Monday, July 31, 2017

"School 2017" episode 5 recap

Geum Do High has become weirder. A competition conference was held in secret for the rich students and most students didn't even get a chance. The school for children has become a gambling site for grown-ups.
On the latest episode of the drama "School 2017", students of Geum Do High struggled to go to college with their student records. Eun-ho (Kim Sejeong) who had a lot of penalty points tried to restore her student record by focusing on the competition conference. She was outraged when she overheard a student and a teacher talking about the secret competition. She said, "It's not about the first degree future".
School Chairman Kang Woo (Lee Jong-won) gave his son Tae-woon (Kim Jung-hyun) the answers to the math competition but he told his father, "I don't want this for a competition that students can't be in equally". Dae-hwi (Jang Dong-yoon) also had a secret. He was top in his school but his student record wasn't good enough as he didn't have experience in a competition. However, he needed money for that.
Still, he didn't give up hope. He studied hard but he found out there was a nominee for first place already. The anger went to Tae-woon. Dae-hwi ended up stealing the answers for the competition and Eun-ho saw this.
In the past, Tae-woon was grieving over the death of his friend Joon-ki (Kim Jin-woo) when his father Kang-woo let out false reports and hid his son's faults. Dae-hwi was angry at Kang-woo and Tae-woon for trying to use money to cover things up. Tae-woon knelt his knees in front of Kang-woo to allow Joon-ki's body to take a walk around the school but Kang-woo didn't allow it saying it would bring about bad rumors. Tae-woon and Dae-hwi ended up hating each other without knowing what each other were thinking.
Source : www.tenasia.co.kr/arc...
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"Falsify" Episodes 5-6 recap

Moo-yeong is proven right in his worry over Daehan's dedication to the truth and So-ra is furious, albeit no longer surprised about the prosecution's manipulation. Moo-yeong makes his move and stages a special trial for Park Eung-mo, but its grim ending shakes things up for our leads. This commotion sparks some reunions which not everyone is ready for, but which need to happen.
I am pleasantly surprised to see Moo-yeong's (Namgoong Min) identity exposed to his fellow justice fighters so early on. I expected him to be a masked vigilante for a good while and for the discovery of his identity to come with the usual plot-dragging dramas love. Seok-min (Yoo Joon-sang) and So-ra (Eom Ji-won) finding out so soon takes care of that worry. I particularly love how Seok-min knows right away, as it emphasizes his bond with the brothers.
So-ra and Moo-yeong when he reported his superiorsSo-ra and Park
I like that the drama is exploring the connections between the characters on the good side. Aside from Seok-min's love for Moo-yeong and his guilt over the past, we get to see a little more about So-ra's original trust in Moo-yeong and his righteous ways. Dramas forcing everything into the personal is a pet peeve of mine and while I do not want So-ra to have a past trauma or be anyone's childhood sweetheart, I do hope her firm and honorable principles will be explored and maybe challenged.
Seeing Seok-min and So-ra reunite with Moo-yeong is great, but my personal favorite reunion involves my soft spot of a character, Dong-sik (Jo Hee-bong). The man acts as the voice of reason and the glue that keeps Moo-yeong and now Seok-min together and stops them from "drowning in a spoonful of water", as we say in my country. He is the voice of common sense and the viewer, giving the heroes who are too busy brooding some much needed clarity over fundamentally simple matters.
Seok-min being lectured by Dong-sikSeok-min reconsidering Cheol-ho's case
Not everything is perfect in the land of "Falsify", of course. I do feel the urge to roll my eyes at Park Eung-mo's (Park Jeong-hak) death by oopsie. Moo-yeong and the killer are either omnipresent or they could predict Park would go up this specific building. The idea of trial by the public is a big can of worms and the scenes are otherwise interesting, but I could do without magical teleporting abilities.
Speaking of the public, as horrible as Tae-won (Moon Sung-keun) may be, he is right about the lack of dedication in the masses. People care, the masses just want something to feel engaged through. When the noise dies out, so does does their will to fight. On the other hand, the people who care keep going. I look forward to seeing how our heroes who care find justice.
"Falsify" is directed by Lee Jeong-heum, written by Kim Hyeon-jeong-IV and features Namgoong Min, Yoo Joon-sang, Eom Ji-won and Moon Sung-keun.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'

