The final three episodes of "Somehow 18" were rather shorter than I expected, considering how all of the middle ones had made such a point of running in two parts. "Somehow 18" had even gone to the trouble of introducing an extraneous sub-plot in the form of a romance between Kyeong-hwi's older sister and his idiot friend. But here? The conclusion is just a big date and finally, the true circumstances behind Na-bi's suicide. These were predictable, obviously, although part of the story's point is that mere predictability isn't enough to effect meaningful change.
The wrap-up is quite poetic along those lines, at least. For awhile I thought "Somehow 18" was going to do an infinite time loop but no, the blocking of events past and present coupled with Kyeong-hwi's emergency letter insure that we don't get into that kind of mind-bending territory. Which is just as well. "Somehow 18" is a romance, after all, not creepy science fiction, even if the epilogue does imply further continuity.
For all that well-scripted poetry, though, I still feel a little let down by "Somehow 18". The problems are mainly structural. The story is about movie length, but all ten episodes taped together are rather longer than that. There are nowhere near enough plot twists and dramatic beats to justify such a large number of cliffhangers. "Somehow 18" has not benefited from its stilted format- although admittedly, now that it's finished and can be watched in a single sitting that's not so big an issue.
On the flip side, if "Somehow 18" is considered more as a traditional television drama, it is obviously way too short. There are definitely enough potential subplots to justify an extension. We only get glimpses of the dozen or so supporting cast members through scenes that are most directly relevant to Na-bi's own character growth or Kyeong-hwi's dramatic plot discoveries. Considering these people have their own very distinct motivations, the lack of proper character focus feels like a missed opportunity.
Mind, I don't think too harshly of the production team for these problems. I imagine that writer Yoo Soo-ji originally conceived of "Somehow 18" as either a movie or a television drama and had to change the concept accordingly because the web drama outbranch of JTBC was the only company willing to fund the project. And even in this format, "Somehow 18" works quite well. I'm just a little disappointed, I guess, that it couldn't be more than that.
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] "Somehow 18" Episodes 8-10 Final"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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