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Tomorrow: Episodes 7-8

No amount of comedic relief from our reapers is enough to cover the darkness as our drama hits its midpoint. The cases keep coming in, but the wider story is slow to unfold, and I’m hungry for more backstory, and a little more sunshine.

 
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP

The episodic nature of our show didn’t bother me till now — perhaps it’s because we’ve reached the halfway point and I need a little more story to pull me through the heaviness and darkness that is 87% of this drama.

Though our team’s new case in Episode 7 leads us into the case of the following episode, they’re still quite distinct and separate, and each galling in their own way. But, with some more hints (finally) as to the backstory between Ryeon and Joong-gil, I’m hoping next week we get to dig into the wider story some more. Come on, Show, don’t let me down (or drag me down, as is the case here)!

A computer virus is unleashed on Jumadeung, and in addition to throwing a spanner into their digital operations, our RM team has technical difficulties with their Red Light app. Their next case is up, but all they can decipher is the person’s place of work and birth month. Desperate to get boots on the ground, they all interview for a part-time position at the cosmetics company. Both hilarious and problematic, all three reapers wind up working for the office, and of course, spend more time following around the employees than doing any actual work. But no one seems to notice.

There are four contenders for the individual who is in danger, and the divide-and-conquer investigations of our team are full of red herrings and false starts. The moral, here, seems to be that though many people are hurting, the ones who are truly in danger and suicidal might be the person you least expect.

Ryeon’s insight and intuition lead them to finally discover their target, SHIN YE-NA (Han Hae-in), just in the nick of time. They’ve put together all the signs and signifiers about her, and we get a positively galling display of her bulimia and severe depression. It’s rough to watch, like all of these cases, but also like the others, Ye-na gets a moment of emotional (and maybe even spiritual) healing, and she’s able to free herself.

Granted, the best way to show us her recovery might not be through her gobbling up cakes and pastries from the local PPL coffee house, but I’ll take the show at its intention: this woman has been able to free herself from her past, and move beyond her trauma. I really like that the show is leaning into the idea of personal responsibility as a path for people to make changes in their lives, so we’ll just say this was successful, especially since the RM team was able to show that “the weight of their words” — not their superpowers — is what helps them save people. Onto Episode 8.

Our resident teddy bear Jun-woong is still shaken from the case (being the one to take the lead and talk to Ye-na), and he starts to dig into Ye-na’s method for suicide, eventually discovering a suicide “broker.” Much like we saw in Episode 1, this is a person who enables people’s suicidal thoughts by grouping them together and having them feed off of each other.

Jun-woong wants to nab this evil person, but Ryeon and Ryong-koo insist, quite rightly, that it breaks the reaper code. They are not meant to bring justice or interfere with the Land of Living; their sole purpose is to ensure people live out their destined days.

We know enough of Jun-woong to know that he won’t be able to sit idly by — and sure enough he gets himself into a giant mess, where not only is his safety is at risk, but he winds up in a complex moral dilemma.

Is the show dialing up the disturbing storylines, or am I getting fatigued after so many weeks? At this point, it’s hard to watch this group of unhappy people, and the psycho guy who wants to enable their suicide and watch them die to get rid of his own urges. I understand Jun-woong’s struggle to save this evil man’s life — because ack, he is the next person they must save next — but also I don’t really take any satisfaction in the punishment the man gets saddled with.

The case causes a lot of friction between the team, and Jun-woong’s greenness and huge heart is always complicating things. But, as he learns, Ryeon wasn’t unlike him when she was younger — it’s just that now, with so much life and un-life behind her, she has wisdom, too.

In the end, Jun-woong learns why it was imperative for them to save this horrible suicide broker. Indeed, despite the appearance of injustice, justice was and is still at play. The punishment this man received in the Land of the Living is arguably as bad as what he can expect in Hell.

And now for the fun part: Ryeon and Joong-gil. We catch little snippets of Joong-gil’s past this week, and we see a Joseon-era scene replay in his head: it’s one he can’t seem to forget. In fact, ten years ago he had admitted to Ryeon that he no longer sleeps because the nightmare replay keeps returning. Well, at the end of the episode we see the climax of the nightmare that he’s so afraid of: Ryeon turns up and challenges him on the seeming murder he’s just committed.

