Nice Guy 06: Maru’s screwed up mentality

Nice Guy isn’t a wow great mind-blowing drama, it’s got makjang, it’s got LKH’s pattern melodrama, it’s got caricature like characters, and it’s got some silly warts, and some things that require you stretch your belief by a thousand hundred miles. It’s nowhere near the perfect LKH melodrama I’d been expecting, and it’s not going there.

But its got something that none of her past dramas had – an exquisite director who knows what he’s doing (and is doing an awesome directing job). And a male lead that I’m disgusted with. A confused screwed up male lead who is on the verge and brink of destruction, a male lead who doesn’t even know what he’s up to playing with people’s lives. A male lead whom I’m starting to resent! And I don’t normally resent or hate the male leads in mah K-dramas, no matter what they do, no matter how dark sick twisted or irredeemable they are. There is always something that I can fall back on, to justify their actions, their intentions. I could empathise and I can understand. But in here, I don’t know, I kinda want to see him burn for what he’s doing to Eun Gi. I don’t know what’s gotten in Song Joong Ki, what he’s eaten (to make him so damn good when he’s already so good), because he has freaking managed to make me grow seeds of hatred towards Maru. In one episode alone.

The first scene in Ep 6 which nearly sent shivers down my spine. Maru staring at a hopeless and lost Eun Gi, knowing very well that she’s falling fast and falling blind, being so aware of how his so called revenge plot  is affecting the once prickly and formidable personality. The scene is executed brilliantly, showing the once equal Maru and EG (at least in terms of character and personality) tipped to the very side, in the most pathetic way. Maru who stands tall above everyone, looks at a desperately hopeless one. With eyes so cold and unaffecting, with a gaze so empty and unfeeling. One who could command the attention of many (even her father) is now just a ploy and tool to another, a tool of deceit and manipulation. Eun Gi ah, what has love done to you?

Maru is a difficult character to like, to explain in words, and let alone, to be acted out. He somewhat reminds me of Maru in CYHMH, but with more complex shades of grey and a darker tone. He’s not evil, nor is he malicious. He doesn’t go around trying to steer trouble, cause havoc or nor does he make it a point to ruin peoples’ lives (his life is more than ruined enough by Jae Hee, can’t get worse than that). He loves his sister, he loves his buddy Jae Gil, and would never hurt a fly. But what he’s doing to Eun Gi, it’s sick and it’s horrible. It’s downright twisted. I don’t think he even knows what he’s aiming at exactly (though Jae Hee’s part of it), it’s as if he’s walking the path of getting back at Jae Hee unplanned and unthought of at all, not knowing or realising the extent of his ignorance and how his tactless-ness is affecting the people around him. It doesn’t get to you immediately (I did like Maru in the first few eps), but the more you see Maru sink into his obsession with Jae Hee, the more you sense the coldness in his character, and the more you start to fear this man. You never know when he will pounce, and when he does, you may never have a chance of escape.

SJK killed it in the first scene, those cold empty eyes, they made me bones shiver. But the bar scene with Jae Hee, no other scene takes the cake. THIS. And this of all. The sheer intensity of that scene alone, my hair raised o_0. How did SJK become THIS good? The way he expressed the delight and enjoyment in making Jae Hee jealous, at the expense of another girl who loves and expressed that love to him at that very moment, scary shit. Scary shit. This man, if not played by SJK, I would have sworn and cursed him to the gallows. It’s pure utter disgust. No one can forgive that! Bad Guy had a similar plot and all, IJUKSA, pretty much the same too, but Kim Nam Gil or Rain never gave me as much freaks as SJK did.

I initially thought I couldn’t buy the plot of Eun Gi falling so hard and fast for Maru, and have her switch from a bitchy cold sass to a girl sweetly blinded by love. But I did, and surprisingly I could understand and relate to the whole process. A person so closed off and covered up in her own world, touched by another who breaks into her comfort zone all of a sudden. I somehow thought it connected well.  I think EG thought she saw herself in Maru, in that he could relate to her and she could relate to him as well. He doesn’t  abide or give in easily, so does she, and he doesn’t shy away or hide his words, so does she. And, he’s man with SJK’s face, come on, who wouldn’t be touched or affected? I’m being realistic here lol.

So the more I feel for EG, the moment I step into her shoes, my disgust towards Maru evolves faster. If Eun Gi ain’t a troubled or unstable character herself, I wouldn’t bother too much. If Eun Gi didn’t have a father who constantly belittled her and a step-mother who happened to be Jae Hee, I wouldn’t care less. But with all this burdened baggage behind her, she has to cope with Maru who would eventually come to destroy her everything in life, her family, her genuine trust in people. How could I like this character anymore? One who destroys without knowing what he’s aiming at. Someone who loves him.

