The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Flash Review: W-Two Worlds

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I’m thinking that we all have that one friend; you know, that one person that we know, who’s so unpredictable on a regular basis, that after a while, they become almost predictable in their unpredictability?

I mean, in the beginning, it’s all very surprising, and you find yourself rather stunned at said friend’s antics, and you sorta look forward to the kind of stuff said friend will get up to, coz it’s always something so unexpected and fresh. As time goes by, though, you can’t help but start to expect the unexpected from said friend, and it just becomes that much harder to feel surprised anymore. Said friend is still pretty much the same; just, you’ve gotten used to it, is all.

W is that friend, for me.

THE EVOLUTION OF MY WATCH EXPERIENCE

The cracky first half

It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to say that it was love at first episode for me, with W.

Right away, I found Show to be fresh, engaging, fast-paced, and really, really interesting. From the get-go, we’re thrown headlong into the manhwa world of W, so it sort of feels like we’re thrust into the thick of the action, and yet at the same time, setup is done really efficiently. I very quickly felt like I knew what I needed to know, in order to feel invested in these characters, and I wanted to know their story.

In a drama climate where I was feeling like I sorta-maybe-could-be in a drama rut with each show I was watching, this was nothing short of Amazing. This show made me want to watch back-to-back episodes, and I didn’t even get distracted by other things and pause in the middle of an episode. Each hour just zoomed right by, leaving me curious about what the next hour would bring.

I loved watching our heroine Yeon Joo (Han Hyo Joo) comically-frantically working to apply story and episodic logic to her situation, like understanding the workings of a time skip, or figuring out a way to end an episode of W. As a drama lover, I got a particular kick out of stuff like that.

More than that though, Show felt daring, which I really really loved. It went places that I didn’t expect it to go, and it made me think in the process, while entertaining and engaging me. I found the bold, decisive writing, and the excellent execution very impressive indeed.

The not-so-cracky second half

Sadly, the irony of being consistent, as it turns out, is that when you apply it to being surprising, it’s actually quite impossible to be consistently surprising. I mean, let’s think about that for a second; it’s against the nature of surprising to be consistent. Right? Right?? (That was a little bit deep, wasn’t it?)

And so it was, that at around episode 8, I realized that Show no longer had me breathlessly by the heart.

I was very aware that episode 8 was a very good, fast-paced episode where a lot of stuff happened. My brain registered that it was all very exciting and emotional, but somehow, I found that I was merely taking it all in, and registering story events as they happened, but no longer feeling torn upside-down and inside-out, with brain implosions on the side.

I.. even found it mildly predictable, in that as stuff happened, I found that everything fit easily and fully into this drama world’s logic system, and I could totally see why Show would go there, because it made sense to me. I guess I had gotten used to Show’s unpredictability, which is the thing that pretty much kills unpredictability.

To Show’s credit, I still felt some measure of pleasant surprise in the final few episodes, at the writing and handling, so Show never actually became boring.

On a tangent, I am beginning to suspect that when a show demands too much brain power from me, I find it harder to engage on a heart level with it. This is how I felt about writer-nim’s earlier work Nine, and a similar thing was going on for me, with this show.

I felt engaged with the characters, yes, but just not as much as I usually am, with my drama characters. I figure that perhaps because my brain was more actively engaged, that my heart-engagement felt less. I don’t know; maybe it’s just with this writer. I hafta say, though.. this has made me wonder if I’m quite possibly not so great at multitasking.

STUFF I LIKED

The execution of the two worlds

Apart from Show’s bold storytelling, my next favorite thing about W is the execution of the two worlds. Serious kudos to PD-nim for managing the relationship and transitions between the two worlds so skillfully.

First of all, I love that the manhwa versions of our characters – when we do see them as manhwa characters – are so much like their live-action counterparts. It’s just so cool to see manhwa Lee Jong Suk and manhwa everybody else, looking so convincingly like their source humans.

It’s even cooler to see the transition between the real world and the manhwa world, when they are juxtaposed like they are in the screenshot above. [SPOILER] The CGI around characters fading between real life to 2D manhwa drawings – like So Hee fading out and intermittently having parts of her body flickering into 2D manhwa drawings in episode 8 – is also very well done. [END SPOILER]

I also really liked the little details, like the W world changing in the moment, even as things got drawn in, in the real world.

The seamless, polished execution of the two worlds really made it much easier to buy into the fantastical setup as something real and believable.

Lee Shi Un as Soo Bong

Major, major shout-out to Lee Shi Un, for taking a supporting character and turbo-charging him to becoming arguably the cutest and most endearing thing about this show. That takes serious skillz, since Soo Bong is written primarily as a foil to our main characters, and is mostly more reactive than actually possessing a proper arc of his own.

Yet, Lee Shi Un delivers those reactions with such perfect comic timing, and with the most expressive elastic expressions, that I couldn’t help but love him and look forward to his scenes. Seriously, almost everything about Soo Bong is endearing, in a bumbling, earnest sort of way. [SPOILER] In particular, I loved his regular bouts of disbelief, horror and awe in trying to come to terms with Yeon Joo’s fantastical tales of her adventures in the world of W. And I loved-loved-loved his starry-eyed fanboying, when he finally came face to face with Kang Chul (Lee Jong Suk). Tee hee. [END SPOILER]

A cute OTP

Ordinarily, I feel a lot more engaged with a show’s OTP, and I have to admit that I felt a little, well, distant from this particular OTP.

I think one reason is what I mentioned earlier, about this show demanding so much of my brain’s engagement that my heart sort of checked out, a little bit. The other reason, is that Show was a little abrupt in the way our OTP fell in love, making it hard for me to buy into their romance and the depth of their love. It also doesn’t help that Kang Chul is shown to be mostly a mix of curiously amused and casually flippant when interacting with Yeon Joo.

That said, I did find the OTP cute when they were allowed to be together and in a romantic sort of narrative space. Yeon Joo is a likable, flaily scatterbrain, and I found it a nice contrast, to have our manhwa hero so perfect, while our real-world heroine is so imperfect. This did give us fun opportunities for Show to play off their differences.

Additionally, once I got over the necessary suspension of disbelief over the depth of their love, I found myself enjoying the easy couple chemistry between our OTP. Plus I do have affection for both Lee Jong Suk and Han Hyo Joo, so that helped as well.

Special Shout-out:

Kim Eui Sung as Dad

Big shout-out to Kim Eui Sung, who pretty much stole the show. From Dad’s wide-ranging moods, [SPOILER] to the eventual need to portray two characters [END SPOILER], Kim Eui Sung was always completely and utterly convincing, and when the need arose, thoroughly compelling as well. Mad props, seriously.

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH

Changing, unexplained rules

In the beginning, I found it thrilling to piece together how the rules in this drama world were supposed to work. We’re never told how the rules work, but in watching our characters’ experiences and observing the consequences that occurred, it was actually a bit of an adventure working to fit the pieces together to figure out how everything was supposed to work.

The problem was, Show would sometimes actually change those rules along the way.

Sometimes the rule-changing made narrative sense, [SPOILER] like when Yeon Joo went from invincible to vulnerable in the world of W, once Kang Chul decided she was the key to his life [END SPOILER], but at other times, the rule-changing felt random, [SPOILER] like when Faceless Killer Guy suddenly became able to walk through random teleporting doorways in the world of W [END SPOILER].

The problem with the inclusion of the random rule changes was that it made me lose interest in figuring out the rules that did make sense. Like, if Show’s gonna play like that and just change things when it feels like it, why should I even bother trying to figure things out, right?

Logic slips & unanswered questions

Writer-nim clearly put a lot of thought into creating the world of W and into plotting many of the narrative milestones of our story, so big kudos to her there.

Occasionally, though, I noticed a logic slip or two, and at other times, stuff seemed to be glossed over in service of forwarding out story. The more this happened, the I more I felt that it took away from Show’s coolness factor.

