Korean drama God’s Gift (2014) full review:

I recently caught up with episodes 15 and 16 of God’s Gift. I was already aware that things do not end well for Dong Chan, so I was prepared for an incoherent 2 hours. I did get what I expected, but it surprised me that the show was so incoherent in such a coherent way!

I think I need to add a disclaimer that I last watched the show in mid-March and left it at episode 6, and this was just a finale drive-by. So, excuse my befuddlement if it’s due to not having watched the 8 episodes in between. (This does raise the question: should I watch dramas so haphazardly? When K-dramas traumatise us each and every month by pulling up half-assed ways to complete a story, I guess it’s fair game that we, as viewers, consume our dramas in ways that will be least traumatic to us personally.)

Curiously, nothing seems to have changed much since I last left it! They were still searching for Saet Byul?! But Ajumma and Badass Thug now seemed to have a clash of principles. What was the trinket they were fighting over? Whatever the trinket was, the clash seemed to be one of familial priority: She put her daughter first, while he put his jailed brother first. But how come a trinket had the power to solve all their problems? What has this thriller/mystery(?)/supernatural voodoo drama suddenly got to do with the freaking President of Korea!?

And then there was Saet Byul: Still under capture. Killed, rekilled, unkilled, and whatever happened in between, but still captive. But what was this strange creepy bond with the tattooed kidnapper? Why does this tattooed guy also have a backstory? Why does everything boil down to the Omnipotent Prez Aide villain? How does the rich-but-poor-acting Gramps figure into the plot? What in the name of what was that mini story of the President’s son having killed Dong Chan’s girlfriend! That’s the big reveal? Oh, you big bad president. No wait! We fooled you. It’s the big bad president’s wife. *cackle cackle* Because scary maternal love. Hail the patterned ring!

And then there was Dong Chan’s martyrdom: What was this talk about alcohol induced hippocampal amnesia!!? Dong Chan was never a very reliable protagonist, what with his occasional visions that could be a memory or a figment of his imagination and his general air of being able to pass off as a killer. But to see him self-destruct throughout the final episode was so anti-climactic! He bids farewell to his family — or what’s left of it: Eats his mother’s food; gives the kid a literal bowl cut; meets his brother one last time. Then he punches the precious Presidential son, and admits he was the serial killer?! And people believe him because: some random photo evidence from way back when. But then he gets released because: flimsy evidence? Whip, lash, whip!

Then he goes to a bar and just drinks some random drink??! Even when he’s been known to black out when he drinks? Slaughter a character at the altar of plot convenience, why don’t you? Then he gets a random phone call while he lies collapsed near a dumpster, and he leaves staggering into a taxi, but not before a suggestive random close-up of a random dumpster piece of clothing. Pay attention! This could be important. But could does not equal is. Haha, fooled ya! Bleh. Then we see Saet Byul make her escape all thanks to tattooed bad-yet-good guy, only to be found dead and it was Dong Chan’s mom who killed her?!! What the?? Only to learn Mr. Omnipotent Prez Gasbag hired someone with a voice exactly like Dong Chan’s mom to fool him into taking the blame for eeevryyything. Because… Despaaair.

The show just jerked me around so much. And there were so many random people providing explanation for random things all in the name of tying up loose ends with a series of convenient flashbacks strung together. Despite the seemingly competent execution of a purposely convoluted tale made more convoluted by the production team so scared the viewers might solve the mystery before they let the cat out of the bag, what God’s Gift seemed to be was an exercise in frustration. There just seemed to be a relentless assault of bad things happening to the good guys while Mr. Omnipotent Prez Gasbag calmly won every nefarious trick he pulled. All in the name of politics!

And then we get to the near end and still there’s no resolution to all the emotional threads! Dong Chan has a freaky moment in the river where he hallucinates seeing himself and believes he killed evvveryone. When little Saet Byul seems to stir from whatever drug has kept her under, Dong Chan has an epiphany: Only one lives, the other dies. Which means he must now die because Saet Byul lives?! I’m not sure he even died. But there was a definite splash and I didn’t see no knight waiting by the riverside in the sepia epilogue, so maybe the knight sank to the river bottom, because… apathy. And despaaair. Such an anticlimax to a show that supposedly was trying to fight Fate.

If I sound furious at the show, I’m actually more confused than angry. I remember being intrigued by the show initially from the moment in ep 2 when the supernatural green seaweeds of time-travel kick in as three lives hang in balance: Dong Chan’s thrown into the river, Ajumma tries to commit suicide, and Hyung is apparently executed. Plus, I was so charmed by Jo Seung Woo’s brand of acting and I shipped him and Ajumma from around ep 3.

This might sound like a 20/20 hindsight wisdom, but I did write about how the murders and the murderers seemed so random and how I was beginning to lose trust in the show around ep 6. (The web of characters was pretty claustrophobic too what with everyone linked to everyone by a sleight of … wait for it, Fate.)

Then life got busy and I couldn’t pick up the show, but when I got back to K-dramaland, I saw general dissatisfaction with how things wrapped up. I have to give the show credit for stringing the viewers along for 8 whole weeks, though — curse you awesome introductory cartoons, nailbiting cliffhangers, and great mood music! — only to dump us unceremoniously into the cold waters of the sea in storydom known as Vague Trying to Pass Off As Deep. Because I do see attempts at trying to come full circle somewhere in this convolution. If I try really hard to see past the murky seaweedy waters. But I can’t.

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