"The King Loves" Episodes 9-10 recap

The tonal dissonance between the goofy romantic main plot and the conspiratorial main plot is narrowed somewhat here, but only because Eun-san manages to get stuck in a bad situation that requires princely intervention in order to pull off an escape. This forces Prince Won to take on a fairly serious demeanor for some time. But focused as he is on negotiation rather than action,  Prince Won is predictably outshined by his more proactive brother.
The increasingly byzantine conspiracies of "The King Loves" have this unfortunate effect of making the main characters look like patsies. Note how the main reason Eun-san gets in trouble this time, having always made a clean getaway in the past, is because she is unable to locate one of the Princes or their friends before getting take in by other less sympathetic authority figures. Eun-san's reflexive habit of running away is especially unfortunate, since it makes her look unavoidably guilty.
But the more obvious issue with the byzantine conspiracy is that, since we have no clue how deep it goes or what its purpose even is, nearly every character is robbed of agency. Do they have their own motives, or is Song-in simply manipulating them all like puppets on strings? This would not be a difficult task, since what little motivation we get is so one-dimensional as to be easily suited to that purpose.
The only character aside from Song-in with a potentially complex agenda is Chzhuan Muvan Khou- and even there, by complexity, I mean she puts clear forethought into her actions and plans ahead of time. Chzhuan Muvan Khou is also a dangerous character in that even though she has her own loyal personal guard, neither prince is willing to make a major stand against her owing to maternal issues. What's more, in limited context Chzhuan Muvan Khou's actions can be read sympathetically. The full context of her collusion with Song-in likely tells a different story.
 I don't know that there's any real hope of this payoff being all that convincing. The characters who make for the most compelling drama protagonists are the ones who are competent and goal-driven. All three of the leads are on really shaky ground when it comes to that, and it beggars disbelief that any of them could pose a serious threat to a conspiracy whose existence they continue to investigate very slowly, mainly because the direction keeps implying that this clue hunting is mostly just a pretext for Prince Won to take Eun-san out on dates.
Review by William Schwartz
"The King Loves" is directed by Kim Sang-hyeob, written by Airborne, Song Ji-na and features Im Si-wan, Yoona, Hong Jong-hyun, Kim Jung-wook, Bang Jae-ho and Ki Do-hun.
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"Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 9 recap

So even though Hoo-ye has been built up as being this big sinister villain character because of his supernatural backstory, "Bride of the Water God 2017" promptly undercuts this by reminding us that Bi-ryeom is a genuinely malicious person (well, god, whatever) who's fine with threatening children. It really is a badly mixed message. If Moo-ra and Bi-ryeom are allowed to enrich themselves with supernatural connections, why is it so bad for Hoo-ye to do it too?
That's perhaps the most questionable worldbuilding element at play in "Bride of  the Water God 2017".  The gods don't serve any obvious purpose to anyone, even themselves.  They're not even an excuse for director Kim Byeong-soo to liven up proceedings with special effects. They just ramble on and on about pointlessly complex backstory and rules that lack any obvious relation to currently ongoing problems.
But then even currently ongoing problems lack any obvious relation to the greater plot. I frequently feel as if "Bride of the Water God 2017" is missing entire important establishing scenes. Take the whole bit with the amnesiac monk. It took me way too long to figure out who that was supposed to be and why Ha-baek finding him was such a big deal. No doubt part of this confusion stems from how until Ha-baek finds him, it didn't seem like anybody was even looking for him in the first place.
We're far more likely to get exposition of  the romance between Ha-baek and So-ah, which at this point rather hilariously has nothing to do with the plot at all anymore. At one point, Moo-ra even explicitly asks why So-ah is in the room while all the gods are discussing plot points that have nothing to do with her. So-ah's only apparent contribution to "Bride of the Water God 2017" is that she is the titular bride apparent to the water god, even though there's no indication that Ha-baek wants or needs a bride.
The scenes between Ha-baek and So-ah do at least serve a purpose in that there is romance and jokes in these scenes, so they feel slightly less pointless than the main story. But the overriding problems in this drama remain overchanged. It's all exposition and no action. The main memorable scenes feel horribly awkward- like when Hii-ye is confronted by a minor character whose personality appears to have changed completely between scenes. On top of all its other problems, "Bride of the Water God 2017" suffers from some rather subpar acting.
Review by William Schwartz
"Bride of the Water God 2017" is directed by Kim Byeong-soo, written by Jeong Yoon-jeong and features Nam Joo-hyuk, Shin Se-kyung, Lim Ju-hwan, Krystal, Gong Myung and Lee Kyeong-yeong.
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"Father is Strange" episode 44 recap

Byeon Hye-yeong (Lee Yu-ri) resented her parents.
On the latest episode of the KBS 2TV drama "Father is Strange", Byeon Hye-yeong despaired and resented her parents for fooling her about everything when they meant the world to her.
She told Yoon-seok (Kim Young-cheol), "Why did you live like that? I feel like I've lost the index in life".
Meanwhile, Mi-yeong (Jung So-min) knew that Joong-hee (Lee Joon) liked her and put on make-up with a cheerful heart.
Source : www.asiae.co.kr/uhtml...
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"Woman of Dignity" episode 14 recap

Kim Seon-ah put her performance to the extreme.
Kim Seon-ah portrayed the pros and cons of a single character without so much excellence.
Park Bok-ja had a job interview as Ahn Tae-dong's (Kim Yong-gun) caregiver and had dreams of upgrading her status. When she first met his second daughter-in-law Woo Ah-jin (Kim Hee-sun), she was intimidated and indulged in materials as to not make mistakes.
Soon, she was eliminating anything in her way to fulfill her passion and desires and completely had the trust of Tae-dong who would let her give out the shots. She ended up being the biggest shareholder in Tae-dong's company which he had worked on his whole life. She was now the chairwoman of it. She soon adopted the tone and gesture of ordering people around like she was a natural at it.
Kim Seon-ah did a good job in connecting the two different environments of a single character.
Source : www.asiatoday.co.kr/v...
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"Bad Thief, Good Thief" episode 24 recap

