Heartbeat: Heartbeat
August 18, 2023 5:09 AM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Seon Woo Hyul is a vampire who wants to become a human but ended up becoming half-human when he woke up a day before completing his 100 years of sleep. Meanwhile, Joo In Hae is a modern lady who shows no compassion about him and only wanted to survive. Will they find love and learn to care for each other now that fate brought them together?

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[Poster's note: When I do these full-season kdrama posts, I try to keep the extended post non-spoilery, in case anyone is just taking a peek out of curiosity. But this show ends so differently in tone from how it started, I don't see any way to post a thread that isn't about the events of the finale and whether the ending works or not. One non-spoiler general review below, then on to finale reviews, back out now if you don't want to know the ending]

Korean-binge.com review - "Having seen six episodes so far, here are three key points that I find fascinating and enjoyable about the drama: Comedy. Seriously, I have never laughed so hard watching a Korean drama this year than at Heartbeat (2023), a rom-com show that assuredly delivers a good belly laugh.... Characters. There’s something about the main characters of Heartbeat (2023) that I find cleverly intriguing, although simple at first watch but strikingly enough, hold some sense of depth if you proceed to the succeeding episodes.... Performances. Together, Ok Taec-yeon and Won Ji-an make Heartbeat (2023) one of the most fascinating and enjoyable Korean dramas of the year.... Conclusion. Heartbeat (2023) is far from perfect but it is an amusing watch that leaves you stunned with its charming characters and intriguing story arc. It’s definitely a must-watch romantic comedy!"

The Review Geek finale review: "This is the kind of ending that is going to leave audiences divided. That’s not always a bad thing, but there are a few things about this finale that I can’t look past. For one, most of the show has relied on light humour, funny escapades and romance (both, fluffy and earnest). The high energy and excitement of the K-drama were immensely infectious and the last two episodes have really dealt a blow to that energy. To be honest, with the light tone of the Heartbeat, Woo-hyeol’s impending death always felt like something that would be reversed. The stakes didn’t seem as high, until the last two episodes. Secondly, Woo-hyeol’s last few days just don’t hit the right mark. It’s executed well, the actors all do a brilliant job. But the tonal shift is simply too jarring to appreciate it.... That said, for those who are a fan of open endings and can find catharsis in tears and partings, Heartbeat’s finale could work. After all, the characters maintain their sincerity right up to the end. There is also a sense of the story coming full circle as In-hae takes on what used to be Woo-hyeol’s role. In the end, this is a K-drama that will hinge on the audience’s personal preference."

Dramabeans finale recap: "See, I would have been more accepting of such an ending if the show had set it up that way from the start. If it had been a melancholic slice-of-life, for example, or a grand historical epic. Instead, it billed itself as a fantastical rom-com through and through, and so I can’t help but be blindsided by the unexpectedly tragic ending. Rather than emphasizing their serendipitous meeting and subsequent character growth, the ending instead reiterates the cycle of self-sacrifice, loss, and waiting. It’s clearly an attempt at bringing its story full circle, but I can’t help but think that the execution would have been much better if the repetition had been done through In-hae opening the coffin a second time, saving Woo-hyul again.... Heartbeat’s greatest strength was its slapstick humor and outlandish antics, which meant it just had to lean fully into the campiness in order to be a satisfying watch. However, it didn’t trust itself enough to commit to the bit all the way to its final act, resulting in it petering out with a whimper. It almost reminds me of my disappointment in Joseon Attorney; the more promising a drama is in its earlier half, the more disheartening its later decline becomes.

Still, while I think the ending could have been greatly improved, I certainly enjoyed the journey it took to get here. For all its ridiculous hijinks, Heartbeat had lots of heart — its characters were earnest, likable (for the most part), and wholly relatable in their human folly. While its story closes with our lovers separated, it’s clear that Woo-hyul lives on through his positive influence on the lives around him. Ultimately, what makes someone human isn’t the heart they possess, but the love they give."
posted by oh yeah! (1 comment total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I was definitely in camp blindsided. It wasn't until the end credit stills started running that I even understood that Seon Woo Hyeol was not coming back to life. And I still don't know quite how I feel about it. It's definitely not the ending I hoped for or expected based on all the cuteness and comedic shenanigans throughout the season. But I can't say that the events/actions aren't true to the characterizations established throughout either, so it's not a total WTF-was-that kind of ending. There is a symmetry to it. But it's hard to take comfort in the idea that the lovers will be reunited eventually in their next lives -- I wanted them to get the happy-ever-after in the lives/bodies they're in now, not just their souls in some other bodies in some future with no memories of their shared experiences.

It's just an unexpectedly melancholy ending for what was such a fun watch for the first 7 weeks.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:22 AM on August 18, 2023

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