Saturday, June 11, 2011

Secret Garden: Episode 1 Recap


Secret Garden was one of those dramas that I read about everywhere, that was talked about in the same breath as My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (which I haven't watched, mind you) and My Name is Kim Sam Soon (also couldn't get through) and that everyone (generally) raved about. For those other shows, maybe it's like the fanaticism of Twilight making me hate the franchise, but I just couldn't get into them. I went through six episodes of MNiKSS before I stopped watching and I couldn’t even finish the first one of MGiaG. That's not to say I discredit the shows or the quality of them. It's more personal preference.

But I digress. I avoided SG mainly because I had no idea what the hell the show was about. From pictures like the one above, it looked like a cross between a melodrama and an action thriller. And the color bleaching makes Binnie's sparkly tracksuit look more washed out than sparkly, so I'd never have associated SG with the words "rom com." Regardless, I tend to avoid action-y and melodrama-y stuff, which is why I never even bothered to read synopses of the show.

However. Just look at that face! (Binnie's, I mean. Though, Ha Ji-won is nothing to scoff at, either.) You can only avoid that face for so long before you just can't resist anymore. Well, and I ran out of stuff to watch. So, one thing led to another and I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad I did. I haven't lost interest yet, mainly because I freaking love dorky Kim Joo-won. His freakshow qualities are completely endearing after watching so many jerk-types from other dramas. He reminds me a bit of the Hae-young character from My Princess. Or, rather, what Hae-young should have been or could have been.

Regardless, my first impressions of the show have been favorable, but I've heard negative things about the end. Still, I'm willing to let the ending slide (as I did with Coffee Prince) if the content of the show makes up for it.

First thing's first, I have to comment on the music. When I initially read that SG was about soul-swapping/body-switching I figured that concept would be thrown at us almost as soon as the show started. I didn't expect too much character-building until after the switch. Not only that, but I figured there would be somewhat of a Gumiho fantastical element to it. And while there is (what with Joo-won conjuring up imaginary Ra-ims all over the place in the second episode), it's pretty grounded as far as the fantastical. What sets it apart from the norm, however, is the music. The music gives SG a Disney element, but in an awesomely awesome way. It not only adds to Joo-won's weirdness, but it reminds us that something strange is coming soon. For a show that has (through the second episode) started out incredibly normal, the music keeps the fantasy element in the foreground, however subconsciously.

I feel like, for me, the music is the way it was for me in Coffee Prince. The show is good by itself, but the music adds another level. And it's not even just the BG music. The OST is awesome too. It brings everything together nicely.

I'd comment on the characters right about now, but since I'm doing a recap, I'll just talk about the things I found interesting as I go along. Without further ado, let's get started.

Also, remember, you can watch Secret Garden on DramaFever!

Episode 1 Recap
Our first glimpse into the lives of our leads is very telling about their lifestyles. Kim Joo-won (played by Hyun Bin), at first glance, is your average, icy-hearted chaebol heir who lives on a secluded estate, presumably near his playboy cousin, Oska (Yoon Sang-hyun), with a whole host of complexities behind that pretty face… Like, say, claustrophobia. Ironically, I find that the quirks are humanizing. With Joo-won, we get more than the royal jerk types we usually see in Kdrama land. 

Anyway, we open the first episode with our Joo-won ssi getting ready to go on a mat-seon (marriage meeting). The weather/news report is playing in his living room and in a hilarious moment of fantasticality, he hears the reporter say his name as she's talking. And then, thunder and lightning begin to light up the sky and create a whole ominous vibe, which completely freaks him out.

So, as he's driving to his date, Joo-won notices his washed-up musician cousin, Oska, making out with his latest fling on the side of the road. He stops for a moment, but then speeds on by without saying a word. After he leaves, Oska explains to his makeout partner that his relationship with Joo-won is strictly competitive, and then proceeds to break up with the girl, an actress named Chae-rin.

Joo-won arrives at the place of his date, a museum (which, if you have seen My Princess will look strangely familiar in some scenes, lol, as it's the same set as the Hae-young Museum from that show) where we hear a voiceover of his mother explaining the credentials of the girl he's to meet, a woman named Yoon Seul (played by Kim Sa-rang) who rounds out our love square.

