Angel’s Last Mission: Love: Episodes 1-2
I was so excited to dive into KBS’s new fantasy romance Angel’s Last Mission: Love. I had my reservations, for sure, but with a great cast, great director, and a swoon-inducing premise, how could I not raise my hopes? And thankfully, with one captivating premiere, this prickly ballerina and her guardian angel are keeping those hopes way high in the sky.
EPISODES 1-2 RECAP
On stage, in front of a beautiful backdrop, a group of ballet dancers perform the final scene of “Swan Lake.” The prima ballerina portraying Odette gives it her all, moving with elegance and passion.
This whole scene, however, is a dream. The ballerina is our heroine LEE YEON-SEO (Shin Hye-sun), and she whimpers in her sleep, warning her dream self to get away. But her dream self goes on with the show, alongside the dancer portraying Odile.
And that’s when a stage light from above shatters. We see the broken glass rain down on a wide-eyed Yeon-seo, and then we cut away to blood splattering on her tutu. Yeon-seo wakes up gasping, annoyed at the dream’s vibrant colors.
She heads over to the bathroom but trips over a stepping stool and falls to the ground. Realizing what’s happened, she screams at the top of her lungs, scaring the living daylights out of her mansion’s staff.
Yeon-seo gathers up the maids and orders each of them to wear a blindfold and trip over the stool, until one of them finally admits that they left it out.
An older man, who we’ll come to know as DRIVER JO (Jang Hyun-sung), comes in, asking what’s going on, but Yeon-seo isn’t finished. She stands up, white cane in hand, and coldly tells the maid that she’s fired.
Later, Yeon-seo and Jo are joined by the chief of staff, JUNG YOO-MI (Woo Hee-jin), there to deliver the mail. Chief Jung panics when she sees an invitation from the Fantasia Cultural Foundation, but Yeon-seo gets a hold of it.
Reading in braille, she learns that the foundation is holding a 20th anniversary party. And the fact that it takes place tomorrow seems to bother her.
Yeon-seo starts leaving the house with her guide dog, when Driver Jo gets a call from the hospital. Yeon-seo snatches the phone away and eagerly asks about her cornea donation. Her face falls when she hears (yet again) that they won’t be able to do the procedure. Frustrated, she tells the doctor to take her off the waitlist.
Driver Jo and Chief Jung sigh as they watch Yeon-seo walk away. We flash back to three years ago, after Yeon-seo’s accident occurred and she was still adjusting to her blindness. She’d fallen into a pit of depression, and she forbade everyone from mentioning ballet or Fantasia ever again.
Elsewhere, our hero and titular angel KIM DAN (L) sits atop a tall building, enjoying the view. “Goodbye, sky. Goodbye, world,” he says, looking serene. “Even if I’m not here, you should always be beautiful, okay?”
Dan stands, his arms spread out, before falling forward. He falls down, down, down until he sprouts wings and flies off into the city. He’s off to one of his missions, as inscribed on a leaf, to stop a truck driver from getting away with stolen dogs.
He messes with the driver (who can’t see him), levitating a lighter and scaring the driver into veering off the road. The dogs all escape, save for one still in its cage and badly hurt. Dan holds his hand over the poor pup and wishes it peace, thus sending it to Heaven.
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Dan then teleports to a park to await his next mission. “Since it’s my last day,” he says up to the sky, “please assign something good!” Like clockwork, Dan hears the sound of a dog barking, followed by two skateboarders crashing into someone — Yeon-seo.
The skateboarders give Yeon-seo a hard time, cursing that blind people should stay at home. One of them grabs her arm, and Dan starts toward them, but it looks like Yeon-seo doesn’t need the help; she whips out her white cane and warns them to back off.
The boys continue grabbing at her, so she smacks them with her cane and uses her graceful dance moves to kick them down. (Ha! Nice!) She then sticks the cane in their faces and states that they’re lower than her dog for making derogatory statements. The boys run off, making Dan shake his head.
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Help not wanted
Since the scuffle scared Yeon-seo’s dog off, she heads out without him, unaware that she’s not completely alone. Dan follows her all the way to a bridge, where she finally lets herself cry.
Dan sadly notes that she died here before. We flash back to a time when Yeon-seo had gone up on the railing and danced along it, to the horror of a gathered crowd. She tried to assure herself that she could dance with her eyes closed, but one misstep made her question everything.
