So I was watching The Mandalorian in the lounge with some of my friends here at school and I had my Grogu plushie sitting in my lap and one of my guy friends comes in and I wasn't sure if I was going to get shamed for my stuffed animal or not, but I didn't care, and instead of laughing at me he was like "you have a yoda?" And I was like "Yeah." And he patted him on the head and asked of he could pet it and I said he could as long as he's gentle because I'm protective of my little Grogu" and I mentioned that it fell off the table and he asked if it was okay and I was like "yeah," and then it took me a full ten seconds after he left to realize how out of the ordinary that is but how coolly he handled that and went along with it, so shoutout to him tonight.
Yesterday he was fanboying over Lotr, and now he just yelled "YES! GOALLLLLLLLL!", bcs Liverpool is playing & it's his favourite team. He's now jumping around the house screaming "Liverpool won! Liverpool won!"
Blurb: Four boys try to save their friend from a religious cult her family has dragged her into.
Thrillers are my all time favorite genre, and Save Me easily makes my top ten list of dramas. It's creepy but there's an undercurrent of this hope for freedom running throughout that keeps you hooked. Please be advised this review would contain spoilers (but I'll try not to give everything away).
Trigger Warnings: suicide, bullying, depression, sexual harassment, violence.
The plot was fleshed out excellently. The cliffhangers are nail biting and the show manages to avoid the often necessary "drama logic filter". Of course this plot is by no means perfect, but it really gives you insight into the characters and their complicated relationships. Though disjointed and a little confusing at first, we slowly see the various plot pieces get put together towards the end. There are a few supporting characters whose roles are unclear until much later in the show, but the inner workings of a cult are the primary focus. The story serves to highlight just how utterly insane some of them can be.
In the first episode: we are introduced to the Im family as they move to Muji County from Seoul, only to have a series of tragic events strike them and make them vulnerable to the manipulations of the religious cult in question, Goseonwon. Their incredibly creepy pastor preaches about the the "Mighty New Sky" and promises to take true believers to this god on a "Ship of Salvation". We are shown how with the help of his lackeys/Apostles, the "Spiritual Father" slowly reels in fish - small and political, to protect his ardent devotees.
The nefarious energy to the show begins almost immediately and what really sells Save Me is the direction. The show builds an almost claustrophobic anxiety in you that increases with each episode. Despite Goseonwon's sprawling exterior, the scenes in its underground "prayer room" (prison) remind you that all is not as glossy as the picture the Spiritual Father paints. Interspersed with bright shots of the town, the artful direction serves to highlight the feeling of being held prisoner, with the relief of freedom hovering just out of reach. As the show reached the middle, I was left with the feeling of watching a train wreck burn with nobody to stop it.
Ok Taec-yeon as Han Sang-hwan:
This is my first drama with Ok Taec-yeon in a leading role, and he's done a good job. His character is self-righteous yet naive, and at first, not all that likable. However, he has a solid redemption arc (righteousness aside; the boy's rather dramatic) and I found myself rather pleased with how his story evolved. He's the "Prince of Muji" as the son of the governor, but the show is quick to establish a less than rosy background with his mother's health issues and a difficult relationship with his ambitious father. Sang-hwan has a tight knit group of boys he's friends with at school, and the continuing bromantic relationship between the four is a plot point that brings welcome levity to the doom and gloom of the main story.
Sang-hwan and his friends first (officially) meet Im Sang-mi when she and her brother join their school. The tragic suicide of her viciously bullied twin brother sets her family off into the open arms of Goseonwon and she disappears from school. When she meets the boys again by chance three years later and looks Sang-hwan in the eye asking him to save her, he makes a promise to right a wrong previously done, and lopes his friends into bringing the cult down.
Sang-hwan is a flawed character: he's charming, attractive, determined and intelligent, but there is a brashness to him that highlights his emotional immaturity. Over the course of the show, we come to understand him, and see the character's growth. Though he still retains a bull-in-china-shop approach to helping his friends, it is satisfying to see him mature; to go from privileged teenager to wary adult.
