I am so lost..

mirrorredux2 photo ScreenShot2013-03-29at12014PM2_zpsaeea7912.pngI contemplated holding off writing a That Winter the Wind Blows’ post until next week when the final episode airs and I can finally see how this whole thing ends and therefore see what the writer’s aiming at but… that seemed cowardly.

After all, I shared when the show covered me with happy — shouldn’t I share when the show covers me with confusion?

Spoilers through episode 15 — also, not much clarity…

Confusion #1:  Episode 14 starts off with the tail end of the forced kiss. forcedkiss3 photo ScreenShot2013-03-22at40952PM_zpscb415063.pngWith music over it this time, which I was kind of unhappy about as it made it seem… if not romantic at least melancholic and that wasn’t the emotion I felt watching it the first time nor do I think those emotions really fit the scene.

However, I’m thinking this is one of those “lost in translation” moments that do happen with K-dramas where I suspect I’m missing some cultural touchstones. Because while the forced kiss wasn’t treated as seriously as I’d expected, it wasn’t treated as a winning move on Soo’s part. I think it was like when Young threw her cup — bad behavior but not that hurtful and maybe even understandable under the circumstances. Which I’m not sure I agree with and threw me into an existential viewing crisis I’d have rather avoided.

Then, eventually and with great reluctance on Soo’s part, he and Young part ways. And as Soo promised, Secretary Wang leaves the house, too.

Confusion #2:  But why was Secretary Wang treated so compassionately? yandw photo ScreenShot2013-03-29at31951PM2_zps416a377a.pngI don’t so much have a complaint about it — because I think it does make sense that Young’s emotions regarding Wang are complex. On the one hand, the woman tore her family apart and made her blind. On the other, the parents would have fallen apart regardless, and Wang did love her.

But it’s strange that there doesn’t seem to be one character who’s outright disgusted by what went down. Not Lawyer Jang and not the coffee-shop trio. And because of that I almost feel like the drama doesn’t think she did that bad a thing, or her actions were understandable. Which… really? 

Confusion #3:  And then there’s Boss Kim’s big plan to end Soo and somehow make Jin-sung do it — which I’m completely perplexed by. Though I suspect (and hope!) that this time the confusion is on purpose and it’ll be made clear when the hijinks go down but the writer doesn’t want to tip her hand and ruin the suspense. But purposeful or no, I’m confused.

Confusion #4:  Finally, there’s Young. She refuses Soo overtures even while she misses him terribly. She’s obviously lost. (Thrown back into the mirror of being lost — then imagining Soo there with her.) And she comes up with this complex plan to get everyone out of the house and… kills herself? (Or attempts to anyway. I’m quite hopeful Soo got there in time.)

mirrorredux1 photo ScreenShot2013-03-29at12005PM1_zpsf78b8dce.png

Mirror of lost…

mirrorredux2 photo ScreenShot2013-03-29at12014PM2_zpsaeea7912.png

…better with company — even imaginary company.

I just don’t understand why she felt so lost and trapped. She was angry at Soo and pushed him out. Then she softened and allowed herself to forgive him — probably because he was going and wasn’t a threat to her anymore. But then she begins to miss him. And I’m just not making the leap from missing him to feeling like there was no hope. Because he was right there waiting for her call. And she knew that. Why did she feel he was out of reach? 

I am really, really hopeful that the last episode (seriously only one more to go — which is amazing to think) clears all of the above up. Confusion #3 has to get cleared up because it’s a plot point. Confusion #2… I’ll be okay if the relationship between Young and Wang remains complex and hard to understand. Sometimes relationships are like that. Confusion #1 I’ve kind of resigned myself to being part of the K-drama landscape. But Confusion #4 has me worried. Because if I don’t follow and understand the main characters’ decisions I don’t think the ending will satisfy. And I’m too invested to be happy with a confusing ending.

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6 thoughts on “I am so lost..

  1. Hmmm… This is really curious… I read similar expressions of perplexity in Dramabeans – although there, most voices were fixing to toss the whole drama overboard, accusing it of jumping the shark!