Lim Ju-eun showed her evil side.
On the latest episode of the MBC drama "Bad Thief, Good Thief", Kang So-joo (Seohyun) learned about Yoon Hwa-yeong's evil deed through the parking lot CCTV.
She showed Yoon Hwa-yeong what she saw but she refused to say it was her. Kang So-joo was angered by her impudence and said, "Tell me the truth if you're my friend" and Yoon Hwa-yeong said, "I have never thought of you as a friend. You've always been my maid at school and at home".
She continued, "Your world and mine are different. Trash like you and your father should be trampled on". Kang So-joo slapped Yoon Hwa-yeong and said, "Hearing you, I know what I have to do".
Source : enter.etoday.co.kr/vi...
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"Sister is Alive" episode 32 recap

Dasom has two faces.
On the latest episode of the SBS drama "Sister is Alive", Dasom played the role of Yang Dal-hee, a woman who changed her name to Sarah Park for a status upgrade.
Yang Dal-hee manipulated Lee Gye-hwa's (Yang Jung-ah) emotions. Lee Gye-hwa was mad at Yang Dal-hee for telling Koo Se-joon (Jo Yoon-woo) what she'd done. Yang Dal-hee teased her saying, "Why are you so mad? Why did you make such a big deal out of this? I warned you".
Not only that, she said, "You have to work hard since you'll be spending the rest of your life in prison. Are you going to be alright?"
Then Yang Dal-hee completely changed her face and said with so much charm, "When I get married, I will be a good daughter-in-law. I hope we get along, mother".
Yang Dal-hee pretended to be on his side when Koo Se-joon was shocked about his late grandmother. However, in the end, she put Kang Ha-ri (Kim Joo-hyun) who Koo Se-joon likes, in danger and said to him, "Only I can be the person that you like! Did you forget that we were supposed to get married? I can't bear the sight of Kang Ha-ri next to you".
Dasom performed the evil ways of Yang Dal-hee who manipulates whoever she wants to get whatever she wants with variety and profusion.
Source : www.asiatoday.co.kr/v...
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"You're Too Much" episode 42 recap

Yoo Jina (Uhm Jung-hwa) exposed her married life on live TV on the latest episode of the MBC drama "You're Too Much".
Jeong Hae-dang (Jang Hee-jin) said to Yoo Jina when she came home to collect her things, "So the day for you to leave the house has finally come". Yoo Jina said, "Be happy all you like, I'll be back". Jeong Hae-dang replied, "Just let Kyeong-soo go because if you can't, he can't be at peace".
However, Jina claimed that she had given him a chance to live as the son of a wealthy man. She told Seong Kyeong-ja (Jung Hye-sun), "I'll be back. Be here when I do".
Yoo Jina appeared on a TV show and exposed her married life. She said she was threatened and abused by Park Seong-hwan (Jun Kwang-ryul) for having hidden the fact that she had a child and that his family were always fighting for his heritage. She also said that Park Seong-hwan was suspicious of Park Hyeon-joon (Jung Gyu-woon) and herself.
In the end, Yoo Jina said, "I had to take pills for my weakened mentality and I've decided to get a divorce for the sake of my survival".
Source : www.xportsnews.com/?a...
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Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 7-8 recap

So you know that trope, that comes up in dramas where a character is searching for their lost parents/child, where they run into each other by accident and talk about family issues? Yet somehow, the conversation is always just vague enough that they don't make the obvious connections? "Man Who Dies to Live", to my great relief, does not fall into this bad writing trap. The other Ji-yeong quickly realizes she is not Count Said Faid Ali's daughter, and the conflict continues from there.
The other Ji-yeong is not really a bad person, although it's pretty clear at this point that she isn't a good person either. All of the other Ji-yeong's actions after learning the truth are clearly designed to act as a salve to her badly bruised ego. On the one end it's easy to feel sorry for her, since the other Ji-yeong is in legitimate emotional anguish every time we see her alone. But on the flip side, starting up a scam based on a lie is the worst possible way to try and solve that problem.
This is especially true since Ho-rim has had time to reflect and realize this his own participation in the scam is wrong, and tries to stop it only to be dragged back in. Frustratingly, Ho-rim's sense of a moral conscience is only a partial measure. Ho-rim continues to think the real problem in his marriage is money, when actually the issue is pretty clearly Ho-rim's inability to pay sustained attention to his wife's hopes and dreams.
I like how Ho-rim is a bad husband mostly because he's an idiot. Ho-rim is hurting Ji-yeong not out of malice or forethought, but because he keeps picking bad priorities. Ho-rim is always on the edge of being irredeemable but never quite gets all the way there. I either want him to be punished with a divorce, or have to do something fantastically heroic and possibly life-threatening to make up for all his stupid behavior so far.
Lucky thing "Man Who Dies to Live" is a relatively short drama, since that zig-zagging can only go on for so long before it's just jerking us around. It's also fortunate that there are other legitimately interesting plot threads to occupy us in the meantime. I like how Count Said Faid Ali is already suspicious of the other Ji-yeong, although he's very good at not letting anyone else catch on to that. Count Said Faid Ali's generally eccentric attitude is a good cover for how the man's smarter than he looks.
Review by William Schwartz
"Man Who Dies to Live" is directed by Ko Dong-seon, written by Kim Seon-hee and features Choi Min-soo, Kang Ye-won, Sin Seong-rok, Lee So-yeon, Jasper Cho, Kim Byeong-ok, Hwang Seung-eon and Bae Hae-sun.
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"Criminal Minds" Episode 2 recap

