Doom at Your Service: Episode 1
I’ve been eagerly awaiting tVN’s latest fantasy romance Doom at Your Service mostly because it means seeing Seo In-gook and Park Bo-young every week, and who doesn’t want that? Despite the drama’s rather dire premise, the premiere episode was fun and upbeat. After having the absolute worst day you’ve ever seen, our heroine finds doom literally knocking at her door with an offer she may not be able to refuse. And not just because she’s entranced by doom’s handsome face, although it certainly doesn’t hurt.
TAK DONG-KYUNG (Park Bo-young) sits in a doctor’s office and stares blank-faced while he tells her she has multiple brain tumors. When he says she’ll need to be admitted for a week for a biopsy and examination, Dong-kyung says that’s a no go; she can’t take that much time off work.
Exasperated, her doctor explains she’ll only live for another three or four months without surgery. Even if she has surgery and lives another year, it’ll be tough on her due to all the symptoms. The biopsy itself can be dangerous.
Dong-kyung asks if she’s going to die. He says yes. She takes that in and stands calmly. Then she hands him an event plan for “Doctor King Yeomra” and peppily asks him to kindly send his episodes in on time, although she knows he’s busy.
It turns out he’s also a writer, and she’s his editor. She says he seemed like a “real doctor” today (which he is) and thanks him for getting her in early for an MRI. He’s at a loss as she smiles, wishes him luck, and leaves like he didn’t just give her earth-shattering news.
Dong-kyung walks through the hospital in a daze and bumps into someone wearing a white doctor’s coat. She looks up at his face and stares in awe until MYEOL-MANG (Seo In-gook) says with a smile, “I know I’m handsome, but I’m busy.” Pfft.
Myeol-mang waits in the emergency room and counts down. While several people are rushed into the hospital after a stabbing incident, Dong-kyung stares at her bill in dismay. Recalling that she only has a few months to live, she asks for a three-month installment plan.
In the ER, the man Myeol-mang is waiting for arrives. Using some kind of hypnosis, Myeol-mang convinces the nurse to leave him alone with the patient who is the perpetrator of the stabbings. Myeol-mang commands the man to open his eyes.
He accuses the man of stepping on his doom turf and begins strangling him. The man’s wound heals when Myeol-mang “collects” his doom, but Myeol-mang vows he’ll return it to him one day. His fate now is worse than doom: it’s life.
Myeol-mang goes up to the roof where a goddess (Jung Ji-so), dressed in a hospital gown, waits. She’s essentially his boss and likens herself to a gardener tending to human lives. She calls him the butterfly that pollinates her flowers.
Her peaceful demeanor remains unchanged by his anger at being forced to do this work for her for eternity. He grumbles that it’s his birthday, but she reminds him he was never “born” as such and isn’t human. She sends him to “become someone’s wish” as he can only on this day. Myeol-mang laments that even his birthday is all about humans.
Meanwhile, Dong-kyung sits at the bus stop researching her condition. She takes a call from her boyfriend who sounds frazzled and asks her to meet him urgently. The next thing we know, a pregnant woman is throwing water in Dong-kyung’s face at the café where she was supposed to meet her boyfriend.
Dong-kyung takes in this latest catastrophe, calmly explaining that she didn’t know he was married. His wife refuses to believe her and continues to cause a scene. Dong-kyung finally starts to lose her cool and exasperatedly asks who she gets to unleash her anger on in this situation.
Maintaining an impressive amount of control and poise, Dong-kyung takes a breath before continuing. She’s willing to be the villain in this story because she understands the wife needs someone to blame. Dong-kyung genuinely wishes her a happy life with her jerk of a husband, both for her and her baby’s sake.
Poor Dong-kyung’s horrible day is getting worse by the minute. Before she can get out the door, the wife starts having abdominal pain. She ends up rushing with the wife to the hospital and serving as her guardian until they can contact the cheating husband.
The wife is fine (stress-related pains) and has now calmed down enough to be more rational. She admits it was easier to blame Dong-kyung for everything, even though she knew something was off about this situation.
Dong-kyung meant what she said earlier and encourages the wife to blame her and live happily. She tells the wife she’s dying soon anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Dong-kyung sincerely wishes her a good life and leaves.
When Dong-kyung returns to work, she’s yelled at for being late. CEO Park is a misogynistic piece of work. His response to hearing she went to the hospital because she hasn’t been well is to go on a rant about how women are always complaining and “getting sick” for no reason.
Because Dong-kyung hasn’t had a hellish enough day, her encounter with the wife is trending online complete with video. CEO Park sees it and plays it loud enough for the whole office to hear, asking if it’s Dong-kyung.
She denies it’s her, but he keeps pressing, so she mutes the video. When he yells like she’s the one being rude, Dong-kyung finally loses it and shouts back, “So what if it is me? What are you going to do about it?!” Everyone stares at her in shock. Dong-kyung announces she’s taking one of her meager vacation days and marches out.
