There is something startlingly magical about this lakorn, Buppae Sanniwas. It has left its imprint in my heart, one that has taken residence and will refuse to budge. I can’t remember a lakorn that is just pitch perfect from start to finish. A lakorn that I barely knew what to make of for starters, but has surprisingly and consistently nailing it in every episode thereafter, then closing out the finale with no less finesse than its opening.
It is as if they don’t want to let us go either. And that is what I love so much about this lakorn, the Broadcast Thai team along with the writers, truly respect the viewers enough that they never lecture or tell us what we ought to feel. But they leave room for interpretation and for us to come to our own conclusions. Because at the end of the day, historical figures and the events in history aren’t always black and white like the history books you read. They are people, humans who make mistakes. The writing and actors breathed life into the people they portray. In fact, the show has been successful in encouraging viewers to research the history and become as hands on with the past as Kadesurang, our tour guide, so to speak.
And it has been such a ride, such a nice sweeping journey through Ayutthaya. This story isn’t so much a body swapping or time traveling, but more of a reincarnation premise. We have our present archaeology student who dies and reincarnates in her twin sister’s body 300 years before. There are tragic twists to ensure that she is able to reincarnate in the past and reunite with her soul mate, Phor Daed. And to be reborn in such a prosperous, rich era, full of life, of poetry, and of grand ideals, I truly felt like we experienced what Kadesurang, now Karakade, experienced. From the gorgeous traditional costumes, to the gold setting jewelry, to the soft toned Ayutthayan spoken language, the setting truly came to life. Not to mention all of the astounding architecture of Ayutthayan time. Broadcast Thai should receive all of the awards just for that alone; I have never seen a boran lakorn (lakorn set in the past) to be this beautiful. It’s no surprise that people are visiting Ayutthaya and dressing like they’ve taken a step into the past.
Not only is this show beautiful to watch, but you can also tell that everyone in the cast put in everything they’ve got. The level of intensity and commitment to their characters is duly noted: (1) from the King himself (Narai), who is fascinated by the progress the French has made with their advance ships, weapons, and elevators, the King wants to advance his country too. He’s progressive and open-minded about allowing his people to believe in whatever religion they want to pursue, and will protect them from society repercussions (since majority of Ayutthaya are Buddhists). But in being so progressively minded, and trusting of his foreign advisors, he pushes his own people and culture away so to speak, which infuriates Petracha to no end. As we see in the finale and how history plays out, the King did not mind that monks were recruited to build infrastructure, he was feeding the French army who has resided in Bangkok, while giving Constantine more and more power. His ideals clashed with Petracha’s belief of what is the right thing to do. This King oozes so much oomph and personality that I came to understand the things he chooses to do, not that I agree with everything. It just is what it is. Karma played her hands on his death too, he was ill for what seems like a long time (all of the final episode) and he cries to Prapi that his body is in so much pain. Now that is no way to go, but despite his ideals, he was willing to sacrifice too many lives to reach it.
(2) Petracha, the Elephant Commander who sits on the opposite side of the spectrum. By the end, he takes it upon himself to protect the people of Ayutthaya from French influence, whether that is religion or advancement. He truly believes that this is his calling, as he tells his son, he doesn’t want to do it (he doesn’t want to betray the king) but that he must. This man and his angry tears that scald his face every time he talks to the King. When these two are together, Petracha and King Narai, I could feel the passion, the beliefs of their characters- they’re both doing what they think is right.
(3) I’m both afraid and fascinated by Luang Sorasak. It’s like I don’t know what will make him tick. He has an intensity about him that is made only better by Got’s portrayal. Luang Sorasak has daddy issues – everyone knows he’s the illegitimate son of King Narai – but was raised by Petracha. Towards the end, one moment he’s part of the good guy’s group, but then that capturing of Constantine, he seems to have joined the dark side. But it’s all relative right? If the dark side wins, they write the history and then become the good guys. At any rate, Luang Sorasak and his trusty men corner Constantine, then he jump kicks the big man off his horse. He beat the crap out of Constantine, it was like watching an MMA fight: Constantine was bleeding everywhere. It was awful. And when Phor Daed comes to Constantine’s rescue (in that he agreed to let the man see his wife and kids before his last breath), he gets questioned by Luang Sorasak as if he cannot be trusted! Dang that scene was good. Like I said, Luang Sorasak is scary.
