THE SHORT VERDICT:
The characters and their journeys are the stars of this warm workplace drama with an emotional, humanistic sort of touch. We get to know and care about key characters and their personal journeys, even as Show serves up human interest side stories relevant to the management of a world-class airport. Even though large chunks of the cinematography feel quite pedestrian, there are very prettily shot, beautiful poignant scenes sprinkled through the drama as well. The music is also quite lovely and atmospheric, and effectively lifts the watch experience.
Unfortunately, Show’s narrative gets muddied by too much emphasis on shady gangster dealings, which overshadow our key characters in regrettable ways, particularly towards the end of our story. Show also has a habit of introducing story threads and then dropping them, sometimes without even a hint of resolution. This was a downer.
Still, I found this to be a warm and enjoyable watch overall.
THE LONG VERDICT:
For me, this was the watch that almost never was.
Back in October when I kind of went MIA for a little bit, I found myself in a bit of a drama rut. I had lots of stuff on my watch list, but not much interest to really watch much. That was about the time that I half-heartedly picked up a random episode of this show (I think it was episode 3), and watched a couple of minutes, just to see if it grabbed me. It didn’t. So I brutally cut it out of my watch list, and moved on to other shows.
But then blog friend Akisa dropped me a couple of sweet, earnest comments about Show, and she sounded like she really liked this one, and believed that I would like it too. I felt like I probably ought to give this one another, more proper chance. So I went back and started from the beginning this time. Huh. Guess what? This time, I actually enjoyed what I saw quite well, and felt interested enough to want to see more.
The thing is, while there’s a lot to like about this show, there are also a few glaring flaws. In fact, said glaring flaws really got to me by the time I reached the end of my watch. Do I regret watching this, though? See, I don’t. I’m honestly rather glad I watched this one, after all. Thank you, Akisa. <3
STUFF I LIKED
1. General vibe and feel
Show’s warm workplace drama vibe reminds me of A Poem A Day, somewhat. Once I got situated in terms of knowing who’s who, I soon found myself enjoying my watch very well. This would be the first show I’d reach for, as a matter of habit, coz it was easy to like. It’s not rocket science, and neither is it edge-of-your-seat amazing, but it’s easy to watch after a long day, and it’s generally warm and hopeful, with its human interest side stories. Plus, Show does seem to remember to move our main character relationships along, in the midst of it all, and that’s also helpful.
In terms of serving up its human interest side stories, Show tends to lean sweet with a saccharine bent. Yes, sometimes the lower rent production details, or Show’s missteps with certain details amused me – [SPOILER] like in episodes 7-8, when everyone was getting so emotional about the Filipino couple having the baby, it was distracting and quite funny every time the camera panned over to the baby’s face, coz the baby clearly looks completely Korean, ha. [END SPOILER] – but generally speaking, Show was good at serving up doses of syrupy sweetness with an emotional touch.
One of the things I really enjoyed about this show is that, after the busy-hectic vibe of a day at the airport, Show tends to pull it back to a tone that’s more contemplative and quiet. Those moments feel thoughtful and almost lyrical in contrast, and act like some kind of oasis of rest, after the frenetic pace of keeping things running at the airport.
Perhaps the biggest thing that kept me coming back, episode after episode, is the way Show managed to endear many of these characters to me. I soon found myself liking and caring about these characters, and coming back each episode, to walk their journeys with them, felt like an act of loyalty, almost. In this section, I’ll be highlighting some of my favorite characters.
2. Lee Je Hoon as Soo Yeon
I’ve historically not warmed up super much to Lee Je Hoon (I didn’t see enough of Signal – yet! – to fully appreciate his performance in that, and what I did see of Tomorrow With You underwhelmed me), but I really enjoyed him in this show. I guess I found his character here more accessible? Also, I guess I needed to see him smitten, which he does get in this show, heh. I’m happy to finally see the light; Lee Je Hoon is a very good actor indeed. He’s got excellent control over his microexpressions, and is often able to express so much more than the limited dialogue given to his reticent character.
There were times that I didn’t agree with Soo Yeon’s rationale and decisions in the course of his journey, but I think this made him feel all the more real. Additionally, while I didn’t always agree with his choices, I mostly understood why he made the decisions that he did.
Soo Yeon as a character
In principle, I found Soo Yeon an interesting and sympathetic character. He’s at once weaker than everyone else, because of his disability, but at the same time, he’s also stronger than everyone else, because of his bionic appendages. But he wants neither to be weaker nor stronger than everyone else; he just wants to be normal like everyone else, and he does everything in his power to fade into the woodwork. Essentially, he sometimes comes across as a superhero who’s horrified by his own superpower, and trying to do everything to hide it.