Myeol-mang walks down the street and pauses outside of a bakery. After staring at the cakes, he keeps walking. Meanwhile, on the subway, Dong-kyung reads the vicious hate comments about her. Someone alerts her that a man is filming her, so she confronts him.
When he runs out at the next stop, Dong-kyung chases him all the way out to the street. Nearby, Myeol-mang gets in his car and starts the ignition. Two cars crash. He takes out a cigarette and lights it. A massive hole appears in the middle of the street right below the feet of the man Dong-kyung was chasing. She stares down at the man, stunned.
Myeol-mang’s bad mood gets worse as he ruminates over his conversation with the goddess and wonders what makes humans so special. Outside, Dong-kyung gets caught in the pouring rain without an umbrella on her walk home.
Her little brother TAK SUN-KYUNG (Dawon) calls asking for money. From her response, this is a typical occurrence. He gives some excuse about crashing a rental car in Jeju, but he’s actually playing games with his friends at an internet café.
Dong-kyung scolds him for being like this on their parents’ death anniversary which he forgot about. He’s unfazed and brushes it off. This poor woman. After hanging up on him, she buys a cake and arrives home drenched.
Dong-kyung narrates that she learned to hold in her tears at age 10. She places her parents’ wedding photo on the table and sits down to eat. We flash back to her parents’ funeral where she holds her little brother’s hand as their relatives sit nearby discussing whether to send them away or have a family member raise them.
Now she concludes that all those repressed tears must’ve settled somewhere in her brain, causing her illness. Her aunt KANG SOO-JA (Woo Hee-jin) calls from Canada and makes sure she bought cake for her parents – it’s better to celebrate than be depressed.
They chat comfortably and seem close. Dong-kyung keeps her diagnosis to herself and lies that she’s doing well. Her aunt happily notes that things are finally going their way. After they hang up, Dong-kyung tells her parents she’s dying and asks if it hurts to die.
While drinking on the roof, Dong-kyung gets a text from her cheating ex who wants to explain. Then, she receives a text about her loan being overdue. Several shooting stars light up the night sky, and Dong-kyung yells out her wish: “I hope the world goes to hell! I wish everything would stop existing! Bring doom upon the world!” With that out of her system, she laughs.
At home, Myeol-mang hears the wishes of people throughout the city, most of them wishing for personal gain. Suddenly, Dong-kyung’s wish for doom rings out. He scoffs that he smells alcohol in that wish and heads out.
The doorbell’s incessant ringing at 3:33 A.M. wakes Dong-kyung who has literally drunk herself under the table. She stumbles to the door and looks out the peep hole. A train makes its way through a snowy mountain scene.
She rubs her eyes and looks out again. This time, she sees the Duomo in Florence, Italy. Baffled, Dong-kyung slowly opens the door. Myeol-mang gives a cheery hello and says he played a little trick to get her to open the door.
Dong-kyung recognizes him from the hospital but is speechless when he introduces himself as Myeol-mang (which means “doom”) and insists she called him here. He pushes past her and makes himself at home in her apartment.
Seeing the table set up with food and a photo of her parents, he guesses it’s their memorial day. He adds that today is his birthday. Dong-kyung naturally thinks he’s nuts and politely wishes him a happy birthday while secretly dialing 112 (the police). Her phone powers off.
When Myeol-mang mentions her doom wish, she thinks he’s been stalking her. Dong-kyung tries to leave, but her door won’t open. Myeol-mang helps himself to cake and says they don’t have time for this. She’s going to die in 100 days.
He explains that his birthday “crosses over the centuries and leaps over destiny,” so she should take advantage of this rare opportunity. Dong-kyung has an epiphany and gasps that she didn’t know her brain tumors could cause fascinating hallucinations like this.
Myeol-mang chuckles and says he’ll give her more time to wrap her head around this situation. His birthday isn’t over yet. He leaves with a smile and a promise to see her again. “Is this a dream?” she asks herself. Outside, Myeol-mang answers, “No way.”
Dong-kyung falls asleep on the couch and finds herself transported to Myeol-mang’s lair which is sort of cave chic; there are massive rocks and candles everywhere. Myeol-mang apparently has the power to enter her dreams whenever he wants.
She’s amazed at the level of detail in this dream and goes poking around his place. Myeol-mang’s causal speech irks her, but he argues she started it with her doom request. He gets up in her space, and Dong-kyung decides she needs to leave.
She opens the front door to find herself thousands of feet up – the house is built into a cliff. With a snap of his fingers, Myeol-mang transports them to a beach since she that’s where she wants to be. He says it’s a thank you for the cake.
Dong-kyung starts to entertain the idea that he is doom personified and wonders what he needs her for. Myeol-mang explains that there’s a system in place, and he needs a human client to bring doom upon the land. She’s the only one who made a doom wish when the star died.
