The King: Eternal Monarch: Episode 9
It’s time for our monarch to start making his move now that he’s becoming aware of the depth of his traitorous uncle’s scheming. But our leads still don’t have the full picture, making it difficult for our hero to pin down where his dear uncle might be. Both sides are closing in on each other, so it’s only a matter of time before there’s a confrontation.
Tae-eul and Gon go to Jung-hye’s address on file, but it’s an empty field. Gon is now sure she’s on Rim’s team. But he’s still happy he got to take a little trip with Tae-eul, and she wonders how he got so cheesy. He jokes about treason, which upsets Tae-eul given his past.
He apologizes, but she’s just upset that she doesn’t know how to comfort him. He guesses she’s been worried about him seeing Jung-hye, but he thinks of Jung-hye and his mother as entirely different people.
Tae-eul broaches the subject of traveling between worlds. How does he and Rim do it? (Took her long enough to ask.) He vows to answer any question she has but that one. She accepts his refusal and starts asking about his dating history instead.
Later, Eun-seob meets Gon at the bakery. Gon wants him to become the “real” Unbreakable Sword from now on. Eun-seob is not keen on the idea, but he agrees when Gon calls him out on stealing Yeong’s expensive coat.
In the kingdom, Seo-ryung’s mom packs out her fridge with side dishes. Seo-ryung asks her again about the newspaper, but her mom insists she didn’t send it. Her mom brings up Lee Rim. Did he have a secret child?
She explains about the umbrella man looking like Rim, but Seo-ryung cautions her against spreading rumors that the traitor had a kid. It could hurt her political career. Her unconcerned act drops when she’s alone, and she pulls the strange newspaper out of her purse, looking frightened.
We’ve clearly backtracked since we now see Shin-jae breaking into Gon’s hotel room. He flashes back to being in the kingdom. His mom had told him to wait for her and left him on the street, promising she’d be back. That’s when he saw little Gon on the news.
In the present, he asks Gon if he’s truly Lee Gon. After Gon declares himself Shin-jae’s king, he asks what else Shin-jae remembers. He can help him find whatever it is Shin-jae is looking for. Shin-jae isn’t ready to face it and tells Gon to get lost. He leaves with the warning that he’ll arrest Yeong for illegal firearm possession if he sees him again.
Once he leaves, Gon and Yeong discuss why Rim would want to bring a kid over. Gon reasons Rim must’ve needed Shin-jae’s parents from one of the worlds. Yeong plans to investigate things on this end while Gon is back in the kingdom.
Shin-jae stands outside waiting for Tae-eul, looking like a sad puppy. He tells her about meeting an Eun-seob who wasn’t Eun-seob, and she asks how much he knows. Shin-jae throws her question back at her and accuses her of just believing whatever “that jerk” tells her.
Tae-eul unhesitatingly admits she believes Gon. She promises to explain things, but Shin-jae storms off. He visits his old house and thinks back to that day in Corea. Rim had approached a crying Shin-jae with the promise of helping him find his mom. Next, we see him waking from his coma. In the present, Shin-jae, Tae-eul, and Gon each have their own little brooding sessions.
The team has a celebration for Eun-seob’s successful end to his military service, but Tae-eul is distracted. Shin-jae didn’t show and isn’t answering her texts. Time pauses, but of course, only Gon notices in his hotel room.
As for Rim, his right-hand man brings him up to speed: a cop visited the care center, the roommate murdered someone, and the restaurant owner is missing. Meanwhile, Gon and Tae-eul contemplate the mysteries surrounding Rim’s people swapping.
In the kingdom, Seo-ryung finds her advisor waiting in her office. At least, I’m assuming that’s what he is since we have zero information on him. Seriously, who is this dude? The two of them discuss affairs, and he mentions that Chairman Choi wants to meet with her. She agrees to see him that night.
Gon recalls reciting the message engraved on the Four Tiger Sword as a child. He faltered, and Rim walked up and recited the rest. Presently, the burner phone in Gon’s possession rings. In a flashback, Rim asks if Gon understands the meaning of the words. Little Gon replies it’s about the duty of a ruler. Rim asks if he’ll fulfill those duties, making Gon go quiet.
