Review: God’s Gift—14 Days (SBS, 2014)

Premise: A mother and a deadbeat ex detective travel back in time to save the life of her daughter.  They have 14 days to stop her kidnapping while unravelling the mystery of a past murder which links both their fates. Will they triumph over fate or succumb to it?

 

God's Gift Ep 1

I was prepared to give this drama a good grade for being a solidly entertaining, if underperforming, fantasy thriller.  After all, it had lots going for it: a compelling mystery with enough twists and turns to keep armchair detectives occupied for days, a gritty crime-laden premise, leads with lots of appeal and a breathless pace.

Unfortunately, the drama delivered a spectacularly bad ending too impossible to overlook.  It might sound harsh, but a poor finish mars everything. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, isn’t it?

It’s a case of biting off more than it could chew. God’s Gift’s problems, apparent from the start, such as mechanical storytelling, poor editing and overambitious plotting, simply got the better of it. Together with what I suspect are the rigours of the live shoot system, made the entire operation collapse on itself in its final moments.

I’ll get to the ending later, but the drama does many things right. The drama’s greatest strength to me, was its pair of well-drawn, complicated leads and their partnership.  Soo Hyun (Lee Bo Young) starts out as a ‘tiger mum’ with a fraught relationship with her precocious daughter Saet Byul.  As the drama progresses,   while hell bent on preventing her daughter’s impending death she hurls herself into harm’s way and gets her hands very dirty, and is forced to reconsider herself as a mother.

Backing her up is a messed-up wastrel ex-cop with a crapload of emotional baggage, Ki Dong Chan (played by scene-stealer Jo Seung Woo).  Together they’re scrappy tag team who are much better together than they are apart. As comrades, Soo Hyun and Dong Chan ground the story with their relationship based on genuine care, support and respect. As outsiders against the world battling unseen forces, they have guts and gumption.

Dong Chan and Soo Hyun’s teamwork and charming platonic bond is the heart and soul of the story. While Dong Chan nurses a crush (can you blame him? Ahjumma is pretty awesome), he thankfully never oversteps his bounds. It’s pretty rare in dramaland, and I’m glad this didn’t blossom into a romance.

God's Gift Episode 9

When the plot started to go haywire with increasingly contrived situations or absurd diversions, these two kept me anchored. This is a drama that spits out political conspiracies, family dysfunction, dodgy husbands, suspect cops, vengeful grandmas, obstinate kids, countless murders, multiple killers, and even a rock star, with lightning speed. Dong Chan and Soo Hyun function like a fixed point amidst a whirlpool of chaos. There’s a lot of stuff going on in this drama, and not withstanding a healthy suspension of disbelief (pretty much a given in these sorts of genres), having these two around makes it go down a lot easier.

To the screenwriter’s (previously of Iljimae) credit even bit characters (and there are quite a few of them) make the most of their screen time so that they’re both functional and entertaining in various ways. It makes the shenanigans much easier to swallow when you enjoy watching whoever is doing the shenanigan-ing! Take Dong Chan’s sidekicks at his detective agency for instance—Jenny (Han Sun Hwa) was a nifty operator, sassy comic fodder, and even had a righteous hero moment of her own! And who can forget Heidi, the funniest fanboy with whom every K-pop fan can relate?

For a drama with a sprawling conspiracy that stretches literally through time and space, I also think it boasts some really crafty plotting, niftily doling out pieces of the puzzle one by one like a trail of breadcrumbs.

There’s a pulpy fun to some of the craziness and it was entertaining enough so that I was happy to gloss over the plot excess. Besides, it all sped by so blindingly fast. The adrenaline rush was addictive and those early cliff hangers were some of the most nail-biting and hair-raising I’ve ever experienced.  And there was, as always, the dynamic duo of Soo Hyun and Dong Chan.

But as the episodes flew by, the drama started to feel less like a mystery unravelling than a machine churning out twist after twist. The plot wound itself tighter and tighter into knots. Somewhere between multiple escapes and multiple red herrings, characters stopped begin true to themselves and ran around fruitlessly instead. It got tiresome.

I certainly wasn’t expecting the drama to offer a neat and tidy wrap-up. That was hopelessly beyond its reach anyway. All it needed to do was tie up its main thread and give its leads some closure, and I would’ve been satisfied.

God's Gift Ep 5But I was shocked by just how badly it botched the ending. Slap-dash and barely coherent, it was as if the drama just gave up. Beyond more of the same last-minute curve balls that ate up far too much time, what was supposed to have been the climax of the entire ordeal—the reveal of final piece of the puzzle—happens in a split second and lands with zero impact.

The thing is there’s a glimmer of logic and enough skilful planting of clues all throughout to make a credible case for why it ended the way it did. But it’s told so shabbily that it’s practically nonsense.

