The Secret Garden, the 19th & 20th episodes

As if we really need an introduction. Our lovebirds lived happily ever after about says it all. With three adorable rugrats no less. And not in a poor house, either. Just not in his mother’s house. JW gets his memory back and more. And we get a classic ending to beat all endings. And after twenty episodes, I give the Secret Garden its final personal rating, 8 out of 10, which places it at the same pedestal as the previous classics such as Coffee Prince First Shop and My Girl.

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The Secret Garden, the 17th & 18th episodes

As we near the end of this sweet and yet suddenly angst-filled roller coaster of a drama, we again come back to romantic love, and, boy, do we ever. The sob-fest, as wits calls it, plays out like Love Story and West Side Story intertwined but with a distinct Korean flavor and intensity and hopefully without the fateful ending. And oh, what a love story it is. As JW is writing the letter to RI which could be the last one he writes as a living human being, he sobs uncontrollably, not because he’s afraid of dying, I think, but because he feels RI’s pain of having to live without him and his without her. And later RI contemplates the same selfless act of love as she sobs holding the very letter against her heart, just as JW did with her Little Mermaid declaration of love “letter.”

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The Secret Garden, the 15th & 16th episodes

We don’t see much of romantic love in these two episodes, but that’s okay because we see a different kind of love. A love between parents and offspring – a love where one parent sacrifices his life for somebody else’s kid, and a love of a mother for the very kid, however misguided it may be, brings once a seemingly indomitable force to her knees.

Being stuck in an elevator for the second time in 13 years brings back the partial memory for JW, while RI hears from his mother, what JW is beginning to suspect, that they lost someone “precious” that fateful day.

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The Secret Garden, the 11th – 14th episodes

Christmas is for celebration of love, and we are certainly blessed this season in more ways than one. While I was slumbering away in the festivities of this Christmas, our two lovebirds were busy going from precarious to a sure thing in little less than four episodes.

When I last saw them, which seems like a lifetime ago (I am told that too many screaming kids and too much eggnog can do that to anybody), our lovebirds were sweating away in the evil witch of the West’s abode. Based on the subsequent sequence of events, the chasm between them appears to grow deeper and their parting almost inevitable. But thanks to the most unlikely fairy godmother and even more improbable of a bodyguard, they become, at least in their minds, a bona fide couple that we have all been waiting for.

Given their newly but ethereally cemented bond, starting their journey even in the witch’s presence doesn’t thwart my fingers from dancing on my laptop’s keyboard. Yeah, I know, my fingers need to get a life.

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The Secret Garden, the 9th & 10th episodes

As we near the halfway mark in this drama, I’m beginning to realize more and more just how similar our two lovebirds really are. Bite my tongue, you say? How dare I compare the os to our damsel-in-combat? Well, let me count the ways.

First, they both have temper. So what, who doesn’t, you say? Okay. Second, they are both very strong-willed. Yawn, do you? Tough crowd. Okay, how about this? Third, they both love each other “with all their hearts,” but they are too proud, thick-headed, and misguided to admit it. Their hearts know it, but their brains don’t. That’s evident when JW chases after RI through flights and flights of stairs, and when RI makes an effort to read all that he reads to find out what he’s really thinking. What they say to each other and what their hearts are saying are two entirely different things. Let me show you what I mean.

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The Secret Garden, the 7th & 8th episodes

Just because this drama heralds from a fantasy genre, I know it doesn’t mean that the writer can hear my thoughts, but oh, what a difference an episode makes. After trying our patience with awkward goofiness of gargantuan proportion during the soul-switch, the writer comes back with a vengeance. He gives us, albeit temporarily, the original characters back through a magical veil. Yes, some people hate the veil, but I embrace it with gratitude.

And our prince charming has come back. And I don’t just mean from her body. I mean he is slowly, at times painstakingly so, but surely going from Mr. Hyde to more Dr. Jekyll. The baby steps notwithstanding, JW is becoming a man RI could love “with all her heart.” Oh, he still has his moments of petulance and immaturity, but lest we forget, life is more about process than destination.

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The Secret Garden, the 5th and 6th episodes

As a general principle, I don’t like spoilers. But somehow I couldn’t help finding out that soul-swapping was going to occur in this drama. But I have accepted that and moved on, hoping that the switch would be funny, realistic, and maybe, just maybe, provide some poignant moments.

Well, there were some funny moments. We even had a kiss. Okay, technically two kisses. But as a guy, I tend not to count the first one, only because it was just a peck on the lips. We were also given a poignant moment when JW in RI’s body (JW*) finds out that her body is full of bruises and marks from her occupational endeavors, and he feels new compassion for her, enough to lose the desire to peek at her body when he had the chance.

But since the switch, the original characters appeared to have lost some of the edge. RI in JW’s body (RI*) acts more feminine than RI ever did, while JW in RI’s body (JW*), even though Ha Ji-won does an admirable job, just doesn’t have the same cutthroat, all business persona that JW portrayed so well. And there also were some unrealistic moments since the switch.

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