“Tree 2” has its ups and downs, but it exposes some worrying tendencies in Tomorrow‘s storytelling.
This recap of Tomorrow season 1, episode 5, “Tree 2”, contains spoilers.
A large part of worldbuilding is establishing rules. They don’t always have to make real-world sense, of course, and a lot of the time they don’t, but they have to make internal sense. They have to work and be consistent on their own terms. In last week’s episodes of Tomorrow, which in fairness I liked, part of what worked was the intriguing way in which the premise and lore were being built out. It was establishing the rules.
Tomorrow season 1, episode 5 recap
“Tree 2” either breaks those rules or raises ways in which they might be broken in the future, and the overall effect, at least for me, is one of very shaky foundations. Given the already bothersome, fluctuating tone, I can’t completely buy into the show’s world because I haven’t been convinced there’s any logic or permanence to it. It seems to be picking up and dropping ideas like time travel, for instance, just because they’re useful in the moment, for characterization, or a plot turn. But concepts like that need thinking about; their implications need considering. And that’s where I feel like Tomorrow is falling down a bit.
There’s certainly enough drama early on in the backstory between Na-young and Woo-jin; the growth of their romance, her death and Woo-jin’s internalized guilt over it, his lingering sense of responsibility for the death of his mother during childbirth and his father’s eventual suicide, the death of his aunt and uncle who took him in. His grief is very believable, even if that run of bad luck could be considered slightly cartoonish and overdone. There are also some nice formal quirks here, with Tomorrow’s scatter-brained style working better visually than it does tonally.
It’s a nice love story, too. It’s a worthwhile thing to rally everyone around. It excuses some interdepartmental drama, some conflicting ideas and loyalties. There’s an important note of guilt, how even in Na-young’s last act of love, she condemned Woo-jin to even more misery after a lifetime of it. But it also raises some logically fluffy ideas like specific Reaper contracts. It sees Ryeon getting physically involved in preventing his suicide, and a kind of bizarre moment of surreality between Na-young and Woo-jin that is thematically nice but, again, raises some odd questions that I don’t expect the show is interested in answering.
“Tree 2” closes this case off. It opens up some of Ryeon’s backstory, too. But it doesn’t really give me much confidence in the show’s overall direction and degree of staying power. The devil is in the details, after all, and Tomorrow rarely seems all that interested in those.