Unfortunately "Birth of a Beauty" can't quite escape the poor turn the writing took several episodes ago. When Tae-hee makes a boneheaded move in the middle of the episode, it's genuinely difficult to tell whether he's actually being an idiot or whether Tae-hee's simply behaving like an idiot in order to make a larger more complicated work. Part of this is by deliberate design to maintain dramatic tension, but the difference between these two explanations is so significant that it's enough to risk making this a genuinely bad final episode.
Truth be told it isn't exactly a good final episode. While the romance is in full force there's almost nothing that can really be called comedy. What we're left with is a mixture of the effective Joo Sang-wook / Han Ye-seul chemistry that's made the drama so fun in the past and the bad, elaborate scripting that's nearly made it unwatchable recently. While it's nice enough to see these characters finally make it to their inevitable happy ending, I'm mostly just relieved the drama's over and can't frustrate me with any more bad plotting.
A big reason for this is how badly the villains were mishandled. It's hard to get too excited about their comeuppance when they've just been acting so dumb lately. If Min-hyeok has been after corporate control this entire time, getting himself embroiled in murder and petty infighting was about the worst possible way to accomplish this. Kang-joon's desire for petty revenge, as usual, takes precedence over his desire for self-preservation. And as for Chae-yeon...
Well, her character arc isn't that bad actually. Chae-yeon has been made to feel guilty for the bad things she's done, and realizes at least indirectly what love actually is even as the woman makes for a sad final getaway. The problem is this hasn't really had much build-up. Likewise, Geum-ran has a few interesting conversations at the end about the meaning of beauty, and the possible negative implications of achieving romance via plastic surgery. It's a nice enough sentiment, but these issue really haven't been discussed at all for most of drama's duration.
At least there's still plenty of good times to remember, as demonstrated well by the flashbacks. "Birth of a Beauty" has always been at its best when it's just been Joo Sang-wook and Han Ye-seul playing off of each other. Once upon a time, it was the rare drama that was actually more entertaining the less attention was paid to the main plot. The soundtrack was pretty good too- love and verbal confrontation, that's where the fun was.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Birth of a Beauty" Episode 21"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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