It’s a good cliffhanger moment, but it’s not enough — give me more, Show! I’m more curious for their backstory than any other part of this story, and I have a feeling we’ll soon be seeing how deep and wide their history truly is.

 
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If Jun-woong weren't so impatient and inexperienced, maybe he could have just waited -- if the suicide broker was a real threat, before long one of his customers would have shown up on that suicide app and his scam would have become the team's official business.

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No that is the fault of the stupid decision of the director and writer. It has got nothing to do with Rowoon's character because even the hundred plus years experienced Koo Ryeon and Lim Ryung did not point out the obivious.

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This is not a defense of the writer or director, but my working theory is that Rowoon's character was indeed suicidal at the beginning--in fact, might have even tried to commit suicide himself, which is why he is in a coma. That seemed to be indicated when he went to the meeting arranged by the broker and was very convincing explaining why he wanted to commit suicide.

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Despite my love for this show, I'm beginning to see cracks. I thought it was the flow that was hampering the brilliance of the story, but as @sicarius as pointed out I realize the writing, execution and a combination of all are problematic. It is not the way they deal with a suicide case or even conclude it, but the way they show suicidal people moving on with their life (victim throwing the bully's book in trash, bulimic eating cake etc.,). Such scenes diminish the message they are trying to convey which is to prevent people from committing suicide by being their emotional support rather than being a solution to their problem.

The first half of episode 8 was so boring and I was not sure if it was others cribbing about Rowoon's character that rubbed on me because I found him infuriating. We have crossed the halfway mark of the drama and he still hasn't shown any maturity. If he wanted to seek justice he should have joined "My life again" crew instead of being on a mythical show. Also, the fact that Koo Ryeon and Joong Gil seem like supporting cast is not helping the drama at all.

The positives of the drama:
1. Kim Hee Sun was so gorgeous in the green sweater/pink hair. The stylist in this drama is the only person taking his/her job seriously.
2. Humour is on point. I laughed out loud in many scenes.
3. Epilogues.
4. Lee Soo Hyuk is definitely one of the factors that is bringing back the viewers each week.
5. The chemistry between Kim Hee Sun and Lee Soo Hyuk which is the sole reason for keeping the viewers still invested in the story.

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I've had the same problem as you, except, as I think you know now, all show.

I believe this might have come up in discussion on earlier recaps?- I wasn't on them- but
I find the show's approach to its subject matter to be... lacking, I guess would be the word.

Suicidal or depressed people rarely magically automatically get better all at once. Where is the follow up once the RM team has got them into the Green? Who's making sure they don't regress? The way out of that dark hole is rarely so simple or easy. It is often very long, and very hard, a constant battle to not give in. And this is going to sound extremely blunt, and maybe quite dark, but why have they not had any double up return cases?
I have seen the argument that the solution is not their job, (as mentioned at the end of 7 also) and the assumption is that these people do seek proper help after that initial "red phase" has passed- the RM Team's job is only to stop that first "danger zone".
But I just find this... if not unconvincing, then an unsatisfying approach to the subject matter.
For example, from my limited understanding of bulimia specifically, I was under the impression it is very hard for someone suffering from it to start eating properly again, and like other disorders and mental health ailments, it's a *long* and *slow* process.
The concept it has that the right words can be powerful is not something I have against in and of itself; The intent is that the RM team starts that healing process, and that words are their weapon (or uh... you know what I mean), but the result is... lacking.

