This is a long first episode that closes strong.
Goblin: The Lonely and Great God Episode 1 Recap
A voiceover explains Goblin origins (touching object with blood of human is one way) and how the resulting Goblin lives in the world but is not completely part of it. The voice belongs to an old woman. Sorry that is a dreadful old mask, I wish the makeup department had not made my initial reaction think tacky. The young girl listening to the old woman laughs irritating the old woman. The young girl admits that it is sad that a Goblin who is immortal must find a bride to be able to die. The young woman admits that she has a sad romantic experience being left behind. She spies a pretty jade ring in the old woman’s wares. As she leaves the old woman warns her to pray for mercy because something may be coming for her.
A fashionable man, Kim Shin, (Gong Yoo looking snazzy in a plaid suit) wait outside a building. A young boy with bruises on his face run outside. Kim Shin stops the boy and advises him not to run away but rather face his stepfather and tell him he must raise him well. The boy wants to know how the man knows this. Kim Shin recommends the boy get support from his mother and stop slitting his wrists. Kim Shin moves a large flower pot to the middle of the step. The boy wants to know who the man is. But Kim Shin says again father your step father firmly. The boy asks if his step father beats him again, will the man help? Kim Shin notes he’s breaking his step father’s rib to help the boy. The door opens and the step father lunges for the boy tripping on the flower pot and falling to the ground clutching his ribs. Kim Shin advises the boy on answering a quiz question correctly and walk away leaving the boy staring after the strange man that knew so much be revealed so little.
Back to the origin…
Kim Shin is a solider. He’s brave and wicked skilled with a sword. Why do all men look better with the long flowing locks of hair? Kim Shin mows down man after man in hand to hand fighting with the sword. He faces the enemy leader. Both men have blood on their face from the fierce battle. Then in a surprise move Kim Shin hops on a horse and chases his enemy striking him down with the sword.
Flush with victory General Kim Shin arrives at the palace. But the welcome isn’t warm. The palace guard calls General Kim Criminal Kim and orders him to remove his armor. General Kim does this. The palace guard orders him to lose his sword. Palace archers appear at the wall and aim down at General Kim and his men. General Kim refuses to lose the sword (and it is a big sword). As he moves forwards the archers shoot his men down in cold blood. General Kim turns and sees his men writhing on the ground. The palace gates open. General Kim enters with his sword. He sees a woman and they stare at each other. He also sees the young King who gets an earful from his advisor about General Kim’s popularity and power. The advisor recommends the young King punish General Kim harshly to maintain his power and position. General Kim’s voiceover states he never suspected the young King’s jealously would be sharper than any sword he’d battled with. He stares at the woman (the Queen?) when he reaches her. The King orders him not to come closer. If he does, General Kim’s entourage will die. General Kim asks the Queen if this is real. The Queen tells him she’s fine and he must go. But she doesn’t want him to retreat, rather she wants him to approach the King. The Queen doesn’t care if she must die, but the General must proceed.
General Kim wants toward the King who seethes with anger. A tear rolls down the woman’s face. The King orders everyone killed. An arrow pierces her heart and she dies. General Kim walks forward. The others in ropes are killed. General Kim’s back of his legs are cut with a sword. His aide rushes into the scene. He can’t believe the Queen has been killed. He yells to the King; doesn’t he fear reprisal from heaven? The answer is no. General Kim struggle to rise but his leg is a wreck. His aide rushes to his side. Knowing his death is imminent, General Kim asks his aide to end his life with his own sword. Tears in his eyes, the aide rams his sword into the General’s torso. When the camera pulls back we see the sword is run through the General and out his back. Ouch! The advisor declares that the General’s body will be left to rot in the field for animals to devour. The King walks away. General Kim looks at the Queen whose life ebbs away as he stares. She wears the ring, the same ring the young woman saw among the old woman’s wares.
General Kim lies in the field, his own sword impaling him. The voiceover states he died by his own sword. Then we see the sword stuck in the ground.
A rather melodramatic start with loads of blood to accompany General Kim’s downfall.
