In a surprising departure for a narrative that so far has not been taking its work seriously, "Jugglers" actually takes the ramifications of Yoon-i and Chi-won kissing and examines them in a professional context. The effect is rather ironic- Yoon-i and Chi-won are acting far more professionally now than they have been since the earliest episodes. The change is much welcomed, since it allows their romance to progress naturalistically rather than be clumsily forced by narrative turnabouts.
Their more restrained behavior also improves the quality of the jokes by quite a bit, counter-intuitive though that may sound. Take the bit where Yoon-i, over the course of normal work as Chi-won's secretary, is briefly taken aback by the appearance of an obviously personal e-mail. Normally Yoon-i would delete it right away, but hesitation spurred by the emotional aftermath of the kiss forces an alternate outcome. But even then, Yoon-i maintains her professionalism, which is funny.
Chi-won's comedy is also vastly improved by his simply staying in character as cool and logical rather than him getting constantly flustered. To the contrary, Chi-won flusters other people by responding in mechanical technical language to speech that is clearly intended to cause an emotional outburst. Choi Daniel is much better at being the straight man than the guy who loses his dignity. Chi-won is good at playing defense, and Yoon-i is good at playing offense. That's the dynamic which makes them work as a couple, and I'm annoyed it took "Jugglers" so long to make this obvious point because it was so busy with generally pointless subplots.
The better subplots, though, remain ongoing. We finally find out what the deal is with Jeong-ae's husband, and yikes! That's actually a lot worse than I was expecting! But it's also perfectly in character. Jeong-ae has always been portrayed as an extremely kind-hearted idiot with no understanding of social context. Her true circumstances explain both how Jeong-ae got into this situation, and also why she's unable to get out of it.
It also helps that Bo-yool is also an extremely kind-hearted idiot with no understanding of social context. It's just, Bo-yool's life experiences took him to a place where these are not necessarily bad qualities. The best part is that Bo-yool can very sincerely appreciate Jeong-ae's hard work, and even express that to her directly. What might normally seem inappropriate instead comes off as very sincerely sweet, and exactly the kind of encouragement Jeong-ae needs.
Review by William Schwartz
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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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jugglers" Episode 9"
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