Mr. Sunshine: Episode 13
It seems that everyone’s fate lies in someone else’s hands. In Ae-shin’s case, her fate relies on those who know her secret and whether they choose to protect her. Dong-mae’s fate seems to have always relied on Ae-shin, but he willingly gives it up to her. Hina’s fate relies on her father’s reach, and she desperately tries to escape his grasp. Much like Hina, Hee-sung’s fate lies in the shadow of his father and grandfather, though he seems to suffer through the fate befallen on him. As for Eugene, his fate seems to rely on everyone—his saviors, his known enemies, his unknown enemies, and his admirer.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Eugene and Ae-shin ride through the hills on horseback on their way to the ocean. As Ae-shin catches up to Eugene, her hat flies off into the water, which is apparently the only thing disguising her as a man. Eugene puts his hat on Ae-shin, and she gets all giddy about him fixing the hat on her.
Ae-shin wonders if Eugene knows where they’re going, and he says that he’s following a map and heading east — toward the sun, into the fireworks. They laugh at his cheesy firework reference (what Ae-shin calls herself) and head on their way.
At the shore, Eugene prepares canned food, and Ae-shin comments that there are many fascinating things in this world: this novel food, the sound of the waves, and the horizon. She says that her imagination was limited and asks if Eugene misses anything in the U.S. beyond that horizon. He shares that he misses a few things, like the books, music, and hamburgers. (Googled it and yes — hamburgers were invented and popularized by this time.)
Ae-shin marvels at the canned food and asks if this hamburger tastes better than her current meal. Eugene finds her reaction adorable and watches her enthusiastically eat her meal. Ae-shin asks who he’s learning Korean from, and Eugene admits that Domi, the young boy worker at the embassy, is his teacher — a strict one, in fact.
She then asks who taught him English and wonders if it was the man he’s exchanging letters with (Joseph). Eugene explains his hardships in the U.S. and how everything seemed so big to him when he arrived — the land, the buildings, the people, even the sky. He followed Joseph because he believed that was his only way to survive. He says that he probably would have died without Joseph.
Ae-shin takes out the letter and offers to return it to him, but Eugene looks doubtful. She says that she can always take it back, so he snatches it out of her hand. Ae-shin asks why Eugene’s name is the same in Korean and English, and he explains that a name with the same pronunciation exists in English, meaning great and noble. Eugene credits Joseph for allowing him to live with this name. Ae-shin says that the name fits him, and Eugene jokes that he had a difficult time living up to it.
Ae-shin asks what Eugene will write in response to the letter, which asked how he’s doing with Ae-shin. Eugene says that he’ll write about going to the ocean but not seeing it because he was focused on seeing this one woman. He says that he’ll write that it’s unfair because this woman saw the ocean while enjoying canned food.
Eugene then offers coffee to Ae-shin, and she remembers it just being bitter. She takes a sip, and he asks expectantly if it tastes bitter today. Ae-shin says that the coffee tastes sweet today and says that she must be harboring a futile hope that she’ll one day travel further than she did today. Eugene asks where that is and if he’s there with her. Ae-shin confirms that he’s there because it’s just a dream.
Ae-shin’s servants worry about Ae-shin returning before dinner, and they cover up for her absence by fooling the other workers, claiming that Ae-shin is sick. Her maid pretends to serve their brewed medicine to sleeping “Ae-shin,” aka a lump of pillows, and chugs the whole thing herself. The two servants wink at each other as they successfully fool the young servant and distract her away from Ae-shin’s room.
Hina arrives at the pawnshop while the Il-shik and Choon-shik are working on her requested posters of her mother. She’s here with another job and asks if they can copy Dr. Machiyama’s stamp on her husband’s autopsy report. They ask who this Machiyama person is, and she warns them that it’s better to stay in the dark since she doesn’t intend to use this copy for anything good.
She notices the paintings of her mother, and Choon-shik lightly jokes that he can draw Hina’s mother with his eyes closed now because he’s painted so many posters. Il-shik scolds him and tells Hina that he hopes that they’ll hear news of her mother soon. Hina looks wistfully at her mother’s painting and says that her mother in the painting is now younger than her.
