Raine: Earlier this week Zombie Mamma asked me if I wanted to review tvN’s newest Friday/Saturday 16-episode drama with her, Goblin. I hadn’t started it yet and I didn’t really intend to because while Kim Eun Sook really is a K-drama viewer’s favorite writer, she’s not really loved by critics – i.e. me. But then I saw Kim Go Eun and…..GONG YOO and I said “why not?” I watched it. I eat my words. This show is good. REALLY Good.
Zombie Mamma: I told you it was one of those dramas you just had to watch! At least now you know why!
Raine: It very much lacks the jerky plot writing and jumpy scene changes of many of Kim’s previous works like Descendants of the Sun, Secret Garden, and the Lovers dramas. There is this beautiful, sinuous continuity to the writing, the filming, the CG. And, y’know, Gong Yoo’s perfect everything.
Zombie: I think that seems to be everyone’s sentiment when it comes to this drama. All you have to say is Gong Yoo and we’re sold.
Raine: GONG YOO!
Zombie: I do have to admit that going into this drama, there was this fear that it would end up being as difficult to watch as some of Kim’s other work. Heirs scarred me for life and Descendants, as beautiful as it was to watch, really lacked substance. It was a fun distraction but there was no depth.
Raine: Oh gosh, Heirs. That thing traumatized me, too. It was Hallyu-star stuffed and cringeworthy. But Kim is just popular. Her shows just DO well it’s some crazy witchery I don’t get.
Zombie: Exactly. I can honestly say that the only reason I stuck around for that dramas was my undying love of Kim Woo Bin.
Raine: But Goblin, while I do fear the unraveling of its perfection because that’s how all of Kim’s dramas have faired, I have some faith in it.
Zombie: Oh definitely. I have all kinds of faith in this drama. And not just because I love Gong Yoo and Lee Dong Wook. We’re only two episodes in (at least that’s all we’ve watched so far) and already there’s a depth of character and story that makes this so much more than just another star-studded fluff and nonsense drama.
Raine: Depth is exactly what this show has that Descendents lacked. From the beginning the story, Kim Shin has a history, reasons behind his actions, things and events that affect him, change him, move him.
Zombie: He’s a character with purpose. Everything his does has a reason behind it. He’s a very grounded individual, which makes sense, considering he’s what, 900 years old? He has life figured out. Or I guess I should say, he has his existence figured out. He knows who and what he is, why he exists as he does, and how his end will come. There’s nothing flighting or fake with his guy. He’s real and unshakable. And yet, as soon as he meets Ji Eun Tak, everything he’s ever thought he’s known gets thrown out the window. She is the great mystery in his life and it’s so much fun, watching him trying to figure her out.
Raine: And I do love how his change isn’t only because of the girl and the love that will finally lay him to rest, but the particular people in his life, especially his bromantic partner, Death. This is the best I’ve see Lee Dong Wook in a long while.
Zombie: Absolutely! I’m still so scarred from Blade Man, I was afraid I’d never be able to watch another Lee Dong Wook drama again! (Raine: Same same!) I’m so happy he’s taken on a supernatural role that’s actually worthy of his talent! He makes Death look so darn good!
Raine: Amen! And I do like the strangeness in their bromance. (Zombie: YES!) There is the normal fussy fighting, but there is also the supernatural that spices things up a bit, and the one big contention between them: Death wants Kim Shin’s Goblin bride dead and Shin, well, doesn’t!
Zombie: I don’t think it really matters to Death that he’s going after the Goblin Bride. I think what really bothers him is the fact that Eun Tak isn’t supposed to exist at all. Because Kim Shin stepped in when he did, he brought about a life that wasn’t supposed to be. I think what really bothers Death, more than anything, is the fact that Eun Tak isn’t on his records so he just doesn’t know what to do with her.
Raine: Oh definitely. It’s a cerebral dilemma for sure. I just love that someone’s life is the issue, when we have an immortal, a could-be-killed-Goblin, and this ghost-seeing human chick. And speaking of this human chick, Eun Tak played by the brilliant Kim Go Eun, she’s this marvelous mixture of completely downtrodden and happy rays of sunshine. When allowed to be free (i.e. with Gong Yoo) she’s this utterly delightful girl. With an oppressive family, she hardly seems the same person.
Zombie: I think that’s what I like most about her. I like that when she’s with her awful family, she’s strong enough to stand up for herself. She’s doing everything she can to get out of that house. She’s working hard at school, she’s taken a part-time job, she’s doing everything she can to remove herself from an awful situation and I admire her for that. She’s sassy enough to keep her family from walking all over her and yet she’s got this innocence about her that really can only come out when she’s with Kim Shin. I like that he brings out a side of her no one else really gets to see. I also like that that side is a very pleasant one. It makes cheering for her insanely easy.
Raine: Yes! She’s cute without being obnoxious. It’s really just this energizing freedom, and that is definitely half Kim Go Eun. I like that Shin makes her feel safe. She doesn’t need defenses. We also see it when she gets a job at the chicken house with Yoo In-na’s fabulous Kim Sun.
Zombie: Oh goodness! Yoo In-na is fantastic in this drama! There’s something about here character that is just… I don’t know what to call it, really. I’m just very much enjoying her and all that sass! I think she’s a rather brilliant match for Go Eun.
Raine: We need a word for bromance that’s just as cool for the ladies, like “sistermance”…except not that. Like serious. These two are such a pair, and Yoo In-na rocks the blase.
Zombie: I really wonder if her character isn’t actually some other supernatural being. The way her shop is always empty and the way she carries herself, she’s so full of confidence, it’s almost unnatural. But maybe that’s just because we see so few characters like hers in dramas.
