I mentioned on Facebook that I've been staying out of investing in the stock market for the time being given how the markets are rallying at this point (largely driven by oil sentiment) and prices aren't at levels low enough for my liking yet. As such, I've been spending a good amount of my free time cooking, shopping for cheap outfits and watching Descendants of the Sun instead.
What started out as pure curiosity (Why is the whole world going gaga over this drama? What's so great about K-dramas anyway? What did this drama do to warrant government warnings in China and Thailand's PM urging his people to watch the series?) then turned into respect and awe...before finishing off in disappointment thanks to the last 2 episode.
Not a lot of people know this about me, but I've always wanted to be a writer ever since I was a child. At one point in time (especially during my university days), I even contemplated being a script-writer.
Which is why good stories continue to intrigue me. But with my high standards, good scripts (be it movie or TV scripts) that leave an indelible impression are rare.
Descendants of the Sun, however, impressed me so much with its scriptwriting that I was completely captivated by the story. Until the ending, that is.
(P.S. Best movie script in 2016 so far goes to Room - which was also nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars.)
So here's my rant on the final 2 episodes of Descendants of the Sun (DotS). While the entire series was really well-crafted with thoughtful character dialogues and delicate humanistic elements from the start to episode 14, it all goes downhill from there. The narrative in the last 2 episodes was so badly written that I really want to just shake scriptwriter Kim Eun Sook by the shoulders and ask what on earth was she doing. Not only was it lazy, it was also factually inaccurate, poorly-constructed and seriously overused the cliche of female-lead-anguishes-over-believed-death-of-male-lead one time too many. In other words, it reeked badly of slipshod writing, which is unacceptable considering how good the entire series had been up to this point.
Most Korean dramas adopt a live-shoot system, which allows the drama producers to adapt to audience responses and cater to the commercial viability of the series. Pre-produced dramas, which are completed prior to broadcast, do not allow this kind of flexibility.
Considering how DotS was pre-produced, there is really little excuse to pardon it from its unforgivable sin of having glaring and illogical loopholes towards the finale. Here are some which really stood out like a sore prick:
1. Episode 15 starts with a cute scene of Yoo Si Jin siting in a wheelchair listening to Kang Mo Yeon's confession on his headphones, before Mo Yeon accidentally lets go of her grip on his wheelchair down a slope when she embarrassingly realises what he was listening to. Si Jin rolls down the slope, seemingly completely incapable of stopping before he crashes into a side curb and is thrown off.
This makes no sense when you consider how he was able-bodied enough to shoot an enemy just hours ago, and then stand up like a normal being shortly after he falls off.
2. Chi Hoon finds out from Daniel that the correct translation of what the little boy said to him in Urk was that he wanted a goat, when he mistakenly assumed it to be the little boy's name all along.
Why did it take Chi Hoon so long before asking Daniel about this? It has been months since they left Urk!
3. Team Alpha has completed their mission and Si Jin and Dae Young are waiting to board the next helicopter when Si Jin is suddenly shot from a distance (it looks like a possibly fatal wound, reaffirmed by how) Si Jin sees a near-death vision of his former comrade calling out to him, saying "Let's go home" to which he replies "Yes". Dae Young helps him to cover, but ends up getting shot in the shoulder as well. Seconds later, the place explodes. Sergeant Choi orders the helicopter to head back, but later reports that the bodies were not found.
If Kim Eun Sook writes that Si Jin ends up alive after this without any medical treatment AND getting out of that place so quickly, I can only shake my head at the illogical gap.
3. Sergeant Choi visits Mo Yeon at the hospital to inform her about Si Jin's death.
4. Mo Yeon meets up with Daniel at the airport, telling him that she's leaving to volunteer at the Albanian refugee camp. She insists it is for her own selfish reasons as she's heading there to pay her respects since tomorrow marks Si Jin's 1-year death anniversary.
Why is she paying her respects in Albania; how did she even know that Si Jin's last mission took place there when it is supposed to be top secret? This could have been easily resolved by showing a scene of Mo Yeon asking Sergeant Choi where Si Jin died so that she can pay her respects, or even just writing this in their exchange outside the hospital entrance earlier.
