What makes "Mask" unique is the view that each character has of his or herself. There is the villain, Seok-hoon, who sees himself has deserving the fruits of his evil deeds. Ji-sook must pose as another woman and battles with herself to accept the new reality. These views are the most typical in the melodrama genre. But then there is Min-woo, mentally unstable, but highly ambitious. He is the wild card that stimulates intrigue in the plot and fuels the actions of other characters.
The fable of the scorpion and the frog outlines the relationship between Min-woo and Ji-sook. Although he was hypnotized to believe he tried to hurt her and did not actually cause her any harm, he now believes he did and has actually become dangerous - as dangerous as the power of suggestion. To marry her will end up in her death, he believes, but she agrees to it anyway and they begin their grudging political marriage. Watching each of them stumble towards their marriage is where the interest of the episode lies. Min-woo must fight himself and his mental illness that makes him so easy to manipulate. Ji-sook must fight the overwhelming cunning, planning, and ability to improvise of Seok-hoon.
Ji-sook is powerless against the Seok-hoon's blackmail. If she tries to escape, he holds evidence of her committing a suicide murder. If she tries to escape, her family will continue to be hounded by crippling debt. Despite the fact that she is in no position to argue, she still has the wherewithal to fight for small rights and try to escape. It foreshadows that she will not idly sit by while Seok-hoon dictates her new life as Eun-ha. I hope to see her learn to wield her new money-fueled power and fight her shackles. I also want to see what happens to her heartbroken family and whether or not they begin to change because of their extreme loss.
As for Seok-hoon the mastermind, "Mask" humanized him and made him an even more powerful villain. He is truly heartbroken over Eun-ha's death and that makes him terrifying. Despite having the ability to feel remorse, he still puts another through such torture to meet his own end goal. He tamps down his emotions to cater to his greed. The performance of the diversely talented Yeon Jung-hoon is particularly inspired as the actor takes a very typical villain and shapes him into a three dimensional creation.
Wild Card Min-woo nearly drowns in fear of himself although what he is most afraid of has been manipulated by Seok-hoon and Min-woo's psychiatrist. It silences Min-woo's attempts to gain his father's favor and gain control of the massive empire of wealth his father has acquired. But it also forces Min-woo to live in even more fear than his viperous family puts him through. His family is no family, but a group of people in a constant power struggle. The pressures have molded him who suffers from PTSD into an extreme basketcase. If he can learn to rely on Ji-sook and regain some of his mental acuity he could be a formidable enemy for Seok-hoon.
The writer has a penchant for close calls and plans them out very well. Whether or not such things will so easily happen in the future depends on planning and pacing. It's only the second week of episodes and a lot could happen from now until the finale.
Another solid aspect of the drama is the music. Oftentimes melodramas have overpowering background music choices that force emotion rather than influence it. In this case, the use of Romantic-era music, like Strauss waltzes, or Romantically-styled piano works are cleverly used and written. Piazzola's Libertango made a notable appearance in the first episode. Rather than detract from the mood, the music choices enhance it. This is a rarity for a melodrama. Now that the established themes have sounded, I have confidence that the music choices will continue on the right path. I am not as confident about the plot, if only because this is a drama, a live shoot, and really anything could happen.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Mask" Episode 3"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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