God's Gift - 14 Days started off as a clever suspenseful mystery that gripped the audience right from the start. The cast was outstanding, but Jo Seung Woo stole the show with his charming portrayal of the roguish private investigator, Ki Dong Chan.
The story starts out with the animated depiction of a fairy tale that foreshadows the quest Kim Soo Hyun (Lee Bo Young) will undertake to save her daughter. It's beautiful, chilling, and the perfect prelude for what is to come.
The introduction to Soo Hyun's family dynamic with husband Han Ji Hoon (Kim Tae Woo) and Han Saet Byul (Kim Yoo Bin) is thoughtfully portrayed. Life is less than perfect; it feels so normal and organic that it makes the suspenseful aspects of the series even more disconcerting.
It's advisable to pay attention to each event leading up to Saet Byul's kidnapping and murder because after Soo Hyun goes back in time 14 days to save her, the second timeline will be compared to the first every step of the way. Differences will be pondered, more of the first timeline will be revealed, and fate will be frustratingly tenacious.
The method of time travel used isn't really explained, and it's acceptable for it to be considered a gift from God. It happens at a crucial moment when Soo Hyun and Dong Chan are in the same place, and thus they both go back in time to discover their connected fate and try to set things right.
Kim Yoo Bin is growing up with the role of rebellious Saet Byul. As the daughter of broadcast writer mother Soo Hyun, and human rights lawyer Ji Hoon, she is independent and a girl who knows her own mind. This can lead to parent-child clashes, but far from being a simple brat, Saet Byul has a kind heart and tries to take care of the people around her.
Soo Hyun and Dong Chan work together, as they are the only ones with memories of the first timeline. Dong Chan also has urgent issues to attend to, though the true gift of time travel for him is the clarity he achieves while he strives to help Soo Hyun save her daughter.
As the driving force of the plot, this couple creates a powerful synergy. However in the last half, their intelligence seems to drain away and they bring to mind chickens running around without their heads. It was frustrating to see them take leave of common sense and lose ground for no good reason whatsoever.
As time goes on, more lives are at stake, and things aren't always as they seem. Layers of the past are revealed and connections are made that show fate to be quite frightening. This is God's Gift's strength. Conversely, the overuse of red herrings becomes tiresome and brings down the drama's level of sophistication.
Even with its flaws, the dialogue, premise, action and cinematography were enough to make this drama one of the best of 2014 - until the last episode which took it down several notches. It was as if the production ran out of money and didn't have time to shoot the ending, so they left it to the audience to imagine the ending for ourselves.
Installment 16's editing was patchy, and the retribution I had been anticipating was never acted out, only referred to. Resolution was provided in a few seconds-long scenes for some of the characters, while others were never attended to at all.
Worst of all, they ended with a gimmick. Instead of having a definitive ending that we could either smile or cry over, the writer decided to make it ambiguous so we could decide on our own - lazy, anyone? The last note was so abrupt that the production just felt unfinished and unfulfilling.
Highlight the white text below for comments on the finale.
In episode one, the mysterious café owner tells Soo Hyun, "Sometime in the near future, you will lose what is most important to you. You will be chased by a fate you can't avoid, and such a fate will only end when one of two disappears. So don't avoid it - fight it."
In episode 16, Dong Chan is tricked into believing his mother has killed Saet Byul and he carries her into the lake. It's revealed that he is the one who ultimately killed Saet Byul in the first timeline. In the second timeline, Soo Hyun is there calling out to him, and Saet Byul grabs his shirt alerting him that she's still alive. Dong Chan realizes the prophecy didn't pertain to his brother and Saet Byul, but to himself and Saet Byul. He steps forward and we hear a splash, but are never shown what happened. We are left to conclude that he drowned himself.
However, due to the fact that we are nothing but misled throughout the entire drama, it seems that this conclusion is too obvious to be true. Having either Dong Chan or Saet Byul die doesn't fit into the logic of the plot either. If Dong Chan drowned Saet Byul, he would also die because Ji Hoon had him killed for it in the first timeline, and he would do so again. If Dong Chan had died earlier on, Myung Han would still have had Saet Byul killed in order to protect the president's son. So one dying does not save the other.
The prophecy did not say that anyone had to die, it just said that one of the two must disappear. I choose to believe that it referred to probabilities. There was #1, Dong Chan drowns Saet Byul, and #2, Dong Chan realizes she's still alive and doesn't drown her. Once #2 occurs, #1 disappears and they all escape the original fate that happened in the first timeline. Therefore, the splash at the end was Soo Hyun entering the water. Besides, if Dong Chan had drowned himself at that point, he would be dumping a drugged Saet Byul into the water too and I don't see him doing that.
Leaving the ending to the audience's imagination is such a lazy and unsatisfying gimmick, it's especially disappointing when the series is as engaging as God's Gift - 14 Days. After becoming emotionally invested on a 16 episode roller coaster ride, the viewers want to see the villains get what's coming to them. We want to be giddy over a happy ending or cry over a tragic ending, but either way, we want to SEE the ending.