As they begin to walk, Yoon Seul comments that they must be the only couple to go to a museum for a mat-seon, to which Joo-won (snarkily) replies that museum trips can tell a lot about a woman.

The way you walk shows your personality type, and your perspective on art shows your level of refinement. Whether you belong in an art museum or a club. Whether your taste in perfume reveals directness or elusiveness. All are answered quickly.

Shut down thusly, Joo-won then asks if she'd like something to drink and walks off, leaving Seul to fret over whether she's being too obvious.

They sit down outside to have drinks, and Seul offers Joo-won an out: If this is an uncomfortable situation for you, it's okay for you to leave now. But Joo-won turns the question back on her, and Seul replies that she's not interested in a marriage without love (assuming that's what Joo-won wants to hear). Attempt number two fails, as Joo-won essentially tells her he thinks it's stupid to marry for love (Of course there must be people for whom that's important, he says) while disregarding pedigree and background.

Do you think it's right to just substitute kissing for all of that? You are more innocent than you look. If you're the hot-blooded type that chooses the idiot over the prince charming, then I'll pass. Shall I tell the family I was dumped? Then let's make that our story.

And without letting her get a word in edgewise, he gets up and begins to leave, dropping a last snarky comment that the Edouard Manet exhibition isn't until the following month, lol.

Flabbergasted at being dumped, Seul goes straight to our leading man's place of business, LOEL Department Store, to the VVIP lounge to vent to a friend about her failed date.

He's the first man who hasn't fallen for my modern woman act
, she says, and we get the feeling she's a consummate pro at faking mat-seons.

As the women continue talking, it's revealed that Seul has some skeletons in her closet, namely a past relationship with Joo-won's cousin Oska. She's not worried, however, that Joo-won knows anything, because, Do you think that he would have come out to meet me if he knew? she asks.

The inane back-and-forth between the women continues, until the serenity of the VIP lounge is disrupted, by who else but our leading lady herself. A series of scandalized looks and whispers speeds through the assembled women in the lounge, and Seul's friend goes so far as to tell an ahjumma to shield her baby from the unsightly girl.

Outraged at the thought of an employee allowing someone as unworthy as her into their precious lounge, Seul decides to take matters into her own hands. She'll soon be the wife of the owner, she says, so is she supposed to just sit back and watch the VIP lounge turn into a neighborhood market overnight? As the "future lady of the house" shouldn't she teach the girl a lesson?

Personally, I think Seul's a little disillusioned, but that's just my own opinion. In any case, she storms over to the tattooed girl, Gil Ra-im (Ha Ji-won), and calls the employee in charge of the lounge over to give her a tongue lashing.

It turns out the LOEL employee is Ra-im's roommate and friend, Im Ah-young (played by Yoo In-na). Seul thoroughly berates Ah-young and even goes so far as to demand her name tag so that she can be reported to the higher ups. Ra-im scolds Seul for getting mad at an innocent person and walks out just as Seul yanks Ah-young's name tag right off her uniform.

Now pissed off, Ra-im immediately starts to go after Seul but Ah-young stops her, warning her that their fortune forecasts aren't too hot right now and that she should be careful. Only at her insistance, Ra-im agrees to hold off.

She makes her way out of the building, and spots Seul waiting for her car. Ra-im begins to approach her, in a last ditch effort. Just as she's about to open her mouth, Seul's vapid friend from before gets her bag stolen. Cursing her luck, Ra-im decides to go after the man, and tells Seul and her friend to wait until she gets back.

What follows is a high speed chase via bicycle and then a beat down which, on its own, makes this episode worth watching. Kick ass heroines ftw!

Ra-im returns the bag to Seul's friend, and Seul tells her to make sure nothing's missing (bitch). I don't know how much I'm going to enjoy having to stare at Seul's stupid face through the rest of this show. She's already pissing me off and she might be my least favorite character. But I guess she'll be one of those characters I love to hate... I hope. I mean, I hope I don't just get constantly irritated by her like Yoo He-yi from You're Beautiful.

Anyway, Ra-im asks Seul to cut her a deal: Since I got the bag back, let's pretend nothing happened in the lounge earlier. Please, let me have the name tag.

