This is nothing like Love Area 1. This is also NOT a continuation of Season one even though it was supposed to be.
It felt like what was done in Season One was separate from Season 2 and relationships were all starting over again. I hate to be so blunt, but this series was simply awful – a terrible screenplay, inept story, and just plain bad acting. The actors moved around as if they did not even know where this story was going and perhaps they did not. This season droned on for eight episodes and it was all I could do to stop myself from screaming.
In the first season, there was a beautiful story of affinity between Kaitoon (Pak Pusomjitsakul) and Valen (Gun Tieosuwan). It was an endearingly realistic story of a budding relationship, as they were both unsure how to develop one. But in the end, they held hands on the beach, signifying the beginning of a relationship. But then, in this second season, it was like they did not know each other. Rather than taking a relationship to the next level, even naturally, they acted as if they had met each other for the first time in almost every scene and therefore must go through some ritualistic liturgy to win each other over again. Why? If someone is holding my hand, I would be thinking that we can and should take this to the next level. But instead, they both continued to act as if they were not sure if the other one even liked him. The astonishing depth that this series went to NOT develop a relationship was apoplectic.
In the first season, Kaitoon’s behavior elicited sympathy, but in this one, he acted so dense as if he did not know what Valen was doing. It was quite annoying and irksome. Valen’s hesitancy in directly expressing what his feelings were for Kaitoon was nothing short of exacerbating. And finally, when they do kiss, signifying another level in the development of their relationship; an incident occurs that is totally misinterpreted, with the outcome being cretinous and moronic. The reason: no one talks to each other openly, forthrightly, honestly, or truthfully. The ‘not simply saying what is on your mind’ or not asking ‘what from your perspective is going on’ simply drove me to detest this series. I questioned this senseless requisite (especially for Thai BL series) for reinventing the development of a relationship that already is in the works; followed by a scenario of something so mundane, that is so easily misunderstood, resulting in the astonishingly fragile relationship to fall apart like a gust of wind blowing out a candle. Everyone was left wounded, hurt, and alone all because they would not simply talk AND take time to know each other. This standard format for Thai BLs finally caused the complete destruction of a promising series.
The other two love interests were just as perplexing as Valen and Kaitoon’s relationship. The rather toxic relationship between Pete (Tod Panyanarapon) and King (Ohm Utsasha) was murky and disturbing. Pete obviously suffers from a mental health diagnosis, specifically depression, and yet again, the whole concept of mental health is unaddressed and discussed in whispers. They almost present him as a sinister figure, but it is clear that his sporadic medication is contributing to his peculiar episodic behavioral patterns. This is NOT an excuse for his inappropriate behaviors, but an explanation for it. King, on the other hand, while clearly loving Pete, is conflicted about rekindling their relationship again. He knows of Pete’s erratic behaviors and mental health diagnosis. But again, without both seeking professional help in dealing with the issues in their relationship, toxicity festers. King seemingly becomes attracted to and perhaps enamored with a model for his art, Ice (Anton Techawicha). While it appears to be a very muted connection, King nonetheless is at the very least progressing towards a fixation on Ice, perhaps trying to taste the Forbidden Fruit. From an aesthetics perspective, I think it is inherently wrong to portray an actor who in real life is only 15 into this type of role. While there was nothing inappropriate, the fact that he is playing a part of an older male was a bit disconcerting. This is nothing against his acting skills as much as it is against the imagery of a very young boy being put in a position of possible sexual manipulation. I found that cringeworthy.
The third sort of love story is just as confusing, deliberately misleading, and plain weird. It involves some androgenous characters and I could not figure out who they were actually pursuing. It seemed as if it was a deliberate attempt to obfuscate. Toy (Jovi Xaivaivid), apparently likes Jun (Min Withetchon), but Jun likes Bill (Conntext Phatthuanganachot). Bill, however, ingratiates himself to Jun, to where Jun thinks he likes him. In reality though, he is simply using Jun to get close to a girl he is attracted to. None of that made a lick of sense to me at all. It was childish, misleading, and cruel, as Bill knew that Jun was developing feelings for him.
