Like the title of the long-awaited OST, Noodles is such a bitter world indeed. So much so that i honestly don’t feel the motivation to write about the final week despite wanting to get it over and done with soonest. It isn’t because i’m bitter about the ending, but because of a certain turn of events in the penultimate episode. It made absolute no sense that i probably won’t be able to come to terms with it. Ever. I’m fine with the closing scene, mind you, but i’m totally gonna take it at face value. Because that’s the way it should end. That’s the ending the main characters deserve. Is it that hard for you to set it at the present time, Show?
Yup, it’s regarding Tae-ha’s ultimate sacrifice. It was consistent and so true to his character but it was darn uncalled for. I wasn’t that troubled by him intercepting the classified document as it’s again so Tae-ha to jump the gun no matter the circumstances, whether or not the protectees are doing the right thing, even if it’s to his own detriment. He’s vowed to protect his friends, Yeo-kyung in particular, for life and that’s basically what all he’s done all series long. It’s therefore not shocking to see him go down while on that mission, but he chose the most stupid way to die. The situation he was in wasn’t without a way out, if only he weren’t such a noble idiot.
Okay, So Tae-sub kidnaps Da-hae to lure both Gil-do and Tae-ha (why Gil-do when the document wasn’t in his hand? Unless Tae-sub planned to kill both there) and Tae-ha rushes to save the person he’s still in Goongrakwon for. That’s fine. Trading the file with her life is fine too. But then why should he offer his life to the thugs afterward, when he’s no Do-kkoo? First off, one vs many is so uncool, Congressman. Secondly, Tae-ha claims to not have the papers with him and promises to tell the old geezer where it is after confirming Da-hae’s release, but then pulls it out of his blazer pocket. Huh? Thirdly, how can he ensure she’s safe just by calling her? Ugh! Fourthly, why beat him to near death after getting what you wanted, Stinky Scoundrel!?
No, i’m not worked up that he’s down. I’m upset at how it happened (they could’ve made him die while rescuing Da-hae! Or beaten for not handing over the damn papers! Or… or…) and at Show for treating his passing like an afterthought. Most of it transpired off-screen, there’s neither closure nor proper send-off. Noodles killed my favorite character and i wasn’t even sad. Because frankly, i never felt that he’s gone. His image still pops up from time to time, and except for a few tears, mentions, and the urn, he feels very much alive. Cuz, how can he not? He’s been guilt-ridden and living for others all his life, the last thing he deserves is happiness with the loved one. How can Show be this cruel and take him away…right when he’s about to embrace it? It’s like a throwback to episode 19 of City Hunter, which also claimed the life of the upright awesome second male lead, only the prosecutor died defending something while Tae-ha died for nothing.
What’s worse is his demise barely had any impact to the plot besides making us hate Congressman So to the moon and back and creating a reason for the other characters to target him. (He’s as sleazy a villain can get, but none of his corruptions concerns our leads unless they’re directly affected, so let’s kill Tae-ha…?) Which need not happen should he were the instigator behind Yeo-kyung parents’ death. I think Noodles‘ biggest mistake is making Gil-do the perp when he had no reason to order the hit — and Tae-sub all reasons to do so.
There’s no denying that the plot is over-convoluted with many subplots and a lot of side characters despite the straightforward beginning. The development was easy to follow at first but became questionable in the end. There were more and more things i couldn’t understand. A lot of WHYs were left unanswered too. I wonder if the direction or writing was shifted midway as a few of the last third episodes were all over the place. It wasn’t draggy per se, but it went nowhere. The final week didn’t feel like the finale, either. There was no climax. It was like all buildup and no payoff.
