So-hye has a form of brain cancer. Up until now I never really thought that the specific kind of cancer So-hye has was ever going to be all that important, since its usefulness as a plot device was in the generic way disease forced So-hye to reconsider her life. Well, here, So-hye ends up coming down with symptoms that I'm pretty sure are completely made up. So what we're left with is a woman in her thirties suddenly turning into a character from a very different kind of melodrama.
It's just...blech. I figured that Jin-sook was going to try for more petty schemes. After Seol's big demand for divorce following that classy destruction of overpriced wine I figured Jin-sook must have been holding back something but no, all Seol's in-laws are able to do is scrounge up some fairly useless circumstantial evidence that doesn't even hint at anything bad. Jin-sook does manage to take an entirely ineffective swing at Hae-seong. It fails, just like all her others.
The emotional sentiment is still decent, I guess. Hae-seong's conflict with So-hye, contrived though it is by disease, is nonetheless interesting because it's a very good hypothetical "how much do you really love me?" question. Glimpses of So-hye at her most generally unpleasant now are a reminder of how even at the beginning of "Fantastic" So-hye wasn't really all that likable. On the core level So-hye is fairly abrasive, and can only escape that through the prodding of her friends.
Sang-wook remains pretty generally cool though. Unfortunately he doesn't have much of an arc. His thought process is literally just, my higher-up is kind of a jerk, is this really the kind of work I want to be doing in my life, and so on. It's fortunate the villains in "Fantastic" are such caricatures or else Sang-wook would have a more ethically pronounced conflict. However you cut it helping people within an imperfect system is probably more constructive than trying to strike out on your own.
But really, "Fantastic" has been focused on doing a few things reasonably well- namely the exploration of strong lifelong friendships coupled with life goals. And even with characters getting so sick as to prompt genuine crisis reactions, those themes are still fairly well-defined. I just hope the production team doesn't try too hard to dip in to the waterworks here. Melodramas always tread a fine line between unavoidable tragedy and sheer silliness.
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] "Fantastic" Episode 12"
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