There was so much to enjoy in this episode that the hour just flew by. For an episode of LOBS, this was a very plot-heavy one where we got significant development on all fronts with many sweet moments and our OTP’s first genuine kiss!
The past and present storylines are now combining and we see that Dam Ryung has now realised he can ‘communicate’ to his modern day self and is finding ways to get to Joon Jae through his dreams and historical artefacts. Given that the much acclaimed Signal also used a similar concept of the past communicating with the present excellently, there’s no reason to doubt that the show could make this link between past and present work. It’d be a plus if the show went beyond that to also explain why it is that Dam Ryung can communicate with his future self – is there some bigger purpose in play, perhaps for the sake of the future of mermaids? I’ve read in some synopsis that Shim Chung is supposed to be the last mermaid on earth. I would really like it if the link in the past had some bigger purpose, rather than just being for the sake of romance.
Lee Min Ho really gets to shine in this episode and he does an excellent job on all fronts. His portrayal of his pain and sorrow at losing his dad and not being able to say when he really wanted to say to him is intense and moving. I’ve not been heavily invested in this backstory, but with that one scene of him expressing his pain has now won me over. I can imagine we’re in for more pain when he finally sees his mum at Jin Joo’s home. He’s hilarious as always when portraying his bumbling awkwardness around his housemates and Shim Chung and discomfort with expressing his genuine feelings. In this episode, he’s additionally charming because he even starts to outwardly express affection for Shim Chung through preparing spaghetti for her (which looks so delicious by the way) and also admiring her photo discreetly.
It was also so much fun watching both Joon Jae and Shim Chung work together by going shopping, similar to what they did in the first episode except that Shim Chung is now much more savvy. Shim Chung’s integration into society has been smooth and Nam Doo mentions at least twice that she’s now a full Seoul-ite. Her “qualification” as a Seoul-ite comes from being able to dress up and doll herself well and the irony is that she has learnt all this just from watching television. There is certainly a statement being made about the superficiality of modern culture, which is so easily replicated by someone outside of the culture just by watching television. Besides television, it’s also the homeless woman who “schools” Shim Chung into the ways of the world by telling her where to get clothes and also teaching her about love in this episode. Yet while she’s able to blend into the culture, she’s also distinctly different from others in her completely guilelessness and genuine nature, which is what draws Joon Jae to her. He sees in her someone he can trust completely because she’s so thoroughly honest with him.
The side characters don’t fare too badly in this episode too, as their scenes were not completely boring. Chi-hyun starts to press Soo-hee more about Joon Jae to make her confess her devious plans, and there’s an interesting dynamic between the mother-son pair where they are both trying to protect each other. Shi-ah gets significantly more screen time and while she still mostly plays the function of revealing necessary information on the Joseon storyline, we see her being contrasted with Jin Joo as being more savvy and being able to spot a scam just by hearing about it. She also gets pulled into the dinner between Jin Joo and the fake CEO played by Joon Jae and I can’t wait to see that scene. Jin Joo is entertaining as always and I found the scene at the pet-store with her talking to Nam Doo about after school classes for dogs so funny!
Unfortunately, the one character who’s still sidelined is the one that we need more development more and that’s Dae Young. It seems like the story is pushing for him to be the modern-day equivalent of Lord Yang, but he really just seems so flat and boring as a villain, simply being utilised by Seo-hee who has even more plans up her sleeve by manipulating her husband’s health conditions. Perhaps there’s a reversal taking place here between past and present, where unlike the past where Lord Yang’s concubine took orders from him to execute his evil plans, in present day, it’s the woman taking charge, giving orders to Dae Young. Even so, he still needs to do more to become a truly convincing villain. Also, we still don’t see how Shim Chung’s life is under threat in the modern world. I’m not sure that Dae Young has really been targeting Shim Chung because Seo-hee’s instructions to him was clear. It would add more tension and excitement to the mix if we see Shim Chung gradually also being in danger.
This show is certainly shaping up very well and I’d still like to believe it has the potential to deliver some truly heart-stopping drama as it moves into the second half.