“I Promised You The Moon” Episodic Analysis (Ep.2)

Complex. This word is the best way to describe the second episode of I Promised You the Moon. My emotions and thoughts were all over the place while watching, so I expect the same from this write-up.

It feels like with every instruction the professors give about acting and production in this episode, they are saying, “Here, this is how you do it. This is what we did. We used motion, color, lights, and human feelings to give you a series and characters you can feel comfortable walking beside, even when you aren’t comfortable.” It shows. There are moments when, as a viewer, I wasn’t comfortable watching this, and yet I related to that discomfort in a truly personal way.

This episode showcased the difficulty separating our dreams, love, and life. It showcased the difficulty of choice. Most people would say, “Why choose? You don’t have to choose.” It’s true no one should have to choose between the things that make them happy, but dividing oneself between multiple people and aspirations takes time, energy, and growth. Most importantly, it takes compromise, and neither a big dream nor people, in general, like to compromise to accommodate each other. People and dreams are demanding.

A dream is like a lover we want, a lover that drains as much as it fulfills. A person with a vision sees the world through that dream as if it’s a filter, and that can make people uncomfortable. Especially if they don’t view the dream the same way you do. Those outside of that dream sees only the finished product of a goal, not the time and energy it takes to achieve it, the mental and physical sacrifices it takes to get to success, and the fears that make achieving it harder than it appears. This filtered view of something can make the person with the dream feel as lonely as the person who loves the dreamer. Only the dreamer and the lover are lonely for two different reasons. This difference is why communication is so important.

Life has a way of pulling people apart. Two people can be walking the same road when they suddenly stumble onto a fork in the path. One person insists the right fork is the trail to take, while the other person insists it’s the left. Neither person is wrong. Life paths are about individual choices. What’s right for one person isn’t always suitable for another.

I had conflicted feelings about the tattoo on Oh Aew’s wrist in this episode. I wanted to be angry at Teh because his reaction to it made Oh Aew feel less confident about getting it, but I also understood Teh. As a writer, I’ve made choices in my life that meant dividing myself between a dream and my family. For Teh, Oh Aew’s tattoo is both a symbol of devotion and a sign of inconsistency. Teh has two loves in his life, and he’s always assumed the same about Oh Aew. I can see how it would make Teh uncomfortable realizing that Oh Aew isn’t the person he believes him to be, that his getting the tattoo is the start of the fork in the road where one of them may go down one path and one may go down the other. Teh is scared. Although there’s been a lot of growth in him since I Told Sunset About You, Teh is still that confused, lonely boy afraid of change despite knowing that change is coming. He is a prime example of why it’s crucial we find as much happiness in ourselves and what we want out of life as we do in the people we love so that the people around us don’t determine our every emotion, mood, and choice.

This need to find happiness in ourselves is why it is so incredibly gratifying when Oh Aew suddenly perks up inside an advertising class he visits. When a person realizes he is suddenly excited about something that has nothing to do with the people around him, it is astounding.

However, despite all of this, the thing that affected me the most in this episode is the criticism. Life is full of criticism, whether it be constructive or damaging. Acting, especially, is a field that is full of evaluation. I have family in the entertainment industry, and I’ve seen what it can do to a person. The way you look, walk, talk, and carry yourself is open for appraisal. If a person goes into this field without first being sure of who he is, it can be detrimental to his mental health. It’s easy to weather the ups and downs of an industry if you are in love with it enough to take on the bad with the good. It’s not so easy when you aren’t sure you care enough about it to sacrifice a part of yourself to its flaws. It’s even scarier being sure of a dream while also fearing you will have to weather the bad alone.

My dream is to write. I put words on paper, and then I shove it out into the orld, and I permit people to either love it or hate it. Those who love it build me up. Those who hate it tear me down. Author friends around me are both failing and succeeding. I have friends who are still waiting for their first sale. Others have made it onto best-selling lists. Still others have walked away from it. All of us have/had the same dream. All of us are struggling not to be destroyed by it while also living for the moments when it makes us the happiest. For us, the words we put on paper are the blood that runs through our veins. It’s simply about learning how to find a way to make our words, that blood, relate to others, even when we have a different blood type.

