I really appreciate how this last episode drives home just how relentless Boong Do is. We saw it in episode 7 when he kept going back and forth in time, using taxis to get shit done. We saw it it in episode 14 when he came up with that plan to deceive Min-Am and appease the Suk Jong. And we see it again here. Even after he’s killed Ja Soo and returned to 2012 only to be sucked back to 1694 again, he doesn’t give up. He’s still determined to get back to 2012, to Hee Jin. Because, after all, he said, “I will take responsibility.” He said, “I can do it.” He travels for days, almost fainting, to get to the temple to see that monk, only to find out he’s already dead.
Death. The thing he’s avoided countless times, only to have it suck him back to 1694 against his will. He avoided death while the two people who directly allowed for him to do so are dead. And finally it’s death that causes him to give up. Because with the monk dead he cannot think of anything else to do; his clever mind can’t find any other avenues to get back to Hee Jin. When Boong Do finally gives up, it’s that much more of a blow because we know that he sees absolutely no other way about it. He’s till alive and his political goals have been accomplished, but with these memories he has, it’s a “miserable life.”
For the first time we see what he has to do each time he goes to 2012. We see what we’ve been thinking, what we’ve only understood intellectually. And the first time we see him holding a sword to his own neck is when the talisman is malfunctioning, so we don’t even have the certainty we’ve come to expect from it. It’s an incredibly unnerving moment in an episode that is basically made up of shit-your-pants moments. The lack of certainty we have at that moment mirrors what Hee Jin has been dealing with the entire relationship.
There are two things that characterize the romance between these two: doubt and trust. Doubt, I think, is signified by the very nature of the talisman, this object that allows Hee Jin’s lover to disappear without any way for her to reach him, and even worse, without any way of realistically explaining her situation to another person. Hee Jin is the one who waits. She’s the one who has to be patient, who has to believe, who has to trust. She was so hurt and so lost in episode 14 while Boong Do was actually in the same hospital with her, just a few feet away. All she has to go on are her own feelings, (feelings which Soo Kyung and Dong Min and her psychiatrist and even the internet have said are ridiculous) and Boong Do’s promises. And he’s kept them all (miraculously; I mean come on, what he did in episode 14 was just…damn) but they are still exactly that: promises. That’s why she always wanted the talisman, because it was more than a declaration of a guarantee, but the actual guarantee itself. So when Boong Do hands the talisman over to her in this episode, the same gesture as when he handed her the keys of the car (both are exchanges of power, acknowledgements of Hee Jin’s agency), when he trusts her with it, we, and she, feel that the doubt is finally gone. They can live their lives together blissfully. But then he disappears again and that doubt is back, only now it’s twofold because no one is on control, and neither of them knows the rules anymore.
I wish he hadn’t burned the talisman in hopes that Hee Jin would forget though. He always asks her. ALWAYS. And this time he just goes and does something so…intrusive. Last time the talisman was disturbed Hee Jin ended up going to a psychiatrist. It’s the opposite of handing her the car keys, the opposite of trusting the talisman to her. I just…I need tomorrow’s episode.
- There are so many clocks in the first 15 minutes of this episode. It’s like they were counting down to the moment when Boong Do was sucked back into 1694, when Yoon Wol was killed.
- Boong Do does not belong in 1694. Why? First, the scene where he first lands in 1694 directly mirrors the scene in episode 3 right after Hee Jin as fainted and he caught her. In that scene he was in traditional dress and when he heard people approaching he ducked behind a tree. Here he does the exact same thing. Only this time he is in modern day dress and instead of leaving the talisman behind only to pick up Hee Jin’s phone (phones are very important for these two) he has the talisman and it has turned black and his phone does not work. And his hair is cut short, which everyone can see. Also, in 2012 he had no name, no home, no past, and no identity? But he had Hee Jin. Well now it’s in 1694 that he has no name, no home, no identity. And he has no one.
- The first we see of Yoon Wol is her blood. It’s everywhere, and it’s gruesome. The second thing we see is her hair ornament. when Boong Do was first getting his memory back what helped to trigger it was the Queen’s dress, including her hair ornamentations, which Hee Jin also wore. The women in this drama are all connected, even though they’ve never met.
- Right before we flash back to see Yoon Wol’s murder we hear the gayageum being played. When we see her alive for the only time in this episode, she’s with her instrument.
- Yoon Wol’s blood is on Boong Do’s hands, just like his own was in episode 6, just like his own was on the talisman.
- The fight he has with Ja Soo is the fight he began in episode 1 that he now has to finish.
- He is hurt in the same shoulder where he was hurt when he lost his memories.
This episode was exhausting. But so good.