[Plot twists] Wondering along with the gods
by Guest Beanie
Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers.
In my next life I want to be a casual drama watcher. I’ll gracefully dip into dramas that charm me, keep an appropriate emotional distance; dabble here and there.
Instead, I am THAT person, the hair-pulling, mouth-frothing, wildly ranting lunatic that yells at the screen when in the thrall of a great drama. This is the result of a steady diet of fairy tales fed to me from an early age–it allows me to suspend disbelief and invest completely in the drama landscape ahead. Thus, like the straight man to the funny comic, I am the perfect audience for a plot switch.
We all have certain dramas that change us. For me it’s because those dramas elicit a visceral response that they capture an ephemeral something that speaks to the human in all of us, and they become a much greater sum than their parts. The Lonely Shining Goblin was a pinnacle for me. I love the entirety of the drama, but there are two scenes I faithfully revisit and they both involve plot switches and the gods.
One scene happened early on in the drama where we had a school-aged Deok-hwa and the Samshin Granny walking toward each other on the bridge. As they walked closer to each other, there seemed to be a wave of mutual recognition and a faint smile appeared on the face of the granny. In a moment of TV magic, their personas switched as they passed each other. Deok-hwa transformed into his current age (his 20s) and the Samshin Granny became a young goddess. This was followed by an adorable exchange where he asked her out for drinks.
The second scene I revisit often happened in episode 12. Reaper and Goblin compared notes and realized that all was not what it appeared to be when it came to Deok-hwa. They rush out to meet him at the club and find him…but were unable to approach the bar where he sat. (I don’t know why, maybe a space-time continuum or force field?) In the fraught exchange that ensued, Reaper and Goblin came to realize that God inhabited Deok-hwa, and that they were speaking directly to God. He questioned them both on their limited understanding of the past and their beliefs, and left in a cloud of butterflies. Deok-hwa collapsed as the scene ended and returned to his normal self.
In each scene–Samshin Granny in the first and Deok-hwa in the second, the character became so much more than their original footprint in the drama. They unexpectedly occupied a larger role with the plot switch, and with their entrance the conversation carried over to larger questions of fate, of choices made or not made, and of impacts that lasted lifetimes. They enthrall me because they force us to look deeper into the world around us, and they ask us to question how we come to make choices in our lives.
My last example involves the gods and fate as well. Oh Hae-young Again was another memorable watch, and the course of true love played out between our heroine and Do-kyung resonated with me.
Our OTP spent the much of the drama’s run scrambling to overcome fate’s bad hand. Just as the couple were eagerly planning their happily ever after, the gods (or fate) intervened, and Do-kyung realized he had not escaped his death curse. It was a rabidly fiendish plot twist and a blow to Hae-young and Do-kyung.
It was a plot switch on the level of the Truck of Doom: shocking and squealed out of left field. (Do not worry Reader, we still ended on a happy note.) It was very effective, as it forced viewers to rethink our expectations of what constitutes a happily ever after–and what we can truly control in our lives day to day.
In both dramas, the plot switches served a purpose. They forced us to examine our fundamental suppositions about life, the gods, and what we truly deserve.
As always, it’s up to us to find the answers.
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