…or tweaking, or whatever Introverted crew has done over the Lunar New Year weekend. Cos I suddenly find myself actually looking forward to Introverted, when its debut and following 2eps had irked me off so much I wanted to shelve watching it.
Since most viewers’ gripes are on Ro-woon and her initial brainless meddling (under the guise of “investigating her unni’s death”), her character undergoes a major mellowing from late ep5 onwards. Maybe it was originally in the narrative – after all, Ro-woon needs to start working under Hwan-ki before she sees that he isn’t the monster she (and everyone) thought he was. Whatever the case, I find the transition from Past and Present Ro-woon to be pretty smooth and believable.
While Ro-woon drops several notches on her “extraversion”, Hwan-ki scales up from his “introversion”. Previously, I was annoyed with Introverted’s definition of “introversion”, which borders more on sociophobia instead of juz “shyness”. But the Hwan-ki from ep6 tends to remove his hood more frequently to communicate with other people and is visibly less of a psychiatric case. Again, I am not sure whether the re-writings of these characters are major, cos the narrative progression in eps5/6 gives us a big reveal into Hwan-ki’s background, Ji-hye’s suicide and how everything ties together to give Hwan-ki some form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) that may have caused him to retreat into his hoodie shell semi-permanently.
As of eps7/8, I find myself beginning to root for the OTP. Like Heart to Heart, Introverted has 2 assumed polarized characters that learn to lean and leverage on each other strengths. Ro-woon, being naturally more of the communicator, is the typical extravert who is able to react fast on her feet, but has a drawback of not thinking through an issue carefully enough. She begins to appreciate Hwan-ki’s in-depth analysis of situations, which is a great help in both honing her natural presentation skills and training her to look at people below the superficial level.
Hwan-ki too, benefits from Ro-woon’s warmth, which is helping to draw him out from his little corner. Thanks to her, he is taking baby steps in communicating to others on what he feels and thinks, instead of assuming (for the worst) that they won’t care or will take his intentions wrongly. (actually, I think Hwan-ki is a pessimist-introvert, and not juz merely introverted) In fact, Hwan-ki is learning not to over-think situations (which cause him to freeze in inaction), and to plunge in and enjoy the moment. Hilariously, even as Hwan-ki visibly (to us at least) stops his cartoonish what-ifs, maybes, and maybe-nots, his Silent Monster staffers end up over-thinking on his behalf. Like when he snaps his pen knife close to initiate a conversation during meeting, his staff think he is annoyed with them, and leave the table immediately. (lol) And then in ep8, Hwan-ki daydreams of his staff dunking him in the pool – Ro-woon thinks he may not like it, and it didn’t happen, even we KNOW though her boss is looking forward to it. (pwahaha)
Besides the OTP, I am not sure if Introverted rewrote other characters. In particular, Woo-il. I admit, I can’t stand him initially. From the onset, he is very much the pin up poster boy for the Extraverts. He exudes warmth, is approachable, able to carry himself professionally, and is born for the spotlight. However, his constant touchy-feely approach to female colleagues really puts me off. Especially when Introverted started suggesting in eps3/4 that he harbours some form of desire to usurp Hwan-ki’s position in the workplace and at home.
As the narrative progresses though, I begin to sympathise with Woo-il more often than hate him. The impression of him unfairly claiming credit for Hwan-ki’s efforts is gradually replaced with indignation at how he is treated by Hwan-ki’s family. In fact, if we are to finger point at whose “fault” it is for turning Hwan-ki into a recluse and Woo-il into Hwan-ki’s disgruntled frenemy, it’d be Hwan-ki’s dysfunctional family, in particular Hwan-ki’s father. He is the ONLY person I really dislike in Introverted, considering that previous works by the same writer have given me mainly likeable, if not sympathetic, characters. Chairman Eun is downright disgusting. I really have doubts he is Hwan-ki’s biological father, considering how verbally and mentally abusive he is. His rampage in Hwan-ki’s office (ep5) in front of Hwan-ki’s staff is demoralizing even for the strongest of characters, more so when Hwan-ki is by nature ultra-sensitive. And his treatment of Woo-il? Chairman Eun sees Woo-il no better than a slave he bought, and expects the same servitude from Woo-il.
So it is no wonder that Woo-il resents Chairman Eun, and by extension, Hwan-ki. Cos Chairman Eun constantly reminds Woo-il that he is for Hwan-ki to “use” (never mind that they are friends), and at the same time, Woo-il is to act as Chairman Eun’s spy and general shit-cleaner, cos he is supposed to be so “indebted” to Chairman Eun that he should do everything Chairman Eun instructs. Disgusting, max. Mdm Park (Hwan-ki’s mum), is no different. Although not as verbally caustic as Chairman Eun, she carelessly reminds Woo-il of his “poor background”, and how “fortunate” he is that Yi-soo likes him enough to make him “part of the family”. It gives me the impression that Woo-il sold himself to Yi-soo as a male consort of some kind. (yuk)
Yi-soo too, appears to be quite deranged. On the surface, she is a bubbly, loveable type of girl and a sunshine sister to Hwan-ki (she is the only reason he can tolerate facing his parents)…but her blatant ignoring of Woo-il’s disinterest in her is bordering on possessiveness and psychosis. I kinda fear her wilful blind eye at Woo-il’s flirting with Ji-hye and now, Ro-woon, is a kind of self-mutilation. Juz like Hwan-ki hiding behind his hoodie, Yi-soo hides behind that angelic bright image she has built up for herself.
One thing for sure, Writer-nim hasn’t lost touch on character build-up. Our 4 main characters show plenty of promise at being more than 2D, cardboard types.