The drama almost manages to approach an interesting conflict here, in a brief conversation where Seul-bi questions Woo-hyeon's apparently unshakable resolve when it comes to just resenting his mother forever. After that, though, "High School - Love On" continues to push into contrived territory. I'm not even sure what the conflict is supposed to be at this point. Problems manifest and get solved so quickly that it's hard to tell which plot points we were supposed to be paying attention to.
Additionally, what explanations we do get tend to be fairly lacking. Seul-bi comes up with a theory for why her old superior officer keeps using angel magic to pettily harass her friends. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I'll admit that "High School - Love On" has gotten decent mileage out of the whole people-act-like-jerks-for-no-reason thing, but at this point the whole shtick is just tiring. It also isn't improved by having them turn into somewhat nice people just as arbitrarily.
Joo-ah's character arc at least manages to maintain some general coherency. She's mad about being shut out of her old social circles, such that even when someone acts nice Joo-ah insists on getting all pouty. It is, unfortunately, a bit of a self-referencing problem here because the main reason no one pays in-depth attention to Joo-ah is because there's all this other stuff going on. Most of which has little to do with characterization and is, consequently, rather dull.
Let's take the magic hand symbol. What's the point? Not literally- from a narrative perspective. What does the hand symbol do in terms of the storyline that helps to propel character development? As far as I can tell nothing. Every so often it forces Seul-bi to act awkwardly in a scene, or just run off to somewhere else entirely. But in terms of moving the plot forward? Building actual conflict? The hand symbol impedes forward story progress far more than it enables anything useful.
Take the cliffhanger as another read off of that point. Of all the things Seul-bi and Woo-hyeon could do right now, getting sick really isn't a particularly encouraging direction. The amount of interesting stuff they can while bedridden is pretty limited. Well, I guess it might at least prevent them from running away for their problems. Which, potentially, could mean that the next episode's story movement is based around actual heart-to-heart conversations rather than arbitrary storyline events. That's what I'm hoping for anyway.
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] "High School - Love On" Episode 17"
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