It all starts out fun and games- the usual romantic hijinx as So-hye prepares to go into more serious treatment and Hae-seong simply reassures her. But the main plot quickly turns troublesome as Hae-seong is threatened by a scandal. To be honest it's kind of a silly scandal. The closest analog I can think of is what happened with Gary awhile back, and that was so obviously unverified Gary's agency didn't even respond to it until the guy in the video asked them to, because as a Gary fan he was deeply hurt by the idea that someone would use his tattoo to defame Gary.
But then realism isn't really the point- rather the focus is on exploring what Hae-seong's needs are in the context of a relationship. Hae-seong did not go into the acting business eyes wide shut. He knew full well this would be a problem going in, and is prepared to endure that. All the same, the attacks still hurt. They're not enough to make Hae-seong stop doing his job, but he's sad.
And that's where the commentary on love comes in. Joon-gi assumes, reasonably, that the stress of this situation is a medical threat to So-hye. But what's nice about actual, sincere love is that it's not stressful when a loved one is unjustly under attack. All you feel is sincere concern, and sure enough, it's pretty clearly an advantage to So-hye's mental health, at least, to help Hae-seong out. That gives her values as a person.
This theme is well reflected in the parallel storyline of Seol's horrible in-laws. It's clear to me that she's at the absolute breaking point. When a mostly random stranger is able to give you more sincerity and compassion than the people you actually live with...yeah, that's a pretty big deal. An actual pay-off is going to have to wait, though. While Seol has a very bad-ass scene, it's for all the wrong reasons. We're mainly hoping that the implications she has an actual plan are, in fact, correct.
By and large, though, "Fantastic" is pretty good at handing out warm fuzzy feelings immediately rather than expecting us to wait for a pay-off. There really is something so imminently satisfying about watching these characters cry on each other's shoulders and being all helpful. Even if, in the case of Sang-wook, this goes a tad far. Well, look, I'm stingy in general, and besides that I'm hoping Sang-wook's behavior in the preview is just misdirection.
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 9"
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