Ohhhhh boy. This one’s gonna be a beast. I feel like we all need a big session of messy cathartic emotion-wrangling after this doozy of an episode, maybe with lots of booze and tears. Definitely booze.
Well, you can say this for sure: The Hong sisters really outdid themselves with this one. I’ll… leave it to you to decide how to feel about that, though. I’m still sorting through it myself, really. Maybe by the end of the recap I’ll know how to feel. Or maybe I’ll still be an emotional wreck, chanting to myself that everything will be okay. No promises.
Also: That goddamned book!
SONG OF THE DAY
One More Chance – “눈을 감으면” (If I close my eyes) [ Download ]
EPISODE 12 RECAP
To backtrack a moment, I do think the characters’ reactions make sense in the context of the drama. I wasn’t failing to understand; it was just that it took some thinking to get on the same page as the characters (which you could point to as a writing misstep). Sometimes there’s value in taking one’s time to come to an understanding—say in a cerebral thriller. But with emotional beats, you want the impact to land as close to the moment as possible, and when there’s a gap there, you get confused viewers.
Still: Gong-shil has never said she loves him, because when she first realized she cared, he was heavily in denial and spouting his usual nonsense. So it made sense for her to abide by their deal and say that she would ONLY be his radar, hiding her real feelings.
The pool incident was a huge lesson for her in going with her head over her heart, because if she’d gotten swept up in the romance of moment she would’ve felt even more hurt and humiliated. She has to continually remind herself not to get caught up enjoying playacting the girlfriend too much now, because that adds pain to later, after he solves his Hee-joo issue and says buh-bye.
By the time he comes around to acknowledging his feelings, he’s taking her at face value too, thinking she only needs him for his ghost-savior properties. She keeps telling him that she only touches him because she’s scared, that she’s totally fine parting ways after he’s done needing with the radar, that she won’t crumble, oh, no, she will survive, it took all the strength I had not to fall apart, I’ve got all my life to live, I’ve got all my love to give, hey hey…
That’s why every time either of them brings up this whole radar-shelter relationship, it shoves that barrier back between them, reminding them that they’ve both said they’re totally fine splitting up. It becomes a matter of I can deal with my broken heart later, but I said okay so I have to pretend I’m okay.
Therefore I do want to give Master’s Sun full credit for the strength of its conflict, because here is a case where the thing that brought them together is the thing actively keeping them apart. I was practically giddy at the outset when I realized the whole relationship was predicated on lots of physical proximity, because it allows for a lot of playing with romance motifs but subverting the text. They get to sorta have their cake and eat it too by enjoying aspects of a romantic relationship but not having to actually make the emotionally mature decision to go all-in. It’s a bit like having your id running wild while the ego/superego has its back turned.
In a sense, Master’s Sun is giving us the classic friends-to-lovers quandary of not wanting to muck up a good thing by asking fro more, but becoming less and less satisfied with the status quo. Though it one-ups that scenario by flirting with friends-with-benefits into lovers, which is just more fun. Heh.
Wow, all that and we’re only ten seconds into the episode. Or maybe I just really wanted an excuse to post lots of kissy pictures.
They break the kiss, and Gong-shil processes the moment with her face resting on his shoulder. Joong-won says that if she was using a ghost as an excuse to say things she couldn’t say to his face, he believes she doesn’t really want him to get lost: “We started because you said you could handle it. If you raise your hand because this is too difficult for you, we’ll end things here. What do you want to do?”
They pull back, and she says a bit awkwardly that some spirit must’ve passed through her and thanks him for bringing her back. He tells her he’s glad to have her back.
Then he says that he’s here because she said she wanted to go home (for her next date location). He sorta wiggles his eyebrows at that, calling it a bold move. Which, hee.
Joong-won lets himself into her tiny apartment while she scrambles to put away her lingerie and tells him to leave, since she didn’t invite him in. He reminds her that she barged into his home first and slept in his bed that night, which sets the tone for an innuendo-filled conversation. Gong-shil says she’d like to be “safe” too, to which he wonders whether he should’ve prepared himself for more “dangerous” proceedings (rawr).
