Read episode reviews for:
Dream High 2--Episodes 1-2
Dream High 2--Episodes 3-4
Dream High 2--Episodes 5-6
Dream High 2--Episodes 7-8
Dream High 2--Episodes 13-14
Contains Spoilers for Episodes 15-16
This has been a cute, medium-interesting show, so let's see how its final episodes measure up.
As our 15th episode begins, Hyesung is crying while watching JB sing from the hospital where he's recovering from the accident that nearly crippled him. Hyesung gave her last stage--and her last chance to be drafted into the super-idol band--to JB, which is the ultimate gesture of thoughtfulness.
JB and Hyesung now go back to their routine of doing cute, couple-y things. JB even asks her to eat with his special pair of chopsticks, which is kinda romantic in a weird way. JB eventually gets the cast taken off his foot, but he's unwilling to admit that he has recovered because Hyesung promised she'd stay with him throughout his convalescence. If he says he's better, he's worried she'll leave. But it's all semi-pointless anyway, because JB breaks up with Hyesung to save HER future as a music composer, like she once did for him.
Rian is chosen as the last member of the super-idol group, and we get to see Rian growing up and working hard for once, because she's no longer so focused on externals. Yujin was kicked out of the group because he trolled his final audition, playing the same chord dramatically on repeat, since he doesn't really want to do pop music anyway. (Note: The guys that DH2 has playing American studio execs are...Russian, I think. Those accents are definitely from the Eastern Bloc.) JB and Hyesung have a tearful goodbye at the airport, and I should be emotionally touched by all this, but I'm not. There's a massive emotional disconnect between the impact the show is trying to have and the impact it actually is having.
And we have an 8-month timeskip to the future. The super-idols return to Kirin for their graduation. Hyesung doesn't even come, but she sends a heartfelt note from America.
Then we have yet another time-skip, 8 years into the future. JB is now a musical producer. (Why? He's only semi-creative.) Ui-bong is a dance instructor, and he and Seul are still together. (Yay, they're cute together.) The Shiwoo-Nana-Hongjoo love triangle is still going. (Why? You can't decide how you feel about the two guys after eight years have passed, Nana?) And Yujin is a teacher at Kirin. (Why? He doesn't like restrictions or playing by the rules, so he should really be a starving musician by now.)
Yujin sets up a performance at Kirin where his own graduating class comes back to school to perform a mini-musical about following your dreams. *shrug* Okay. Also, we get no romantic resolution for Rian, Yujin, Hyesung, or JB, just a Buddies-Ever-After scenario. I don't remember ever feeling this non-plussed about the conclusion of a drama. It's like walking down a forest path with pretty scenery and winding up nowhere special, having wasted several hours on the trip.
JB's Expression Reflects My Dissatisfaction.
Things I Loved:
1. Hongjoo's singing. It's quite heavenly. Normally I'm bored by the full songs in this show, but I'm so glad he got a stage all by himself:
2. Rian and Hyesung making up. Rian finally sees Hyesung's merits and her talent as a composer. Yes, ladies, this is what I'm talking about! Mutual respect. They even acknowledge each other as friends when Hyesung returns a necklace with big symbolic value to Rian.
Mystical Necklace of Musical Success.
3. Cameo: There's a quick blink-and-you-missed-it cameo by Miss A, and it's so cool to see Yujin fanboying over Suzy of Miss A, especially since they're with the same record label in real life.
1. The Speeches. I'm just now noticing how throughout the whole run of this show, characters have used their stages and performances as an opportunity to fillibuster and talk at length about whatever issues are upsetting them. In ep 15, Yujin gives a big speech about how he used to be a child star, and as he's talking, the scene loses so much power because these sorts of lengthy speeches happen in every single episode.
Great at Singing, but Should Probably Stay Away From Speech-Making.
2. The Emotional Disconnect. No matter how many touching montages of past scenes flash past, I don't feel the impact. Dream High 2 doesn't grab my heart.
3. Lack of Romantic Resolution. Not everyone needs to end up happily ever after, but if I watch a show with this much romantic content, I expect for at least one pairing in the main cast to work out. None of them do. Sure, high school relationships rarely last forever, but this show was patently unrealistic to start with--couldn't we have gotten a little unrealistic love and happiness to go with it?
Father/Daughter bonding: Hyesung and her dad have a very touching relationship and her father has grown very supportive of her. I teared up when Hyesung's dad told her that she didn't have to work herself to death trying to be exceptional anymore--it's enough that she's his daughter. Also, Seul wants to study music management from dear old dad and to be just like him. She now makes affectionate jokes about her dad's gaudy taste instead of sliding in pointed jabs. It's sweet.
Maybe the Most Aww-Inducing Relationship in the Show.
New words: This is an old one, but "Mianhae" means "I'm sorry" and Yujin sings a song that repeats that refrain. "Mogo" means "eat" which is what JB says when he wants Hyesung to eat using his chopsticks. "Ahjusshi" is middle-aged man, and Shiwoo has Hongjoo looks like an ahjusshi, not a teenager. "Ka" is "go!"...I think it's the shortened for of the verb gaseyo.
This series was never really the kind that audiences turned to for emotional depth; it just had some nice songs and a cute cast. If I were a little more invested in the outcome of the show, I would feel extremely let down by the randomness and non-resolution of the ending, but as matters stand, I'm just feeling "meh" about it.
The success of this show depends a lot on what you think it's trying to achieve. As a piece of entertainment, I don't think that Dream High 2 gets us very invested in any of the characters or their stories. But as an act of promotion and marketing, it has worked marvelously well for me. Thanks to DH2, I've cemented my love for Kang Sora as an actress, I've developed an interest on Jinwoon's real-life band 2AM where before they hadn't been on my radar, and I've also become invested in seeing JB's actual K-pop debut when it happens. In conclusion, Dream High 2 is not a very high-quality show even among light romantic comedies, but it's populated by people you want to see more of.