Apologies for being so late again in reviewing Moonlight (and methinks kooriyuki is still struggling to complete the show…[kooriyuki: nope, finished a long time ago heh]). Not that Moonlight is a boring show or anything, but it had some problems, some of which are intrinsic to the show, while some are not. (such as having other pretty good shows in the wing)
Moonlight starts off being a campy fun, gender-bending rom-com set in the Joseun era. Usually not my cup of tea, if you have been around long enough to hear my anti-sageuk whining. However, the OTP are juz too cute together (visually and vis-à-vis their interactions on screen). It is ALWAYS funny when the girl dons a boy clothes, pretends to be a boy, and fools everyone into thinking she is one. More so when another boy falls in love with “him” and you have the usual denial of sexual inclination. Like “do I like him (her) cos I see him (her) as a brother, or do I really like him (her) romantically?” Call me a sadist, but it’s always fun to see someone (usually the guy) squirming over this BIG question. 😛
Coupled with the hijinks is the unspoken danger of the girl’s real identity being discovered. More so when the girl ends up in a place where it is male dominated and has to stay on her toes to prevent her secret from leaking out. Yes, the whole premise is cliché, and the gender bending rom-com trope usually (or always) follow this path where, for some rather far-fetched reasons, the heroine ends up in a situation which is perilous for her, but funny for us viewers. Moonlight is no exception. Ra-on (who had been living as a boy safely for all of her 18 years) finds herself conscripted into the Palace as a eunuch, and has to live her life among men (ok, “lesser” men, but men nonetheless).
Sadly, the rom-com has to give way to much “larger” things. Which is the main cause of Moonlight’s narrative slowing down. Ra-on’s true identity is discovered alongside the revelation that she is a girl. With that, she no longer becomes a proactive free agent, and more a reactive player. The Ra-on in the earlier half of Moonlight’s narrative, who helps the nobility to craft love letters, and provides for her foster father through creative means is lost. Instead, she becomes Ra-on, the Revolutionary Leader’s Daughter. And sadly, a pawn or thing for the men to battle for.
And sageuk being sageuk, there is the unavoidable Politicking. (Insert YAWN here) Though I muz credit evil Prime Minister for maintaining that Poker Face throughout Moonlight, even when he faces his own death. (I found that weirdly funny) I can’t comment much on Crown Prince Yeong’s clever machinations, cos I had been ffwding through the politics bit (like whenever the Red Robed Grandpas are on screen), but I do feel that the Bad Guys’ endings are kinda muted. Compared to the evil puppetry they have been engaged in for the entire 15eps of Moonlight, their comeuppance is only an episode and a half.
I’d thought Revenge is a dish best served cold…and drawn out?