Finally completed this one, as for while I felt like I was driving in rush hour during construction – so much stop and go. At some points I guess I wasn’t fully engaged, which is odd considering I am obsessed with this time period. Like for seriously I have possibly read too much Holocaust literature, and now seen roughly 40 hours worth of Japanese Occupation material. Still I always know by the time the credits roll my body will be a huddled mass recreating Gravity‘s famous shot.
Which is why this concept grabbed me from the onset: rom-com hijinks set in Japanese-occupied Korea. Sounds perfect especially following the last drama I saw set at this time.
And heads up, comparisons between the two may take place, but spoilers shouldn’t be a concern. Now there was plenty of things to enjoy about this drama, well namely three:
- Kang Ji-Hwan (move over Seung-Gi, I may have a new Oppa to fantasize)
- Han Go-Gun’s performance as courtesan turned underground agent of the resistance Song Woo
- The Glow in the Dark Murder
Starting with KJW, I’ve been wanting to watch him in a drama for a while, but he seems to be having a streak similar to Yoon Eun Hye in picking projects that end with a meh in both critical consensus and ratings. (Tried watching Lie to Me with both actors and couldn’t finish, but if you have any KJH projects you’ve enjoyed please let me know!) So for this reason alone I am joyous to have seen Capital Scandal, if only to witness him pulling off such vibrant clothing selections.
As for number 2. What is it about Japanese occupation dramas and finally giving the 2nd lead female meaty material? Seriously, all non-lead actress should just go purely method at auditions. Get a prop gun, hanbock, and flapper dress, brush up on your Japanese, work on your covert espionage and boom – drama magic. Doesn’t matter if it’s a contemporary drama set at high school, this seems to be the perfect formula for fully formed female characters so spread forth and multiply!
Han Go Eun gave her character justice, which is tough to do considering how awesome Cha Song-Woo was. Never was this more evident as when she gave a shooting demonstration for the newbies, and y’all it was totally gangsta in a way Steve Carrell would appreciate.
Before I go any further can say how much I loved their relationship. Because as Wan said himself, they were platonic soul mates, and each scene with them really packed a punch. In fact, if I had finished this drama earlier, they would have been a strong contender for my Alt-couples list.
Now, favorite sequence hands down was the first mission shown, hence forth called operation glowing watch of doom.
Here Han Ji-Min‘s character nervously asked for the time from the target (and future corpse). Everything from the direction, to the reactions, and even the score made me fully engrossed, on pins and needle, and by the end of the episode throughly impressed.
Now that the pleasantries are out of the way, let’s get down to some scandals this drama suffered from. Acting wise Han Ji-Min, was fine, and certainly not Mok-Dan bad, but the actress has been much better in other projects. My real issue stems from this guy, actors name is Ryu-Jin but imma gonna call his character Stone Face Magee. I know Stone face was a secret agent so suppressing his emotions is apart of the gig, but come on, this went beyond any character plausibility especially when we the audience were meant to believe that miss courtesan super spy Song-Woo has been in love with him for decades, even though she thinks him the enemy. All I can say is she must really like comforters that have been caught in rainstorms because he is such a wet blanket. In fact let’s trying recreating some of his reactions to the more momentous events his character goes through.
- Wan (KJW) confronts him about his brother’s death
- Stone face gives out orders to the Japanese police.
- Stone face reveals to Song-Woo that he is head of the resistance.
- Stone face plays hopscotch with Yeo-Kyung (HJM)
- It’s revealed that he/it did not betray Wan’s brother after all.
- Robot reconnects with Song-Woo; have a night of supposed “passion”
- Song Woo and Robot stone man are surrounded by police where she sacrifices herself so he can continue the cause.
8. Sir Robot finally has a moment to himself following the stand-off and its after-math, so as the music swells, the montages begin…and here is the result.
He tried so hard at emoting this time guys, unfortunately all I’m feeling from him is that he has somehow aged himself 20 years instantaneously, which is pretty impressive in an of itself, so I guess, pass?
Another actor who has oft been the bane of my drama watching experience, took a turn in this series that I was not emotionally or mentally prepared for… So with that let’s talk about Ahn Seok-Hwan. For those uninitiated, you must be a drama newb, because I believe the ratio for dramas I have seen that ASH has been in is around 1 in 3. Now he often plays characters on the opposing side of good, but this is not my reasoning. See, in my opinion Seok-Kwan graduated with some BS from the school of mediocre performing, majoring in overacting, with emphasis on wild eyes, and a minor in mustache twirling. (No one can say he isn’t a busy boy).
