The Lonely and Shining Goblin: Episode 4

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There certainly was a lot of waiting going on in this episode. On a smaller scale, we have the characters waiting for each other – Eun Tak waiting for Shin outside his house after she tells him she can see the sword, then having to wait for him again for an extended length before she summons him with a candle. When in Quebec, Eun Tak asks Shin to wait for her as she goes to a hotel to post a letter and he patiently waits, reading a book in the meantime. Sunny is also waiting for Reaper to respond after she gave him her number, while Reaper grapples with what that first encounter with Sunny means. Reaper waits at the bridge, hoping to bump into her again. Sunny prepares herself by dolling herself up and we learn that she’s been waiting all her life, for her love, for a king.

On another level, we have our characters waiting for answers to make sense of their lives. Since her mum’s death, Eun Tak has been suffering through misfortunes and waiting for the harvest season. Through this period, she has been discouraged and stopped believing in divinities until she met Goblin. I thought it was nice how Eun Tak shared her emotional journey after first seeing the sword, initially fearing about what it meant and not being sure how to confront Goblin about it. Seeing the sword affirms her identity as the Goblin’s bride, yet it opens up more questions about what that means.

Shin, too, has been waiting his entire life – all 939 years of it – for his bride to come along, but now that she’s right in front of him, he doesn’t know how to feel because it means his death is imminent. The episode focuses largely on his process of coping with that revelation. For someone who has never had to ponder about his mortality, this is certainly earth-shattering and Shin moves from surprise, to depression, to drunkenness and eventually acceptance. The rules of his existence already make it a tragic one; although he tells Eun Tak about removing the sword, he doesn’t tell her the consequences of drawing it out. There’s a bittersweet way in which this is played out as we see Shin softening in his demeanour, opening himself up to the possibility of love and joy.

Then, of course, there’s us as viewers, waiting for answers. What exactly happens now that we know Eun Tak can see the sword? How does the revelation that she is Goblin’s wife affect her life? What happens if she takes out the sword? Also, what exactly is the deal with Sunny and Reaper? Why is Reaper so drawn to Sunny? How is the present day storyline related to the past? Unfortunately this waiting process is less than pleasant and there’s a sense in which the show is dragging out its key revelations and moments. This episode felt ponderous largely because expectations had been heightened after we received a big revelation at the end of ep 3, but ultimately, how that actually alters the relationship between Goblin and Eun Tak has yet to be seen.

No doubt, there’s a lot of beauty in the way the show is crafted that’s compelling and I really enjoyed the sequence with the poem “The Physics of Love” where Shin becomes increasingly drawn towards Eun Tak. The selection of that poem is so apt as well as the love between them is likened ironically to science and physics, which Goblin as a supernatural being is supposed to be above, yet he finds himself bound by these laws when it comes to matters of the heart. We also return to Quebec in autumn which is so dreamy and picturesque, where Eun Tak and Goblin have a supposed “honeymoon” and Goblin finally admits that she’s his first love.

The exchange between Shin and the young boy he saved was very meaningful and I liked the points being made about how people responded to miracles by waiting for the next miracle, rather than actually growing. There certainly is a point being made in the show about religion and how people relate to it, whether passively depending on it to protect them (i.e. as an umbrella) or as an opportunity for personal growth. Perhaps this is also the journey that Eun Tak must take, as she’s largely reliant on Goblin as her guardian and immediately gets so excited about what it means, talking about babies and what kind of wife she should be. She’s so excited to delve into that ‘supernatural’ identity of hers as a means of escaping from the torturous life she’s living. However, as she’s still human and her life will still go on, even after she pulls the sword out of Goblin, there must be greater implications for her life as a human.

While there’s a lot of good stuff going on, the show certainly needs to work on its pacing, because there’s a sense in which it’s currently one step behind of what viewers are hoping for. One easy area to address would be to quickly start developing the relationship between Sunny and Reaper. Let’s hope things move along more briskly in next week’s episodes.

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