Well, my friends. It looks like I just can’t escape the lure of Jang Hyuk in Chuno, heh. I know I said that I mostly likely wouldn’t be joining the group watch, but after all the excitement and enthusiasm we shared in the group watch announcement post, I just could not get Chuno out of my head.
I’m in, you guys.
What this means is that I’ll be sharing some episode notes with you from this rewatch, in the Open Thread posts. For the record, this is my 3rd watch. My last watch was in 2013, when I wrote my Chuno review. I won’t be writing a new review after this watch, but any fresh thoughts and insights will be shared in the episode notes. I hope you guys enjoy. 😊
Before we dive in, there are 3 important things that I’d like to touch on.
1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. I repeat: no spoilers for future episodes please! We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?
3. We’ll be having a gap week on 25 November 2020 because it’s Thanksgiving week and that would make it difficult for quite a few in our midst to join the discussion. This means that the Open Thread for episodes 3 and 4 will be on 2 December 2020 instead.
I guess this adds to the realism of watching in real time, since we’re pre-empting episodes in favor of real-world events? 😉
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this pair of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
Ahhh. This is so good, right away. Everything feels rich and layered, and since it’s been a full 7 years since my last watch, everything feels pretty new, too. I feel better able to understand the dialogue as it’s spoken too, which adds another layer to the experience. Also, the OST is as stirring as ever, and hearing it again, coloring this drama world, gives me a distinct thrill.
For the first time, I find myself wondering about Dae Gil’s age, and since Eonnyeon was 15 when they were separated and it’s been 10 years, that would place Dae Gil in his late twenties, since I’m assuming he’s a few years older than Eonnyeon? That realization adds a new layer of pathos to Dae Gil, I feel like, because it seems like he’s been through so much already, and he’s only in his twenties.
Jang Hyuk is oh-so-magnificent. So lithe, so lean, and so full of languid swag. I haven’t had heart-eyes like this in a while, I must admit! Squee~! 😍😍😍 I love that Dae Gil never seems rushed or startled. Even when people are fighting around him and stuff is flying and breaking everywhere, he is completely unruffled. And when he fights, his moves are swift, sharp and lethal. He might move fast, but he never seems to be in a hurry. His moves always feel calculated and precise, and I love it.
I also find that I’m appreciating everyone else much more, this time around. For example, I hadn’t yet grown so fond of Kim Ji Suk when I’d watched Chuno before, so now, with Kim Ji Suk appreciating eyes firmly in place, I am delighted with his rendition of whiny-but-nimble Wangson. He’s a lot leaner in this than in I Need Romance 3 where he seemed beefier, and I think it’s perfect for the role. In fact, everyone’s very lean, rather than beefy, and it makes perfect sense.
I also didn’t used to appreciate Lee Jong Hyuk very much, but now, my eyes have adjusted, and I think he cuts a very fine figure wielding the sword.
It is admittedly a little jarring to see how people are treated in this drama world, after such a long break, and with newer shows being more conscious about political correctness, but this is true to the times, and makes sense within our story.
It strikes me that Dae Gil’s got a lot of heart. His tough reputation precedes him, and when dealing with the slaves and with the officials who buy them back in the light of day, he sticks with that tough persona. But how much heart does he have, to remember and make time to save that girl and her mother – after having a showdown with Cheon Ji Ho and his gang, no less? It’s not like he was laying around with nothing to do and then thought of them. Rather, he was attacked by a gang of slave hunters who were trying to tame him and get him to join their fold, and he fought them off singlehandedly – and he still remembered to save the girl and her mother, afterwards. I think this is the moment that I find that I’ve lost my heart to this man.
I’m reminded all over again, that with this show, you kinda hafta put aside some logic stretches, or it will mess with your ability to enjoy it. For example, Eonnyeon and her quick change to get away from the bridal chamber is a stretch. Where did she get the clothes, and how did she change so quickly, since the groom’s arrival was called out and announced, while her brother was still talking to her? She had the time to redo her hair and change into an outfit that appeared out of nowhere, AND fold her bridal clothes neatly in a pile, before making her getaway? Of course not. But it’s all part of the poetry of this world, and I’m willing to roll with it.
On that note, I’m also reminded, that Eonnyeon does not behave like a slave, even when she’s living as one. I think a lot of viewers found this rather ludicrous – and it is, if you’re using an analytical lens – but again, this is poetry. So it’s easier to think of her as having a gentlewoman’s soul. That’s why she’s so shocked and sad and perplexed, when she overhears that Dae Gil’s father wants to make arrangements for his marriage. No other female slave would do that, because they’d know that despite any dalliances they might have with their master, nothing will allow them to be that master’s main wife. But because Eonnyeon has the soul of a noble lady, she’s just different that way.
Before, I’d been so wowed by Jang Hyuk’s fighting prowess during the bait and switch scene, that I could barely register anything else. But now, I realize that there’s so much emotion in the way he plays the scene. The way Dae Gil moves in, almost in a daze, speaks of so much uncertainty; he’s not sure if it’s her; if it’s her, he’s not sure if she’s the same; he’s not sure if she would feel the same about him; he’s probably not even sure how he feels, since her brother killed his family, and she’d technically left him to die. All of that uncertainty is played out in Dae Gil’s slow movements, his body rigid with tension, and his gaze full of complicated emotion. It’s really good.
And then, when the many-to-one fight starts, it hits me that he fights with so much emotion. Previously, I’d just been dazzled by his badassery – and he still is so amazing! – but now, I can actually see Dae Gil’s fury, despair and desperate disappointment, played out in his blows. He’s like a deranged animal in this moment, and I do believe that he would’ve killed Cheon Ji Ho, if General Choi hadn’t intervened. (Also, can I just say how young Song Dong Il looks in this role? His skin is healthy and unlined, and he just looks so hale and hearty, compared to his more recent outings, where he looks markedly older. I never thought I’d say this because I used to dislike the faux bad teeth, but seeing Song Dong Il as Cheon Ji Ho, is quite a treat!)
I still find it as hilarious as ever, that General Choi is such a hit with the ladies. One thing that never occurred to me before, though, is what an incongruous sight it is, that a rough and tough slave hunter would spend his spare time reading. I find that studious streak very endearing.
It’s indeed compassionate of Song Tae Ha to save the slaves who had treated him so poorly. Also, I do love the shock on everyone’s faces, when they realize that the cripple whom they’d been kicking around, is now their savior. Surprise badassery is one of my favorite drama things, and this does not disappoint, even on my third viewing.
The promised showdown between Dae Gil and Tae Ha in the open field is as stirring as before, and I am pumped to see it all go down in our next episode.