“All that delicious mystery in the setup and then… the show dithered.”
In a nutshell: A neat idea that failed. Based off of a webtoon (that I hope made a lot more sense) the drama is about a boy who gains special powers after a near-death experience. As you do. It’s basically a superhero creation story and normally I eat those things up with a spoon. Unfortunately this drama had an interesting premise but no idea what to do with it. (The same director did Fashion King. Which explains a lot.)
What worked: This was a web-cast drama, so the episodes were short, beautifully shot, little digestives. Our young hero, Ahn Dae-yong, wakes up from a coma and can suddenly tell who is about to die (their eyes glow red) and who is about to kill (their eyes glow blue). All of that gets explained with efficiency and with lovely little mysterious hints of a bigger game afoot.
Kim Dong-jun does a good job playing Dae-yong as a typically awkward teenager — an amusing mix of brash and bashful — who grapples with how to use his newfound power. Be a selfless and anonymous hero or bask in the adulation that comes after saving lives? It’s the classic struggle of the modern superhero (I believe Spiderman did it first) and I was looking forward to Dae-yong’s journey. Would he stay pure or get corrupted by power?
Kim Min-suk played his best friend (playing pretty much the exact same character as his Shut Up Flower Boy Band role — though it was still good seeing him again), and Sun Ju-ah played his love interest. They could have been interesting additions. The best-friend seemed primed to represent all that was pure about Dae-young. The love-interest had hints of a mysterious backstory that might have created an interesting character in and of herself. Another promising might-have-been was Kim Jun-gu (Kim Gyeun-hyung). He brings complications that should have made him a delightful addition.
But it all slid into a deep pit of confusing.
What went horribly, horribly wrong: All that delicious mystery in the setup and then… the show dithered. It fell into repetition (an unforgivable mistake given the short runtime), then leapt right past itself with characters suddenly gaining or losing motivations with no explanation, then fell back into repetition. And then it was done.
The plot-points were so standard I could figure out what was going on for the most part. But while the points were standard (this is where the hero falls into temptation) the plot itself remained a mystery (the girlfriend and Jun-gu know each other because…?). It felt like I’d missed a scene — or an entire episode, even — and just had to take it on faith that a change of heart had been caused or a backstory had been shown. The ending presented itself like all had been solved and explained (Miss Scarlet, in the parlor, with the candlestick) when I wasn’t even clear if there’d been a murder in the first place.
Also, there was an interesting philosophical discussion buried somewhere within the drama. One I wasn’t sure I agreed with. It seemed to take the Spiderman philosophy of “with great power comes great responsibility” and add on an additional, “so run away from power!” — but it never got fully articulated so I couldn’t even argue with it. Which was frustrating.
In Conclusion: It really was a neat idea, both for how to present a drama and as a story in and of itself, but the execution failed so utterly I honestly cannot recommend it. There was no middle to it (a problem Fashion King struggled with as well) which means it wasn’t really a story at all. It is short enough that if you’re curious it won’t completely waste your time. But still — it’s two hours you won’t get back.