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365: Repeat the Year (2020) Episodes 1-2
There is no way after that cliffhanger that I won't be continuing with the drama. :D
I'm hooked. And the lucky Nam Ji Hyun gets to be murder suspect #1 again. While I came for Lee Jun Hyuk, who is adorable in this by the way, I'm sticking around for storyline.
It certainly gives off a strong J drama vibe and my first sense of what it's aiming for was Liar Game. Not content wise necessarily but ambience and presentation.
Everything about the drama tells me that this is going to be quite the roller coaster ride with all its twists and turns. Already there are easter eggs all over the place including the title of the manhwa, "Hidden Killer". Frankly I want this show to maintain this level of quality from beginning to end because the premise is brimming with so much intrigue and potential. It would be an absolute waste of talent and plot if it went down the proverbial gurgler after such an excellent start. The designated 12 episodes might help in that regard.
The first thing that has me really curious is the mechanics of the "reset". As I grope around my ageing repertoire of sci-fi tropes, my first bit of speculation just based on an initial exposure to the storyline is that we have something along the lines of a Matrix type scenario. The dog named Maru had me thinking very early on of The White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland because he seemed to be a point of connection between key people and events in the narrative. In the first Matrix (1999) film, Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass was heavily referenced as was the Wizard of Oz. Toto, Dorothy's dog journeys with her to Oz when Kansas "goes bye bye" during a tornado. My first inclination is to agree with the gamer lad that this is some kind of hidden agenda. That said, I don't really see how Reset could be a Death Note survival game. It's purely speculation on his part at this point because he was trying to account for the unexpected deaths. But that's his assumption the deaths work in similar fashion to Survivor or Big Brother. It could well be a red-herring. All it indicates so far is that he's a pop culture fan boy. ;)
He obviously knows his J pop culture. However, there's no Shinigami -- a grim reaper type demon, no magic notebook or any indication that Lee Shin or the people behind her are practising vigilante justice. None of the participants are repeat offenders or hardened criminals. Nothing about Reset screams to me that it's following the Death Note template.
For me The Matrix and Avatar parallels make the most sense at this point in time. And yes, I reserve the right to change my mind when we know more. It's a generational thing possibly but at this stage there's a strong case for believing that these people haven't actually travelled through time but are sitting in a room hotwired to some serious tech in a hugely sophisticated VR room making cognitive choices which see their actions play out. For example, in the post-original Star Trek iterations, there was something call the holodeck or holosuite which was essentially an interactive VR area that allowed for role playing etc. If memory serves there was a Stargate episode which featured members of the main team being held hostage by alien tech trying to learn how humans think and act.
The other pop culture reference that came to my mind was Groundhog Day. That has to be the ultimate reset film to my mind. Sonny and Cher's I've Got You Babe blaring over the radio still cracks me up. The mechanics of that probably isn't the same but the moral is. Character is destiny. To change the past one must change oneself. Something along those lines I would say...
The show certainly keeps you guessing in that Life on Mars sort of way.
Obviously it's still early days and during the course of these episodes I changed my mind more than once about the underlying mechanism driving the storyline. It could well be a VR role play type set up or even AR... but I'm not really up on the latest jargon. My thought is that something sophisticated could have been set up somewhere in that facility as a platform for playing out these scenarios. Another feature of interest that points to this is the hypnosis sessions and how Ga-hyeon accesses her memories through that. Then there's the hourglass. Why use an hourglass instead of a wristwatch or phone? And a really large one at that. That piques my interest as someone who has a thing for timepieces. Obviously timing is one of the keys to unravelling the hidden agenda of the psychiatrist and Zian.
Moreover I wouldn't at this stage necessarily believe everything the psychiatrist Lee Shin says about time travel. However we can be certain that these individuals haven't been randomly picked. At its core, despite the psycho thriller window dressing (yay!) the police procedural elements (yay, yay!) this feels like a drama about healing. It is my contention, whatever the mechanics of Reset, it's an experiment of sorts to help people deal with grief and loss. To come to terms with the pain, trauma etc and hopefully move on.
Survivors of tragic and horrific events often second guess themselves... "What if I had... What if I hadn't..." The regret and guilt paralyses them. Whatever Zian/Jian Corp is... (I keep thinking of Janus for some reason because he is the Roman god of beginnings, transitions, doorways, endings etc. He is usually depicted with two faces, each looking respectively to the past and the future. Rather like the hourglass which has two symmetrical sides, perhaps?) they have a means by which individuals are given an opportunity to live through an alternate timeline from a decisive moment and then see the flow-on effects of that even when they have foreknowledge or tools by which they can change their future. My guess, based on what I've seen so far, is that knowledge is not the key to change... but character. According to the drama at least. Character, not knowledge, is destiny.
Take for instance, Ga-hyeon. Her best friend, however wrong she was, was on the nose about GH's attitude. I sensed it myself and even after the reset... she had the same arrogance, the same self-righteous attitude. She also lacked circumspection and discernment when dealing with Seo Yeon Soo. And patience. Even before what eventuated I had thought she jumped the gun on that one. And it turned out, I was right. She became easy pickings for someone eager to pin murder on her.
I also had a feeling about the boyfriend and the bestie in the "first timeline". While I agree that the affair was an ugly act of betrayal, GH once never stopped to think about why the bf and the bestie fell for each other behind her back. They don't seem to be individuals who set out to deceive anyone. We always sympathize with the one betrayed... it's natural... no one likes to be deceived. But affairs aren't usually things that happen overnight. It starts with the little things. Then there are comparisons made. A man and woman working so close together, left alone together for long periods of time finding solace in each other. None of this is helped by the presence of a grumpy, demanding fiancee. It's textbook ingredients for an affair. I can't imagine that she's an easy person to get on with or work with and it must have been worse after the accident when she lost the use of her legs... when she became embittered.
Of course I'm not saying that bf and bestie weren't responsible for the betrayal. They were but GH, from what I've seen, had some contribution to make in that love triangle too.
We humans often think that if we change our environment... our lives will change for the better. We can limit suffering and pain. I think we know that is seldom true just from case studies of lottery winners. Too often we're so busy trying to control all the external variables in our lives that we forget about the man and the woman in the mirror.