My Long Overdue 49 Days Spazz Post: Episode 18 Highlights

My Han Kang Fever status: somewhere between yellow and orange so I guess that would make it ochre?

You know you’ve got it bad for a drama when it makes you dredge up your long-forgotten language skills so you can watch the Mandarin-subbed version on Tudou. I didn’t even do this with Sungkyunkwan Scandal and y’all know how that drama was all I could talk about for the longest time.

I watched episode 18 yesterday a few days ago and my heart – it is full of love for this show. 49 Days has been a real surprise for me since I didn’t think it was going to be a keeper at first. But once it moved past laying the foundations of the story and started delving more deeply into the characters’ relationships, that was when the drama shifted gears and became my newfound crack.

This post comes ahead of this week’s finale (I wanted to blog about 49 Days earlier but Life, as usual, got in the way) and come Thursday (or Friday), I will probably be crying enough tears to flood the Han River.

So without further ado, 49 Days, how do I love thee?

*sigh* In an ideal world, my OTP would be Ji-kyung and Han Kang. But I’ve already come to terms with the fact that he is going to end up with Ji-hyun in her own body. I like a man who knows what he wants and if it isn’t clear who Kang loves with an all-consuming passion by now, then you are clearly watching another drama.  As long as he’s happy, I’ll try to be happy for him too.

One thing I don’t get about this drama is how no one ever has the feeling they’re being watched, especially when the watcher is Min-ho and he is staring a hole in the person’s head. I mean it’s not like the wall is made of lead. It’s friggin’ glass for crying out loud.

Oh, In-jung. What is wrong with you, girl? I’d understand your attachment if your feelings for each other were mutual but the guy is clearly going insane trying to figure out who he’s in love with and it sure as hell isn’t you.

I realise I’m in the minority here but I don’t hate In-jung or Min-ho at all. If they had been better developed, they would have been a lot more complex as characters but here they’ve been reduced to broad caricatures as the jealous former best friend and scheming fiancé. I don’t believe their motivations are as simple as greed and jealousy. In the case of In-jung, it’s a combination of different things – jealousy for sure but also resentment, wounded pride, and the feeling of always playing second fiddle to Ji-hyun – that has been festering for a while now. I know that a lot of people think she’s crazy and ungrateful for backstabbing the Shins after all they’ve done for her but have they been as nice and wonderful as they seem to think they are?

One of the problems I have with this drama is the way it portrays parental love. It’s one thing to love your daughter but to behave like the whole planet revolves around her and expect other people to think the same? People, please. It’s not like your daughter cured cancer or anything. I’m not saying that In-jung should be let off the hook but I do believe that the Shins should shoulder some of the responsibility for fueling her resentment of Ji-hyun (though everyone is welcome to disagree.)

I didn’t expect the relationship between Yi-kyung and Ji-hyun to be this heartfelt and moving and it says something that even though I struggled to like Nam Gyuri’s character for the longest time, by the end of episode 17, I was rooting for her to live.

I get that Ji-hyun is kind and sweet-natured, if extremely dim, but for the first five episodes, what’s mostly apparent is her immaturity and shallowness (though I will concede that she is a lot more likeable in the high school scenes. It’s as if she was given a lobotomy in Seoul or something.) Nam Gyuri has her limitations as an actress but a part of the problem also stems from the way the script has been structured – it doesn’t help that Lee Yo-won is playing the better part of Ji-hyun’s character development scenes and doing a bang-up job of it.

If not for these scenes between Ji-hyun and Yi-kyung, it would have been difficult for me to accept the JH-HK pairing. I find it difficult to accept that he fell in love with her just because she’s cute and bubbly. Rather, I believe he fell in love with her because she was able to connect with him during those awful years of teenage angst when no one else could, just as how she’s now chipping away at Yi-kyung’s calcified façade and helping her turn her life around. This is one of her gifts — the ability to connect emotionally with people, regardless of status or personal circumstances, and it’s one of those intangible qualities that not many people have.

Having said that, I’m not sure I want to see Ji-hyun and Han Kang get married at the end of the drama. Sure, I want them to be together but I feel that she has a lot of growing up to do first before they take the trip down the aisle.

