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On March 13th, GOT7 released the long awaited finale of their Flight Log trilogy. It was around this time last year, they surprised the globe with a six-minute trailer for their comeback, "Fly." This trailer, Departure, acted as the prologue to a full-length story. Six months later, they returned with Turbulence, and as of recently, concluded the tale with Arrival. Along with their colourful voices, they've released a cornucopia of astounding visuals in film, photography, and, of course, intricate dance choreographies. However, what truly makes this series an eventful ride are the gripping symbolic themes in the well produced theatrical videos. With such amazing aesthetics, it is, unfortunately, a beautifully tragic story. A story that deserves to be deconstructed into several parts before saying farewell. Thus, let us climb aboard on GOT7's journey and see where they take us.
Before we dive into the lengthy analysis, let's make sense of the plot. GOT7, a group made up of seven young men; Mark, Jaebum, Jackson, Jinyoung, Youngjae, BamBam, and Yugyeom, were on an exciting road trip until a horrific car accident occurred. Jaebum, the driver, lost control of the car sending the vehicle into a disastrous spiral until it was sent off a bridge and into a body of water. Without the use of seatbelts, everyone except for Jinyoung was projected out of the car before it sank. As six of the members met their tragic end, they transfigure into ethereal beings who do what they can to save Jinyoung from Death. This is also the story of GOT7 dealing with transitional periods, facing terrifying challenges, and overcoming obtrusive obstacles in their lives in the K-pop industry.
Note: I highly encourage fellow readers to watch all the videos I've placed down below first.
The beginning of their journey.
GOT7 literally take it to the skies in this number.
The turning point of the trilogy.
"Hard Carry" M/V
GOT7 shakes things up with this powerful music video.
Nearing the end of the journey.
"Never Ever" M/V
Even though this is the last of the series, their story has only just begun.
The Crack Down
I'll be breaking my theories into sections. The first part will be a critical analysis of each character. What happened to them? What are their positions? How do they affect the story? I shall then bring my focus onto significant symbols and references that constantly reappear throughout the entire project. Finally, I will conclude my analysis with a metaphorical interpretation of the themes brilliantly crafted within the narrative.
Main Character Park Jinyoung
Everyone has a specific role in the story, but there are 4 significant characters in this tale; Jinyoung, Youngjae, Jaebum and Mark. Now, this is not to take away the importance of Jackson, BamBam, and Yugyeom. These three act as the hidden cards in the concept. I will get into more details about that later. First, let's analyze Park Jinyoung.
Here's his basic plot. Jinyoung is trapped in limbo; a space between life and death. Imprisoned in a dreadful time loop, he is doomed to repeat the horrific car crash until he makes the ultimate decision to either live or to follow his friends in death.
There is a repetitive sequence of him opening his eyes and closing them throughout the series, and that's because, in Departure, he fell asleep right before the crash (image 1. Reference photos appear below each character's analysis), therefore, time froze for him. This is how he finds himself trapped in the time loop (image 2).
Let's take a look at the first scene of him waking up in the room with the other members playing around (image 3). Jinyoung's last tangible moment of his friends was hearing and watching them having fun in the car. That's why whenever he sees them, they're always playing such as in the car, in the room, outside, in the plane, and in the snow (images 4-8). It's important to focus on this specific scene because it is the beginning of his damnation. At first, for him, it appears to be a normal day with the gang, however, in the moment Jackson passes him with the camera, he finally realizes that something is dead wrong (image 9). Pardon the pun. There is a sense of detachment signifying that there is a divide between their spaces even though they're in the same room. The only one who acknowledges him is Mark, but we'll come back to him later. The alternate universes and time loop truly begins to take effect when Jinyoung wakes up in the van and discovers his friends playing outside. What's interesting in this scene is the fact the members are doing the exact same activities but in a distorted fashion.
Since JB was driving the car, in this clip he's spotted riding a bicycle (images 9 & 10). On the trip, Mark was listening to music on his device while observing the others messing around and in this open field, he's on top of the RV using his device (images 10 & 11). Youngjae and Yugyeom playing catch reflects their pillow fights in the car (Jackson and Jinyoung were part of it for a split second, but their respected positions are presented clearer elsewhere)(images 12 - 17). Meanwhile, Jackson was filming everything which has not changed in the outdoor scene. As for BamBam, he is seen playing basketball (image 18) which, of course, he does not do in the car. However, basketball is being used a symbolic reference for someone who is aiming to succeed in their endeavours. Seeing that he was napping in the car (image 19) before being rudely awakened by the others' pranks, he was possibly dreaming to achieve his goals.