Unfortunately, Seon-woo ends up being saved by dumb luck. This ends up being a decent predictor for the remainder of "Criminal Minds", which is less about characterization and more about sticking closely to the crime procedural format of the original American drama. Any ambiguity Hyeon-joon previously expressed about criminal profiling is largely glossed over, since by the end he's just a normal uncritical team member.
I'm also disappointed by how not just Hyeon-joon, but also Seon-woo end up having the most boring possible motivation. They're sad because people they cared about were hurt by criminals and now they want to stop crime themselves. Yawn. I prefer Han (played by Go Yoon), who's into detective work because he's an autistic nerd who likes overanalyzing things, and Na-hwang (played by Yoo Sun) who likes having a job with enough authority that she can make comically loud fashion choices.
But really, my main issue with "Criminal Minds" taking more influence from its American progenitor is because of the villains. Criminal profiling relies a lot on simplified Freudian psychology, which means taking individual traumatic events and then inflating them beyond proportion so that characters with maybe one or two clear personality traits become comically evil supervillains. The explanation Gi-hyeong gives for why the serial killer murders women is just horribly mundane. And it doesn't explain what the deal was with the huge box and the timer, which were the main interesting aspects of the crime I wanted an explanation for.
The most convincing moment of profiling doesn't even come from the main case at all, but from when Hyeon-joon comes back to the police station. That was a genuinely interesting example of cold reading, because it fairly convincingly extrapolates a plausible explanation from limited details. That the perpetrator in question was just a normal hustler, rather than a wide-eyed over-emoting psychopath only enhanced that plausibility.
My harshness, of course, does need to come with the caveat that my issues tend to be endemic to this style of crime drama in general. "Criminal Minds" isn't really any worse than the genre standards in this regard, although it's not improving either. Well, I guess it does have the advantage of crazy cliffhangers that at minimum make me curious about the next case. Although, really, I do hope they explain where the gun came from. I know that in the United States you can buy those thing s in every corner drug store but in South Korea they're a little harder to come by.
Review by William Schwartz
"Criminal Minds" is directed by Lee Jeong-hyo and Yang Yoon-ho, written by Hong Seung-hyeon and features Son Hyun-joo, Lee Joon-gi, Moon Chae-won, Lee Sun-bin, Yoo Sun and Go Yoon.
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"Queen for 7 Days" episode 18 recap

Park Min-young asked Lee Dong-gun to die with her.
On the latest episode of the KBS 2TV drama "Queen for 7 Days', Sin Chae-kyeong (Park Min-young) asked Yeon San-gun (Lee Dong-gun) to die with her.
Sin Chae-kyeong asked Yeon San-gun to go watch the moon with her to stall time for Lee Yeok (Yeon Woo-jin) to arrive with the rebel forces. Watching Yeon San-gun watch the moon, Sin Chae-kyeong thought to herself, "Your life as king will end today".
Sin Chae-kyeong cried and he asked her what was wrong.
Sin Chae-kyeong said, "I thought of my dear Musa. The man who couldn't ignore a little girl who was venting her anger in cold water after fighting with her sister and took her to an inn". She was talking about Yeon San-gun in the past.
Yeon San-gun found out what Sin Chae-kyeong was doing when he heard that the rebels were on their way.
He was outraged and pointed his sword at her. Sin Chae-kyeong said, "Let's just die together. The two of us dying will save many people". Yeon San-gun said, "I will kill you if I can't have you" but he couldn't.
Source : www.xportsnews.com/?a...
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"Reunited Worlds" episodes 7-8 recap

SBS drama "Reunited Worlds" showed Seong Hae-seong (Yeo Jin-goo) being jealous of Jeong Jeong-won (Lee Yeon-hee) and Cha Min-joon (Ahn Jae-hyun).
Seong Hae-seong went to Cha Min-joon's house.
Min-joon said, "We meet again. Did you find the house alright?" However, Hae-seong said, "You're better than I thought".
Hae-seong said, "I will take care of you tonight here". He wanted him to stay away from Jeong Jeong-won as much as possible.
Jeong-won said there was no need and Hae-seong asked, "Do you mean you, a woman will stay here, in a man's house all by yourself?"
Jeong Jeong-won then said, "You're so rude and I'm older than you".
Source : www.segye.com/content...
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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"Queen for 7 Days" episode 17 recap

Yeon Woo-jin and Park Min-young were cornered as traitors.
On the latest episode of the KBS 2TV drama "Queen for 7 Days", Lee Yoon (Lee Dong-gun) had Lee Yeok (Yeon Woo-jin) and Sin Chae-kyeong (Park Min-young) arrested for being traitors.
Previously, Lee Yeok witnessed the public execution of Seo No (Hwang Chan-seong) and went to see Lee Yoong with rage. Lee Yoong hurt himself using the knife Lee Yeok was holding and made it look like Lee Yeok hurt him.
Sin Chae-kyeong resented Sin Soo-geun (Jang Hyun-sung) and asked him if everything was a trick. The servants in the palace also captured her thinking she was the wife of Yeok Do and Lee Yeok was imprisoned. Sin Soo-geun realized it was Lee Yoong's one-man-show and Lee Yoong told him to be careful.
Source : biz.heraldcorp.com/vi...
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"Reunited Worlds" episodes 5-6 recap

