This episode was a little awkward, but it was full of wonderful stuff all the same. The episodic format of the plot is working for now. It gives episode long examples of how hard Seon tries to do right by his people and change the system, and how mightily the system fights back. Yoon So-hee continues to be as effective as a piece of corrugated cardboard while Kim Min-jong finally gets to step up and really add to the plot texture.
The greatest thing about Seon is that he has the innate ability to sweep others up in his passion, including those who are against him, like his father. The king is constantly wishing his son's dreams could come true only to be tempered by greed and reality. Those who follow the prince like Minister Choi and Officer Min are unwaveringly loyal to the point of giving up what is important to them for Seon's cause. Officer Min is the son of a prominent Noron, Minister Min, who is firmly against Seon. Officer Min turns against his father, but he also still loves him greatly. The show plays up these minor roles by emphasizing the relationships between families estranged by politics, which acts to draw in the viewer further.
I'd like to mention actor Kim Ha-kyoon who is normally type-cast into roles that have him as a foolish lackey who will suck up to retain his position. Until episode sixteen, that was his role. But now his character has power and I must say it's wonderful to see the actor act like a proper villain. He is fantastic and deserves a little acknowledgement for it. He is now the leader of the dominant political group, the Norons, who are against Seon and his efforts to destroy Joseon's class system. This did not happen effectively for another one hundred and fifty or so years during the Japanese occupation, but that's neither here nor there.
I know I repeat this from review to review, but it needs to be said: Yoon So-hee is just not good. She has no chemistry with Lee Je-hoon and when she is pitted against flashbacks of the vibrant Kim Yoo-jung she is rendered even more moot as an on screen force. She is completely unrelatable and I find myself not even caring about the romance despite Lee Je-hoon's convincing performance. If the-powers-that-be were attempting to find more chemistry between leads, they failed.
Kim Min-jong's character finally gets a role that is worthy of the actor. Despite positive personal feelings for Seon, Cheol-joo (and Ji-dam) still tricks Seon and keep secrets from him in order to further his political ends. The dichotomy makes the character richer, and also a character who does more than sit on screen and mope. He's active in the action of the drama now, which makes him more interesting. His partnership with Ji-dam will be one more betrayal that will break Seon down. It's sad to think about, but its going to be a wonderful, powerful plot moment.
Despite knowledge of how Seon's life ends, "Secret Door" still manages to make his journey to that end engaging. I'm ready for the next episode.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 18"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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