She uses his own words in saying pointedly that she has no pride or feelings to hurt, since she’s so scared to death. But he says he’s scared too, because he can’t control his feelings for her and that hurts his own pride: “But I came here anyway, so don’t chase me out.” He asks for an invitation (although he acknowledges that he’s already inside) and coffee, like she did for her ghost visitors.
She agrees to prepare something super-bitter, per his tastes. Joong-won says (gloats?) to the big stuffed cat, “I was invited. It’s cramped here, so get lost.” He shoves it off the bed, ha.
Aunt Joo still can’t wrap her head around the description of Joong-won’s relationship with Gong-shil, and looks to Secretary Kim for answers. Why would a woman who doesn’t even purport to love him that much insist on sticking by his side, with no pride or shame?
Secretary Kim reasons that what others call the master’s curse (re: Hee-joo), Gong-shil refers to as an emotional scar. Healing old wounds requires some amount of proximity, but Joong-won keeps everyone at arm’s length; thus there’s value in someone who’ll stubbornly stick with him anyway.
Aunt perks up when Secretary Kim says she appears to have prepared an exit strategy; they entered the relationship believing there to be a way out. But Secretary Kim chuckles at the prediction that the two will find themselves in deeper than anticipated.
Joong-won takes a look around the apartment, wondering why she doesn’t take her big payday to get a larger place. She says she’s more comfortable here. Then he notices that she’s got beer in her mini-fridge, and gets pissy to hear that it’s for Kang Woo to drink out on the rooftop.
He sniffs that there’s not enough room for Kang Woo in her fridge and starts taking out the cans, and when she orders him to put them back, he pettily shakes the cans up first. HA.
He tries sneaking a glance at her phone when a message comes in. She reads it and immediately steps out, asking him to wait, and he stews at the suspicion that it’s Kang Woo. (It is, though it’s a simple request to take in his laundry because it’s supposed to rain tonight.)
Joong-won sneaks a glance at her phone, but with the words blurred and shaky he can’t make a thing out. He sighs at his behavior and comes to his senses. OR DOES HE.
Cut to: the neighbor boys, sitting in front of him. Hahaha. He offers them one toy for each sentence read, and as the hyung reads the innocuous message, Joong-won relaxes. How mundane after all.
Until the imp reads the last line (about sorting the trash together), “I love you.” Joong-won gapes, and the boy takes a closer look. “Oh! Do it with me.” Hahahah. (The characters look similar in hangul: 저랑해요 and 사랑해요.)
The hyung asks whether he’s really the Kingdom president, and Joong-won asks if Gong-shil ever talks about him. The boy replies that she called him “the most special person in the world,” and Joong-won is appropriately flattered, but also willing to believe that the kid is telling the truth because innocent little kids surely wouldn’t think to flatter him for personal gain. He gives them Kingdom cards and tells them to buy whateeeeeever they want in the mall.
Yi-ryung is still smarting from Kang Woo’s rejection and tells him not to worry about their scandal blowing up, because a different scandal story is about to hit the press. He asks if she’ll be okay being linked falsely with Joong-won, and she bristles at the display of concern—how dare he reject her and then be all nice?
Kang Woo asks what he can do to help, since he doesn’t want to see Yi-ryung weathering the brunt of scandal. She snaps that she’ll take care of it.
Gong-shil finds Joong-won out on the rooftop, and he refers to the laundry request. She’s surprised he was able to read the text, and he states that he can make things happen when he wants to, which she acknowledges is his privilege.
She tells him she’s thought of a way for him to be “safe,” drawing on the story-metaphor where the goat could feel that he was safe from being eaten: “Because he know how much the wolf liked him. He could trust in the knowledge that the wolf really really liked him and would protect instead of eat him, and so he could rest easy. You can rest easy too—like the wolf, I’ll protect you.”
Aw, a sorta-confession, albeit couched in a metaphor. She urges him home before the downpour, then heads inside feeling anxious because she hates storms.
But Joong-won shows up once again, having deduced that rain attracts water ghosts, which are her most feared types, and thus she needs him especially tonight. Yes. Yes, go with that.
