[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Night Watchman's Journal" Episode 22
By William Schwartz | Published on
And in the end, it looks like everything is going to hinge on a magic oboe. Strangely this is not the most ridiculous plot development to show up in "The Night Watchman's Journal". Really, it's not even close to high-ranking. I was somewhat annoyed that most of our information about the oboe came from a msin character's flashback, making it yet another result of information that's been withheld from the audience for no good reason. But at least it's easy enough to understand why the oboe is important.
Anyway, as far as pre-existing plot threads go, Do-ha has to be rescued. And once again, the closest thing anyone has to a guard in this drama is just a sturdy door. This has the unintentionally comic effect of making me wonder why the bad guys are just letting the oboe search go unimpeded, only for them to show up at the most dramatically important moment. Then so does someone else. Then so does someone else. Evidently everyone in this drama is very good at sneaking up on each other. Even literal armies.
At any rate the drama's doing a good job managing coherence. Or maybe by now I've just accepted the various writing flaws on account of being accustomed to them. The plot holes here at least aren't as stupid as they used to be, even if they're oftentimes about as obviously contrived for the sake of screencaps. Note that there's another kiss here that isn't really a kiss at all, designed to solve a problem that came up pretty arbitrarily in the first place.
But then pretty much every problem in this drama has come up arbitrarily. Which might be why I don't mind the magical oboe theory of plot resolution so much. Silly as it is for the drama to pretend like it's been a story point this entire time, there really isn't any other way to convincingly create a solution to the whole problem of the insane king. It's not like there's any sort of organic way to cure his mental illness.
Bear in mind that all of these problems go back to the drama's inception, where character motivations and abilities haven't at all been clearly established. Consequently, we get to a cliffhanger that's pretty much the same as all the others in terms of general manufactured conflict. But manufactured does at least imply a certain amount of forethought as far as the production goes, and again, as long as "The Night Watchman's Journal" can finish passably, no big worries.
Review by William Schwartz
"The Night Watchman's Journal" is directed by Lee Joo-hwan and Yoon Ji-hoon, written by Bang Ji-yeong, Kim Seon-he, Yoo Dong-yoon and features Jung Il-woo, Ko Sung-hee, Yunho, Seo Ye-ji, Yoon Tae-young and Kim Heung-soo.
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. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.