The Lonely and Shining Goblin Episode 9

goblin9

There’s lots to love in episode 9 of Goblin, which sees fascinating developments on several fronts – Kim Shin’s will to live grows stronger and he realises he needs to persistently open doors so as to change the deity’s plans; Kim Shin and Kim Sun finally meet and Reaper gets more clarity on the historical connection shared between him, Kim Sun and Kim Shin.

Eun Tak decides to leave the Goblin household after learning the truth that pulling out the sword will result in Kim Shin’s death. She no longer feels like she belongs in the household, because she feels that Goblin never genuinely cared for her, and only brought her in to pull out the sword and end his immortality. When he first meets her, she tells him she won’t pull out the sword; subsequently, when in the forest, she asks him again if he had ever loved her. She recalls how he said he loved her in such a cold manner when she asked and sees that his plan right from the start was just to convince her that he loved her, so that she would pull out the sword.

In a touching sequence, Kim Shin confesses that to Eun Tak that he’s so fearful of loving her, and instead, he wants her to say she needs him, so that it will serve as an excuse for him to keep on living. She does exactly what he says later when she’s freezing, telling him that she needs him, to do that too and that she loves him. Later when he meets her at the top of the mountain, he tells her, “I too” – a much delayed response to her expression of love, but it’s a genuine expression of his love for her and thus she decides to return to the Goblin household. Well, that and the fact that Goblin pulls his connections to get her sacked from her job at the ski resort. LOL. I guess he more than makes up for it by paying for her course.

What we see for Kim Shin is a quiet overcoming of his fear of attaching himself to life again. He’s detached himself after living so long, because he’s witnessed so many deaths that he’s grown numb to it. However, Eun Tak has given him reason to love again and be bold enough to even confess that love – something that isn’t easy for him. The real awakening for Kim Shin comes when both Reaper and him see a man barging into the tea room to use the toilet out of desperation. He sees the power of the human will and how it can change their fate and realises that he too should be able to change his fate of the deity. His response to Eun Tak’s question of whether he wants to live with her or die with her is to live with her, even if it means wrestling with fate and the deities.

And the best part of all is that Kim Shin isn’t fighting this battle on his own, but with Reaper, who partners with him in this episode to help save Eun Tak’s life. The bromance is truly strong between them and they’ve gone beyond bickering and teasing to develop a genuine bond and partnership. Reaper informs Goblin when he receives a card with Eun Tak’s name, putting his own job in jeopardy and giving himself more work. Reaper cares for Goblin and is unafraid to tell him that he told Eun Tak the truth because he’s on her side, and doesn’t want him to die. I loved the moment when Eun Tak returned and Reaper hears Goblin’s happy thoughts about Eun Tak calling him hers. It’s hilarious and Lee Dong Wook just plays that scene so perfectly.

Things get even more exciting for the Kim Sun storyline in this episode as Kim Shin realises that she may be the reincarnation of his sister after Reaper mistakenly calls her Kim Sun. Following a brief confrontation outside, she grabs his hands which triggers a vision in Reaper of their historical connection. He starts to put the pieces together and realises she is the woman in Kim Shin’s painting and that both her and Kim Shin have an important role to play in the memories that he has lost. It’s also touching to see that Kim Sun and Eun Tak have developed a bond, and that Eun Tak does not just have a home in the Goblin household, but also in Kim Sun’s restaurant as Kim Sun plays like an elder sister role to her, telling Goblin off for hurting her and chasing her away. The final scene with our four main characters sitting together at the table is a significant one, because we know that the characters have taken significant steps in their own lives to reach that point. It’d be interesting to see what happens from this point on.

There’s a lot that this show has to intertwine – past and present, real and supernatural, life and death, joy and sorrow – and it does such a masterful job that it’s really a pleasure to watch the storyline slowly unfold. Nonetheless, I still wish that the show could tighten its storytelling by reducing its product placements and being more concise in its flashbacks. I also find the back and forth about pulling the sword to be getting dreary, since this has been going on since Episode 4. Nonetheless, it’s still a great show and I’m really looking forward to the next episode where we finally find out more about what happened in the past.

Some miscellaneous points:

  • Is there more than meets the eye for Deok Hwa? Is he a deity? Sam Shin asked him out for drinks after she walked out from the bookshop. Also, after he tells Goblin that he has his ways of finding Eun Tak, we see a scene of a butterfly flying from the sky and landing on the ski resort, the butterfly being a symbol of a deity.
  • The scene with secretary Kim dancing like the various pop groups was hilarious, especially when he even tried to mimic what a digital camera may look like.
  • Cheesy as it is, I found the scene of Deok Hwa taking photographs of Goblin, Eun Tak and Reaper in their home extremely sweet and heartwarming. They really are such a weird yet wonderful family.
  • The editing and cross-cutting in the tearoom sequence. Perfectly-timed to emphasize each character’s reaction.
  • Costumery. We saw subtle changes in Eun Tak’s dressing as she graduated from high school, and shed the duffel coat for the silver parka for her part-time ski chalet job (although I’m still unimpressed by the product placement). Is it me, or was her acting less perky, more vulnerable and conflicted? Definitely preferring this.

 

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo Episode 13

Once again, the show provides an uplifting episode that is thoroughly enjoyable from start to end because every moment is so lovable and meaningful. In fact, we could just watch Bok Joo and Joon Hyung for the whole episode and not be bored because there’s just such explosive and playful energy between them that you cannot anticipate what antics they will come up with next.

