Once again, Ji Oh (Kim Rae-Won) wakes up. Once again, he doesn’t know who he is, where he’s from. Once again, he doesn’t know why he can control electricity, or why he’s being relentlessly hunted down. As he starts his quest for answers, he meets Gu Reum, a police detective who’s been looking for her missing parents for years. Together, they face forces beyond their imagination.
I had the (not so) fantastic idea to start L.U.C.A.: The Beginning when it had barely started airing, which means I devoured the first four episodes, pounced on the next three ones like a rabid animal, put it on hold because of spoilers that made me hesitant, and then marathoned the last five. And you know what? I regret nothing, because the ending was so worth it. It’s been ages since a drama’s ultimate scene left such an impression on me, really. If I had to sum it up, I’d say I’m seriously impressed by the screenwriter’s guts.
Hats Off For the Script…
It came as a big surprise when I realized that Chun Sung-Il, the screenwriter of L.U.C.A., also wrote 7th Grade Civil Servant, which I really hated. This one, however, sucked me in right away, and although the post-episode 7 spoilers got me worried and hesitant for a while, I have zero regrets about my choice to go on, because the ending is memorable. This sort of conclusion never crossed my mind, as I expected something more along the lines of the usual recipe for this sort of show. Yet, what I got instead was fresh, new, unexpected. A world of potential and possibilities, the start of a brand-new story.
(I’ve watched this last scene a dozen times and never get tired of it. It’s such an explosive finale.)
Of course, I’m very aware that it’s not the kind of ending that leaves people indifferent. Either you love it or you hate it, but there’s no in-between. And while I proudly belong to the former category, I know that it’s not an ending that works for everyone.
…And for the Characters
L.U.C.A.: The Beginning broaches a bunch of heavy themes, but the sheer complexity of its characters, all so interesting and desperately human in spite of the atrocities they perpetrate, will draw you in from the very beginning. It’s impossible to stick pretty labels of “good” or “evil” to them when supposedly good people say frankly horrible things, and seasoned killers show deep love for their people. In the end, you can disagree with their decisions, but you can also understand where they’re coming from and why they make the choices they make. They’re all doing their best in an impossible situation… which doesn’t mean they’re right.
I also want to address the numerous complaints I’ve come across regarding Gu Reum. People said she was weak and went off the rails in the second part of the story, but I disagree. Gu Reum is a somewhat ordinary young woman who finds herself embroiled in a situation far beyond her. She fights monsters both literal and metaphorical, and gets beaten up a lot, true, but her resilience and determination are to be admired and make her, in my opinion, a strong and compelling character. Stuck in an inextricable situation, she makes tough choices according to what she knows and believes in, and simply does her best, just like Ji-Oh does. No, it’s not perfect. But it’s undeniably human.
The writing and acting may be top notch, but the production of L.U.C.A.: The Beginning shines in its own right. Be it the soundtrack, the lighting or the beautifully-choreographed, beautifully-filmed fight scenes, everything is gorgeous and shows a lot of effort.
Of course, this means that the show displays a certain amount of realism that might make it difficult for sensitive souls: if you have issues with experiments on humans (children included) and animals or with violence, then this might not be for you. Then again, I’m not overly fond of any of that, but a tiny bit of looking away and fast-forwarding solved the problem pretty quickly.
All in All..
The ending isn’t for everyone, but L.U.C.A. is a well-written, well-produced, and well-acted drama which offers something fresh, unique and well-executed. A must-watch!
Title: L.U.C.A.: The Beginning
Country: South Korea
Aired: 02/01/2021 to 03/09/2021
Starring: Kim Rae-Won, Lee Da-Hee, Kim Sung-Oh, Kim Sang-Ho
Number of episodes: 12
Genres: Action & Adventure, Thriller, Suspense, Sci-Fi
My Grade: ★★★★★