Present Gon recites into the phone, “A sage is moved to defeat the evil of the mountains and streams. Wield it with deep thoughts and make things right.” Rim listens on the other end as Gon bites out that he remembers him. He tells Rim to hide better because now he knows Rim is in the republic. They each dramatically dispose of their phones – Rim tosses his in fire, and Gon breaks his in half – and glare.
Seo-ryung visits Chairman Choi, her ex-husband, in prison. She thanks him for the incriminating photos of Assemblyman Park. Ah, so that’s where they came from. He’d like a special pardon as his reward, but she shuts that down.
He comments on her “clinging” to Gon and accuses her of wiretapping the palace. She threatens in turn that she still has her wiretapping files on his shady deals. He wonders if she’s really shooting for becoming queen now. Seo-ryung asks what’s so wrong with being greedy.
She’s achieved all of her goals thus far, and now she wants to be a queen without term limits. He marvels at her level of ambition, but she claims she’s always been upfront about her greed and ambition. Before she leaves, she passes along the envelope that contained the newspaper and asks him to find out who participated in the treason 25 years ago. It’d look bad for her to dig into this a year before her term expires.
Tae-eul orders some food for
PPL Gon, and they have a date by the river. She pastes on a smile and tells him to keep up his strength so he can come back safely from his trip. He looks to her in surprise. Tae-eul knows he has meetings on Fridays he can’t miss. She tries to hide how upset she is, but Gon still looks guilty.
She gives Gon the Lee Sang-do case file, thinking it can only be solved in his world. He recognizes the man as one of the workers in the palace stables. Gon shares that he’s leaving Yeong here to deal with Rim and bringing Eun-seob back with him instead. Oh, this should be fun.
Tae-eul is anxious about Gon leaving, but he needs to guard their worlds. Rim should be caught in his world, but worst-case scenario, Yeong will kill him here. Tae-eul is shaken, and Gon apologizes for bringing trouble here. She hugs him, confessing with tears in her eyes that she’s not okay like she’s pretending to be. He promises to come back soon.
Back at the hotel, Yeong stalks toward a cowering Eun-seob with hair clippers. Ha! Yeong watches in confusion and frustration as Eun-seob psyches himself up and begins to cut off his precious hair.
In the kingdom, Ok-nam sends guards to meet Gon in the bamboo forest. He brings the restaurant owner with him with orders that he be locked up in secret. In the locker room, Eun-seob puts on his bulletproof vest per Yeong’s earlier instructions. He laments that it’s like going right back into military service.
A guard hears him talking to himself in satoori but doesn’t comment on it. He approaches to ask when “Yeong” wants to receive his report on everything that happened in his absence. Eun-seob is thrown by the guard’s North Korean accent but after checking his notes, realizes he must be Seok Ho-pil.
Gon enters and commands Ho-pil to have people guard the forest and arrest anyone who tries to enter. Be especially cautious of any men in their 70s. He also asks for CCTV footage of all events he attended in the last year.
Ho-pil is confused as to why he’s not giving these tasks to Yeong, but Gon bluffs that Yeong has more important matters to attend to. Eun-seob, who isn’t nearly as adept at impersonation as his alternate, keeps his responses to grunts and nodding while standing as stiff as humanly possible.
Gon visits Ok-nam who’s giving him the cold shoulder. He wonders why she’s not asking anything, but she says she already knows where he’s been. Isn’t he chasing his destiny?
Gon goes to the stables and makes Lee Sang-do’s alternate so nervous with all his glaring that he hurts himself as he works. Gon orders him to be placed under house arrest where he’s forbidden from contacting anyone.
In the republic, Tae-eul is shocked to hear that Shin-jae is taking a few weeks off. She calls and stops by his house, but he’s out drinking away his troubles. The same guy who tried to pay him off makes another go of it; he assumed that’s why Shin-jae came to his club. But Shin-jae is only there because it’s the only place he can hide from Tae-eul.
