You wanted answers? You don’t get them.
No, seriously. You don’t. Luckily it’s not the worst thing that ever happened, since the majority of the episode focuses on things that are Not Hyuk, and I’m not one to look a gift jar in the fetus. Or is it a gift fetus in the jar? Either way, Kyung-tak has a lot of feelings and Ha-eung loses some scheming points in a densely packed episode which proves that there’s always time for noble idiocy, even when there’s not enough time for the stuff we’re actually maybe slightly interested in. Onward, to victory!
Note: Or not! Due to an Olympic preemption, Episode 21 aired on Sunday, and the finale will air this coming Saturday. I must have wronged Song Seung-heon in a past life.
EPISODE 21 RECAP
Flower petals float down on Chun-hong’s coffin, with Ha-eung, Hyuk, and Young-rae in attendance. Ha-eung is most affected, and we hear him say in voiceover that he hopes that, in the other world, Chun-hong won’t be a gisaeng but a normal woman being loved by the man she loves.
They send her coffin floating on the river, and bid their last farewell. Afterward, Hyuk tries to process the fact that Mina is dead, which is like seeing a pantomime of the five stages of grief on speed.
Dae-gyun punishes the assassins he hired to kill Hyuk for killing Chun-hong, which Kyung-tak overhears. He thinks this is another one of Dae-gyun’s harebrained plots, only to find out that Daddy was behind all of this. Turns out Kyung-tak wasn’t the only son receiving secret orders.
Kyung-tak seems uneasy with Minister Kim’s wish to kill Hyuk because he wouldn’t turn over to the dark side, but even Daddy laments Chun-hong’s accidental death.
Hyuk angsts amidst nice scenery as he flashes back to the time when he first woke up in Joseon with the Jar Fetus, only without the fetus inside. He wonders why he came, and sees a vision of Mina sitting next to him. Addressing her, he says: “I thought I came here to save you. But if you’re not there… what is so meaningful for me to go back then?”
Vision Mina gives Hyuk a small smile, but vanishes into thin air when he tries to touch her. He cries.
Then, he contemplates suicide as he nears the edge of a cliff, asking himself, “What would happen if I jump off here?” Well Hyuk, if you don’t know, give it the good ol’ college try.
He steps closer and closer to the edge, ready to fall to his death, until Young-rae latches onto him from behind and begs him not to do it. Hyuk: “I shouldn’t have come here to begin with. The person who should disappear from here is me.” Truer words have never been spoken.
Young-rae tries to convince him to stay alive for Mina. Hyuk tells her that he has no reason to go back or to stay here, and begins to tell her about Mina…
But we don’t get to hear it, because we cut to Officer Lee with some grim news – French battleships have arrived near Ganghwa Island. Hasn’t it been one full day since Ridel left? Even if it’s been more than that, there’s just no way in hell this could happen so fast. Know how I found that out? Wikipedia. If I can do it, the writers can too.
Hyuk thinks to himself, “If I, myself, in this world and another me in the other world have the same fate, in the end, Young-rae will die like Mina. When? How?” What? Why? What? How? Did I miss the roundtable discussion on parallel universe mechanics that everyone must have had?
Young-rae seems oddly insistent that Hyuk will see Mina again, and that she’ll wake up when he returns. So… Mina isn’t dead, then? This is sort of sounding like a lead-in to noble idiocy, and I wonder if the parallel universe rules dictate that Young-rae must die so Mina can live.
Meanwhile, French battleships bombard Ganghwa Island with cannon fire.
Minister Kim, during a meeting of the Royal Court, blames the attack on Ha-eung for releasing the Catholics, despite the fact that his statement doesn’t make any sense. Regardless, public favor has turned against Ha-eung and they only have five hundred soldiers to defend the island while the French have one thousand.
The Council of Evil calls for Ha-eung to take responsibility should they be defeated, and Ha-eung agrees. “By any possibility, if we are defeated in this war, I will take responsibility and step down cleanly,” he declares, much to Minister Kim’s glee.
Once again, Kyung-tak proves he’s the only one not taking crazy pills during the next Council of Evil meeting. Daddy wants them to lose the war so that Ha-eung will have to step down, and Kyung-tak is incredulous – how can they want Joseon to lose the war? “If we are defeated in this war, just like China, we will get the interference of France,” Kyung-tak presses.