As Soo Yeon’s relationship with Yeo Reum (Chae Soo Bin) becomes closer, we see Soo Yeon slowly but surely come out of his shell and start to leak warmth, in spite of himself. In episodes 13 & 14, when Soo Yeon gets to inquire after Yeo Reum, or contribute to her well-being, there’s a shy satisfaction that plays at his gaze and his lips, like he can’t help but smile a little at the chance, and it’s very endearing. It’s such a small thing, like when he asks if she had the breakfast he left for her, or if she slept well, but it makes him visibly happy. Aw.
The closer Soo Yeon and Yeo Reum get, though, the more desperate Soo Yeon becomes, to keep live normally, even while his prosthetics become problematic. In episodes 17 & 18, Soo Yeon lying to Manager Choi (Lee Sung Wook) in order to get another month at the airport is a sign of how desperate he is, to be able to live normally, and to have the woman he loves, perceive him as normal.
Time and again, we see Soo Yeon lying to the people around him, insisting that he’s ok, when he’s absolutely not ok, and is literally risking his life a little more, with every minute that he continues to wear his prosthetics. While I generally don’t endorse lying in my drama heroes, I do see that Soo Yeon’s desire to keep his condition a secret from Yeo Reum is rooted in insecurity and fear. I don’t think he distrusts Yeo Reum; rather, I think that his insecurity and fear is so great that it overpowers the trust that he does have in her. I feel like in his heart, he doesn’t think that anyone could know his truth and still love him.
As we progress deeper into our story, we see that Soo Yeon is, without a doubt, being very reckless with his body. It also becomes clear that he does still think of his relationship with Yeo Reum as a one-month deal, since he can’t answer her when she broaches the idea of making plans for Christmas in episodes 25 & 26.
While I wish Soo Yeon would be wiser with his choices, I felt like I could understand why he’s being so reckless. This is the first time in his life that someone has seen his disability, and loved him anyway. Yeo Reum is choosing to accept him for all that he is, hardly asking any questions, and he loves her so much, that he will do anything to keep it going – even if it means putting his own safety at risk. It’s irrational, but I do think he sees this as his one and only shot at happiness, and he wants to take it, even if it’s short-lived.
The thing that I found disturbing about Soo Yeon, though, is how he basically becomes an annihilator each time he is triggered. He plows through people with an almost-vengeance, like a guy possessed. We see it in episodes 23 & 24, and then again in the finale. We do see Soo Yeon sobbing in horror after the first instance, but it troubles me that we see repeated similar behavior in the finale, and we never do see this resolved or corrected. Plus, Soo Yeon ends the show still wearing his prosthetics, so it feels like we leave him with a critical flaw still intact, and that doesn’t mesh well in my head, with this show’s warm and humanistic vibe.
Lee Je Hoon acting highlights
Lee Je Hoon delivers some seriously fantastic moments in this show, and I wanted to shine the quick spotlight on some of his best scenes.
E15-16. The moment when Soo Yeon comes out of the house and spots Yeo Reum in the courtyard, is really good. The shifting microexpressions on his face say it all; he was trying not to jump to conclusions about being excluded from Yeo Reum’s housewarming, and then when he saw her, he was pleased. Pleased that he hadn’t been wrong about her, pleased that she’s true to her word, and pleased to see her alone, because he much prefers alone time with her, than to share her with other people.
E17-18. In today’s pair of episodes in particular, the way Lee Je Hoon plays out the scene where Soo Yeon’s arm gets magnetically glued to a car, is just amazing. He literally looks like he’s about to explode, in degrees, and the horror and panic in his eyes is clear, and I can tell that he’s trying to make it all stop, while desperately trying to keep it down, so that he’s not discovered. Really good.
E19-20. Props to Lee Je Hoon this episode, his delivery of Soo Yeon’s confusion and horror when he got all magnetic in front of In Woo (Lee Dong Gun) and Yeo Reum, is so well done. Such a controlled, detailed delivery, of a moment that didn’t feel at all controlled. His subsequent fear and unease as he walked the hallways trying to hide his arm, felt so real and palpable.
E27-28. Soo Yeon’s despair and anger are so well delivered, in the scene where he goes to see Mr. Jang (Park Hyuk Kwon). His tears, the twitches in his facial expressions, the despair in his eyes; it’s all so real and raw. Wow.
3. Chae Soo Bin as Yeo Reum
Even though I have a great deal of affection for Chae Soo Bin, I found that I didn’t take to her character Yeo Reum immediately. When we meet her, we see that she tends to shoot her mouth off, which is one thing, but more like, her attitude is just off. She comes across as self-righteous and impulsive, and basically gives everyone trouble on a regular basis. These things made it hard for me to root for her, right off the bat.