[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]

The first logic slip I noticed was in episode 6, when Kang Chul is reported as a missing person in the real world. This didn’t make sense to me. How could they have reported Kang Chul as a missing person to the police, when Kang Chul had no identity in this world? You can’t just go to the police and say, I’m looking for someone, but I can’t tell you who he is?

Another logic slip – or at least, I felt it was a logic slip – was in episode 9, after the reset where Kang Chul wakes up from his coma and everything that had occurred prior was relegated to a coma dream. The fact that Kang Chul’s previously strong will to seek the truth seems to be gone post-coma didn’t make sense to me. His burning desire to find answers to all the suspicions and analysis that he’d had prior to his stabbing wouldn’t be simply eradicated by a dream. He had been a in coma, yes, but he doesn’t suffer amnesia post-coma, so this didn’t make sense to me either.

In terms of unanswered questions, I was most curious about the logic behind Faceless Killer Guy stealing Dad’s face. First of all, how the heck did Faceless Killer Guy even steal Dad’s face? Having him explain that he “ate him up” doesn’t count as an answer.

I was also really curious about why Dad then had to operate as Killer Guy’s zombie. Why didn’t Dad have free will anymore? And, how on earth did Faceless Dad manage to survive, not being able to eat or, y’know, breathe?

Another thing I was curious about was, why Killer Guy seemed unaffected by the reset, since he demonstrates that he knows what happened during that “dream” timeline.

There are lots more unanswered questions where those came from, but suffice to say, these unanswered questions started to bemuse me in increasing measure, the more they stacked up.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING 

I.. honestly don’t know how to feel about the ending.

On the one hand, yay that it’s a happy ending for Kang Chul and Yeon Joo.

But, on the other hand, Dad had to disappear from existence – and die, basically – in order for this happy ending to be possible. I get that it’s supposed to be a loving fatherly sort of sacrifice, and that Dad felt too sinful to continue to live, and that it was his way of paying for his sins, but.. really? We – and Yeon Joo – are supposed to feel ok about his death? Talk about a high price to pay for your art.

Also, while the twist on the ending was rather interesting and quite useful for getting us the happy ending that this show needed, I felt like this dramaworld’s rules were blatantly ignored or changed in order for that to happen. What happened to the story of W following the main character’s arc? Shouldn’t the story have followed Kang Chul’s journey from the brink of death back to life, and not only the fact that the villains had died? That was weird.

On top of that, what happened to W ceasing to exist once the story is over? Earlier in the show, once Kang Chul gained awareness of the two worlds, everything had stopped in W. Shouldn’t that hold true as well, now that the story of W has ended?

What about rules like characters fading out of existence once they aren’t useful to the story? That just suddenly stopped being a Thing. Why? And of course, the biggest question of all, how the heck did Kang Chul cross over to the real world after it was all over, since his most recent efforts to summon himself to the real world hadn’t worked? Are we supposed to believe that now, after W has ended, he’s just able to summon himself again?

And then there’s that thing where all the W-originated items had disappeared from the real world after the final episode. So what’s this about Yeon Joo’s ring reappearing, now that Kang Chul’s in the real world? How does that work? Is it the same ring? Or had the ring disappeared to some kind of holding zone, only to be summoned again by Kang Chul?

Sigh. So many questions, and no real answers.

Because W is a show whose appeal (for me, anyway) was largely in its smarts and its ability to work around its dramaworld’s rules in twisty bendy ways while still staying true to those rules (or so I trusted – or at least hoped), this lack of answers in the finale was pretty disappointing, for me.

The lack of answers also undermines all the earlier philosophical questions Show seems to raise; questions like, “What does it mean to be human? Are we really the masters of our own fate?” The thing is, in glossing over the how of the happy ending, Show seems to only serve up a half-answer; something along the lines of, “Yes, we can be masters of our own fate. Just don’t ask us to explain how.” Which doesn’t really cut it in my books, honestly.

The OTP’s happy ending does mollify me somewhat, but, does it mollify me to the extent that all the unanswered questions don’t matter anymore? I wish I could say yes, but y’know, they kind of do matter. I can’t deny that I’m glad our OTP got their happy ending, but I also can’t deny that I’m disappointed at the lack of answers.

Still, props to Show for being daring and different. At your best, Show, you had me by the heart. And I won’t forget that.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

A solid, logic-bendy watch, in spite of its flaws.

FINAL GRADE: B

TEASER:

MV:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

66 thoughts on “Flash Review: W-Two Worlds

  1. i can’t finish this drama , dropped it at ep 6, it’s theme is too much for me hahaha, but i heard and from this rating, it’s quite a nice watch, 🙂

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    • Actually, from what I know of your drama tastes, I don’t think this is your kind of show, Nancy.. I did love the first half, and even then, I found the second half lacking. If you dropped it as early as E6, I doubt you’d like the rest of the show! 😛

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  2. I totally agree with you … I have difficulties to finish this drama because of what you explained so precisely. Well executed, fresh ideas when comparing to the currently airing dramas, good acting, interesting story (the deep link of an author with his/her creation) … but 16 episodes is far too long. The story starts to go in circle. I am at episode 13 and I want to skip to the end …
    I will let you what I think of the end.

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    • Did you end up finishing W, Ocha?? I found myself dragging my feet towards the end, because I no longer found it as engaging nor as exciting, and the story seemed to cycle in place in spots too. I do think it could’ve been a better show if it had been much shorter, coz then maybe we wouldn’t have needed Show to pull so many tricks out of the bag to keep the story going..

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  3. i dropped the drama in the midst of the 10th episode lmao. it was good at first tho.

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  4. I’ve enjoyed the drama a lot up to the third reset. I did not like the dad losing his face cause it has been pretty logical until that happened. Daddy did a very good act as the Dad and the villain. Right, I too did not loose interest but it diminished.

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    • Oh yes, Dad losing his face was anything BUT logical. I still don’t get it, and I did try to figure it out. I don’t get how he could survive, not being able to breathe. Or eat or drink. And I don’t get why he had to become a zombie, since Killer Guy only took over his face and not his brain. It just didn’t make sense, and Show didn’t make much of an effort to explain it either. “I ate him up” just doesn’t count for anything, seriously! 😝 But Kim Eui Sung did a fab job portraying both Dad and Killer Guy. Impressive stuff indeed. 🙂

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  5. Nod nod nod nod. Thank you for the very accurate to my feelings review! I agree that it simmered and fizzled a good bit half way in the attempt to keep changing it up and the romance felt a little too staged. But it was still worthy because of the execution of the concept and the main acting. I could see their suffering in the making of and that helped with appreciating their efforts even more.

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    • Heh. Glad we feel similarly about this show, lyricalpeach! 🙂 It did feel like Show wanted to keep changing things up, but sorta-kinda backed itself into a corner. The romance did feel too staged, and I never felt emotionally invested in their loveline. I was more interested in the overall story and execution, which had more of a wow factor for me – at least, it did before it became apparent that Show twisting itself into a futile knot. 😝

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  6. Loved this show from start to finish. I was 100% good with the ending too 🙂 An amazing and creative allegory of how to properly write fiction; it’s not perfect but is so much better than the usual fare. Not a easy, breezy watch, but worth the effort.

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    • Aw, I’m glad W worked out so well for you, shamrockmom! I wanted to love it, but I only really loved the first half. I couldn’t make satisfactory sense of the remaining half, and felt like even with effort, it wasn’t hitting the (or any) spot for me.. A pity, since I really wanted to like it. You’re very right though – it was daring and much different from the average kdrama. Respect to the folks who dared to approve this and run with it. 🙂

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  7. Oh my gosh my dear friend… so spot on. Remember when this blew our minds in the beginning and then… pfffft? I haven’t watched the last episode actually. I just read a recap somewhere–that’s how uninterested I got. And i may be biased (of course you know why hahahaha) but the OTP at the end didn’t sell it for me. The love story was too rushed and shallow. It had it’s moments but something about them didn’t quite stick. Made me almost wish I didn’t have a bias… I would have loved to see what the legions of OTP fans were seeing and squeeing about. Individually, they moved me but together? It drained me because of all the back and forth and resets.

