Whenever I sit down to write a drama rant, you have to understand how full my heart is. There’s so much raw emotion that it takes me a few minutes to even start–because there’s so much to say that my mind blanks and I’m left with nothing but silent squeals. Because you all know how much I love lists, I’ll start this rant off with a quick one. Hopefully that will keep my thoughts a bit more organized.
Part 1: Kang Chul/LJS as Kang Chul; Yeon Joo/HHJ as Yeon Joo
Part 2: Daddy Oh Seung Moo/Kim Eui0Sung as Oh Seung Moo; Su-bong and Crazy Dog
Part 3: The Premise/The Beginning; The Reset;
Part 4: The Philosophy; The Writing; The Ending
A List of W: The Gallery (Look forward to it!)
Because my thoughts on the show fall quite nicely into “characters and their portrayal” and “plot, message, writing”, I’ll handle the rant in that fashion. It will take… a while, so forgive me as I put my regular posts on hold for this. W is just that important. So let’s get going! I’ve given each section the exact heading as the list, search and find them if you just want to read what you’re interested in.
***(W) arning! A rant is just that, a complete expose on my feelings for a piece. SPOILERS abound and I’m not gonna try and stop them. Read at your own risk.***
Kang Chul/LJS as Kang Chul
Amazing characterization will be a theme you’ll see in this drama, however, as each and every character had something more that surprised me. They cast every role to perfection, and the actors took in to another level past that. Speaking of which, you all know my feelings on Lee Jong Suk, so I want to focus on what I liked about Kang Chul as a character first. Chul wasn’t your ordinary kdrama hero, not by a long shot. It wasn’t just his self-awareness as a main character that set him apart, either. It’s a fine balance, writing a virtuous, upright character but making the audience believe he has that ounce of darkness within–and Chul was just that and more. I really believed he might turn bad because he really had it in him–he showed no qualms about using people, even hurting them to achieve his aims at least. That’s why I chose the screenshots I did for his character–arguments about how sure he was she’d be fine aside, he still shot a woman to get what he wanted. And another man just to prove he could. Kang Chul came to life as a character for me in a way other drama heros don’t normally do. His fight to remain his own being hit deep, and I found myself rooting for him even when legitimately on the wrong side of the law.
The dual nature of Kang Chul impressed me as well. It’s not often you get a nearly new main character in the middle of a drama, and it’s not often that an actor can so clearly differentiate them and yet continue to draw similarities between the two. Going back and rewatching the earlier episodes brought home how beautiful Chul’s character arc really was: he started out every bit the manhwa main character–fierce, unpredictable but sure in his loyalties. With every episode, however, we saw him grow more desperate, more willing to commit “sins” against his character, and more wishful for an ordinary life. It was an interesting contrast between what he was and what he desperately wanted to be, and I loved it. Perhaps this journey wasn’t spelled out for us in dialogue (thank goodness), but it was definitely shown through the acting.
The acting! Lee Jong Suk really put in a stellar performance here–it’s now my favorite of his. Every microexpression, every thought played out on his face in a way relatable to his audience. In the scenes following his confrontation with his creator I felt like I could hear the thoughts flash behind his eyes: did I really just shoot him? What have I done? I’ve become what I hate–but he still deserved it. No! Don’t think that way, etc. etc. So well done. Speaking of the confrontation, it’s not easy to make a scene so intense when so little really happens. It’s basically a twenty minute long conversation at gunpoint–with a lot of face time on Lee Jong Suk–and it’s still one of the best of the drama. There’s a reason why he’s my favorite. Also, this.
And just wait til you see him cry.
Yeon Joo/HHJ as Yeon Joo
What a perfect transition photo, right? I mean the one above, them meeting in the middle of all the craziness. Because Chul wasn’t the only one pointing guns and kissing people.
I know, right? Yeon-joo as a character broke so many drama boundaries for me. She was brazen and sincere, wore her heart on her sleeve and didn’t often mind how people thought of her. In those respects I really admired her… even when it led her to do some rather incredibly embarrassing things. She was also fantastically honest, saying what she thought even when it might not be what someone wanted to hear (or maybe it’s not what she ought to say… a certain 3-4 mixup comes to mind ^^). Her love started with a favorite webtoon character, but it grew to match some of the greatest love stories I’ve read or watched (at least in recent years). She too had a change of heart from the “first season” to the “second”. As the magic of the webtoon faded, she realized just how convoluted the world she’d was. And with her heart entangling itself with Chul’s, she begins to break down as the walls of the webtoon close in around them.
Yeon-joo doesn’t take it lying down, though. She did more throughout the drama to help Chul and their situation than at least three or four other heroines would have put together. Even before they discovered her drawing-world changing abilities, Yeon joo worked hard to keep secrets, help a newbie in the real world and keep the situation under wraps. She had a will of steel, too. Interrogation, prison, getting shot… she had a hard time of it in the webtoon. Not to mention the emotional upheaval caused by her relationship with Chul.
One of the major reasons I can describe her in such glowing terms is that she was acted beautifully. Yeon-joo’s character is a difficult one to get right. Too much and she seems rude and insensitive, not enough and it all seems fake. Han Hyo-Joo creates a great balance between the two. My first exposition to her as an actress was her recent film the Beauty Inside. I’ll admit that while the premise intrigued me, the promise of Lee Jin-wook was a major draw as well. But once I started the movie, I really found myself impressed by Han Hyo-joo’s performance. It takes serious skill to have chemistry with not one lead or even two–but a veritable multitude of people. And she did it well. Miraculously, even. Han Hyo-joo has a wonderful ability to adapt her acting to the situation, giving it a style and energy that matches the situation perfectly. As Yeon-joo, I could feel her fangirl, I could feel her loving daughter-ness, I could feel her love for Kang Chul. She made a character that could easily have been unlikable into someone I rooted for and laughed with. Someone who made my heart hurt when she cried.
I just looked at my word count and gasped. That’s it for now, guys, I’ll return tomorrow with another segment featuring some fan favorite characters: Su-bong and Crazy Dog. Of course, there’s got to be room in there for our twisted part-father-part-villain, Oh Seung Moo, as well. See you then!
Thanks for reading,