Memories of the Alhambra: Episode 9
Upon reaching a new tier in the game, our hero receives a mandate to find the game’s creator, the thus far missing Se-joo. We get a peek into the possible series of events that may have led to Se-joo’s disappearance and how they may have mirrored our protagonist’s current nightmare. Our hero is determined to the the mission through, both in the hopes that finding Se-joo will shed light on the game’s workings and to make things right with Se-joo’s sister Hee-joo.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
In the airplane to Granada, Hee-joo answers a call from Jin-woo just before take-off. He tells her that he found Se-joo and suggests that she deplane, since her efforts to search for her brother in Granada will be futile. Hee-joo demands that he reveal Se-joo’s whereabouts, but Jin-woo responds that he’ll tell her in person.
Suspecting more duplicity from Jin-woo, Hee-joo wonders if there’s a reason why Jin-woo won’t let her go to Granada and seems determined to do things her way. Jin-woo insists that he’s just trying to prevent her from wasting her time in Granada, and Hee-joo hangs up, conflicted.
Jin-woo lets dancing Min-joo back into his office and thanks her for letting him use her phone. Ah, smart — Hee-joo wouldn’t pick up his calls, with all his wrongdoings. Min-joo asks if her sister will be returning, but Jin-woo presumes that she’ll do the opposite of everything he says because she doesn’t trust him.
As Jin-woo opens up an envelope, he says that he’ll probably go to Granada as well to take care of other business, but Min-joo jumps to the conclusion that he’s following her sister to propose to her. Min-joo admits that she peeked at what’s in the envelope — signed divorce papers from Yu-ra — and hopes that the news goes public soon, so that her matchmaking dreams come true. Jin-woo looks perplexed by what’s going in her Min-joo’s head.
Jin-woo tells his office assistant to escort Min-joo to her YD (hur) audition and says that she better not prove his recommendation wrong. She assures him that she’ll do well and thanks him. Before she leaves, she wishes him luck in his proposal to Hee-joo. Ha!
When Jin-woo takes out the divorce papers, he finds a note from Young-joon (Yu-ra’s manager) confirming that they’ve signed in agreement to all his terms — but without Yu-ra’s consent. Jin-woo signs the papers anyway, and as he seals the envelope, Director Park peeks his head inside the office to check in about Jin-woo’s upcoming business trip to Granada. Jin-woo insists that it’s for a very important quest in the game, but Director Park looks doubtful.
Jin-woo goes to Yang-joo’s office to request any special items that Yang-joo has been developing, since he’s not sure what the quest will throw at him. Yang-joo shows him a special drink that increases your vitality in the game as well as an unassuming lighter that emits an explosive stream of flame. Jin-woo wants both items and any new ones that Yang-joo has up his sleeve.
Jin-woo picks up a call from Hee-joo, who has followed Jin-woo’s suggestion to get off the plane. She asks where to meet him, and he smiles. In narration, Jin-woo reminds us that this all began when Se-joo urgently called him while under pursuit in Barcelona. Though Se-joo was captured on surveillance footage boarding the train in Barcelona, there was no footage of him deboarding at any station.
As a mad man seeing the crazy hallucination of Hyung-seok, Jin-woo shares another crazy hallucination — his best take on what happened to Se-joo. In this hypothetical, Se-joo kills Marco in the game and searches Marco’s dead body for Jin-woo’s contact information. Se-joo remembers Marco sharing his strategy to pit Jin-woo and Hyung-seok against each other to get the biggest offer. As Se-joo runs off, we see that Marco is dead with bullet to the head.
Se-joo urgently sends an email to Jin-woo from Marco’s computer, and just as he’s about to leave, the thunderstorm and insidious guitar music begin. The game informs Se-joo that an enemy has arrived, and he looks up to find NPC Marco. Jin-woo presumes that Se-joo was far more frightened than he was with Hyung-seok because Marco was at a much higher level, armed with a gun.
