Memories of the Alhambra: Episode 8

As our protagonist moves deeper and deeper into the unpredictable world of the game, he continues to uncover secrets that only lead to more questions. Thankfully he seems to be closing in on the how of whatever is happening to him, if not the why. How do you fight an enemy that has no reason for trying to kill you? The game is proving itself dangerous, but our hero would be wise to keep in mind that the world outside of the game still holds its own dangers.

 
EPISODE 8 RECAP

Jin-woo tells us in voiceover that when he left Granada, he thought he’d see Hee-joo again soon, when Se-joo returned. He’d instructed Secretary Seo to answer Se-joo’s emails as if he were him so that his family wouldn’t worry.

He’d gotten a call from “A” immediately after his confrontation with NPC Hyung-seok in the shower. “A” had told him that he’d looked into this Marco person’s address, and that he’d learned Se-joo’s whereabouts on the day he called Jin-woo.

Jin-woo had gone to Barcelona to look for Se-joo, and he’d found Marco’s apartment in worse shape than Se-joo’s room, if that’s possible. “A” had told Jin-woo that Marco Han was a 23-year-old student from Korea who had dropped out of school and worked as a hacker. Marco was a drug addict who owed a lot of money to his suppliers, and he’d met Se-joo while playing online games.

It was Marco who took the game to Hyung-seok, claiming to have been the primary creator, with Se-joo working as his assistant. He’d demanded ten million won plus profit shares for the rights to the game, and had given Hyung-seok one day to play the game and make up his mind.

Hyung-seok hadn’t seemed that interested until Marco mentioned offering the game to J.One if Hyung-seok turned it down, arrogantly taunting Hyung-seok with the fact that he already had Jin-woo’s phone number. Later he’d called Se-joo and told him that he had Hyung-seok on the hook, but not to mention this to his family yet lest they ruin the deal.

Hyung-seok, Marco, and Se-joo had all left Barcelona for Granada the day before Jin-woo did. For some reason, Se-joo had gone back to Barcelona alone, had called Jin-woo from the train station in a panic, then had boarded the train back to Granada a second time.

Marco had also been missing ever since he left for Granada, but two months later, while getting treatment in America, Jin-woo learned that Marco’s body was found in a wooded area, but that his body was too decomposed to determine cause of death. And even in America, Jin-woo was haunted by the in-game version of Hyung-seok, which left him wondering if he’d die before he ever got the chance to tell Hee-joo that her brother is still missing.

But now that he’s run into her, he’s gotten that chance, though she’s already guessed that he’s been answering Se-joo’s email. Hee-joo sobs that she trusted Jin-woo and worried about him, and was heartbroken by the way he left Granada. But Jin-woo just reminds her that he warned her not to trust him or she’d regret it.

He also says that she guessed correctly — he only bought the hostel in order to obtain the license for Se-joo’s game. He tells Hee-joo how Se-joo called him, asked him to meet in Granada, then disappeared. He says that he paid her so that Hyung-seok couldn’t get the license, and that the contract is legal, even if it feels unfair.

Hee-joo just cries silently as Jin-woo tells her everything, but she quickly wipes her tears when she hears Grandma and Min-joo arriving home. They’re surprised and happy to see Jin-woo, and they make a big fuss over him as Hee-joo retreats to the restroom to cry for her brother.

Eventually Grandma realizes that she hasn’t seen Hee-joo, and when she finds her, she tells her to come say goodbye to Jin-woo. He’s gone when she emerges, so she chases him outside, but he’s driving away. He texts her that they’ll talk another time, and she calls him, asking angrily if he’s running away again.

She spits that she knows now why he left Granada so abruptly — because he’s a fraud, and he couldn’t handle the lies he was telling. She’s crying again as she sobs that she spent her energy pitying and nursing Jin-woo instead of worrying about her brother, but Jin-woo hangs up in the middle of her sentence.

She’s still standing there, soaked and gasping, as Jin-woo’s car backs up to pull alongside her. Jin-woo tells Hee-joo to get in, since what they need to discuss shouldn’t be said in front of her family. Hee-joo gets in and they drive away, unaware that Min-joo witnessed everything.

In the car, Jin-woo says that he should have written the emails so she wouldn’t have guessed the truth. Hee-joo looks at him like he’s crazy, asking if he has a conscience, but he says his life is too screwed up for him to afford the luxury of a conscience.

