First Mixed Impressions–“Last” Episodes 1/2 Updated (with warnings)

There’s a whole bunch of new dramas starting up, and I have several on my list to check out. One of them was “Last” with Yoon Kye Sang. I’ve liked this actor for a while; I thought he was fantastic as the TCM doctor/2nd lead in “Greatest Love” and then he was the lead in “Beyond the Clouds” which apparently, no one liked except for me. That show contains the single best line I’ve ever heard uttered in a K-drama: “Why is it so complicated and difficult to like someone?”. It should be the motto for every K-drama ever produced, and my own personal life as well. *screencap credit to Viki*

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The ratings for “Beyond the Clouds” were abysmal, partially because it was going against “Empress Ki”, and I remember reading in the Soompi Forums that YKS was quite disappointed about the whole deal. I wondered if he was going to permanently ditch his acting career and go back and focus on his music–he soon got back together with the other members of g.o.d. and they put out new music and played some well received concerts.

When the dramas went on temporary hiatus for a couple of weeks last year during the Sewol Ferry tragedy, I hunted around the internet and found a few subbed episodes of a foodie show YKS starred in called “One Table“. This unintentionally hilarious reality show made me a fan of his. It’s a shame YKS doesn’t do more rom-coms, or melos where he can give some comic relief (see pic above), because he seems to have a nice sense of humor–although it may be a little on the dry side for some tastes. I like that–understated humor can be better than the slapstick stuff. I also liked that the show portrayed him as slightly dorky–a contrast to his on-screen confident persona. Highlights of the first episode include deciding with his hoobae/wingman/buddy Kwon Se In to have a contest where the one who scores the lowest on the entrance test to a culinary school has to run through the main mall in Seoul with only underwear on (!) and how YKS deals with an pretty and aggressive ahjumma who tries valiantly to set him up with her daughter on a date! There’s also a scene in Episode 2 where YKS has a photo shoot in the supermarket. *Screencap Credit to Youtube*

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Sadly, I have never seen a handsome guy like that in the produce section of my local H-Mart, or any other (Asian or non-Asian) grocery store around here. I must shop at the wrong stores.

The shallower part of Shamrockmom also likes how YKS can rock the facial hair. Not every actor can do that–most of the time, it just looks bad. I think YKS looks better with facial hair than without, although the pic above is not exactly supporting my opinion. Similar to Cha Seung Won,there is something about the way it grows in that “so” pattern (소)…ahh, I can’t help myself. It’s hawt. I admit to liking the ‘bad boy’ look every now and again. Add in some soulful eyes with intense brooding gazes, and I am done.

To the best of my knowledge, only DramaFever is subbing “Last”, and there is some delay in the subs (Friday night broadcast=Monday afternoon subs) Tiveee and Dramacool have it too. Unfortunately, due to technical problems with Tiveee, I can’t get any good screencaps. Tiveee is working on it, and I will edit this post and add in some pics this weekend. Update on 8/1–Done!

*All screencaps from Tiveee.com*

The first episode starts out strong. I love a show with a great opening–wimpy and meandering openings make me lose interest immediately. Jang Tae Ho (YKS) is a stock market day trader, and it’s obvious he plays fast and loose with the rules. Supremely overconfident, he’s trying for a big score so he can have 1 billion Won to get married to his cool and detached girlfriend Jung Min (who I already don’t like) and move to NYC. He gets a chance to work in Manhattan, but I think the subbers left out a zero when they subbed the salary:

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There’s no way could you live on $80,000 USD in Manhattan and have a roof over your head, let alone support a wife, even with commissions. Not when an apartment is easily $5000 or more per month. $800,000–that would be a bottom barrel starting salary for Manhattan living. (Shoot, even here in SoCal, $80K is barely a middle class income–I know because I wish I made that kind of money so I could move up into the middle class!)  TH has even borrowed money from loan sharks–another bad idea. JM turns down his proposal until he’s got the deal done, and has the 1 billion Won in his bank account. Then something very bad goes wrong with this business deal–and suddenly TH’s just lost 35 billion Won. ($30 million USD) Uh Oh. He tries to run, but way too late–the loan shark baddies are already there.

I should warn you if you haven’t seen this show already–there is a very intense “waterboarding” scene, and then TH and his buddy and fellow stock trader Min Soo are strapped in a car and pushed off a dock. MS doesn’t make it, and TH nearly drowns. It’s really scary, and after those two scenes, I decide to watch this show with the remote in my hand, ready to FF through anything that might cause me nightmares. The fight scenes later on are also violent, but don’t cross over into gratuitously violent, at least for now. It won’t take much though–they are right at the line for me.

With only the cash he got from pawning the diamond engagement ring he was gonna give his girlfriend, TH now finds himself hungry, homeless, and on the run from the loan sharks, his boss and the authorities.

