Four episodes in and I’m still happy! Things are intensifying nicely and the wide cast of characters continue to be both interesting and entertaining. And we’re finally heading back to Korea! But, before we leave the land of sun and fun…
Spoilers through episode 4 below…
Most of the California stuff was pretty cringe-inducing, what with the oddly stilted acting and mangled English. But! They did get two things right. First, — and this is one so many tv shows miss — the US is huge and California is huge and it takes a long while to travel anywhere. I was very impressed that the journey to the almond farm was shown to be so time-consuming. (Seriously. Even US shows can get that horribly wrong, so I give Heirs props.)
Second, there are plenty of stretches of nothing and a car breakdown can be a dangerous thing. Okay — this one is a lot more situational, and it’s a dramatically convenient setup — but people can and do die if their car quits in the wrong spot while they’re driving from point A to point B. (I had a long stretch between college and home back in the day, so my parents told me a lot of stories and made sure I had a properly equipped emergency box in the trunk of my car for just in cases.)
Also! I’ll point out that the town they drove to does, in fact, exist and there are some empty stretches between it and L.A. (I’ve been there! It’s called Harmony and it’s adorable and it has a population of 18 with a pottery store and a glassblowing store and… I think a dairy farm? It’s been a while. And I’ll stop my 20 degrees of separation gushing now.)
I adored Eun-sang using horror-movie logic and Tan as a smitten-kitten and that, even though she overheard his brother rejecting him, Tan was still glad she was there. It’s a refreshing change for this kind of, “Candy and the Chaebol,” tale — having the guy be warm and open and wanting to fall in love.
What’s even more refreshing is Eun-sang isn’t completely against the idea. She obviously feels something for Tan and enjoys his company but… (And she’s smart enough to know that the “…” is too big to easily hand wave away.) They’re okay in a dream-world, but in reality he’s engaged (which is insane at their age, as she rightly registers, but it’s still a fact) and he’s in a different enough economic class that it matters. So it’s a lovely mid-summer’s dream, but that’s it. (I also adored that she used the Hollywood sign as a metaphor “it looks so close — but it isn’t” and that he picked up on her meaning immediately. They’re both smart and I loves it.)
Even more addictive than the various degrees of angst…
…was the humor! I was not expecting so many reasons to laugh!
Bo-na has become a reliable bringer of chuckles. From her instantaneous calling when Chan-young posted the pic with Eun-sang (which is amusing because Chan-young is amused — I don’t generally like that level of clingy, but he gets a kick out of it so…), to her interactions with Chan-young’s dad (which were adorable) to her saying all the right things but to the wrong idol groups — I’ve begun to smile as soon as she appears on screen.
Myung-soo is another bringer of laughter. I’m suspecting he’ll be bringing angst at some point. (Every once in a while he goes a bit dark, before pulling out a “cute” move as — I suspect — a form of misdirection.) But he seriously has all the best lines as far as quick wit goes. (My favorite thus far was when Bo-na worried over Chan-young having met Tan and he asked (with wide eyed sincerity), “Chan-young left you for Tan?”)
Actually, it’s Young-do’s friendship with Bo-na and Myung-soo that tells me there’s something good in him, beneath the anger and cruelty. I like them so, therefore, there must be something likable about Young-do. Besides, of course, his excellent health.
I was especially surprised by the interactions between Tan’s mom (Madam Han) and Eun-sang’s mom (Mom). We got hints in their first scene when Mom wiped the wine stains off Madam’s mouth, but the wine-cellar scene when Mom overhears Madam calling the detective agency… It was hilarious — but it was also kind of telling how comfortable Mom was with lightly poking fun at Madam. I get the sense Mom actually likes Madam, or at least feels sympathy towards her. Their relationship is funnier, but also warmer than I was expecting.
Actually, I think that goes towards the entire show thus far: it’s funnier and warmer than I’d expected. I’d expected its world would be filled with cold girls like Rachel and cruel boys like Young-do. But we get many more instances of people caring for each other. Even Rachel is warm with Won (who’s warm with her — another unexpected moment). And Young-do is warm with both Bo-na and Myung-soo.
It makes for a pleasant watching experience. And it makes the moments of coldness and cruelty seem that much more… stilted and off-putting. This isn’t how people should be, even if the kids are getting straightjacketed into it.
Overall, I think we’ve got a solid foundation laid. We’ve been introduced to this insanely wealthy and insular world and we know the romance we’re rooting for (at least, I’m fully onboard the Tan/Eun-sang romance train) will go against all of that world’s rules. We’ve had good introductions to the various players (of which there are many) and to their various quirks and peccadilloes (of which, again, there are many). It’s time to get everyone into a room and watch for fireworks. Bring on episode five! (Eun-sang meeting Young-do? I’m already popping the popcorn.)