Soldier: Eps 11-16
Ahhhh Soldier. Every time, this drama makes me glad that I decided to watch it. It is SO GOOD. Soldier may not be that instant hit that has hordes of loyal followers even before it starts airing. But this is the kind of drama that gets you right in the gut because it’s so full of awesomeness, heart, and a few doses of reality all at the same time.
This post will focus on episodes 14-16 because they were so excellent that I felt that they overshadowed the episodes 11-13. That’s not to be said that eps 11-13 are not well done, but they are a bit more slow-paced as they lead up to all that unfolds in eps 14-16. That and also it’s been a while since I’ve watched those episodes, so the last few episodes are more fresh in my mind for a review~ This post will be confusing if you haven’t seen these episodes because this is a review, not a recap.
The First Lord. OMG, who can NOT be his fan? The buildup to the final showdown, the First Lord’s swift yet noble crackdown on the traitors, Hapha commending his son and finally handing over his position to him….epic is the word.
The First Lord could’ve executed all the traitors with no mercy whatsoever. However his noble character and his devotion to his country remain as he grants a couple of the traitors mercy. Instead of wasting their talent, why not give them the opportunity to serve their country well and do their duty? That speech was just epic. Obviously Gim Jun respected the First Lord long before his moving speech, but it’s that scene where we really see that Gim Jun completely reveres him.
I couldn’t feel any more satisfied seeing the First Lord take his rightful place as Hapha. I think Hapha gave the blank decree and told his son not to come to see him as a sort of test (and also to protect him) to see if he’s really ready to take his place. The First Lord proved that he can be a wise ruler. He has guts but he’s not reckless. As satisfying as it was to see the Second Lord’s plans fail (and in a way, for good to prevail over evil) I want to point out that I don’t think his younger brother was a complete villain. I love this drama because no one is completely good or evil. The scene where the Second Lord breaks down crying, defeated, in front of his brother, you can see how all of his ambitions and life’s work have been completely crushed. I think the drama gives us enough room to feel at least a bit of pity for a character who has everything taken away from him.
“He said that we aren’t just slaves. He said we are servants of our Lordship, and he also said we should feel very proud.”
The First Lord also unifies all sides, like when the other gyeokgu winners (who were on the second lord’s side) become friends with Gim Jun. I had a big grin on my face when all the gyeokgu participants became friends for good. Everyone takes such pride in serving Hapha.
Here’s where most of you will probably disagree with me. Like I said about the second lord, I believe that no character is completely good or bad. (Except for Man Jong, that jerk.) Obviously every character is flawed in some way. If you condemned Chun Sim as a crazy villain and Song Yi as a selfish arrogant noblelady, maybe you missed all the effort the drama put into making them HUMAN. These are 3D, human characters that cannot just be written off as selfish and depraved. I don’t condone Chun Sim or Song Yi’s actions but I can definitely sympathize with them. That being said I don’t hate these characters and the rest of my post will be quite sympathetic towards them.
Let’s start off with Chun Sim. I really didn’t want Chun Sim to turn for the worse because I’m such a fan of Kim Ha Eun and I wanted to see more of her character. However it turns out that Chun Sim’s turn is exactly what she needed so as not to remain a 1D character. Without this change, Chun Sim would’ve remained a flat and static character. Thank goodness Kim Ha Eun has the ability to pull off Chun Sim’s demise. Her performance was superb.
Leading up to these few episodes, we’ve seen a lot of people’s jealousy of Gim Jun/Wol Ah’s good fortune. To Yang Baek’s followers, it seems unfair that Gim Jun has grown so powerful so quickly and is even surpassing Yang Baek. To Chun Sim, I think the issue that sparked her revenge is that Wol Ah captured Yang Baek’s heart without even doing a thing. Chun Sim tried so hard to gain Yang Baek’s affections, pinning all her hopes for a future (aka marriage) on him, and then Wol Ah just sails in and accomplishes it in an instant. Clearly Chun Sim is over reacting to Yang Baek’s crush on Wol Ah. She already had feelings of resentment and envy toward Wol Ah, the whole Yang Baek issue only served to fuel the flame even more.
Chun Sim: “Gim Jun also refused to acknowledge your sincerity. No one else can see it, but I can. You saved his life, you made him a hero at the gyeokgu.”
Song Yi: “Yes, sometimes I also regretted and felt so empty. You must be feeling the same sadness. Seems like Yang Baek has broken your heart.”
