Shine or Go Crazy Episode 24 (Final) Recap. Good beats evil but the joy ebbs out of the last half of the episode.
At the icy cold creek…Wang So (Jang Hyuk) holds Shin Yool (Oh Yeon Seo) in his arms. She faints. He begs her to open her eyes. He calls her “Yool” “Yool, I love you.” He kisses her. No response. He wills her back to him “I said I love you Yool”. She stirs and opens her eyes. A big smile is plastered on Wang So’s face. “Do you feel better?”. Shin Yool musters a faint smile.
Loved that he finally called her “Yool”.
Back at the treatment hut…
The doctor declares Shin Yool’s circulation is improving! Baek Myo (Kim Sun Young) and Wang So are thrilled. The doctor states Shin Yool is on the upswing. Wang So drinks the warming medicine too.
As our couple lay next to each other, Wang So opens the conversation with…
WS: I hear you are the princess of Balahae. How come you haven’t told me about your past? About your hardships? Now that I think about it, I don’t know much about you.
SY: Baek Myo and Gang Myeong are always worried about me. I don’t want you to worry. I just wanted to be woman to you. A woman who spends every day with you.
WS: So that’s why you always treated me like So So. Even you when found out I was the cursed prince. I was relieved that we only thought and lived in the present moment. I was happy.
Folks, I’m glad this plot point is concluded. Shin Yool lives. Wang So’s heart is happy. Shin Yool’s heart is happy. My heart is happy. Yeon Seo looked luminous staring at him with contentment. Jang Hyuk’s tender moments are simply superb.
I know this does not guarantee they will still be living at the end of the episode but I sure hope so.
Cue Opening Credits…
Our two escaped consigned men return to the capital and head to the slave village to fight with Wang So. Gil Book tells Cheong Ok and Eun Chun (Kim Roe Ha) the rumors the village is populated by ex-Balhae natives and Shin Yool, Wang So will fight there and Wang So is the rebel leader. Eun Chun guesses that Sik Ryeom is spreading these rumors to stir people up.
Like a one man cavalry, Wang So rides back to the capital to face destiny.
Sik Ryeom (Lee Deok Hwa) holds court and tells his supporters he has proof (he holds the slave ledger from the trading company) that the late Shin Yool and Wang So were buying slaves and secretly building an army in the slave village. Not to worry, Poong will lead a army to suppress the village which will soon try and take over the capital. Bonus, Sik Ryeom will lead the army against the village insurgents and Wang So. “How can I stand idle and just watch?” Sik Ryeom argues with passion. Then he drops the bomb. After the riot is suppressed, the next stop is the palace where the new King will be installed. And the next King is…Sik Ryeom! Puppet kings are passe. He will crush the village insurgents. Sik Ryeom’s strategy is go big or go home!
Eun Chun reports to Wang So that Sik Ryeom has stirred up the slave village. Wang So assigns Gil Bok to go the trading company and get them to go to the slave village to spread the news that Shin Yool is alive. Wang So will speak with the King. Eun Chun says Poong is leading the soldiers into the capital and they will arrive tonight. We will fight them Wang So declares.
Wang So tells the King about Sik Ryeom’s scheme to install himself as the next King. The King marvels that even at the throne with full mental capacity he is clueless. Wang So urges him to act. The King asks Wang So to leave and give him a minute. It’s not everyday you abdicate the throne, you need a moment to gather yourself.
Wang So asks the King’s adviser, Ji Mong, what’s with the King? Ji Mong says the King is preparing himself for a big decision.
The time has come…
The King tells Wang So:
King: You once said you were not afraid of the dark. Find a path for this nation and lead us out of the dark.
WS: What do you mean?
King: The nation needs you, not me, to lead them. The throne is calling for you. I obtained the throne by killing my brother. Whenever I sat on the throne, it was burdensome and painful. I won’t give you that burden. Now the nation’s King is you.
WS: Your majesty.
King: What will you do? Will you refuse the throne? Will you give it to someone else?
WS: (on his knees) I cannot obey the royal command! Until you live out your life, protect this nation!
King: I’m not fit to be King. You are the one fit to be King.
WS: I can’t object your royal command! I will protect the nation by your side!
King: You are the King of the nation. I have no power or ability to keep the throne. I am a puppet King. Protect the nation.
WS: I can’t accept the throne, your majesty!
King: I abdicate the throne to Wang So! This is a royal order. It is the will of the First King who wished for the nation to flourish for 1000 years. You will led the nation from the dark and into the light.
Holding out the First King’s sword…
King: I abdicate the throne to Wang So.
The men stare at each other. It is a poignant moment.
WS: Your majesty.
