Mr. Sunshine: Episode 12
Eugene and Ae-shin seek to make amends and settle the terms of their relationship, considering the constraints of social status. Meanwhile, Wan-ik continues to manipulate the pawns in his scheme, though he may be unaware that he’s holding onto multiple ticking time bombs, Hina being one of them. Unwilling to be a pawn in his schemes, Hina continues to defy his authority and act on her own accord.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
It’s the English ambassador’s birthday, and all the fellow ambassadors and Wan-ik have been invited to celebrate at Hwawollu. In a voieover by Seung-gu, we learn that this is the day that Ae-shin has been ordered to sneak into Wan-ik’s house to steal the documents.
Hayashi, the Japanese ambassador, has thrown the birthday party for his political ally, the English ambassador Jordan, who he calls his friend. The Russian ambassador, Pavlov, speaks in Russian to scorn the friendship between the two island countries, and Jordan returns the derision by saying that the Russians don’t know table manners and only know how to drink vodka.
In broken English, Hayashi tells the Pavlov to speak in English, but Pavlov mocks him by saying that he doesn’t understand his poor pronunciation. Hayashi warns Pavlov to withdraw his troops from Yongampo, but Pavlov doesn’t take him seriously, doubting that the Japanese could incite a war and win with their short height. Hayashi slams the table in fury, but American ambassador Allen brings back the conversation to their real concerns about two foreign ministers getting killed during his leave.
Outside, Dong-mae thinks about the mysterious man from the hotel who seems to be lurking around Ae-shin. When Wan-ik arrives at Hwawollu, Dong-mae welcomes him and notices the duffel in Wan-ik’s hand, presumably full of money. He offers to escort Wan-ik to the party, but Wan-ik asks for a separate room and tells Dong-mae to escort Allen to his room when the party is finished.
Dong-mae thinks back to Hina’s request to remove half of Wan-ik’s guards at his house during the night of the party. She doesn’t offer any more details and says that this can make up for Dong-mae using his worker to spy on her hotel guest. Following Hina’s request, Dong-mae orders Yujo to distract Wan-ik’s guards by taking them out to eat.
We return to the cliffhanger from the previous episode, where Hina and Ae-shin face-off, unmasked and with their weapons pointed at each other. They notice that the other has the document they’re looking for and agree to exchange the documents — Kudo’s autopsy report for Hina and the interpreters’ reports for Ae-shin — without further altercation. Hina suggests that they discuss this revelation later, since they’re both in urgent situations, and Ae-shin decides their rendezvous.
Ae-shin safely flees the scene by hopping over the wall, but Hina gets caught by Duk-moon as she leaves through the front door. He approaches her from behind and demands to know her identity, and Hina grabs her sharp hairpiece in preparation of a fight. But the man is knocked out by someone else. Hina whips around swinging her sharp weapon at her mysterious savior, but it’s Dong-mae, who stops her hand and quickly leads her out to the bustling streets.
When they reach the safety of the crowd, Hina asks how Dong-mae ended up at Wan-ik’s house. He admits that he was worried and flirts the he’s been slacking has the apple of her eye recently. Dong-mae says that they’re even now and tells her that she can make it home alone from there. He says he’s off to the bar because this next half month (when he’ll be meeting Ae-shin) isn’t going past enough. He walks off into the rain, and Hina watches him with a sympathetic gaze before heading on her way.
Eugene drinks at the bar thinking about the red pinwheel (an indication that Ae-shin was on a mission), and Dong-mae joins him. Dong-mae mentions the gun match between Eugene and the intruder and asks he’s figured out the intruder’s motives. Eugene says that he’s still in the midst of investigations, and Dong-mae advises that he work fast since Wan-ik is currently meeting up with Allen to make a deal for the intruder’s release.
Dong-mae also warns Eugene to stay away from Wan-ik if possible, since that man is fully Japanese despite being a Joseon person. Eugene sarcastically that those words sound particularly sincere coming from Dong-mae, but Dong-mae claims that he’s an American temporarily, since he’s recently received dollars for a service. Eugene thanks him for the intel and offers to buy appetizers in return. So Dong-mae yells for a large order of sashimi, but stingy Eugene quickly reduces the size to a small. Ha.