    You know what I absolutely loved? Soo Bong and the amazing acting of the Dad.

    Thank you for this review!!! Happy to comment again after SO SO LONG. ❤

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    • Jo!! Thanks for stopping by again, I know life’s been really busy for ya. HUGS. ❤

      It’s not that you’re biased, honestly. I’m not biased (as in, I don’t ship the same OTP you do – or any at all, for that matter), and even I didn’t feel convinced of this OTP. I feel like Show threw them together and had them fall in love way too fast. I rationalized it to the best of my ability, but even then, I wasn’t ever really convinced that this OTP was in love for any other reason than that they were supposed to be. The reboot didn’t help matters, since Kang Chul 2.0 had even less reason to love Yeon Joo. So yeah. I don’t think it was your existing bias that made it feel hollow for you, if that helps. 🙂

      And omigosh YES, Soo Bong is ❤. I loved his flaily nervouse wide-eyed ways. So very cute! I want Soo Bong to have his own show now. 😂

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  8. Once again, your review is on point! I agree with all the things you liked and disliked.
    It started on a high and I was loving it so much. Then it started throwing all these curve balls and my brain was working too hard and not getting answers…aiyo…I had to put it on hold at Ep 11 cos RL and then couldn’t muster any enthusiasm to pick it up again. I really wanted to finish it.

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    • Aw, hi5 SOSsy, that we felt so similarly about this show – and commiserations that it left you so disappointed in the wake of its initial awesome. 😝 I felt pretty let down by how Show fizzled down to its loose-threads-everywhere sort of finale. After such an awesome start, this wasn’t the show that I thought I’d signed up for. You’re not missing much by not finishing this one, but it’s still sad that there was so much wasted potential in this. :/

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  9. I dropped it after a few episodes (it feels as if I’m on a dropping spree!). There were way too many questions and surprises without explanation of anything and no rules to rule this fantasy world. Also, the romance happened way too fast (even if it was sweet) and I didn’t care much for any character.

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    • You were quick on the uptake with dropping this then, snow!! I loved the first half, and that’s why I stayed for the second half. But Show never did recover and was never as good as its initial episodes. And you’re so right, the romance happened so fast that I didn’t really get how they fell in love. I rationalized that people become close much faster when facing life-and-death stakes together, but still, that only halfway convinced me. You didn’t miss all that much by dropping this one! 😅

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  10. I think the showrunners initially wanted to risk an underused genre like science fiction, but balked at the start of the 2nd half as the ratings dropped, and went all-out fantasy-romance 😛 anyone who watches a lot of sci-fi would immediately pick-up the tropes used in the show, but the flip-floppy way they dealt with time was most noticeable. I also think Professor Park Min Soo was the showrunners’ interpretation of the audience feedback, but now I’m convinced he instead reflects the emotion of the screenwriter herself xD basically, the show addressed it’s own shortcomings by inserting a fanboy commenting about them. personally, I loved how they break the 4th wall with humor like this, but the show in general wasn’t as phenomenal as I had hoped, it’s just OK.

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    • I’m not sure about whether the show actually changed directions, now that you mention it.. I read somewhere that this particular writer had her entire script mapped out very early on, because it’s just that twisty and bendy of a story. If that’s the case, then it’s less likely that the story got switched out for something else partway through. It’s still possible that certain tweaks were made in response to ratings and audience feedback, but I guess we might never know the truth of it.

      I did feel the Professor’s reactions mirrored the audience’s, particularly when things went extra wonky and he started tearing his hair out, haha! 😂 Sigh, if only Show hadn’t given him – and us – reason to do that. The if onlys and could’ve beens with this one, seriously. 😛

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  11. Thank you, fangirl! I have been looking forward to your thoughts about W.

    I diid watch the entire show, and I was absolutely enthralled by the world-bending story, but especially by the philosophical questions it posed…… and I ended up having way too much fun imagining other protagonists rising up against their creators, Heathcliff, Anna Karenina, etc! There was such an amazing brilliance to the first half of W.

    I felt there was a triple whammy that affected the story arc; the partial pre-emption for the Olympics (which threw it off kilter) followed by the reboot of Kang Chul (without enough time spent for our OTP to re-establish their relationship) and lastly, yes, the gradual, hissing leak of world logic.

    For me, the production, direction, art and acting were flawless and I would normally look to the writer for story issues. She did release the script and I will probably try to read, if I can find it translated.

    Side note: I had such a hard time watching, and re-watching the rooftop stab scenes of Kang chul…and I wondered if that was done deliberately? To make us empathize with him and see him real vs. manwha character?

    As always, I so appreciate the insight and thoughtfulness you give to these reviews.

    ,

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    • Those stabbing scenes were very hard to watch, and I hated early on the constant replay of his family getting gunned down in their house. That was just unnecessary.

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    • I’m so sorry this reply is coming so late, Mary!! October was a crazy month for me, Real-Life-wise, and I’m only just now catching up on all the comments!

      Thank you for your encouragement on the reviews, it really does make me happy to know that you enjoy reading them! HUGS. ❤

      How fun, that the first half of W tickled your imagination so much, that you started imagining other protagonists rising up against their creators! That’s a mark of creative success in my books, and it’s a crying shame that the second half of W went downhill the way it did. Not with a bang (which might’ve been more painful – or perhaps less, I can’t decide), but with a slow hiss, just as you described. I definitely felt the loss of pre-reboot Kang Chul, and I found Kang Chul 2.0 a different person, somehow. Perhaps it was the fact that he never had Kang Chul 1.0’s memories. And yes, Show didn’t take the time to rebuild his relationship with Yeon Joo. I always felt like Kang Chul 2.0 was acting more out of loyalty and a sense of keeping Kang Chul 1.0’s word for him, than out of an organic, self-grown sense of love and care for Yeon Joo. That’s probably also why I felt a sense of detachment from this OTP. I wanted a happy ending for them, but I wasn’t ever heart-in-my-throat right-there-with-them like I wanted to be.

      That’s a really interesting take on the repeated stabbing flashback, Mary! If we keep seeing Kang Chul getting stabbed, it reminds us of his mortality – and you can only really have mortality if you’re.. well, mortal. That, or they spent a lot of money filming that scene and wanted to milk every last possible drop of screentime out of it as possible, ha! 😂

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  12. Nice review!!

    I was underwhelmed by the ending, after being so blown away by the first half. I love, love, love stories where characters come to life, or ‘step off the screen’ or out of a book. Overall it was a very good drama, but I hated that the leading lady lost all her steam and she was merely sitting there listening to plan after plan after plan by Kang Chul, but too weak and exhausted to do much. I got a sense of show and tell. Too much telling, but at least they had showing of the plans. But I get the feeling the writer was crazily trying to tie up all the loose ends, and she did, but in the end, they didn’t give reasons for major developments in the plot. Logic slips and unanswered questions like you said.

    I don’t like when I can’t be bothered to figure things out because that’s just the way the show flows. Be as fantastical and whimsical, science fiction as you like, but I need rhyme and reason.

    Lee Jong Suk wasn’t kidding when he said he did a lot of talking in this drama. After a while it felt like he was just spouting lines in that ultra casual, kind of stiff way reset Kang Chul had.

    The special effects were cool, and I liked how you could just draw stuff and it would pop up in the W world. The underwater sequence in the restaurant was amazing.

    I felt bad for the father, I guess writernim was bringing home that he’s the creator of this world and character and he has to pay the price for literally murdering Kang Chul himself. Not only that, two or three people in the real world were murdered by his killer creation. And so sad for their families, to get no closure on the killer. I guess they can chalk it up to some crazy in a costume based off the W manhwas. Kind of like here in America being terrorized by killer clowns right now.

