Thing vs. Thing: Time-traveling Heroes
javabeans: Maybe we’re loopy from all this drama-watching, or maybe it’s that sixth glass of wine talkin’, but we’re bringing a new feature to you that we’re calling Thing vs. Thing, where we compare apples to oranges. Mostly ‘cause somebody told us you’re not supposed to do that. Challenge accepted!
girlfriday: We laugh in your face, rules!
javabeans: For this inaugural edition, we decided to take up a topic that’s been on our minds lately (‘cause it’s everywhere): time travel. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say we were rambling on about this topic and had to figure out a new feature just so we could make it marginally DB-relevant. What, eggs can lay hens, right?
girlfriday: What? We are always relevant!
javabeans: Relevant like a cross-eyed water mongoose!
girlfriday: That makes no sense.
javabeans: I rest my case. So, time travel. So many heroes, so many hijinks.
girlfriday: You’d think there was a fire sale on wormholes.
javabeans: Does fire sale make anyone else instantly replay the Arrested Development bit in their heads? “OH MY GOD it’s a FIRE…sale!” And why’s it always the hero skipping around in the warp zones anyway? Is it because of the dignity? Is it just not as funny to see an uptight lady dealing with modern craziness? Although I could totally see it being cute, like Shin Mina in Gumiho. Somebody get her a wormhole, stat.
girlfriday: She’s too busy being spectral, but maybe we can order her one for next year. At least Faith has a time-traveling heroine, but she goes the other way, from present to past, just like the OTHER backwards-traveling drama, Dr. Jin. Because apparently time-skip dramas need to come in pairs. Is it a cosmic balance thing?
javabeans: Is it balance if one is trying to sue the pants off the other one and prevent it from airing?
girlfriday: Okay, so maybe it’s more of an angry stomping thing.
javabeans: With Rooftop Prince and Queen In-hyun’s Man you’ve also got remarkably similar premises, but actually thanks to some key differences, I think they feel the farthest thing from being the same drama.
girlfriday: But because they’re airing at the same time (and again, because we can), we’re going to pit hero against hero. It’s Thing vs. Thing: Future King versus Future King’s advisor.
javabeans: I think Future King’s advisor has got the category all sewn up for Whose Time Travel Sucks Less? First off, he’s got an element of control over it, and we all know how we feel about having control of things.
girlfriday: But he has to risk his life every time he wants to go forward.
javabeans: But he KNOWS he’s safe. (I’m just hoping he doesn’t ever forget to take that nifty talisman with him…)
girlfriday: I still feel very unsafe every time a sword goes flying at him, and the only thing keeping him from dying is that piece of mystical PAPER.
javabeans: But Boong-do gets to warp with his horse! Mr. Rooftop Prince got thrown from his.
girlfriday: I agree on the horse thing: he wins because that means he gets to bring things along, from the past. That could prove very useful later.
javabeans: Plus, he brought the horse back to Joseon without even touching it that time.
girlfriday: Though the dead guy dissolved, so why didn’t the horsie?
javabeans: Because the horse didn’t die?
girlfriday: Oh. That’s simple enough.
javabeans: Haha. On the other hand, I will contend that Princey’s mystery sucks less than Boong-do’s, if only because Boong-do is facing death at every turn, while Yi Gak just has to deal with a dead wife. I mean, dead wife is SAD and all, but yunno, time heals all wounds, etc.
girlfriday: I wonder if wormholes come with super-speed healing too. They should.
javabeans: “I’m dying! Shoot me! All better now!” To put one in the prince’s corner, though, does it suck less that he gets reincarnated? If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again?
girlfriday: I dunno if doppelganger is the most satisfying way to get a second chance. Selfishly, I’d kind of want it to be ME who gets the second chance, and not my possibly evil clone. Although I still don’t really understand how connected the reincarnated souls are in that world.
javabeans: I’m not convinced the drama knows that either. So Boong-do wins on that score, in that I’m pretty sure the rules make more sense to both him and us.
girlfriday: Princey gets to travel with friends, which definitely makes him less lonely and less scared.
javabeans: That’s true. And Princey gets to assume the chaebol lifestyle, so there’s that whole unlimited wealth thing to cushion the difficulty.
girlfriday: Like that black card that buys everything?
javabeans: I’m not even sure if he understands what credit is, but I love his faith in the magic black card.
girlfriday: Yeah I think to him it’s just a mystical black rectangle that lets him have whatever he wants.
