Goblin: Episodes 3-4 Thoughts

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Episode 3 clocks in at 88 minutes while episode 4 clocks in at a more normal 60 minutes. I’m not sure whether this show is going to continually make longer episodes, but it’s fine with me considering that the pacing of the episodes is just right enough that you don’t realize time has passed. In episode 3, I really appreciated the music direction (loved it even) and also love the relationship being established between Kim Shin and everyone else. However, there were definitely some gaps that were thankfully cleared up by episode 4. And I felt that if I didn’t write these two episodes together I’d be more frustrated than usual.

So Eun Tak can summon Kim Shin, as long as she pleads hard enough. And when he arrives he uses the magical blade that is constantly on him to slice the car in two, separating Eun Tak from the idiotic loan sharks. What’s hilarious is that Wang Yeo just stands against Eun Tak’s half of the car to prop it up while Kim Shin opens the door to let her out. You sliced the car in half; she could step right out easily without a car door! I also love the classical piece that plays in the background; it enhances the drama of the scene while adding a layer of hilarity to it.

Eun Tak is certifiably spooked but also annoyed that Kim Shin and Wang Yeo don’t have a car themselves to help bring her back home. Kim Shin also curses the two loan sharks by trapping them under their half of the car and not letting that road exist on the map for two days. Wang Yeo adds another layer of curse where they’ll have forgotten everything and only remember that they argued with each other and can never reconcile. So there’s that. It’s interesting why Wang Yeo would help Eun Tak out here, but I guess he gets a bit carried away in the moment.

Duk Hwa is then tasked with finding information on Eun Tak, and Kim Shin learns about her greedy relatives. He curses them with some gold bars that ends up tearing the aunt and her children apart. They’re all so greedy that they don’t trust each other to not steal the money for him/herself. The gold also makes them lie and start forgetting crucial details like Eun Tak’s name or where they live, and they get accused of stealing gold from the Federal Reserve (the American one, mind you). It gets to the point where they just decide to move out and leave their home.  Which is great! Except it puts Eun Tak out of a home.

At home, Kim Shin and Wang Yeo watch some K-pop shows, and Kim Shin wonders if the king that sentenced him to death was reincarnated into a K-pop star, because one of the boy band members looks like him. Wang Yeo wouldn’t be able to confirm if it’s a reincarnation or not unless he touches them, but it seems he gets way more information on a person just on touch. That’s why he also doesn’t touch anyone, ever. A girl group goes onstage and Kim Shin wonders if the king was reincarnated as a girl. If so, he’d forgive the king right away… LOL.

This whole conversation brings up an interesting point about reincarnation in general though. It makes me wonder how certain characters have come to be. Kim Shin is 939 years old so it’s not like he was reincarnated, but we don’t know how long Wang Yeo has been god of death. We also don’t know how he’s tied to the lore of the Queen (the Kim So Hyun character) because when he sees her jade ring at Granny-turned-Hottie’s makeshift stand on the bridge, it draws him in unwittingly. He also cries at the sight of Kim Sun, aka Sunny, and wants the ring desperately. It seems he must have a past with Sunny, but he doesn’t know anything about his past life once he died (which makes him the opposite of Shin) so he doesn’t know why he’s drawn to her too. She is attracted to him because, well, he’s good looking, and gives him her number. Except Wang Yeo doesn’t really have a phone so he doesn’t really call her.

But he does agonize over her, so she’s got that going for her!

There’s also some moping between Kim Shin and Eun Tak as they think about each other but have no idea what to make of each other. But Eun Tak does decide to keep the maple leaf she got from Canada to keep her memories of when she was with Kim Shin. This decision helps her cross paths with Duk Hwa, who should know who she is but somehow doesn’t recognize her. It’s a bit of a dubious moment for me, and when I watched episode 3 I thought he was just acting cool. But episode 4 confirms that he doesn’t know how Eun Tak looks like and is surprised when he has to serve her per his grandfather’s orders. (It leads to some cool moments like driving her to school in a convertible, but also more bullying from a jealous classmate.)

She finally goes up to him and says that she does see “that thing” that he keeps asking about. But she holds out from revealing anything so he has to keep bribing her with more food and snacks. Wang Yeo is totally hoping she can see the blade so that Kim Shin can die faster, so to speak. So in that sense, he’s not going to hurt Eun Tak until she helps him get rid of a pesky roommate.

Duk Hwa finally gets in trouble when his grandfather visits and sees Wang Yeo at the house. At first Wang Yeo does try to pretend to be Kim Shin’s friend, but Kim Shin tells the entire truth to the grandpa. He sorts it out so that Wang Yeo can come back into the house and stay, but it also means Duk Hwa is in major trouble. To ease everyone’s minds, he also reveals that he’s leaving soon, much to Wang Yeo’s happiness. He’s endured too much teasing from Kim Shin on what his “crime” must have been to merit him an eternal afterlife as god of death. (It’s actually really cute seeing Lee Dong Wook play such a sensitive and dramatic god of death.) The mythos surrounding him is getting more interesting, but we also discover that Granny / Lee El is most definitely not a god of death. In fact, she seems more like a spiteful guardian angel, and I’m curious what character from folklore she turns out to be.

Granny doesn’t really help Eun Tak though, from losing her house. At least Sunny is pretty cool with her staying at the restaurant, but Eun Tak knows that she can’t live off of charity forever. She wants help from Kim Shin, knowing that he also has oodles of money, but he also tells her that he’s going away for a while and they won’t see each other. He’s sad to say goodbye (hence the rain) but believes it’s for the best.