The saving grace was Yeo Reum’s regular voiceovers, during which I found her more likable and understandable. I also came to see why Yeo Reum has such an ardent desire to be noticed and favored by her superiors at work. She wishes to stand out and be acknowledged, and that’s why she gets nosier than she ought to, and more involved than she should. But she’s not ill-intentioned, and I soon saw that there’s something quite dorky and relatable about her, when she feels free to be herself. [MINOR SPOILER]Her ridiculous victory dance in episodes 3 & 4, when she thought no one was in the office, is a perfect example of that. I couldn’t help but chuckle at her thrilled abandon. [END SPOILER]
Happily, Yeo Reum gets to show us more and more of her good side as we get deeper into our story, and it wasn’t long before I was genuinely rooting for her.
Here are a few of my favorite Yeo Reum highlights:
E7-8. The thing Yeo Reum says this episode strikes a profound sort of chord: just because you can’t feel it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. So true.
E11-12. Context is everything. After all the flak that Yeo Reum’s gotten for violent behavior in the past, it all looks different now that we know that the people she was violent with, were actually scary thugs. Take that, Manager Gong (Ahn Sang Woo).
E19-20. Yeo Reum again demonstrates her faith this episode. When faced with whether to allow herself to be bullied again by her high school tormentor, or tell Soo Yeon the truth, she opts to tell Soo Yeon the truth. She has enough faith in him to feel that she can tell him the truth. And I really like how she told him as well.. so matter-of-factly, without dramatics, without showing fear. I feel proud of her.
E19-20. Yeo Reum standing up to her high school tormentor turned blackmailer, and telling her what’s what, and not being cowed by the girl’s efforts to intimidate her, was so great to watch. I know she’s trembling on the inside, but on the outside, she stood her ground and was firm, without losing the essence of who she is. Love.
4. The OTP together
To be perfectly honest, I actually felt more interested in the OTP separately than together. I was invested in Soo Yeon’s journey to self-acceptance, and in Yeo Reum’s journey of growth, but I found their relationship development less compelling. To my eyes, Lee Je Hoon and Chae Soo Bin are pretty cute together, and while I’m not blown away by their chemistry, I felt that the two share a reasonable amount of chemistry, ie, I’ve seen worse, heh.
Still, there were quite a few times that the details around the OTP development felt meaningful and/or moving, to me.
E5-6. This pair of episodes is when we start to see a more definite connection between Soo Yeon and Yeo Reum, and it’s nice to witness. He’s deliberately distant and aloof, but he’s also quietly observant, and when he hears Yeo Reum expressing how upset she is that no one has ever told her that she’s ok and she’s doing well, he doesn’t stay silent about it. He advises Yeo Reum to speak up for the things she believes in, to at least not hear the things that she doesn’t want to hear, and his advice is just what she needs this hour, to gather the courage to speak justly and calmly with the abusive passenger, politely requesting an apology. The fact that Soo Yeon was right there with a handy recording that backed the abusive passenger into a corner, was just icing on the cake. Also, Soo Yeon’s pleased, approving gaze was great to see.
E5-6. That running gag of the robot vacuum being drawn to Soo Yeon feels kind of lame, but it does get our OTP up close and personal, and gets them exchange a smile, and that’s nice. Plus, they follow that with honest conversation, her thanking him for helping her, and him asking her why she doesn’t ask about his arm like everyone else. I do like her answer very much, that it’s an easy question to ask, but the person answering must feel pain each time they answer that question. How thoughtful and empathetic. It’s little wonder that Soo Yeon tells her about the accident, unasked. That’s huge, that Soo Yeon, who doesn’t wish to be involved with anyone, is actually volunteering information to Yeo Reum, about the very thing that he’s working to hide.
E9-10. Soo Yeon offering to stay with Yeo Reum, while she waited for news of her mum, is so sweet. The way he asks it, is so hesitant and uncertain, but the heart behind it, is so hyperaware of how Yeo Reum feels in the moment, and all he wants to do, is help her feel better. Aw. Also, the fact that Soo Yeon risks having his secret revealed, by disobeying orders and getting out into the emergency area, to help Yeo Reum locate her mum, says a lot about how important Yeo Reum is, to him. If it’s important to her, it’s important to him too. Wow. For someone who usually sticks so adamantly to the rules, this is huge.