    I really don’t know how the killer took the father’s face. I get that the drama is fantasy to begin with, but at least explain the mechanics of that. It felt put in for shock value, but it wore after a while and you’re left scratching your head on how this man could survive.

    And our OTP got their quiet, bittersweet, ending, but what happened to the rest of W world? Did they fade out of existence like the father? The story ended! 😦 How sad! Or is this like the Never ending Story, where as long as people keep reading, the stories never stop or die? Again, no explanation.

    I really wanted Kang Chul’s besties to become a couple, or come into the real world with him! Remember when Soo Bong claimed to have the biggest crush on the female character? He did so much, he deserved to meet her in person!

    And another thing, I would’ve liked to have seen the reaction of more readers, besides that crazy doctor. The story went off the wall crazy! Where was all the media reaction, since it was a best-seller and flying off the shelves?

    I was hoping for some real meta, with the Media announcement of a W movie or drama in the making and the casting of actor Lee Jong Suk as the hero. Hahaha. And then Oh Soo Yon could casually say, “Kang Chul, he looks nothing like you.” LOL. The show could’ve used a little levity like that. If i were writernim I think you know I’d throw that in. hahaha.

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    • I’ll try to answer some of your questions, as I’m also working on analyzing the “rules” of this drama on my blog:
      (http://doramanogominoshito.tumblr.com/post/151720709665/w-two-worldstriviafact-sheet)

      1) There ARE Two Worlds (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AnotherDimension): Yeon-Joo’s and Kang-Chul’s. the W manhwa is a “window” to the other world, while Sung-Moo’s drawing tablet is the gateway. the manhwa-ish fantastic phenomena we’ve seen like the disappearing of limbs is simply because it can happen in either worlds. it’s a consequence of forgetting WHO you are or WHY you want to live. it can be a metaphorical approach by the screenwriter, all I’m saying is there’s no need to dissect it further, it just happens in this show (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MundaneFantastic).

      2) Only one can exist in either World. be it a person or an object. this was tackled quite subtly, but I hope it’s a given that the show never allowed the same item nor character existing simultaneously in both worlds. this explains Sung-Moo’s missing face–in YJ’s world it ceased to exist as it was “borrowed” by Not Dad in the other world. why did they make SM monster-like or pretty much a golem? not entirely sure, but it must be the screenwriter’s artistic (or ironically, literal) interpretation of losing one’s face. it’s kind of lazy writing for me, they seem to just went, “OK, SM gave his face to Not Dad, so his body still exists in YJ’s world, but the rest is in KC’s world, so SM is not human for now but it’s OK we’ll just hide him in a room because he’s scary to look at”

      5) The interdimensional events only matter to those directly involved, because Apathy Killed the Cat (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ApathyKilledTheCat). the showrunners made sure to keep the circle of interdimensional travelers small, because they seem to not want to expound on the plot or make things more complex for viewers who are already losing interest. this is why I believe the show started off as science fiction but eventually switched to generic fantasy romance, and left a lot of loose ends.

      not sure if that helps, and I’d love hear everyone’s thoughts because this show legit made me crazy 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      • I like the explanations you gave. I’ll check out your blog post too. I was left feeling unsure if there were actually 2 worlds, but that works. So I can assume the W world still exists without Kang Chul.

        That’s a cool interpretation. “Losing one’s face” literally. It didn’t cross my mind.

        Yes, it would complicate things to have a bunch of inter-dimensional travelers. But, but, they could’ve added just 2 more. Lol.

        Like

        • thanks!
          just a disclaimer, (which I should have posted instead of a duplicate reply) none of those is an original idea. I don’t regularly blog about my analyses on the shows I watch (I have friends who take the brunt of my rants lol), I just so happen to be most intrigued with W because it’s the first Kdrama that I’ve seen that ventured into science fiction tropes. though I’m more of a science fiction geek, I have been watching Kdramas since 2001, so imagine my delight when I thought I finally found the drama that directly speaks to my soul, and then realize it doesn’t.

          anyway, about the show avoiding adding more interdimensional travelers, I think that’s where Prof Park comes in: {http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LampshadeHanging) “…when attention is drawn to something that is so strange it threatens to break the Willing Suspension of Disbelief.” I think the show blatantly called out any possibility of Kang Chul’s world being as real as Yeon-Joo’s world in the form of Prof Park (heavily done in episode 13). so passersby who might have witnessed any of the interdimensional stuff can’t be any more curious, surprised sure but they’ll move on quickly, because in this show only the Main Characters care (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PlanetOfHats)

          I think I’ll add that one to my blog post, thanks 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • I know that feeling, where you just have to get your thoughts out there. I don’t have a drama blog, but it’s good to find blogs where you can freely vent and rant in the comment section. Lol

            Wow, in all those years, no major sci-Fi? That’s sad. My Love From another star seemed promising. It had its moments, but then all the promising Sci Fi ideas were just a cover for a Noona romance at its core.

            There’s also Joseon X Files, but I couldn’t get truly invested with that. I tried.

            Like

            • lol if not I’ll just tweet stuff, my blog is mainly for making gifs and fanart 🙂 I read reviews to check if there’s anything I missed or if I’m just the only one who thought of this or that, and thefangirlverdict helps me a lot to see things at a different viewpoint.

              none that I know of…My Love From the Star, Queen In-Hyun’s Man, even a recent one like Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart – Ryeo have elements of science fiction, but their plots do not revolve around exploring or gaining knowledge about them. just as W stopped understanding how the two worlds work or discovering how and why the tablet does what it does. I have yet to watch Jang Youngsil (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMf7VY8La5RHivjCpxGwgBKIYM3_bInq_) because I love Song Il Guk, but it’s factual historical drama centered on the main character doing science, I think, so I guess it’s still not sci-fi 😛

              Liked by 1 person

    • I’d like to try and answer some of your questions as I’m also trying to analyze some of the rules of this drama on my blog: http://doramanogominoshito.tumblr.com/post/151720709665/w-two-worldstriviafact-sheet

      1) There ARE Two Worlds (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AnotherDimension): Yeon-Joo’s and Kang-Chul’s. the W manhwa is a “window” to the other world, while Sung-Moo’s drawing tablet is the gateway. the manhwa-ish fantastic phenomena we’ve seen like the disappearing of limbs is simply because it can happen in either worlds. it’s a consequence of forgetting WHO you are or WHY you want to live. it can be a metaphorical approach by the screenwriter, all I’m saying is there’s no need to dissect it further, it just happens in this show (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MundaneFantastic).

      2) Only one can exist in either World. be it a person or an object. this was tackled quite subtly, but I hope it’s a given that the show never allowed the same item nor character existing simultaneously in both worlds. this explains Sung-Moo’s missing face–in YJ’s world it ceased to exist as it was “borrowed” by Not Dad in the other world. why did they make SM monster-like or pretty much a golem? not entirely sure, but it must be the screenwriter’s artistic (or ironically, literal) interpretation of losing one’s face. it’s kind of lazy writing for me, they seem to just went, “OK, SM gave his face to Not Dad, so his body still exists in YJ’s world, but the rest is in KC’s world, so SM is not human for now but it’s OK we’ll just hide him in a room because he’s scary to look at”

      5) The interdimensional events only matter to those directly involved, because Apathy Killed the Cat (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ApathyKilledTheCat). the showrunners made sure to keep the circle of interdimensional travellers small, because they seem to not want to expound the plot or make things more complex for viewers who are already losing interest. this is why I believe the show started off as science fiction but eventually switched to generic fantasy romance, and left a lot of loose ends.

      not sure if that helped, but I’d love to hear what everyone thinks 🙂

      Like

    • You know what, you are such a writer, my dear! I can totally see your writer juices going to work when you don’t like how a show is working. You automatically come up with alternative ideas, which is very cool. I love your idea of Soo Bong getting to meet his big crush. He was already fanboying so hard when he met Kang Chul, can you imagine how he would’ve flailed to have met So Hee? OMG the potential awesome! 😂😂

      I totally agree that writer-nim didn’t provide enough rhyme and reason for the events in this show. I get that sometimes it’s preferred for audiences to figure things out themselves – but that’s provided that things can actually be figured out, right? As far as I can tell, there are a lot of things in this show that just have no explanation whatsoever, and that writer-nim wouldn’t have an answer too, if the questions were posed to her, I suspect.

