[Image credit: Dramabeans.com]
We’re now halfway through the series! Yay! And I get more excited moving backwards because while I am a strong supporter of the series as a whole, I cannot deny that this series had a significantly stronger start than ending. Each epsiode kept me on my toes and I kept getting more and more impressed with Song Jae Jung’s ambitious story telling. It was so powerful that I rewatched the first half of the series with my wife till the wee hours of the night and we both proclaimed it’s the best TV drama we’ve ever watched. It was that impressive.
I’ve watched two other dramas pertaining to the interaction between two different worlds – Signal and now Queen In-hyun’s Man (episode 9 by now). While both shows explore deep issues about the implications of changing the past, the amount of interaction between the two worlds in W is just one notch higher than both shows. The characters are not just participants in the other world (i.e. the comic world) but have the power to actively shape what goes on. We keep getting introduced to new rules governing the comic world, which is intriguing and fun. Plus the
Going into this episode, I was concerned it was going to be a typical slow moving transition episode where Yeon Joo pines for Kang Chul throughout. However, the characters quickly get into action in putting together a happy ending for the comic. While Yeon Joo continues to have heart breaking brief encounters with Kang Chul, Seong Moo and Soo Bong are actively writing the end of W after receiving some help from Kang Chul.
Given that Seong Moo had never meant for the villain to be caught, writing this happy ending isn’t easy and Soo Bong asks how they are going to kill the killer since they had made his crimes perfect, with no plot holes. Seong Moo admits some plot holes are inevitable, but they need to ensure the face they give to the killer is logical to Kang Chul. This is where we realize Kang Chul has also helpfully provided them with the case files of all his research on the case to ensure that the killer they create does not fall within the suspects in these files. A smart move indeed! Seong Moo has already decided on the killer’s face and Soo Bong gasps when he sees it.
We move back swiftly into the real estate manhwa world where Ajusshi alerts Kang Chul that they’ve managed to catch the killer on the rooftop through a black box camera of a delivery truck. We watch the video and realize that the fact of the killer is that of Seong Moo himself. Gasp! He claims this is the face that Kang Chul will remember and thus won’t be suspicious.
The return to the revenge thriller storyline excites Crazy Dog who waxes lyrical about it to Yeon Joo. This prompts her to call Song Boo who then relates to her the planned happy ending that will happen over four episodes. The killer’s identity will be revealed through the W channel and he will be promptly captured by the police. However, just getting him captured is insufficient and dad intends to kill the villain off through Assemblyman Han. Now that the villain’s identity is revealed, Assemblyman Han’s case against Kang Chul is void and he’s asked to step out if the presidential race. Angered by this, he sends people to kill the villain and frame it as a suicide. However, one of the accomplices is caught by W station’s crew and featured on the network where he reveals Assemblyman to be the mastermind. Assemblyman Han is caught and the comic gets the happy ending that everyone wants.
Of course Yeon Joo is not as interested in all these and wonders what happens to his love life. Soo Bong tells her that there will be a happy reunion between Kang Chul and Soo Hee at the end, but the story won’t go so far as having them date or get married.
Yeon Joo realises that she has really just faded away completely from the Kang Chul’s world and nobody will remember her. While reminiscing on their happy moments, she falls asleep but is awakened by an announcement that calls all personal to come and help. She responds to the call and we realize she’s back in the comic world again and more importantly, the planning ending has not gone and planned. We learn that there has been a shooting at the W network right as they were announcing the discovery of the villain’s identity. More scarily, we return to dad’s studio and realize that his face has been stolen! The episode ends with the villain taunting Kang Chul and Yeon Joo staring at news of the shooting, shocked by this recent turn of events.
So much to talk about in this episode! Where do we start?
Let’s start with Seong Moo since he’s back in the author’s seat. While the reason he gives for giving the villain his face is so that Kang Chul will believe it, part of me wonders too whether it’s because he believes he can have some more control over the character given that it’s modeled after himself. It could also be seen as him confronting his own dark, “killer” tendencies and trying to entrap and eradicate that side of himself. He regains control over the narrative of W too and keeps it as a revenge thriller, deciding not to pursue any possible new romantic ending for Kang Chul. By bringing the narrative back on track, he wins back a segment of his readers like Crazy Dog who are now psyched about what’s going to happen and even more impressed that the writer has done a “Hitchcock” move by writing himself into the comic. This victory is shortlived though because just one episode in, he has lost control of the narrative again and now the villain goes on a killing spree at the W network and details the planned storyline. More importantly, Seong Moo has lost his face in the real world and it now seems like we only have Yeon Joo to rely on to save the day.
As for Yeon Joo, she’s now the only one besides the villain who has knowledge of the two worlds and how to move between them. Kang Chul’s memories of this have been erased thus rendering him ineffective. I like that the amnesia trope was not over-played in this episode and there’s also a realization by Yeon Joo that her disappearance from Kang Chul’s life may have benefitted him as he now returns to being the Kang Chul everyone loved before – always strong, never discouraged, everyone’s hero.
However, Yeon Joo’s appearance and exit in the comic book world in this episode went against what has been previously established and what happens after this episode too. It seems like she appears whenever Kang Chul briefly remembers her because he still has some recollection of the dream. However, how does she leave then? It was established that she can only leave when his emotions changed. What’s more bewildering is why she appears in the hospital at the end of the episode. Who brings her in? Is it Kang Chul and why? It can’t be that he needed her medical support this time round because there’s a hospital full of doctors. Could it be the villain who pulls her in – but there’s no real reason for that too? Another possibility is that there’s a bigger force at work driving this narrative, determining who gets pulled in, where they appear and how they leave. We never quite get an answer for this.
What I thought would be logical was if Yeon Joo had realized through reading the comic that things had gone wrong, then she rushed to her dad’s home and realizes he has lost his face. From that point, she then realises she needs to enter the world to save Kang Chul and set things right. However this would have been less exciting and shocking compared to what actually happened – just wish there was a little more consistency and clarity on why Yeon Joo reappeared in the comic a second time since there’s no reason why dad, Kang Chul or the villain would bring her in. If anyone has any theories, do let me know.
Moving on to Kang Chul, he has decided to accept the “wretched fate” that dad has given to him but tells dad to stop running away and bring the story to a proper close instead of repeatedly trying to kill him without any context. Once again, Kang Chul helps to give dad a sense of purpose to bring the revenge thriller to a meaningful close and win him favour in the public’s eyes. He devises a plan for the dad to create a convincing suspect that he can believe in, based on all the case records of W. When we piece together Kang Chul entire plan including how he saves Yeon Joo by asking her to draw everything as a dream sequence, we realize that he was really actively devising a comprehensive plan in the previous episode.
What this shows too is that Yeon Joo’s decision to save Kang Chul from death was not in vain, as it helped him come to terms more with the fate that he had been given by Seong Moo. What has changed though is his motivations, which are no longer just about solving a crime but to protect and save the woman he loves. The killer needs to be identified and taken down because he now knows of Yeon Joo and will find ways and means to kill her. However the loose end that Kang Chul fails to address in his plan is that the killer knows of the existence of both worlds and has already attempted to kill Yeon Joo in the real world. This unfortunate gap is what leads to this plan for a happy ending to fail.
What I really like about this show is that it maintains a very tight core of three characters which are continually challenged and developed and their relationships give the crazy twists and turns of this series a strong emotional core.
All in all, yet another strong episode with so much happening both in terms of plot and character development. Impressive work!