E9-10. Since Yeo Reum already knows his secret, I can only assume that Soo Yeon doesn’t want to appear less than, in front of her, and that’s why he doesn’t pick up her calls and just tell why he disappeared from the airport, and why he can’t come to meet her. I’m pretty stunned that he goes to see her anyway (must’ve been the rain, and knowing that Yeo Reum would just wait in the rain for him, otherwise), and I’m even more stunned that when she finally asks him if he likes her, he – after a long, breathless beat – answers yes. Ooh. How matter-of-fact and straightforward. Soo Yeon admits to liking Yeo Reum, no buts about it. And then, after angsting about it for a while, Yeo Reum’s answer to Soo Yeon in episodes 13 & 14, is so.. honest. She needs time; it’s not a yes, but it’s not a no. How.. healthy.
E17-18. Given how cautious Soo Yeon is, it’s super telling that he would risk further – and very serious – injury, because he missed Yeo Reum. Yes, he seeks out Manager Choi first, but that still all boils down to how much he feels for Yeo Reum. And then, when he begs to be allowed to wear his bionic arm and leg just for one more night, because his date is more important than his well-being, that just seals the deal: he’s a goner where Yeo Reum is concerned. Him getting caught with lipstick smears all over his mouth and then chuckling gleefully to himself, is just bonus.
E17-18. The kiss on the bridge is, in essence, a step of faith. Yeo Reum doesn’t know much about what’s really going on with Soo Yeon, but she senses that he is sincere in asking her to just love, right then and there, and I believe she also senses that this is what he needs, which is why she leans into the moment and just kisses him right back.
E21-22. Yeo Reum’s words to Soo Yeon, after chasing him down in a taxi, are so sweet and moving. She is so earnest as she tells him that she likes him too, and to please stop being broken because of her. That in itself is sweet enough, but then she turns back and tells him with tears in her eyes that she’s good at waiting – that she’s had to wait to meet her parents, and to see her dad after her parents’ divorce, and to get her job at the airport – and so he shouldn’t worry, because she’s good at waiting and will wait for him as long as he needs. Augh. It’s no wonder Soo Yeon’s eyes fill with tears too, and he can’t help but go after her and take her in his arms, his mind filled only with how much he loves her.
E21-22. What a big step, that Soo Yeon goes to his date with Yeo Reum, not with his bionic arm and leg, but in his wheelchair. He’s ready to show her the real him, and I am so proud of him. Yes, it doesn’t actually work out, but he was brave enough to want to do it, and that counts.
E23-24. Soo Yeon deciding to show Yeo Reum the real him, is a big step, and I love how deliberate and intentional he is about it. It’s something he’s thought about and decided to do, and he goes and executes it, one methodical move at a time. It’s huge for him, since he’s been so afraid of being judged for being different, and he doesn’t even seem to really like himself much. And yet, he’s allowing himself to stand before Yeo Reum, completely vulnerable and open. Wow.
E25-26. First of all, props to Yeo Reum for coming out and telling Soo Yeon first, that she loves him. And then, when he asks if she’s ok with the fact that he’s disabled, gosh, I so love Yeo Reum’s response; that she’s disabled too, and then repeats all her faults that he’d earlier pointed out to her, and then asks if he’d be ok with that. I love that. She’s framing it such that they’re equal; he’s hampered physically, but she’s hampered emotionally. It’s no wonder that Soo Yeon can’t help but pull her in for a hug.
5. The security not-a-couple
I’ll be honest; I think I was more taken by this security not-a-couple, than the actual OTP. By the time I reached the episode 15-16 mark, I realized that I was looking forward more to their scenes, than actual OTP scenes. Considering how these two don’t actually get as much screen time as the OTP, that’s quite an accomplishment, to my eyes.
Dae Gi and Young Joo (Kim Kyung Nam and Lee Soo Kyung) are wonderfully earnest, straitlaced and awkward, individually as well as together – but more so when they’re together! – and I loved every scene we got of these two. It took me forever to actually place Kim Kyung Nam as Jung Kyung Ho’s reporter brother in Prison Playbook; he looks like a completely different person here! I thought his earnest, straitlaced vibe goes really well with his uniform, and his oftentimes befuddled expressions around Young Joo are the best things ever. I found myself growing a big soft spot for Dae Gi, even as he in turn grew a soft spot for Young Joo. <3
Here are some of my favorite highlights of this maybe-couple:
E15-16. When Young Joo lashes out at Dae Gi for treating her differently coz she’s a woman, his confused wait-what-did-I-really-wait-do-I-maybe-like-? expression is gold. And then when the team shows up at her residence for the housewarming party, his awkward half-eye-contact is so cute.