She looked up at the sky, her voice detached as she told her parents that she really couldn’t see. With one final leap, she was in the water, narrating, “They say a ballerina dies twice. The first time is when we give up dancing. The second is when we stop breathing. When I stopped dancing, darkness was all around me. Is there a point in waiting to die a second time? Instead, I wished to die two deaths at once.”
Seeing Yeon-seo’s heartache, Dan approaches her, close enough to have their lips touch. This gesture somehow makes her aware of his presence, and (I think) she hears him when he says that humans only die once.
Yeon-seo’s dog comes running back, just as it starts to rain. She rests on a park bench, Dan right beside her, and silently listens until the pouring stops.
Dan notices a leaf, his final mission, appear on a tree branch and reaches up, startling Yeon-seo… Thus startling Dan. Apparently she can still sense him, because she demands to know who’s sitting next to her.
When he doesn’t answer, she flashes her cane and makes him cry out. He realizes that she can actually hear him — like, clear as day — and freaks out. She tells him to leave her be, and he stubbornly answers that he doesn’t want to. He claims that this bench belongs to God, not her.
However, Yeon-seo doesn’t want to hear about God. She prayed so hard when her father died and when she lost her eyesight, but He never listened. Dan sighs that she sure reacts to trauma strangely, even dancing off a bridge.
Her eyes widen, and she grabs his jacket, asking how he knows that. At this point, Chief Jung appears and calls out to her, giving Dan his chance to bolt. Yeon-seo orders Jung to catch him, but there’s no one there. A confused Yeon-seo feels all around the bench, only to grab at nothing. All she finds is a handkerchief with a feather on it.
At Fantasia, Driver Jo meets with CHOI YOUNG-JA (Do Ji-won), Yeon-seo’s aunt and Fantasia’s current art director. Jo tells her that it’s cruel to have the foundation’s party on the anniversary of Yeon-seo’s parents’ deaths.
Furthermore, he finds it odd that Yeon-seo’s cornea donors always end up cancelling; it conveniently keeps Choi in her job position. Whatever’s going on, Jo plans to have a thorough police investigation, much to Choi’s discomfort.
And whataya know, in the very next scene, Choi has a secret meeting with Yeon-seo’s doctor. The doctor insists that he can’t lie anymore, but Choi tells him that he’s in too deep now.
That night, Dan waves his arms by a street, getting zero responses. He’s still invisible to other people, so he wonders why Yeon-seo was so responsive. Suddenly, a car screeches to a halt, having run over a cat. Dan looks on disapprovingly as the drivers merely switch seats and drive off.
Inside the car we have GEUM NINA (Kim Bomi) and GEUM LUNA (Gil Eun-hye), Director Choi’s daughters. Nina is crying, feeling awful for hitting the cat, but Luna tells her to suck it up. She continues that tragedy happens sometimes and that they deal with it later. Right now, she wants Nina to focus on her big performance tomorrow.
In some heavenly lair, Dan’s senior angel HOO (Kim In-kwon) lectures him for all his hijinks down on Earth. Dan starts to ask if humans can see them, making Hoo narrow his eyes.
“If you lay a finger on a human,” Hoo warns, “you’ll disappear. You’ll disappear like smoke and dust.” So Dan will have to be careful for the next 24 hours if he wants to leave Earth.
Dan is positive that he’ll be fine, but then he notices that his handkerchief is missing. Not good — he was given this handkerchief when he was appointed as a dispatched angel and it’s crucial that he keep it with him at all times.
Yeon-seo wakes up to a leg cramp, so Driver Jo comes in to ice it. He sees that she must’ve had a nightmare and sweetly says that he’s always on her side. But she wishes he’d stop acting as if he knows everything.
Jo thinks back to Yeon-seo’s younger years, when she’d be so excited to show him a dance trophy. He tells her now that he wishes she’d shine bright like she used to — just like an angel.
Yeon-seo pulls the covers over her head, giving Jo his cue to leave. From the window, Dan mutters that she’s awfully rude. He waits until it looks like she’s asleep and then sneaks over to retrieve his handkerchief.
The problem is, Yeon-seo’s got a tight hold on it and Dan can’t bring himself to grab it. He leaves with the biggest pout on his face.
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Angels are bad at stealing
The next day, Yeon-seo surprises the whole staff by dressing up for Fantasia’s party. Jo drives her over, with Dan kicking it in the back seat and whining about his handkerchief. And is it just me, or does it look like Yeon-seo still hears him?