Seo Ye-ji as Im Sang-mi:
Seo Ye-ji is one of my favorite actresses and a rather talented one at that. Sang-mi is the personification of a caged bird: beautiful and trapped. Her beauty catches the attention of the Spiritual Father shortly after their arrival to Muji County, and he creepily watches the Im family enjoy a happy meal in their temporary new home. While he later preaches about wanting to make her the "Spiritual Mother" who will save the believers as a pure, chaste woman leading the Ship of Salvation, it is quickly apparent to both Sang-mi and the audience in the very first meeting of the two, that his attentions are of a sexual nature, and his aim is to force her to offer herself to him. (Bear in mind, this first interaction is when she is still in high school, and clearly a minor.) Though her parents later fall prey to the Spiritual Father, Sang-mi's stubborn disbelief in the cult's ideologies only furthers his fixation on her and the show leaves you with a sense of urgency to see her get out of there before the pastor makes his move.
With her father wholeheartedly believing in the cult and her mother in an emotionally catatonic state, Sang-mi is coerced into staying in Goseonwon with her mother as a drugged-up hostage. Despite this, she makes failed attempts to run away and Seo Ye-ji appropriately conveys Sang-mi's frustration with her situation. What I loved about this character was that despite the idea of her as such, Sang-mi was not a damsel in distress that needed to be saved. She needed help for damn sure, but she was going to burn the place down. I've only ever seen Seo Ye-ji portray strong female characters and it delights me to see her turn a common trope on its head so masterfully. At the very core of it, despite the madness around her taking a toll, Sang-mi's refusal to give in to the Spiritual Father's machinations is what drives the show. No matter what fresh horror is thrown at her, Sang-mi breaks down and then resolutely picks herself back up. As the episodes go on, Sang-mi shifts her approach to gaining her freedom and becomes more calculating, enlisting the boys' support. This brings forth an aspect to her personality that allows the viewer to connect with her emotionally and invest in her struggle.
Side note, Seo Ye-ji has fantastic stylists. Granted, she has an almost ethereal beauty around her that would make a potato sack look haute couture, but even her understated fashion in Save Me is making me want her wardrobe.
Woo Do-hwan as Seok Dong-chul:
This is my first drama with Woo Do-hwan and I cannot believe I have not come across this gorgeous face before. Dong-chul's character arc presents him as more of a male lead for me when compared to Han Sang-hwan. Coming from an economically challenged background, Dong-chul is acutely aware of what a lack of power and connections can mean when it comes to matters of civil rights. Around the same time that Sang-mi's family joins the cult, he is unfairly sent to juvenile prison and Sang-hwan's role in his conviction causes a rift between the two that affects the friend group.
In the first introduction of the boys, Dong-chul is shown to be a hot head that acts first - usually with his fists. Sang-hwan on the other hand, is presented to be more of a thinker. Prison changes this dynamic and after he gets out, Dong-chul becomes more cautious, his presence more quietly imposing. I was happy to see the plot allow his intelligence to shine through when the boys start planning their rescue mission. Where Sang-hwan is shown to be quick to act on anger, prison acts as a catalyst for Dong-chul to find a certain emotional maturity. Woo Do-hwan does an excellent job portraying this shift in personality, and the show alludes to an inkling that Sang-mi and Dong-chul have grown in a way the other boys haven't quite caught up with.
Dong-chul carries himself with a bad boy air but true to stereotypical form, has a soft heart. He's so very sweet on his grandma, the only loving relative he has, and with his newly repaired bromance with Sang-hwan, I found him to be a very lovable character. I felt a certain respect for Dong-chul's commitment to his role in helping Sang-mi out - truly a fearless gesture, and I came away from the show with a new-found appreciation for Woo Do-hwan's talents. And his face. Definitely his face.
Jo Sung-ha as Baek Jung-ki/Spiritual Father:
Pictured here with his lackeys Apostle Kang Eun-shil (played by Park Ji-young) and Apostle Jo Wan-tae (played by Jo Jae-yoon), Jo Sung-ha does an excellent job as the narcissistic psychopath cult leader. Every interaction of his is accompanied with a calm voice and a cold smile, and it makes your skin crawl. Although he appears to be a benevolent spiritual guide to the lost souls seeking salvation, he is manipulative and unscrupulous. You quickly begin to hate everything about this man, and it is a testament to Jo Sung-ha's acting that you desperately want to punch the Spiritual Father square in the face.
