25 February, 2014

You From Another Star: Love, Loss, Hope & Heartbreak

I think perhaps sometimes even when a drama is less than perfect, we still love it. We love it for the moments it gives us, and for the cycle of love, and loss, and heartbreak it allows us to experience. According to an Ancient Greek philosophies about plays tragic and otherwise, drama presented the opportunity for people to face the abyss of despair, man's mortality, and the wide spectrum of emotions available to mankind. While the actors emoted on stage, the audience was then able to experience a catharsis along with the performers and go on living with some element of reprieve for the moment. Great art, or something more mediocre still has that sort of power in my opinion, and whether we watch drama for mere escapism, or to experience some more transcending form of art, there are elements of this catharsis in all of it. Before I scare you away with anymore philosophical pontification, don't worry, I'm actually about to talk more specifically about You From Another Star.

I wrote another post about You From Another Star called The Small, Warm, Beautiful Things if you wanted to read that post before this one.

This drama is by no means perfect. There are some gaping lapses in backstory and plot development that I feel like get made up as the drama goes along. This is particularly true about the alien backstory, what he can and can't do, and why he's getting sick etc. (but they seem a little more solid in the past few episodes - ish). I get that the writers want to keep some cards close, but there's close and there's apparent gaps in how that information gets portrayed. The whole kiss-the-girl-and-get-sick one was well established, but the whole, if-he-doesn't-leave-soon-he-will-die element seems rather rapidly introduced and the signs weren't clearly established before. However, it is acting as a fairly decent plot device to get the lovers to really decide what matters and what doesn't, and that time should be used as judiciously as possible. It also really highlights the theme the drama is trying to bring out - loving someone is worth it, no matter how much or how little time one has. I also find the side characters rather 2D and just there to move the plot forward etc. Sure, there are some really lovely moments with them, and I do love Hwi Kyung, but I'm not on tenterhooks to see what will happen and often get bored when we back track to the side stories. I just want more cuteness between Do Min Joon and Cheon Song Yi! Even our villain feels a little hackneyed. Okay, now that's out of my system, I can get on with what really makes this drama tick, and what makes me keep on watching. The Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun pairing.

They have fabulous chemistry and plenty of romantic and comedic moments that make you just want to keep on watching and watching them. I would be completely happy with just the two of them for most of the episode and less and less of the other characters and side-stories. They really are what make the drama. I also love that we've seen a lot more of Kim Soo Hyun's lovely smile these past few episodes because he really does have the most gorgeous smile! There are several scenes that highlight my love for this pairing and their loveline: (in no particular order and I am sure I am going to forget a bunch I love just as much)

In the scene where Se Mi spills coffee and Do Min Joon sees that Cheon Song Yi's pride is taking a bit of a beating, he takes her out and puts his coat and his arm around her. It's just a lovely gesture as if he's trying to deflect some of the nastiness. I am also totally okay with the skinship!

I really loved when she put all her items up online to sell and used his number and he was a little exasperated, but he kind of just indulged her. He's such a softie when it comes to her ㅋㅋ And then when she followed that up with asking him to come and protect her emotional fragileness when she met with her former agency. And he came! And was so splendid as a lawyer (yeah being a lawyer in one of his past "lives" certainly came in handy a few times). And then his delightful little smirk when she used the Joseon saying about the "bastards who would go hide at the Beotigogae at night". I just loved that scene! ㅋㅋㅋ

I really, really, really thought the "Yoon Jae, go give Do Min Joon the kimchi" scene was absolutely hilarious! Jun Ji Hyun really does comedy so well, but at the same time portraying that awful angst we get when we are trying to see the person we like, but act like total idiots. And I completely adored her balcony confession scene. It was filled with that angst of admitting feelings for someone, but done in such a lovely way. I think we can all relate to her; the vulnerableness and confusion and wanting to tell someone how you feel. I really admire how honest she is about her feelings towards Do Min Joon. It's refreshing and lovely.

There are several cute kiss/cuddle scenes in the drama but one of my favourites is after the levitation kiss where he's decided that he's going to be with her come hell or high water, and he gets sick, and they're on the bed. And she's wondering about how she can win against a memory of the girl from his past, and she asks him who he loves, her or the girl from the past, and he answers in his feverish state, Cheon Song  Yi. And I love her response and his and just that moment of them being together. I also LOVE the montage/dream where Do Min Joon imagines a life with Cheon Song Yi. It might have been on the cheesy side, but isn't that what happens a bit when we fall in love? 

Once he's let her know that he loves her, I love that he just decides to be by her side and be her manager and he doesn't shy away from reaching out to her. The whole section where the director makes her retake all the scenes only to take the first one really got me mad, but what was even better was how petty Do Min Joon got and threw them around. I know it's not nice to delight in other people's pain, but there was a sort of vindictive pleasure in it.

