I rarely do Check-in Reviews unless I’m really passionate about the development of a show, good or bad, midway through.
But tvN’s Nine: Nine Time Travels has become more than I ever thought possible when I first started it. And it’s been an amazing, no, incredible 10 episodes so far.
In my First Impression Review of the drama, I thought it’d just be a fun and enjoyable ride much like Operation Proposal (the only other time travel drama I’ve watched) was. (“Ooo! Time hopping, fun!”)
But now officially halfway through the series’ 20-episode run, Nine Time Travels has thrown all expectations completely out the window.
I think the series’ development so far can be summed up by Sun Woo’s line: “Throwing away the incense sticks was not the end. It’s like getting punished for trying to become God. For the rest of my life.”
I thought the series would be completely about Sun Woo using the nine incense sticks to go back in time merely to stop his father’s murder.
I should’ve known better.
I wondered why they were (literally!) burning through the incense sticks so fast within the first couple of episodes. Then when I realized the series was 20 episodes and not 16, I really started wondering, what in the world is the rest of the series going to be about?!
They revealed the real reason behind the death of Sun Woo’s father (I was floored), Sun Woo and Min Young’s relationship was essentially shot (Aren’t they the main couple, yo?), and then Sun Woo actually leaves the incense sticks back in 1992 (My mouth was hanging open a good hour after that episode ended). The entire premise (I thought) was gone, literally burned up.
But like Sun Woo said, that wasn’t the end. In reality, they were only scratching the surface of the story they could tell. Despite what the title convolutedly states, it’s not just about getting nine opportunities to time travel (though who knows, maybe the sticks will pop up in the future).
Nine Time Travels really touches upon the decisions one makes in life. That with every decision comes a consequence, good or bad. Every decision and move is part of a chain reaction.
And while the idea of being able to time travel 20 years to the day just by lighting an incense stick is fascinating in and of itself, looking at how even one little different choice completely throws everything you’ve ever known into a loop is even more interesting. And thought provoking.
Seeing how Sun Woo’s life changes after each of his time travels was great to watch. The time travels themselves were great adventures and the ramifications of his time travels have been engaging. But throwing in the ability of Sun Woo and Young Hoon to remember every memory, no matter which version, takes everything to a whole other level.
And now, the cliffhanger of Episode 10 with Min Young remembering things that happened in the previous version of her life is just mind blowing. Not to mention young Sun Woo now completely believing he has met his future self
The scene of adult Sun Woo watching (not finding, mind you) young Sun Woo’s messages appear right before his eyes was just one of the increasing number of great scenes they show’s had.
And Episode 9. Oh boy. Sun Woo. Dead. He died. Blood splattered all over Young Hoon’s face. He was gone. He’d really died. Then he was alive again. Thanks to young Sun Woo or specifically, young Young Hoon. Craziness. But awesome craziness.
Much kudos to the excellent cast that has absolutely delivered. Lee Jin Wook has confidently led the way as Sun Woo. Jo Yoon Hee has gotten much stronger material to work with as Min Young as the series progresses, especially now with her memories coming back.
Lee Seung Joon as Young Hoon has grown into a great character and much more than just a straight man to Lee Jin Wook. He’s been able to balance the heavier scenes with the legitimately lighthearted and funny ones to great effect.
It’s also been a pleasant and welcome surprise to see so much of ZE:A’s Park Hyungsik and Lee Yi Kyung as the young Sun Woo and Young Hoon. With such a great script and story, it is awesome to have a good cast to give it all justice.
I hate to do it, but I have high expectations for the last 10 episodes. Not expectations about what’ll happen next, but expectations that the series will continue to be as or even more amazing as it has been so far. They have set-up and built up a solid web of mystery and intrigue. It really feels like a genre-bending, game changer. You’ve got the fantasy/adventure element, romance, mystery and soapy family drama.
So many intricate threads and details that actually make sense and help paint the bigger picture instead of being complicated for complication’s sake. The way Nine Time Travels has incredibly developed over the first half of the series, I have no doubt they are not going to slow down anytime soon.