Flower Boy Next Door fills me with so many thoughts it’s hard for me to get them all down in something resembling structure. Which is why I’ve done so few posts on the drama. So I’m going to just write out all my thoughts from episodes 13 and 14, without worrying too much about creating a linear structure. (Sometimes, random is good?)
Spoilers through episode 14 below:
There are two things about this show that I consistently admire: the depth of the characters, and the complexity of the various relationships. And for me, a character that encapsulates both is, oddly, Do-hwi.
She’s a villain, obviously. A quintessential mean girl who brings in a lot of humor by the ridiculousness of her scheming (was she ever a serious contender for Jin-rak’s heart?), or a lot of pathos by the cruelty of her attacks (she is at her most terrible when she’s attacking Dok-mi — so the pathos is on Dok-mi’s side, just to be clear).
But, and this might just be me, there’s more there. Part of it is in my reaction to her. I cannot bring myself to just dismiss her as a hissable villain who will soon get her just desserts. That she was Dok-mi’s best friend at one time, that she thought Dok-mi was stronger than her, that she thought she was the only one suffering when they were the two class-losers… none of that excuses her behavior, but…
Yeah, that “But…” pretty much sums up my reaction to her. I’m not expecting a big turn around where she and Dok-mi become best-friends-forever, however I do think we’ll get something more than Do-hwi face-planting into mud (or something equally hilariously humiliating) for her finish.
A reason I think we’ll get something more is Dong-hoon’s consistently taking her side. And not in a totally-gaga-for-her way, either. He’s always seen through Do-hwi’s set-ups and he’s never been really into her. However he still looks at her with a certain amount of sympathy. Which I suspect is the drama’s way of asking us to look at her with a certain amount of sympathy, too. Which is pretty ballsy for a show that set her up as the quintessential mean girl and is saying something about bulling.
And FBND is definitely saying something about the ugliness of prejudice and bullying. Dok-mi has been shaped by it. And we learned in ep. 13 that Enrique’s been shaped by it as well. Dok-mi going defensive, while Enrique went for offense; her shutting out the world, he searching the world to try and figure out “why”. It’s one of so, so many ways the drama shows their incredibly deep connection. First, that Enrique is willing to share that past with her, but in other ways, too. For example, Enrique is amazed at how blasé Dok-mi is about the hate-graffiti on her door. She doesn’t freak out, she buys cleaner. But he was just as blasé about the hate-graffiti on his posters several episodes ago, commenting on their tagging skills rather than their message.
And then there’s their two planned mini-dramas that shape ep. 14. Enrique’s is a hilarious attempt to steal a McGuffin (a very starred and underlined McGuffin at that — all they were missing was a golden glow when the trunk of the car opened) from Jin-rak’s no-good brother. It gave us some epic images of the three boys, but ultimately ended in failure. (Hilarious, hilarious, failure.)
Dok-mi’s is a heartbreaking attempt to get Enrique back to Spain to fulfill his dream. I’m not sure if it’ll succeed or not. (I mean, I know it won’t ultimately. But will Enrique buy it even a little?) But I thought it was fascinating that both she and Enrique came up with these carefully crafted story-lines that had a full arc to them. They are both storytellers. (As is Jin-rak who was in on them both.)
Oh! And I have to say something about the relationship between Enrique and Jin-rak. It’s kind of heartbreaking to me. Even more so than the one-sided love Jin-rak has for Dok-mi. (I think because Jin-rak never really saw Dok-mi. So I think he was more in love with the ideal than the woman. He saw her as the princess but, as she points out, she’s more the witch — not locked away, but doing the locking. To herself, but still. Ooh! Another connection: Dok-mi’s not the princess her fan sees; Enrique’s not the fairy his fan sees. And I shall stop this diversion now.)
Enrique would really, really, really like to be best buds with Jin-rak. When Dok-mi defends him against Jin-rak, there’s this little moment where Enrique looks worried about Jin-rak’s hurt reaction.
And after the heist goes bust and Dong-hoon is assuring Jin-rak he still has his “little brother” and they’re hugging each other, Enrique goes to join in and gets rebuffed. He’s not surprised and it’s kind of played for comedy, but there’s a bit of angst there, too.
It’s a nice twist on the usual love-triangle where the girl doesn’t want to lose her good friend even as she madly loves the other guy. This time it’s more Enrique not wanting to lose a friend he’s been trying to gain. (I think Dok-mi could take or leave Jin-rak at this point. Though, they could be building towards a beautiful friendship. If Jin-rak is willing.)
Only two more episodes to go. It’s going to be sad to leave this crew behind.