I’m glad he’s the one talking sense, but did he think about any of this before he shot those priests and started the war? Maybe that would have been the better time to rethink his choices. Honestly, Kyung-tak, what did you think was going to happen?
Despite Kyung-tak’s sound words that their country should, yunno, not lose a war, Daddy is still insistent that they must. Because that totally makes sense to want your country to lose a war just to oust one person. Makes you wish you had a brain fetus to go back and slap some sense into these people. (Or, alternatively, to change the production team’s career choices.)
I love that the Council’s all, If only there was a way to foresee the result of the war, which then sends Kyung-tak to foresee the future through Hyuk’s letter. He realizes that everything is happening as Hyuk said it would.
Daddy comes in, and Kyung-tak hides the letter. Even though it seems that, offscreen at some point, Kyung-tak told his Dad about the existence of the letter without letting Dad read it, and now claims that he got rid of it. You’d think Dad would want to have kept it or at least read it, but nope. Instead he asks Kyung-tak about the outcome of the war.
Short answer? Joseon wins. Daddy decides that they must end the war in the palace before they win the war against the French. He then asks Kyung-tak about the fate of their clan, and though Kyung-tak’s face is grim he assures his father, “The history Doctor Jin knew and the history we make will be different.”
Heo Gwang breaks the news of the battleships to Hyuk and Young-rae, along with the orders that some of them must go to provide medical aid on the island. Young-rae is the first to offer her services, but Hyuk dramatically grabs her by the shoulders and tells her that she mustn’t go – she could die. He’s clearly thinking that she’ll croak any day now because of Mina.
If we made a drinking game out of every Council of Evil meeting where Kyung-tak voices his dissent and no one listens, we’d already be trashed. Minister Kim wants to kidnap the King and force him to abdicate so they can choose their own. Kyung-tak, once again, doesn’t think this is a good idea for the country. And Daddy, once again, says that it must be done. Lather, rinse, repeat.
In order to kidnap the King they need to get him out of the palace, so Minister Kim charges Kyung-tak with forging Hyuk’s letter with the addendum that the King will be poisoned that night, so that they can assure the King will leave the grounds. Kyung-tak starts stammering his dissent and Dad puts him down.
So, wait – if this is ultimately the genius plan to take Ha-eung down, why exactly did Minister Kim incite a war again? Does. Not. Compute.
Dae-gyun tries to get Daddy to agree that Kyung-tak sucks, but Dad puts him in his place: “He may say things you don’t want to hear, but he’s not wrong.” Dae-gyun then fumes to his fellow Council members, and they beef up his ego by telling him that he’ll soon become the head of the Andong Kim clan.
Kyung-tak sneaks into Ha-eung’s room to conspicuously place the forged letter, only to be caught by Young-hwi on his way out. Young-hwi is lost and doesn’t know what to do, even though Kyung-tak hints that he himself should not be trusted.
Young-hwi seems to know something’s amiss, and simply tells Kyung-tak, “I want to protect you.” Aww, bromance. Kyung-tak apologizes, probably because he’s betraying Young-hwi at this very moment.
Later, Ha-eung finds that conspicuously placed letter and is shocked to read its contents. C’mon, Ha-eung. You’re smarter than this.
Young-rae knows something’s up with Hyuk, and turns to Heo Gwang for help. As luck would have it, he overheard Chun-hong’s words as she died, and tells Young-rae that someone named Mina passed away. Young-rae drops a penicillin jar in shock, and of course, ominously cuts her finger while picking the pieces up.
She thinks to herself that if Mina died, then she will die also. Which, what? Seriously, where are all these people getting these concrete rules on life and death in parallel universes?
Hyuk comes in to help her, but she’d rather leave him to have a flashback montage of their time together outside. She thinks to herself, “Did he try so hard to save me when I was destined to die? I cannot let him do that anymore.”
Meanwhile, Ha-eung falls right into Minister Kim’s trap, and decides that even if the information is false, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Young-hwi keeps reminding him that he could be worried needlessly, but Ha-eung decides to get Gojong out of the palace anyway. Really, Ha-eung? A letter that wasn’t there before magically reappeared, and you’re still going to trust what’s inside?
