So yeah… not a great drama.
It’s too bad since the two leads are entertaining together and they’ve got that bickering, competitive one-upmanship vibe going strong. But the rest of the plot, the directing, the cheesy music… meh. I haven’t found much on the director or the two writers, which is usually an indicator that they’re early in their careers. I also found myself wondering whether the writers had anything to do with Air City… It’s nothing specific, just the overall style and tone, as well as their liking of “twist” reveals that are supposed to be clever but are really kind of glaringly obvious. And their tendency to amp up mundane events as Dramatic! And! Exciting!
SONG OF THE DAY
Mighty Mouth – “Energy” [ Download ]
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Beom-sang returns to Korea to an unexpected hero’s welcome. Cho-hee thanks him for taking such good care of their cultural asset, and her boss (Chief Noh) attempts to grab the box containing the antique bowl… which Beom-sang clutches with grim determination. Despite his aggravation, he manages to turn on the charm and smile for the benefit of the cheering public, and that same egotism forces him to let go of the box and relinquish it to the state. But not happily.
The man he was working for (a powerful CEO) isn’t pleased, either. Oh, on the surface he’s polite and gracious, in the way that a mafia don can inquire about the health of your loved ones before shoving some item of weaponry through your body (well, he’s a tad less violent, perhaps). He commends Beom-sang on his patriotic turn, but his displeasure is clear; he muses that it’s too bad, since the CEO could have pulled some strings to get him his tenured professorship.
Already upset with Cho-hee for manipulating him, Beom-sang fumes some more, blaming her for his loss.
Thus their next meeting is far from cordial: Cho-hee, her supervisor Shi-wan, and Beom-sang are all being presented with an award for their meritorious service to the country. Cho-hee scoffs at Beom-sang’s public image as a benevolent patriot, but since it’s an image she herself helped create, she finds herself alone in her assessment of his true character. The rest of the world thinks he’s a swell guy. Particularly the female half.
They argue over the underhanded techniques they both employed in Japan, needling each other for stooping to such low tactics, neither one admitting wrongdoing. Cho-hee’s attempted slap gives us a chance to get these two staring each other down and breathing heavily. Beom-sang gets the last word when he plucks her boutonniere from her pocket and puts it in her hair, telling her mockingly that it suits her (kdrama + woman with flowers in her hair = crazy).
Ever the savvy opportunist, Beom-sang mentally makes note of the powerful men who congratulate him on his award. Trying to figure out a way to make a strong impression, he comes upon the perfect chance: one of Cho-hee’s preservationist colleagues happens to be arguing loudly within earshot. He’s telling a persistent old man to leave, ignoring the man’s insistence that he’s got an important historical book.
Beom-sang earns a few brownie points with his present company (a museum director, government official, the chancellor from his own university) by generously offering to take a look (the older men are gratified that there are still youngsters who know how to respect their elders) — but his empty gesture turns out to yield a pleasant surprise. The book may in fact be valuable.
This unexpected discovery sets off a flurry of excitement among (the hearts of) the people in attendance who geek out over the ancient text. Beom-sang is the center of fawning female attention (and, okay, some excited male reactions as well) as he gathers restoration materials and painstakingly cleans the text and does some fancy preservation work. At the end of his examination, he announces that it’s very likely that it is a genuine Joseon-era book, likely one that was banned. Thus a huge find.
Everyone applauds excitedly (minus Cho-hee, who can barely muster a half-hearted clap despite being impressed at his expertise). She manages to hold her disdain in check — barely — until one of the Cultural Heritage directors is so impressed he offers Beom-sang a job with their center as a special consultant. Cho-hee can’t hold back anymore and finds herself shouting involuntarily, “No!”
That lands her in hot water with her bosses, who see her exclamation as insubordination and source of humiliation. Not to mention it may offend the exalted Beom-sang’s sensibilities into turning down their offer, and he would be a real asset to their team.
Beom-sang assures the director that he’s not offended, and would love to accept the position. However, he declines the job with pretty words, saying that he could not bear to disrupt the harmony of their work, with their employee so set against his inclusion.
Naturally, everyone blames Cho-hee for chasing away a prime catch, notably her three colleagues, who are jealous of her success (and competence) in general, threatened by the possibility that she may advance more quickly than they. As with all jealous and petty-minded types, they feel somewhat vindicated by Cho-hee’s recent screw-ups. But Joo-hyun in particular (who’s developed a crush on Beom-sang) decides she’ll win him back and apologize for Cho-hee.
As for Cho-hee, it’s back to business as usual as she goes off in search of another item of interest: a stolen painting. She drops in on a card game being played by an aging thief, which causes him to bolt. She runs after him. We’ll soon find out this chase is pointless, but first I must say that this director really likes his chase scenes — at the rate we’re going, we’ll be averaging 1.5 chase scenes per episode.
Turns out the guy is an old buddy of her father’s, who has been missing for seven years and is/was a thief himself. In fact, his profession was the reason Cho-hee went into hers, and she tells the man of her intention to catch her father herself and send him to jail. Cold.
Beom-sang tells his curator friend how he narrowly missed getting roped into a boring old job with the Cultural Heritage Administration, and notes that ironically, it was Cho-hee who gave him the out. Naturally, he’s miffed at her for opposing the offer, but relieved at the result. Until, that is, his friend tells him he made a mistake turning down such a good, high-paying job. Beom-sang hadn’t realized it would be a step up for his career, and further regrets his refusal when the guy who won the professorship over him rubs it in his face. (He does that condescending thing of faking concern, telling him essentially, “Aw, don’t worry. You’re pretty talented. I’m sure you’ll find something if you stay positive.”)
Beom-sang starts to wonder if there’s a gracious way he can backtrack and accept the position.