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He blows through the cash quickly, and finds himself at the Seoul Station because he’s hungry, and there is a charity group there giving out free meals. There’s a pretty girl–Na Ra, a goody-two-shoes nurse/soup kitchen volunteer he meets. BTW, the look she gives him while he’s in line would be the same one I would give:

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(What the Heck is a Hottie like you doing in a place like this?)

and a new comic relief/sidekick Hae Jin, who initially coaches another newbie on how to beg properly, with TH as the example patsy.

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It is gradually revealed that there is a whole hierarchy of individuals who take money from the homeless beggars, and channel it upstairs to the #1 Big Boss Kwak Heung San (Lee Beom Soo)

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who is making a tax-free fortune exploiting the homeless. Whoa. It’s organized crime all the way….and it looks like the firm TH used to work for is involved with the Big Boss’s dealings as well. If the waterboarding, drowning and violent fistfight scenes aren’t enough, one of the individuals on that hierarchy extracts body parts from dead homeless people and sells them on the black market. Holy Cow! The makeshift morgue where this happens and the icky tools are shown too. This show is certainly not for the faint of heart. I should also warn you that Mi Joo (the mistress of the #1 Big Boss) gets slapped around with some significant bruising shown–and everyone seems to shrug.

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That is not a good sign for me to continue watching. I nearly dropped “Healer” (which I liked a lot) after a particularly violent scene where a woman took a beating.

TH wants to recoup his losses, and get out of the jam he’s in, so he asks one of the other bosses (who used to be a champion fighter) to teach him to fight–the idea being that he will fight his way up to become the #1 Big Boss. TH has already decked one of the smaller bosses over a 5000 Won bill he finds, so he’s got some respect from the other homeless dudes.

I will admit I have a hard time feeling empathy for TH. Dude, you played the game and you knew the stakes. You have only yourself to blame. When bad things happen to good people–that’s rotten, and makes me root for the good people.  When bad things happen to people who do bad things–I tend to shrug and move on. The writer has not made TH’s character a super sympathetic guy either. He’s self centered and overconfident.

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I don’t think he’s learned anything yet about being humble or repenting from the wrong decisions he made. I know I am supposed to cheer for him, because he’s the “good guy”; except he’s not as squeaky clean as I usually like my heroes. However, if TH is compared to the other baddies on this show–heh. Then he’s a saint.

The ladies in this show seem a bit flat and one-dimensional right now, but I think that may change in a few more episodes. My initial hope is that the nurse/soup kitchen volunteer Na Ra will have both a backbone and a brain. If she ends up just being a doormat or a ‘damsel in distress’, that will be disappointing. So far, she is showing that she has possession of both brain and spine. Mi Joo, the mistress of the #1 Big Boss who takes a beating  is one to watch out for–she seems like the type to go for a betrayal plot against the Big Boss. I would be thrilled to see that happen. She is also connected to the guy teaching TH how to fight–not exactly sure how that works. Is she a former girlfriend? Jung Min has something up her sleeve too–she already dumped TH at the end of Episode 1, and found a new boyfriend who seems to be her Daddy’s toadie. I wonder if she didn’t mess around with something behind the scenes that landed TH in the predicament he’s in right now.

There are some issues I have with this show, but I will give it at least another week, as I tend to give JTBC dramas an extra pass. I am not seeing any commentary on this show on the usual K-drama reviewing sites, and the Soompi Forum is eerily quiet as well. I don’t think this is gonna be a very popular drama, but it might be interesting nonetheless. My three readers know that even though I do enjoy some popular shows (“My Love from another Star”), I am all about different and interesting things to watch.  If “Last” turns into a ‘Fight Club’ (fights for the sake of fighting), the plot gets overly convoluted or I find it boring, I will drop it. If the plot moves along, the violence is not gratuitous and there is some good character development, I might stick it out. I really would like to see TH take down the baddies; I am seriously overdue for seeing the bad guys lose in a drama.

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2 thoughts on “First Mixed Impressions–“Last” Episodes 1/2 Updated (with warnings)

  1. I thought the acting here was great, but I agree with you that the show didn’t really give me a reason to root for the main guy. He had a lot of money, but decided to sleep in the best of hotels instead of conserving it. Then, as a homeless person, he still seems the same arrogant jerk that views people as stepping stones for the life he wishes to lead. It’s okay that he’s not a good guy, but I don’t know why I should care about what he’s doing either.

    Are you still watching this? I tried episode two, but gave up half way. Does it get better?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I am still watching. Episodes 3 and 4 are slowly starting to show TH’s growth as a decent human being, although it’s 2 steps forward and 1 step back. I’m interested enough to keep watching for now. I really like it when the show focuses on TH and the other homeless guys, and less on the crew of bad dudes.

      Like

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