Confusing? Yes. You really needed a map to try to figure out where all the sideroads were leading to. No one in this series communicates at all. Frankly, it was so frustrating to watch this series as I felt I was watching a wheel just spin around and around and only landing on one stop, the same spot – “Let’s not communicate”.
There is no growth in any of the major characters in this series. They all seemed to take giant leaps backwards from the first season. Valen and Kaitoon, as much time as they spent together, really did not get to know each other and were constantly unsure about whether the other REALLY liked him. Finally, when some semblance of connection occured, Valen unhesitatingly accused Kaitoon of disloyalty. Kaitoon did little to nothing to explain his side of the story. Neither trusted each other, knew each other, or can even remotely processed that their overreactions and unwillingness to talk to each other was the cause of the rift between the two. I had to conclude that they really did not like each other. If they did, they would have taken the time to listen to the other explain themselves, and then appreciate and accept the weakness and defects in each other. Valen does show some growth and realizes that he was in the wrong, after a considerable amount of information is given to him from several sources that tell him he was wrong. Kaitoon, ever so righteous, is playing the “I am wounded” card and will need time to forgive, without really ever understanding or wanting to understand why Valen was so angry about the whole situation. I found Kaitoon frustratingly immature. This does not bode well for developing any time of a meaningful relationship in the future. Sure, they did seem infatuated with each other, but lacked the ability to grow internally, accept responsibility, and break the cycle of using what in the past had worked for them. Frankly, I was astonished how little any of these characters grew, learned, or accepted, and more importantly, listened or communicated.
In the first season, I thought Ant Noenphoemphisut as Pangko, the owner of the restaurant, was a critical and supportive character. In this season, she is simply relegated to the background almost completely. She was not pivotal in this series, which was unfortunate. Nont (Pan Bowonsantisut), the ever pining away character, continues to fawn over Kaitoon with now Kaitoon realizing maybe, just maybe, Nont likes him more than just a friend. Nont does nothing to thwart the budding relationship between Kaitoon and Valen, which makes him a dignified and principled individual. When Kaitoon and Valen’s relationship goes south, Kaitoon runs to Nont, who of course is there. But this time, surprisingly, Kaitoon makes the first move – he kisses him. Then Kaitoon, matter-of-factly, turns to him and says that he is sorry that they cannot be more than friends. Absolutely inscrutable. This scene was so emblematic of this entire series. It made absolutely no sense. How and why did he come to that realization? From one kiss? Did he have any feelings for Nont all along? Or did he realize now that he wants to be with Valen? Did he kiss him for comfort? Comparison? Validation of feelings? To give Nont a reward? Or is Nont simply a bad kisser? It made no sense to me at all. And Nort, as passive as ever, simply accepts this conclusion, disappointingly but nobly. I have never met a more magnanimous individual than Nont.
It is difficult to say who really shines in this perplexing series, but I give a nod to Min Withetchon as Jun. I liked his innocence, his sweet naiveness, as those were portrayed with complete honesty. He is very young, inexperienced, and did not realize what was happening to him. His innocence also excused him from seeing the covert advances that Toy was giving him. While initially not exactly sure why Bill wanted to be a friend to him, he readily accepted it as he did like him. And we all know and can relate, we tend to do rather dumb things when we are infatuated with someone. When he discovers what Bill’s true motive was, he was deeply hurt and humiliated. Inexplicably, he still wants to be his friend in time. When he leaves Bill, however, he deliberately shoulders him in a gesture to let him know I am now wiser and coming into my own. In the end, he runs to Toy for support. Yet, again, another inexplicable action. I know there is a tangential connection there, but how that is threaded with this current situation was unclear. Perhaps he deduced and realized that the only person who sees him is Toy and thus goes there for support. I thought that entire innocent viridity vibe was spot-on and so real. And his reactions to being hurt were appropriate, sincere, and delivered with complete confidence. When he breaks down in front of Toy, I thought that was a real sign of strength and rather emotional so much so that I was even moved by him. For a small role, he did a good job of convincing us that his character was real.