I also find the way in which is portrays the struggles of these people, especially in the first 5 episodes, to be gratuitous and contrived, rather than nuanced; they frequently show an excess of sadness and stacked traumatic events -
> the way they showed and shot the bullying scenes felt like gratuitous bullying porn, when it didn't need to be,
> Jungwoong's friend's behaviour leading up to his attempt felt erratic and exaggerated,
> and every single person in Woojin's life around him ever has died? really? What is this Kdrama Traumatic Backstory Bingo? Just make him actually cursed while you're at it, maybe that would make more sense,
- all to elicit the "right" reaction, but it feels like building blocks in an archetypal game, rather than a proper exploration of any of the real issues at hand. Despite the heavy subject matter, I have never personally felt the weight of it once, and usually I find the subject of suicides really hard to watch.
Besides, suicidal tendencies do not have to come from a gross exaggeration of traumatic experiences, so I too, feel like the show does a kind of disservice to suicide, various traumas and mental health all, in this way.

Whether it's lacking true nuance, true depth, true understanding, a better execution, or all of the above and more... it's just an inadequate telling for me.

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This is so well stated and I agree.

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While everyone's sensitivity level is different, because most of us, and this is so sad, have experienced the pain of knowing someone who has committed or attempted to commit suicide, this show was going to inspire controversy.

So I don't know whether the writer/director/actors should be praised for attempting the subject or criticized for suggesting pat solutions. I for one would be fine with accepting the shows premise that a team of beautiful grim reapers could "cure" the desire to end ones life, since there's no such thing as a team of beautiful grim reapers, and since so many medical shows have had similar miraculous cures I guess I also am fine with the shows apparently sincere conviction that all suicidal impulses have an easily diagnosed rational cause--bullying, failure to achieve goals, etc. although a different show would deal with the most devastating of all suicides to the survivors: the talented, successful in all respects young person who has never been bullied and is deeply loved. The questions of why, who or what is responsible for those suicides are so painful and unanswerable that maybe it is beyond the realm of a fantasy show.

The problem I have with the show is that it is not content to be "just" about suicide and this fantasy world of life after death, but that it felt the need to bring in solutions to injustice and examples of moral reckoning beyond suicide. I guess these are neatly reciprocal- The bully is bullied; the father is redeemed by the son; the husband and wife love continues after death, the noble veteran gets a noble honor guard, the harasser ridiculing eating disorders gets a digestive disorder, etc. etc. But those added on to the simple suicide solutions begin to make the whole show seem contrived even for a fantasy.

And of course, the fantasy elements are not consistently or fully realized either. That might change, I don't know, but it does seem as if the destiny of the show has now been determined, and its just up to the beautiful grim reapers to usher it to kdrama purgatory, where it will wander back and forth for eternity or rather, until Netflix drops it, occasionally watched only because of the spectacular Kim Hee-seon and Lee Soo-Hyuk.

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Thank you for this reply because it's really well written and I understand your point and how it might work, even though I think I would still find it unsatisfying, just given my personal experience with the subject matter.

I think it's interesting you brought up the idea that you wouldn't mind if the premise was simply that this kind of cure WAS feasible within the parameters that the show had created; that is, miraculous cures from beautiful grim reapers- because one of my other thoughts has been, if you really had a visitation from a supernatural servant that told you not to kill yourself, and the nature of that experience was such that you couldn't doubt or question the validity of them being supernatural servants, wouldn't that potentially be enough to illicit some response from you, just by default? But there's no questioning of the afterlife by these people- they don't go "oh shit the afterlife is real, that's a grim reaper, wtf"- the response is instead very akin to if they were normal people trying to talk them down from the ledge. I mean, it doesn't help that they just look like and respond like normal people a lot of the time- but I guess my point is, there's no weight to, or reverence of, the supernatural realm, which compromises the world building, and which either, would've been an interesting angle to add, or would perhaps support better their conviction of immediate change, if balanced with everything else correctly. That's not to say the road out for these people still wouldn't be hard, or that I wouldn't still personally want that addressed, but it would add an additional layer to the immediate response.

As for the other suicides, the subjects and cases this show doesn't address- Is it beyond the realm of a fantasy show? I don't know, I don't think so, but it's beyond this one for sure.

The eye-for-eye response to injustice, I have found to be quite common in Korean fantasies, but it's very tacked on, in this.
"And of course, the fantasy elements are not consistently or fully realized either. "- no I don't think it will change, I think it has made its bed in this regard already. It lacks cohesion between its pieces, and depth within those individual pieces as well.