He says he’s sorry, but he ignored other people’s feelings out of desperation. He offers Hee-joo a sip from his flask to warm up, then takes a drink when she just glares at him.

Elsewhere, Secretary Seo sits down to talk with Director Park. He tells Director Park that he truly sees Hyung-seok covered in blood and holding a sword. He explains that it started a month ago when he and Jin-woo became allies in the game.

He’d tolerated Jin-woo’s grinding (fighting in-game enemies just to gain experience and level up) in the old school building, since he’d seemed better than he’d been in America, but eventually Secretary Seo got bored. So he had started playing the game, using the smart contacts.

He’d had trouble playing alone, so he’d requested an alliance with Jin-woo to help him level up. Jin-woo had objected, but when Secretary Seo said he might be able to help him if he were stronger, he’d reluctantly agreed to the alliance. Awww, he’d even tossed Secretary Seo his old assassin’s blade.

Following Jin-woo around helped Secretary Seo level up quickly, and before long, he saw Hyung-seok show up just like Jin-woo described. He’d slashed Hyung-seok as he was about to attack Jin-woo, and Hyung-seok’s counter-attack had sliced Secretary Seo’s arm painfully. Thankfully, Jin-woo had noticed what was happening and thrown a dagger into Hyung-seok’s back before he could seriously injure Secretary Seo.

Secretary Seo tells Director Park that the cut on his arm from Hyung-seok actually hurt, unlike blows from other NPCs. Director Park just thinks that being around Jin-woo has made Secretary Seo delusional, and Secretary Seo shakes his head, saying that he thought the same about Jin-woo before, but now he knows he’s completely sane.

Director Park remembers earlier today, when Jin-woo told him that he’d continue to trust him, but he’d requested that the launch of the game be delayed. Director Park had literally collapsed on Jin-woo’s desk, whining that canceling at this late date makes no sense. But Jin-woo had argued that with Secretary Seo now seeing Hyung-seok, Director Park has to admit that it’s the game that’s crazy, not him.

Min-joo waits up for Hee-joo, though she lies to Grandma that Hee-joo already came home and went to bed. Eventually Jin-woo brings Hee-joo back, but she’s sick and unconscious after getting caught in the rain. Jin-woo’s driver piggybacks Hee-joo inside, and Jin-woo follows them to Hee-joo’s room.

He apparently took Hee-joo to a doctor, and he leaves behind some medicine. Min-joo says that she covered for Hee-joo because she was embarrassed for her sister, who (she assumes) chased Jin-woo’s car and stayed out late with him for romantic reasons, but Jin-woo quips that Hee-joo actually hates him right now.

He asks for five minutes alone with Hee-joo, and Min-joo, grinning cheekily, allows it. He thinks back to his conversation with Hee-joo, when he’d shown her the info he has on Marco and told her that he’s dead, possibly even murdered. He explains that he didn’t tell her about Se-joo’s disappearance partially because if the police find out that he’s been missing since Marco’s death, Se-joo would become a murder suspect.

He tells Hee-joo honestly that Se-joo might have killed Marco then gone into hiding, no doubt thinking of his own fight with Hyung-seok, but Hee-joo denies the possibility. Jin-woo steps outside the car to give her privacy to cry over her brother’s picture, and while he’s out there, Hee-joo passes out.

Now she wakes in her own bed, and Jin-woo assures her that the documents she saw are all factual, and more detailed than the police reports. Hee-joo reluctantly thanks him for trying so hard to find Se-joo, and she says it’s time she also did something about it.

She tells Jin-woo to leave her house and never come back or contact her, and he agrees, though he promises to have Secretary Seo call her if they find anything. Before he goes, he tells Hee-joo, “Se-joo is alive. We just haven’t found him yet. Don’t worry too much.”

Hee-joo retorts that there wasn’t much hope in those documents she saw, but Jin-woo says there’s no reason to despair, either. He says he can’t prove it yet, but he’s sure Se-joo is alive, and that the only reason he didn’t tell her all this sooner was because he thought he’d have found Se-joo by now.

Hee-joo asks why Jin-woo came here today, when his plan was to wait until after he found Se-joo. He confesses that he missed her, then tells her to be well and leaves. Min-joo walks Jin-woo to his car and guesses that he won’t be coming back. She asks why, disappointed, and he tells her that it’s not that he doesn’t want to, but that he can’t.

