Seol (played by Park Si-yeon) is So-hye's old friend, and a bit of a wreck. Literally, even, considering the last episode's cliffhanger, and the woman's precarious life situation isn't much better. We very quickly go from Seol giving standard reassurances to So-hye to seeing her get in a huge fight with her current partner to even bigger existential crises as violence and base hostility quickly become the order of the day.
In a single fell swoop "Fantastic" somehow manages to turn into a melodrama so preposterously outrageous I was left wondering whether these scenes were actually internally consistent or whether they were dream sequences or something. One would think that So-hye unexpectedly being on death's door would be dramatic enough without having to drag Seol into the proceedings. Yet the most exploration we get from that angle is a chance encounter that, like most chance encounters, inevitably fails to live up to expectations.
Aside from these more relatable interpersonal failures, Hae-seong is the main obnoxious antagonistic presence. From the very beginning he insists on acting in the most childish, petulant way with no grandmother nearby to humanize him. It's not until the very end of of the episode that we find an actual reason why Hae-seong has it in for So-hye (and vice versa), but by that point both of these characters have come off as so petty and mean it's hard to sympathize with either of them.
In a bit of a reversal from recent drama trends, "Fantastic" is very brisk when it comes to story. Writer Lee Seong-eun juggles a large number of plots with surprising coherence. Unfortunately, the trade-off comes in the form of a lack of helpful characterization. I know that most of the characters in "Fantastic" are determined to act like horrible people, yet I only have the vaguest idea as to why.
Matters are not helped by the questionable sound design. In between Seol's straight-faced melodrama, it was unclear to me that Hae-seong's scenes were intended to be parodies. Likewise, the inclusion of James Blunt's most famous song is...ugh, I don't know, I'm just sort of astonished that in this day and age someone is actually using that unironically as a love theme. People made fun of that song back when it was new. What's more, it's a fairly extreme type of music, which in between the overdone melodrama tunes gave me some pretty severe whiplash.
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 2"
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