I’m surprised I didn’t write a First Impressions post on Harvest Villa because I just naturally tend to do them. So I’m already 10 episodes in, and I feel that I owe this drama a post. Let’s just say that my memory’s a little rusty from episode 1-7, as I took a really long hiatus from the drama and only picked it up again last week.
What’s interesting is that most of the cast members are people that I don’t know. Even Lee Bo Young I wasn’t familiar with, even though I saw an episode of The Birth of the Rich. And yet this drama is so character driven that you realize just how good they are.
Of course, there’s an overarching mystery in regards to who killed Bok Kyu (played by Shin Ha Kyun)’s father, and the gold that supposedly lies in his father’s apartment. Everyone has something so sinister to them that you wonder who’s really friends with Bok Kyu, and who isn’t. In the beginning it looks like it would be neighbor Park Tae Chon (Baek Yoon Shik) because he is a shady man, but then there’s also landlady Kim Choo Ja (Go Soo Hee) and what I call the Bumbling Bros – Sang Geun and Ha Geun (Jung Kyung Ho and Park Hyo Joon). Then we get to know them a little better and we realize that they might not have been the actual killers, even if they may have wanted the gold or knew of it. When the old couple moves in, that’s when the “search for the gold” plot line comes back in because they’re so actively searching for it.
I had wished that Seo Rin (Lee Bo Young) would turn out to be somewhat innocent, but she’s clearly not – her visit to Bok Kyu’s aunt suggests that she knew about the gold and the father. She already has a motive; her poor, orphan background gives her enough motivation to want to get rich quick. But I’m still holding out hope, especially since she’s engaged to Bok Kyu.
The storyline gets muddled (in a good way) when a series of hapless accidents (thanks to Bok Kyu) occur and there’s a whole fiasco on who knows what truth and who did what. Kang Byul charmingly, and winningly, portrays Song Yi as the one who knows the most about Bok Kyu, and she’s the most smart aleck out of everyone there. I think out of everyone she’s the only one who’s truly innocent and pure (in the sense that she’s not harboring ill-intentions towards Bok Kyu because of his inheritance).
The side storyline about Tae Chon’s wife Mae Ja (Moon Hee Kyung) having an affair with her first love/swindler was a little like, “Huh? Where’d that come from?” But it provides some character development, as we realize that Mae Ja’s not a happy wife, Tae Chon is a ruthless private detective easily swayed by hot women, and that most importantly, I don’t think Tae Chon is a suspect. (I may just eat my words, since I’m only halfway through).
Now episode 9 – the whole stuck-in-the-elevator scene and needing to pee?! HAHAHAHAHA! I wish dramas addressed this more! Toilet humor is a go-to gag, but really, when you’re stuck in an elevator for so long – you need to pee! Hahaha! I think that was my favorite scene so far.
What’s unique about this drama is that I think the story is meandering, but it’s also tightly written. I feel like there’s a purpose and a reason for everything that happened so far. Bok Kyu’s mistake of setting fire to Sang Geun and Ha Geun’s car lot created a lot of superficial tension and obstacles for our protagonist, but it also let us get to know the characters involved better. I remember continually praying that Tae Chon would forgive Bok Kyu for his mistakes; it was just an accident!!! That empathy for the characters is important for me. But I am also afraid that since I trust most of the characters right now, my heart will be twisted and hurt when the mystery ramps up.
I shouldn’t compare this to Joseon X Files since both are sooo different story wise. However, there’s something that *clicked for me with Harvest Villa over Joseon, and I think it has to do with execution of the story. No doubt about it the quality of Joseon X Files is amazing, and the story was also well plotted. There were hints and clues connecting each episode to the last one, and only if you had the energy to analyze about it would you really get a full grasp of the story. But Harvest Villa is a straight up mystery that also has those hints and clues. It’s cleanly executed, and precise. A glance sideways, a bit of dialogue, a particular flashback – all of them add up. But it doesn’t drive you nuts. You can have as many twists and turns as you want, as long as you still have a character with a clear goal that you can trust and follow along. In Joseon, there were many twists and turns, but I couldn’t follow Kim Hyung Do for the life of me.
I might sound like someone who advocates for mindless consumption of TV shows. That’s not true – I like it when whatever I am watching challenges me to think. But I prefer it more for movies than for TV shows; movies require a two-hour commitment while TV shows require me to be involved week after week for an hour at a time. With that gap of seven days I lose interest quickly because I forget. Harvest Villa‘s mystery is somewhat straightforward – what’s confusing is each character’s true motives/loyalties. Joseon X Files’ mystery was confusing in itself – the characters were more straightforward. Hence my preference to Harvest Villa.