Nooo! I could talk about W for so much longer than this. Really, I could. And I can’t believe this happened, but when I put my thoughts on the ending in this post it neared 2000 words. That’s too many words. So I’m postponing My ending thoughts until tomorrow–weird, I know. I try not to post on the weekends (I need sleep to!) but W: Two Worlds deserves an exception. That’s not what we’re here for today, though, so…
Part 4: The Philosophy; The Writing
The philosophical quandaries presented in W rival the best I’ve ever seen. Better than Signal or Marriage Contract (my other two favorite dramas). Other dramas might discuss what it means to be human, what it means to be a monster, whether its better to talk or to act… W touches upon many of these subjects and continues to ponder further, questioning our existence and what it means to live. What it means to be human not for your humanity but for your ability to choose and live at all. It plays with idea that imaginations are powerful, and explores what it means to create. It’s the ultimate existential drama–and I’d even argue that witho Daddy Oh’s storyline it discusses what it means not to live even while you breathe.
This post would be forever long if I wrote about all of them, so let’s just break down the central theme: what does autonomy mean? beginning with the fact that Chul is the main character of a webtoon. Daddy Oh gets freaked out when his creation begins to show signs of autonomy and tries to write him away or kill him. As a writer I can understand. As a human I don’t think we ought to be playing God–so as soon as Daddy got sucked into the webtoon I think he was waaaaay out of bounds. Trying to kill a character you draw, one that’s driving you insane because you can’t remember if you redrew the scene or he did–is one thing, but stabbing Chul point blank is totally different. I’ll fault him for that, but I don’t blame Oh Seung Moo for what he does later in the drama–precisely for the same reason: he wasn’t in control of himself when our faceless killer made him draw. Faceless Daddy gets a pass, murderous Daddy doesn’t (oh, the fun sentences this Kdrama produces).
The “Do I make my own choices” undercurrent gets a few awesome highlighting scenes, if you want to watch them: when Chul shoots Daddy Oh, thereby highlighting the fact that he could, even when he wasn’t originally written that way (ep5 end, watch ep6 beginning for the results); when Daddy Oh gets taken over by our faceless Nazgul and starts to draw on command (ep9 ending); and when Daddy struggles with the fact that he remembers everything, despite not being in control (ep14 middleish). There are also undercurrents all throughout the drama, however. In ep3 when Chul shoots Yeon-joo she was using the same argument as Daddy: you can’t shoot me. You’re just not that type of person. Fun stuff. I’ll leave this thread with two questions: is proving your autonomy worth it if it comes at the cost of a life? How far should we be willing to go to prove we’re doing it of our own will? And the second question: how do you think Chul’s autonomy changed when he erased his first timeline with Yeon Joo? He forgot that he could act, but he himself made that choice. Does that change anything for the character? When do we have that same situation in real life–we have the ability to choose but forget about that power?
And because our script is what drives the characters (or is it, heh), it’s time to move on to the writing.
I don’t want to spend super long on this (mostly because I want to talk about the ending), but I can’t let it go unmentioned. Now that I have plenty of room because I’ve split up the posts, let’s lay it out there: Writer Song is a genius. I think she’s one of the few writers who’s arguably just as popular as some actors. If you want wacky comedy watch the Hong Sisters. If you want stellar writing and plot watch Song. She reminds me of a few of my favorite fantasy authors, Terry Pratchett and Brandon Sanderson, giving you just enough to know there’s a reason for everything… and then leaving you to figure it out for yourself. I think my favorite part of a Terry Pratchett novel is when on the second read through I go: oh! Everything makes sense. Everything. I can’t wait to rewatch W and puzzle together everything I didn’t get the first time around. Every drama has its place: heartfelt, light and fluffy, campy… writer Song makes worlds as big as the universe and drops you inside them, where you just hang on for the ride and hope everyone’s happy in the end.
I’ve been pretty active on the “convert to Kdramas” front, watching one with three different friends and writing an op-ed piece on them for a class. One piece of feedback I hadn’t been expecting is a phrase my roommate says every time we finish the episode of My Love From Another Star: “Why do they do that! There’s always a cliffhanger! … Can we watch the next episode?” And we proceed to check the clock (11:45pm) and hit the next button. But the experience made me realize something about Kdrama writing–and Song’s writing in particular. She’s a madwoman for cliffhangers and endings. I don’t think there was a boring ending in the entire run. Although it’s common for a kdrama to end on a cliffhanger, some dramas fail miserably at it or just feel a bit lackluster. Not so so Writer Song. Every episode ends on a high or a low or a “What the bleep have you done??”. It’s really fun and adds to the ride.
And W is such a ride. I love the subtle changes in the writing between the first and second seasons. She changes the dialogue in subtle ways, shifting the viewers from loving the webtoon world to detesting it along with our OTP. It’s not that they hate the people there, just the confines of the world. It really makes me feel the tragedy of the drama–Writer Song takes us from a fantasy-like webtoon world to a prison trying to kill our hero… and our dreams.
I love the subtle callbacks throughout the drama to other moments in the drama. Yeon-Joo and Chul’s situation mirrors his and Daddy Oh’s (and thus he confronts and shoots both of his creators). The OTP runs through many of the same situations after meeting for the second time, only now they carry a bittersweet taste because the webtoon is no longer a playground where they can be happy. Most heartbreaking is Chul’s offhand “I love you”. He mentions that her husband never said he loved her… and then in an ordinary, not-thrilling way states “I love you.” How heartbreaking that the line she wanted more than anything else–in the simple, ordinary style she wanted to live in–had to feel more like a goodbye than a declaration or a reminder. Oof.
It’s that kind of deft hand with the writing, bringing up key ideas at critical moments, that makes me appreciate Writer Song. More than the twists and turns (although those are awesome) and the tight writing (which does allow for things to go unexplained), I love the skill with which she evokes emotion in her writing. Pair that with some great actors and I’m a goner.
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Well, thanks for tuning in again today! I’m sorry we didn’t get to the ending (but really I’m not because I want to give it the time and attention it deserves), but I hope you enjoyed this segment of my rant. I’ll wrap up tomorrow with an extra-special-wasn’t-planning-on-it post, and then give you a gallery next week!
Thanks for reading,