So he leads her to bed, then issues the warning that they’re really gonna “just sleep holding hands” and that she’d better not think other thoughts. Taking a seat next to her bed, he hold her hand and orders her to sleep, as if she could.
Then he watches her sleep while the storm rages, though she doesn’t even flinch with him holding her hand. He thinks of how she described feeling hurt, and figures that at least he can use the ghosts as an excuse to hold her without hurting her feelings about the other thing.
Some time later, Gong-shil wakes up to find him dozing at the bedside. She recalls his words about feeling scared too, and sighs that his fear prevents him from reading and thus she doesn’t want to add to it. Urg.
She wakes up again in the morning, alone this time.
Yi-ryung’s scandal hits the press all right, but it’s not quite what she expected: It calls it a double scandal and doesn’t name names, though it refers slyly to one bodyguard and one chaebol. Kang Woo suggests that Joong-won acknowledge being the chaebol, which would spin the story into a more favorable light. Joong-won tells Kang Woo to step forward instead: “Since you’ve already sold your face on the internet, sell it a little more.”
Secretary Kim points out that if they both deny involvement, Yi-ryung takes the hit. Joong-won can’t have his spokesperson’s image tarnished and proposes that both men refrain from denying it.
He wonders how Gong-shil is taking the news, and is possibly a teeny bit disappointed (?) that she doesn’t seem much fussed and is busily at work with another ghost case.
Just outside Kingdom Mall, a frantic mother hands out flyers for her missing son, begging passers-by to take a look. Gong-shil looks on tearfully, because she can see the boy’s ghost standing there and wonders whether she ought to tell the mother that the child is dead. The mother might spend her entire life searching for him, but on the other hand, dropping the bombshell might be too much for her to bear.
A man offers to help the mother with the flyering, but at the sight of him the ghost-boy goes running. Suspicious, definitely.
Gong-shil goes after the boy, Woo-jin, and tries to draw him out from under the staircase where he huddles. Too bad it’s the staircase near the break area, and to the eyes of the smirky employees watching, this just solidifies her reputation as a weirdo.
Yi-ryung arrives to discuss strategy over the scandal with both of the men involved, having already put out counter-reports that she’s only on casual speaking terms with both. She assumes that when her contract with Kingdom ends she’ll have no need to see them again, so she’s surprised when Joong-won states his intention to re-sign her. (Though it’s purely for business reasons, as he doesn’t want to seem weak by ending a contract because of mere gossip.)
Secretary Kim must really be feeling secure in his job these days because he extends his meddling to Kang Woo, saying pointedly that she’ll be seeing him in the future at Kingdom events he will be working at. Yi-ryung plays it cool, of course, but it’s obvious she likes that idea.
For what it’s worth, I do think Yi-ryung’s actions, however misguided, were done with consideration for Kang Woo, who made clear how much he disliked being linked with her. Too bad her limited brainpower could only think of second scandal to fight the first, but she seems benign enough. Just silly and suffering a painful crush.
As suspected, our nervous ajusshi turns out to be the boy’s killer, and he freaks out at the mother’s persistence. He must’ve accidentally killed the boy, and panics over how to get rid of the bloody clothing. Ack, one wonders what he did with the corpse.
Gong-shil manages to get Woo-jin’s ghost to follow her, but he’s still scared and silent, and she takes him to the president’s office for some advice. How much do I love that she’s referring to Joong-won, Kang Woo, and Secretary Kim now as consultants? And best of all is Joong-won’s smug superiority as he speaks to the others, as though he is suddenly the seasoned veteran who knows so much more than they do. He jabs at Kang Woo, “Aren’t you scared of these things? You may go” and then is pissy when Kang Woo insists on helping.
In an effort to gain the boy’s trust and set him at ease, Gong-shil suggests that they sing, since Woo-jin liked singing children’s ditties. Since he’s wearing a shirt with a bear on it, they settle on the “Three Bears” song. Kang Woo is ready to do it himself, but of course Secretary Kim has to step in and suggest that they all participate. Ha.
