You From Another Star is the long-awaited reunion between Jeon Ji-hyun and Kim Soo-hyun who burst on screen with much talked-about chemistry in The Thieves. With such an A-list cast, it comes as no surprise that it’s demolishing its competitors ratings-wise, clocking 25.9% for Episode 15. When I initially signed up for this drama, I expected a fantasy romance-comedy to take centre-stage, with most of the conflict and jokes stemming from the premise that Min-joon (Kim Soo-hyun) is an alien. However, the drama has somewhat deviated from expectations, with much of its plot focused on the villain and his murder spree.
While the drama’s pacing started out pretty well, it sort of lost momentum in the middle. The drama has utilized a unique chronological style, by fast-forwarding to the future, and then revealing snippets of the process through flashbacks. Usually, I’m in favour when dramas play around with the chronology of events, however, this drama has over utilized it to the point where it unfortunately slows down the pace of the drama. Scenes often get replayed when the clock turns back, and it often feels like the plot has come to a standstill, since we are back to where we began in the episode, with simply more stones uncovered.
We could have gotten to the present moment much faster, where Min-joon decides that love is selfish, and since time isn’t exactly on his side, he’s just going to do whatever his heart tells him to. The last few episodes that he spent pushing Song-yi (Jeon Ji-hyun) away feel incredibly wasted, especially since it amounted to nothing. From the get-go, he should have known that Jae-kyung (Shin Sung-Rok) would not be trustworthy, and just cooperate with the cops directly to bring Jae-kyung down.
As of now, I’m just waiting for the villain’s storyline to conclude, and to move on to fleshing out what should be the main dilemma — how he’s going to fight for his future with Song-yi. The audience isn’t interested in whether Min-joon decides to take the blame for Jae-kyung, nor are we interested in the number of murders Jae-kyung is going to commit before he is stopped. Instead, we are really just here for the romance, and the obvious obstacle standing in its way — Min-joon is not human. Granted, there is still a quarter left of this drama left. Hopefully, the last stretch can wrap up this Jae-kyung villain and sink its teeth into the real meat of the drama.
That said, I’m really appreciating the character developments of the leads a lot. Song-yi is definitely carrying her end of the stick very well. It’s rare to see a female lead that’s very much in tune with her feelings, and wears her heart completely on her sleeve. It’s not easy for a female to confess first, and even tougher for one to be rejected. But Song-yi does it with so much poise, and with minimal self-pity, that it’s impossible to not admire her.
As much as she comes across as an airhead by doing silly stuff like mistaking Propolis as propofol, surviving 12 years in the entertainment world is no easy feat. It is evidence of her persistence and gutsiness, which is precisely what it takes to chafe away at Min-joon’s stoic surface bit by bit. Another thing I love about her is that Min-joon’s alien nature doesn’t unsettle her one bit at all, her topmost priority, remains as to whether or not he returns her feelings. Who cares if he can teleports, has super-hearing, or is from another planet? All she cares about is whether his heart flutters when he’s around her. How can you not root for such a refreshing heroine?
Jeon Ji-hyun is also 110% committed to her character, and it’s such a delight to see a top actress, in person, and in the drama, do silly things in the confines of her home, just like everyone else. While it’s difficult to empathize with Song-yi in terms of her celebrity habits and lifestyle, the drama has done a good job of removing her from the pedestal and making her relatable, and Jeon Ji-hyun definitely does a great job of conveying that. Like everyone else, she drunk-dials her crush and leaves embarrassing messages. Like everyone else, she would rather eat chicken and beer than cabbage and apples. Like everyone else, she is first and foremost a human, who loves and wants to be loved.
I’m also totally onboard with the (platonic) noona-dongsaeng relationship between Song-yi and her brother, Yoon-jae (Ahn Jae-hyun). It’s a shout out to all brothers, who might not be affectionate to their sisters, but will rush to their sides in a split second to protect them if necessary. Blood is thicker than water and Yoon-jae encapsulates that perfectly. He doesn’t want to let people see his concern for Song-yi, but that’s not going to stop him from beating up netizens who write hate comments about her, or planting himself in her house to protect her. That’s one brother I’m sure nobody would mind having.
On the other end of the totem pole, Kim Soo-hyun is also doing a bang-up job. His crying scenes are simply outstanding and just gut you in the heart. However, it’s unfortunate that his character is relatively stoic and doesn’t have much varied expressions, which the audience would have enjoyed seeing more. The only time the audience really gets to see a happy Min-joon is during the fantasy scenes, which is really inadequate. However, I buy that this is not just a personality tic, but rather a result of circumstance. In the past, you see his numerous attempts to make human connections, but people are immediately frightened once they find out his origins. Once bitten, twice shy. How many times can a person (or an alien) tolerate being rejected for who he is, before he simply stops trying? As a result, it’s the lesser of two evils to just distant himself from people, and as a result, life’s little pleasures.
That said, despite being disappointed many times, I like that this doesn’t stop him from revealing his true identity to certain people, hoping that each time, it will be different. That’s why it’s all the more heartbreaking when Song-yi is finally the one to flouts expectations, and sincerely does not give a damn which planet he’s from. But timing’s a bitch, just when he’s about to leave, this amazing woman comes along and finally gives him hope for a future that he has never dreamt of.
The other not-so-amazing woman, Se-mi (Yoo Inna), is a fascinating character, and I’m pretty sure many people of different interpretations of her. Did she ever see herself as Song-yi’s friend? Or has she always been masquerading as Song-yi’s friend? Her character reveals the ugly underbelly of the entertainment industry, and how manipulative and shady it can be. Her one wish is for Song-yi to finally see her as a rival, and it just seems pathetic that she would place her life’s worth on another’s opinion. While it might have been a big blow to Song-yi that her best friend has never regarded her as a friend, but she sees this as a blessing in disguise, since only when one is in the bottommost of pits, do you see who your true friends are.
Se-mi also has her own one-sided love story going on with Hwi-kyung (Park Hae-jin), who must be pretty dense to not realize that Se-mi has been in love with him for years. He’s so blind to everything else other than Song-yi, which further fuels Se-mi’s need to one-up Song-yi. However, he’s part of this one-sided love chain that goes on in this drama, which serves as a tool to for the characters to reflect on themselves. Se-mi loves Hwi-Kyung, who loves Song-yi, who loves Min-joon. They all serve as foils for each other since they have different ways of dealing with their own one-sided crush, as well as rejecting a one-sided crush.
While the drama started out well with dynamic characters and relationships, it sort of lost sight of its purpose in the middle when it detoured to shine the spotlight on Jae-kyung and Min-joon’s deal that resulted in nothing much. Some of that time could have been reallocated to flesh out some of the intriguing characters that were introduced, but have so far served as a mere plot device — Song-yi’s dad and Jae-kyung’s ex-wife. Fortunately, Episode 15 ended on a good note, literally putting an end to Min-joon’s stupidity. And hopefully, this signifies a good start for the last stretch of the series.