Forest: Episodes 1-4 Open Thread
The tale of man, woman, and forest is finally here! It might not be the story we were expecting (yet?), but we’ve met our hero and heroine, and have become intimately familiar with their respective traumas. Be it circumstance, stubbornness, fate, or gumption, our characters soon find their lives connected in the mysterious forest… and maybe that will start to mean something as we get deeper into this story.
EPISODES 1-4 WEECAP
Forest seems to begin at its climax — there’s a terrible forest fire, and our hero ropes in to save the heroine, with flames coming from every direction. It’s a rather high-pitched start to the drama, but if anything else, we know we’re in for flames, danger, and shrieking people in the near future. But first, the story that gets us to that point!
Our heroine, JUNG YOUNG-JAE (Jo Boa) is a surgeon at a hospital in Seoul. But, like most young, beautiful, and competent female surgeons in dramaland, she needs a tragic flaw of some sort — or at least a trauma — to keep her from being too boring. For Young-jae, we see a scar on her chest, get flashbacks of a terrible accident when she was a child, and we learn that she’s on meds for a panic disorder.
Young-jae is flighty and frizzy and kind of annoying (especially for Jo Boa whose performances I usually really like) — but she’s also got some nerve. She zaps a psychotic father trying to murder his young son, and rather than be thanked, she’s effectively fired and shipped off to a deserted hospital in the middle of nowhere: Miryeong Forest.
For those who are watching Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim 2, this sounds awfully similar to that heroine’s storyline, though both treat a similar situation quite differently. One is about getting over yourself and becoming a competent and caring physician, and the other? Well, I guess we’ll find out what’s in store for Young-jae as we go — and right now, it doesn’t look like that will include swinging from the treetops (whether that’s a plus or a minus is up to you).
At the start of her story, Young-jae runs into our hero an awful lot — under the requisite amount of odd, contentious, and even serendipitous moments. My favorite of these revolve around a stolen americano from the hospital coffee bar. So much argument; I’m sure the coffee there isn’t worth it.
Our coffee-stealing hero is DIRECTOR KANG SAN-HYUK (Park Hae-jin). He looks to be your typical arrogant and competent businessman. He’s as smart and successful as he is handsome and fit, but like Young-jae, he also has a tragic flaw.
San-hyuk not only has no memories before the age of ten, but when we meet him, he’s having the weird psychosomatic experience of his right hand being on fire. I can get behind the psychosis, but the execution is a bit much. I’m not sure which is worse: Park Hae-jin’s freak-outs or the CGI flames engulfing his hand. Perhaps the forest can help.
Either way, this phantom fiery hand is a huge detriment to his serious business dealings, and even though he can do laps around his competition (and will do whatever it takes to win), he’s at a severe disadvantage with his psychosis + repressed memories.
It takes Forest its entire opening week to get the story where it wants it to be to really begin. Young-jae starts taking her stint at the hospital seriously, so we’ve got her living and working in Miryeong Forest. As for San-hyuk, he gets the project he’s been clamoring for at work — but, it requires him to become an emergency worker in the very same forest he’s aiming to turn into a lucrative development project.
Forest made us a lot of interesting promises with its early synopsis and promotional material, so I’m not going to let it off the hook easy. I can see where the show wants to go, trying to make Miryeong Forest into a mysterious presence that’s hanging over not only our characters, but our story, too.
I think I’m okay with anthropomorphized woods, so long as everything else is appropriately crazy to match. For now, we have a strong location-centric setup, a lot of weird characters (and none that I really like yet) — and, if nothing else, some really gorgeous shots of Gangwon Province.