22 March 2021

K Drama Review: Love Alarm 2 (2021)

After watching Love Alarm's first season, I was really looking forward to the second season. Primarily because the ending was hanging and Song Kang was lovely to watch. :) But it took a while before the second season was released. I'm not sure if the long wait somehow affected my feelings for the show. I would have to say though that my experience was not lovelier the second time around. :)

Plot

The second season was shorter than the first one with only six episodes running between 40 minutes to a little over an hour. You don't even have to wait for the succeeding episodes because all of them were uploaded on Netflix in one go. 

The story picks up where it left off in the first season. Kim Jo Jo (Kim So Hyun) and Hye Young's (Jung Ga Ram) relationship is still a work in progress. Jo Jo is still unable to ring Hye Young's love alarm because of the shield that the app's developer Cheon Duk Gu (Lee Jae Eung) gave her way back in high school. Jo Jo's first love, Sun Oh (Song Kang) is still confused about why Jo Jo broke up with him four years ago and why she can no longer ring his love alarm. Sun Oh is also in a relationship with designer, Yuk Jo (Kim Si Eun). While Jo Jo was with Hye Young during most part of the show, Love Alarm keeps us guessing until the final episode if she'll actually end up with Sun Oh or Hye Young. 

Stuff I Didn't Like 

After watching Love Alarm 2, I now sort of understand why Koreans are not huge fans of multi-season shows. If the first season was a hit, the second season might have a hard time meeting the high bar that was set. The story might not be as compelling anymore. This was the main problem I faced while watching Love Alarm 2. 

While there were some nice stuff towards the end, I just felt that most part of the second season failed to add anything new to the table. Yes, it's expected that a second season will be a continuation of the first one. But I don't subscribe to the idea that it should merely be a continuation. There needs to be something refreshing for the viewers. But with the way the two seasons of Love Alarm were split, I felt that it would have been better if the entire thing was released in one season. 

Season 1 was cute because it was in a school setting with high school students experiencing their first loves, crushes, etc. Unfortunately, (and we grown ups know this), adult life, such as the focus on season 2, is not always that compelling. It's not as cute and romantic. People need to be practical. So in that aspect, season 2 would really pale in comparison to the more colorful storylines presented in the first season. 

For a show with very few and short episodes, I felt that Love Alarm 2 spent time on some overextended dramas/issues that took screen time away from our main leads - like the issues of Gul Mi (Go Min Si) and her annoying desire to make it big, Duk Gu and his disappearance, Hye Young's dad in jail, and the marital problems of Sun Oh's parents. While I appreciate background stories, I feel that the moment you go there, you need to go all the way. You can't touch things on the surface and be contented with a shallow treatment of these stories. Some or even most of them were not fully resolved at all. As a result, viewers were fed with very minimal or even no character development. Sure, I appreciate that Gul Mi defended Jo Jo when the police were pestering her about the Love Alarm murderer and that she bought her mom hiking outfit. But what did she really want to achieve and how much of it did she actually achieve? And while Duk Gu playing Cupid for Hye Young until the very end was noble, what really happened to him? Is the show saying it's fine to jump off a building because if you're rich, you'll survive anyway? And that it's fine to be locked up by his brother who took over his business? Even the logic behind the Love Alarm murders, like how he thought that Jo Jo's drawings were prophecies, was unclear. 

This is completely subjective and people might not agree but I also felt that the cast looked better in season 1. Save for Hye Young, everyone else seemed to have either aged, gained weight, or looked tired/haggard. 

The concept of having an app like Love Alarm is cool and refreshing. Even the other components of the app like the shield and the spear were good. It's just really unfortunate that the show failed to capitalize on these innovative stuff. 

The Love Triangle and the Ending


My main issue with this love triangle was how I knew Jo Jo really loved Sun Oh. Although she claimed she really loved Hye Young, I felt that most of the time she felt more pity or gratefulness for him instead of love. I'm not sure if it was a chemistry thing or if she was really supposed to express her love that way. 

The way Jo Jo looked at Hye Young was definitely different from the way she looked at Sun Oh. With Sun Oh there was more fire and passion. 

And while it was understandable that Jo Jo had issues, I totally agree with Hye Young that the very least she could have done for him was for her to be sincere. She should have told him about the shield from the start. And using that spear just added insult to the injury. It was as if she was reinforcing the notion that she merely pitied Hye Young. 

Having said all of that, the show somehow found a way to make the ending work for me. I was happy that Jo Jo finally had the courage to face her demons. Her past was bringing her down and it prevented her from having a happy life that she deserved. Although tragic, I believe that the Love Alarm murderer helped her realize that things were not always her fault. People have free will and what others do cannot entirely be because of her. And I'm glad that Jo Jo facing off with her past opened up a lot of happy opportunities for her. 

I admit I was not a Hye Young fan. I personally preferred Sun Oh (and Song Kang) because I don't think he did anything bad to deserve what Jo Jo did to him. But having said that, I would agree with the show that Hye Young deserved Jo Jo. He stuck by her side despite her brokenness. Yes, Duk Gu gave him a little nudge, but I always felt that he would never allow Jo Jo to feel alone ever again. He tried his best to understand her. Sun Oh, on the other hand, sort of gave up on Jo Jo. Sure, he was sent in exile to the US. But if he really wanted to pursue her, I'm sure he would have found a way. If he were so sure that Jo Jo still loved him, he should have dug deeper to find out what was wrong. Yes, Hye Young had the advantage of maturity versus high school Sun Oh. But I still feel Hye Young did more to keep the girl. 

I was just glad that everyone got their happy ending - Hye Young with Jo Jo and Sun Oh with Yuk Jo. And I was happiest with how Hye Young and Sun Oh seem to be on the way to rekindling their friendship. I loved how Hye Young told Sun Oh that they can always meet when things get hard. 

Over all, Love Alarm 2 was just okay. While it didn't match the cuteness and romance of season 1, it was able to give us a satisfying ending for the main leads. 

Oppa says...3.6

Noona says...it's a 4. 

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