I actually really loved the scene where Do Min Joon tells Cheon Song Yi that he needs to leave and that they need to do everything couples do in three months in one. You can see his pain and his hurt that he only gets a little time on earth with her, and she is heartbroken and I totally understand her being so, but Do Min Joon - my heart just goes out to him. Kim Soo Hyun knows how to wring my heart and to make me feel like I just want to hug him until it's all better. It was just a beautifully emotive scene.

Episode 17 when Min Joon was drunk. Buahahaha! So funny! But then how poignant and beautiful and romantic all at the same time. His monologue he delivers to Lawyer Jang about being lonely might actually be one of my favourite from the drama. "How I lived along for so long, was it not lonesome, you asked. It wasn't that lonely when I was living alone. However, after gaining a person to love for the first time; realizing that I'll have to leave where she is now, now I am truly lonely. As if I were the only one left in the universe.And then the scene is echoed with Cheon Song Yi's declaration of loneliness: "I feel like I'm going to die of loneliness. If I could turn back time, I would turn it back to the time I hadn't met him yet, then it would be really nice. Then I wouldn't waver regardless of how much he tried to love me. I wouldn't like him. Just thinking about the day when he's not here, I feel like I'm going to die of loneliness." And then Lawyer Jang's quip, "Seriously, they say that alcohol is the serum of truth. Perhaps their love really is about expressing how without love we are the loneliest of beings, but without love, we are also the most pitiable. 

And the adorable good morning kiss! (After he got really drunk and fell asleep on her bed after he teleported there ㅋㅋ He looked so surprised and perplexed and pleased. And her eyebrow raise was just so cute too! She is just so sassy and funny and cute and yeah...I have a pretty big crush in Jun Ji Hyun (as well as Kim Soo Hyun). And his reaction about how "human" he was so get drunk and then teleport to her bed was just priceless! I love it! ㅋㅋㅋ Our little alien is so naïvely adorable it's just cute. There are like a million great scenes between the two of them in this drama. KBS even has a playlist of them! And while there are plenty of really comedic moments, there are also moments of sweetness tinged with a hint of sadness, like their "conversation" where they plan their trip. And I actually really like that. Their relationship is shadowed with Do Min Joon's impending departure and it ups the stakes and makes every minute together more precious and lovely. 


Another scene that I really loved was the epilogue where we here the proposal that Do Min wanted to give and that even aliens get really nervous when telling someone they love them. It was just precious. And the balloons in the trunk! So cute! 

And on a not Do Min Joon/Cheon Song Yi pairing, I just ADORE that Yoon Jae totally adores Do Min Joon. He's been so surly up until the point that he realizes that Do Min Joon loves the stars. And when he geeks out over DMJ's telescopes! Hilarious! And the ET moment. ㅋㅋ You can just see the painful embarrassment on Min Joon's face, but he does it. Ha! I loved that scene! And I also loved that Yoon Jae really embraces Do Min Joon as his hyung and takes him to meet his father. (And the whole moving the jerk's car, haha).

I think that one thing I absolutely loved about episode 17 was that the lovers decided that because they know every minute is precious that they don't have time to play games and be coy and over think whether they want to spend time together. I love how she just takes his hand in the elevator as they're leaving on their trip because well, why not? I think that in a way they're being really honest with each other about how they feel, but at the same time they're also telling half-truths to each other; her that she'll forget him quickly once he leaves, and then he tells her that it will be okay of he stays. I wonder sometimes how a good dose on honesty in our human interactions would go in cutting away passive aggressive games of push and pull and not telling each other directly how we feel. I think it might go a long way. And K-drama could certainly do with a good dose of that. I can see on the one hand why he doesn't want to tell her that he might die/disappear if he stays, but he's not even sure, so he might just want to withhold that information. I think though that she should know. But this is drama and not real life. His decision to stay is an interesting one, and I think that his conversation with Lawyer Jang about being the only person left in the universe has something to do with it. He knows that even if he leaves that he will always feel lonely. Perhaps the decision to stay is selfish in a way, but can we really fault him? And I think that her little dialogue she wrote in the script (which was totally obvious, so I am glad we got to see it in the epilogue) sort of convinced him of what he already wanted to do, to stay with her and to see what might happen. And to realize that "the length of time isn't important; what is important with whom you spend that time."

A development in episode 19 that I really appreciated was Cheon Song Yi finding out about Do Min Joon's potential death. I know he wants to protect her heart from as much pain as possible, but I love that she knows. The conversation she has with Lawyer Jang in episode 19 where he reveals how long and how much Do Min Joon has loved her and cared about her was just beautiful.

"So if he really doesn't go, he dies? Knowing he may die, he promised me he will stay by my side? How can he?"

"It is because he likes you so much. Even before you, Cheon Song Yi, liked the professor, more than you know, much more than that, he liked you a great deal. He made a great effort for it not to turn out this way. Cheon Song Yi. Because he didn't want your heart to be hurt, I tried many times to stop him, but what could I do? He's even willing to give up his life and be by your side."   