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Thanks for the response! I agree completely with your thoughts here and think you could have written a better show--that is, as long as, as Kasumi below says, it retained Ryeon, Joong-Il, and the fashion!

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Why thank you~
But ofc, I would keep the fashion and the crackship, ahahaha

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Very well articulated. I have nothing more to add. I’ll continue to watch for Ryeon and Joong-Il snippets, the fashion, and LSH!

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Yes, all of this is what I have been thinking throughout this show. Thanks for summing it up so well.

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I too have seen the cracks in the early episodes and simply can’t understand the rave praises heaped upon it. I chalked it to different taste.

A highly sensitive subject matter with a goofy pat approach? No thank you.

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And!
The part of the show I am invested in, is so poorly structured and paced; I'm clinging to five second crumbs of a story that is so badly woven into the rest of the drama it feels like it doesn't belong/ like a completely different show.
The gelling of the episodic format and the background plot/s is, practically non existent tbh, and major source of my frustration.

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A thousand times yes! Your critique is completely on point. I wanted to keep watching this show because I am interested in that same part of the show, but when it's so minimal and everything other than it so disappointing, I had to move on. Like I mentioned before, I so want to watch the show this drama appears to be in the opening credits, and which features Koo Ryeon and Joong Gil's story at its center.

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Reading this, I just attempted to watch episode 8, but had to stop. I am done. Conceptually the attempt is good, but the execution is awful.

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Also they don't show enough of LSH to warrant continuing.

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watch EP8 for LSH. He finally has a bit of screen time

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I agree with all your positives! The clothes are on-point!

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I was so into the eating disorder story line because it is something that is rarely talked about in kdramas.....UNTIL the end. They are trying to tell that someone who has been suffering from bulimia for that long can suddenly eat CAKE....oooooooooooooookay. Even if her mental state is better, her body won't allow her to keep it down. She NEEDED some serious help. She shouldn't have been let out of the hospital.
As for Joongil and Koo Ryeon, *swoon*. My brother ships Koo Ryeon and Joon woong, I don't know why. Show please give us more lee Soo hyuk.

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And just like that, I am back to not being able to stand Rowoon's character. He irked me so much in episode 8. Here was I thinking he had grown a little last week.

The episodic nature of the show doesn't really bother me and I don't think that they are trying to simplify the issues portrayed each week. From what I understand, the RM team steps in when the situation is critical but there's obviously a lot of work(long term care) left after the crisis is averted.

I'm trying to understand the logic behind the teleporting because why would they drive to go and save Jun-woong? It's not like there were human beings around them when they found out what Jun-woong was up to. Or did we need our weekly dose PPL?

Does Lee Soo-Hyuk charge too much for his onscreen time? Because I'm trying to understand why be barely got one minute of screen time in episode 7🙄?

I am excited and looking forward to the back story between Ryeon and Joong-Gil. More of that please show

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the man is too expensive they only able to pay him a minute screen time per episode 😏
I'm calling him as a glorified cameo since he get to be in the poster. lol

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Has the editing been this weird or it just became a little obvious in ep8?

Anyways, time to give us more than a minute of what really happened to Ryeon and Joong-gil.

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Curious if it's defamation against Ryeon(aka cheating while he wasn't there) making him go after all those who did it and killing them ending in their break up marriage...

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Possible. I want the Show to focus on them now bcs we’re halfway through and we don’t have enough footage of LSH-KHS together.

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No, the editing has always been weird, lol. It is also more noticeable in 8 though.

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Had quite a few ??? moments in ep8

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nah, it's been weird

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I may have been FFing too much xD

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All the comments said what I feel about the show far better than I could, I'll just say I've been watching the show with a healthy application of the FF button.

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I feel like the show should've done the episode about Jun-Woong's best friend/his own backstory in the final episodes to give it more emotional weight. Jun-Woong had some good character growth in the first two weeks, but is now back to being naive and immature as Episode 1. By now, he knows what his job entails and there are rules that need to be followed. Now he's just recklessly breaking them and having temper tantrums with no consequences.

