I am beginning to enjoy the sageuk sequences much more than the modern world sequences, such that I really wish we had more of them. They have such a mythic, poetic quality to them and build up the mermaid mythology in an intriguing, fascinating manner. In this episode, we learn that mermaids can actually speak and that they can hear each other’s thoughts; also, that humans may be able to hear mermaids’ thoughts, but that can possibly have destructive consequences. The plot thickens as we see Lord Yang keeping tabs on Dam Ryung with eventual hope to capture the mermaid again.
Following that brief sequence, we return to the modern day sequence, where we see Joon-Jae picking up the mermaid. What follows for most of the rest of the episode is an extended chase sequence that is really just a good excuse to showcase the quaint side-streets, stunning architecture and picturesque scenery of Girona. In contrast to the sageuk sequences which are short and sharp with a clear sense of direction, we still aren’t quite clear where the modern day storyline is heading, besides the budding romance. This episode is lots of fun, but I do hope we get a stronger sense of what the modern day storyline is taking us.
There are lots of hilarious moments during the chase sequence starting with the fake bomb, then the mermaid picking up flowers and waving in the midst of Joon-Jae running for his life and of course, the mermaid’s Bruce Lee martial art moves which send people flying to the balconies. In the midst of all this, we get some heartfelt moments, especially once the mermaid starts to talk. She asks Joon-Jae what love is and he explains that it’s something a person like her should never do, because it’s dangerous, like surrendering; following which she stares at him and says “I love you”. It’s a great moment because it could almost be a touching moment, but the mermaid’s direct, straightforward “I love you” shocks Joon-Jae and becomes a humorous moment. After she eats her ramyun, she tells him he’s a good person, because he could have let go of her many times, but he didn’t, to which he does not have any witty retort. It’s their first moment of genuine connection as it’s possibly the first instance in a long while anybody has called Joon-Jae “good”.
Jeo Ji-hyun continues to shine with her excellent portrayal of the mermaid’s quirky actions and gradual understanding of language and how the world works. Min Ho’s character is still more difficult to connect with and I did find his returning of her jade bangle too quick of a change of heart for a man who’s lived most of his life deceiving others for his own good. Nonetheless, we do get some backstory about how he lost his mum at the end of the world, which also leads us to realise that while the mermaid may be lost in this world, Joon-jae is lost in life and finding a sense of belonging.
All in all, it’s a very entertaining second episode, which is beautifully shot and now makes me want to visit Girona. I’m looking forward to more sageuk sequences in episode 3, how Joon-Jae responds to the revelation that she’s a mermaid and also further exploration of the scientific/archaeological angle that’s only briefly covered in this episode.