[Note: Today’s analysis is shorter than I’d like. Alas, I’m crunched for time due to work, so I figured I’d post what I have put together thus far.]
Today’s episode was full of interesting items. I’ll hit my favorite highlights:
First, the Evil Villains’ Plotting Committee. Today’s episode gave us another amusing scene of the gathering of nefarious evil doers in the dark. I’ll be honest, I laughed out loud when the scene started. In the dark? Again? Really? Yes, the show hasn’t exactly been the poster child for subtlety, but this was a little much, even for the show. I couldn’t help but think to myself that no one at the table actually realizes the light is off given the collective poor eyesight, old men and all. Sung-won’s attendance kinda ruins this imagined scenario, but I chuckled nonetheless.
Second, Anna’s struggle to see the wounded Je-ha. Today’s episode reinforces my belief that Anna is the proper choice for our hero as romantic partner. Say what you will about Anna’s character. Call her weak. Call her naive. Call her stupid. Think her a child. Think her pathetic. See her as nothing but a damsel-in-distress. (I’ll disagree with you on a good number, but that’s a separate issue) But what you must accept is that her love for Je-ha is real and pure. She fights to see Je-ha and even sacrifices her pride to do so. Even when mocked and rebuffed by Yoo-jin, Anna disregards her own disgust towards Yoo-jin and forgoes her pride to appease Yoo-jin by referring to her as “Mother”, even falling to her knees in front of her, all so that she may see Je-ha. The public scene she makes forces Yoo-jin’s hand and Anna is allowed to see the wounded Je-ha. Yoo-jin convinces Anna that she should leave to best protect Je-ha. She also gives an implied threat that if Anna doesn’t exit from Je-ha’s life, the female bodyguard and chef will be “taken care of”. Although one could argue this is an example of noble idiocy, it doesn’t change the fact that Anna’s actions are selfless in motivation. Whether true or not, Anna believes she must leave to keep Je-ha and the others safe. She is willing to forgo her happiness in an attempt to save others. This action exhibits that Anna is, to her core, selfless and kind. Someone worthy of being “championed” in my eyes.
Finally, this leads into discussion of the flip-side of the coin. Yoo-jin’s (deficient) character and lack of suitability for Je-ha. Notice how her “love” for Je-ha is inwardly focused and ultimately a selfish, possessive affection. Despite knowing Anna’s importance to Je-ha, she initially denies Anna entrance to see Je-ha. She is focused on her feelings, not his. Further, while Je-ha is incapacitated, she is discussing whether his body was “searched” for signs of the memory card. Yoo-jin never truly allows anything to usurp her quest to attain and maintain her power. She covets it. She is singularly preoccupied with it. All else, including all personal relationships and affections are secondary. Yes, she is concerned for Je-ha’s safety, but it is born more of her selfish need to possess Je-ha rather than from a place of true romantic love. She may truly care for him in her own way, but this affection will forever be tainted by her lust for and coveting of power.
I know many watching are very much taken with Yoo-jin’s character. I am too to some extent. Song Yoon-ah’s tremendous performance has played a major role in that appeal. Yes, her character is intelligent. Yes, she is strong. Yes, she is independent. Yes, she is interesting. Yes, she and Je-ha have chemistry. But exhibiting these attributes does not forgive her other flaws. Where Anna is kind, Yoo-jin is cruel. Where Anna is selfless, Yoo-jin is selfish. Where Anna exhibits true love, Yoo-jin exhibits a possessive, destructive type of affection. Argue all you want that Yoo-jin is a fascinating, interesting, strong, brilliant, powerful woman. I’ll agree with you. But that in of itself does not a prudent match make. Neither does it make a character who I feel comfortable championing. She is a villain. A tragic and fascinating one, to be sure, but a villain nonetheless.
See you next week for the finale!