Big (빅), episodes 9 to 16

Ha. Ha. Ha. Haha. Hahahaha. Hahahahahahasdjf;laksdfalksddfjk. Sob.

I wrote three insanely long all-caps sentences of rage, but I’ve since simmered down and deleted them like an adult. Ahem.

Big was such a disappointment.

Even from the beginning, it’s not like we expected this to be a masterpiece. There were some writing and logic inconsistencies, but they were easy to ignore because the set-up was cute and the chemistry between the leads was infectious.

The problem were the latter episodes. What didn’t work in Big is how the Hong Sisters chose to write their world of fantasy. I mentioned a lot in my write-ups on 49 Days that it’s easy to create a world where science and reality don’t match the ones we know, but what’s hard and where 49 Days excelled was in how the writers created a fantasy, but still instilled realities into that fantasy.

The rules of the 49 Days world exist and then the characters lived within the confines of that world. Whereas in Big, the characters lived lives outside of their fantastical world, and the rules of that world were then bent to accommodate the characters as circumstances came up.

In Big, the story’s fantastical dilemmas never succeed in resolving themselves because the rules in this world became moving targets as the Hong Sisters frantically tried to piece things together near the end, and then proceeded to backpedal as new problems came up. Oh, Yoon-jae and Kyung-joon have to switch back now but our leads haven’t resolved their romance yet? We’ll have them meet in a fuzzy underwater world and have Kyung-joon delay the switch by asking for some additional time. Oh, so Da-ran isn’t yet sure of her feelings for Kyung-joon? I know, we’ll make it a rule in the 11th hour that Kyung-joon loses his memories after he switches back. That will force Da-ran to confess!

If you think about it, the made-up world in Big isn’t even that complicated compared to the trickier circumstances we’ve seen in stories like Secret Garden, 49 Days, or even the more recent Rooftop Prince. Two men switched bodies. They need to figure how to switch back. They will switch back, or they won’t switch back. But the Hong Sisters couldn’t even handle that.

Then, on top of the failure to abide by fantastical circumstances, the plot was horrid. The antagonists knew so much before the protagonists began to even glimpse at what was coming. The story was progressing for the antagonists at lightening speed while Gil Da-ran is still at stage one of total ineptitude, metaphorically playing in the sandbox while holding up a flower, muttering, “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me.”

The story isn’t resolved not because the Hong Sisters deliberately wanted to make the finale open-ended. That’s giving them too much credit. It’s because they didn’t know what the fuck they were doing and just stuck an ending in there that resolves nothing. Big‘s ending is one of the sloppiest, most heavy-handed conclusions I’ve ever watched.

I’ve stated in my previous review that by the laws of A-list casting in all film/TV industries ever dictate that A-list Gong Yoo will get the girl. This was Gong Yoo’s first drama out of the army, written by an anticipated writing duo. He just had to get the girl, meaning that either Yoon-jae was going to get the girl, or Kyung-joon-in-Yoon-jae’s body was going to get the girl. (Why in the world were some people upset that Shin Won-ho didn’t show up to give Lee Min-jung a peck on the lips?)

The issue then became how Kyung-joon-in-Yoon-jae’s body was going to get the girl. It became clear in the final stretch that Da-ran had honest to goodness fallen out of love with Yoon-jae, so that pretty much solves the problem of which of Gong Yoo’s characters Da-ran was going to choose. Now we have to work in logically how Kyung-joon would get the girl in Yoon-jae’s body. It means that the switch will have failed in some manner.

At this point, the story could have taken so many interesting turns. But not only did the Hong Sisters not craft one, they let a pivotal moment take place off-screen, and we were left to figure out the ending through the hazy smoke of an already messy aftermath.

The entirety of the story was building up to the point right after the switch, regardless of whether or not the switch succeeded. This is the difficulty we went into the story knowing: that a teacher had fallen in love with her student, a student that occupied the physical space her fiance used to reside in (literally). This is a deliciously tricky set-up whose payoff could have been so satisfying had it been written properly. The conflict is one that straddles an ethical boundary, and we as viewers need to be reassured that it is indeed ethical as opposed to unethical, and that reassurance could only have come after the switch.

To be dealt such a non-climax mars the drama. So many of our impressions of dramas rest on endings alone. The last two episodes were enough to turn an utterly inoffensive drama to a particularly offensive one, and that’s a shame.

Maybe next time, Hong Sisters.

(To end this on a completely shallow and tangential note, I’ve come to the conclusion the receivers of Gong Yoo’s hugs are some of the luckiest people in the world. I actually felt achy when I watched this scene.)

  • AP

    Thank you for including 49 Days in this post~! The Hong Sisters should take some notes.

    I’d also just like to add how disappointed I was that Yoon-jae’s character became completely irrelevant to the whole second half of the drama. Us finding out he wasn’t actually a playa playa… Us finding out he had been searching for Kyung-joonie… What was the point?? I am relieved that they didn’t make Shin Won-ho act as Yoon-jae at all though… that was one of my biggest worries during the first half.

    (I love that last image you used btw <3 But that scene was scary! How could you force a little kid to pop a balloon in his own face?)

  • Lisa

    Thanks for including a gif of Kris to effectively demonstrate your displeasure.

  • emmaherself

    omg it was the most disappointing gong yoo drama i’ve ever seen