Memories of the Alhambra: Episode 7
If you can’t beat them, you’ve got to join them. Playing by the rules of the game has its benefits and drawbacks, and our beleaguered CEO copes the best he can as he continues to face his immortal enemy. Though he may have finally gotten a grasp on how to survive, he still has plenty to own up to as the game expands beyond its origins.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
At Bonita Hostel, Grandma wakes from her slumber and notices the light on in Se-joo’s room. She enters the room in anticipation, but it’s only Min-joo practicing her dance moves. Min-joo tells Grandma that Se-joo hasn’t returned and that she’s found refuge from Grandma’s unbearable snoring. Grandma scolds Min-joo for exaggerating, but Min-joo has recorded multiple nights of loud snoring as evidence. Ha!
Grandma enters Hee-joo’s room and asks if Se-joo wished her a happy birthday. Hee-joo shakes her head but assures Grandma that Se-joo read the email she sent yesterday. Grandma expresses disapproval about Se-joo’s lack of communication and then comments on how Jin-woo appeared and disappeared out of the blue. She worries about Jin-woo’s injured leg as she heads back to bed, and Hee-joo looks deeply concerned.
Before Hee-joo sleeps, her phone notifies her of an email from Se-joo. The title reads “Noona, it’s me,” and Hee-joo looks relieved as she reads the message. We don’t know the content of the message, but does this mean Se-joo is alive?
One year later in Seoul, a man in glasses walks into a Subway looking for the bathroom. He walks in and searches the stalls before pulling something invisible by a urinal. He looks to the ceiling with utter delight, and we see that he’s wearing the AR game contacts. The other men watch him reach out to grab air, but we know that he’s just obtained his first weapon.
Another man walks into the Subway asks the AR player where he found the sword. In the game user interface, we see the the first user (tester1) point the other user (tester2) to the bathroom. As tester1 admires his sword, he passes by the statue of King Sejong in Gwanghwamun Plaza and walks into his first mission: a battle with a Joseon assassin. The assassin attacks tester1 and easily defeats him.
In the J.One office, game developers watch the different missions of the game as Yang-joo explains the parallels with the original Granada game: The sword is found in the bathroom, and the first duel takes place in each city’s respective landmark sites.
Director Park notes that the gat covers the Joseon assassin’s menacing eyes, so Yang-joo orders the programmer to get rid of it, then add an eyepatch and a cut on his face to make him look scarier. Tester1 looks frazzled as he watches these changes happen live.
Then, Yang-joo shows off their Tokyo and Beijing duelers, which also transform live in front of tester1. Director Park find the Beijing dueler most threatening, and Yang-joo assures him that they have plenty of prototypes to work with.
In terms of their partnership with Subway, the users will gain 10% of their sandwich purchase to use as coins in the game, and eating the meal will add vitality and recovery abilities for the user. Wow, this is how to run a PPL.
Director Park gets pulled from the production team for Hyung-seok’s one-year memorial service and entrusts Yang-joo with preparations for their showcase. He reads over his notes for the memorial during his car ride and runs in late to the church service, where he’s curtly greeted by Professor Cha and his wife. He looks across the aisle and finds Soo-jin with her baby.
Director Park steps up to share his memorial eulogy and describes his impressionable first encounter with Hyung-seok, a young engineering student who presented his product to a class of business students. Young Hyung-seok had promised them one hundred times return on their investment, and Director Park gave Hyung-seok the requested money, in admiration of his ambition.
Just as he proudly shares that Hyung-seok fulfilled that promise, a man with a cane enters the church. It’s Jin-woo, and the attendees murmur about his unwelcome appearance as he limps down the aisle and sits at an empty pew. Distracted Director Park continues his speech about Hyung-seok’s visionary work as Jin-woo looks around and spots Soo-jin.
Professor Cha sits next to Jin-woo and says that he didn’t expect Jin-woo to show up. Jin-woo explains that he wanted to attend the memorial since he couldn’t attend the funeral last year. Professor Cha worries about Jin-woo’s excessive drinking and asks if he’s still on the drugs, to which Jin-woo responds that he intends on getting off them soon.
Director Park joins them in the pews as soon as he finishes his speech and asks Jin-woo when he returned from the U.S. Jin-wo admits that it’s been three months already and didn’t want to share that he was back. Professor Cha carefully asks if Jin-woo still hallucinates, and Jin-woo claims that he’s recovered now.