Se-joo trembles in fear of dead Marco reappearing before him, and we hear the gunshots along with the booming thunder. The door opens, and it’s Se-joo, miraculously alive but clearly injured. As he runs down the hall, NPC Marco also walks out of the room with his gun pointed at Se-joo.
Running for his life, Se-joo buys a ticket for the train and makes a call at the payphone, first to Hee-joo. He tells her that he’s heading back to Granada that night and that he misses her, to which Hee-joo seems pleasantly surprised by his uncharacteristic affection. Then, he makes the fateful call to Jin-woo that started the entanglement in the universe.
Jin-woo presumes that Se-joo called him because Jin-woo’s company had the capacity — the programmers — to resolve the bugs in the game. Se-joo rushes to finish the call with Jin-woo because NPC Marco appears again, and he runs through the game thunderstorm with Marco right at his tail. NPC Marco points his gun and continues to shoot with glazed-over eyes, just like Hyung-seok.
Almost at the train, Se-joo trips and finds Marco behind him with a sniper gun (eeeek!). Se-joo runs and safely boards the train, with Marco still aiming his massive gun at him at the platform. When the train begins the move, the game notifies Se-joo that their fight has been cancelled due to the distance.
On the train, Se-joo wakes up to clear skies and wakes up his cabinmate as they’re approaching Granada. Then, the thunderstorm rolls in, and Se-joo looks petrified by the presence of his enemy once more. When he opens the door to the cabin, Marco is standing there and makes the first attack. Se-joo falls to the ground in pain, and Marco shoots at Se-joo relentlessly.
As the hypothetical continues, we see the cabinmate wake up to Se-joo’s dead body, and Jin-woo narrates that if Se-joo was really dead, then his dead body would have been discovered, just like Hyung-seok and Marco. But Se-joo’s body was never found, which must mean that he’s alive.
Se-joo runs out of the cabin, and the door blocks their battle, giving him time to run away. When Se-joo gets off the train, he crawls on the ground in pain, but the other passengers don’t notice him at all. He falls unconscious, and this is when Jin-woo arrives at the station, looking for Se-joo. Jin-woo suspects that Se-joo was there, but nobody could see him.
This brings us back to Jin-woo being rewarded with the Citadel Hawk for reaching level 90. The hawk lands on Jin-woo’s arm and delivers a message from ‘master.’ Jin-woo unties the message, which is a secret quest that can only be accessed and completed in Granada. The game informs Jin-woo that there is a time limit on this opportunity, and the countdown begins — he has 48 hours to complete the quest.
When Secretary Seo arrives, Jin-woo throws him a gun and gives him five hours to advance levels so that he can be useful in Granada. Secretary Seo is only at level 48 (gun access is granted at level 50) and seems doubtful that he can advance two whole levels within that time.
Hee-joo returns home and tells fretful Grandma that she decided not to go to Granada because she was worried about completing a guitar order on time. She waits in the shop for Jin-woo, who promised to go to her when he finished his business, but hours pass and night falls with no word from him.
Min-joo calls Hee-joo and wonders why she isn’t going to Spain, since Jin-woo was going to follow her there. Hee-joo looks confused by the conflicting information, but Min-joo only confuses her more by saying that Jin-woo has a special reason to meet her. Giggling Min-joo hangs up and then texts Hee-joo with a hint with just the consonants to the word “proposal.”
Hee-joo calls back and gets angry at Min-joo for playing jokes and demands to know what information Min-joo has. Min-joo reveals that Jin-woo is probably going to propose to Hee-joo because he’s single now and gets hyped that he may have already bought a ring! This girl cracks me up!
Exasperated by her sister’s theory, Hee-joo says that she can’t believe that Jin-woo would be buying a ring to propose to her. Jin-woo walks in just as she says this, and Hee-joo falls silent. He plays along and cheekily asks if he should go out to buy the ring now or some flowers at least. Ha!