Minister Kim is happy that Ha-eung has taken the bait, and orders Kyung-tak to do the Kingnapping. Once again, Kyung-tak voices his problems with this plan and gets an angry Daddy for his troubles, one who blames Kyung-tak for purposefully losing Ridel’s treaty. (Well, that part is true.)
Of course, when the moment of decision comes, Kyung-tak agrees that he’ll do it. Take a shot.
Ha-eung visits Hyuk to comment on how scary the power of history is – everything is running on its predetermined course, after all. But he wants Hyuk’s future knowledge one last time, and asks about the fate of his son, and whether he’ll die after living a full life. Hyuk: “Yes, he will.”
Time for some noble idiocy – Young-rae asks Doctor Yoo to be sent to Ganghwa Island’s war zone, which he points out is like a death wish. Young-rae: “Rather an being a nuisance to others here, I’d rather die living like that.”
So she asks him not to tell anyone where she’s gone – especially Hyuk.
That night, Ha-eung sends little King Gojong away from the palace in a palanquin. (I’m really hoping this is a ruse.) Kyung-tak and his merry men ambush the palanquin, only to find it empty.
Turns out Ha-eung set them up for ambush, and Joo Pal leads the forces that surround Kyung-tak and his men, who scatter for their lives.
However, Joo Pal and Kyung-tak meet, with Kyung-tak asking whether the King is safe, and Joo Pal reporting that he escaped via a different palanquin. Huzzah, a betrayal! We see how it happened in flashback, with Kyung-tak approaching Ha-eung directly to tell him of his father’s nefarious plot.
And while I’m happy about the betrayal, I’m also disappointed in Ha-eung – even with Hyuk’s affirmation, he really didn’t suspect a thing? I hope Hyuk’s idiocy isn’t contagious.
Kyung-tak reports back to Daddy that the palanquin was empty, which has Dae-gyun fuming and naming Kyung-tak a spy. Kyung-tak affirms that he did tell them his plan, only for us to realize that even the betrayal was orchestrated by Minister Kim as part of a grand conspiracy to divert attention to Gojong, so that Ha-eung would be left unguarded and vulnerable to attack.
So once again, Kyung-tak punks us with his triple spy business. Points for consistency, I guess.
Minister Kim leads Kyung-tak and a group of mercenaries to Ha-eung’s quarters, only no one’s inside when they break down the doors. Kyung-tak smells an ambush a second too late, since another group of soldiers come out of the woodwork to surround them, led by Joo Pal and Young-hwi.
A battle breaks out in the courtyard, and Kyung-tak fights to clear an escape path for Daddy. Young-hwi is there to stop him, and the two old friends have an old-fashioned sword fight face to face… Until Kyung-tak gets an arrow to the hip.
He somehow escapes the thick of battle, but is closely followed by Young-hwi.
Ha-eung laughs to himself that Minister Kim must have been surprised, and thanks his informant… who turns out to be Dae-gyun? Now that’s surprising. (And once again brought to you by Scenes Without Hyuk.)
Dae-gyun’s betrayed Daddy Dearest by saving Ha-eung and the King, and now wants Ha-eung’s favor in return, since he plans on becoming the rightful head of the Andong Kim clan soon enough. Ha-eung seems impressed with Dae-gyun’s level of betrayal, but he can’t argue that it saved his skin.
Aww, Young-hwi is still a good friend, since he drags Kyung-tak into Hwalinseo for Hyuk to treat. Hyuk and Kyung-tak go back and forth about treatment, with Kyung-tak wondering why Hyuk would even want to treat him when he’s tried to kill Hyuk so many times.
Hyuk has his doctorly principles though, and insists that Kyung-tak must live, at least for Young-rae. Kyung-tak: “Even if that is so, I do not… I do not want to get treatment from you. I would rather die. I do not want you to take care of my life!”
So Hyuk goes straight to Young-rae, who’s packing up for her one-way trip to Ganghwa Island, and tells her that Kyung-tak is in trouble.
Minister Kim fumes once he realizes that the Council of Evil has betrayed him, his worries only made worse when Joo Pal and his men come in to formally arrest him. Ha-eung saunters in to revel in his victory. “Left State Minister, you don’t seem too happy,” he notes with a smile.
