Memories of the Alhambra: Episode 6
This show just continues to blow my mind, with everything getting twistier and scarier the further into the game we go. I love that I have no idea where things are going or what’s going to happen next, and I spend the whole hour on pins and needles, equally excited and terrified. Who ever thought that the normally lovely, relaxing sounds of rain and a classical guitar could feel so menacing?
EPISODE 6 RECAP
After finding Jin-woo in the rain outside the hospital, Hee-joo walks home, still soaked and worried. Grandma is surprised that she left Jin-woo alone, but Hee-joo says that his wife showed up.
She had followed as Jin-woo was carried, unconscious, back to his hospital room. Yu-ra had been waiting impatiently, and later Hee-joo overheard Yu-ra on the phone with someone complaining that she may have to drop the divorce suit if Jin-woo has actually gone crazy.
Yu-ra had stopped Hee-joo from entering Jin-woo’s room, angry that she lied to her earlier. She’d threatened Hee-joo not to mess with her, and Secretary Seo told her to be respectful to Hee-joo — only to get kicked in the shin, ouch. After he recovered, Secretary Seo had told Hee-joo to go home so as not to anger Yu-ra further, promising to call her later.
When Jin-woo wakes, he ignores Yu-ra and asks Secretary Seo if he’s having a nightmare, ha. While Secretary Seo and Yu-ra bicker, Jin-woo is alarmed by a clap of thunder and the sound of a guitar.
Hee-joo tosses and turns in bed, thinking about how Jin-woo pulled her to him and asked her if he seemed crazy. Eventually she gets up for a glass of wine, and she hears a knock at the front door. When she opens it, she finds Jin-woo, still in his hospital pajamas, looking around as if terrified.
He blames his presence on the fact that Yu-ra is at the hospital, holding Hee-joo responsible for telling her where he was. He asks Hee-joo to get his things from his sixth floor room, specifically his lens case, but Hee-joo seems skeptical that this is the real reason Jin-woo is here.
He waits in his car while Hee-joo goes inside, and the first thing she does is call Secretary Seo, who’s been looking everywhere for Jin-woo. He tells Hee-joo to humor Jin-woo, because the doctor thinks he’s suffering from stress-related paranoid ideation — in other words, he’s seeing and hearing things, like a dead person who’s chasing him with a sword.
He says that after Hee-joo left, Jin-woo had a seizure and was given a sedative, so Secretary Seo left him alone, which is when he escaped. He tells Hee-joo that Jin-woo’s “hallucinations” should go away after a few days, so to just go along with him for now.
While Jin-woo waits, it begins to rain, and he goes very still. He rolls down the car window and sticks his hand out tentatively, and when his hand remains dry, he quickly closes the window again. He looks around as he hears a guitar, and the game’s UI (user interface) appears in his vision and informs him that “an enemy has appeared.”
Through the rain-distorted windshield, Jin-woo sees a figure approaching — NPC Hyung-seok, sword in hand.
Hee-joo runs outside (where it’s perfectly dry) with Jin-woo’s lenses, but inside the car, he’s locked in a stare-off with Hyung-seok. He acknowledges Hee-joo with a gesture, but doesn’t take his eyes off Hyung-seok until the timer runs out and the game cancels the duel.
Once Hyung-seok disappears again, Jin-woo rolls down the window and asks for his lenses, and as soon as Hee-joo hands them over, Jin-woo pops them in and logs onto the game. Everything in-game seems normal, directing him to his next quest as usual. Jin-woo prepares to drive away, but Hee-joo begs him desperately to let her drive or she won’t be able to sleep out of worry.
She wails that she’s scared he’ll get hurt even worse, driving with a broken leg while on sedatives, and asks if he’s crazy. He says calmly that he already told her he’s crazy, noting that she seems a little nuts herself, the way she goes off at the mouth when she’s angry (“You could be a rapper”).
Hee-joo assures him that she’s quite sane, and she says that she wants to cancel the contract to sell him the hostel. She tells Jin-woo that for one day she was thrilled with the money he offered, but that she won’t be able to live with herself if he drives in his condition and kills himself.