Hee-joo tells him to come inside without a fuss and asks him about Se-joo. Jin-woo says that he’s headed to Granada later that night to search for him, but he’s not sure if Se-joo will be in Granada. Hee-joo asks for proof that Se-joo contacted him, but Jin-woo says that he can’t show any evidence because it was through the game. She needs to wear the contacts to see for herself.
Jin-woo gives her Yang-joo’s contact information, but Hee-joo argues that he’s not being transparent. He explains that he only has 48 hours to complete the quest, and already, 12 hours have passed. Hee-joo doesn’t understand what he’s saying, but before he can continue, Sang-bum walks in and punches Jin-woo to the ground.
Hee-joo tries to hold him back, but Sang-bum pushes her away and spits fighting words about his disapproval of Jin-woo. When Sang-bum tries to attack again, Jin-woo pushes him back with his cane and warns him to stop. Jin-woo accuses Sang-bum of making one-sided claims about being like family to Hee-joo, and that provokes Sang-bum to lunge at him again. But this time, Jin-woo expertly uses his cane to beat Sang-bum down and crash a guitar aside to disarm him.
Jin-woo explains that all he’s been doing nowadays is getting in sword fights and that he’d prefer not to see real blood. Grandma walks into the noisy argument and sees a bloody scratch on Jin-woo’s neck. She scolds Sang-bum for fighting and kicks him out of the house with a ladle (a classic granny weapon).
Late for his flight, Jin-woo calls Secretary Seo to pack their bags and meet at the airport. He tries to leave without getting his injury treated, but Hee-joo gets mad and tells him to listen and stop being so arrogant for once. Jin-woo silently and obediently walks over to get treated.
While Hee-joo cleans his wound, Jin-woo asks why Sang-bum is so overbearing, like they’ve promised to get married. If that’s the case, Jin-woo says that he disapproves because Sang-bum is a poor fighter. Hee-joo says that she’s never considered marrying Sang-bum but may consider it now because Jin-woo mentioned it. Jin-woo warns her not to get married in a moment of anger because she’ll end up like him.
Jin-woo notices the guitar he broke and asks Hee-joo how much he owes in damages. She tells him it’s fine, so Jin-woo insists that he’ll buy a guitar instead. She doesn’t respond, so Jin-woo wonders if he doesn’t even deserve to buy a guitar now.
A tear falls on Jin-woo’s jacket, and Hee-joo’s sniffles make Jin-woo turn around in surprise. He asks why she’s crying, but she says that she doesn’t know. She’s pieced together that Jin-woo has been obsessively playing the game to level up enough to contact Se-joo. That means that only Jin-woo deserves to meet Se-joo, and she can only watch the game from a monitor.
Jin-woo asks if she still thinks that he’s insane, and she nods. Despite this, Hee-joo says that she’ll trust Jin-woo and wait for his call. He asks why she’s trusting a fraud like him, and she responds that it’s more distressful to distrust him. He warns her that she may be being fooled again, but she cries that it’s more distressful to try to not be fooled.
She mumbles curses, and Jin-woo says that she’s quoting his catchphrase. As she cries, she curses Jin-woo for making her life difficult and making it hard to hate him. Jin-woo looks at her tenderly and reaches out to wipe her tears. They stay like that for a moment before they hear the door opening.
Hee-joo runs out to see Jin-woo’s taxi driving off, and Jin-woo narrates: “Although we didn’t leave with Hee-joo, this trip is definitely the most important moment in our lives.”
After Jin-woo and Secretary arrive in Barcelona, they decide to take the overnight train to Granada to follow Se-joo’s footsteps from a year ago. Then, the thunderstorm arrives, and Secretary Seo runs out of the convenience store to the platform, where Jin-woo faces his immortal enemy. As always, Hyung-seok is along for the ride.
We jump back to the previous day, when Jin-woo told Director Park that he was headed to Granada to complete an important quest. Director Park told him to make time for lunch with Professor Cha, but Jin-woo wanted to push to after his trip. At that, Director Park stormed into Jin-woo’s office and demanded that Jin-woo also concern himself with reality, not just the game.
