“Where is Hyung?” is the thought that kept cropping up as i watched the finale. We get to see him through flashback, the question he wanted to ask Song Cha-ok when Dal-po had the chance, but that doesn’t count!
I know it’s not wedding day yet, Hyung probably can’t go out of prison just to see Dal-po and In-ha try their tux and gown on as per Grandpa’s and Dad’s specifications, but it is a happy family moment and it doesn’t feel complete without his presence.
Hyung is one of my favorite characters of the show although his screen time is reduced to like a minute per episode following his incarceration, and that’s mostly to talk about Dal-po’s work and progress as a reporter. I am not sure if Hyung’s role is supposed to be this small because i totally expected him to play a bigger role in the plot. He was there with little Ha-myung when they were bombarded with cornering, accusing questions on Firefighter Dad and his flipping out on that cliff left quite an impact. He has more reasons to hate Song Cha-ok and seek retaliation than Dal-po does. The child actors gave strong, memorable performances too (it’s Shin Jae-ha and Nam Da-reum for the record) i almost didn’t want the story to revert to their adult versions. Not that fast, at least.
Despite the okay opening week, Pinocchio picks up on the second week once Dal-po and In-ha join the workforce, but when Hyung comes along… bam! the plot thickens considerably. The buildup escalates quickly too — he commits three homicide within minutes. While the twisted twist caught me off guard, it was messed up and dashed any hopes of happy brotherly reunion, that also what got me fully invested. And the development just got more and more gripping thereafter.
When Hyung finally finds out that Dal-po = Ha-myung, i don’t care if they’re going to drag his case till the finale like I Hear Your Voice did with Min Joon-gook, i don’t care if they’re going to continue milking Hyung’s heroic story even if that’s rather uncomfortable to watch, i want everybody to close one eye and let the newfound brotherhood last as long as possible.
In the end, Hyung would still go to jail and atone for his grave crimes of course, but it was shocking that he lets go of his revenge and turns himself in just two episodes post-revelation. I wasn’t prepared to send him off so early… i mean, he didn’t bring Song Cha-ok down with him, and with eight episodes left, what are we gonna do with him out of the picture? The baton is passed to Dal-po but his concept of vengeance is different from Hyung’s the end result won’t be the same.
For me, Hyung’s arc was the culmination; the rest thus feels anticlimactic. While the story still holds up, the drop in tension is pretty noticeable. The rookie reporters continue to do their job properly like a good reporter should, all while trying to knock Song Cha-ok off her pedestal, and they learn that she is just a puppet with somebody bigger and more powerful pulling the strings. Why can’t they unravel the conspiracy while keeping Hyung in the loop still??
I guess i can write on and on on Hyung and what could have been. He is such a complex and tragic character the show could’ve fleshed him out more instead of sidelining him at halftime. Maybe that’s just me, because Pinocchio is less about the burning revenge and more about the reporting stuff — what a good reporter is all about: tell the ultimate truth, even if it is an uncomfortable one, even if that’s not what people at large wish to see.
Not that finding the real truth is easy, especially when a family member is the suspected perpetrator — people will want to cover it or pick on a scapegoat. Or when they investigate to confirm a hunch rather than unearthing what really happened — people see what they want to see and only hear what they want to hear anyway. Even when they’re really set on hard facts, the information they manage to gather can be misleading still and they risk making half-truth report. Dal-po learns the bitter truth that even he can make a misstep, on his first scoop at that. Other than that, our rookies never half-ass their work. It’s nice to see how dedicated and morally upright they are, siding with the truth even when their family member stands on the other side. So much so that they seem more competent than the police in charge of the cases.
A minor gripe is that the Pinocchio syndrome is underutilized here, in that it doesn’t add much to the plot or serve as a game changer. It does lead to an unexpectedly early confession (from In-ha’s side), but the syndrome doesn’t discern truth from lies. She gotta speak her mind and stand up for what she deems is right. Luckily, she is a good person. Wouldn’t it be interesting should there is another Pinocchio whose moral compass is opposite hers? That’s character-wise; acting-wise, this is the best performance i’ve seen Park Shin-hye do. She should definitely steer away from damsel in distress roles.
Lee Jong-seok? Well, he has grown so much as an actor from the first time i saw him in Secret Garden. He is not amazing every time — i find him only okay in No Breathing for example — but his performance hasn’t failed me. He even carried Doctor Stranger with gusto and didn’t let up till the end!
Last but not least, the family bond that transcends blood. Pinocchio depicts family dynamics, unconditional love, and full-on support in the best way possible that hits all the right buttons. I loved every moment and interaction they share (who doesn’t?), regardless of the pair combination. Grandpa and Dad FTW!
It is probably why i wasn’t sad — though still moved — when Grandpa decides to un-adopt Dal-po because their family relation wasn’t defined by what’s written on those official papers. Plus, it won’t be long before they’ll become one family again, through marriage this time 😉
So, the drama’s high points are 1) Hyung, because it’s heartbreaking, and 2) Choi Family, because it’s heartwarming. And heartwarming is an understatement, really.
Director: Jo Soo-won
Production: SBS, 2014~15
Cast: Lee Jong-seok, Park Shin-hye, Kim Young-kwang, Jin Kyung, Yoon Kyun-sang, Lee Yu-bi
Genre: Romantic comedy, Family drama, K-drama (20 Episodes)