When Jin-woo says he can’t do that, Hee-joo tells him to at least open the car door, and he does without hesitation. In a heartbreakingly honest tone, he says, “I’d be grateful if you came along. I was scared to go alone anyway.” Oof.
Jin-woo drives, confusing Hee-joo when he knows where to go without help of a GPS, unable (or unwilling) to tell her that the game is directing him. He stops at a closed antique shop and asks Hee-joo to call the owner (they’re neighborhood buddies).
She can’t reach the owner, so Jin-woo uses his crutch to smash the glass door in, shocking Hee-joo. He lets himself inside, and an NPC shopkeeper appears to welcome him to Armas, an in-game weapon shop. Jin-woo looks around, and now, instead of antiques, the walls are covered in weaponry of all kinds.
As he checks out the weapons, the game tells him when he’s too low-level or doesn’t have enough in-game gold for each piece. He eventually finds two level four weapons, a Dagger of Wind and a Fairy’s Ninja Star, that the game will let him purchase.
Outside, Hee-joo finally gets ahold of the shop owner and tells them that a guest of hers accidentally broke their door. She goes inside to find Jin-woo appearing to throw something over and over — he’s in Practice Mode trying out the star, but to Hee-joo, it looks like he’s gone even further ’round the bend.
He manages to land a solid hit with the star just as thunder booms and the sound of a guitar fills the air. Jin-woo spots NPC Hyung-seok standing just outside the shop, and unfortunately, the shattered door means there’s no obstacle to stop the duel from beginning. Jin-woo hits Hyung-seok with two of his three ninja stars (he whiffs the first one), then the game auto-equips his familiar Assassin’s Blade.
Hee-joo waits outside for the shop owner, assuming that Jin-woo is alone inside. Jin-woo has retreated to a storeroom, which causes the game to delay the duel due to the closed door. But instead of just standing there like he’s done before, this time, NPC Hyung-seok reaches out and opens the door. Holy crap, the game is evolving.
Equipping his new dagger, Jin-woo waits until Hyung-seok enters the storeroom, then attacks. He stabs Hyung-seok from behind, leaving the Dagger of Wind in Hyung-seok’s shoulder, then equips his sword and runs it through Hyung-seok’s belly. He wins the duel with a critical hit and advances to level five, but all Jin-woo can think is that he just murdered Hyung-seok… again.
He’s still reeling when Hee-joo finds him to tell him that the shop owner is here. She believes he wants to buy something, but he tells her wearily to just pick something and he’ll purchase it. Once they’re both back in the car, Hee-joo wants to return Jin-woo to the hospital, but he refuses to go.
He mutters, exhausted, “I don’t want to die, but it feels terrible to kill.” Lightning flashes, and Jin-woo can see NPC Hyung-seok standing in front of the car. He continues, “There’s no point in killing him. Damn it, there’s no way out of this.”
Professor Cha visits the spot where Hyung-seok’s body was found, having learned that he met Jin-woo here the night he died. Jin-woo’s fingerprints were found on Hyung-seok’s neck, and the time of death coincides with the time that Jin-woo left the area.
He’s already visited Soo-jin, who’d tearfully apologized for not taking better care of Hyung-seok. Professor Cha yelled that if she was so sorry, she “shouldn’t have done that” (left Jin-woo for Hyung-seok). He reminded her of her promise to make up for how she and Hyung-seok ended up together, angry that instead, one man is dead and the other will be handicapped for life.
He accused Soo-jin of being the reason that his only son lost everything, became an alcoholic; then died in a foreign country. Professor Cha said that he knows Hyung-seok’s death isn’t Soo-jin’s fault, nor is Jin-woo’s accident, but he can’t find it in his heart to feel sorry for her.
Director Park has come to Spain, and he finds Professor Cha at the park, having already visited Jin-woo, who’s back in the hospital and sedated for “anxiety.” Over lunch, Professor Cha tells Director Park that they need to handle this with the press. He’d pressured Soo-jin not to approve the autopsy, afraid that no matter the results, reporters would take it as proof of murder.
He tells Director Park that he doesn’t doubt Jin-woo’s innocence, but Director Park doesn’t seem as confident. He remembers Jin-woo telling Yang-joo that he “destroyed” Hyung-seok, and further back, when Jin-woo told Director Park himself that he might have stabbed Hyung-seok if he’d had a knife, but he tells Professor Cha what he wants to hear.
