Find Me in Your Memory: Episodes 1-4 (Review)
What would it be like if you couldn’t forget? It might be useful, helpful, and even serve justice, but without the ability of our most painful memories to fade, how can we heal? MBC’s newest drama Find Me in Your Memory just premiered in the Wednesday-Thursday primetime slot and is ready to dig into these questions.
Our hero is news anchor LEE JUNG-HOON (Kim Dong-wook). He’s successful, competent, and seems like your average dude. Even though we learn early-on that he’s got a super-memory, it doesn’t seem to interfere much with his unassuming ways.
Where his memory helps, of course, is with his job — whether it’s remembering scripts, or remembering moments from the past that he’ll use on his news show, Jung-hoon has clearly learned how to make his memory “condition” work for him.
In fact, he’s famous as the “gentle tyrant” who seems so calm and mild onscreen, but then pulls out a secret weapon and attacks the faults and/or lies of his many famous guests. In the first episode, we watch him torch a well-respected business leader for abuse, and learn he’s infamous for putting folks in the hot seat. And you guessed it — our heroine is up next.
But before our two characters cross paths, we have to learn about our heroine, too: she’s the famous starlet YEO HA-JIN (Moon Ga-young). I was predisposed to dislike her character, but it turns out it’s kind of hard. Outside of being gorgeous and successful, she’s actually rather with it. Even though she’s slapped with scandals on a daily basis, she quickly disposes of them with witty SNS posts. When her drama co-star has it out for her and slaps her on camera, she says it suited the scene and doesn’t make a fuss. She’s nervous to appear in her first TV interview, but her assistant gives her her iced black coffee laced with whiskey, and she seems ready to go (hah).
The live broadcast is where and when our leads’ stories intersect — talk about pressure! It’s all well and good until Ha-jin repeats an aphorism that sparks some of Jung-hoon’s dearest (and yet darkest) memories. He spaces out on live TV, and even though it’s kind of hilarious to watch, it’s of course terrible for the broadcast company. This moment is also the first hint to the audience that there’s some meaningful connection between our two leads, and the drama continues to leave some breadcrumbs for us as it lays this groundwork.
Find Me in Your Memory goes a little too heavy on the flashbacks for my tastes — in the opening week episodes, we already see the same memories/scenes played back several times. We’ve got Jung-hoon meeting his love, her red shoes, their romantic kiss, a pivotal romantic scene, and her falling to her (wrongful?) death in front of his car on a snowy night. K-dramas love this stuff, for sure, but a little goes a long way, and it’s better not to drown us in flashbacks if they want to keep the undying memory aspect of the show strong. In fact, the repeated use of memory triggers and flashbacks seem a bit of a clunky way to express the vividness of our hero’s memories, but I suppose there are limited means with which to express that, without showing us.
That being said, I did like the overall feeling in the drama’s opening week — that feeling of waiting for several pieces to shift into place. Or waiting for the ice to crack, perhaps? It’s not exactly a sense of foreboding or foreshadowing, but the feeling that there are more to these characters and their stories than we realize. It’s a K-drama, so there’s sure to be a lot of interconnection, but what is it exactly that’s lurking under the surface?
Even though Jung-hoon dislikes Ha-jin and her crafty alcohol-drinking ways, they wind up in a dating scandal (which Ha-jin seems to deal with and/or cultivate on a weekly basis). Thus, they’re thrown together a whole lot more than Jung-hoon would like.
But there’s more than fake love going on. Jung-hoon’s best friend and neurologist is YOO TAE-EUN (Yoon Jong-hoon). Like his father before him (yay, Kim Chang-wan, another favorite), he’s been doctoring and monitoring and tracking our hero’s “condition.” As it turns out, Ha-jin was also a patient of his, but whatever for? She seems completely well-adjusted. Emphasis on seems.
I wish Find Me in Your Memory would have held onto the question of the Jung-hoon/Ha-jin past connection a little longer, since the mysterious and strange connections between them (and the death of his first love) promised to bring an interesting dynamic to the table.
But this drama wants us to know, and doggone it, they are going to flat-out tell us. So, the drama uses its favorite flashbacks to show us that Ha-jin and Jung-hoon’s first love were besties… and just like that, they’ve explained away all the little breadcrumbs that I was hoping to have stretched out for a bit more of the plot. But, since we’re only two episodes into this drama, I will suspend my disappointment over these quick reveals in the hopes that there are some juicier things that await us.
A strong cast of characters always helps, and Find Me in Your Memory has definitely built a strong cast of supporting characters. Some of my favorite actors are here as well, filling those roles, and I was happy to see Lee Seung-joon as the newsroom PD, and Kim Seul-gi as Ha-jin’s assistant (man, she’s aging in reverse!), to name a few.
The drama also had some spot-on cameos, with Ha-jin’s nemesis played by Yura, and her early dating scandal pals played by Kim Sun-ho (heart) and Kim Ro-woon (HARU!!).
As for our leads, so far they’re shaping up to be the damaged-yet-functional characters we’re all familiar with — but they’re also quite likable. I don’t think there’s a doubt in my mind that they’ll wind up falling in love for real, but what about the rest of it?
Will the drama focus on unpacking their pasts? Will the two realize their connection early in the plot and join forces to understand the death of Jung-hoon’s first love? Or will the drama focus on them healing from that passing? I’m an active avoider of spoilers of all sorts — even plot synopses and episode previews — so these are genuine (though rhetorical) questions.
Above all the plot and character setup of its opening week, I think Find Me in Your Memory worked hardest at its tone. It’s mysterious and a bit eerie, but also full of warm close-ups and dreamy flashbacks. There’s definitely room for some interesting things to happen — so long as the pacing and the story keep up. While the opening episodes were a little slow, that’s not uncommon for a show with a lot to unfurl in later episodes, so I’m hopeful that the drama has more to unpack in the weeks to come.
The idea of memory, how it informs our perception of time, and how it shapes our present — these are all very interesting thoughts that I hope the drama digs into as it continues. With a hero who can’t forget, and a heroine who can’t remember, Find Me in Your Memory is primed to include some interesting psychological elements, so here’s hoping they take full advantage of that. Either way, they have me curious to see where the story will go from here, providing the mystery outweighs the angst.
Note: This is only an opening week review.