Once again we dive into a drama that gives us a look into the lives of prodigies and how life isn’t all flowers and sausages for the brilliant teens of the world. In fact, life is darn hard, as we witness karma kicking everyone’s tushies towards the unknown. Come join me as I give my thoughts about episode 1.
For those of you just discovering our awesome blog, I am Kmuse, one of the main bloggers at “Dramas with a Side of Kimchi”…many of you know me from my previous blog “The Crazy Ahjummas.” I have some unexpected free time since Vampire Detective is only once a week, so I thought I would recap this short drama as well. Because nothing is better than doing some Ji Soo fangirling.
A little about me: I am a mother of three and an avid kdrama watcher, in that I love to watch literally everything. There are very few currently airing dramas that I am not watching so if you have any questions about them (or really any drama since I have seen an insane amount) feel free to ask me in the comments. Or better yet come like our facebook page and ask me there. FB PAGE LINK For those of you who have not read my past recaps, I am one of those bloggers that really likes to just discuss my opinions on certain scenes or concepts of the drama. I don’t go step by step through the whole thing. So if you are looking for a complete recap you might have to look elsewhere (and then come back and read ours of course).
This is the tale of three youths heartwarming story. Or at least the opening credits inform us that this is the theme. So let’s start by meeting our main characters.
Jeong Cha Shik ( Ji Soo)
FINALLY, Ji Soo is playing a character that is not all angsty! Not that there isn’t a tiny bit of angst (that would be a waste of a great angst actor) but for the most part what you see is what you get when it comes to Cha Shik. I love that he is one of those people that isn’t looking for a deeper meaning to life. If a person bumps into his mom, then that person is deserving of infinite pain. If he is told that his father is a famous pianist and he has genius DNA, he runs with it.
Thankfully, the writer adds just a tiny bit of depth to Cha Shik so he doesn’t come across as a total airhead. Cha Shik obviously has the ability to cut through the selfishness surrounding him to see the bigger picture (at least when it comes to others). I loved how he faked being OK for his mother’s sake. Not to mention his words to the two angsty pianists when Yoo Seul tried to kill herself (more on that later).
Just a few things you have to know about Cha Shik, other than the fact that he can be taken at face value. He is a talented Pole Vaulter and is using this talent to make it into a sports-focused high school/college. He loves his mother to an almost unhealthy level and his mom is the complete opposite of Yoo Seul’s mother. In other words, she is pure awesomeness on a stick.
Yoon Yoo Seul (Kim So Hyun)
Yoo Seul is one of those complex mean girl characters. She is pretty much what our usual Korean leading man is like. Kind of a horrible person in the beginning, but hidden way way way……way deep is a nice kid who just wants to say goodbye to the piano.
Just like Ji Soo is very talented in the angst department, Kim So Hyun has the ability to play mean girl to a tee. She is one of the few actresses that can play both damsel in distress and all out witch effortlessly. Something that the writer is taking advantage of as we see the two sides of Yoo Seul’s character.
There is just one deterrent to Yoo Seul’s dream of being an ordinary teen, or a decent human being, for that matter. Enter Yoo Seul’s helicopter mother from hell. This mother takes a page from the classic evil kdrama mom book as we see her micromanage her daughter’s life down to every movement and thought. I am actually surprised the mom doesn’t have a piano in the bathroom so her daughter can practice while she pees.
I was especially appalled when she literally wanted her daughter to destroy the other students in any way possible. I already want to smack Yoo Seul’s mother into silence. We can only hope that the writers can give the mom a heavy dose of karma comeuppance.
Seo Jin Mook (Shin Jae Ha)
Jin Mook finishes out our trio of talented youth by being the 2nd best pianist at the art school he and Yoo Seol attend. Jin Mook is a hard worker but comes off as cold. Partially due to an entitled upbringing (younger Jin Mook was a total brat) and partially because of Yoo Seol’s constant attacks.
Jin Mook might be a jerk on the outside, but inside he also has a mushy marshmallow center. I like how reflective he is about the events of episode 1, but not to the point where he doesn’t want karma to kick Yoo Seol and her mother out of his life (Personally I don’t blame him. They are truly a piece of nasty work.)
The Battle of the Page Turner
Now that we have glimpsed the characteristics of our leads, let’s chat about some of my favorite scenes. We first get a detailed description of what a Page Turner is. In short it is the person who, well, turns the pages of the music for the pianist as they perform.
We start the episode at the sight reading testing for the kid’s art school and Yoo Seol’s Mother has evil plans a-brewing. She tells her daughter to mess up Jin Mook’s testing by becoming a page turner and turning the page at the wrong moment. I will give Yoo Seol credit that she didn’t follow through with her mom’s evil shenanigans, at least during the test. Sadly, Jin Mook also offers to be a Page Turner for Yoo Seol’s performance and accidentally drops the music (it seems he really did do it on accident, although no one believes in his innocence.) This doesn’t phase Yoo Seol since, being the prodigy she is, she simply plays the piece from memory.