      I do think Faceless Dad was a plot point that was inserted for the shock value more than anything else. And I did sort of gasp out loud when he first appeared on my screen. But when that wore on and there was no explanation given, I grew weary of the zombie angle pretty fast. It didn’t make sense to me, coz Killer Guy had taken his face, not his brain. Killer Guy was still operating on his own brain, as far as we could tell. So logically speaking, Dad should’ve still been able to think rather than reduced to a zombie without any personal agency. This is why I think some stuff wasn’t very well thought through. Which is a pity, coz if better handled, this show could’ve been so cool.

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  13. I totally agree with you! At some point the show is too much for me. I actually watch kdrama to feel good but for this series it made me think too much that it was difficult to follow and understand the rules. It became too much of a chore to me watching this series! Too bad at the start i have high hopes for this series. But you are still nice for giving this a final grade of B

    Like

    • Lol. This is definitely not a mindless watch type of drama, you’re right about that! 😆 What worse than making me put in so much effort with the thinking, though, is that Show never does offer much in terms of answers. In comparison, I thought the writer did much better with Nine, which forced me to think really hard, but which at least was more consistent and provided more answers than W ever did. It’s just too bad, since this had the potential to be really special in how different it dared to be.

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  14. I think W world still exists after the story ended. In order for Kang Chul to safely transfer to the “real world” his story must end first. I have this theory that the W world has a new lead character or something hahaha 😀
    Nice review 🙂

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    • That’s an interesting idea, that the world of W has a new lead character after Kang Chul’s departure 🙂 I think it’s true that the world of W continues to exist after Kang Chul leaves, but I feel like Show never answered the question of how or why W went from being a cartoonist’s creation to becoming its own world. So many questions, and so few answers! Glad you enjoyed the review tho 😉

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  15. Hello
    Omy, this drama was so good at the beginning, but I ended up feeling kinda used and mad, like “I had all my feelings in you and you dissapointed me”

    I love all the actors this show had, all the freshness that had in the first part was mind blowing,. I honestly believe that after episode 8 there’s nothing else to watch.
    I agree in most of everything you think, the two worlds portrait and the comic factor was really outstanding, omy the production really nailed with that, specially how Kang Chul and Tae Hwan look like they really come out from a manga, they are so prince like, only beautiness.
    With so many answers to make and so much that was not responded, I conclude my comment.

    Take care :3

    Like

    • Aw. Hi5 that we feel so similarly about this show, Tef! This show could’ve been much tighter in offering up answers to all the questions it raised. And absolutely yes, Lee Jong Suk and Lee Tae Hwan were very lovely to look at indeed. I didn’t mention it in my review, but I did enjoy gazing at Lee Tae Hwan very well, ahem. 😉

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  16. Loved how this drama portrayed a creator and questioning ” what power he had to manipulate a character because he held the pen”. *Ehnm hi fangirl not sure this is the right place to ask but will you be reviewing Doctor Crush any time soon am really looking forward to it?*

    Like

    • I do plan to review Doctors, raspberry! I’m not sure when, because I’m currently juggling 3 reviews at the moment (Moonlight Drawn By Clouds, Doctors and Cinderella and the Four Knights). But I hope to post the review within the next couple of weeks! 🙂

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  17. I give so much credit to this show for being inventive and different. It skips a lot of the tropes (love triangle etc) for a refreshing type of drama. However, around the time dad lost his face, I found myself disassociating from it a bit without even realizing. (I don’t know what episode that was.) I looked forward to without being totally addicted to this show, but at around 20 minutes into episode 13, I took a break and it took me a long time to get back to it. I then hurried through episodes 14 and 15 and just finally got the gumption up to watch 16 yesterday.

    I would highly recommend this drama to fans who need a break from the same ole same ole chaebol/disapproving parent/which man should I pick Korean drama. Nonetheless, some of the emotional impact in the relationships is not there because so much is spent on the crazy crazy that character/relationship growth gets side-lined. And it definitely is a case of instalove though in the gal’s case, I guess one could say she was in love with the character.

    I thought this show did well with the comedic element with my favorite scene with the gal and her doctor boss arguing like two K-drama watchers arguing about any # of things. So funny. I also thought HHJ shined especially in the early episodes when only she knew what was going on in the alternate world. I agree, though, that the actor who played Dad was fantastic. What a great opportunity for often over-looked character actors.

    I just have one question. It seemed when the world opened, there was a card or something that was around/looked at that was going to offer some explanation to how it all happened. Okay, I’ll admit, I was probably loading my dishwasher in the later episodes and missed it, but was a reason for this world opening up ever offered?

    Like

    • I’m so sorry for this late reply, Kat! A combination of RL hectic, other backed up reviews, and a week of sore shoulders added up to me being woefully behind on comments! I’m only just getting back on track now. 😛

      W definitely is a show that dared to be different, and I did love the initial episodes very well, they felt so fresh and interesting. And that stretch where Yeon Joo was trying to figure out everything based on her knowledge of manhwa rules was golden. I absolutely agree that Han Hyo Joo did best in that stretch. It’s too bad that Show lost its way like it did, in the final stretch. I can totally understand why you’d take a break from it, only to drag your feet when it came to picking it back up.

      As for the card thing, I have to say that I didn’t notice it showing up in the beginning, and I don’t think it came up again. I wasn’t multitasking while watching this show, so if they’d explained how the world opened up, I should have noticed. The only thing I came away with, though, is the claim that W is a world that exists on its own, and not created by Dad, and Dad’s manhwa only serves as a bridge connecting the two worlds. I.. found that hard to buy, even with artistic license and suspension of disbelief etc. It just wasn’t much of an explanation, and I think that’s Show’s biggest flaw. It never really explained anything, in the end. 😝

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  18. I dropped this in the middle of episode 5. At first it was intriguing and cute, I had high hopes. But then I just started to dislike Kang Chul. ALOT. I can’t get invested in a drama if I don’t like both halves of the OTP.

    Like

    • Oh my. Yes, if you dislike both leads, it’s definitely not worth pushing on, even if everyone else is loving the show. In this case, I feel like you did the smarter thing, dropping out early. I hung on hoping for Show to provide answers that it never did, and in the end, that disappointed me. It’s not a terrible show, but definitely not as good as I’d hoped it would be.

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  19. Pingback: Year In Review: 2016 | The Fangirl Verdict

  20. It’s great to know we share the same sentiments! I just finished the drama recently, but I was still mind-boggled so I came to the internet, looking for answers. I thought they would already be answered since it has been months since it last aired. They seriously left a lot of plot holes because, if I remember correctly, my sister and I have been making theories the whole time and there were a lot of things we didn’t get that we just dismissed as something meta. But because the drama was made to make us viewers think, I can’t help but think about all these questions circling in my head.

    Like

    • Sigh. Unfortunately, W really did end up with a lot of loose ends and plot holes. Which kind of makes me feel like the initial awesome stretch is ultimately negated, coz all the questions Show raised in the beginning never do get answered. Oh well. I guess it was exciting while it lasted? 😝 My sympathies are with you and your sister, since you ladies spent a lot of time analyzing the show!

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  21. Hi Fangirl!

