To me, these four episodes, Episodes 7, 8, 9 and 10, comprise the middle section of the kdrama. The characters are fast-forwarded a year ahead in the future. Everybody is now back in South Korea. But despite the passage of time and return to original places, little have changed in their lives. I urge the viewers to pay attention to the details which serve like book-ends in Episodes 7 and 10.
Take note for instance, the interrupted sleep.
In Episode 7, her grandmother wakes up suddenly as if she’s had a nightmare. She checks the time and it’s a little bit past 12:10am. She leaves the bedroom and stops short when she spots the light in Sejoo’s room. “Is that you, SeJoo? Are you back?” She’s disappointed to see that it’s only MinJoo practicing her dance moves in her brother’s room.
She then visits HeeJoo in her room and asks with concern whether her younger brother has called to greet her on her birthday. No response, says Hejoo. But a few minutes later, at 12:25am, she receives the fake email from Sejoo written by Sec Seo. “Noona, it’s me.”
In Episode 10, HeeJoo also jolts awake from her sleep. She’s had a nightmare. She goes downstairs to her guitar workshop and opens the door to see if SeJoo is standing outside just like in her nightmare. The time is also past 5:10 am. She goes to her workbench and reads the business card left by JinWoo. He told her to contact The Programmer so she can have his “quest” explained to her in detail.
As we can see from Episodes 7 and 10, both the grandmother and HJ have their sleep disturbed. With the grandmother, we can only speculate what causes her to wake up in the middle of the night based on her reaction when she sees the light in SJ’s room. SJ’s continued absence worries her.
Meanwhile, with HJ, we can actually see her nightmare. In her dream, a knocking sound awakens her from sleep around 5am. She follows the sound to the door in her guitar workshop. Outside the door, SeJoo stands still, seemingly in a trance. He startles when she calls him and he says “Noona” before she wakes up from her dream. Her fear and anxiety for her missing dongsaeng appears in her sleep.
To me, these ladies have a premonition of SeJoo in trouble.
Second detail: take note of Director Park in a church setting.
In Episode 7, Park attends the one-year death anniversary mass for HyunSik in church.
He’s late and he glances at HyunSik’s widow and JinWoo’s ex-wife, SuJin, seated across the aisle. He’s there to deliver a eulogy.
This is his eulogy: Michael Cha was our family, friend and colleague. It’s already been a year since Mr. Cha HS left us. First of all, I’d like to thank you all for remembering him and being here. I remember the day I first met him. It was 17 years ago in a classroom at our college. During a break between my business classes, an engineering junior barged not the classroom. He told us all to invest in the technology he was developing and gave a presentation. He said he’d return a billion won ten years later if we invested 100,000 won. Persuaded by that engineering student’s audacious courage, I gave him 100,000 won which was my emergency fund. Out of everyone in that classroom I was probably the only one who invested in HS. And HS kept that promise. It took him exactly ten years to turn that 100,000won to a billion won. He had insight into the future. (Door opens and JinWoo walks in. He continues at the priest’s prompting) He had insight into the future and gladly took risks for it. He was a courageous young man. He never took it easy. During the 17 years I knew him, he continued running toward his goal without stopping. Believing that our country’s future depended on science and technology, he worked with a genuine sense of duty. That unstoppable passion might actually have been the reason he passed away at a young age.
After finishing his eulogy, he goes over to sit with JinWoo and Professor Cha. JinWoo accuses him of making a mess of the company and undermining his leadership. JinWoo says Park refuses to listen to him and makes him appear incompetent. Park gets angry at JinWoo’s attack.
Episode 10, Park is returning to his office straight from a meeting with Professor Cha. HeeJoo awaits him in his office and she asks for the whereabouts of JinWoo and Sec Seo. Park steps out in the hallway to speak privately with The Programmer. He stands in front of a full-length photograph of a church aisle.
lol. You didn’t think this picture was accidental, right?
The Programmer reports that both Jinwoo and Sec Seo cannot be reached and JinWoo’s on the quest solo as he lost Sec Seo. Park becomes rattled and he re-reads JinWoo’s will. In it, Jinwoo tells him that if one of them dies or cannot be reached, then he should shut down the server first because that meant the game is flawed. But Jinwoo also tells Park not to shut down the server before he’s time to find SeJoo. If Jinwoo can’t be reach after the quest ends, then he wants Park to make a decision.
Back in conference room, he tells her not to worry. “He’s out of reach because he went underground. There’s nothing worry about. He’s only playing a game after all. (sighs) He’s in the middle of a quest so don’t worry. I’m sure he’s busy shooting his guns. He’s lucky, isn’t he? (he’s being sarcastic here) A CEO took a plane all the way over there just to play game.”
She explains, “He said he’ll be able to find my brother if he completes the quest.” Then he begins to rant.
This is his rant: Do you believe that? Do you really believe that? Does he seem sane to you? You saw how he was in Granada. His condition isn’t any better. It only got worse. Now he’s addicted to drugs and the game. No one can stop him. Even his own company has already given up on him. No one thinks that he’ll make a comeback. Jinwoo’s hallucinations have nothing to do with out contact lens but he keeps saying otherwise. He says that the problem lies with the lens and the game. Can you imagine a CEO of a company saying such things?! Then out of the blue, he took off to find SeJoo. His ass is about to be fired, but he left to play a game. Do you really believe what he says? I’m only asking because it’s killing me too. If what he says is true, then our company might go under. If what he says is true, that means this game which your brother created and we’ve invested billions on for the past year is a disaster. So I want to believe that he’s wrong. If what he says is true, then our company will go bankrupt. If what he says is true, that means Jinwoo went on a suicide quest.