(4) Constantine. Louis Scott really brought this guy to life. He was raised in Ayutthaya but has always been considered a foreigner. It makes me wonder if he would have a better fate if he were more accepted? Or would he always be a lost cause because of the choices he inevitably made? Like he told his wife, he’s in too deep. He bit off more than he could chew. When he realized that he has no choice but to send the traitor letter to the French for help to wipe out his enemy, that pretty much sealed his fate. The walk of shame back to his wife, who has always appeared to be above him in every way, her loyalty, her idealism. It’s poetic justice for him to look up at her as she stands at the top of the stairwell; he was pleading to see his kids’ faces before he’s executed. I don’t think he even knew how greedy and selfish he is. At his last breath, he’s still convinced that he did everything for his family. But the only person he’s lying to is himself. Tongkima (Mae Malik) says as much to him, that he only looked out for himself. Perhaps that is why she could never love him, even as he’s dying. It’s some cold stuff you guys, he’s asking her if she had ever loved him, but all she could tell him is that she won’t take another husband when he dies. When Constantine turned around and cried, oh man did I cry too.
(5) Khun Loong is also a real historical figure. He created the onset of the Thai alphabet. Unfortunately for him, due to wreaking justice by performing the chant that invariably killed Karakade, he too met his karma. But because he’s a good person and always made good choices for most of his life, he was able to go pretty peacefully. It’s the kind of death I’d prefer: old, quiet, surrounded by my loved ones. I knew when we got all the cute and funny scenes in episode 14, that we will cry our eyes out in the finale. It’s practically guaranteed. This show wants my laughter and tears. But with a show this good, they can have all of my tears.
(6) Phor See is also a historical figure. They’ve referred to him from the beginning but did not speak of him very much until Dream’s cameo in the finale. He’s a famous poet and well loved by the King, however was falsely accused and eventually met his execution. When we meet him towards the end, he was laying low. His character is important to Phor Daed’s introduction and development, so I get why he’s figured into the plot. More on that shortly.
(7) Kosa Pan, he’s Karakade’s surrogate uncle and the first Ambassador to go to Paris. He’s a classy guy and full of optimism. He did not believe at first of Constantine’s greedy ways. This debacle left Karakade contemplating if she should tell them about Constantine and his incriminating letter. She reminds herself that she came here to be with her soulmate, not to change the past. But without sharing her knowledge, Kosa Pan would not mobilize quickly to help Petracha’s cause, so Karakade ends up speeding things along by divulging the evidence. Kosa Pan is one of the few people she could trust with her secret.
(8) The other man is of course, her husband, Phor Daed, also her soulmate. I am happy to report that she did finally tell Phor Daed that she came from the future. I guess it is true that she will confess when she’s ready. Although when it did happen, it felt almost anticlimactic. Kosa Pan and Phor Daed are given the truth and they accepted it with scouts honor. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it felt a little flat.
However there is nothing anticlimactic about this particular hero. If anything, he had the biggest character growth and became a hero of his own right. When we first met Phor Daed, he was a strict and grouchy man. Well for one, he hated the main girl, so it’s almost as if we’re conditioned to suspect this guy. He doesn’t seem to work, he wiles away his time watching chicken fights, drinking in town and waxing poetries. But slowly, we peel away the layers of Phor Daed. He had to lay low because of his older brother. He does have an important job at the palace, but back then, they do business and have secret meetings at each other’s humble abode. It’s not required to go to the palace everyday. Like Karakade said, it’s like a satellite office (lol). Also it turns out that he has a diplomatic rank, right below Kosa Pan, and known as the Tri-toot who accompanied Kosa Pan to Paris (so Phor Daed is a real historical figure). We come to learn how astute and observant he is. He has the skill of a spy: always appearing right behind Karakade when she least expects it, he notices all things Karakade so much so that he uncovers intel from her.