Returning the focus onto Jinyoung, the final scene in Departure he leaps off the edge of the skyscraper thus transitioning into the music video "Fly" to where we find out, he does not fly like the others but is falling (image 20). This is the very first case the image of him falling is demonstrated. It's another repetitive sequence in this trilogy. Take note that in "Fly," Mark is the member he looks directly at as he is falling (image 21). This will return once I go deeper into Mark's role.
This imagery of him falling repeats again in Turbulence. When the plane is heading for a crash landing, it transitions to the scene of him trapped in a tank (image 22). The repeated action of him falling is actually representing the car falling off the bridge and sinking into the river below. In the Arrival trailer, we get to see the first look of him in the backseat of a car that is submerged in water with plants splayed around him (image 23).
Finally, in the Arrival trailer, Jinyoung comes to the conclusion that he must face his fear in order to escape his box (image 24). As Jinyoung is nearing Death's door, his friends ultimately break rules in order to save his life. His storyline can be represented metaphorically as well. Jinyoung's fame is growing larger. He has not only become an amazing performer, his career in acting has begun to rise. Although his advancements in the industry are scary to delve into and the pressure is stifling, he knows he's not alone; his friends are always right behind him.
Reference Photos for Jinyoung's Analysis
Leader Im Jaebum
Now let's talk about another significant character in the series, Jaebum, aka JB. He is the driver as well as the leader of GOT7. The parakeet that's glued to him symbolizes his spirit (images 1 & 2). A parakeet is associated with love, nurturing, and trust. As a leader, he is beyond loyal and without a doubt believes his purpose is to protect his kin and bring them forward. So when the car crash happens, he considers he has failed them and regrets his decision to have been the driver. That's why we see him in the passenger seat rather than the driver's in the finale (image 3). It's also important to note that none of the members were wearing seatbelts, therefore, there's a suggestive indication that he wishes he had advised his gang to wear them. This may explain the reason for the straps he's wearing in the title photo above.
Before we dive into his mental breakdown, let's rewind to Departure and Turbulence. JB was the last to die among the six members. Unlike the rest, he did not die instantaneously. His death was rather slow and before Death claimed him, he went into a hypothermic shock. The clip of him lying in the bed before levitating in Departure represents his gradual transition from life to death (image 4). There are exactly five white birds (each one representing each member that died before him) that are flying around and instead of flying about outside like others, his scene is similar to Jinyoung's. Jinyoung awoke in bed and JB falls asleep or more literally, dying. Even though JB interacts with the others, he is also left out of Jackson's selfie indicating that he has not fully become a celestial being.
Turbulence is where his life ends. In the "Hard Carry" music video, the evergreens in his scene act as his lifeline (images 5 & 6). Coniferous trees have a relatively high resistance to weathering, but they do have weaknesses. Their leaves can turn brown if the atmosphere undergoes a deep freeze before they can produce their own chemicals that will enable them to be more resistant to cold temperatures. JB is a strong and adaptable individual, but sadly when the car plunges into the ice cold water, he's unable to hold on and ultimately drowns.
I also believe he could have been in a comatose state and the drowning sequence is metaphorical. "The captain must go down with his ship." Since he's affiliated with the car, as the vehicle is sinking so is his heavy heart (image 7). He wishes to atone for his failure or he does not believe he deserves to rest in peace. Pretty tragic, isn't it?
In "Hard Carry," his death is presented by his conscience, but in "Never Ever," his death is seen from the outside. You can see the parallels between JB and the parakeet in the cage in "Hard Carry." When he rises from the chair to open the gate, Youngjae opens the cage to obtain the bird (images 8 & 9). This symbolizes Jaebum's soul leaving his body.
