This is long overdue, but here it is!
On the finale
Can I just say – I was rather taken aback by the ultimate ending because the way it was all set up seemed like they were gunning for a happy ending? But I guess it makes sense because now this show feels like a solid tribute to the Japanese version, except with a bittersweet twist on its own. And I was right – they did explain it away in the end as childhood friends. I love that the explanation was smooth and cast the show in a totally different light – a story that was meant to make us think twice in some way or disturbed even in the slightest, suddenly just changes its overtone to be nothing but a really sweet childhood story. The fact that both children relied on each other when they were super young and how they found the same sort of love and solace in each other when they were adults is so touching.
(Spoilers alert for the Japanese version!!) I’ve only watched the last 30 minutes of the Japanese version and I already loved all the parallels and departures. In the original version, Yuko pointed the gun at Ryo and shot him. Here, I totally dig the scene when Jin Kang turns the gun not on Moo Young but on herself, in a plea and demand for him to stay alive.
Did anyone else love how Moo Young’s joking and nonchalant facade drops the second Jin Kang places the gun on her temple? And how he shifts uneasily because he’s worried for her?
In the original, Yuko then killed herself in the middle of the sea and Kanzo cries from afar. Here, Jin Gook cries as he sees the bloodied bodies up close, knowing that there’s nothing that he could do. In general, I just appreciate that unlike the final confrontational scene in the Japanese version, the Korean version builds up a super intense redemption dialogue which dangles the possibility of a happy ending in front of the leads (and me ugh) before snatching it away cruelly.
Although the analytical side in me can totally see how this all makes poetic sense, the normal side in me as a viewer is just in denial that the show actually went there. The whole freaking time Jin Gook was running towards them, I was shouting for him to call the ambulance…it was also heartbreaking at the same time, to see Jin Gook crying for the dead couple;
to see him as the only alive one in the room mourning for a pair of humans who were suffered at the hands of the world.
Park Sung Woong nailed the ending shot in my opinion, together with the music. Honestly, I’m still hoping that in an alternate universe, they are alive; surely, K-dramas leads don’t die that easily. There’s a particular lead I’m thinking of who got shot in the head and turned blue in the water but even he didn’t die!
Not sure if they ever touched on this in the original, but I liked how they included a shot of the stars, as some sort of relation back to the title of Hundred Million Stars from the Sky.
On the drama as a whole
The ending will make it hard for any future re-watches because I already know where the leads are going to end up (I’m just silly like that; I avoid all sad stories). But I thoroughly enjoy the ride and right from the get-go, this was a solid and well-thought through piece. I suppose it could be because they already had a canvas to work on, but I’m glad they did it right.
This show makes me feel so much for Moo Young, as a boy who grew up somewhat a product of the adults’ choices. Not really anyone’s fault per se, but it’s also sad for Moo Young because he didn’t ask for any part of it. Right till the end, he was manipulated by Jang Se Ran, and that really sealed his fate.
But again, he didn’t ask to be played. That moment when he realised Jang Se Ran lied to him and how he laughed first in disbelief, before breaking down was so utterly desolate. Because Moo Young realises that he didn’t need to crash and burn, if only he didn’t believe Jang Se Ran’s lie, if only he didn’t entangle with the bad guys. That feeling of what have I done was so well-portrayed here.
Later, the shot of Moo Young cuddling into the arms of Jin Gang was also very heartbreaking, especially when the outtake shows him lying alone on the ground.
It’s even worse come to think of it now, that Moo Young just died without ever returning to Jin Gang’s arms, but I guess the ending pose was also some sort of parallel to that scene.
Ugh, it’s just so hard to write on this drama because the ending is so darn tragic, right down to the last words of Moo Young which was ‘I love you’. But I love how his face was in her hand and how even in their pain and sorrow, they had each other.
The plot was also super eventful and there wasn’t a single episode which was boring, although I would say perhaps that the ending episodes were a tad too brooding. I like that the show even reminded us of the old arc – of Seung Ah, of Yoo Ri’s murder, of Jang Woo Sung. I did wish we could see more of Cho Rong but I guess it wasn’t meant to be. In any case, wow. Everyone has gone through so much; I kinda even forgot that there was that original murder which teased out all of these underlying plots and relationships! Which is so good because you can really tell the scriptwriters lay a solid foundation.
Finally, what’s a review without pointing out the cast’s acting? Everyone did such a great job here – Seo In Guk portraying all sorts of dark, lost, helplessness, despondent, and most importantly, in love sides;
Jung So Min being a fresh, relatable girl who fought fiercely for her love;
and Park Sung Woong being a loving brother who almost broke halfway through the show.
I also enjoyed all of the supporting cast’s performance –
Jang Young Nam suits this role so much more than the one in Lovely Horribly; Go Min Si’s portrayal of an equally lost and helpless girl who just needed the right directions, Yoo Jae Myung’s brief scenes as the doctor and Kwon Soo Hyun as a dorky but super earnest guy. Truthfully, I didn’t mind Seo Eun Su either – she wasn’t great but she wasn’t terrible to me. In fact, I thought her being ‘boring’ was somewhat in line with the character of Seung Ah.
This drama is definitely a gem with all elements pulling their weight, including the beautiful cinematography and shooting. Would I recommend it? I do think that this show is somewhat a specific taste – in that even in the sweetest scenes, there is a heavy overtone. Therefore, it might not be for everyone, especially those who only like light, fluffy dramas. But all in all, this was a beautiful story, and I hope somewhere our leads are happy.
Thanks for reading!