TV Scene’s latest lakorn should more appropriately be called an epic.

Please give a warm welcome to our official writer, Greta! As you are well aware, Greta has written recaps and reviews on the blog for some time now, and I’ve admired her incredible writing skills and voice, so I asked if she could join us! Moving forward you will see articles under Greta’s username, please give her lots of love. We are very lucky to engage with not only a talented writer, but also one of the nicest people I know. ~Love, Fia

Hello folks! Hope you are all healthy and well. I’m pretty sure many of you are working from home right now because of the threat of COVID-19. Incidentally, the theme of TV Scene’s latest lakorn, Leh Bun Pa Kal is somehow in tune with the times, with unexplained tragedies happening left and right.  But this show isn’t all gloom and doom and surely those who watch it will have a sense of hope – or at least be entertained while we are waiting for our lives to be (relatively) normal again.

First off, I want to thank P’Fia for allowing me to guest write at her blog. I want to apologize to her fans as her blog is starting to be a James Ji lakorn review site of sorts. *Sweatdrop* But, I say this with honesty and candidness, Leh Bun Pa Kal is a high quality lakorn and regardless of whether you are a James Ji or JiTaew fan or not, I think it’s worth a shot, especially if the mystery-thriller-horror lakorn is your cup of tea.

That being said, Leh Bun Pa Kal is not your usual lakorn. Romance is downplayed here, and the main focus is on unraveling the mystery that transcends time. The Thai Title of the lakorn is “Leh Bun Pa Kal” (“Leh Bunpakarn” in the earlier transliterations) which roughly literally translates to “Ancient Trick” in English. Not a very interesting title for a romance Thai lakorn, is it? Understandably, the production team just gave it an English Subtitle, “Love in the Mist” and it was later on changed into “Mist of Love” by the international re-seller of the lakorn.

The main synopsis of the lakorn more closely adheres to the Thai title, referring to a trick or mystery from ancient times.

The story begins with catastrophic incidents, such as massive explosions, arson, and unexplained deaths, occurring in modern times that simply cannot be cracked by the government or by normal rational men. Instead, an expert in ancient history, Dr. Adul (played by Poh Nattawut) is called to interpret what is going on. He opines that these occurrences have been predicted in ancient texts and the way to find out the reason why these occurrences are happening is to delve into the past and conduct further studies in ancient history (hence, the “Ancient Trick”, in the title).

Of course, Dr. Adul’s theory is incredible to say the least, and our incredulous reporter, Plerngfah (played by James Jirayu) wants to get into the bottom of it. Although he is skeptical about Dr. Adul’s theory, he sees a pattern in the site or crime scenes where the explosions and deaths occur.

The squiggles in the wall are of ancient character and it hasn’t been revealed yet what they mean.

A certain ancient script appears in the walls of the crime scene, as though scribbled by the perpetrator in the hopes of “owning” the crime. Plerng thinks that this script is the clue that would lead them to the actual perpetrators. Whether these perpetrators are just a bunch of crazy people, hoping to destabilize the nation, or if these were supernatural acts of a ghost from the past, Plerng is determined to find out.

In his quest for the truth, he seeks more answers from Dr. Adul’s adoptive daughter and protégé, Dr. Sitang (played by Taew Natapohn) and instead of knowing more about the historical background of the ancient script, Plerng instead unlocks a new mystery – unbeknownst to him, he is a clairvoyant who has the power to see the past – and not just what happened yesterday or years ago, but even the past incarnations of those people he touches. He likewise gets clues through visions from objects that he and its owners had touched. This power existed since he was young and his parents were frightened by it, thus prompting them to bring him to the United States where he got “treatment” by suppressing these visions. This power or skill came back however, upon touching Dr. Sitang.

Plerng takes “love at first sight” to the next level, as a single touch from Sitang gives him a vision of their past (and how much they loved each other when they were kids…). Further into the story, he likewise gets visions of them loving each other in their past incarnations.

Dr. Sitang’s take on the catastrophes that are happening in modern times is that the ancient script that appears after the explosions and deaths were first used by Khun Uthaiyothin – a bureaucrat who lived in King Rama V’s reign (late 1890’s). It is unclear in modern texts what Khun Uthaiyothin’s role in history had been, although there are some accounts that state that he committed treason for he had correspondences with foreigners during the time when Thailand (then Siam) was heavily resisting invasion and keeping its territories intact. These correspondences reveal too however that Khun Uthaiyothin was a clairvoyant who can see the past – just like Plerng. And what do you know, Plerng himself reveals that he is a direct descendant of Khun Uthaiyothin, surprise surprise! Sitang further theorizes that Uthaiyothin may not be the real culprit, but somehow those launching the attacks want to put him in a bad light. As to why they want to do that, it’s still a mystery to both Sitang and Plerng.