    I am a first-timer on this site, but love your dedicated and thoughtful critiques. I just finished watching “W” with my wife, and sympathize with the widespread frustration of viewers concerning the apparent lack of logic toward the end. In fact, I came to an early understanding of the show that made perfect sense to me, but temporarily abandoned it in the last several episodes, only to take it up again as a useful way to understand the storyline. If you and your readers have some time, here is my take on the writer’s intentions, which I think the vast majority of viewers completely missed. Spoilers ahead.

    This was never meant to be a sci-fi drama, any more than it was meant to be a romance (another of the attempted genres that character Yeon-Joo uses to make her version of the ending work). What the story really is, is a psychological story of dealing with grief – ultimately by learning how to say goodbye to a father who has unexpectedly died, and dealing with the loss and a lonely, mostly unhappy life (Yeon-Joo’s own real life) by finding happiness with an imaginary husband, who was “made for her specifically” by her father. Bear with me – as much of the following reading of the story is NOT specifically stated in the drama, but it is hinted at subtly. The story arguably makes complete sense from this perspective, and is very cleverly told (though it may be too hard for many to understand without a clue to the meaning).

    We start with a tragic and unexplained family event (the murder of Chul’s family) and a girl who allegedly “works” in a hospital (Yeon-Joo) as a cardiologist surgeon. Two main things to remember are that both worlds in the story are imaginary – most of Yeon-Joo’s reality is also imaginary: We see her version of her reality, NOT what is really happening in her life. Second, most of the characters’ actions and dialogue n BOTH worlds reflect Yeon-Joo’s thinking – she externalizes this by making the characters around her say and do what she wants them to do, or what she is subconsciously thinking.

    To explain, what REALLY happened to Yeon-Joo is that she had an unhappy childhood; her father was a barely-surviving and alcoholic cartoonist (NOT a famous and successful one); he eeked out a living with some low-paid assistants creating a simple cartoon based on a character that his daughter dreamed up as a wish-mate in her youth (which he then took and made into a hero crime-fighter character); but eventually, his drinking and depression caught up to him and he died – probably of a heart attack. Yeon-Joo then is left with an unfinished story that she had devotedly followed (paying more attention to the cartoon than her own dull and unhappy life), and a dead father. What to do? Insert herself into the cartoon, to find a companion to ease her loneliness, and along the way, go through the five stages of grief to say goodbye to her father (who never returns).

    All of it then begins to make sense. She was never a doctor – instead, she probably became acquainted mildly with the cardiac doctors when her father was in hospital and she visited him there briefly. Later, she may be hospitalized occasionally herself (hints: she wakes up disoriented and lost – as at one point she externalized her father doing as well…but one example of a reflection of herself; and in the end, she awakens in a hospital bed with Chul by her side). Her Mom probably could not handle her psychotic episodes (and in the end accepts that she needs Chul as a way of coping – in religious terms, this is sort of like finding God, only she is apparently not religious, so she finds Chul, who comforts her instead and replaces her father – and is also a last and only gift from her father).
    The twisted story with diminishing “rules” is Yeon-Joo trying desperately (in several genres of comics) to find a happy ending to the story – which she eventually does only by giving up on all logic and forcing it to happen, as if in a dream (she is probably just a teenager and not well-schooled, though well-read in comics, maybe). As I said, along the way, she goes through stages of grief in saying goodbye to her real father – who vanished without ever being able to return (i.e., he died), going through such stages as denial and disbelief (that he would try to end the comic which sustains her), anger (he becomes a villain and must be opposed), bargaining (her attempts to get him or Soo-Bong or even Chul to find a way to make a happy ending), depression (leading to a possible suicide attempt that we do not see – but which leaves her “dead” – though she survives), to acceptance (her father finally does what she wants – accepts Chul as a companion for her, as does her mother, and then says good-bye to her and vanishes). Story concluded: she has said good-bye to her dad, has entered intro the world of fantasy (gone crazy is one way to look at it), and is happy – in her self-shaped imaginary reality. The whole sequence of her father being controlled by the killer may even be her externalized guilt at forcing her father to slave away at the comic strip until he finally succumbed to his own unhappiness – and lost his own life.

    All of the characters find a place in this interpretation as reflections of her skewed view of the real world (examples: the doctor “boss” is wholly absorbed in her obsession – reflecting her obsession, and Soo-Bong exists mainly to help her fulfill her dream to save Chul and find her happy ending). This way, it all fits (other plot elements can be explained following this framework – it is all in her imagination) – and remember: We never see that greatly desired photograph of Yeon-Joo and Chul in the real world – because he is not real. We only see them represented together in cartoon extracts from comics that she pasted on her wall, after cleaning out her father’s old studio (following his actual death) and in her imaginary, fantasized vision of her reality.

    Should we be happy or sad for Yeon-Joo, who suffered as much as Chul did in life? You decide – but she found her own way to cope, even if that was by stepping out of her unhappy reality. A very well-crafted story, which (as you suggested) was planned from the beginning by the writer.

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    • Wow, DTF, that’s a fascinating take on W – honestly, the most interesting and intriguing one I’ve come across to date! I honestly don’t know if that’s the intention of the writer, but your interpretation certainly works well with the story and its details. I’d love to hear what the writer would have to say to your analysis! 😀

      Like

      • I did read the excerpts of a Sept. 2016 interview with Song Jae-Jung concerning “W”; I am always very interested in the writer’s view on the writing process and their own works. I don’t think the interview was as in-depth as a conversation with her in one of writing courses might be. But though it seems as if she possibly did not envision such a complex reading as I have posed, we may note a few things (to give her more credit than some would allow, and the full amount that she rightfully deserves). First, that interview can only be a vastly simplified depiction of her overall thought process while plotting this drama (which she did under time pressure and with all the other distractions of writing for TV in South Korea); and we certainly must acknowledge that this was a highly complex story with lots of layers and twists. Second, a writer with such experience may inadvertently create something that may not have been fully realized or intended, almost subconsciously — the “well” for such professionals is deep, and sometimes offers up things that seem to have come without conscious effort, due to having worked on building so many stories in the past. Themes emerge almost by themselves at times to surprise even the writer, once s/he has rested and reviewed the work. Third, the director and actors (as Ms. Song noted) may add to or even change parts of the plot-line as the story is being made for the screen, and there is also input from viewers and producers that factor into the final episode cuts. The net upshot of all of this is that, Ms. Song may not have fully grasped what she was building at the time, and/or she many not have intended/personally scripted all of the final-cut scenes. The story onscreen no doubt emerged after passing through many hands — and may bear more than one direction-vision, and allow for multiple interpretations (at different points or overall). I recall reading too that Ms. Song wanted others eventually to play with the story (which is why she released the scripts that she had written — curiously, before the last two episodes aired). So perhaps she saw it as unfinished, somewhat altered from her original vision, or simply wanted to invite viewers to read into what was concretely depicted in the show (and in her own scripts), using solely their imaginations.

        I applaud Ms. Song’s decision to openly share her writing (apparently not usual in that industry), and also her modesty as an artist. Let us not forget that she is a teacher, won an award for this script, and faces many pressures in her work-life. I would also pose that she possibly did intend to include much of what I theorized — though she may not wish to seem to berate anyone for not seeing all the layers that she included. (I hope that does not sound arrogant on my own part!)

        Everyone who is still reading — please remember to thank Song Jae-Jung for “W,” if you like the show! And do ask her, if you get the chance, about this or your own theory. I am sure she would love to discuss such ideas with dedicated fans and aspiring writers.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. ADDED NOTES: [More Spoilers below]

    The photo of her father that he drew for her near the end is a funeral image typically displayed in Asian-styled funerals.
    His real cartoon drawing board cannot be found at the end because he possibly destroyed it himself before dying of a heart-attack; all of the cartoon drawing boards in the show are products of her imagination.