But apparently the pug-faced witch threw the name tag in the trash. She tells Ra-im to search the garbage can if she wants it so badly. That's the last straw for Ra-im. She loses her cool and gets all handsy, dragging Seul inside to have her search the trash to get the name tag back.

Someone who spends a 100,000 won at a department store, and someone who gets a cup of coffee from her friend will both think that a garbage can is dirty. The one who threw it away should get it back.

This, of course, forces Seul to admit she didn't actually throw the thing away. She hands the tag back to Ra-im. But Ra-im won't let her go that easily. She takes Seul's friend's used tissues and dumps them into Seul's bag.

Because I consider it a trash can. LOL.

Seul just isn't having a very good day, is she? Dumped by a chaebol heir and manhandled by a dragon-tattooed woman all in the span of a few hours. That has to suck.

After this, Ra-im returns to work. She's a stuntwoman by profession, and is in the middle of shooting a movie as the double for... guess who? Recently-dumped actress Chae-rin, the woman Oska was sucking face with that morning.

I retract my earlier statement about the pug-faced witch. My least favorite character thus far is probably the whiny actress. And maybe that prick of a director who is shooting the movie.

Anyway, purely for entertainment purposes, we're shown one of Ra-im's stunt scenes. A few slashes later, the director calls "cut" and Chae-rin gets all the praise for a job well done. And you can bet she's not exactly the modest type, going as far as to insult Ra-im for acting like a poser.

It's interesting to see that the kick-ass Ra-im from the department store is nowhere to be found on set. She's morphed into a meeker version of herself, allowing people like the petty Chae-rin to talk down to her. If anyone needs a swift kick in the rear it's that whiny actress, but it most likely won't be Ra-im who delivers it.

Following the rough time on set, Ra-im turns to the one man she can count on: Oska, whose music she's a huge fan of. The director of her stunt school and the rest of their stunt crew find her mellowing out outside after the shoot.

The director, Im Jong-soo (played by the hothothot Philip Lee) asks her what happened, that he heard Park Chae-rin was giving her a hard time again, but Ra-im assures him she's fine. And like the adorkable boys that they are, her stunt crew backs her up.

Yeah, don't worry about it. She's just jealous because you're one hundred times prettier. 

Ra-im nods, agreeing, and wonders out loud why she had to turn out so good-looking as the guys scoff in disbelief.

From this scene, we get the sense that herr direktor Jong-soo sees a bit more in Ra-im than he wants people to believe. And the next scene proves it. Knowing she's a big fan of Oska, Jong-soo slips a couple of tickets to an Oska concert into Ra-im's bag.

But Ra-im's not one to disappoint her very attractive boss. In the next scene we find out that even though he told her to see the concert with a friend, she asked him to go with her.

I quite like the dynamic between these two. As far as Ra-im is concerned, their relationship is, and probably will always be, on a professional level, but she's not afraid to give back when he treats her well. They have a mutual respect for each other, unlike in most dramas, wherein the leading lady is prone to blow off her sweet White Knight. We'll see if Ra-im's awareness of his kind acts continues or not once the Joo-won hurricane hits.

Speaking of Mr. Sourpuss, it's here at this very concert that we rejoin our leading man. Fulfilling his cousinly duties, Joo-won has been forced to attend by his sister, Hee-won, and he's not very happy. As he gets up in an attempt to leave, his sister stops him. Woo-young oppa (Oska's real name) will be upset, so Joo-won can't leave just yet.

How is it possible that he's only gotten worse since his debut? Joo-won asks.

But Hee-won is firm and threatens to make sure Oska doesn't renew his endorsement contract with Joo-won's department store if Joo-won makes an early getaway.

Irritated, Mr. Sourpuss asks his sister if Choi Woo-young is giving her money to watch Joo-won. Lol. She replies that she's a big shareholder of his, haha. Like brother, like sister.

But it seems our future lovebirds and a certain lovestruck action school director aren't the only ones at the concert. Miss Skeletons-in-the-Closet herself is there to watch her ex-beau's performance, but she doesn't exactly look like a ray of sunshine, does she? And that's despite the bright yellow jacket she has on. Interesting.

