Air City, you pain me. Not because you’re bad (you’re mediocre enough), but because the solutions to your myriad problems seem so obvious. Why won’t you use them?
Normally, I just watch my dramas and decide whether I like them or not. I don’t get into the fan culture and I don’t write fanfic. If I like it, I’ll watch. If not, I won’t. But Air City desperately makes me wish I could write for it — not because I think I’m great, but because I see how it could be better and it aggravates me to watch them execute their stories so unsatisfactorily.
I don’t think the problem is the episodic nature of the stories. That’s fine. Air City has taken a departure from other kdramas in its structure and that’s commendable. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to cover a wide range of topics — spies, smuggling, drugs, mob activity, stolen technology. But whether your series is episodic or serialized, it still has to be driven by clear, distinctive goals and motivations. Right now it’s just a jumble of story beats and plot fragments.
Air City has the money, talent, high profile, and premise to be a better series. It frustrates me that it isn’t.
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY
Eru – “돌아와 내게” (come back to me) [ zShare download ]
EPISODE 8 SUMMARY
Ye Won accompanies Ha Joon to the airport to send him back to Korea. However, Ha Joon pretends to go willingly, but slips away back to the city, in pursuit of Jung Min. Because he’s an idiot. Who fancies himself a spy.
Do Kyung is released and comes back to the airport, where she’s faced with people whispering behind her back. In an effort to make her feel better, her co-workers try to act like nothing happened, although it’s obvious it’s an act. Mr. Eom (trolley guy) and the cleaning lady are the only ones who don’t pretend they don’t know anything, and they take Do Kyung aside to give her a block of tofu. In Korean culture, released prisoners are supposed to eat tofu (white and pure) as a symbol of warding off future troubles and to avoid going back in the slammer. Do Kyung is touched at the gesture and eats.
Yi Kyung hears that Do Kyung has been released, and is upset that her sister didn’t tell her. She tells her she was planning to cook her tofu soup when she got out. And then the tension defuses for no good reason and they’re okay again. Blearghh.
At home, Do Kyung’s bubble bath is interrupted by the arrival of a drunk Nan Young (Manager Jang), who’s upset over Ha Joon’s swift departure to Hong Kong — it’s proof of his feelings for Do Kyung. Do Kyung is surprised to hear of Ha Joon’s actions, and flies off to Hong Kong.
Ji Sung and his HK agent friend are on the drug trail, and Ji Sung gets intel leading him to a dock, where he approaches a fisherman. He says, and I kid you not, “I want to buy drugs.” The guy answers, “Cocaine?” Ji Sung: “Yeah.”
SERIOUSLY? Have the writers never seen a crime movie in their lives? How can some super-savvy agent just walk up to a stranger, ask for drugs, and actually GET THEM? Arghhhh. So frustrating. Even if Ji Sung is acting on secret information, a drug dealer is bound to be suspicious and careful when dealing with a new buyer. They should be talking in code, like, “It’s really warm today, it probably won’t SNOW. I wish the wind would BLOW. What a nice WHITE POWDERY bait you’re using. I’d like some COKE but all I have is Pepsi. Excuse the SNORTING, I have a frog in my throat. Got a mirror?”
Anyway, Ji Sung asks the guy if he recognizes a photo of one of Wang Wei’s men, and the guy says no. I’m guessing the drug buy was merely to warm the guy up to tell the truth. Since he didn’t get the info he was looking for, Ji Sung discards the cocaine before driving off. And somewhere halfway around the world, Lindsay Lohan weeps at the waste of perfectly good dust.
But Ji Sung’s screwed, because he’s been made. Wang Wei’s on to him, and he’s attacked by a bunch of thugs. After being thorougly thrashed, Wang Wei tells Ji Sung menacingly to get out of there, because the next time he sees him, he’s a dead man.
Meanwhile, Ha Joon’s still playing the undercover agent, and he goes to the bar where he’d followed Jung Min last time. Seeing the man Jung Min had spoken to, Ha Joon approaches and asks for help in finding Jung Min, passing himself off as a fellow drug-trafficker. The guy accepts his cover, and they plan to make contact the next day.
Ji Sung asks what the hell Ha Joon’s doing, but finds Ha Joon’s secret-agent act somewhat amusing. Ha Joon’s rather getting a kick out of it himself.
Arriving at the hotel, Ha Joon is hugely relieved to see Do Kyung, since he didn’t know she’d been released. She’s upset with him for being so foolhardy and rash, however, and punches him in the gut.
The next day, Ha Joon gets a call from the drug guy, and the agents prepare to move out, fitting Ha Joon with a tracker and following at a safe distance. However, the drug guy seems to know something’s up, and he runs off, leaving Ha Joon at the mercy of a bunch of gangsters who start to attack.
