18 Again: Episodes 11-12 Review

These two episodes blow in with a slightly different tang to previous weeks, and while the plot somewhat slows down, there are a lot of great moments for secondary characters to shine and grow…or sing and make sweet yet horribly embarrassing idiots of themselves—take your pick! While I watched like a shallow fangirl, Saner and Anisa have some more thoughtful critique to offer on some of the dodgier paths the show trod this week, and set out to make me see the light. (The real cure is to stop watching dramas after midnight and go the eff to sleep.)


Saya: Well!!! That wasn’t the Episode 12 crisis I was expecting!

Saner: I…well. Sigh. I was frustrated with Dae-young these two episodes. Also, the dating issues we spoke about last week popped up and my brow is unadorably crinkled in confusion. I mean, if I am upset and crying, I need some ice cream/brownies/CAKE, not a snog.

Anisa: Yeah, I have… a lot of thoughts. And I’m not super happy with where we ended in either 11 or 12, even if both episodes had a bunch of great character moments outside the main plot progression. 

Saya: I feel like I watched this week pretty differently compared to you! Those are legit criticisms, and one half of me agrees…but the other half doesn’t want to think too hard about it, especially if we’re looking at it from Dae-young’s perspective, where he’s still fully in the headspace of being himself, which he still identifies with being her husband. It was hardly a snog, though! (I hate that word, why does anyone use it?) And why am I being defensive? 😂

Saner: Okay. A peck. It was still weird. And I use it deliberately about kisses I find unappealing. I’m childish like that 😂

Anisa: But Saya, this isn’t week one, when Dae-young was still getting used to his younger body and going off like an ajusshi on everyone, with zero awareness of how he’s perceived. He’s pretty much adjusted to being Woo-young by now. I definitely understand his weariness at having to continue the facade, and how it grows more upsetting with time that his family don’t know him, but literally all he has to do to counter that is not continue the facade. Kisses are no substitute for truth! (And to clarify—he is no longer her husband. So even if he was himself, still no unsolicited kissy-face. And never any of the drunken kind.)

Saya: Oh wait, I forgot about that. I spent way too long studying Da-jung’s face for signs that she wasn’t fully alert and present, but she looked like she was—so when it was finally confirmed that she was, in fact, drunk, I forgot to adjust my opinion. YES kissing someone who is drunk is definitely not okay. Just so we all know where I stand on that. 😂 I also apparently promptly wiped these parts from my mind, so don’t mind me, I am NOT defending it, I have just already expunged the drama’s dubious choices from my mind. 😅 I’m also deep into willing the story to move on and bring Ajusshi Dae-young back proper.

Saner: *shakes pompoms behind Anisa’s head in rabid support* Even if we hadn’t had Ajusshi Dae-young back proper, an explanation would have sufficed. After all the Da-jung fake outs, a simple “Da-jung. It’s me. I’m here” would have been enough narratively to lift that moment for me. But to kiss her and then be like, “Oh, why isn’t she suddenly into me and enjoying these romantic moments with my 17-year old doppelganger?” 

Anisa: Exactly! Saner gets me. Come over to the light side, Saya 😂

Saya: Why do I feel attacked!!!!

Saner: It’s the pompoms. They’re rather intimidating. 

Anisa: I also really don’t appreciate the position this all puts Da-jung in. On one hand, I don’t get Dae-young’s behaviour, but on the other, after all the regret, all the talk of what they lost due to their quick divorce and lack of communication—which was beautifully done, even if I hate the MC who made Da-jung talk about it on live television—now he’s doing something that can only make her uncomfortable and potentially lose faith in her own judgement? This is why I don’t like it when one lead is lying to another for the majority of a drama. We always end up here eventually.

Saya: Does that mean that neither of you really enjoyed this week? (Also, in that light: it was an Episode 12 crisis properly done then, if cheaply?)

Saner: I mean, I cringed a lot. And I mean that in the most loving, respectful way possible. From the beginning of Episode 11, to Episode 12 when we opened with Ja-sung’s singing—which was beautiful but even everyone in the drama admitted it was cringe.

Anisa: There was SO MUCH awkward public and semi-public one-sided affection this week! Why, writer-nim? You were doing so well. But there were a lot of small moments I loved, which I will happily list in highlights. 

Saya: I’m waiting for that part 😅 I actually didn’t have a lot else on my mind this week except a whole lot of 3am howling because it was still a pretty big cliffhanger.

Saner: Okay *inhales* Dae-young did Ja-sung dirrrrrrrrty with that suggestion that he knew would ick Shi-ah out and embarrass Ja-sung but I was so impressed with the way Shi-ah handled it and allowed Ja-sung to keep his pride whilst being honest with him.

Anisa: Shi-ah is clearly more mature than her dad, who should really trust her judgement more. Maybe the explanation is that even 37-year-old Dae-young is subject to the teenage hormones in his 18-year-old body?

Saya: Actually, that was a thing I really enjoyed this week between Shi-ah and Da-jung, how we’re shown—and have been shown since the start—just how similar mother and daughter are, but also how they are so very much their own people.

