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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Who Are You - 2013" Episode 7

2013/08/19 | Permalink

The drama takes the perplexing direction this episode of actually being really, really good. I had trouble believing it at first, but most of the writing issues have pretty much been fixed. Characters now respond to events in largely intuitive ways. The dramatic tension is genuinely effective because the threats aren't arbitrary. The villain displays genuine competence and foresight. There's real detective work. When scenes have multiple possible endings, the different choices actually make sense rather than being different variations of absurdity.

Most of the goofier story elements are still there. Everyone at the police office seems to have permission to leave the office at random for whatever reasons. The ghost rules are still inconsistent. And some goofy cliches do pop up for no apparent reason. Now, though all these problems aren't as glaring, because they work much better in context. I only know that these have been issues in the drama because I've been watching this whole time, but in this episode alone they don't really impede the essential storytelling.

I could nitpick the episode if I wanted to, but the presentation is compelling enough that I really don't. I'm actually really curious now why Hyeong-Joon was killed, and can completely believe there's actually a serious conspiracy behind this. Even the flashback is a notable spike in competence, since it cuts out all the context of the drama's first scene that made it looks like a comical throwback to the Keystone Kops.

My best guess as to how this change came about is improvement in the scriptwriting. So far as I know, Moon Ji-yeong is still writing the story. I think it's likely that she storyboarded this centerpiece plotline but not the previous ghosts of the week. That would explain why none of the previous stories made much sense- they were just designed to make the characters play off of each other rather than as an actual build-up. The deliberate thought that went into the plotting here is unmistakable, and makes the drama's stronger production elements shine a lot brighter.

Mind, this is all guesswork on my part. For all I know the next episode will take a hard shift right back to where we started with obnoxious ghosts and insane idiot villains. But once again, the skill with which this drama maintains tone within each individual episode is a strong point. I've never seen fiction jump from camp to serious storytelling like this before. It's probably not the ideal way to build up a narrative, but I can hardly argue with results. "Who Are You - 2013" works really effectively, regardless of which mood it's in at the moment.

Review by William Schwartz

"Who Are You - 2013" is directed by Jo Hyeon-tak, written by Moon Ji-yeong and features So Yi-hyun, Ok Taecyeon and Kim Jae-wook.

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