This article contains spoilers. 3.5/5 stars The big question about Navillera has been clear since the first episode: will the septuagenarian retired postman Sim Deok-chool (Park In-hwan) realise his dream of performing Swan Lake on stage? Though a simple enough goal, he has had to face several challenges along the way. The first obstacle was whether an instructor would take him seriously and give him a chance, the second was if his family would allow him to continue his hobby, and the last and most formidable one was whether he could achieve his goal before his Alzheimer’s would advance to the point where he would no longer be able to do so. Deok-chool’s Alzheimer’s condition was hinted at pretty early on and it was clearly going to feature prominently as the show approached its endgame. Given Navillera’s themes of family, old age and not giving up on your dreams, the risk of schmaltz and histrionics tipping the scales of this pleasant show was ever present. Late in the game, there were a few moments where the melodrama was overdone – notably when Lee Chae-rok (Song Kang) tells Deok-chool’s son Seong-gwan (Jo Bok-rae) about his father’s illness, a scene weighed down by oppressively charged music and overwrought performances – but, for the most part, Navillera managed to steer clear of cheap sentimentality. Navillera midseason recap: Netflix K-drama balances realism, melodrama Though it sounds like something from a romance language, navillera is actually a Korean word that combines the word for butterfly with an old literary suffix, and roughly translates as “like a butterfly”. As it turns out, Navillera is the name of the performance in which Deok-chool finally gets to grace the stage. Naturally, following his diligent preparations and after having won everyone over to his side, Deok-chool experiences a forgetful episode on the morning of the show, and is rushed to hospital by his family. Yet he does make it back just in time, with most of his memory restored. Though his confidence has been eroded, Chae-rok convinces him that the moves he’s worried he may forget under the spotlight have been committed to his body memory. Deok-chool and Chae-rok, who will perform Swan Lake together, change into their fabulous ballet costumes and – after a final pep talk – they take their positions on opposite sides of the stage as the lights dim and an expectant audience of their loved ones awaits. The performance itself, a moment the show has been building up to for 11 episodes, is a thrilling and cathartic highlight, beautifully photographed and rendered movingly. Deok-chool momentarily forgets his choreography early in the routine. Time freezes and, as he gazes into a worried Chae-rok’s eyes, moments from their journey together flash through his mind. His confidence restored, they finish the dance together to the delight of Deok-chool’s family sitting in the auditorium. Describing it that way makes this moment sound almost romantic and, truth be told, K-drama romance tropes feature quite prominently in the relationship between Deok-chool and Chae-rok. There’s no real suggestion of romance, of course. Five new Korean dramas to look out for in April 2021 The pair often lock eyes in poignant moments, perhaps across the street from one another, occasionally framed by falling snow, and often performing a dance for the other in the open, heedless of the gaze of strangers. On stage, these codes are amplified, and the result – a somewhat camp and vaguely queer May-December romantic dance – is the icing on the cake that lifts Navillera from being an easy-going and heart-warming drama to something affecting and inspirational. It’s the only time the show reaches beyond its prosaic staging, and it is well worth the wait. Navillera deals with relatable issues of old age, whether you’re the one approaching it or your loved ones are, but while the fear that a diagnosis like Alzheimer’s can cause is clearly evoked by the series, it steers clear of the day-to-day realities of the condition. Even though three years pass before the lengthy coda, Deok-chool and his family get a happy ending. Then again, perhaps a realistic depiction of Deok-chool’s advance into senility would have been too much of a crash after seeing him soar like a butterfly on stage. Navillera is streaming on Netflix.