Had to weigh in on this one mid-point! Also because Kiss Happened!
After 8 episodes, I’ve decided that this is the kind of drama that I don’t click on immediately or actively anticipate. However, once I start on the episode for that week, I can’t stop till I finish both. Because the leads’ performance IS amazing and just entrances me. Every shot is nailed to perfection – for example, I cannot get over how Song Hye Kyo tears up slowly behind the camera,
and how at the last second, even Park Bo Gum’s eyes are also shining with tears.
Song Hye Kyo’s and Park Bo Gum’s eyes are incredibly clear and you can see the emotions build up slowly, which is goosebumps-inducing and mind-blowing. This is a drama that can only be carried by good actors.
Plot-wise for this episode, I like it that Jin Hyuk demands so firmly to be sent away, for this is him protecting Soo Hyun in his own way. They are such an innocent pairing, where Jin Hyuk is just doing the best he can to bring some light to Soo Hyun and that’s rather sweet. They literally go through the motions of holding hands, gazing at scenery –
hugging (both back and front but oh dang, that back hug got my heart in jitters)
a climatic reveal (I love it that there was a Havana party set up, almost like Jin Hyuk’s private present for Soo Hyun)
before finally kissing. This is old-school courtship you all!
I am also happy that there’s some comic relief in the second pairing between Secretary Jang and Dae Chan – because oh goodness, this couple is hilarious in the way they keep rubbing each other the wrong way.
And I’m quite sure something’s happening between Sun Joo and Driver Nam. Cute people!
Meaning-wise, there’re quite a few symbolic objects scattered throughout the drama. Placed next to the desk, the mirror represents a constant reminder and active questioning. It’s not a mirror that she passes by occasionally, but one that accompanies for most of her waking moments.
And in the times when she feels the most conflicted, it’s often the Soo Hyun in the mirror which is in focus because I believe the mirror represents what she wants to do the most. Her inner world.
There’s also that big painting in front of her where it’s just a girl and a big tree. I always thought that painting represented her inner loneliness.
The mask that Soo Hyun wears at the end has its mouth patched over and honestly, that feels to me very suffocating. The mask seems almost as an allusion to the life Soo Hyun has led thus far – breathe and say no more than what is needed, and only use your eyes to observe. But it is Jin Hyuk who allows her to remove her mask and be who she really is – also, not sure if overthinking this but Jin Hyuk’s mask is that of a knight right?
I do genuinely like the second lead, I like how his real intentions are shown to us rather early on and that it still came in the form of a twist somewhat – his heart for Soo Yeon was sincere and you can see that he loves her just from the way he talks or thinks about her. It’s a pity that he’s in a damned position right from the start simply because of who he is.
At the heart of it though, I do think this is a spin on a very classic korean-drama fairytale. I might even venture to say that it’s just a fairytale. But don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the turning of genders on its head; how Jin Hyuk is the one who gets fetched to the ball, given presents (the mask) from his fairy godfather i.e Driver Nam, how she’s the one that’s high up and royal while he’s the normal one, how he’s the one who gets chased away. But that ooh, the evil stepmother in all stories, is still the evil mother (in-law) here. And it all works because it wasn’t just a switching around of a royal female and a poor male, but some cliche scenes of an evil step-mother slapping the female lead is replaced with a cold, modern insulting session.
The progression of the story is beautiful and I love to see how Soo Hyun slowly starts breaking out of the mould the world has set for her. Also, graphics in the intro and outro are DARN cool, I wonder who is the illustrator?? I just love how the graphics in the intro shows us what is going to happen throughout the episode and how the outro shows the ending. Here, EP8’s intro shows the two leads passing each other by – which is probably the storyline of how they had to part when Jin Hyuk was sent away for work.
But the ending shows them kissing, which is exactly what happened at the end of episode 8.
Eager to see how the second half pans out, if only just to see the beautiful leads’ beautiful acting.