I wonder if the powers that be in the lakorn industry secretly get together and discuss what themes they’ll be focusing on this year or next and organize the lakorn airings according to that theme- giving us gangsters, mafias, and Big Bosses of something or other all in one fell swoop. There’s really only so much Stockholm syndrome one can endure of the heroine falling in love with her kidnapper who uses her as hostage or bargaining chip. Then the heroine swoons over said hero when she realizes that he really has a good heart and in dire need of a woman’s warmth and affection. Fortunately for us, Once Upon A Time In My Heart, presents an interesting twist to the gangster theme this year, allowing us (me at least) not to fall fatigue from the same tropes.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
Headlining by Mick Thongraya, a face that anyone will have a hard time looking away from – yes he’s seriously gorgeous in this show – plays Daniel, the leader of Gang Mungkorn Thong and is put to the test the very first minute Show opens. We see his lover Botan in tears, surrounded by his gang members who remind him of their rules about traitors. He aims his gun at her chest, and in a heartrending moment, shoots at her point blank. The shot reverberates and hits her squarely in the chest, throwing her frail body into the water where she hits rock bottom, dead. Dayam, that is cold. His eyes are swimming with tears.
Then for a moment, we think maybe she didn’t die because seconds later we see the same face working in an office setting. Am I seeing double? Turns out, it’s Fahsai (Pimrapa), our heroine, who happens to look exactly like Botan, the body that’s probably sunk to the bottom of the sea. Interesting. She’s the go-to assistant for everybody in the office as we watch her scrambling around answering questions while trying to meet up with her boyfriend in time. He’s called Dr. Eit and her boyfriend of ten years. She looks absolutely in love and excited to see him, which according to her friend (which we’ll call Big Sis)
older half sister Fai, she thinks Dr. Eit will propose to her today. Fahsai and Big Sis congregate with the rest of the press at the hospital where Dr. Eit makes a big announcement. The moment of truth! Only, as he says he wants to take the opportunity to propose to the woman that stood by his side all these years, he’s referring to his fellow doctor, Dr.Kwanrudee. Gah, Fahsai looks like she got the wind knocked out of her. If I weren’t already sold about our hero shooting point blank at his girlfriend, I am now sold at this second betrayal of our heroine’s boyfriend who is about to marry someone else.
Daniel, also known as “Boss” to his gang members, gets put to another test as he recently has taken the reigns as the gang leader, and the veteran members want to ensure that they’re in good hands. The directing is slick and the fighting scenes are well done, I appreciate how Mick plays the quiet but strong Daniel with natural acting abilities, he is able to withhold fighting expressions that a lot of actors let slip. Simply put, he just fights. Doesn’t hurt that he is so HOT and plays Daniel to a tee. The veteran members want to know how he plans on handling Gang Suer Khao, their main adversary. With an undecipherable look, Daniel says he has an important bargaining chip, he happens to be in possession of their gang’s black book. Yikes, that calm demeanor is something hot and simmering that is about to bubble over.
When Fahsai and Big Sis return home, Fahsai tries to hold it all in as she stands before her lovebird parents. They run a small restaurant together and are happy as a clam. They inquire after Dr. Eit since mom hasn’t seen him all week, but Fahsai makes an excuse to head to her room, while Big Sis holds her tongue. Once in the privacy of her room, Fahsai lets the tears fall as she browse through her pictures with Dr. Eit. What a painful thing to do. Big Sis hates to see her little sister in such heartbreak, suggests she accompany her to Japan on business. Sometimes getting away from everything that reminds one of a former lover will help the heart mend. Little did Big Sis know that their adventure in Japan really does open their door to something different.
A man by the name of Chanming spots Fahsai at Japan’s airport and had to do a double take. He’s the Little Boss of Gang Suer Khao, our hero’s rival, but former best friend. Chanming shakes the image from his mind, it couldn’t be Botan, because the woman is dead. And so are his family members and several members of his gang. At this moment in time, his priority is to take down Daniel at all cost since he’s the main reason why his family died and the woman he loved, Botan, had died as well. We come to find that Chanming loved botan first and thinks that Daniel took her away from him. Oh the conflict, it’s deep in this one. However his plan to catch Daniel unguarded fails, as he’s confronted head on by Gang Mungkorn Thong.
Like a boss, Daniel instructs Chanming to hand over all of Gang Suer Khao’s business affairs and he promises not to divulge the contents of the black book to the police. He would even be charitable and give them a cut of the profit. As if Chanming hasn’t already seen red, Chanming spits that the only fair thing to him is Daniel’s death. Since they’re at a verbal impasse, the only thing left to do is fight. The two gangs exchange fistfights and gunfire, Gang Mungkorn Thong looking the stronger of the two. Daniel’s shot hits Chanming and he relents that Chanming wasn’t born a fighter. But he doesn’t want to kill the old friend, so instead he dashes into the Japanese streets while his old friend tails him. Chanming manages to injure Daniel in the shoulders.