A man dressed in black with white stitching on his black shoes enters a cross walk. A car runs into him. But the man is unharmed and the car looks like it just hit a tank. The driver gets out and can’t believe the man is okay. The man tells the driver he just hit a wild boar. Then he vanishes. People rush to the scene. In the open trunk, they spot a dead woman. The young woman from the initial scene with the old woman falls to the ground in horror. The woman in the trunk wears the same clothes and jewelry she does. The man in black approaches her, looks at a card, and states her time of death. She stares at him.
The man in black takes her for a hot drink. He pushes the drink to her and states this will make her forget her former life. She asks what happens if she doesn’t drink it. The man in black states she’ll regret that choice. He says it’s better to leave her former life behind her. She stares at the drink.
Later the man in black put her tea cup in a huge wall full of cubbies full of tea cups. Now that’s an impressive CGI image!
The Goblin (Kim Shin) walks down the street. He looks in the window and sees the man in black. The man recognizes him as a Goblin. Kim Shin recognizes the man in black as the God of Death Wang Yeo (Lee Dong Wook). But he’s not looking through a glass window, instead to the human eye, it’s a brick wall. Kim Shin declares the man’s disguise as vulgar. Wang Yeo looks insulted. Kim Shin walks away. Ha! I like the touch of humor.
Kim Shin returns to a house and is greeted by an older man who calls him his lordship. There’s a young boy with the old man. It’s been 20 years the old man declares. The young boy doesn’t think Kim Shin looks cool. The old man scolds his grandson, Duk Hwa. The Goblin tells Duk Hwa he’ll be the boy’s friend, brother, father, uncle, etc. throughout his lifetime. Duk Hwa is unimpressed. Kim Shin stares into the boy’s eyes and recognizes his aide from lifetimes ago. Kim Shin declares the boy a descendant of a past friend. The grandfather scolds Duk Hwa.
In the past, an old man and his grandson stand next to General Kim’s sword. The old man apologizes for not seeing him sooner but he’s been sick. The old man declares his grandson will serve him going forward. The sword shakes. Lightning fills the sky. A voice says General Kim’s sword is drenched in the blood of honorable men. For that he will become immortal and alone doomed to watch those he loves die around him. The voice says the gift of immortality is also a punishment. We see the Queen and the ring on her finger. The voice says that only his bride will be able to release him to he can die and rest in peace. Wow, this all kind of dark! The Goblin appears and declares he needs to go somewhere. The stunned old man and grandson stare at the newly materialized General Kim.
You guessed it, General Kim goes to the palace. He first kills the advisor that told the King to kill him and all he loved. Then he approaches the sleeping King. But the King isn’t asleep, he’s dead. General Kim states he was too late.
When the Kim Shin returns, he finds the boy crying over the rocks covering his grandfather’s body. He kneels and says this is his first punishment. The boy asks the Kim Shin to take care of him. He pledges to serve him as his Grandfather wished. Kim Shin says his need for revenge overrode the curtesy of inquiring after the old man’s help. He can’t believe the boy wants to serve him. The boy confirms this is his life. Nice moment when they stare at each other in the field.
On a boat, Kim Shin and the boy enjoys the night sky. Kim Shin convinces the boy to share his food. I must say Goo Yong looks awesome with the hood obscuring part of his handsome face. Two crew members threaten the boy (holding him over the side like they will drop him into the sea) and demand Kim Shin share what’s in his bags. Kim Shin tells them to back off. They drop the boy into the sea and all the crew members draw their swords. Kim Shin warns that they will suffer for their actions. The sea rises. Kim Shin intones that that God of Wrath has come. The men die during the storm. Kim Shin stares without emotion. Another CGI moment when the boat is tipped at a crazy angle. The last man begs for mercy. Kim Shin intones that is it too late. He draws his sword. It glows green. Kim Shin strikes the ship. It sinks. Wow, this has a dark vibe.
Closer to present day…
Kim Shin drinks and watches the city lights. A woman is hit in a snowy parking lot. The driver flees the scene. She cries her pain in her own pool of blood. She pleads with someone to save her. Kim Shin hears her. She continues to plead. He finishes his beer. He sighs.
Kim Shin appears in front of the woman who is lying in a large pool of her own blood. She begs for his help. He says he typically does not involve himself with humans. She begs for his help, not for herself but for her child. She dies. He shakes his head and says she’s lucky to have a soft-hearted god intervene. He stretches his hand over her and a blue light emanates. She wakes in the pool of her own blood.
