Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

Wrapping Up on 49 Days

[Disclaimer: what follows is no review as it’s more of an ending discussion and my overall impression of the drama. It thus contains major spoilers. Duh.]

I am no psychic, but the ending of 49 Days unveiled as speculated. I was honestly just fooling around and blurting out arbitrary theories. Thus it’s pretty startling to witness how many of them were accurate. Or maybe the drama was just that predictable.

Aforementioned, three episodes is barely enough to collect one tear at a time should PD wanted to revivify Ji-hyun. It either takes place on episode 18 or never. And yes, she got her two remaining tears within seconds, there, on her last wandering day and returned to her body. Have awaited this for ages that I was thrilled to see her alive – minus 49-day-er memory.

I’ve been curious as to how PD would handle this event considering that it’s no simple blackout that could be re-retrieve. (If Divine says you won’t remember, no human ways can bring those memories back. There’s no guarantee whether the feelings would remain either.) Nevertheless, having only two hours of wrapping up seems rushed if they aimed to make it a happy ending. I’ve had faith in them whole series long, trusted their unthought-of twists and turns, and kept my fingers tightly crossed… until the bomb of episode 19’s cliffhanger detonated.

WHA – ?? My jaw dropped, I gawked at the screen, and my brain frizzled.

I’ve already wondered how life goes on post-49-days for Ji-hyun. No memories of the limbo, she’ll revert to the spoiled, unreflective, naïve Ji-hyun. What I’d hate to see isn’t her still trapped in Min-ho’s charm and forgetting everything about Kang’s subtlety, but her losing all maturity and character development gained hitherto.

Above Kang, it’d be more painful to watch Yi-kyung’s solitude again. After five years surviving a ghostlike life with multiple suicide attempts, Ji-hyun’s sent to be her company. (I wonder how Yi-kyung feels to finally have someone to talk to and who cares for her benefit.) To have such privilege stripped off of her so suddenly… is so cruel.

Still… this wasn’t what I’d wanted to see. I’m sure it’s no hollow statement blundered out just to up the tension and toy with our already-frail heart; it’s a major warning of how the end would be like. Though theorized it myself, I wasn’t ready for such closure – NOT after seeing her alive and everyone’s relief faces. And NOT after so many bucketfuls of good tears I’ve shed for this drama. I’ve become such a weepy, could you please spare me from further breakdown for the last hour?

No? Oh well… so I proceeded to the last installment warily, only to be letdown so early into the episode. I hadn’t fully accepted the possibility of her dying once again – permanently this time – yet they actually tossed her aside this fast it’s usurious. So what the rest’s for? Bereaving over then coping with the loss? The sendoff wasn’t nearly as heartrending as anticipated, altho the backward and forward flashes were pretty effective (to summon new tears). All the while infixing morsel twists. Oh, have I said that I was thwarted that Seo-woo chipped in one of the tears? She did indeed, but the last drop wasn’t Yi-kyung’s. Not because she’s insincere towards liking Ji-hyun, but because of what become the drama’s gravest gratuitous turn of events EVER.

Regardless of how many balls were dropped along the way, I hated the fact that it went there. (Which reminds me of what drew me back: that people are so frequently happen to be in a certain place at the inconvenient time, thus giving the doers the upper-hand to spectate/cognize/eavesdrop what they’re not supposed to see/know/hear. It’s not happenstance anymore; it’s expert stalking.) This divulgement is no different; ain’t corollary (not) thanks to many forced coincidences worked into the plot. Not that I disliked the effect it had on Yi-kyung, but it’s a waste of time-frame better used up for something else more significant. Buy Ji-hyun more days, or Kang and her more time together for example (!?), culminating for a more coveted final goodbye.

Until now I still cannot fully understand why it has to end that way. Is it so difficult to give us a happy ending for at least one of the lead couples? It won’t happen with the Yi couple, can’t be helped since Yi-soo died five years ago, but I truly believed they would deliver good news by bringing Ji-hyun back. I know we’ve seen Kang with Yi-kyung most of the time and grow to love the pairing despite knowing that it’s the Ji-hyun inside that he’s in love with, thus it’d be slightly weird to see him end up with Ji-hyun in her own body. BUT~!

I’m eating up all implausiblenesses ‘cause besides being fictitious, it also positions itself firmly in the fantasy genre. Otherwise no right mind could follow its soul-inhabiting-other’s-body theory, Kang’s super-nimble deduction of the situation, Yi-soo’s not-so-tragic accident (who was wacky enough to go gaga over a ring while riding on wheels), or his solidification before Yi-kyung. It by no means original – I’ve seen similar takes on this premise – but it’s been driving us a pleasant journey into its realm. It’s thus apprehensible that many people are beefing about “this drama starts off as fantasy and ends up being reality”.

