Sympatico

For the last couple of days I’ve been watching Wanted (yeah, it’s a KDrama—what of it?). Mostly by the end it was a hot mess (flyaway story threads that were never quite resolved, inconsistent characterisation, inconsistant and shifting morals/application of those morals) but it had so many good things about it and was so riveting to watch that it wasn’t until the end that I found too much annoyance to ignore.

But the one thing that really jumped out at me as being exceedingly excellent was the single characteristic that I want to discuss today. The two MCs in Wanted are Hye-In—a mother trying to find her kidnapped son—and Seung-In—the police officer who is helping her. These characters don’t meet until the second episode, but as soon as they do…

Let me describe it this way.

In one of their first scenes together, Hye-In and Seung-In are both at the bedside of a kidnapped child who has been rescued. The mother and father arrive on the scene; mother first, then father. The child clings to his mother fervently and she to him…and then the father walks in. At first you don’t notice too much difference. Then you slowly notice that the child, still clinging to his mother, has begun to move just a little bit…then a little bit more, until he is almost behind her.

Hye-In, watching, looks instinctively at Seung-In to confirm her first thought. He, sharp-eyed, catches her gaze and holds it. There’s a moment of unspoken communication—honestly, one of the greatest highlights of this entire drama—and each of them from this point on knows that there’s something they have to do before all the main players leave the room.

For Hye-In, the reason for helping this abused mother and her child is divided and skewed mainly toward her son. For Seung-In, the reason is whole and unbroken. But they each know they have each other’s backs, and they trust each other to do what needs to be done.

From that point onward, if Hye-In needs him for anything, Seung-In is already there. If Seung-In comes to a conclusion about the case, there Hye-In is, right beside him, having come to the same conclusion. They work like a well-oiled, well-connected whole. Sympatico, pure and simple, adding a layer of emotional depth that the drama might not otherwise have had, since it lacked a romantic plot-line.

Sympatico is one of the things I look for most in characters; one of the things that will cause me to irrevocably love or hate a book/tv show/movie. It doesn’t have to be romantic—though it can be, and is one of my favourite ways to grow romance—and it’s just as effective in building lasting friendships that I LOVE. And there are so many ways you can express it! Visual cues taken up flawlessly, verbal cues followed without a blink; even the simple support of a hand when it’s most needed.

So simple, yet so difficult to produce, so beautiful when done right, sympatico between characters is one of my favourite things. Hye-In and Seung-In are two of my favourites; tell me some of yours!

6 thought on “Sympatico”

  1. Elisabeth Wheatley July 13, 2017 at 11:36 pmEditReply

    I do love how authors are able to show what characters are experiencing without telling us. Like Clovis in Lady of Dreams: we readers know she’s falling in love long before she does.

    Megan Whalen Turner is my go-to for “show, don’t tell” mastery. Because the characters are politicians and rivals despite being friends or even lovers, they rarely can say what they feel. I’ve got to say Eugenides and Irene from her Queen’s Thief series are my FAVORITE of ALL TIME.

    • W.R.Gingell Post authorJuly 14, 2017 at 12:02 pmEditReply

      Ohhhh, I have to reread that first Queen’s Thief book. I hated it the first time I read it, but I think I was just too young to appreciate it; I was actually just thinking about that book over the last couple of weeks and thinking I’d probably really like it now 😀

  2. Elizabeth July 14, 2017 at 5:29 amEditReply

    Actually the moment I thought of first is from a manga and anime called Ouran High School Host Club, which is a silly parody of shoujo manga tropes with a lot of genuinely charming character moments- often when the male lead Tamaki snaps his fingers and the rest of the crew are immediately 100% in for some improbable scheme.

    The author Elizabeth Marie Pope was also good at sympatico- sadly she only wrote 2 books but I love them both!

    • W.R.Gingell Post authorJuly 14, 2017 at 12:03 pmEditReply

      HECK. YES. Elizabeth Marie Pope is the BEST. I was shattered when I found out there were only two books by her–it’s a good thing they’re so flamin’ good. I learnt so much from those books.

  3. Regina July 21, 2017 at 4:46 amEditReply

    Yes! I loved the first part of this k drama. I agree that it became a bit of a mess towards the end but the main leads and their interactions made it good. I have been watching some non-romantic k dramas lately and sometimes the plot is better with the romance pushed to the subplot like Angry Mom, Ms. Perfect, Liar Game and Iris.

    • W.R.Gingell Post authorJuly 21, 2017 at 5:52 amEditReply

      Yes! And oh! Angry Mum–so, SO good!

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