Lee Yeon-hee told Yeo Jin-goo that she missed him on the latest episode of the SBS drama "Reunited Worlds".
Seong Hae-seong (Yeo Jin-goo) comforted Jeong Jeong-won (Lee Yeon-hee) who blamed herself for the past.
Jeong Jeong-won started crying. Seong Hae-seong wiped her tears.
She said, "I missed you every day". They hugged.
Source : star.moneytoday.co.kr...
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"Falsify" Episodes 3-4 recap

A few disappointments, betrayals and downfalls later, the leads of "Falsify" find themselves down on their luck and right back where things started, as the case of Park Eung-mo brings them closer to the people behind him. Goo Tae-won is enjoying his position of power and our heroes are still naive in many ways, but the foundations under the powerful criminals are beginning to shake.
Things have not changed much in five years, but all of our leads now hold important positions and information. Moo-yeong (Namgoong Min) works underground and So-ra (Eom Ji-won) for the law, but Seok-min (Yoo Joon-sang) is the one with the better grasp of how corrupt every system is after having been directly burned by their reach. This makes him important in this fight and so does being the one closest to the villain.
Seok-min and Officer JeonThe mystery handler and Tae-won
Speaking of whom, I am slightly disappointed to see that Goo Tae-won (Moon Sung-keun) seems to be the main villain or at least the brains behind the whole operation. What was earlier a slave working for others and taking orders from their right hand man has now become someone said others and their right hand man need input from. I wish the drama had kept the most powerful figures hidden for now, but perhaps their buttering up is only to humor Tae-won's ego for now.
Pampered henchman aside, I still like the drama's realistic approach to character flaws. Moo-yeong may have determination and the good sense to test others' loyalty, but he is still too slow to pick up on Daehan's involvement. Perhaps the fact that Cheol-ho (Oh Jung-se) was killed, rather than simply being fired led Moo-yeong to think that the publication was not involved. Whatever the case, he is clearly still a puppy in a dog's world and this makes Yang Dong-sik's (Jo Hee-bong) character matter as a seasoned mentor.
Moo-yeong and Dong-sik talkingMoo-yeong staging a show
I am glad to see this, because the humor is starting to feel forced. While seeing the Aeguk crew arguing over complimentary Chinese dishes is good social commentary about treatment based on status, such scenes push these characters to the designation of comedic relief, which will be a useless position when the comedy inevitably dies out. I hope the team will find balance in tone and function like their leader has.
Now that Tae-won has been established as the mastermind behind the actual masters, things may not be as exciting in terms of the mystery, but the different characters and their potential alignments make things meatier. We have many new faces in the workplaces of our three heroes and I look forward to discovering where they stand on the good/bad scale and how they will develop.
"Falsify" is directed by Lee Jeong-heum, written by Kim Hyeon-jeong-IV and features Namgoong Min, Yoo Joon-sang, Eom Ji-won and Moon Sung-keun.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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"Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 5-6 recap

We get some much needed "awww" here as the married Ji-yeong and Ho-rim get a cute moment together. Because I mean really, "Man Who Dies to Live" skirts dangerously close to having us straight up root for their divorce. It's comforting to know that Ho-rim does, indeed, have some positive qualities. It's just a shame that in his greedy quest for money and power Ho-rim must tell increasingly bizarre and elaborate lies in order to guarantee Count Said Faid Ali's continued interest in the bank.
How much Count Said Faid Ali even cares about his money is actually surprisingly unclear. He just seems to toss it around at random. Cartoonish figure that Count Said Faid Ali is, it's hard not to see the obvious satirical undertones. The South Korean characters, like South Korean society in general, are obsessed with financial success in a way that's not terribly healthy. But Count Said Faid Ali, who was not in South Korea when this cultural shift happened, has a profligate attitude toward that astounds everyone he runs into.
That, and the constant womanizing, which is mostly just habit. I like the implication that while Count Said Faid Ali loves making passes at attractive women, it's not clear that he wants or expects these encounters to last more than a moment. Count Said Faid Ali is obsessed with looking and acting super cool, and it doesn't matter to him if anyone else believes it just so long as he can plausibly believe it.
Which again, is a character trait he shares with the married Ji-yeong- not the other Ji-yeong, , and the compaison is illuminating. The married Ji-yeong can and will make a fool of herself in public if it makes her feel better. The married Ji-yeong's farcical behavior makes it easy to laugh at her, but more importantly, it makes it easy for her to laugh at herself, and be satisfied with some pretty minor emotional victories.
Whereas the other Ji-yeong, with her emphasis on being stylish, is much more externally focused. She can't open up about her real emotions at all to anyone, which is why the cliffhanger to episode six is so jarring. Yes, it's easy to instead focus on Count Said Faid Ali's obviously inappropriate responses, but that's why these two are such a mismatch. Count Said Faid Ali never thought through what he would actually do upon meeting his daughter. Whereas the other Ji-yeong has obviously rehearsed this scene in her head far more times than she is willing to admit.
Review by William Schwartz
"Man Who Dies to Live" is directed by Ko Dong-seon, written by Kim Seon-hee and features Choi Min-soo, Kang Ye-won, Sin Seong-rok, Lee So-yeon, Jasper Cho, Kim Byeong-ok, Hwang Seung-eon and Bae Hae-sun.
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"Criminal Minds" Episode 1 recap

