Seo-jin has made a major psychological breakthrough in terms of realizing his own general unhappiness, and how this directly relates to the way he's been acting like a jerk to everyone. Here's the problem. Seo-jin is the son of a jerk chaebol, who continues to be a jerk chaebol. While the other characters are happy that Seo-jin is doing better, no one particularly likes the man that much. In one particularly pathetic scene Seo-jin has to kill time at home, with little else to reflect upon save for the fact that his only real friend is in jail.
I honestly really admire "Hyde, Jekyll and I" for taking the plot this direction. It's not flashy, but Seo-jin's situation is the exact reason why people in the real world are so reluctant to deal with their psychological issues and meaningfully change. With greater awareness comes the greater realization on Seo-jin's part that he has no real purpose in life except to run his dad's shady business empire. However Seo-jin tries to cut it, Robin is the better guy and it would probably be better for everybody involved if Seo-jin's personality was the one to disappear.
This is a terrible way to frame the issue, but there's just no other logical way to look at the situation. It's not that any of the characters in "Hyde, Jekyll and I" are bad people- it's that they simply have no idea how to support Seo-jin absent some external conflict. Ironically it's actually Seung-yeon that provokes a breakthrough, by dutifully playing the unnecessary role of villain.
Pay close attention to Seo-jin's face during the first confrontation. It's highly ironic that he's willing to give it all up while Robin is prepared right to the end to fight for the status quo. At times this episode is honestly heartbreaking in the way it notes that Seo-jin has emotional needs now, and that this is what's making him unhappy. All the contractual promises he's been living by up until this point just aren't doing it for him anymore.
It's really easy to empathize with Seo-jin here- this is, in my mind, the strong emotional heart "Hyde, Jekyll and I" has been missing up until now. Even the lack of emotional definition for the other characters doesn't bother me so much, because from Seo-jin's perspective that's all they are- vague archetypes he doesn't really know all that well, and can't really converse with seriously. From this perspective Robin's existence is all the more sad. To a significant extent it seems like Seo-jin manifested Robin so that, at least indirectly, people would like him.
Review by William Schwartz
"Hyde, Jekyll and I" is directed by Jo Yeong-gwang, written by Kim Ji-woon-II and features Hyun Bin, Han Ji-min, Sung Joon, Hyeri, Lee Seung-joon, Han Sang-jin, Shin Eun-jung, Lee Duk-hwa and many more.
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] "Hyde, Jekyll and I" Episode 17"
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