Episode 4 Review: Mr. Back (2014)
The fourth episode of Mr. Back works as a bridge between the end of the third episode and the next phase of the series. It explains the background behind Choi Go Bong’s imaginary suicide and funeral and connects Choi Shin Hyung at the present as a concrete figure and not as a fugitive of his own self. The scriptwriter did a pretty good job on depicting the grandiose plan of Choi Go Bong and managed to present the effects it had upon everyone partaking in the drama. It might seem exaggerating to some, but really, it shouldn’t actually matter anymore since the story holds a supernatural essence from the end of the first episode and on. So every bizarre factor by now should be cherished as natural if you have accepted the arch supernatural event of body rejuvenation.
To be more specific, the episode is being divided in two periods. During its first half we see the whole plan of Choi Go Bong brought to the surface alongside his two partners in crime. It was well-conceived and well-executed to the point of concealing any suspicion. During the second half, the story starts marching forward into a new era under a new basis. As episodes go on, i have to admit that i appreciate even more the acting skills of many figures in Mr. Back. There were characters that confused me pleasantly and that’s always good in my book, it works well on plot twists when the time feels right. There were also characters that the more they are being built due to the story’s process the more coherent they become and their acting becomes more natural and expressive. I will explain in the following lines with the story, the pictures and my thoughts on everything that played tricks on my mind while watching. One thing is for sure, Mr. Back with episode 4 starts shining in a brand new level and its possible continuation feels more than promising. Dare i say ambitious? Ambitious, here it is.
The scenery opens up with Go Bong’s clothes and suicide note at the edge of the cliff we witnessed him bidding farewell his older self. The place wasn’t chosen randomly, it serves its purpose well as a symbolism. It sure is a place one step before someone’s end whereas at the same time the far horizon opens its arms to welcome whatever the future may bring, the strongest factor being renewal. Back at the police station, Lee Moon Shik’s acting was exceptional. He utterly fooled me with his exaggerating mourning tone and cries of innocence! He felt so sincere, lost and desperate it would never pass by my mind that it was part of a higher plan! And that’s an accomplishment. Both acting and scriptwriting really did justice to the scene and covered Go Bong for good in the first place.
Eun Ha Soo might never had the best opinion for Choi Go Bong, yet, she could see behind his curtains and she could give reasons to his actions. Understanding him is something different, but translating his character is a whole different issue that leads to understanding. Most of the times, when someone passes away people always tend to recall good moments and forget about one’s unpleasant features. There’s another factor, the “what if” one, what hurts most is words and actions that remained silent during one’s life and the chance to express yourself towards the deceased will never be an option anymore. Memories float around once again, after all, it’s humane moments that count. Go Bong lived some rare but human-awakening moments. It’s something Ha Soo accomplished at the few but meaningful times they met, so she does recall these moments partially as her own atypical farewell.
At the Gold House the situation flows as expected. We get to notice every type of emotion when it comes to situations like these. Young Dal, his wife and his sister are trying to keep the tears flowing and forge a tear-filled repertory, yet, shameless as they deeply are, Young Dal and In Ja try to hold back their laughter while Mi Hye exaggerates herself. If there’s someone who’s utterly devastated, then this person has to be Dae Han. His cold as ice apathy while he’s trying to comprehend his father’s loss is immense. He’s barely moving as the weeping clowns around him pretend to be paternal/maternal figures that will look after him in his time of despair. The house personnel remains silent, whereas the only sane figure appears to be Ji Yoon who’s always by Dae Han’s side. All desire for fake family moments disappears when Ji Yoon recites the first page of Go Bong’s suicide note and Young Dal along with his wife and his sister are disappointed because the text stops at the most crucial part for them. It’s all about inheritance for them.
Too late to repent after the death of your parents.
Too late to regret if you grow distant from your family.
A happy family makes everything good.
Don’t let any hurdle stop you from achieving your dreams.
Do what you need to do and wait for a higher calling.
In any case, I’m an old man who wouldn’t live much longer.
I will take all the blame and say good-bye to this world.
I hope you will let me go.
In the event that I die by suspicious circumstances…
Don’t think about an autopsy or donating my body to science.
I hope you won’t add more pain to this old and fragile body.
Not a finger, no, not a hair.
I desperately ask you not to do anything to my body as my final wish.
I don’t want to be an organ donor.
