Review: Till I Met You Episode 1 – Love Begins

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First Aired: 29 August 2016

Running Time: 41 minutes

Review In A Nutshell:
For a pilot episode, it covered a lot of ground and established most of the key points of the series, even the end game was blatantly presented. It is a risky yet refreshing move, one that I hope will be something that the series can benefit from in the long run.

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DISCLAIMER:

As this episode was aired prior to the review, I re-watched this thru YouTube and IWantTV. Currently, IWantTV subscribers on free plan can re-watch select Till I Met You episodes sans the 3-day limit for the whole month of September 2016, thanks to Ponds wherein Nadine Lustre is one of its latest endorsers.

The pilot episode is also available via ABS-CBN Entertainment’s YouTube channel. Click to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–zODLfX2g8

If you want to read why I wanted to pursue this episode review challenge, please click here. Also, if you haven’t watched this episode yet (and why not), be prepared for spoilers. A whole load of it.

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Love Begins opened with a voice over about love and relationships, sweeping landscape shots of Greece and the two of the three main characters, Iris (Nadine Lustre) and Basti (James Reid), finding themselves on a rooftop of some building, smiling sweetly at each other. Within those first two minutes, you know what you’re getting into and were given a preview of how it will end. It was effective enough that it will make you curious about how it all started.

True to form, the viewers got to travel back in time, continued through Iris’ voice over on her mother’s journey to the altar. Iris’ mother, Cassandra (Carmina Villaroel), got her heart broken by Nestor (Zoren Legaspi), who she discovered was involved with other women namely Val (Angel Aquino) and Agnes (Pokwang). In a plot point almost similar to what happened in The Other Woman, the three ladies became good friends. Over time, they saw through each other’s highs and lows, especially when Cassandra got pregnant and was left behind by Iris’ biological father (Jay Manalo). Despite the challenges of single parenthood, Cassandra was able to raise Iris into a caring and smart daughter, who was well aware of their hardships and has vowed to help any way she could. Iris did so by selling some of her mother’s handicrafts in school and in the restaurant managed by her Ninang Agnes.

Along the way, Cassandra opened her heart again, this time with Oliver Duico (Richard Yap), a regular customer in the flower shop she was working for, whose wife recently died. Upon securing Iris’ permission, Cassandra and Oliver got married and started a new life with their blended families (Oliver had two children from his first wife, Paolo and Zoe). It was picture of marital bliss; Iris was happy to be part of a loving, relatively well-off family as Oliver was a good provider and took care of Cassandra well. Unfortunately, on Iris’ ninth birthday, Oliver collapsed and was taken to the hospital. There, it was discovered that he was very ill and went into coma. Oliver’s hospitalization took a toll on the family’s finances but he seemed to be fighting to keep his promise to Cassandra. Eventually, the family decided to take him off life support because there was no assurance that Oliver would get well. After Oliver’s death, Cassandra took care of Paolo and Zoe. Iris became Cassandra’s rock; she took the role of the doting sister to her two adopted siblings. In all of Iris’ highs and lows, she found support in her best friend Ali (JC Santos), son of her Ninang Agnes and Ninong Greggy (Robert Seña), who always looked after her and became her protector.

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Fast forward to the present, Ali and Iris’ friendship became solid through the years; both graduated at the top of their high school class and will pursue college degrees to help them fulfil their dreams. During their graduation ball, Iris and Ali became each other’s dates and were announced King and Queen of the ball. It was during the traditional dance when Iris suddenly heard her heart beat loudly. She was reminded of her mother’s story on how she knew that her Tito-Papa Oliver was the one. Iris felt like she was on Cloud 9. However, she realized that she may never get the chance to tell Ali how she felt because he was going to enter the Philippine Military Academy the following day. Eventually, Iris decided it wasn’t very lady-like for her to tell Ali what she feels; she will just focus on her studies and maybe wait until Ali exits the PMA and hopefully decides to court her.

The story then shifts to Ali, who was packing his clothes and looking very nervous about entering the PMA. Agnes sorted out Ali’s feelings and offered support while Greggy expressed his excitement over his only son entering the academy. As he couldn’t sleep, Ali decided to pass time by opening his computer wherein it was revealed that he was part of an online James Dean Fans Club. As he was browsing through the site, he saw a video of a look-a-like named Basti, who was writing a motorcycle, oddly similar to the James Dean poster he got from Greggy when he was younger. The episode ends with a cut of the three main actors’ faces sharing the screen before the next episode preview was shown.

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For a pilot episode, it covered a lot of ground and established most of the key points and relationships of the series. Despite the amount of material covered, the pace of the storytelling was good enough. OTWOListas may find some comfort and familiarity with the pilot — the voice over by Nadine Lustre; a recycled footage from Clark and Leah’s wedding; past to present transition; Iris and Leah both being smart, caring and dutiful daughters who understand their dire situations. The similarities end there though. Some of the differences include the presence of Ali being Iris’ best friend, the brief suggestions regarding Ali’s true self, and biggest — the end game being blatantly presented in the pilot (Iris and Basti ending up together).

The early revelation of the end game in the promotional teaser and pilot episode is a risky yet refreshing move. Risky in the sense that most teleseryes, the HEA (happily ever after) is not immediately known; there may be hints but nothing more. I mean, sure, people will expect that the main protagonists, a.k.a. featured love teams, will end up with each other. But if there’s anything the Princess and I teleserye taught most viewers and production teams, you don’t necessary end up with the person you’re paired with. Else, fans would have not gotten KathNiel or LizQuen. I also see this as refreshing, especially for JaDine fans who are afraid of JC Santos’s Ali becoming Jigs/Simon Part Deux. Since Ali was taken out as a threat, the show’s focus can be more on the character development, which is a facet of a good series. I sincerely hope that this move can benefit the series in the long run.

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
I was on a wait-and-see mode after watching the pilot but generally, I was hooked.

Best Performance: Carmina Villaroel

Favorite Scene: Cassandra, nagpaalam na sa kanyang minamahal na si Oliver

Favorite Line: “A man’s character is not only defined by his words and actions, but also by how he respects his own abode.” – Greggy Nicolas

Fun Stuff: Episode 1 Outtakes

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THROWBACK: When I tweeted about #TIMYLoveBegins…

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COPYRIGHT NOTE:
All images featured in this blog post can be seen on Till I Met You’s official and show websites, and Facebook page.

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