E21-22. Ahhh! How cute is Dae Gi, asking Yeo Reum to pass the walkie to Young Joo, so that she can bask in the credit and praise, and have a happy moment?? And that small half smile that escapes his lips, as he watches her smile and bask in her colleagues’ praise, is – guh! – SHO CUTE. I ship these two, I really do. And this episode, we see definite crumbs of progress, with her going out to look for his walkie on the sly, and him feeling bad and offering her an energy drink. Tee hee.
E23-24. The dorkiness between Dae Gi and Young Joo is super cute right now, and I’m loving it. Young Joo waiting to give him ointment for his nose injury, and then Dae Gi feeling so awkward as he realizes that she’d waited a long time just to give him the ointment. Young Joo’s attempt at fake boyfriend excuses to Dae Gi’s attempt at a casual dinner invitation, is completely foiled by Dae Gi casually showing up to be her convenience store dinner neighbor. Ha! And then the two of them leaking smiles – and attempting to stifle said smiles – just goofily sitting and eating next to each other. Ack. The cute is just making me giddy. And then after walking Young Joo home, Dae Gi calls her with the flimsy excuse of asking when he should use the ointment. It’s so lame, but also, so cute that he’ll grab at any excuse just to talk to her a little longer.
E25-26. Dae Gi is just so fantastically awkward this episode, I cringe from the secondhand embarrassment, even as I can’t stop giggling. He already looks so ill at ease when his family shows up, but when they express interest in Yeo Reum as a potential girlfriend for him, he practically looks like he’s going to have a heart attack. Also, he looks so pumped declaring his favorite present from the team, believing it to be the one from Young Joo.. until Young Joo informs him that her gift was the one he insulted. Yikes. Poor Dae Gi looks befuddled, horrified and sorry, all at the same time.
E25-26. Young Joo’s stifled smile when Dae Gi awkwardly grasps at straws and tells her that he doesn’t like girls with puppy faces, but girls with cat faces, is great.
E27-28. Dae Gi pressing Young Joo for an answer about how she feels about him worrying for her is pretty courageous of him, but my heart pinched for him, when his face fell at her answer. He just looks so handsome, dorky and confused. Poor baby. Afterwards, he looks so forlorn and lost, as he contemplates his birthday socks and wonders if he’s been rejected even before he’s had a chance to begin. But meanwhile, Young Joo sits at home and contemplates her matchy socks. Eee! She’d bought couple socks!
E29-30. Gah, these two. The stolen glances, the careful aversion of gazes, the swallowing of feelings; it’s all heart-grabby stuff. The best part is when she cracks under the sudden colder treatment and asks if he’s angry with her. Coz that gives way to him finally having a chance to tell her why he likes her, and how much he likes her. How sweet, that he simply tells her that he’s trying to find the right distance that would make them both comfortable, and respectfully asks if she can wait while he does that. How sweet is that? I melt. It’s no wonder Young Joo stares after him in a daze, before having to tell herself to snap out of it. Ha.
6. The growing friendship between Yeo Reum and Young Joo
This friendship blossoms pretty late into our story, but it was worth waiting for.
Given how much distaste these two had for each other in the beginning of our story, it was just extra sweet to see them bonding in spite of themselves.
E23-24. I loved seeing Yeo Reum and Young Joo get on so well, despite their initial distaste for each other. The two girls discovering a similar taste for spicy food, and a similar appreciation for ice cream, while dragging their respective befuddled love interests around on an impromptu, unofficial double date, was one of the most adorable moments in this entire drama.
E25-26. How cute, that Yeo Reum attempts asking Young Joo about relationship stuff, assuming Young Joo would know, since she “has a boyfriend.” Young Joo awkwardly trying to answer her questions anyway, is cute too. This growing reluctant friendship is entertaining and makes me happy.
E27-28. Yeo Reum’s friendship with Young Joo is quite delightful, especially since the more reticent Young Joo seems to be embracing the friendship more readily than Yeo Reum, speaking to her readily and consistently in banmal, while Yeo Reum still slips into jondaemal. Aw.
Manager Yang and Manager Choi
Among the various team leaders, my favorites were Manager Yang and Manager Choi (Kim Ji Soo and Lee Sung Wook). Yes, Show hints that these two managers have some kind of personal history with each other, but that isn’t the focus of this section, nor does Show even let that come into proper focus, until its finale – which I’ll talk more about later).
Mainly, I genuinely liked these two as team leaders, and wanted to give them credit where credit’s due.
E1-2. Manager Yang being called a witch by the people around her seems extremely uncalled for. In that encounter she had with Yeo Reum, I thought she was firm but fair. In fact, I thought she demonstrated a fair amount of patience for Yeo Reum, who’s being unreasonable and is basically out of line. I actually like her, right away.
