The Footprint of Meteor
The first episode of F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers launches with F4 leader Thyme encapsulating the whole story in one go: one person can change your whole world.
It’s the start of the school day at Kocher High School Bangkok. The entrance sign claims the title ‘salt of the earth and light of the world.’ New girl Hana introduces herself to Gorya.
She asks why Gorya is sitting alone, and hears that she’s one of few athletic scholarship students in a school of elites. She tells Hana it’s okay to move on as she’s pretty boring anyway. But she’s still a little downcast as Hana walks away.
Hana returns with a snack and a smile, ready to become friends. Gorya welcomes her with a warning of systemic bullying. She explains that the better and safer a school seems…
As message alerts start pinging around the classroom, Gorya details the ‘Game’ played at their school. Starting with a red card hanging in a locker. That card makes one an instant target for the entire school.
There are rules. No photos, nothing in front of CCTV cameras – anything that happens looks like an accident. No evidence, no crime. Even teachers don’t dare to interfere.
The victim is herded to an out-of-use stadium. As the beatings begin, F4, the rulers of the school, show up to watch from their designated seats.
As F4 leader Thyme reads out the crime – trying to expose the Game – MJ, another F4 member, has his team wipe out all evidence. Thyme explains that for them, nothing has ever been difficult.
As Thyme beats the upstart, F4 members MJ and Kavin time the assault, guessing how many hits he’ll take. While fourth member Ren seems bored and takes his leave.
The victim appeals to the other students, that they can stop the Game if they work together. Thyme explains that it’s not F4 ordering the others – that everyone wants to play. F4 simply allows it. As they exit, Kavin notes they should make sure the kid gets out alive.
Disgusted, Gorya heads to the school roof to shout her frustration about the whole system and F4 in particular. As she walks away, we see that Ren has witnessed her outburst.
Gorya heads to her part-time job at a flower store, sharing exasperation with her best friend and their employer. Their boss looks up each member of F4, explaining their family backgrounds while Gorya notes the real truth.
Thyme’s family is the best of Thai real estate and he’s a top student – but he plays all day so must be buying his grades. MJ’s family leads in the entertainment industry – but they’re actually mafia.
She shuts it down quickly as her friend takes an interest in the handsome Kavin whose family is among the oldest, most revered in Thailand, noting he’s a total player. But when they get to Ren, whose family is in medicine, she notes he’s a bit different but still – he doesn’t object to his friends’ bad behaviour.
She confirms that F4 are the source of all the school bullying. They agree that a bad guy, no matter how gorgeous, isn’t worth it. Her boss warns that the power of influence can be dangerous. If it gets too hard, Gorya will just quit.
At home, her sweet family happily celebrates her 222nd day at Kocher High. They’re banking on her making connections there or perhaps even meeting a handsome, rich boy. Gorya worries that they’re doing without to send her to such a school.
She recalls the Open House where she was inspired by fellow student Mira, who instilled a message of following your dream. But Kocher is not what she anticipated. She berates herself for becoming like the others, watching as someone else gets bullied.
At lunch, Gorya and Hana talk about how Mira inspired them both. They agree to stay quiet and safe until graduation. But as Hana gets up from the table she bumps into Thyme and drops her lunch on his one-of-a-kind shoe.
She tries to apologise as the student body looks on. The jackals jeer at her to lick his shoe clean. Gorya hits her limit and tells Thyme he’s gone too far. Realising her mistake, she tries to backtrack and beg him to forgive Hana. Sure, he says.
But when Gorya goes to her locker, she finds a red card. Texts start zinging – the Game is on. Gorya excuses herself from class to the infirmary. But the group chat reveals her destination. As a pair of guys check for her, she climbs out the window.
Several other ‘accidents’ happen leaving her drenched by a bucket of water. Hana disappears as soon as she hears the others approach, leaving Gorya to fend for herself. Gorya heads to the roof to vent and Ren scolds her for making noise in his quiet place.
But hides her as other classmates appear. As he leaves, she finds a drawing of her shouting. Kids at school get a message from Thyme to move things along. They grab her and as she fights, they rip her clothes. Ren steps in, setting off the fire sprinklers so she can escape.