Dong-mae enters the bar and finds Hina drinking on her own. The host informs him that Hina has been drinking alone since before dark, and Dong-mae wonders what demons are chasing her to make her drink in such a bright and bustling place.
Each at their separate tables, Dong-mae and Hina take shot after shot in anguish. Dong-mae remembers Hina’s vow that she won’t stand losing anything more because she’s already lost her mother, her youth, and her name: Lee Yang-hwa. Dong-mae glances over his shoulder as Hina wipes her tears that she’s been hiding for so long.
Dong-mae carries drunk Hina home piggyback and asks if she’s going to stay carried even though she’s awake. She mumbles yes, and Dong-mae doesn’t seem to mind. She asks if she’s heavy, and he confirms that she is, with all that’s weighing on her heart. Hina says that Dong-mae drinks because time won’t pass fast enough, and she drinks because time goes too fast. This must be why bars never go out of business, she drunkenly wonders.
As Eugene enters the hotel, he tries to avoid eye contact with Kyle in the restaurant but completely fails. Kyle motions him over and asks where Eugene has been all day. Eugene nervously explains that he went to the east coast to strategically scope out the area when he had the chance. He asks Kyle if anything happened at the legation, and Kyle says that there was nothing — no Eugene, no horse, no canned food. Ha.
Kyle asks Eugene if he likes to eat documents, referring to the list of potential deployment locations that Eugene requested before he decided he wanted to remain in Joseon. Kyle assures Eugene that he dealt with Allen, the U.S. ambassador, about the issue and suggests that they conduct their regular check of firearms. Eugene chokes on his beer and nervously agrees to this.
At the ass crack of dawn, Eugene wakes the pawnshop duo and urgently asks if they have any bullets. The sleepy duo is clearly annoyed, but Eugene reminds them of the young slave boy shivering in fear, hiding in the box. Il-shik and Choon-shik show him their large pot of bullets and asks him how many he needs. Eugene looks surprised at their collection and says he just needs three.
At the firearm check, Eugene unloads him gun for Kyle with all the bullets. Kyle asks how many bullets Eugene used in his confrontation with the Japanese soldier, and Eugene reports that he used exactly three. Eugene belatedly realizes his mistake as Kyle asks why his gun is then fully loaded. Kyle shakes his head and says that those canned foods were his favorite, ha! In his petty revenge, Kyle sends Eugene running around the embassy in full gear as punishment.
As Eugene runs, Domi accompanies him and asks why he’s running this time. Eugene says that he miscalculated and responded with the wrong strategy. Domi can’t make sense of this, so Eugene shoos him away, too out of breath to explain further.
Near the trolley tracks, Hee-sung reluctantly meets with his father, who stages a run-in with Wan-ik through a deliberate rickshaw collision. His father, Nobleman Kim, introduces himself to Wan-ik and apologizes profusely for their collision. He also uses this opportunity to introduce Hee-sung and provides a gift of dried fish to Wan-ik for his ambassador role in Japan while Hee-sung studied abroad there.
Wan-ik suddenly seems interested in Hee-sung after knowing that he lived in Japan, and Nobleman Kim rambles on that Hee-sung is so modernized that he’s staying at Glory Hotel while in Joseon. Wan-ik asks about Hee-sung’s stay at the hotel, commenting on the hotel owner’s bad temper as a litmus test. Hee-sung responds that his stay and the owner are both great, and Wan-ik says that he’ll visit to have coffee soon.
Then, Wan-ik asks if Hee-sung is married — his real question all along — and Nobleman Kim says that his son is engaged to Go Ae-shin. Wan-ik doesn’t seem discouraged and says that an engagement isn’t a marriage. With that, he walks away with a satisfied smile.
As they walk through the street, Nobleman Kim tells Hee-sung that Wan-ik will help him secure a stable position, and that position will take care of him. Hee-sung remembers those same words coming from his grandfather and tries to hide his repugnance as he tells his father that he’s always been given this advice. Proud of his actions, Nobleman Kim leaves Hee-sung with a smile, and Hee-sung’s face falls as he hears the booming sound of his pocket watch ticking.