Jin-woo shares his plans to return to work because the company has become a mess. He criticizes Director Park for diminishing Jin-woo’s authority because he’s supposedly mentally unstable. Director Park raises his voice in defense, and at the turning heads, Professor Cha whispers that they revisit this later.
When they return to their seat, Professor Cha looks angry and asks Director Park if really didn’t know that Jin-woo had returned. Director Park explains that he assumed Jin-woo was still away based on Secretary Seo’s reports. Professor Cha’s wife asks what’s going on, and he disparages her concern.
Jin-woo stares at Hyung-seok’s memorial photo and then his gaze shifts to Soo-jin, who’s looking back at him. Professor Cha turns around and notices them looking at each other. When Soo-jin sees her father-in-law watching them, she quickly reverts her gaze and looks a bit shaken.
Jin-woo taps the shoulder of the young girl sitting in front of him and asks how to do the sign of the cross. As he leaves, Jin-woo’s sign of the cross is interrupted by the game interface notifying him that an enemy has arrived. NPC Hyung-seok appears at the altar, but Jin-woo doesn’t blink an eye.
As Hyung-seok speeds toward Jin-woo with his sword, Jin-woo lifts his hand as a gun materializes. He aims at Hyung-seok and shoots with no emotional or moral dilemma showing on his face. NPC Hyung-seok collapses dead again in the aisle while the attendees continue observe his memorial. With that, Jin-woo walks out of the church.
Secretary Seo answers a call from Director Park and confirms that they arrived in Seoul three months ago without telling anyone, as per Jin-woo’s request. Director Park demands to know what Jin-woo was up to, and Secretary Seo hesitantly shares that Jin-woo played the AR game all day and night for three months straight.
From his car, Jin-woo sees the Seoul AR users testing out the game and fighting their respective Joseon assassins. He pulls out his gun and shoots down the assassins one by one, confusing the users and the game programmers watching from the other end. He drives off, and his interface rewards him with more points to advance to level 85.
At J.One, a company employee shares the rumors about braindead Jin-woo and hopes that Jin-woo at least survives until the game launch because the death would be bad for their stocks. Jin-woo overhears this from behind and assures him that he’ll be alive.
Jin-woo limps into the elevator and asks other sheepish employees which rumor about him was most prominent. He suspects that the rumors about him going insane and being accused for murder were hyped up the most.
Jin-woo receives more attention from shocked employees as he walks to his office, where Secretary Seo shares an interview clip of (almost) ex-wife Yu-ra via a fancy PPL smart speaker. The entertainment news reported on conflicting claims by Yu-ra — displaying her involvement in Jin-woo’s recover on social media — and Jin-woo’s company — denying any interaction.
Reporters interviewed Yu-ra, who put on a tearful performance about how the company is ruining Jin-woo and their relationship. Jin-woo slams the video player in anger and takes some pills to control his anxiety.
As the game programmers check on the weapon inventory, the system notifies them that a new user has entered the space. Jin-woo walks into the inventory and takes out his game handgun with feedback on its function. Then, he whips out a sniper gun with feedback on its accuracy, and an employee gawks that Jin-woo has gained the level 70+ weapon. As Jin-woo walks out, the employees realize that new user “zinu” must be him.
Jin-woo receives a call from Yang-joo (stuck in the middle of his business in the bathroom) just as he enters Yang-joo’s empty office. Yang-joo asks why he suddenly appeared after keeping his return a secret. Jin-woo asks if he has any alcohol in the office and hangs up to drink.
As he pours himself a second drink, Jin-woo hears the menacing classical guitar sound and turns around to point his gun at… Emma? He finds NPC Emma strumming the guitar behind him and asks Yang-joo about this when he returns from the bathroom. Yang-joo says that Emma is his favorite character and orders his smart speaker to pause Emma.
Yang-joo shows off the different outfits he’s created for Emma and asks Jin-woo if they can use this character, which will surely attract users to Seoul. He figures that they can get the rights to her portrait because Jin-woo knows Hee-joo personally, but Jin-woo orders him to erase the character.
Yang-joo wonders if Hee-joo is also beautiful in person and asks what she does in Granada. Jin-woo responds that he doesn’t know because he hasn’t been in contact with her for a while.
