Posted in Commentary, Drama Series

Who Are You–School 2015: first four episodes

If Misaeng made me work and sit through office politics for two extra days a week, Angry Mom and Who Are You: School 2015 drag me back to school for four days a week. I’m willing to, no force there. Luckily it won’t last for too long — attending class four times a week — since Angry Mom is reaching its finale this week.

Not that i hated school, or rather my time in school which had its own share of ups and downs, nor did i find the student’s life depicted in those school dramas all that realistic, but because it harrowing to see the extent of malice ostensibly faced by today’s kids, primarily the bullying. Although if done right, teen or coming-of-age stories are fascinating to follow and will invariably make me wish my school years had been as sweet, cute, and cool as that.

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School 2015 has just entered its second week — i.e. 4 aired episodes — and it is still too early to tell where it’s heading to or if the quality will remain consistent, but i’m sold right from the start and thus want nothing but for the remaining episodes to stay this good. I’m excited because i haven’t found another engaging show post-Healer, let alone one that hooks me right away. But now i’m equally wary because we are just one-fourth through the series yet the plot is moving forward at such a fast pace i am afraid the later episodes will either drag or run out of steam. *unjinx, unjinx*

What lures me is the premise, first and foremost. Switched identities, swapped fate between two polarizing characters, be it from rich to poor and vice versa. In this case, between separated twins who live completely different lives and are at a contrasting social standing. One is an orphan who is isolated and bullied at school, the other is loaded and surrounded by a warm loving mom, a couple best buddies, an adorkably winsome guy as a crush. Personality-wise, Eun-bi is reserved and meek (there are instances when she’s attempting to fend off her bullies, but she backpedals at the last minute) while Eun-byul is brash yet prickly and somewhat secretive.

Eun-byul knows she has a twin but Eun-bi doesn’t, and the answer to why is that appears in the beginning of episode 4. Some may hate the amnesia turn, but even that is dealt with at a record time. It happens in the second episode, the lost memories return in episode 3, and the mistaken identity is readily revealed in episode 4. Fast, right?

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Okay, in case you haven’t seen the series, let’s do it in order:

Episode 1 introduces us to the twins (both played by Kim So-hyun). We are privy to the hellish school life Lee Eun-bi goes through as well as the fabricated events that lead to her expulsion and eventually suicide. On the other hand, Go Eun-byul attends a posh school in the capital and has a normal school days albeit not terror-free, particularly regarding a certain past event involving Jung Soo-in. Who she was and what happened is yet to be known but this case is used to blackmail and seemingly harass Eun-byul, which may lead to her mysterious disappearance.

Episode 2. Eun-bi wakes up with amnesia from her attempted suicide and mistakenly identified as the missing Eun-byul, much to Mom’s relief. Also extremely grateful to see her return is Han Yi-an (Nam Joo-hyuk), the school’s star swimmer who has a crush on her since forever, as well as her two buddies. The rest are indifferent or startled, which says something about Eun-byul’s personality or character. This is where the amnesia bit interests me, because Eun-bi is living as Eun-byul, so the memory and the kind of person she’s trying to remember do not belong to her. It astonishes her to think that her pre-amnesia self was rude, did not go along with many people, and even possibly a bully, but that’s not her. (Do i make sense?) At this point, i’m intrigued as to what kind of person Eun-byul really is and how Eun-bi will react upon discovering ‘her’ true self and retrieving her memory.

Episode 3. Eun-bi continues to amaze her classmates with her ‘new’ personality but manages to make new friends as herself. It happens when Eun-byul didn’t interact with them but Eun-bi-as-Eun-byul does, naturally, well-meaningly, as in the case of her rapport with Gong Tae-kwang (Yook Sung-jae), troublemaker and the son of the board director. He comes from a dysfunctional family so the last bit is unknown to anyone. After regaining her memory after a slip-and-fall into the pool, which mirrors her drowning attempt, including who saved her, she straightens out the bully-and-thief accusation directed at her and decides to return to her old life.

Episode 4 opens with answers to questions like why Eun-byul knew Eun-bi but not vice versa and why both weren’t adopted together. Learning about her twin’s existence, Eun-bi tries to locate her whereabouts but is informed that her unni was found dead and finds her own details pasted on the urn. Mom (Jeon Mi-sun) is also in the know about this switched identity but cannot bear losing Eun-bi too. She asks her to continue living as Eun-byul, which is a much better option than returning to her bullied orphan life, so she agrees. Yet, her friends start noticing something strange about her — she doesn’t have that gaping wound on her neck and her handwriting is different from Eun-byul’s. And if she thinks she can hide the truth and escape from her old nemesis, she’s wrong because the head bully is the new transfer student. Augh.

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Well, i certainly didn’t expect Eun-byul to die, especially NOT after the revelation that she was Eun-bi’s savior, although it’s still a mystery how she managed to be at the right place at the right time to do so. I was thinking the switch will be temporary, that Eun-byul intentionally sets Eun-bi to take her place so she has time to sort her problems out — or to run away from it — and in turn disguises as her twin, and in due course they help each other out. But now… i don’t know. I mean, her death can’t be a fake-out right? I’m sure we’ll find it out sooner or later and i hope it isn’t another suicide. Is it wrong if i want that new student (what’s her name again?) to have something to do with it, hence her transferring and dumbstruck reaction upon spotting Eun-bi in her new school?

I’m also conflicted about Mom-Eun-bi’s mutual agreement for her to continue living as Eun-byul. I didn’t mind it before because she lost her memory both didn’t know about it, also because it’s nice seeing Eun-bi all smiles and unconditionally adored by family and friends. If anyone needs and deserves a do-over, it’s her (that’s why i find Reset perfectly relays her yearning and despair to stop here and do everything all over again — in the next life, that is; the strained plea of “I wanna reset, i wanna reset, i wanna reset~” really hits home it gives me chills), and she’s granted the fateful chance to see for herself that she can be loved and that her life can change for the better, in this lifetime. It’s a different situation altogether when both know the truth, and even with Eun-byul out of the picture, it doesn’t feel right. This position is supposed to be hers to begin with, if Mom didn’t adopt the ‘wrong’ child, but now it’s just her impersonating Eun-byul. Which isn’t fair per se because it isn’t her life — she’s loved or hated because of what Eun-byul has done. I want her to earn her place on her merits instead of hijacking Eun-byul’s, because at this point the only one who sees and likes her for her is Tae-kwang.

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While her scenes with Yi-an are all adorable and fluttery, her banter with Tae-kwang is as (if not more) interesting because it is as if they connect on a deeper level. She can see through his apathetic facade and they can openly confide in each other, masking truths as lies. There is this bittersweet moment when he deliberately misinterprets her reply because he’s so used to people meaning the opposite of what they say. It’s cute because he thinks he catches her in the lie, but it’s kinda sad because that’s just so telling — he has difficulty saying things in a non-roundabout way. I however find it to be the more genuine and relaxed interaction because now with others she’s playing the game of pretend which she isn’t good at — she gets jittery whenever her newness is mentioned. There’s even this awkwardness between her and Mom, which breaks my heart a little.

Okay, let me stop here lest this is going to be an essay. Since the ball is rolling quickly, i wonder how long it takes before Eun-bi’s identity is revealed or for her to figure out what’s up with this Jung Soo-in since everyone is so evasive about it. It’s definitely intriguing that the cryptic texts aren’t sent to Eun-bi only, but also to one of the teachers. Hmm…

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[omg Yi-an, why so cute? The feels during the slo-mo though, do you feel it???]

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I blog sometimes, gush ofttimes, snark all the time.

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