E5-6. I do love that despite Yeo Reum and Soo Yeon acting out of protocol right in front of her, Manager Yang looks on them with a subdued pride written on her face. She hated the idea of sending Yeo Reum to grovel in order to save the airport, even though Yeo Reum believed she did nothing wrong. And now, in the moment, she’s pleased that things are turning out very differently. I think I might love Manager Yang. She’s a cool boss. I love her even more, for telling Yeo Reum that she did well, instead of berating her like most other managers would.
E19-20. I have so much respect for Manager Yang. She doesn’t stop herself from getting involved in Yeo Reum’s situation, but, the way she gets involved is so great. Giving Yeo Reum the best advice, in the most concise way, while respecting Yeo Reum’s personal agency and right to make her own decisions. Wow.
E15-16. I loved the way Manager Choi defended his team members and very firmly yet professionally put the errant passengers in their place. Yes please. This is how a team leader treats his people.
E15-16. I really like how Manager Choi tries to handle Soo Yeon’s investigation with a human touch. He’s not forcing it like In Woo would like. Instead, he’s honest and forthright with Soo Yeon about their various choices and the consequences. He also does what he can to be sensitive to Soo Yeon’s needs, in asking for the one week extension. I honestly couldn’t ask more of him.
Ro Woon as Eun Seob [SPOILERS]
When we’re introduced to Eun Seob (Ro Woon), he’s Yeo Reum’s chum at work, so when he’s revealed to be nursing a crush on Yeo Reum in episodes 7 & 8, it felt a little sudden, to me. Before this point, Show hadn’t given us any hints about that, and Eun Seob had seemed very neutral to Yeo Reum in the early episodes as well. Which makes me wonder whether Eun Seob’s crush on Yeo Reum was a last-minute addition.
In any case, I found myself growing a bit of affection for Eun Seob, if only for what a good egg he turns out to be.
In episodes 21 & 22, we see that Eun Seob pretty much knows that he has no chance with Yeo Reum, but he doesn’t therefore attempt to sabotage Soo Yeon and Yeo Reum’s budding relationship. He does take Soo Yeon to task for keeping secrets from Yeo Reum, but that’s genuinely in Yeo Reum’s interest. Even his big act about going to dinner with Yeo Reum was to make Soo Yeon jealous and galvanize him into action.
Even though he likes Yeo Reum and wishes that things won’t work out between her and Soo Yeon, when she asks him for advice in episodes 25 & 26, he gives her good advice and useful perspective that will help her. The questions he asks – do you think Soo Yeon didn’t know that you’d have questions? Why do you think he still bothered to tell you? – trigger Yeo Reum to think about things differently, and I feel so heartened by Eun Seob’s graciousness and humanity.
For the record, I do feel a little underwhelmed at where we leave Eun Seob by the end – expressly content to be whatever Yeo Reum wants or needs him to be, whether it’s a friend or more. That’s a bit of a raw deal, I thought. Boo.
STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH
As a general trajectory, Show was a lighter, easier watch in its first half, with the second half being bogged down by various plotlines. [SPOILER] In particular, I felt Soo Yeon’s deteriorating condition was a downer, and this contributed quite a lot to the second half’s less fun vibe. [END SPOILER]
While I can rationalize that that’s just part and parcel of the character journey, there were also other things that I didn’t enjoy so much, in this show. Here’s a quick-ish list.
1. The gangster stuff
For a show that starts off so innocuous in terms of its work place setting, we get what feels like a disproportionate serving of gangsters, violence and shady dealings, by the time we get into Show’s second half.
To my eyes, the entire gangster arc felt unnecessary and try-hard. Worse, I felt like we wasted a great deal of screen time, which could have been otherwise spent on fleshing out story threads that Show had teased us with, but never really developed (I’ll talk more about that shortly).
I get that this gangster stuff is designed to amp up the drama and get audiences on the edge of their seats, but I do wish that we could’ve taken a different, gangster-less route, for our story.
2. Lee Dong Gun as In Woo
I’m gonna come right out and say it: I’ve never cared much for Lee Dong Gun as an actor, but I really, seriously disliked him in this. I guess this means he did a pretty good job of the role, since In Woo isn’t supposed to be a likable character.
When we’re introduced to In Woo in episodes 3 & 4, I felt rather intrigued by Lee Dong Gun in this role. I’d always thought of him as more wallpapery than suave, but in this show, I immediately felt like despite his crisp and clean-cut appearance there was also something immediately.. hungry, and almost.. lascivious about him. I can’t quite place it, but it seems to come across in his gaze, particularly when his character is interacting with Manager Yang. I found it provocative and quite repulsive at the same time.