We thus understand Plerng’s motives – it wasn’t just that he was skeptical about Dr. Adul’s theory, more importantly, Plerng was interested in clearing his ascendant’s name. How is Khun Uthaiyothin linked to the murders and the explosions occurring now in the modern times? Who is writing the ancient script, thereby dragging Khun Uthaiyothin’s name in this whole fiasco? What do these ancient letters mean? Is this ancient script the “trick” referred to in the Thai Title of the lakorn?

After laying the basis, the story quickly centers in on Plerng as more people close to him end up being attacked, or worse, killed by the perpetrators. And somehow, each death, each touch, unravels the mystery in Plerng’s head as he gets more and more visions from the past. Plerng and Sitang are led to a basement in Khun Uthaiyothin’s old residence and they find inscriptions and drawings of an ancient ritual and an Idol (statue), which Sitang quickly recognizes as the Gala Thewa Idol. The Gala Dewa Idol is an ancient statue allegedly owned by Khun Uthaiyothin and has the power to unlock the mysteries of the past. This is the “key” which Dr. Adul wishes to study closely in order to determine the reason why catastrophes are happening in the modern times. Everyone’s quandary however is that said idol is missing and nowhere to be found.

So far, we have 2 “ancient” tricks, that is, Uthaiyothin’s ancient script, and also his statue, the Gala Dewa Idol. But of course, the screenplay writers deliver and throw in more ancient tricks our way. (And we’re just in episode 1!)

Black and White. There is something sinister about Pakboon, yet things aren’t always what they seem, or are they?

While this is all happening, we see glimpses of this mysterious lady, Pakboon (played by Boom Suphaphorn), who is revealed to be Dr. Adul’s young wife. Her connections in the story are quite important so please concentrate for a bit. Pakboon, to reiterate, is Dr. Adul’s young wife, and resultantly, Sitang’s stepmother of sorts. She is also the adoptive daughter of Gen. Itthiwongsa – the decendant of Khun Itthiwongsa, who is the younger brother of Khun Uthaiyothin. Are you guys confused yet? Let’s throw in another guy in the mix, Krat Itthiwongsa (played by Cake Nattavat) is the biological son of Gen. Itthiwongsa, hence Pakboon’s adoptive brother. Incidentally, Krat is…. Dr. Sitang’s boyfriend. Keep a mental note of these connections as it will be important later on in the story.

Another important facet to Pakboon is that she is revealed to be a clairvoyant as well! As if her outfit choices didn’t give it away. Pakboon embraces her power and is approached by some people as an occult witch doctor of sorts. She “helps” people by revealing to them their past lives, thus showing how their karma turned out the way it is now in their current lifetime in hopes of correcting or paying for whatever crimes they did in the past so they can have a better life at present. But this noble endeavor doesn’t erase the fact that there is something sinister about Pakboon from the get-go. Her sweet voice and calm demeanor aside, you know right away that she has some pent-up wickedness in her the moment she steps on screen. This is confirmed later on when it is revealed that Pakboon is responsible for the murders that have been occurring as of late, and had been ordering her lackey, Pluek to scribble Uthaiyothin’s script all over after committing dastardly deeds.

In any case, from their first encounter alone, Pakboon is both hot and cold to Plerng. She seems to have a huge grudge against him and yet… interestingly enough, she seems to be interested in him too (who could resist that cute smile, right?… *ehem* sorry, I digress…). Pakboon leaves Plerng with an important question: “Supposing in our past life, we did many evil things, may it be murder, betrayal, deception, or even treason, can you accept that?” Plerng is baffled by the question, and Pakboon advices him to let it go and avoid digging up the past.

Is it really Pakboon who is evil? Or is it Plerng? Later on, it is revealed that Pakboon and Plerng encountered each other years before the start of the story.

A young and innocent Pakboon is stabbed ruthlessly … was Plerng’s past incarnation the culprit? Is he the hero or the villain?

Worse, Plerng has a vision of “himself” caning Pakboon. He thus wonders if indeed he had done evil deeds in his past life.

Later on, it is revealed that they have encountered each other in their past lives. Thus we are presented with the third mystery – is Plerng’s vision of the past the trick? Was he really the wicked one who deserved Pakboon’s revenge? Or is the real culprit still out there?

