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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 2

2016/12/03 | 6118 views | Permalink

And so Eun-tak's magical journey of being the Goblin's bride takes her to the mystical far-off country of...Canada. Specifically, Quebec. That's, uh, that's a new one. Which pretty much marks my reaction to every scene transition in "Goblin"- they all encompass very strange ideas that are neither funny, dramatic, or even especially creative. While watching "Goblin" I frequently ask questions like, why does this drama exist? Who is the intended audience?

The continued absence of any kind of plot is not helping. There's just more worldbuilding and set-up. Near the end of this episode it's finally stated explicitly why Eun-tak is in an unusually mystical situation. We also find out about Eun-tak's more mundane real-world problems, which of course inevitably involve debt collecting gangsters because that's a staple Korean drama trope. It's just, really not one I was expecting to see in a story that's dominated by supernatural roommates having telekinetic pissing contests.

The more relevant supporting cast is of equally dubious note. Deok-hwa (played by Yook Sung-jae) is a mild annoyance to the Goblin and the Grim Reaper...should I be using the definite article to refer to these characters? On the one end it seems pretty well implied that there are other Goblins and Grim Reapers, yet it feels very strange to call main characters by the indefinite article. Well, fourteen episodes left to go, I guess I better just get used to it.

Anyway, Deok-hwa is the Grim Reaper's apprentice (so is he another Grim Reaper?), and this allows for some mild exposition about the worldbuilding. Sorry for the digressions- "Goblin" puts me in that mood even more than usual because so much of what happens is just so...pointless. I can't even begin to grasp what Eun-tak's joyful frolicking in Canada was all about. Is Eun-tak completely inured to the spectacle of obviously impossible sorcery because she can see ghosts? Or is Quebec really just the most amazing place in the world?

I can't figure out how these first two episodes of "Goblin" could be so long yet so completely lacking in meaningful substance. It should not be this difficult for a drama to suss out basic questions of conflict, or even genre. Is this story supposed to be romantic? Is it more like a fairy tale? Is it some sort of post-modern update of romantic fairy tales that stages the tropes in such a way that it feels like a Samuel Beckett play? Whatever the production team's intentions are here, I'd really like a clarification soon.

Review by William Schwartz

"Goblin" is directed by Lee Eung-bok, written by Kim Eun-sook and features Gong Yoo, Lee Dong-wook, Kim Go-eun, Yoo In-na, Yook Sung-jae, Lee El,..


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