Friday, December 27, 2013

Pre-Finale Reply 1994 Thoughts


Tonight is the second to last episode of Reply 1994. Maybe it's because it's my "comeback" drama, but I feel like I'm getting a little too worked up over it. There'll be one (or two) more post of this and I'm done, I promise. Anyways, I want to take my time to reflect on what has gone down the past 19 episodes and maybe give you my thoughts on the final and biggest mystery of them all: who the hell is the husband? Obviously, this post contains spoilers and possible rants so you have been warned.

I think the best way to reflect on the drama is by talking about each character, since they're just so lovely and great. Let's start with talking about the supporting characters because they're really important, guys. First up, Samcheonpo (Kim Sung-kyun) and Yoon-jin (Min Do-hee). I feel like they need to be discussed together. During the beginning episodes, I didn't think they would seriously pair these two together. I mean how cliche is that to get together the two people that can't stand each other. But when they did couple up, it's probably the best thing ever. Samcheonpo is an awkward, rigid type who doesn't really fit in all too much. He's younger by two years compared to everyone else, but looks at least 10 years older than them. (The actor is actually 33 in real life). Yoon-jin is at first the quiet, mysterious type but secretly holds a raging bull inside her tiny body. I'd say Yoon-jin is more comparable to 1997's Shi-won than Na-jung is. The relationship of these two is very interesting in that it doesn't feel like a fantasy couple, but a couple that anyone can be involved in. The main love triangle can feel distant at times. I mean, who find themselves between a neurosurgeon and pro-athlete sandwich on a regular basis? Uh, no one. So the problems Samcheonpo and Yoon-jin faces are similar to your everyday couple. They fight and have to learn to compromise. But they love each other deeply despite all the flaws and differences they have. Their relationship also feels dynamic compared to the relationships Na-jung has. We get to see both Samcheonpo and Yoon-jin grow up with each other. There's visible ups and downs. And they managed to overcome the obstacles that come their way together, whether it was relationship-wise or a personal trouble. It's even more meaningful with the fact that Kim Sung-kyun and Min Do-hee just plays the characters so well.

Next is our BFF Haitai (Son Ho-jun). Haitai fills the role of Na-jung's best guy friend. Unlike Na-jung and Yoon-jin's relationship where Yoon-jin fills the role of the consoling, advice-giving friend, Haitai and Na-jung both feed off each other very well. Na-jung comes to Haitai with her problems, and Haitai the same. I love their relationship, and when Na-jung is with Haitai, it's like the boy problems doesn't exist in the first place. Haitai is also roommates with Samcheonpo. While they did clash a lot in the beginning, I feel like their friendship has taken a backseat to both characters' other problems. I guess at one point roommates have to accept each other? As for Haitai himself, he takes the role of the girl-crazy guy who has boobs in his mind. I actually thought he'd eventually become some kind of Casanova, but it's nice that they didn't make him that way. He had the desires, but not the guts. He can get flaming hot, but chickens out when he's clearly at a loss. But in the end, Haitai is that genuine friend you're thankful to have around.

And then there's Binggrae (Baro). Binggrae is so freakin' adorable. No wonder Trash loves him so much. In the beginning, we thought that perhaps his arc will be similar to that of 1997's Joon-hee (Hoya). Binggrae's first interest was Trash. But even from the beginning it was different than Joon-hee's crush with Yoon-jae. Joon-hee has been clear about the fact that his feelings for Joon-hee is that of romantic love. Binggrae's on the other hand has always been very vague. It's not weird, because it's consistent with his passive, indecisive personality. He was the kid who had to take time off school to figure out what he wants in life. Is it making music? Is it being a doctor? That indecisive nature is reflective in his love life too. What feelings does he have with Trash? Is it love? Is it admiration? He doesn't know. We don't know. There may be people who thinks the writers are deceiving them to thinking Binggrae is gay, and making him end up with a girl is just rude. I don't think so. Feelings in general are confusing to anyone. I don't think it's terrible to have a character that genuinely doesn't really know what's going on either. Though I'm glad that Binggrae figures out what he wants in love and life in his early 20s. As a fellow early 20s myself, I still have no clue what's going on and what I want.

Compared to the other characters, Trash (Jung Woo) and Chilbong (Yoo Yeon-seok) seems more like a caricature. They're played very well and the performances masks the fact that Trash and Chilbong are the most fictional of them all. I mean, I'm very concerned with Trash being a neurosurgeon but has serious personal hygiene issues. I wouldn't want a guy who uses the floor mat to wipe his face to operate on my brain. And then there's Chilbong who is in many ways very dim. He's not very smart, at least compared to his friends. Then again they're all Yonsei students, and I know how it feels to be average smart in a very smart group of people. While it's romantic, Chilbong's persistence with Na-jung is a bit unrealistic to me. It feels like he has horse blinders on, only looking forward. How sad is it for a guy to be pining on the same girl for 6 years? So basically he's going to pursue her until the day she gets married? I don't know whether I should feel touched or feel bad for the guy. But outside of their personality flaws, they just don't feel like people I would meet often in my life, let alone both at the same time living in a boarding house run by my parents. There aren't too many neurosurgeons and pro-baseball players in the world, and having them together in one space feels more like a fantasy than something that could actually happen. I know this is a drama, and anything can happen. But compared to the other scenes of the other characters, this just feels so out of place. The characters acknowledging it's weird doesn't make it any less weird. Not to say they're not charming. Their very presence is meant to swoon and melt hearts. But just like how prince charmings don't really exist, the Trash and Chilbong of the world aren't that many either.

