The final Wednesday-Thursday drama to premiere this month arrived this week. Mask hit the ground running by taking over top position among its competitors. The show ticks all the boxes of a makjang melo. I’m not impressed yet but overall it did a nice job in introducing the players, adding a flavour of complexity. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that second episode will be better.
Episode 1: Happiness of Three Million won
A woman (Soo Ae) is driving an uncontrolled car with a man (whose face we can’t see). The car falls down a cliff and is hung on a rope. She frantically calls someone named lunatic on her phone. We see an unknown man telling her about on offer he made to her. She agrees to it but he says the condition for the plan to succeed is for her to die. She agrees and then sends a voice call to her father, mother and brother. The man calls her Byun Ji Sook. The car falls in the river down the cliff.
We open up to the funeral of Ji Sook, where in a voice-over she says that it is not bad to die as there won’t be any loan sharks or no nagging from boss. She can get money too. We see her family crying. Then she says that she will miss her mom’s food and then says that it all happened because she met that bastard two days ago.
Few days back.
We meet Choi Min Woo (Joo Ji Hoon), who is the heir of SJ Group. He is obsessed about cleanliness, even imagining all germs spreading from everyone. We can see that his dad is not happy with him. He meets Seo Eun Ha (again Soo Ae) and they are about to get married, but purely for business convenience. This is a contract marriage and she tells him that she loves someone and will continue meeting that guy after marriage. She adds that they won’t have any physical relation. He is equally uninterested in her.
Ji Sook works in a departmental store. Her coworker tells her that she saw a woman just like her but she was rich. Of course, Ji Sook doesn’t take it seriously. She is threatened by a loan shark from whom her dad took money. He warns her to give interest of 3 million won within 2 days.
She gets a message that there will be a high school reunion. She goes there in hopes of borrowing money but gets humiliated by her mean classmates. One of her classmates, a guy, sees all this and comes and takes her away from there. He was into her then and even now tries to make a move. But she makes it clear that she has no such intention. He then throws some money for her and tells her this is the reason she came anyway. She feels humiliated and drinks a lot.
She is lying on street when Min Woo sees her and thinks she is Eun ha and assumes that she is in this condition due to that man she loves. At first he tries to ignore but with the fear that everyone will disregard him for leaving his fiancée, he goes back and takes her to a hotel. She is totally drunk and mistakenly keeps her money inside one of the bathrobes, which Min Woo wears after taking bath as she vomited on his clothes. He leaves the place.
In the morning, she wakes up and rushes to her work place as she is late. Eun Ha is shopping there and reads something about doppelgänger that the one who sees the other first dies. She accidentally sees Ji Sook and both the ladies are shocked.
Ji Sook gets a call that her dad tried to commit suicide and is in hospital. She rushes there but he is out of danger. She asks mom if she has a twin but mom tells her that this is all nonsense. Her brother Ji Hyuk (Hoya) is planning to robe a bank for money but we can see that he doesn’t have the intention as he keeps on practising about it nervously but ultimately he gets a call from Ji Sook and doesn’t do anything.
Time to meet Min Woo’s family. He has an elder sister Mi Yun (Yoo In young) and her husband Suk Hoon (Yeon Jung Hoon) who lives with this family. Dad and step mom are also there. These people have a tense relationship with each other.
A servant tells Suk Hoon that she found money in Min Woo’s bathrobe.
Mi Yun is pissed off at the idea that everyone thinks she wants to take over the business to kick her brother out. It’s clear that everyone thinks Min Woo is not normal mentally. He meets a doctor and then when the latter asks about pills and all, he starts shouting like crazy that he is not crazy. There is something about his real mom that he thinks she was murdered, quite opposite to what everyone thinks (accident). It all happened when he was a kid.
Ji Sook can’t find the money and goes back to that hotel. While searching, she finds Min woo’s business card.
At night, Min Woo imagines that a body is floating on the swimming pool. It looks like he frequently has this thing.
Min Woo is having lunch with Eun Ha. He is surprised that she doesn’t remember that night. He even checks that wound she has on her knee, but of course it’s not there, as that was Ji Sook. Mi Yun comes there and tells her that no one wants her in this house. So we come to know that Eun Ha’s father is a prosecutor and Min Woo’s dad has several accusations against him and hence they are getting married for mutual benefit as she will get some shares too.
Mi Yun looses her mind when Eun Ha tells her that she has nothing to lose, but Mi yun’s dad could go to jail. Then Suk Hoon takes her away. It looks like the man Eun Ha is in love with is Suk hoon as she stares at him with longing.
When Min Woo wants to discuss about marriage date, Eun Ha asks him if his mom will be coming to their marriage and also that she has heard that she is a kept woman. She tells him that her mom abandoned her long time back.
Inside, Mi Yun tells Suk hoon to never take anyone else’s side in front of her. They hear a scream.
Outside, we see Eun ha lying on the pool, unconscious while Min Woo lies on the floor, looking very weak and not himself.
The first thing that came to mind after watching this episode was that it has a very depressing vibe. Maybe it will improve from here on as things will fall into place. If we see nuts and bolts, this is fairly an easy, simple story of a doppelgänger taking place of a rich woman under orders of some cunning man. But they have executed it in such a way that things look complicated. In the opening scene, I thought we are seeing the rich woman but then as the plot progressed, it was clear that she was Ji Sook, the hard-working, struggling poor girl. My gut feeling tells me that she fell down not to die but there is some elaborate plan there. I think most of the people in this universe are either evil or crazy, except of course our heroine Ji Sook. I think the drama will slowly open the layers about what are everybody’s intentions. Suk Hoon has not shown any bad side yet but I think we’ll soon see his real face.
This trope of a poor girl working to make ends meet and then being chased by a loan shark, has become quite tired. In fact the drama has lots of things that have been used several times in dramaland. But I’m glad that we quickly established everything in this hour and can look forward to what is in store. Min Woo and Eun Ha never had any emotional connection and I look forward to the love that will blossom after he gets married to Ji Sook. I’m all for marriage of convenience stories, as I’ve repeated this like a CD stuck in a music player. It will be fun to see his attitude when he’ll see the day and night difference between the woman he was marrying and the one he will see after marriage. I wonder if he pushed Eun Ha in that pool. I think maybe yes, after what she said about his mom and all his mental conditions are connected with his mother.
I’m happy to see Joo Ji Hoon back on my screen. I’m glad that some comic moments were thrown in and hopefully, we’ll not go darker all the way. You can get better with some upbeat air, Show.