It’s surprisingly refreshing to have this girl in the middle of so much love geometry be totally uninterested in any of them. I feel like she has the freedom to be that character partly because the high school love story has already been played out with Da-jung and Dae-young. It would be boring to simply repeat the same thing just with different characters.

Saner: I like that Shi-ah’s feelings are an enigma until she speaks—I don’t know if it’s the way she’s played but I really trust her and take her at her word when she says something. So when she was silent during Ja-sung’s big ol’ confession, I already knew it was a no.

Anisa: Yeah, the actress is doing a great job. Shi-ah’s such a smart, grounded, sensible and tough girl, but she still has the vulnerability and brattiness that makes her a believable teenager, and a lot of that’s rooted in actress Roh Jung-eui’s performance. 

Saya: It’s also kind of cute that that girlish (romantic?) awakening falls on Shi-woo. No triangles, just this sweet young man who is finally letting himself blossom. 😭

Saner: I confess: I don’t think I’ve been persuaded to root for either of the twins to be dating by the end of the show *runs away* except mebbe Ji-ho and Shi-ah. MAYBE.

Saya: Not for dating. Just to see Shi-woo now compared to Shi-woo at the start of the show—bullied, keeping-his-head-down little Shi-woo. Bloom, my child, like the lovely flower you are. 😭😭

Saner: Yep, I’m there with you. Smile, Shi-woo, smile! And then beast eyes on the court. Awesome.

Anisa: Yeah! *brings pom-poms back out for Shi-woo* I do feel like we got not enough twins and too much adult angst that went nowhere this week. I miss them!

But speaking of adult angst, what did y’all think of Deok-jin and Hye-in this week? Was anyone else slightly perturbed by the Aladdin cosplay?

Saner: Yessssssss, was waiting for you to mention this. Deok-jin’s first cosplay was AWESOME and I love how they built into that with him slapping the make-up on and crying and then it turning out he was dressing up as the mad hatter. The second cosplay was…I literally said out loud, “I think I’m offended.” I was waiting for Hye-in to turn up as Jasmine to confirm the character so that didn’t happen and then they made a gag that could have been made with any other costume that wasn’t as possibly controversial.

Saya: I also wasn’t sure at first if it was offensive (it was, a little, later) but I laughed so hard when they showed us that wide shot of him in all his princely splendour at the bar.

Anisa: I gotta say I was scrutinising my screen VERY hard to figure out if he’d darkened his face. (I think… very slightly? But he definitely gave himself darker, bushier eyebrows.) I was unsure too, but then Hye-in showed up as Jasmine so I’m going with Aladdin. I don’t know. I wasn’t raging or anything, but it definitely didn’t feel as fun and harmless as the Mad Hatter costume. 

Saya: I was scrutinising the costume and had decided it was Prince of Persia for the gaming aspect…but yeah, Hye-in. But also she looked gorgeous? Mixed feelings.

Saner: I also noticed the faux ‘tan’/darker skin-tone vibe. Just unimpressed. 😐 Why not the genie? The sultan can’t date his daughter! What was with the incestuous vibe in this week’s episodes?!

Anisa: I think it’s supposed to be Aladdin in Prince Ali form. But yeah, I think the vagueness kind of supports our point, doesn’t it? If we can’t tell whether Deok-jin is playing a character from an Orientalist film, a character from an Orientalist video game that was turned into a film, or a real Arab in a jalabiyya, we have a problem. Contrast this with the instant recognition of the Mad Hatter, with a quick shot of the movie poster for the uninitiated.

Saya: Is this the time to admit I’ve never watched Aladdin? (But I have played Prince of Persia…) 🙄

Saner: My squeals this week seem to have just been replaced by heavy sighs. I was trying to work out the theme—he’s showing her “A Whole New World”? But she’s already a part of that world…

Anisa: Yeah. I honestly felt that his original declaration at the club, that she’s beautiful even in her fangirl garb (and btw, what’s that weird translation of deokhu as “anime fan”?), combined with his speech at the launch party for his game, were perfect. That whole Aladdin interlude was completely unnecessary. 

Saya: I kept wondering why they wouldn’t just translate that to the universally understood otaku, which comes with all the attendant connotations built in.

Anisa: Or just fangirl and fanboy! Like, there is already an English term for this. And while I agree on the connotations of otaku, fangirl/boy is more relevant given that they seem to be fans of Western entertainment like comic books and Marvel movies.

Saner: Agreed. The translation threw me off: when I’d seen them play video games, adore Marvel characters, be defined as “anime fans” and then dress up as movie characters from Western films…I was SUPER confused. Also, as someone with an interest in—*ahem* …passing interest in cosplay, it seemed the community where they were was really vibrant and buzzing so I didn’t understand the hang-ups.

Saya: You cosplay? *very interested* 

Saner: Not outside my imagination!