That’s not to say that the other characters in the show are not as engaging. In fact, the writer manages to flesh every character and relationship to the right extent, so that we care enough about them to smile along with their joys and cry along with their pains. While the romance between Joon Hyung and Bok Joo is extremely well done, I’d say the friendships fare very well too. The sister-hood between Bok Joo, Nan Hee and Seon Ok is so tight and heartwarming and seeing Seon Ok come back really brought a smile to my face. It’s so refreshing to see such youthful energy and lack of restraint in how they express their love and concern for each other. On a similar note, I really love the brotherhood shared between Joon Hyung and Jae Yi too – they tease each other about their weaknesses, understand each other so well and are genuinely happy for each other.

While Jae Yi doesn’t get much screen time in this episode, I liked the scenes with him. Joon Hyung was able to predict how Dr Go would react to Jae Yi, which pushes him find Dr Go and ask to date her. His proposition to her to date is almost exactly the same proposition that Joon Hyung earlier made to Bok Joo, but what Jae Yi lacks is that sincerity and sensitivity. He phrases it to her like he’s returning a favour for her, because he knows she likes him and has been there for him. It’s just like what Joon Hyung told him about being overly nice, which makes others feel even worse. What I like too about this show is that every character has some growing up to do, even the adults. Jae Yi is a charming guy with a great heart, yet he isn’t fully aware of the impact of his words on others – just like how he wasn’t aware that Bok Joo’s questions revealed she had a crush on him. When it comes to matters of the heart, he’s also too passive and meek – not taking action fast enough or being clear in expressing his feelings and affections. Nonetheless, we know that Dr Go and him will end up together just because that’s what happens in shows like this, so there will certainly be good things happening.

Beyond the friendships, the camaraderie within the weightlifting team was also extremely moving and I teared when Coach Choi returned and when they had their celebration dinner at Bok Joo’s dad’s restaurant. It was almost a foregone conclusion that both Coach Yoon and Coach Choi would come back because of the team’s determination, but that didn’t stop it from being so heartwarming and touching.

Coming back to Bok Joo and Joon Hyung, they enter into a phase of jealousy in this episode as Joon Hyung tells Bok Joo to throw away the hair pin she bought when having a crush on Jae Yi and Bok Joo gets jealous over Joon Hyung’s interactions with Si Ho. Bok Joo does all the things that she tells others she can’t stand, like being petty and jealous and also putting aside her friends to go dating. They can’t keep their hands off each other and get all physical and touchy, which is exactly how young love is like. Joon Hyung continues to be charming and while he can’t talk her into telling her why she’s angry, he softens her heart simply through his actions. The scene of him putting feet warmers for her and then covering her with his coat and scarf is so touching, because of the wordless glances they exchange and how he’s meticulously thought of everything possible to keep her warm, from head to toe. I really appreciate how this show portrays such their romance in such a mature manner, without being cheesy at all.  Thus far, we’ve seen quite a lot of Joon Hyung being there for Bok Joo and supporting her through her difficult times – I do hope we get to see more of Bok Joo also supporting Joon Hyung as we know his psychological issues have not been fully overcome.

With only three episodes left to go, one can’t help but feel that this series is ending too soon. We will certainly see both Bok Joo and Joon Hyung dealing with their family issues in the upcoming episodes and that can only draw both of them closer as they both understand how it feels like growing up without a mum. Si Ho’s story is definitely not over, as she takes significant steps ahead in this episode – she’ll mostly end up being paired with Joon Hyung’s senior, Ki-seok, but what’s more interesting to watch is her emerging from her shell and making friends as she’s spent most of this series being isolated and also her handling her family issues. There are also several pairings which are emerging that will certainly be more fully fleshed out like Coach Choi & Dae Ho and Seon Ok & Tae Kwon. I hope we haven’t seen the end of Woon Ki’s storyline too as the show shouldn’t introduce a teenage pregnancy storyline without exploring it further.

So much to look forward to and only three episodes left – I’m sure it’s going to be a fun, heartwarming ride till the end!

Legend of the Blue Sea Episode 13

LOBSep13.jpg

Right from the start, we knew the Joseon storyline would not end well, which became even more apparent when we learnt that Dam Ryung would die at the early age of 27. However, even all the foreshadowing could not prepare me for what happened and I actually gasped in shock when Sae Wa grabbed the spear and pierced it through herself too. It was such a visceral, cruel and painful death. Yet death would be more bearable than living, because at in death, they would be able to meet in Heaven and have the hope of meeting in the next life.

The connection between Joon Jae and young Dam Ryung becomes even more poetically drawn out in this episode, as we see young Dam Ryung telling Sae Wa that if they were born again, he would find her, meet her and protect her – and he would remember the conversation they had.

Right from the start when Joon Jae and Sim Chung met in Spain, even when he didn’t know she was the mermaid, Joon Jae’s protective instincts were already evident as he kept going back to find her and never let go of her. When they met again in Seoul, he took her in and kept her close, even though he had never met her before. He’s always been there to protect her, even before falling in love with her. In this episode, he keeps holding her so close to him with such intimacy and watchfulness, because he wants to give her security and comfort. I’ve been wondering for a while why he has not told Sim Chung that he can hear her thoughts and that he knows she’s a mermaid. However, I see that as his protectiveness for her too as he does not want her to become too self-aware and being respectful of her desire to keep it a secret from him.