Me? Frankly I’m not fully satisfied with the ending. Felt like a punch is missing. Have nothing against it becoming realer, though, since I favor this approach taken by any work of fiction which will make it more relatable. Granted, 49 Days goes full-throttle: 49 days is merely a chance to go back to the life pre-premature dying, succeeding doesn’t prolong the lifespan. I’ve heard stories about those perennating a coma/terminal illness either get a change of fate or rebound long enough to say goodbye.

The latter goes for Ji-hyun’s case. Which makes it so heartbreaking let alone because she chose to leave quietly. Which also makes us feel cheated. Yeah, at first I thought, “How hard can it be to get three tears in 49 days? It’s like a tear every two weeks!” but hell I was wrong. All series long the drama’s been centering on her laborious attempts/efforts/struggles to live; we’ve traveled alongside her throughout the journey, cry and laugh with her every move; she’s been there done that before she finally collected three required tears; we gasped in disbelief too then started to cheer on… only to find that she’ll last for six more days. Ouch. Still cannot believe PD lifted us up then thrashed us down. Maybe having one happy pair over solitaire Yi-kyung is too much.


‘Nuf of the nays, I’ll address the drama in overall. Grew to love the drama, got more and more invested as it progresses. It rarely happens since for most of other dramas, they start to lose grip by midway when story begins to run in circles or gets overly dramatic. 49 Days is no exception: I lost count on how many times Ji-hyun goes in and out of Heaven. I hope she strives somewhere else as they don’t have to always be handily together to get the ball rolling. The amount of tears I cried then was the clincher for melodrama factor. BUT my interest hiked irrepressibly by episode 10 (onwards).

One matter that gets on my nerve without fail is the hostile takeover connivance as I NEVER get a grasp on their motive. I tried tuning in but after a while I just switched off every time the story moved over to the cahoot between Min-ho and In-jung. It actually serves as the main source of conflict yet the writer somehow cannot manage to keep it afloat. It’s as if they feel that it’d be a great plot arc but couldn’t come up with a creative provoking idea for the drive – just like trite Yi couple’s fallout and Yi-soo’s oh-so-lame accident.

That aside, I’m amazed at the drama’s storming turns in every episode which leaves us yearning for more. Exacerbated by the fact that the casts are easy on the eyes. Yum! Acting isn’t superb, but is decent as far as the story demands them to be. In the beginning we might’ve been blown away by Lee Yo-won’s lucid portrayal of two characters. It was easy to distinguish whose soul is on because the two were distinctively diametrical – one is cheery and bubbly while the other is unremittingly sulky.

Nevertheless, once Ji-hyun’s liveliness is toned down and Yi-kyung’s opening up and looking more human-like, the line fuzzes. Thereafter, identifying who is who is slimmed down to whether she dons the tear necklace. Which is exactly why our brain was racked when they made an astute swerve by zipping up the jacket (**spoiler: the backhug**).

Furthermore, I find it incredible how none is paired up – it’s more on the open-ended side with hints that Seo-woo and Dr. Noh might hit it off with Heaven’s staffie. Credit must be given to writer who managed to stay clear of fanservice by bonding Kang and Yi-kyung romantically.

Lastly, addressing 49 Days isn’t complete without a fete on the Scheduler. The scene-stealer every time he pops on screen, this sassy snarky plus funny reaper. Instant pick-me-up. Hehe

49 Days traverses a roller coaster-y ride of emotions for the characters and viewers alike with its bittersweet storylines – full of giddy, swoon, anguish, tearful, hilarious, and poignant moments. No wonder the OSTs are all sad (mood- melody- or lyrics-wise) and easy listening for good measure. It’s hard to not be pulled by this drama no matter which polarity you’re drawn to by the epilogue.

Verdict: Loved it – don’t think I’ll go and rewatch it, though, seeing how it ended. It’s just too sad.

_
Rating: 4/5 (Wavering about the rating. Although didn’t hate the ending, it left something to be desired, thus knocking down a peg of all in all grading. Don’t think it deserves a solid four whereas 3.5 is an understatement. Gyah…)
Production: 2011
Cast: Lee Yo-won, Jo Hyun-jae, Nam Gyuri, Bae Soo-bin, Seo Ji-hye, Jung Il-woo
Genre: K-drama, Fantasy, Drama-romance (20 Episodes)

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