javabeans: In regard to the bit where the hero gets to travel back and forth, though, I guess Queen In-hyun’s Man is more like Operation Proposal, where the mode of travel is clearly defined (though not necessarily any less magical) and allows him to bounce back and forth at will. I guess that makes it Thing vs. Thing: Quantum Leaping.
girlfriday: Yeah Rooftop’s rules on leaping are totally absent. They THINK that solving the mystery by retreading their steps will reopen the portal, but how the hell do they know?
javabeans: Yes. I totally buy that that’s the logic driving their actions, but the whole time I’m here with my eyebrows in the air, going, “Really? You’re SO SURE? And what happens if you marry the wench and then you’re just STUCK WITH THE WENCH?”
girlfriday: Right? That’s what I’m screaming the whole time! That’s one show that could use an oracle or an old scroll or something.
javabeans: Yes, a Samshin Grandma to deus ex machina her way down and set some parameters.
girlfriday: At least some crystal ball-reading quack, to say that this plan is the plan that’ll get them back to Joseon.
javabeans: Or maybe they could’ve found Tae-yong first, and he’s all catatonic and mumbling stuff about Joseon time skips and stuff, so everyone thinks he’s crazy.
girlfriday: Ooooh. I like that. Much better use of the doppelganger.
javabeans: Mostly I just laugh everytime Tae-mu tries to kill somebody. Is he the worst villain ever or what? Princey gets another tally mark in the column of Sucks Less, since his villain is so ineffectual.
girlfriday: He and his honey are the Worst. Villains. Ever.
javabeans: At least Se-na is a good liar. Tae-mu has no reaction control. If anybody bothered to look at him closely in any crucial moment, they’d be all, “…you killed him, didn’t you?”
girlfriday: He’s definitely got guilty attempted-murderer face.
javabeans: On the other hand, Spy Eunuch and Minister Min are much more devious, so Boong-do’s way higher on the danger meter.
girlfriday: That eunuch is SO CREEPY. Such awesome casting.
javabeans: Yes, he’s the perfect snivelly underling. I was thinking how it would fuck with my head to see him in a nice-guy role. He’s like Steve Buscemi.
girlfriday: He really has the most interesting look of any villain I’ve seen lately. Just straight out of a comic book. So Boong-do loses points for his formidable foes. But then, he’s got badass swordfighting skills, while princey sticks his finger up in the air for a paper cut.
javabeans: Though Yong-sool is supposed to be the best swordsman in the nation… And with his sidekicks, at least he has, essentially, three shields.
girlfriday: I’m pretty sure it’s one shield with two accessories. I don’t really see Chi-san doing much in the way of shielding.
javabeans: I don’t see him or Man-bo fighting… but in the sense that they could take a bullet for the prince (or sword, whatever), that’s worth some protection points, isn’t it? By sheer virtue of being soft padding for a sword to NOT hit the prince?
girlfriday: Haha, poor minions.
javabeans: Then there’s the matter of royal support. Boong-do is in a more precarious situation, because although he’s a trusted advisor, he can’t just go off spouting accusations without adequate proof. Whereas, Princey can just go to Fictional King Daddy, right?
girlfriday: That’s a fundamental problem I have with that drama’s NEED for the time-skip. I mean, I get it when it comes to the main couple–thwarted fates and all. But in his mind, it’s to solve the mystery, and I’m like, isn’t that easier with your endless resources back home?
javabeans: I’m expecting some sort of explanation for the time mechanism in Rooftop—I haven’t been bothered because I’ve been thinking we’ll get it. If we don’t, well, that’ll be lame.
girlfriday: The thing that keeps it sensical for now is that he didn’t choose to time-skip, but was tossed there, so I’m just going with a he-misunderstands-the-point explanation.
javabeans: IF Rooftop pulls out that mystical explanation (it’s not a given that it will, but I’m working on the assumption that it is), I’d give it the edge for fantasy warparoo. ‘Cause in In-hyun, I love everything about the plot and characters and premise, but I do sort of trip on the very mundaneness of the time-warp mechanism. A monk wrote a talisman? That’s it? I actually want it to be more magical.
girlfriday: But the way the hero handles the time-skipping feels the opposite — Rooftop is about the mundane, adapting to modern life funny bits, while Inhyun is about purpose, the impact of knowing your destiny before you’re supposed to, etc. I like that, because to me, it’s a fundamental question of time travel. Yunno, horrible butterfly-effect-headaches notwithstanding.
javabeans: Yes, I’d even go further to say that Rooftop’s approach to the butterfly effect (which isn’t the same as ITS butterfly… effect) is that they’re meant to change history. They’re using the future as a tool to change the past, albeit in a minor way—not for power or gain, but to bring justice. As though Fate were thwarted and needs help getting the smack down. Which is funny, since in every other drama ever, Fate is the invincible one.
