The King: Eternal Monarch: Episode 15
We’re at the penultimate episode, and the tension is rising. Major sacrifices will have to be made to save the worlds and restore balance, and our hero is prepared to do whatever it takes. Everyone is ready to do their part and return to their rightful places, although that sadly means saying goodbye to some good friends.
As Tae-eul lies bleeding in an alley, her dad calls. He says he got her call and “beat up all those guys.” He hangs up when the police arrive to speak with him. Tae-eul passes out but is luckily spotted by strangers who call an ambulance.
Elsewhere, Yeong informs Shin-jae about his mom meeting with Jung-hye and asks for his help tracking Jung-hye. Shin-jae’s burner phone rings, and he goes to meet Rim whom he recognizes from when he was little.
When Shin-jae remarks on his agelessness, Rim muses that he thought he had tons of time. But “that was the first crack.” His baby nephew has now almost caught up with him. Shin-jae interrupts his rambling, and Rim cracks him over the head with a wooden beam.
It’s time for Shin-jae to pay up. The lives of his mothers depend on his decision. Rim wants him to retrieve Gon’s flute – killing him would be a bonus. Shin-jae defiantly claims he’s not that good of a son. Rim smiles indulgently at the lie.
Shin-jae remembers his battered mom in the kingdom trying to commit double-suicide by forcing them both off a bridge. Rim approaches holding her loan contract and offers them both a new life. She’s startled to realize he’s the supposedly dead prince but takes the deal.
At the café in the republic, Na-ri does a strikingly accurate palm reading for Rim. In olden times, he’d have been beheaded for treason. Thinking of his future self he murdered, Rim claims that fate has passed. It was foolish of him not to trust himself and go after Gon first.
Eun-seob interrupts their conversation and wants his palm read. He racks his brain trying to remember where he’s seen Rim before, and it suddenly hits him. Eun-seob grabs Na-ri and shoves her behind him protectively.
Rim pleasantly confirms they met that night at Haeundae and asks him to pass a message to Gon. He hopes to see him at his mother’s death anniversary memorial mass. If Gon doesn’t show, Rim will come visit Na-ri again.
Eun-seob goes to call Tae-eul, but Na-ri spots Luna in the yard. Thinking she’s Tae-eul (come on, dude, she warned you about this!), Eun-seob shares that Rim came by.
Shin-jae arrives and asks what the injured “Tae-eul” is doing there. His eyes narrow when she grabs the wrong side in feigned pain, and he restrains her. Tae-eul comes walking up and tells Eun-seob to look after the astonished Na-ri. When Luna speaks, Tae-eul punches her in the face.
Yeong joins Tae-eul and Shin-jae in interrogating Luna in a warehouse. They find her medication, and she confirms she’s dying of cancer. Tae-eul wants a private word with Luna, so the boys leave.
Tae-eul knows Luna could’ve killed her but didn’t. Luna admits she didn’t want to upset her dad. Tae-eul wants to know more about her since she knows so little. Time pauses as they each reach up in mirroring gestures to touch their hair.
Gon runs into the police station looking for Tae-eul. There are tears of relief in his eyes as he spots a calendar dated 2020. He’s finally back. Gon asks her team where Tae-eul is.
Outside the hospital, Tae-eul cries to see Gon rushing towards her. He grabs her in a hug (Watch the injury!). They’re both crying as she says that she missed him, and he apologizes for always keeping her waiting.
In her hospital room, Tae-eul is paranoid that he’s going to leave. Gon promises he won’t and lies down beside her. She’s happy he visited her twice in her memories, and he’s happy she hugged him. Tae-eul asks if he remembers what happened after that, and he nods.
She narrates that, unlike in the original timeline, she was quicker to believe his claims and travel to his world. Despite accepting her fate sooner, what was meant to happen did. The tragedy – we see the battle after she was kidnapped – even happened sooner.
Gon wonders if there’s truly no way to change fate. Tae-eul thinks it’s set in stone, and they still have a ways to go to reach their destination. After she falls asleep, he calls Yeong.
Yeong and Shin-jae come running. They confront him about their new memories, amazed he can travel through time. Yeong blinks back tears as he expresses relief that Gon is okay. Back to business, he reports that he and Shin-jae located Jung-hye.
Shin-jae requests repayment if he’s that grateful. Gon asks what he wants. “Your life.” Yeong throws him a look, but Gon guesses the truth. Rim must’ve threatened him using his mothers. Did he ask Shin-jae to kill him?