So they begin, and Joong-won just sits there stoically until it’s his turn, and then ekes out a monotone verse. But he starts getting into the spirit of things for the second round, which he ends up repeating over and over until Secretary Kim tells him to stop. LOL.
In his next report to Uncle VP, gossipy Han-joo draws up a chart of Gong-shil’s life trajectory based on the facts he’s been able to wring out of her sister. Her accident occurred at the peak of her life, after which she spent three years in a hospital bed, at which point she suddenly awoke and began her “loser life.” But the nature of the accident is the most important and least understood point, and Han-joo promises to get more out of unni on their next dinner date.
Woo-jin’s ghost takes Gong-shil to the place where he died, just as the killer ajusshi pulls up nearby. He feigns innocence in front of her, but freaks out that she may have witnessed something. A flashback shows us that he’d hit the boy with his car (don’t text and drive, folks!), then panicked and stuffed the body in his trunk.
Gong-shil returns to the mother’s flyering spot, holding back her own tears as she watches Woo-jin hovering around Mom longingly. She asks Joong-won for advice, and he advises her to say nothing to Mom directly, and report the body’s location to the police if she finds out where it is.
He adds that it’s likely that Mom will just freak out if Gong-shil told her she could see the boy next to her, and Gong-shil asks if that’s how he felt—did he find her frightful too? Joong-won just says that he didn’t like hearing that Hee-joo had been around all these years.
Aunt Joo confronts Gong-shil about her intentions regarding healing Joong-won’s Hee-joo-related wounds, and tells her in no uncertain terms to leave him alone. But as is her habit, Gong-shil interprets the words a little differently and has her own conversation, wondering whether bringing Hee-joo up is so terrible to Joong-won. It’s that word that keeps getting thrown around that she fixates on—it’s frightful—and she’s reading everything through the lens of his fear. As in, she worries that she’s adding to it.
A glance at his refrigerator reminds Joong-won of Kang Woo’s beer, sitting there in Gong-shil’s fridge, and suddenly there he is on her doorstep carrying a case of beer. HA. His utterly absurd excuse: He ran out of room in his own fridge.
She balks, saying that there’s no room for his beer in her tiny tiny unit, and he retorts that room can be made. He removes Kang Woo’s cans and shoves in his box, all satisfied with himself. Until he notices that one of Kang Woo’s cans is missing—did he stop by for a drink?
Gong-shil says that he was just by to do her a favor, since he has a police officer friend who will look into car accident records for her. Joong-won huffs that she could’ve come to him for help, but she reminds him that he said it’s frightful.
She asks about the time Hee-joo took over her body, wondering what Hee-joo said. Was it that frightful? Joong-won says that it was—she’d told him to return to his past self, and that she loved him.
As a warning to back off, Joong-won paints a picture for her: Gong-shil would feel awful to see the ghost who professes to love him, but he doesn’t want to know when Hee-joo is there. While she’d be able to disperse the ghost by touching him, that would make her feel worse, like she’d chased it away. That would be better than the three of them being together, though. Is she sure she could endure this scenario? “Don’t touch things you can’t handle.”
Gong-shil grabs his arm and contradicts him: “I will, because that’s what I do best.” She prods him to look at that envelope and face his fears rather than ignoring them for fifteen years. Isn’t he embarrassed about being scared and running away?
He leaves saying that he feels embarrassed, and goes home more determined than ever to make it through his storybooks. It’s a tedious, painful, frustrating struggle, but he keeps trying night after night.
Kang Woo hears about Yi-ryung’s latest news story about being hospitalized and briefly worries whether she’s holding up. Then he has to laugh because there she is, strutting in all puffed up on bravado like usual. She pointedly asks why he didn’t drop by to see her in the hospital, and he reminds her that she’d warned him not to string her along (the term is “tending to your fishbowl”—you don’t want to date her, but you don’t want to cut her loose, so you keep her hanging around just in case).
She huffs that her level is along the lines of a highly prized whale that swims the Pacific, not some salaryman’s fish. Then she asks (hopefully) whether he might aspire to raise a whale. He does not. Yi-ryung: “Then… what about a dolphin?” Aw. I can’t help it, I like her. She’s like one of those spoiled yappy puppies, all annoying and bratty but cute in her way.