Young-hwi is having to physically restrain a wounded Kyung-tak from going back to his father, and finally yells at him: “The world has changed!” He implores Kyung-tak to leave his father and join him in making a new Joseon, and wonders (like we all do), if Kyung-tak has had enough with always being used.
Kyung-tak doesn’t see how it’s much different than becoming Ha-eung’s dog, and says that if he must be used, he’d rather it be his father. Okay, but what if – and this is just a shot in the dark – he chose not to be used by anyone? You know, be your own man, master of your own universe, all that kind of stuff.
Young-hwi asks incredulously, “Why do you choose to live that way? Is that the right way?” Kyung-tak: “Whether it is right or wrong is not important to me.” But, why not?
“This is my fate,” Kyung-tak finally ekes out, before Young-rae arrives to treat him. He insists he’s fine when he can’t even breathe properly, and Young-rae insists that she save him even though she’s killed him with her words many times.
Then she spouts this gem: “I can’t treat your emotional scars, but I would like to treat your physical wounds.” Hah. Best line of the series award, unless something tops this in the finale.
He stops her from going to get anesthetic, insisting that he’s a warrior. He’s gonna take it like a man.
Ha-eung brings Minister Kim a new plant to talk to and offers him a deal: He’ll spare his life, as long as Minister Kim completely removes himself from politics. Minister Kim tells him that the Andong Kim clan had sixty years of power, and asks Ha-eung how long he expects to last. Hm. It’s almost as if Minister Kim read a letter detailing the future course of events…
Hah. Okay, I know we’ve had some ridiculous medical prostheses in the past, but this one takes the cake – Kyung-tak has a fake torso attached to his torso, with fake abs and all. (Not saying he doesn’t have real abs under there.) He’s even got a random gash on his neck to cover up the seam. New low.
There’s soft candlelight and soft music while Young-rae takes out the arrow, and sticks her finger into the hole to check for internal damage. As she sutures up the wound, Kyung-tak takes a journey down memory lane – except most of his memories with Young-rae suck since she didn’t reciprocate his feelings, ever.
He tells her that she’s a great doctor, and trails off as he starts to say that he tried to keep such a great doctor by his side… But then he assures her that the wound will heal quickly. I’m not sure if he’s talking about his fake tummy or his heart.
Kyung-tak stumbles home to Daddy still covered in blood and looking like hell. Minister Kim: “You are the only one who came for me. I should have listened to you.” Oh my God. Finally.
However, Kyung-tak is still incredibly angry about life, and can barely draw his own sword as he tells Daddy to just order it and it’ll be so – if he wants Ha-eung’s head, he’ll go and get it. Daddy says it’s too late, but Kyung-tak yells, “We haven’t finished yet!”
Minister Kim tells him about Ha-eung’s visit and the plant, asking his son whether he should live like a plant until he dies, or just die now. Kyung-tak finally passes the segregation threshold and falls to his knees in front of his father, tearfully begging him to stay alive.
Even Dad seems taken aback by his son’s sorrow, wondering how he’s earned this loyalty when he’s used Kyung-tak like a dog. “That’s why, in order to earn your heart… when you told me to wag my tail, I wagged my tail, and when you told me to entertain you, I entertained you,” Kyung-tak cries.
Minister Kim asks him why he wants him to live, and Kyung-tak breaks down even more: “Father… You are the last reason for me to live. Even that reason… I do not want to lose even that reason.” Aww, this is actually pretty sad. Scenes Without Hyuk strikes again. Guaranteed results every time.
Poor Kyung-tak pleads with his father to live a quiet life with him: “I, Kim Kyung-tak, will protect you until I die.” Dad seems to warm up to this idea and has Kyung-tak help him up… only to take Kyung-tak’s gun. Oh no.
He smiles at his son, and shoots himself in the chest. Collapsing into Kyung-tak’s arms, he tells him that he was the most like him – and that’s why he was so frightening. “Did you say I was the reason for you to live?” Dad ekes out, one hard word at a time. “But now, live for yourself.” So. Sad. Especially when he calls Kyung-tak’s name in a choked sob.
Minister Kim sobs his son’s name one last time, and passes away. Kyung-tak sobs uncontrollably as he holds his father close.
