[What Mary Thinks] Strangers Again: Episodes 1-6

Another drama, another binge-watching marathon! This time, it’s ‘Strangers Again’ starring Jang Seung-jo and Kang So-ra who star as lawyers reunited after a messy divorce filled with miscommunication, misunderstandings, and chaos. The drama has six episodes out so far and you guessed it: I binged all six episodes in the span of two days.

A part of it was to fill up my time and satisfy my K-drama thirst and given that this drama stars two actors who I like, I thought.. why not give it a try? The other reason as to why I continued to watch this show was also due to the actual drama itself. ‘Strangers Again’ isn’t the most mind-blowing and amazing drama I’ve ever seen; it’s rather simple and straight-forward. A little mundane you may even say. But rather than the visuals, I appreciate the stories and the script that convey messages and life lessons along the way. Though I’m not the biggest fan of law dramas (and to be honest, I’m still a little scarred from ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo‘ haha), I really like how this drama ties its court cases to the characters. Often times, court and legal dramas covers cases involving outside characters who have no relation to our female and male lead. That then makes it difficult and challenging to relate to the defendant/plaintiff as they’re usually there just for an episode or two and then you watch their court case get resolved and they go about their own way and then the cycle continues.

‘Strangers Again’ is different in that instead of bringing outside external characters who aren’t related or tied to our characters, each court case has its own special meaning that teaches our group of characters a lesson. There’s something in each court case that our main leads see back in themselves and that opens their eyes to things that they may have not noticed before. So while I’m not the biggest fan of court dramas and legal dramas, I could tolerate and even enjoy ‘Strangers Again’ because the court cases get personal for our characters. There’s an actual purpose to tune into the court cases because they tie back to our main and female lead. For example, Jang Seung-jo’s character, Goo Eun-beom, and Kang So-ra’s character, Oh Ha-ra, got divorced because of an affair that Eun-beom was involved in. The third court case they both take on gets personal because Eun-beom ends up representing the woman he was in this affair with so Ha-ra decides to represent the husband who the woman is up in court against. Then as if that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out Eun-beom faked having an affair with the woman just so that he could have a reason to divorce Ha-ra. Eun-beom never had an actual affair with the woman to begin with. This is just an example of how the court cases relate back to our main characters and why this drama feels different from other court dramas out there. It’s hard to care about external characters whose purpose in court cases is to just show up for an episode or two so that we can watch our main characters do their jobs in court. ‘Strangers Again’ takes it up another notch by directly impacting our main characters with each court case.

Though ‘Strangers Again’ isn’t the most exciting drama out there, there’s always at least one scene or moment in every episode that does it for me and feels magical. And it was one scene in particular in episode one that sold this drama for me. Upon reuniting in the law firm again, Eun-beom makes a deal with Ha-ra. In return for his assistance in a court case that she needs to win, Eun-beom will get to work at the law firm again. He proposes the deal to her in her office late at night and it’s just the two of them in her office and then the show follows it up with this soft piano piece that plays in the background. And it was this exact moment in episode one that solidified my decision to keep watching this drama. It’s small little moments like these that establishes what you can expect with this drama and is also what makes it so enjoyable. We’re halfway through the drama so I assume there will be many more scenes like these between Eun-beom and Ha-ra. I’m definitely waiting for it.

I’m excited to watch Eun-beom and Ha-ra make-up after what was a messy and unfortunate divorce. The drama gives me ‘Matrimonial Chaos‘ vibes and I can’t wait to see the two former lovers talk things out about their divorce and then maybe fall back in love with each other. Or watch them maybe try to work things out again. Or maybe try to work through things together again. It was nice seeing some backstory and context behind how Ha-ra and Eun-beom became a couple (they went on a concert date together hehe) and then what their marriage life was like that ultimately lead to the divorce. I was expecting a few more flashbacks and information on their marriage as the drama progressed, but we haven’t gotten a whole lot so far unfortunately. The drama has been taking its sweet time with this process so I gotta remind myself to stay patient. I don’t care as much for Ha-ra’s relationship with the second male lead nor do I care about all the other filler materials (such as with the second male and female lead couple who I feel like is getting a lot more screen time/attention than they deserve lol). But what does give me hope is seeing that no matter how many times Ha-ra spends with her new lover, she still doesn’t seem to be completely invested and dedicated to their relationship. She’s still hesitant even after everything and I assume it’s because she’s still in love with Eun-beom. Or maybe it’s because she’s insecure and has low self-esteem after her divorce with Eun-beom.

Eun-beom himself is also trying to figure himself out after the divorce, including maintaining boundaries with the woman who he had a fake affair with. But he’s also interested in learning how Ha-ra’s relationship with her new partner is going (which is ironic given that he was the one who set them up lol) because he may still have feelings for her. As we saw with the latest two episodes, he also has his own reasons to keep in contact with Ha-ra’s parents. Even though Ha-ra and Eun-beom may no longer be married, his relations with her parents are still alive. And I think it’s safe to say his feelings for Ha-ra are still existent too. The drama hasn’t made it completely obvious and direct just yet; we’re slowly getting there in terms of the two being honest with themselves and each other about their thoughts and how they’re really feeling deep inside. But Eun-beom has shown this need and want to protect Ha-ra and to be honest with her even though they have divorced. He still worries about her and cares for her. He wants the best for her.

Perhaps what I like the most about this drama is how flawed Ha-ra and Eun-beom are. I don’t want dramas where our main leads are perfect. I want dramas where our main characters are flawed because that allows opportunities for growth, self-improvement, and self-reflection. Ha-ra’s behavior that she showed in her marriage with Eun-beom are apparent in her new relationship with her new lover: she’s a bit self-centered. She sort of wants to do things her way. She sometimes focuses on herself too much and doesn’t spend as much time and energy on the other half in the relationship. She realized this behavior played a role in the deterioration of her marriage with Eun-beom and it’s once again affecting her relationship with her new partner. I wonder if the drama will give us a journey of Ha-ra’s reflection on herself and utilize that as an opportunity to make amends with Eun-beom. She realizes how she acted in their marriage so she vows to become a better person in the process of wanting to make up with Eun-beom. She’s shown small hints and glimpses of still caring about Eun-beom; he has also exhibited small moments here and there doing the same. The opportunity and potential to understand their divorce and the ability to look forward to a much healthier future is there; the two have to look from within and learn more about themselves first before they can take that first step towards each other.

Overall, ‘Strangers Again’ has been a pleasant surprise so far. I’d be lying if I said that I was completely invested in every single minute of every single episode (because I’m not.. I actually find myself fast forwarding quite a few scenes haha), but when there are certain moments that are worth watching, they are completely worth it. In particular, these scenes involve anything that have to do with Ha-ra and Eun-beom, whether that’s interactions with each other or as we have seen with the latest episodes, moments that involve each other’s family members. The drama offers varying perspectives on marriage and divorce through its court cases and it’s also a bit refreshing to watch a drama centered around divorce given how taboo it still is in Asian cultures and societies to this day. The characters in this drama are affected in one or another by either being divorced themselves or knowing someone who was divorced which adds another interesting layer to it all. People change all the time, marriage requires complete effort and energy from both sides, marriages aren’t perfect, and divorce isn’t a bad thing. ‘Strangers Again’ conveys these themes and messages in various ways in the show so far which is why it’s a reason to keep tuning in.

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