In the opener to "Criminal Minds", we meet Hyeon-joon (played by Lee Joon-gi), and his experience during a very unfortunate terrorist bomb threat. Flash forward a year later, and Hyeon-joon is a normal cop. Then, the special criminal profiling division in South Korean law enforcement takes an interest in Hyeon-joon's case, involving a serial killer. While Gi-hyeong (played by Son Hyun-joo) is the man in charge, Seon-woo (played by Moon Chae-won) is the team member who does the most talking with Hyeon-joon.
I've never been a big fan of the original American version of "Criminal Minds", even if (in contrast to "The Good Wife") reruns of the drama are popular on Korean cable. For me, the main issue was just the grisly way the serial killers are fetishized, and the grotesque voyeurism shown by the camera with the victims. That aspect is definitely a part of the Korean version too. Any scenes involving the victims will make the more squeamish among us rather uncomfortable.
But by and large I was pleasantly surprised to find that, so far at least, the Korean version actually improves upon the American formula. For starters, we already have the rumblings of a character arc with Hyeon-joon, a man who is skeptical of the value criminal profiling holds. As far as he's concerned, these people are evil. End of story- just follow the evidence. Seon-woo has to actually convince Gi-hyeong that they know what they're doing, and it's telling how so far, at least, her arguments aren't all that convincing.
"Criminal Minds" also benefits a lot from how this story, which was an hour long in the original American version, is being stretched out to two episodes in the Korean remake. This gives us a lot more time for characterization and navigating various twists and turns. This surprised and intrigued me- while the serial killer is found relatively easily, for example, this was mainly by virtue of dumb luck. The question of how, exactly, he commits the crimes remains open-ended.
At minimum the production team of "Criminal Minds" clearly knows how to structure an engaging mystery. They've already figured out that the real drama isn't in how this story ends, but how the main characters get to that point. Even the cheesy cliffhanger really sells this, because this is very much a "now how is she going to get out of this one" situation. Will Seon-woo survive through luck, or through a demonstration of hitherto unknown skill?
Review by William Schwartz
"Criminal Minds" is directed by Lee Jeong-hyo and Yang Yoon-ho, written by Hong Seung-hyeon and features Son Hyun-joo, Lee Joon-gi, Moon Chae-won, Lee Sun-bin, Yoo Sun and Go Yoon.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"Falsify" Episodes 1-2 recap

"Falsify" opens with several grim reminders that all are not, in fact, equal before the law and that what we know as the truth is only the most well-backed version of it. We are introduced to Han Moo-yeong, a rogue journalist who is trying to infiltrate the underworld in search of someone special. Rewind to five years ago, and we see how things got to this point.
The episodes deliver very standard introductory plot in an entertaining and engrossing manner. The story goes right into the basics of providing the key mystery, the moral alignment of and connections between key characters. It shows us where we are, how we got here and it shows us where we will be going. One element I particularly appreciate is the naivete of our protagonists, because it leaves them room to grow, rather than creating a per-existing imbalance between them.
Moo-yeong looking at his informationSo-ra and Seok-min exchanging information
Characters who are too pure for their positions can also make for better drama, if their downfall and path to maturity are well-written. Han Moo-yeong (Namgoong Min) starts off as a hotblooded "youth" and Kwon So-ra (Eom Ji-won) as too idealistic for a career. However, I find Lee Seok-min (Yoo Joon-sang) to be the most interesting character so far. While his naivete might feel unrealistic for a journalist, it shows the pitfalls of a work culture reliant on connections. Seok-min does not see his superior's betrayal coming, because he has been a sheltered protégé.
While the episodes are very story-rich, they do not feel like a bombardment of plot, because "Falsify" uses two crucial tools well. Its action and comedy give it good pacing. The fight scenes and humorous breaks – my personal favorite combination of these being the driving range chase – do not overstay their welcome and they are well-designed enough that they do not become overbearing. Instead, they fill in the space between chunks of the story and allow viewers to absorb important information without feeling mentally or emotionally overburdened.
Kim's secret interviewCheol-ho before his murder
Speaking of feeling burdened, I mentioned in my preview of the drama that I sometimes feel burned-out on revenge stories. A big part of the reason why is because they often fail to create suspense, by providing all the players "whodunnits" right away. "Falsify" is very smart about this. We have one antagonist with bigger, unknown enemies behind him and we have the mystery of the late Min Yeong-ho's (Kim Jong-soo) list and whoever may have it.
Aside from the important bits, I am also enjoying the drama's attention to details. Oh Jung-se's appearance as Han Cheol-ho is powerful and his anxiety and remorse are palpable. I also appreciate some small efforts for realism, such as the fact that our protagonist is not magically good at fighting, but has a related background. The opening episodes are well-crafted and well-acted, making them a solid premiere for "Falsify".
"Falsify" is directed by Lee Jeong-heum, written by Kim Hyeon-jeong-IV and features Namgoong Min, Yoo Joon-sang, Eom Ji-won and Moon Sung-keun.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
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"Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 8 recap

