The opening scene of episode thirty-one features characters musing about how Prince Seon was their one great hope, and how dare anyone besmirch the man's good name. How or why Prince Seon is supposed to be the platonic ideal of a good monarch has never been clear to me, considering how the man fails at nearly every task he attempts, no matter how basic. And as if to emphasize this point, we cut from that to Prince Seon lying not quite dead in the middle of nowhere.
Oh, it gets better. Remember the prison camp, where Dae-mok has been exploiting child labor, which up until now no one has ever been able to find? Apparently, Dae-mok consolidates a lot of his evil schemes there to save on property costs. And lest Prince Seon seem too competent, the production team makes sure that he can't even get enough of a grasp of the situation to play dead, and is only saved through laziness on the part of Dae-mok's goons and the kindness of a random pathetic child.
Through the end of episode thirty-two Prince Seon continues to "succeed" through incomprehensible screenwriting luck. Even though there's apparently a small army on call near the camp, somehow Prince Seon is able to hide out long enough for Dae-mok to get a report and decide to send Hwa-goon over to just wander around at random. Urgh, wouldn't it have been easier to just have Hwa-goon already be at the camp for completely different reasons?
Or even better, a reason related to why Prince Seon's body was dumped there? This is why the plot in "Ruler: Master of the Mask" makes no sense. Rather than have the story be directed by breakthroughs on the part of the main characters, through information gained in victory and defeat, the production team just unceremoniously dumps the dramatis personae wherever they need to be next. Their victories are inherently unsatisfying because no work was done to accomplish them.
Scenes appear to be designed for shock value rather than storytelling coherence. Take what happens in the torture room. What was even the point of that? Yeah, OK, revenge, whatever. But since when did the other Seon have his own goons? I thought they all just worked for Dae-mok. So Dae-mok doesn't even care? That's another good summary of "Ruler: Master of the Mask"- Dae-mok is evil but lazy, and wins mostly through the sheer incompetence of the opposition.
Review by William Schwartz
"Ruler: Master of the Mask" is directed by Noh Do-cheol & Park Won-gook, written by Jeong Hae-ri & Park Hye-jin-II, and features Yoo Seung-ho, Kim So-hyun, L, Yoon So-hee, Heo Joon-ho and Park Chul-min.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Ruler: Master of the Mask" Episodes 31-32"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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