There's some badly needed sympathetic characterization for So-hye and Hae-seong this episode as they respond to the aftermath of the big kiss at the last cliffhanger. In contrast to the normal romantic comedy implications of that trope, "Fantastic" instead gets into the issues of self-worth that provoked So-hye and Hae-seong into acting that way. So-hye has, of course, been in a generally rotten mood since getting her bad medical prognosis. Hae-seong, however, has really bad insecurities when it comes to his lack of acting talent.
Yes, apparently Hae-seong is actually aware of the fact that he is a subpar performer who punches above weight mostly as a consequence handsomeness and good personal connections. What's even better is that we see a glimpse of where this insecurity is coming from, and it's not that Hae-seong is afraid people will think he's a fraud. The issue is that, in a way Hae-seong himself recognizes as basically pathetic, he wants approval.
This makes it much easier to see that his aggressive attitude toward So-hye was in the same light. It's not that Hae-seong was being a jerk. He actually really respects So-hye's professional opinion and wants her approval. It just seems like he's being an aggrandizing jerk because that's how Hae-seong is used to going through life. Given the major reluctance anyone except So-hye has to seriously criticizing Hae-seong's behavior, it's not very understandable why he seeks her out.
So-hye, of course, is dealing with the much more urgent and horrific problem of imminent death. Nonetheless, it's interesting how both So-hye and Hae-seong look at the people around them with the same basic sense of regret. They're both wondering why it is they've focused so much more on their professional lives rather than their personal ones when personal lives have much more obvious "accomplishments" in the form of a family. This gives them a heretofore unseen commonality that really exposes their general loneliness.
As much as I hated the last episode of "Fantastic" this one provides so much useful perspective to the characters that it's much easier to look back and see their foibles as being foibles, rather than an intentional effort to be obnoxious for the sole purpose of being obnoxious. Even Seol is a much more tolerable character now that her scenes have calmed down somewhat, while at the same time it remains unfortunately obvious that she too is miserably unhappily- even if, outwardly, Seol has what So-hye and Hae-seong do not.
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 3"
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