This is shaping up to be my best written…drama of 2016.
The breathtaking meticulous focus to cohesiveness, I could not find a flaw and trust me I desperately want to because I could not love this more. The story is flowing, yes predictably, but along with it sensibly, steadily, purposefully it is comforting and satisfying when we have forgotten the anticipation, that sweetness of sitting back and enjoying the finesse of a story unfolding at all the right beats so understandable, thus maddeningly relatable. It does not even stray a hair of earnest control falling into pitfalls of sensationalized dramatics, which even as brilliant a writer as WriterNoh is in my mind, did not escape, however inconsequential in her latest back to form Dear My Friends. Every seemingly trivial scene, any character building block, are versing, conversing and contributing in some greater poetry in composition we may not be aware till its poignant exposition, but never a scene too soon wasting any line, nor a drop less of impact. I have no use for pleasant surprise, twists and turns when they are in the way of rhyme and reason. Rhyming to this level of beautiful precision, with this passionate attention to every detail thinkable (and much appreciated) but more often beyond my imagination, keeping up this uncalled for quality for every character, every scene, and now 12 episodes and counting…for a genre unnecessary delivering a hit…I had never kissed any cutest thing turning into such perfect prince.
Most organically preserving the sweet innocence the OTP romances, but more mesmerizing is how every character is evolving layer by layer. There is no senseless evil, everything committed by these carefully drawn characters make sense in their position. There is very little pushing and shoving after the love confession to catalyze the romance to new heights, but writer builds these wonderful characters, confident in letting them just love. How they love each other have little lofty illusion, but the heightened keen aware and an insatiable urge to understand and ruminate and care for the other, like anyone would, falling madly in love…and as their wit and observant nature allow them to connect through a deepening understanding, that is how their romance flourishes and speaks to me often needless of words and gestures.
Just as I am so madly in love with drama, I have a amplified attention to tiniest flicks and flutters with my rosy fan lens…but when characters themselves are as obviously attentive to every beat and holding it so dearly in their mind, expressing their love building on every moment they consciously notice how they are themselves falling in love…it is speechlessly romantic. I am so lost for word even as the babbling idiot.
We saw a moment of Prince’s falling… how he missed Samnom, the visual of her ink-smudged face, so passionate in her own whimsical hobby of writing/drawing, constantly haunting him in his study. Not passing even me that moment he is waking up with SamNom dazed by his vision, the smitten escaping from her, and he pokes that exact soul enlightening spot on her forehead through the translucent headband.
And here she is, a quiet nondescript moment, captivating his very attention, immersed in her writing, and he must’ve lost himself in that dear moment, connecting with his former self, playing a seemingly bratty prank at the test, forcing her to ink every correct dot, coercing her to be by his side…how destiny played him a most wonderful hand, and how his faith in them had crystallized his dream, shaping their fate, this very moment.
We saw the Prince echoing his action as if this is just a prank, then immediately taken aback when RaOn expresses a bit of annoyance at his silly and he holds back all of his swagger, a bit shy delivering his point across. The point of ink is like his Bindi on her Ajna, a blessing, an adoration of her perceptive intellect. She is his one and only right choice in life. Whether RO connects all his heart fluttering references, that is still a smile she clearly gets the point.
Another brilliance in writing is Prince is never a moment not savvy in putting their romance to most advantageous ‘use’. I am anticipating weary of the irrational overwhelming emotions overriding judgment, but even when navigating the coded sly words of Eunuch Han, whom like all characters are written exceptionally convincing along with Minister Kim where his every word has an extra sheen of purposeful calculation. Eunuch Han is masterfully exposing just enough truth to get Prince off suspicion with he has a debt to pay RO’s Mom, very plausible, but kudos to Prince’s quick wit time and time again, he plays up this revelation to his advantage, Han must now takes RO under his wing not per crude command, but for the sake of Mom, another reassurance for himself yet not disclosing more of his own affection, while never missing a beat caring for RO.
I marveled at how a very predictable, to the point I almost cringe in advance, scene of RO being exposed AGAIN as a girl, in taboo dalliance with Prince, to the shenanigans of Queen with very probably evidence is still upstaged by Prince exerting a much more uncompromising authoritative stance adhering the strict imperial propriety, feeding Queen her own vitriol daring her pregnant self, crudely put a vessel of a Joseon’s future, to exert herself into such taboo of stripping and touching a man’s bode in this full wrought view. It is out of protecting RO for the Nth time, yes, but he is making the most to profess a direr warning, this time not even feigning impish smirk, to Queen with her repeated instigations, using RO to extrapolate to ALL his persons are under his command and his only. He is Crown Prince, now King’s Regent first and foremost, RO, like the rest of his staff are out of her bounds reminding Queen of her station below his, thus in turn protecting RO even more tactfully. I love Eunuch Han putting himself to use on the promise at the nick of time, but I am sure his words would be as effectively rephrased by Prince if situation escalates sizing Queen against the validity of the eunuch appointment system which her own minion is responsible for. I am lost for words how in a romance, we have the luxury to witness the making of a future King in such lovely subtle strides.
