Now that the drama is over, it’s time to review how it held up against my original expectations.
We get a ton of social commentary. The drama did surprisingly well in that regard. Instead of pausing every couple of episodes for self-righteous speeches about the corruption of those in power, the injustices that were perpetrated were instead an integral part of the story. From Sang-mi being trapped in the Guseonwon to Dong-chul’s imprisonment to police officers who looked the other way to believers being milked for cash, we got to see failure after failure of the system and society. Perhaps the most reaffirming part of it all was that the good guys didn’t try to excuse their own family members’ complicity—they called them out on it instead, repeatedly.
Sang-mi’s trauma isn’t played to motivate the boys. I’m so happy about how this played out. Yeah, sure, the boys answered the call to help her, and they often expressed sympathy and were upset about her plight, but at no point did any of them take her suffering and make it about them. The boys suffered for her, because they understood that the Guseonwon was a shitty, dangerous, evil organization, and they could not help her unless they helped her bring the entire thing down.
Jung-ki is terrifying. Yep. He was. He was terrifying in his soft-spoken, I-have-half-a-dozen-people-willing-to-die-and-or-commit-murder-for-me way, and the grip he had on the Guseonwon members’ lives was absolutely awful. The man was a charismatic predator with a silver tongue and an ability to inspire fanatical devotion. His stolen wealth let him rub shoulders with the local elites and gave him absolute control in his domain. It has been a long time since I’ve seen someone who deserved to be set on fire as much as he did.
Give me an optimistic ending. Thank you. Despite the murders and the continuance of the splintered Guseonwon group, Sang-mi got her happy ending with her mother and was able to go out into the real world, just like she wanted. Dong-chul was able to start reconnecting with his father (here’s hoping he has a spot in an recovering alcoholics program), and Sang-hwan got the miracle of his mother waking up. The world is still populated with evil, corrupt people, but this time the young people won, and I’m so grateful they did.
Save Me exceeded my expectations, and it has cemented its spot near the top of my 2017 ranking. What did you think of the show?