Saturday, June 17, 2023

Pandora: Beneath the Paradise - A Disney+ KDrama Review

These days I have been attracted to shows and movies that feature strong female characters, sometimes to the point that they are of the action(ish) genre. One of the shows that pulled me in because of that is the series Pandora: Beneath the Paradise on Disney+.

The main character in this series is Hong Taera, who is happily married to Pyo Jaehyun, the CEO of a booming tech company called Hatch. They have a young daughter named Jiwoo and they live close to some of their closest friends, particularly news anchor Go Haesoo and her husband Jang Dojin, who also works with Jaehyun at Hatch.

I loved watching this show. There were so many things that were happening beneath the surface with every character. You’d think you knew what was going on or what was going to happen but somehow there would always be a reveal that ended up turning things around in a way that you would not expect as a viewer. I thought that the premise of the show of Taera being an assassin who lost her memory was already a big thing for the story, but discovering the world she used to know, how she got to where she was, the long game that so many of the other characters were playing to get to their goals…there was a lot going on in the story! There was so much to unpack and it was very exciting to see how it all played out.

It was a pleasant surprise for me to see Lee Sangyoon as Pyo Jaehyun in this series. I last saw him in One the Woman, and it was a bit of a funny sort of show, and he played a role very different in that one. I got to appreciate his talent as an actor after seeing his range from the earlier series to this one. I wish that I could say the same for Lee Jiah, who played Taera. I know that she is an established actor in Korea, but I did not feel that much emotion from her in this show. It could be because her role is as someone who used to be a cold-blooded assassin which gives her this poker face/expressionless look, but I wish she could have shown more with her acting. Action-wise, I loved seeing her fight scenes and such (although more likely that was a stunt double), but when it comes to the emotional scenes, I wanted more from her. 

One thing that I thought was interesting in the show was the concept of the product that Hatch produced. It was an interesting technological idea that would help the brain heal the body from paralysis, coma, and all that. I wonder if that is actually possible. That would be an idea that I’d love to see in real life – if the technology is not used to kill people or erase their memories, that is. I’m not sure which movie or show it was that I saw a similar concept from, but I think this idea has been done before. I’m not saying that it’s bad that this show copied the concept, I’m just saying that another writer has had a similar idea.

According to Wikipedia, the show is also titled Pandora: Fabricated Paradise. I think that is a better title for the show as everything that Taera had from the start was part of a fabricated paradise by the person who was responsible for erasing her memories. 

As far as endings go, I was a little disappointed with this one. I thought that the series was exciting from the very beginning right up to the end, but that final scene made it feel like it all fell flat because of how they concluded it. They could have ended it on a high note but giving that reveal that did not make sense felt a little forced. Like it was trying to give viewers something to think about: Was it all fabricated in her memories? Was she fooled in the end? Is she in a coma and this is all part of data being uploaded in her brain?

Yes, it seems exciting to think that there is more to the show with that ending. But how can you make sense of how that could happen given the last scenes of the series? It just felt off. I wanted a great ending that I could clap my hands to after everything that happened in the show, but I did not get it. Then again, a lot of the dramas I’ve seen have not had good endings even if the shows were good so I guess I should not be surprised. Ending aside though, Pandora: Beneath the Paradise is still worth the watch and it is something that I would recommend to people looking for good Korean dramas to watch on Disney+.


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