The King of Dramas: Episode 2 “The Fall of the King”

The King is dethroned and discovers, to his horror, that sometimes, you really can’t make it on your own.

Nutshell:

After throwing a pail of orange juice over a shocked Anthony, Go Eun calls him a bottom-feeder and tells him that one day, he’ll be doomed. Ooh, foreshadowing! Or, considering all that’s happened, perhaps just shadowing?

After she stalks out, Anthony quickly puts this troubling incident out of his mind and gets to work wheeling and dealing with the writers. His treatment of them in the past, however, has done nothing to inspire confidence and, one by one, they turn him down.

Defeated, Anthony falls is pushed from his throne and, carrying only his briefcase, does the walk of shame as he exits the building (and his former life?).

Fast forward three years and Anthony’s former underling, Oh Jin Wan (Jeong Man Sik), is now the top dog, having not only taken up Anthony’s position, but also his imperious attitude. As for Anthony, well, he now runs a small and struggling business and is in therapy for depression.

Faced with a mounting pile of bills and unable to pay his sole employee, he is now forced to ask his betrayer for help. Jin Wan makes him wait in the office that was once his and Anthony takes the opportunity to leaf through a drama contract – which he later discovers is worth ₩10bn (around $9m) – between Jaekook Productions and a Japanese corporation, Watanabe Group. Jin Wan laughingly tells Anthony that though he doubts such a large company would deal with a small fry like Anthony, he should certainly try his luck; he further explains that Watanabe’s only condition for investing in the drama, is the content: it has to set during the Japanese occupation. Luckily, Anthony knows of just such a script. Unluckily, the writer is none other than Go Eun.

He finds the script and, after making a few adjustments, emails it to Watanabe. It doesn’t take much time at all for Watanabe Group to get back to him: they like the script, but want to meet with Anthony the following day in Japan… along with the writer. Uh-oh.

Go Eun, meanwhile – having been blacklisted in the industry, just as her sunbae had threatened – now works in her mother’s restaurant, both confounding and impressing the customers with her ability to predict their favourite drama’s storylines and dialogue. She puts on a brave face to her mother, but it’s pretty clear she still misses and longs for her old life.

Anthony despairs when he discovers he has no way of contacting her – her mobile phone has been disconnected and none of her old friends know what’s become of her – but just as he’s about to give in and pay a shamefully overpriced detective to find her, she appears in front of him. (Well, technically in a televised advert for her mother’s mackerel shop, but close enough.)

Go Eun is at first thrilled to be offered the opportunity to work as a writer again, but when she finds out the man behind the offer is Anthony Kim, she flat out refuses. Neither his apologies nor his promises of prominence sway her; what does is his seemingly heartfelt words about the need to follow and believe in your dreams… even if the cost of fulfilling those dreams is working with a man you hate.

Off they go to Japan – in a private plane, no less – and though they’re dropped off at a swanky hotel, Anthony quickly whisks them away to something a little more… humble. Being both broke and a cheapskate (and taking advantage of her inability to speak the language), he books them into the same room, claiming it’s the only one available. He takes the bed, leaving her to sleep on the floor, with only the kotatsu futon as a cover.

They meet with Watanabe the following day and although Anthony has declared he’s the reason the deal has been offered, it quickly becomes clear (to us, at any rate, as Anthony is mis-translating everything Watanabe says to Go Eun and vice-versa – making it seem to her that he wasn’t all that impressed with her story, and to Watanabe that Anthony was the driving force behind it) that the real reason is Go Eun’s script, and her talent for writing.

Watanabe agrees to finance the drama, but only if it’s produced that very year. Anthony can do nothing but agree, and the contract is signed. Separately, both Go Eun and Anthony fiercely vow to make a spectacular comeback.

Later that night, Anthony comes across Go Eun bathing in the hot springs, clad in only a towel, and rubs his eyes as though that’ll prevent him from seeing her as a woman. Yeah, good luck with that, buddy.

He wanders off, lost in thought, but hears odd noises coming from the nearby shed. He peers in and finds a man being systemically beaten and begging for mercy, to no avail. The man is about to get a bullet in the brainpan, when the fight is interrupted… by Watanabe, who seems at first to offer sympathy, before picking up the gun and shooting the man himself with a cold, cruel efficiency.

Watanabe mutters darkly that those who break their promise to him, will definitely die. Horrified, Anthony stumbles away from the scene, stepping on a glass shard in the process and alerting the men to his presence. He’s about to exclaim in fear when a hand clamps over his mouth, silencing him.

 

Musings:

Dun dun dunnn.

Well, that certainly upped the stakes. It’s no longer simply the money, their reputations and their future employment on the line – it’s now literally life-and-death. Bet you wish you hadn’t been so quick to sign that contract – and make that promise – now, huh, Anthony?

I’m excited about where this new development may take us, but I have to admit I’m equally wary, because this sort of plotline could easily turn makjang if not handled with care. Thus far, I think the show is doing quite well in balancing the serious with heart and humour – but although the humour can largely be attributed to Kim Myung Min’s Anthony who, as of episode 2, is still rather unpleasant, if somewhat more sympathetic, the heart is mostly due to Go Eun, whom I find utterly charming and likeable.

Jung Ryeo Won has, in the past, tended to play sweet, downtrodden, martyr-like characters, so I’m glad to see she hasn’t reverted to type, post-History of the Salaryman. I think Go Eun is, in a word, awesome, and I love how spirited and no-nonsense she is. I admire that she didn’t give up on her dreams out of obstinacy and recognised that sometimes in this world, you have to work with people you dislike, perhaps even people you hate, in order to achieve your goals (and hopefully without losing yourself in the process). And I love her relationship with her mother; their strength and mutual support and understanding is so heart-warming (and ha, that moment when her mother actually threatened to slit Anthony’s throat if he made Go Eun cry again – throat-slash gesture and all? Yeah, clearly the awesome doesn’t fall far from the tree.).

Regarding Anthony, I do like that he’s the same character; he hasn’t suddenly become meek or weak, though his vulnerabilities are coming through a little more (like his habit of worrying his now ring-less pinkie finger when feeling anxious), largely because he no longer has that shield of money and power to hide behind. All he has now is his own talent for making money and manipulating those around him. Let’s hope it’ll be enough to save both him and Go Eun from the firing squad – literally.

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