He thinks the solution has landed in his lap when Joo-hyun drops by to see him, and smirks to himself at the cool, elegant way he plans to offer up gentle resistance before accepting. He soon finds he’s counted his chickens way too early because Joo-hyun has come not to offer him a job — that has gone to someone else — but to apologize for Cho-hee’s churlish outburst and wish him well in his future endeavors, saying he’s too valued to toil away at their humble institution.
Beom-sang can’t believe it. It probably would be a humbling experience to anyone with a normal-sized ego, but Beom-sang’s is so overgrown it’s got a brain of its own. Which starts hatching a plan.
First, he’ll need to find out what Cho-hee’s looking for and manage to get to it first. While Cho-hee strategizes with Shi-wan over the possible leads, Beom-sang does the same.
Cho-hee’s lead takes her to a nightclub, but Beom-sang is already there, chatting up the contact. Thus when Cho-hee sees the guy and starts to chase him (Chase Scene No. 2 in this episode, and third overall). Somebody ought to tell her that if she doesn’t want these skittish guys to run, maybe she should try walking next time.
Beom-sang intercepts her and drags her onto the dance floor. Because we can’t have a scene involving a dance floor in a romantic comedy and not put our two leads through a hokey faux-tango sequence, plot be damned, can we?
Beom-sang refuses to let go of Cho-hee’s arm, dragging her through the motions of some kind of unfortunate Latin-dance hybrid, twirling her and dipping her while clubgoers cheer him on. (I know they’ve abandoned realism, but how many trendy nightclubs have you gone to where embarrassing oneself in an ill-advised ballroom dance routine results in claps of admiration rather than ridicule?)
And then, because this show is all about The Equality, Cho-hee turns the tables by dragging HIM through the same motions, only this time she’s the one leading and dipping him backwards. Oh. I get it. It’s funny, right? She then kicks him to the floor, mercifully putting an end to this painful scene, and storms off.
Cho-hee works late that night, and is alone in the office when a call comes in from an informant about the location of the stolen drawing. The call offers credible information, so she calls her boss and rouses her teammates for a stakeout to intercept the item.
The team blocks off a section of highway and wait for their target to arrive. When a motorcycle zooms into view and pauses in front of their blockade, everyone rushes out of their cars BECAUSE THEY’RE IDIOTS and confronts the guy, telling him to hand over the painting. If he cooperates, they won’t arrest him.
Seeing as how all eight team members (eight people for one measly stakeout?) are on foot and far from their cars, what does the motorcyclist do? DUH. He turns around and zooms off. That leaves our octet scrambling for their vehicles — come on guys, are you even trying?
Because this is another great place to insert a chase scene, they do. The pursuing cars veer back and forth like drunk drivers because I suppose it looks cool, not because it makes any sort of logical sense. And finally, because she is Teh Awesome or whatever, Cho-hee does some fast thinking and corners the motorcyclist. Only, when they check him, he’s not carrying anything. He’s not their guy.
Everyone (minus Shi-wan, since he’s dreamy and therefore our nice guy) grumbles at Cho-hee for sending them on a wild goose chase, and Cho-hee hangs her head in chagrin.
Not that her hunch was wrong, though, because the empty-handed motorcyclist was merely a decoy planted by Beom-sang. He’s arranged for the REAL contact to meet him and hand over the drawing. Ooh, clever, right? I suppose you could think so, if you like making people run around for no reason.
So it’s with some surprise that when Cho-hee arrives at work the next morning (nervously prepared to apologize to everyone), she finds her co-workers excited at their new acquisition — the painting. Stunned, she asks how they got the item, and Joo-hyun tells her smugly that it was all thanks to Kim Beom-sang.
Immediately suspicious, Cho-hee confronts Beom-sang, pissed off and impatient. He, on the other hand, is full of disingenuous charm, smug at having gotten the upper hand. She accuses him of being behind the entire scheme; he tells her she has no proof of anything.
Things take yet another turn for the worse (for Cho-hee) when she’s giving a presentation at work over a particular ancient book. A little flustered, she fumbles for the correct identifying information, but just then, she’s interrupted by a new arrival to the meeting. Beom-sang strides in, cocky and self-assured, and corrects her information, and offering more background on the item. The others are duly impressed with his knowledge, but Cho-hee can’t believe his nerve and tells him he doesn’t belong there.
Which is when Joo-hyun speaks up and clarifies that he DOES belong there, because he’s just been hired as an advisor.
Let me see if I got this straight. Beom-sang is too proud to say, “Oh, I changed my mind and would like that job back,” so he concocts an elaborate scheme. He follows Cho-hee’s trail and talks to her informants, gives her false information that leads her on an embarrassing wild goose chase, gets the real goods, and strolls in to save the day like a shining white knight. If this act of heroism is enough to give him the job which supposedly was already given to someone else, couldn’t he have just cut out the shenanigans and made a phone call instead? Oh right, but then we wouldn’t have had our three chase scenes or our embarrassing club tango.
I really wanted to like this drama, but there’s just not much there. I do like the banter and repartee between the leads, but that’s the only thing I like, and it’s not enough to keep me tuned in. Granted, there’s nothing I especially hate, either, but it’s kind of an empty show, good chemistry notwithstanding.
It’s funny since I thought there was no way Night was going to be worse than Chil Woo… and maybe that’s still true. But at least Chil Woo is so-bad-it’s-good — or at least so-bad-it’s-entertaining. Whereas Night just suffers from blandness. I was looking forward to seeing Kim Sun-ah and Lee Dong-gun together, so that’s a shame.
- When Night Comes: Episode 1
- Posing pretty for When Night Comes
- They’d better hope third time’s the charm
- Kimonos and national treasures