LOBS32.jpg

Joon Jae takes proactive steps in working with Detective Hong to uncover Dae Young’s identity. He is more determined and driven than them to solve this case, because it’s not just another criminal case, but it affects him deeply and threatens to take away the only person who he really feels love for at this point in his life. His most heroic act is delving deeper into the dream, which the professor warns him may cause him trauma. However, he realises he cannot be passive and just wait for the dreams any more. Through telepathy he hears that Dae Young already knows Sim Chung is a mermaid and he assures her, telling her not to be afraid. As he holds Sim Chung in his arms, he tells her that he will protect her and not allow events to repeat themselves. He decides to take control of his and Sim Chung’s destiny in the midst of ever-increasing danger from both Dae Young and Seo Hee.

Seo-hee amps up her evil quotient in this episode by changing the will and allowing her husband to fall down a flight of stairs. Following that, she calls Dae Young to hasten his taking down of Joon Jae, so that her, Chi Hyun and him can be happy once again. She also learns that Sim Chung is a mermaid, and given how merciless she is, I wonder what she will do with that piece of information. We have seen how ruthless and heartless is with her husband and we know she’ll stop at nothing to get rid of Joon Jae.

While the connection between the past and present for Sim Chung, Joon Jae and Dae Young and Seo Hee is tightening, I also like the fact that Joon Jae’s story goes beyond his love story with Sim Chung and saving her, because that on its own would be a rather one-dimensional story.

Joon Jae has his own story arc and that is one of his turning away from a life of crime and falsehood. It’s touched on briefly in this episode with the exchange between him and Nam Doo and Nam Doo’s evident disappointment that Joon Jae is turning away from being his accomplice so as to fulfil his promises to Sim Chung. Prior to meeting Sim Chung, it was Nam Doo who gave him a sense of purpose in his life. Joon Jae was pretty much an outsider of society with no family and interacting with the world mostly through multiple fake identities. Sim Chung’s appearance in his life has given him a strong reason to turn away from his life of crime to live a righteous life, possibly as a civil servant. His partnering with the police now can be seen as a parallel to Dam Ryung rooting out crime and corruption. As much as he’s Sim Chung’s saviour, Sim Chung is also there to save him from falling deeper into deceit and corruption.

In spite of all the serious stuff going on, there’s also lots of fun stuff happening, especially with Sim Chung. Both Lee Min Ho and Jun Ji-hyun do comedy extremely well and I really enjoyed the scenes of Sim Chung getting jealous of Sae Wa and repeatedly questioning Joon Jae about it. Sim Chung even starts applying what she learnt from the Internet, which I’m pretty sure was lost in translation, but it was still very funny to see her telling Joon Jae he should learn how to use the phrase “dog-gone”. It was also great seeing the strength return to Sim Chung and her using her strength to do random acts of kindness and shift furniture around Joon Jae’s house.

The episode finds the perfect balance between light-hearted fun and epic, moving storytelling and here’s hoping the rest of the series can get that balance right.

Solomon’s Perjury: First Impressions

File:Solomon's Perjury (Korean Drama)-p1.jpg

Crime thrillers have always fascinated me, so I was keen to watch this series. What I enjoy is participating in the show by putting together the pieces and coming up with theories on who the murderer actually is.

Given that it was obvious from the onset that So-Woo was murdered, I would say the premiere does a good job in setting things up and dropping enough hints for the fun theory formulation process to begin.

We start off witnessing a fight between So Woo and Woo Hyuk, which we are led to believe was initiated by Woo Hyuk. However, as Woo Hyuk’s parents have connections, he seems to get away scot-free and the school begins its disciplinary process promptly, identifying So Woo as the assailant and Woo Hyuk as the victim. So Woo decides not to turn up for his disciplinary trial and chooses instead to pack his locker and leave. Two weeks later, we meet Joon Young, who leaves home early whenever his parents quarrel, and on his way to school, he sees something sticking out of a bush and upon further exploring, realises it is So Woo’s dead body. Seo Yeon happens to be at the area too and sees the body. The whole school goes in shock, and the school management is keen to close it as a suicide case. Joon Young is so distraught by his family situation and what he has observed that he almost commits suicide, only to be saved by Seo Yeon. In the meantime, the mystery unfolds as a fellow classmate happened to observe what happened that night and saw Woo Hyuk and his friends beating So Woo up. We also get introduced to So Woo’s good friend, Ji Hoon, who is extremely affected by his friend’s death.

So who are the possible suspects?

Woo Hyuk is such an obvious suspect that it’s certainly not him, though he certainly has secrets to hide that will shed light on the truth. Why was he so aggressive and angry with So Woo, who seems largely harmless? Why were they beating him up on the roof that night?

How about the girl who observed what happened on the rooftop? In a show like this, flashbacks are always not to be trusted as there’s always another layer to be peeled back, or another angle not fully seen by the person who tells the story. Nobody’s story is to be trusted in the show like this, not necessarily because their memories may be tainted, but just because the full picture is often more complicated than one person can see. Why was she there so late at night? I’m pretty sure she’s not just a passive witness and has some relationship to what happened on the rooftop that night.