Jin-woo has his driver leave the car with him, and he heads to the abandoned school where he works on leveling up. He waits in the car until he gets a text from Young-joon, Yu-ra’s manager, who says he received the package from Jin-woo.

Earlier in the day, Jin-woo had called Young-joon to ask why Yu-ra claims to have just returned from nursing him in America when he’s been in Seoul for months. He’d said that he knows what she was really doing in the States, and even has photos.

Young-joon had switched from smarmy and confident to stammering and scared as Jin-woo told him that he sent them a package. Jin-woo told him to contact him as soon as he got it, and that he wants the divorce settled within the week.

The package contained pictures of Yu-ra and Young-joon canoodling together — no wonder Young-joon looked terrified. He texts Jin-woo that Yu-ra is upset by the pictures, and that he’ll get back in touch when they decide what to do.

Jin-woo heads into the school building, thinking that there was something he wanted to tell Hee-joo if he ever saw her again — that he was sick of fake tears (Yu-ra) and tears filled with excuses (Soo-jin). So seeing Hee-joo cry for him at the train station when he wasn’t even there, and the fact that she looked after him while he was sleeping after his accident, meant a lot to him.

Professor Cha shows up at J.One the following day to speak to Director Park about Jin-woo. Director Park tells him that Jin-woo hasn’t shown up to work after that first day, reluctantly admitting that he’s playing the game instead. Director Park isn’t happy to hear that, especially since Jin-woo ordered them to delay the game launch.

We cut to Jin-woo on top of the school, picking off NPCs on the ground with a sniper rifle. Director Park tells Professor Cha about Jin-woo’s claim that the game is broken, not him, and that whatever is happening to him is the same thing that caused the two young developers to go missing.

We see that Jin-woo is now level 88, giving him the third highest ranking behind Marco (“Marco,” level 92) and Se-joo (“Master,” level 94). Yang-joo previously showed this to Director Park, who guessed that “Master” was Se-joo, but they had no idea who the player “Marco” is.

Jin-woo’s plan is to reach the level that Marco and Se-joo were at when they disappeared and hopefully discover what happened to them. Professor Cha correctly deduces that Jin-woo thinks his son, Hyung-seok, was killed by the game, and Director Park has to admit that that’s what Jin-woo has come to believe.

After hearing Secretary Seo’s story, Director Park had gone to see Jin-woo, and in desperation to know the truth, he’d offered to play the game and become Jin-woo’s ally to learn if he could see Hyung-seok, too. Jin-woo had refused, saying it’s too dangerous. He had attempted to break his alliance with Secretary Seo after learning that he could see Hyung-seok, but even Yang-joo’s advanced hacking skills couldn’t do it.

Director Park smirks that by refusing to let him see for himself, Jin-woo may as well admit that he’s hallucinating. He asks how Jin-woo expects to convince him to delay the game if he won’t show him why, but Jin-woo snaps that he’s not trying to convince him, he’s ordering him.

Director Park relays all this to Professor Cha, who says that if Jin-woo hasn’t improved in the last year, and he won’t prove that what he’s experiencing is real, then he’s not fit to be CEO. He tells Director Park to think of a way to remove Jin-woo without harming the company in the process.

The school grounds are practically carpeted in dead NPC bodies as Jin-woo grinds his way up to level 90. He lies down right there on the ground to rest, but when he hears a hawk’s cry, he opens his eyes. Whatever he sees in the sky makes him sit up and pay attention.

Sang-bum is surprised to learn from Min-joo that Hee-joo is headed back to Granada to be in her friend’s wedding, mostly because the friend already got married a month ago. Hee-joo shows him the documents that Jin-woo gave her about Se-joo’s disappearance, making Sang-bum feel vindicated in his distrust of Jin-woo.

He tells Hee-joo that everyone thinks Jin-woo killed his friend then went free by pretending to be crazy, but she says she has to go back to look for Se-joo. Sang-bum wants to go with her, but she says that she doesn’t want her family to be suspicious, so she needs him here.

He relents and drives Hee-joo to the airport, but after she boards her flight, Sang-bum calls her to say that he’s coming to Granada tomorrow, and hangs up before she can argue. Min-joo calls to say tell Hee-joo that she’s in Jin-woo’s office (he’s friends with the owner of an agency where she’s auditioning to be a trainee), and he walks in while they’re on the phone.

