This series starts well immediately showcasing our leads’ potential.
Legend of the Blue Sea Episode 1 Recap
In the past, 1850 something…
After a great storm, people from a fishing village find a mermaid, Sim Chung (Gianna Jun). Wow, she’s pretty. Great lips. They bring her back and store her in a pond. Ma Dae Young (Sung Dong Il) village leader elects not to touch her as the legend is that a mermaid can wipe a man’s memory when he touches her.
The new town head Dam Ryung (Lee Min Ho) arrives. Lee Min Ho is looking handsome as ever though the hat isn’t the most flattering to his face. He’s not shy about proclaiming his good looks when the Dae Young compliments him. Dae Young comments that Dam Ryung is a widower at a young age. He mentions Sim Chung but no one from Dam Ryung’s party believes him. Dae Young offers to prove his claim. When he spots her, Dam Ryung is transfixed by the beautiful mermaid who is bound in a small pound in the village. Dam Ryung comes closer. He asks the Dae Young what he plans to do with Sim Chung. Press her for precious mermaid oil is the response. Dam Ryung curbs Dae Young’s plans. He knows that Dae Young overtaxed the citizens of the town and pocketed the difference. Dam Ryung says it’s a shame the penalty is death. Eager to avoid this, the Dae Young eyes Sim Chung and asks Dam Ryung if there’s anything he’d like. Dam Ryung is indeed interested in Sim Chung and chuckles that there may be something he’d like as he turns to look at Sim Chung.
Dam Ryung deposits Sim Chung back into the sea. He watches her from the boat. That was nice of him to return her to the sea!
Dae Young is not happy being called out by Dam Ryung. He vows that he will catch Sim Chung again. He also vows to get rid of Dam Ryung.
Sim Chung swims near the boat. She offers her hand to Dam Ryung.
Dae Young and his cohort watch from the beach. It’s best not to get mixed up with mermaids. What good could come of it? They declare they wouldn’t take Sim Chung’s hand. Will Dam Ryung?
Dam Ryung stares at Sim Chung. He reaches out and takes her hand. They stare at each other. I think she’s prettier than him, but that’s not a slam on him. The framing of this moment is lovely.
In the present…
Heo Joon Jae (Lee Min Ho) is a lawyer, ladies’ man, and a con artist. I like his swagger! Neat treat turning items to roses after flaming the previous item. When the con team arrives to fix the broken elevators, a guard stops and asks for the normal repair man. Joon Jae quickly does a visual assessment of the man (I love those that can read nonverbal signs) and uses his lighter to hypnotize the guard into believing the normal repair man is standing by the elevator (he’s not it’s a girl instead). The guard sends the con team on their way.
Instead of fixing the elevator the con team takes over an office, and two them Jo Nam Doo and Joon Jae do this while Tae O sits on the roof’s edge (yikes) and monitors communication. That’s a bold plan, hijack someone else’s office to do in broad daylight.
Their prey enter the office to make a deposition. The woman’s son name was written on the suicide note from another boy. The mother isn’t happy that her boy is dragged into the morass left by the boy that killed himself. Tae O keeps the real prosecutors away by controlling the crosswalk lights. Tae O tells Nam Doo and Joon Jae that the prosecutors will be back in the office any minute. Nam Doo and Joon Jae invite their prey to lunch. The mother tells them she only cares about her son being cleared as they get on the elevator together. Joon Jae besmirches her secret account in the Virgin Islands. Ha! As they walk out of the building they pass the present day Dae Young who is handcuffed. He stares at Joon Jae as he passes. Joon Jae doesn’t notice him. Instead Joon Jae proposes that the mother allow him to move her money to a more secure location, an island in the Mediterranean. Hmm, isn’t not about the island but the banking system, right?
Our con team arrive at the airport. Nam Doo assures the mother via phone all is well. Tae O strolls away without a goodbye irking Joon Jae. Then he takes off, leaving Nam Doo to comment that Joon Jae is the rude one.
Joon Jae flirts with the flight attendant. When she opens the blinds to the view she comments that islanders say that mermaids still live in the water. I’m betting that’s true.
We see 8 mermaids swimming through the sea. Sim Chung, Sim Chung we met in the past, breaks to the surface after finding a bracelet in the sea and putting it on her wrist.
A storm is approaching. Sim Chung fells the storm in the sea. Joon Jae watches the storm from a pier. Sim Chung gets caught up in the underwater churning.