How about the principal who’s so prompt to fire the security guard? Does he suspect that the security guard may reveal some truths about what happened that night? I find it hard to believe that the security guard has no clues about what happened. Wouldn’t there also be security footage that can be reviewed?

Maybe it’s Ji Hoon, since that could be the most surprising twist and all the wonderful recollections in this episode could have hurt even more because of what he did to his best friend? This is of course pure conjecture because we have no other hints, but that’s what makes watching a show like this fun and I’m sure we’re in for more exciting revelations in the weeks ahead.

Besides having the murder to drive the narrative, there are also several interesting character-driven stories going on, which include Joon Young’s family background and suicide attempt, as well as the friendship that will develop between him and Seo Yeon. I’m also keen to see how the student trial will play out as the students take things into their own hands to piece things together, which could be an interesting angle compared to a police investigation. I might not be able to write about this show while it’s running given that there are so many other shows currently going on, but I’ll definitely return to it at some point!

Romantic Teacher Doctor Kim Episode 15: The Cornered Stone Syndrome

RDTKEp15.jpg

What a surprisingly fun episode this was! Unlike most episodes of RDTK where there’s always a barrage of cases to handle, this episode had only one case other than Chairman Shin’s case. The result of that was that we got treated to a lot of fun bickering between Dong Joo and Seo Jung and Yeo Yeon Seok shows himself to be a rather decent comic actor as well. It’s a pity he didn’t get to show this side earlier in this series, because I always felt Dong Joo was such a serious character with no lighter side to him.

The fun begins right from the start of the episode as the both of them enter Doldam in such a chirpy mood while remembering their intense kiss. Manager Jang watches on in bemusement as their acting as if there’s nothing between them is completely and hilariously unconvincing. The next scene that really made me laugh was Dong Joo calling himself “Poker Face Kang” – it’s so funny because I could really imagine people calling him that! He subsequently teases Seo Jung by saying “I love you” in so many languages while she tries to shut him up. You can tell Seo Hyun-Jin and Yeo Yeon Seok really had fun filming those sequences. They later tease each other about not having much friends while Dong Joo tries to get some sympathy from her after fighting with Im Bum. When they realise they might be too obvious, they stage a fight right in the Emergency Room and it’s Manager Jang and Dr. Nam who provide the laughs here as they make bets over whether they are a couple. Seo Jung and Dong Joo do deserve to have some fun and smiles as they have really been through a rather rough time for most of the series. Nonetheless, I do hope that what Seo Jung mentioned about the accident coming to mind whenever she thinks of Dong Joo gets addressed at a later stage.

The focus of this week’s character development is In Beom as he fakes it once again in the operating room by pretending that he has done a distal pancreatectomy before. While he gets rescued in the operating room by Dong Joo, he subsequently responds by getting into a fist fight with Dong Joo. When Master Kim calls him into the room, Master Kim tells him he prefers a cornered stone, as opposed to a round one, because a round stone is “lukewarm” and rubs the corners off him. At least a cornered stone has his own style and thoughts. Master Kim reminds In Beom of how he stepped up when both him and Dong Joo were not around in order to save a patient. Even though his dad was angry at that act, it was that act that made Master Kim believe that In Beom could be nurtured. In Beom is almost in tears after Master Kim speaks to him, and subsequently asks his dad when he can go back to Geodae.

Unlike Dr Song or President Do who do not have their priorities right, In Beom does genuinely want to be a better doctor and works hard at it; however, like Dong Joo earlier, he’s too keen to prove himself as the best doctor and puts his own performance ahead of the needs of the patients. He still hasn’t learnt his lesson from Master Kim’s previous scolding and hopefully this time, he will change. Although Seo Jung jokes about how In Beom and Dong Joo should be good friends since they are the same age, there is much truth in what she says because they can certainly relate as they are facing the same struggles. Dong Joo has much to share with In Beom to help him to grow, if only In Beom can have the humility to learn from him.

The other big development in this episode is the revelation we get into what happened to Master Kim and we learn that President Do was actually using Master Kim’s name to attract more clients and subsequently getting other surgeons to operate on them while pretending it was Master Kim who operated on them. Now, this seems so unrealistic to me on so many levels and I can’t believe a hospital doesn’t have its own system of checks and balances. I did wish that we could see more of President Do’s motivations and some of the pressures he was facing that led him to do that. Nonetheless, if there’s one thing I have to say, his character has been written as consistently evil and corrupt, so I’ll let this go.

As for Chairman Shin’s surgery, there wasn’t really any doubt from the start that he’ll decide to go ahead with it, not just because the show requires it, but because he’s already stated in the previous episode that he’s a fighter and will fight for his life against all odds. It did take some tension out of the storyline and made it less engaging. I did not feel that the presence of Chairman Shin’s daughter added much to already existing tension between Geodae and Master Kim, except that we know she had a critical role to play in his removal.

This episode was indeed a good breather from all the intensity so far and I believe things will start to ramp up big time next week as Doldam prepares for Chairman Shin’s surgery.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo Episodes 6 – 9: My favourite OTP ever!