    Yeon-Joo is almost never really seen as she truly is in life (likewise, none of the real people in the show are truly real – they are her images of people she knows, but they act as mostly puppets with thoughts and speech supplied by her imagination); she actually is probably a teen-aged and depressed girl living with her Mom, absorbed in the comic her Dad created – and loving it because it is mainly for her (and a substitute for living with him). We may catch hints at her reality when she is home, or wakes up in various places disoriented and tired (as if drugged or sedated), and when she is at home with her worried mother.

    The killer who takes over her father at one point may be a reflection of herself – this is guilt externalized; she is the killer (not of Chul’s family, but of her father—she believes, because he lost his life while slavishly cartooning mainly for her … to support her financially and emotionally). Note that the killer’s other function is to keep the story going until she finds a way to resolve it acceptably. The killer is really herself. And oddly, in this post-father’s death fantasy, she becomes her father (the cartoonist) by taking his role and animating an imagined version of him for the completion of the story – and the killer (her) drives him mad (as it drove her to depression and madness; she felt she killed her dad).

    All the people in her real world seems deeply obsessed with W, but in fact this is a reflection of her obsession with the comic. This is also suggested by the parallel that in Chul’s world, everything revolves around him. In her real world, this is also true – or more precisely, everyone lives to hear more about the comic series, just like she does. Again, everyone in both worlds is really an externalized depiction of her thoughts, and otherwise they have almost no personality of their own. In reality, she is probably mostly bed-ridden and often semi-sedated, and not very functional; all of the action is purely in her imagination, even the rewrites of the story – she is trying different methods to work it out in a gradual process but with diminishing returns, possibly reflecting her actual real-life depression medicine’s effects on her ability to think clearly – until she gives up on logic and solving most of the plot impediments, and just makes it happen in a fast and none-too-explained way. What is important is that in the end, Chul does save her – as she earlier externalized that he saved her father from depression and suicide. In that sense, Chul is truly a gift from her father, and this shows that dad really did love her.

    On a side note, the theme that people pay more attention to fantasy than their own real life is constant, but mainly reflects her obsessive tendency to do this and then to externalize that behavior to everyone else in her real world. Whether it is good or bad to retreat into fantasy is up to each individual to decide, but we all do it to some extent. And often, that is what helps us to stay happy and sane in a drab and often difficult life.

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  23. One last thought — on the missing limbs phenomenon. I have read the theory above by Kao Javier, and wish to offer a slightly different meaning to this, based upon the theory that this is two imaginary worlds in Yeon-Joo’s head. The first to nearly “vanish” was So-Hee (the secretary), who is disappearing because she seems no longer to have a part in the story if Yeon-Joo becomes the love-lead. To save her, Yeon-Joo has Chul reassure her that she is in fact important (Yeon-Joo subconsciously controls all of the characters in my theory of the story — they are all extensions of her thoughts) — and then they decide that a dream “save” is needed to reset the situation, as her first romance plot does not lead to a happy ending. Everyone must be happy in her first conception of this desired ending. That means the characters who made Chul happy and what he is must survive too. So they reset using the dream and try, try again.

    Then we begin to see Chul and the father alternately disappearing by degrees. This represents Yeon-Joo’s growing worry that one or the other will be lost to her, perhaps permanently. Her cartoon world is now as important (if not more so) than her real existence (which has also become a fantasized version of life — and a less colorful world than the cartoon one, at that…); so disappearing from there (both the father and Chul are by then representations in the cartoon world) means they will vanish from Yeon-Joo’s life. Not acceptable — that is not a happy ending for her. Why does it never seem to bother either character functionally that they are blinking in and out of existence? Because it is only symbolic — if too much time passes and Yeon-Joo does not find a solution, they will eventually go — but that blinking does not interfere with their ability to do whatever they like.

    Finally, only the father disappears — after he has given his consent for her and Chul’s relationship, and said his goodbye to her (which she does not literally see, but knows subconsciously because it happened in her imagined world — she made it happen). When the father blinks out totally, he is gone — and this signifies that Yeon-Joo has finally reached the fifth stage of grief; she has accepted that he is never going to return (i.e., he is dead and cannot return; he died before this series’ action even began — the series depicts her grief stages in dealing with that traumatic event).

    So that is all the vanishing limbs mean — fear of loss of the person. Note that she never blinks on and off; it never occurs to Yeon-Joo that she may disappear — that is not the point of this imaginary process. [I think that is correct — she does not blink on and off, does she?]

    Her father and Chul never really competed for existence in her life; in reality, both were always there… her imagined version of her father only wishes to eliminate Chul because he CANNOT draw him anymore (why? because he is dead — but she rationalizes away this fact and replaces his death with his obstinacy instead during her denial and anger stages; she has not yet accepted that he is really dead). The father is never truly alive at any point in the drama — and that is why this dramatic vision of Yeon-Joo was created: First to shield her from her loss of her father, and then to find a way to cope with that loss by winning a companion that he left for her, preferably without violating his relationships with other characters who were part of the gift-world bequeathed to Yeon-Joo by her real father.

    Complicated, but if we see it all from her eyes — and understand that everything here is her imagination and projection of her thoughts onto other characters, it makes sense. She saves herself, using the tool (the comic) that her father left for her.

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  24. Sorry for the repeats of the third post; the final one can be kept — I was editing, but could not remove the earlier versions. 🙂

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    • No worries, I’ve removed the repeated postings, thanks for all of your sharing, DTF! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your take, and marveling at how complex your analysis is! Love it – I kind of wish you could write a whole new drama to go with W, showing what’s REALLY going on with Yeon Joo. THAT would be too awesome! 😀

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      • Ah, but that is just what they decided not to do. Showing her grieved state and revealing the secret behind the story at any point would only make the audience feel pity for Yeon-Joo, and would break the mesmerizing spell of the wild and occasionally unfathomable (but intriguing) plot-line. The fun part is really watching all of this spectacle (for all the reasons we like it — the action, sci-fi, romance, attractive characters, suspense) — and simultaneously surmising what is behind it without having to be shown what is really happening to her. The depth of connections is astounding, and after all, it would be very sad to be shown her real, depressed and desperate state, and might ruin our excitement of enjoying her hopeful creations. That is why the story works so well onscreen — it suggests the backstory by means of hints, her self-projections onto other characters, and dreamlike skipping through dimensions and reversals of time (and also rewrites of the ongoing plot in her mind) without literally showing us all there is to understand. But if you can imagine the real Yeon-Joo behind her show, you will find much more depth in this story — without the disappointments that were claimed by so many viewers who (very understandably) missed this perspective the first time around. We are not all schooled in the five stages of grief. I hope they will give “W” another try — and will try to imagine the real Yeon-Joo while watching it again. With this understanding, she is all the more fragile and human in her efforts to find a way to ease her sorrows, and this realization further invites us to root for her success. Who knows whether we might one day face a similar trial ourselves?

        I’ll be reading more of your reviews, Fangurl! Thank you for your sharing too!

        Liked by 1 person

  25. A last installment (just had to put these ideas out there, then I will be at peace):

    If, as I have posed, Yeon-Joo is the creator of both of her worlds as we are seeing them, and the animator of all the characters in those two worlds (they are her versions of the real and cartoon people she knows), then let’s apply this to a few key and interesting scenes.

    First, how do we know the real world is also a fantasized version of Yoon-Joo’s reality? Aside from my earlier comments on this, she attempted (probably shortly after her father’s off-screen death) to continue the comic herself – maybe by actually drawing it. But she cannot draw in the beginning of the story (revised interpretation: maybe she did have her father’s drawing board in the beginning, found when she cleaned out his office, but shattered it after this initial frustration — and later projected that he did it; by then, she is animating his avatar, so it is really her all along). Miraculously — and this is the hint that this real world is her fantasy-version of her actual life as well — half-way through the show, she becomes a master illustrator. Why? She has granted this power to herself when she assumes the role of her father as the new creator – or continuator – of the “W” series; she grants herself his ability. In actual reality, she is not drawing anything now — instead, she is doing this all in her mind.

