K-Drama Review: “Memories Of The Alhambra” Marks Momentous Highs Albeit Safe Landing
For the most part, specifically 15 episodes and three quarters of its last episode, Memories of the Alhambra did not let me down.
With that, opting uncertainty over sweetly frosted happy ending is understandable. But just like the case for everyone who religiously watched it, I experience post-drama brooding moments, since I still want to know more about the fictional world that intrigued me in the last eight weeks.
Title: Memories of the Alhambra
Network: tvN (streamed on Netflix)
Theme: Scifi-Fantasy, Drama, Romance
Length: 16 Episodes
Broadcast Date: 01 Dec 2018 – 20 Jan 2019
Main Leads: Hyun Bin, Park Shin Hye, Park Hoon, Chanyeol
Highlights: Inventive Plot, Efficient Character Utilization, Riveting Storytelling, Hyun Bin
Drawback: Ambiguous Ending
Related Dramas: W, Nine
Ambitious on its run, Memories of the Alhambra almost achieved a perfect 2019-drama-to-beat label. The polished weekly episodes maintained its mystery while making sure that viewers would be haunted. That ultimately leads to anticipate what’s in store for the series each week.
Hero-centric riveting journey
After 16 episodes, the closure might not spell happiness, but it stayed true to the narrative’s color.
It has always been Jin Woo’s story. Even if it is taxing, joyful, harrowing or optimistic – it boils down to what his character has been seeking to achieve when he bravely decided to confront its impossibility. His journey to unravel and outwit the augmented reality game which consumed his life – only deserves a genuine ending.
From there, although true to its plot mold, Jin Woo fading away in ambiguity would naturally spawn hopes of another season to see the courageous hero get another chance of explaining what becomes of him after completing the quest. A sequel or a special drama, would be okay and I bet most fans would agree for this to happen.
On that note, much credit is to be given to Hyun Bin for exceeding expectations on how he suited up as Yoo Jin Woo. An abundance of shining and brilliant moments, with and without tears, have left me impressed more than ever for his character rendition. I particularly love his casual talks with Hee Joo’s sister and that poignant “debugging” moment with his loyal secretary.
A Plot that will monopolize your real life
YES! Memories of the Alhambra easily makes the watcher enter its world and worry about everything that has been happening there. Fortunately, for people who did not watch it as it was airing, at least you will only get the burning urge to watch it in marathon. So, consider you are forewarned that it might make you skip work so you can freely binge on it.
Such engrossing plot leaves the audience always appalled at its plot movements and surprises. The story of an investment CEO, who gets entangled inside an augmented reality game, consuming his reality has been one of the most imaginative plot drawn in the recent years.
Memories of the Alhambra presents the creative strengths of the production team backing it. Writer Song has built a reputation with her ambitiously ingenious storylines with W and Nine. Meanwhile, Director Ahn Gil Ho is experienced in creating memorable heroes as reflected in Stranger and Rooftop Prince.
Neatly flowing to a thrilling unfolding of the events, the series closed to gratifying cliffhangers each week, while withholding the essential details that were unleashed to a climactic sequence of its waning moments.
The cryptic game glitch
Not only was the plot insanely good for Memories of the Alhambra, it also turned viewers on a theorist mode, analyzing its rules.
Overthinking the precedent of how the game glitch evolved to cause the main characters’s conflict was inevitable. However, the thing about fantasy series is how the writer reigns over the rules of the game he sets. Whether it make sense or does not see reasons, viewers are not entitled to question the established platform to support the scenario.
I also have a few questions left unanswered on the game glitch that propelled the story — like what happened to Marco game bug or why Jin Woo became a game bug when he was alive. That’s why I am not closing my doors for the Alhambra team to make the closing right, if they can.
But then again, the game glitch drives the engaging hook of the series, that even with vagueness in making the thought of the series whole, taking it out is deemed removing the soul of the narrative.
Memorable Character Portrayals
Getting efficient support from the cast of the series, the actors who joined Hyun Bin in his arduous game and reality sojourns deserve applause. The countless times Park Hoon appeared in the game with his signature stoic i’m-here-to-kill-you-Jin-Woo looks has drained me as a watcher that I want the problem to be resolved come what may. Additionally, all those Secretary-Seo-To-The-Rescue moments really put me in the brink of tears appreciating him as the best sidekick ever.
Adorning the series with lingering romance, Park Shin Hye blended well to her roles. Despite her characters not entirely achieving a well-deserved closure. There’s a lot more things about Emma which were not explained in details. Moreover, Hee Joo painstakingly and blindedly stayed by the hero’s side. At the very least, she deserves more than the knowledge that Jin Woo survived.
That haunting what-really-happened-to-Jin-Woo fading scene. Elaboration not needed. It still hurts to think about it.
Sans the safe landing, and if we were given a definite answer if Jin Woo’s return in the game also transcends to his real life, the series would have been perfect.
Memories of the Alhambra still scores high among the dramas I saw in the recent years owing to how it kept surprising me with its imaginative premise and well-utilized cast.
It was all magnificently gliding up to the last episode that I refuse to wallow in the frustrating last note of the series. Still my drama-to-beat parameter for parade of 2019 Korean dramas this season.
*Photos from tvN and courtesy of Netflix
ABOUT THE WRITER
abbyinhallyuland reads and sleeps a lot when she is not traveling. Her calendar reminders are mostly K-Drama broadcast schedules and birthdays of her favorite Korean actors. Promoting K-Drama watching as stress therapy is her life advocacy. She is fond of Spencer Reid, Gregory House, Kenshin Himura, Starwars saga, Haruki Murakami and Hunter x Hunter.
Recommended Korean Dramas: Reply 1988, Nine, Misaeng, Gaksital, Discovery of Love, Because This is My First Life, Descendants of the Sun, My Love from the Star, Healer, Punch, You’re Beautiful, Coffee Prince, Princess Hours, The Greatest Love, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, City Hunter, and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.