The agents intervene and fight them off, and Ha Joon takes off after the drug guy, tackling him to the ground and punching him in a fury. He demands to know where Jung Min is, and when the guy asks who he is, Ha Joon answers, “Can’t you figure it out? Don’t you know the national intelligence agency? I work for them!”
Ji Sung holds back Ye Won from interfering, looking at Ha Joon with amusement, and lets him have his tough-guy moment.
Do Kyung finds her university friend who’d met with Ha Joon earlier. In actuality, the friend knows Jung Min’s whereabouts, but didn’t disclose them to Ha Joon. Jung Min begs the friend for money to escape, when Do Kyung arrives and hands over a wad of bills, telling him to escape and save himself. She wishes him luck. Jung Min, perhaps feeling ashamed and/or confounded, refuses her money and walks off, only to be accosted by a gang. In broad daylight. Seriously, are we to believe that Hong Kong is overrun with street gangs with no police in sight?
So anyway, the agents arrive at an industrial pier where they find Wang Wei’s people, who guard the premises while holding their guns in very inadvisable positions.
There’s a bunch of running, and shooting, and fighting. The good guys win. That’s really all you need to know.
After the fight is over, Ha Joon confronts Ji Sung and says perhaps the only words that truly make a lot of sense this episode. He asks why Ji Sung came running to Hong Kong — wasn’t it because of Do Kyung? Even if that’s not Ji Sung’s motivation, that’s how she’ll interpret his actions. However, Ha Joon has a problem with how Ji Sung told Do Kyung about his feelings for another woman, because his actions and his words contradict each other, and he’s only going to confuse Do Kyung. If he likes her, he should pursue her. If not, he should go back to his other woman.
The words must have had an impact, because when Do Kyung arrives at the scene and worriedly scans the area looking for someone (Ji Sung? Ha Joon?), Ji Sung watches her from a distance, then walks away without approaching her.
And on his flight back to Korea, Ji Sung appears to sleep as the stewardess tries to awaken him, seeing his blood-stained shirt in growing alarm.
I was taught that it’s bad form to blindly rip apart someone else’s story without offering up a solution of your own. So rather than whining and criticizing blindly, I offer up an example of one of my biggest complaints, which is how they’ve handled the sisterly relationship. It should have been a relationship rich in conflict and story turns, but it’s been neutered down to blandness. What a loss of potential. I’d do something more like this:
When Yi Kyung and Do Kyung first meet, Yi Kyung is cold and distant. Do Kyung attempts to mend fences, but Yi Kyung treats her like a stranger, speaking formally and acting as though she doesn’t know her. When Do Kyung paints the bird on the runway for her, Yi Kyung is touched inwardly, but when she meets Do Kyung, she hardens — a simple picture isn’t enough to erase twenty-one years of abandonment issues. She scoffs, telling her sister, “Always with the grand gestures. Full of show on the outside, empty on the inside.”
When Do Kyung is arrested, she asks her co-workers to hide it from her sister because she doesn’t want to worry her. Yi Kyung finds out from another airport worker and is hurt that her sister purposely tried to hide it from her. When Do Kyung’s co-workers try to persuade Yi Kyung to visit her sister in confinement, Yi Kyung refuses. Ha Joon tries to soften her bitterness, defending Do Kyung’s actions. Yi Kyung is unmoved on the surface, but Ha Joon reminds her of an incident when they were kids that Do Kyung never told her about. Do Kyung stood up for her sister who was bullied by her classmates for being a crybaby, and as a result Do Kyung got into a fight and was suspended from school, marring her perfect record. That was the only time she ever got into trouble, but she never explained the reason; she just received her punishment silently.
Do Kyung receives her sweater while in jail, but doesn’t know who it’s from. Cut to Yi Kyung walking out of the jail, having delivered her package but unable to actually go in. When Do Kyung gets out of jail, her sister visits her at work. She’s still bitter, and when Do Kyung suggests they go out to eat together, Yi Kyung coldly turns her down — she’s scheduled for a flight and has no time. She drops a package off with Do Kyung before leaving abruptly.
Do Kyung opens the package, and it’s a tupperware container of tofu soup. She’s touched, and Yi Kyung walks off brushing back a bittersweet tear. Do Kyung starts to call after Yi Kyung, but is called by Supervisor Min for yet another airport emergency. And since Yi Kyung’s going away for a few days, the sisterly reunion must be delayed. Such is life in the airport.
Now, I’m not saying my idea’s wonderful, but at least it gives ME a feeling of emotional satisfaction between the sisters that also makes use of the plot elements. I want to see the emotional issues and the plot issues complement each other, rather than just coexisting side-by-side with no real interweaving between the two.