It's another case of awkward mood whiplash this episode, but any criticism of this is muted by the trueness to life. Death doesn't sit around waiting patiently for bullying subplots to fully resolve in a satisfactory way. It just kind of barges in. This isn't a matter helped by relatives who keep their medical conditions a secret for no good reason. And yes, while the whole thing is kind of stupid, at the same time, it's all totally plausible.
That doesn't necessarily make this a good episode, though, bringing us back to another one of the bad points of "High School - Love On". While I can appreciate what it's doing from an intellectual level, that doesn't necessarily make it good television. This is the first episode that's gotten so serious that I've actually questioned the acting abilities of Nam Woohyun and Lee Sung-yeol. They're not bad but the material is clearly a bit too much for them.
Again, though, the problem is just as much awkwardness as it is actual ability. Even Kim Sae-ron doesn't seem all that sure what she should be doing here, which is part of the point. Seul-bi made her essential decision regarding the book before all of this happened, and it's only now that she's not really sure whether her leaving is the best idea right now. As is painstakingly demonstrated here, death in "High School - Love On" works exactly the same as in real life from the human perspective. The angels can't actually manipulate these events, at least not intentionally.
Seul-bi's leaving poses all sorts of problems for Woo-hyeon, because we know that he's going to be entering uncharted territory soon even if the teen himself has absolutely no idea. This is going to be a very tough, very brutal transition period, and he's likely going to start lashing out at the people around him the same way that Seong-yeol does. This is a time when everybody really needs friends to lean on in a time of grief, and given the vicious battleground the high school turned into last episode, well, the timing's just really bad.
Even the humorous elements don't do much to alleviate the situation. Well, that's mostly because the jokes this episode aren't particularly funny in addition to being very rare in light of the larger dramatic circumstances. Seul-bi's comment about the couple shirts is just silly. That's not a drama thing, that's real life. I think I see those things more in commercials than actual dramas. But even if these were jokes, in light of what happens later on, well, it's just difficult to take these matters so lightly.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "High School - Love On" Episode 8"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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