2 November 2013



Yes! This drama did not in fact dissolve into a totally depressing study on bullying like I had initially feared. In fact, Kim Tan came to the rescue and saved me from the relentless bullying in a truly awesome scene which completely redeemed his lack of action from last week.

Episode 7:
I really loved this episode. It brought back a lot of the original charm and sweet romance which was absent from episode 6 and also brought Tan and Eun-sang's slow building relationship back to front of stage, just where I like it to be.
It seems like Tan is finally starting to take action where Eun-sang is concerned, waking up early to escort her to school and even luring her to the wine cellar for.....a really nice serious heart to heart. I really enjoy how this main couple interact when they are alone. Its like when all the outside pressures fall away they can at least be real with eachother.

I also liked the scene in the car when Tan leans his head on Eun-sang's shoulder, mainly because of her reaction. It seems to me she thinks she should be constantly fending him off, hence her rejections and attempts at running away from him, but at the same time, its clearly not what she really wants. It is pretty clear from this scene that she likes him too, though is still battling with herself about what she should or shouldn't be doing about it, whilst Tan thinks the answer is as clear as day.
But even with all her struggling, Eun-sang is still unable to wipe the smile off her face at his sweetness. And the way Tan stares at her, I am not surprised it is hard to resist him. He always looks at her like he has found something truly precious, something he will never let go of no matter what, because it is something that is apart from all the horrors and pressures of his family, something he has discovered for himself.
And one of the best things about the way he stares is that Tan never ever tries to hide it from Eun-sang either, he is totally open about how he feels and he wears it on his face not afraid of what she will think. I really like that about Tan, that he is never afraid of showing his jealousy or interest, concern or love. He doesn't play games and I really appreciate that.

Meanwhile at school, Young-do is getting rather (more) terrifying. This boy is just so hardcore and horrible, but there is still something about him that makes it hard to tear your eyes away whenever he is on screen. I kind of imagined that the revealing of Young-do and Tan's backstory would somehow shed some light on why this guy is so damn mean and maybe even make his character a little more sympathetic, but nope, it did the complete opposite.
Seeing Young-do at his lowest and most vulnerable (seemingly having both witnessed Young-do's dad having an affair) Tan tries to help his friend by also revealing something shameful and secret about himself, in the hopes that his sharing in Young-do's embarrassment will help his friend.  But it seems Young-do was malicious even then, and instead of being grateful of Tan's caring gesture, he immediately lashes out at his friend using this new information (about Tan's real mother) as ammunition.
And that right there is the real difference between these two boys. Whilst Young-do protects himself by hurting other people and being the most powerful and feared person in the room, Tan feels true empathy for other people, even when everyone around him in his life keeps telling him not to. And that is why I like him so much. He may always say he is too lazy to really care about anything but its not really true, evident of his protecting the victim kid this episode from Young-do's excessive cruelty.
I absolutely loved that scene, one of the main reasons being that Tan walks forward to protect that kid because he knows it is the right thing to do and not just as a gesture to impress anyone else there. I adore that he didn't notice Eun-sang watching the bullying, that he didn't only stand up for that victim kid because she was there and he wanted to look good in front of her. He did it because he cared, because he knew he was the only one who could.
Obviously it didn't really go all that well for him, but it still made me cheer that he stood up to Young-do and I think it made a difference.

Still on the subject of Young-do I think I am finally starting to sort of figure him out, though he is still such an enigma of a character considering how so often his actions are at odds with the words he says, so that you never really understand what he actually wants. Take for instance that scene with Eun-sang and Bo Na (that girl is growing on me more and more all the time despite her ridiculousness) where he upended their bags onto the classroom floor in an attempt to prove that Eun-sang isn't 'new money' and embarrass her. But then after being just so unbelievably cruel, he asks her why she has so many knights looking after her (because Chan-young came running to the rescue) and then says, in front of everyone like it isn't a big deal, that seeing that makes him want to compete with them.    WTF!?
And then the next second he is inviting her around to his house to eat dinner with him, but the way he asks her, threatening her with someone else's humiliation and destruction if she doesn't come, is just so totally twisted. And yet, when she leaves his face says something different, only for a split second but it was there. Like maybe he wasn't really too pleased at how he handled that situation, like maybe he really does wish he knew how to make someone like him and not just be afraid of him in the way Eun-sang so clearly is.
But one moment of regret or disappointment at his lack of ability to interact like a normal person, a sympathetic or likable character does not make. Intriguing yes, he certainly has that covered, but definitely not likable. Yet I must admit I am very interested in the direction that Young-do will take in this story.

Lastly for this episode, I will just say that there are almost too many characters in this drama for its own good. It doesn't really matter to me or anything just because the characters that I really care about are getting plenty of screen time, but I have to wonder why they even bothered to have quite so many side characters played by rather big name actors. It just sort of seems redundant really.....  but oh well.