So upon his (unexpected) arrival in the Capital, groans were elicited. SECRET CONFESSION TIME! for some reason that eludes me, his character had this nervous exasperation coupled with total incompetence that… worked for me. It makes little sense, he is still playing a character right out of ASH book of EVillllness, playing a Japanese head of security. Maybe it’s because his face doesn’t seem quite as punchable this time round (stick with short hair Ahn), in fact I almost hate saying this, but I found him …. charming dare I say decent looking?!? My hypothesis is that this was early enough into his career that he hadn’t yet found his exaggerated smarm frequency that’s so recognizable today. The best example I can give has to do with racquetball so feel free to skip this paragraph.
When I first started playing, I was trying all these various techniques and styles that I would pick up from opponents just to see what I could do that wouldn’t make me suck eggs. After an extended break from the game of rackets, I came back to it having muscle memory from only the most steadfast of motions I had used, thus I mainly focused on those specific shots and kinda forgot everything else. Thus concludes Muenchabench’s overreaching racquetball metaphor.
Not So Quick Hits
- Apologies for the uncultured language above, but mother of pearl did those last couple of episodes get dark. I really should have learned from Gaksital, but everything was so happy and bright for most of it, before all the death. I mean seeing the reunited lovers (do robots love though? Question for another day.) at a stand-off where she forcibly shoots him, and Stone Face allows about 17 billion bullets to riddle her body. Crazy Sauce. Then the next episode they break the cardinal rule of killing, and knock off the poor traitor kid. But fear not, as they made sure to tell him his sister was already dead right before he bites the dust. Ya know, for peace of mind. This reminds me of another wartime tale, the WWII Jude Law film Enemy at the Gates where a Russian kid polishes some Nazi guy’s shoes, and when Nazi guy finds out the kid isn’t throwing swastika parties down at Fort Fascism, he has him hanged. I saw this when I was 12, and had nightmares for weeks. Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself…
- Also, for being a super secretive underground organization, they kinda suck. I mean how many times did someone ask “where is that sweaty nervous kid?”, only to be hand waved off by saying the boy was what – trying to find himself?
- Along with that, for a group trying to spur revolution, their numbers were hilarious, was it really only 3-4 people apart of the organization before the main characters got involved? Oh yeah, the last mission showed a few others whom I had never seen before. Reminds me of anytime there is a wedding in a television series, and suddenly people are showing up as bridesmaids who come out of nowhere. Monica has friends other than Rachel and Phoebe? Must have missed those episodes…Does make me appreciate Gaksital even more in hindsight, as at the time I was always furiously checking AsianWiki to keep up with the ever rotating cast of characters. But at least I believed that there were underground factions trying to spur rebellion, and not just healthy-eater hair gel man constantly whispering to Han Go Eun.
- I’ve discussed the newly found awesomeness of Kang Ji-Hwan, but haven’t yet mentioned how great his character was. Wan was fantastic, and his transition from bored playboy, to daring revolutionary was stark but believable, partly because he always retained his essential cheeky Wan-ness. For example take this eulogy to healthy eater/hair gel guy (also called Chu Geun-Deok) – “Even though he was surrounded by girls everyday he never went on a date once. You must be in a better place.” Oh Wan.
- Everytime the three stooges (aka newspaper crew) showed up, I couldn’t help but thinking how much this needed to be musical. Perhaps it’s because a lot of musicals/plays have this sort of heightened acting style that Capital Scandal utilizes, but similarly also seem to take a darker turn in the third act (according to the three plays I’ve seen). Plus how fun would the songs be? They already have that great swing track, with plenty of room for a boozy Jazz ballad by Song-Woo, classic showtunes from Larry, Curly, and Moe, and plenty of Kang Ji-Hwan dancing.
My Weird List of Drama Commonalities (Explained here)
|Period-Japanese Occ.||opening credits||hybrid hodgepodge||Let’s Get Political|
|The good parent||killing me softly||wtf ending||idol acting|
Ratings (personal rating/overall quality)
7 plain black and white hanboks,7.5 neon shirt-vest combos