The screenplay of the lakorn provides fast paced storytelling and easily, we get the answers to our questions by the second episode. After an explosion orchestrated by Pakboon and Pluek, Plerng and Sitang fall into a coma where, in their unconscious state, the two of them get a flashback of their past lives.

The Thai say that the past is like a flowing river, what has passed cannot be brought back anymore. But in this lakorn, the past is closely linked to the present as though each event ripples across time, hence, the metaphor given to us is the first shot of the past is shown by the rowing of the tide.

I know, I know, it’s confusing in paragraph form, so here is the visual illustration. You’re welcome.

Khun Uthaiyothin is revealed to be Plerngfah’s past incarnation while Sitang is Duangkhae, his love interest. More characters from the present are shown with their counterparts in the past. For instance, Plerng’s college buddy, Tony, is revealed to be Colonel Kowalski, while Gail, Sitang’s best friend, turns out to be Mae Ging, Duangkae’s cousin and best friend. Krat Itthiwongsa is Phor Itthiwongsa (Phor Wong) himself, Khun Uthaiyothin’s younger brother. Pakboon on the other hand is Boonlhua, a servant girl born in a brothel and living a miserable life by the beginning of the flashback.

In their flashback, apart from showing the (quick) development of the romance between Uthaiyothin and Duangkhae, we see more of the infamous Gala Dewa Idol. It is an ancient statue made in the Boran period thousands of years ago. It was discovered by Khun Uthaiyothin’s father, and it was accidentally “activated” by his blood. As it turns out, Plerngfah and Uthaiyothin’s incarnation from 1000 years back is Thao Rawi, a powerful mage and clairvoyant. Thao Rawi was thus born (reincarnated) as Uthaiyothin and he is reunited with the powerful Gala Dewa Idol.

Just how powerful is it? Besides looking ominous and lifelike, and… well, having an eerily scary voice (“thiiinaaaasaaaareeeee”) it actually holds great power that can be harnessed by those with special powers, such as Khun Uthaiyothin. It’ll give you a nosebleed as a side effect, but it is a little price to pay in exchange for the power it brings. First, touching the Gala Dewa Idol made Uthaiyothin recover his powers as Thao Rawi. Second, touching the Gala Dewa Idol likewise made Uthaiyothin see through time – from the past and into the far future. Ultimately, Gala Dewa Idol is the key through time.

The ancient statue is at the core of the lakorn – could it be the very trick from ages past?

We have yet to know more about how this statue was created, and what its actual purpose is – but one other thing that we discover about it, through Uthaiyothin’s lifetime, is that the Gala Dewa Idol is sealed by two clairvoyants, the first one is Uthaiyothin and the other is…. Boonlhua, the reincarnation of Thinasaree. Flashbacks show that Thinasaree was a noblewoman from a thousand years ago, and not a lowly slave. But why did the laws of karma go against her and gave her a miserable life in Uthaiyothin’s lifetime? Why is she the key, together with Uthaiyothin in unlocking the powerful Gala Dewa Idol? Here, we are presented with a super powerful object that is sealed by both our hero and our villain. So how in the world will they harness its power when the two sides who must unlock it are butting heads with one another.

In what is probably the most infamous scene in the lakorn so far, Boonlhua charms Uthaiyothin with a love potion which results in him desperately swimming through a muddy canal in his urgent need to ravish her – heh, even our archetypal bad girl Karakade didn’t get that far. It doesn’t end well (for Boonlhua)  however as Uthai’s lust quickly turns to seething anger after he manages to break off the spell.

Insofar as Uthaiyothin’s lifetime is concerned, we are shown how Boonlhua is despicable and wicked. She is called by Phee Boon as the devil incarnate. She is lazy, insolent, vengeful and most of all, full of anger and hatred. She knows what she wants and she stops at nothing to get it. She is mostly driven by her infatuation with Khun Uthaiyothin and it ultimately brings her despair when she realizes that her obsession is all for naught as Uthaiyothin has his heart only for Duangkhae. Worse, even when Duangkhae is sweet, gentle, and seemingly powerless, Boonlhua still cannot win over her.

For a gentle lady, Duangkhae still knows how to burn bitches to a crisp.

The twist, however is no matter how wicked Boonlhua is, she is presented as a woman scorned, as though a great injustice was done to her in the past. In the scenes when she is not being wicked, she looks so sweet, and yet when she is being a grand evil bitch, she still has that vulnerability in her. This, together with her flashbacks of her own past life, makes the viewers doubt if she really is wicked to the core, or if something happened that led her to be the way that she was.