    I am intrigued by the perplexity, perhaps because I don’t quite know what to make of it. Is the confusion stemming from unmet expectations about how the crisis should resolve, or from disappointed hopes about how the crisis would resolve? Oh Young’s situation is just such am emotionally and psychologically confused mess that I’m having trouble understanding why folks are annoyed that the story mimetically reflects that mess and confusion.

    I long ago threw my lot in with the writer and her story, curious about how the narrative would develop and fascinated by the constancy and richness with which difficult questions were posed and developed. Essentially, I assumed the attitude, “Writer No Hee Kyung, tell me your story. I am eager to hear it. Ask of me what you will, I will gladly follow…” So perhaps because of that buy-in, and perhaps because this story reads to me more like poetic theatre than entertainment, I have not developed enough skeptical distance to doubt whatever is presented to me.

    I will also confess that I long ago accepted that the story might not close with an “and they lived happily ever after” or some preamble to that. Ultimately, Oh Young’s actions in ep. 15 – right up until Oh Soo finds her, really ring true to me in the context of the story that has been told. I won’t repeat the details of that thought, but I do invite you to consider them here.

    As with a good book, I have fallen in love with the players in TWtWB. I don’t know what it says about me, but everything they do in the context of this story rings true to me.

    In any case, I hope the final episode does bring you the clarity and closure you have been hoping for.

    • I haven’t checked the Dramabeans writeup or comments yet (and now, I might hold off on it from what you’ve said — or not. sometime I like to dive in) but I can definitely say I’m not ready to toss the drama aside! Me being confused as to how it’s all going to end, or how the characters are feeling as they come into the ending, doesn’t mean the writer is confused. It means… I’m confused. 🙂

      I cannot predict how the story’s going to go. I didn’t predict Young’s suicide attempt (I stubbornly stick to the more hopeful “attempt”). I have no idea if she’ll make it into surgery or if the surgery will work. Now that it looks like Moo-chul is dead — or at least out of the picture, I worry that Soo won’t survive a clash with Boss Kim. And I worry that Jin-sung’s being there will hinder rather than help Soo. I don’t know if I’m going to end this drama in a big sobbing mess of tears, or if I’ll be sighing over the happy ending, or if it’ll be a mix of the above.

      My main worry after ep. 15 was trying to figure out what Young is thinking. She’s obviously feeling trapped and lost — is it because she loves Soo? Or is it because she feels like Soo doesn’t love her? Or that because it came at the cost of her brother’s life it’s therefore a love that cannot be? And if it’s any of those three, is there anything that can pull her out of her darkness and have her embrace life again? Even if Soo doesn’t make it? (And I tell you — I am worried about Soo.)

      If the ending has me in a big sobbing mess of tears, that’s fine. I knew this could end sadly from the get go. I do want the story to end with clarity, though. I feel like it still can. (It’s not really that much that needs explaining — Young’s feelings is pretty much it. And Boss Kim’s big plan.) I’m definitely going to be tuning in with the expectation that it will be a satisfying (though quite possibly heart-wrenching) finale.

      • Me being confused as to how it’s all going to end, or how the characters are feeling as they come into the ending, doesn’t mean the writer is confused. It means… I’m confused.

        I hear you, Betsy. And this whole post, from its title to your response inspired three thoughts that I will try to articulate as well as I can:

        First, I will reiterate that I do read in the way you express your confusion IS a voice very different from the “goodbye, cruel drama!” wailing and gnashing of teeth that erupted on DB; to my mind’s ear, the voice here is much more tempered. That same mind’s ear must have still been ringing from the din over at DB when my computer chimed to let me know that there was a new comment over here and I clicked to read it. Forgive me if in my haste I seemed insensitive to what you were actually saying.