So it turns out that Ha-baek's assertion that Hoo-ye is more than he seems wasn't just random jealousy apropos of nothing. The entire opening section of episode eight goes into deep backstory, wherein Ha-baek recalls an old conversation that had several important clues now relevant to the current situation. Personally, though, the millenia old flashback kind of makes me wonder- when was the last time anyone went to the human world to collect the artifacts?
Think about it. If the gods are this old, then the last emperor must have collected the artifacts several thousand years ago, at which point whatever human civilization existed in Korea doesn't even have a record or a name. And the time before that would be even worse, with the only humans being straight-up hunter-gatherers. That's assuming they'd even managed to get out of Africa by then.
The age issue is all the more puzzling because Ha-baek even explicitly states how he is really, really old, which creates some pretty creepy implications for any possible romance with So-ah. I mean yeah, this has also been mentioned before as a kind of joke, but why keep bringing it up? Age mismatch is only an issue insofar as we acknowledge it. I kind of have to discuss age when it keeps popping up as an explicit plot point, even if I'd rather be discussing something else.
...Well, all right. In all fairness there really isn't that much else to discuss anyway because "Bride of the Water God 2017" is doing its usual trick of having the main characters constantly talk about nothing. Even though this episode starts out with Hoo-ye being exposed as having a supernatural background, no one really confronts him until the episode is almost over. So what we're left with in-between is a bunch of filler that never goes anywhere.
Oh, one other fact caught my notice- as if to emphasize how useless So-ah is to the entire operation, in the initial meeting wherein the main characters discuss Hoo-ye, So-ah is curiously absent. This, even though So-ah is by far the character in the most potential danger given Hoo-ye's unknown motives. Admittedly, So-ah is kind of dumb. It's remarkable, really, how So-ah's sidekick Sang-yoo is consistently shown to be much smarter and perceptive than So-ah is. And of course, So-ah, being the idiot she is, can't even take advantage of being friends with a smart person.
Review by William Schwartz
"Bride of the Water God 2017" is directed by Kim Byeong-soo, written by Jeong Yoon-jeong and features Nam Joo-hyuk, Shin Se-kyung, Lim Ju-hwan, Krystal, Gong Myung and Lee Kyeong-yeong.
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"The King Loves" Episodes 7-8 recap

Now that the lead characters have stumbled upon a genuine mystery, all of a sudden the confusion over what role the other characters are supposed to be playing in the story has gotten a lot more palatable. If Prince Won, Prince Lin, and Eun-san don't know what's going on in the conspiracy, why should we? We do know that Song-in is the one instigating this complex series of events. Oddly enough the main characters struggle to make this connection, on account of their being easily distracted.
Well, mostly it's Prince Won who gets easily distracted. In general he kind of comes off like an idiot. Prince Won's bravado would not have been of much help if King Chungnyeol's life has actually been in danger. Also his flirting obsession with Eun-san completely detracts from the investigation. I'm really appreciating the disgusted looks we get from Hong Jong-hyun as Prince Won's smarter, handsomer brother. They're the perfect mix of love and annoyance.
This emoting also seems specifically designed to make us like Prince Lin more than Prince Won, since Prince Lin has a much better grasp on how dangerous the overall situation is. Eun-san is kind of midway between the brothers. On one end, Eun-san was embroiled in her own investigation long before Prince Lin figured out what was going on. On the other end, Eun-san keeps encouraging Prince Won's flirting when she should really know better, considering how the woman is constantly only barely making escapes with the help of friends who happen to be nearby.
The attempted genre mash of romantic comedy with royal conspiracy is what puts "The King Loves" in an awkward place. Mind, "My Sassy Girl - Drama" just successfully managed to fuse those two disparate genres, and that was mainly because of better tone management. "My Sassy Girl - Drama" was a string of royal conspiracy plots that were broken up with romantic comedy segments, or infused with them when appropriate.
"The King Loves", by contrast, is just one very long conspiracy where the romance is happening in the foreground. I do appreciate that, by having finally given its lead characters a singular goal, "The King Loves" has just become a lot easier to follow. I can mostly grasp who all the characters are and why they're important, especially now that there are flashbacks to give context to previously inexplicable scenes. Now I can only hope this mystery has a decent payoff.
Review by William Schwartz
"The King Loves" is directed by Kim Sang-hyeob, written by Airborne, Song Ji-na and features Im Si-wan, Yoona, Hong Jong-hyun, Kim Jung-wook, Bang Jae-ho and Ki Do-hun.
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Monday, July 24, 2017

"Falsify" episode 1 recap

Namgoong Min disguised himself to get news.
On the first episode of the SBS drama "Falsify", Han Moo-yeong (Namgoong Min) made a deal with Jeon Chan-soo (Jeong Man-sik).
Han Moo-yeong disguised himself when he did this. Jeon Chan-soo said, "Watch out. If you die alone, I have nothing to do with this".
Han Moo-yeong called himself a trashy journalist.
Jeon Chan-soo helped Han Moo-yeong in his secretive report.
Source : www.xportsnews.com/?a...
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"Bride of the Water God 2017" Episode 7 recap