God of Death Wang Yeo approaches the pool of blood that no longer has a body. He looks at the card identifying the dead person’s attributes. BTW, the stitching on his shoes is cool. There’s a second card without a name but the age is 10. Is it her child?
A woman holds a baby. Spirits around her whisper that the Goblin’s bride has been reincarnated.
Eight years later…
The young girl, Eun Tak, has a mark on her shoulder. Her mother asks what she wants for her birthday. The girl wants a birthday cake. Her mother laughs and agrees. The girl sees a puppy and goes to pet it. But the mother only sees air and not a puppy. The mother shakes her head like this has happened before. Later the girl returns home and finds her mother waiting with a birthday cake. She chatters happily and lights the candles. The girl stares at her mother. She asks if she’s speaking with a spirit. The girl cries and asks her mother if she’s dead. Sadly, the mother confirms she’s dead. The mother explains her body is at the hospital and soon the phone will ring informing her of the accident. The mother says her aunt will meet her at the hospital. She tells her daughter to go to her grandmother’s house. The mother asks her daughter not to look at spirits in the future. The girl apologizes for being able to see spirits. Mother and daughter cry together. They declare their love. Her mother vanishes. The girl sobs her pain. The phone rings. It’s the hospital. The girl puts on the scarf her mother asks her to wear. She looks at the lit birthday cake and declares she won’t make a wish because they never come true.
The mother asks the old man to check in on her daughter when she can. The old woman doesn’t look at her.
Eun Tak exits her house. She sees God of Death Wang Yeo. Eun Tak asks why he’s there. He’s surprised that she can see him. Remembering that she’s not supposed to talk to spirits, she turns around. God of Death Wang Yeo approaches. He wonders how someone that should never have been born is alive. Wang Yeo remembers the second card he held when he found the blood stain without a body. He asks the girl if she is 9. Eun Tak claims she can’t hear the man. The old woman appears and tells the man to leave. The girl is relieved to see the woman she calls grandmother. Eun Tak runs to her. Wang Yeo tells the old woman she’s interfering. The old woman doesn’t care. The old woman demands to see the certificate with the girl’s name. But the certificate doesn’t have a name. Stymied Wang Yeo tells the girl he’ll see her again. Holy smokes, this show is 90 minutes long!
Eun Tak explains her mother died. The old woman tells the girl she’ll have to move because she looked directly at the God of Death. The grandmother says the girl will meet a man and woman at the funeral home and they will escort her to safety. The old woman says her mother was so happy when she was pregnant. She gives Eun Tak cabbage and leaves.
10 years later….
The old woman crosses a bridge and passes a young boy. She morphs into a woman in red pantsuit. The boy becomes a young man. It’s 10 years later. The young man invites her to have a drink. She accepts with a smile.
Kim Shin listens to his nephew Duk Hwa asks him to save him. He reads and smiles.
Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) is now a senior in high school. She tries to ignore a spirt as she walks home from school but when the spirit appears right in front of her she reacts. The spirit apologizes and leaves. Eun Tak doesn’t understand why the spirit left. We see Kim Shin staring at the Eun Tak. She passes him….in slow mo! Kim Shin stares at her retreating back. He senses the past.
The old man hand Kim Shin a passport and states that that Duk Hwa is now 25. The old man realizes this is the last time he’ll see his master. Kim Shin thanks him for his service. The old man says his grandson will be there when he returns. Yoo Duk Hwa (Yook Sung Jae) bursts in the door not happy that Uncle Shin didn’t come to his rescue. His grandfather calls him a brat. The young man see the passport. He asks if Uncle Shin is leaving yet again to search for his bride. He’s not happy about this. Kim Shin shakes his head.
Eun Tak wakes to a new day. She makes breakfast for a women and her two adult children. They snipe at the girl. The older woman says Eun Tak killed her mother so she could be born. That’s harsh! Eun Tak thanks her for the birthday wishes. The woman laughs and says she’s sorry that she took in a stray and has let her live there for 10 years. Eun Tak stands at the door to leave for school. It’s raining. They warn her not to take the umbrella. The woman demands Eun Tak hand over her mother’s insurance pay out. Eun Tak denies having money. The woman throws her rice bowl at the girl and hits her in the back of her head. Ouch! Eun Tak says the woman stole her money and her house already. Eun Tak stalks away into the rain after telling the other woman a spirit is behind her.