Taking a metaphoric approach, JB applies a lot of pressure upon himself into becoming the perfect leader for his crew. He takes his position very seriously. If any of them fail even if he's not associated with their mistakes, he takes the fall. His position places him in a tough rut, however. When the others have concerns, they are able to turn to him for guidance, but unlike them, when he faces his struggles, he has little to turn to. The others interact in some way with each other in the series, but Jaebum appears to deal with the tragedy all on his own.
Reference Photos for JB's Analysis
Youngjae is the member who died first, ultimately transforming him into a psychopomp; an umbrella term for a supernatural being who guides spirits to the afterlife. In this case, Youngjae is in charge of guiding his friends. However, he is tormented by the unearthly duty he's been given. Can you imagine watching your friends die in a horrific way without being able to do anything but lead them to the afterlife? After his leader's death (refer to his expression in images 1 & 2), Youngjae decides to do whatever he can to save Jinyoung. That's why he attempts to shatter the glass in "Hard Carry" and now we see he succeeds in "Never Ever" (images 3, 4 & 5).
Rolling back into Departure, he is the first to levitate off the ground surprising himself and the others. This backing the idea that he was the first to die and he died quickly, hence the reason he's confused as to why he's floating (image 6).
The styling of Youngjae's outfits in the last two eras has an angelic flow to them. In "Hard Carry," the bottom of sleeves open up similar to the way wings spread out, and in "Never Ever," he's sporting a pristine white loose garb that resembles an angelic figure (images 7 & 8).
Seeing that he does not like his new duty, he uses his powers to guide the others to save Jinyoung. His mallet is used as a weapon that is able to break the dividing worlds. When he makes the attempt in "Hard Carry," it parallels to the group diving into the river to haul their comrade out. In "Never Ever," when he actually smashes the glass, Mark is the one who dives in and appears to have succeeded the rescue mission (images 9, 10, 11, 12).
Casting Youngjae as this heavenly figure is symbolic for his charming personality. Youngjae is renown for his shining light. With his cheerful glow and divine vocals, he is able to brighten the lives of anyone around him.
Reference Photos for Youngjae's Analysis
Mark's role is ingenious. He is the character that is placed directly in between the spirit world and reality. Mark suffered a terrible head injury causing him to die before he could save Jinyoung from the backseat of the sinking vehicle. However, with their spellbinding connection and Youngjae's aid, in "Never Ever," Mark succeeds.
His head injury is presented to us in "Hard Carry" when he awakes to perform his rap solo. The scene opens with a close-up of his face in the frame and in the following one, he's shown standing above a totaled vehicle. It then returns to the first location but this time the image distorts, creating a dizzying effect, as he picks himself up from the ground. The two locations he's in flips back and forth frequently and the distorted image occurs once more. He also gestures to grip his head for a brief moment (check images 1 to 4). This indicates that he landed on his head when he was ejected from the car and died shortly after he went unconscious.
Mark's connection to Jinyoung is subtle, yet so important. Unlike the rest, he is capable of interacting with him. You will find in Departure, he is the only one who acknowledges Jinyoung's presence (image 5). He makes direct eye contact but does not say a word and in "Fly," there's a close up of Mark smiling brightly at him (image 6). Having Mark take up the whole frame gives us the feeling that Jinyoung had passed right next to him as he was falling. Looking back to the beginning of the Departure trailer, Mark is the one sitting next to him in the van and the last to interact with him. He extends his earbud and plugs it into Jinyoung's ear easing him to sleep (images 7 & 8). This final connection is what binds them together. The abrupt halt in "Hard Carry" when the five of them dive into the water and grip Jinyoung tightly (image 9) gives us the illusion that all of them clue in Mark's prominent role in the final chapter. Mark's position in the story is made clearer in "Never Ever" when Youngjae swings the sledgehammer sending him forth (images 10 & 11).
Giving Mark such a subtle yet important role Greflects how he's viewed by the public. He is often perceived as the quiet member who manages to strike a chord with his amazing talents in acrobatics, rap, and songwriting. In many of their songs, he has one of the most iconic lines that audiences never get enough of.
Reference Photos for Mark's Analysis
Go Mark, go!
Now we turn the attention to the three most mysterious characters in the story, starting it off with BamBam. While he does not have a direct link with Jinyoung, his role along with Jackson and Yugyeom attracts a metaphoric approach to the story.