Anisa: We are highly supportive of your cosplay activities! Even if we aren’t allowed to see them 😂

Saya: We also are highly supportive of keeping it private if you’re happier that way! *stops self demanding photo evidence* 

Saner: Oh lord, people reading this are going to get the wrong idea….Suddenly, I deeply empathise with Hye-in’s dilemma! 😂

Anisa: You know we here at Dramas Over Flowers embrace every kind of nerdy fandom ❤︎ 

Saya: Including the kind that involves sometimes letting your brain nap while you nom on dramas! I’ll be honest, ladies, I watched the show very lightly this week, so this is the first time I’m thinking about some parts more critically. Yet there was still so much I still enjoyed in these two episodes, which I now realise are just so many great little character moments. So: highlight reel time!

Saner: KWON YUMI IN THE STORM! Hahahahhahahahaa!

Anisa: OH MY GOD that was gold! The fact that she chose it out of jealousy and spite makes it even better.

Saya: I replayed the one second of that paper slapping Yumi in the face SO. MANY. TIMES. And I laughed like a loon every single time.

Saner: Even now, the memory makes me snerk. Super satisfying.

Anisa: I actually got so much entertainment from JBC this week. Anchor Heo (who is always secretly rooting for Da-jung and I love it) taking courage from Da-jung to announce his own divorce was both adorable and pitiable. 

Saya: Ahhh I loved that. I mean, he is so often a comic relief character, but as so often is with this show, it was funny on the outside, but then touching and a little sad on the inside. This idea that Da-jung is someone whose whole being gives others courage to try to be their best selves, too.

Saner: I just want to give Anchor Heo a hug and a cookie. He’s so cute.

Anisa: And the entire newbie crew, Anchor Heo, and Evil Boss watching Da-jung overcome every live snafu in total admiration. When the other new anchors said they’d have caused a broadcasting accident in Da-jung’s place, and Yumi scoffed, “I could have done that,” and they turned in unison and said, “YOU?!” I might have howled in glee.

Saner: They’re so done with her and I love it. “You were trending too—for ten minutes.” Then cuts back to Yumi in the storm chamber getting swept about and I was DONE! 

Saya: I can never get enough of Yumi being put down. Or hit in the face with a flying newspaper. It’s so right and just.

Anisa: Yeah. I love how the other anchors totally have her number now and aren’t giving her the polite benefit of the doubt anymore.

Saner: We actually didn’t mention Da-jung overcoming the various and numerous issues that popped up during the live broadcast of a pilot show (lol, why would you ever put the two together?). 

Saya: She is an absolute queen, as always! I actually was chortling all the way through the first couple, like a kind of semi-genteel, anonymised Jeremy Kyle, which is (was?) a trashy British morning talk show.

Saner: I think it was touted as “bear-baiting of the working class,” or something. Like Jerry Springer but with less stripping.

Saya: And no dignity whatsoever.

Anisa: Jerry Springer also had no dignity, though?

Saya: Right, but Da-jung does! Despite those jerks who are supposed therapists HAHA NO. 

Are we going to talk about the pool, please? 😂 “She can’t swim”? Heroic manly diving? The embarrassment of finding yourself barely hip-deep in water and the damsel not at all in need of rescue? Da-jung looking like she’s ready to drown herself right about now? 

Anisa: I don’t know how I felt about that. It was funny, but I also cringed hard from secondhand embarrassment. I do love Ji-hoon finding all of (what he thinks is) Woo-young’s adolescent posturing completely adorable. Ji-hoon just grins at Woo-young’s obvious “crush” no matter how rude the kid gets. He’s like a second away from ruffling his hair. (I’m half in love with Ji-hoon’s cheeky grins.)

Saya: Only half? 😄

Saner: Ji-hoon is very even-tempered in the face of Dae-young’s belligerence. Like, although I’m rooting for him, I would also smack him upside the head if he eyeballed me like he does to Ji-hoon? 

Anisa: Dae-young definitely deserved some slaps this week. (Don’t argue with me, Saya.) 

Saya: ! I was going to say that he got at least one!

Anisa: Hehehe okay I’m just ragging on you now. 

Saya: But oh, let’s not forget how pure and overflowing Dae-young’s joy is over the privilege he feels to receive Shi-ah’s friendship. “Shi-ah finally accepted me as her friend. Not just any friend, but a good friend.” 🥺 It’s moments like those that made this week still feel emotionally filling to me despite the missteps. I think at the point that a show has built the level of goodwill with me that 18 Again has, I become much more lenient about (or even attentive to) its problems.

I also think this stretch is often the slow phase, which is down to having too many episodes and forcibly pushing the big reveals and most important confrontations to the very end. These two hours were definitely filler.

Saner: It’s weird because beforehand I was amazed at how much story they managed to fit into two hours every week but this week felt like it was dragging.

Anisa: I agree. This would have been a lovely 12-episode drama. (I know I say that about nearly every show, but you can’t deny I’m right!)

Saya: It’s a valid point though, given that this director’s last project was Go Back Couple/Go Back Spouses, which was a 12-episoder.

Saner: Makes sense. Here’s hoping for less filler, more heart next week.

Anisa: We’ll be back, hopefully to see Dae-young telling some painful truths, getting the straightening out he deserves, and giving Da-jung a break from feeling like she’s perving on a teenager. 🙃

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