The battle heats up in The King Eternal Monarch’s 11th installment, culminating in an no-holds barred battle between Lee Gon and Lee Rim’s forces. Let’s look at the key developments in this very meaty episode.
Lee Rim and Luna
Having done away with Prince Buyeong, Lee Rim now proceeds to move more of his plan ahead.
After Luna gets hit by a car, she finds herself in front of Lee Rim, who plays god again by offering her a new life in a parallel world. Not having a home or a family and constantly on the run, Luna is miserable and angry in the world of Corea. Given that she already has no place or sense of belonging in Corea, it is no surprise that Luna takes up the offer. Kim Go-Eun shines in this episode, playing two very different characters very convincingly. As Luna, she’s edgy, frustrated and raw.
Thus far, Lee Rim has co-opted people into his force are often those who are displaced – with no status in the world of Corea. This idea of movement across world works on two levels. Firstly, Lee Gon had referred to this in earlier episodes as illegal immigration, which is an apt metaphor. While moving to Korea gives them a better life, they continue to feel a sense of dislocation (as seen by Shin-jae) and have to hide and remain untraceable like Song Jung-hye who declares a fake address and gives cash to the undertaker so she cannot be traced.
On another level, it also works on the supernatural level as a form of reincarnation or rebirth. They are ‘born’ into a new world with a new name, new family, new destiny. Yet, they remain trapped because besides Shin Jae (who was moved against his will), they have made a pact with the devil, and are thus stuck in a path of misery and darkness.
Coming back to Luna, we see that things are not so straightforward as she also goes to meet the girl with the yo-yo, whom we’ve already established earlier represents some form of godly figure. He passes her a jack knife, but she asks him to keep it to “protect what belongs to [her]”. We later know that this knife is passed to Tae-Eul to help her to escape, as part of the girl’s attempt to restore the balance. I’m very fascinated to see what’s going on with Luna, what her bigger plan is.
Prime Minister Koo Seo-Ryung
I’m not really liking her character much thus far, because her intentions do not seem pure. Her smiling during the wake of Prince Buyeong also cemented my dislike for her.
Her storyline in relation to the parallel universes has not been so clear, but we are led to believe that Lee Rim is co-opting her into his plan and has been sending her newspapers from Korea. How would he tempt her into that world though, given that her life in the world of Corea is much better than Korea? However, in this episode, it seems like she has gone over to the world of Korea. The person that Tae-Eul meets on the street, who looks like her, may actually be her, because we see her going to a store later to purchase stilettos. The involvement of Seo-Ryung definitely has potential, but her storyline has been quite unclear so far. Given that Korea is a democracy, is Lee Rim co-opting her to rule the world of Korea, while he rules Corea? How would he convince her? I’m liking how Kim Eun Sok plots this series – we see enough each time to get interested, but we also know bigger pieces are moving which keep us asking questions.
Shin Jae learns more about Lee Lim in this episode and Lee Lim sends his henchman to pass him a 2G phone. This leads to a scuffle, where we know that Shin Jae has an important part to play in this plan and cannot be killed – yet.
We know though that Lee Rim referred to Shin Jae previously as the plan that did not work out well – why is he approaching him yet again? Similarly, what could he possibly tempt Shin Jae with? On a separate note, I was disappointed that we saw so little of Yeong in this episode. Wasn’t his role in this world to help defend it from Lee Rim’s actions? He should have been more proactively defending both Shin Jae and Tae-Eul then, but in both instances, Yeong was not there to protect them.
In terms of the romance, the Tae-Eul we saw in this episode was vastly different from the weepy one that we saw in Episode 10. I much prefer her in this episode, but am also hoping the writing of the romance can be more consistent.
Once again, we go back to that conversation which seemed to have taken place when they went to look Song Jung-hye and what I liked was Tae-Eul being more assertive in this relationship, not just swooning or crying over Lee Gon. Firstly, she tells him that he never asked her to marry him, he just told her. Then, she tells him that she has decided just to live for each day, rather than think beyond that. Of course, Lee Gon responds that couples usually pledge their love for eternity, but for her, she has decided just to appreciate what they have for that day that they are together.
If this scene supposedly took place before Lee Gon went back to Corea, then why was Tae-Eul crying so much when she saw him in the forest or outside her flat last week? There seems to be some inconsistency there, but I like this version of Tae-Eul much better. While she still does not understand how the worlds work, she knows how to make the most of it. I like how assured she is around Lee Gon, yet we know she still loves him and misses him. While the love story isn’t written well, I feel that Kim Go Eun and Lee Min Ho really have great chemistry and their interactions are fun and sweet to watch.
I really like the character of Tae-Eul, because she is constantly on the move and always taking action, whether it is in the world of Korea or Corea. Once she is kidnapped in the world of Corea, Tae-Eul’s determination and quick-thinking really shine. After the girl with the yo-yo saves her, she breaks out, drives herself away, uses her limited bullets to derail a car, then walks all the way to Corea where she makes a pay-phone call to Lee Gon. She narrowly escapes from a speeding lorry and that is when Lee Gon comes sweeping in to save her. Lee Gon riding in and declaring she’s the Queen of Corea was indeed a majestic and heroic scene.
And of course, we have to end with Lee Gon. I’m a little frustrated by how he still always seems to be one step behind Lee Lim, but I guess his uncle has had 25 years of scheming and universe-travelling ahead of him.
In the privacy of his home, he crumbles and breaks down over the loss of Prince Buyeong, but when facing his guards and those against him, he is authoritative, decisive and is unafraid of bloodshed. In the world of Corea, while there may be laws, the King’s word is final. While beheading is abolished, he sentences Lee Rim’s henchman to beheading, because of his silence.
The camera work for this scene is particularly powerful – with many shots where Lee Gon’s head takes centre-stage in the frame, and he is looking downwards, almost in a God-like manner, deciding on the fate of these criminals. (Yes, of course these head-shots also capture Lee Min Ho’s chiseled looks.)
Unlike Lee Rim who plays god to disrupt the order of the worlds, Lee Gon’s authority aims to restore law and order and he is willing to get his hands dirty to do this. Once the bookstore is discovered, he also wastes no time and leads his royal guards there to take it down and it’s a ruthless takedown. While most of Lee Rim’s henchmen at the bookstore are taken down, he also has another group of them at a shipyard – just how big is his army? And this leads to the final showdown that concludes the episode. Lee Gon is unafraid to get his hands dirty – he is not a king who leads from the back, but one who leads the charge in front and he gets blood splattered all over him while he engages in the fight.
While being willing to fight, we also participate in Lee Gon’s thought processes and it’s always fun to watch him piecing the mystery together by remembering what happened in the past, and then applying his knowledge of the Euclid number this round to calculate how long the time stops are.This time, he realises that at some point, the time pauses will last for an eternity. He must either work to ensure that does not happen, or somehow gain control over the time stops.
The battle for victory definitely cannot just be won through a physical fight. In order to win over Lee Rim, Lee Gon cannot just eradicate all his henchmen – Lee Gon needs to claim control over the universes and in order to do this, the flute and the sword definitely must come into play. Certainly, the yo yo boy must also be involved. I’m looking forward to how these elements and characters start to come together.
All in all, this was an engaging, exciting episode where the plot pieces moved forward while we also got interesting facts on the parallel universes. I’m hoping we see more of the flute or sword in upcoming episodes. And please bring back more of Yeong and Eun Soeb too!
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