Hiding at home, Gorya tries for some quiet to think things through. But her mother insists on speaking, again pointing out that she could find a rich handsome guy at school. She also reminds Gorya how strong she is. However, they end arguing about the importance of money.
While at home, the guys enjoy the largess of privilege. Except for Thyme, who’s teaching a lesson to the kids that failed to get rid of Gorya. MJ steps in and points out that giving a red card to a girl is going a bit too far.
Just then, a staff member pulls Thyme away to meet with his mother. In an interview, she ruthlessly concludes that employees who cause trouble deserve a red card. At dinner she reminds Thyme that if he can’t rule the school, how can he control anything?
Flash to Kavin as he tells a gaggle of girls about the worst part of being on top – not just the temperature but the pressure. Thyme gets into a roadside fight with randoms to release his exasperation.
And Gorya’s Dad gives her a new pair of shoes, saying her Mom spent her savings on them and that Gorya is facing troubles because her shoes are worn. He quotes that bad shoes take you to bad places while good ones take you to good places.
These shoes may take you to a good place that’s hidden. Gorya pictures Ren and agrees to fight on. Her brother draws grass flowers to personalise her shoes.
Then, at school, reality returns. Someone steals her shoe and the chase is on, landing her at the stadium. Thyme cuts it with a blade, destroying it, but she puts it back on anyway. He continues to goad and here comes that famous kick.
She thwacks him right in the midsection, knocking him to the ground. As the guys look on in astonishment, she vows to fight Thyme in everything.
The Episode Review
Based on Yoko Kamio’s manga Hana Yori Dango made famous by Taiwan and China’s respective Meteor Garden and South Korea’s Boys Over Flowers, F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers looks to be right on track, using the first episode to tie in key details from the story.
The writing is sharp and will have to be, as they’re set to tell it in 16 episodes, where the Chinese and Japanese versions were 50+ installments. Even South Korea’s adaptation was told in 25.
The set-up perfectly lays out where everyone stands in this narrative and prepares us for Thyme’s transformation. The look on his face in the last scene tells us he’s nearly there.
But backing up, the set, detailing and all the supporting characters align us to the scale of Gorya’s fight as well as Thyme’s position. The Roman Coliseum-like stadium lined with leather thrones for the Kings, tells us more than the parent-provided flashy cars and mansions. These kids are not fooling around.
Director Patha Thongpan and his team of writers get straight to the heart of original story in one line at the flower shop. ‘Hana Yori Dango’ (translated: boys over flowers) – is an idiom that extols the virtue of substance over beauty. Guys who are real over those who rely on their optics.
Aside from the story itself, the viewer experience has been interesting. Like much of the content on YouTube, the story is broken into multiple parts. This one into five not necessarily equal segments, but pausing at what’s likely ad break time on normal TV. There’s also just enough tension built into a suspenseful moment, making you eager to press the ‘skip ad’ button.
But if you get caught up in the drama and miss your segment cue, you could find yourself dropped into random YouTube videos, rather than onto the next piece. Watch for little icons to click you through to the next section to maintain a smoother journey.
Vachirawit ‘Bright’ Chivaaree plays lead character Thyme (Tsukasa Domyoji/Joon Pyo/Dao Ming Si) while Metawin ‘Win’ Opas-iamkajorn is the playboy Kavin (Sojiro Nishikado/Yi-jung/Ximen). Newcomer Jirawat ‘Dew’ Sutivanichsak, plays Ren (Rui Hanazawa/Ji-hoo/Huaze Lei) the third arm of the love triangle. While Hirunkit ‘Nani’ Changkham as MJ (Akira Mimasaka/Woo-bin/Meizuo) rounds out the Flower Boys. Tontawan ‘Tu’ Tantivejakul plays ordinary girl turned love interest, Gorya (Tsukushi Makino/Jan-di/Shancai).
Even with more to be seen from some of the characters – like we haven’t seen the Kavin charm yet – there’s enough of a framework to make this a strong first episode packed with glimmers of its predecessors and certainly infused with Thai charm. If you’ve not yet heard about F4 Thailand, see our previous story here. We’re looking forward to next week – are you?
Are you watching F4 Thailand: Boys Over Flowers? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this classic Asian drama. Think they’re hitting the vibe? Tell us below.