Myung-yi’s revenge, for example. He keeps going and going yet his last execution stage is never clear…until the live show happens wherein Hwang Sung-rok drops the bomb and Myung-yi reveals Kim Gil-do’s real name. Is that the grand plan? The disclosure isn’t news to Da-hae, so it’s funny how taken aback she is. It’s also strange how unresponsive Gil-do is, when there is no solid evidence to back those bombardments. Is he behaving in front of public eye? Or is he admitting defeat? Nope. Smart Gil-do is smart enough to break free from the police escort and clear himself of all charges. Yeah, the ex-assistant was saved and made a grand return for naught. How refreshing.
Next, the classified document. It was played out to be a big deal yet nobody cared about Congressman So’s corruption. If he hadn’t killed Tae-ha over it, no one would’ve bothered to deal with him. Had young Gil-do not taken it, he wouldn’t have had a lifelong enemy. Wait, so what’s the point of planting that mistress beside Gil-do and luring him into politics? Too many characters are charging forward without proper weapon or tactic that they’re overpowered easily. As a result, there were too many rounds of weak, futile, aimless strikes, which made for a pretty frustrating watch.
Well, i guess i’m done with revenge dramas. They hardly end satisfyingly. The big baddies are defeated a bit too easily and not getting a deserving comeuppance, which make the long wait and extended angst not worth it. Death is too easy a way out for me, yet that’s oftentimes the chosen resolution. Noodles included.
I can’t see why Gil-do is so fearful of Tae-sub when he can easily silence him with a headshot (or four). After all of Tae-ha’s preach about stop blaming his difficult childhood for his monstrous present, Gil-do still holds it against his nemesis for ruining his life 30 years ago. I can’t fathom why the resident monster decides to take his own life either, when the situation isn’t that dire. He lost his current name, a home, all of his money, and a potential future as a politician, but he survives and is free of any charges. Is it simply because he is too old and tired to imitate another persona? The final two face-offs were indeed bloody, but that’s not what i meant by a bloody brawl.
To be fair, Noodles isn’t a bad or boring drama, albeit failing to be a great revenge melodrama as the first half suggested, which is quite a letdown. It is quite consistent from start to finish when it comes to the pacing and characterizations, sometimes stubbornly so. Aforementioned, Tae-ha is all about protecting and taking the fall for his friends till the very end. Yeo-kyung will forever feel indebted to him. Da-hae always arrives a step too late to the scene and is fated to spend the rest of her life sniffing her loved ones’ belongings.
I have no comment on Myung-yi. I felt bad for his tragic past but never feels connected or invested in him. He is most interesting when making noodles, which didn’t happen often enough to offset his boring character, bland acting, or winding revenge journey. I pointed out Chun Jung-myung’s lack of intensity in portraying such a revenge-driven character early on and unfortunately his performance didn’t get better.
While it’s not new for me to like the second male lead better, it’s probably the first time i watched a project where the secondary pairing has more screentime together than the main couple who really seem to friendzone each other. Did i read too much into their interaction in the beginning? Cuz the romance never hit off. That said, in the penultimate scene when Yeo-kyung was stirring the royal pheasant buckwheat noodles, i had this random crazy thought that she’d find a ring there. Heh.
Looking back, Master: God of Noodles really is a drama with ensemble cast. I thought Myung-yi was the lead, but in the end i think Gil-do was a closer match. The story was largely about his. So much so that after his death, the “now what?” feeling was really strong. There wasn’t much epilogue either, though it pained me that no one came to welcome Yeo-kyung back to society. Do you have to show sad release scenes twice, Show? If anything, i approved the closing scene. Time has finally come when eating noodles is a happy thing, and for the foursome to finally reunite and be together and laughing like the good ol’ days…for years to come. That’s my kind of ending and i won’t have it any other way.
Director: Kim Jong-yeon
Production: KBS2, 2016
Cast: Jo Jae-hyun, Chun Jung-myung, Jung Yoo-mi, Lee Sang-yeob, Gong Seung-yeon, Lee Il-hwa, Seo Yi-sook, Jo Hee-bong, Kim Jae-young
Genre: Revenge melodrama, K-drama (20 Episodes)