There are many things I’d like to say, but I’m going to start off with a recap before I give my comments on this episode. Kang Shin-jae (Kim Kyung-nam) finally comes face to face with his doppelganger, who is still in a coma in the health center previously owned by Shin-jae’s father, who sold it to Lee Rim (Lee Jung-jin) in exchange for his son’s doppelganger Kang Hyeon-min (who is currently the Shin-jae we know). Head Court Lady Noh Ok-nam (Kim Young-ok) can’t stop worrying about Lee Gon (we discover why, later in the episode). Luna is after the fabled flute manpasikjeok. Lee Rim is still trying to figure out how Lee Gon (Lee Min-ho) time-traveled to the past. And then we go on a trip down the memory lane to that night of 1994, the night of the treason, where it all began.
This was a very satisfying episode because a majority of our questions from the past episodes get answered in this one. In a conversation with Song Jung-hye (Lee Gon’s counterpart’s mother), the boy with the yoyo explains how the fabled flute is able to manipulate time. “When the manpasikjeok becomes one inside the gate, both the axes for time and space simultaneously form,” he says, and coincidentally, both Lee Gon and Lee Rim enter the gate at the same time. “When the manpasikjeok becomes whole, it takes you to the moment you wished to save yourself,” he adds. Of course, the boy is indicating the night of treason, where the story began. It does not take long for both Lee Gon and Lee Rim to realize this, and so they race back in time; Lee Gon to save his younger self, and Lee Rim to warn himself of the failure of his coup d’état.
Can I just say, it feels like the show wasted Lee Rim’s potential as the antagonist? He merely looks like a side character instead of the main villain who started the clash between two worlds. In my opinion, the series gave too much screentime to main characters Lee Gon, Tae-eul (Kim Go-eun), Jo Yeong/Eun-seob (Woo Do-hwan), plus several side arcs, and forgot to develop other main characters like Lee Rim and Prime Minister Goo Seo-ryung (Jung Eun-chae). Before time traveling, Lee Gon and Lee rim only clash once in episode 10, which was not even a proper clash and more of a showdown between their army of men.
Head Court Lady Noh sees Lee Gon fleeing from the scene and lets him go when he introduces himself as Lee Gon from the future. Meanwhile, Lee Sung-hon, son of the elder Prince Buyeong, is revealed to be the traitor that helped Lee Rim escape after assassinating Lee Gon’s father. Gon shoots him in the leg before rushing to the gate to go back to the Republic of Korea. But from there, he discovers that he is still in 1994, and since he only has the half of the flute manpasikjeok and cannot travel back to 2020, he has no choice but to travel all 26 years (which he estimates to be roughly 4 months in the gate) to be able to go back to his timeline, and back to Tae-eul (Kim Go-eun). While he makes his journey, he marks himself in a few events of Tae-eul’s life, and in the process, alters her memories in the present.
We have all seen this concept before. Remember the hit thriller series Signal back in 2016, where the characters’ actions in the past resulted in an alteration of history and memories in the present, and even bringing a few dead people back to life in the current year? That was the first thought I had after watching Tae-eul remember new memories because of Lee Gon meddling with time. Not only that, some viewers claimed that the show had similarities with the 2016 Japanese animation Kimi No Nawa (Your Name), in terms of the time warp feature, the neon background, and the characters being in the same place but in different periods of time.
As far as revelations go, now we know that the boy with the yoyo is the personification of the manpasikjeok itself, although I was kinda expecting this with the way he was written as “all-knowing” and “mysterious.” The boy was a suspicious character from the very beginning, and if you are familiar with how writer Kim Eun-sook writes these kinds of characters, it was pretty obvious that he was either some kind of a deity who created the manpasikjeok or the manpasikjeok‘s spirit itself.
Speaking if plot development, nothing really major happens in this episode —some developments are expected, and some are the cliches we see in most dramas. But a lot can still happen in the last two episodes. Fingers crossed. I’ve already given up any hopes of chemistry between the leads, and the side-characters also seem to be losing their shine now. I’m still wondering how Lee Rim plans to use Song Jung-hye against Lee Gon. Most importantly, I’m waiting for the opening scene of Episode 1, when a blood-stained Lee Rim is being investigated by Tae-eul and Shin-jae, and he narrates how he assassinated his half-brother the King, and almost killed his nephew too.
I’m absolutely out of any theories about how the writers are planning to wrap this story up, but like with any other drama I’ve watched, I wish for it to have a happy ending. At the end of the day (or the show), we’re all suckers for the overused, ‘and they lived happily ever after.’ Most importantly, we need answers. Viewers have been reeled in since day 1 with a lot of questions every episode, so I figure giving us the answers to our theories before the show ends is a fair demand. Knowing how K-dramas work, it’s most likely that there will be no season 2, so I really hope this show doesn’t end with more questions than answers.