Ae-shin picks out some fabric for the young girl — now the worker at Glory Hotel — who wanted to make a vest for her younger brother, Domi. Ae-shin meets the girl at the bakery for more PPL rainbow cake and offers the fabric to her as a token of her gratitude for the girl’s loyalty. She’s referring to the girl’s refusal to reveal the identity of the person she gave the banknote to, and Ae-shin assures her that she protected something great.
We finally learn the name of this young girl — Soomi — and that she has four younger siblings. Ae-shin realizes that the fabric may not be enough, but Soomi says that it’s plenty to hand down the clothes. Later that night, Soomi stitches together a vest with the blue fabric and looks at it proudly.
The next day, Domi arrives at the embassy sporting his shiny new blue vest, and Kyle compliments him in English. Domi thanks him in English, and Eugene looks surprised that Domi can understand that much. Gwan-soo comments that Domi should know that much by now and disses Eugene by instructing Domi to teach their slow learner more Korean.
At the English school, the teacher shares good news of their anticipated school supply delivery at the embassy and asks for a volunteer to practice their English through a visit to the embassy. All the students shake their head in reluctance, but Ae-shin shoots her hand up, claiming, “I can do it!”
When Ae-shin arrives at the embassy, she yells at the passing soldiers, “Come here! Come here!” While the literal translation in Korean would work as a summon, her shouts don’t make any sense to any of the Americans. Eugene witnesses this and cringes hard before saving Ae-shin from further embarrassment. He receives the document from Ae-shin and corrects her summoning to “Excuse me,” trying his hardest not to burst into laughter.
Ae-shin claims that the school sent their best student to deliver this memo, and Eugene goes along with it even though he clearly doesn’t believe her. He calls for Domi and hands him the memo, and Ae-shin recognizes his new vest. She reveals that she knows his sister, Soomi, and Domi asks if she’s the beautiful and noble person who gifted his sister with the fabric. Ae-shin smiles at the flattering comments, and Eugene rolls his eyes at Domi’s way with words.
Domi thanks Ae-shin for her generosity, and Ae-shin uses this opportunity to tease Eugene for his elementary Korean. She tells Domi that Eugene hasn’t advanced to consonant attachments, and Domi regrets that they’re working hard on the basics. Ae-shin says that he probably could only write “come here” in Korean, since that phrase has no consonant attachments. Ha!
Domi admits that Eugene is a slow learner, considering his ambition, and Eugene gets flustered by this teasing. Ae-shin laughs at his reaction, and her maid notices how brightly she’s smiling. Later that night, the maid wonders if Ae-shin looks so beautiful whenever they go there because she likes Eugene.
The maid listens to Aunt drunkenly spill her hardships about living as the daughter-in-law of the Go family. She looks for her ring in her jewelry box, but it’s not there. Of course, it’s Ae-soon’s doing, and Aunt presumes that her daughter stole the ring when she was out at her archery meeting. She remembers hearing about Ae-shin being sick that day, and the maid nervously confirms that Ae-shin had all the snot and was coughing.
Aunt says that comparatively, her daughter Ae-soon is so great at informing them that she’s healthy by rummaging through the whole house for anything valuable. She demands that the maid find the ring before Ae-soon comes back to inform them that she’s healthy. The maid assures her that she will, and Aunt takes another shot of her drink.
Ae-soon arrives home with the ring on her finger and greets a baby boy upon arrival. Another woman swats her away, telling her to keep her gambling fingers away from her son. Then, Duk-moon (Wan-ik’s assistant and Ae-soon’s husband) arrives, and the other woman greets their husband, saying that their son was waiting for him. It seems that Ae-soon yields to this woman because she doesn’t have a child of her own. Ae-soon asks her husband if she should prepare his bath or dinner first, and Duk-moon just dismisses her, saying that it doesn’t matter.
Then, he stops and remembers his conversation with Wan-ik about Nobleman Kim. Duk-moon shares that Nobleman Kim is the wealthiest person in Hanseong after the king, but he has no wealth of customs or reputation. As a result, no family wanted to become in-laws with Nobleman Kim’s family, but Duk-moon says his in-laws promised the engagement because his sister-in-law (Ae-shin) has a questionable background. Since Ae-shin was an orphan and crossed over from Japan, her true ancestry is still uncertain.
