Wow, that was a surprisingly plot-heavy episode of Goblin with our storyline moving forward significantly compared to previous episodes. It helpfully pulls things together into a more coherent picture and it’s starting to get clearer that our story may be heading towards a tragic, sad ending.
What is becoming more evident is that Goblin’s constant protection of Eun Tak is disrupting the natural order of things in both the human and supernatural world. It’s handled in such a wacky manner early in the episode as Deok Hwa and Wang Yeo work together to cover up the vehicle pile-up he caused by through erasing all traces of it on social media and Wang Yeo altering people’s memories of it. More significant is his prevention of the bus accident later, which many Grim Reapers are already preparing for. When speaking to Wang Yeo after the incident, Wang Yeo tells her that Eun Tak is the variable and the accident was not part of her destiny because she has a Goblin boyfriend. Wang Yeo is determined to defend Eun Tak’s life at the cost of affecting many others. I’m just wondering whether all the other lives on the bus also now enter the register of lost souls because they have cheated death. We only hear that more paper work is involved, but I did wish the show went a little deeper to explain more about what kind of consequences Goblin’s intervention has.
I have to admit to not fully grasping the theory offered by Wang Yeo, but I think at this point, it still makes sense. I was initially wondering why Shin was still able to see the accident even though it’s destined that he will save her by preventing it. I believe Goblin is able to see futures that happen without his intervention and his intervention alters the futures that he initially sees. It does raise some questions though about his vision of Eun Tak 10 years down the road which he claims he’s not present in, because what he has currently seen is a future without his intervention. Would his current intervention in her life therefore affect that scene in the restaurant in ways that he cannot foresee?
This episode also brings Samshin to the forefront more prominently. We’ve seen so far that she’s the goddess of birth and fate, but how she features within the whole world hasn’t exactly been clear. In this episode, we see her working in partnership with Goblin as he stops the man from hanging himself and passes him a sandwich, while Samshin fetches his daughter to him. Goblin later tells Eun Tak that it’s not him who saves the man, but the daughter. It does seem like Samshin ultimately has more power than Goblin and Reaper, since they both speak of being subject to the power of deities.
The final scene of the episode delivers a real punch though when we realise that Shin’s plan to delay the sword pulling will not work. It’s a tragic intertwining of fates as Shin’s refusal to die will ultimately lead to Eun Tak’s death. Samshin tells him that it’s ultimately for his happiness that the sword be removed, because he wants Eun Tak to live and she will only live when she fulfills her destiny as his bride. What the ghost said earlier to Eun Tak about the birth mark fading starts to make sense too. She’s losing her identity as the Goblin’s bride and as Samshin says, death will come to find her more frequently and more severely. As this revelation is being told to Goblin, we also have a parallel conversation between Goblin and Eun Tak where she comes to the realisation on her own that removing the sword will lead to Goblin’s death.
The final scene is really an intricately crafted sequence, so emotionally powerful and richly coloured. I loved that Wang Yeo was dressed in white in this sequence, which made him appear almost angelic. He says nothing throughout the conversation, yet his eyes speak volumes as you can see his empathy and concern for both Eun Tak and Goblin. The messenger of death ironically becomes a more benign presence, whereas the goddess of birth is dressed in blood red, bringing only news of pain and tragedy.
Beyond all that’s going on with Eun Tak and Goblin, Wang Yeo and Sunny finally get a bit more significant development, though I always feel we could do with less of Goblin/Eun Tak bickering and more meaty developments on that end. The show confirms what we’ve been suspecting so long that Sunny is the reincarnation of Goblin’s sister as her real name is Kim Sun. Wang Yeo also starts to realise he’s getting glimpses into his past and memories are returning. Through a fellow reaper, he learns of a scandal within the Reaper ranks where a fellow reaper got his memories back and ran off with his wife after learning she’s a missing soul. He starts to wonder what the deities have in mind when they return lost memories, which is also happening to him.
In the midst of all that’s going on, what is equally fascinating to me is the suggestion within the world of the show that the supernatural world may not be as orderly as we’d like it to be and while there may be rules in place, there are often exceptions or agents within the world who go against the rules due to their own agendas and emotions. The deities may try to keep things in order, but they do not have full control either. It’s a supernatural world that functions by rules, but also through relationships. This connects strongly with my belief in Christianity, where we believe that while there’s Scripture to guide us, it’s ultimately our relationship with God that’s key.
[Woman in my Life: This plot-heavy episode was the writers’ Christmas gift to the audience! From introducing Reaper’s backstory to be filled in, to joining Sunny and Reaper in ill-fated union in the lantern scene, to closing the loophole of why Goblin can’t just have Eun Tak pull out the sword in eighty years’ time, and finally a deity appearing (as a woman! and also answering the mystery of who Granny/ Lady in Red is, as previously we know she is a benevolent entity but not aware that she is actually more powerful than Goblin), and offering a major turning point as both Eun Tak and Goblin cannot have happy endings, in fact, one’s life is predicated on the other’s demise… Very thrilling stuff.]
While I’m largely enjoying the series, I’d just like to close by pointing out several issues which bother me. The first would be the increasingly blatant and overwhelming amount of product placements – I don’t mind when it naturally fits into the storyline, but when there’s random mention of Goblin getting a job just to throw in a series of product placements for BodyShop etc., it just gets too in-your-face. Secondly, Sunny is still too under-developed as a character at this point and we barely know anything about her besides her connection to the past and her liking Reaper. Finally, and more importantly, while I’m enjoying the whole divine connection between Eun Tak and Goblin, I’m finding their romance less engaging. It isn’t so clear to me why Goblin is so reluctant to let Eun Tak know that she’s his first love and why wouldn’t the Heavens allow that – given that she’s already been assigned as his bride?
It’s been an enjoyable journey thus far and I’m so excited to see the story finally gaining some momentum!