After the usual moping...egads what is it with "Scholar Who Walks the Night" and excessive moping? Even in the final episode it feels like hardly a minute can go by before one character starts going on about the need to make sacrifices for the greater good. And as before, this discussion is less an essential thematic need so much as it is the writing team just stalling for time because this drama doesn't actually have that much plot to get through. I do wish "Scholar Who Walks the Night" had been shorter and punchier- that's where most of its strengths are anyway.
Take Gwi as an example. After his unexpected breakdown last episode, Gwi is left thinking less about the greater evil and more wondering why he bothered to go to all this trouble in the first place. Gwi's entire claim to power at this point is just that the palace guards are shortsighted idiots. Gwi in general has lost all patience with short-sighted idiots- and it occurs to me this is probably the main reason he kills. Gwi just really hates toadying.
But Gwi's character alone isn't enough to save "Scholar Who Walks the Night". While the continuity is decent it remains consistently goofy. Seong-yeol still has laundry issues. And the sunset and sunrise happen so quickly as to barely even be noticable. I imagine director Lee Song-joon just wanted to get one quick nighttime scene into the drama, even if the placement makes no sense given the context of the dialogue.
The positive parts? Well, the costumes are pretty good. As well as the voices. I really am disappointed that more wasn't done with Yang-seon's character on a substantative level. Lee Yoo-bi certainly puts energy enough into her performances, and goodness knows the woman looks great wearing traditional Korean clothing. It seems somewhat unfair that Lee Yoo-bi wasn't able to score a more important role given the drama's pedigree.
Although really, "pedigree" might be going a bit too far in this context. "Scholar Who Walks the Night" was and always has been a fusion Joseon-era vampire romance. As ridiculous as the concept is I can hardly criticize the drama for having a ridiculous concept. It's not like the production team was keeping it a secret. Even so I feel ambiguous about "Scholar Who Walks the Night" overall. The drama never really got bad enough to qualify as a failure, but I hesitate to call it a success.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 20 Final"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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