Sim Chung wakes on the beach. She stands. She steps. She realizes she has legs! When she dives into a pool, her mermaid lower half reappears.
Joon Jae wakes and strolls to the perch (next to the pool) he watched the storm from. Sim Chung spots him. He doesn’t see her. Joon Jae wakes from a nap. He hears something. He investigates and finds food strewn in a path to his closet. In the closet clothes are on the floor. He sees two legs. He pulls away clothes and it’s her! She’s wearing his sweatshirt (and it’s still hanging on a hanger). He asks what nationality she is. Sim Chung opens her mouth but nothing comes out. He comes close and she kicks him away sending him sprawling. He approaches trying to wrest her out. Sim Chung kicks him again and he goes flying. Having removed the hanger, she exits the closet with her fists in a defensive position. He doesn’t want another round of her kicks, so he tells her to put down whatever is in her hands. Sim Chung looks through the window and sees the sea. Escape is on her mind. Sim Chung dashes to the sea but doesn’t realize the window is solid. Smack into the window she goes. Ha! Sim Chung falls to the floor knocked out.
Sim Chung wakes bound by his ties. Joon Jae calls the hotel and reports an intruder. He pries open her hands wanting to know what she is clutching. It is a maraschino cherry. Ha! He tosses it to the floor. Sim Chung eats it. Her face says it wasn’t that tasty. Ha! When the police come, they lead her away in handcuffs. Joon Jae asks why the handcuffs. Flight risk is the police reply. They suspect she’s been committing burglary throughout the neighborhood. Joon Jae doubts that. He sees her bare feet with cuts on them. He watches the police take her away.
Back in his suite, Joon Jae looks at the photos he took of Sim Chung. He notices the bracelet she’s wearing.
Sim Chung is riveted by the sights the ride in the back of the police car offers. Sim Chung is startled by the automatic door into the police station. Joon Jae is dressed and tells someone on the phone the girl’s bracelet could be valuable. He says she’s weird. At the police station, she doesn’t (and can’t) answer any of the questions. Sim Chung finds a box of tissues fun. The police aren’t happy that she avoids responding. When one of them yells at her, Sim Chung punches him and he goes flying. She picks up his gun and innocently aims it. The police flatten to the floor. Sim Chung puts the gun down and returns to her seat pulling tissues from the box. If the police didn’t think she was a bit off before, they should now.
Joon Jae is flirting with the flight attendant when he receives a text saying the bracelet is old, rare, and expensive, approximately $62K. Joon Jae is stunned. He realizes he let the bracelet slip through his fingers. The flight attendant gets his attention. She asks if the necklace he made magically appear is for her. Joon Jae’s eye is on the bracelet now so he shuts her down saying the necklace is for his mother and he has to leave. Ha! He strolls away leaving a stunned woman wondering why he changed from flirty to uninterested.
As Joon Jae walks to the police station, he learns the bracelet’s characters spell Dam Ryeong (his name in his past life) and give the wearer powerful kicks. Love that his name is on the bracelet! Joon Jae enters the police station and sees Sim Chung on the floor asleep clutching the tissue box in the jail cell. The jerk police officer asks why he’s there. Joon Jae asks that she be released as she didn’t steal anything. No way is the officer’s response. Joon Jae reads him. He whips out his lighter. He tells him the girl isn’t a stranger. She’s actually his wife! He suggests that the she’s wearing a wedding dress in the jail cell. The police officer hallucinates this. Then he hallucinates he’s outside with our couple. He unlocks the cell. Joon Jae offers the police officer her bouquet of flowers. Our couple walks away. In real life, the other cell occupants try and exit the cell and are locked by in another officer.
Outside the police station Joon Jae apologize to Sim Chung. He offers his hand in apology. She stares and doesn’t take it. Joon Jae motions to her bracelet. Sim Chung holds up her arms in a defensive stance. He holds up his hands to signal no aggression and tells her the bracelet is pretty. Sim Chung tries to mouth the word pretty. He offers to buy her present to make things right. He decides not to take her wrist and instead pulls are her sweatshirt to get her to follow him. at the crosswalk, she begins to cross on red and he pulls her back. Sim Chung assumes to pose of the character in the crosswalk light. Ha! he pulls her across the crosswalk when the light goes green.