Prince did not reveal himself to lantern girl…till he earns his footing after effectively bettering the life of his citizen, even just two, fulfilling her wish, reaffirming their promise: she as a witness to his hopeful, future better Joseon.
Like most fans, it took me more time to reflect RO’s passiveness is exactly what a wise streetsmart young lady should carry herself, especially when very mindful of Prince in any harm’s way because of her. She is a lowly eunuch, one sound back at Queen actually provides Q with ammunition against the point Prince is making…he can not properly control his staff and it is his ‘Mother’s’ place to step in. Whenever I have doubts about RO, it dissipates as I mull on her action or lack there of, as very sound, any other option is not truly one when it cracks how she has been carrying herself, warily surviving, tiptoeing obstacles, social norms. Her expression of love takes up a much tenderer,wistful, resonating tone than Prince’s forwardness, it is less obvious, but never less stirring.
Prince was trying to poke her to speak out about the worry on her mind, inviting him to step in, caring for her, assuming it is about her Mom, pouting what weighs more on her mind than paying him attention. RO stokes exactly his soft spot by asking him to be the sweet boyfriend, escorting her back to her confines. Prince can only get more naively lovesick when even that seems like her veiled excuse to spend as much time with him under the moonlight going back and forth their quarters.
Unimaginable resolve it must takes RO, because of her tremendous love for him, she is holding in emotions with her soothing smile, his words speaking her worst dread, yet proceeding with her sweet persuasion of his Royal Wedding after a harmless trap driving home her point of how simple their love can be…the joy of him saying RaOn, and he could see her at utterance, and nothing more. Of course I love he gets her drift before another word, steeling his face over that bittersweet he has mistaken how she loves him of their stroll. He has underrated her love for him assuming she can spare a thought of her want finding Mom with her mind belonging to his wellbeing.
I love it more how ‘stinted’ KYJ’s sobbing or trying to hold them in as RO is. After frustration consuming him, hit by guilt of nothing he could do but empty promises, devastation of a fate, sensing the hopelessness this is behind braving through…and these tears, she has worked hard to contain the entire night, are used to will herself ‘it’s ok’ alone, even then she is not letting him sense a whiff to burden him more. While we expect Prince to turn and hug her sobs away, what’s in store is better. He focuses his mind to work, it takes a super sharp observant intuition to introspect, implore within all wise words he could have missed a grasp on, and be proactive in smoothing every snag in his way of growth in order to earn the power to protect and love his dear ones.
It is impossible not to love Prince’s perseverance. Even when cornered, at wit’s end, he never ceases to exhaust more options for a solution, whenever he is failing, at the verge of losing all hope… mining morsels of wisdom from his Mom has always been his endearing resort, this time, it is how his mom instructs him to care for each and every one of his citizens as King with keenest eyes and ears, leaving behind no one, they are all equally precious. But how!? Now he could layer on with RaOn’s wisdom, influenced by her freespirited ‘grandpa’ whom we now learn is Teacher Dasan. It builds on the coincidence giving another depth on why RO and Prince connects deeper in mind and spirit. Prince is not one to miss the chance of a heartfelt wordplay on how much he needs RaOn, needs RO giving him RaOn(joy) out of a runt, expressing his love for her almost his every utterance of anything flowing out most eloquently. It may seems cheeky at first glance of them just gazing puppy eyes at each other, but this does not diminish the earnesty, even if she serves as a most welcomed, beautiful distraction.
And it is never just fluffy words in MDBC, RO is easing his strain, doing her investigation seeking help first in her eunuch bff with knowledge in medicine, follow up with Teacher Dasan’s expertise, they join hands and brains solving a life-saving puzzle. A little solution, saving a lantern girl, is a tiny step towards a better Joseon within his means.