Shin-jae casually asks if he’d die for him, noting it’d be better if it happened in Corea where people could mourn him. Yeong looks at him incredulously as Shin-jae tells him to call when he’s leaving and walks away.
Yeong takes Gon to Jung-hye’s where Gon orders him to keep watch. Whenever Rim shows, he needs to follow him to his gate. Yeong, after having received a call from Eun-seob, passes along Rim’s message about the memorial mass to Gon.
Jung-hye returns home and stops after walking past them. She turns back to look at Gon and recognizes him. Jung-hye walks up, her eyes full of emotion as she gazes at the face her late son would have had. “But because of you, Ji-hoon died … And you’ll die because of me.” That’s why Rim has kept her alive.
Her guard rushes at them with a knife, but Yeong swiftly disarms him and holds him at gunpoint while he calls Shin-jae. Gon posits that Rim will take her to Corea for his mother’s death anniversary, and she won’t be able to return to the republic. He can help.
Will he save her? Jung-hye tells him to come two days before the death anniversary, then. Gon tries to apologize for what happened to Ji-hoon, but she doesn’t want to hear it. “Don’t die because of me. I’m not your mom.” Gon watches her walk away with red-rimmed eyes. Once alone, Yeong asks when Gon plans on leaving.
We cut to Gon helping take care of Tae-eul in the hospital. In voiceover, he tells Yeong he just wants one more day with her. Gon spends the next day by her side, going on walks, taking her to the chapel and
doing PPL eating together. That night, Gon sleeps by her bedside. We hear him telling Yeong he wants time to say goodbye. Uh-oh.
The following morning, Yeong takes the twins to school for the last time and smiles at Eun-bi’s suspicious gaze. He stops by Eun-seob’s where they pretend not to be emotional about parting. Yeong asks what Eun-seob’s 65th dream is.
Eun-seob voice breaks as he says he doesn’t have one. Yeong calls his bluff and says he’s leaving then. Eun-seob: “Already?!” He jumps up and says he does. “Seeing you again.” Aw. Yeong stares at him, stunned. Then, he grabs him in a big hug. Through tears, he says, “Let’s meet again.” Eun-seob breaks down sobbing into his shoulder.
Meanwhile, Gon and Tae-eul sit outside. When Tae-eul says she wants to do all the normal date stuff they skipped, Gon starts to interrupt. But Tae-eul doesn’t want to hear anything about him leaving. She won’t let him go. “Let’s not save the world.” They can just focus on the present.
Tae-eul knows that he’s planning to go back in time to stop Rim from coming to her world. If so, she won’t remember him at all. Gon doesn’t see another way to fix everything that’s gone wrong from the worlds colliding.
“So tell me to go,” he asks her. It’s his first time asking for permission from anyone, but he can’t leave unless she agrees. Tae-eul tries to hold it together and asks him to say he’ll return no matter what after catching Rim. Gon embraces Tae-eul and promises he’ll come back to her.
Elsewhere, Seo-ryung foolishly tells Rim about her intention to steal Gon’s flute. His response to her plan is his favorite grab-’em-by-the-throat move. She failed to snatch either Gon or the kingdom, so her only path to survival is to find Rim a way into the memorial mass. There, he’ll announce the existence of parallel universes.
Time pauses while Rim still has his hands around her throat. Gon is back in Corea. When Seo-ryung comes to, she’s clutching a photo of Jung-hye, and Rim is nowhere to be found.
Gon returns to the palace where Ok-nam anxiously awaits. He thanks her for letting him go that night, and she tells him she understands everything. Later, Secretary Mo brings him up to speed and mentions that Prince Bu-yeong’s son Seung-heon is leaving in four hours.
Gon intercepts him on his way to the airport and reveals he’s the man who shot Seung-heon back then. He’s just glad Prince Bu-yeong never found out his son was an accomplice since he couldn’t have lived with it. Gon officially exiles Seung-heon from Corea for life.
Park Sook-jin is given a change of clothes and sent to the bridge where Shin-jae is waiting. She walks towards him in a daze, asking if it’s really Hyun-min. He steps back. She explains it was her only choice, and she’s sorry. Shin-jae’s voice catches as he asks if she let go of him on purpose or lost him. She replies she wanted him to live well.
He didn’t live well. Shin-jae wipes a tear and says not to get her hopes up or ask for forgiveness. He only wanted to see her once more and wake from his bad dream. This time, he’s abandoning her. She sinks to the ground and sobs at his retreating back.
