Goblin: The Great and Lonely God Review
The comment sections for Goblin recaps were full of insightful thoughts and opinions. Kelli adored this series from beginning to end. When I asked if she’d be interested in writing a guest review, she agreed in a flash. Kelli, take it away…
Starting off, this was probably one of the best series I have ever seen, hands down. Across all genres, countries, etc, it was well produced, written, acted, and directed. It had a clear direction from the beginning, and the writer, Kim Eun Sook, did a masterful job of staying the course, and not putting in unnecessary fluff or storylines. The music that was chosen for this series added to the story, and didn’t feel out of place.
This series was a development of 3 main relationships: the pure, simple romance of Kim Shin and Ji Eun Tak, the multiple life tragedy and redemption of Wang Yeo and Sunny, and the epic bromance of Kim Shin and Wang Yeo. Also, it is mentioned several times that each person has 4 lives: one that sows, one that waters, one that reaps, and one that consumes. This can be translated into each character as well.
Eun Tak (played by Kim Go Eun) was in her first life in the series, and also was the one who was sowing throughout. She was the creation of the Goblin himself when he saved her mother after being hit by a car. Since her birth was of the supernatural variety, she was born with a birthmark on her back, as well as the ability to see ghosts. After her mother died at age 9, she went to live with her Aunt and cousins. During this time, she had to lay the own ground work for her life as her family wasn’t supportive and her classmates wanted nothing to do with her since she could see ghosts. Once she met Kim Shin is when she started developing a real family. She was sowing the seeds of friendship and family that would last her throughout her current and future lives.
Kim Shin (played by Gong Yoo), whose life stage was never revealed before he became a Goblin, was the character who watered those around him. He was a guide for not only the Yoo family who served him for 900 years, but random people he would meet. One of our first encounters with him was when a young boy was about to run away from home in Paris. Kim Shin stopped him, gave him a sandwich, and stopped his father from hurting him. Later we meet the young boy as an old man, and it turns out he helped countless others after the example Shin gave him. Shin also helped a man who was about to end his life, one who was out of work who offered Shin a sandwich, and the reincarnation of his aide from the Goryeo days. He enriched and encouraged those around him to flourish in their lives.
Wang Yeo (played by Lee Dong Wook) was both the Reaper in his job and in his life situation. When he was the King, he made the horrible decision of trusting his advisor instead of the woman who loved him. He then took his own life, which after his penance, God made him into a Reaper. He was meant to learn the value of life in shepherding people the the after life. He then had the chance meeting of living with the one person who wanted vengeance on him, however he couldn’t remember. Yeo also had the run in with his soul mate who sparked his memory resurgence. The term ‘reap what you sow’ was painful for him when all the memories became clear. Sunny walked away from him because they couldn’t be together with their memories in tact. Yeo very nearly lost the relationship he had with Shin because of his past actions.
Sunny (played by Yoo In Na) was in fact in her 3rd life during this series, but she was the consumer aspect. She ran a chicken shop, bold, and nearly always right in her assumptions of people. She also had a very beautiful way of accepting people for who they were. She did have to reap from her choices in her previous life of being between the king and her brother. She also made the choice to end her relationship with Yeo because it would never be a happy one with their memories of each other. When God was trying to erase Shin from all their lives, Sunny defiantly challenged God as to why he can decide those things. Although she didn’t know she was speaking to him directly, her words and conviction stayed him and allowed her to keep the memories in tact. Sunny truly became the 4th life when she and Wang Yeo were reincarnated together, and allowed to live happily.
The secondary characters played important roles as well. Grandpa CEO and Duk Hwa were the descendants of the Yoo family who served and protected Kim Shin’s secret. Duk Hwa was occasionally the vessel of God who was checking in on Kim Shin and Wang Yeo. God played the role of the questioner, and mostly allowed the people to make the decision of how their life played out. Secretary CEO was the man who took over tutoring and guiding Duk Hwa until he became ready to take over the company after his grandfather died. Samshin, the goddess of birth and fate, or the lady in red, watched over Eun Tak from a young age, and was the instrument of many interactions and meetings between characters.
The romance between Kim Shin and Eun Tak was a story of first love, and the journey to eternal joy. At first, Eun Tak would keep saying she loved him, but that was because she had been told all her life she was the Goblin bride. She was so desperate for a true home and acceptance, she latched on to Kim Shin with everything she had. In truth, it was exactly what he needed. Eun Tak was a breathe of fresh air, a blinding bright life in his grey existence. He, over the course of the series, became more alive during his realization of his love for her. The contract Eun Tak made Shin sign was the door God kept open for him to return back to her when she most needed him. He then had to latch on to her with everything he had to help her remember the memories she lost. The scene of her remembering was one of the best scenes I can recall. All that joy and sadness was reconciled at once. Their wedding was so in character with both of them. Simple, clean, and where they shared such key moments. Her death was a rough pill to swallow, but it was very much in her character to sacrifice herself. Kim Shin waiting for her to return was a promise he kept with all his strength, and stayed true to himself. I envision they spent a long second life together, and he continued to wait for her third, and fourth life. Then, he would be allowed to proceed to the after life with her.
Wang Yeo and Sunny had the most tragic of love stories that resolved in a beautiful way. He was a young king who had an evil manipulator as a minister who killed everyone in his way to power. Kim Sun was the sister of General Kim Shin who had been arranged to marry the king. They fell in love at first sight, however the minister saw her and Shin as a threat to him. Since Yeo was always taught by the minister, he had started to pick up on some things. He did stop the poisoning of his queen, but couldn’t bring himself to truly distrust the minister. He made Sun choose between him or her brother. She chose to be the sister of a traitor, and died for it. In her reincarnated live, she hated the name Kim Sun, and only wanted to be known as Sunny. They fell in love because of the strong pull they felt towards each other. However, the revealing of their memories didn’t allow them to be fully happy. Wang Yeo’s penance was finally over with one last soul to take to the afterlife. By fate, it was Sunny herself. They were both absolved of their choices, and allowed to live their fourth life happily in love.
Kim Shin and Wang Yeo had the bromance to redefine all bromances. It was by fate the Duk Hwa put Shin’s house up for rent, and Wang Yeo signed a lease for it. They started off contentiously, picking fights with one another, bugging each other at all hours, and encouraging one another to die. They eventually come to respect and care for one another like best friends would. Their friendship was put to the ultimate test when the memories were revealed that the Reaper was in fact Wang Yeo, the one Shin wanted vengeance against. The scene were Shin answers Duk Hwa’s phone with Yeo on the other side was beautiful. They needed no words to express the loss of friendship and sadness those two felt at the time. They were able to reconcile, and lived 30 years together after Eun Tak’s death until Yeo made the journey with Sunny. Along with being the support and acceptance for each other, they became more alive with the introduction of Eun Tak, Duk Hwa, and Sunny. Their lives had purpose once more.
All through this series, God was asking and testing these characters, allowing them to find the answers for themselves. Fate at times was fixed, and other points were able to be changed by the will of the people themselves. The writer took us on a journey of discovery, acceptance, and love. They even showed the ending scenes in the first time Kim Shin passed Eun Tak. Everyone who was involved with this stellar series is to be commended for their work, from the director all the way down to the costume designer. We can all admit those clothes were stellar for each cast member.
I, for one, will watch anything this writer puts out there. This is a series that will be hard to beat in my eyes as one of the best.