Ha-eung hears the news, and wishes Minister Kim a good journey to the afterlife. It’s a jarring editing job because we cut right back to Kyung-tak crying with his Dad again, but bad editing shouldn’t surprise us at this point.
Unfortunately we do finally check back in with Hyuk, who gets a dramatic close-up when he finds out where Young-rae’s gone. We find her in the middle of the war zone on Ganghwa Island, with cannon fire exploding all around her.
The Royal Court discusses the fighting, and that their last chance of holding off the French is a fort on the island. Dae-gyun raises a stink about who’s to blame for all of this, which Ha-eung solves by claiming – you guessed it – that he’ll take responsibility and lead reinforcements to the island himself.
It’s chaos on the island where Young-rae is, and things are looking bleak. Back in the capital Hyuk looks more shell-shocked than her as he repeats aloud: “No!”
I was hoping we’d at least start on answering some of the time travel/parallel universe/brain fetus issues in this episode, but it looks like everything’ll get crammed in at the last minute. So much information seems to have died with Chun-hong, and those issues haven’t been readdressed so far, which is pretty disappointing but what’s new.
So, Chun-hong said she came back to this world just to save him, we had more than enough hints that she loved him, and what did it all amount to? Nothing. Granted, it’s not like she was handing out informational pamphlets (“Your Brain Fetus and You”) beforehand, so it’s not like her death served as a purposeful means of keeping everyone in the dark (even though that’s sort of an inevitable effect). Ultimately, for as cool as Chun-hong was, she died as an underdeveloped character. The show is going on fine without her like she never existed at all.
I’m having trouble reconciling the why and how of it all, especially when it comes to Chun-hong, and that makes me wonder whether she was killed off just so she wouldn’t have to answer questions the writers didn’t know the answer to. Does time move differently between the worlds, seeing as how Hyuk saved her when she was a child? How did she know he’d need her to save him in a parallel universe? If saving him was so important, why didn’t she freaking tell him what she needed to while she was alive? Bah, humbug.
As for Young-rae’s noble idiocy act, I’m at a total loss. Somewhere off screen everyone got together and hammered out the concrete rules of parallel universes (or the other option – it was just in the script), which isn’t fine, but we have to go with it. Whatever the case, she believes/knows that her life is tied to Mina’s, and despite Chun-hong’s words, no one knows for sure if Mina is alive or dead. (I base that assumption on the constant flashbacks Hyuk has of Mina flatlining.) But then she decides to go gallivanting in a war zone just so she won’t trouble Hyuk? I mean, what? Seriously, Young-rae. What the hell.
Kyung-tak and Dad were the highlight of the episode, even though I still can’t figure Kyung-tak out, other than the fact that he is the biggest Daddy’s Boy I’ve ever seen. It’s plausible that the thought of making his own choices pales in comparison to having them made for him because all he ever wanted was Daddy’s love. Which is why I found Minister Kim’s act of redemption at the end actually pretty redeeming.
Despite what Minister Kim has done to him the entire show, Kyung-tak is a big boy capable of making his own decisions, so I can only fault Minister Kim so much. But it was nice to see that in the end he realized that Kyung-tak would never forsake him to have his own life, and made the ultimate sacrifice to finally give his son a chance to salvage his humanity. Whether he takes that chance and does something with it, or whether he keeps hating everyone and everything, we’ve yet to find out.
The resolution of his story and how he moves on from here is the most compelling one for me as we head into the finale, but maybe the brain fetus will win out if it actually becomes interesting. Stranger things have happened.
- Dr. Jin: Episode 20
- Dr. Jin: Episode 19
- Dr. Jin: Episode 18
- Dr. Jin: Episode 17
- Dr. Jin: Episode 16
- Dr. Jin: Episode 15
- Dr. Jin: Episode 14
- Dr. Jin: Episode 13
- Dr. Jin: Episode 12
- Dr. Jin: Episode 11
- Dr. Jin: Episode 10
- Dr. Jin: Episode 9
- Dr. Jin: Episode 8
- Dr. Jin: Episode 7
- Dr. Jin: Episode 6
- Dr. Jin: Episode 5
- Dr. Jin: Episode 4
- Dr. Jin: Episode 3
- Dr. Jin: Episode 2
- Dr. Jin: Episode 1