Right In The Feels
Hotel Del Luna has been a real emotional rollercoaster over the weeks. There’s been some genuinely funny moments, some lovely bites of horror and heartbreaking, poignant segments. No other show this year has managed to conjure up such a myriad of different emotions, in such a short space of time, especially given the 16 episode run this Korean drama has. With the final two episodes to come next week, Hotel Del Luna offers a glimpse at what’s to come, with an episode chock full of foreshadowing, final goodbyes and closed subplots.
Clearly flustered, a teary-eyed Man-Wol runs away from a seemingly possessed Chan Sung as Mr Ku slaps him on the arm and awakens him from his trance. As they head back to the hotel, Man-Wol continues to feel uneasy while Chan tells the others he has no recollection on how he got out of the tunnel.
Yu Na and Hyun-Joong bring back the young child to his Father but at the hospital he gets angry as Yu Na finds her family and speaks to them about him. As their relationship appears to be on the rocks, by contrast Detective Park and Mi Ra hang out at Sanchez’s and appear to be getting on really well.
Chan promises to look out for Man-Wol whom he finds staring out at the tree. She talks to the flower lady who gives her the relic from Choeng-Myung’s past life, the moon ornament. Angry, she asks her whether Chan is actually him but now that her long-standing grudge may be coming to light, she begins second guessing herself. As she stumbles upon Chan in the hallway, the ornament turns to a knife and she plunges it deep in Chan’s heart; the exact same move that she did on Choeng-Myung. He tells her to trust him before dropping to the ground. As it happens, all of this was a vision.
After discussing matters with Chan-Sung, the Grim Reaper catches up with him and tells him more about Ji-Won. He asks for Chan’s help, asking him to act as bait, before discussing his back story. He tells Chan he wasn’t around during the time of the first guest, which we assume is Man-Wol. Meanwhile, our hotel owner embraces her vengeful side and confronts Ji Won, whom she finds hiding in the shadows. She gives him the moon ornament and tells him to eat it, in order to ascend to being an evil spirit. This causes all the lights in the hotel to go out as Chan heads back, hurrying to the tree where Man-Wol stands, silently staring into the abyss.
Thanks to the owner of the ornament, Chan finds his way to Ji Won who tells him he’ll die before he can take back the artifact. With the moon showing itself, Chan reveals that Man-Wol played him into accepting the moon ornament, dooming him to damnation. Dressed in black robes, the trio of hotel workers confront Ji Won soon after, leading him straight to the Grim Reaper who catches him. Unfortunately for Ji-Won, his fate is far worse than death, forced to enter Room 666 which happens to house all the people he’s killed. As Ms. Choi listens from outside, he meets a grisly fate at the hands of his victims.
With the female grim watching on intently, Man-Wol and Chan Sun dance around her destiny, ultimately leading him to give her the moon ornament and ask her to kill him if she’s intent on ceasing to exist. She can’t do it though, instead dropping the knife to the ground.
Mi Ra and Detective Park are invited to the hotel soon after. With petals from the tree in their drinks, Mi Ra has a sip, only to find herself transported into the past where we see more of her and Choeng’s back story. It’s here we learn the events that led to him choosing to betray her. Only, it wasn’t a betrayal, not really, it was all an elaborate plan to save her while saving himself at the same time. It’s such a heartbreaking story, one mired in tragedy and poignant drama and seeing Choeng’s side of the story only further accentuates this.
After uttering his name at the tree, he appears before Man-Wol and she tells him their time is over. As they both shed a tear, the moon ornament dissolves at the faintest touch of a teardrop. Turning back to a firefly, she learns he doesn’t have the energy to go to the afterlife, prompting her to head back to Chan and embrace him as she realizes she needs to give him one final kindness – sending him down the bridge personally.
Meanwhile, Yeong Su wakes up crying, feeling sad. As Mi Ra tries to comfort him, we cut back to the hotel where Hyun-Joong tells Yu Na that his time at the hotel is coming to an end too, especially given his sister is on the verge of passing; the only thing keeping him at the Hotel Del Luna. While Yu Na tries to grapple with the weight of this, Man-Wol takes the firefly to the Sanzu Bridge where she asks Chan to wait for her. Of course, because time passes differently her return may be delayed.
We then cut forward a month. Chan continues to attend to the hotel but with the tree now completely lifeless, her return seems improbable to say the least. However, we then cut to the Bridge where we find Man-Wol saying goodbye to Choeng who offers his hand. She makes her decision though and chooses to return from the bridge, unbeknownst to Chan, who breaks down crying at the bus stop alone. It’s a really sad moment and his tender moment is incredibly well acted, reducing this reviewer to tears.
With two episodes to go, the final plot point appears to be revolving around quite what will happen to Chan and Man-Wol. With the final flowers in Chan-Sung’s heart, does this mean he needs to die before Man-Wol can be released? Whether we’ll receive a Romeo & Juliet-esque moment here with both characters sacrificing themselves to save the other remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt the journey these two have taken over the weeks has been incredibly emotional and really well written.
Interestingly, Man-Wol’s appearance has changed subtly these past few episodes too, reflecting her newfound vulnerability around Chan. Instead of the lavish fashion choices and rich make-up, her somewhat relaxed appearance has really done well to show her guard being let down. It’s a subtle inclusion but one that’s incredibly effective.
Hotel Del Luna has been one of the best Korean dramas of the year. The masterful blend of humour, drama, romance and horror has been expertly crafted and despite Chan Sung not always matching the brilliance of Man-Wol, there’s enough here to make for a thoroughly enjoyable series nonetheless. With the finale looming next week, I can’t help but feel this one will end in tragedy and a bittersweet tone. Roll on next week already!