Thursday, January 12, 2012

K-Drama Review: Take Care of Us, Captain, Episodes 1-2

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 1-2

Dajin is a young Korean woman with dreams of being a top pilot, but unfortunately she graduates from flight school just in time to be confronted with her mother's death (which, ironically, happens aboard a plane). Yoon-Seong is a pilot who fails in his important responsibilities by briefly losing control of a plane. His carelessness contributes to the death of Dajin's mother, and Dajin's father also dies, leaving her to raise her infant baby sister. Timeskip ahead to seven years in the future, when Dajin and Yoon-Seong again cross paths as pilots, only he's antagonistic toward her, not knowing their unfortunate past connection. What will happen when the truth is revealed? *cue dramatic music*

You'd better prepare yourself for some soap opera-level plot points, minus the sleaziness, because this show is all about the tears and pain and twists of fate. Near crashes! Emergency flights! Malfunctioning planes! Passengers in critical condition! There's some great drama, but also some coincidences that are hard to believe and some real problems connecting with Yoon-Seong and Dajin.

Things I Loved:

1. Goo Hye-Sun. The actress, not the character she plays, because I don't connect with the character as she's written. I watched this show just because I love this actress and wanted to see her in whatever project she had going. Goo Hye-Sun is most famous for her lead role in the popular show Boys Over Flowers, which I still haven't seen, but I actually adored her performance in a much less publicized show called The Musical. There's just something about her freshness and positivity that comes through in every scene she does--she might always be playing a tiny variation on the same character, but it's a character I like. Yay for pluck and courage!

And Oh My Goodness, She's So Adorable!

2. Ji Jin Hee. Again, the actor, not the character. His character, Yoon-Seong, is an odd mix of deep wounds and implacable coldness, so it was hard to root for him. However, the actor seems like he could be great in a different drama. When he tries to convey pain, I don't buy it because the plot and motivations don't make sense to me, but the actor himself sells the emotions very well.

Plus, He Looks Nice in a Uniform.

3. The presence of foreigners! Many of the scenes were filmed on location in Australia, so you get to see lots of Australians in the plane scenes and in airports, and hear their lovely accents in the few scenes which include English.

Complaints: 1. Melodrama. Take Care Of Us, Captain jumps between good solid drama (intense emotions and meaningful problems) and melodrama (over-emoting and too many wild problems at once). It's edge-of-your-seat viewing when Dajin's mother is dying, but then after the audience has made a huge emotional investment in this one particular loss, Dajin's dad dies in a quick car accident, counteracting the serious emotional climate of the show. Two big losses so close together wind up canceling each other out. And on top of that, Dajin has to raise her sickly baby sister. And on top of THAT, Dajin's aunt saddles her with a major debt and some loan sharks kick Dajin and the sick baby sister out of their house! Oy vey at the problems. I have no doubt that some real human beings have lived through similar bouts of unending trials, but it's a little much to jam pack into the first two episodes of a TV show. And I'm not even discussing Yoon-Seong's housefire-scars, abandonment issues, and his estranged former foster family!

Themes: Personal responsibility. There's a big emphasis on how the 4 "captain bars" of an aviator's suit represent the weight of responsibility and tough choices. Dajin's dad was a pilot who made a decision to protect all 300 passengers on his plane instead of trying a risky landing immediately to save his wife, who was in critical condition.Yoon-Seong tries to accept personal responsibility for his own mistakes, but he also ladles out a healthy dose of guilt to everyone around him. I've never thought about a pilot's responsibility to passengers before, but it really is the equivalent of a doctor going into surgery with a patient, at least in this show. The title of the show is very apt, considering the angle they're taking--we really do entrust our lives to these people and Take Care of Us, Captain is focused on the life-and-death decisions made by pilots.

Piloting is Serious Business, Y'all.

Cultural Observances

Funeral hanbok: At her mom's funeral, Dajin wears a formal traditional dress.

Cremation: We have this in America of course, but a burial scene in an American TV show is almost 100% guaranteed to have a full casket burial instead of a memorial to cremated remains, as we see here.

English bonus: Dajin finds a sort-of fortune telling note that says "climb your life" in English. Then she goes on a big, exciting climb over a massive bridge in Australia. I see how the message is intended to be empowering and symbolic, but "climb your life" is grammatically incorrect. Also, the Korean pilots and air traffic controllers speak English to each other over their radios, but I would not have understood them if not for the subtitles.

Episode Evaluations: It's an interesting setup/concept, and I like the leading actors. However, the melodrama will keep me from watching any more episodes.


  1. If you like Ji Jin Hee, I recommend that you watch "he who can't marry"

    1. I just started that one! His character is so wonderfully neurotic and weird in that show. :-)