When you have your protagonist, villains, counter-villains living inside the same roof scheming on how they can make each other suffer and retaliating at the same time, you get the best drama ensembles acting wise. I present you Five Fingers – a story of a dysfunctional family that burned each episode with intense unlimited angst thrown at each other in a battle where money is thicker than blood and first love.
Chae Young Rang was a once a famous pianist who married a chaebol, Yoo Man Se, whose business focused on the music industry specifically in making grand pianos. To secure a lavish life, Young Rang’s mother forced her daughter to marry Yoo Man Se, who harbored deep adoration to her although her heart belonged to another man but when Yoo Man Se learned of her infidelity, he made their marriage life enclosed in the memory of his wife’s being unfaithful.
Young Rang performed her duty as a good mother to their son and a daughter-in-law to Yoo Man Se’s mother. She let go of her husband’s womanizing around as arguing about it would sent them back to the nightmare of how their marriage started. Then one day, Yoo Man Se brought a young boy, Ji Ho, in the house claiming that he was his son. Young Rang and her son Yoo In Ha were totally opposing the idea but acquiesced because it was what Yoo Man Se commanded.
Yoo In Ha at a very young age was already considered skillful in playing the piano, but Yoo Ji Hoo surprised them with his innate ability and soon enough he became a piano prodigy. Then one night, Young Rang learned of Yoo Man Se’s will which was favoring Yoo Ji Ho, they engaged in a heated argument not realizing that grandmother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s has lit some candles that accidentally caused a fire in the house. Young Rang hit a hard object at Yoo Man Se and when she realized the house was on fire, she rushed to look for her son. Prior to that In Ha gave his jacket to his older brother, so she was in horrified shock when she realized she saved Yoo Man Se’s son. Meanwhile grandmother rushed to look for the man who was selling pancakes that she loved to help rescue her son, but he was caught up on fire and also died.
Young Rang pinned the man her mother-in-law called for help as the main culprit in the crime, and in his death his grieving family vowed to avenge their father’s death. In Ha took a lot of damage from the fire, he recuperated but one of his little finger cannot function anymore.
Years later In Ha who kept a cold heart towards her mother came back from his living abroad and was welcomed by Ji Ho. Young Rang tried to win his son’s heart and got to her long-running plan of claiming Boo Sung Group. Clueless on her adopted mother’s hidden agenda, it was a big blow to Ji Ho when he realized how vile and selfish the woman who raised him was. Ji Ho also reunited with his childhood friend Hong Da Mi, who turned out to be the daughter of the man her mother put the blame on in the fire accident, the underlying rage of Da Mi’s family caused a memorable once upon a time between Ji Ho and Da Mi, but a painful ever-after when they both became aware that they are modern-day Juliet and Romeo.
Now Young Rang’s first love, Elvin Kim, was also set to take revenge on her drew a premeditated plan to Young Rang’s downfall using Da Mi’s brother to be his right hand. Da Mi’s family needed a proof which was under Young rang’s possession and at no cause just to clear their father’s name they wanted to get it to make Young Rang pay for her evil manipulations. Ji Ho who never understood his father’s dying words not to trust his mother was consumed by rage towards the unfairness of the world and the woman he really took as his mother. Da Mi’s brother met up with Young Rang to offer a final admit-your-sins but In Ha got in the way, and in protecting his mother engaged in a brawl and knocked out Da Mi’s brother. Ji Ho came to rescue him, but was almost framed to the crime he didn’t commit.
A year after, Ji Ho returned to play the piano for his younger brother’s engagement party, and when a rogue rushed to stab Young Rang, Ji Ho took the knife. His heroic show raised positive feedbacks from the press and because his reputation has been damaged by her mother and brother’s doings, he was set to go Vito Corleone to his family.
The main conflict centered on a horrible case of Oedipus complex. The mother and brothers whose grudges elevated and paced in a dangerous manner made this mellow drama so compelling to watch. It was overflowing with dark tones, and yet it was heartbreakingly beautiful. The characters were all driven, the story was full of surprises and wicked impulses.
Five Fingers was strong in balancing the protagonist and the villains. It didn’t make the protagonist so annoying. While Ji Ho maintained his meekness, he was also quick in comprehending the situation he was set to. He counter-punched simultaneously whilst his so-called family threw a jab at him. The last episodes were a workload for me as I ended up shedding tears while sharing Ji Ho’s pain.
Young Rang’s character was brilliantly conceived, such a strong persona and I’m thankful that the retribution they created was not forced and was just complementing her image in the series. She went from pretentious to persevering to full of pride and yes even to Lady-Voldemort. But her pernicious ways requited when a forgotten birth secret emerged to trouble her conflicting self. When the mother-and-sons-love-triangle was salvaged by her blindness, I loved that she remained restrained and true to her character. She knew how demonic she has been and she didn’t take a shortcut in cleaning his conscience. She isolated herself consistent to how she has been dealing with the people around her all her life.
Yoo In Ha who felt an intruder got all the things in his life was also well represented that I really pitied how his character moved in the dark side because he can’t beat his older brother who was not even in the mood to compete with him. The love triangle between In Ha, Ji Ho and Da Mi span since they were young, forgotten through the years but emerged again when they met as adults latched the turning point to In Ha’s character making him support his mother in their villainous acts of overthrowing the son whom they thought brought all the misery in their lives.
The main lead on the good side, Ji Ho, forced me to a weep fest on the finale episodes as frame after frame he was frustrated, crying and not knowing how to deal with the last minute revelation he got about his birth secret. I loved him when he was a nice guy, loved him more when he initiated payback time, but I was completely drawn to him when he hit the highest notes finally subduing his mother and brother, but deciding to forgive them because “they are still his family”.
I love the villains in this drama, alive and not. The last minute conflict where they pulled Yoo Man Se’s premeditated-in-case-I-might-die revenge took the story in a different angle. How can you accept your birth mother who pretended to be your mother because his being your mother would secure her and her son a fortune she so really wanted? (whew! There’s a lot of mother there) Even at the end Young Rang’s heart was holding back and won’t admit her shortcomings even if Ji Ho displayed his forgiving filial piety.
The romantic injections supported and enhanced the struggle that tied Young Rang and Yoo Man Se as well as Ji Ho and Da Mi. A really-can’t-be-together relationship worked in the plot, and I’m glad the writers didn’t waver in thinking of giving them the love in the end. As for the open-ended solution to close the drama, my Mr. Hyde-self really thought that Young rang falling off the cliff because she took all the time she can to finally break the walls she built between her and Ji Ho was just fair. I know she was sincere in redeeming herself, so if I setteled to the idea of her dying that would be fine, if hse lived that would have been fine as well. But I doubt she did and what mattered was she was able to glue the broken relationship of her sons and forgave herself to the life she lived.
I can’t find fault on how they executed the streaming of the narrative, but Hanna unnie pointed out that she was looking for the link between the opening montages to the conclusion. It’s either it was an opening to introduce a not so good relationship of a son and his mother or they forgot about it because of so much rage and emotional uproar they conjured all throughout.
I vouched that this was the best tears and bliss drama I saw this year. Everything was in coherence to the main theme, the actors pushed their limit in the scenes they were required to step up and not quivering at the same time on the middling notes. It propelled a lot of emotions in me – impossibility, nostalgia, fondness, fury, remorse, and forgiveness. Full of flavors and sentiments, fiery Five Fingers will be my favorite mellow drama for 2012.