He asks to use the room for a few days since he doesn’t have anywhere to go. Looking at his pitiful form, the man yells he should go somewhere nice on vacation. He’d rather Shin-jae just ask him for money.
In the kingdom, Eun-seob makes fun of Gon for not being able to get into Yeong’s computer after bragging he could easily crack the passcode. Eun-seob jumps to attention looking unnaturally stiff and all sorts of awkward when Secretary Mo announces Seo-ryung has arrived. They’ll be up all night working on the year-end report.
Tae-eul stops by Na-ri’s café in case Shin-jae dropped by, but no luck. Na-ri looks over at the table where Yeong is sitting stoically and asks Tae-eul what’s up with Eun-seob. Tae-eul pretends like he’s being totally normal, but Na-ri thinks he’s less handsome lately. Yeong cuts his eyes over at that while Tae-eul remarks on her odd taste.
Tae-eul tells Yeong they should meet at the hotel from now on to save Eun-seob and Na-ri’s relationship. Yeong slides over a gold bull figurine for Tae-eul to exchange for cash. She agrees but has a request in return. She wants to use the hotel room, too.
Yeong needs a means of transportation and takes the driving test to get Eun-seob his license. In a flashback, Eun-seob admitted he failed the driving test, making Yeong question how he’s going to handle being his replacement in Corea. Eun-seob is just as worried about leaving his siblings in Yeong’s care, but Gon told him this is how he could protect them.
In the kingdom, Eun-seob fights to stay awake on his feet all night as Gon and Seo-ryung comb through mountains of documents and discuss riveting issues like the national budget. Seo-ryung suddenly asks about Tae-eul. Did she leave? When Gon says she returned to her life, Seo-ryung thinks of Luna and says she hopes she enjoyed her time here.
Eun-seob almost blows his cover during their meal when he whips out a packet of kimchi he brought from the republic. Gon casually flips the package so Seo-ryung doesn’t see the label. Eun-seob asks why Seo-ryung isn’t eating to which she replies she’ll gain weight if she eats all her meals. (Well, at least she’ll be thin when she passes out from malnutrition during an Assembly meeting…)
She follows that up with, “Aren’t you getting married, Your Highness?” Gon sarcastically asks if she’s going to marry him. “Can’t I?” Seo-ryung asks. Nope. Gon informs her he’s already proposed to someone else. That shuts her up. Eun-seob marvels at the passive aggressiveness in the room.
In the republic, Shin-jae visits the psychiatrist, but she refuses to give him sleep aids without a consultation. Meanwhile, Eun-seob is having fun playing with Gon’s Iron Man-esque skincare helmet thing. Gon promises Eun-seob a helmet of his very own if he unlocks Yeong’s computer, which he’s sure Eun-seob can’t do. Cue Eun-seob unlocking it on his first try.
Gon then watches CCTV footage of Tae-eul moseying around the kingdom. Over in the republic, Tae-eul is feeling nostalgic and notes regretfully that she and Gon don’t have any pictures together. We flash back to a conversation between her and Gon where they’d discussed the between place.
He hadn’t reached the edge yet and reminded her that spending even a day there would equate to possibly months outside. “Then if you’re in there, you won’t grow old,” Tae-eul muses. But neither of them connects the dots, and they go back to being couple-y.
Gon asks her to come with him and live in his world, but that request puts her in a difficult position. What about her family, friends and her job? Gon kisses her, and she jokes that he’s trying to shut her up. But he argues it’s what you do when you have too much to say, so Tae-eul kisses him this time.
As Gon continues watching the footage in the present, he sees Tae-eul pass by the bookshop with yo-yo boy outside. Gon is startled when the boy looks straight into the camera. It begins storming, and Gon grabs his shoulder in pain. He replays the footage and notes the date with disbelief: May 27, 2022. Oooh. Gon realizes Tae-eul is wearing a different outfit compared to the rest of the footage.
Elsewhere, Rim is brewing away when his right-hand man reports that Shin-jae went to Jung-hye’s son’s grave. He also discovered that Tae-eul is the cop who arrested the roommate and is looking for her burner phone.