Fahsai does not appear in better spirits being in Japan though. A call from her mom only serves to remind her that she is far from being in love like her parents. She does her mom a favor by purchasing facial cream at the nearby supermarket, which is where she has a run in with a tall, attractive, but shifty man. He keeps staring at her, as if he is seeing someone he knows very well, but shocked that she’s alive. With a suit jacket to cover his wound, Daniel keeps after her.
He grasps at her elbow, demanding to know who she was. Fahsai instinctively lies and gives out Dr.Kwan’s name (ha) but he doesn’t fall for it, the Boss pulls out her passport and reads her name! Caught, Fahsai flees the supermarket, but only to run into another more dangerous men who seem to be after the Boss. Daniel saves her as they hide in the alley, and he prompts her to take him to her hotel so that they can hide from the men who want him dead.
Daniel pulls her to his side like she’s his girlfriend, while Fahsai mouths to anybody passing by that she needs help, it’s pretty hysterical. Unfortunately people don’t pay her any mind and they make it to her bedroom undiscovered. Fahsai warns him to leave once things die down, not realizing that the man is soaked in blood. As she hides in the bathroom and making a call out to her Big Sis, Daniel peers into her private journal. He knows immediately and obviously that she is not his Botan, just a woman who looks exactly like her. She’s a character to be sure, as he smiles while perusing her journal.
Fahsai on the other hand, tells her sister that a mad man has held her hostage. But Big Sis is in over her head though since she’s stinking drunk. A loud groan makes her rush out of the bathroom – it’s Daniel who removed the bullet with a dagger. Dayam. She chides him for being unsafe and offers to take him to the hospital. Daniel assures her he’s fine, he cannot be seen by the men who want him dead. Fahsai observes the wound and concedes in tending to it for him. But the mere act of playing nurse brings her a flood of memories about her ex boyfriend, whom she had accompanied on many first aid, rescue missions. She notices that he has been looking through her journal and chastises him for being rude. Daniel tells her that he wants to stick around and get to know her, you know, to show his appreciation. He even smiles at her pink first aid kit. Gosh, Mick is adorable. Fahsai retorts that leaving her sight is the best form of gratitude (lol) but Daniel tells her that he knows where she lives and can follow her all the way home. Oh my.
We learn a little more about Chanming, whom previously, would love nothing than more than to be an artist. His older bro coddles and protects him, but the thought of everyone he loves who died, only made him more determined and furious to kill Daniel. He sends his men to the hotel, where they chase Daniel and Fahsai away. The two gets stalled in the middle of the dark road since the car’s tire went out, and seek refuge with an old Japanese man. In the midst of the escape, Fahsai loses her purse and Gang Suer Khao gets a hold of it. The contents of the purse, including her journal, serves to intrigue Chanming since she looks exactly like Botan, and he instructs his men to dig around about her.
Daniel tells his right hand man that he’s safe, just laying low. As the right hand man passes by a bar though, he spots a drunk woman asking for help. It’s Big Sis, who needs to help Fahsai but for the life of her, can’t think through her muddle brain. She accosts the man who happens by, attempting poor English until he responds back in Thai. Big Sis is pretty hysterical. The right hand man decide to help her back to the hotel room, where he finds Boss’ dagger. He tells Big Sis that Fahsai ought to be safe enough if she’s with his Boss right now. Big Sis wonders what type of danger her sister is in with the rival gang, and right hand man’s answer doesn’t make her feel any better because he says that the person who helps the enemy will be punished worse than the enemy. Big Sis puts two and two together and faints: the rival gang wants Boss’ head, what will that mean of her sister then? Lol.
Daniel tells the old couple that Fahsai is his wife in order to evade any questions. The old couple giggle and set a room for them together. Fahsai demands to know what she’s in for, but Daniel tells her that it’s best she knows nothing. Fahsai begs to differ, since those people now know what she looks like and probably all of the pertinent, private details about her, so it’s only fair that she knows something so she could protect herself. She tries to leave when he refuses to divulge more details, and bit him. This makes Daniel realize how different she is from Botan, much more feistier. Although he withholds information from her, he still feels bad as he watches her cry as she’s doing dishes. He also informs her that although she wants to go home, it is best she let her parents worry about her for a few days than to lose her for the rest of their lives. That gave her food for thought.