Wan-ik and Duk-moon check the house to see what’s been stolen, and Wan-ik wonders if there were two different thieves or just one person doing both jobs. Duk-moon reports that their guard posts were empty at the time that the intruders rummaged through the house, but Wan-ik says that there’s no need to punish them because he knows this is Dong-mae just digging deeper into his own grave.
Duk-moon worries about their Manchuria agent, Kim Yong-joo, spilling any of their information when his opium wears off, but Wan-ik assures his assistant that Yong-joo will be released soon. Wan-ik orders Duk-moon to lock up Yong-joo upon his release in the safest place, the Joseon jail. Wan-ik then wonders why their thieves also stole the letter and complains that he hadn’t read it yet.
Eugene returns to the medicine shop, where he stares at the red pinwheel again. He thinks about Ae-shin claiming to be a blame and watches the pinwheel fall into the mud. He walks through the rainy night and comes face-to-face with Ae-shin on a bridge. Eugene stops and stares at her, but Ae-shin slowly walks past him without engaging. As she passes by him, she notices the red pinwheel in his hand.
At the medicine shop, Ae-shin looks deflated and pulls out the letter addressed to Eugene. She doesn’t it and just stares at Eugene’s name.
At the embassy the next day, Eugene asks Gwan-soo if he knows anything about Wan-ik. Gwan-soo makes the jump in logic that Wan-ik must have been the one who wanted to kill Eugene, and he explains that Wan-ik is behind Lee Duk-moon, who acted as Kim Yong-joo’s proxy. Gwan-soo wonders why Wan-ik would want to kill Eugene, but Eugene thinks that they just wanted to threaten him. If they wanted to kill him, there was no reason for Kim Yong-joo to sneak into his room — they could have just shot him from afar.
Eugene says that he’s waiting for their next move, but he doesn’t know Wan-ik well enough. Gwan-soo shares that Wan-ik is rumored to have the support of Japanese prime minister Ito Hirobumi, which is why people have been opposing Wan-ik’s appointment into the royal court. But this refusal to appoint Wan-ik has coincided with the consecutive deaths of the foreign ministers, which is rumored to be Wan-ik’s doing.
Gwan-soo adds that he’s witnessed a strange sighting in Hamgyeong, where he saw pictures of Wan-ik’s legal wife being posted on bulletins. Wan-ik isn’t looking for his wife, since he remarried to a Japanese woman; rather, it seems that Glory Hotel owner Hina is searching for her. Not knowing that Hina is the daughter, Eugene finds this news strange — why would Hina be searching for Wan-ik’s wife?
In her room, Hina looks at the autopsy report and then to her mirror to check on her wound from her fight with Ae-shin. She flinches at her painful bruise, but she seems impressed by this gun-wielding noblewoman. Ae-shin also flinches at her busted lip and wonders why Hina would want the autopsy report.
At the inn, Ae-shin delivers the interpreters’ reports to Seung-gu. He asks if she found any other relevant documents, and she says that she didn’t, even though she immediately thinks about the autopsy report. Seung-gu thanks her for helping, and she responds that this was her decision.
Seung-gu asks if she resents him, but Ae-shin says that she’s thankful that Seung-gu stopped her when he did because she would have impulsively run to Eugene. But when she stopped, she was able to think. She thought about all the moments she met Eugene — his decision and her decisions.
She reflects, “His decisions were always quiet, heavy, and they appeared selfish and cold. But he was always walking in the right direction. That’s why I don’t regret any feelings I had for him. I cannot return to when I didn’t meet him, and it’s right for me to lose him now. Because if I don’t, I think I will risk too much.”
Eugene interrogates Kim Yong-joo, who’s somewhat come to his senses. He asks why Yong-joo searched his room and his relationship with Wan-ik, but Yong-joo doesn’t answer anything. Eugene wonders if Yong-joo already knows that he’ll be released, since he seems to be comfortably killing time.
