I confess: I dozed off watching the last leg of Emergency. Not juz the penultimate and the last eps, but starting from the point where Chang-min’s dad passed away. To be fair, the show has its share of cuteness (and who can resist Choi Jin-hyuk? or Song Ji-hyo?) but there are glaring potholes that could have been avoided with maybe tighter script writing and other stuff…
1) I’d to assume this…I’d to guess that…
I’d commented before that Chang-min and Jin-hee have much more work to do before they can patch up and become friends or even lovers again. Cos their fallout is spectacularly ugly, and the terrible mother-in-law still has tunnel vision wrt her son’s “future”. The show probably recognises these issues too, but since it is constrained by 16eps, it decides to do the bullet train version of resolving issues — by providing the usual catalyst of having someone close die and everyone suddenly having epiphanies. Not that I am against using that mechanism as a turning point for shows. In fact, if dealt well, death of a prominent figure in a plot can be a virtual slap in the face for other characters in a story.
And that’s where the show doesn’t perform very well. Chang-min’s dad is important, yes…but the show hasn’t develop him enough as a central figure that engages the audience. Most of the time, we don’t even see him on screen. (count the times we see terrible mother-in-law versus nice father-in-law, and you will see my point) So, although we know he is the more “rational” of Jin-hee’s in-laws and his “live and let live” outlook is a perfect foil to his wife’s cut-throat, materialistic world views, the show doesn’t let us in on his point-of-view. For examples: he tolerates his hysterical wife but keeps her at arm’s length…and we are made to assume he kinda loves her (??). He hasn’t communicated with his estranged son, and we also don’t know why they are not on talking terms…did something happened or Chang-min juz blames his dad for walking out on the family? And he backs Jin-hee to redeem his wife’s cruelty — as assumed by his wife after his death. Most of what we learn about him are from other characters’ opinions, not what we know of him.
Given the disengagement Chang-min’s dad has with the show, it is very hard for me to accept that he is an important character and his death is catalytic enough for the 180 degrees change in the other pivotal characters. Especially Chang-min’s mum. Her rationality and niceness towards Jin-hee and her mum come across as disconcerting as her sudden preference for nude makeup and toned down dress sense. Given that less than a few episodes ago, she is bugging him to divorce her and screaming at him like a hyena for his lack of concern towards the family.
Chang-min too, suddenly regresses (or grows up?) and backs off completely from Jin-hee, refusing to acknowledge all forms of romantic gestures from her. When less than 1ep ago, he is hell bent on getting her to love him back. Ok, the show does try and explain this change in Chang-min by giving us previous scenes of Ji-hye counselling him to cool his heels and let Jin-hee choose this time round. But Chang-min’s maturity after his dad’s death still comes across as very abrupt and more like a withdrawal than a character progression.
This is wholley my pov, but I see the chemistry between Song Ji-hyo and Choi Jin-hyuk as being more friends than lovers. The pair does have much fun on- and off-screen playing couple, but there’s just some X-factor lacking. And I am comparing their on-screen romance with Star’s Cheong Song-yi (Jeon Ji-hyeon)/ Do Min-joon (Kim Soo-hyun) or even Sly’s Cha Jung-woo (Joo Sang-wook)/ Na Ae-ra (Lee Min-jung). These pairs have on-screen romance that sizzles and pops (regardless of age gap), and I root for them to unite. Whereas, in Chang-min/ Jin-hee’s case, I am really quite blase and can’t care less whether they make up or stay apart.
Suffice to say, I won’t be nominating Chang-min/ Jin-hee for “Best Couple Award”, if there is ever one.
1) Second leads that are (gasp) human!
This is one of those shows where you root for the second leads. The other show being Reply Me 1994 (Chil-bongie!) What both shows have in common is to pull away from the usual kdrama trope, where the second (usually female) lead plays dirty and uses all means to break up the OTP. Even Han Ah-reum, who meets the requirements for playing the annoying second (female) lead, doesn’t resort to using her family status and Chang-min’s mum favour over her to break up Chang-min and Jin-hee. Instead, she gracefully accepts that Chang-min still likes Jin-hee and backs off — like a NORMAL, RATIONAL human.
Even Cheon-soo, is unlike the usual pro-active and super gentle + sensitive male second lead. He moves like a
tortoise snail in Emergency when it comes to playing suitor. Which is an irony, given that he is all actions and decisions when he is playing doctor. Although he does have a gentle side beneath that gruff grizzly exterior, it is far from making us swoon over him.
The most interesting second (or third?) lead is Ji-hye. Her previous romantic relationship with Cheon-soo is revealed right from the start, and she stands a very good chance to divert Cheon-soo’s attention away from Jin-hee. (and we know Cheon-soo still has a soft spot for her too) She chooses to take the neutral bystander position in the love triangle (square?), counselling Chang-min/ Jin-hee, and generally plays down her feelings for Cheon-soo in order that he learns how to recognise his own feelings towards Jin-hee. And then in her own quiet way, she gently woos Cheon-soo. Lending him a listening ear when he needs one and even a lap to lie on when he is depressed. In many ways, she takes on the typical (supportive) second male lead’s role. Thankfully, she doesn’t get the doomed ending that comes with the second male leads’ territory. Cheon-soo eventually acknowledges and reciprocates (some!) her feelings, insisting she returns after her trip to the States.
2) Wacky Ji-hyo
I’ll never see Running Man‘s Song Ji-hyo again in the same light after her epic performance in Emergency. And I meant “epic” as in epic-ally hilarious. In one scene, she dresses up in red heels, a long jacket, sunglasses and a stalk of red rose between her teeth — before walking up to Chang-min’s car and nearly giving him a heart attack. (chang-min’s popped eye look really mirrored mine). I very nearly thought she is turning flasher…luckily she doesn’t. And in the last ep, she literally de-robed and does a mock strip tease in a sexy red nightie, teasing Chang-min who is pawing desperately at the balcony’s glass doors to get to her. (bwahaha)
I know Song Ji-hyo is anything but demure, after seeing her regularly whack her team mates over the heads in RM, but those two scenes really had me do a double take. 0_O