I would like to take my body with me exactly as it is.
I hope you keep that in mind.
And as for inheritance and the company it’s attached on the back.
I hope that there won’t be any unnecessary fights or arguments among our family members because of these things.
I will now end my life and fall into a deep sleep.
Back to the world of shadows! The fellowship of underworld’s cheaters form a plan for Go Bong’s relatives to recognize his dead body. The zen doctor whom i missed brings with him a dangerous medicament that will help Go Bong play dead for about 20 minutes. If he remains in a death-like condition for more than that it is more likely that he’ll die for sure, henceforth they have to revive him. His face must change as well, so they’re waiting for a make-up artist to perform his own magic upon Go Bong’s younger self to make him look just like the good old days. When Gyung Bae wears the Go Bong wig he looks like a badger!
Choi Go Bong seems to have had a connection with Ha Soo’s mother’s tailor shop, it is exactly the place he recalled on the third episode right before taking Ha Soo back at her place. As an old man, he had ordered a suit, but for obvious reasons he never had the chance to buy it since fashion’s fate had a different opinion. Ha Soo’s mother, Go Jung Suk (Lee Mi Young) is such a delicate woman and she performs her role pretty well as a South Korean drama mother!
On the fourth episode i reached a conclusion, the most confusing person so far is director Yi Gun. I really have no idea anymore what’s his role in the overall situation. He’s an accomplished and brave careerist who’s not afraid to take risks, he’s got a sharp mind and looks ahead, he doesn’t look innocent, but at times he doesn’t look guilty of plot either. There are times he’s forcing Ji Yoon not to proceed with her plan to help Dae Han become the chairman of the hotel, but when he meets Young Dal later on, he doesn’t intend to become one of his many right hands and prefers to remain in his current position. Could it be that he follows Go Bong’s secret instructions in case of emergency like this one? And by that i mean that he’s strict towards Dae Han to the point of making him seem worthless at times. Towards Ji Yoon he’s rough as well, but in a more elegant way, could it be that he’s pushing her harder to work on Dae Han? Or he’s got a solo plan only he knows? Director Yi Gun has messed up my mind and i’m really looking forward to his next moves. He’s definitely shadowy, it’s just that i can’t figure out yet his position in the shadows, is it towards the light or darkness? Time shall tell.
Lee Joon is the highlight of this episode, he shines through his tormented inner self by the tragedy of present and past events. Present events due to his father’s loss, past events due to his memories that reflect their blurred light up to the present and make the pain unbearable. Dae Han definitely misses his father, but what he misses most is the childhood memories with him he never cherished. He craves the paternal figure he could have, but never did. That’s what trespasses his heart’s harmony the most and his shattered world reflects on others. His memories are devastating.
At the morgue, the whole situation is tragicomic. Everyone’s there, some to identify the body, others to make sure he’s dead. Dae Han, Ji Yoon, Yi Gun and Ha Soo remain silent, Young Dal, In Ja and Mi Hye are as slimy as they can get. The funny part is Gyung Bae and zen doctor’s reactions, they know it’s a fight against time and they try to get rid of the rest to take care of Go Bong and bring him back to life literally! Another urgent situation occurs when tears start falling on Go Bong’s face and they’re afraid the make-up will go off! Things don’t seem to flow well since his fake-mourning relatives want to spend some more time with their… beloved Choi Go Bong. Gyung Bae and the zen doctor take the situation in their hands and for every obstacle they try to find a solution in a highly humorous way! Go Bong’s revival is vivid and funny as well!
Ha Soo tries to deliver some comfort to Dae Han in order to ease part of his burden. During such moments words probably have no meaning, but it’s always worth a try from the heart, even if it lasts for a second. Ha Soo is often being misunderstood, but she’s a gentle and caring person, she just happens to appear at the wrong place, at the wrong time with the wrong people as witnesses. But she’s got a strong character and tries to fight back for the rights.
Dae Han’s loneliness is omnipresent at the funeral as well. The other siblings once again reach another level of pretense and when no one’s watching they plot for their own success.
Upstairs, Go Bong gets informed that his funeral was successful, he’s officially dead!
The last act of Dae Han’s woe takes place as his father’s coffin gets transferred at the hearse as he’s carrying Choi Go Bong’s memorial picture.
The last thing he could think about is taking over the management of the hotel, all he needs is some time with himself alone during these weeping hours.
