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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Royal Gambler" Episode 18

My frustration with show hasn't ceased, but at least it's just about to jump into some action. In-jwa has been incensed and finally takes a decisive course of action. This is welcome as the bonds between characters (save perhaps the brothers), is quite weak. Without any strong bonds between In-jwa and Dam-seo, or Dam-seo and the two brothers who love her, this episode truly fell flat as did her prolonged death scene. Attempts to stir tension remain unsuccessful attempts. At least this show boasts of a stellar cast.

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The show seems to be aiming to build up towards In-jwa's rebellion, which means we have two major deaths to get through and a King Yeongjo to crown. And In-jwa still won't die - I want him to. As a reviewer pointed out, he doesn't die for a while, but his characterization is horrid. I want to see him as more of a clever man and less of a shaman. His mechanizations are more mystical than well-thought out plans. I do absolutely adore when Jun Kwang-ryul grieves on screen. It's so powerful. Unfortunately, the buildup to the death of his adopted daughter was lackluster. The love between In-jwa and Dam-seo was sketched out, but little reinforced. When separated, we barely get to see In-jwa miss her. Such a lack makes it difficult to empathize with In-jwa. The same lack holds truth for Dae-gil's and Yeoning's love for her. We saw little save for the overt signs of "love" that detailed their feelings. Television needs to reinforce such things for it to have greater impact.

What Dam-seo's death does do for "The Royal Gambler" is give In-jwa the impetus he needed to come out of the shadows and battle. He has finally stopped lurking. Admittedly, bloodily murdering a prince was out of place, especially for In-jwa, but it is a plausible way for the prince to die. Yeonryeong died a year before his father.

Brothers Dae-gil and Yeoning are redefining their relationship as politics, family, and social issues work their way into the fabric of their brotherhood. I genuinely hope they remain allies, but royal brothers as enemies is a popular theme in history, literature, and K-drama. Theirs is the richest relationship in the show by far. However, even this relationship isn't well-developed. With six episodes to go, I'm not sure how far the timeline will span, but it will definitely be full of action. In-jwa's murder has seen to that.

Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'

"The Royal Gambler" is directed by Nam Geon, written by Kwon Soon-gyoo, and features Jang Keun-suk, Yeo Jin-goo, Jeon Kwan-ryeol, Choi Min-soo, Lim Ji-yeon, and Yoon Jin-seo.

 

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