Hi! It’s Annie!
I honestly can’t decide whether or not I liked this episode; but I feel like that’s been around my thoughts on the series so far. There were definitely moments that I liked and some that I really didn’t, but I feel like this show keeps evening out. That and sometimes it moves so slow that my feelings on it are completely neutral. Either way, this episode was the one that I have been more or less waiting for. This was the song debut episode of both the main group, Tea Party, that the audience is following and, for me more importantly, the debut of Sparkling’s song. We finally got to see every group perform in one episode! So, was it everything I was hoping and waiting for or did this episode fall a little flat? As always, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Yunho as Yujin- I’ve been trying to hold off my opinions on Yunho’s acting as a whole until we got to see more of Yujin. It felt like he was very briefly in the first couple episodes and we only started to get more of the character in the last episode. This most recent episode gave Yujin a lot of time and I really have to say that I loved it. Yujin’s parts of the episode were my favorite and it isn’t just because I love ATEEZ and I’m a Yunho bias. The character of Yujin is one of the most immediately endearing. I have a feeling that this is why they cast Yunho in this role. Yunho has an unmistakably warm and comforting presence and that lends itself beautifully to Yujin. Yujin is a character that you’re supposed to love immediately and feel bad for because you know that his crush on Maha won’t be reciprocated. His innocence and devotion to her makes this fact all the more devastating. In this episode he became rightfully angry when Shax randomly turned up to a show that wouldn’t benefit Shax at all and would instead take away time from rookie groups who actually needed the air time. It was cathartic to see him stand up for the rookie groups, even if he was a little misguided for blaming Shax themselves. We also saw him be the most supportive when it came to supporting Tea Party’s debut. (Though it was a little rude for him to only include Maha’s name on the card. Come on, Yujin.) Yunho makes this character beyond believable. He feels like a real person. I have to commend Yunho for doing so well with his first acting gig.
The Acting- As always, I also have to commend all the other actors on this show. There is not one person who I feel like does a bad job with their role.
Hyunji and Riah- They keep coming up in this section when I review episodes and I have a feeling that they’re going stay there. They are some of my favorite parts of the show and such great supporting friend characters. I feel like with many supporting friend characters in dramas they can fall under some really specific and generic personality types as well as feeling like brick walls for the main character to vent to. Neither Hyunji or Riah feel this way at all. They are both developed differently and have their own personalities. Riah is one of the most fun characters I’ve seen in a drama like this and I will never get over her voice. Hyunji actually got some development this time as she is shown to be the member of Tea Party with the most anxiety, which is a very real reaction to how demanding what they’re doing is. We also got to see more of her crush on Yujin which I think is really cute so far and I hope it doesn’t go too badly. Also, me too Hyunji, me too.
Shax- I actually really liked Shax in this episode. Firstly, I thought their performance was really well done. But I also like that we constantly see the way Shax works as a group. I really like seeing the difference between them on stage, them at press conferences, and them behind the scenes. And the show somehow manages to balance focusing on all these things. It makes them look more professional and experienced, which is absolutely what the show is going for here. They also stand up for each other and look comfortable around each other. The group dynamic here is strong.
Real Problems- It was really interesting the way this show tackled the issue of major groups infringing on the time of rookie groups because of what their companies make them do. I have seen this so many times in the industry and it’s always frustrating to watch. Especially for the fans of the newer groups who just want to see their favorite group succeed. Many times the bigger groups don’t need the publicity from the show and take away from the groups who might actually need this show to introduce them to potential new fans. It was nice to see them tackle this issue so relevantly and without overdramatizing it.
Sparkling- It physically hurts me to have to put them here, but I can’t justify the way they were utilized in this episode. Firstly, their song was a bit disappointing. I ended up watching it a couple times because I wanted to like it, but I absolutely couldn’t aside from a couple of vocal parts from Minsoo (San). Part of that is because most of the other members of Sparkling received lines that sounded more like talking than singing. And it’s not just me, this song was so disliked that the main video of it on Youtube is full of comments debating why it’s so bad and wishing Hongjoong from ATEEZ had stepped in to help create the song. Many fans are theorizing that the song was meant to be bad because in the webtoon Sparkling’s first break out song ends up as a flop. However, I have a nasty feeling that the song wasn’t meant to be bad. Especially with how much the show was marketing it before this episode even came out. Personally, I was expecting a lot from the song and anyone who read my past reviews could tell you that I was excited to see Sparkling perform it. That was mostly because of how much the show was marketing this specific song and performance to ATEEZ fans. I’m not sure they would have done that if they meant the song to be bad. At least the dancing looked cool. I am also continuously disappointed with how little the show spends time on Sparkling. San and Seonghwa have barely anything to do as Minsoo and Seyoung and the rivalry between Yujin and Hyunoh never gets enough time. I hope this changes soon. And maybe Sparkling will come out with a much better song over the course of the show! I won’t hold my breath though.
Tea Party- Their performance wasn’t bad, but I really felt it when their manager accused them of having no chemistry in the rehearsal for their performance. Their actual performance, which was supposed to be better, didn’t convince me either. Hyunji and Riah always seem to play off of each other really well, and they’re supposed to because they’ve known each other the longest. But I still don’t feel like Maha fits the group dynamic completely quite yet. We haven’t spent enough time on her bond with her teammates, the show just expects us to infer that it’s there because of the passing of time. But it doesn’t work like that. We actually need some bonding scenes between the members.
The Main Characters- The show is still lacking in character development. Especially with the main characters. It always feels like something’s missing. This episode we actually got to see the plot point where they’re acting opposite of each other and Ryok goes off script to get a genuine reaction out of Maha. Thankfully it was, again, nothing like what happened in the webtoon. But we didn’t get nearly enough of their genuine reactions to that. We saw that Ryok felt bad based off what he was thinking, but he never showed it. There are so many points in this show where it feels like things are happening to the main characters and we don’t stop to actually check in with those characters. It’s part of what makes the show feel so slow, because this makes everything that happens lack urgency. I thought the ending to the episode was cute and picked up a little bit; especially because it forced both characters out of their comfort zones finally! Hopefully the start of their romance in this way will make the show pick up a little, but we’ll have to see.
The Imitation- Maha does not look like La Lima even a little bit. She just doesn’t. The show operates off of the narrative that she does, and I understand that it’s one of the major plot points of the show. But they look so dissimilar that sometimes it feels almost like parody when the show attempts to suggest that they look the same. Both women are gorgeous, but they do not look the slightest bit alike.
So far I’m a little disappointed with this series, but it’s not even close to over yet! And even though it is disappointing, I am finding some cute parts of it that I actually like. I think the most frustrating part of this show is that you can see the potential in it, it just can’t quite get to being good. The show is either entertaining or completely boring and there’s no in between. My biggest issue with this show has to be the pacing, so hopefully if that gets better then the entire show will get much better. But I at least enjoy getting to see members of ATEEZ act every week.
See you across the pond!