At the restaurant, Jin-woo messaged Hee-joo that he would meet her at her house. Director Park warned Jin-woo not to trust Professor Cha or him, for that matter. He reminded Jin-woo that Professor Cha coldly cut ties with his own son, and Jin-woo quickly caught on that he’s at risk of being cut from the company.
They’re met by an unexpected guest — Soo-jin, who’s been invited by her father-in-law. Professor Cha entered and said that he invited everyone for this awkward reunion lunch. Over lunch, Professor Cha asked about Jin-woo’s divorce and seemed relieved to hear that it’s been settled.
Then, he suggested that Jin-woo and Soo-jin get back together, since the source of their calamity (Hyung-seok) is now gone. What?! Soo-jin’s hands trembled, and Jin-woo looked at him with disbelief.
In the bathroom Director Park told Jin-woo that he wasn’t expecting Professor Cha to pull this card. Jin-woo got the message that Professor Cha doesn’t intend on discussing the company with him, so Director Park is his only lifeline now. Knowing that the chips are down, Director Park tried to convince Jin-woo to not go to Granada, but Jin-woo wouldn’t budge.
After the lunch, Jin-woo received a call from Soo-jin, warning him about her father-in-law. Professor Cha had tortured her endlessly after Hyung-seok’s death, even refusing to hold his grandson unless it was for the camera. She never shared the hardships with Jin-woo because he was surely living through his own hell.
Soo-jin warned Jin-woo that Professor Cha doesn’t trust Jin-woo at all and only declined Hyung-seok’s autopsy because of his own pride — not because he believed Jin-woo’s innocence. She knows that Professor Cha’s pride is the most important thing to him, and he didn’t want to accept that he was wrong about his choice of Jin-woo over his own son.
She claimed that Professor Cha believes that Jin-woo killed Hyung-seok. She could understand why Hyung-seok feared his father, as she’s now scared of him as well. Jin-woo thought back to Professor Cha slapping Hyung-seok at their separation and how Hyung-seok would cry in loneliness when they had drinks together.
Back at the Barcelona train station, NPC Hyung-seok approaches Jin-woo with his sword, and Secretary Seo runs to protect Jin-woo with his gun. Just as Secretary Seo aims his gun, Hyung-seok is shot by Jin-woo and collapses onto the train tracks. As Jin-woo hopes that this will be their last journey together, Hyung-seok disappears, and the two gamers stow away their weapons as the train arrives.
Secretary Seo leads Jin-woo to their cabin and assures Jin-woo that the space is too small for Hyung-seok to appear. As the train heads toward Granada, Jin-woo grows more anxious and can’t seem to fall asleep. He’s only able to catch a quick nap before he’s woken up in preparation of their arrival.
As Jin-woo washes his hands in the train bathroom, Secretary Seo tells him that he’ll be waiting on the platform. When Secretary Seo walks out, he suddenly hears the booming thunderstorm, as does Jin-woo. He knows that Hyung-seok is waiting right outside the bathroom, so when Jin-woo opens the door, he immediately shoots his enemy dead.
Before Secretary Seo boards the train, the game tells him that Jin-woo killed Hyung-seok, so he steps back on the platform in relief. Then, the thunderstorms start again, and the game informs Jin-woo that the enemy has arrived. He turns back to find NPC Hyung-seok dead and then looks up to find a game terrorist in mask with a gun pointed at him.
Secretary Seo also hears the thunderstorms and tries to run back into the train, but he’s shot down by an arrow. Inside the train, Jin-woo gets shot in the arm by the terrorist and gets back inside the bathroom. The terrorist manages to stick a hand inside and shoots at the bathroom while Jin-woo forces the door closed.
On the platform, Aragon warriors on the rooftops attack Secretary Seo, who cringes in pain and doesn’t manage to get back onto the train. He runs behind a pole and painfully snaps off the arrow before shooting at the warriors. He tries to run away and shoot at a further distance, but the gun can’t reach that far.