I’ve now caught up on episodes 6 to 9 of Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo and I must say this is a seriously good show! Bok Joo and Joon Hyung may just be my favourite OTP ever and I’m enjoying every scene with them and all their interactions. Instead of doing a usual review, I thought I’d share about the four episodes episodes by listing 3 reasons why Bok Joo and Joon H yung are my favourite OTP:

1. They are each other’s best friends.

The foundation of a strong romance is always a strong friendship. This is true even of a marriage and it’s so heartwarming to see the show take so much time and effort to develop their friendship. Even in the early stages where Joon Hyung’s excessive teasing gets on Bok Joo’s nerves, we can see there’s a deep connection being formed as they cheer each other on and help each other see the best in each other.

wfkbjotp1

One of my favourite scenes is the one at the end of episode 6, where they express their common angst about their fate as athletes to be ranked and Bok Joo tells Joon Hyung that she’s a good judge of character and she knows he’ll succeed because she sees something intense in his eyes. At his lowest point, she helps him move past his failure to believe in his own success.

Another favourite scene is the one on the rooftop, where Joon Hyung apologises for what Si Ho has done.

WFKBJOTP2.jpg

While they are hugging, Bok Joo tells him that his nose bridge is high and whereas hers is low. Joon Hyung gently encourages her and tells her that she’s not so bad looking and that she’s pretty, which she says nobody has ever told her except her dad. What’s lovely about Bok Joo is that while she’s confident and proud of her achievements as a weightlifter, she sees that as clashing with her identity as a woman and that the weightlifting side of her is something she wants to hide from the man she loves (as she says in episode 9). However, Joon Hyung affirms her, helping her accept that her weightlifting self is very beautiful as well.

2. They have so much fun together. 

Besides them being sweet together, their bantering and teasing is so fun to watch and it’s evident that they enjoy each other’s company a lot.

Unlike how Bok Joo has to pretend to be another person with Jae Yi, she’s completely comfortable with Joon Hyung and is unafraid to show her true, energetic, self and there’s such a raw energy in their interactions. Joon Hyung keeps teasing her and in response, she glares at him, hits him and pins him down. When confronting Bok Joo, Si Ho tells her that Bok Joo makes Joo Hyung let his guard down and it’s so true.

One of my favourite fun scenes between them is the one in episode 6 when Joon Hyung meets Bok Joo after she finishes her date with Jae Yi. I’ve rewatched it several times, but it still keeps making me laugh – the first LOL moment is when Joon Hyung pulls Bok Joo in front of him to protect him from a huge splash from the puddle!

wfkbj3

The next LOL moment is when Bok Joo grabs Joon Hyung and pulls him to her face, and then just sneezes into his face! Haha!

wfkjb4

3. Joon Hyung is so sensitive and attentive to Bok Joo’s needs.

While Bok Joo spends most of the time in episodes 6-9 coping with her crush over Jae Yi, Joon Hyung stays by her side, protecting her and ensuring that she doesn’t get hurt any further.

He enlists the support of Tae Kwon, Nan Hee and Seon Ok to ensure that Jae Yi doesn’t bump into Bok Joo. When Jae Yi sees Bok Joo in her training attire, Joon Hyung steps in immediately to defend her. After she confesses the truth, he speaks to Jae Yi to defend her.

wfkjb5

When Jae Yi and Dr. Go invite Bok Joo and Joon Hyung to lunch, Joon Hyung is so attuned to how Jae Yi and Dr Go’s interactions with affect her and he keeps watching out for her, doing little gestures in an attempt to make her feel better.

wfkbj6

I even dare say that Joon Hyung is one of the more mature male leads I’ve seen so far when it comes to romance, because he always seems to be ahead of the game when it comes to understanding Bok Joo’s emotions and always takes proactive steps to help her feel better. At the end of episode 9 when he sees Jae Yi seated in the audience, he already knows how Bok Joo will feel and has a look of gloom in his eyes. It’s so touching to watch him stand up for her, stand by her and ultimately help her to stand again.

In closing, I’d like to add that I really appreciate how much intentional effort the show takes to build a genuine connection between its leads. While doing so, the focus is not on pushing them towards a romance, but on showing how they are ultimately good for each other and help each other to grow. Both Bok Joo and Joon Hyung may be champions in their own fields, but with each other, they are completely vulnerable and open, allowing each other into the deepest secrets and struggles of their lives. It’s been heartwarming to watch the both of them grow as individuals, just as their friendship grows.

Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk have done an amazing job by completely taking on their characters and making them their own. Big props to them for bringing the writing to life!

The Lonely and Shining Goblin Episode 8

Wow, that was a surprisingly plot-heavy episode of Goblin with our storyline moving forward significantly compared to previous episodes. It helpfully pulls things together into a more coherent picture and it’s starting to get clearer that our story may be heading towards a tragic, sad ending.

What is becoming more evident is that Goblin’s constant protection of Eun Tak is disrupting the natural order of things in both the human and supernatural world. It’s handled in such a wacky manner early in the episode as Deok Hwa and Wang Yeo work together to cover up the vehicle pile-up he caused by through erasing all traces of it on social media and Wang Yeo altering people’s memories of it. More significant is his prevention of the bus accident later, which many Grim Reapers are already preparing for. When speaking to Wang Yeo after the incident, Wang Yeo tells her that Eun Tak is the variable and the accident was not part of her destiny because she has a Goblin boyfriend. Wang Yeo is determined to defend Eun Tak’s life at the cost of affecting many others. I’m just wondering whether all the other lives on the bus also now enter the register of lost souls because they have cheated death. We only hear that more paper work is involved, but I did wish the show went a little deeper to explain more about what kind of consequences Goblin’s intervention has.

