IF ONLY I COULD TURN BACK TIME…
At his best friend’s wedding, Kang Baek Ho (Yoo Seung Ho) discovers a letter that a young Ham Yi Seul (Park Eun Bin) wrote confessing that she loved him. Distraught at the outcome of their lives, a Time Conductor grants him the ability to go back in time to change his fate.
I finally finished this drama last weekend but hadn’t had a chance to write the review until now. First off, you have to know that our hero goes back in time repeatedly to right the wrongs. When I first began the drama, I thought Baek Ho had never confessed his love because of timing or lack of courage. However as the drama went on, it repeatedly made me feel like we were back to square one.
This is going to be a little difficult to explain so bear with me. We’ve got our present and all-knowing Baek Ho who’s aware of what happened and does the time traveling. Then there’s the past Baek Ho who’s living Baek Ho’s life in between all the time traveling moments. I’ll call them Present Baek Ho and Past Baek, respectively.
Despite Present Baek Ho’s efforts to win the girl, we learn through the accounts of other people that Past Baek Ho doesn’t really learn from those moments and comes off as cold and uncaring. So when Present Baek Ho comes back to the present, although things have changed, it’s not the outcome he’s expecting. As a viewer, I feel like the Present and Past Baek Ho’s are two different characters and so it’s frustrating to watch Past Baek Ho undo all of Present Baek Ho’s efforts. I want Present Baek Ho to win the girl but Past Baek Ho clearly doesn’t deserve the girl.
Someone commented that Yi Seul may not be deserving of Baek Ho but we’re watching this drama from his point of view. To me, Yi Seul loved Baek Ho and wanted him to be the best man that he could be but she was often letdown by the Past Baek Ho. Trying to understand it from her perspective, most of the time she’s dealing with the Past Baek Ho personality except for the rare occurrences where Present Baek Ho takes his place. It’s almost like a body snatching and I completely understand that although she loves him, she needs someone that loves her, that’s reliable and trustworthy. During the hard times, it was the sweet Coach Kwon Jin Won (Lee Hyun Jin) that was there for.
You know, everyone knows Yoo Seung Ho as that little kid from The Way Home. They even make a meta reference to it in the drama. He’s an excellent actor and great at playing emotional roles. I don’t feel all of his television roles are winners but I do enjoy watching his performances. It’s a bit off-topic but watching him made me think of today’s K-Drama child actors and where they’ll be in 10 years. They’d be lucky to be at the level that Yoo Seung Ho is at today.
Park Eun Bin. She’s clearly not ready to take leading roles. I found her performance to be bland and repetitive. If she’s one of the leads, I’m a firm believer that you’ve got to make your character stand out. You can be subtle in your expressions but you have to leave a strong impression with the viewer. She’s got like three expressions: the smiley one, the tearful one and the blank stare. Acting against Yoo Seung Ho, the difference is glaring. She does nothing for me.
However, it might not be totally her fault because as I’m skimming over this drama and choosing stills for this review there’s a lot of repetition on the visual front. How many times have we seen conversations on the swings?
Or Baek Ho throwing a ball?
Or love interests falling asleep with each other? It’s visually boring.
On a positive note, I did enjoy watching the lives of Baek Ho and Yi Seul’s friends. Yoo Chae Ri (Kim Ye Won) and Jo Jin Joo (Park Jin Joo) had far more interesting storylines and their characters were unique.
I loved Joo Tae Nam’s (Park Young Seo) love for Chae Ri and how she constantly pushed him away due to his small stature.
While Song Chan Wook (Go Kyung Pyo) was more of a passive character, I enjoyed how he was often the voice of reason.
Together, the group’s dynamic seemed natural as it blended moments of comedy with the drama.
Personally, I would have much preferred that Present Baek Ho got stuck in the past to correct his misguided timeline. But if I had to stick to this format then I would have focused on the consistency of the character development of Baek Ho and Yi Seul. With each trip, I have to feel like Baek Ho is moving forward somehow and it would have been nice to hear his friends’ accounts of Past Baek Ho changing from cold and uncaring to warm and thoughtful. The accounts are all we can rely to know that Baek Ho is changing his timeline, little by little.
Despite that, I actually really enjoyed the last two episodes. SPOILERS ABOUND! BUT WITHOUT REVEALING TOO MUCH… The reveal with Baek Ho and his family situation was unexpected. I think at this point I was so over this drama that I didn’t care to think about the possibilities of the supporting characters. At first, I was annoyed at the randomness of the issue of Baek Ho’s relationship with his mom but I do think it paid off in the end.
Especially when we see glimpses of Baek Ho’s desire to have a father figure in his life.
It sounds a bit makjang but I think this is one case where I like that Baek Ho lost his memory. For the first time, I didn’t feel like this was a backward step for our couple but it was actually their 2nd chance. And from this point on, these two seemed to finally move forward towards each other.
Would I recommend this drama because of the outcome in the last 2 episodes? No, but I’m also glad that watching the drama wasn’t a complete loss.