Kang Woo answers, “Even if you lowered yourself to anchovy level, I have no intention of raising you in my fishery.” Hurt, she blurts, “Who says I’d lower myself to anchovy level anyway?!”
He smiles to himself, amused, but returns to his station to see Yi-ryung wiping tears on the security camera. Conscience pricked.
Joong-won decides he’s ready to hear about Hee-joo and summons Kang Woo, but starts by asking why he’s sticking around after his orders have been completed. Kang Woo states that he will wait until after the Hee-joo case is closed and Joong-won no longer has any use for Gong-shil.
On to the evidence: the photos of a woman looking like Hee-joo taken after her supposed death. The postcards were written to and from “Wargrave” and “Poirot,” as she’d been an avid Agatha Christie fan. And Joong-won recognizes Wargrave as the culprit in the last book he’d been forced to read while kidnapped.
Joong-won knows the real Hee-joo is dead, but lands on the possibility of Hee-joo having had an identical twin who was in on the crime—the person the ghost said she had to protect.
Confirming his theory is a flashback we get from the co-conspirator’s perspective, who had been watching nearby when the car exploded and Hee-joo died inside it. The Twin had possession of the diamond necklace then, and she still has it now.
(A small gripe: These girls are identical twins, but Hwang Sun-hee obviously looks nothing like Hee-joo. Which, fine, she’s grown up now, except the woman in the photos was grown up too and yet had the other face. Bah. Red herring necessity, but boo nonetheless.)
Joong-won drops by Hee-joo’s memorial vault soon after her twin does, but doesn’t notice her watching him outside.
Back to the dead boy, who still won’t speak or give Gong-shil clues about where his body is. Joong-won appears at the door and accepts her word that the boy is here, though he points out that he’s can’t see anything: “I’m just listening to what you say and looking at you. And from watching you so frantically, I seem to have been totally bewitched.” He says it lightly, but she takes it the wrong way, feeling the blame land on herself.
But he says that because of her, he’s taking a second look at the Hee-joo case, and he’s reading too (or trying). When he gets through all the volumes (of his “extremely high-level books”), he’ll no longer feel ashamed, he says. And then he offers to talk to the child’s mother with her, after his meeting. My, aren’t you full of personal growth today.
Joong-won instructs Secretary Kim to look into Hee-joo’s twin status, and this makes Secretary Kim surprisingly anxious. He realizes, “He must have known. Is that why he went to Hee-joo’s vault?” Looking at the photo, he asks, “Then is this… Hanna?” WHAT. Don’t tell me you’re in on this too! You can’t be a bad guy!
Hanna continues to be friendly with Aunt Joo, who invites her in and shows her around the place. Spotting the books on the table, Hanna wonders if Joong-won still cannot read, and plays it off as something Aunt mentioned while drinking. She’s familiar with the tale, and tells Aunt that of the two friends, the one that likes the other side more dies. Which is the wolf, aka Gong-shil. Gack! Will you stop with the foreshadowing?
Gong-shil finally gets the dead boy to offer up a clue about being in a dark place, and leads her to a mechanic’s shop, to the trunk of a familiar-looking car. The mechanic-killer approaches and asks why she’s here, and when she tries to leave, he holds her back by asking for her help in something. He steps outside and pulls on his gloves, a murderous glint in his eye, and Gong-shil takes the moment to call Joong-won.
She’s in the middle of telling him she thinks she found the body when the garage door slides closed, and she ducks out of sight. Joong-won’s shouts over the line are pretty loud, so she cuts the connection and texts him with her location. Argggghhhh, type faster! Hit send! Who cares about full sentences and crap. Go go go send.
Gong-shil doesn’t see the killer creeping up behind her and continues the longest text message ever (oh crap, he can’t even read) as he gets closer… closer… But she hits send just a second before he grabs her and knocks her unconscious.
Joong-won gets the text and squints at the shaking words on the screen. He orders himself to read this, telling himself he can, and squints hard. Slowly, the characters start to come into focus, enough for him to get the name of the auto shop.
