W Two Worlds Episode 12: The Second Awakening 

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Andrew: This was a fun episode, filled with cute scenes, new revelations and victorious moments for our protagonists. It’s also the only episode that ends with a happy ending, minus the finale.

The episode begins where we left of with Kang Chul questioning Yeon Joo about what happens next in the manhwa. The portal between the two worlds then opens up and both of them step through it together to enter the human world. A significant moment because it’s the first time they move across the worlds together.

Once they enter the human world, it’s homework time for Kang Chul as he needs to catch up on what happened and also to get to know Yeon Joo or his wife better.

Before he catches up on what happens, he decides to dismantle the laptop so the killer has no chance to seize control again. Following that, he catches up on what happened and then spends the night figuring out what’s next. His next step is to reassemble the tablet and confront the killer where we realize the killer is still in control as he’s managed to manipulate events such that even though Kang Chul didn’t die, he will eventually cease to exist as he is a fugitive and thus no longer the righteous hero of the comic.

When Kang Chul first appeared in the real world, he reacted to the revelation of himself being a manhwa character with despair and anger, which led to him shooting Seong Moo and then jumping off a bridge. This time round, his understanding of the comic world prompts him into action and now he has to fight for his existence. There’s a greater fighting spirit and determination in this second version of Kang Chul and I would argue that can be attributed to the fact that the killer has been humanized, which awakens his sense of mission. While Kang Chul downplays Seong Moo’s  role as a god, there’s no denying that his decision to provide a face to the villain has helped Kang Chul recover his sense of purpose.

From there, we go on to the next set of “homework”, which is him getting to know Yeon Joo. I appreciated that Kang Chul’s feelings did not all suddenly return and their relationship is now starting from the very basics of dating and getting to know each other –  a stark contrast from the first time round where they got married and Kang Chul read a book to find out what sweet things he could do for her. This time round, their relationship is starting on a more real, grounded footing which is why it’s also more convincing to me. I liked the scenes of him visiting her in her place, seeing her room and the scenes from the comic. His “No comment” reaction after kissing her was so hilarious!

Jasmine: see, I’m not so convinced about that. I am not sure if Kang Chul is working backwards and trying to reverse engineer his affection for her. His calm, collected demeanour, which has worked well for more heroic scenes, comes off a little stilted here.

Andrew: Following that, they go on a date which is where we get important revelations.

First, we realize that apart from meeting Kang Chul that night, Seong Moo also had an encounter with the villain and agreed to make him the protagonist. The villain was in fact the first character to become self aware of the two worlds. This explains why their previous attempt at a happy ending did not work.

Jasmine: now this is exactly what makes W tick. In many dramas, flashbacks tend to be draggy and add no value to the plot. In W we have numerous flashbacks, probably more than is the norm, yet the flashbacks not only add to the plot but sometimes change it entirely.

Andrew: Seong Moo’s power and control over his characters is continually downplayed and we have seen how both Kang Chul and the villain have gained control over him and taken over their own destiny. In light of what happens in the finale though (no spoilers at this point), I would have appreciated more of a struggle between author and character throughout, rather than Seong Moo always displayed to be at the losing end. We know he’s a depressed man who left his family, but certainly he would have some power over the comic book which he authored? Why did he still choose to give the villain his own face after having that encounter with him?

Kang Chul continues by saying he had chosen the wrong moment to reset because the villain was left with the awareness of the two worlds but not him. This was how he managed to manipulate that to his advantage and prevent the happy ending originally intended. Also, we learn that the manhwa is only a portal between the two worlds and that Dad did not create everything in both worlds, only the aspects that are common across them. In order to achieve victory, it is time for Kang Chul and Yeon Joo to now use the variables to their advantage. Yay!

This is a great development for Kang Chul’s character as he’s now using his knowledge to gain control over both worlds. We also get to see both him and Yeon Joo work together to bring about a positive end. He decides to test out his hypothesis that he is able to move between both worlds at will. He ties up the villain and alerts the police. He then fakes his own death, but alerts Do Yoon that it is a set up and it’s best for Soo Hee to still think he’s dead. He adds that once she knows he’s dead, she will be given a new purpose in life and can continue to exist even while Yeon Joo and him pursue their relationship together. Finally, he tests out his second hypothesis that he can return to the real world once he finishes a mission and a voila he does! The episode ends with him telling Yeon Joo that she’s going to realize he’s a much better than the previous version of himself. And that’s true indeed.

There’s a lot going on in this episode and I love all the revelations and insights that we get into what happened previously and all the rules of the comic book world. The only part I’ve wondered about a lot was the fake death of Kang Chul. Was this really necessary and was the purpose of that really just to free up Soo Hee’s character? In the earlier storyline, she rematerialised once Kang Chul reinforced how important she was in her life not as a love interest, but as a friend and personal assistant. Wouldn’t the same work here? Or was the purpose of faking his death to free him from the comic world so he could pursue his relationship with Yeon Joo in the real world? If so, do the readers of the manhwa know that his death is faked? How does this cohere with what he told Yeon Joo earlier that the ending of the comic (and not real life) is one where Kang Chul gets married to Yeon Joo?  Too many questions really.

Nonetheless, I really liked the work done with Kang Chul’s character and the relationship between him and Yeon Joo this second time round. The first time round I felt that it was difficult to relate to Kang Chul and I honestly felt little sympathy with him even when he committed suicide. However his competence and earnestness in this episode has successfully humanized him and made him relatable. All in all an excellent episode!

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