I was sold on their romance after the near drowning scene. Phor Daed knows that this new Karakade is different since the second episode, but he had no evidence and isn’t completely convinced that she might be someone different. So he holds himself at arms length from her, not ready to fall yet. But you could tell that she’s chipping away at his resolve, she’s kind, smart, funny.. even though she’s clumsy, nosy, talks funny, he’s finding that everything she’s doing is cute to him. But suddenly, when she resuscitated him back to life, he sees another soul in Karakade. He finally knew for sure that this is HIS Karakade now. And from then on, he surrendered. He allowed his heart to fully open to her and held nothing back. It was amazing to say the least, to watch him allow himself to fall in love with her. And he fell hard. He loved her so much; he would move heaven and earth for her. And that episode 14 will forever be embedded in my memory (and well because I watched it like a dozen times).
In the finale he managed to eavesdrop while she’s talking to the teacher. He overhears that there is a man in the future who loves her, his name is Reungrit. From the sound of it, Reungrit loves her very much because he ordained for life so that she could be reborn in this past time. He didn’t feel the need to be jealous because she had already died in the future and cannot go back. His reaction to this caused Karakade to feel put out because she was expecting a little jealousy. So I loved how they came back full circle and revisited this topic in the end.
They stood before the night sky, with the full moon brightening the dark, Ayutthayan night. The kids are tucked in bed, the whole house is asleep. Karakade teases her husband for playing favorites and loving the youngest (Mae Prang) more than the others (because she reminded him of his wife). Phor Daed argues that she loves Phor Reung and Phor Rit more than the others too, probably because they share the same name as her old love in the future time. Hahaha. Not jealous, huh?
Pleased with the reaction, Karakade says she didn’t think he would bring that up. Phor Daed says of course he’s possessive, but he understands because that person must be devastated to be separated from her. Phor Daed puts his arms around her, in a back hug and relents that if it were he, he could not withstand it. Karakade questions whether he’s not curious who happens to be Reungrit in this lifetime. Phor Daed wonders who it could be, since it’s not Phor Reung. Karakade tells him that she saw a soul inside of Reungrit’s body. Then it dawns on him, with a shocking realization, Phor Daed questions whether it was him. Oof. Karakade says that she is reborn in this past time because Reungrit had ordained for her in the future, so she wanted to name their boys after him as a reminder of the great lengths their dad went through in order to be with their mom. Phor Daed smiles his most dashing smile at the truth and kisses his wife. If it’s because of buppae sanniwas (soulmates), then no matter how many lifetimes, Phor Daed is sure that he will find her in every lifetime (including if she reincarnates as a seahorse). I die. These two slay me every single time.
We also see glimpses of what they’re like as “old” married couple. With four children, they are still as cute as ever, sending each other signals, making heart eyes at each other. It’s a warm household and the kids have a great example of a healthy marriage. As Show is loathed to let us go, as we are loathed to let this Show go, Phor Daed presents a gift to his son, Phor Rit. The boy steps away, but suddenly an adult version of himself materializes. He walks towards a flat ground where he digs up the book that one shall not touch – is it the kritsanagalee book? As his hand reaches down towards the book, the next thing we know, a bright, blinding light reaches out towards him. We are introduced to part two: Promlikit (Destiny). The premise is about Phor Rit – I’m not sure if he travels into the future or if he meets a new girl who travels into the past. I hope it’s the former because I’m itching for a boran guy meeting all new, modern things. Besides, we’ve already seen Karakade’s hijinks in the past and it was a hoot. I can’t imagine a more perfect guy to play Phor Rit than Pope Thanawat – I mean, so what if he looks like dad! Mini me! And Bella Ranee can play as his soulmate (or destiny).
Because Destiny (Promlikit) will indeed bring us back together. Buppae Sanniwas may just be the one lakorn that will ruin us all for other lakorns. But I hope with the same production team and writer behind Promlikit, we can get another show this good. I’m so sad this lakorn is over, but I’m satisfied with the way it ended. And I’m hopeful for the second installment, even if it takes another two years to materialize. I’ll be here, and I’ll be waiting.