Tomorrow: Episodes 13-14
It’s here, folks! The backstory we’ve been waiting for: the sad truth, the tragic events, and the story behind the red thread of fate that once bound our two reapers.
EPISODES 13-14 WEECAP
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the moment we’ve been waiting for: the ultra tragic backstory of Ryeon and Joong-gil. But, before we get there, we take a one-episode turn through some real-life tragic history. That of the “comfort women” — Korean women forced into sexual slavery for the benefit of Japanese Imperial soldiers during WWII.
By now we know it’s very like Tomorrow to pull us deep into an episode-long story of anguish, but at this point in the story — Episode 13, our comfort women story — it seems a little out of left field. But hold on, because it’s not. Everything comes full circle.
We dig into the story of the comfort women not from one of the women herself, but from a friend of one. She’s a grandma now, but in her youth she mistakenly sent her friend to work in a Japanese factory — which actually led to her becoming a comfort woman. After finding out, this poor grandma has been living in anguish the last few years, and is planning to kill herself out of guilt.
Instead, though, her story is wrapped into two other women’s tales, and through it they all find healing and closure — since that’s the aim of our reapers, anyway. The grandma, YOO BOK-HUI (Kim Yong-lim) is connected to LEE JUNG-MOON (Kim Young-ok) through our reapers, and through her we learn the horrors the comfort women endured. We also learn about the young friend Bok-hui sent off: YOON-YI. She was the light of the other women’s lives, and even wound up saving them.
The story connections get a little bit wild here — the young reaper assigned to collect Jung-moon turns out to be Yoon-yi, now reincarnated as a reaper. When she reveals herself to them in the present, both grandmas find closure through embracing this young reaper, and at this point I’m just another granny hiding tears behind her hankie.
But the connections don’t stop there — early on, the Jade Emperor told Ryeon that this case was connected to Jun-woong’s past life. He doesn’t remember it, of course, but he was a Korean fighter that helped save the escaped comfort women so many decades ago. It cements what we thought we knew about Jun-woong’s character (is there a purer heart around?), and gives us the feeling that everything is interconnected — stories, fates, lives.
It’s with that feeling that we head into Episode 14, with Ryeon drinking her way miserably through the one day of the year that reapers get off: their death day. Ryeon’s harshness towards Jun-woong (and her 100% negative energy) makes him go to the Jade Emperor, who finally intuits that he is ready to hear Ryeon’s tale.
And so — finally, after fourteen episodes of waiting — we take a deep dive 400 years into the past right into our tragic Joseon romance, and boy is it a doozy.
As expected, this story sucks you in with the power of a Dyson vacuum. Not only have we been waiting so long, but we’ve seen so many glimpses that it’s all the more meaningful when it finally comes together.
Ryeon was a young noblewoman with a kind heart who met a fellow nobleman — at first haughty, but quickly turned into an honorable man who adored her. Their story quickly follows their youthful romance, and fate truly meant them to be together, because they were each other’s betrothed without even knowing it (squee!).
The pair is soon married, and we see the eye shadow moment and the wedding procession again, and then catch up with the couple later (now as our main actors), happily married and frankly, quite adorable.
But it’s bad times in Joseon, and the country is attacked by invading barbarians. Joong-gil is a military leader at this point and goes off to fight and protect the country, while Ryeon stays behind, eventually fending off an attack right in their village.
Ryeon is as brave and badass as we know her to be in the present, saving her servants and proving her skill with a bow. But, eventually, the women are rounded up and taken as prisoners by the barbarians, and they leave Joseon behind.
But Ryeon has fight — and knowledge — and eventually poisons their captors and leads a huge group of woman back to Joseon… only to be treated worse than dirt. Joong-gil returns and swoops in like the hero he is (eek!), but his influence alone is not enough to change the terrible course of fate. And here’s where we get the parallels to the comfort women — a group of survivors reviled upon their return, instead of rejoiced over, as they should be.
The story moves quickly, but we see how the hate and ridicule slowly breaks down Ryeon’s spirit. People are merciless — from the people in the village to the mother-in-law who despises her. Ryeon’s beloved servant and friend even covers her body with her own while the two are stoned; the servant dies protecting her.
Joong-gil is desperate to save his wife from her anguish and “punish” the people that spread false rumors about her, but this is the final straw for Ryeon, who doesn’t want to be his undoing.
In the end, Ryeon sees no way out but through death (and her mother-in-law doesn’t make it very hard for her as she prods her along, evil wench!).
Though Joong-gil tries to get through to Ryeon (that passionate fight between them that we’ve seen snippets of), eventually she decides to take her own life. It’s so super tragic, only made worse when we see Joong-gil’s anguished sobs over his wife’s body.
Ugh, I was expecting something of this tragic magnitude, but it’s so much worse when we see it play out — and even more so because we know that the bond between Ryeon and Joong-gil was forever severed by her act. *Sob*