The food poison arc, like every plot point serves such abundance purposes, we see our OTP working together effectively, it brings to forefront Teacher Dasan’s connection, which leads to Prince overhearing RO’s desperation in finding her Mom, humming back to their memorable ‘first date’ on the bridge; it exposes another conspiracy against Prince, another motive as if he needs one to step up his game against Kim clan. Let alone with saving lil lantern girl, it ties up the episode to such a poignant climax while rhyming back again to the memorable OTP bonding moment at the bridge, that festival…which again flawless cohesiveness at work, a full circle back to the symphony of awesome progressing to the sweetest misty eyed coda still giving me chills and lots of happy but pensive tears
You are not…
the person she needs the most.
Prince composes another of his heartfelt oration as a future king on his dream Joseon:
My Joseon is where
a child can be a child,
a girl can be a girl,
living blissfully without a worry.
*as a lady, a daughter to your mother, as my love, my wife, my most precious,
as everything your heart desires yourself to be.*
Can you promise me the patience to wait for me till I build my country for you and everyone?
Of course, Your Highness.
My dream has come true…
He is exposing his weakness vulnerability in his inspired eloquence, how much he begs her to be his anchor, the only way he can try his darnest bringing forth a new, better Joseon for the people. After she gives him her promise and it is then he expresses more faltering and…greed of love, the inner struggles visible, fulfilling her dream reuniting with her Mom, is his simple wish, a simple wish to see her happy. Now it is mixed with this unnerving doom with Teacher’s warning, of a finite time together with her, on top of risking her leaving, which he shrewdly earned new faith in not happening with her promise.
His eloquence is charged with a desperation, a poetic escalation of his love of her. His love for her, is fueling this inspiration, on how to love every citizen under his rule. Without the convention of marriage, he is holding her hand physically, as well as asking her hand for better or worse, be his partner in life.
I have never feel so dear to a Kdrama Girl2, of course Miss Jo is of the extraordinary rare lovely, such level head on her pretty head, breed. She must have bravely wandered around the palace grounds in hope of just having intelligent small talk with Prince, when he shows gentlemanly concern for her safety alone at night, she brightens up a gorgeous smile at once, but never delusional. She tactfully proceed asking Prince why he has been putting off the wedding. Pondering she has the intellect and composure to handle the blunt blow he does not mince words his heart belongs to another lady, stressing the point it is never her fault. Her face is as if light snaps out of it, but there is no further histrionics. I am confident with her open mind, she will make the best out of a heartbreak, and invent loving Prince her ingenious smartlass way.
Last but not least: How I squeal at the little scene of friendly bonding downing misery together between out angsty hotties YoonSung and ByungYun. Boundless joy knowing they used to hole up together at the same smoldering quarters for cutiepies RO is cohabiting with BY now, along with Prince sneaking in wine probably. BY is a man of only most effective words, not a miser with his affections though, even when intruding a tender moment of Prince and RO, he did not hesitate a friendly concern towards Prince…and RO. Prince dumps the loaded demise, and worse premonition for RO safety to be by his side. It haunts back to Prince’s fate as well, close to BY. How much can our sweetest Batman takes?!?!! In YS he commiserates, pain and guilt to be a similar trapped chesspiece consciously witnessing hurt to dear ones yet could not disregard their duty and filial piety. BY pointedly advises friend to not spill another word of his obvious affection towards RO, lightly veiling his concern for YS, to not put himself in a worsening precarious position against Prince, and how he could not bear both of them hurt further with him as witness because he is such a softie, he feels ALL their miseries…but YS ceases the opportunity, nothing BY is telling is new, that’s what soulmates are for. So beautiful, the bromance. I love how equal pouring heart time is allotted over Prince AND RO. The dilemma for YS is never just unrequited love for RO, but how he yearns for Prince’s friendship simultaneously. I love the severe cramping of BY’s possible romantic affection for RO from the novel, he is the always honorable man acting what he preaches harping cohesively, he will not let any romantic affection jeopardizing lifelong friendship, he is the disciplined philosophical practitioner of the moral code of ethics, the ‘xia’俠/chivalry he is. This is made more lovely paving the foundation of 12, making these characters more and more viscerally full and wonderful. I love how by venting out, YS finds more courage, his honorable way to love RO solely for her betterment later on, acting true to self without bothering another soul, esp Prince. I love how this must be a straw of nostalgic purest kinship BY is desperate to hold onto, to stay faithful to his moral compass yet not forgoing pact to the ultimate cause of the rebel sect…to fight for, revolutionize mightiest for every single citizen, a say, a freewill in the stifling corrupted bureaucracy. But isn’t this exactly Prince’s motto and practice especially in the episode?! BY must’ve bear witness to Prince’s action, treasuring in mind dearly, bringing back my fangirling of the cohesiveness this shapes his actions come next episode.