Shin-jae has a meal and drinks with Gon at the palace. He thanks him for letting him meet his mom. Gon assures him she won’t be harmed, claiming their debt is settled now. When he asks which world Shin-jae plans to stay in, Shin-jae turns the conversation to Gon’s plan to catch Rim.
Gon intends to strike when Rim is choking him that night – his anger will blind him. Shin-jae wonders why he didn’t do that before. Gon admits he was focused on saving himself last time. Shin-jae is startled to realize he doesn’t plan to save himself this time.
If Gon succeeds, Shin-jae’s time in the republic will disappear since he’ll never meet Rim. He tells Shin-jae to make a choice he won’t regret. Gon says it’s his last chance to kill him. Shin-jae scoffs he should’ve poisoned his drink, making Gon smile. Does Tae-eul know his plan? “She can’t know,” Gon sighs.
Rim returns to Corea and sits for a meal with Jung-hye as his poison tester. After she tastes each dish, he takes a bite. Jung-hye begins laughing and vomits blood. With a creepy blood-filled smile, she notes, “You let your guard down.”
Soon enough, he begins coughing up a small amount of blood. Jung-hye remarks she’s finally getting to die like she’s been praying for. The “manager” comes in and begins preparing the injection, but time pauses with the needle stuck in the bottle. Rim can’t save Jung-hye this time.
Armed with his flute and a rifle, Rim heads to meet Gon. They meet on the street in the city. Rim cheated death, so why can’t he escape Gon? Gon responds that he’s got many others on his side wanting Rim’s demise.
Rim is determined not to let him get away, even though Gon messed up his plan to meet at the memorial mass. He aims his rifle at Gon and fires, but nothing happens. Gon reminds him time is paused. Rim is very over Gon foiling his plans, and Gon is likewise over Rim destroying worlds.
Time begins again, and Rim goes to shoot Gon, but he’s shot in the leg first. Yeong and Shin-jae flank Gon who takes Rim’s flute. They head to the gates and find that Rim’s gate won’t open for anyone else, and the same goes for Gon’s. But when Gon holds both flute halves, a new gate appears.
Rim claims it’s his father’s gate. Gon remarks the flute isn’t “crying” – there’s no sound. Rim changes tactics and says they should use the gate together, but Gon just wants to return to that night, which he can’t do without the flute “crying.”
Rim is astounded that Gon is eschewing “eternity and infinity.” Gon doesn’t need it; so long as Rim doesn’t have it, he’s fine. Even if Gon wants to use their gates, someone will need to escort Rim. Who will he sentence to death?
Yeong and Shin-jae fight over who gets to sacrifice themselves while Gon’s eyes fill with tears. He takes both flute halves and enters the new gate, wondering how far he’ll be pushed to go.
We’re back in the republic where Shin-jae has returned with a handcuffed Rim. Tae-eul goes in with him to interrogate Rim, bringing us back to the opening scene of the drama. Meanwhile, Gon and Yeong go to cremate Jung-hye’s body.
In the kingdom, Gon tells Secretary Mo to officially announce that Prince Bu-yeong’s granddaughter Lee Se-jin will inherit the throne. In the republic, the wilted flowers Gon brought Tae-eul vanish before her eyes. She goes to the station to question Rim. Who has the flute?
Rim rails at her for the stupid choices her side is making. She should be afraid. Tae-eul is afraid … that Gon will be lonely and their worlds will continue like this. Wouldn’t it be better for Rim to go there with her? She asks again who has the flute. Rim scoffs she’s learned nothing and smugly claims he’s “sent hell” to Gon and Seo-ryung.
In the kingdom, the news of Lee Se-jin’s death shocks the nation. She died in a car accident caused by the pregnant swapper. Seo-ryung reads the news and drops her tablet in horror at how Rim used her frenemy. She calls her mom in a panic and asks what she ate for dinner.
Her mom wonders if she hasn’t eaten yet. Seo-ryung desperately asks again, and her mom answers she ordered jjajangmyeon. (How is Seo-ryung the only one to think of using code words?) Seo-ryung throws her phone to the ground, screaming and wailing in grief and fear.
In the republic, Tae-eul uncuffs Luna and tells her to live a long life so her dad doesn’t suffer. What?! You’re going to let the unhinged stab-happy girl live your life? Tae-eul needs Luna to look after her dad while she’s gone for a while, but first she needs her to steal something.
