Netflix’s “The King: Eternal Monarch” has begun its reign over K-drama streaming, with one episode dropping every Friday and Saturday. Super will devote itself to make sure you’re fully informed about each episode, so Super’s Ruel S. De Vera and Ruth L. Navarra will recap and break down every episode for you as soon as it comes out. All rise
Korea: After initially being shocked when Lee Gon pulled her into a hug, Tae-eul pushes him away. “So you were across the universe, you really existed,” Lee Gon tells her. Lee Gon keep trying to tell Tae-eul who he is, and how they’re connected, but she won’t have any of it. “I am the King of the Kingdom of Corea,” he says, and launches into a quick explanation of the show’s premise, including a misunderstanding that there is a Queen instead of a king here because of the “Queen Yuna” billboard. Lee Gon is shocked by Tae-eul’s brusque personality. She takes him to the station for violating the traffic law and for touching an officer’s body.
At the station, officers are shocked by Maximus. The forensics team arrives. Tae-eul interrogates Lee Gon, giving him the name Kim Gae-ddong (“dog poop”) to annoy him, in the forms since Lee Gon, as a monarch, won’t give his real name. The questioning does not go well, as Tae-eul simply doesn’t buy anything he’s saying. Taking his belongings, she even notices his money, 100,000 won bills which has Lee Gon’s face on them and now she wants to charge him with counterfeiting. Tae-eul takes his fingerprints forcibly.
Corea: Ok-nam and Prince Buyeong are discussing the fact that Lee Gon has gone missing. He has been trying to run away every often, so whenever this happens, Buyeong not only provides an official medical excuse for Lee Gon’s disappearance and, because he is next in line, his security clearance is temporarily elevated. The search for Lee Gon comes to a dead end in the forest because Maximus’ hoofprints and Lee Gon’s footprints abruptly stop. But Lee Gon’s comment about the “clock or rabbit” gives Captain Jo an idea. He interrogates the two gangsters caught during the sculling event. They swear they weren’t there to hurt the king; they were there running after the woman who have stolen their bosses’ money. She is a petty criminal name is Luna; she has no home or identity and there is no photo of her. She is still missing.
Korea: At the precinct, Tae-eul has put Lee Gon in a holding cell as she awaits the fingerprint results. Now, we meet this world’s version of Captain Jo, Jo Eun-sup (of course, also Woo Do-hwan), who works for social services. He’s goofy and the complete opposite of Jo. After initially thinking Jo had loyally followed him through the crack, Lee Gon realizes there is no way this is the same Jo. Tae-eul is shocked to find out there is no record of Lee Gon at all. The forensics girl explains says it is possible that he was child who was not registered because he went missing 30 years ago when the fingerprints of all children were taken. Tae-eul also learns that, for some reason, the won bills really look like real money. “Seriously, who are you,” she asks in exasperation. “You also look better in real life,” he tells her, adding, “some people don’t exist in both worlds like you and I.” After tricking him into explaining Einstein’s theory about parallel worlds, she gets a DNA swab.
Corea: An annoyed prime minister Seo-reyong is leaving a cabinet meeting. While relaxing, she talks to her aide (Kang Ki-doong). They discuss the fact that the king ran off again. The aide suggests maybe the king has a woman. “The woman is here. If the king has to have a woman, it has to be me. I’m trying to make the whole nation believe that.”
Korea: She decides to release him, while waiting on the DNA. Eun-sop has apparently talked to him, and Lee Gon is going to rent a room at the very expensive, Royal Infinity Hotel, which is close to Tae-eul’s home. Lee Gon is trying to learn as much as he can about her. He goes to a jewelry store, and it turns out the buttons on his jackets have amazing diamonds on them; Tae-eul winds up guaranteeing the sale. “It took me 25 years to meet you,” he says tensderly. “I wish today would be a long day.” But she has to go as there is a lead regarding the corpse they found in the trunk of a car last episode. Tae-eul go to the hardware store owned by the dead man to interview the wife. The dead man owed money to many people and Shin-jae notices a bunch of crowbars in a corner.