Asphyxiation was the cause of BamBam's death. It's possible he inhaled the toxic fumes from the crash site or damaged his lungs by force of the wreckage. It is signified in Turbulence during his rap solo. He is seen rapping inside the ambulance while ever so subtlely tinkering with the oxygen masks (images 1 & 2).
In both the Departure and Turbulence trailers, he is found snoozing while Yuygeom marks his face with doodles (images 3 & 4). This reoccurring image of covering his face with doodles parallels with the masks he uses in "Hard Carry" and "Never Ever." Masks hold a symbolic message of someone hiding what they truly desire and by removing it, they've gained the courage to express or achieve these internal desires. Do you remember when I mentioned he was playing basketball and how it signifies his dreams to succeed with his goals? In Departure, he aims to accomplish a slam dunk and rises from the ground to do just that (images 5 & 6). He succeeds and wishes to take his accomplishments to the next level, that's why we see him slowly rising from the topside of the backboard (image 7).
Analyzing deeper into his suit speckled with numerous of buttons in all shapes, colours, and sizes determine that BamBam has claircognizant abilities (image 8). When a sudden idea or goal appears, he's the type to quickly tackle and share them with those around him. He's also the type of person to come to decisions quickly when he's faced with crossroads. This ties into the themes of the trilogy, the message of choice making. Jinyoung and the others must choose between life and death and another interpretation is the reality of GOT7's struggles and triumphs in the K-pop industry. GOT7 is an experimental group. Even though it's risky and perhaps scary for them to reach new goals, they face these challenges head on and see where their new music styles and images take them.
Coming back to BamBam in "Never Ever," he is in a museum-like room with a series of encased glass figures also wearing gas masks (images 9 & 10). This presents the idea that there are many qualities of BamBam we have yet to see shine through. I wonder what he has in store for us.
Reference Photos for BamBam's Analysis
The next interesting character is Yugyeom. He provides a metaphorical "coming of age" reading in the trilogy. He starts the story with a childlike innocence and ends as a maturing young man. In a nutshell, he acts as the symbol of youth.
His childlike aspects appear in the Departure trailer. On the road trip, you will find him doodling on BamBam's face, throwing pillows, and making funny faces (images 1, 2 & 3). In the recreational room, he's dancing, role-playing, and simply messing around (image 4), but what really carries the image of his youthful glow is his take off down the runway (image 5). Running with his arms spread wide open, a gleaming grin, and clothed in an overly sized sweater paints such a beautiful picture of a child wishing to take off like an airplane and fly to which he actually does manage to do (images 6, 7, 8). When he's walking in the air, the geek like myself cannot help but be reminded of the flying scene in Hayao Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle." Perhaps it was a nod to the award-winning animated film.
His life came to a tragic end when his mangled body had been thrown from the vehicle. In "Hard Carry," his scenes are outside alongside the wreckage (images 9 & 10).
Yugyeom's maturity rose in "Never Ever." Not just in his appearance, but his skills as a performer as well. He's the one who opens the song with striking vocals and visuals (images 11 & 12). In the music video, he walks down the corridor in a hospital that eventually leads to Jinyoung's room. The closed doors behind him as he strolls down the hall represents the actions of finishing one chapter of his life and transitioning into opening a new one (image 13). Comparing his casual childlike styles from "Fly" to the sexualized appearance in "Never Ever," his countenance can be interpreted as the process of him leaving his childhood behind and evolving into a man. What's more intriguing about his scenes is when Jinyoung's reflection appears rather than his (images 14 & 15). Their collimated scenes work as a form of communication between maturity and innocence. Jinyoung's expressions present signs of concern while Yugyeom is certain of his choices (images 16 & 17). Since Jinyoung is observing Yugyeom's ever quickening transition into adulthood, he wants him to never lose sight of his youth (image 18). Aww! Our little Yugy is growing up so fast.
Reference Photos for Yugyeom's Analysis
At long last, we enter into the final character in the Flight Log series. The cheerful mood-maker, Jackson Wang. He's the member that acts as the glue that keeps everyone together. His persona is symbolized through the use of his position as the one who stores all their precious moments in his camcorder (images 1, 2 & 3). Jackson's camera offers insight of each member's significant role and the approximate time of the crash which is 16:03:20:59. It also appeals to Jackson's active life in the entertainment business.