He asks to talk to Hee-joo, and when she fusses at him for breaking his promise, he says that Min-joo called him first. He gets her attention by saying that he has some information on Se-joo, so she needs to get off the plane. He tells her that she won’t find Se-joo in Granada or anywhere else, but that he can prove Se-joo is alive.

We go back to the moment when Jin-woo heard the hawk’s cry, and as he watched the raptor circle overhead, the game informed him that he found a special item — the Citadel’s Hawk, which can only be seen by players level 90 and above.

Jin-woo had followed the game’s directions and reached up to the hawk, and it had flown down to land on his wrist. The game had told Jin-woo, “A messenger from ‘master’ has arrived.”

 
COMMENTS

Oh, this just gets better and better! I love how the general rules of gaming limit Jin-woo as to what he can do, and how he’s being smart about using this particular game’s features to learn more about Se-joo. He had to have known that both Marco and Se-joo were above level 90, so it’s brilliant of him to think of leveling up in order to experience whatever they experienced. This messenger (and I love that it’s a hawk — someone must be playing Assassin’s Creed) must be critical to unlocking the clues, and its discovery makes me feel like Jin-woo is very close to finding out something that will lead him to Se-joo. I can’t wait to see Jin-woo launch a rescue operation to save Se-joo, and himself, from whatever it is that the game is doing to them.

I’m finally starting to see some interesting qualities in Hee-joo, which is good given that we’re now halfway through the show. She hasn’t got much of a stand-out personality, but I actually kind of like that she’s just a normal person caught up in an unusual situation. She seems very astute, which makes sense for someone who’s spent a large number of years taking care of her entire family. She called Jin-woo on his bullshit the very first day they met, and she figured out that the emails she was supposedly getting from Se-joo were actually from Jin-woo. She even put together that he’d lied about his reason for buying the hostel. I like that she’s not scared to stand up to Jin-woo, mostly because she didn’t know he was a rich, powerful man when she first met him, but she still gave it to him with both barrels after learning exactly who he is and how he cheated her. I love that Hee-joo has that fighting spirit, because I’m hoping that she ends up in the game with him, fighting side-by-side Jin-woo and Secretary Seo to take down Jin-woo’s personal demon.

I also find Jin-woo’s explanation for why he’s developed a fondness for Hee-joo when they barely knew each other quite logical and plausible. He’s probably spent most of his adult life surrounded by people who want something from him because of his money and status, so the fact that Hee-joo cared for him without really knowing his public image was significant. Hee-joo cared for him simply because she cared for him, not because she could gain anything by being associated with him, which means that she’s the one person in Jin-woo’s life that sees him for who he truly is. It makes sense that he would care for her back, and even if it’s not really a romantic sort of caring at this point, it’s the kind of awareness that can turn into love if nurtured in the right way.

The game makes such an intriguing antagonist, because as far as we know, it hasn’t developed self-awareness. It has no feelings, no emotions, and no motive (that we know of) for stalking Jin-woo with Hyung-seok’s image, or for whatever it did to Se-joo and Marco. It seems to be completely harmless to most players, since the testers haven’t had anything bad happen to them. And for Se-joo and Marco, the game behaved itself until they were both above level 90, while it dragged Jin-woo and Hyung-seok in when they were only level 4. The only thing connection that Jin-woo and Hyung-seok might have in common with Se-joo and Marco is possible only if Se-joo and Marco had a falling out and became enemies, and fought each other in the game.

So my theory is that Se-joo and Marco had a disagreement over selling the game to Hyung-seok (which would explain Se-joo’s call to Jin-woo when he called Hyung-seok a bad man) and that they fought it out in-game. Se-joo must have won, and the game caused Marco to die for real. That’s probably when Se-joo called Jin-woo, then disappeared on the train (and I went back and checked — when Se-joo opened the door on the train, the person on the other side was wearing Marco’s blue plaid shirt and cross earring, so at this point I’m going with it being a game-generated NPC of Marco who attacked Se-joo). It could have something to do with their former friend status turned to anger, but that would require the game to be able to read its players’ thoughts. I haven’t seen any evidence that the game has any sort of awareness, but at this point I feel like anything is possible!

Editor’s Note: Please don’t discuss spoilers because we’d hate to delete your comment! This includes anything shown in previews.

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