The right hand man tells Big Sis that Fahsai looks just like his boss’ girlfriend, which makes Big Sis worry that the boss may fall in love with her sister. The right hand man assures her that his boss doesn’t just love someone that easily. So when mom calls Big Sis, she questions whether Fahsai has a long lost twin sister (lol). Mom confirms that she’s the one and only daughter before mom met with Dad. Mom wants to talk to Fahsai but Big Sis lies that Fahsai is hunting for the facial product and may be at the temple for some blessings as well. This concerns mom because she knows something is upsetting Fahsai. Dad thinks maybe Fahsai is just stressed out about work, and Big Sis (although she doesn’t want to speak to Dr. Eit’s betrayal) tells Dad to ask Dr. Eit himself. The “good” doctor lies to his fiancé that Fahsai is immature and that’s why he’s attracted to Dr. Kwan, because she’s not only someone he loves, but someone he respects and could talk to. Right, and that’s why you keep calling Fahsai to no avail. Double dipping, I’ll say.
Fahsai feels like her life has been turned upside down. Yesterday she was just touring Japan with her sister, but today she’s running away from men who may want her dead, she is also with a dangerous man. She starts writing a will for her family, leaving instructions on how her mother could find the money that dad hides (lol). Daniel spots her writing a letter and smiles, gosh he kills me with his subtle smiles. She tells him that he should laugh in order to trick his mind and body to heal quickly. She demonstrates absurdly what that sounds like. Daniel stares at her unsmiling and says he sure won’t do that. As he walks away, she tries to stop him, but unceremoniously snags his beloved necklace instead. It was his late girlfriend’s necklace. Yikes. Fahsai regrets it immediately, but gets angry when Daniel retaliates by tearing up her letter. She slaps him and remarks that he’s just the type to hurt others worse than they hurt him. She accuses him of not caring for other people’s feelings or what is right. She had ruined the necklace by accident but he intended to destroy her will. Flustered, Daniel follows her.
He tells her that he won’t let her go – that she still needs protection. Fahsai, as if laughing at the notion, questions how he could protect someone when he doesn’t even value his own life- that he has no heart. To distract her, and randomly out of nowhere, Daniel’s fake laughter stops her in her tracks. She spins to face him and Daniel says he’s trying to make his body stronger so that he could protect her. Aw. He tells her to give him a chance, then attempts another fake laughter. Even Fahsai feels awkward about it and her anger dissipates. She says he’s lucky she’s the type who gets over her anger quickly. I love that she calls him ‘Giant’ since she doesn’t know his name.
Ah, bad boys. You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. Maybe the lakorn power that be just intuitively knows that fans will come back for more when there’s a manchild in need of a good hug. I can’t help but forget how exhausted I’ve been about gangster premise, because Once Upon A Time In My Heart offers a different, intriguing take: an innocent girl gets mired in the gang drama because she looks just like the old girlfriend. This is like a love triangle times two. I am excited to see how it works out for everybody. These characters feel real and multi dimensional, they’re not just villains, but people who act certain ways or find themselves in certain junctions in their lives for a reason. Perhaps it’s due to revenge, perhaps it’s due to scorned love, but the choices they make are interesting. We have a hero who KILLED his own girlfriend, yet we know there’s gotta be more to it than betrayal or gang’s rules, because we see the softer side of Daniel and know that he’s not the standard Stockholm perpetrator. Well, there BETTER be more than that. I am a sucker for dark heroes, and a hot one to boot? I’m a goner.
I also like Fahsai who is pretty sympathetic. When she got her heart handed to her when her boyfriend proposed to another woman, I was immediately taken. Then I love her fighter spirit against the Boss, giving him a taste of his own medicine. And most of all, she feels real, or maybe she just reminds me of me, someone who forgives easily. See, that is why I am a sucker.
Even Chanming’s anger is understandable, even if he might be misunderstanding his best friend. The fact that Daniel isn’t telling him the whole truth makes it interesting – he’s a man who doesn’t like to make excuses- and that very attitude is going to bite him in the ass, and Chanming is the one holding the beast’s saber tooth. Big Sis and the right hand man are giving me the laughs, and I’m excited to see more of them too.
Boy I am in for it! Show has taken over Wednesday-Thursday timeslot on Channel 7 by MongKul Kan. The title invokes a serious delight, but you can watch it for the story, for the interesting conflicts, or just for Mick’s calm and strong delivery of Daniel, Boss of Gang Mungkorn Thong. Another gangster lakorn, but not your average gangster drama.
Recaps for this lakorn will be released slowly, since I am already behind (show has released 3 episodes thus far). It won’t be detailed as the standard recaps nor fast, but I’m just excited to be along for the ride. Let’s hope it’s not a regrettable one. Here are some badass hotties. You’re welcome.