Harvest Villa – A Review

My 500th post! I could not let this milestone go to waste on such a small, insignificant post, so I celebrate with a review of Harvest Villa. As tired as I was in staying up to finish this drama, I could not close my eyes and sleep. Yes – it was that. good.

I had already given my impressions on the first half of the drama, and the love I had for it holds true for the second half. In fact, I think I really REALLY liked the second half.

Episode 15 on becomes really dark – but it’s so awesome. The angst and the unfolding of secrets happens at the right time. Sure, the sentence of “The gold is hidden at…” gets a little tedious and they’re definitely stretching it for a while, but it’s amazing because of all the characters that surround Bok Kyu and their desperation for the information. The lawyer kills me – I had SO WANTED him to be good so that Bok Kyu could have one person on his side but it couldn’t be. Kim Chang Wan really kills the evil villain role; he looks so harmless that it makes him even scarier.

As for the side stories – though the landlady and the two crooks’ story still had a connection to the gold, the Park family didn’t initially – Song Yi’s love story with Ha Geun is bittersweet (and Sung Geun’s death was painful and a shock – I really didn’t think anyone would die in this drama.), while her parents’ problems of an affair kind of take on an interesting tangent. It’s got nothing to do with the gold, and the father is thankfully not the sort of evil I thought he was in the beginning. He’s evil (’cause he’s got murderous intents) but it’s to protect his family – it’s not out of greed. This side story could easily become boring, but it manages to capture my attention all the time.

However, when the Park family’s storyline became integrated with the main plot line about the gold, I was so impressed. It fit in seamlessly, and didn’t feel contrived. The affair pushes Tae Chon to want to search for the gold for instant wealth. I kind of wish I knew what happened with the photos that pinpointed Mae Ja as a murderer (even though it was an accident); Tae Chon ends up in prison, but I’m not entirely sure for what – is it because of his past crimes, or did he take the fall for his wife? And then when Ha Geun found out about Bok Gyu’s involvement with Sang Geun’s death, I thought it wasn’t as rushed as it seemed. I mean it is possible to figure things out, and Bok Gyu was on the news… If he were looking for the gold however, I would have been all, “Whut?!” All in all, pretty amazing job in making everyone search for the gold in the end. The writers were great – Jang Hang Joon and Kim Eun Hee are a husband/wife, director/writer team that are currently working on Sign! – because they made us think that everyone in the villa was after the gold, then spent 10+ episodes disproving that notion, only to have everyone (or almost everyone) searching for the gold in the last three episodes. (If Sign ends up as good as Harvest Villa, I’ll be so super psyched!)

They really know how to make cliffhangers too. The episodes move inches in terms of story – a preview in episode 16 didn’t happen until episode 18 – and yet, it’s gripping! I think it’s also because the episodes are about 40-45 minutes long, being way shorter than the normal one hour, so it helps move things along without being too draggy.

As for the emotional side of the drama, I truly credit it to the actors – especially Shin Ha Kyun when he confronts Lee Bo Young in the hospital about her killing his family. It’s a scene that could easily be cheesy but the tears that fall quickly on his face make me empathize with him as the world around him crumbles down quickly. All of the actors were wonderful in their own way – no one falls flat, and no one under-delivers.

As for the ending, I’m glad we got some closure on all the characters. Best one was of the Park family, where everyone is visiting Tae Chon in jail and he cannot accept Ha Geun as a son-in-law. It’s really funny, because the entire time that Tae Chon is rejecting Ha Geun’s bows, he also looks like he’s about to laugh but is keeping his emotions tightly controlled. Kang Byul – weird in super long hair, but I guess it’s a matter of getting used to – hehe.

I kind of expected everyone to die or not get the gold. I almost thought that Seo Rin was going to die, but that last close-up of her “dead” body on the boat affirmed to me otherwise, and I’m happy about that. While I’m not sure what happened to the gold, in my mind, she became conscious, took the gold for herself, and set up that beautiful antique-y cafe far away. And then when things quieted down and she located Bok Gyu again, that’s when she contacted him.

I used to think that Prosecutor Princess was the underrated drama of the year. In some way it still is because it was a drama airing on SBS (a big broadcaster compared to tvN) and was going up against two dramas with bigger names. But Harvest Villa really really is underrated – it’s one of those quiet dramas that never made a big splash, but probably has (or ought to have) a cult following. It’s just SO. GOOD.

I think I can see now the appeal in Joseon X-Files and what made that little drama so beloved. But Harvest Villa…man, you break my heart.

Rating: 10/10

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