Professor Cha decides to cover up as much as possible, so Hyung-seok’s death is covered up. Everyone leaves Granada, Hyung-seok’s body is sent home, and Jin-woo, realizing that NPC Hyung-seok can’t come after him if he’s asleep, voluntarily allows himself to be kept sedated. Nobody ever asks Jin-woo what happened between him and Hyung-seok that night, because if they had, he’d have told them that he killed Hyung-seok.
When Jin-woo wakes up, the only person still with him is Hee-joo. She’s sleeping curled up in a chair, so he covers her with a blanket and watches her for a little while. He leaves the bedroom, finding himself in a large apartment with a pool on the balcony, where Min-joo is happily splashing away.
She tells him that the doctor cut off his sleeping meds. She says that she came to help Hee-joo nurse him, but that he only wanted Hee-joo. He vaguely remembers begging Hee-joo not to leave the room, slurring that he was afraid to be alone. Min-joo asks why, but Jin-woo admits that he doesn’t know, either.
Min-joo tells him that he’s doing a great job charming her sister, and that she’s even created a nickname for him, though she doesn’t say what it is. She adds that she used to like Go Yu-ra because she’s pretty, but she came by the house and now Min-joo doesn’t like her anymore.
In flashback, we see Yu-ra show up at the hostel, extremely drunk. She shoves Hee-joo hard enough to knock her down, screaming that she warned Hee-joo to stay away from Jin-woo. Min-joo tells Jin-woo that the other guests pulled Yu-ra off Hee-joo, and she asks why he married someone like that. He says he doesn’t remember, looking both angry and guilty.
Hee-joo is still asleep when Jin-woo checks on her again, and her friend Sang-bum arrives to bring her some things. When he sees that Jin-woo is up and awake, he asks if he can take Hee-joo out since it’s her birthday and her friends want to throw a party.
Hee-joo is alarmed when she wakes to see an empty bed, but she finds Jin-woo sipping coffee in the dining room. He wishes her happy birthday, and Sang-bum invites her out for a birthday party. Jin-woo looks like he feels a little left out, but he tells her to go, insisting (unconvincingly) that he doesn’t need her anymore.
Hee-joo gives in, but she feels unsettled leaving Jin-woo alone without even Secretary Seo to watch over him. Jin-woo goes back to bed after she leaves, sitting stiffly as if expecting the thunder and guitar at any second. He relocates to the couch, but he startles at the loud screeching of cicadas.
His anxiety returns as the last of the sedatives wore off, but a frantic search of the apartment turns up nothing, not even alcohol. Jin-woo curls up in bed, wondering if he’s mentally ill as he feels Hyung-seok getting closer and closer.
While getting ready for her party, Hee-joo calls Jin-woo to check on him, and he lies that he’s perfectly fine. She offers to return to keep him company, but he tells her not to come and hangs up on her. An enormous bouquet of roses is delivered to the hostel for Hee-joo, with a note from Jin-woo wishing her happy birthday.
At the apartment, Jin-woo is sitting huddled in the shower stall when the thunder comes. NPC Hyung-seok materializes in the bathroom, and this time, Jin-woo tries to talk to him. He says, “Hyung-seok, how long will you keep following me? Can’t we stop this now? I really, really want to stop. Will you be happy only after you’ve killed me? How long must we fight?”
Hyung-seok just stands there, unresponsive to Jin-woo’s pleading, but not attacking, either. He begins to glitch, and his fierce expression seems to soften a little.
When Secretary Seo returns, he finds Jin-woo still in the shower stall, but alive. Jin-woo says he wants to leave now, but he’s afraid of being trapped on a plane (in case Hyung-seok shows up again), so he requests that they take a train back to Barcelona.
In the middle of her birthday party, Hee-joo steps out to call Secretary Seo. He and Jin-woo are on their way to the train station, and Jin-woo asks Secretary Seo not to tell Hee-joo they’re leaving. Secretary Seo tells Hee-joo that everything is fine, but when she says she’ll stop by the apartment later, he asks Jin-woo again if he can please tell her the truth.
