Cheese in the trap ep 16: The great disservice

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This is the first time I’m going to write about a reaction to a drama I have been following from the start. My sister Keren and I actually follow this drama (prodded her to watch when I first learnt about it) and we eagerly waited for Tuesdays and Wednesdays to come every week so we could watch the drama online.

So, the FINAL episode. I finished it a few minutes ago (insert: forever grateful for all those English subbers –do they get paid for the wonderful work that they do?) and when it was over, I felt all these emotions: confused, angry, upset, relieved, part-happy, part-sad, jaded, regretful, and just wholly disappointed. And apparently, from all the comments I’ve read, I am not alone. Everyone seems disappointed with the way this series was handled, particularly towards the last 4-5 episodes when there seemed to be a departure from the original direction, and the main character found himself being disregarded and all that drama.

The thing that really disappoints was that it started out real good. It had the potential of being a really, really good series you’d watch over and over again (something like Full house to me, or Goong, etc). In the beginning, there were lots of humor and light moments, and mystery. Yes, the characters were mysterious. Yoo Jung and Seol in their own unique selves were so engaging (and creepy, and relatable) that you just want to keep watching to see how their characters will evolve.

And we see that in the episodes that came. We learn about their views, why they act the way they do, what goes on in their minds. We also do not learn everything about them in one go –there was mystery. Why does he think that way? Is Yoo Jung really creepy and darn strange? What’s the deal with Baek In ha? The biggest draw for me in this drama was the relationship between Seol and Yoo Jung. Their complex and rich characters were refreshing, especially when most dramas are inclined to go stereotypical as far as character developments are concerned. I liked that this drama helped us see things in their perspective. We feel part of their relationship, and we know them better each day. I like how they struggled with their differences, how they tried to make it work, and just those little nuances that make up a relationship.

And then it just went the other direction. This final episode just seemed all too rushed and contrived. The issues didn’t have their proper closures and everything was crammed in a one hour episode. We sort of knew this was going to happen given the slow pace of the storyline around episodes 11 or 12. In fact, by episode 15, we already knew it was going to be a major cramfest of events. Then there was all this drama online about how the main actor Park Hae Jin was disrespected by the producers and how little airtime he received. There were scenes that were cut, edited. And if the ending was any indication of just how serious these controversies might have been, then it is terribly regretful. They didn’t finish well. They didn’t live up to the expectations. They couldn’t hold their end of the bargain.

In my mind I will always be coming up with what-if scenarios and how I would have liked this to end. So many storylines were cast aside. It didn’t help that the plot became so cliche and I found myself asking, “Where was the original Cheese in the trap that was humorous and engaging and fresh?”

My biggest disappointment of all was the way Yoo Jung was “written off slowly”. So in the final episode, (spoiler alert!) he and Seol break up. I think in recent memory, this has got to be the most painful breakup ever. Even thinking about it now, my heart is left in broken pieces. Why? Because we know and have seen how true and sincere their love for each other was. We know that they do love each other so much, but their personal issues and baggage are affecting their present relationship. The taking off the ring, and Seol noticing it gone with tears streaming down her face, was painful to watch. I sobbed like a three year old. And then as the camera zooms out and we see them an arm length’s apart at the table, Seol’s head bowed down and Jung in his stoic posture, made me want to hug them both.  It was a sad break up for our couple. And this scene was acted out so perfectly by both actors. Kim Go Eun’s acting was just perfection. I really love how natural she is on screen, conveying the simplest of emotions like hurt and confusion, and drawing all these emotions from us. I love how expressive her eyes are, the cracks in her voice, the quiet question of why? She’s so relatable. She’s a great actress and I look forward to seeing more of her in future dramas!

Now back to THE breakup, the fall out from that breakup was the letdown of the episode. Three years later (i knew it was coming), we are shown the ways Seol’s life has and has not changed. Three years is a pretty long time to have moved on. A lot goes on in a year, but three? Cue in monologue. At the work place, she still meets people very similar to those she was around in the university. She feels resigned and unhappy as the days go by without Yoo Jung. We learn about how she is coping up (while still not being fully happy), how a sense of normalcy has gone back to her life. But where was Yoo Jung in all these?

The episode seems to want the viewers to think he is fixing himself up, figuring things out on his own, healing in some foreign land. But all these was done OFF *freaking* SCREEN. BAM. The rest get their storylines, even In Ha gets *some* redemption (though I didn’t like that she was back to her crazy, normal loud self and we don’t even see any sense of change or maturity in her), and we see lighter moments towards the end.  But Yoo Jung?! a.k.a the 1/2 hero of the story? NOTHING. Na-da. Zero.

That to me is the greatest disservice. It’s like we stopped learning about him. We continue to discover Seol and her struggles, but for Yoo Jung, we’re just left with assumptions of how he’s probably coping. PD must think people heal when they live abroad. Who did he meet while he was away? What were his experiences that would tell us he has changed and is improving? How is he really fixing himself? A great undoing of this drama. How does the PD address this?

With one “read” email that Seol coincindentally not reads.

Now that was just the cliffhanger don’t you think? And it was done very unsatisfying. They wouldn’t even give us the certainty of a reconciliation. It is implied that it would happen with Yoo Jung’s “Soel-ah!” greeting. But…that’s it? While the others get their endings right and their stories magically line up (In Ha oddly compassionate towards Seol and off the hook, In Ho now a fulfilled pianist), Jung and Seol’s futures remain bleak. Seol loses zeal even for the simplest, ordinary things. The fighter she has become in their relationship now made her like a robot in the office just functioning. They only ever pass by each other by the pedestrian lane and there I was still checking how much time is left before the credits roll, hoping against hope, for a better ending than that.

Why couldn’t the PD make another scene if she was going to end with a montage of all the sweet moments between the two lovers? Couldn’t she spare 2 minutes more for that hoped-for reconciliation? At least offer us hope when the whole drama was already spiraling down? Open enders are good, but this was just off. It felt lacking, empty. There’s a big sense of loss that the watching audience feels over the wrap up of this series. I feel bad for the characters and for both Park Hae Jin and Kim Go Eun.

*sigh*

So how did you like the final episode? Thoughts? My head’s still screaming with questions.

 

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