BL fans were treated to the first half of the duology “Star and Sky”, which premiered on 8th April, 2022.
The compilation depicts the love stories of a pair of brothers- Daonuea (Dunk Natachal) and Khuafah (Mek Jirakit) with their respective boyfriends. First it was Daonuea and Khabkluen (Joong Archen) in “Star in My Mind” which recount their comical and cute love story. Midway, Khuafah joined the cast of characters who were mostly in love/lust with Daonuea. In an oddball mix of reverse harem, every male in the main cast had professed their love for Daonuea. So all of them singularly viewed Khaufah as a major threat to their happiness. By the end of the prequel, Daonuea and Kluen were together, much to Khaufah’s displeasure.
In the second series, Khuafah finds himself walking up a mountain with his two close friends; no longer the calm, cool, smoldering man from the first series. This time around he is funny, grumpy, and a bit flippant, like a teenager and as emotional as one. I’d love to say there was a reason for this sudden change in his character, but there really isn’t any. His heart was already broken in the first series, so referencing it 4 times in this one seems like a ridiculously childish disposition that fell flat with me. His two buddies Mesa (Arm Weerayat) & JJ (Mike Chinnarat) bumble behind him, whining and seemingly almost reluctant to make way to their destination. The sequel is shot in a location that is resplendent with beautiful forests and the town used as the set is alluring; giving it a rustic feel and focusing on presenting this as a sojourn from modern civilization.
A small nitpick they really didn’t need to point out was the lack of electricity. After watching other BLs with similar plot devices, this felt redundant. Like if they weren’t going to focus on this “fish out of water” situation, they could have done without taking the time to point out all the things the village lack. Instead, they could have showcased what it had going for it, alas they didn’t bother with that. It was just a location that could have been done with some exposition shots to make the viewer understand the scope of it.
The first episode acted as a buffer to introduce the characters while avoiding anything substantial which can be concocted as a clever writing tactic. It shows just enough of the characters to get you interested while relying on their bubbly chemistry and familiar nuances to keep you invested. Unfortunately, that only goes so far and if you watched the first series, it might seem a bit jarring to see Khuafah as a retired womanizer who clearly doesn’t care about anything but his little brother. JJ and Mesa offer comic relief while the stern teacher Prince (Mark Jiruntanin) outwardly displays his disapproval of literally everything Khaufah does.
Now let’s talk about the 180 degree character change in Khahfah. In the first series, he is shown as a very mature and hardworking individual. In this series he is given a homestay to live in while working as their as a voluntary doctor. He is tasked with cleaning it and, instead of cleaning it himself; he bribes children instead. He didn’t bother to get permission for it or find out if they had any other responsibilities, which of course annoys Prince, who is their teacher. He is instantly frustrated because his students missed class. Khaufah choosing to lie to someone he doesn’t know about children he hadn’t met before was too jarring for me.
Daonuea and Kluen are shown in cute flashbacks, providing further comic relief; Kluen and Khuafah seemed to have settled into a better friendship as they bid goodbye to each other. It was nice catching glimpses of the sweet couple, but it seems a bit out of place versus the current country village setting and mood. At the welcome dinner, the newcomers meet the village chief and his daughter Yayah (Prigkhing Sureeysres). We get to see more of Mesa and JJ’s personality, as they jokingly share some of Khuafah’s new worsening traits. Later, the chief explains to Prince that the terrible trio are here, because they are being punished for driving under the influence.
I’m actually flabbergasted, by their complete disregard for the crime that had been committed and they are “still” getting hammered. At this point, I was still hoping that the story was headed somewhere. Then Khuafah again shrinks from his responsibilities to go buy some more bottles of beer. Ironically, Prince rushes in with an injured girl in need of a doctor and finds the new handyman (JJ) passed out in Fah’s chair instead. When watching a BL, we all know there is that deciding moment on how serious it’s going to be. That quintessential moment that sets the “True Tone” for the series. So seeing Prince’s passive forgiveness for something so heinous is indicative of the seriousness of the situation or how things will be handled going forward. Being a GMMTV show, we will use two of them on the scale of “Dark Blue Kiss” seriousness, though it has moments you would think could be treated with more respect. But it’s more like “The Shipper” where heavy themes are treated with a light hearted attitude, you wouldn’t expect from it. With that mindset, the show makes a lot more sense.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say episode two felt more like what episode one should have been. The actors seemed more comfortable in their roles and their camaraderie between scenes comes across more naturally. After the first episode where it’s revealed how Khuafah came to be in the village versus how he used to be (reminisced in a flashback involving his brother), it’s clear that this is Khuafah finding himself on a soul searching journey. When the school children’s pet pig wakes him from a “lovely” dream, Mek acts out the terrified reaction perfectly. It is also obvious that Prince only expects him to do his job with the right motivation.
When Khuafah has to do check-ups on the residents, it’s presented in a cute and hilarious montage. The camera work here is amazing as it pans on the actors and shifts seamlessly. It’s actually a well-organized drama starting from the sets to the costumes; you can tell the production team has put a lot of love in the design work and costumes. Utilizing some of the most veteran actors on the GMMTV roster, there isn’t as much empty space on screen; which was a real problem in the first episode. The lack of characters made the show seem like a ghost town with the lack of extras. In the second episode, it seems their point was to integrate Khuafah into village life and it worked . He had to catch himself from smiling at Khaga’s antics.
Over the course of the episode, it felt like I was watching multiple vignettes as opposed to an episode. Khuafah playing with the kids and Prince, sacrificing the sacred pig, learning what a mystery Prince is by glimpsing into his secret life. Expensive accessories and clothes which make Khuafah realize that Prince is not a lowly teacher but he might belong to a rich family. When their favorite pig dies, they all had their eyes downcast, but then minutes later they were begging the village chef to make them a pork dish. One of the things about this show I don’t like is the lack of consistency. Characters declare things and then forget they said it. The best part of the episode is the growing intimacy growing between Prince and Khahfah while Mesa and Arm are barely fit in it with their cute one liner.
Episode 3 was the most cohesive, with Prince and Khuafah focusing on Yayah’s arranged marriage while trying to help her. Over the course of the first two episodes, the two have grown closer. Both of them talking more and flirting do a good job of building the framework for the simple rumor where the villagers assume they are dating. Something Khuafah is pleased with (he started the rumor) and Prince is shocked. Seeing the way the townspeople react to the rumor is priceless. Khuafah is left shocked when Yayah had run away from home (straight to his bed) upon hearing the rumor. Of course, when Khuafah tries to remove Yayah, Prince walks in and it’s a hilarious hot mess. They learn about her arranged marriage coming up and try to help her in their own ways.
Once again, as per the norm, women in BL dramas are depicted negatively as Yayah expresses her desires for a real man, but it all comes out all superficial and vain. After spending the majority of the episode on that story arc, she accidentally meets her fiance and ends up marrying him instead (invalidating the whole experience). Khuafah watches the wedding and gets drunk while his friends and a concerned Prince watch from a distance. The episode ends as they finally kiss after Khuafah finally vents his pain and insecurities while sobbing.
Utilizing small events to move the story along is clever, but overall, the first three episodes are filled with so much comic relief and literal fillers; that there isn’t much to quote about it!
Rating- 2 out of 5