I am also really glad that Song Yi is the one who is so forthright with her feelings. It is not often in a Korean drama I feel that the female characters are so forward and honest in expressing how much they love the other. Perhaps it has something to do with the knowledge of his impending death/departure that gives her the courage to just tell him straight up that she loves him, but I think it's also because she's just such a fabulous character. Once he whisks her away to the island, and they get their idyllic moment in the sun, and she just tells him how she feels, it was just lovely and heartfelt and had so many feels! I just loved her dialogue from that conversation: 

"I love you. And if you're going to go to another star, then, as much as I want to follow you and live there...I would sell my soul for it. Even though sometimes I think what if I had not met you, because it is so difficult for my heart. But still, even if I were to go back in time, I'd meet you again, and I'd fight with you again, and I'd fall for you, and I'd love you."

Oh the feels! Oh so many! Pretty much any time they were on screen together in episode 19 (those cute little selcas) I just loved! Especially the little "how many babies should we have?" scene. Seriously. The feels.

That scene has me still smiling the more I think about it. The whole "you are sexy when you eat ramyun" (dang right!) and their life plans were just so beautiful. I just want them to be able to have their seven children (daughters because boys are too noisy ㅋ), raise those five puppies, and have the farm for the grandchildren to visit. The kind of love where you want to plan a family and think about your grandchildren is just such a tender and sweet love, and they've got it.

And then episode 19 had to go and make me cry with that beautiful, starlit setting, and Do Min Joon singing to her.

"Sing me a song. You never sang for me even once."
"What song?"
"A song that I will think of whenever I think about Do Min Joon, and a song that you will think of whenever you think of Cheon Song Yi. A song we that we will remember for a long, long time...that kind."

It made me tear up. The lyrics were filled with such poignant sadness and tenderness, I just couldn't help it. (Im Byung Soo's "Promise")

"The stars tonight are shining brighter. 
As this time passes, 
The words that tell me you're leaving, 
Make me sad. 
Until the end of tonight, 
Those happy times, 
The many promises between us,
They keep whispering in my ear, 
And make me sad. 
It's not your fault. 
For some reason,
I have the urge to cry. 
I was dreaming of a dream that was too perfect."

And then the proposal - the childish proposal that makes Song Yi perfectly happy - with the ring that looks like earth with a star orbiting it - and then her tear-filled and devastating plea to leave. It broke my heart. What happens though if he doesn't want to leave? What happens if he would rather spend his last minutes with her? And I think that is what has us all abuzz. How is the story going to resolve itself? Part of me really wants a happy ending, but another part of me wouldn't mind a sad yet meaningful ending done well. That was someone else typing those words, I think.

Part of the problem with the resolution is how they've set up the whole "can't exchange liquids" thing. (I think they could have thought of something better) While I understand that they wanted to make it taboo, I find it a little idiotic. Not only has it robbed us of some better skinship ;) but it creates a tricky situation for any potential future they might have if he doesn't die. The only way they could ever actually have a real relationship with the whole get married, have a baby dream is if he's human (or figure out some sort of fundamental change to his alien biology). Right now I just feel like it's a bit of a dumb plot to limit skinship/keep the lovers apart, but isn't part of the whole love story that love transcends even human/alien differences? I get the whole general idea that love really can transcend all, but then it also has to have real life applicability. There actually has to be some way to make them be able to overcome those physical barriers of him not even being able to kiss her properly.

Then we also have that whole disappearing vision he had, which is not really easy to explain away. His visions in the past haven't all been perfect, but who knows. I hope the writers have a good explanation for it. Then again, I think that all the happy cuteness of the past couple of episodes, plus the get married and have a baby montage/dream plus the ramyun eating, baby planning, puppy raising scene means that we're possibly looking at a sad ending (then again the drama is so popular I really doubt they could do a really sad ending). I actually don't have a problem with the sad ending, as long as it's done well (see those ideas are seeping through again). I think that the message of "it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all" idea compelling and I would rather they have a moment in the sun that to have always lived in Stygian darkness, but really at the end of the day, I want them together, alive, happy, and having all those babies. And I think it's one reason that the writer decided to use the fairytale/book element of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. At least I hope so. (But I shall leave that for another post).

For now I am excited (and terrified) to see how the writers choose to end the drama. Will they end a love story or start a new life filled with babies, puppies and adorableness. It might be cheesy, but dang it, I want it! No disappearing Do Min Joon please!

◀ Another Parting: Episode 1 Recap


  1. You write so beautifully. ;___; Thank you for compiling some of the best Do MinJoon and Cheon SongYi! It sure makes coping a lot easier. I can just look at this post and relieve some of my favorite parts in the series! :)

    "I wonder sometimes how a good dose on honesty in our human interactions would go in cutting away passive aggressive games of push and pull and not telling each other directly how we feel." - Aah, I couldn't agree more. I seriously hope this happens more in real life, too. Hah

  2. Aw, Janey! ~ You made my night! I am also working on a review post with lots and lots of links to all the best scenes ^^

    And yes, I want more clear and good communication in real life too. I think that they had that towards the end of the series with Cheon Song Yi being so honest about her feelings.