Today’s theme: Yoo-jin Strikes Back
Let’s hit the highlights:
First, Yoo-jin reasserts herself as she-alpha. and is out to punish those who forgot her position as reigning Queen. Today’s episode functioned much like The K2: The Empire Strikes Back. It was all Evil Empress Yoo-jin dominating and showing off that bad-guy swagger that’s so enjoyable to watch. Yoo-jin is revealed to have been always in control rather than reacting to the supposed attacks of the prior episode. Her use of an actor to mislead both step-brother Sung-won and Anna leaves both vulnerable. Like a master reining in a dog through a firm pull on a leash, she forces Sung-won back to her feet. His tail between his legs, he is as lap-dog to her dominance once again. To others who worked against her, like the police chief, she makes clear her displeasure at their lack of allegiance, making sure they are aware she will not soon forget their attempts to defy her. Her deft maneuvering also forces Se-joon back into subservience, as he has to follow and adjust to the reveal by Yoo-jin. The public is played to her favor as well, seeing her as the poor, loving wife who has persevered through the complications arising from her carousing husband’s womanizing past, accepting and raising the child of that pairing (Anna) like her own.
Second, Yoo-jin’s memory of Anna’s mother’s death. Yoo-jin, in a moment of emotional vulnerability, reflects on the night of Anna’s mother’s death. I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure how this scene is supposed to play to the audience. Yoo-jin is shown as having, in fact, been present when Anna’s mother died. We see Yoo-jin next to her as she appears to gasp for air, and see Anna’s mother reach out for Yoo-jin, pleading for her to “At least let Anna live.” Anna’s mother’s words seem to suggest that Yoo-jin may have killed her, but the scene doesn’t necessarily show this. It opens just as Anna’s mother is dying and we aren’t shown what transpired leading up to her death, so it can be read multiple ways. One interpretation is that Yoo-jin may have come to confront Anna’s mother, only to find her dying from an overdose of sleeping pills, and that she simply did not do anything to help her in her last moments, allowing her to die. The other is that she did in fact murder Anna’s mother through some kind of poisoning, and it is as it appears. I’m not sure which is the correct interpretation. Perhaps I’ve missed something in my viewing that makes one or the other certain. I’ll be interested to hear others’ thoughts on this.
Third, Je-ha and Anna action on the rooftop. Anna is down after being played by Yoo-jin, and Je-ha comforts her, attempting to reassure her. Anna, feeling humiliated and vulnerable, exclaims that she must really be an idiot, her voice cracking as she struggles to hold back tears. Fanboy interjection! Gawd… I want to hug her. I really do. The big puppy eyes. The tears. The quivering pout. The cracking voice almost pleading for reassurance. I’m gonna be a goner if I have a daughter. She’ll have me hook, line and sinker. Okay, I’m done. Composure resumed. Honest. 😉
Fourth, Se-joon’s meeting with Anna. Anna confronts her father following his public lie regarding Anna’s mother’s supposed blackmail of him. He admits that he lied, and attempts to justify it to her, claiming that his actions were done out of concern for her safety, that he was only doing it to protect her from Yoo-jin. Anna dismisses his justifications, and confronts him regarding his abandonment of her and her mother. This is a display of growth for her character. Breaking from the shackles of her pining for the imagined fantasy that was the father of her mind, she faces the person her father actually is. He is a man who has chosen to abandon his daughter and mother, out of his own cowardice and lust for power. The latter is a realization that Se-joon himself has been reluctant to accept. Anna forces him to come to terms with his own desires, and what he’s willing to give up to fulfill them. She makes clear to him that she will be strung along no longer. He has lost his daughter.
Finally, Yoo-jin confronts Anna. Yoo-jin, in a display of her reestablished dominance, encroaches upon Anna’s visit to her mother’s grave. She asserts to Anna that she doesn’t really hate her. Like Anna’s father prior, she attempts to justify her actions towards Anna by explaining that she was once much like her, but was turned from lamb to wolf due to her father failings. Yoo-jin fails to realize that what separates the “good” from the “bad” are the actions we take in response to the cards life deals us. Anna, who has faced hardship comparable to or greater than that faced by Yoo-jin, has not succumbed to a life of hatred, manipulation, and mistreatment of others. She proffers to Anna a proposed scenario in which Anna can become “daughter” to her, and can enjoy the benefits of such a relationship, with the implied threat that such an arrangement would be conditional on her submitting to Yoo-jin and living a life under her thumb. When Anna rebuffs her, she plants a seed of doubt in her regarding her relationship with Je-ha, expressing false mocking pity of her situation. She asserts to Anna that her relationship with Je-ha is a charade, and that she doesn’t really know him, lying that Je-ha is responsible for killing civilians.
That’s all for today! I’m looking forward to see how the show tackles the remaining episodes. Being the sentimental sap that I am, I’m hoping for a wonderful, romantic and happy (key) ending for our OTP. We’ll see if that’s possible given the sinister and cynical forces working against our heroes. This viewer, for one, is defiantly optimistic (but has his fingers crossed and tissue ready, just in case)!
See you next episode!