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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Shark" Episode 17


This episode starts out with a rather dubious exchange of threats. Something I've really come to love about "Shark" is the way that everyone is intrinsically skeptical without being paranoid. Major betrayals are revealed this episode, but it's not the shock of the revelation that's interesting. The viewers have known these moments were coming for quite some time now. Rather it's how the characters react when they've been placed with these final ultimatums.

These reactions run a wide gamut in this episode and the contrast between how different characters take the information differently is striking. These are the kinds of bombshells that should completely shatter families, lovers, and friends, but because of who these characters are, none of these revelations have quite the exact effect we would be expecting. Especially considering the general archetypes.

"Shark" has always been, even in its most poorly paced moments, a drama about revenge. The setting and background are all boilerplate for revenge stories. It's a situation where we expect emotions to run high. So it's refreshing and intriguing to see characters actually taking stop for a moment and thinking carefully "do I really want revenge here? Is that my actual motivation?" and not always deciding that the answer has to be yes. A lot of the conflict is about characters trying to reconcile revnge-minded goals with the other stuff they want. And some have been much better at managing this than others.

In a weird way, "Shark" is also about the importance of love, friendship and compassion. Hae-Woo shows herself here to be in a peculiar situation, because she's the only character who really doesn't have any personal stake in trying to take revenge on anyone. Her involvement in the plot is explicitly questioned and called out by multiple characters in this episode. Given that Hae-Woo has so little to gain and so much to lose, why does she keep sticking with this. Hae-Woo could probably walk away with a happy ending whenever she wants. Like revenge, though, this is still conditional on the choices she makes to generally live her life, which are just as ambiguous as anyone ekse's.

These sorts of life negotiations are what makes the drama work so well. However, there's only a few episodes left now. By this point, every character has chosen a final plan, and has determined to see it through to the end. While every character has made ambiguous decisions, it seems likely now that chaos and chance are going to be as essential to the closing as deliberate motivation. Characters will almost certainly die here. The important question is, metaphorically, whether it will be on their feet or on their knees. On the personal level, attitude is going to strike a stronger chord here than actual results.

Review by William Schwartz

"Shark" is directed by Park Chan-hong, written by Kim Jee-woo and features Kim Nam-gil, Son Ye-jin, Ha Seok-jin and Lee Hanee.

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