I have to admit to not fully grasping the theory offered by Wang Yeo, but I think at this point, it still makes sense. I was initially wondering why Shin was still able to see the accident even though it’s destined that he will save her by preventing it. I believe Goblin is able to see futures that happen without his intervention and his intervention alters the futures that he initially sees. It does raise some questions though about his vision of Eun Tak 10 years down the road which he claims he’s not present in, because what he has currently seen is a future without his intervention. Would his current intervention in her life therefore affect that scene in the restaurant in ways that he cannot foresee?

This episode also brings Samshin to the forefront more prominently. We’ve seen so far that she’s the goddess of birth and fate, but how she features within the whole world hasn’t exactly been clear. In this episode, we see her working in partnership with Goblin as he stops the man from hanging himself and passes him a sandwich, while Samshin fetches his daughter to him. Goblin later tells Eun Tak that it’s not him who saves the man, but the daughter. It does seem like Samshin ultimately has more power than Goblin and Reaper, since they both speak of being subject to the power of deities.

The final scene of the episode delivers a real punch though when we realise that Shin’s plan to delay the sword pulling will not work. It’s a tragic intertwining of fates as Shin’s refusal to die will ultimately lead to Eun Tak’s death. Samshin tells him that it’s ultimately for his happiness that the sword be removed, because he wants Eun Tak to live and she will only live when she fulfills her destiny as his bride. What the ghost said earlier to Eun Tak about the birth mark fading starts to make sense too. She’s losing her identity as the Goblin’s bride and as Samshin says, death will come to find her more frequently and more severely. As this revelation is being told to Goblin, we also have a parallel conversation between Goblin and Eun Tak where she comes to the realisation on her own that removing the sword will lead to Goblin’s death.

The final scene is really an intricately crafted sequence, so emotionally powerful and richly coloured. I loved that Wang Yeo was dressed in white in this sequence, which made him appear almost angelic. He says nothing throughout the conversation, yet his eyes speak volumes as you can see his empathy and concern for both Eun Tak and Goblin. The messenger of death ironically becomes a more benign presence, whereas the goddess of birth is dressed in blood red, bringing only news of pain and tragedy.

Beyond all that’s going on with Eun Tak and Goblin, Wang Yeo and Sunny finally get a bit more significant development, though I always feel we could do with less of Goblin/Eun Tak bickering and more meaty developments on that end. The show confirms what we’ve been suspecting so long that Sunny is the reincarnation of Goblin’s sister as her real name is Kim Sun. Wang Yeo also starts to realise he’s getting glimpses into his past and memories are returning. Through a fellow reaper, he learns of a scandal within the Reaper ranks where a fellow reaper got his memories back and ran off with his wife after learning she’s a missing soul. He starts to wonder what the deities have in mind when they return lost memories, which is also happening to him.

In the midst of all that’s going on, what is equally fascinating to me is the suggestion within the world of the show that the supernatural world may not be as orderly as we’d like it to be and while there may be rules in place, there are often exceptions or agents within the world who go against the rules due to their own agendas and emotions. The deities may try to keep things in order, but they do not have full control either. It’s a supernatural world that functions by rules, but also through relationships. This connects strongly with my belief in Christianity, where we believe that while there’s Scripture to guide us, it’s ultimately our relationship with God that’s key.

[Woman in my Life: This plot-heavy episode was the writers’ Christmas gift to the audience! From introducing Reaper’s backstory to be filled in, to joining Sunny and Reaper in ill-fated union in the lantern scene, to closing the loophole of why Goblin can’t just have Eun Tak pull out the sword in eighty years’ time, and finally a deity appearing (as a woman! and also answering the mystery of who Granny/ Lady in Red is, as previously we know she is a benevolent entity but not aware that she is actually more powerful than Goblin),  and offering a major turning point as both Eun Tak and Goblin cannot have happy endings, in fact, one’s life is predicated on the other’s demise… Very thrilling stuff.]

While I’m largely enjoying the series, I’d just like to close by pointing out several issues which bother me. The first would be the increasingly blatant and overwhelming amount of product placements – I don’t mind when it naturally fits into the storyline, but when there’s random mention of Goblin getting a job just to throw in a series of product placements for BodyShop etc., it just gets too in-your-face. Secondly, Sunny is still too under-developed as a character at this point and we barely know anything about her besides her connection to the past and her liking Reaper. Finally, and more importantly, while I’m enjoying the whole divine connection between Eun Tak and Goblin, I’m finding their romance less engaging. It isn’t so clear to me why Goblin is so reluctant to let Eun Tak know that she’s his first love and why wouldn’t the Heavens allow that – given that she’s already been assigned as his bride?

It’s been an enjoyable journey thus far and I’m so excited to see the story finally gaining some momentum!

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo – Eps 11 & 12

wfkbjep11

After the intensity of episode 10, things start to lighten up and then sweeten up tremendously as Joon Hyung confesses his love for Bok Joo at the end of episode 11 and Bok Joo also admits to liking him at the end of episode 12. I couldn’t stop smiling when watching these two episodes as the two of them are such lovable characters on their own, and even more adorable together.