5. Mo Yeon is at Si Jin's makeshift memorial site when she suddenly hears "This is Big Boss" on her walkie-talkie. She checks her phone and sees her unread messages turning to "read" status there and then.
How did Si Jin tune into the Albanian channel? It would at least make some sort of sense if he had a walkie-talkie in his hand while walking across the desert to Mo Yeon, but nope, nothing of that sort. And if he was released a while back (Dae Young said they were at the allied base camp upon release before each went their separate ways to find their girlfriends), why did he not check his phone for Mo Yeon's messages until now? How did he get back his cell phone anyway, if he was captured by the militia?
6. Dae Young recounts their ordeal to Myung Joo, explaining what exactly happened while everyone believed him and Si Jin to be dead. Apparently, both men were tortured and jailed for 150 to 155 days in an unknown location. Masked men then came to execute them but were killed but North Korean Lieutenant Ahn, who was repaying a favour Si Jin did for him back in episode 14.
What kind of militia takes soldiers hostage without holding their country ransom for it? If they took them prisoner just to execute them, why wait for 150 days? At least show a scene that they were being grilled for some sort of information, if any at all. How did Si Jin survive for so long without medical treatment AND being beaten up daily when he seemingly received a near-fatal gunshot wound? (Dae Young's survival makes sense since he took a shoulder shot, but not Si Jin's!) Si Jin's death anniversary means he's been believed dead for 365 days - what happened to the remaining 215 days? The math just don't add up. Very sloppy scriptwriting here!
7. Si Jin, Dae Young and Team Alpha behave as though they're on another important special forces mission, only that the VIPs being escorted this time is of K-pop girl-group Red Velvet who are ushered into the auditorium to perform for the soldiers. A video of the special forces soldiers partying at the concert leaks online, with Si Jin and Dae Young in front view.
If the special forces are so secretive, how on earth could a video of them at Red Velvet been leaked online? Wouldn't that expose their identities to any enemies? I'm willing to ignore the glaring problem of the video angle, which suggests that someone in the centre of the stage (i.e. Red Velvet themselves) took the video, but the leaking of the video is unforgivable.
8. Si Jin and Mo Yeon make a trip back to Urk to visit the beach with the shipwreck. Mo Yeon takes a picture of Si Jin, stating that the only photo she had of him was his x-ray and she's tired of looking at it.
Didn't Mo Yeon already have a picture of Si Jin on her fridge at home? See, it is right up there in the screenshot above! Geez.
9. Mo Yeon makes a wish on a shooting star and tells Si Jin that her wish was for the man beside her to kiss her, asking if he could make her wish come true.
That was such a lame wish and I don't buy it for a moment that someone like Mo Yeon will waste her wish on a kiss from the guy whom she has dated for over a year. Come on, that's obviously bound to happen! This was a golden opportunity for some swoon-worthy moments which Kim Eun Sook completely missed out on. I would prefer something like this instead (building on her line of "Who said you'll get me?"):
Mo Yeon: My wish was that you will stay by my side forever, safe and alive.
Si Jin: Thinking of coming back to your side was the only thing that kept me going while I was imprisoned. If you are willing to let me be by your side for the rest of your life, I promise I will make it my life mission to always stay alive. Will you marry me?
Mo Yeon: *tears up and thinks back on all their happy moments together* I don't know if I can ever get used to the danger of your job, but all I know is that I rather be with you than be without you. Yes.
*happy hug and kiss*
10. The soldiers and the medical team are in Vancouver for Daniel and Ye Hwa's wedding. Suddenly, there is a massive blackout and a waitress announces a volcano has just erupted. There is no sign of the bride and groom, not even in the ending shot.
I saved the best and stupidest mistake for the last - can someone please tell Kim Eun Sook that there are NO volcanoes in Vancouver?! She should have set it in Indonesia, Japan, or even Washington instead where volcano eruptions are more likely!
So there you go. 10 major blips and hiccups which totally spoilt the ending of a great drama series for me, but rants aside, do watch the show if you haven't already started! Perhaps when I'm done grumbling about the show's faux-pas I'll consolidate why this is possibly one of the best dramas I've watched.
Till then, happy watching!