Was Thao Rawi simply a notorious rake? Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and Thinasaree’s heartbreak has resulted in catastrophe crossing space and time.

Boonlhua thus acts as a pawn and tries to get the Gala Dewa Idol from Uthaiyothin to deliver it to the wrong hands. At least two parties are shown to be desperate to own it – first is Phee Boon, a wicked shaman who seems to know the true power of the idol, and second is Col. Jose, a French military man who only knows the idol’s superficial value and will do petty crimes just to get his hands on it. Efforts to get the Gala Dewa Idol fail, but our villains find other ways to make Uthai’s life miserable.

Let’s see, he’s handsome, smart, rich, artistic, good in wooing girls (and supposedly a *good lover* too), has clairvoyant powers, can counter black magic, a titled bureaucrat with international exposure and – what do you know, he can make maps in accordance with international standards too. Now that’s a renaissance man!

Incidentally, apart from knowing the past and the future, Uthai also has a skill in making maps. He is able to lead a team in crafting a map of Siam based on international standards and it is crucial in Siam’s negotiations with France in settling Siam’s territorial claims in accordance with international laws and treaties. (As a background, around the 1890’s, France was expanding its territories in South East Asia and had already invaded Laos. France wanted to expand its territory and encroach upon Siam’s. Siam was put in a tight spot as it didn’t have the same military power as France, but at the same time, it wished to resist invasion and remain independent.) When Col. Jose realizes that he cannot get the Gala Dewa Idol from Uthai, he instead eyes the map in order to have insider info on what the Thai delegates intend to put on the table and already prepare beforehand how to counter it, to France’s advantage.

Diplomacy in the age before Covid-19. Don’t let the handshakes fool you though, these negotiations didn’t end well.

Boonlhua, without thinking much about it, steals the map and thus puts Siam in a precarious condition. This sends Uthai into another fit of rage whereby he inflicts punishment on Boonhlua by caning her before the other servants. This changes Boonhlua’s obsession with Uthai to fierce hatred as she not only desires to destroy the love between Duangkhae and Uthai, at that point forward, she likewise wishes him to die. This hatred is carried over a hundred years and still leads Pakboon to want her sworn enemy’s latest incarnation, Plerngfah, dead.

But before we go back to that, some loose ends are settled in Uthaiyothin’s chapter of the lakorn. The whole map-stealing affair results in Uthaiyothin getting reprimanded, worse, threatened with an investigation (which would likely lead to him being the fall guy and getting charged with treason). In his desperation, he uses the Gala Dewa Idol to view just how bad the ramifications of Boonlhua’s evil deed are. To his relief, he discovers that Siam survives invasion, but nevertheless faces another problem where it loses a portion of its territory (to the British). Moreover, he realizes that once he is stripped of wealth and power, he will have less means to protect the Gala Dewa idol. He thus formulates a plan to seal the power of the Idol with the lives of 9 people, whose date and times of birth occur at the most auspicious times.

Nine lives hang in the balance. As it turns out, 4 of the deaths (as of Episode 6) that occurred in the modern times are related to this sealing ritual.

On the political side, Uthai realizes that the failure of the negotiations between France and Siam would not only be disastrous to Siam but likewise put him and his descendants in a bad light (as he will be branded a traitor and his descendants would have to carry the stigma). Fearing for Duangkhae and their unborn child, he sends for help from Col. Kowalski to ensure that they are well protected – and at the same time, he accepted his fate to die at the hands of the French to save Siam and his family’s heritage – so that his son’s line may live on, and he, in turn, may be reincarnated in the future.

Employing the same deceitful tactics they used in the negotiations with Siam, the French (in the lakorn) came as thieves in the night to steal the Gala Dewa Idol and kill Uthaiyothin and his wife.

In one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the lakorn thus far, Uthaiyothin firmly sends Duangkhae away as he faces his tragic fate head on (more of that later). Ultimately, however, it is not the French but Boonlhua who stabs Uthaiyothin dead.

But who gets the last laugh? Uthaiyothin mocks Boonhlua one last time before his demise in that lifetime, by showing her a glimpse of her much more miserable end as Thinasaree.

Boonlhua is driven mad by what she sees and her revenge feels empty after Uthaiyothin one ups her till the end. Phee Boon is likewise tricked as when he gets his hands on the Gala Dewa Idol, he is unable to harness its power as the sealing ritual was completed by Uthaiyothin before his death. Phee Boon is then shot dead by Col. Kowalski.

