Blast From The Past
With some much-needed clarity around Man-Wol’s past and some really strong plot development, Hotel Del Luna delivers one of its best episodes, ending things on an agonizing cliffhanger with the future of this tragic tale still unknown at this point.
In the moonlit skies of Korea, we begin in the past with hundreds of lanterns floating lazily into the sky. A group of assassins enter the palace, led by Man-Wol, and head straight for Princess Song. This lady happens to be Mi Ra in a past life and on the eve of her wedding, Man-Wol slices through her, promising that the groom will never see her happy. It’s at this point where we cut back to the end of yesterday’s episode, with a little more clarity around our hotelier’s fearful look.
Man-Wol laments the fates and pushes Mi Ra telepathically into the water. As it turns out, she has no knowledge of Man-Wol and as she slips away, Mi Ra and Chan share dinner and discuss matters. Away from the hotel, Man-Wol learns more about Mi Ra’s fate from the flower lady, who tells her that Mi Ra has led many lives, coming back through the ages before warning her that she can’t hurt the girl.
Back at the hotel, Chan learns more about the mysterious tree. It turns out it lays its roots down wherever Man-Wol goes and she’s unable to leave the hotel for now. Having seen first-hand what happens to vengeful spirits, Chan finally begins to understand the forces binding his counterpart to the hotel. Man-Wol learns that Chan has been told about her doomed fate and meets him on the rooftop where they discuss Mi Ra. As the conversation is steered toward their own fate, Chan tells her he will always be there, looking out for her. Riding a wave of good faith, Man-Wol decides to open the hotel amusement park again for the guests.
Meanwhile, back home Chan learns that Sanchez has agreed to let Mi Ra stay with them. As they share dinner together, he catches Chan off-guard and asks whether he’s staying at the hotel so much because he has feelings for Man-Wol. Before he can get a chance to digest his words (and food), he receives a call asking for a free room at the hotel. It turns out Mi Ra’s friends are experiencing some ghostly problems, prompting Chan and Man-Wol to investigate.
Once there, Chan meets a strange girl whom we see earlier in the episode seemingly possess a man into passing out. Cuddled up to Chan, he uncomfortably tries listening to the spirit while she professes her love for him and attempts to kiss him. However, it turns out she can’t be a guest at the hotel as she’s not a human spirit – she’s an imaginary spirit; one created by the imagination. As fate would have it, that lady happens to be an author in the house who created Gyeong. In order to stop the ghostly threat, she destroys her postcards and belongings linking back to that part of her life.
In the meantime, Man-Wol stirs up trouble by inviting Mi Ra to the hotel. After convincing her to give up the bracelet at the amusement park, the one being used to thwart the spirits away, Man-Wol gives her a gift – a deceptive wave of sadness that’ll wash over her. It happens to be a curse and as Chan arrives, he tries to save Mi Ra, pleading with Man-Wol to stop. Unmoving and refusing to listen to him, he instead takes drastic measures, embracing the little girl that’s conjured up, consequently cursing himself with sadness while Man-Wol watches on in horror. As she attempts to nurse him back to health, we cut back in time to see more of Man-Wol’s past.
It’s here we see her bitter grudge with Princess Song. She promises Man-Wol all of her people will die thanks to what she’s done. As her drinking vase smashes to the ground, Man-Wol is surrounded by swords while her comrades fight off a number of soldiers. It’s here were we see her lover Yeon Woo mortally wounded before she’s forced to watch him hanged to death. This adds more context to the early scenes in the episode and dramatically swings her tormented soul toward the path of empathy as we understand just why she hates Mi Ra so much.
As the episode draws to a close, Man-Wol brings Chan back to Sanchez’s house, seemingly cured now, along with the painting. As he sprints back to the hotel and charges through the front gates, he heads inside only to find an empty house in its wake. Man-Wol has moved the hotel and the Moon Tree is evidently set to lay down roots elsewhere. One final goodbye from Man-Wol ensues as we cut back to Chan passed out, finishing the episode with three words. “Goodbye, Chan Sung.”
Once again Hotel Del Luna delivers a really enjoyable and well written episode. Armed with some beautifully composed choir chords that gave this reviewer some serious Kingdom Hearts vibes, this Korean drama only seems to be growing from strength to strength. As more of Man-Wol’s turmoil is explored, Hotel Del Luna does well to really help empathise with her struggles. The ending certainly leaves things wide open too and quite where the hotel is or what’s happened to it is still left up to debate here. One thing’s for sure though, if you’ve been following the show this long, you’re not going to want to miss next week’s episode!