Eugene shows Yong-joo the picture of his comrades, and that gets a visceral response. Yong-joo lunges forward trying to grab the picture from Eugene’s hand, and Eugene asks who these people are. Thinking back to Ae-shin’s mother and her last words, Yong-joo responds in Mandarin that he killed one person and two others will kill him. Before Eugene can hear his response in Korean, they’re interrupted by a soldier summoning Eugene to meet with Allen. Eugene sighs, realizing that he’s already out of time.
In a quick flashback, we see that Wan-ik had offered the duffel of money to Allen to bribe him to release Yong-joo. Back at the embassy, Allen orders Eugene to release Yong-joo, since locking up an innocent Joseon man looks bad for the American reputation. Eugene reasons that an American was attacked by this man, but Allen says that it’s their job to maintain the peace in Joseon.
Allen quotes a proverb: “Blood is thicker than water.” Eugene takes offense to this pointed comment implying that Eugene is considered a Joseon person in this situation. Allen orders Eugene to stay quiet on this issue before he’s transferred to another country, in accordance to his request.
Eugene hands over Yong-joo to the Joseon police and tells Duk-moon that whoever planned this scheme was smart, since the Joseon jail is the safest place for this criminal. Eugene hands over Yong-joo’s belongings without the photo, and Yong-joo realizes this, he screams manically for it. But Eugene feigns ignorance and says that Yong-joo should have talked to Eugene when he had his chance. Eugene leaves, and Duk-moon tries to silence the deranged man’s threats for his photo.
Ae-shin’s servants whisper about captured Duk-moon as they pass by, and Ae-shin peeks out of her carriage out of curiosity. Duk-moon’s eyes widen in fear at the sight of Ae-shin and her striking similarities to her parents. He shivers wildly and yelps in fear, and the guards need to drag him away. Ae-shin’s servants quickly close Ae-shin’s window and usher themselves away.
Eugene meets with Hina with a question, and Hina revels in the moment in which Eugene is finally curious about her. He asks why she’s searching for Wan-ik’s wife, and her excitement quickly dissipates. She responds that she’s not looking for Wan-ik’s wife but her mother, but she also acknowledges that Wan-ik is her father.
Suspicious of Hina’s intentions, Eugene asks why Hina gave him the wrong key the day the Yong-joo broke into his room. Hina seems offended that Eugene is suspecting her to be on Wan-ik’s side, but he says that there’s no evidence to say otherwise. Hina accepts his doubts but says that the only evidence is her genuine hope that he would survive. She further explains that if she wanted him to die, she could have given him the actual key to his room, hired gangs, or poisoned his food, but she didn’t.
Hina and Ae-shin eat some PPL cake at the bakery, and they address their run-in at Wan-ik’s house. Ae-shin notes that Hina seemed skilled with the sword, and Hina explains that she fences. Hina asks about Ae-shin’s handling of the gun, and Ae-shin says that it was just the first weapon around. When asked for her reason learning fencing, Hina explains that she fences to protect herself and asks Ae-shin what she’s trying to protect, but Ae-shin doesn’t answer.
Hina asks what her cover-up was for her busted lip, and Ae-shin seethes that no one dared to ask her. Unshaken by Ae-shin’s authority, Hina says that she’s asking now. Ae-shin warns Hina not to consider this a weakness, since it could be a ticking time bomb. Hina agrees and says that they’re both hold double-edged weapons. They both agree to forget what happened that night, since neither of them seem to be willing to unveil their vulnerabilities.
Ae-shin asks Hina how she explained the bruise on her face, and Hina claims that she lied about being involved in a lovers’ quarrel. Rumors of this attracts more men to the hotel, and she benefits from the business. Ae-shin asks what she buys with all the money, and Hina playfully points to all the food in the bakery.
Ae-shin visits the U.S. embassy, where Eugene eagerly watches her arrival with the red pinwheel in hand. But Ae-shin is there on business terms and curtly asks Eugene to translate a letter. Eugene worries about her busted lip and asks if she’s been injured anywhere else, but Ae-shin only asks for his translation.