In the end, it became clear after Sitang and Plerng’s journey to the past, that Uthaiyothin was no traitor. In fact, his death became advantageous to Siam because the French, upon knowing the deceitfulness committed by one of their ranks, pulled out from the negotiations and thus placed Siam back into a stalemate. Uthai’s riches were not taken away, and instead left to his son, Khun Sikhanol (or “Non” – Game Sanaeha, anyone?) Duangkhae and Boonlhua have one last showdown of wits, which ultimately ends with Boonhlua stabbing herself and swearing to win in the next round. Duangkhae swears never to marry again and takes care of Khun Uthaiyothin’s legacy and safekeeps the Gala Dewa Idol.

After this long (roughly 4 episodes worth) flashback, both Sitang and Plerng wake up from their respective comas and are unable to decipher who the remaining 5 out of the 9 people who must die are. However, they discover the following things 1) Pakboon is the one responsible for the deaths of 3 out of the 9 individuals and she did so with the intent of releasing the full power of the Gala Dewa Idol, 2) the Gala Dewa Idol is missing and nowhere to be found, and both Sitang and Plerng must find it before Pakboon does, 3) the clue must be with Duangkhae or Uthaiyothin’s descendants.

Whew! Are you guys still awake? So far, we’ve discussed the lakorn in the perspective of its Thai Title, Leh Ban Pa Kal. Yet why did the producer decide to give it a cheesy English Title? Well, as I earlier said, the romance is downplayed in this lakorn, but that does not mean it is not without it. In fact, the love story serves as an integral part of it – for what other concept may we juxtapose with time? Time flows, it begins; sometimes it continues, sometimes it ends; yet love is often equated with the concept of “forever”. Could it be that love is more powerful than time?

Our Pra’ek and Nang’ek find each other in three different lifetimes, in three different periods but end up finding and loving each other again and again. It can’t get any cheesier than that.

Likely, the draw for this lakorn, especially with regard to the international audience, is the JiTaew love team. Hence, it was initially marketed with the title “Love in the Mist” to capitalize on the love story between Plerngfah and Sitang, Uthaiyothin and Duangkhae, as well as Thao Rawi and Sasina. Similar to the approach in Nueng Dao Fah Diew (One Land One Sky), which is likewise a TV Scene production, the story is driven by the main plot (in this case, the whole Ancient Trick mystery mumbo jumbo) while bits and pieces of the romance between the two characters develop slowly but surely.

One key element in this lakorn however is that while Plerng and Sitang are not instantly in love, they already have a back story that makes them likely to be in love. Perhaps the more accurate way to put it is that they were destined to be together. Bhuppae Sanniwat, anyone?

Their first meeting has them at opposing sides as Sitang is supporting Dr. Adul while Plerng, the journalist, is intent on grilling him. Yet each meeting that they have after that reveals more of their uncanny connections, such as 1) having common friends who were supposed to set them up, 2) surprisingly having the same perspective on things, despite being in opposing teams, and 3) being inseparable buddies in kindergarten. That was just in episode 1. No time is wasted in patching up the relationship between these two, although that is not to say that they are sappily in love by episode 1. The feeling is there but there is some form of resistance – they are not lovers, but quickly they become tight allies. By the end of episode 1, Plerng is already tagging along with Sitang, even in her boyfriend’s residence.

Initially, their fondness for each other goes back to their carefree days in their childhood where they had the most fun together. Meeting again as adults was already a good set-up for their romance but it was only the tip of the iceberg as they had been lovers since many lifetimes ago.

Hence, it seems a bit rushed in the first two episodes how Sitang’s indifference to Plerng quickly developed into fondness, albeit suppressed by her supposedly no-nonsense nature. She becomes friendlier to him even though she still gives him a hard time whenever she could. Tsk, typical hard-to-get nang’ek. To put things into perspective, Mangmao and Khanthong of Nueng Dao Fah Diew were shown to be evenly matched from their first meeting but actually became friends by episode 3 only. Here, they are working together by the first half of Episode 1, but again, we have the “love destiny” and “Childhood friends” trump card to back up their sudden familiarity.

Actually, I can’t complain. Their love story development in the Rama V period took like what…. 2 minutes? 

So, to those fans of JiTaew’s earlier works, the love story is different in this lakorn in the sense that they aren’t fighting or bickering from the start (unlike in Nueng Dao Fah Diew or Game Sanaeha). Instead, early on in the story, we get to see them having these sweet moments together as childhood friends with Plerng and Sitang (or Thua Nai) and as husband and wife courtesy of Uthaiyothin and Duangkhae. If you ask me, we see the ending first and you need some reverse engineering to see how their love story developed the way it did.

