Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! It occurs to me that if this had been a 16-episode series, we’d be done by now – but here we are, still going! 😅 I hope you guys are ready to chat about Chuno episodes 17 & 18! These episodes are quite the doozy! 😱
Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
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?
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this pair of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
These Chuno episodes just keep getting harder to watch, don’t they? I found this torture scene one of the more difficult part of this episode, especially the part where Tae Ha gets his flesh burned off. Ack. 🥺
It does strike me, though, that Dae Gil and Tae Ha are very different in how they approach things. Dae Gil is quick to feign unconsciousness when he can, to minimize the torture and beating, whereas Tae Ha literally invites Commander Hwang to begin the torture, before the iron grows cold. I think this is because of his strong belief that it would be better to die for his cause than to act dishonorably, but seeing how he suffers, it occurs to me that there is also wisdom in picking your battles, and clearly, Tae Ha doesn’t seem to subscribe to that way of thinking.
The way Commander Hwang thanks Tae Ha, when Tae Ha promises that Commander Hwang will die by his hand, makes me think that Commander Hwang is basically racking up a multitude of sins, for which he plans to pay later; he expects to die a horrible death for what he’s done, and it feels like he plans to be grateful for it, when the time comes. It all seems very twisted, but I feel like this might be his way of appeasing his conscience.
In a rare spot of happy news this hour, we see that Wangson and General Choi are alive after all – HUZZAH!! I don’t know how realistic it is, that they could have survived, and escaped Commander Hwang’s notice, but I’ll take it. Maybe Commander Hwang allowed them to live? Maybe he knew they were alive all along, and used them to send a message to his father-in-law, while passing them off as dead?
I’m just happy that they are alive, and have each other for company and support, as they make their way to Mt. Worak to recuperate. It’s just really dreadful that they have no idea what Dae Gil is going through, and even if they did, they’re in no shape to rescue him.
There’s Ji Ho, though, who’s pledging to get Dae Gil out of prison, since he’s the only one left of the boys he’d raised. Will Ji Ho be able to come through for Dae Gil?
While we’re on the topic of Ji Ho, I just want to say, how funny is the way Ji Ho ran off from Commander Hwang, screeching, right after he’d thrown down the gauntlet for a fight? Ahaha. I bet this is the weirdest non-fight Commander Hwang’s ever faced. 😆
I must say that Eonnyeon’s this episode’s MVP again.
It seems to me that she’s grown in wisdom and wits since we first met her, because where before she’d mostly flailed about very breathily when things went wrong, now, we’re seeing her brave the cold while trudging in the snow for hours, in her effort to get the Little Prince to safety. Not only that, we also see her gather her wits to get creative, in order to protect the Little Prince.
First, there’s how she talks a random noblelady into providing her and the Little Prince with food and lodging for the night. And then, there’s how she draws blood from her own finger, to smear on the Little Prince and herself, so that she can pretend that they both suffer from some kind of awful plague, in order to alarm the gatekeeping guards into letting her through. I was pretty impressed by this, and I hafta say, I much prefer this much stronger, more determined version of Eonnyeon.
On a purely aesthetic note, I think Eonnyeon and her bright purple coat, with all that snowy landscape in the background, makes such a beautiful picture. 🤩
In the meantime, over at our rebel slave faction, New Guy takes the slaves on a rampage of a yangban’s house, and it literally feels to me like he’s forcing them do it against their will. They mostly look terrified and uncertain, and he’s the one standing tall and brandishing his sword. This doesn’t feel like their uprising; it feels more like he’s bending them to his will.
Given that we have circumstantial evidence that indicates that New Guy is not to be trusted, I can’t help but wonder what the plan is, if this is really all Left State Councilor’s doing. Why make the slaves feel empowered by thrusting them into a rampage that they didn’t ask to be a part of? My only guess is that Left State Councilor plans to eventually make the rebel slave faction take the fall for something shady, coz he’s just oily like that.
Also, I’m mildly amused that Ggeutbong is now referred to as one of the faction’s two best shooters, alongside Eop Bok. That’s quite a turnaround, for the guy who was so startled by his own rifle that he’d practically dropped it. 😆
In prison, the conversation between Dae Gil and Tae Ha turns more philosophical. I love the glint of tears in Dae Gil’s eyes, even as he sardonically says to Tae Ha,
“If you do manage to change this world, give it a try. Making a world where no people will be forced by distress to run away, and there will be no need for people like me, spending their lives trailing them. This world where people cannot even experience that damned love as they wish… Is it not a wretched nuisance?”
This scene is so well done, I feel. With Jang Hyuk’s complex delivery of Dae Gil’s lines, I feel like beneath the jadedness of Dae Gil’s words, there’s also a deep sense of wistfulness, and that tells me that he really does truly wish that such a world could exist.
The next morning, the scene at the execution site is also really hard to watch. It’s hard enough watching Dae Gil and Tae Ha get beaten up before they’re due to be hanged, but really, that scene of Dae Gil hanging from the gallows, is the kind of stuff that makes my stomach clench with foreboding.
Seriously, how does Jang Hyuk manage to pull off a scene like that where he’s literally hanging by the neck (ack, that’s so dangerous!), while he continues to emote in character?!? 🤯
The way Show juxtaposes the scenes of Seol Hwa walking alone in the woods, and singing a plaintive song, with the scenes of Dae Gil hanging from the gallows, is really quite heartbreaking. I don’t know that I’ve actually paid attention to the song Seol Hwa sings before – I was mostly likely too preoccupied with what was happening with Dae Gil – but this watch, I’m struck by the bittersweet lyrics of her song:
“In death I will be reborn as a flower,
And you will become my butterfly.
