Memories of the Alhambra: Episode 2
This drama is already delivering in terms of plot, characterization, and excitement — I’m all in, guys. Our hero has a lot on his plate, between trying to find a missing teenager and sweet-talking his justifiably angry sister into liking him, all the while fighting his mortal enemy for the rights to a program that could change the world as we know it. I don’t know how he stays so calm, but I suppose having a boatload of confidence, and the money to back it up, can buy a guy a whole lot of peace of mind. I hope he enjoys it, because I don’t think it will last long.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
Exhausted from fighting a video game boss all night and frustrated at the screeching fire alarm, Jin-woo yells at Hee-joo that if he loses out on his very lucrative business deal, it will be all her fault. Still standing on the kitchen island, she sinks sinks to her heels and sobs.
Jin-woo continues his call with A, who tells him that since Se-joo, the inventor of the game, is a minor, that his older sister is his guardian and thus holds all legal rights. Jin-woo’s eyes grow wide as A says that her name is Jung Hee-joo, and that she runs the Hostel Bonita.
He turns to stare at Hee-joo, belatedly realizing that he’s just insulted and humiliated the one person he most needs to like him if he’s going to get the rights to this game. He leans in the doorway, staring at her intently, smiling like he has a very delicious secret.
The guest who asked Jin-woo to watch his food returns, and Jin-woo is suddenly all sweetness and light. He pretends to suffer from short-term memory loss and claims to have no idea what just happened, insisting that he’s much too nice a guy to ever yell at anyone and make them cry. LOL, is he serious??
He gives up the ruse when he realizes that neither of them are buying it, and just leaves the room. PWHAHAHA.
Some time in the recent past, Se-joo packed a bag in a filthy room at the hostel, as he watched a news feed from the Mobile World Congress IT exposition in Barcelona. Jin-woo’s company’s new smart contact lens, which is being developed for use with augmented reality programs, is the talk of the exposition.
As Se-joo leaves his room, we learn that he’s unemployed after graduating from a vocational school, and that he’ll turn eighteen in two months. He’s told his family that he’s going to Barcelona to see a friend, and he tells Hee-joo that he’s not sure when he’ll be back. He’s been gone a week by the time Jin-woo comes to Granada searching for him, but his family seems more frustrated than worried by his disappearance.
Jin-woo asks A about Hee-joo, but there’s not much information on her other than that she has a lot of jobs, being the only person in the family who can work. She’s been running the hostel since her parents died, plus she’s a tour guide, a translator, and she even works at a shop that makes guitars.
Since Hyung-seok hasn’t contacted Se-joo’s family yet, Jin-woo guesses that he doesn’t know Se-joo is a minor. He goes inside as the guests are settling in for breakfast, where Hee-joo scowls darkly at him, but he takes a seat and turns on his most charming act.
Hee-joo isn’t impressed, refusing to speak to him and sitting at the other end of the table even after he pulls out a chair for her. Jin-woo has to strain to hear Hee-joo and her grandmother talking about Se-joo.
They mention that he called them last night from a pay phone (probably just before he called Jin-woo) and that he’s taking a train home today. Hee-joo says that Se-joo should be arriving at eight a.m., so Jin-woo pretends to have an urgent meeting and leaves in a hurry.
He starts to hail a taxi, but Secretary Seo arrives with a rental car. Jin-woo takes the keys and sends Secretary Seo to the hostel, instructing him to get some flowers for Hee-joo on the way. Secretary Seo assumes that Jin-woo’s sudden flight to Granada was romantic in nature and reminds him that his divorce isn’t final yet, but Jin-woo informs him that Hee-joo is just a prospective business partner.
HAHA, Secretary Seo offers to seduce her with his superior good looks, and they get into a very serious discussion right in the middle of the street regarding which of them is more handsome. Secretary Seo chirps that his mom thinks he’s handsome, Jin-woo deadpans that a face like his has never been considered handsome in all of human history. Secretary Seo grumbles, “This is why you have many enemies…”
Jin-woo actually lights up at the sight of Secretary Seo’s huge, heavy suitcase, delighted by the thought of the nightmare he’s going to have lugging it up six flights of stairs.