You know he’s accepted his brother’s wish. Wang So is the King.
What a terrific scene. What set it apart was the intimacy and intensity.
I love the Dowager Queen reaches out and touches his hand to show her support to her son. She’s come a long way.
The former King urges the sympathetic nobles to become as one in support of Wang So.
Party at Yeo Won’s house…
With a smile Yeo Won blackmails the remaining 2 conspirators, Mok Won and Choong Hyun, to support Wang So’s rise to the throne and to abandon Sik Ryeom. If they don’t a painful death awaits them. That’s playing hardball!
The two men ponder what to do and who to choose to support.
Poong asks Sik Ryeom where are the supporting nobles. Sik Ryeom says they are being cautious and will join them once they defeat the village. Poong asks, what if we lose? Sik Ryeom is livid declaring Poong a pathetic fool.
Wang So asks why do men of the same nation fight against each other. The consigned men agree. Why do they fight each other? Wang So orders everyone to drop their swords and weapons. Sik Ryeom’s men are gobsmacked. Wang So urges them to work together for the nation not tear each other apart. The consigned men ask why must they be slaves to nobles. Wang So promises those that walk away will be able to return to their families. Sik Ryeom’s guards, the ones that let the consigned men go, decide their families are more important than dying for Sik Ryeom and throw their swords down. Many walk away from the fight.
Sik Ryeom must stem the side and strikes down on of his own men. He orders the red assassins to attack. The red and black assassins fight. Sik Ryeom and Wang So clash swords. Wang So tells Sik Ryeom he won’t kill him but the people behind him will. For the first time, Sik Ryeom is uncertain. Dare I say he has tilted into the nightmare realm? Sik Ryeom whips his sword around and into the ground. He spits out his methods were to save the nation too.
I must say if that is all the battle we get, that was anti climatic. But hey we are only half way through the episode. I’m sure the writer has more up their sleeve.
Baek Myo surprises Shin Yool (and me) when she reveals she brought her wedding dress.
Aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves? What about Yeo Won? The King nullified the engagement between Wang Wook and Shin Yool, but Wang So is still married.
Wang So teases Baek Myo not to hit him with a kettle this time. At the door to the hut, he turns and thanks Baek Myo for her unwavering support of Shin Yool. After he enters Baek Myo apologizes for not recognizing his love for Shin Yool.
Wang So sees Shin Yool in her wedding dress. We get a trip down memory lane with flashbacks. When he lifts her veil he comments that if he’d seen her face in Gaebong, he would have recognized her years later. He chides her that the first marriage he spoke of was to her. He puts a ring on her finger. They kiss. The self serve marriage is complete!
He tells her the throne was abdicated. She congratulates him. He asks her to move into the palace. The trading company family can come and go as they please. He dreams of the people trust in him. He dreams of the most important person, her, by his side. She wants him to dream and lead the nation. He asks her to help him.
Why does that sound like goodbye?
Our trading company family is reunited. Baek Myo comments that Shin Yool will soon be moving into the palace. Shin Yool counters that saying she will not move into the palace. She wants to move to west China. From there she will travel and test new trading methods. They all joke that no one can stop her.
What a minute, their reaction was subdued.
Shin Yool tells Wang So he must concentrate on winning the hearts of the people. He asks what she wants to tell him. She states she is leaving. She won’t live in the palace. He asks why she made that choice. She counters that he won’t give up the throne or the people that need him. He has dreams, she has dreams. Wang So asks shouldn’t two people in love face life together? She says their road splits now but may join again later. Wang So takes a moment. Then he asks when they meet again how should they greet each other. Shin Yool tells him to ask how’s she’s been and be happy to see her.
Am I in the twilight zone? Barely a whimper from the Wang So about Shin Yool leaving.
Looks like Wang Wook is packing up too…
Yeo Won asks Wang Wook if he’s done packing. Yes he is. He doesn’t know where he is going and that is freeing. He asks Yeo Won if she will consider living for herself instead of her family. Yeo Won says she does not know how and won’t start now. Wang Wook declares now he will learn to live for himself.
Dressed as Gaebong, Shin Yool prepares to leaving admitting she will miss Wang So. She decides her memories will bring her happiness. She tells Gyeong to buck up, sea sickness improves with each boat ride.
Ok, for a second I though she might be going solo, so I’m glad Gyeong is going with her. I’m still in shock that she’s leaving and no one fussed about this choice.
Wouldn’t you know…
Wang Wook enters the same road and pauses to look at the village. He feels the wind blow through his hands. He will go where the wind takes him. He goes in the opposite direction from Shin Yool.
Flashback to a bummed out Yeo Won. She’s alone without a friend. The camera shows Wang So is with her. She vows she can and will get behind helping the new King make this nation great. It will be a long battle she warns. Wang So vows to fight to make the nation strong.