Even ignoring the issues with So-ah's personality, she's also an unspiring character on account of her sheer passivity. Time and again, rather than do anything constructive to assist in her goals or Ha-baek's, So-ah just gets unceremoniously tossed into life threatening danger and has to be rescued from her plight by another character with actual competence. Whether that competence is in the form of a gun, better driving skills, or literal magical powers, the effect is the same- So-ah just ends up feeling like dead weight.
This is also equally true of the most mundane character in "Bride of the Water God 2017"- Hoo-ye. If we were to straight up excise everything about Ha-baek and the Godly dimension from this drama, what we'd be left with is a story about how So-ah has ruined her own business and finances. Luckily the rich, intelligent, and boring Hoo-hye is there to rescue her, whether it be through explicit aid or just being willing to listen to her problems and spend time with her.
All of this is really, really boring. I'm just sort of astonished to have to acknowledge that almost all of the tension in this supposedly supernatural story is coming from a bad real estate deal of all things. It's not clear to me why ownership of the land even matters in the first place. It's not like Ha-baek needs to build a house there, he just needs to...actually, come to think of it, I can't remember why Ha-baek needs the land at all.
I keep coming back to the first episode, which very clearly and explicitly mentioned what Ha-baek needed to become emperor of the cosmos. There are the three artifacts, and the three gods living in the human world who guard the artifacts. There's also the secondary problem of how Ha-baek lost his godly powers- or did he get them back at some point? I mean, yeah, we've seen him using them, but I don't remember if it was ever explained why he lost them in the first place or how he's been using them since then.
These obviously important plot points slip my memory, yet I can recall in excruciating detail the constant exposition we get about how So-ah and Hoo-ye are sad orphans, and how Moo-ra and Bi-yeom are petty jerks who don't seem to have goals or motivation. They're just mean for the sake of being mean. Ha-baek, too, is unsatisfying by association, since there's not very much he can do about any of these annoying character traits.
Review by William Schwartz
"Bride of the Water God 2017" is directed by Kim Byeong-soo, written by Jeong Yoon-jeong and features Nam Joo-hyuk, Shin Se-kyung, Lim Ju-hwan, Krystal, Gong Myung and Lee Kyeong-yeong.
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"The King Loves" Episodes 5-6 recap

So it's not just my imagination- the opening crawl explaining the background of "The King Loves", with the threat of Mongol invasion, coupled with the increasingly aggressive character descriptions, make it pretty clear that even the production team has realized the content of this drama is incredibly dense. Unfortunately background alone doesn't really help explain motivation. That much is a pretty strong stickler, considering the bizarre series of events that closes out episode six.
I mean, don't get me wrong. That particular cliffhanger is well built up to. We're shown all of the relevant foreshadowing ahead of time. The main part that's missing is who contrived the situation that required Lin to use such a painstakingly specific skill in order to "solve" it. And more importantly why. While "The King Loves" may be great at looking dramatic, its urgency is hobbled by how every character action just begs more increasingly complicated questions.
To date the only older character whose motivation I can easily follow is Chzhuan Muvan Khou (played by Jang Young-nam), as she is both the only important woman in the palace as well as the only Mongolian. A flashback also does us the favor of explaining her motivation- which for the most part is just to act mean, but really, who can blame her? People in "The King Loves" frequently come off as savage even if that wasn't their intent.
The main exception to this rule are the three leads, who at this point feel like characters from a completely different drama. Prince Won keeps flirting with Eun-san, frequently ignoring everything else that's going on for a moment of romancing. Prince Lin, with his much more serious demeanor, is at least being treated by members of the royal conspiracy as someone who could, one day, be important. But much like Eun-san, Prince Lin is still struggling just to catch up on basic exposition.
On that note, I have to admit that "The King Loves" consistently looks pretty great in motion. The definite highlight of episode five is Prince Lin and Eun-san running into each other, and the complicated actions they have go through in order to avoid detection. The choreography is just beautiful. Still, the rules regarding allowed sounds are inconsistent, and director Kim Sang-hyeob straight up skips a scene. How did they get on the roof? I wanted to see that part. I bet it looked cool.
Review by William Schwartz
"The King Loves" is directed by Kim Sang-hyeob, written by Airborne, Song Ji-na and features Im Si-wan, Yoona, Hong Jong-hyun, Kim Jung-wook, Bang Jae-ho and Ki Do-hun.
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"Bad Thief, Good Thief" episode 22 recap

Lim Ju-eun told Seohyun she'd been jealous.
On the latest episode of the episode of "Bad Thief, Good Thief", Lim Ju-eun was drinking wine and called Seohyun.
Seohyun asked if she drank alone and Lim Ju-eun said, "I was just thinking about the past.
Lim Ju-eun said, "I was very jealous of you".
Seohyun was confused as to why and Lim Ju-eun said, "You had a father of your own. That's something I will never have".
Source : www.topstarnews.net/d...
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"You're Too Much" episode 40 recap

Uhm Jung-hwa told Jun Kwang-ryul that she wanted to love Jung Gyu-woon.
Yoo Jina (Uhm Jung-hwa) threatened Park Seong-hwan (Jun Kwang-ryul) on the latest episode of the MBC drama "You're Too Much".
Park Seong-hwan asked Yoo Jina for a divorce but she used a letter Lee Kyeong-soo (Kang Tae-oh) had to threaten him. She said, "If this letter gets in the hands of Park Hyeon-joon (Jung Gyu-woon), it's over for you. He'd find you in half an hour".
However, Park Seong-hwan said, "Do as you like. You won't be able to give that letter to Hyeon-joon. You won't give it to him even if you get divorced or worse". He was sure Yoo Jina wouldn't able to make Jeong Hae-dang (Jang Hee-jin) the daughter-in-law to the head of a chaebol family.
Yoo Jina said, "I wanted to be in love with Park Hyeon-joon. If my son had nothing to do with your family, I think it's right that Park Hyeon-joon takes over the company. Don't try to assume me. I hate Jeong Hae-dang but not as much as you who destroyed my life".
Source : www.xportsnews.com/?a...
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