The King Eternal Monarch (TKEM)’s ninth episode develops the mythology of the show further, dropping some fascinating clues along the way. Without further ado, let’s get into the key events of this episode.
- Lee Gon and Tae-Eul working together across universes
The episode starts with Tae-eul bringing Gon to locate Song Jeong-hye as she believes he’d like to meet her. She expresses a genuine desire to help him, but also a sense of loss as she feels helpless dealing with the scale of pain that Gon must have gone through. Gon assures her that a face is just a ‘symbol of a person’ – it does not represent a person. Even if Song Jeong-hye has the same face in Korea, she is not his mother. Or is she? Was she also swopped across the worlds?
Gon makes a comment about how Tae-Eul’s world is still flat – perhaps contrasting the flow of time in Korea, as Tae-eul sees time as something linear from past to present, whereas for Gon, time functions as something more cyclical. Given his ability to move across worlds and experience time stops, we know time works in a more complicated manner for him.
While Tae-Eul helps Gon to ‘see’ his mother in Korea, we also see Gon helping Tae-Eul regarding the case of Lee Sang Do, who was found dead in the car trunk in Episode 2. She believes the answer can be found in his world. Immediately, Gon remembers seeing him in Corea, in the stables.
Ever since the last episode, Gon has realised that Lee Rim has been moving many people across both universes and thus he decides to leave Yeong here to protect the world of Corea and for him to capture Lee Rim.
As their lives get intertwined further, we discover another mystery as Gon reviews video clips and sees something that bewilders him at Haesong Book Store on 27 May 2022. We have the boy once again playing with the yo yo, which was alluded to earlier in Episode 8 as symbolising fate intervening to restore balance. The boy certainly plays a crucial role in determining the fate of our characters as we was also the one who caused Tae-Eul to drop her police badge. What is also mysterious is that Tae-eul was not wearing that outfit on that date (was it not Tae-Eul but Luna instead in that scene?). The mystery thickens and we can only wait to find out what actually happened.
I’m not fully sold on the romance between our OTP, but I’m liking how their relationship across worlds and across time is unfolding. It has been hinted at already, but we know at some point, Tae-Eul will have to make a choice about whether to abandon the world of Korea to join Gon in Corea. It will be a difficult choice to make for sure, but certainly, it’s not just a choice about love, but about the continuation of the eternal monarchy in that world of Corea.
2. Confrontation between Lee Gon and Lee Rim
As Lee Gon takes on Lee Rim in this episode, he goes into full battle mode and I’m loving it. We see his authoritative side come out fully in the first encounter over the phone as he reads the poem on the Four Tiger Sword, clearly warning Lee Rim of the power bestowed upon himself as king.
I really like how the show takes us through Lee Gon’s thought process as he attempts to solve this mystery and understand the parallel universes. He initially asks to review all video footage of where he has been and look out for a man who should be in his 70s. However, he starts to piece together how the portal stops one from aging and realises that Lee Rim used it to make himself immortal.
The show certainly knows how to build up towards its dramatic moments and that showdown towards the end was powerfully done as the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Lee Min Ho did a fantastic job with his delivery of that final “Lee Lim” at the end – so full of authority, power, aggression, anger – conveyed through his voice and his eyes. Truly amazing work there.
3. Lee Rim’s big plan unfolds further
I thought this deserves a separate point on its own, though related to the confrontation. As a villain, Lee Rim is pure evil and thus far we have seen his actions to be well-planned and well orchestrated, but in this episode, we learn that his plan with Shin Jae did not go as planned. He calls Shin Jae the wrong move he made and Tae-Eul, the move he has not made yet.
I found this very interesting, though I was disappointed we did not find out more in this episode. Based on what we have seen, we know Shin Jae is still very attached to the previous world and possibly blames Lee Gon for the death of his mum in the world of Corea. He still retains that memory very strongly of the day when he lost his mum and was brought over to Korea by Lee Rim. I’m hoping we get more back story into subsequent encounters between Lee Rim and Shin Jae – what was Lee Rim’s plan for Shin Jae and how did it all go wrong?
As for Tae-Eul, we already know he’s asked to locate Luna, so we know that there’s a bigger plan in store for her. Did Lee Rim already know from the outset that she was going to be Gon’s love interest? Was he aware that the person who appeared in the first episode was holding her police badge? I am sure Lee Rim is going to up his game, now that he knows his nephew is aware of his plan. Let’s hope he takes more concrete action soon as the show would definitely become more engaging if the action is further ramped up.
I’m also curious to know his bigger plan with Seo-Ryung – why is he approaching Seo-Ryung’s mother? Why is he sending her the newspapers – what does he want her to do? Is he pushing her to marry Gon quickly, so that Tae-Eul does not take on the throne of the Queen?
4. Yeong and Eun-Sop swop roles
Woo Do-Hwan continues to shine in this episode, providing much needed comic relief as he is able to play the role of Eun-Seob acting as Yeong so well. The way he immediately puts on his game face in Corea whenever someone else is present is just hilarious. Yeong acting as Eun-Seob is also fun and it was cute to see Na-Ri saying that Yeong’s hair was strange and that he was not as charming as Eun-Seob. The humour comes so naturally and is not forced at all, giving the show much-needed lightness in the midst of all the heavy-going events.
While I’m liking the story and the intricately-crafted script, the execution of the show can certainly be improved.
Having watched so many K-dramas and product placements, this is the first show where I feel the placements hamper the show greatly and sometimes make the actors/actresses seem like they are in an advertisement. From start to end, we are bombarded with so many cheesy lines from Paris Baguette bread not needing jam, to the delivery app remembering Lee’s order and then to the kimchi tasting so good. It’s so poorly and obviously done.
Secondly, I do find that the big pieces of the story work well, but when it comes to plotting the episode, somehow the flow seems a little off at times and there’s a lack of energy in the show. The show is fascinating to analyse and there is so much to put together, but the experience of watching it is not as enjoyable as it could be. I do feel that we can afford to be given more answers as there are several pieces that have stalled, for example, Shin Jae’s story line.
With all that being said, I’m still enjoying the mysteries of the worlds created and how our characters are being built up. I am looking forward to tonight’s installment and hoping we get many more answers!