Gong-shil awakens in the front seat of a car, hands taped together, her assailant in the driver’s seat. He tells her how this story will go: She ran over the kid, killed him, and then was wracked with guilt and committed suicide.
Gong-shil tells him that he thinks everything ends with death, but it doesn’t, and that the little boy he killed is staring at him now. The man starts to get spooked, then relives the moment he hit the kid and flinches. Gong-shil takes advantage of the moment to spray his eyes with Windex and scramble out, though the garage doors won’t budge. Staggering in pain, he grabs a sharp pointy tool and starts stalking her around the garage.
Joong-won’s voice yells her name, but the killer keeps approaching and raises his tool threateningly. She’s cornered against a door, but at the last moment, Joong-won darts in front of her and grabs her…
The killer scrambles away while Joong-won reminds her he’d told her to be careful. He’s relieved to find that she’s fine, but starts swaying on his feet and collapses on top of her. Startled, she feels his back… and gets to the huge metal screwdriver stabbing into it. ACKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK.
Ohhhhh fuck. Hooooo fuck. Her hand comes away bloody, and she starts sobbing.
The medics arrive to take him away, and she finds herself left at the operating room doors.
At home, Aunt reads her way to the end of the books and tearfully sniffs that the one who liked more did in fact die.
Gong-shil waits in the hospital hallway, huddled on the ground, until someone joins her there. Looking up, she’s stunned to see Joong-won looking healthy and whole.
He says, “It’s true. You really are as bright as the sun.”
She shakes her head in denial as he asks, “Have I died? I feel extremely wronged, but since my woman can see me, I can tell you this before going. Tae Gong-shil. I love you.”
Then, right before her eyes, he disappears into light.
Wow. Um. So.
There’s so much to unpack and I’m not sure I can even do justice to all the emotions this episode has wrought. Oh well let’s give it a try. Maybe in small, careful steps, seeing as how my legs are still shaking and probably not up to supporting me at the moment.
I think your (my) reaction to this huge twist depends to how you accept the ending. Or maybe don’t accept it, as the case may be. Because first, we have to agree on the million-dollar question: Did he die?
Being yet in the first stage of grief, I find myself inclined to denial, and I am willing to resist accepting death as the hard-and-fast truth. Even though the colder logical side of my brain argues, The show couldn’t have been more clear that he’s dead, you putz. All that death foreshadowing! He basically says so. He leaves her with last words. She has had extensive experience with spirits and believes he is one. There is a literal white tunnel and he DISAPPEARS. Stop clinging to false hope, ya fool.
Soooo, pretty clear then.
But as in any drama that involves the death of a beloved character, there will be a faction of viewers who are positive the death isn’t real, so let’s address that. The scene is the last of the episode, so maybe it’s a fakeout of some sort, awaiting one more twist. Maybe it was all a dream. Maybe she’s the one in a coma and this is a fevered figment of her subconscious/dream-maker/some other fictional and therefore totally not real thing. And SHE’S the wolf in this scenario! HE isn’t supposed to die!
Furthermore, I have to think of the twist introduced in Who Are You recently to make itself a loophole. (I disliked it there, but that’s because it’s telling a different story that takes off from a different premise. Here, I’d take it. Then again, I’d bargain a lot for the return of Joong-won.) And we have established that Gong-shil can see the almost-dead in addition to the actually dead, as with the poolside ajumma who turned out to not be a water ghost after all. So maybe Joong-won was giving her a deathbed message, but yet clings to life? Hey, it’s possible. It’s not even retcon (aka retroactive continuity, aka a cheap trick), since that has been established within the parameters of the show’s existing rules.
In a drama I cared less about, I would probably accept the death readily and move on to what this means for the future, but I care an awful lot about this show (and Joong-won’s character) so I’m feeling a little gutted right now. I’m not quite ready to accept it, so I find myself making excuses, or finding plausible (and not-so-plausible) explanations for how we can get Joong-won back alive in Episode 13. Because while I have little problem with a drama killing off characters, even heroes, I have to say that I am NOT okay with Joong-won dying.