Before we actually see their Rama V era counterparts, we already know that they fell in love and got married, courtesy of Khun Uthaiyothin’s painting which is preserved as an antique in Krat Itthingwongsa’s ancestral house.

It’s reminiscent of the movie, “Somewhere in Time”, where the characters get a glimpse of the past from an object which they see in the future.

The painting gives a clue to our two main leads’ love story dynamic as it shows the two of them as the “Sun” and the “Moon”. Incidentally, their names actually mean “Sun”, for Plerngfah, Uthaiyothin and Rawi and “Moon, for Sitang, Duangkhae and Sasina. The Sun and the Moon had been together since time immemorial though seemingly torn apart by night and day – yet, in reality, the moon and the sun have always been and always will be together in the vast space for a long time to come. Romantic right?

Duangkhae and Uthaiyothin are shown to be in love at first sight, and even Duangkhae wonders in their wedding night if she had given herself to him too quickly. Uthai replies that they can think that they’ve waited so many lifetimes to be together hence their swift courtship is payback for all those times they’ve spent apart.

In my opinion, Uthai and Duangkhae’s romance may only be appreciated in the context of their other lifetimes, for without it, it seems empty, or shallow even. Their marriage, as shown in the lakorn is shown as the typical epilogue of lakorn romances, which we do not usually see. Normally, when the fighting stops between the P’ek and N’ek, we then know it’s time for the lakorn to end. I thus found it interesting how for once, we see a lakorn couple actually pleasant and sweet with each other, and having no misunderstandings or bursts of jealous rage disrupting their relationship from the start. Truly, Duangkhae is the moon to Uthai’s sun, for she shines in his light and offers her full support as he undertakes his important missions in life. Uthai of course is shown as a gentle doting husband who cares for his wife despite bearing the burden of saving the nation and protecting it from those evils who wish to covet the Gala Dewa Idol.  To put it simply, the screenplay can focus more on the mystery of the Gala Dewa Idol because not much drama is going on between Duangkae and Uthaiyothin. In fact, the scenes they have together in this era seem to be fanservice to keep the fans hooked, just in case the whole mystery thriller part became too scary or disturbing (and indeed, many parts of the lakorn are quite scary. More of that later.)

This is why I feel that the romance is downplayed, at least insofar as episodes 1-6 are concerned. Despite the sweetness between Duangkhae and Uthai being fun and relaxing to watch, to me, it still seems superficial as I feel no emotional investment, as a viewer, in their “happy ending”. Why did they deserve to be together? What hardship did they go through before they fell in love? How did they fall in love? Why did they need to fall in love again and again? These questions are still hanging, and I wonder if they will be addressed in either Plerng and Sitang’s story, or more thoroughly explained in their first meeting as Rawi and Sasina, which we have yet to see.

I may not have been invested on their happy ending, but surely, I was dealt a hard blow by their painful goodbye.

I suppose it can be attributable to the good acting and chemistry between James and Taew, that despite not having a real backstory, they look good together and I, as a viewer, still root for a happy ending for Uthai and Duangkae. Hence, when they had to part in the most tragic way, it was quite gut wrenching. James and Taew are no strangers to scenes like this but this scene was so beautifully made that it instantly brought tears to my eyes. James in particular, is exceptional in this scene as he displays that emotional progression with his eyes and body language that shifts from one emotion to another in mere seconds. If you guys look back to my review of Nueng Dao Fah Diew Episode 10, where Khanthong’s eyes (during that rescue scene in the dungeon) shift from determined, to angry, to desperate, and to sorrowful, a similar sequence happens here and with an added twist. In NDFD, James’s face was half covered and he could only convey his emotion through his eyes. But in this scene in Leh Bun Pa Kal however, he gives it his all, from his eyes, to his expression, to his body language, to his voice – Everything, the whole package. Khun Uthaiyothin is in pain, both physical and emotional, and yet with ostensible calculating coldness, he sends his servants and his wife away to keep her safe. Yet his control breaks ever so slightly when he tells her to take care of their unborn child and when finally he lets go, his anguish gnaws at his strength that although he keeps a brave front, the tears still manage to break out from his eyes as he looks longingly at his wife who he watches for the last time in that lifetime. Taew also gave it her all as although the camera did not zoom in her face, Duangkhae’s blood curling screams as she fought with all her might to go back to her husband and her expression and body language (while she was in a boat that could tip over, mind you), even from afar, showed just how much anguish she was going through. In the scenes that followed, Taew delivered in those crying scenes when she gets reunited with her lifeless husband. As a viewer, it was ironic how it was not their meeting but their parting that made me want Uthai and Duangkhe to be together.

