Secret Garden: Countdown to Finale

Surely I am one of the many fans of Secret Garden who's rather anxious about the ending of this drama series. Would it be a happily-ever-after ala City Hall, or a frustrating one like Lovers in Paris, both of which were penned by the same writer of Secret Garden. The last two episodes will air this weekend. Oh, how all good things come to an end. 

The drama was described as "fantasy-melodrama", which to be honest, is a little hard for me to digest, unlike the fantasy of My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, which actually was based on local folklore. The fantasy part in Secret Garden involves body-changing between the two main leads, Gil Ra-im played by Ha Ji Won (Memories of Bali, Damo) and Kim Joo-won played by Hyun Bin (My Lovely Samsoon, Snow Queen). You have to watch it to see for yourself if it makes any sense, but the idea is there. I just wish the writer took a more plausible approach. 18 episodes in, and I still don't buy it. Hopefully the last two episodes will tie all loose ends and explain all the magic that's going on.

The character setting is a bit typical of k-drama; rich boy meets poor girl. But luckily the writer managed to beef up the characters that make them rather outstanding. Of course the rich boy is a jerk, but Hyun Bin successfully makes the character his own. It will be remembered for the next couple of years when he's away for his military duty. The poor girl is a stuntwoman. I'm glad that the writer didn't make her a tomboy, but rather girly yet really cool when in action, which I believe was the very reason Joo Won got instantly smitten with her. I'm a girl, and I just fell in love with Ha Ji Won in this drama. She's really cool. I was never a fan of these actor and actress, but this drama proves to me that they are good. Especially when they have to characterize two different characters and copy each character's habits and traits rather similarly, which makes the body-changing, while illogical, a fun thing to watch, simply to see how Ha Ji Won and Hyun Bin would play that gender-bender roles.

Kim Joo-won first met Gil Ra-Im at a filming set where he mistakenly took her for the main actress, when she was actually just a double, carrying out the stunts/action scenes. Ever since then, Joo-won couldn't get her out of his mind, thus he kept finding excuses to see her, to the extent of auditioning to be a stuntman at the action school where she works.

His persistence is really annoying to Ra-Im, but Joo-won wouldn't stop until he figured out the reason why her images kept appearing in front of him. He later admitted that he's attracted to her. But he's a snob and offered her to be his "Little Mermaid", or in other words, to be his mistress. Once he's bored with her, he wanted her to disappear like bubbles. After all, he definitely would not want to take a poor stuntwoman to be his wife, when he has such high criteria for that position. And throughout the story, The Little Mermaid was a constant reference point, as well as Alice in Wonderland (this one I suppose to describe the unfamiliar and fantasy-like feelings the both characters felt since meeting each other).

To cut things short, eventually they both admitted their true feelings and fell deeply in love with each other. But as with all kdrama, a rich mom would not want a low class girl as potential daughter-in-law, and was a stumbling block in their relationship. Apart from that was the connection between Ra-im and Joo-won's past that was not all clear since he lost his memories of his 21-year-old self after a traumatic accident, that caused him to have some sort of claustrophobia, particularly, he couldn't ride elevators.

I think what's really good about this drama is the actors who played their roles well. Because in terms of editing, I thought it was fairly bad, and some plots are pretty cliché and trite. But thankfully the characters are well-developed and pretty consistent. Ha Ji won and Hyun Bin did a great job (although, Ha Ji Won as Joo-won in Ra-im's body is more interesting to watch than as Ra-im herself, which sometimes was rather meek and the same pitiful expression). Also it would be good to mention the supporting characters Seul and Oska, played by Kim Sarang (1000 Years of Love) and Yoon Sang Hyun (Queen of Housewives, Marrying a Millionaire), respectively. Their love-hate relationship is quite a nice side story and their chemistry is awesome. Kim Sarang was a third-wheeler character initially, but since it's quite plain whom she really cares for, she isn't much of a threat, and is actually quite a cute character. And Yoon Sang Hyun is in a better role and more refreshing to watch as a declining Hallyu star than his previous drama roles.

Three more days and it will be the finale. I hope it will be satisfactory or else this drama will go down quite a few numbers in my kdrama list, which would be just too bad, coz I enjoyed the comedic moments and the great chemistry among the leads and their sidekicks. Mdm. Writer, please give me an ending that would inject sense into all that you've shown us so far. Thank you in advance.

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