The resolution to the whole elaborate deception storyline wraps up a lot faster than I was expecting. Before even episode nineteen has finished Min-gyoo and Ji-ah have already said their goodbyes, and episode twenty largely consists of them vigorously making a new start of their lives. Deep down inside Min-gyoo and Ji-ah are still quite lonely though, having become more attached to the master robot relationship than they had ever expected.
It's the perfect conclusion to the first half. Well, at this point it's more like the third fifth, but whatever. I really liked Min-gyoo's sad sense of desperation. Min-gyoo has accepted logically that AZ3 is just a piece of advanced technology. Min-gyoo knows he has to move on with his life, and eventually succeeds in doing so. All the same, Min-gyoo is sad. There's no sense of self-pity, just general loneliness. That Ji-ah feels the same way only emphasizes the strength of their bond.
Emotionally this is all excellent. But I still feel blindsided by the abrupt restructuring of the narrative. Honestly, I was expecting Ji-ah to have to pretend to be a robot right up until the very end. The lack of story development anywhere else made the possibility of other plotlines murky at best. We're only just now finding out what the current relationship is between Yoo-cheol and Min-gyoo. Also, Ri-el is trying on wedding dresses, which seems awfully forward considering her general lack of screentime.
Some better foreshadowing would also have helped. The reference to the Velveteen Rabbit was very on-point, and brought out the stronger fairy tale underpinnings of the story. It's a reference that should have been made a very long time ago. Granted, that might have made the resolution here a little obvious, but up until now I had been annoyed at how the production team had boxed themselves into a corner by giving all the story agency to Baek-gyoon and his ethically questionable robot development project.
By centering the story around Min-gyoo and Ji-ah, and their choices, "I'm Not a Robot" allows them to finally engage in fully sincere character development. It's not clear whether we're going to see much of the real AZ3 going forward. The scene where it appears in front of corporate leadership is omitted entirely. Personally I'd be a lot more interested in watching Min-gyoo and Ji-ah get to know each other again, in a context free of the heretofore story-mandated deception.
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] "I'm Not a Robot" Episodes 19-20"
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