We will find a green valley,
and spend an eternity there.
O love, my love, my beloved one.”
To me, in singing this song, Seol Hwa is thinking of Dae Gil, and putting him to rest in her heart, until they can have another chance at happiness in their next lives – even if they are but a flower and a butterfly. That’s so sad, when I think about it. 💔
On an aesthetic note again, Seol Hwa’s colorful garments make such a beautiful pop of color against the earthiness of the woods. Show sure knows about Pretty. 😍
In the chaos of the execution scene, two things stand out to me. The first thing is, the fact that Tae Ha stops to throw a sword in Dae Gil’s direction, to cut his body down from hanging on its noose. For all Tae Ha knows, Dae Gil is dead, but he stops to do this anyway, to give Dae Gil a little more dignity in death. That’s kind, considering how their interactions have mostly been tense and antagonistic, with them on opposite sides. I see this as an action that communicates a measure of truce and respect, now that Dae Gil’s “dead.”
The other thing that strikes me in this scene, is how Ji Ho basically unleashes his maximum hyena-crazy, in his (ultimately feeble) attempts to save Dae Gil. It really seems that Ji Ho can’t think straight, at the prospect of Dae Gil probably being dead. From the way Ji Ho hems and haws before he actually starts walk away from his pretend guard post, it’s clear that he’s nervous and scared. Otherwise, why would he wait until Dae Gil’s actually hanging by the neck, to do anything?
And from the way Ji Ho frantically tries to undo the rope that’s tying Dae Gil to the gallows, using only his hands and teeth instead of a nearby sword, while hysterically bashing guards and intruders alike with a stick, he’s clearly not thinking straight at all. For all of Ji Ho’s bravado, he’s too emotionally invested in Dae Gil’s fate to actually be of much use. He does thump on Dae Gil’s chest hard enough to revive him, though, so credit to him for that.
Guh. Ji Ho’s death, which plays out in slow degrees, is so tragic to watch. The physical pain and the emotional tears, tamped down as much as possible by his signature cackle, is an agonizing combination. We can see from Dae Gil’s gaze that he knows full well that Ji Ho won’t make it, but he continues to haul Ji Ho along, matching him laugh for laugh, as they sardonically talk about the past, and about life.
It’s striking to me, that after all that Dae Gil and Ji Ho have been through, with Ji Ho even setting traps to kill Dae Gil, in this moment, with Ji Ho’s death unmistakably impending, Dae Gil refuses to abandon him. For all of their fallouts and cutting words, there’s actually a deep loyalty that runs between them, that causes Ji Ho to save Dae Gil at the risk of his own life, and that spurs Dae Gil to stay with Ji Ho in his dying moments, despite having soldiers on his own tail.
The way Dae Gil continues to cry over Ji Ho’s body, and warm Ji Ho’s toes, even after Ji Ho’s breathed his last breath, is gut-wrenching and raw. In this moment, it really feels like Dae Gil’s all alone in the world, with only sorrow, loss and loneliness as his companions. 😭 Also, poor Ji Ho.. he really did give his life to save Dae Gil, even though he was essentially quite ineffectual at it. 😭
On that note, it’s just really good to see Wangson and General Choi alive and in good enough shape to talk and bargain with Jjakgwi. I really need them to reunite with Dae Gil soon, to not only let Dae Gil know that they’re alive, but also, so that Dae Gil won’t feel as alone as he does now.
All the bluster from Jjakgwi is meant for comedy, and I’m mildly amused by the flashback story told from Jjakgwi’s point of view, of his big fight with Dae Gil, complete with Dae Gil sporting a jaunty ponytail and poufy side-swept bangs. Ha. I guess the way Jjakgwi sees it, Dae Gil was quite the hair fashionista back in the day..? 😆
Elsewhere, I’m pretty impressed with Eonnyeon’s progress, as she goes on the run with the Little Prince on her back. I especially liked the scene where she warms a small stone by the fire, and gives it to him to hold, just like Dae Gil had done for her, back when he’d been her Young Master. That little detail feels very bittersweet to me. I also like the detail, that when Eonnyeon feels threatened, she instinctively reaches for the Little Prince’s hand, to give him a sense of assurance. That’s a very motherly thing to do, and in times like this, I appreciate that Eonnyeon’s truly risen to the occasion and stepped out of her comfort zone, to be wiser and braver than I’d thought it possible for her to be.
I know I just talked about the respectful truce between Tae Ha and Dae Gil, but it looks like that was only valid while Dae Gil was dead.
Now that Dae Gil’s alive and kicking and back on his feet, Tae Ha’s determined that Dae Gil mind his own business and stay out of things. I find this last fight scene gratuitous, and I find myself feeling rather annoyed at both men, because they are both wasting time while fighting each other, all for the sake of their egos.
Dae Gil’s seen Eonnyeon being taken away with the Little Prince on her back, so he knows that she’s in danger. Tae Ha knows that Eonnyeon’s on her own, with the entire country looking for her. And yet, they’re wasting time waving their egos at each other? 🙄 Facepalm. This is one time that our rousing fight anthem doesn’t work to distract me and throw me into fangirl spazz mode. I need these two men to stop being idiotic, and get over circling each other, so that they can save Eonnyeon and the Little Prince.