Since his camera has become an extension of his arm, he ends up losing it in the crash leading to his death. This is provided by the evidence of his attire in "Hard Carry" where we find the right side of his jean jacket missing a sleeve; the same arm he films with. He dies before he can even make it in the ambulance (images 4 & 5).
In reality, Jackson struggles with presenting additional sides of his personality to the world. In front of the camera, he is often showing this overt hyperactive, happy-go-lucky attitude that will brighten his audience and while he does possess that charming quality, that's not all he is. This image administers an issue of him wanting his viewers to also see his regular temperate side. His role in the trilogy tones down in "Never Ever" in comparison to the first two releases. There is a barrier in his life he wishes to break and in this comeback he tackles it. Similar to Yugyeom, Jackson's scenes are located in a narrow space closed off with solid walls (image 6); giving us another form of a transitional period one is faced with. In a sense, Jackson is trapped, but the canted angles in his scenes along with the zooming of his profile as he runs just as the music picks up gives a feeling that he's about to do something unimaginable (images 7, 8 & 9). Paralleling with the car smashing through the bridge's rail, Jackson smashes through the cement wall (images 10 & 11). He has literally broken down the barrier in the middle of his path. He has a terrific message of overcoming any obstacles even if they're extremely hard to pass through.
Reference Photos for Jackson
Key Symbols and References
Before I conclude this analysis, there are a few extra symbols to dissect that make the story whole. For instance, the plants in the back seat of the car and in the tanks symbolize GOT7's growth both in skills and popularity (images 1, 2 & 3). Youngjae's hammer (image 4) can be a reference to Mjölnir (Thor's hammer) which has magical properties including a source of transportation between realms. The earphones is possibly referring to the red thread of fate since it binds Mark and Jinyoung together.
The number 3 appears to be to an important figure in this narrative. The time on Jackson's camera is frozen at 16:03:20:59 (image 4). The number appears again when BamBam launches his dart at the board and lands directly on the three (images 5 & 6). The three is also nonphysical such as the trinity of birth, life, and death, the three universes: reality, limbo, and the spirit world, and finally this project is a 3 length travel log; Departure, Turbulence(in the air), and Arrival. What's also cool is when Yugyeom is racing down the runway, there's a large number 13 painted on the ground which is the date of the last release (image 7). It is now we know this entire project was meant to come full circle.
Speaking of circles, there is a circular movement throughout the story. The time loop Jinyoung is trapped in, the basketball and the hoop, the Ferris wheel behind Mark (image 8), the car that also works with the wheels (image 9) and again, the concept is a year long project. There is also a decent amount of square imagery that stands for blocking one's path. Jinyoung's tanks, the backseat of the car, walls, gates, glass containers, and masks. However, the cycles overpower the boxes by the strong symbolism they hold which is the ability to start events over. If one shall fail, another opportunity will arise once more. In other words, GOT7 sends a message to never give up. They actually do touch upon this if we highlight Jinyoung's words in the Arrival trailer, "Most people... when they fail, they just give up and don't challenge themselves. But I'm different. I will never ever give up." The song itself "Never Ever," sends that gripping message. If there's a moment in life when you feel trapped, stand up straight and break through those walls.
This Flight Belongs to More than GOT7
Taking a step away from the literal interpretation of the story, the Flight Log trilogy is the presentation of GOT7's relationship with their global wide fanbase they refer to as "Aghase" which is "Little Bird." Without GOT7, there would be no Aghases and without Aghases, GOT7 will not survive, so their relationship is vital. Wherever they go, Aghases are more than welcomed to join in on their adventures. The birds appearing in every single trailer and music video is the literal symbol of their loyal fans. In the recreational room in the Departure trailer, JB and Jackson tease this (refer to the images below). The blue bird also appears drawn on the glass window Jinyoung falls asleep against, representing that his fans are always in his thoughts.
GOT7's year-long project was a phenomenal ride full of torment, regret, and other painful struggles, but they end their tale with an overall positive outlook. The Flight Log series will always be a story one can return to and enjoy all over again. It may even bring fresher interpretations in years to come. A big round of applause to GOT7, JYP entertainment, and the directors who put together such a beautiful masterpiece. Let's see what they throw at us next.