He calls Director Park as he drives to the train station, admitting that he wants to talk to Se-joo away from the hostel since he made his sister cry. He says that all he did was give her some advice, but Director Park yells that Jin-woo’s advice is really just thinly-veiled meanness.
Yang-joo is eager to watch Jin-woo play the game some more, calling his repeated crushings “cathartic,” hee. Jin-woo promises to play some more after he talks to Se-joo and finds out why he turned down Hyung-seok’s money.
Jin-woo waits at the station while Se-joo’s train arrives, but he never sees Se-joo disembark. He walks alongside the train, briefly passing the man who was sleeping in Se-joo’s train car, and the way the moment lingers says that somehow, this guy is important. The train pulls away with Se-joo’s bag still on it, and when Sun-ho calls, Jin-woo tells him that something feels terribly wrong.
Secretary Seo eventually gets his gigantic suitcase up to the sixth floor, and he asks Hee-joo for another bed. She tells him that he and Jin-woo can’t stay, and she even refunds Jin-woo’s payment for last night’s stay, saying that he’ll know why.
Jin-woo calls Secretary Seo and has him ask Hee-joo where her brother is. Secretary Seo puts her on the phone, and she quickly explains that she’s asking them to leave because there were too many problems, and they need to do a lot of repairs to the room.
Jin-woo apologizes for losing his temper at her. But Hee-joo says sweetly that everything he said was true, so now she’s going to say something that’s also true — the house is worn out, but she has a conscience, so she’s refunding his money. Jin-woo tries to talk, but Hee-joo snaps that he’s the one who talks over people, and treated her like she was unconscientious and rude.
She’s yelling as she informs him that she did warn him the room was on the sixth floor and was dirty, and that she advised him to go to a hotel. She reminds him that he insisted on staying, then treated her like a lazy swindler.
She even insults his fake watch and his stupid business deal, and calls him pretentious before finally stopping to pant for breath. Smiling, Jin-woo just says that she’s very eloquent and asks if she really thinks his watch is fake.
She hands the phone over to Secretary Seo (who bows low, obviously terrified by her), and tells him again to check out. Jin-woo tells Secretary Seo to talk to Min-joo, but when he asks her about Se-joo, she doesn’t seem concerned. Jin-woo marvels, “I’m more worried about him than they are!”
Suddenly, Jin-woo sees someone that makes him freeze in his tracks. Her name is LEE SOO-JIN (Lee Shi-won), and she’s traveling with her sister, Soo-kyung. Jin-woo tells Soo-jin stiffly that he’s here for work, then notices her obviously pregnant belly. He recovers enough to congratulate her, and she tells him that she’s here to meet her husband, who had to come to Granada unexpectedly.
Soo-jin asks if Jin-woo is okay, mentioning a news article that shocked her, but he just says that shocking people was the point. Ah, evidently Soo-jin was his first wife, and he’s in the middle of his second divorce. Jin-woo says breezily that the second divorce is much easier than the first, especially since this marriage only lasted a year.
After successfully running Soo-jin off, Jin-woo stands there thinking about how she said her husband suddenly had to come to Granada yesterday. He takes the smart lenses out and puts them in, logs on, and summons his rusty iron sword.
Back in Seoul, Sun-ho and Yang-joo come to attention when he logs back into the game. He gets an alert that a new user has logged on, and ignoring the game’s prompt to search for a stronger weapon, he heads to his car, “sheathing” his sword on the way (that is so seriously cool).
He instructs the game to track the new user, and drives towards the indicated location. The game leads Jin-woo to a neighborhood of nice homes, where he finds the in-game bodies of several Guards of Aragon scattered around.
He gets out and follows the nearby sounds of combat, but instead of finding Se-joo like he expects, it’s CHA HYUNG-SEOK (Park Hoon) finishing off the rest of the guards. As Jin-woo approaches him, he tells us in voiceover that Hyung-seok is his former friend and co-founder of his company.
