TL;DR: Lots of mixed feelings.
I will be honest. I almost quit watching the drama the moment I saw it was about another rich man meeting some girl who’s poor. Even more so I was disappointed that Hyunbin had chosen yet another rich man character. But I hung on.
And in the beginning, I felt like I was rewarded for hanging on. The pacing of the story was on point. There was twist after twist, and Hyunbin’s character, Yoo Jin Woo, was not just a rich man.
He’s smart, witty and full of heart. Behind his air of arrogance there was a warm soul in there and Hyunbin showed that.
When Director Cha showed up dead, Memories of the Alhambra suddenly became the most innovative drama to have existed. Seeing Jin Woo become tormented was sad, but incredibly thrilling for me. I’ve watched Korean dramas since Winter Sonata. I’ve spent many years in this space and seeing a drama relentlessly not give the protagonist any victories was difficult to watch, but I welcomed it.
Then Hee Joo’s relationship with Jin Woo started to blossom and I was so happy to see that. Hee Joo’s existence is a symbol of hope in Jin Woo’s life. She was unwaveringly supportive despite not knowing anything. She was kind but not weak and she characterized faith. I loved her for it.
Professor Cha’s betrayal too, I expected it. It was a bit obvious that he also played somewhat of a villain character in W – Two Worlds, written by the same scriptwriter, but that type of thing is common in Korean dramas so I just let it go.
I loved the drama and was excited for where it will go until Jin Woo’s secretary, Jeong Hoon died.
You see, fiction relies on suspension of disbelief, especially fantasy and science fiction. But that doesn’t mean plot holes are acceptable. It needs to make sense in the world you’ve created. That’s good writing.
Marco became an NPC because Se Joo killed him in the game.
Director Cha became an NPC because Jin Woo killed him in the game.
So now explain to me. Why did Jeong Hoon die? NPCs killed him – not a real person. Based on everything that had happened in the drama prior to his death, that’s an impossibility. IT’S IMPOSSIBLE.
It seems like the scriptwriter killed him only for a plot device, so Professor Cha can start a re-investigation of his son’s death. But for a plot device to be a plot device, it’s gotta make sense. In this case it doesn’t.
And then we have Se Joo, who miraculously appeared after Jin Woo solved the quest. The reason I say miraculous is Se Joo doesn’t explain himself until literally 20 minutes before the entire drama was over. Not to mention the viewers barely got any time to familiarize themselves with the concept of an instance dungeon and then the drama was over.
Se Joo’s disappearance was the initial driver of the story. His disappearance was the sole reason we even have a drama to start with. And you’re going to tell me he basically just came and went as he pleased? Bye.
And then the bug. The goddamn bug.
Somebody explain to me why Jin Woo is a bug but Se Joo isn’t. Scriptwriter, make it make sense.
If you look at the piles of dust, Jeong Hoon’s bug was created 25 days ago. But Jin Woo’s bug was created 365 days ago. That doesn’t make any sense. When did he become a bug? Why is he a bug even though he was alive in the human world?
365 days ago, Jin Woo was in the states trying to recover. He was in the hospital! If you tell me he became a bug after he killed Director Cha, then okay, fine. But why is Se Joo not a bug? And where’s Marco? Why didn’t Jin Woo have to kill Marco’s bug????
In episode 15 it was incredibly clear that only Emma was allowed to use the key to kill bugs. But the suddenly in episode 16, Jin Woo could kill bugs? YOU CAN’T DISOBEY THE RULES YOU MADE. And if you do, you’re gonna need a hell of an explanation. Which we did not get.
I really don’t care that the drama was unconventional and we didn’t get our sweet happy ending. I am okay with that.
Ever since I saw Jin Woo in the dungeon, I realized he was going to die. I have been preparing for his death since then.
But what I cannot accept are plot holes after plot holes that never get filled, and the scriptwriter making up the rules of her universe as she goes without any adequate explanation. It doesn’t do your characters any justice and that is the biggest fault of a writer, if you ask me.
I hope you know that your drama was only saved by Hyunbin’s brilliance, his chemistry with Park Shin Hye and the kindness of the warm-hearted Jeong Hoon who did not have to die.
Memories of the Alhambra was going to be THE drama. Keyword – WAS.
If you want to watch a drama that gets you excited and then lets you down in a way you never expect to be let down, go ahead.
If you don’t want to be let down, I have recommendations for you. Let me know what you like and I’ll send you a list any day.