I love the domesticity of this scene. I’m really glad that they spent their last moments together doing little everyday things instead of crying their day away at the beach or some such.

I’m going to miss these two’s cute, chummy bickering. I was never on the Ji-hyun/kyung-and-Scheduler boat but I like the easy, adorable chemistry they have together. Of course, it helps that Jung Il-woo is really, really fond of his Yo-won noona. In an alternate universe, she’d be the girl friday to his skirt-chasing supernatural crime fighter…wait, doesn’t that sound a lot like City Hunter (minus the supernatural bit)?

*melt* Okay, I gotta be honest. I can’t wait till Min-ho snaps and they have a real showdown. As it is, I’m surprised at the civility of their exchanges and that Min-ho is still able to waltz in and out of Han Kang’s restaurant.

I know that a lot of people on Soompi are raining death threats down on Min-ho’s head but just like with In-jung, I don’t hate him at all. If anything, I think he’s too mild-mannered and well-adjusted for someone as psychologically warped as he is. It’s too bad that there aren’t any scenes showing flashbacks of his childhood because I think they would have given viewers an idea of the kind of crippling poverty and emotional abuse that he had to endure as a child. You can argue, as Kang does, that it doesn’t give him the right to destroy people’s lives but I think that for someone who’s grown up with so much darkness in his heart, he probably has a very different concept of right and wrong. Min-ho could have been a really complex and complicated villain. Unfortunately the drama merely skims the surface of his character. What a waste. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t necessarily think that the drama should redeem him. I just feel that it should have done more justice to his character.

*sigh* In an ideal world…

At first, I thought that I had never seen Jo Hyun-jae act before and then I found out he had been in Untold Scandal. He hadn’t left much of an impression on me then, at least not enough to make me want to find out his name, but to be fair, he was up against pretty, er, stiff competition in the form of Bae Yong-jun’s bare bottom. Look, apart from BYJ, I had no idea who was who in the K-drama world back then. If you must know, I just found out that Jeon Do-yeon was in that movie as well. It’s for this reason that I’ve filed Untold Scandal away in my mind as The Movie Where BYJ Plays a Sexy Asshole Who is Naked a Lot.

Thankfully, 49 Days is a different thing altogether. Jo Hyun-jae has been my Choi Han Kyul as the gruff, repressed porcupine who goes to war with himself over his feelings. He can yell at Ji-kyung all he wants and deny his feelings till the cows come home but all you have to do is look into his eyes to know that they’re all lies:

This scene can go one of two ways. If you dislike In-jung, it will reinforce the idea that she’s a delusional and ungrateful person, in which case you should skip this part and move on to the next section. I’ve never felt much sympathy for Ji-hyun’s mother so I’m inclined to think that this scene is yet another suggestion that the Shins are partly to blame for what happens to them. For me, not only is she an over-indulged and pampered housewife who coddles and infantalises her daughter (ETA: okay, now that I’ve watched the last episode, I understand that she was largely overcompensating for her loss but still), she’s also pretty much useless. The only time I had a bit of respect for her was when she told her husband that she didn’t need Min-ho to take care of her, other than that, my feelings have been oscillating between mild irritation and full-blown annoyance. Look, your husband is having really bad migraines. You’re both in the hospital, the least you could do if he doesn’t want to see a doctor is ask the doctor to go see him. You’re his wife for crying out loud. Shouldn’t you be more pro-active instead of sitting around and asking, “What’s wrong?” I assure you Ji-hyun isn’t going anywhere in that five minutes it takes you to walk to the doctor’s office.

And really, your daughter’s best friend was almost kidnapped. The least you could do is show some sympathy and concern instead of expressing your relief that your daughter hadn’t been in her place. Seriously woman, don’t you have any EQ? No wonder pre-accident Ji-hyun is so self-absorbed. Urgh.

This is essentially what I’ll be doing on Thursday night. Kang-ah! Why must you leave me?

I will leave you with this picture of Ji-kyung enjoying the beauty of the world around her. So simple, but so effectively done.

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