Eun Tak sits on rocks and stares at the sea. Kim Shin sits on a bench in a field of flowers. Eun Tak pulls out a birthday cake and puts on the scarf she wore 10 years ago when she left her house knowing her mother was dead. Kim Shin remembers telling the old man that he’ll be traveling alone. He comments that no woman has ever seen his sword. The old man declares he hopes that the Goblin’s bride appears when he’s worried about his sword. Then he hopes that if sword isn’t seen, then no human finds it. They smile and clink their glasses together. Back in the field the Kim Shin holds flowers. Eun Tak lights the candles on her cake. Eun Tak says she’s breaking her promise by making a wish but she asks for a job, the situation with her relatives to improve, and a boyfriend. Yep, she’s 19! Kim Shin hears her wish that includes improving her pathetic life. Eun Tak blows out the candles on her cake. His flowers smoke. The skies threaten rain. Eun Tak yells that it’s unfair to rain when she does not have an umbrella. Kim Shin appears behind her. She’s startled when he speaks. He asks if she summoned him. Eun Tak says she didn’t summon him. He says she did. Eun Tak says she didn’t summon him but she can see him, just as she saw him the other day when they passed each other in the rain. Eun Tak asks if he’s a ghost. Kim Shin says he’s not a ghost. She doesn’t believe him. Kim Shin asks why she can’t see her future. Eun Tak tells him she has no future. She asks who he is. Eun Tak guesses he is a con man. They banter a bit. Eun Tak holds out her hands for the flowers. Eun Tak says she deserves flowers on this depressing birthday. Kim Shin hands her the flowers. Eun Tak asks what the meaning of the flowers are. He tells her the flowers are between lovers. She stares at him. He stares at her. Kim Shin asks who she was crying over. He confirms he heard her wish. He says he grants wishes. That makes her happy. Eun Tak asks if he’s her genie. She asks for money or to know which lottery number to pick. He tells her to say goodbye to her family because she won’t see them for a while. Kim Shin tells her to keep looking for a job. He disappears. Eun Tak calls after him, what about my boyfriend? Ha! Disgusted, Eun Tak calls him a poor sport.
When Kim Shin returns home, the God of Death is there. They don’t appear to recognize each other. Duk Hwa is showing the home to him. The young man explains that renting it out while his uncle is gone for 20 years makes sense money wise. Kim Shin asks if the young man realizes who this man is. The young man says their new tenant owns tea houses. Ha! Wang Yeo tells Kim Shin he’s already paid his nephew a hefty cash deposit. Kim Shin tells him to leave. Wang Yeo holds up the signed lease. Kim Shin points his finger at the lease and it goes up in flames. Ha! Kim Shin blows on his finger. Ha! Wang Yeo says that was just a copy and he’s moving in tomorrow. Kim Shin tells him to leave. Wang Yeo tells him to pack. Wang Yeo says he can take the life of the young man who signed the lease with him. Kim Shin smiles and says he’s welcome to stay in his house. Wang Yeo says it’s his house. Ha! Kim Shin says kicking him out won’t be easy. They stare the stare of old adversaries. They dine together. They irritate each other. Ha!
Eun Tak stares at the flowers she got from Kim Shin and scoffs at the idea of lovers. The next day she goes in search of a job. Eun Tak takes a break after many rejections. Eun Tak snipes that her genie was wrong about finding a job. Eun Tak sees a paper on fire and puts it out with her water. Kim Shin appears in front of her. Eun Tak demands to know why he’s following her. He says she summoned him. She doesn’t know how she did it and doesn’t believe she did it anyhow. She says the job search was a bust. He tells her she summoned him unlike anyone else ever has. She considers this. She asks what he knows about her. He says she’s got a school uniform on and she’s pretty. She preens and he amends the statement to be her uniform is pretty. Ha! She asks if she’s a fairy like Tinker Bell. He disappears. She’s irritated she let him get away without giving her his phone number. Honey, he doesn’t have a cell but you don’t know that yet.
