[What Mary Thinks] Duty After School Part 2: Episodes 1-4

Buckle in for this review, folks. I’m writing this post fresh off of having just finished watching the second part to ‘Duty After School’ which consisted of a total of 4 episodes. I have so many thoughts about this second part and the ending to it so this review will contain spoilers (read at your own caution). While part one was a decent watch for the most part with its hits and misses like every other drama, part two was a huge downgrade and disappointment in many ways. Let’s dive into it.

The ending was the most disappointing and underwhelming part about all of this, but I’ll save the talk about that for later and instead touch upon where the drama left off since the first part. Essentially, the group of kids were left to defend for themselves after the death of their platoon leader. The other commander who was with the students also magically disappeared so he didn’t appear in the second season at all (but after reading some comments, it sounds as if the drama cut the scene of him returning to his base). Our group of students had become experts at killing the alien creatures by themselves. They were experts at searching for food and medicine and basic necessities. They had no choice but to learn to live and survive without the guidance of their platoon leader or commander. They especially relied on their class president, Yoo-jung, for her leadership and guidance. Threats by the alien creatures had ceased. It seemed as if things were going okay.

But things weren’t actually okay. The alien creatures were nonexistent in this second part. They appeared here and there at time, but by no means were they a threat like they were in the first part. And I get that the students had become accustomed and familiar with killing them so they weren’t as intimidating as they once used to be. But it’s amazing that a drama that had introduced the alien creatures as the enemies could just decide that they weren’t all that dangerous at all. Instead of alien creatures, we got other things instead: prisoners who were miraculously still alive in their prison cells even after everything had happened and another survival group of students who ended up dying in the end. I give the drama credit for wanting to try something different with the second part, but it didn’t make all that much sense to me. How were these group of prisoners still alive after they were abandoned and locked in their cells after all this time? Plus, there were other groups who were still alive this entire time too? The drama failed to give us any insight as to what was happening in other parts of the city so it seemed as if our group of students were the only survivors. I mean, I get that the radio communication was a thing, but still, the drama never really focused on the outside world. And then as if that wasn’t enough, the most dangerous one to the group was someone in the group themselves and this person was the reason for the disappointing and alarming ending.

I was never a huge fan of ‘Duty After School’ so it’s not as if I was devoted or loyal to the characters. In my review for part one, I mentioned how there were aspects about it that I enjoyed and then there were also some things that I could have done without. Unfortunately, the things that I wasn’t the biggest fan of was still consistent in the second part, primarily the fighting and yelling and screaming and repetitive behavior from the group of students. I wouldn’t say that the drama consisted of a lot of fluff because the conversations that the students had with one another was reasonable and genuine. I get that they wanted to go back home and reunite with their parents and return to a “normal” life once everything was finished. They shared these thoughts and emotions with one another throughout the drama which was a nice little peek into their minds. But at the same time, I felt as if these conversations never really served a purpose and they got redundant. It never got us anywhere. I get that ‘Duty After School’ was primarily about showing the bond and family-like connection that these classmates had, but I would have liked to see more action. There was just a little too much talking and not enough killing aliens or not enough searching or not enough surviving.

In the first part, their main thing was survival. Survive at the school, survive in the neighborhood, survive in these different buildings and locations. But in the second part, it was more about betrayal and trust. We watched the group survive together in the first part. Could they continue to sustain the trust that they had built as a group after all that they went through together or would there be some reason as to why someone would become a traitor? It didn’t help that Soo-chul and then Il-ha later on mysteriously died. Who was the person that killed them? So with these concepts of trust and betrayal and the little plot twist, I actually was on board with it. I was quite intrigued by it. The little mystery was unexpected. The students were killing alien creatures, but there was something much darker going on that they had no idea about or explanation for at first.

And then episode 4 happened and the ending happened and I was absolutely baffled. I was speechless. I had no words to describe my feelings or thoughts once I was past the 30-minute mark. I was frustrated and then I was also disturbed by what went down. Essentially, Young-soo – the studious student who was all about the CSAT and grades and school and studying – turned into a mass shooter and essentially shot the majority of his classmates dead. Only 4 students survived in the end and it was thanks to Ae-seol who was finally able to take him down by shooting him. And yes, you read that correct. The group of students whose journey we had been following along this entire time didn’t die due to the alien creatures who they were in a war with all this time but rather due to one of their own classmates who went crazy and shot them dead. I couldn’t believe it either.

Young-soo’s crazy behavior started when he witnessed who he assumed was Jang-soo and So-yeon kissing while they were sitting together away from the rest of the students. He then proceeded to knock her out unconscious later on for a few minutes and during that time not only kissed her while she was out (I literally wanted to cry while watching this unfold) but also shoot Jang-soo dead who had witnessed the entire incident. And then the group of students somehow ended back at their school classroom and they had yet another conversation about life after the war and what they wanted to do once everything was finished. Young-soo was still going insane this entire time and he ended up back at the classroom where everyone else was and fired his gun everywhere into the classroom. Somehow, even though there was only one of him and so many of everyone else, they failed to bring him down. They couldn’t kill him dead. Ae-seol managed to finally kill him off, but by that time, it was too late. The damage had already been done and lives had been lost.