And finally, Na-jung (Go Ara). Well, you're some girl, Na-jung. She's a caring, smart, genuine gal. They say she has a temper, but I think Yoon-jin's is worse. She used to be a hardcore fangirl of basketball player Lee Sung-min, but that got sidetracked by her love life. Some say that's bad, and the writers have skipped a big part of who Na-jung is. But I think it's part of growing up, right? Some, like Yoon-jin and Shi-won, continues to love their idols despite all the things happening in their lives. Na-jung, like many I would think, has other things to think about. She still likes Lee Sung-min. His posters are all up on her walls and she still watches some of his games. It's just not her main thing anymore. Of all things, I love how comfortable she is with herself. She's confident with her abilities. She knows how to push herself to attain her goals. She knows what she likes and what she doesn't like. She's proactive with her feelings. She isn't your typical heroine who just sits idly waiting for her prince charming to come. She's a breath of fresh air from all the sleeping beauties of drama world. All in all, I like Na-jung. And Go Ara played her with charm and tenacity. It's hard not to like someone like Na-jung, really.

At this point of the story (episode 19 of 21), the only unanswered question is who Na-jung's  husband is. From the beginning we know that it's clearly between Trash and Chilbong. Although I'm glad that everyone else's spouse and the journey to finding him/her was also told in a relatively satisfying way. If you go to any if not most posts of 1994, you'll probably find (heated) discussions of whose ship you're sailing on. I've mentioned that I'm Team Chilbong and one can never hate Chilbong. But at this point of the story, I don't really know. I have a hunch it's Trash, but Chilbong isn't completely clear out of the running either. In fact, after a disheartening two-episode absence, Chilbong bolted back in a rather meaningful and somewhat hilarious fashion. He's back on the radar alright. I won't go too deep analyzing every little minute detail because ain't nobody got time for that. (Obviously I'm wrong because, um, hello. We're talking about K-drama fans here.) My one reason why I think Trash is the husband? It's easier to fit, in the time we have left (2 episodes), mending a faltered relationship than build a completely new one. I would love to see Chilbong break the second-lead trope and into the heart of our heroine. But is it realistic for the show to pull that off? I don't think so. Besides, it's such a disservice to Chilbong if he was given only two episodes to love Na-jung. I would've wanted him to have more time with her.

It's difficult because the future scenes are telling a different story. Why would Chilbong hangout with the girl who broke his heart and the guy who "took" her away from him? Sure it's 10 years later and they're older and wiser, and it happened in 1997 where the nice guy didn't get our main girl but was still pretty tight with her and her spouse. But in 1997, Tae-woong became Shi-won's brother-in-law and their relationship was destined to fail to begin with. In Chilbong's case, he doesn't really have a reason to still hangout with Na-jung if he had a fallout with her. The gang got together because it was Na-jung's house warming party. It would've been different if it was another person's party.

I feel like there are so many missed opportunities in 1994, especially in regards with the main love line. Samcheonpo and Yoon-jin's story feels more fleshed out compared to Na-jung and Trash's relationship. They're trying so hard at keeping the mystery alive that we probably missed out on a lot of important moments. For instance, how was the relationship different after the proposal? What really went on during their breakup? Did she return the ring or just let everything die out eventually? I didn't see much growth in Na-jung's relationship with Trash, but her relationship with Chilbong is even more confusing. It's frustrating because you can do so much more, especially with the ample amount of time this drama has. I mean, come on, one and a half hours is more than enough. A bit too much, perhaps. At this point, I just want Na-jung to find a completely new guy. Start fresh and new, you know? It's the year 2000 at this point, and while chronologically it's enough time to mend broken hearts and bloom a loving relationship, drama-time wise two episodes is just not enough.

Honestly my hands are up in the air. I think it could be Trash, then again it could also be Chilbong. It's anybody's game right now. To all of those lost confused souls, I suggest joining Team Na-jung this instant. Whoever she chooses I don't really care, as long as she's happy and all parties are content. That shouldn't be too hard, right? I'll report back to you in a few days' time.

On a random note, doesn't Jung Woo "Trash Oppa" look totally like Lee Sun-gyun? I just had to get that out there. Because, um... hello. Lee Sun-gyun is the ultimate oppa?

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