Hyung-seok speaks first, surprised that anyone else knows about the game. He tells Jin-woo to step away from it because it’s all over, though he doesn’t seem very confident. Jin-woo replies casually that the call he got from Se-joo indicates otherwise, since Se-joo said he would never sell to Hyung-seok.
He tells Hyung-seok that even if he were lucky enough to buy the rights to the game from Se-joo, he’ll still need Jin-woo’s help, since Jin-woo owns the smart lenses. He vows never to let Hyung-seok use them, even if it means losing profits.
He tells Hyung-seok to stop chasing dreams and take care of his very pregnant wife… oooh, so Jin-woo’s first wife, Soo-jin, is Hyung-seok’s current wife. That explains a lot.
Jin-woo informs us that he’s gone up against Hyung-seok six times, and that as of now, they’re each three for three. “The most painful loss,” he says, “was when Hyung-seok took my wife.”
They’re still in the game, which asks them if they’d like to form an alliance, or become enemies. Both of them refuse an alliance, so the game invites them to duel for experience points. Hyung-seok seems excited by the prospect, especially since he greatly outlevels Jin-woo and has a better weapon.
Jin-woo motions for Hyung-seok to wait while he takes a call from Director Park. Director Park advises him not to duel now, since they know Hyung-seok hasn’t found Se-joo, either. Jin-woo whines that Hyung-seok is provoking him, but Yang-joo yells that he’s not strong enough and will definitely lose.
Jin-woo hangs up and Hyung-seok charges, only for Jin-woo log off. He calls Hyung-seok a jerk for wanting to fight when he’s a higher level, and he says he’ll call Hyung-seok later when he’s ready.
Hyung-seok calls someone, asking how Jin-woo knows about the game. He guesses that Se-joo contacted him, and he orders the person on the line to find out what they agreed on, if anything.
As Jin-woo drives away, he thinks about how he’s spent the past three years taking anything that Hyung-seok wanted. The more Hyung-seok wants something, the more Jin-woo wants to take it — so he wants to take this game most of all, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get it.
Hee-joo visits with her friend Sang-bum, who knows her well enough to know that when Jin-woo yelled at her, she just cried. She says proudly that she gave Jin-woo a refund and told him to leave, though she admits that it was strange that Jin-woo just took her ranting and called her eloquent.
Secretary Seo comes in to give Hee-joo his business card, and Sang-bum recognizes the name J One. Secretary Seo says that the CEO of J One would like to talk with Hee-joo, belatedly confessing that the CEO is none other than Jin-woo.
Later, Hee-joo looks up Jin-woo, and when she hears that he’s immensely rich, the first thing she thinks about is how she called his watch fake, ha. Sang-bum, who follows Korean news, tells her that Jin-woo’s wife is GO YU-RA (Han Bo-reum), a famous actress, and that she recently filed for divorce.
Hee-joo is scared that Jin-woo plans to sue her, but when he shows up, he’s all smiles. He offers Hee-joo a handshake and an apology for taking out his stress on her (pointing out that his watch is real… please let this be a running gag, I love it). She admits that she wasn’t exactly polite, either, so Jin-woo jokes that they should both pretend they have short-term memory loss, and Hee-joo asks, “Why, what happened this morning?” LOL.
Sang-bum introduces himself, making it clear that he’s here to protect Hee-joo since he’s practically family. Jin-woo insists on speaking to Hee-joo privately, since he doesn’t trust anyone who says “practically,” especially after losing two wives who were “practically” family. He says that what he needs to discuss with Hee-joo involves a life-changing amount of money, so Sang-bum excuses himself.
Once they’re alone, Jin-woo gets right to the point. He tells Hee-joo that he’s an investor, and that in a year, Granada will be famous for something besides the Alhambra… magic. He says that people will flock here, rich people who live to have fun, so she should install an elevator in the Hostel Bonita immediately.
In fact, he tells her to just sell the hostel and buy a hotel, guaranteeing her that in a year, the rooms will all be full. Hee-joo asks how she can possibly afford that, and Jin-woo smirks that someone will probably give it the money to her.
