The stakes get raised in Episode 10 of the series and things are heating up. With so many developments, let’s dive into the key moments of this episode:
1. Shin-Jae sharing the truth with Tae-Eul
I am enjoying Shin Jae’s storyline a lot because it explores the psychological impact of moving across the universes. Thus far, the movement between the worlds for the other characters has only been shown to be part of Lee Rim’s bigger plan. However, through Shin Jae, we see that such a movement is not so straightforward and has emotional impact on him.
He has been seeing a psychiatrist about it – this recurring dream that he has. He wonders if he is delusional. Always feeling as if he does not belong, he later tells Tae-Eul, while in front of little Lee Gon’s memorial, that he wanted to become a policeman, so that he could hold a gun and either shoot a person or himself if anyone asked who he was.
He explains to her why he could not find him in the other world and tells her that he is still unsure of who he is. Thus far, out of all the characters that Lee Rim has brought over, Shin-jae is the only one that was brought over as a child and the trauma of losing his mum and being transplanted was too much for him to simply fall in place. The scene ends off with a touching moment as Tae-Eul gives him a warm embrace when he asks her if she will welcome him. It’s a moment of courage and acceptance for him and I’m glad the show is willing to explore this angle.
2. The battle between Lee Gon & Lee Rim
While Lee Gon is fast and sharp, there’s still much for him to catch up on given that his uncle has had more than two decades of experience of universe travelling. In the last episode, we saw that he learnt that Lee Rim has used the portal to stop his aging. He sends his guards to the bamboo forests to ambush him. That’s when he realises that that is futile as Lee Gon and Lee Rim’s portals across the worlds are different.
Lee Gon is unable to stop Lee Rim’s movements, which ultimately results in two losses this episode – first, Lee Gon is unable to catch Lee Rim at Haeundae as Lee Rim has gathered his troops there to hold the public hostage. Secondly, and more tragically, he is unable to stop Lee Rim from taking out Prince Buyeong – the biggest move taken by Lee Rim since the start of the series.
Finding out about Lee Rim and Lee Gon having two different portals is very interesting for me. This definitely happened when the magic flute was broken into half, because I’m sure if the flute was intact, there will only be one portal. How does Lee Rim portal look like then? Or is the portal dependent on the person’s intent and mission in travelling across the worlds? When Lee Rim encounters Prince Buyeong, he also speaks of how he may be able to open multiple worlds once he has the complete flute. This is interesting and I’m hoping we have the opportunity to explore this in episodes to come.
We also learn more about Lee Rim’s history in this episode, that he was supposed to be next on the throne, but rejected because he was born to a concubine. He is returning to wrestle back power and the flute has enabled him to do so in two ways – firstly, by helping him to amass troops by concealing them in Korea and secondly, by helping him to achieve eternity. Lee Jung-Jin is really doing an excellent job as Lee Rim, able to convey pure evil and that complete lack of humanity through his words and expression. I’m loving his role so much.
I enjoyed the King Arthur and Excalibur references we get here, when Lee Rim speaks to the boy, who tells him that the one with the royal blood pulled out the sword and became king. However, Lee Rim disagrees – he says it is not the just who pull out the sword, but the sword which determines what justice is. The boy then gives Lee Rim an ominous warning that things in his world keep changing and he should be careful.
In the previous episode, we saw Lee Gon sharing with Prince Buyeong that he wants to face fate and not challenge it, Lee Rim is constantly playing god and speaking of taking fate and destiny into his own hands – which in the world that the world is creating, will definitely have severe consequences. Let’s wait and see how this unfolds for Lee Rim.
3. Lee Gon & Tae-Eul
On the romance front, Lee Gon and Tae-Eul only meet very briefly twice in this episode, because of Lee Gon’s duties and what he needs to do in Corea.
Every time they meet, they know it will be short-lived, hence we always see them running to each other, and holding each other tightly, treasuring and seizing those moments. While she loves him greatly, Tae-Eul knows she cannot be with him wholly while he is in Korea. When they meet in the bamboo forest, she asks if he is really here and he replies, “Not yet, not fully”.
Lee Gon is after all the king of Corea and he can never fully be in Korea – he will always have to travel between two worlds. A conversation with Yeong brings home that point as he asks her to think beyond what happens once Lee Rim is killed. Yeong asks her if she can give up everything in this world to be the Queen of Corea and keep the two worlds a secret – forever.
Between Tae-Eul and Shin-jae, they speak of the world of Corea as science fiction – something that can be explainable by theories and drawing of diagrams. However, between Tae-Eul and Lee Gon, the language they use when talking about Corea is that of belief and fate. Tae-Eul might not understand what’s going on, but she has decided to believe fully in Lee Gon and commit herself to him and his cause. However, she is only start to fully grasp what believing in Lee Gon and loving him means.
The ending scene of the episode left me confused initially – Tae-Eul sees Lee Gon from her home and runs to him, where he gives her flowers and confesses that he loves her – the first time he has done so. He also cries in front of her – which is what Head Court Lady Noh says is a sign that he loves someone. However, suddenly, he disappears from her arms and she’s crumbles into tears, leaving me to wonder if that exchange even happened – but it had to happen, since she had the flowers. Upon viewing the scene again, I realised he disappeared because he was “walking through the frozen moments in time” – suggesting that he is taking time out of his schedule, freezing time, just to meet her and declare his love. I prefer such emotional scenes to be more straightforward though and not require such unpicking.
I have to admit I’m not fully sold on their relationship as we did not get to see why Tae-eul started to like Lee Gon. However, I do think that Lee Min Ho and Kim Go-Eun have chemistry and are able to convince us well of their love and dedication to each other.
Final thoughts: TKEM has delivered two solid episodes in its second half, assuring me that the build-up from the first half of the series has paid off. Now that the worlds have been built up and relationships established, Lee Rim’s big plan will start to unfold and I’m sure we are in for a lot of pain and tears in the weeks to come.