BY HanCinema | Dec 28, 2016 05:28 AM EST
Episode 4 of "Hwarang" had a distinct taste of 2010's "Sungkyunkwan Scandal" with its action, sports, K-pop, beautiful boys, and the appearance of Kim Kwang-gyoo playing a similar role. These elements were present before, but came together to create some serious 2010 nostalgia. Not only do we get a major drama throw back, but we start to see how the young men who become the Hwarang relate to their parents, each other, and the political powers that be.
Those political powers are battling for domination. Queen Ji-so clamps an iron fist around all happenings as she did with her son, forcing the nobles to give up their sons to the Hwarang. Although the plot point around which these beautiful, young men are brought together is overly simplistic, it works, and allows them to come together quickly and get the heart of the show underway. It's interesting to watch how the young men battle amongst themselves among party lines, and then watch their families pressure them to remain true to the family legacies. It's a touch of gravity that is surprising amongst all the goofing around. Until this episode the serious was saved for Ji-dwi and Seon-woo as our dark heroes who have identities to establish and enemies to battle.
Speaking of our heroes, I'm enamoured of both of them. They are the strongest part of the show. No matter their status in the love rivalry, both young men are on treacherous paths to growing up quickly and strongly or, well, dying. Currently they are enemies thrown together by fate and love, but I do possibly smell a bromance in their future once their misunderstandings are worked out. Both of them want to change Silla for the better and both of them have the wit and the gumption to make it happen.
Until then we get "beautiful soccer", which is literally a soccer game with no rules played by beautiful men. This scene is what reminded me so much of "Sungkyunkwan Scandal" and that similarity spread throughout the episode, especially reflected in the desire of the young to change the current political system.
Aro gets her father back after we learn that he and the queen have a sad fate. As the queen worked her way up the totem pole, she sacrificed his wife and son to get her way and continued to manipulate, often violently, to retain power. She will most likely become a mutual enemy for Aro, Seon-woo, and Ji-dwi and I want to see them connect and become the three musketeers. I also want to learn more about the Hwarang now that they've been recruited, more than that they are enemies because of their fathers.
The heroine, Aro, is well-portrayed by Ko Ah-ra, but the characterization is a bit lacking. She's a smart woman, self-sufficient and kind, but she is currently only serving as a love interest for the main male leads and as a major point for exposition. I want her to become something on her own aside from the male leads.
As "Hwarang" continues its run it becomes better and less single-minded, which means it's time to pop some popcorn and get down to enjoying the pretty and the rockin' OST.
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