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[HanCinema's Drama Review] The Queen's Classroom Episode 6

2013/07/08 | Permalink

What happens when a child is trapped in hell and has to make choices? What happens when that child knows she has made the wrong choice? What happens if she doesn't know whether or not she made the right choice? In the case of "The Queen's Classroom", the child sticks by her decision no matter the consequences. In hell, she has to give it her all or perish. To admit an error is fatal.

Such is the case with Na-ri, Ha-na's former best friend and current enemy. To save herself, Na-ri leads the classroom in bullying Ha-na. She coerces Bo-mi into helping her by promising social sanctuary. The more Na-ri's conscience whispers in the back of her mind, the crueler she becomes to drown it out. It's a vicious cycle.

The cycle also pertains to Ha-na, despite the fact that she's battling against Teacher Ma Yeo-jin to help her classmates. The more Ma challenges her to quit fighting, the more the kids torture her, the more Ha-na wants to fight back and stand by her beliefs.

Bo-mi from "The Queen's Classroom" Episode 6

Na-ri and Ha-na illustrate opposite ends of how people react under extreme duress. Although the situation is horrible, I love watching the show test the human psyche. I'm always curious to see how the kids will treat Ha-na and each other. At the same time, though, I hate it. I want the kids to stand up with Ha-na and do the right thing and not to cave to Ma's psychological torture. That, and this show requires a certain mindset. I have to gear myself up to watch it because it's so intense. It makes me anguish alongside the characters and it makes me think about things that I prefer to leave in the recesses of my mind.

Watching Bo-mi, the girl with a disapproving mother, poor grades and very little to lose, is heartbreaking. It's very difficult for her to do anything but side with Teacher Ma and Na-ri. I want to give courage to keep her from helping Na-ri terrorize Ha-na. But, Ma and Na-ri, have the power to keep her afloat in society. But surviving in a cruel world does not assuage her guilt over betraying Ha-na - it deepens it. Bo-mi overhears Na-ri and her lackeys admit that Ha-na was always a good friend to Bo-mi. Afterwards, Bo-mi breaks down into anguished tears. She doesn't know how to deal with the situation; she's been socially trapped by her actions. If she sides with Ha-na as she wants to, she will become the enemy of Ma and Na-ri, two very powerful foes. If she sides with them, she will crumble within. How many of us have experienced that, making the wrong choice because it's the path of least resistance?

Bo-mi's inner turmoil reflects something that all the kids are going through to varying degrees. If they conform, they survive. But the price they pay is losing all sense of self - they become robotic survivors who lose the joys of living. If they fight Ma's classroom tyranny, they are brutally beaten and ostracized, but they can still feel hope. Ha-na realizes this and decides, together with Dong-goo, to fight Ma. They want to show Ma that she is wrong about her teaching philosophy. I love that these kids want to fight and bring humanity back to their teacher and their classmates. And I love that they do it in their own way: pure positivity. The complete opposite of Ma Yeo-jin's fatalistic view of life.

This story is riveting. It's a terrifyingly beautiful character study. Not only that, but the cast is pitch-perfect. Seo Shin-ae as Eun Bo-mi broke my heart. The young actress possesses so much subtlety in her performance. And she's a master of angst. I find that angst is hard for young actors and mediocre adult actors to master. It is an emotion that is often overdone. The other children are wonderful as well. Kim Hyang-gi (Ha-na) has as much charisma as Go Hyun-jung (Ma) and when they are on screen together, the air crackles.

Na-ri and Ha-na from "The Queen's Classroom" Episode 6

When Hyang-gi is on screen with Chun Bo-geun (Dong-goo), I am reminded of my childhood friendships and their earnestness. In this episode, Ha-na pushes Dong-goo away when she really wants to run to him as a friend. After some inward struggle, she finds the strength to apologize to him and they become even closer. It's wonderful watching them fight, go through the stages of anger and guilt, and then coming together to make up. The child actors give their well-written characters life. I'm left marveling at their talent.

I can't neglect the music. It's consistently wonderful. It compliments the mood created by the scene, the actors, and the dialogue, but doesn't overpower it. The OST songs and lyrics don't take away from the moment. The orchestral writing is varied: whimsical at times, and ominous at others. It has a taste of John Williams in the string scoring; especially with the violins.

Another thing that is marvelous about the show is the use of light and shadow. Teacher Ma is almost always in shadow or half back-lit when she is planning something evil or manipulating someone. It makes her seem demonic. At other times, however, when she's discreetly watching the kids laugh or come together, she is standing in full sunlight, observing with a curiously blank expression on her face. It makes her seem almost human. It's at those times I wonder what her backstory is.

This is a character-driven story, but everything about the show contributes to the mood - I love that. It's what makes this a solid watch. I keep coming back to it because I'm dying to see how Ha-na and Ma will do battle, to see if the kids venture further into the dark side, and to hope that they will go to the light.

Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy

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