Director Park storms into Jin-woo’s office, where he finds Jin-woo finishing the bottle of alcohol. He yells at Jin-woo for returning to work in this state, and Jin-woo indifferently claims that he was just throwing a tantrum because he felt like he was being ignored. He criticizes himself for having an inferiority complex and presumes that this is how Hyung-seok felt when he left the company.
Jin-woo quickly surrenders his authority to Director Park because he can’t live without alcohol. Director Park scolds him for wasting away playing games, drinking, and taking drugs, but Jin-woo explains that this is how he survives getting stabbed, killing, and being scared to death every day. He admits that he lied earlier about the hallucinations but couldn’t tell Professor Cha that he still sees his bloody Hyung-seok every single day.
Thinking back to another battle with NPC Hyung-seok on a hospital rooftop, Jin-woo confesses that he did consider jumping off the hospital building, like the rumors suspected. Jin-woo commends himself for staying alive and shares his realizations from the past year: “There is still logic to a madman, and there are rules to an insane world.”
Jin-woo thinks back to all the times that he fought and killed NPC Hyung-seok at the hospital, and on one occasion, he suddenly realized that he was leveling up whenever he killed this supposed hallucination. Director Park looks at Jin-woo with an unsettled expression.
Three months prior, Jin-woo had called Yang-joo to set up a space in the game that only he could use without any surveillance. He proceeded to fight multiple Joseon assassins in an abandoned building because he desperately needed to level up to gain the gun. He couldn’t run anymore and couldn’t survive with his sword.
We see Jin-woo fighting hoards of Joseon assassins in different forms as he levels up. He fought day and night until he finally leveled up to access modern weapons. Back in his office, Jin-woo holds the gun and tells Director Park that he’s not as anxious about dying but gets tired of killing NPC Hyung-seok every day. Director Park looks at Jin-woo like he’s deranged, so Jin-woo reminds him that this is a madman’s logic.
The thunderstorm and classical guitar precipitates, and Jin-woo announces to Director Park that Hyung-seok has arrived once again. Director Park doesn’t see anything, but the camera jerks to the side to reveal NPC Hyung-seok waiting to attack. Then, Jin-woo offers to share another strange fact.
Outside the office, Secretary Seo looks around and seems to sense something wrong. Inside, just as Hyung-seok takes his first steps toward Jin-woo, Secretary Seo bursts inside and slays NPC Hyung-seok. OH MY GOD. Jin-woo’s interface shows that City Hunter aka Secretary Seo has killed Hyung-seok, and Secretary Seo admits to Director Park that he’s started to see NPC Hyung-seok as well.
As the memorial service wraps up, Professor Cha receives a call from Director Park, who reports that Jin-woo’s condition may have worsened and that he plans on figuring out details through Secretary Seo. With her baby in her arms, Soo-jin approaches Professor Cha to suggest a family dinner, but he defers to another time.
Secretary Seo calls Jin-woo to ask how much he should reveal to Director Park, but Jin-woo simply warns him that whatever he reveals will make him seem crazy too. Jin-woo then asks about updates on Hee-joo, and Secretary Seo shares that she’s set up a guitar shop. He suggests that they visit Hee-joo soon, and Jin-woo seems confused because he hadn’t checked the email about Hee-joo’s family returning to Seoul.
After hanging up, Jin-woo looks up the email, and we flash back to Jin-woo’s departure from Granada. On the train ride, Jin-woo had ordered Secretary Seo to take care of all the emails from Hee-joo to make sure the family doesn’t worry until they find Se-joo.
Hee-joo typed away a response to Se-joo, who’s actually Secretary Seo on the other end. Unaware of this, Hee-joo assured Grandma that Se-joo was traveling with his friends. When Hee-joo visited Seoul, she messaged Se-joo an update about possibly opening a guitar shop with Sang-bum. As they drove by the J.One building, Sang-bum pointed out the company and mentioned the rumors about Jin-woo.
We hear the narration as Hee-joo continued to write to Se-joo with updates. The family moved back to Seoul, and she wrote to Se-joo that they were bringing all of his belongings, as per his request. Grandma and Min-joo were overjoyed by their new house, and Hee-joo decided to create guitar shop in her house to run with Sang-bum. She shared her excitement with Se-joo but also admitted her concerned that only they were happy.