    When Chul shoots her father, what does that signify? We learn that it is “uncharacteristic” for his character (because she has taken over his direction to an extent and changed him a bit from what her father had earlier created). This is her anger stage of grief (stage 2) – while she is still mad at her father for ending the comic (but before she admits to herself that the reason is his death, which she will not acknowledge yet). So here, her father’s avatar is the opponent whom she must defeat/turn to make the comic continue. He will not relent (he cannot – he is actually dead) but must be turned somehow. Chul (representing the comic – or more properly, her love for it) thus shoots him in an act of pure anger and vengeance for the actions of the father; but the father does not die (arguably remarkable, since Chul is a champion marksman). The reason is that the father was not meant to die – instead, she is asking him in this extreme way to rethink his refusal to go on. (This may also represent his actual heart attack – caused in part by his work on the comic, represented here by its main character; his work on the series, Yeon-Joo feels in her actual world, killed him (heart-failure), and incidentally, that event introduced Yeon-Joo to her “hospital set and persona” as a (none-too-professionally interested) doctor. Of course, this desperate tantrum on her part (in her anger stage) does not work on Dad.

    Once her romance plot fails to produce a happy ending, she has the “killer” (this is herself) commit a mass shooting in the studio as a way to restart the comic series in a new genre. It is grim and desperate, just as she is in stage three of her grief, when negotiation (and her first effort to do it herself) fails to produce an acceptable ending for her. So this is her (in the guise of her father, whose role she has now assumed as a creator of the story until he comes around and agrees to work again), trying again with a new plot. That effort will also eventually fall short, leading to stage 4 of her grief — depression.

    Why does the “killer” shoot Yeon-Joo? This is stage 4, her depression, taken to an extreme (a suicide attempt off-screen, reflected in this scene). By this point, she has begun to feel guilt that she forced her father to work on the cartoon that was for her but led him to an unhappy life (and early death), and so the “killer” (representing herself – she feels she killed her father with her needs) takes over his avatar and shoots her. This is her deserved punishment for what she did to her father, carried out by his shade/avatar, as animated by her ruinous persona – the killer. In this way, she (the killer) tries to kill herself. But she survives – aided now by Chul, who she recalls (or the memory was invented by her, as a doubling and foreshadowing of this event) that he once saved her father from depression and suicide too (mid series). Her father’s gift to her (Chul) is beginning to help her to live and to see her father’s deep love for her.

    A moment here to discuss a frequent set of images – hypodermic needles and IV drips (the former used often to sedate or knock-out people in the show, and the IV tubes are repeatedly torn out of people’s arms). This happens a lot. Why? It is a reflection of the actual off-screen Yeon-Joo, who must be regularly sedated in her wild refusal to acknowledge her actual situation (Dad has died and she cannot allow herself to see that yet) and who probably resists her treatments, leading her to wander in a daze and wake up in odd locations, exhausted, with no idea of the time (the disorientation of a severely afflicted and medicated depression patient).

    Chul and the bodyguard are beaten to a bloody pulp, and the secretary moves overseas (and the prosecutor eventually is forced into suicide) as symbols that the comic world is breaking down under her furious attempts to employ it to console herself – she is destroying all of the original characters like she drove her father to ruin, as she feels dismay and guilt over that too. Psychologically this allows her take a step away from this comic world – which is the transition point from stage 4 of her grief to stage 5.

    Now, to the last part – her stage 5 of grief (acceptance): When her father (i.e., her avatar of her father) feels guilt for “killing her” (shooting her), that reveals again his deep love for her and his care for her well-being (which she finally acknowledges). This allows Yoon-Joo to release him at last, as she must (for both of them, she thinks, as he is suffering in spirit too within her version of things; but truly this is for herself – she must acknowledge that he is not coming back). He says goodbye in a loving gesture, signifying that he cares for her and will let her be comforted by his gift (the comic world and Chul); but this goodbye is actually her goodbye to him. She lets him find peace, and thus accepts – and is now on the way to acquiring peace herself. But she has distanced herself from Chul and his world because of what she did to them (in her latest ill-conceived attempt at a self-serving plot-line). Yet, in the untold ending, she does return to see him, and in the very end, he stays with her in her real world – a pleasant memory of her father, which (or who) will help her on her road to recovery from her trauma.

    Hope this inspires someone to watch this wonderful show again!!

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    • *Standing ovation* DTF, your alternate analysis of W is simply brilliant. I know I said this in another comment, but I’ll say it again: you make me feel like I’m watching a whole new show, with your interpretation of events! I so wish this show’s writer would have a chance to read your entire analysis, and see where your interpretation aligns with her original vision, and where you actually take her original vision further and farther! 😀

      Thanks so much for sharing, I LOVED reading your take on this! ❤

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  26. Thanks Fangurl! I did not notice on your list “Bittersweet Life” | Dalkomhan Insaeng (MBC / 2008), starring Lee Dong-Wook and Oh Yeon-Su. This one was not popular in Korea, I think (interesting to ask why), but it is a favorite of ours. I really like both of these actors too, in other dramas and films. This one is not for light entertainment, but it is very good, and similarly a thinker’s drama — to understand the characters and their emotions. Just a suggestion, if you have not seen it yet! (I also like lighter dramas, like “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” — and I love those two lead actors too, in most of their roles!!).

    One day, you may wish to branch out to Japanese dramas. If so, I would advise the earlier dramas of actor Kimura Takuya. He is fantastic in many roles. I can offer some specific titles, if ever you or your readers are interested. They can be found with Eng-subs too.

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    • Bittersweet Life flew under my radar; at the time that it aired I was still relatively new to kdramas and I was all about the fluffy rom-coms. I’ll keep it in mind for a future watch when I’m in a retro sort of mood. It sounds like a solid show, judging from your description 🙂 And OMG I LOVE My Girlfriend is a Gumiho! ❤ It was so cute, and packed so much heart as well. The last bits even moved me to tears – in a good way.

      I'd love some specific Japanese titles, actually! I may not get to them immediately, but I do compile an actual list of recommendations, including a list for Japanese dramas, so your recommendations would definitely come in useful! 🙂 Thanks DTF!

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  27. Hi Fangurl,

    For a future day, here are some of my favorite Japanese dramas with Kimura Takuya (many are good, but you can explore and branch out after these first tryouts, which I have seen many times each): “Long Vacation”; “Gift”; “One Million Stars Falling from the Sky”; “A Sleeping Forest”; “Hero”; “Good Luck!”; “Pride”; and “Engine” — and an excellent film with Kimura is “Love and Honor” (this one is amazing). These cover a range of drama genres, and some will keep you talking about them for a long while.

    Some other Japanese favorites are the dramas “Orange Days”, and “Dr. Koto” (first season), “Osama no Restaurant” (1995), “Oh Dad” (aka. オヤジぃ / Oyaji / Father); and the films “Waterboys” (1994) and “Go” (2001 — with Kubozuka Yosuke and Ko Shibasaki, who is in “Orange Days” and two of the above Kimura dramas as well). I also like “Battle Royale” but that is a special genre and not for everyone (Ko Shibasaki is in that too, in a memorable part).

    I could go on, but this will keep you busy and provide some faces that you may wish to follow into other dramas as well. Have fun! Share them with your fans if you like them!!

    DTF

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  28. Oops — “Waterboys” is 2001; Satoshi Tsumabukiis the main star (he is also in “Orange Days”). Sorry about that! 🙂

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  29. The loophole of the ending is, how could Kang Chul survive in the real world if he is non existing? I mean he doesn’t have a national ID and his name is not registered.

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    • Hi Karen,

      If you are asking me, I will argue that it is because Chul is not real — he exists only in Yoon-Joo’s mind. (Details in the long explanations above.) If we see it this way, there is no conflict. That is also why he only has his cartoon identity card and no details are offered for what he might do in the “real world”.

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