As Secretary Seo tries to change his weapon, other enemies with swords appear before him. He shoots the first one down but runs out of bullets to fend off other attacks. He resorts to his sword, but as soon as he kills the enemy, a group of them crowd around him. Desperate for help, Secretary Seo calls Jin-woo, who’s fending off enemies of his own.
Secretary Seo cries for help, and that prompts Jin-woo to make moves against his enemies. He shoots the terrorist’s hand and proceeds to shoot the two attackers dead. He tries to reach for the emergency exit, but it won’t open. As he passes by on the train, he sees Secretary Seo struggling to fight his enemies.
On the train, Jin-woo tries to call Secretary Seo, but the phone keeps ringing. Then, the game informs him that he’s lost his ally and that an enemy has arrived. From the corner of his eye, Jin-woo sees another terrorist approaching him, and he turns to see the terrorist pointing the gun straight at him.
The terrorist shoots, but the bullet freezes in mid-air. Jin-woo has traveled outside of Granada and beyond the radius of the game, so the attack has been cancelled. The NPCs disappear, and Jin-woo looks frightened to death.
WHAT WAS THAT?! This cannot be the quest that Se-joo had prepared — I highly doubt that he would put Jin-woo in this much danger, assuming that the quest is a rescue mission. The spontaneous hoards of attacks must be the consequences of leveling up or the game morphing into chaos in the one-year gap. Neither Jin-woo nor Secretary Seo were ready for that, and I’m curious to learn how the rules of this game have evolved in the past year, particularly in the implications of “death.” I’m starting to question the rules of “death,” in this game and at what point “death” became no-quotations death.
Jin-woo died plenty of times when he first played the game, and he simply logged back in to try to beat his current level. For Jin-woo, the first time the game bled into reality was with Hyung-seok’s death, so was that the threshold at which the game and reality merge into one alternate reality? And since Secretary Seo was Jin-woo’s ally, do the same rules apply to him? So is he dead dead?!!! I can’t fathom Secretary Seo dying at this point, and I desperately hope that he’s been somehow granted some mercy by this merciless game.
The terrorists appearing right after NPC Hyung-seok was terrifying, and that truly gave Jin-woo a taste of Se-joo’s experience, if level 92 Marco did reincarnate in the game as a revenge-seeking NPC, according to Jin-woo’s hypothetical. Of course, we don’t know if that hypothetical is true, but it looked highly possible with what we know about the game thus far. I like how this remains a hypothetical — a crafty move by the writing to open up the possibilities in narrative tweaks — because we have no idea if any of it is true. I’m convinced that 90% of this is true, but I’m mentally preparing myself for this hypothetical to be flipped on its head.
I’m starting to see the romantic potential of our lead pairing, though I don’t think the previous moments of forced affection were quite necessary. I use the word “affection” loosely, as most of the emotional moments between our leads were based on the trauma of Jin-woo’s accident. I’m not sure why there was such an emphasis on tears from Hee-joo when Jin-woo left, and I honestly found that scene a bit overdramatic. I thought the tears from Hee-joo in this episode were much more nuanced and convincing. She has no other choice but to trust a guy who lied to her, and she feels completely useless in the desperate search for her brother. Despite being betrayed by Jin-woo before, she finally knows the full truth and is willing to trust Jin-woo. I think that trust is meaningful, especially to Jin-woo, who’s realizing that her trust holds more weight that he thought.
I would much rather have Hee-joo directly involved in the search for Se-joo, which I hope we get through her alter ego Emma. But Hee-joo’s deference to Jin-woo got me thinking: Where are the female gamers? If given a chance or an alternate reality, I think that Hee-joo, Min-joo, and even Grandma could excel in an AR game. Imagine a game universe for Grandma in which grannies level up with weapons like ladles to chase out overbearing boys creeping on their granddaughters. Or a universe for Min-joo in which k-pop star hopefuls have dance-offs and navigate their connections to land an audition. Just a thought.
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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