What’s so amazing about SJK is that he’s really really good in using his eyes to convey vulnerability and frailty. It’s a fine line, between conveying emotions so layered and complex without uttering a single word and just looking good with tears in your eyes. A lot of actors manage do the latter, they always manage to tear out our guts and eye glands by crying their heart out, make us empathise with them with tears filling their eyes. But SJK aims higher, and does it so damn well. He doesn’t need to cry or have tears linger in his eyes, I feel him. The wall of reality that’s breaking inside him, that he’s actually hurting and crushing a human being with his own hands.

This scene in particular, it’s sickening and sad at the same time. Maru’s clearly giving EG a chance to escape, but we all know it sounds all different to EG. The worse thing is that Maru never really realises up until this point that he’s giving this woman so much and yet is taking the same amount away at the same time. It’s painful to see EG fall so blindsided and one sidedly, it’s even more painful to see Maru be so well aware and conscious of everything and not be remorsed with guilt at all (not yet to me at least). At least, we get some sort of retribution at the very end of the episode, but that said, I don’t think it’s going to make me get back to liking Maru anymore.

Unless a miracle happens, he forgets Jae Hee and leaves everyone alone for good, it’s gonna be an uphill task.

Love oh love, boy you can be destructive.

Maybe Eun Gi, you could consider going to Jun Ha (or cutiepie Sang Yeob) instead?


credits: LSY twitter

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15 thoughts on “Nice Guy 06: Maru’s screwed up mentality”

  1. I have only seen one LKH drama – Sorry I love you. I really liked that drama and as a fan of 3 leads I was intrigued to see Nice Guy. I have to say that it exceeded my expectations. The directing is AMAZING and acting too. As for the writing… well it is interesting. I actually started to doubt that there is an OTP in this drama because I can’t see it. It’s the first time I’m actually shipping the leading lady with the second-lead (lawyer Park!!!). I agree with you about Maru. The most horrifying thing to me is that he perfectly understands what he is doing and knows the pain of her heartbreak and yet he doesn’t stop. It’s just so painful to watch how Eun Gi blindly falls deeper in love with him. Hasn’t she suffered enough? We’re talking about a girl whose only friend is a doll!! I feel she’s losing her strength to fight for her place in the company and daddy’s heart and that’s why she’s seeking Maru because she seeks someone to fill that black hole in her lonely soul with warmth, love and care. He got hold of Eun-gi’s most vulnerable part – the little thread of hope and trust left in her which I fear will burn down as the truth comes out
    After 6 episode I actually ship jae hee with maru, they are one hell of a couple.

    1. I’ve seen most of LKH’s dramas, and I’m Sorry I Love You is still one of my fav of hers (in fact my number 1 drama of all time despite all the warts and cliched melodrama). Though I have slowly come to realise her typical writing pattern, she always manages to get to me with her characters, their motivations, actions and destructive emotions. I have never hated any of her male leads in her past projects (they’re not saints nor are they nicey good characters in any way, mostly darkish and colored with utter inferior complex), I always managed to feel sorry for them. But Maru, I don’t know, I think it could be SJK’s conviction and performance, he scares me, he makes me want him out of EG’s life.

      Maru knows he is hurting people, but I don’t think he’s in the right mind to fully grasp the extent of his actions. His blind-sided obsession with Jae Hee gets to him every time, overtakes and consumes him fully that even the slightest budding concern or empathy he develops when faced with the love-struck Eun Gi dissipates immediately with JH in the picture. I really do not know how writer is going to resolve his feelings for JH because I do not think she will ever be lost from his life (she’s just too relevant to the extent whatever she does affects his actions). And with the upcoming thingy regarding Eun Gi (which I really hope doesn’t materialise because it sounds like a cop out to me), I’m having a hard time forming something or anything remotely close to a good ending from it.

      We can only hope for Jun Ha to be EG’s strong pillar until the very end.

  2. Sick… SJK is too good in this drama…. I always blown away by his performance here…so far, I have watched 3 LKH’s drama: MISA, nice guy, and WISFC. Cha Moo Hyuk was the character I pitied the most… But MAru’s Joong KI is the male lead I fear the most!

    I really hope the writers will add some concience and his geniune feeling towards Eun Gi more often.. strange enough, I still has simpathy towards him until now. You already know I have a soft spot for twisted, layer and dark character, and always success to find a way that makes their action justified. haha …

    1. So word on Cha Moo Hyuk, he still stands as one of my fav drama male characters EVER, too bad So Ji Sub has never done anything as good since then (MEH). And Maru is indeed fascinating as he is complex a character, but he scares me shit. SJK scares me shit.