To further drive the nail home, they show flashbacks of Sasina after Thao Rawi presumably died as well, and in her dying breath, she prays to the gods for the two of them to be lovers again in the next life.

It almost feels like emotional cheating, that when Plerng and Sitang are finally reunited in the present time, after all the sadness that happened from their parting in their past lives, I suddenly wanted them to be together in this lifetime, despite my earlier qualms of them not having enough reason to be together in the first place. But that feeling was erased when I saw the scene of them together again after their coma.

Instead of being all lovey-dovey after witnessing their past lives, these two are back to square one as Sitang shoots down Plerng whenever he brings up the past and speeds things up, the same way he did in their past life.

The way Sitang interacts with Plerng after the flashback is an uncommon twist that makes the lakorn more interesting (albeit slightly frustrating). I expected Plerng and Sitang to be extremely grateful to be reunited in this lifetime and not to waste another moment and start loving each other, after seeing the emotional turmoil they went through when they parted in their past lifetime, but instead, they are back to their love-hate shtick, where it was almost as if Sitang was making up for the lack of courtship they had in the Rama V era by resisting Plerng every chance she could. Just when she can be a modern woman, she decides to be conservative! But perhaps it’s the other way around. Perhaps it is because Sitang IS a modern woman that she casts Plerng’s sweet words and his charming smile aside so they can focus at the task at hand – finding the Gala Dewa Idol. Sitang in this lifetime seems like a new moon – not relying on the light of the sun but existing on her own.

Plerng on the other hand acts differently too. Gone is the dapper gentleman, and instead we’re faced with goofy, spontaneous Plerng who isn’t like a radiant star but a fiery ball of fire instead. James’s natural charm goes on an overdrive with how the natural way he plays Plerng is almost like how he plays Asa. He’s a breath of fresh air, albeit with a mischievousness about him. If Asa is compared to a walk in a lavender field, I would say Plerng is like a walk in a bright summer day.

Plerng and Sitang’s change in characters likewise makes their dynamics quite different from Uthai and Duangkhae’s as we go back to familiar lakorn territory where the two bicker, make up, have sweet moments, only to fight again, repeat cycle ad infinitum.

Plerng insists on rekindling their romance and is always cute and sweet with her, while Sitang says that past is past – they need not be together in every lifetime. Gone is that sweet little girl who screamed “Pleeeerng! I want to be your bride when we grow up! Pleeeeerng!” Begrudgingly, Plerng mumbles to himself how it was Sasina who swore to follow him and be his lover in every lifetime, as she had inscribed in the foot of the Gala Dewa Idol. Like the moon without the light of the sun, Sitang is cold but we know at the back of our minds that what we are seeing now is a mere shadow and she is sure to be head over heels in love with Plerng again – we just don’t know how many episodes before the ending. I do hope that this matter is resolved in the succeeding episodes. While Plerng and Sitang are cute – that’s the most they could be, they are cute together. But without that emotional development or back story, I cannot root for them wholeheartedly.

Plerng and Sitang again focus on the Gala Dewa Idol and their romance takes a backseat. I wonder if it would be in Thao Rawi and Sasina’s story, when they supposedly meet for the first time, that I finally get emotionally invested in their love story. I actually have a theory as to why Sitang is so cold towards Plerng. It seems that she’s hell bent on focusing on the mystery of the Gala Dewa Idol more than rekindling her romance with Plerng. It’s not that she hates him, or she loves someone else, but she just wanted to get the Idol out of the way. If you recall, their parting in the ancient era seemed to be just as tragic as their parting in the Rama V era. So, when they got reunited for the second time, they wasted no time to be together, only for their marriage to be brief and heartbreaking. I guess, after all the pain they’ve been through in their past incarnations, and after how they always seemed to be torn apart just when they become sweet with each other, she realized that she must fight for her happy ending and just get the damn idol out of the way. I like how Taew isn’t playing a spoiled brat this time around. Instead, Sitang is an action girl who actively gets things done in the story. While I liked Duangkhae for her sweetness, it was clear that as Duangkhae, she was a supporting character to her husband, so she was almost like a trophy (but loyal) wife. This time, as Sitang, we see her inner conflict where she is unsure of whether she can let her feelings break free while tries to stick to the mission objective.

In finding the Gala Dewa Idol, its creation and origins must necessarily be revealed. Hence, we are all just waiting for the flashback to the ancient times when the story started. Yet the quandary is – in those scenes from ancient times, so far, we’ve seen more sweet scenes between Thinasaree and Thao Rawi.