Rim calls Shin-jae his mistake, but when his lackey suggests killing Shin-jae and Tae-eul, Rim gets violent. He orders him to do nothing but get rid of the roommate. He’s going to use the gate; Gon must be onto things by now.
Gon had Ho-pil look into the bookshop yo-yo boy who was hanging out in the footage, but there’s no record of it. Meanwhile, Prince Bu-yeong shows up at that very bookshop. He acts like he just happened upon it, and he casually asks Kyung-moo if they’ve met. Kyung-moo plays it off but looks suspicious once the prince leaves.
Gon and Prince Bu-yeong meet by the sea, and Gon asks if he believes in fate. Prince Bu-yeong laughs that it’s a challenging concept for mathematicians and scientists. “But if there is a place you want to reach even if your life may be at risk, that is fate. The steps you take by risking your life are what’s fate.”
Prince Bu-yeong encourages Gon not to fight it and just go towards the destination he wants to reach. He particularly hopes there’s a woman at the end of Gon’s road since he really should get married. If he can work out the solution to his problem, Gon promises there’s a woman he’ll bring to meet him. They watch the first sunrise of the new year together.
That night, time pauses again, indicating to Gon that Rim is back in Corea. Rim walks along a crowded street and hears excited screaming for the king. Gon rides through the crowd, scanning for Rim. They pass right by each other and stop.
In a flashback, Gon realizes the piece he’s been missing as Tae-eul’s words about not aging play in his head. He jumps up in shock as Rim appears in security footage looking like he walked out of Gon’s decades’ old memories.
Presently, Gon rides toward Rim who slowly turns, and they face each other for the first time in 25 years. Gon surmises that this fountain of youth is what Rim is after. He growl-screams Lee Rim’s name, as you do in these situations.
Dramatics certainly do run in the royal family. Rim and Gon are both such drama queens. I couldn’t help but laugh when they both destroyed their phones after their conversations and glared. And the overdramatic score doesn’t help. The show loves its dramatics, but the issue is, the reveals don’t pack enough punch because we get there long before the characters do. Take that last scene, for example. It’s obviously supposed to be this big moment, but we’ve known from the first 10 minutes of the drama that Rim doesn’t age and where he’s been. We’ve just been waiting for Gon to catch up.
We’re starting to get into the timeline jumping now. I wonder if it’s something that can be controlled or if it’s random. Can they use the magic flute to travel through time intentionally? So far, no one has actually used the flute; they just hold it. I’m assuming there’s some way to be a little more proactive with it, although maybe not while it’s broken. Speaking of the magic flute, I’m confused as to why Gon won’t tell Tae-eul about it. This seems like a big piece of the puzzle to keep from her, especially since they’ve agreed to work together to solve this mess. And what’s the big deal about her knowing of the magic flute, anyway? She knows the rest of the story. I can’t believe she’s only just asking, though, like it was an afterthought. You get whisked away to another world and don’t ask how you got there? Tae-eul is a cop, so I’d expect her to be a bit more thorough than that but okay.
It looks like Seo-yeong’s goal truly is just to be queen, which is disappointing. The first female prime minister and her sole ambition is to marry a dude? Ugh. Such a waste of a potentially interesting character. I guess she feels she’s reached the pinnacle of politics and wants to ride out her days as queen. I mean, it’s a solid retirement plan, but I wish we knew more about what she’s done while in office. Is she in it just for power or did she have things she wanted to achieve with that power? Guess that’s delving too deep.
Oh, Eun-seob. He has a childlike transparency that makes it practically impossible for him to put on a mask or pretend to be someone else without his true self coming through. I knew he’d struggle to emulate Yeong’s stoicism, and his over-exaggeration did not disappoint. Hopefully, we’ll get to see Yeong in action as the twins’ guardian next episode. Him playing caretaker to young children should be highly entertaining, and I feel like it might be good for him since he’d have to let his guard down. Plus, it’s always fun to watch little kids tear down a tough-guy exterior and reveal the marshmallow underneath.
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