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Following the big reveal in episode 6 that Eun Tak could not take out the sword, I became more intrigued and started my attempt to piece things together about the Goblin and Goblin’s bride mythology.
One thing we know for sure is that Eun Tak has been selected as the Goblin’s wife, because she has the mark on her and she’s able to see the sword. The question then is why she cannot pull out the sword and I believe the reasons can be explored from two different angles – the significance of the sword and the importance of the ‘Goblin’s bride’.
The sword: award and punishment
While Eun Tak can see the sword, she does not understand the full implications of what pulling out the sword entails.
All she knows is based on what Shin told her, that the sword is a punishment for the innocent lives due to him approaching the king.
Now, what Shin tells her is not the complete picture, if compared against what the deity/God says as he resurrected Shin in Episode 1:
The souls of your people are saving you. However, the blood of thousands are on your sword. The blood of your enemies, who were also descendants of deities. You shall be immortal and watch your loved ones die. You will not forget a single death. This is the award I give to you and the punishment you shall receive. Only the goblin’s bride shall remove the sword. Once the sword is removed, you shall return to ash and be at peace.
It’s not just about those innocent lives which were lost in the palace, but the thousands of lives lost during his battles, some of whom were descendants of deities. It’s quite clear how his immortality is a punishment, but as to how it’s an “award” – I’ve been thinking about it and the best theory I can come up with is that it’s because the immortality gives him sufficient time to make up for his sin of taking away the thousands of lives. The abilities given to him to protect and watch over others could therefore be a means of enabling him to make up for his wrongdoings.
If that’s the case, then Goblin’s journey on earth is not done – the punishment is not complete; he has not completed his work on this earth and hence cannot leave. This is similar to the ghosts who remain on this world as we learn in Episode 6 too that the daughter ghost moved on once her mum was at peace. This opens up the question of what exactly is the unfinished business that Goblin has and my conjecture is that it has to do with Sunny, who’s somewhat being paralleled to the queen who died on his behalf. The connection is not concrete enough yet, but she seems to be the only plausible character in all of this.
My theory is that the sword only becomes more concrete when Goblin’s punishment is complete, and therefore his wife can then remove it.
The Goblin’s bride: Loving & Living
Another theory that I mentioned in an early review of Episode 2 was that Eun Tak is also not ready to remove the sword. While she bears the mark of the Goblin’s bride and can see the sword, that alone cannot be sufficient to confer upon her the status of the Goblin’s bride.
There are theories I’ve read about them needing to fall deeper in love first before she can truly become Goblin’s wife. That’s certainly plausible and here I’ll bring in certain beliefs in my own religion that even if you believe someone is the person God has planned for you to marry, there’s still a need to develop the relationship, get to know the person and grow deeper in love, before the decision to get married can be made. This is not just a case of Eun Tak not being ready, but also Goblin not being ready. We’ve seen in recent episodes that he’s always holding back, afraid to love her because it will make death more painful – the most painful punishment would be for him to love so deeply, only for him to have to lose it.
In the quote from episode 1 earlier mentioned, there’s a suggestion that he was not fully at peace when he died. Perhaps experiencing the fullness and purity of love through a marriage will help him to find that peace too. This is where also what God mentioned about this immortality being a award/reward comes in – that it’s also an opportunity for him to experience love that he never experienced in his past life. What Eun Tak says in episode 6 ties in with this, when she tells him:
The deity would not have given you those abilities as a punishment. If you were truly a bad person, he would’ve created only the Goblin. He would not have created the Goblin’s bride to remove the sword.
What she says makes a lot of sense and brings in a more balanced picture to the depiction of God. When Kim Shin is first introduced in episode 1, the narrator mentions that God is on his side and even when the young king tries to kill him, Shin’s man runs up to ask the king if he’s not afraid of the heavens. God is certainly not all out to punish Shin, as much as Shin thinks he is. My theory therefore is that while his immortality has been given to him to repent of his sins, it has also been given for him to experience the fullness of life.
Indeed, meeting Eun Tak has helped Goblin on this journey because he mentions in episode 6 that she’s the one who’s supposed to make him die, but she keeps making him live. Reaper mentions that Goblin did live before meeting Eun Tak, but Goblin mentions he has no memories of that. In the final sequence at the buckwheat field, it is clear that he remembers every moment with Eun Tak so vividly and clearly, and he has started living. I believe it’s only when he’s fully appreciated how his immortality is a reward, then the sword will fully materialise and even so, his bride will have the ability to decide when she will remove it.
All this is speculation based on what has been revealed so far, but it’s been very fascinating and fun stuff! Shall wait and see whether these theories pan out in subsequent episodes!