Wan-ik asks if there’s any possibility of this engagement being broken and suggests to Duk-moon that his sister-in-law shouldn’t get in the way of his success. Back at the house, Duk-moon asks Ae-soon about the progress of Ae-shin’s engagement. Ae-soon hasn’t heard much after Hee-sung returned to Joseon, and Duk-moon rebukes her for not knowing anything.
Adding fuel to the fire, the other mistress tattles about Ae-soon’s gambling habit and takes glee in watching Duk-moon slap Ae-soon for being so useless. He criticizes her for not being able to bear a child and walks away fuming.
Ae-soon approaches the baby boy and takes out a piece of bread from the bakery, saying that she had some good fortune today. Her eyes are glued to the baby as he’s carried inside by a servant, and the mistress complains that Ae-soon only bought bread for the child. Ae-soon doesn’t seem to care about the harsh words and smiles proudly about the fruit of her winnings while rubbing her slapped cheek.
The rickshaw runner from earlier reports to Hina about Wan-ik and Hee-sung’s interaction as she smokes a cigarette. He shares that Wan-ik asked if Hee-sung was married, and Hina irritably says, “Oh fuck.”
Gwan-soo is dragged to Hwawollu, the fancy Japanese restaurant/geisha house, by his Japanese interpreter friend, and they meet with Duk-moon. Gwan-soo doesn’t know how to react to their meeting, since he has no business with Duk-moon, and he squirms uncomfortably between two geishas. Duk-moon asks Gwan-soo to report on the happenings at the U.S. embassy and shows him a big duffel of money as compensation for his work. Gwan-soo chokes on his drink and looks shaken by the sheer mass of money.
At the palace, Minister Lee insists that King Gojong rest, as it’s late into the night, but King Gojong says that he’d rather exhaust his body than be woken up by nightmares. Minister Lee offers to order medicine to help him sleep, and King Gojong dismisses the rest of his servants from the court. Once they leave, King Gojong admits his suspicions about everyone in this palace and their potential association with Japan. He wonders if he could be poisoned by the medicine.
Minister Lee shares some good news about their awaited missionary arriving in Jemulpo, but the king is still anxious about being manipulated in the hands of the Japanese. He needs to urgently meet with the U.S. ambassador in China for a loan to build their own railroads before Japan seizes them.
Ae-shin checks the secret medicine cabinet for correspondence from Eugene, and she laughs when she sees that Eugene had simply written words with complex consonant attachments. She responds with, “Good job,” and Eugene laughs in delight. Ae-shin reads another letter from Eugene asking if she needs a rower for the boat, and he adds that there are eleven characters with consonant attachments in this letter.
Eugene and Ae-shin arrive at Eun-san’s home, and the apprentice is ordered to collect the broken bowls as usual. Eugene gives Eun-san a bag of beer, and Ae-shin asks if she can have one. Eun-san refuses to share and says that rich Ae-shin can go buy them herself. Ae-shin can’t believe that Seung-gu is friends with petty Eun-san, and she mutters audibly that Eun-san isn’t that great of a ceramist considering he has so many broken bowls every time.
Eugene asks if Ae-shin knows who she’s talking to, and we revisit Eugene’s sudden epiphany of the Righteous Army’s connections. Ae-shin seems completely unaware of Eun-san’s identity, and Eugene just warns her that she’ll regret this later. When Eun-san walks away to hurry his apprentice, Ae-shin tries to grab a bottle furtively from the bag. But Eun-san catches her in the act and tells her to put it down, saying that he counted exactly seven bottles.
As they walk with the bowls, Eugene shares with Ae-shin that he belatedly realized that many people helped him escape Joseon, including Eun-san and the pawnshop duo. Ae-shin says that she should treat Eun-san better, but she still thinks that he was super petty with the beer.
Eun-san watches the two with a beer in hand and wonders why Ae-shin needs a rower to accompany her if they can walk across the frozen river. He seems to suspect the answer and looks upon them with concern.