Part of that is an emotional response, for sure. I luff him, ergo I want him not to die. But there is a colder, analytical reason for hating the hero-death idea, even though I’d have to give the show points for ballsiness and fearlessness. Negative points of doom, perhaps, but you know. Points.
Having entertained the possibility that he’s still hanging in there, let’s take the ending at face value and move on to the next question: If he’s dead, what does that mean for the future?
Here’s where I run into problems. I’m not ready to write a scathing screed against the drama or swear off all future works of anyone affiliated with producing this show. But if we are to move forward with a dead hero, then I’ve got major, MAJOR beef with you, and I will be hacking away at that beef for the rest of the show, mark my words. First off, there’s the bait-and-switch factor, which was a complaint I voiced about other shows that promised something (redemption, life) and gave us something else (death, doom). Regardless of the dramatic effect you get out of a shocking death, if you haven’t built up the proper building blocks to support that with emotional and logical coherence, you’re going to have viewers who feel cheated.
That’s why I am completely onboard with major characters dying early (even unexpectedly, shockingly early) in a drama with huge stakes like that. It’s why I wanted several characters in City Hunter to die instead of just barely escaping, even though the show certainly earned back those lost points in the end. But not when this isn’t that drama.
Okay, suppose we argue that Master’s Sun is totally all about death and ghosts, so it’s silly to argue about WHICH deaths we got. Except that this is first and foremost a romantic comedy, and who the fuck kills the hero midway through a romantic comedy.
I mean, where would we go from here? What is the point of a romantic comedy that started out with two living people and ended with only one? And this is no Who Are You or 49 Days where letting go of your love and moving on with life is part of the show’s themes. THIS is the drama where two people fall in love and stay in love! Will the show argue that he learned to love, let go of the Hee-joo scars, overcame his debilitating handicap, and left with a clean heart? Okay, put that way it kind of sounds reasonable. But what about her? Will the show give her a love, get her to accept her ability to help dead souls, use that skill to give her confirmation of her true love, and then take away the talent so she can live a normal life? Dammit, why does that sound reasonable too?
To give credit: I love how this episode unfolded, and I loved the beats leading up to Joong-won’s hero-sacrifice maneuver, because he’s shown such gratifying development over the course of the show that it does, in that sense, feel like everything came to a head here. (Argument supporting dead theory? Wah.) The text-reading scene was a bit expected (lots of dramas employ this theme—it’s the whole Mom-lifts-car-to-save-baby narrative of love conquering all handicaps), but the beats resonated because they were built in so nicely. Gong-shil finally pushed Joong-won with a little tough love, telling him to stop running from his fears and suck it up, and you know what, he totally did.
He did so well that he ran into that last scenario and paid for it dearly, only he loved her so much that you think he might be okay with it. Even after being stabbed to (near?) death (JUST LET ME HAVE MY DENIAL) (it’s all I have), his sole concern was for her safety, and he didn’t (let himself?) collapse until he’d heard she was safe. So… maybe that makes him the more-loving wolf after all and they’d had it wrong all along. (More support for death, WAHHHH.)
So all that said, I’m fully prepared to give this show my heart if it makes sense of this death (not-death? Hope springs eternal), but am equally prepared to throw something and start building voodoo dolls if it doesn’t. Because how dare you take the most promising rom-com you’ve done in years and piss all over it, Misses Hong? HOW DARE YOU. (Possibly. I’ll take it back maybe.)
So in the end, it all boils down to what the next episode does, even though I tried my best to focus on what THIS episode did. But it all circles ’round to the same thing, because he’d better not be dead.
I should probably stop writing now, because I fear added words will not equal added clarity. I hope this made sense. It probably didn’t. But maybe what we all just need right now is a group cry-scream-blubber session, in which case it hardly matters.
- Master’s Sun: Episode 11
- Master’s Sun: Episode 10
- Master’s Sun: Episode 9
- Master’s Sun: Episode 8
- Master’s Sun: Episode 7
- Master’s Sun: Episode 6
- Master’s Sun: Episode 5
- Master’s Sun: Episode 4
- Master’s Sun: Episode 3
- Master’s Sun: Episode 2
- Master’s Sun: Episode 1