The scene quoted above did a great job of showing Chun Sim’s desperation for someone to hear her and understand her feelings. Although Chun Sim mainly does this out of hate for Wol Ah, she could also represent Song Yi’s underlying wish to stop Gim Jun’s marriage.
On to Song Yi. Like I said before, she is way ahead of her time. Even so, she is still a product of her time and you have to think from her point of view . To someone of her status and intelligence, would it make sense to her that slaves get to marry who they love, but she doesn’t? She is strong and independent, and yet she has no say over her marriage. She feels traps and powerless…and perhaps a part of her also feels like all of this is unfair. I think Song Yi is a rather sad character because she’s stuck with social expectations of her day.
“I wanted to treat you as my future husband. But you don’t want to. You even hate me, but I still like you…I just wanted to wear my wedding clothes once.”
“I’m going to change my miserable life. Yang Baek, you must live well.”
A lot of people probably wanted Chun Sim to get the heck away from our dear Yang Baek but…this scene really got to me as well. This gets me thinking that Chun Sim knows exactly what she’s getting into, this is not just a sudden impulse…she goes willingly and knowingly toward her downfall. Talk about the human condition.
“Why did I say Gim Jun’s name?…What kind of place did he actually have in my heart?…How did it happen?..Why do I like him?”
Thankfully Song Yi is quite aware of her feelings after she blurts out that she might as well marry Gim Jun rather than Yak Seon. Clearly she’s quite troubled by her own feelings as well as her circumstances. I don’t think Song Yi was right in asking Gim Jun to give up his marriage because really, it’s not like it’s gonna help prevent her own marriage and Gim Jun has a right to his happiness too.
“I need you, really Gim Jun…Jun Ah, can you not remain by my side? Is it impossible?”
Song Yi is a woman of action and she’s not just gonna sit around lamenting her already-doomed feelings for Gim Jun. I was glad that she took her stand and didn’t hesitate to sorta-confess to Gim Jun. Gim Jun is that one source of strength that she’s placed her hopes on, and perhaps she thinks he’s the only one who will be strong enough to be by her side and get her through everything she’s facing. I’m pretty sure Song Yi already knew what the outcome of her request would be. At least she had the guts to try.
Annnnd for the other controversy surrounding Song Yi: Her ambiguous response to Chun Sim’s ominous words and questionable behavior. She knew very well that Chun Sim was up to something and yet she didn’t question her right then and there. Song Yi didn’t handle this situation as well as she could’ve…perhaps if she had gotten to the root of the issue sooner this tragedy could’ve been prevented.
Finally for Wol Ah! Before I wasn’t quite a fan of Wol Ah and I didn’t really ship her with Gim Jun because I knew their relationship was already doomed. However these episodes finally gave her a chance to show her conflicting emotions. The thing that really gets me is that THERE WERE SO MANY CLUES that something would go wrong but no one got it quickly enough. I really wish Wol Ah had followed her intuition (it seems like she hesitated when they got to the “fortune tellers place”) and not gone with Chun Sim. But of course she goes because of her trusting, innocent nature…and also perhaps she doesn’t want to doubt anyone.
:'( What can I say about this scene? AUGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. All of the cute Wol Ah/Gim Jun flashbacks just about converted me into a Wol Ah/Gim Jun shipper. And to make it even more angsty she’s remembering this before she decides to drink some poison. AUGHHHHHHH. I think her flashbacks are included to remind her of what she can never have now that she’s been violated by Man Jong. She wants to be with Gim Jun but perhaps she would be forced to marry Man Jong. She’d rather preserve her honor and choose death.
“Because I’m grateful to you, because you make me happy. Because I’m happy, orabeuni.”
Of all of Wol Ah’s lines, those two were the most significant for me. How sad is it that she says “because I’m happy” when her world has fallen down and she’s dying. :'(
Wol Ah’s death also shows the camaraderie between Gim Jun and his fellow soldiers. The way they just follow Gim Jun silently, not saying anything, but just BEING there for him shows how much they all care for him.
“Him [Gim Jun] and us are just the same, pitiful slaves. Why can’t we all just be brothers?”
It’s late and I don’t have the energy to finish up my post. I will update it and finish it later. Overall episodes 15-16 were my favorite episodes. So many great scenes just packed in one after another. I’m curious to see if Wol Ah’s death will change Gim Jun’s ways.