*Warning – spoilers included
Big was a highly anticipated drama, written by the famed Hong Sisters (My Girl, Hong Gil Dong, You’re Beautiful and Best/Greatest Love) and starring Gong Yoo in his first comback drama since the 2007 drama the Coffee Prince and his military service. Well with high expectations comes big disappointments. Big never delivered on its potential throughout the series and it ended with a highly polarizing finale. People either love it or hated it. It left them satisfied or the entire drama was ruined for them.
As for me, when I finished watching the finale, I was stunned and not in a good way. The first thought that popped into my head as the credits rolled by was, “That’s it? This can’t possibly be it.” I played the final scene a few times hoping for more explanations and a better closure with resolutions to the big major questions leading up the end.
Out of all the questions and loose ends left leading up the finale, the only one that got answered, however unsatisfactorily was the question of the OTP. After a week of processing and reading opinions from various bloggers that have recapped the drama, I’ve decided that Big’s biggest flaw wasn’t in the ending. It was in the setup and the subsequent expectations that I (and I’m sure many other viewers) had throughout the series.
Big was thought of as a romantic comedy with a body switch between Kang Kyung Joon, an 18-year old boy and a Seo Yoon Jae, a 30-year-old man. Since Gong Yoo plays Yoon Jae, the natural assumption was that Seo Yoon Jae would be the male half of the OTP. The body switch would be mutual like Freaky Friday with a switch back after some lesson learned.
Well, you know the saying when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me? Only Kyung Joon wakes up in Yoon Jae’s body. Yoon Jae in Kyung Joon’s body is an unexplained coma and a romance develops between Kyung Joon and Da Ran. Whuck??? Yeah, I’m sure a lot of us scratched our heads. The drama works while Gong Yoo plays Kyung Joon, but what happens when the souls switch back? Gong Yoo is the second lead? Or is the switch permanent? Then what happens to Yoon Jae? What happens to Kyung Joon’s body?
Scenario 1: Gong Yoo keeps playing Kyung Joon and Yoon Jae either dies in Kyung Joon’s body or they live forever in each other’s body. Okay, kind of sad and sucky for both and confusing for others especially since most don’t know about the switch.
Scenario 2: Yoon Jae is really the lead. Except we all start falling in love with the Kyung Joon and Da Ran OTP. So, unless the switch back happens soon where we can start seeing the Yoon Jae and Da Ran romance growing, this won’t work.
Scenario 3: Kyung Joon in his own body is the lead. Except really the actor really looks like a 16-year-old and the OTP don’t physically match. And an already questionable romance between a student and a teacher becomes more questionable. But if we could see the onscreen chemistry between the two actors, perhaps we could buy it?
They look okay, but…
None of the scenarios are completely satisfying as Gong Yoo continue to play Kyung Joon week after week and the viewers get attached to Kyung Joon’s character, but in Gong Yoo’s body. I mean, look at the man.
Look at the chemistry between the two.
Scenario 4: Kyung Joon switches back with no memories of the switch and everything goes back to normal… except for poor Da Ran! What kind of a romantic comedy would this be? And does she or doesn’t she stay with Yoon Jae when she’s been in love with Kyung Joon?
Scenario 5: Kyung Joon switches back with or without memories and the romance with Da Ran starts up again a few years later… the more common plot device and the more likely scenario except how do they age up that baby face?
I could probably come up with more scenarios, but again, nothing that completely satisfies.
Then, the drama decides, for no real good reason, to have Da Ran and Kyung Joon in Soon Jae’s body to marry. How can the viewer picture Da Ran with anyone else after seeing this?
Then, to really mess with the viewers and it’s revealed that Kyung Joon and Yoon Jae are brothers. Talk about one f-ed up situation!
In the end, the drama ends with a scenario that’s close to #5, but with many questions unanswered. As much as I hated the ending, in retrospect, it was the only way the drama could end. In retrospect, the Hong Sisters had written themselves into a corner where no one was going to be fully satisfied and the ending they went with was the most palatable, however unsatisfying it was.
When I try to rate this drama I feel really conflicted. I love Gong Yoo and his performance was so fantastic that I really enjoyed watching the drama on the whole. There were some glaring flaws though like the side story line of the Kyung Joon’s uncle’s unrequited love was okay for an episode. But then it came up again and again for no purpose whatsoever. Also, secondary characters remained caricatures throughout the drama. Finally, the unnecessarily convoluted plot with twists and turns that were never resolved fully. So, 3.5 for enjoyment and 2.5 for quality? Except 3.5 seems really high considering that I can’t really recommend this drama. I guess I would recommend this drama to Gong Yoo lovers. His performance is well worth the pain, but otherwise, it’s skippable.
*I wrote this awhile ago, but never published.