Since this post is already quite long, I'm going to briefly highlight Park Ji-young and Jo Jae-yoon's excellent performances. Each character has a well-laid out motivation, and in the later episodes, I particularly enjoyed Apostle Kang's inner turmoil as she questions her devotion to the Spiritual Father. Apostle Jo is consistently sleazy - the dregs of humanity really - and brings a degree of menace with him that gives you insight on how Goseonwon is able to capture the presence it has in Muji County.
1. The boys -
Woo Jung-hoon (played by Lee David) and Choi Man-hee (played by Ha Hwa-jung) make up the rest of the foursome, and provide the comic relief. Jung-hoon is shown to be a rather stupid, self-absorbed boy, but a fiercely loyal friend. Man-hee appears to be an emotionally intuitive person, with one particularly touching scene where he pulls Dong-chul into a warm hug when they meet for the first time since his release from prison, asking him if he's okay. While Man-hee doesn't get much of a storyline, Jung-hoon does, and Lee David does himself credit in this role.
As a group, the four boys have an easy chemistry and are prone to fits of idiocy in the truest (and only acceptable) spirit of "boys will be boys". They bring a earnest foolhardiness with them that only 20-21 year olds are capable of, and their willingness to go to such great lengths in helping Sang-mi out warms your heart.
2. Sang-mi's parents -
Portrayed by Jung Hae-gyoon and Yoon Yoo-sun as Sang-mi's father and mother respectively, both deserve mention for their excellent performances. We see the parents get sucked into the cult through the grief over their son's suicide, and while we cannot condone it, the show lets us infer why they neglected Sang-mi the way they did. Unfortunately, Sang-mi's father completely loses his marbles for the cult, and is willing to sell his daughter off to the Spiritual Father in pursuit of the family's salvation. Case in point, the cult is told to celebrate a spiritual wedding between Sang-mi and the pastor, and the consummation of the marriage is wholly supported by the father - despite his daughter's unwillingness - as a baptism. The mother is a more sympathetic character as her grief is turned into a persistent, drug-fueled catatonic state, and the chemistry between Yoon Yoo-sun and Seo Ye-ji as mother and daughter is heartbreaking. Sang-mi eventually realizes that while her father is beyond salvation, her mother is not. Jung Hae-gyoon does a commendable job portraying the newest lackey to join the Goseonwon ranks, Apostle Im, and you get to see raw mania in his religious fervor.
Love line, or lack thereof:
Honestly, I am glad this show does not have a love line/OTP pairing. Though the posters and characterizations seemingly hint at a Sang-mi - Sang-hwan connection, the story simply does not have space for romance, and I fully agree with this. Sang-mi has spent a good chunk of her transition to adulthood in hell. I don't see that her character would be in any place to pursue a romantic relationship. I definitely don't see that this relationship would be with Sang-hwan because I didn't feel that kind of connection between them. If anything, an emotional revelation that is often brought about by trauma allows Dong-chul to connect with Sang-mi in a way Sang-hwan can't seem to fully relate to. Despite both boys having a clear attraction to Sang-mi when they first meet her, I found myself hoping that if an epilogue showing a happy romantic relationship was to come true, it would be with Dong-chul. I am very clearly biased but I invite you to look at this and take a call for yourself:
Final Grade: A
I would definitely recommend this show. The journey is well worth it.
i’ll be real with you, i completely forgot what this meme was for a hot minute. i appreciate it! <3
“The study room that Felix had commandeered in the mansion, had been set up for prime serial watching enjoyment.
Perfectly centered in front of the monitor, a monstrous leather couch, currently occupied by Felix and Leo. Odie had no idea how both boys managed to take up the entirety of it, but they did. “
Another reason to watch the Reboot is to see how Ben and Kevin’s relationship develops and how his interactions with Team Tennyson actually prove to have a large influence on his gradual shift to good guy by the Ben 10 vs the Universe.
Also just a cute compilation of Kevin and Ben teamwork (along with some Gwevin if you squint)
Someone switches the signs on the DoD and Catalyst shower rooms so some poor Catalyst boy opens the wrong door and is getting all these dangerous weapons thrown at him but if a DoD were to open the wrong door, they guys are in the middle of slapping each other with wet towels to notice her.