Ae-shin compliments Eugene’s improvement in Korean, and she laughs at the mention of his two words with complex consonant endings. Eugene stops to soak in her laughter, and he says that he likes to see her laugh, but fears that he may make her cry. He then shows her the photo from Kim Yong-joo (the man who betrayed Ae-shin’s parents and attacked Eugene at the hotel), but Ae-shin doesn’t recognize anyone in the photo.
Eugene reveals that one of the names of the people in the photo caught his attention: Go Sang-wan. At the mention of her father’s name, Ae-shin stares at the photo intently and admits that she didn’t know her father’s face. She says that she was told that her father met a woman in Japan and married humbly before giving birth to Ae-shin. They died soon after, and Ae-shin was sent to her grandfather.
Ae-shin tears up as she looks at the photo and says that she’s been told that she has her father’s eyes and his stubborn expression is the same as hers. Her maid had never seen Ae-shin’s mother, so she said that they could see her mother by taking out her father’s features. Ae-shin correctly identifies her father in the photo and says that she knows that this is him. She cries, and Eugene reaches his hand out to wipe her tears, but he can’t get himself to make contact.
Later that night, Ae-shin asks her maid to tell the story again — the one that starts with getting married at seventeen. As she brushes Ae-shin’s hair, the maid retells the story of being married at seventeen and arriving as a servant at this house, and first meeting Ae-shin’s father, who was fifteen at the time. He was handsome, smart, and kind to all the servants, so they all adored him.
Ae-shin thinks back to her conversation with Eugene, who took back the photo for his investigation of one person in the photo who attacked him. Ae-shin couldn’t fathom how one of her father’s friends would have any reason to attack Eugene, and he told her that the most probable explanation is that this attacker was also a traitor. He promised to share any information from his investigation with Ae-shin, as this is her only source of information on her parents.
Back to her maid’s story, Ae-shin tears up as she listens to her maid marvel at Ae-shin’s resemblance to her father whenever she gets stubborn.
Ae-shin’s grandfather stares into the night sky and wonders how much longer he’ll live. Grandfather sends his servant on an errand to retrieve items from the paper shop and find out more about where Hee-sung is staying.
A man tries to exchange Japanese money at the pawnshop, but Il-shik and Choon-shik refuse to accept it. They point to the sign on their door and claim that they don’t exchange Japanese money because of their patriotism. The man finds this ridiculous, but the duo sticks to their resolve. After the man leaves, Il-shik comments that the prevalence of Japanese money seems to indicate that a war may actually be looming and tells Choon-shik to look into the price of gold.
Dong-mae’s lackeys watch over the Righteous Army member they released, and at the dojo, Yujo asks what they should do about their men stationed in Gangwondo watching this man. It seems that this Righteous Army member is staying low and not receiving any correspondence from the organization. Dong-mae comments that this man knows how to function in an organization and wonders if he should just leave him be.
When Hee-sung arrives at the hotel, the receptionist informs him that a guest has been waiting in his room. Hee-sung enters his room to find Ae-shin’s grandfather waiting for him, and he apologizes for making him wait. He immediately bows respectfully in greeting and sits with him to discuss his engagement with Ae-shin.
Hee-sung apologizes for visiting Ae-shin without realizing that he broke traditions, but Grandfather is wise and understanding about Hee-sung’s actions. He knows that Hee-sung stayed in Japan for so long to escape the shadow of his grandfather, and Grandfather says that he allowed for this engagement because of this disposition. Grandfather says that Hee-sung should now take Ae-shin’s hand in marriage.
But Hee-sung thinks back to Ae-shin’s insistence on breaking their engagement, and he lies to Grandfather that he doesn’t like Ae-shin. Expressing the complete opposite of what he feels, he says, “The way she smiles, walks, her every glance, her every touch — I don’t like anything about her.”
Knowing Ae-shin, Grandfather says that she probably told him harsh things to break their engagement, but he asks that Hee-sung embrace all of that. Grandfather fears that he may not have much time left, and he asks Hee-sung to protect Ae-shin if anything happens to him.
