee Do-Hwa, and it would've been nice to see her subtly testing the waters with him sooner. And why are we waiting for the final stretch for Joon-Hyun to have his say? He could've teamed up with Jin Mi-Chae this entire time to warn everyone to stop changing the scenes. 
Like Dan-Oh, I'm hoping that Writer doesn't mess things up at the end!

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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