Eun Tak figures out she can summon Kim Shin by blowing out fire. Eun Tak summons him by blowing out a candle in church. He’s not impressed with her location choice. Kim Shin starts to walk away from her. Eun Tak asks why he doesn’t disappear. Kim Shin says he can’t do his thing inside a church, it’s a “dead zone” for his powers. Eun Tak demands to know when he’ll grant her wishes. Kim Shin says soon. She’s most interested in having a boyfriend. He tells her that will take too much effort. Kim Shin leaves. Ha!
Eun Tak puts a candle app on her phone. Ha! She blows out the candle. Kim Shin appears. She’s thrilled. He’s irritated. He turns to leave and she grabs his arm. Blue smoke comes off his arm. Kim Shin sees it. It doesn’t look like she did. But she releases his arm saying it is too hot to hold. She thought he’d be cold to the touch. Kim Shin chides her that the blue flame is the hottest. Eun Tak chatters as he starts to leave. She asks him to hear her out. Kim Shin agrees to listen. Eun Tak admits at first she thought he was the Wang Yeo. But she’s still alive so that’s wrong. Then she thought he was a ghost but he has a shadow. Eun Tak asks if he’s a Goblin. Bingo! Kim Shin stares at her. Kim Shin asks who she really is. Eun Tak says this will sound weird but she’s the Goblin’s bride. She shows him the mark that she believes identifies her as the Goblin’s bride. Kim Shin remembers saving her mother from death. He tells her to prove it. Eun Tak doesn’t know how. Kim Shin tells her to describe what she sees when she looks at him. Ah, is he wondering if she can see his sword?
Eun Tak lists his attributes: tall, expensive clothes, and kinda good looking. Kim Shin tells her if that’s all she’s sees then she isn’t the Goblin’s bride. Kim Shin tells her that she’s not even supposed to be alive so her very existence breaks the rules. Eun Tak tears up and asks why should she be thankful. She demands that he tell her if he’s a Goblin. He claims he’s not. Kim Shin tells her he only cares minimally about her unhappy life. He recommends that she “tune into reality instead of listening to rumors.” Kim Shin tells her she’s not the Goblin’s bride. He strides away.
Kim Shin walks through a time portal. She follows starling him. Eun Tak tells him their conversation is not over. Kim Shin asks how she followed him through the door. Eun Tak says she grabbed the doorknob and opened the door. She doesn’t recognize where they are. Kim Shin can’t believe she went through the time portal with him. She asks where they are. Kim Shin tells her Canada. Eun Tak’s stunned. Then she’s thrilled.
Eun Tak strides forward. She stops. She declares if she can do this then she knows what’s next. Kim Shin asks what that is. She states she’ll marry him because she thinks he’s a Goblin. She smiles and declares that she loves him. Kim Shin stares at her smiling face.
Bottom line. I was thrilled when our couple meet and the sparks flew between them. Gong Yoo is looking good. I’m watching for him but she scored with me too. Looking forward to the next episode which I hope will only be 60 minutes.
I didn’t know much about the concept of this show as I avoid teasers. This was a long first episode with loads of setup and background. Frankly, it was a bit draggy or maybe that’s my fingers from typing this recap. The bulk of the episode had a dark hue. But then Eun Tak turned 19 and the energy picked up, and you immediately saw the potential of this couple. Let’s address the age gap. He’s supposedly 35 and she’s 19. We know he’s actually several hundred years old. Eun Tak is 19. My initial reaction was that he’s too old. But the more I saw them interact, the more I got sucked into the vortex of their potential. But based on the legend that he must find a bride so he can die, aren’t they doomed lovers? Let’s deal with that as we go.
Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) is a bummed out he has lived too long without love. He can scarcely believe that she could be his bride. He can scarcely believe that she can summon him. I love banter between a couple. They had wonder fast paced banter, which I adored. She brightened him a bit, which I wanted to see. Who wants to watch a Goblin without any joy? I enjoyed the rivalry between the Wang Yeo and Kim Shin…more please.
Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) has spunk and can see spirts. What’s not to love? Something about her works for me. Eun Tak challenges him. She isn’t swooning over him. Eun Tak wants a better life. If he can give it to her, she’s willing to join him. Who doesn’t like a pragmatic leading lady?
What I liked about this episode:
* Eun Tak
* Kim Shin
* Wang Yeo
* The concept
What didn’t I like about this episode:
* The pacing was slow
* The length was too long
* The copious background details that could have been pared down
The first song of the OST is out. Check out “Stay With Me” by Punch.