They arrive at Fantasia, where Director Choi and her husband KIM KI-CHUN (Kim Seung-wook) greet Yeon-seo with insincere warmness. To Dan’s surprise, Yeon-seo actually maintains her patience.
Driver Jo won’t have any of it, though, and guides Yeon-seo inside. People immediately start gasping and whispering at the sight of her, so she insists on stopping by the bathroom alone.
But even there, she hears some of the dancers gossiping, wondering why Yeon-seo would come when she can’t even see the performance. Meanwhile, Nina is in the dressing room, in her Odette attire, pumping herself up.
The performance of “Swan Lake” begins, but Yeon-seo’s seat remains empty. She’s in an empty hallway, doing the same routine by memory.
Our two ballerinas dance in near-perfect sync, but at the end of the routine, it’s Nina who gets the big applause. Yeon-seo drops her arms, and a tear falls down her face. Meanwhile, Driver Jo goes down to the parking lot, looking for Yeon-seo, and passes a guy that looks reaaal sketchy.
Luckily, Jo finds Yeon-seo in time to make her speech at the after party. Everyone welcomes her with polite applause, interested to see what the ex-chairman’s daughter will say. There’s one mystery person in the back, hiding behind sunglasses, that looks especially intrigued.
Yeon-seo starts off by saying that today is not only the anniversary of Fantasia, but of her parents’ deaths.
“I’d given a lot of thought on how to celebrate,” she says dryly. “I considered showing up as a corpse by hanging myself in the bathroom. To be dramatic.” Now that the crowd is thoroughly uncomfortable, she continues that she knows everyone views her with pity.
She reminds them that Nina was nothing but an understudy — a shadow — and now look at her. With Yeon-seo gone, Nina was able to make a successful debut. She hopes that everyone remembers this “charming” story of Fantasia’s.
In the back, the mystery man removes his glasses and reveals himself to be JI KANG-WOO (Lee Dong-gun). He smirks as Yeon-seo wraps up her toast and downs her drink.
Afterwards, Director Choi confronts Yeon-seo, demanding to know what she has against them. (You mean apart from having a party the day her parents died?) “You smiled back then,” Yeon-seo seethes, catching Choi off guard.
We flash back to Yeon-seo in the hospital, her eyes wrapped in gauze. Choi had burst in crying, but when she went in for a hug, Yeon-seo felt her aunt smile against her shoulder.
Choi calls her crazy, and Driver Jo has to take Yeon-seo away before things get too heated. They head back to the car, and Yeon-seo turns back one last time, toward the steps. Dan sits there, beside a bouquet of flowers, smiling down at her.
He thinks back to Yeon-seo dancing in the hallway (aw, so she did have an audience). He’d retrieved his handkerchief but stayed to watch her, clapping at the very end.
Yeon-seo and Driver Jo take off, with Jo saying that he’ll make sure she gets back to her rightful place. She yells at him to stop saying things like that, making him screech the car to a halt.
He yells right back, telling her that it’s time she pull herself together. She doesn’t want to listen to him, though; it’s not like he’s her father. With that, Jo silently drives on.
As night falls, Jo reaches a curve in the road and realizes that the brakes aren’t working. He panics, remembering the man in the parking lot, and tells Yeon-seo to hold on tight. He tries his best to regain control of the car, but they’re going way too fast. The car flips in the air and lands on a bridge, rendering Jo unconscious.
Nearby, Dan is about to teleport to escape the sudden rain, when he hears Yeon-seo’s voice. He reaches the car, which is now dangling over the ledge, and finds Yeon-seo weakly calling for help. He sighs, figuring this is it for her, and sets his bouquet of flowers down. “Rest in peace,” he says before turning away.
“Who is that?” Yeon-seo’s words stop Dan cold.
He turns back as she starts crying and begging for him to help. He covers his ears, unable to believe this is happening, but her voice sounds so clear. In the distance, the heavenly bells ring (his cue to hurry up and zap out of there), so he tries to convince himself to ignore her.
But then he hears her thoughts: “I want to live. I’ve wanted to die every day, but I want to live now.” He grasps his head, a flurry of memories taking over — a young girl in the rain, and a young boy falling into water. At that moment, the boy’s thoughts were the same as Yeon-seo’s.
Dan is still grasping his head when the car finally slides over the ledge, sending Yeon-seo and Jo hurtling toward the water.