Over the course of our story, In Woo displays a multitude of reprehensible behaviors, and it truly irked me, that Show started working out a redemption arc for him in our last stretch. Without going into specifics, let me just say that this entire redemption arc didn’t ring true for me, and didn’t feel well thought-out.
Just to lay it all out, here’s a collection of observations and thoughts that I had about In Woo, in the course of my watch.
E5-6. In Woo digging into Soo Yeon’s personal file without clearance, and then wondering darkly how Soo Yeon recovered, is quite chilling. Does he prefer that Soo Yeon be disabled, or worse, dead?
E11-12. I wonder why In Woo feels it’s his right to know all about Soo Yeon’s arm? He talks as if the secret to Soo Yeon’s well-being is information that is owed to him. That’s really weird. And he’s being a real ass about it too, stealing Soo Yeon’s personal record, pushing the issue at meetings, and even staging it such that Yeo Reum sees Soo Yeon’s personal record. I usually don’t take to Lee Dong Gun’s characters much, but this time I seriously dislike him. I dislike him even more when we’re shown the whole backstory of what happened the night of the accident. Yes, he couldn’t help it that thugs were beating him up and he couldn’t help it that Soo Yeon chased them down and got into an accident. But, he ran away to save his own skin; ran away, in the face of a critically injured Soo Yeon. He saw Soo Yeon’s tearful gaze pleading for help, and he ran away. Ugh. And after all that, he has the gall to say that Soo Yeon’s very presence bothers him, and so he will force Soo Yeon to leave? What kind of human is he?!?
E15-16. I really dislike In Woo. I’ve disliked him up till now, but the things he says this episode, forcing innocent employees who’ve been abused, to apologize to their abuser, is just too much.
E17-18. In Woo is being a total ass about Soo Yeon’s investigation. I like how Manager Choi shuts him down, but I really don’t like how In Woo just won’t quit.
E19-20. I have had it up to here with In Woo, though. What in the heck is this about, claiming that he wants to reconcile with Soo Yeon?? And then he proceeds to push Soo Yeon right into the tightest corner he can possibly create, just to get himself some answers? I seriously hate him. There is no humanity there.
E21-22. It’s becoming clearer that In Woo is involved in shady activities. I guess Show is going to turn things around and say that he’s been so mean because he wants to get Soo Yeon out of an unsafe environment, but I don’t want to buy it, mostly because he’s been so cruel, that I don’t want to allow him any excuse.
E25-26. In Woo starting to show signs of worrying about Soo Yeon is to be expected, since I fully expect Show to redeem him, but it irks me. I am not willing to forgive him all the hurtful things he’s said and done to Soo Yeon, even if it’s now in the name of protecting him.
E31-32. In this finale, we see a flashback where In Woo purportedly visits Soo Yeon’s mother and gives her a watch as a gift for him. This doesn’t add up, because in the beginning of our story, we are explicitly shown that In Woo is legitimately shocked to see that Soo Yeon is still alive. So this flashback feels like a tacked-on last-ditch effort to humanize In Woo. Sorry, Show. Still not buying it.
3. Dropped plot lines
Like I mentioned earlier in this review, Show has a habit of introducing story threads and then just.. leaving them there.
Here’s a quick spotlight on some of those abandoned story threads, which I would’ve much preferred to have explored, in place of those gangster shenanigans.
1. We’re told that Yeo Reum’s dad is the one who saved Soo Yeon’s life, but we never find out much more than that. Why was Dad there in the first place? What happened after Dad saved him? How did Dad come to introduce Soo Yeon to Mr. Jang? What’s the story behind Mr. Jang developing those prosthetics?
2. In its early episodes, Show teases us about there being a backstory between Manager Yang, Manager Choi and In Woo, but never actually reveals anything about that backstory. What happened between the three of them?
3. Whatever happened to Yeo Reum’s father? Is he dead? Everyone seems to speak of him in the past tense. What’s that about?
4. We never get any closure on the fact that Manager Heo (Hong Ji Min) discovered that her husband was cheating on her. She drinks and is upset for a couple of episodes, and then is back to being her sunny self. What?
5. The grudging friendship between Manager Lee and Director Kwon (Jung Jae Sung and Jang Hyun Sung) is a little unexpected, but I can see this potentially have a nice amount of heart. Unfortunately, Show doesn’t give this friendship much screen time at all.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
To be honest, I feel rather underwhelmed by this finale.
Not only does it feel rushed, it also feels haphazard and rather illogical. On top of all that, in getting us to the finish line, Show falters at giving us satisfying personal moments, which is what it does best.
There’s a big heave towards resolving all the gangster stuff and getting Soo Yeon to not kill himself, and in cramming lots of elements into the bulk of the hour, there were more than a few times when I found myself scratching my head and basically wondering, “What just happened? Also, how did we get here?”