Worried about all the rumors surrounding Jin-woo, Hee-joo messaged Secretary Seo with her regards, and he responded with pleasantries. Hee-joo hesitated to ask about Jin-woo’s condition and ended up not asking for details about him.
Hee-joo finally set up her guitar shop under her name, Emma, and she wrote to Se-joo in excitement. Fast forward to the present, where Jin-woo stands in front of Hee-joo’s house looking at the shop sign. As he starts to leave, Hee-joo arrives with groceries and asks who he is.
Jin-woo slowly turns around, and Hee-joo looks surprised by his appearance. He limps over to her to share his umbrella and notes that he would’ve been ran to her with the umbrella if he could have. She smiles at him nervously.
Hee-joo invites Jin-woo inside and quickly stuffs the groceries in the fridge before running to the bathroom to dry her hair. She takes a nervous breath before returning to Jin-woo and makes coffee. Jin-woo admires the guitar shop, and Hee-joo shares that she’s sold three guitars so far but doesn’t worry about money thanks to Jin-woo. He asks if she also teaches guitar lessons in addition to making guitars, but Hee-joo doesn’t respond
Jin-woo notes that Hee-joo seems different from a year ago — more mature and less vibrant. When Jin-woo asks about her family, she says that everything is fine except for her brother, who hasn’t returned home yet but remains in constant contact. Jin-woo assures her that he’ll surely return when he runs out of money.
At that point, Hee-joo turns around and accuses Jin-woo of feigning innocence. She suspects that he’s the one who’s been sending the emails from Se-joo. At first, she believed the emails from Se-joo claiming that he was traveling, but as time went on, it didn’t seem like her brother.
Recently, Hee-joo contacted a friend in Granada, and she learned that their hostel was abandoned as they left it. She realized something was wrong because Jin-woo was so adamant about buying the hostel, and she didn’t notice the red flags before because she was so excited about the money. She’s finally connected the dots: Se-joo spent every day developing games and Jin-woo’s company is just about to release a game.
She wanted to meet with Jin-woo directly, but she couldn’t reach him. So now, she asks directly if Jin-woo wrote the emails from Se-joo. He admits that he ordered Secretary Seo to write the emails because he knew that Hee-joo would worry, but he doesn’t know where Se-joo is, even after searching for a year.
Hee-joo cries at the betrayal, finally realizing Jin-woo’s intentions. Jin-woo reminds her of his warning: “I told you not to trust me because I’m not a good person, because you’d regret it.”
Oof, I knew Jin-woo’s shady business deal would come to haunt him. His lack of transparency with buying the hostel bothered me, so I’m glad that Hee-joo caught onto the suspicious coincidences regarding her brother’s disappearance. I was pleasantly surprised by the reversal at the end, as I wasn’t expecting Hee-joo to be so sharp with her deductive reasoning. It makes sense that she has this smart intuition when it comes to family because she’s worked her whole life to keep her family together and afloat. Other aspects of Hee-joo’s character aren’t quite as impressionable, but I hope this revelation about Se-joo precedes more dimension and substance to Hee-joo.
My whole body reacted when Secretary Seo intervened in Jin-woo’s game, and it was definitely the highlight of this episode for me. It was perfectly timed at the end of Jin-woo’s monologue and validated that his nightmare wasn’t just a hallucination. Jin-woo knows that he’s crazy but has stopped caring if others belittle his insanity because he’s accepted that this insanity is his reality. I love how this show flips back and forth between the game user perspective and the non-user perspective, especially in this scene because it magnified Director Park’s unsettled bewilderment. We see Jin-woo holding the gun, and then Director Park watching Jin-woo hold an invisible object — these two perspectives seamlessly elevated this scene that already had a rich monologue and subtext.
This show is so dynamic and actually feels like a reflection of the AR game itself. The plot is unpredictable and unsteady in a way that makes this show gripping. Just when I think that the show is slowing down, it speeds up and then comes to an abrupt halt. There are so many interesting elements and plot points to work off of, and I can’t wait to find out where the hell Se-joo is and how he’ll be reintegrated into this story. He’s obviously the key to figuring out the game’s problems, though I do secretly hope that the game has somehow usurped all the power from him. As we see the extents of terror, this show is making me sadistic for more sinister twists. Give us the darkness!
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