Could there have been a better written time-traveling love story? (ok, that was a rhetorical question.) Queen In Hyun’s writing blew me off the roof. The execution was brilliant and the love story tore at my heart strings (o, my chorda tendinae). The impossible was possible in this drama, and the leads were smart, consistent, and a joy to develop with.
The story spans two time eras. Ji Hyun Woo plays a witty and charming scholar whose family has been sabotaged because of royal politics. He is given a talisman by a gisaeng that loves him and thus begins his time travels. We then meet Yoo In Ah’s character, a rising actress who’s spunky and not afraid to put herself first. (OMG. LOVEEE!) She is currently working on a drama and stars as Queen In Hyun. They meet in modern Seoul and thus begins their romance. (Spoilers below).
The script was so well planned out. There were little details that the drama clarified as it went along, rather than hoping its viewer had forgotten about it. When Boong-Doo cuts his Joseon hair when he decides to travel around modern Jeju island, we’re reminded that it comes with a consequence when he returned to Joseon. He had to actively conceal his lost mane. When the real Queen In Hyun hinted that she may feel more than just gratitude towards Boong-Doo, it became a plot device to drag out the final battle of Boong-Doo versus the evil Minister. Our characters had so much depth. Neither of our leads were your typical push-over or naive woman-child or condescending chaebol. Instead, Hee-Jin was a spunky actress who planted the first kiss on Boong-Doo. Hee-Jin was proactive when it came to the man she loved, and we aren’t dragged through episodes of noble idiocy where our leads contemplated whether they can stay together. This girl knew what she wanted and denoted it very clearly with her actions. (e.g. her rejecting her douchebaggy ex-boyfriend, her saying blatantly to Boong-Doo time and time again that she wants him to stay with her in the present, her telling Jo she wants to break up with Hang Dong Min in the 2nd reality even though she was aware of the media consequence… I love that.) Boong-Doo was well written as well. He is smart and easily navigates through unknown terrain. He’s a man that takes responsibility and different from the immature man-child of every single drama out there. He’s flawed in that he thinks he can transverse through anything by himself, but given his familial circumstances, it’s understandable. Hence, I would recommend QIHM.
I think there has been some unrest in the drama community regarding how the drama ended, in that the cell phone motif made no sense. So Boong-Doo burns his talisman because it didn’t work anymore and the original owner has died. Okay, that train of thought actually makes sense. Once the gisaeng died, the talisman need not follow the rules as rigidly anymore. Thus, by burning it, Boong-Doo also destroys all of Hee-Jin’s memory of him, thus creating a third reality. Okay, I buy that, and this is absolutely consistent with an earlier motif in that once any physical damage was done to the talisman, the future would re-exist in a shifted reality. But… I don’t comprehend why a cell phone call can retrieve him. Okay, fine, so the whole cause and effect. She calls him, he comes back. But how does that settle any viewer anxiety that Boong-Doo will be just called back to Joseon at any time as long as the cause fits? So perhaps, they’re trying to say Love is a greater force than some talisman, and its power can triumph over it, etc etc, but that just leaves it up to us to guess, which does not nicely provide us with closure.
Nonetheless, I don’t agree that the drama should’ve ended at episode 14 when Minister Min was killed. It leaves the warning about the “calamity” of the talisman to moot and it makes time traveling too easy. And be it that I’m a big believer of the law of conservation of energy, there has to be consequences to this travel. The drama does an amazing job selling that point, if only the cell phone motif was better done. BUT, for such a well executed drama, I’m totally onboard with overlooking those last 10 minutes of the show. It’s an amazing ride, so please consider it! (They’re not even paying me.)