As Grandfather makes his way on carriage, the servant notices Eugene approaching them on horseback, and he turns his head away to avoid recognition. Eugene hangs his coat in his hotel room, and the red pinwheel drifts to the ground. He stares at it as if it were foreshadowing some looming mission.
That night, Grandfather writes letters asserting that the Japanese are trying to use their currency to buy Joseon and its people, which will lead to a loss of sovereignty. The servant sends the letters at the post office, and the owner of the post office reads this letter, trembling as he reads Grandfather’s summoning of all the nobles to break their silence and gather at the end of the month to discuss their plan of action.
The post office owner brings this letter to Wan-ik, who seethes at this unexpected source of rebellion. He orders the post office owner to burn all the letters and vows to bury Grandfather in his grave soon.
Eugene oversees the arrival of U.S. goods at the port, and he runs into Dong-mae, who’s on his way to another job. They greet each other but stand awkwardly in silence next to each other. Dong-mae comments that they have nothing to say to each other in this uncontentious situation outside of their usual run-ins at the bar or while rummaging Eugene’s room. Eugene thinks likewise and tells Dong-mae to make lots of money. Dong-mae walks away and wonders if he should have made small talk about the weather, and Eugene notes that Dong-mae didn’t tell him to “take care” this time.
Dong-mae meets with his client at the Japanese embassy, who requests more police forces at the embassy. He seems worried about the Joseon mobs destroying the railroads and revolting, and Dong-mae listens curiously.
Joseph arrives at the U.S. embassy and leaves a bottle of liquor on Eugene’s desk. Domi arrives with tea, but Joseph tells him that he needs to leave and asks that he just deliver the bottle to Eugene.
On the train, Gwan-soo picks leaves from branches, trying to decide if he should accept the money from Duk-moon. Eugene watches this bizarre hysteria and later asks Gwan-soo what he was doing with all those leaves. Gwan-soo comes clean and reveals to Eugene that he was offered a large sum of money to report on the U.S. embassy as well as information on Allen and Eugene.
Gwan-soo expresses huge relief for finally telling Eugene the truth and says that it was worth losing the money. But Eugene tells Gwan-soo to take the money, since Duk-moon will likely solicit others at the embassy if Gwan-soo rejects the offer. Gwan-soo wonders to what extent he should report to Duk-moon, and Eugene suggests that he only tell the truth, like the fact that Eugene is smart, with a good voice and good looks. Gwan-soo adds that Eugene can’t read Korean, and Eugene corrects that to “currently learning Korean.”
Ae-shin thinks about the photo of her father, but her thoughts are interrupted by her servant delivering a letter from the temple. The monk writes about a suspicious man in a kimono asking about Ae-shin and sitting in front of the mortuary tablets of Ae-shin’s parents. Ae-shin seems threatened by Dong-mae’s investigation of her, and she makes moves to get him off her tail.
Ae-shin writes a cryptic letter to Hina requesting to meet, and they meet once again at the PPL bakery. Ae-shin asks to borrow money from Hina, and Ae-shin says that she’ll need to threaten her if Hina refuses to lend money. Hina doubts that the threats will work and says that Ae-shin will be more inconvenienced if she reports their run-in as thieves to the police, but Ae-shin says that she’ll reveal that she had a comrade to Wan-ik.
Ae-shin remembers the autopsy report that Hina took from Wan-ik’s house, and Hina correctly guesses that Ae-shin is indebted to Dong-mae, since nine out of ten debtors owe money to Dong-mae. Hina offers the money to keep Ae-shin silent about their secret, but she offers a mere coin. Ae-shin says that she has that much too, but Hina says that this amount should be enough since this will be a personal matter.
Ae-shin arrives at the dojo thanks to Hina’s intel, and Dong-mae motions his gang to leave. Dong-mae comments that Ae-shin must be interested in him to find him here, but Ae-shin corrects him to say that she’s wary of him — the person who demanded that they meet in person to repay a debt, the person who shot her leg.