girlfriday: Gah, I’d give my left arm to see a drama where Fate loses.
javabeans: Except… how would you depict that, unless your drama is Meet Joe Fate?… which we could do.
girlfriday: The problem is, no matter what the outcome, Fate will just step in and say, I meant to do that! like a bitch.
javabeans: You just can’t argue with Fate. “I meant to do that.” “No you didn’t! You totally messed up!” “No, you were supposed to think I messed up, so that things could happen this way.” “You’re totally making that up. I saw you writing down what you meant to happen in your Fate Diary yesterday!” “But you were supposed to SEE it…” and on and on. Fate: really just a whiny 13-year-old. Just unkillable.
girlfriday: I think Boong-do has one up on style. Princey’s tracksuits are like minus ten points. At least.
javabeans: And that hair minus a hundred. You couldn’t find a ponytail holder earlier?
girlfriday: *shudder* How come barbie hair makes him look…
javabeans: …like a Troll doll?
girlfriday: It was decidedly a mane of unglory. A mane of…
girlfriday: Yes. A mane of shame. Although, he regains a lot of points for the poignant hair-cutting scene. Boong-do just has a runaway-Bourne-in-a-bathroom thing, but Princey’s got a really heartfelt formal parting with his hair, complete with photo memorabilia.
javabeans: But now I’m wondering if Princey loses some of those points because it didn’t occur to him to just wear a beanie.
girlfriday: HA. Idea fail.
javabeans: Yi Gak wins for helpful guide, though—Park-ha clothes and feeds and houses him, while Hee-jin makes Boong-do find his own way to the park (replete with threat to life). Park-ha even gives him proper Living 2012-Style lessons, while Hee-jin totally makes up stories about what things mean.
girlfriday: But her rules are awesome.
javabeans: You mean because she’s conning the hottie into giving her hugs and kisses?
girlfriday: Yeah. Like you wouldn’t?
javabeans: Hey, Hee-jin totally wins in the heroine round. But if we’re comparing from the perspectives of our time travelers, I think the honest girl wins.
girlfriday: Yi Gak has one major downside: he has to work a DAY JOB.
javabeans: But it’s his company!
girlfriday: Still. It’s a corporate job with meetings and dinners and paperwork. I dunno if I’d want to go from actual prince to corporate prince. Although he conspicuously does not dress properly for work. What’s up with that?
javabeans: The acid-washed skinny jeans and leather jackets, you mean? The perks of being the boss. I think Yi Gak’s bigger downside is that it’s less evident how he can stay with his honey, because he’s gotta go back home. You can say the same of Boong-do, but let’s say he’s believed dead in the past—then he can just stay in the future and live happily ever after!
girlfriday: Yes, the happily ever after is definitely rockier for Yi Gak. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re supposed to accept their doppelgangers as extensions of their souls, so that they find their match in their own eras.
javabeans: BAH. Cop-out. I’d be more satisfied if they did the sillier thing in sending Tae-yong back in time, Enchanted-style.
girlfriday: I think that’s a distinct possibility, but also completely insane.
javabeans: I think insane wins over BLERG! At least then, Tae-yong can go and draw all day and marry that pretty girl who looks awfully familiar, but whom he didn’t get a chance to know so there’s no real emotional conflict of swapping one incarnation for the other.
girlfriday: The only way it’ll actually be satisfying is for the doubles to die, and it leaves the main couple as the only ones in the equation, and so they have to traverse the divide to be together. Down with the doppelgangers!
javabeans: Kill all the Horcruxes! But whose time do they live in?
girlfriday: His makes the most sense.
javabeans: Aw, why’s the girl always gotta move households in a marriage?
girlfriday: Ha. I KNEW you were gonna say that! Not because she’s the girl, but because he’s got way more on his shoulders, crown prince and all.
javabeans: But maybe that’s what makes his sacrifice more meaningful.
girlfriday: Maybe he’s got a little brother who can be king, and then he can just stay in the future in the rooftop room.
javabeans: Eating whipped cream and mints. All in all, not a bad way to live your life.
girlfriday: Don’t forget the kissing your honey.
javabeans: I’m counting on that for both boys, so that one’s a draw. But let’s see, if we’re tallying up all our points, that gives Princey… eighty-two park-ha peppermints and Boong-do gets fifty-nine near-death experiences.
girlfriday: And then we process them in the wormholoplex… WINNER: seventy-two apples.
Fate: I meant to do that.