I am pleasantly surprised at how convincingly Bok Joo and Joon Hyung’s relationship has been developed. Unlike many shows where the romantic connection may sometimes seem forced or something we grow to accept as part of the show’s premise, we truly see Bok Joo and Joon Hyung’s relationship growing as the series progresses. It starts from bickering and merciless teasing, where Bok Joo just cannot stand Joon Hyung, to them slowly starting to relate to each other more closely and building a genuine friendship. Even though Joon Hyung doesn’t realise his feelings for her in episode 10, it’s evident that he cares so much for her, and she feels completely comfortable with him to open herself up and share her pain and sorrows with him. In this episode, Joon Hyung’s care for her is so obvious and so warm – he cheers her on, checks in on her, walks her home. They have such a charming camaraderie and you can see they are already best friends, which is a great foundation to start building a romance.

What’s impressive as well is how mature Joon Hyung is about the whole matter. Even when he’s rejected by Bok Joo after confessing his love for her, he tells her to give him a month to “test it out”. Of course, it’s a little too convenient that he somehow discovers her “bucket list” after that, but it’s when he deviates from the bucket list and decides to dump the 100 roses for a bag of tissue papers and other necessities at the hospital that he truly proves that he cares for her and is sensitive to her immediate needs. Realising that she’s going through a lot with her dad, he also takes a step back and doesn’t pester her about the relationship until she calls him and asks to meet him.

Besides the romance, it’s also heartwarming to witness Bok Joo’s journey of growth over the past two episodes. I can completely relate to her need to step back from something she’s been so wholeheartedly engaged in, so as to do other things and find her purpose again. It takes courage to do that, against peer pressure and also from her dad. However, it’s when she realises how much her dad has given up for her and watches out for her that she’s reminded of the genuine joy in weightlifting. Lee Sung Kyung really does an amazing job portraying Bok Joo in such a real and raw manner, particularly in the scene where she goes through her dad’s stuff and finds his insurance documents and clothes with holes in them. She just breaks down completely as the discovery of his great love and sacrifice for her also brings her so much pain because he’s in hospital now. In response to that, she then does what she can as a daughter not to disappoint him, which is to get back to weightlifting.

Bok Joo and Joon Hyung’s relationship is so well handled in this show that it’s inevitable that all the other love stories seem rather lacking in comparison. Jae Yi seems less compelling of a character now that he’s no longer Bok Joo’s crush and I find it harder to get into the current story-line with him and Dr. Go. In a show like this, there seems to be a tendency to get every character paired up when that might not necessarily be the main story for them. Take for example Coach Choi – besides exploring Dae Ho, her and Coach Yoon’s love-triangle, I was hoping that the show would explore more of the fallout of her being fired and how that’s affecting her in light of her attachment to the team. Nonetheless, given that there are so many characters and relationships, the show is already doing a sufficiently good job in making them all compelling in their own ways without being repetitive. That in itself is not an easy feat and that’s what makes this show such an excellent show.

The Lonely and Shining Goblin Episode 7

While the supernatural world of Goblin is intriguing and fascinating, it’s ultimately the chemistry between the characters that draw us in and increasingly we see that our 4 main characters – Goblin, Reaper, Deok Hwa and Eun Tak – have become a weird, but charming little family, something which arguably none of them ever had.

While Eun Tak is the only one who acknowledges that she’s never had a family at the end of the episode, I would argue that that’s the same for Goblin and Reaper too as they have lived most of their lives in isolation. We know that it’s most true for Eun Tak because she lost her mum when she was ten and while she was at her aunt’s, she was treated more as a servant than a member of the family as she slogged over chores for them and never felt any love. However, in Goblin’s household, she’s more than willing to do her part to contribute to the chores by cleaning and washing. After completing her exams, the three guys welcome her back and celebrate her joy with a cake and candle, which touches her greatly.  Following that, she even goes out with Shin to the arcade, to watch a movie and to have a meal. When Reaper is in need, he goes all the way to Baskin Robins to find her, so that she can help him answer Sunny’s call and she helps him out by pretending that he’s a manager. Deok Hwa has also become sort of like a brother figure to Eun Tak, fetching her to school daily and then teasing her about her not being the Goblin’s bride and exposing how Shin goes weak when he sees girl bands.

It’s evident that Eun Tak has indeed found family in the strangest places, yet it’s also admirable that she’s grown beyond relying on Goblin’s assistance to becoming more independent and at the end, we see that she’s taking on a second job, so as to pay rent back to Goblin and also eventually move out of his place.

As for Goblin, his near-death experience at the end of the last episode has made him realise how much he actually wants to live. In the previous episodes, the realisation that Eun Tak is the Goblin’s bride led him to obsess continually about death and departing from this life.  However, in this episode, he no longer struggles and there’s a certain peace in him in choosing to live. When asking grandfather back for his scroll, the grandfather tells him, “If I dare make a suggestion, could you give up trying to die and consider living instead?”. While in subway, Eun Tak questions him if he still wants to go and he tells her that he doesn’t want to go, but if the bride appears, that choice is no longer his. When questioned by Deok Hwa after helping Reaper out at the police station about his special power, Goblin tells Deok Hwa that his special power is “staying alive”. In this episode, Goblin is no longer as melancholic before and we certainly see him smiling more, teasing Eun Tak more and simply having fun. Death is no longer a looming shadow over his life. We see him running with her to school with such enthusiasm and energy in his eyes, as compared to his walks with her in the previous episode. Indeed, we can see that Goblin’s life is ‘shining’ because he has accepted the Goblin’s bride as a symbol of his life, not just a symbol of his death.