Time jump 9 years…Government systems are reformed.
Time jump 16 years…National relief system is established.
As we saw in episode 1, the Wang So’s children scamper to the private lair. It’s a treasure trove of by gone days. An ancient Ji Mong tells the children they should not play in here, it is the King’s private space. The children fret the butterfly necklace was broken into 2 parts. He tells them the necklace was designed to be in 2 pieces.
He tells the children the story of the prince and the two princesses. As in episode 1 the children ask which princess did destiny designate for the prince? Ji Mong answers you are destined to be with the one you are meant to be with even if you try not to be with them. That is the destiny from heaven.
As the credits roll we see a dream sequence of Wang So finding Shin Yool.
WS: I’m sorry it took me a while to find this place.
SY: It’s ok brother.
WS: Have you been well? It’s good to see you.
SY: Yes, me too.
* One word resonates about this final episode – anticlimactic. The good news – every good character did not die. In fact, no one died. How weird is that in this genre? The bad news – once we hit the midpoint and the slave village confrontation was a thrown down your weapons and walk away moment, everything seemed muted. The private wedding was sweet but subdued. I was surprised when Shin Yool announced she was leaving. No one countered her decision. Wang So quickly acquiesced to her wish to leave. On the one hand I respect him for letting her be her own person as he did throughout the series, so that was in character. However, this is the man that put her before everything many times, so I expected a bit more of the “how will I live without you, you complete me, don’t leave me” sentiment. What hurt me, is Wang So seemed to live like a zombie after Shin Yool left. Yes, he stayed to fulfill is destiny and duty but her departure seemed to sap the joy from him. I wish the show had thrown me a bone, like a scene with Wang So playing and enjoying being with his children even if he never loved their mother.
* Let’s review the list for this episode.
1. Will Shin Yool live or die? She lived. This was resolved early in the episode.
2. Will Wang So defeat Sik Ryeom? Yes, and in a particularly nonviolent way. The show had telegraphed a big face off at the slave village. I did not mind the battle of wills between Wang So and Sik Ryeom. However after 23 episodes, I expected more of a crushing of Sik Ryeom.
3. Will Wang So “shine” and become King or “go crazy” with grief if Shin Yool dies? Hmm, good question. He shined as a forward thinking King and did much good for the nation. However, the zest seemed to be gone from his life. For such a vibrant character, it was painful to watch this muted version of Wang So.
4. How will Wang So and Shin Yool be together with Yeo Won in the picture? Only in their hearts and dreams were they together. I was not completely satisfied with how this was done.
5. Will Sik Ryeom live or die? He lived but “went crazy” and at least was a ranting shadow of his former self.
6. Anything else? It was lovely to see Baek Myo finally acknowledge and accept Wang So. Gyu Dal’s childish but supportive ways were fun. Loved his flirting with Cheong Ok and being ready to hit the bad guys with his umbrella. Why so much Gil Bok in this last episode? While it was nice that Wang Wook gave himself permission to find himself, this character petered out in the last 2 episodes. Such is the fate of the second lead.
* Jang Hyuk as Wang So embodied a man that had to choose destiny of a nation over his personal happiness. Jang Hyuk stares down opponents better than anyone. Jang Hyuk’s looks of love are wonderful. Jang Hyuk’s vibrant performance was compelling in this series.
* Yeon Seo’s portrayal of Shin Yool made her a heroine to like and respect. She was smart and capable. She was selfless, putting others in front her own needs. Her choice to leave Wang So was reasonable if she could not take being the other woman but the ripple effect was a muted Wang So.
* The final scene. Whether that was a dream or them meeting in the after life, it got me. I connected with their simple joy of seeing each other again. Yet I mourned their limited togetherness in their real lives. It was lovely and sad.
* Final thoughts. I will write a series review but here’s some quick thoughts:
1. This series was not a boring historical. The personal relationships were compelling. The villain did not have it easy all the time. The hero did not die! This show hooked me and I looked forward to each episode.
2. I watched this series for Jang Hyuk. He delivered and the show rode on his shoulders. He is one fine actor. I should stand up and admit that I’m a hyuk-aholic. He is superb.
3. The characters were strong and for the most part, likable, or at least you understood their motivations. I relished the smart and capable women in this show. Girl power! The chess game of moves and counter moves were rich and interesting.
4. I enjoyed recapping this series. I wrote while I watched each episode so my thoughts and reactions were unfiltered.
5. I appreciate you experiencing this series with me. It was an enjoyable journey. To those that commented and shared their thoughts, thank you. You expanded my perspective of this superior show.