Tae-eul calls Shin-jae to the warehouse and asks for the flute. She knows the plan is to hold Rim and bring him to the forest once the 48 hours are up. She’ll take him. Shin-jae protests she might not be able to return if she leaves, but Tae-eul can’t bear being alone.
Shin-jae finally confesses his feelings. She’s the only woman he’s liked in his whole life. How can he let her go off and die? Tae-eul clutches his arm when he goes to leave and begs him to give the flute to her. Tae-eul won’t apologize for not knowing how he felt. “If I say my heart hurts for you now, I’d be a hypocrite.”
Just like him, there’s someone she likes a lot. Desperate, she promises to return and make up for hurting him, so can he give her the flute? Tae-eul pleads with him in tears, saying she feels like she’ll die if she doesn’t go. This guy really can’t catch a break.
Gon dons the ceremonial outfit he wore when he brought Tae-eul flowers. He muses he received the mark on his shoulder so he’d follow his destiny. Gon goes to Ok-nam, saying she must’ve been lonely keeping both of their secrets.
The lullaby she used to sing him was in that book of poems he brought from the republic. He was afraid she’d return to her world if he asked her about it. Gon asks her to let him go once more. “If I let you go,” she cries, “are you ever returning?” He orders her to stay healthy and leaves.
Tae-eul puts on the necklace Gon gave her as he rides into the forest in his world. Yeong is waiting and insists on accompanying him wherever he goes, even if it’s somewhere from which they won’t return. They ride through the gate.
From the beginning, I’ve had a feeling there’s no way for everyone to come out of this alive and intact, so Gon going the self-sacrificing route isn’t surprising. I don’t understand why he can’t use the new gate to travel to that night, though. Yo-yo kid said the flute, when whole, can facilitate travel through time and space. But Gon claims the flute has to “cry” to take him to that night … why? It’s not like it’s some indeterminate time he can’t find without guidance. He knows the time and date of the event, so shouldn’t he be able to go there with this all-powerful gate and a fully functioning flute? I guess only a sad flute will take him there. My guess is that the whole saving yourself thing works because the flute wants to save itself, so they’re trying to say he can only travel there if the flute is “crying” to be whole. It just isn’t a consistent enough explanation for me.
But then again, the whole Rim situation isn’t consistent either. Gon saving himself is something that happened in the original timeline. Since both halves of the flute are necessary to travel through time, that means Rim always went back to that night at the same time as Gon. Ergo, 2020 Rim should’ve known of his death. It doesn’t make sense that it was a new event that resulted in a new future version of Rim. It’d make more sense for them to be in a time loop, but okay. I’ve largely given up trying to make sense of the timeline stuff. It seems like they’re just using “fate” to explain away any logical inconsistencies, so it doesn’t matter much anyway.
We had a lot of goodbyes this episode, but Eun-seob and Yeong’s hit the hardest. Those two became like family, and I hope they get to reunite somehow. And yes, I’m ignoring that Yeong is heading into life-threatening danger. I have decided that he, Eun-seob and Shin-jae will survive. So there.
Speaking of Shin-jae, is it his lot in life to suffer continually? He really has had the most interesting and emotionally affecting arc throughout the drama. His mother and Rim upended his life without his consent, throwing him into a life he never asked for. I’m glad he got to confront his mom for what she did since he needed to move forward. Even if she thought she was saving him, she traumatized him and needs to account for that. Then, he barely gets time to recover from that before he pours his heart out to Tae-eul who begs him to help her go to someone else. Not that she did anything wrong – she’s entitled to love whoever she wants – it’s just sad for him.
I get that Tae-eul is desperate to help Gon rather than sitting around doing nothing, but her solution is to leave her loved ones in the hands of Luna? Sure, Luna has shown she’s fond of Tae-eul’s dad, but she’s still incredibly unstable. Plus, she’s committed violent crimes remorselessly. As a cop, it’s surprising Tae-eul is willing to just let her wander free among the populace. With the fate of universes hanging in the balance, I guess it isn’t the most pressing issue. Whatever happens, we’ve only got one episode left to bring it all together. Maybe we should just send Eun-bi in to sort it all out. She could probably whip Rim into shape.
- Premiere Watch: The King: Eternal Monarch
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- Kim Go-eun makes drama comeback in The King: Eternal Ruler with Lee Min-ho
- Lee Min-ho reunites with star writer Kim Eun-sook for sci-fi romance