She asks, “What do you mean?”
He continues, “I choose not to believe it. If I do, the company will fail and my life will crumble down. I’d rather think that my friend has lost his mind completely. You probably want to believe him because of your brother. But don’t. You should find your brother some other way. This company will assist you from now on. I promise we’ll do our best so just don’t believe JW anymore. There’s nothing he can do for you.”
She asks, “What was that earlier? You said he was going to die. I wasn’t told that it was dangerous. Only that it was a game.”
He explains, “I tried so hard to stay hopeful and positive. I wouldn’t have turned my back on him. That jerk….Well, he was a great man. Smart. Humorous. And passionate. Those qualities built this company. It’s gonna be dust now. I thought he’d recover, but he didn’t. That’s probably what JungHyun (or Sec Seo) has been lying too. He’s been by JW’s side for far too long. He probably feels bad for JW. It’s why he can’t stop.”
From Episodes 7 and 10, we see Park literally and figuratively standing in front of a church. In both instances, he gives a long accounting of his relationship with the absent friend either in a form of a eulogy (for HyunSuk) or a diatribe (for JinWoo). But in both his monologues about his friends, he praised something in common: their passion. He described HyunSuk as “courageous” person, gifted with a “sense of duty” and “unstoppable passion.” And he described JinWoo as a “great man, smart, humorous and passionate.”
In Episode 7, JW insults his decision-making. Later in the episode, he’ll confess to being petty. “I was just complaining. I went at you because I felt ignored….It was how I felt then. I’ve become petty. Is it an inferiority complex? Right, I guess it is. It must be how HyunSuk felt when he left the company.” Then, in Episode 10, JW shows his complete trust in Park’s decision-making by giving him his final orders and will.
I find it very intriguing that despite the deep animosity between HyunSuk and JinWoo, they both call Park a friend. In time of death, he’s the one counted on to eulogize HyunSuk, and he’s the one entrusted to execute the will of JinWoo. To me, it’s quite revealing of Park’s character that those two fiercely passionate and competitive men could have him as their one common friend.
Third detail: JinWoo and requiems.
In Episode 10, when an endless wave of zombies attack him without mercy, he loses all hope and sinks to the floor to await death.
This scene brings to mind that other time when he lost hope too. He was sitting on the ground in the rain, outside the hospital. He realized, “I have killed Cha HyunSuk. As proof, I was about to die in the same way. Our deaths would remain an eternal mystery, but we knew that we killed each other in revenge. The revenge we wished for everyday with all our hearts.” He waited for HyunSuk to smite him but HeeJoo appeared out of nowhere to crouch in front of him and unknowingly blocked HyunSuk’s attack.
This time however in the dungeon JinWoo realizes that he’s going to die like his Sec Seo. Seo was attacked to death by an unstoppable and merciless army of NPCs and he’s going to die in the same way. However, their deaths will NOT be an eternal mystery because he sent an earlier text to Park, saying, “This is my will. A will to explain the reason behind the death in case I or we end up being found dead somewhere in Granada.” He wants it known that they died on a quest to find SeJoo and prove that the program is flawed.
pic credit: dramabeans
Furthermore, this scene in Episode 10, as he sits there in the walkway reminds of Episode 7 when he kills HyunSuk in the middle of the church aisle. That time, he’s about to make the sign of cross and leave the church. But before he can finish crossing himself, HS reappears in front of the altar like a resurrected dead and starts to charge at him. But without mercy or moral hesitation or flicker of emotion on his face, JinWoo shoots him in the middle of the church. NPC HS drops dead in the aisle. Another death has gone unnoticed.
JinWoo then proceeds to make the sign of the cross and hobbles to the exit. In the background, the priest intones, “Let us pray: Dear Lord, our Savior, we have gathered here today to earnestly pray for Michael Cha who has left us. Lord, please have mercy, and forgive all of Michael Cha’s sins who has longed for and believed in You while he was here. And let him find eternal peace and happiness along with all the saints. Also, let us all, who believe in You shout and praise You out loud, (and the door bangs shut after JinWoo) and help us comfort and love one another until we gather together in eternal joy, through Christ, our Lord, we pray.”
In that scene in Episode 7, we have a memorial mass being offered for the death of HyunSuk, and now in Episode 10, another requiem is needed for the death of his Secretary Seo.
Do you see that? 😀
These are just a few examples of how Episode 7 dovetails with Episode 10. I think there’s a couple more but I’m pressed for time.
To me then, this writer isn’t as disorganized or illogical as critics decry. I find that there’s symmetry and profundity in the story. However, the big problem for me and many viewers is how to grasp the meaning when there’s too much stimulation, fast-paced action, bad history with “W” and hahaha! fangirling going on.
See you later.
PS. I’ll soon forget this so I’ll lob it here. The NPC HeeJoo wears red because she’s the Alhambra. lol. Get it? The Alhambra means the “red one.”