While the supernatural world of Goblin is intriguing and fascinating, it’s ultimately the chemistry between the characters that draw us in and increasingly we see that our 4 main characters – Goblin, Reaper, Deok Hwa and Eun Tak – have become a weird, but charming little family, something which arguably none of them ever had.
While Eun Tak is the only one who acknowledges that she’s never had a family at the end of the episode, I would argue that that’s the same for Goblin and Reaper too as they have lived most of their lives in isolation. We know that it’s most true for Eun Tak because she lost her mum when she was ten and while she was at her aunt’s, she was treated more as a servant than a member of the family as she slogged over chores for them and never felt any love. However, in Goblin’s household, she’s more than willing to do her part to contribute to the chores by cleaning and washing. After completing her exams, the three guys welcome her back and celebrate her joy with a cake and candle, which touches her greatly. Following that, she even goes out with Shin to the arcade, to watch a movie and to have a meal. When Reaper is in need, he goes all the way to Baskin Robins to find her, so that she can help him answer Sunny’s call and she helps him out by pretending that he’s a manager. Deok Hwa has also become sort of like a brother figure to Eun Tak, fetching her to school daily and then teasing her about her not being the Goblin’s bride and exposing how Shin goes weak when he sees girl bands.
It’s evident that Eun Tak has indeed found family in the strangest places, yet it’s also admirable that she’s grown beyond relying on Goblin’s assistance to becoming more independent and at the end, we see that she’s taking on a second job, so as to pay rent back to Goblin and also eventually move out of his place.
As for Goblin, his near-death experience at the end of the last episode has made him realise how much he actually wants to live. In the previous episodes, the realisation that Eun Tak is the Goblin’s bride led him to obsess continually about death and departing from this life. However, in this episode, he no longer struggles and there’s a certain peace in him in choosing to live. When asking grandfather back for his scroll, the grandfather tells him, “If I dare make a suggestion, could you give up trying to die and consider living instead?”. While in subway, Eun Tak questions him if he still wants to go and he tells her that he doesn’t want to go, but if the bride appears, that choice is no longer his. When questioned by Deok Hwa after helping Reaper out at the police station about his special power, Goblin tells Deok Hwa that his special power is “staying alive”. In this episode, Goblin is no longer as melancholic before and we certainly see him smiling more, teasing Eun Tak more and simply having fun. Death is no longer a looming shadow over his life. We see him running with her to school with such enthusiasm and energy in his eyes, as compared to his walks with her in the previous episode. Indeed, we can see that Goblin’s life is ‘shining’ because he has accepted the Goblin’s bride as a symbol of his life, not just a symbol of his death.
Goblin’s appreciation of life is perhaps why the sword becomes concrete and real, as I argued in my post about why Eun Tak cannot remove the sword. He hugs her in his arms and tells her he can’t do that, not the 50% discount. Just as he’s going to tell her that he wants her to stay in their household, he feels the sharp pain in his body and the sword appears in concrete form. Eun Tak can finally place her hands on it and attempts to pull it out, but that’s where he makes his most concrete and dramatic choice to live, by pushing her away so powerfully and with so much force that his eventual shielding of her causes a huge collision on the road and much fireworks. He holds her tightly in his arms and protects her from any harm, symbolising his embracing of the joy and ‘shine’ that she has brought to his life.
While Goblin has learnt to appreciate his life amidst all the pain of his past, Reaper is experiencing the opposite journey as the pain of his past is returning as he sees the scroll of the queen. It brings tears to his eyes and we see a past encounter between the young king and the queen. Being so used to just carrying out his duties, Reaper has lost an identity and a sense of who he is, which is symbolised in this episode by his lack of a name card. A name card conveys not just your name, it also symbolises your identity and position in this world. Reaper’s lack of a name card represents his rootlessness, which is bound to change now that he’s gained greater insight into his past. He is also gradually being “rooted” to the world through his growing relationship with Goblin (as shown through a hilarious exchange between him and Goblin on his Eun Tak has spoiled their room-mate bond) and now with Sunny.
On that note, how cute was that scene between him and Sunny. While he struggles with communicating with her, it’s the simplest, most honest things he says that can be the most touching. I loved it when he replied to her question of what he liked doing by saying “Sunny”, then spoke about how he loved her unpredictability and how it’s better than any drama, finally referring to her as his new hobby. It’s so sweet, honest and real and Lee Dong Wook really aces his interactions with Sunny, being so bumbling yet charming. I found it interesting how he referred to his love for her as either a plan of the gods or their mistake – I’m sure we’ll find out more about this in time to come.
There’s so much richness in this show that I look forward to each episode not really because of the plot developments, but really because of the joy, beauty and meaning that can be drawn out of just watching these characters interact and journeying in life.