Boy Wonder Joo-won heads back to work after this, presumably the next day. Every employee who works for him at the department store lines up to greet him as he arrives, complaining all the while about why he makes things difficult for them and why he doesn't just take the elevator like a normal person. They consider him a bit conceited for calling for a procession every time he arrives, especially when he only comes to work twice a week.

It's actually kind of interesting to see how much his employees try to undermine him (like the damned Director Park) but it's not that Joo-won doesn't know what's going on. In my opinion, I don't think he cares very much and only pretends to be a hard-ass to save face. Being the CEO is not a job he particularly wants, so he leaves most things to Director Park to take care of on purpose, simply because he doesn't want to deal with it.

Still, I don't like the slippery director. But Joo-won is more than capable of handling him. When told that he should come to work every day, not just Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mr. Dimples replies, I don't want to because there's a lot of traffic. Lol.

So, the current problem plaguing LOEL is the renewal contract with Oska. Joo-won decides to meet with his cousin to iron things out, particularly the contract fee. Not that he's too thrilled at the prospect of appealing to Oska.

Meanwhile, Oska's got a few problems of his own. Apparently, his diva reputation has made its way through the ranks of music video directors far and wide and now, no one wants to direct for him.

The boys meet for a drink to talk about the LOEL contract, and Joo-won tells Oska that since money is not a problem for either of them, he won't be increasing Oska's pay if he signs the contract. He'll only give him money enough to "save face." Oska asks him why, if money isn't a problem, Joo-won won't just give him more. Mr. Dimples replies that it's a matter of pride that prevents him from doing that. So, Oska tells him to forget about the contract because it ain't happenin'.

They then proceed to have an argument over which man a woman at the bar is staring at. Joo-won leaves, telling Oska to be ready to sign the contract soon because he won't wait much longer.

Ditched at the bar, Oska notices a performer on stage who, I assume, will become more important later on. 

Just then, as expected, he receives a call from his whiny ex-girlfriend, the actress Chae-rin, who's on set with Ra-im. She wants to know why he isn't answering her calls (because he dumped you?) and that she won't let him end things like this. She's going to reveal the details of their (kaput) relationship to the press who are at the shooting location. Apparently, she has dirty hotel photos of them.

Ra-im tells Chae-rin the director wants them to practice a fight scene. Chae-rin reluctantly agrees, and a rogue slash during practice sends the two of them crashing onto a table of props.

Chae-rin injures her finger and causes a commotion, even though Ra-im was the one who took the brunt of the fall. She has a massive cut on the side of her arm but, not wanting to cause any more of a ruckus, slips on a jacket so no one will see her injury, and apologizes to the director for hurting Chae-rin.

Director Jong-soo comes to her rescue and when the director of the movie threatens to fire them, replies that he'll remove his stunt team on his own since he doesn't want them working on such a dangerous set.

While things on set are being shot to hell, our Mr. Dimples is meeting with his... wait for it... wait for it... his shrink (while wearing his patented, designer Sparkly Tracksuit--yes, it is a proper noun). Oh, Joo-won, your dirty laundry is SO entertaining. From his conversation with the shrink (a good friend of his, as they speak informally to each other) it can be assumed that his debilitating illness is probably claustrophobia, as getting on the elevator at work is damn near impossible.

As they're talking, Joo-won gets a call from his diva cousin. Oska asks him to go to the movie set where Chae-rin is shooting and keep the actress occupied for a few hours (thus preventing her from speaking to the press).

Joo-won doesn't want to do it, for obvious reasons, but when Oska agrees to renew his contract with LOEL (for free!) Joo-won gives in and agrees to intercept Chae-rin, who wants compensation for their breakup.

Meanwhile, on set, our saintly Ra-im is apologizing (again! I should start counting the number of "I'm sorry"s that come out of this girl's mouth) to the jerky movie director. She promises to speak with Jong-soo to change his mind about taking the stunt crew off the movie.

Joo-won drives over to the set and asks the worst possible person there--he's taking a nap on the job--about where he can find the lead actress. Mistaking the scantily-decked out Ra-im as the evil Chae-rin, the napper points her out as she's being torn into by the director.