Eugene takes the letter and asks where Ae-shin got this letter addressed to him from Joseph. Ae-shin doesn’t reveal anything and demands to know the name of the sender. Eugene reveals that it’s Joseph, the missionary father-figure in his life. Ae-shin realizes that this is the American man who saved Eugene, and she listens to his translation of the warm personal letter.
At the end, Eugene translates a line asking about the woman Eugene mentioned in their last correspondence. Ae-shin’s eyes widen at the mention of her, and Eugene asks once again why Ae-shin has this letter. She asks for the letter back and doesn’t answer his questions. She promises to return the letter to him once she’s done it and if he’s still in Joseon then.
As Ae-shin walks out, she stops to ask one more question about why he decided to return the banknote to Joseon, if he intended to let Joseon get ruined. Eugene says that he must have done that so that Ae-shin would look back on him one more time like she just did. Ae-shin tries not to let her emotions overcome her and walks out.
Hee-sung brings his pocket watch and sets out to manage his guilt. His first stop is the police station, where he meets with the police chief. Chief Jung welcomes him with a smile and shares that he’s greatly indebted to Hee-sung’s grandfather. Hee-sung acknowledges this, and that’s when their pleasantries end. Hee-sung shows him the ledger that his grandfather passed down to him and says that his grandfather told him to reference these people during hard times.
Hee-sung flips open the ledger to show Chief Jung his name and asks for money. Chief Jung tries to avoid the transaction by claiming that he’s busy with an investigation, but Hee-sung insists that Chief Jung provide the money immediately since he’s so busy. Chief Jung laughs deliriously, and Hee-sung hilariously mirrors his excessive laughter.
Next stop is the post office, and Hee-sung slips open the ledger to claim money from the post office owner. The owner makes an excuse that he’s busy with work, and Hee-sung once again offers to take the money immediately so that the owner can focus on his work.
Hee-sung sits down at an eatery to have some soup, and he comments on how his pocket watch noisily keeps ticking away. A passerby recognizes Hee-sung and splashes a bucket of water on him. He asks if his pocket watch is still working after ten years, and Hee-sung realizes that this is the man that his grandfather stole land from to afford the pocket watch.
The owner of the shop yells at the man for dumping water on such a prominent person like Hee-sung, and she swears that she won’t buy water from him any longer. The man doesn’t care and abandons his gear before storming off, and Hee-sung asks the shop owner for a favor — that she continue to buy that man’s water.
Hee-sung sets the dropped water buckets, and as he walks away, he runs into Eugene. It seems that Eugene witnessed the whole situation, and he offers his handkerchief. Hee-sung says that he’s used to it, and he’s willing to accept their wrath. He says that one of them is bound to feel pity for him, and he finds comfort in the fact that pity is also affection. But Hee-sung doesn’t take Eugene’s handkerchief, saying that he won’t accept his affection. Hee-sung walk home shivering in his drenched clothing, and Eugene watches him with a pitiful look.
When Eugene returns to the hotel, he finds Dong-mae and his gang rummaging through 205, the room that Kim Yong-joo stayed in. Dong-mae says that he didn’t find anything significant other than a packet of opium, and Eugene asks why he’s searching the room. Dong-mae claims that he’s just bored, but Eugene can tell that he was searching for something and asks to help. Given their history with the banknote, Dong-mae declines the offer and heads out.
Eugene looks around the room and finds a letter addressed from Hamgyeong. He doesn’t open it or find it significant, but we should probably remember it for future reference.
A belligerent drunken man at Hwawollu throws the tarot card reader on the ground and scolds her for refusing to provide any services. Yujo warns the man to step away, since she’s not a geisha, but the man degrades Yujo for having the audacity to speak up against him. The belligerent Japanese man aims a gun at Yujo’s forehead and reminds him that they’re just beggars in Japan. He says that they’ve gained their status not thanks to Dong-mae but through Hayashi and other noble statesmen like him who work at the frontlines in Japan.
