Oh! Master: Episodes 1-2 Open Thread
Drama slump: over! Our new drama Oh! Master sure scratches the rom-com itch. There’s nothing unfamiliar or mold-breaking in the set-up, but the characters are fun, their situations are relatable, and there’s just enough earnestness (oh, and silliness) to make this a strong start.
EPISODES 1-2 WEECAP
In its premiere week, Oh! Master sets right to its task of showing us how in the world a top actress, and the famous screenwriter she’s at odds with, wind up cohabitating. And for two episodes that have a lot of setting up to do, they’re actually really fun. We get such an honest look at both of our leading characters and their wants, needs, and hearts, that it doesn’t feel too tired or repetitive. Yes, their stories intertwine and we wind up right where we expected to be, but it’s an enjoyable little ride, too.
We first meet HAN BI-SOO (Lee Min-ki), the genius crime-thriller screenwriter who’s one part sweet and five parts neurotic. In my estimation, Lee Min-ki is the king of playing loveable (and here, also self-important) weirdos, and I don’t mind him in his comfort zone one bit because he’s such a blast to watch.
In his professional life, Han Bi-soo’s major problem is that he can’t find an actress he likes for the lead in his new drama. With one actress fired from the table read and another from the set, Bi-soo is as hated for his attitude as he is admired for his writing.
In his personal life, Bi-soo is neurotic enough in his habits that he’s forever closing drawers and straightening things. He’ll only use the bathroom at his family house (a lovely hanok we will see more of later on), and this is where his story intersects with the heroine’s — and the two get intertwined in both their professional and personal lives.
Our heroine is OH JOO-IN (Nana), and she’s such a refreshing change from the Hallyu star we usually see. In other words, she’s cute, she’s down-to-earth, and she’s kind. Joo-in is a rom-com queen, but she’s itching for something darker to sink her teeth into. She’s been trying to act in a Han Bi-soo drama for ages, but he keeps turning her down, creating some enmity between them.
Joo-in’s personal life is also well set up. She’s rich and successful, but lives in a tiny studio because she’s waiting for “that house” to be on the market. We soon learn she’s been waiting years to buy her childhood home back. Of course, this is the same hanok that Bi-soo is so overly-attached to, but ack, this whole angle of trying to get her family’s house (and thus, childhood happiness) back is really precious, and makes the drama so much richer.
In fact, that’s actually how I feel about the premiere week of the drama on the whole — they could have played it purely superficially, and just riffed on the personalities of our leads, and the resulting situational conflicts. Instead, each storyline has a whole lot of heart, too. And that heart is a lot about family.
Joo-in’s mother has dementia and lives at a facility, while Bi-soo’s mother is trying to bring her family back under the same roof after Bi-soo has become somewhat estranged. Mothers and sons, mothers and daughters, professionals and their managers, assistants, and CEOs — the drama has done a nice job of introducing the story’s many relationship dynamics. They’re characterized so well (or perhaps so archetypically?) you don’t even have to think about them, they’re just already them.
We leave our premiere week with the age-old contract arrangement being signed — Joo-in will allow Bi-soo to “rent” his old study (in what is now her house), on the agreement that he calls her “Master” (some cheeky wordplay on her name that’s both funny and indicative of the power struggle these two have underway).
The set-up is familiar, but what makes the drama so fun is that they’re both really likable characters. It’ll be interesting to see what the drama does from here, since there’s surprisingly little conflict, in a way, between our leads. I’d love for it to explore more of the drama-making mechanics (with Bi-soo writing and Joo-in tearing it up on set), in addition to the aforementioned family healing element, so I’m just going to send that wish out there into the drama wilds.
But Oh! Master also held a paranormal/fantasy element that I wasn’t expecting. Bi-soo is walking down the street one day staring down at his phone (thinking why Joo-in is a bad choice for his heroine lol) when he’s hit by a truck of doom. It was so sudden and scary that it had the same shock effect as the one we saw a few weeks ago in Vincenzo… except this one came with a free side of Shut Up Flower Boy Band PTSD (you won’t be able to convince me this wasn’t a thing)!
Bi-soo wakes up from a few day’s drama coma, and is completely fine. The doctors call it a miracle, and there’s nothing amiss, but naturally it’s plaguing his thoughts. When he was lying in the middle of the road, a man clad in all white told him he was getting a second chance at life. Bi-soo later sees the man a second time, in the hospital lobby, and Bi-soo is told his second chance won’t last long and basically that his death was only postponed, not averted. Choose wisely how you’ll live, he’s told.
I wasn’t expecting this element at all — and come to think of it, it felt much like the slice of fantasy that existed in Oh Hae-young Again. It’s either going to be the best thing about this drama, or the most forgettable. We’ll have to see where they take it.
Finally, I just need to get this out of my system: Nana is such a goddess! Every time I see her on the screen (yes, even in Kill It) I find myself just staring at her in sheer girl crush admiration. Throw in some boxing gloves, and I’m a goner.
This is a more glamorous role after her spunky heroine in Memorials, but it also really suits her. She gets to play up the glam star power, but she also gets to be soft, genuine, and a little bit crafty. So far, she’s a great pair with Lee Min-ki, and as
expected demanded, I think each actor’s colorful screen presence is merging in a really fun way here. I already want more.