Reflection of You -- Episodes 1 & 2: The Past Informs the Present (First Week Review Only)
When I first read this drama is about a woman who leaves the conditioned life style of a wife and mother for a brief period and becomes faithful to her desires. I wasn't sure what to expect, but not only that she comes in contact with a free spirit woman during that time, but also that she loses the essence of her life, made me even more confused. I wasn't sure if I was ready for what seemed like a convoluted plotted drama. I've enough on my list already, but I couldn't stop myself from at least trying to learn what the drama has to offer. And I am not disappointed I did.
Reflection of You opens beautifully, peacefully, almost picture perfect, but the first indication that things were darker than they appear was when Hee Joo (Go Hyun Jung), a famous painter and essayist, married to a rich, well connected family, gets a call that her teenage daughter Ahn Li-sa (Kim Soo Ahn) was in the hospital due to an incident at school. And when Hee Joo watches the CCTV footage to understand what happened, things quickly begin to spiral out of control as she observes a temporary art teacher beat Li-sa on the side of the head with a book, so much that she ruptures her eardrum. And as horrifying as it was to watch that unfold, what hit me hardest was the non-reaction of those watching it with her, only to find out that the biggest non-reactor is none other than Hee Joo's rich mother-in-law Park Young Sun (Kim Bo Yun) was even worse. Only after watching this interaction does parts of the introduction to the drama begin to make sense. That the relationship between the daughter-in-law and the mother-in-law, and furthermore the relationship between the temp teacher and Hee Joo, was hellish, is an understatement.
The more I watch the drama, the more I realize that the twisted relationships don't exactly end with the in-laws, but extend to everyone involved, especially the temporary art teacher Goo He Won (Shin Hyun Bin), who appears not only psychologically unstable, but also dangerous, and by the looks of things reveled at provoking Hee Joo's anger. When they first met over the school incident, He Won's behavior towards Hee Joon gave me a foreboding sense of an unpleasant past between them, despite Hee Joon not recognizing He Won, but worse that He Won is intentional with Hee Joo. The strangeness doesn't stop with just these two. Hee Joo's husband Ahn Hyun Sung (Choi Won Young) seems like a man hiding many secrets, beginning with a certain individual in a coma he keeps tabs on, who turns out to be none other than the now fully awake Seo Woo Jae (Kim Jae Young), He Won's husband. I could feel my head exploding with all the twisted, tangled web of events waiting to erupt.
And when I contemplated things couldn't get worse, the flashback into how twisted the relationships in this drama are confirms they can, and they are -- true to my sense He Won and Hee Joo were inseparable in the past. They were so close that when Hee Joo found out He Won was getting married, they went shopping together before meeting the finance, whom it appears Hee Joo is connected to, and from the tension between them intimately so. And it is at that moment that I realize the tension between the two women is centered around Woo Jae, and I am instantly curious about what, why and who, but that the secrets each individual carries are deeply rooted in their entangled past is evidently clear. As they say, the past informs the present. Memories make the map we carry, no matter how hard we try to erase it.
Let me just say, Reflection of You is a stunningly directed, aesthetically shot drama with beautiful colors and scenery. And as breathtakingly as it was presented, as raw as unexpectedly raw as the events unfold. On the onset of the drama, Go Hyun Jung (I loved her in Dear My Friends, a drama worthy of the watch) seemed intense, but she is nothing compared to Shin Hyun Bin. It is hard to imagine her as the same demur actress from Hospital Playlists, a thousand kudos to her for her brilliance in action. The same goes for Kim Jae Young, who stole my heart completely in Secret Boutique. His brief but poignant appearance filled with intensity and yearning awakened my curiosity as to the unfulfilled promises this story holds. And, of course, there is Choi Won Young as Go Hyun Jung's husband, who was remarkable in Mystic Pop-Up Bar -- they all make this drama an even more attractive prospect. Watch episodes 1 & 2 here.