I’m bringing the “5 Things I Loved” back.
Honestly, when I envisioned writing the commentaries for “Hyde Jekyll, Me” way back in December, I didn’t want to restrict them to just five things, and imagined getting my hands dirty in some gripping storylines and layered characterizations, in pulling apart episode after episode and being blown away by what I found.
Funny how things don’t always go according to plan.
So I decided to try a new approach to watching this show, and I think it might just be the trick! Instead of ripping on “Hyde Jekyll, Me,” I decided to focus on the good, on what the drama does well, you know, keep it on the positive and all that. Because it is true; eliminating certain expectations removes the damage of disappointment, and what you’re left with isn’t what wasn’t, or what could have been, but what is.
And there are plenty of things to love about what is in “Hyde Jekyll, Me” episodes 5 & 6.
1. Hyeri Brings It
I hadn’t seen Girls’ Day Hyeri act in anything before. I mean, I ‘d seen her on “Real Men” and found her adorable and fun, but I had no idea about her merits as an actress. When she first appeared in “Hyde Jekyll, Me,” I didn’t particularly warm to her character, but in episodes 5 & 6 she really layered on the charm, and I, in turn, love her as Robin (Hyun Bin)’s ultimate, number one fan. She’s incredibly territorial and shamelessly dedicated to Robin, but in a way that is less sasaeng and more the ever-protective and quintessential fan girl. I love how cheeky she is, and how she’s quick and smart and crafty and not to be taken advantage of, despite her sweet and innocent image. It’s cute how devoted she is to Robin, and I really love the freshness that Hyeri brings to the show.
2. Hyun Bin Serenades Us Something Sweet
I remember it quite well.
It was five years ago, and “Secret Garden” was all the rage, and no one was hotter than Hyun Bin. Only, he was leaving us, to do the duty every Korean male must, except instead of going into the celebrity division of the military, Binnie went and enlisted in the military’s most physically demanding branch. We were all heartbroken, worried, and cried our eyes out when we saw him off, him running back to pick up his hat which had gotten carried off by the wind. It was a tough day, a devastating day, but he left us with something, a song, sung just for us (or so it seemed), which we played ad nauseam in the days where his absence felt most palpable. For us, Hyun Bin would always be “That Man.”
Whoa, okay. Let me step back from the edge there and re-focus.
For those of us who have been clawing at the walls waiting for Hyun Bin to sing again, fear not! In episode 6, That Man sings us a few lines of Yoo Jae Ha‘s “Because I loved you” (사랑하기 때문에). While his performance is not anything to write home about in terms of technical execution, and it ranks pretty high on the cheesiness meter, it is still an incredibly reminiscent moment, and to be honest, Hyun Bin has so much charm and commitment to scenes that even when things are a little cringe-worthy, you are willing to go with it.
3. Jang Ha Na as the Center
I’ve really warmed to Jang Ha Na (Han Ji Min) this week, and have grown to appreciate her character in this drama. I know that some people have commented that Ha Na is rather uninteresting, and not so dynamic or compelling as other heroines, but I think there’s something to be found in a character and a story like Ha Na’s. I love how, in making Ha Na “boring” she is actually really approachable. I’ve already mentioned that I like her honesty, that I like how she doesn’t take to being pushed around, that I like how she is self-sufficient and capable.
In episodes 5 & 6, we get to see another side of her character. Ha Na wears her heart on her sleeve and allows herself to be vulnerable without shame. Her range of emotions and thoughts in dealing with a drunk confession are so relatable, so without filter that felt like I was with one of my girlfriends. But unlike my girlfriends, she’s mature enough to confront her mistakes, to demand honesty, and to be responsible for her actions and words. I felt so proud of Ha Na this week, and a lot of that has to do with Han Ji Min’s heartfelt expressions of Ha Na’s goodness, her earnestness, and her heartbreak.
Jang Ha Na is incredibly steadfast, and her stability does wonders for grounding this drama. She’s the center from which all the other characters orbit, and I appreciate her calming presence in the midst of the over-the-top antics of the drama and even some of the other characters. She is the center. And in this case, the center can hold.
4. Seo Jin Gives a Little
That being said, the crux of this whole drama is the transformation of Seo Jin into a feeling human being. And in this week’s episodes we see more of his frozen exterior crumble bit by little bit, and the whole time I feel like Assistant Kwon (Lee Seung Jun), watching from the sidelines with a parental grin on my face.
Seo Jin’s world has to be shaken in order for this transformation to happen, and try as hard as he might to prevent it, no amount of yelling and throwing of tantrums can change the course of events already in play. His world is spinning out of control…and I love every moment of it. I have really come to enjoy seeing Seo Jin be so awkward, to be so tortured, and I’m not even going to question what that says about me.
In his unease, in the moments he can’t control, stems his humanity. He can’t control Robin. He can’t control when he loses himself. He can’t control Ha Na. So he has to constantly give in to them, has to admit his weaknesses, has to make himself vulnerable. So he finds himself doing things he thought he never would, and feeling things he never allowed himself to before. I love seeing him struggle with understanding the motivations of others, having to process what they mean, and ultimately how he relates to those around him.
Forget Robin with his easy smile. Give me shrinking-behind-potted-plants Seo Jin any day!
5. Triangle Becomes a Square
Hmm, I was not expecting this, although in hindsight, I probably should have seen this coming. Ha Na already has her hands full juggling both Seo Jin and Robin. I didn’t think the drama would take it a step further and create yet another potential love interest by way of her therapist, Yoon Tae Joo (Sung Joon). But when your therapist is Sung Joon, who is everything devastating in this role, then of course it makes sense. I mean, Tae Joo is kind, helpful, knowledgable, and there’s something about Sung Joon’s delivery that is so utterly comforting that you do kind of want to spend the day on his couch playing mind games with him.
Beyond the romantic implications, I really like that Tae Joo is able to be a support for Ha Na. He is a person that she can rely on, which I think she so needs, especially with the back and forth going on with both Robin and Seo Jin, and the fact that someone is out to get her. We get to see another side of Ha Na when she’s with Tae Joo as she’s vulnerable with him in a way that she isn’t with either Robin or Seo Jin. We get to see the depth of her terror, and that’s important for her character.
Although I am sorry to say that I don’t think Ha Na and Tae Joo’s relationship will develop much romantically (for obvious reasons), I am looking forward for how Tae Joo will shake things up for our emotionally stunted Seo Jin. And, you know, a little more Sung Joon screen time never hurt anyone.
Those were the 5 things I loved about “Hyde Jekyll, Me” episodes 5 & 6. Did your heart pound as mine did in the white gallery? Did you enjoy seeing Seo Jin’s stick figure drawings? Let me know what your thoughts on this week’s episodes in the comments!
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