If the drama wanted to kill the students off, I really wished they could have just done so using the alien creatures. It would be consistent with what we saw in part one and it would just make the most sense. They tried their best to kill off these alien creatures, but the aliens proved to be way too powerful and it was too much for the students to handle. As much as they wanted to stay alive and return to a “normal” life after everything, they would never be able to win the war against the alien creatures. I wouldn’t be happy that the students died, but I would at least understand how and why they died. But this? Young-soo turning into a serial killer and just suddenly going crazy to the point where he killed most of his classmates? I get that the CSAT was cancelled so he felt as if his life was futile or as if all hope was lost. And his character was the one who cared the most about the CSAT and about grades and studying. But why did he feel the need to kill his classmates? Why did he suddenly go crazy and just start shooting everyone? Where did this sudden change in behavior come from? We got no hints or signs of his strange behavior anywhere in part one and not really even much of it in this second part until episode 4. I couldn’t fathom how he just decided to suddenly kill everyone off. Why? For what? After all that they did this entire time to survive against the alien creatures, this is what happened to them? Most of them died? And this is how they died? This is their ending?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we learned through Chi-yeol (who was one of the only 4 survivors from the shooting) that the government developed a powerful weapon two months later that managed to kill most of the alien creatures/spheres within a few weeks. And, of course, we got no showing or scenes of this. It was all exposition as Chi-yeol was seated in a classroom while taking the CSAT.. which he walked out of and actually didn’t finish in the end. Because for him, what was the point of taking the CSAT after all that happened? The CSAT was not the most important thing to him; it was his friends. This scene would have made more sense if the rest of the students also survived. It would have been the drama’s way of saying that the students won the war against the alien creatures, but there were other things that were more important to the students than an exam. They initially entered the war for the CSAT and the extra credit and the bonus points but ultimately walked away out of the war alive with a second family and new outlook in life. Even if the students didn’t survive to tell this version of the ending, I would have been okay with it if they had been killed by the alien creatures. But we didn’t get either versions to the ending and instead got something completely different that we were not expecting.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a drama this bad and sometimes I question if a drama purposely ends things in such a way just to be funny or entertained. Because it’s mind-boggling and baffling just how bad a drama can get and the things they pull off with their endings. Again, I never checked out the webtoon so I’m not familiar with how the webtoon ended and what happened there. But based off of this live adaptation, I strongly disliked the ending. It’s a good thing I was never that invested in the drama overall and this second part proved to be not as strong so there was quite a lot of skipping and fast forwarding that I was doing throughout each episode. But I was hoping that the second part would at least be consistent with what we saw in the first part. It didn’t have to be better than part one, it just needed to be consistent and just as good.

But nope, the second part was way worse. It was a lot worse than part one. So much to the point where you kind of questioned what the whole point of the drama was in the first place. It’s not like I ever expected all of the students to survive. I knew that the alien creatures were dangerous and it seemed as if there were many of them and the war was never-ending. The lives of the students would always be threatened at any given moment. So I would have understood if the students died due to a defeat by the alien creatures. But to be killed in the final 30 minutes of the final episode by their own classmate? I couldn’t believe it. We’re in the year 2023 and you would think that there wouldn’t be as many dramas with this bad of an ending. But here we are. I’m not even sure why I was this baffled and surprised watching the final episode but I just was. Maybe it’s because I had higher expectations for the ending and again, it just threw me off by surprise. After all that the drama built up and showed us, I wasn’t sure as to how everything would end. Would the group of students somehow survive? Would some of them die due to the alien creatures? Would some of them risk and sacrifice their lives like their platoon leader did in part one? And after finishing part two, maybe the drama had no idea as to how to conclude things either so it decided on an ending that came out of no where. I was really hoping the drama would end in a much much better way for everyone.

With each drama or movie that I finish this year, I’ve been compiling them into a list in preparation for my end-of-the-year review. I’m actually quite excited about it since I’ve watched quite a few enjoyable dramas this year and I’m actually keeping track of my completed dramas for once LOL. Right when I finished this second part to ‘Duty After School’, I knew exactly which category to place it under (and I’m sure you can guess based off of my thoughts in this review so far). I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve enjoyed most of the dramas I’ve watched and completed so far and I hope this trend continues for the rest of this year. But there are also some times where I’m not as lucky and I end up watching some duds like this one. So with that being said, I would suggest watching only the first part (episodes 1-6) and to stay as far away as possible from the second part. The first part was much more action-packed anyways and still had all the human connection and emotion stuff to it. Plus, the second part didn’t have as much of a connection to the first part so they could honestly be viewed as two different segments or entities. The first part wasn’t the most amazing watch ever, but there was enough good things about it to keep you watching and engaged while part two was lacking and never did much to make up for any of those things. So if you want to give ‘Duty After School’ a watch, feel free to watch the first part and then just pretend that that’s how it all ended. Or if you’re conflicted on whether to give the drama a try and then decide to not watch either parts of the drama at all, then well, you wouldn’t be missing out on much anyways.

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