Belligerent demands that Yujo get on his knees or get shot pulling out his sword. Yujo insists that Belligerent shoot him, but Belligerent lowers his gun at the appearance of Dong-mae, smiling at the arrival of their real target. Dong-mae picks up the tarot reader’s book and says, “You hit her.” He reads the writing in the book, through which the tarot reader explained that she’s not a geisha, that she reads fortunes, to not hit her.
Dong-mae says that they must not be blind, since they recognize him, and asks why they didn’t just get their fortunes read. Belligerent’s friend says that they were obviously wanting more, but the wretched girl didn’t give them a chance. The friend kicks the tarot reader, and Dong-mae’s lackies draw their swords.
Belligerent points his gun at Yujo again and says that he’ll forgive them all of Dong-mae gets on his knees. He vows to teach put them in their place and teach them that they’re a different class. Dong-mae ignores Belligerent’s taunting and walks to the tarot reader to help her up. He turns her around from the scene and tells her not to look.
Then, Dong-mae swiftly grabs the sword from Yujo’s hand and slices the friend across his neck. With blood sprayed across his face, Dong-mae turns to Belligerent and confirms that they’re a different class of killers. They don’t have restrictions on who they can kill and are ready to die at any moment.
Belligerent lowers his gun and says that Hayashi will hear about this, and Dong-mae agrees that Hayashi should. Grabbing the man by the collar, Dong-mae calls him out on his idiotic hostility since Dong-mae and Hayashi maintain their diplomatic relationship with the mutual understanding that they can benefit from each other. Dong-mae looks at the slaughtered man and says that he’ll consider their check paid. He walks into his restaurant, and Belligerent fumes with rage.
The ministers siding with Wan-ik try to convince Minister Lee Jung-moon to accept Japan’s request to utilize their currency in Joseon, but Minister Lee isn’t swayed by their arguments. He knows that accepting this request will transfer more power to Japan, and Joseon will lose their sovereignty. Minister Lee erupts in anger while Wan-ik listens to the arguments.
Another minister suggests granting this request to allow for railroads to run through Joseon, but Minister Lee knows that these railroads aim to be utilized for the looming war between the Japanese and the Russians. He insists that Joseon is a self-sufficient country and has no intention to sacrifice the Joseon land and people to build railroads that will be manipulated for the war between Japan and Russia.
The ministers blame the gridlock on the foreign minister vacancy, and they point to Wan-ik as a qualified candidate. The ministers wait for Wan-ik to speak, but he bitterly says that as the Minister of Agriculture, he’s not in a position to contribute to their conversation.
As they eat, Eugene asks Gwan-soo about Ae-shin’s grandfather and his sons. Gwan-soo shares that Grandfather had two sons who both died tragically. His first son died during the anti-Catholic riots while saving villagers, and his younger son, Ae-shin’s father, returned from Japan cremated around the time of the Unyo incident. Gwan-soo tells him the names of the sons — Go Sang-jin and Go Sang-wan — and Eugene thinks back to the names on the back of Yong-joo’s photo.
Eugene visits the pawnshop to ask them to find a specific model of a gun. Il-shik complains that they’ve already done dangerous work for him and that Hanseong is becoming a dangerous place, with the foreign minister killings. In addition, they have to follow regulations, but Il-shik offers to find this gun at an expensive price.
Ae-shin sits by the river practice spot and hears rustling from afar. She points her gun toward the sound, but it’s just Eugene with a new gun in hand. He approaches Ae-shin and offers this gun as a gift to her, since she may have not held this model before. He asks if she wants to learn how to use the gun, and if she does, he offers to stay in Joseon for a little longer to teach her.
Ae-shin accepts the offer and says that she’ll take a long time to learn this gun. She makes it clear to him that she will always be Go Ae-shin, the noblewoman of the Go family, so she will never be able to stand by Eugene as an equal. But Eugene doesn’t mind this and says that he’s satisfied with the simple fact she’s in his life today.