        Second, both the sense of alienation expressed by some viewers at DB and the confusion expressed here sound quite sincere and read to me like signs of genuine engagement with this fantastic story. When I do consider that sincerity, it occurs to me that perhaps I was shortsighted and failed to see just how Writer No is still working her poetically mimetic magic to the very end. What I mean is that just as end of ep. 13 served to shock the viewer into emotionally walking a few steps in Oh Young’s shoes by provoking visceral anger toward Oh Soo and bringing upon us a sense of betrayal, the alienation the readers in DB express and the confusion you write about in this post may well still be poetically mimetic reflections of Oh Young’s own emotional state. What I find truly remarkable about the drama affecting us in this way is that it is consistent with its established modus operandi of showing rather than just telling us what out players are going through. If Oh Young’s choice to end her life and the actions she undertakes to do so seem incomprehensible and are therefore alienating to the drama’s viewer, perhaps there is no better way of dramatizing how utterly she has given up on trying to be understanding of the soul-crushing world that has been her experience of the world, how completely alienated she herself feels from the people in that world and — most importantly — from herself. Drawing this second thought to a close, I also wonder how much of the effect ep. 15 has on viewers reflects some measure of the impact a suicide in real life may have on those, whether close or distant, who must witness it…

        The third and last thought is a personal one, and I sincerely hope you won’t mind that I write it here. Although I have so often been effusive about loving this drama and have thought about and written about it more than I have about any other drama I have seen so far (K or otherwise), I now suspect that I have taken considerable refuge from the drama’s emotional intensity by focusing my attention on formal elements of the narrative when I talk about it. It has been much safer for me to contemplate and analyze how the story is being told and to consider its ethical challenges than it has been to publicly let myself experience the depth of pathos that this story so deeply provokes when I watch it. Why? 몰라 (molla). Perhaps it is just another way of watching a drama when there are people around.

        I do know this: I truly value hearing about how other people are feeling as they follow this story. When my feelings coincide with someone else’s, I experience a sort of fraternal solidarity and a keen sense of shared understanding (not necessarily mutual, but certainly shared). When my feelings do not coincide with those of others, especially when they are many such others, I wonder about what in my experience of the world accounts for such a divergence and what I might therefore learn about the world from hearing how others read and interpret the same ‘text’ differently.

        Before starting TWtWB, I really thought I was done with KDrama. There was no rancor or regret, just a mild sense of nostalgia and an awareness that I had learned a great deal that I did not know before. Now, as this beautiful and — to date often painful — story of Oh Soo and Oh Young draws to a close, I am so very glad to see that I still have so much to learn beyond the screen thanks to this particular mode of storytelling. And I welcome it, hoping that I will be a worthwhile pupil.

        • It’s incredibly fascinating to me the different ways we take in stories. Especially now in the age of the internet when we can share our thoughts and reactions in real-time while the story is still unfolding. Your phrase, “fraternal solidarity,” really captures the pleasure that comes from enjoying and understanding and analyzing a show together. And it is a challenge when suddenly that solidarity breaks apart. So I wasn’t at all upset by what you’d written. Actually I was kind of wincing in sympathy because I’ve been there where I adored where a show was going and happily clicked into a discussion only to find that my adoration was by no means shared. (I realized, looking back over our discussion, that I had an html mistake that led to waaay more italics in my reply than I’d meant to put in. So I may have seemed much more defensive than I actually was. I do apologize if that was the case.)

          In some ways I wonder if it’s unfair to a story to so thoroughly dissect it before it’s completely told. Sometimes episodes or chapters are building a foundation for a chapter or episode to come and can’t really be understood on their own without the followthrough they’re heading towards. On the other hand… it’s the nature of the beast with dramas. There is a delay between episodes and the writers and producers have to know their audience is going to be thinking about and debating what they’ve been given.

          I love your second thought that the writer may be purposefully encouraging the audience to feel lost. I’m truly eager to see the final episode, see how it all pulls together.

          And your third thought… It’s interesting, I was really disengaged from discussing Flower Boy Next Door while I was watching it. I’d dip a toe in, now and again, over at Dramabeans — but for the most part it was something I watched alone. Because it struck pretty close to home I wasn’t as interested in the opinions of others (unless they agreed with me ;)). There’s so many ways to engage with a story — and especially a story that really touches you.

    • I can’t advise for or against until it’s done. I mean, if you love melo — this is an awesome melo thus far. But if melo’s not usually your thing… the ending will decide. 🙂

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