And I’m bored. Thank goodness for the large cast is all I can say right now.
Spoilers through episode 10 below…
I think the main issue is we’ve skipped a crucial aspect of Eun-sang’s and Tan’s relationship. We got the tentative first steps of unlooked for attraction (fun in California, painful in Seoul) and then we slammed right past confessions and (at least semi-)indulged passions and landed hard into bitterness and regret.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t expecting some amounts of bitterness and regret at some point but… why such a paltry offering of passion beforehand? The one kiss they’ve had was bizarrely passionless. Eun-sang was scared out of her wits at the time. Tan was angry, but his anger wasn’t focused on her. (Okay — yes, an angry kiss is not romantic, but it can be passionate if it’s done right.) They weren’t thinking about each other at all. It was all about Young-do. In fact, their entire relationship now seems to be all about Young-do. Which is bizarre. And yet…
Thank goodness for Young-do! Because while I’ve gotten bored with Eun-sang and Tan together, I find them both much more interesting when they’re with Young-do. Tan becomes a lot more cruel, but also clever. He actually works for something. (True, that “something” seems to boil down to, “beating Young-do,” but it’s active at least, so I’ll take it.) Eun-sang becomes alert and responsive. With Tan she just shuts down.
But even with Young-do around, I feel like I’ve lost their story thread. I don’t know what either Tan or Eun-sang want anymore. And I don’t really know what they want with each other because I’m not seeing any joy or passion to their relationship. (This is vastly different from Secret Garden, I’ll add. In that drama the attraction between the two leads was scorching and I completely believed that they couldn’t stay away from each other despite the large gap between their worlds. So this isn’t me not liking the writer’s general style. I think it’s more the writer not conveying what she’s wanting to convey.)
Part of this may well be a massive cultural wall. I do not understand how Tan’s world works or how he’s trapped in it. Contracts via marriage are so medieval to me, a methodology dropped for a reason (because, dear God, I cannot think of a situation more volatile or primed for failure than dragging personal emotion into a business deal and we actually have legally binding contracts that don’t involve marriage vows in this day and age, so why, why, why depend on something so fragile?!?), and why can’t he just be a professor or a writer or something? Why does he need controlling shares of a company he’s not interested in running? So Tan’s problems strike me as very manufactured — he’s trying to keep something he doesn’t want while sacrificing a love he keeps saying he does want (and also his brother’s love and his mother’s dignity and… *headache*)
I understand Eun-sang’s position a little more. Poverty is poverty and the limitations it brings are very real. But I don’t know what she’s aiming for. What is she getting out of this school? If she had a tangible goal — a scholarship to a university (especially one abroad), for example — I could see why it’s so crucial she stay there. But right now, her being there and needing to stay there, also feels manufactured.
So those are my sadly growing issues. However! I did enjoy the PTA shenanigans, and I’m very intrigued with Esther and Secretary Yoon, and Hyo-shin is becoming more and more fascinating, and I love every single scene with Young-do. So I’m still watching. Just, the bloom has definitely gone off the rose.