Goblin’s appreciation of life is perhaps why the sword becomes concrete and real, as I argued in my post about why Eun Tak cannot remove the sword. He hugs her in his arms and tells her he can’t do that, not the 50% discount. Just as he’s going to tell her that he wants her to stay in their household, he feels the sharp pain in his body  and the sword appears in concrete form. Eun Tak can finally place her hands on it and attempts to pull it out, but that’s where he makes his most concrete and dramatic choice to live, by pushing her away so powerfully and with so much force that his eventual shielding of her causes a huge collision on the road and much fireworks. He holds her tightly in his arms and protects her from any harm, symbolising his embracing of the joy and ‘shine’ that she has brought to his life.

While Goblin has learnt to appreciate his life amidst all the pain of his past, Reaper is experiencing the opposite journey as the pain of his past is returning as he sees the scroll of the queen. It brings tears to his eyes and we see a past encounter between the young king and the queen. Being so used to just carrying out his duties, Reaper has lost an identity and a sense of who he is, which is symbolised in this episode by his lack of a name card. A name card conveys not just your name, it also symbolises your identity and position in this world. Reaper’s lack of a name card represents his rootlessness, which is bound to change now that he’s gained greater insight into his past. He is also gradually being “rooted” to the world through his growing relationship with Goblin (as shown through a hilarious exchange between him and Goblin on his Eun Tak has spoiled their room-mate bond) and now with Sunny.

On that note, how cute was that scene between him and Sunny. While he struggles with communicating with her, it’s the simplest, most honest things he says that can be the most touching. I loved it when he replied to her question of what he liked doing by saying “Sunny”, then spoke about how he loved her unpredictability and how it’s better than any drama, finally referring to her as his new hobby. It’s so sweet, honest and real and Lee Dong Wook really aces his interactions with Sunny, being so bumbling yet charming. I found it interesting how he referred to his love for her as either a plan of the gods or their mistake – I’m sure we’ll find out more about this in time to come.

There’s so much richness in this show that I look forward to each episode not really because of the plot developments, but really because of the joy, beauty and meaning that can be drawn out of just watching these characters interact and journeying in life.

Legend of the Blue Sea Episode 12

LOBSep12.jpg

The first fifteen minutes of this week’s episode felt like exactly the kind of thing the show should be doing at this point of time. It was dark, intense and creepy and we got the mythical world and the modern world combining to provide a real sense of threat. The setting of an abandoned hospital was indeed spooky and I loved seeing Sim Chung also fight back and threaten Dae Young with the warning that if he touched her, she would take away all of his memories. On that note, how long has it been since we’ve seen the feisty, strong Sim Chung that we saw in episodes 1 and 2? How is it that she’s been reduced in the recent episodes to being so vulnerable that she continually needs saving by Joon Jae?

I’m getting rather impatient with this show and may stop writing reviews until something significant actually happens. Yes, the episode was entertaining and it was adorable seeing Joon Jae respond to Sim Chung’s thoughts, but haven’t we been through this before? Didn’t Joon Jae kiss her in episode 9 after pouring out his heart to her? Even after he went to the sauna to bring her back and then save her from Dae Young, shouldn’t that already provide enough certainty to her that he loves her?

Also, I was under the impression that Sim Chung already knew that Joon Jae could read her thoughts and that’s why she made such directed comments in her thoughts at the end of episode 10 that she was a mermaid. Wouldn’t she have realised from seeing Joon Jae’s facial expression after that that he knew? I thought she already knew that he knew she was a mermaid, hence his protectiveness of her from water in the sauna – or did she not notice all that? I have to admit to being very confused here.

There seems to be some narrative back-tracking here and we’re not moving ahead in the relationship between Sim Chung and Joon Jae. Since Joon Jae already knows he’s connected to the past and that she’s a mermaid, shouldn’t he start talking to her about it, finding out more about her mermaid life and whether she too knows anything about Dam Ryung? The show needs to move forward and not keep relying on the cuteness between Min Ho and Ji-hyun to pull in the viewers and ratings.

[Woman in my Life: The first fifteen minutes were captivating and tense, but I wonder why it finished with the strong and foreboding Sim Chung muttering “I’m scared” and getting all fainty again. I think the show tries to draw out a theme every week, for instance that of friendship that I mentioned previously, and this week it was about appearance and truth. Keeping up appearances for Shi-ah and Joo Jin and waiting (im)patiently is a pain, and the pent-up truth will find release. This was contrasted with Joon Jae having access to the truth by being able to read her every thought, but not quite knowing what to do to it nor confess his feelings. The episode was cute but I do think a confession needs to be forthcoming next week for I am truthfully getting impatient.]

I’m still not getting why exactly we should care so much about the Soo-hee and Joon Jae’s father storyline. I get that she’s menacing and she’s going to cheat him of his money, but how does this affect Joon Jae and also the main storyline involving Sim Chung? Joon Jae is not intending to live on his father’s inheritance anyway and furthermore, his dad is not even a part of his life anymore. And it’s been 12 episodes and we still have no encounter between Joon Jae and his mum.

I’ll still be watching the show because it is entertaining, but I may stop writing for it for a while, until something significant happens.