[One True Pairings] When death would have been a happy ending
by Guest Beanie
There’s one type of OTP that’s my absolute catnip, and that’s couples where both parties are something special to the other that they would never be to anybody else. Like Min-kyu and Jia in I’m Not a Robot, where she’s the only one who could cure his allergy and he’s the only one who thinks she’s a great inventor. Seeing as that’s what I love in OTPs, you might be surprised to hear that in Black, I thought Reaper 444 and Ha-ram could be a great couple like that.
For those of you who didn’t watch Black, here’s what you need to know up to Episode 12: Humans who died but whose remains haven’t been found become special Reapers. They have no memory of who they used to be and are told that they are celestial beings. 444 is one of them. Ha-ram is a person who can see the shadows of Reapers and therefore knows when and how people are going to die. She hates this special power.
They meet after 444 possesses the dead body of Moo-gang and becomes Black. Moo-gang was the brother of Joon, Ha-ram’s childhood crush, who’s also dead but whose body has never been found. I think you get where this is going. Initially, Ha-ram doesn’t know either person has died and thinks that Moo-gang is Joon because he wears Joon’s bracelet that she’d given to him. Enough evidence for anybody.
There are some problematic elements to this relationship. I found Ha-ram’s cutesy behavior around Black irritating but hey, if that floats his boat, then who am I to judge? Ha-ram seems to ignore that her childhood crush has had a total personality transplant (literally, as he’s now possessed by a Reaper) but she accepts his behavior because he looks really hot. We’ve all been there before.
No, the main problem with this pairing was that Ha-ram is alive and Black is very much dead. To me, this seemed a significant obstacle to having a meaningful relationship. Seriously, falling in love with someone who’s already dead is going to end in tears.
So for the first 11 episodes, I was intrigued by the plot, but I looked at this pairing askance. Not just that I didn’t see the chemistry between the actors, but more that I didn’t want this living person to love a dead person. This way madness lies!
And then came the end of Episode 12—the moment of what-could-have-been—because Ha-ram was murdered by the baddie. Unmistakably killed. We were shown that her life bauble was shattered by the Reapers; we were told that so much of her blood had been found that she couldn’t have survived. She was dead. End of episode.
I sat in front of my screen slack-jawed. This was a moment of sheer brilliance that I hadn’t seen coming. Normally, I would have thought: “No way she’s dead. We know how this works, no main character dies in Episode 12. This is a total con and I’m not falling for it.” But this time it was different. Because a dead Ha-ram would solve the problem that I had with the OTP. Now it wasn’t a living person loving a dead person. Now the couple was… two dead people. Wasn’t this perfect?
It was the even-numbered episode, so I had a whole week to ponder this fantastic twist. I could see how this was going to play out. Ha-ram died and her body would not be found so… she was going to become a Reaper too! This was obviously what was going to fill the final third of this drama. Ha-ram was going to be part of Black’s Reaper Scooby Gang with Hip-Hop and Joseon.
There’s room for one more in the Reaper Scooby Gang. There’s an empty chair right there!
As a Reaper herself, Ha-ram would come to terms with that part of her that she’d hated before: her ability to see how people were going to die. She would understand that death wasn’t something to fear but a part of the circle of life. And more importantly, they were going to be that special OTP, where they were things to each other that nobody else could ever be. Because who other than Black would have seen Ha-ram both before and after she died? And who other than Ha-ram would make Black ultimately realize who he really was? He’d now seen someone die and become a Reaper. This would make him question his own origins.
I even saw the perfect ending: together they would ensure that the other’s remains were found. Both Ha-ram and Joon’s bodies would be discovered and they would stop being Reapers. I didn’t know what was going to happen at that point, maybe they would dissolve or go up to heaven, but after the stroke of brilliance that was Ha-ram’s death, I trusted the writer to get this right. It would be poignant. This was going to be an epic OTP. Handkerchiefs at the ready.
How awesome would it be if they were both Reapers together? Ice creams optional.
For a whole week I believed this. For seven days I gave the drama much more credit than was due. Because what did we get in Episode 13? We got: Ha ha, fooled you, she wasn’t dead after all. After that it only went downhill. We got ridiculousness and we got a stupid ending that left even the biggest of fans scratching their heads.
And I was left sad at the wonderful “happy” ending that could have been, if only Ha-ram had died. In my head this version exists. It will have to do. As I said earlier, we’ve all been there before.
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