The first teaser shows Rawi making out in bed with Thinasaree and not with Sasina! How can we root for the main love team now?!

As I earlier mentioned, there is also a certain level of chemistry between Pakboon and Plerng, Boonhlua and Uthai. While our main couple has all fluffy and warm fuzzy feelings, these two have fiery and intense sparks about them. They “hate” each other but there is an underlying tension between them. While Uthai and Plerng show no interest to Boonhlua or Pakboon, respectively, (except when he was under a spell of course…) and had repeatedly stated that he cannot love her because of Duangkhae, there is still that good parallel between them. The fact that it is the two of them who were destined to be the seals of the Gala Dewa Idol shows that they must have some connection.

I think credit goes to Boom Suphaphorn in creating this character. In some ways, she is actually more interesting to watch than the Nang’ek, simply because she has created this mysterious air about her that we want to know more about her character. She looks so beautiful on screen even when she is angry or in anguish. They say only beautiful women can play the Nang’rai part as a beautiful face is a good contrast to an evil heart – but see, that’s the thing. Even when she’s being so damn wicked, and even when she stabbed our Pra’ek to death, there is still that vulnerability in Boonhlua that makes us consider if really, she is evil to the core.

“I will die… but this will be good. You and Than Khun will then be happy together.” Boonlhua’s silent tears at her lost love tugs at the heartstrings, even when I am supposed to be hating her.

I thus find it a pity that her make up is so heavily done with that thick eyeliner/shadow as Pakboon because her eyes convey so much emotion, complex that even when she is evil in the script and doing nasty things, I still cannot help but sympathize with her. This sympathy is often drawn out and given to the Nang’ek but Boom is able to draw it out even while still sticking to the character of a Nang’rai. That is not to say that Taew isn’t playing her part well. In fact, she is. It just so happened that in this lakorn, the showdown is between the Pra’ek and the Nang’rai. Usually, the lakorn set up is that the Nang’rai and the Nang’ek have cat fights over their man. The man, on the other hand is busy fighting his own battle with the ultimate big bad. In this lakorn, it’s more complex. It is the Nang’rai who wants the Pra’ek dead, even while still wanting him. Ultimately, Boonhlua/Pakboon can actually can be classified as the main villain. Sorry for being so repetitive here, but there is still that missing puzzle piece that makes me wonder, is she really a villain or a victim of circumstance?

We still have an unsolved mystery here, in the person of Phee Boon.

Poh Nattawut is cast as these mysterious figures, Dr. Adul, Phee Boon and Thao Val. Each character, from what we’ve seen so far, is vastly different. He ranges from boring, to wicked, to majestic. P’Poh is a veteran actor, a Pra’ek! Yet he took this role to be beside actors who are his juniors. In Nueng Dao Fah Diew, TV Scene cast Aum Attichart to play the majestic character of King Taksin and towards the end of the story, it made sense as to why they made that choice. I am hoping that the latter episodes of this lakorn would make me understand why a veteran must be cast for this role too. His character is the secret weapon it seems, and I hope it explodes dramatically at the climax of the story. So far, Dr. Adul has been a “clean” character, meaning, he doesn’t seem the least bit evil – but then we see Phee Boon who not only looks but screams evil (albeit without a real back story. He’s just evil.) I start to wonder, is Dr. Adul hiding all that wickedness inside him with that fatherly vibe he gives to Sitang? Did Phee Boon really have some unresolved sexual tension with Boonhlua that they got married in the present time? Dr. Adul is supposedly Pakboon’s husband, but while he looks gentle with her, I do not feel any intense feelings between them.

While Dr. Adul is bordering boring, insofar as episodes 1-6 are concerned, Phee Boon is just nasty! He’s like how Jack Sparrow would look like if he doesn’t get any treasures and becomes a hobo. His spells are so freaky and even though witchcraft usually looks cartoonish on TV, here in this lakorn, it’s a lakorn-ified horror movie. They have zombies, ghosts, spiders and snakes, I mean, come on, did they just go through all the horror tropes and say, oh, let’s just dump in everything and scare the bejeezus out of the audience! Take note, this is an evening lakorn, where people are supposed to be relaxing after a tiring day. But no, Phee Boon is just there, cackling, chanting spells and sending an army of nasties all over.

So there you have it folks, that’s my review of Episodes 1-6 of Leh Bun Pa Kal. Don’t forget to stay tuned on Monday when the second half of the story begins with Episode 8.  (Haha! sorry for skipping episode 7!)