[Spoiler!]

And nothing sticks in my craw like a wishy-washy, fanservice-y ending. Killing off the show’s most popular character appeared to be the end game from the start. Kudos for sticking to the game plan show, but have the guts to commit. We’re adults. We can take Dong Chan dying if we’re convinced it’s best for the story. But the problem is no one is even quite sure what happened, much less why it had to happen, and so it feels like we all got screwed. Including Dong Chan!

So closure? What closure?

So what started out as pretty gritty, entertaining popcorn thriller couldn’t stick a decent landing to qualify for a passing grade. Disappointing.

God’s Gift–14 Days

Starring: Lee Bo Young, Jo Seung Woo, Kim Tae Woo, Jung Gyu Woon

Overall rating: 2.5

Recommended: Erm, nope.

Director:Lee Dong Hoon

Screenwriter: Choi Ran

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9 thoughts on “Review: God’s Gift—14 Days (SBS, 2014)

  1. The ending made it one of the worst shows for me….actually the whole last episode…I loved the drama (even with loopholes and contrived plotting at times) for 7 weeks….but that final week destroyed all the love 🙂

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    • Yeah, I know you were super more into this show than I was, so I can imagine how disappointed you must be! I dunno what went on in that writer’s head. Did nobody tell her/him, writer-nim, less is more?!

      It’s a shame how the last hour or so can negate the 15 hours that came before it, and I wonder if some people see it differently? Like, maybe it would pull down the overall quality for them, but it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker.

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  2. Congrats on a very nicely written review, DDee!! I enjoyed the read 🙂 That ending does sound terrible, ugh. I’d hate to have sat through 15 episodes only to be rudely slapped with a nonsensical ending. That just negates everything that went before, because in this kind of set-up, it’s the ending that we’re gunning towards. Another drama that DOESN’T make my watch list!

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    • Aww shucksies, thanks for the compliment dearie! And thanks for readin’! I think I perform better when I’m upset 😄

      I’m still a little baffled by this one coz I didn’t think the show would go so horribly wrong, and at the very last second too. And the ending might have been salvaged because the set-up was there all along, and I might hv bought it, but boy was it so clumsily executed. Although, I do know of a few bloggers who think that the ending wasn’t bad, but REALLY GOOD. So, you might not wanna take my word for it?

      Apparently the writer’s previous show Iljimae had a wonky ending too, and had I known that I would’ve been more wary! Oh well! I’d still recommend this above watching…Gu Family Book? ;P

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      • Oh my, Iljimae.. I remember that. Funny story though. I hated – like, seriously, vehemently hated – the ending when I watched it. I considered it the most WTH ending among all the kdramas I’d ever seen. And then years later, I chanced on someone’s comment on some thread that pointed out a couple of details that I’d missed when I watched it. And those little details were game-changers. I went back and rewatched the ending – and checked out the details mentioned – and in the end, I liked the ending a whole lot better than I had before.

        Long story short, you’re probably right. You never really know how you’ll like a show until you watch it for yourself. I’ve enjoyed shows that others didn’t (Operation Proposal is one that comes to mind) and I’ve felt indifferent towards shows that enjoyed a lot of love (Heartless City comes to mind. I haven’t even gone back to finish the last 2 eps at this point. Most drama fans would be horrified, I know!). I doubt I’ll give God’s Gift a go though.. It’s not quite my cup of tea. At least for now. Coz, as I’ve learned in dramaland, never say never? 😉

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      • Wait, so if you liked the ending of Iljimae much better in hindsight, how did it affect your view of the show, if at all? Did the ending ruin the whole show for you the first time?

        Oh so you didn’t take to HC? Well, if you’re not invested in the story, there’s no reason to finish the last two eps beyond just completing it, I suppose. I found there were two, three moments of closure that I got for my fave characters and that was enough. Funny you mention HC here coz I was thinking it had the same problem of churning out plot twists as GG’s has, which was probably my biggest problem with it too. Both were either over ambitious or over reliant on the same mechanics.

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  3. Well written review! Seriously, I enjoyed reading it very much. The ending did kill this show. I felt like there was so much promise in this drama and about halfway through the writers decided it was of their best interest to do anything to keep the plot twists a-coming. Unfortunate, because this show had a strong foundation upon which to build on. Disappointed.

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    • Aw thanks for reading Lore! I agree, God’s Gift is a whole bundle of missed chances. It had so many things going for it that it’s a real pity! I’m kinda serial thriller-ed out because of this I think, so no Gapdong for me. I’m dying for some nice sweet good old fashion fluff, which is NO WHERE TO BE FOUND!

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  4. Pingback: Review: Yong Pal (SBS, 2015) | obsessive compulsive (k)drama-watching disorder

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