At the last second, time stops, and the car hovers in the air. Dan, in all his winged glory, comes flying down, until he’s at eye-level with Yeon-seo.
“I shouldn’t have done that,” he narrates forebodingly. “If only I hadn’t done that.”
I am delightfully surprised. I was sure I would like this drama, but I didn’t think I would like it this much this fast. This is just the first episode, though, so I better not jump the gun. My main concern was (and still is) with the writer, who had been on my shit list since the disappointment that was Lucky Romance in 2016. That drama was the only thing on this writer’s resume, so it didn’t exactly sit well with me. However, since the drama had been an adaptation of a webtoon, I’m willing to accept that it’s not a proper representation of this writer’s work. I’m hoping she can turn things around with Angel’s Last Mission: Love — she certainly has all the right pieces.
Lee Yeon-seo already seems like a fascinating character, and Shin Hye-sun is playing her like a champ. I love her for her more fun and bubbly roles, and I think that side of her translates well to roles like this. Yeon-seo’s ballet accident may have left her cold as a freezer pop, but there’s still a bit of warmth to her that people like Driver Jo can obviously see. Unfortunately, a lot of that warmth must’ve faded once she had her entire career, and pretty much her entire life, snatched away. The ballet business is no joke, and it’s business that not everyone, including myself, can understand. At the same time, ballet is an art, and I think many of us can relate to an artist’s desperation for success.
The ballet themes reminded me a lot of the film Black Swan, and I’m sure that was no accident. I mean, naming the second female lead Nina? Yeah, I see you, Writer-nim. It’s interesting because the film deals a lot with doppelgangers, and I could easily see the drama going in a similar direction. Nina was always Yeon-seo’s understudy, waiting on the sidelines, and now it seems the tables have turned. With Nina’s official debut, it’s Yeon-seo who must stay on the sidelines. And while the girl does have impressive confidence in herself, that must hurt. Everything she loves is gone, and her own family, namely Director Choi, is making sure it stays that way.
We didn’t get to see Lee Dong-gun much at all, but I think that one scene — that one smirk — was all we needed to introduce his character. He sees that spark in Yeon-seo too, and I look forward to seeing what he plans to do with it. There’s no way to tell whether his plans could be positive or negative, and that both scares and excites me.
Finally, I have to discuss Mr. Angelface himself, L as Dan. Now, look, I’m an unabashed fan of L and his band Infinite (I’m that fangirl who belts out “The Chaser” in her car), but even I will admit that he has a bad track record with dramas. I always want him to be better, and I’m happy to say that here, as the mischievous angel… He’s better. He needs to tone it down with the flailing, but he makes Dan utterly adorable and charming. Dan is obviously new to this whole angel gig, having very little knowledge and having a little too much fun with his powers. And the final scene has me curious as to what originally brought him to angel bootcamp. Did he die recently? Does he not remember? What would happen if he were to remember? I can’t come up with any concrete theories yet, but I have a feeling this carefree angel is going to break my heart. Real bad.
But, first things first — Dan will have to mend Yeon-seo’s heart. I dig this kind of opposites-attract romance, having the sweet teddy bear get through the ice princess’ barriers, but love isn’t the only thing needed here. Yeon-seo has been talking about dying for the past three years, and I’m sure she’ll continue talking about it even after this near-death experience. At least now we know that some part of her still wants to live. If she just focuses on that, perhaps she could be on her way to finding happiness again. It would take a lot of opening up, and something tells me that Yeon-seo doesn’t like to be vulnerable. We all want Dan to restore Yeon-seo’s faith in love — I mean, that’s what I’m here for — but I hope he also restores her faith in humanity. Judging by her hard look on life and by the couple’s first interaction, it won’t be easy. In fact, it could be Dan’s toughest mission yet.
- Premiere Watch: Angel’s Last Mission: Love, One Spring Night
- Spring blooms for L, Shin Hye-sun in KBS’ Angel’s Last Mission: Love
- New levels of petty between ballerina and angel in Angel’s Last Mission: Love
- Angel wings and tutus in white on KBS fantasy Dan, Only Love
- Shin Hye-sun, L, Lee Dong-gun and more gather for Dan, Only Love’s first script reading
- Lee Dong-gun and L to join Shin Hye-sun on new KBS fantasy drama
- Shin Hye-sun transforms into ballerina for a KBS fantasy melo