      It’s a given Maru’s wall will break apart soon, he wavers when moments of realisation sneak up to him (but such are always overshadowed by Jae Hee). I think the only reason when he will wake up for good – when EG breaks and tears her life her away because of him.

      1. Same here.. CMH is top on my list of best drama performances. For me, CMH is appealing because of SJB’s acting. He gives CMH different layers but one thing I appreciate SJB the most in that drama is that despite all the resentments and traumas CMH carries in him, SJB manages to give this character raw emotions and a candid simplicity. For me, that is pure gold. ( I only found the rivals of CMH until last year when I watched Tree with deep roots and Brain. Han Suk Kyu’s rendition of Sejong King deserves an Oscar Award!)
        Without doubt, SJK is amazing in Nice Guy. I am kind of weirdo because I actually find myself more interested in the relationship of MR and JH. ( I guess I read too many dark realist and naturalist novels. LOL). I don’t even find MR screwed up. Both MR and JH are all too human although their actions might not seem humane.

      2. So happy to read about MISA (it’s still my No. 1 drama) but at the same time I feel sour because it’s the best of SJS. His post MISA works never lived up, and so did his acting (he was good in Rough Cut, but I think it’s because of the character). It’s as if he’s coasting with those empty soul-less eyes of his and is stuck, can never venture on to other stuff. Stereotyped forever.

        JH and Maru’s relationship is indeed fascinating, some people even want them back together because they can never break way from each other fully. The intensity and charged up emotions every single time they meet, they swallow and consume each other. How can Eun Gi get in between them? We’ll see.

      3. OMG! Cha Moo HYuk! even now, everytime I listen snow flower by PArk Hyo Sin, My heart ached because that song always remind me of Cha Moo Hyuk’s character and his unfortunate situation.. HIKS HIKS …. And I start went crazy for SJS after watching MISA, sigh.. LKH, u jerk, u create one of the most pitiful character I’ve ever met, plus SJS’s acting, make me crying non stop makes my eyes got swollen and I can’t even breathe due to too much crying T___T sigh

  3. Hi Ripgal,
    I think the upcoming “thingy” re EG will be a determing factor for me because I consider it to be a definite cop out. This one may be placed on the backburner until it finishes airing where I pick it back up next year or later.

    She’s making JH unnecessarily dark and cruel where she did not start out that way it seems. It was a mistake that turned tragic and now that she’s living in high society, everyone is evil except for EG who has been able to remain pure in that environment? Meh. Too slanted and unrealistic to make her point about redemption or true love. This almost has the feeling of watching a B movie where some character (a dame in red lipstick) is reading a cheap paperback romance novel. It’s a novelty.

    My sympathy meter for EG is low and getting lowered by the writing (the acting is phenomenal). Having the “thingy” materialise for EG will not help it any because it may feel like another layer of, “Oh, oh…look how pathetic and forlorn I am”, *faints*. Feeding into or taking full advantage of MR’s penchant for caregiving bites.

    1. That’s what I’m worried abt and wary of too, but I fear *from spoilers* that it will happen and most prob it will by this week. Initially thought writer would do away with it since the dynamics are already complicated and twisted enough, but chances are slim.. we can only hope she’ll be able to write and smooth that part out later.

      Actually most of LKH’s characters are very much cardboard caricatures, JH and EG alike. I’m not so bothered about how she’s darkening JH’s character because I have a feeling there is more to her backstory than her just having been an ambitious reporter back then. Her abusive brother, her lowly life in the past.. I think it’s quite justified a reason for her to want to rise up, to a place where she can look upon those who belittled her in the past. And part of me thinks her having been constantly bitched about and condemned by her step-daughter EG had built seeds of grudge in her. No matter how nice you are or you try to be, one can only take that much. She has to fight back and not let anyone step on her, it’s predictable and cliched, but not unreasonable or unjustified from her point of view.

      Drama may be stretching things a bit too far, but darn I’m going down with drama no matter what. I want to see what would become of everyone in the end, esp Maru.

      1. Her conversation with MR in the bar about the depravity of her existence was unsettling, yet MR said he was coming for her still. To have this woman fight it out with her ex-lover is…crazy. I’ll see…. 🙂

      2. They’re both corrupted, Jae Hee and her growing obsession with power and control, Maru and his sick obsession with Jae Hee. I can understand where they come from, and could see how their re-appearance had propelled things even further down the ditch… but I just cannot root for either of them. They remind me of a line from Sean Lau’s movie Bullet Vanishes, “There are no born villains, just good people turned bad.”