Eugene coaches Ae-shin on lifting the gun and instructs her to practice this movement until the gun becomes lighter. He says that expert shooters like Ae-shin are called “snipers” in the U.S., and Ae-shin likes this name. Ae-shin cocks the gun, and Eugene gets close to adjust her posture before she shoots the gun off into the distance. Ae-shin remembers the night they first met and asks what Eugene was discovered for that night. She admits that her romance was discovered, and Eugene jokes that his shooting skills were discovered.
Eugene happily returns to his office and silently greets Kyle so he can scare Domi from behind. But Domi isn’t fazed at all and casually greets Eugene. Kyle delivers good news about Eugene’s relocation and tells him to choose his next destination from a list. Experiencing a sudden change of heart, Eugene takes the list and stuff it in his mouth. Kyle informs him that the list is a copy, and Eugene spits it right out.
Under Kyle’s watch, Eugene runs around the embassy as he trains with multiple bags on his body. Despite the strenuous training, Eugene smiles at the thought of his recent developments with Ae-shin.
While touching up her make-up in her room, Hina hears the sound of footsteps and a cane. The sound grows louder, and she opens her door to find Wan-ik. Hina immediately rings the bell to summon the reception desk, and Wan-ik asks if she stole the autopsy report from his house. She plays dumb, and when the worker at reception arrives, she tells him that they’ll talk later.
Wan-ik closes the door to Hina’s room and asks why she took the other documents in addition to the autopsy report. Hina continues to play dumb, and Wan-ik commends his daughter but says that she has ways to go before she catches up to him. Wan-ik reveals that he bought the autopsy report before Dr. Machiyama could share the document with Kudo’s daughter (Hina’s stepdaughter).
Hina asks why he didn’t just kill the doctor if he wanted to do her a favor, and Wan-ik says that these guys make the best dogs. He plans to position Dr. Machiyama as the royal physician. Then, Wan-ik notices the bruise on Hina’s face and tells her to take good care of her face since she needs to get remarried. He leaves Hina’s room, and she looks a bit shaken up.
On his way out, Wan-ik runs into Eugene, who he’s met briefly when he bought the house from Mrs. Taylor. Wan-ik shares that he was robbed recently, and Eugene says that he also had an intruder break into his room. Eugene mentions that the intruder seemed to be good friends with Wan-ik’s assistant, and Wan-ik pretends that this is news to him.
Wan-ik then asks if Eugene is married, and they look to Hina, who’s watching them from her window. Wan-ik reminds him to lock his doors before limping away, and Eugene comments that Wan-ik exceeds all expectations.
When Eugene enters the hotel, Hina asks him what they talked about. Eugene says that Wan-ik asked if they were married, and Hina tells him to just say he’s a patriot next time. She offers to prepare warm water, and Eugene smells himself to check if his body odor from training is obvious.
Dong-mae revisits Jemulpo and thinks back to shooting Ae-shin in the leg. He realizes that she must have taken a hard fall from so high up. Yujo asks why he came back here, and Dong-mae says that he plans on visiting the temple since time won’t go fast enough.
At the temple, a monk scorns the Japanese man for visiting the temple, but she quickly become amicable when Dong-mae speaks Korean. He asks about Ae-shin visiting in her mourning garment, and the monk explains that her parents’ mortuary tablets are hosted there.
Dong-mae finds the mortuary tablets and greets Ae-shin’s parents respectfully. He says that he somehow ended up here after following Ae-shin and asks if they know what she does. He then asks if they know she does the work because he can’t understand why.
He looks down at his sword and apologizes for showing up with his weapon. He admits that the first person he cut was Ae-shin, and he thinks back to the stinging curse at young Ae-shin for being a spoiled noblewoman. He confesses, “I chose the sharpest words to cut her. Did they hurt her? While I hope that she still hurts, I also hope that she’s completely forgotten. Even though I hide her and pretend to not know, I wouldn’t have a chance, would I?”
Ae-shin and Eugene enjoy chicken soup in separate but adjacent rooms, and Ae-shin suggests an alternative way to exchange letters. She says that she can utilize market days to visit the medicine shop and drop off her letter in a specific plant medicine box. On days that she can’t exchange letters because she’s working as a sniper, Ae-shin says there will be a red pinwheel at the medicine shop. Eugene remembers this from her last mission and belatedly realizes this message.