At home, Eun-sup is cleaning up. From a framed photograph, we can tell he has a daughter. He turns on Netflix; he is watching “Busted!” Lee Gon calls him. They go shopping and Eun-sup is amazed by Lee Gon’s suite at the hotel. Lee Gon sits down with Eun-sup to catch up with this version. From a childhood photo where Eun-sup is with his father, Lee Gon confirms this is indeed a parallel world. An enraged Tae-eul has discovered that Eun-sup told Lee Gon that Tae-eul’s family had a big lawn, so Lee Gon has brought Maximus to stay in the yard while he is on this world. We meet Tae-eul’s father, Jeong Do-in (Jeon Bae-su), who runs a taekwondo school and Myung Na-ri (Kim Yong-ji) who runs a coffee shop on the premises. When Tae-eul confronts Lee Gon at the hotel, Lee Gon agrees to feed and groom Maximus. “I can’t stay here for long, I must return to my own world,” he admits, but adds, “I like being here like this with you.” He also tells her not to tie her hair as she looks better with it down. She ties it up.
The pathologist has determined the hardware store owner died from blunt force trauma to the head and that the crowbar could indeed be the murder weapon. While she is rooting through trash to find the weapon, Lee Gon keeps calling Tae-eul with different phones to makes observations about this world.
In an apparently faraway location, a man is talking to Lee Lim who is painting his traditional house’s roof beautifully. He is talking about making his own history. Kyung-moo is once again by his side. There is a close-up of red paint.
In a nearby restaurant, a boy in a wheelchair is having a birthday party but is sad because the three boys invited to the party have played a mean practical joke on him by gifting him with a soccer ball and then abruptly leave, high-fiving each other. Lim approaches the heartbroken mother and asks what is she praying for. He can’t heal the son, but he can make the boys limp. “Would you like to change your prayer,” he asks her.
At a flower shop, we hear a radio report of how three children were hit by a truck and will never walk again. There is a well-dressed woman in the shop, buying an expensive bouquet for remembering her dead son’s birthday. It turns out this is the older Song Jeong-hye (Seo Jung-yeon), the wife of the dead Lee Ho. In a flashback, we find out that Lim left her alive in exchange for not reporting how the wheelchair Lim of this world (which was now Lim) had managed to stand up and kill both her husband and child. Do you want redemption. He asks. She puts flowers on her son’s grave and we get the shot of the back of a crucifix as she is walking away.
At the station, Tae-eul is questioning a suspect to whom the victim owed money to. They need to find the weapon, though, and they depart for the night after reaching a dead end for now.
When she gets home, Tae-eul tries to feel Maximus but the horse refuses to eat her vegetables. She calls up Eun-sup to ask where Lee Gon is. Lee Gon is at the library, as he has been for the last three days, reading up on Korea’s history. All the girls at the library are staring at Lee Gon, giving him drinks, and glaring at Tae-eul. Eun-sup happily leaves when Tae-eul says she will feed and keep an eye on Lee Gon tonight. An audible groan goes up from the girlswhen the two leave. Afraid he would be poisoned by the food, he thanks her for everything. “Thanks to you 25 years ago, I was less lonely,” he says. The two share some Korean fred chicken, and this is the first time Lee Gon has eaten it; he is gobsmacked. He explains at what point in time this Korea diverged from Corea—that Prince Sohyeon survived—but she still doesn’t believe him.
Corea: In a flashback, a young Lee Gon tells Ok-nam he hasn’t forgotten what happened and shows her Tae-eul’s ID. He also asks her for the half of the Manpasikjeok , the magic, flute that Lim left behind. Ok-nam had been hiding it, and now it had been giving to him disguised as a riding crop. A young Maximus is running in the corral behind them. He says he heard the sound of a flute, and that was what brought him to the chamber where his father had been killed by him. Ok-nam says the flute doesn’t make a sound; he says he can hear it. They agree to keep all this between them.
Korea: Back in the present, Tae-eul explains she doesn’t believe him at all but is helping him because she feels it is her duty as a police officer. Lee Gon asks her why does she think he wants to stay in this world. Lee Gon visits a museum exhibiting artifacts from this world’s Korean monarchy. We see these are the same portraits of past kings hanging in his Cheonjongo palace. As he is looking in the glass, you can see a face looking back.
Corea: Jo is looking his own reflected in the glass of the building where Lee Gon had stopped running after losing track of the girl in the bunny hoodie. He sees a person riding a skateboard wearing that and accosts him. It is a boy who says this is the class uniform and that they bought it online. The boy recognizes Jo (he is apparently famous) and asks for a selfie. Jo says no.