He tells us that that was his first day in Granada, and we skip ahead a year. Jin-woo is on a train heading back to Granada, but this time he’s wearing scruffy old clothing. As the train approaches the station, he gets out of his seat and makes his way to the door, limping heavily as he favors his left leg.
A storm rolls in fast, just as it did on the day Se-joo disappeared. Jin-woo grows alarmed and locks himself in the restroom to take out a gun. He hears two shots ring out, and he pauses for just a moment.
All at once, Jin-woo pushes the door to the car open and goes in shooting. He takes out several masked men,. his injured leg no longer a problem as he whirls and spins. He relieves one masked man of his weapon and starts shooting two-handed, and when he takes a bullet to the stomach, it barely even slows him down.
He ducks behind a seat to reload, then jumps up to shoot another masked man then use his body as a shield. He misses one hiding attacker and takes three more shots to the torso, which finally stops him, but only long enough to reload.
As he jumps up and continues shooting, Jin-woo narrates: “A year ago, what happened to the future I predicted to Hee-joo? I got half of it right. And the other half, I got completely wrong.”
One masked man slowly approaches Jin-woo, the lightning flashing in his blue eyes as he raises his gun. Jin-woo aims back, and their guns go off simultaneously.
WHAT. WAS. THAT. ~takes a moment to collect wits~
Okay, I’m okay. I think I forgot to breath throughout the entire last ten minutes of this episode. My guess is that something has gone horribly wrong in Se-joo’s game, and that this explains why Se-joo disappeared on the same train under similar circumstances. He had blood on his stomach before he even boarded the train to Granada, so my theory is that he told Hyung-seok about the game, offered to show it to him, and Hyung-seok somehow, for some reason, figured out how to hurt him for real. So Se-joo ran, calling Jin-woo on the way, but something or someone caught up to him on the train.
I was hooked by this show right away, even before we got to the exciting part. I find the entire thing… well the first word that comes to mind is “familiar,” oddly enough. But it brings back so many feelings from two of my favorite dramas, Nine: Nine Time Travels and Queen In-hyun’s Man (no surprise since it’s the same writer) and the more recent W-Two Worlds, not to mention that Hyun Bin and Park Shin-hye are two of the primary actors that I first loved when I got into dramas. So this show is like a trip down an emotional memory lane for me… everything and everyone feels so familiar, yet the plot of Alhambra is innovative enough that it still feels fresh and exciting.
My very favorite thing about Song Jae-jung’s dramas is her characters, who are always unique in a believable way. They do and say the last thing you’d expect, yet they have such defined and believable personalities. Jin-woo and Hee-joo are no exception, and Jin-woo in particular is quite the character. When he realized that Hee-joo was the person he needed to suck up to and that he’d just gravely insulted her, instead of being horrified as I expected, he just grinned wolfishly like he was thinking, “Well, this is gonna be interesting.” And then to just lie to her face, then just as quickly give up the lie… I fell for him right there. He’s just hilariously shameless, and I love it. I can’t wait to see what else he gets up to as he tries to convince this woman who hates his very guts to sign over what amount to trillions of dollars to him.
Hee-joo is more reserved right now, since all we’ve seen is her temper. But in the hands of this writer, I’m confident that she’s going to be just as quirky and off-beat as Jin-woo, once she stops being angry and starts showing her true colors. She’s not going to make this easy in Jin-woo, judging by the way she let loose on him when she finally got the chance, and honestly, I want to see her really make him work for it. So far nothing she’s done has ruffled him, but I have a feeling that she’ll find a way… and when she does, I want to see him squirm.
I am so excited about this show, you have no idea. I went into it with absolutely zero idea what it would be about, so imagine my delight, as an avid gamer myself, to learn that it’s about video games! I really felt Jin-woo’s pain in Episode 1 when he kept getting killed by the warrior — how many times have I thrown myself at the same boss for hours on end? I love the whole premise that Jin-woo will be fighting his nemesis in an augmented reality game, because it feels safe, nobody will actually get hurt in a game, right? But I’m sure (having seen this writer’s previous dramas, and especially after that final scene) that before long, the line between game and reality will quickly become blurred, and what seemed safe will turn deadly serious.
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