Joon Jae takes her to a mall. Sim Chung can’t cope with the escalator. Joon Jae sweeps her up into his arms. Nice move! Joon Jae notices the cuts on her feet and takes her to a shoe department. Sim Chung watches as he picks out ridiculous high heeled shoes and a sensible pair of flats. Sim Chung puts the shoes on her hands. Ha! Joon Jae puts them on her feet. Sim Chung is mesmerized by that.
When Joon Jae takes her to try on dresses, Sim Chung steps out of the dressing room with the dress on her head. Pink sequins, really? That’s the initial dress? Joon Jae gets a phone call and steps away. Sim Chung exits the dressing room (nice flair for comedy with the faces) and looks for him but he’s not around. Sim Chung walks the mall in the pink sequin dress that does not serve her well other than covering her body. Sim Chung is fascinated by juggling clowns and follows them. Joon Jae returns to the store but she’s gone. Joon Jae rushes to find her. Joon Jae goes to the missing children location and finds her there licking a sucker. He’s relieved and a bit charmed. Joon Jae scolds Sim Chung for leaving without a word. He puts his arm on her shoulder and asks if she’s okay. He spots the bracelet. He’s relieved. Sim Chung stares at him and smiles. He smiles. Joon Jae offers to get her something to eat.
Dining al fresco, Sim Chung shoves the spaghetti in her mouth. He’s embarrassed and people stare. Joon Jae shows her how to use a fork. As Sim Chung revels in two fists full of chocolate cake, Joon Jae makes his play. He whips out the lighter which startles her because of the flame. Joon Jae whips out the necklace and puts it on her declaring it pretty. He’s removed the bracelet but she doesn’t know it.
Having gotten what he wanted, Joon Jae takes her back to the mall and tells her to wait while he goes and does something. Joon Jae looks a bit guilty but still leaves her alone. Sim Chung watches him as he gets on the elevator and leaves. Sim Chung waits. She looks at her shoes.
Joon Jae tells his phone partner that he’ll be home in a week after he visits the world’s end, which appears to be a tower at the end of the island. He grabs his suitcase. He stares at the maraschino cherry on the floor before he strides out of the suite.
Meanwhile Sim Chung waits hoping the elevator will bring him back but it doesn’t. The mall closes. She’s told to leave.
Joon Jae drives in the rain and stops at a cross walk. He remembers Sim Chung’s stance at the cross walk.
Sim Chung sits in the lost children area. That’s sweet. A cleaning lady finds her. Two ladies push her out of the mall and into the rainy night.
Sim Chung crouches hesitating to step into the rain. Joon Jae sees her and walk to her. Joon Jae holds the umbrella over her head. Sim Chung looks up and smiles. Sim Chung offers her hand. Joon Jae takes it. We’ve come full circle and established a likeable couple!
Epilogue of sorts…Sim Chung is waiting for Joon Jae at the missing children location. She grabs a girls sucker and speaks for the first time when she says wait. She thinks about the word wait and how it calms her knowing in the chaos, he’ll come for her. When Joon Jae does comes he’s irked but relieved she’s ok. Sim Chung thinks that he doesn’t want her to be hurt. That makes her smile. She knows something good will happen. Nice touch, revisiting the scene from her perspective and giving us her thoughts via a voiceover.
Good first episode. It’s often hard for a first episode to be engaging or create instant chemistry between the audience and the characters. But Legend of the Blue Sea caught my fancy. I liked the leads in meeting in the past. I liked the leads in the present. Our couple has potential. I like him. I like her. This is a good start.
Dam Ryung/Joon Jae (Lee Min Ho) was a charming cad. His smile, his ability to read nonverbals (which reminded me of Beautiful Mind‘s leading man’s ability to do the same), his ability to hypnotize, his sleight of hand, all in all, I liked the package Joon Jae offered. The stylist gave him two awful shirts on the island. Thank goodness he switched into the cool suit. Lee Min Ho drew me to this character, made me see that he wasn’t heartless, he was affected by her. I am glad he’s graced a kdrama again. It’s been too long.
Sim Chung (Gianna Jun) was appealing from the first moment in the cave. She’s lovely. I’ve never seen this actress before and she has presence even without saying a word. Her comedic timing was good. Her flexibility, her body movements, her trusting vulnerability, her cluelessness, all made me like her and want him to take care of her. That’s perfect and exactly what I should be feeling after the first episode.