Once again I find myself sitting down to write about a drama that hasn’t even finished airing. Not because there’s any shortage of dramas worth writing about, but because I find myself so engrossed in this particular drama that it’s become incredibly difficult to think about anything else. (I know, I know. This seems to be a recurring problem and one I’m honestly not going to bother fixing any time soon.)
While it seems like only yesterday I was singing the many praises of Lee Joon Gi (이준기) in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (달의 연인-보보경심 려), (the last drama I happened to rave about before its conclusion) the truth is a couple of months have passed since that most tragically disappointing drama ended; and though I’m still scarred by that less than wonderful ending, I’ve managed to move on. No longer swooning over the many praiseworthy qualities of Prince So, I’ve now turned by rather fangirly attention towards another equally swoon-worthy and incredibly wonderful drama character who just so happens to be a 900+ year-old goblin cursed to carry a sword through his chest for all of eternity. Or until the long prophesied goblin bride shows up to pull it out for him. Whichever comes first.
I’ll be the first to admit that with a description such as this, Goblin, the Great and Lonely God (쓸쓸하고 찬란하神-도깨비) seems more suited for a children’s story than an incredibly addictive drama but in all honestly, I think that’s part of this drama’s charm. Being one who’s loved fairy tales since I was a kid (the real fairy tales, mind you, not the Disney-fied fluff my children once obsessed over) it was impossible for me to resist the the temptation to indulge in a drama which totes a handsome Goblin (Gong Yoo,공유) as its main character, a charming Grim Reaper (Lee Dong Wook, 이동욱) as his bromantic frenemy and a 19 year-old heroine (Kim Go Eun, 김고은) who converses with the dead.
Even with such a promising premise to the story and a to-die-for cast, I have to admit that going into this drama, I had a few reservations. Well, I suppose really, I only had one reservation and that was knowing that Kim Eun Sook (김은숙) was the writer. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a very strong appreciation for Kim Eun Sook’s (김은숙) writing and I find her dramas incredibly addictive but whenever I get to the end of one, I always find myself looking back at the drama, wondering what the heck it was that kept me so entranced. It’s as if my need for plot or substance completely disappears anytime I sit down to watch one of her dramas and I don’t even realize I’ve been placed under such a spell until after the drama’s come to an end and the magic disappears.
Knowing this, I still couldn’t help but go into this drama with rather high expectations and how could I not? The story sounded interesting, the cast was phenomenal and within the first 10 minutes of the very first episode, I was so engrossed in the story that the entire world around me dissolved into nothing. The fact that 90 minutes had passed before the first episode came to an end didn’t even register with me until I started talking to friends afterwards and realized that this was, in fact, the length of the first few episodes. Never, in my life, had an hour and a half passed so quickly!
Eight episodes and four weeks later, I’m even more invested in this story as I was when I sat down to watch the first episode. My heart has been stolen by a 900 year-old goblin and I’m afraid I may never get it back. Not that I really want it. I’m perfectly content, letting this goblin keep my heart, as long as it means I get to watch more of his story unfold. And unfold it has, in ways I could have never imagined possible. I’m actually very much in awe of the way this story has woven together the important bits and pieces of Kim Shin’s story without boring us with a 900+ year history of this supernatural being. Seamlessly weaving between ancient history, modern time and everything in-between, we get enough glimpses of Goblin’s life over the years to know what kind of a god he is, without being bogged down by endless tiny details that ultimately mean nothing. In fact, one of the best things about this drama, so far, is the fact that every character, every event, every piece of this story is connected to another in one way or another. There are no pointless details, no distracting side-stories, no fluff and nonsense to get in the way of what truly matters, which makes this drama enjoyable to watch. Even if you can’t make a connection right away, you know that eventually, whatever it is you’re watching, is going to be woven into the story somewhere and it’s going to be important.
As important as it is to have a plot that actually goes somewhere, you also have to have characters with depth and actors who can convey that depth, if a drama is going to be truly great. Lucky for us, Goblin (쓸쓸하고 찬란하神-도깨비) has both. Coming back to the world of dramas after a 5 year hiatus, Gong Yoo (공유) brings our beloved goblin to life in a way very few actors could. Watching him on screen, you feel the weight of Kim Shin’s 900+ years of suffering, you feel the burden of his curse, you hear the weariness in his voice, you see the longing for peace in his eyes, but at the same time, you see the spark of life that ignites whenever his bride, Ji Eun Tak, is around. You feel his desire to live, his desperate desire to love and be loved, you understand his struggle as he wavers between wanting to experience the joy that comes with a first love and wanting to put an end to nearly a millennium of lonely suffering.
With such an interesting and complex main character, you’d think the supporting characters would pale in comparison but they don’t. Instead, each character has his or her own story, their own set of unique qualities that set them apart and make them shine. Our heroine, Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun, 김고은), is strong and plucky, with enough moxie to handle a lifetime of being approached by ghosts and enough gumption to stand up to the likes of a mischievous Goblin and even Death himself. Speaking of Death (Lee Dong Wook, 이동욱), he just so happens to be as interesting and complex as his immortal roommate; which makes the scenes they share together some of the most perfectly entertaining moments ever to exist in DramaLand. Trust me when I say that Death and Goblin’s bromace in and of itself, is enough to make this drama worth watching. It’s absolutely priceless!
I could honestly sit here and ramble on about how wonderful Goblin (쓸쓸하고 찬란하神-도깨비) is for a very long time but I won’t. Instead I’ll tell you that this is the one drama you really need to be watching. Only 8 episodes in, it’s too early to declare this drama to be the best of 2016 but it certainly has the potential to be. The writing, the cast, the cinematography, the soundtrack, are all brilliant and have come together to create something truly spectacular. I suppose the only question is, will this brilliance carry us through the entire drama, or will it fade before the end? I have faith that it will last until the end but I suppose only time will tell. The only thing I can say for certain, is that I will be there, with pounding heart and teary eyes, until the last credits of the final episode roll.
But what about you? Are you loving Goblin, the Lonely and Great God (쓸쓸하고 찬란하神-도깨비), as much as I am? Or have I (once again) let my inner fangirl (and my undying love of Gong Yoo, 공유) get the better of me? Let me know in the comments below!