Raine: It’s true. She’s a rare woman in dramas. Despite her apparent apathy, she’s strong, has an attitude, and she’s confident. This drama knows how to sketch out its women. They don’t have to be weird to be strong; they just go about living their lives. But I am also wondering if she’s supernatural. It would be cool if she was…and if she wasn’t. I’m fine either way.
Zombie: Same. I do have to say, the other thing I like about Go Eun is the fact that her ability to see ghosts hasn’t damaged her in any way. (Raine: Like every other ghosty drama!) Exactly! After all these years, she still just as strong as ever. She has her wits about her, she’s able to deal with ghosts and life all without becoming this pathetically traumatized victim who can’t function in the normal world. I freaking love that!
Raine: Definitely. She deals with her problems in such a mature, relatable way. But when she is bubbling with happiness, that’s when she gets to Shin, pierces his 900-year-old armor of misery, and fighting time, and perhaps a bit of apathy that has come upon him from the long wait.
Zombie: *sigh* Just seeing that written out is enough to invoke all the fangirl feels! What woman in the world doesn’t want to imagine themselves as the one able to break through an immortal being’s 900 year old shell of misery? Or maybe that’s just me…
Raine: I know Eun Tak certainly jumped onto the idea right away, like a very, very smart heroine!!!
Zombie: I loved the way she just accepted the title of Goblin’s Bride and went with it. There was no hesitation, no doubts or fears. She was just, “This is what I am? Okay, then… I love you!”
Raine: I LOVE GONG YOO, TOO! But seriously, squeal-worthy moment. I heart you, Eun Tak!
Unlike many other dramas with fantastical elements, this one follows a set of rules. We may not know all of them, but things don’t just happen willy-nilly. The goblin-lore loosely follows historical goblin tales. Ghosts conversing with Eun Tak establish her role in this unusual love story. Scenes between Death and Shin flesh out their roles. And none of it is exposition heavy. Instead, it flows as part of the story.
Zombie: The fact that a story with this much history behind it can flow so easily, without being bogged down by heavy exposition, is kind of amazing. We are talking about a man who has been alive for 900 years. That’s a whole lotta backstory! The fact that his history has been woven into the fabric of the story, without bogging it down makes it so much fun to watch. You know enough about him to get a pretty solid idea of his character and then we’re off, joining him on the unknown adventure that will ultimately bring about his death. Which, for the record, I’m not looking forward to. At. All.
Raine: Me neither, but I don’t think I’ll mind it. It will break my heart, and I will cry, but it’s part of what makes this story so rich. All that backstory, the present, the episodes to come, and then that poignant end!
Zombie: I know it’s absolutely necessary to make this story rich and it’s ultimately going to be what ends 900 years of aimless wandering and all but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt like crazy when it comes.
Raine: Let’s not think about it yet. We still have lots of pretty to enjoy. And we’re only just finishing episode two. Death is fourteen episodes away!
Zombie: Actually, Death lives just down the hall and he’s the most fantastic roommate ever! At least until he starts singing about Goblin’s underpants…
Raine: Hehehehehe. I like what you did there.
Zombie: I have my moments.
Raine: Good drama gets the juices going! Speaking of good, the music is also good. There are a couple of hilarious moments rendered just by the OST or background music. Most of the CG ain’t bad either!
Zombie: There’s really so much to love about this drama. The Chanyeol x Punch collaboration, “Stay With Me,” for the OST is beyond beautiful. I swear, I’ve listened to that track about a million times already and I still can’t get enough of it.
Raine: Guh, even seeing those names written gives me chills! Such. Great. Music. And OSTs are the best because they bring up the feels that you felt when the feels first happened while watching the drama.
Zombie: That’s true of every OST but it takes a really great track to stand the test of time. You know tracks are typically played to death during the course of a drama, and usually you end up hating it by the end, but there are some that make you feel all those original feels, even after it’s been played to death.
Raine: And it will be played, to death, and to Death. Pun!
Zombie: Hahahaha! I’m always a sucker for a good pun! But back to the drama and the CG you brought up a second ago. I love how it fits in so seamlessly with the storytelling. I mean you know it’s there but it doesn’t really stand out as a garish distraction. It serves its purpose without making you say, “Oh hey look! CG!”
Raine: Exactly! It’s au natural and par for the course!I love how it’s used by Death and Shin to brattily dump extra pepper into each other’s soups! They’re just teenage boys with powers.
Zombie: They really are. At least until Eun Tak gets kidnapped.
Raine: OMG THAT LAST SCENE!!!!!! OMG OMG OMG OMG!
Zombie: Yeah… It’s been a week already since that scene aired and I still get chills just thinking about it! It was just THAT GOOD! I’m dying to find out what happens next because you know when Death and a Goblin show up to a party, things are gonna be interesting. To say the least!
Raine: Party with the old, but very hot, dudes! Back to the scene: so perfectly executed. Just the right amount of creepy, cool, sexy, and mystery. The perfect recipe for a cliffhanger. Deliciousness.
Zombie: Ahh… Delicious… *siiiiggghhhh*
Zombie: Sorry, what were we talking about again?
Raine: About Goblin and how we should stop writing to go watch episode 3? Like now. And pray they replay that ending scene at the start.
Zombie: … … … Yeah… I’ve got nothin’… All I’m doing is sitting here, replaying that scene over and over in my head. Clearly we need to wrap this up and go watch the next episode!
Raine: Then off we go! Well, before we do, what did you all think of these two episodes everyone? Did the ending turn you into mind-numbed drooling fan zombies? Let us know in the comments below!
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