Poor Cha Shik’s Twig and Berries
Let’s check on Cha Shik who is in mid competition himself. I laughed myself silly watching Cha Shik get all crazy because he thinks someone has dissed his mother. Just so happens that he gets upset at the parents of the record holder. So what is a simply sweet mama’s boy to do? Break the record of course. Which he does brilliantly.
But then he decides that today is the day that he is going to go beyond just that record and beat the Korean record. Cha Shik prepares, he jumps, you think that he has made it over………….. and then this happens.
I am pretty sure that these expressions say it all when it comes to the pain that poor Cha Shik is feeling. My poor injured khottie.
Thankfully Cha Shik’s “stuff” is declared fit as a fiddle by the doctor. He won’t be a eunuch for life, a fact that everyone is very happy about. Unfortunately, it is discovered that Cha Shik has some damage effecting his spine and will not be able to continue competing in sports.
Our Trio Gets Angsty
Cha Shik will have some company on the pity wagon as Yoo Seul is in a huge car accident the same day. The result being that our prodigy pianist is now blind. You would think that most parents would be overjoyed that their child didn’t die. But not Yoo Seul’s crazy mother. Her reaction is a little more demented than expected. Even before the words are out of the doctors mouth, Helicopter Mom is declaring that Yoo Seul will be practicing three times as hard to overcome this roadblock between her and piano greatness.
Before we get any further in the momma drama that is Yoo Seul’s life. We have to do a quick insert about poor Jin Mok. Turned out that when he gets upset he goes off to the church to pray. And this time, he prayed that Yoo Seul and her mother would get what they deserve. Seconds later Jin Mok gets the phone call about the accident. Aww, poor boy has some serious guilt going on. I might have laughed at all the intense Jesus pictures lurking about to remind him of his sin.
Feeling horrible, Jin Mok travels to the hospital with a bouquet of “I’m sorry” flowers in his hands to make amends for calling the wrath of god down upon Yoo Seul’s head. He arrives just in time to witness Cha Shik leading the blind Yoo Seul to the rooftop. Or at least that is Yoo Seul’s plan. Yoo Seul is destroyed when she realizes that not even blindness can not stop her mom’s ambition. The only solution is suicide, of course.
Tears were cried, snarky words were shared with her nemesis, Jin Mok, and then our heroine jumps. Straight into the arms of our sexy Cha Shik. Realizing what Yoo Seul was going to do, he took her to the parking lot instead of the rooftop and waited underneath the ledge to catch Yoo Seul as she falls to her death. Cha Shik then berates her for being so selfish. It is not her mom that has the problem, but Yoo Seul for allowing her mother to push her into doing something she hates. Cha Shik puts her down and walks away from all the drama.
A New Direction
I thought the way they brought Cha Shik’s despair over losing his life goals was amazing. He finally broke down with his mom (so well done, Ji Soo is totally a scene stealer) and then he goes into a funk where he participates in some angsty bubble-wrap popping in his room.
Realizing that her son needed a swift kick, metaphorically, to get out of his funk, Cha Shik’s mom goes and digs out a picture of his father. She explains that he is a genius pianist and that Cha Shik is just like him. Not only does he have talented DNA via his father, but is obviously the type that can find a new talent to replace pole vaulting.
In simple Cha Shik fashion he cheers up and decides that since his father is a famous pianist, that must mean he will also be able to play the piano brilliantly. He makes a new goal. To become talented enough to be worthy of his father’s love and be able to introduce himself. Aww, he is such a cute puppy.
At the same time that Cha Shik is shifting his goals, Yoo Seul has also come to a decision. Yoo Seul watches her mother prep their house for all things blind piano, including a new tutor and the news that Helicopter Mom was going to become her daughters 24-7 companion. Reflecting back on the past Yoo Seul realizes that Cha Shik had been right. Many of her current problems were results of not standing up to her mom. In a firm voice, Yoo Seul announces that she plans on going to school and give up the piano. We don’t see the aftereffects, but something tells me that Psycho Mom is not going to handle this well. Can’t wait til next week to see if I am right.
I really enjoyed this episode. Not only did it successfully set up all three leads story lines, but the actors are top notch. Not that I don’t understand the need for short dramas and web series to give newbies their first acting experience, but that sometimes makes for an uneven final product.
I also appreciated that the crying and angst of our characters was offset with just enough humor to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Something that often occurs when dealing with high school story lines and pushy parents.
Judging from the preview, we can expect some humor next week. And I predict Cha Shik will shake things up in the world of professional piano
See you next week,