Jin-woo doesn’t respond, so Secretary Seo tells Hee-joo that they’re on their way out of town. Her face falls and her voice falters, then she turns and runs out of the restaurant. She catches a taxi and directs the driver to the train station.
Secretary Seo settles Jin-woo into his seat on the train, and Jin-woo looks defeated, narrating, “I fled from Granada in fear. I couldn’t even afford to think about someone else’s feelings. But… ”
He watches as Hee-joo runs out of the station and onto the platform, trying to catch the train. The train pulls out, leaving her behind, and on the train, Jin-woo hangs his head.
The “romance” finally seems to be kicking in a little, though at this point, what’s between Hee-joo and Jin-woo seems like it’s mostly about their shared experiences in the past few days than any true romantic emotions. They’ve had the unique experience of having seen each other in their lowest, most vulnerable moments, and that’s bound to create a bond of some kind. I actually like that the show is taking this part of the story slowly — I appreciate the slow-growing awareness of the other person’s true self rather than the persona they present to the world. That sense of knowing who each other are on a fundamental level is not only an understandable basis for forging a strong connection, but it’s a good place to begin a relationship from, if that’s where this is leading. I was skeptical that a romance between Jin-woo and Hee-joo would be believable until this week’s episodes, but now that we’ve seen how they’ve been there for each other at their worst, I can absolutely imagine this bond turning to friendship, then love.
It was hard to see Jin-woo so broken in this episode, both in body and mind, by his realization that he killed Hyung-seok and the game’s subsequent relentless stalking. I think back to the wolf he was in the first couple of episodes, and it’s heartbreaking to see Jin-woo’s confidence and spirit so completely destroyed. By the time he sees Hyung-seok in the bathroom after “killing” him a second time, Jin-woo looked like he was almost ready to give up on life, literally, and let Hyung-seok kill him just to get some peace and atonement. I keep forgetting that Hyung-seok wasn’t a simple villain, but Jin-woo’s very close friend whom he loved very much, and probably never stopped loving even after what happened with Soo-jin. After killing him once by accident, then again on purpose (even if it was in-game, it still looked and felt very real), it’s no wonder that Jin-woo’s mind and spirit just couldn’t cope. I hope he finds something to bring back that spirit soon because he’s got a long time — at least a year that we know of — before he’s safe again.
I love this whole game-as-antagonist twist to this drama, because you can’t fight a game that can just regenerate your enemy as many times as it likes, which is a terrifying thought. And the scariest thing about the game is the way it’s evolving and adapting, making it nearly impossible for Jin-woo to find safe haven, because the game just learns how to circumvent any safety measures he discovers. First it behaved like a game should, staying within the parameters of its programming, but then it became capable of killing a human player in real life, and making that player an NPC. For a while that NPC obeyed the gaming rules, but now even that can’t be trusted, since NPC Hyung-seok learned how to remove obstacles instead of just waiting for them to be removed. I don’t know if Jin-woo’s desperate plea in the bathroom is what worked to save him, but I hope it’s something that can be repeated, because we’ve seen that he’s still fighting the game a year from now.
What scares me the most is what we saw at the end of Episode 5 — Se-joo lying on the ground at the train station, unable to be seen by anyone not in the game. My feeling is that Se-joo was alive until he boarded the train and ran into his own thunderstorm, because he could interact with the people around him until that point. I believe that Se-joo was at a similar point in his game’s evolution then as Jin-woo is now — still human and alive, but unable to control the game and being chased by an NPC that he inadvertently created (maybe the mysterious Marco?). So somehow, the game went through an evolutionary process with Se-joo, ending (or did it?) by pulling Se-joo into itself. Now it’s repeating that process with Jin-woo, but why? Is the game sentient, or is it simply glitching in a deadly way that Se-joo never predicted? And why is it doing so again with Jin-woo? There’s got to be something that both Se-joo and Jin-woo did to kickstart the process, and the question is, will Jin-woo be able to discover what’s happening and stop it before he too is pulled into the game and can’t get out?
Editor’s Note: Please don’t discuss spoilers because we’d hate to delete your comment! This includes anything shown in previews.
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