Nearby, Syeung-a (also Kim Yong-ji), who had been taking photos of Jo at the sculling event is at a coffee house on the phone, being informed she was being interviewed for a job at the Royal Public Affairs Office. She is flustered when Captain Jo shows up, asking to see her camera, as she was the sculling event. He is hoping to see a photo of Luna. He writes down his contacts on a paper napkin, asking her to send him the photos. When Jo leaves, she kisses the napkin. Jo talks to Ok-nam saying he has one lead: the mysterious woman.
Korea: In his suite, Lee Gon is mulling over the fact he has no more money after his shopping spree and profligate ways: His coat has no more buttons. He goes to Tae-eul’s house to feed Maximus. He wants a tasted milk tea, but does not have enough money. He sees Na-ri pull up in a sports car (she has two) and assumes she will give him a tea for free because they are alike. She doesn’t and he winds up sitting on a bench outside sipping from a sample cup.
Shin-jae arrives and asks Tae-eul to come down so they can go out with Eun-sup. Jealous, Lee Gon confronts Shin-jae and asks what to clarify the relationship between them. Shin-jae takes a photo of Lee Gon, “a mug shot, just in case.” Lee Gon threatens to behead Shin-jae.
In a flashback, we see Tae-eul as a high school student. Tae-eul is berating her father Do-in for accepting eggs instead of money for tuition, while Do-in berates Tae-eul for not showing her report card. Tae-eul has had idea. Dressed in a taekwondo dobok, she sits prettily at her window practicing taekwondo moves. A group of boys walk by, notice her but walk past, except for one: a young Shin-jae.
Later, an impatient Tae-eul, saying she wants double-eyelid surgery, practicing with children, complains to her father that this plan isn’t working. Then, Shin-jae walks in. Tae-eul says it works, and gets money before leaving as Shin-jae stares at her.
When Tae-eul comes down, Lee Gon says he wants to go with them, but Tae-eul storms off without him. She doesn’t get far because she starts feeling guilty, recalling their conversation over fried chicken. She goes back. He is moping, asking her how could she leave him by herself. You’re the only person I know in this world. He explains about the ID card but she talks about how she was only 5 years old when the incident in the palace happened. She makes fun of the date on the back of the ID, Nov. 11, 2019, which is Leonardo DiCaprio’s birthday. He says he has no more money. She suggests finding his family. He says he is single and has come to a decision: “I take you to be my wife, the Queen. You became the reason why I should stay in this world.”
Ruey: So, there is a lot of talking and not really much else going on in this episode. It feels like they’re taking care of a lot of things to get to the other stuff. Also the vast majority of the episode happens in Korea and we want to see more of Corea. So, they’ve figured out where to put Maximus so Lee Gon can move around without worrying about him. We now know where Lee Lim is. We meet Tae-eul’s father (and Na-ri) and get Tae-eul’s back story—wow, Kim Go-eun still can pass for a high school student at 28, what a baby face. We even get how she and Shin-jae (who obviously carries the torch for her) met. I like how they doubled down on the “Queen Yuna” joke because Lee Gon thought she was a real monarch until his trip to the library. Consider him caught up and now the series can move forward. I can see why they needed to do it, but I wish more stuff happened. It just made me want to get to episode 3 already. Ruthie what did you think of this episode?
Ruthie: Interesting that you found the second episode slower than you expected. Kim Go-eun was expecting such a reaction. In the interview with Super K, she did say that please bear with the first few episodes because it’s going to get more interesting in the future.
Ruey: So, symbolisms: Lee Lim has literally found the high ground and painting a new history for himself (perhaps the country) by using the scarlet of blood. The press material referred to Lim as being the Devil, and in this episode, we finally see why. The show presents Lim as someone who presents the vulnerable with a terrible bargain—a literal deal with the devil for your soul. This is literally what happens with the lady in the restaurant with the kid in the wheelchair. This is even worse with the Korea Lee Gon’s mother, who has essentially let her family’s killer go free so she would live and not be under suspicion. There is lots of foreshadowing here that Lim has created a new image of himself—a peaceful man in a faraway house—but is a superhuman monster hiding in plain sight. Ruthie what do you think of Lee Lim as a K-drama villain?