And thus we have our meet-cute. :) About time, no? It only took 35 minutes to set things up. Anyway, our Mr. Dimples makes his way over to Ra-im. He asks her if she knows Oska (which, like, everyone knows Oska) but, oddly enough, she does actually know him, as we'll soon find out (they worked together once, when she played the stunt woman for Kim Sun-ah, in what appears to be a not-so-subtle shout-out to the drama City Hall, which was written by the same writer as SG).

Anyway, Joo-won drives Ra-im over to the hotel where they're supposed to wait for Oska. Her expressions as he asks her about his cousin are hilarious. If I were her, I'd be worried about my safety in the presence of an insane man. Then again, if a guy in a Sparkly Tracksuit approached me about meeting a celebrity, I'd probably burst out laughing in his face. Ahh, the magic world of Kdramas, where anything can happen.

Thus ensues the funniest repartee of the episode, when the sajangnim in the Sparkly Tracksuit mistakes the spunky stunt woman for a slutty actress with raunchy pictures of his diva cousin. Whoo. What a set-up.

They arrive at the hotel and Joo-won is not terribly excited at the prospect of having to go up to room 1210. The reason for his discomfort is revealed soon enough, as Ra-im waits by the elevators, which, as we know, Joo-won can't utilize. He tells her to go up on her own and he'll follow after.

I'm the type of person who can't be seen going into a hotel with a woman, he says.

Ra-im stares at him like, "Really, Sparkly Tracksuit Boy? Really really?" She and the ten other people waiting for a lift check out his sequined attire in disbelief, like there's a disconnect between his words and his appearance. Not one to be scoffed at, Joo-won unzips his jacket to show her it's a designer, one-of-kind tracksuit, but she's a little too weirded out to comply, lol.

Ra-im makes it up to the hotel room and reminisces about her first meeting with Oska, while shooting for Kim Sun-ah. In the meantime, our resident claustrophobic is busy huffing and puffing his way up an infinite number of stairs.

He (eventually) makes it up, completely out of breath and grabs Ra-im's bottle of water to take a drink.

You know what fascinates me (as I watch Joo-won drinking after Ra-im)? I think it's awesome that this couple never sets a precedent of distance between themselves. Sure, they start out talking in formalities and such, but the honorifics are dropped quite fast. They're so comfortable with each other from the beginning and that just makes their dynamic more lovable. On a scale of Shining Inheritance to Coffee Prince, SG falls more on the CP side with the skinship, and that is always a good thing. I doubt they'll achieve the level that CP had, but it's still a positive sign in the first episode.

The lulz begin as Joo-won asks Ra-im if she'll be okay spending about an hour alone with him. She tells him it's fine, since she spends most of her time around men at work. He does a spit-take with the water, and upon recovering, he asks her how long she's known Oska, to which she replies that it's been a long time. She's surprised he even remembers her.

Then, things get interesting as both of them begin having two very separate conversations:

Joo-won: You seem to be pretty straightforward, and I hate being curious about things... so I'll ask you. How much money do you usually get if you meet with a top star like Woo-young hyung?
Ra-im looks at him a little confused, so he clarifies.
Joo-won: You said that you filmed something here. I'm asking how much you receive in compensation for something like that.
Ra-im: Oh, do you mean like a guarantee?
Joo-won: Call it what you like. I just want to know the answer.
Ra-im: I don't get more for a top star. I get more if the location is rural or outdoors.
Joo-won: O-Outdoors?
Ra-im: Rooftops or bamboo groves... those kinds of things are trendy right now.
Joo-won: B-Bamboo groves? (scoff) Oh, wow, Oska.
Ra-im: I get more for cars since it's difficult.
Joo-won: Ah... (nods, dumbfounded) Car... It must be uncomfortable and cramped. But men like it.
Ra-im: You're right. Men like the speed and action.

Clearly, they're not following the same train of thought. Joo-won goes on to tell her she should at least have the decency to be embarrassed as a leading actress, and Ra-im finally clues in to what has happened. She calls him the equivalent of a hick for mistaking her as Chae-rin, dropping the '-yo' honorifics to sufficiently insult him. Lol.

Just as the confusion is cleared up (and Oska called and hung up on), Ra-im receives a call from set for the afternoon shoot. She offers to take Joo-won to see the real leading actress, but he's going to have to let her drive if they want to make it in time.