        How sad.

  4. “Eun Gi ah, what has love done to you?” I LOVE that you ask this because it makes something that was bothering me about what’s happened with Eun Ki clear to me: instead of making love something that makes her stronger, Lee Kyung Hee/the narrative are making love something that makes her weaker, that makes her dependent on Ma Ru. That’s not what love is! At least, that’s not how I want it to be imagined between these two characters…

    1. I was quite doubtful about EG’s sorta-change of personality after she met Maru in the first place, thought it didn’t make sense that one could just turn around and become a different person just like that. But I guess love does have the ability to make people do crazy things, things so out of the blue and such. I can totally see why she would be dependant on Maru now, because he came in at the right time, when she was at her weakest (against all sides including JH and her dad), when he solved that heck of a problem (miraculously!) just like that.. before she had noone to turn to for help, Jun Ha was always there but he always gauged her feelings and gave in to her. Guess she’s just never met anyone like Maru, who dared to voice out and hit back at her but still allowed her to do her own thing.

  5. I am so glad that I am not the only one who is critical of LKH’s script. For me, MISA remains LKH’s best and after watching Nice Guy, I am fully convinced that the golden age of LKH will never return. (Sigh)
    It’s NOT that Lee Kyung Hee is a bad writer. On the contrary, she is far better and sincere than most of the Kdrama writers these days. However, her major problem is that she doesn’t “evolve” like, say, Park Yun Sun (Wild Romance, White Christmas and Alone in Love). Lee Kyung Hee has a tendency to create polarized characters, but in MISA and Thank You, she strikes a delicate balance. In Misa, Cha Moo Hyuk is a character with so much intensity but then you have Eun Chae, who is completely self-effacing but unconditionally loving and giving like a social worker. There is only one kiss scene between MH and EC, but who will deny this paring is the most memorable OTP in the history of Korean dramas?! Most importantly, even acting style wise, SJB and LSJ share similarities since both of them are capable of quiet acting, but in important melodramatic moments, they complement each other. (I think this is the problem with Thank You. Jang Hyuk tends to overact, which is not a good combination with Gong Hyo Jin. No wonder a lot of people think that there is more chemistry between Jang Hyuk and Choi Kang Hee, his girlfriend who died in the first episode).

    The biggest flaw in Nice Guy is also its biggest virtue. From directing, photography to acting, Nice Guy is full of intensity. But it is precisely because everything is so full and so intense that it leaves no breathing space for contemplation. Even in a quiet moment, there are hidden narratives and obvious “acting” going on. On the contrary, for me, the most touching moments in MISA are those “empty” shots. For instance, right from episode 1 or 2, when MH was sitting on the park bench in Australia witnessing the sunset, I felt his loneliness even though nothing is going on. Or when the camera stays on the face of LSJ for seconds while she was sitting on the doorstep waiting for MH, I was astounded by LSJ’s capacity to deliver her longing even though we don’t see any facial or even eye expressions from her. I still like Nice Guy. But it doesn’t shake me or make me cry buckets like MISA. (I cried from the very beginning to the end. Same for Thank You). Another reason is also that conversations in NG are all so heavy loaded. Nothing ordinary and mundane. Even the comic reliefs provided by LKS are simply annoying. Especially given that I am just done watching Answer me 1997, I really feel that LKH is stuck in the old formulas.

    Sorry for ranting so much. I love all three leads but I am not sure if I want to keep watching. It feels like watching a HK drama from decades ago. >.<

    1. LKH is an effective writer, even if her tropes are kinda vapid and predictable, she knows how to evoke the right feelings from viewers. Yes, the way she writes can be a tad too melo-manufactured and chauvinistic, but at least she knows the grip and pull of her characters. Don’t think NG is meant to invoke a tearfest from viewers (at least not yet), her characters so far have not be stretched to the fullest or extreme for us to pour our out hearts to them. If anything, 2 of the 3 main chars are actually pretty much scum-like unlikeable. Not worth my tears yet.

      I agree with you MISA and Thank You were the best and mature of her works, and Nice Guy isn’t living up (IMO) in comparison. Though I have to admit my love for both dramas stemmed from me being an emotional cry-wreck myself and the beauty of the relationship between the characters. And it was easy to root and feel for most if not all of the characters in there, the writing gave us much to ponder about too, about family, about relationships.

      As for NG, can’t see nothing but broken ppl battling each other out right now.

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