With his friend's story, the work as a grim reaper really weiged on him and he learned that having a light touch goes a long way, with the addition of some things being predestined. (How cute was it that Jun-Woong had been part of his friend's favorite memory before they actually met?) We could've been getting meaningful connections to Ryeon's and Joong-Gil's histories that could've had a big reveal in these midpoint episodes.

Unfortunately, it seems like the drama spent all their budget in the opening week (oops, the key is broken; oh no, your powers aren't working this episode), so now they're going through the "story of the week" in less exciting ways, which makes it feel like it's boring to viewers, thanks to the change in pace.

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EP8 is the highlight because mighty fine screen grabbing Lee Soohyuk finally have more than a minute screen time. His screen time is so lacking that everyone is rejoice when EP8 start and end with JoongRyeon. I was bitching about it that LSH is just a cameo, not a second lead after EP7 ngl.

Onto the story. I'm not a fan of them showing Yena eating cakes and bread as if she is all well and fine after her Suic*de attempt. Recovery takes times irl and the way they approach it kinda bug me. I like her talk with Boram and I think that is good but at least try to allude that she is getting help too.

I thought CJW finally have some sense but it seems everything is out of the window in EP8. Anyone can guess that the broker must be hiding between to people who agreed to CS together because crime drama tells us that psycho like that love to watch it happen. Which of course I was right. I'm not sure what the Director have in store for him but can they speed it up cause he grates on my nerves. With not enough Park Joong Gil as a buffer, it is hard to watch the ep with FF it.

I'm still watching since I want that tragic angst backstory between PJG and KR. He killed people but it was Ryeon who was condemned to hell. Seems like PJG gets a better deal despite killing people? I want to know what happen that drove KR to CS and the fact that she doesnt seem that remorseful in hell over it. give me that show

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ohhh me too. agree with everything, and really, i'm just watching for Ryeon and Joong. :( i wish they were the main leads instead.

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Hello, Beanies! I hope that all of you are having a wonderful day. I understand many of the points brought up by Beanies about the rather quick and simple resolutions to many of the serious issues discussed in this drama. I was also taken aback when Shin Ye-Na takes a small slice of the cake because I know that wasn't realistic. However, I feel that the writers are ending each case on a positive note in order to encourage their audience. Suicide is such a large issue in Korea because of bullying (school and workplace) and the unrealistic expectations that society places on people. I believe that a person watching this drama (who may suffer from depression or have suicidal thoughts) needs to know that there is hope, a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Again, the execution may not be ideal or realistic, but I believe that the writer's intentions are coming from a good place.

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@Sirena. You put my thoughts into words. For me this show doesn't pretend to offer 'real' presciption medicine for the many troubles that the world faces, but it does give viewers who might not chose a whole drama about any one of these topics, to get at least some glimpses into the many causal layers and people that are hidden under the #hashtag-labled problems every society suffers. And the idea that there are people out there in the world dedicated to helping those in dark need with words and actions is also a great subtext, even if they are just heroes from the Manga novel that this story came from. I also appreciated that they gave us such great actors and wonderful writing within each of these vignettes, consistently moving us into empathy and very often tears. And then after opening our heads to all these mindstorms of pain and desperation, they still offered hope by ending with the positive note of 'moving on' with life. Because this idea comes from a Manga, and the chief writer has done some comedy series, I think the intent wasn't to drown us in reality but to give us quick short story bursts showing us the many reasons why some aren't able to 'stay in their lane' anymore, and are desperately looking for an exit. While the details aren't real, I still feel the reality of the characters and their situations.

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@charbarn Thank you for your thoughtful comment. And I agree with everything that you stated in your post. People need to know that there is always hope.

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Ep 8 was the hardest to watch yet. Like others, I'm looking for more of the Ryeon-Joongil plotline. One bright spot in this ep: I don't think Mr. Lim picked his nose once. Even with that quirky "habit", I want to know more about him too and why he has to clock out the minute his shift ends. Show gave us these interesting characters, now it needs to flesh out their backstories a whole lot more.

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The evil man in episode 8, who knows the cast name???

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