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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 17

2015/09/02 | Permalink

Everybody's plans end up blowing up in their faces. I have to admit, this is a heck of a lot more fun than things going wrong because the characters are passively stupid. Unfortunately Cheol-joong's actions remain unhampered. This is annoying mainly because Cheol-joong isn't really any smarter than any other character. Cheol-joong's only useful asset is the inexplicable loyalty of his minions. I can see the evil vizier turning soldiers against the lawful King for a lot of reasons, but to help out the vampire that keeps snacking on them? Really?

In all fairness the good guys are exercising a rather frustrating no-kill rule here, so I suppose Gwi has the usual element of terror going for him. Although for one brief, glorious instant that ends up not being enough. Remember how no one ever confirmed what would actually happen if a vampire tried to drink Yang-seon's blood? Well, we find out- and while the characters didn't see this coming the turnabout does make sense given what we've heard about Yang-seon's blood in the past.

The sequence of events also ends up giving much better context than usual to Seong-yeol's obligatory brooding. Even granting that the conversation takes place entirely in Seong-yeol's imagination, the arguments posited are good ones. Let's never mind the value of saving humanity for the moment- if Seong-yeol is more effective when he's violent, why does he keep holding himself back? All that's managed to accomplish so far is some rather frustrating stalling in the plot.

And yet then we have the counterargument in the form of Yoon's relationship with Hye-ryeong. There's a strong thread here of forgiveness and trust, and how these are quintessentially human emotions which are completely beyond Gwi's grasp. This does explain to some degree why Gwi is so easily bamboozled- he can't process that any individual character would act in a way not immediately helpful to their personal self-interest.

The material is somewhat interesting. But "Scholar Who Walks the Night" still suffers from flaws in tonal execution, mainly because the allegorical elements are constantly outweighed by the literal ones. I'm going to be extremely irritated if Chang-yeol's henchmen remain perfectly loyal right to the end, because it really does beggar disbelief that they're all so cooperative with all this. Just look at the cliffhanger. These guys have families for pity's sake. Are they really just going to go home and say, yes, I participated in the revolution that deposed our actual King so we could be ruled by a literal blood-sucking monster?

Review by William Schwartz

"Scholar Who Walks the Night" is directed by Lee Seong-joon, written by Jang Hyeon-joo and features Lee Joon-gi, Lee Yoo-bi, Changmin, Lee Soo-hyuk, Kim So-eun, Lee Hyun-woo and more.

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