They go to the frozen river, and Eugene asks if Ae-shin returned his music box as a farewell gesture. She denies this and claims that it was just an indication that she stopped by. She asks the same question about why Eugene returned the music box to her, and Eugene says that it was a farewell gesture indicating that he was leaving. Ae-shin curses at him and says that she really thought he left. Eugene teases her further, asking if she cried, and Ae-shin lies that she just cursed him.
Ae-shin admits that she visited more than that one time to return his music box, since she couldn’t send letters to illiterate Eugene. To prove that he’s not completely illiterate, Eugene writes Ae-shin’s name in the air but admits that he just memorized the spelling of her name. Eugene claims that he knows how to read and write English, Japanese, and Chinese — he just doesn’t know Korean. Ae-shin says it’s a relief and teases him by saying that she thought she would have to draw pictures to communicate.
Eugene says that he missed her, and Ae-shin looks touched by his sudden confession. He claims that he can write the phrase as well, but he struggles to spell out the words fully. Then, Eugene asks if Ae-shin has seen the ocean, and she says that she did at Jemulpo, though she was busy shooting. She shows off that she learned the word in English and lists of the ‘S’ words: “Sea, sunrise, sunset, sunshine.” Eugene proposes that they go see the sunrise at the sea, and though it may be difficult, Ae-shin agrees that they should go sometime.
Eugene sneaks into the medicine shop and eagerly searches for the medicine box with Ae-shin’s letter. He finds Ae-shin’s letter sharing that she learned the word “zebra” and asking if such striped horses really exist. When Ae-shin opens the medicine box, she finds the box full of flowers and a written response explaining that Domi had brought them to the embassy. He asks if she’s smiling and says that the wind must have blown the flowers off the tree to make her smile.
Eugene returns to the medicine shop and trips over his own feet trying to read his next letter. Ae-shin writes that they should go see the sea, the vast one that he’s seen, the one that he crossed for over a month. She proposes that they also watch the sunrise at this sea.
On horseback, Eugene and Ae-shin ride through the hills headed toward the sea — just the two of them reveling in their moment together.
Honestly, I let out a couple laughs in the last few scenes because this romance between Eugene and Ae-shin doesn’t quite make sense. They were apart and miserable because they decided that they couldn’t just ignore their class disparity, and now they’re happy and adorable because they chose to ignore the existence of social status. If there was a reason for Eugene’s sudden change of heart, it went over my head, and I shouldn’t be thinking this hard to identify the logical justification for his decision to stay. I’m all for breaking the status quo and destroying the social class hierarchy, but this romantic development felt incredibly choppy and contrived. And while they do have a fun and cute relationship, the cute wasn’t enough to cure my whiplash. The moment before the romance turned illogical or got amnesia, Eugene commented on how the pawnshop duo’s logic made no sense, and I can’t help but extend that statement to his logic.
Despite the revival of the romance being a main plot point in this episode, I was more drawn to our other characters facing their own vulnerabilities. I find Hina’s relationship with Wan-ik so intriguing, since I can see Wan-ik’s one true weakness being Hina. He’s a ruthless and repulsive man, but I do believe that he’s somewhat protective of Hina in a twisted way. She’s not afraid to become more twisted and crueler because of him, and it seems that only Dong-mae has been privy to this darker side of Hina. I’m fully on the Hina/Dong-mae ship, even though every episode never fails to remind us that this is an impossible pair. You can’t watch Dong-mae bare his heart to Ae-shin’s parents and think that he could love anyone else.
Meanwhile, Hee-sung is crawling out of his dark cave of apathy and to finally address the demons that he inherited. He strives to be a different noble — much like Ae-shin — and I like the hints of this real Hee-sung peeking out of his playboy façade. Hee-sung seems ready to accept the consequences of his family’s sins, and I’m excited to see him develop his sense of purpose as he commits to being Ae-shin’s bright smiley shadow.