W: Two Worlds. There is no buildup, no lead-in that will make this more clear. There were no contenders, no thinking about this one. Or rather, I’ve thought about it a lot so far and it’s always been the clear winner.
I don’t watch dramas for an actor. Really I don’t. I love Lee Jin Wook, did not watch Goodbye, Mr. Black. Seo In Guk? No Police Squad 38. Kim Soo Hyun? No Moon Embracing the Sun. So Ji-Sub? No Oh My Venus. Etc. Etc. Even for my all time favorite, Lee Jong Suk (and I struggle not to watch this one just for him) No Doctor Stranger. So believe me when I say having my favorite actor in this drama was just the absolute cherry on top. I still can’t believe it happened. Even so, it needs to be mentioned–a part of why I love W: Two Worlds is because Lee Jong Suk is in it, and the depth he gave Kang Chul was incredible. Han Hyo Joo did great as Yeon-Joo, too, but it was Chul who blew me away. And Daddy Oh.
The Story. This was a guilty pleasure to the max. Every author wonders what it would be like to meet their own creation, how it would go and what they would say. Whether it would be a dream or a nightmare. And this played out that fantasy for me in slick, superhero epicness.
The pacing and tone. When I tried to look at it objectively, this drama has about the same number of major plot points per episode as any other drama… but the tone and directorial style kept you on the edge of your seat every episode. And especially towards the beginning, everything happened so quickly! They might have had the same number of plot points, but they were all big developments–no lingering. At least, not until the reset, when everything was gone through a second time with this bittersweet tinge. Ooooh it was so good! And come to think of it, the ending’s just another parallel, perhaps. If he really did die, then it’s like resetting the world… but worse. Oh, my heart is breaking again, I need to stop thinking about it.
The ending. Still, I need to mention the ending. I loved it. I loved the way they wrapped things up. I loved the ambiguity of it–in my eyes at least the ending could be taken a few ways. Or maybe not, next time I could just decide to accept it all at face value. I’d still love it.
Their chemistry. Kang Chul and Yeon-Joo. It started as a fangirl and the key to his life–it ended with two tightly interwoven hearts and some really tender moments. And when they were on the screen together–oooh I couldn’t get enough of it. And when they worked together as a tag team against the Nazgul–ooh I loved that too. I loved them, and they had a few of the hottest kisses I’ve ever seen in kdrama, period. So much emotion. So much sizzle. Mmm.
The villains. Daddy Oh. Scared the pants off me. He was the most perfect casting choice this show made, including LJS (that felt a little blasphemous, but it’s true). But another villain deserves some recognition, too. The best comment I read on a favorite webtoon (Tower of God) recently was: yeah, they’re all in mortal danger again. But at least we know Bam will be ok–he’s the main character, he’s protected by the plot. And you’d think that would be the ultimate protection… unless you don’t want to be the mc anymore. And that’s what happened here, and that’s what makes the webtoon itself a threat. So. Much. Awesome!
Ok, I have to stop. I really could go on all day. But I want to make just one more section to this post. I usually try not to address my favored dramas from a defensive stance, even when I realize there was a large online population (or at least a fairly vocal section) that didn’t love it as much as I did. But I’m breaking my own rules here to explain the way I see W: Two Worlds. I’ll conduct a little Q&A based on what questions I’ve seen the most.
- Is W: Two Worlds a perfect drama? I thought this should get cleared up first, so nobody gets confused. No, I don’t think it’s perfect. And are there dramas that have a slicker tone to them? Definitely. But doesn’t that make them better? Not even for a second.
- Didn’t the writing fall apart in the second half? Any show subjected to the intense scrutiny W: Two Worlds underwent will eventually show signs of strain. And W held up against the picking apart admirably. I’ll bet there were still things we didn’t pick up on in the first run drama crack ride. And if the viewers wanted to read more into a scene than was sometimes there, well the author is dead. If it’s there, it’s there.
- What about the ending? Why’d they ruin it?! As a subjective statement, I guess you can say that. But I don’t think they ruined the ending at all. W: Two Worlds is like a Brandon Sanderson novel–it toes the line between complex and convoluted. I’d take a break at the reset, then pick it up again a while later. You might see things differently then–especially in character motivation and goals. The ending, I thought, was perfect for the characters. A bit open to interpretation, yes, but then again isn’t that what the characters wanted? And don’t say that’s a bad thing–dramas like Signal, which are deservedly almost universally praised, also have ambiguous endings. And Misaeng? I think W ended better than Misaeng, to be honest.
- But the Writer didn’t even watch it. Doesn’t that say something about the drama? A drama’s writer is only one part of the production team and the vision behind the drama itself. The film editors, set and costume designers, directors and actors all have their say in the drama as well. And so do I find it a bit odd that she didn’t watch the ending when it first came out? Maybe–but when I feel like something is my baby and yet someone else’s too, sometimes it’s easier to just let them have it for a while.
- Did LJS and HHJ really have chemistry together? Hmm… watch this, then we’ll talk. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUJGganhjsw
- Doesn’t it have any faults? Well, yes. I think they could have developed the in-comic side characters a bit more. And I think they could have defined the shift in tone between “seasons” a bit better. But those are little things, for me. And they don’t change the dramas value much.
In the end, I will understand that this is a subjective blog with my own opinions, and not everybody has to love my favorite show of 2016. The best show of 2016. Maybe not the best made, but still the best. And if you haven’t watched it yet, do! It’s worth every minute!
PS don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for another day of Christmas!