With barely any dialogue or overt signaling, this episode almost immediately gives us a clear answer as to who Min-Joon is in the context of an alien visiting Earth. We then get an excellent outsider's view on what Joseon-era Korea looks like. My compliments to director Jang Tae-Yoo- he clearly understands the importance of visual communication. It's especially relevant considering at this point it's unclear how much of the Korean language Min-Joon actually understands. But the situations are enormously transparent regardless.
We also get a good idea as to why Min-Joon doesn't use his powers to help people. This information is conveyed to the viewer with that very same sense of subtlety. "My Love from the Star" isn't exactly a cynical drama, but it makes no effort to sugar-coat anything with sunshine and optimism. It's hard to imagine any serious change Min-Joon could have made to better alter the course of history, but it's extremely easy to guess the kind of miserable situation he'd be in if his abilities were detected.
Meanwhile, in the present day Song-I is still working on being unlikable. The scheme involving the school follows the same predictable trajectory as everything else she's done so far. The criticism of image culture "My Love from the Star" brings here isn't particularly original, but it's funny and the parallel to Song-I's own issues is an obvious one. Min-Joon seems to have decided that showing contempt for everyone is just too much work, but he's absolutely willing to respond in kind when someone's dumb enough to try and bamboozle him directly.
One of the aspects that does a lot to emphasize Song-I's low ethical position is the company she keeps. It's not that they're bad people, necessarily, but they constantly enable Song-I regardless of how much utter contempt she shows for them. There's a great scene where Hwi-Kyeong (played by Park Se-jin-I) immediately assumes that Song-I is the victim in an unusual situation, and the absurdity of his aggressive defense is palpable. Does Song-I strike anyone as the kind of person a predator would want to victimize?
It's honestly a pretty good racket she has going. With only the most mimimum effort, Song-I has access to nigh-unlimited fame and glory. She has an entire team of people dedicated to protecting her without question. And even if someone did want to take a shot at Song-I, the woman's so acerbic and unpleasant that the entire exercise would quickly become more trouble than it's worth. And yet, funny thing, she's still not happy. If there's any modern example of the uselessness of magic powers used to help a person with basically rotten motivations, Song-I is it.
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] "My Love from the Star" Episode 2"
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