The meeting about Go Bong’s successor must be done. Ji Yoon tries for one more time to make Dae Han become the chairman, but not only he’s negative, he’s willing to ruin his father’s business. I don’t think he’s useless and he can’t work in such a position. He’s got other issues, it’s because of this position that Choi Go Bong didn’t treat him like a loving father, he hates his father’s business and also this position. If he could turn back time he’d prefer to have a caring father with much less money and a normal daily job rather than these heartrending experiences he had to go through. Dae Han’s character makes sense and Lee Joon brings Dae Han’s figure to life in the most representative way.
The meeting begins, but Gyung Bae interrupts it with urgent documents! It’s Choi Go Bong’s turn to speak for the last time by introducing his successor. It’s time for a twist of events for a new figure to come to the surface and lead the way just like he should, in a Go Bong way. The real deal is about to begin and most of the people in the room will be displeased, a few caring ones will be disappointed.
Dae Han’s reaction is more than intense, it starts with laughter unable to comprehend this intrusion of information and ends in tears.
Ha Soo feels betrayed as well, she got in so much trouble to receive only lies.
Go Bong’s crusade to find those craving his throne behind his back has began! Vengeance! And he’s got all the necessary papers to prove that he’s… the son of himself!
Back home, an unpleasant surprise awaits Dae Han and Go Bong, Choi Shin Hyung’s there and in an utterly Go Bong manner he appears behind the desk!
He’s not about to stay for long though, at least for today.
Go Bong heads towards Ha Soo’s mother’s tailor shop, he finds Ha Soo there. She doesn’t intend to cooperate and she calls her mother to come and help her. You have to love South Korean mothers! They are the ultimate drama figure by being either a love it or hate it figure, Go Jung Sook’s on the good side! Being unable to do anything else, Ha Soo is doomed to work with Go Bong in order to take his measures for his new suit.
After a short walk, he tries to explain himself and his intentions to Ha Soo.
Even if someone commits evil at first
But he covers it with his good deed
Then it will be like the moon
After the cloud disappears. (from Dhammapada – a collection of Buddha’s saying)
He starts talking to her about how she was the only person in his life that understood him and spoke the truth to him, while the rest were trying to be nice in front of him because of his money. He realizes he’s talking in first person and then starts talking on behalf of… his father. I like the fact that he calls her the milky way, coming from a person that would never rise his head to watch even a single star and all of a sudden referring to another person as the milky way it means the world.
Rumors start spreading around the company about Ha Soo and Choi Shin Hyung’s relations before revealing himself. Dae Han finds himself on an exaggeration spree which leads to another misunderstanding for Ha Soo. His words were quite harsh, but he receives his paycheck the Ha Soo way!
Ha Soo’s disappointed, for one more time and she’s drinking alone. I have to confess that i didn’t know soju came on paper package as well! Feels like an alcoholic’s equivalent to make him believe as if he was drinking juice! Dae Han comes to apologize and it turns into one of the most heartfelt scenes of Mr. Back so far. All the latest events have made his inner world crumble. He’s starting to see through Ha Soo’s personality and the fragile balance starts to shatter. In the meantime, Go Bong witnesses their beautiful encounter.
Six wet eyes in a single scene is strong. A love triangle blossoms and pain inevitably. Director Sang Yeob offered us some great visuals through his intense close-ups. He managed to capture the magic or despair of the moment and half the prize goes to the cast. Lee Joon offered a soulful testimony, it was as if he was inhaling the thick air and exhaling emotion. He was living every single moment and was depicting every emotion that was coming across his way, be it regret, pain, despair, anger, even something warm. Na Ra’s character starts shyly evolving by the end of the fourth episode, i definitely want to see more than an overly misunderstood but strong figure and i’m pretty sure it will happen within the next episodes. Shin Ha Kyun’s exceptional as always with his facial expressions being always spot on, he never fails to deliver humorous or more serious moments when the scene asks for it. Lee Moon Shik as Gyung Bae was also a secret weapon, to be honest, he always is, but this time he surpassed himself from the previous episodes in which he was unerring as well. Last but not least, the rest of the cast is spot on and they depict their characters really well, completing the main figures and the script. Scriptwriter Yoon Jung did an immense work on plot-twist and intensity/emotional factors. The real Mr. Back is about to begin!