The number of issues wrong with this series could fill a book. I think a few needs to be mentioned in the hopes that someone somewhere will read this and understand why this series was such a mess and completely fell apart.
1. They complicated a budding relationship for no reason other than theatrics. It was obvious at the end of Season One that Valen and Kaitoon had the beginnings of a relationship. Season Two literally destroyed that notion and confused everyone who watched this. While I am not an expert in romance or relationships, I can deduce that if someone held my hand for a long time on the beach, the very least I would do is nurture that same feeling. Not start over as if I never even met that person. I would assume that the person liked me and move on from there. This series created incredibly complex, unnecessary, and stupid roadblocks to a natural development of a relationship. It was beyond perplexing.
2. Mental health is not dealt with any kind of serious understanding. Pete obviously has some significant mental health issues which were not dealt with effectively. There is one scene where King insists he continue to take his medications even if he feels good. Kudos! That is the right thing to do. But Pete displays some erratic, almost obsessive behavior patterns and is so fragile that just about any bump along the road will careen him into another spiral. This issue could have been explored with a greater understanding and perhaps compassion. I am not making excuses for Pete’s behaviors but simply trying to point out that the major driver of his behavior is mental illness and NOT he is a ‘bad person’ stereotype.
3. The slow, painful, and torturous journey of Nont. He was to me in the first series a sad figure and I could empathize with his plight. But in this second series, he seemed more like a caricature than a real person. He got ‘stuck’, perhaps fixated, on Kaitoon. Nont needed a dose of reality here. I would have told him to move on. Even if he got Kaitoon, it was obvious that Kaitoon is not interested in him other than as a friend. Time to let go! Initially, I thought Kaitoon was simply naive, but in season two, his actions towards Nont were deliberate and calculated and to some degree hurtful. I learned to dislike Kaitoon. His continuous playing victim became a crutch for him and after a while, was not believable. For me, he is the individual in this series who at least understood that his own behaviors were a contributing factor to the issues between him and Valen.
4. The whole interplay with Jun, Bill, and Toy should NEVER have been any part of this story. It was completely unnecessary and distracting. But since it was thrown in, for me it ironically became the more interesting story as it highlighted and characterized the manipulative behavior of an individual who can easily recognize the vulnerabilities of others and use that to their advantage. That whole Greek tragedy could easily have been a BL itself. Frankly, that was the only clear message in this series.
5. The acting in this second series was woeful and uneven. Although the script was bad, the acting seemed soulless, deliberately tone-deaf, lifeless, and mediocre. They brought little depth to their characters and even less understanding as to who they were. I expected more.
6. The utter lack of communication and conversation. I was astonished as to how a few simple words, or a dialogue of explanation, could have (and would have) solved a significant portion of the issues in this series. Yet rather than asking and listening, they stewed, assumed, or downright misinterpreted a situation, sometimes with dire consequences. I know this is drama, but this overblown fissure in communication became larger, not smaller over time.
7. Coupled with number six, this series lacked any kind of honesty. Either to themselves or others. Pete was dishonest with his feelings about King and Sean. Certainly, King was dishonest with his relationship with Ice. Nont was dishonest with himself from the beginning. And Valen and Kaitoon are both dishonest with each other and themselves. Had that been explored as the theme of this series, then this series would have been groundbreaking. Instead, they treated all of that as tools for the story’s path rather than character flaws.
I truly disliked this series. It was perplexing, confusing, dishonest, and a mess. The story is hard to follow with artificial twists and turns. The insufferably long journey to develop the relationship with Valen and Kaitoon only for it to predicably crash and burn, with an ending that left me stupefied. The acting had a limited range and none of them pushed themselves (exclusive of the fact that they were not given much to work with). Summarily, I was once told by someone that one must be careful of ‘being in love with love’. And that is the tenet of this series. Everyone liked being in love, but none of them really were in love. I hope there is no Season Three of this series since I found most of these characters unlikeable and distasteful. I simply am not interested in seeing any more of them, with one notable exception – Jun. He was the only one who was genuine.
Rating: 2 out of 5