Here are a few of my favorite examples of that:
1. In the whole Dramatic Showdown thing, where the gangsters take Soo Yeon with them, the NIS agents in contact with Manager Choi promise him that they won’t let anyone get hurt. But, while all the fighting and bodily harm is happening inside the warehouse, the NIS agents just sit outside the building in their car, which is parked in plain view. And even though their car is right there, no one exiting the building actually seems to see them?
2. When the car that In Woo is in, is in danger of falling over the edge into the water, Soo Yeon strains to stop the car by holding onto it with his bionic arm. He strains and strains, and it takes all of forever, while his eyes fill with tears, and he practically looks like he’s about to burst a blood vessel. And yet, Dae Gi – who’s trained security personnel and who should totally have better instincts – just stands there, agape, and doesn’t move a muscle to help the situation, like, y’know, maybe run forward and work to get the car door open so that he can get In Woo out of the car while Soo Yeon’s got the car? I know that the whole thing about Soo Yeon pulling the car off the edge is supposed to be for dramatic effect, but really, why isn’t Dae Gi allowed to do something? It was just excruciating to watch, seriously.
3. Soo Yeon decides to give Manager Yang his resignation letter, as a just in case thing. Just in case he doesn’t show up to work one day, she’d have it on hand to process, he says. And then both Manager Yang and Yeo Reum take this as an immediate thing, and both get upset in their own ways. Manager Yang drinks at the bar, feeling like garbage. And Yeo Reum clings to Soo Yeon and cries that she can’t live without him, and to please let her stay by his side. He holds her and smooths her hair, as he thinks to himself that he can’t let her be his arm and leg as she’s asking. And then.. we cut to them having a cheerful dinner with Eun Seob, Dae Gi and Young Joo? What? Just, how did we get here, and how is Yeo Reum so cheerful and playing drinking games?
4. I am peeved that Mr. Jang gives Yeo Reum the device to stop Soo Yeon. At first I thought it was because she would see him first. But now, when they are both equally able to be near him, when he’s found and accessible, why does he still let her have it, and let her bear the responsibility of stopping Soo Yeon? Yes, I know it’s for dramatic effect, so that Soo Yeon and Yeo Reum can jab him together, hand in hand, while they kiss, but I found it all just too much.
And then, once we get to this point, everything is solved by a convenient one-year time skip, during which Soo Yeon has been completely off the grid and uncontactable (which, why, really?).
We see that some folks have been promoted, and the airport is running just as usual. Dae Gi and Young Joo are still working on the same team, and still in a not-quite-relationship. Young Joo does get jealous when Dae Gi meets an old school friend who happens to be single, attractive, and very interested in whether he’s still single, and blurts out that Dae Gi very much has someone that he likes. Dae Gi looks like he’s about to burst from joy, at Young Joo’s indirect indication of interest, and we’re left to hope for more cuteness and possibly some progress for these two. Can we please have a spinoff starring Dae Gi and Young Joo? I really want to see how their story pans out.
Conveniently, Yeo Reum gets wind of a passenger who bent a tensabarrier with just his arm, and, thinking that it can only be one person, runs around looking for him. She finds him, fully mobile and still being tailed by the cleaning robot, and they embrace. Cue credits.
After spending 16 hours with these characters, I’m upset. I’d become fond of these characters, and curious about their journeys, and enjoyed it every time Show gave us a glimpse into each of their lives and backstories. Instead of building on this strength, though, Show uses up so much screen time on the gangster arc that doesn’t even get wrapped up properly (did they ever get arrested for their illegal dealings? Last we see, they just covered up the Soo Yeon story, and that was it?), and so many characters get glossed over.
We find out in the final hour – by way of a throwaway comment, no less – that Manager Yang and Manager Choi are married but estranged? Just, what? Why did Show only choose to reveal this now, just minutes before the end of the show? Couldn’t we have spent more time exploring these characters and their story, and less on the annoying gangsters? Also, whatever happened between these two and In Woo, that we were teased about, but were never let in on?
We never find out what happened to Yeo Reum’s dad. Is he even alive? Also, for a character who’d been introduced with such drama and emotion, we suddenly stopped seeing Yeo Reum’s mum around, and we don’t even see Yeo Reum on the phone with her. That’s weird.
Altogether, I feel like Show had a lot of heart, and really knew how to make its characters come alive. It’s too bad that Show doesn’t seem to also know where best to spend its screen time.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Show is great at bringing out warm and relatable characters. Pity Show also gets lost while trying to amp up the drama. Still worth the watch though.
FINAL GRADE: B