Lol what follows is our first chance to watch Hyun Bin scream and it does not disappoint. Ra-im speeds over to the set in Joo-won's shiny Bimmer to his utmost chagrin, and then all but abandons him at the door to find Chae-rin himself.

He does find her... just as she's sitting down in front of a room full of reporters, crying and putting on a show. Joo-won stops the whiny actress from spilling the beans in the most conspicuous way possible--by crashing the press conference in his Sparkly Tracksuit.

Disaster averted, he heads back outside and spots Ra-im practicing a stunt scene with her crew. So taken by her is he that he hangs up on Oska (again!) mid-call without divulging the details of the meeting with Chae-rin.

Joo-won waits around until Ra-im finishes shooting and intercepts her on her way out. He asks, with what we'll soon learn is typical Joo-won condescension, whether she's a stuntwoman because she's not smart. -__-

Ladies, if your man asks you if you do your job because you're stupid, walk away... Just walk away.

And our spunky stuntwoman does just that, but not before delivering the first of many kicks straight into Joo-won's shin.

He hobbles after her, incensed, and tries to cover his ass by saying he's not one to look down on people who aren't smart. (Sigh.) Ra-im replies in kind, telling him he should be thankful she's hurt or his injuries would be a lot worse.

Joo-won figures she's kidding about being hurt, until he sees a trail of blood on the ground, dripping from Ra-im's injured arm. He catches up to her and yanks down the sleeve of her jacket, exposing the cut, which has gotten a lot worse since that morning. On top of that, she's feverish and on the verge of passing out. He drags her to the hospital to get her checked out.

On their way in, Joo-won explains that he's not doing this because he's interested in her (God forbid!). He's just condescending to help her as a Good Samaritan. It's just what people who are rich have a tendency to do. Pfffffft. When she protests, he lifts her up, bride-style, and carries her in. His excuses about not caring are flimsy, however, since he calls his personal physician--the psychiatrist from before--to come have a look at her.

While he's waiting, Joo-won sits down by Ra-im's bedside. She's been bandaged up and has fallen asleep. As he watches her sleep, the cutest thing ever happens. Her forehead crinkles as if she's having a bad dream, and he mirrors her expression unconsciously. In his weird Joo-won way, he reaches out and pokes her forehead to dissipate the wrinkles, saying, You look better like this.

Ji-hyun arrives as all this is going on, scaring the pants off our dear hero. I get the distinct feeling I'm going to enjoy scenes with Ji-hyun. She knows just how to handle Mr. Crankypants, like asking him why he would call her out on a weekend night to check up on a woman he just met when she's a psychiatrist, not even an internal medicine doctor. Haha. Still, she can't turn him down, so she sticks around to have a look at the patient.

Ra-im gets a call from her boss, Jong-soo, while she's sleeping. Joo-won picks up, responding to all of Jong-soo's questions in his snarky way (personally, I think both men are just irked that it's another man on the line), before Ji-hyun is forced to snatch the phone away.

While Ji-hyun explains the sitch to Jong-soo, Joo-won notices the strangest thing. Our spunky stuntwoman is wearing Oska socks! Annoyed (of course), he pulls them off and trashes them before Dr. Lee comes back in.

Meanwhile, our ever-faithful White Knight is racing through the streets of Seoul to get to Ra-im and arrives just as she wakes up from a nightmare.

Much arguing ensues as Jong-soo yells at Ra-im for being careless and the boys face-off with each other about pretty much nothing. It's broken up only when Ra-im nearly passes out again. Both of them reach out to catch her, but Joo-won wins, to the irritation of Jong-soo.

Ra-im pushes him away and explains to Jong-soo that Joo-won is simply an errand boy for Oska and nothing more, ahahahaha. She gets out of bed, saying she's treated and ready to go, but sways again and Joo-won catches her for the second time. Not to worry though, Jong-soo's on top of things by now. He pushes Mr. High-and-Mighty aside and picks up Ra-im and carries her out like a true White Knight.

Joo-won follows them out and watches as Ra-im tells Jong-soo that she's fine and doesn't need a ride home. She tells him she'll take a taxi, but opts to walk after he leaves.

