There's very little in the way of characterization or political plotting this episode as the entire runtime winds down to the single pivotal event that ends up changing the course of Korean history- Seong-gye's decision to finally put his foot down and say "no" to the boss. The weird part is that this decision doesn't even have much to do with the political logistics. Seong-gye's mind ultimately ends up getting changed by the awful weather.
Seong-gye's actions in historical perspective are hard to parse. Technically speaking he enacted a military coup d'état. But Seong-gye's waffling on the question of whether or not to destroy Goryeo once and for all doesn't end here- it's another four years before Lee Seong-gye finally becomes King Taejo. While Seong-gye probably did not make the decision in the overly dramatic fashion presented in this episode's final scene, it does stand to reason that he had at least some misgivings and required some level of persuasion.
The trouble with this kind of historical perspective is that it forces the pacing to move to a crawl. There's very little important information that "Six Flying Dragons" needs to establish in order for the cliffhanger to function, so even more than usual, the political portions of the episode are just a bunch of guys with fancy clothes standing around having abstract familiar discussions about statecraft. An entire group of important subcharacters as well as one dragon are demoted to being little more than hostages.
Still, the conscription scenes are pretty good and I liked how "Six Flying Dragons" demonstrates that conscription really, really stinks, and it's kind of necessary if you want to accomplish a task as difficult as conquering another country. Even then it might not be enough. The modern-day parallels are rather obvious. If you want to know why IS is such a problem that's really all there is to it- they have more boots on the ground than anyone else is willing to commit.
Back to "Six Flying Dragons". I really liked Muhyul's character arc here- the closest he's come to real growth thus far. Yes he's still a mostly dumb ignorant kid. Note how where everyone else is giving shocked faces at the start Muhyul's expression just says "uh, what's going on? Is that bad? Why is that bad?" Muhyul doesn't know what's going on, but he does know that being a member of an army with a completely impossible task is a pretty lousy job. What's worse, Muhyul actually has the chops for this work. What about all those poor guys who don't?
Review by William Schwartz
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 20"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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