Ruthie: The fact that he’s good-looking, dresses well and is one step ahead of Lee Gon when it comes to controlling the power of the flute makes him scarier. At this moment, I think he is smarter than any of the characters. He understands how things work and how to manipulate them to his advantage. I think he kept Lee Gon’s Korean mom alive for a purpose. This is a potential minefield for future emotional manipulation. There’s also a question of whether there should only be one person per world. Should one die, the powerful one can decide to take over a life the way Lee Lim did.
Ruey: The show likes its mirrors (mirror worlds, right) and we saw a bit of it last episode, but there are a lot of mirrors in this one. The show hints at the ability to see between worlds, which is what Lee Gon and Jo seem to doing in this episode, and what Tae-eul seemed to be doing when she saw the other version of herself in her car’s rear-view mirror. I loved the idea of parallel worlds, particularly when shows establish the rules specific to that iteration. It still sticks to the classic rule where everyone on one world was actually represented on the other world, albeit their circumstances and names have changed. This is why Lee Gon couldn’t be identified in Korea because, though he was born there, he was killed by Lee Lim and could not be fingerprinted to be included in the system. This is also why his DNA will probably not be identified. We see that Jo and Eun-sup are the same person but very different from each other, same with Seung-a and Na-ri. At the library, Lee Gon identifies where the timelines diverged. It is interesting that Lee Gon doesn’t understand that the parallel worlds have the same people: He thinks that some people don’t exist on both world because he assumes that there is no Lee Gon in Korea and that there is no Tae-eul in Corea. Ruthie, what else do you think we’re missing about the parallel world idea here?
Ruthie: The Korea-Corea characters are so far off from each other. They mirror each other in appearance but not in fate. Otherwise, Korea’s Lee Gon would be a K-pop idol selling millions of album per minute. That still makes him a king.
Ruey: One note on the acting: I think the standout in this episode is Woo Do-hwan who manages to do two completely different versions of the same character: The cool, focused Captain Ri and the goofy, funny Eun-sup. We will probably see more of this because the show seems to like having the two versions so different from each other as much as possible, though we haven’t seen this from Syeung-a and Na-ri since we’ve seen so little of them yet. The character I’m looking forward on seeing the alternate version is the Korea version of ambitious Ms. Prime Minister Seo-ryeong. Ruthie, which alternate character are you most interested in seeing?
Ruthie: I am also excited to see Tae-eul’s frien Kang Shin-jae (Kim Kyung-nam) in Corea. Tae-eul’s Luna looks like a dirty, powerful witch. I wonder if Kyung-nam is a villain in Corea. Are they a couple there? Because obviously, Luna cannot be with Lee Gon.
Ruey: As far as our leads are concerned, Min-ho is doing Min-ho things. I do like the call backs to “Heirs/Inheritors” with the outfits, but also with Kim Eun-sook’s “Goblin” because Min-ho’s thing with how nice the sweater is as well as his expensive tastes are right out of Kim Shin’s playbook. The romance between the two is a slow burn but the show tries to jump it forward a bit with those great lines. I think the best part of the show was its reversal of the “Goblin” moment when Go-eun’s Ji Eun Tak decides to declare to Gong Yoo’s Kim Shin and she is going to be the Goblins bride and marry her. Here, it is Lee Gon, out of the blue, declaring that he will take Tae-eul as his bride to become Queen of Corea. Ruthie, what do you think of Min-ho so far?
Ruthie: Gong Yoo is shookt! Two episodes in and a marriage proposal already. The man is not wasting any time to get the woman he wants. Of course, the offer of marriage sounds crazy. I wish Min-ho had more diamonds in his clothes to afford a life in Korea.
Ruey: Finally, I just wanted to say this was a great episode for Kim Go-eun. They really fleshed out her character with the funny Taekwondo flashback and established her Tae-eul is such a very different character from any she’s played before, both the funniest and scruffiest. Ruthie, what do you think of Go-eun in this episode?
Ruthie: I thought she was cute when she was doing aegyo in taekwondo uniform to promote her dad’s gym. It’s really effective that whenever she ties her hair she means business. It’s something Lee Gon quickly caught on to. I think Go-eun is effective as Tae-eul and she’s terrifying as Luna. What I wonder though is if there will be more chemistry between the two in the future. Right now, Min-ho has more chemistry with Woo Do-hwan than Go-eun.
That’s it for not. Don’t forget that the third episode of “The King: Eternal Monarch” episode three streams tonight on Netflix and episode four streams tomorrow, Saturday night.
Come back and see us break down episode three on Tuesday. Till then, stay Super.
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