Five years have passed since the start of "Secret Door's" timeline. King Yeongjo is older, frailer and more concerned with passing on his crown than protecting it. Seon is older, but still hoping and pushing for change. The ministers are fighting to keep the ways of old, which means finding ways to get rid of Seon.
The ending of this story is known. Already, the relationship between Seon and his father is going to make that ending powerful. The connection between father and son is intense, fraught with love and the desire for things to be different. Both are guided by their dreams for Joseon that put a wedge between them. This is the strongest aspect of "Secret Door". The viewer feels as connected to their relationship as they are to each other.
Seon's relationship with Ji-dam, on the other hand, has withered and died. There is nothing left there. Watching scenes with Ji-dam in it seem as though they were cut from a different drama and stuck into "Secret Door". She doesn't fit anymore. It's sad and a result of the actress change. As ineffective as she is, she should've been written out a while ago.
Princess Hyegyeong does not get enough screen time, but she is always effective. Her enemy, Lady Moon, may perhaps be used by the show's writer to bring down Seon. Whatever the method is, it is King Yeongjo's reaction that will be worth its weight in gold.
"Secret Door" has subscribed to a "villain-of-the-week" method of providing opponents for Seon. It can be an effective writing tool, but has become impotent in the latter half of the drama. Minister Hong has saved this method from total futility. He was an upstanding man in the beginning of the drama who was then bribed to perform evil. He was brought into the Noron faction and, over the years, has absorbed their ways. His character change should've been played up more. He has been corrupted by power in a way Seon has managed to avoid. He stands in direct contrast to Seon, which makes him the most effective villain by far. At this stage in the drama, he will most probably be the final villain.
Cheol-joo has been a strange character throughout the drama. He fluctuates between purposeful and completely useless. He lacks consistency, which made the huge coup he planned fall flat on screen. When Seon stops the assassination of his father, the scene was lackluster; not because of the acting, but because of how the entire situation was set up. Like Ji-dam, Cheol-joo ended up being a flat character with a lackluster storyline. It's sad because the few brief scenes between King Yeongjo and his grandson have more presence than the longer more numerous scenes with Cheol-joo and his army of men.
The heart of "Secret Door" is the relationship between Yeongjo and Seon. The other stuff is just that: stuff. Fluff N stuff. It really lacks the emotional impact of the powerful relationship between the royals. Still, that relationship is enough to carry this show to the finish.
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 21"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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