*Available on US Netflix Streaming*
The Gist: Joseon prince Lee Gak (Micky Yoochun) is having a pretty bad day when his wife is murdered and he is thrown hundreds of years into the future with scholar Man Bo (Lee Min Ho), swordsman Yong Sul (Jung Suk Won), and eunuch Chi San (Choi Woo Shik). The four land in the rooftop apartment of equally unlucky Bak Ha (Han Ji Min), who has just moved to Korea from New York to find her lost father, only to discover he has just died. She attempts to reconnect to her stepmother and stepsister, Se Na (Jung Yoo Mi), but Se Na wants nothing to do with the sister she got lost in the first place. Things get complicated as it turns out Se Na is the reincarnation of the recently deceased princess and Lee Gak’s reincarnation has just been attacked by Se Na’s boyfriend, company mogul Tae Moo (Lee Tae Sung). When Lee Gak is discovered by Tae Moo’s family, he (and his crew) get sucked into company and Yong family politics as he attempts to rekindle a romance with Se Na, his reincarnated wife. This leaves poor Bak Ha in a sticky situation as she tries to teach the four modern day skills as they live in her house, while trying to ignore growing feelings for the crown prince, who only has eyes for her step sister.
1. The Romance
Poor Bak Ha has been waiting patiently for her romance to connect for hundreds of years as her past self, Bu Yong, loses her shot at the prince when her sister, devious in every century burns her face to get the coveted spot. I had my doubts about the romance in the beginning. Lee Gak’s haughty air paired with Bak Ha’s abrasive manner only served to irritate me, but as is often the case with these shows, the bickering only makes the romance sweeter. While the plot is overcomplicated (I’ll get to that later), the strain of Lee Gak starting to fall for Bak Ha paired with his brain urging him towards Se Na is truly a delight to watch. Their struggle peels back the layers not only of the present day relationship, but of the royal marriage as well. While I hate having a time limit on a relationship, I truly was curious by the end of the show to figure out how they were going to resolve the love spanning so many years.
2. Se Na and Tae Moo
I know what you’re thinking, DramaQueen, how can you love Se Na and Tae Moo? Well, it’s several things really. Firstly, rarely are two people so well matched as Se Na and Tae Moo. So even though I wasn’t exactly rooting for them to succeed, I was perfectly content in their relationship, equally awful all around. It’s actually pretty impressive how dedicated Se Na and Tae Moo are to being horrible human beings, with murder and plotting abounding. As far as acting chops go, holy hell, I couldn’t even kind of believe that Tae Moo and Bong Joon Gu from Playful Kiss were the same actor. That dopey silliness is transformed into a cold, calculating monster. All in all, fascinating villains.
3. The Music
I love this soundtrack, vacillating from the hauntingly beautiful “Wounds” to the peppy ending song. I found myself bouncing along to the tune and recognizing bits of music I liked a lot. I looked up this OST on YouTube and have just been rocking out ever since.
1. The Ending
Spoilers Ahoy. Someone please tell me if I am just dumb because I just did not get the end of this series. First things first. The wedding made me tear up because it was so moving and sad. I’ve never seen a show do a wedding with just the two people, but it was the perfect note. Everything after that really throws me off. Did Tae Yong wake back up and is just like WTF is going on with my life? Supposedly the person coming into Bak Ha’s shop is Tae Yong, but you get a final scene of him in his prince gear. Is that a metaphor? Did Lee Gak really come back? My instinct is no and that leaves me with some issues. I mean while Tae Yong is technically Lee Gak reincarnated, he’s not the person Bak Ha fell in love with and spent all this time with. While they’re a partnership of destiny, it’s still not quite right. Then that leaves poor Lee Gak, with Bu Yong sacrificed for him, living out the rest of his life without Bak Ha. Honestly, the end of this show is kind of a tragedy and I don’t think it’s meant to be. That said, if the prince did somehow jump forward again, that would a) be less sad and b) need to be way more obvious. Also, if past Tae Moo is someone close enough to get at the throne, how is he not someone Lee Gak recognized in the future? Oh well, that’s a small beef.
2. Supporting Cast
For how long this series is (20 episodes), I kind of can’t believe that our supporting cast doesn’t get any character development. As supportive and adorable our Joseon 3 are, they really don’t get any individual story lines. They pretty much sit there and say “yes, prince!” and then go on to adapting. The closest we ever got to getting them some real action is by giving a little backstory on the episode that reveals they why they are so desperate to go home. All that said, for being such a big part of the show, they sure got grouped into the non interesting story well. That’s not to say they’re underdeveloped per se, as much as there wasn’t a lot to do with their unique personalities. For example, there’s this one moment where Bak Ha’s friend (Becky?) brings Man Bo a lunch box because she has a little crush on him, then we never see anything about it again. Ugh, some side development would have been awesome rather than spending so much time on the crazy mess that is the plot of this show.
1. Holy Complicated Plot, Batman!
Just wow. Between the dopplegangers, secret family connections, time travel, lies, murder, intrigue, and oh snap. Spoilers are going to abound in this one. So I think everything with Tae Yong and his family is just too over the top. The reincarnated facet doesn’t work for me I think because of the double dose. I am fine with the Se Na reincarnation, but the duplicate of having Lee Gak also be a doppleganger just gets bogged down. You compound that with Lee Gak impersonating Tae Yong twofold by the end of the show (a.k.a. he’s the impersonator and Tae Yong) is just so much. Then we get a slice of Se Na and Bak Ha being real sisters just made me groan so hard. Like, how did that happen and never get put together? I think the simpler moments worked better, where my favorites are all the fish out of water scenes with Bak Ha and the four. If I was writing this show, I would have chopped the hell out of the convoluted plot.
So… Looking back, I feel pretty favorable towards this show. I could get in a good rhythm and watch chunks of it at a time. The pilot is underwhelming and trying to explain the plot of this show to my husband was like pulling teeth, but I think it handled all the strings as well as could be expected. It’s a cute story, with charismatic romance, a little too much intrigue, and an almost F4 feel occasionally.
Final Grade: B
Sorry there has been such a big gap between postings! I started a new job that doesn’t leave me with so much free time for shows (boo) and I just talked my husband into watching Faith with me (he liked it. YAY!) - clearly I'm in a historical mood lately. Next up? I think I'll tackle Arang and the Magistrate.