My dream is to write, but I don’t expect others to have the same dream. For the most part, I relate heavily to Teh in this episode, but I also relate to Oh Aew. I didn’t initially go to college to study writing. I spent my entire life placing words on paper, writing for newspapers, putting together poetry pieces for collections, and carefully constructing essays for competitions. But when I finally filled out my paperwork for college, I chose medicine. I have always loved taking care of others, and I knew medicine had a much safer future than writing. There is less chance of starving if you are a doctor than if you’re a writer. Despite that, I found myself surrounded by people I couldn’t connect with, people who handled the pressures of medicine much better than I did because they cared about it in a way that I didn’t. Instead, I spent more time thinking about writing about a doctor than I did trying to be one.

My mother and I had the same conversation Teh had with Oh Aew.

“You didn’t try hard enough. You didn’t give it enough time,” she said.

“I don’t care about it enough to give it that time,” I told her. “I want to change the world and help people, but while the doctors are patching people up, I want to say things that make people think about themselves. On paper. I want to build worlds they can lose themselves in when the pressure of work and the world is too much.”

So when Oh Aew says, “It’s just that I realized myself,” my entire heart shouted, “Yes!”

All of us want the people we love to support the decisions we make, which is why it’s downright heartbreaking when they don’t. For a moment, I thought Teh accepted Oh Aew’s decision. When he suddenly looks at him and says, “If you think it’s right for you, then go for it,” it took me back to that moment when my mother finally softened and said, “Do it.”

We may not need acceptance to move forward in life, but acceptance certainly makes moving forward that much easier. It is not necessarily meaningful because we can turn negativity into a reason to make something meaningful, too, but it makes things easier.

Secretly, Teh struggles with Oh Aew’s decision because he thrived off them having a shared dream. I wanted to hug them both and tell them a couple can be there for each other even when their objectives are different. If anything, the reason why opposites often attract is that it’s also nice to have people around you who aren’t into the same things as you.

Another thing I Promised You the Moon has been great at expressing is how often we hurt others when we’re mad at ourselves. At the moment, it seems easier to be harder on someone else than it is to be hard on ourselves. We’re looking for anyone else to blame but our own hurt and sad feelings. We may resent ourselves, but it comes across as resenting someone we love. We may be afraid of something, but it comes across as hatred. Sometimes, we do resent those people, but we have a hard time pinning down why.

Remember how dreamers often see the world through the filter of their dreams? For some dreamers, those dreams are so big they have a hard time understanding why someone with the same goal would walk away from it or why that dream wouldn’t be the sole focus of his life. However, most people have more than one dream, more than one ambition.

For the dreamers like Teh, who give everything to one primary ambition, they fear walking that road alone as much as they fear not attaining it. They fear not having someone understand them. They fear they, too, will walk away from their dream simply because they couldn’t make it.

We shouldn’t view the lack of success and life choices made based on circumstances as a failure. Teh knows this. He also knows that both Khim and Oh Aew didn’t make wrong decisions. They made the right ones for them.

He doesn’t fear their choices. He fears being left alone with his choice. No matter how much we want a dream to come true, we all also fear being left alone on the path our ambition led us down. I am the first to admit; I sometimes feel much more at home speaking to my author friends than I do my family, but I love my family in a way that I will never love anyone else.

My dream is a part of me, but so are the people I love. My stomach hurt during this entire episode. There were times when I wanted to be angry at all of them, and I couldn’t. Because, honestly, I’ve been all of them at one point in my life. I’ve been Teh, Oh Aew, and Khim. I’ve been the dreamer lashing out at the people I care about. I’ve been the one who realized I took the wrong path and then backtracked. I have been both consistent and inconsistent.

That’s life.

And that’s what I Promised You the Moon is conveying so well.


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