Could it be that the show has turned a corner? Last week was the best pair of Heirs episodes yet. Here’s why:
[spoilers from Episode 12- 14]
1. The cheese is back!
Was it prom night at Jeguk High? Why I believe so, at least in the eyes of our OTP. This is what I’ve been missing ever since they left California for the angst-ridden morass of Seoul–the happy meal of corn, adolescent romancing, sauced with some sweetness and topped with a boatload of cheese! When the show gets it right, it’s what it does best. This is what I signed up for!
Since Kim Tan has begun to worm his way back into my good books, I’m happy for him to take Eun Sang to the prom. And I sighed with relief that the kiss was sweet. It almost erased memories of that horrible rooftop mess. The cherry on top would’ve been to hear the resounding chorus of “Love issss the momeeeeent!” and some swirly camera work. Instead it used a tasteful, understated tune. It’s like the show opted for subtlety during the one time when excess would’ve been welcome!
The melodrama had sucked all signs of joy out of the show of late. This little makeshift dance however, brought some of that old Cali magic back. Let’s hope it’s back for good.
2. Eun Sang grows a spine
Girlfriend, where have you been all this while? I was this close to writing her a letter as a concerned unnie like I did for Secret‘s Yoo Jeong. I’m ecstatic that she expressed something other than resignation, fear or weepiness. I’m thrilled she had her moment, stood her ground, fought for it and followed through. She finally dares to want, instead of being convinced that happiness is beyond her reach. Maybe screen writer Kim Eun Sook suddenly remembered one of Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Rules–every character should want something, even if it’s only a glass of water.
She’d been relegated to little more than cannon fodder in the battle between the boys so much so that it’s been a big reason for my distaste for the show of late. I knew that the show would be boy-centered, so I wasn’t expecting her to be Katniss Everdeen. Even so, being barked at, shoved around, bullied and harassed is not how I like my heroines to be treated. And it’s just no fun to watch.
So hurrah for Eun Sang scoring one! I do wish we got to see what triggered this turn-around aside from Kim Tan’s persistence–did she seek advice from Bo Na on cross-class dating during their sleepover?–but hey, I’ll take it!
3. Young Do lets down his hair…
…and discovers his broken, beating heart underneath. Is there a K-drama law of correlation between coiffed hair and cruel streaks? Watching Young Do’s gradual disarming in the face of Eun Sang’s compassion has been a small boost for me in the midst of Kim Tan’s aggressive behaviour. I never imagined his about-turn would be so quick but I’ll take it!
I’ve enjoyed watching Kim Woo Bin even if I haven’t enjoyed Young Do, and the few moments of vulnerability we see–when he sputtered indignantly to Eun Sang in Episode 12 the line, “I was just sad when you weren’t here, and I’m happy that you’re back, and your secret is heavy, and that’s it” for instance–have been sincere and winning. I imagine Young Do’s thaw has been as puzzling to him as us. I do wish we’d seen more of his earlier friendship with Kim Tan and how their estrangement has hurt them but I think that would be asking this drama to go deeper than it’s willing to.
Could a full-fledged redemption be on the horizon? If the hair sticks around this week, I’ll take it as a promising sign. And then maybe we’ll even see him cuddling his Rotty again. Someone should’ve told Young Do that dogs can be chick magnets.
4. Kim Tan says sorry
I realise that I never really knew who Kim Tan was. I mistook him for a pensive, bookish sort. Instead, he isn’t studious after all (Young Do wanted to fail their mid-term, what’s his excuse?), and for all the thinking that he claims to be doing, he has no plans to show for it. The dude runs on pure impulse, raw emotion. He’s precious, selfish and bratty. Early on, this was somewhat endearing. But it’s been off-putting of late.
The show has turned his awakening from apathy into a license to behave brutishly, as if a man of action necessarily need be a man of aggression. In a drama where the patriarchs exert their power over their subjects through physical violence and emotional withholding, I guess I saw in Kim Tan the person who could be the one to start a revolution and reject the game altogether. Because if there ever was a family and chaebol deserving of the middle finger, it’s Kim Corp, right?
But now I think he will merely opt to play the game differently, to wield his power more benevolently as opposed to rejecting it outright since I don’t think this drama is interested in challenging the status quo. And that’s good enough, I guess. I’m not sure I can go back to being adoring no matter how cute his flirting with
me Eun Sang is. But I won’t rule it out completely since I want to root for him. And the show has given me a glimmer of hope–he apologised to Eun Sang for intruding on her coming-out party, supported her and ran interference with Chan Young. People matter to him more than money or status which means he’s capable of putting others first. And I’m glad he feels regretful for what he’d done to Young Do.
And here’s one of the best reasons to have kept watching: ever since Kim Tan’s been homeless, his wardrobe has improved.
5. Kang Ha Neul
What does it say about this drama that the suicidal pill-popping wreck is the one character who feels the most relatable? (And what does that say about me?) It’s something to do with Kang Ha Neul’s natural low-key appeal. Or maybe it’s because practically everyone around him is dialled up to 10 that he’s instantly a breath of fresh air whenever he appears. I like the relaxed air of authority he brings to his role as Hyo Shin sunbae, somewhat above the fray yet friendly to all.
And I swoon at his adoration of his ex-tutor. I wish we saw more of him. I’m guessing he didn’t take his college entrance exam, and I’m worried about the consequences since his character might be disposable. He may not make it out of that school alive, but if he doesn’t I hope he gets to plant a big wet one on noona before he goes. At least let him die happy, show.