Girl Who Can See Smells has met its end with possibly more thrills and nail biting moments than I could handle. Yet, it was so hard to look away. This drama has done its job of keeping viewers enraptured from start to finish incredibly well.
The writer has saved up the most intense story arc for the ending with Detective Yeon-mi tricking Jae-hee into thinking she was Cho-rim and getting kidnapped instead of her. Becoming the key to catching Jae-hee in the act, the detective team desperately tries to locate her before her time is up. The drama is riddled with astounding plot twists, anger-fueled confrontations and tension-filled bargains, as all the characters sought out the ending they want at incredibly high stakes; it is make or break for the investigation, Jae-hee’s agenda and Yeon-mi’s life.
It plays out as Moo-gak, with the help of Cho-rim, locates Yeon-mi just in time to save her from suffocating. I bet everyone finally let out the breath they were holding when Moo-gak and the other detective burst through the door. With Yeon-mi safe, Moo-gak sets his sights on the fleeing Jae-hee.
Moo-gak has declared from the very beginning that he will not rest until he kills the barcode murderer. However, his character has been undergoing development from the very beginning, slowly gaining a resemblance to the carefree young man he once was. He is no longer the detective solely focused on revenge. All this development compounds into the one moment when he catches up to the fleeing Jae-hee. You can see the gears turning in his head as he fights between doing the right thing, arresting Jae-hee or the ‘wrong’ thing, killing him. The camera shot was framed brilliantly, enhancing Yoo-chun’s emotional eyes that show Moo-gak trying to control his anger. Although Moo-gak’s character stalls between wrong and right, choosing to shoot instead, he astoundingly doesn’t take the shot to kill Jae-hee but instead chooses to shoot to wound. This decision doesn’t seem to absolve him of the hole in his heart as he proclaims later that he still feels ‘uneasy’ when Jae-hee is in police custody.
There is one aspect that I have not addressed yet while reviewing this drama that has added to the superb creation of it. That is the cinematography. It’s a pretty standard expectation in dramas for there not to be any fancy camera work. This leaves the characters and dramatic plots to push the drama forward. However, Girl Who Can See Smells has played host to some superb cinematography from fast paced action to beautiful romantic scenes. The cherry blossom ‘date’, running through the shipping containers in the dark to the narrow passageways just to name a few. The way each scene is created reflects and adds a new dimension to the emotions portrayed in it, giving it a sense of artistry and careful attention.
Carrying on after the arrest, we saw Jae-hee’s control start to unwind when his reliance on living through his victim’s lives was threatened and then taken away from him when he was caught. While Nam Goongmin’s portrayal of Jae-hee was both chilling and deceiving from the start, whether he was forcing kindness for the people around him or fixing them with a cold stare, it became brilliant as the character started to unravel. The desperation portrayed when Jae-hee was trying to stop the ‘records’ that he had made his victims write from being burnt drew pity from me, something not usually felt for a serial killer. His portrayal pushed the usual two dimensional villain characters that are often represented in dramas, adding him to this drama’s list of complicated characters.
With Jae-hee arrested and Yeon-mi safe, surely this is the end to this thrilling adventure; it has to be all rainbows and sunshine from now on, especially with a wedding on the horizon. However, there is no way that this show can’t miss a chance to pull the rug out from under its viewers. After the bubbly wind up to Cho-rim’s wedding, involving many adorable attempts at proposing by Moo-gak, Jae-hee turns up and kidnaps Cho-rim. Personally, I love how all the detectives assume kidnap over marriage nerves when they find out she is gone. Well, they were right. While it is quite a cliched ending plot twist, the drama has switched things up on viewers so many times that it doesn’t seem out of place. In fact, it provides the drama with its last moral dilemma to resolve any loose ends, especially with Moo-gak facing off against Jae-hee once again.
Moo-gak finally makes the decision that he should’ve made when he first caught Jae-hee: to arrest him and not let his anger drive him to murder. Moo-gak has made the final development of his character, resolving the anger at his sister’s murder, though this decision is challenged when Jae-hee attacks Moo-gak and is accidentally pushed over the side of the building, dropping to his death. Whether or not Jae-hee had ended up dying is inconsequential to Moo-gak, he made the decision to not be the one to purposefully kill him. He even reaches to grab Jae-hee before he falls. Moo-gak made it clear; this was the end of Jae-hee’s influence on Moo-gak and Cho-rim’s lives. Moo-gak’s development has been incredibly detailed and well played out. Guess what? He was secretly a fool at heart and he can go back to being that fool without a weight on his chest.
There has been so much detail put into this drama that it has been hard to address every aspect. While I tended to focus more on the mystery side of the drama, there were many incredibly funny, cute or romantic moments at the hands of Moo-gak and Cho-rim that made it light-hearted and enjoyable to watch. Yoo-chun and Shin Se-Kyung have an incredible amount of chemistry and as the drama progressed it just kept growing alongside the characters themselves. I am bummed about Cho-rim not fulfilling her dream of becoming a gag woman. I would’ve liked to see Cho-rim and Moo-gak become Korea’s champion gag couple, but let’s face it, Cho-rim isn’t really that funny. Her character development was routed in her growing to accept her gift to see smells and finding a place where others did too. She found that in solving crimes with Moo-gak and the detective team.
Though I have expressed some frustration with plot holes and character stupidity before, it’s not enough for me to not call this drama anything but brilliant. It blends the unlikely mix of comedy and thriller perfectly, embedding it into the plot, characters, and cinematography to perfection. I can honestly say I am going to miss watching this drama every week; it has been the source of my laughter and nail biting for its two-month run.
So did Girl Who Can See Smells become one of your favorite dramas? Why or why not? Which characters are you going to miss now that it is over?
(Images via SBS)