So that’s when she finally goes up to his home and rings his doorbell.

And no one has rung his doorbell in sixty years.

Of all people, it’s Eun Tak. She found the place by asking the ghosts in the area, and now she has a question for Kim Shin. If she tells him that she can see “the thing,” will she have to marry him right away? Can he give her 5 million won? And will he still have to leave or can he stay? Kim Shin demands she say what it is she sees and she points directly at the blade: “I can really see it!”

I did not like that revelation at first, but in episode 4 she explains that she didn’t mention it at first because she thought it’d be rude. And then she didn’t mention it because she didn’t know what it would mean for her future or anything, and no research she did ever mentioned the sword. I felt her excuses weren’t good enough to justify her always seeing the sword, especially with how she acted around him, but I could just be very picky here.

The revelation throws Kim Shin for a loop though because now he doesn’t know what to do. Let her take it out? Don’t tell her what she has to do so that he can live a little longer? It makes sense that Kim Shin is now feeling all weird about this because for a very long time he never had someone who could pull the sword out. And he’s lived for so long coping and dealing with his fate that an escape to the afterlife was the last thing he thought of. (Wang Yeo graciously did offer to guide him to the afterlife.)

As his bride, Eun Tak now wonders what the next steps are. Perhaps he can house her? Kim Go Eun treads a fine line between acting truly desperate and being a bit manipulative. I think she’s really trying to guilt Kim Shin into helping her out, but it doesn’t hurt that he’s such a looker that she’d be willing to be his wife. Instead of letting her stay with him (since she is homeless), he has the grandpa put her up in his luxury building, living on a floor right above Duk Hwa to emphasize that Duk Hwa is to serve her just like he serves Kim Shin.

After this, Kim Shin doesn’t see Eun Tak for a while, which makes her wonder what is going on with the man she just fell in love with (sorta). He’s busy to see one of his old friends ascend to heaven – the little boy whom he saved in Canada years ago from an abusive stepfather. The boy became a lawyer who helped others, never expecting another miracle from Kim Shin even though many others in his situation did. And so Kim Shin looked upon this boy more favorably than others, and wanted to be there when he died and took literal stairs up to heaven. So I was completely wrong about his identity, but at least that weird little side story now has a payoff. It’s not a great payoff I feel, but I guess the point is to show Kim Shin can do what Wang Yeo does sometimes, when he chooses to. Being a goblin is pretty amazing so far…

Finally Eun Tak summons Kim Shin via candle, and he starts drinking. Actually he drinks only two cans of beer and gets soooo drunk that he ends up confessing what her job is to do: to take the blade out of him, so that he could be… pretty? He seems to have realized in his haze of drunkenness not to tell Eun Tak everything, and she takes it to mean that he’s currently a prince trapped in a Beast form. So, it’s not that bad of an explanation.

The next day, cherry blossoms are in bloom, which pisses Duk Hwa off. Kim Shin was supposed to be discreet!! Whenever he’s happy, flowers bloom, and it’s hard to explain that off as a weather anomaly. On the flip side, Kim Shin has no idea what happened last night, so Duk Hwa takes him to get some stew early in the morning. But when the memory comes flowing back to him slowly, he freaks out. He might have asked for his death too soon!

He picks Eun Tak up from school that day in his Maserati to get some information on what he said last night. She asks if he’s eaten, and he replies, “Why do you always ask about food? Can’t you eat before we meet?!” And Eun Tak replies, “But I want to eat with you.” She agrees to steak, and he magically takes her to Canada again (just by opening her car door!) for some French food. She learns a bit more about his backstory, understanding that he’s a very lonely (and moody, and wrathful) goblin, and he asks her again if she really wants to be his bride. It’s as if he doesn’t want her to be his bride, or giving her a chance to just not be the one and he can live around for another 1000 years waiting for the next bride.

She asks him to wait by the fountain, giving him her poetry book to read while he waits, and heads to Chateau Frontenac to write a letter. She prays that it be mailed properly, although I don’t know how when she drops it in the mailbox with no address! Anyways. Logistics aside, when she returns to the fountain, Kim Shin looks up to see her beautiful smiling face, and realizes that he’s in love.

The whole love line between the two makes sense but also doesn’t make sense. I still struggle with how confidently Eun Tak is about being a Goblin’s Bride and yet doesn’t seem to know a thing about being one. It’s where I start wondering what the rules are in the folklore, and it doesn’t feel fleshed out enough for me. Maybe it’s just something that requires us to keep watching to understand. I also have a hard time pinpointing how Kim Shin is falling in love with a somewhat immature high schooler, and I would rather we do a time jump and she gets older and wiser before anything happens. I can see his struggle on whether he wants to have a bride or not to pull out his sword, but not his struggle on why he has to be so drawn to Eun Tak right away.

Love is unreasonable, and I get that characters fall hard and fast. But with Kim Eun Sook‘s characters, they tend to fall hard and fast randomly and with far less buildup than other conventional rom coms. Which makes me wonder, “Why’d you fall in love again?” There’s not a lot of substance to their love just yet, and right now the only thing that’s forcing them together is their otherworldly fate that links them together.

I am very curious to see Wang Yeo’s background get more fully fleshed out as well. I feel like we get peeks into what he can or cannot do in fits and starts, and we see why he bickers with Kim Shin. But some of their bickering comes out of nowhere, so while Gong Yoo and Lee Dong Wook are adorable in their brotherly chemistry it’s also weird.

I like this show. I just realized this week that I should really stop thinking so hard about it though.

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