While the concepts of parallel universes and time travel aren’t entirely new, mixing them together along with a hundred different side arcs can be a bit too overwhelming. The last four episodes of The King: Eternal Monarch felt like there was so much going on that I could barely keep up. Each character seems to have their own backstory, and that’s not automatically a bad thing, except it feels like information overload. Fantasy shows are always associated with magic or supernatural phenomena, so I appreciate that the production is at least trying to retain some realism in the plot, such as the gender discrimination against our female characters in their workplaces, regardless of the dimension they are in.
Prime Minister Goo Seo-ryung’s (Jung Eun-chae) true character is starting to come to light through her confrontations with King Lee Gon (Lee Min-ho) and her conversation with Prince Bu-yeong. We don’t know her intentions yet, but if she turns out to be yet another power-hungry character pitting families against each other in order to seize control, then she may be just another recipe for overused political squander.
Also, is it just me or did they make an error in one scene? When Jo Young (Woo Do-hwan) asks for Gon’s phone so he could install a GPS tracker, Gon tells him to use the ID “King” because, well, he is THE king. Apparently, the ID is already taken, so he tells Jo Young to use “King Two” instead. However, Jo Young informs him that all “King” ID’s are taken until 987, which prompts Gon to order him to track down the IP addresses of those 988 people. The numbers don’t add up right (pun intended), don’t you think?
Later in the episode, Gon pays Prince Bu-yeong a visit, prompting the elder prince to ask, “Where did you go this time?” casually, as if Gon has a history of sneaking out of the palace growing up. And then Gon opens up about a puzzle he’s been trying to solve, which turns out to be the autopsy report of Lee Rim. Back in Episode 1, Prince Bu-yeong had falsified the autopsy reports to say that Lee Rim (Lee Jung-jin) had died after being shot by the royal guards. I wonder what Gon saw in the autopsy report for him to suspect that Prince Buyeong might be hiding something. Is he questioning the elder prince’s loyalty?
Interestingly enough, another scene in the episode shows Lee Rim developing photographs in a dark room with red lighting, and Prince Bu-yeong’s portrait happens to be one of them. Add that to being confronted by two highest-ranking people in the kingdom in a single day. Makes you suspect that the elder prince might have some connection with Lee Rim.
All this while, confident and straightforward Lee Gon has been trying to woo the headstrong and skeptical Jung Tae-eul (Kim Go-eun). If her sarcastic and sassy comebacks are anything to go by, it seems like Gon’s efforts are going to waste. He might be prince charming incarnate, but Tae-eul is definitely not his damsel in distress; in fact, she’s the damsel in shining armor.
Honestly, I’m not really feeling Lee Min-ho and Kim Go-eun’s onscreen chemistry yet. Individually, both actors are a good choice for their respective roles, but together, there’s no telling when the butterflies in our stomachs will start flying. On the brighter side, the whole cast is doing a good job of bringing their characters to life, especially Woo Do-hwan shifting from an uptight Jo Young to the quirky Eun-seob, which I find hilarious.
Speaking of Tae-eul, I feel like the murder case she’s investigating is dragging on far too long. My guess is that it either plays a deciding part in the main plot or is just being used as a scene filler. By the end of the fourth episode, Gon has finally taken Tae-eul to the Kingdom of Corea, and while that hyped the fans enough to trend the show online, to me it seems a bit early for this to happen. She is just beginning to discover coincidences in her life that match Gon’s previous statements, like when he revealed he has her ID that was issued on November 11, and coincidentally, Tae-eul’s ID re-issuance gets delayed from the last week of October to the date Gon had mentioned. She still has her doubts, but it’s clear that she’s starting to believe him.
Also, in the first episode, when Gon had mentioned Tae-eul’s ID card being issued on November 11, Tae-eul had mocked him saying, “That’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s birthday.” If you’re into astrology, November 11 can be written numerically as 11.11, which is often associated with spiritual realms and energies. There are a lot of interpretations that could be deduced from this. In some cases, people make a wish whenever they see 11:11 on the clock, as it is believed to be of spiritual significance. Others believe 11.11 is a manifestation of some sort of spiritual awakening when the universe aligns to open an energy portal. Philosophically, it’s supposed to be interpreted as a sign of good luck, but since we’re talking of a fantasy drama here, a literal portal has indeed opened up.
While the storyline is starting to become cliché-ridden, the details in each scene might just be this drama’s saving grace. It’s unfair to judge how good or bad a show is based on its early episodes, so the possibilities of this series turning the tide around are still endless. The drop in ratings can be blamed on half its time slot coinciding with another hit drama, The World of the Married, which is now a record-breaking show and making waves in the online world. Given the actors’ and writer Kim Eun-sook’s reputation, it’s natural for the production to face such high expectations, so I won’t write it off for failing to meet them. The preview for the fifth episode is already looking exciting – I can’t wait to find out Tae-eul’s fate in the Kingdom of Corea, and why she decides to point a gun at the King’s forehead.
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