Dong-mae confirms that he did shoot her, and Ae-shin asks if he plans to sell her over to the Japanese. But Dong-mae says that he intends to do nothing. Ae-shin doesn’t believe him and asks why he followed her tracks to the temple. Dong-mae insists that he mistook her that day and plans to continue to mistake her for someone else. If someone clearly recognizes her, he plans to kill that person. He claims that he needs to know Ae-shin better to protect her, so that’s why he tracked her down to the temple.
Ae-shin doesn’t want his protection, but Dong-mae reminds her that she saved his life without his permission when they were children. He asks for the money, and Ae-shin drops a bag of coins on the ground. Dong-mae takes only one coin — just as Hina had predicted — and returns the rest. He says that he won’t investigate the girl or the receiver of the banknote any further since he’s now accepted payment, and he tells Ae-shin that he’ll receive a payment every month.
Ae-shin asks if this means that Dong-mae plans to see her for their whole lives, and Dong-mae confirms this, as long as Ae-shin keeps him alive. She predicts that he won’t be able to receive all the money, and Dong-mae says that those words hurt. But he assures her that he’ll heal on his own.
At the embassy, Eugene happily reads over the letter from Joseph. Domi runs to him with the bottle that Joseph brought, and Eugene says that Joseph will likely visit again during his missionary rounds. Domi wonders what he’s reading, and Eugene plays the role of teacher now, instructing Domi to sit up straight while translating the English words.
Then, the post stamp on Joseph’s envelope catches Eugene’s eye, and he remembers the same stamp from the Hamgyeong post office on the envelope he found in Kim Yong-joo’s room. Then, Gwan-soo runs toward him with breaking news about an American man’s body found in Jemulpo. The Hanseong police have now recovered the body, and they believe it was murder.
Eugene makes his way to the police station and slowly walks toward the covered body. He notices the cross in the dead man’s hand, the same one that he carved for Joseph in his youth. Trembling, Eugene folds over the mat to reveal Joseph’s face.
Overwhelmed with sorrow, Eugene kneels down next to Joseph, and he thinks about his upbringing. We hear Joseph’s narration as we see Eugene growing up with him: “As I cut your hair and apply mere medicine to your wounds, I prayed to God to grant this foreign child freshly baked bread and clean water, to reap cold and provide warmth.”
Eugene holds Joseph’s hand and weeps, asking how they’ve been reunited like this. In his narration, Joseph adds, “It was wrong of me to say ‘mere medicine,’ as it was quite expensive for a missionary. I miss you, Eugene. I learned how to make alcohol, and I’ll try not to drink all of it on my way to Hanseong. Great and noble one, my son… wherever you are, I will pray for you.” Joseph signs off by hoping that God will be with Eugene even on nights when he doesn’t pray for him.
Ah, yet another reason to feel sorry for Eugene. I do sympathize with all the misfortune that Eugene has endured through his life, and it’s definitely shaped him to be the resilient Joseon-American whose hyphenated identity is often his greatest strength but also his greatest weakness. I do wish we had fleshed out more of Eugene’s relationship with Joseph and what exactly Joseph did to get himself killed. I presume that mystery will unfold with an investigation of his murder, but I feel like we were deprived of any hints to keep us interested in Joseph’s association to the story other than as a surrogate father to Eugene.
I am finding the interactions between Dong-mae and Ae-shin a bit repetitive now, so it was nice to have Dong-mae expressing his feelings to Ae-shin, albeit indirectly and with a confusing animosity. I think that Ae-shin still got the message that Dong-mae intends to protect her, but from her perspective, I can see how Dong-mae’s duality is quite difficult to read. He demands money, threatens, and kills, yet he’s fiercely loyal and protective. As a viewer, it’s really intriguing to watch, but I wouldn’t want to be Ae-shin, trying to figure out if this traitor wanted to kill me or protect me. Either way, I’d be frightened, and I prefer swooning from the the other side of the screen.
I think Dong-mae has the most poetic role in this show — everything he says replicates poetry because it feels so charged and loaded. He doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t need to because he just carries this aura of pain and complexity. Hina comes in as a close second, and seeing them together at the bar was one of my favorite scenes in this episode. They’re kindred lost spirits wandering together, and something about it gives me real — not futile — hope.