Episode 8:
Tan tries so hard to do the right thing all the time, to say the right things to Eun-sang to make her like him and be comfortable, but he still comes across as kind of unsure and awkward which I quite enjoy. 
At the beginning of this episode we see his confession to Eun-sang which he does in the middle of yelling at her about Young-do (though I don't blame him for getting worked up over Young-do's involvement with Eun-sang). I guess the whole conversation is a little possessive but I do think Tan does need to be proactive when it comes to wooing Eun-sang because otherwise I don't think anything would happen ever. Eun-sang just can't handle it though, so in moments she is crying and uncomfortable,  just totally unable to even understand how she wants to respond. The poor girl has so many pressures on her at home with Tan's mum and everyone else always telling her exactly what her place is, so I can definitely understand her fear and confusion when Tan insists that it doesn't matter. Frankly the poor girl looks so incredibly lost and stressed out I think a hug from Tan is exactly what she needed. I like the way that she sort of gave in at this point and just cried into his shoulder and let herself be comforted. She does like him, but really has no idea what she wants or thinks about him or the crazy new situation she has found herself in at Empire High.

I really loved that moment when Tan's mother calls Eun-sang, just highlighting that utter divide between them even further. But then Tan answers her phone himself as a way to show he doesn't care what other people think, which is such a lovely gesture and is so well meaning, but just as punching Young-do and protecting the victim kid had uncool repercussions,  this also backfires and just results in Eun-sang being lectured again about her unworthiness. 

There are some great moments in this episode as we see our couple get their vibe back, engage in lovely easy banter and basically have a little fun together. I like seeing Eun-sang relaxed with Tan, it makes such a difference to her stressed out crying and goes to show the way he is truly becoming someone she can talk to and relate to. Someone she can be friends with. She even begins to think about him when he is not there. It makes me think she is not going to be able to fight her feelings for too much longer.

So who else hated Tan's crazy checkered shirt with a passion? Why oh why do these stylists insist on turning a man as goodlooking as Lee Min-ho into some sort of chessboard fashionista? It makes no sense to me. Ugh ugh.
But the scenes where he was wearing it are all pretty memorable. First we get Young-do in the coffee shop telling Eun-sang that he came to be with her because he felt lonely. And it seems to me he is telling the truth considering he just came directly from being humiliated and totally choked by his arsehole father. Eun-sang seems to think he is being genuine as well but then Tan turns up and shuts down any conversation that might have taken place. (I feel like outside school Young-do always seems so much less threatening and so much more vulnerable or something, like his power just ebbs away a tiny little bit). Eun-sang splits whilst the boys argue which is totally hilarious and Tan just warns Young-do not to touch her.
And then later at home Tan gets up the guts to go see Eun-sang in her room only for the two of them to end up hiding in the pantry from his mother, all close and quiet in the darkness. They stay like that, with Tan pressing Eun-sang against the shelves and their faces so close until they are alone again. And then Tan begins to lean in closer with his hand holding her wrist. It is such a charged moment but Eun-sang has no idea what she wants and she just looks terrified and so just before he kisses her Tan slowly pulls away. I really love him for this. I love that he clocked her reaction and didn't want to scare her no matter how badly he wanted to kiss her. You go Tan! (But seriously this drama had better deliver on some exciting kisses to make up for this later!). 
And then instead of Eun-sang running away in terror she and Tan spend the evening together doing homework,  just being normal and having fun. And even more awesomely, the next day Eun-sang accidentally brings up the almost-kiss in conversation and Tan answers all innocent eyes and a cheeky grin, 'oh so we are talking about that now are we?' Too cute!

Aaaaand then it is back to the schoolyard where Young-do is basically extremely terrifying constantly and scares Eun-sang to death every chance he possibly can. He does like her I am now sure of that but he is so utterly twisted that he expresses this in a totally terrifying way. But even though he is now realising his interest in her is of the romantic sense, I still don't know if he exactly wants to date her or anything. He seems more interested in tormenting her, like a slightly more highschool bully version of pulling the girl you like's pigtails in the playground or something. Except way more dangerous. 
That scene in the canteen where Young-do forces Eun-sang to sit in the victim kid's old seat is so hardcore because you really have no idea whether he actually wants to eat with her or if he has a much more sinister agenda, he is just so confusing that sometimes I wonder if he even knows what he really wants himself. It is like all he knows is how to make people unhappy, uncomfortable and down right terrified. He seems to have no clue whatsoever how to interact in any other way. What games is he playing? Is this really just his way of expressing his interest? And to make me even more confused as to his motives, I swear his face does fall when he realises how badly he did with Eun-sang after the cafeteria incident. He doesn't exactly look happy that all he is ever capable of is scaring her. But it still never deters him from being even crueler the next time they meet.

Lastly there is the Tan forced kiss which closes the episode, which I guess kind of destroys all his earlier good work of making Eun-sang feel safe with him. I am pretty keen for kisses at all times in dramas so I am not going to complain, though I do definitely prefer a mutual real kiss for a story then the forced kind which is just not all that romantic. Hopefully though, since this is happening so early in the drama it just means that there will be many more extra romantic ones to look forward to.

And now to finish on a happy BTS photo! Altogether now.... awww!

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