This episode is particularly brutal, both emotionally and physically. After twelve episodes of Seon hoping that his father will do the right thing by his people, he is crushed by the reality of his father's ambitions. King Yeongjo himself is again confronted by how far he will go when motivated by fear and ambition. Ambition and power make a deadly combination as those beneath Yeongjo discover.
That combination is enough to snuff out the lives of many and make Seon, the light and stalwart soldier of his people, waver. Seon has kept his hope in his father and the good in the government officials alive despite multiple blows against it. Watching him have to build himself back up after every betrayal and blow makes him a strong character and one with whom we, the audience, can empathize. Not to mention how fantastically Lee Je-hoon is playing him, making each tear more tragic than the last.
King Yeongjo is a wonderful counter to Seon. Han Suk-kyu is letting the character spiral deeper into madness in a way that foster pity for the man who has brought upon his own fall into depravity. His good son makes him feel guilty, which in turn, makes him even more brutal. It's a terrifying cycle, but it makes for such good television. Each time Yeongjo sees his son's face he wavers, but the tentacles of the ministers who control the government drag him back down into the abyss as well has the fear that has forced him to keep his silence. He makes deliberate choices to hurt his son that he hasn't had to make before, and those only make it easier to do it again. The cycles that "Secret Door" fosters in its characters are what make them so compelling. We hope the characters will escape, but circumstances don't allow them to.
As for the women, Princess Hyegyeong continues to be interesting and colorful while Ji-dam has become a plot tool. She is a motivator for Seon despite the sad situation that finds her this episode. This situation can be a turning point for her character, however, for which I am holding out hope. But Hyegyeong has purposefully gone against the rules and regulations that she so cherishes in order to protect son, which is a huge step for her. It will either make her more loyal to him in the end, or plant the seed of resentment in her. She is such a rich character, I want more of her on screen.
Most of all, "Secret Door" has made me love Seon, which is the reason to make him the hero: a good, upright man who is warped by severe circumstances to meet his brutal end. The writer could have made him twisted from the beginning. Tackling Seon from this angle makes him more tragic, and will make me cry a lot when it ends.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 13"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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