He laughs at her assumption that he’ll wink out of existence like in fantasy novels if he doesn’t fulfill her wish. Myeol-mang says it’s a mandate that he becomes someone’s hope on his birthday. Her alarm goes off, so he snaps his fingers and wakes her up.
Dong-kyung is relieved it was all a dream. That is, until she finds Myeol-mang’s dirty shoeprints on her floor. She gets to the subway station where Myeol-mang pops up around every corner and offers to make her dying days painless and even grant her a wish.
She ignores him and gets on the crowded subway only to find it suddenly empty except for her and Myeol-mang. “See?” he says, “You want it too.” The lights flicker, and the car is full again.
At work, Dong-kyung learns from her colleague JO YE-JI (Song Joo-hee) that CEO Park fought with his girlfriend the previous day which made him extra touchy. She begs Dong-kyung not to quit.
They’re interrupted by KIM DA-IN (Choi So-yoon) who informs Dong-kyung that a writer named Siberia is here for a meeting. And who does Dong-kyung find in the meeting room but Myeol-mang, masquerading as Siberia.
He reads Dong-kyung’s thoughts and assures her she’s not crazy. She’s naturally bothered by the fact he can hear her thoughts, so he encourages her to enter into a contract with him. He doesn’t listen to the thoughts of his clients.
Dong-kyung leaves in a huff, but she can’t escape the ever-present Myeol-mang. When she gets to a crosswalk, she sees him waiting on the opposite side. She narrates that abstract things like death and doom are hard to fear until they become tangible. Abruptly, Dong-kyung is hit by a terrible headache and drops to the ground in pain.
The light changes as she sits in the crosswalk cradling her head. Cars begin swerving around her, but a distracted truck driver heads right for her. Time pauses. Dong-kyung looks around in amazement, and her eyes land on Myeol-mang.
He walks toward her and says god is on his side. “It’s your choice. Will you die here or take my hand?” Dong-kyung hesitates and then slowly reaches up to grab his hand. The countdown to her death starts: D-99.
As a fan of both Seo In-gook and Park Bo-young, I was really excited for this one, and I’m not disappointed. I’m always a little apprehensive when dramas bring in fantasy elements since it has the potential to go awry. But when it works, it can be a lot of fun. Thankfully, this first episode struck a good balance, and the fantasy elements are incorporated well into the story. Dong-kyung as a character really grounds everything and adds an emotional center. Myeol-mang is fun and mysterious as doom incarnate, and the interactions between our two leads are entertaining. Given the premise of Dong-kyung only having 100 days to live, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect in terms of tone. I like that it’s offbeat and whimsical but with a touch of melo. It’s fun without trivializing Dong-kyung’s plight, although I have a feeling we’ll lean into the melo as we move closer to the end of the 100 days. I don’t mind some melo, but I like the playful vibe of the drama and hope it doesn’t lose that.
The premiere episode focused heavily on introducing Dong-kyung and setting up her situation. So far, I’m loving her as a heroine and not just because Park Bo-young is adorable. Dong-kyung is pragmatic, mature, and kind without being a pushover. Despite all the truly awful things that happened in a span of 24 hours, she handled it with dignity. I’ve seen drama heroines have bad days, but this was on another level. I appreciate how the drama showed us so much about Dong-kyung as a person through her reactions to everything happening to her. She’s the type to hold everything in and pretend she’s fine, which makes sense given her parents’ early deaths. She’s empathetic and understanding, but not to the point of letting others demean her. The way she dealt with her boyfriend’s secret wife was classy and sympathetic. Even after having water thrown in her face, she maintained her composure and genuinely wished the woman happiness (and accompanied her to the hospital). Dong-kyung knows when to stand up for herself, though, like she did with CEO Park. That man made my blood boil, so I was really happy when she refused to let him treat her so disrespectfully.
We’ve only scratched the surface with Myeol-mang, but I’m already curious about his story. He’s clearly sick of having to work at the goddess’s bidding and existing solely for humans. The goddess said that he was never human himself and wasn’t “born,” but he seems to see himself as a person – maybe not human exactly, but someone with an identity beyond doom. Although he doesn’t like having his life be all about humans, from his interactions with Dong-kyung, he doesn’t seem to hate them. He’s gloomy and angry – which makes sense since he’s literally doom – but his demeanor with Dong-kyung is playful. He’s certainly eager to get his “birthday” event going judging by his incessant pestering of Dong-kyung into striking a deal with him. Now that Dong-kyung has agreed, I’m looking forward to seeing how things play out between them. She may have wished doom upon the world while she was drunk and desperate, but Dong-kyung seems the opposite of vindictive. I’m excited to watch their partnership unfold and, of course, turn to romance along the way.
- Premiere Watch: Doom at Your Service, Move to Heaven
- A closer look at the supporting cast of Doom at Your Service
- Seo In-gook pranks Park Bo-young in Doom at Your Service
- First look at tvN’s One Day Destruction Entered the Front Door of My House
- Casting lineup confirmed for new tvN fantasy romance with Park Bo-young, Seo In-gook