As he's leaving himself, Joo-won sees Ra-im walking on the side of the road and stops her, asking why, if she told the Director she'd take a taxi, she's walking. Was she hoping the director would follow her? He tells her he wants to give her a ride home, which is a very straightforward thing to ask, but she just blows him off. He tells her he'll even close the top (he drives a convertible and it was something she'd mentioned earlier in the day) and that he's not doing this because he's interested in her (you have all these excuses ready at a moment's notice, but no one's asking you any questions, buddy).

While they're going back and forth, Oska arrives in a flourish, pissed at baby cuz for ignoring his calls all day. He says something about Ji-hyun telling him Joo-won had brought a strange woman to the hospital, and then notices Ra-im standing beside him. Surprisingly, he tells her he remembers those eyes and recalls their first meeting.

She tells him he's probably got her mistaken with someone else, but Oska calls her by name, thus proving he really does remember her.

Not exactly the best ending for a first episode, but maybe they were banking on a good premise to make the audience come back? Phew. Look at this beast. I congratulate anyone who made it through the whole thing, and I also promise that recaps will probably be about half this length from now on, and they won't take as long to be finished either. 

Anyway, some comments about the first episode and then I'll really be done. 

We have an incredible cast of both characters and actors in SG, and I'm so pleased with the way things are set up (at least through this first episode). Despite his prickly, standoffish attitude, I think Joo-won is my favorite, with Ra-im taking second place.

Joo-won has a lot going for him as a character. He's not perfect, but I think he's perfectly aware of that fact (not that he'll let the world know, of course). He has quite a number of flaws (claustrophobia, lofty principles, arrogance, rudeness, coldness, inflexibility, etc.) and thus doesn't quite realize how his words affect other people. He's got a whole laundry list of quirks that give him the kind of depth that's often missing in Kdrama characters. I'm told that Hyun Bin wasn't the first actor who was going to play this role, but seeing him on-screen, I don't think anyone could have pulled off Joo-won's quirkiness as well as he does.

Ra-im is also interesting, but not as interesting, I think, as Joo-won. She's still got a number of layers, the most obvious of which is her closet girlishness, which is awesome. She's also full of a number of contradictions. She's a strong-willed stuntwoman who turns to mush when someone compliments her. She takes people to task for rudeness in her personal life, but spends all her time apologizing on set. She seems like a hardass on the outside, yet goes to Oska concerts with her boss and gets googly-eyed when she finally meets him.

There's not much to say about the others yet, other than that Jong-soo's brooding will probably be interesting to watch and the relationship woes between Seul and Oska should be fun, especially now that she thinks she's going to marry his younger cousin.

To be honest, I probably wouldn't have started watching this show if body-swapping wasn't a main plot point. I haven't yet watched a fantasy-genre Kdrama, but I'm not disappointed so far. I've gotten through about half the series now, so I know what happens in the next several episodes. I can say, without a doubt, that they've played the fantasy aspect well. The foundation of the show is grounded in reality with a sprinkling of the unreal, which provides for a subtle, beautiful effect that doesn't bog the show down in voodoo and weirdness.

One thing I absolutely love is the fact that the HERO is the one doing the chasing rather than the heroine. In Kdramas the opposite is usually true and it's so refreshing when role reversals are used effectively. SG makes a point of role reversals which, of course, plays into the body-swapping but it also gives more depth to the characters. Joo-won is more lovable because of his infatuation with Ra-im, and Ra-im is a strong female lead because she doesn't bend over backwards to make him happy (yet, at least).

One of the biggest strengths of this show, in my opinion, is the awesome cinematography. From the colors to the sets, everything in SG is downright gorgeous. Joo-won's house is my favorite. His bedroom is so cool! But his compound and the foliage everywhere is also beautiful. It really adds to the surrealism of the fantasy aspect in that same subtle way I was talking about before. We're not bogged down by in-your-face scenery or outlandish sets. Everything is perfect.

I talked about the music before, but I'll say it again: spot-on. Again, it's that subtle usage of the whimsical that brings out the best in this show and the music is included in that. Not even just the background music, but the OST is brilliant as well.
Since I don't see too many glaring flaws yet, I'll leave that for later. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it! If you want to keep updated on recaps and reviews, please follow me! Thanks. :)

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