Watching "Goblin" is a lot like watching a dream. I don't mean that in a good way. I mean that while the transitions make sense on a scene by scene basis, every time I try to step back and figure out what's happening, I get a little lost trying to figure out how and why the characters got to where they are. The Grim Reaper and Sunny have a more intense relationship now that they don't actually know each other (?), and I'm pretty much with Sunny on how weirdly and inexplicably overbearing the Goblin is this episode.
In all fairness the big overriding theme here is past lives. It's just...I don't know, I think I'm kind of overloaded with supernatural worldbuilding at this point. We're still not all that sure what the Goblin's curse even is, so it's hard to tell whether or not Sunny's spiritual history is actually relevant to the plot or whether it's just another excuse to make jokes about how none of the characters in this drama have any apparent social skills.
I am somewhat intrigued by the ability of Gong Yoo and Kim Go-eun to make their inherently creepy relationship seem kind of wholesome. But for every point "Goblin" wins when it comes to unexpectedly good chemistry, it loses some with bizarre plot hooks like Eun-tak discovering the additional incentive to solve the Goblin's curse, then running out almost immediately to do something reckless and dangerous for no good reason.
All right, all right, technically that wasn't Eun-tak's fault and she is an idiot teenager after all. But then, it feels like I make an awful lot of excuses for "Goblin". Half the cast in "Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" is made up of idiot teenagers, yet they come off as charming and likable because their actions have an approporiate sense of scale. On a regular basis, Eun-tak gambles with her own life never learning from past experience.
Once more "Goblin" is less explicitly bad as it is so bizarre as to be difficult to criticize. Take Sunny's restaurant, which apparently has a second floor (?) and also has busy hours when the whole joke before was that the place was always abandoned. "Goblin" makes sense as long as I don't try to put it in proper perspective. I mean really, those Goryeo scenes are pretty slick, even if they're mostly irrelevant. But that irrelevance factor, that's what gnaws at me.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goblin" Episode 11"
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