Is That The Faint Glimmer Of Romance I Sense?
Memories Of The Alhambra is quickly becoming one of my favourite Korean shows released this year. Not just because of the impressive implementation of augmented reality but simply down to how well written this story is. This intricately written character drama has so far woven comedy and drama seamlessly into the plot and this episode, we see the teasing beginnings of romance as Hee-Joo and Jin-Woo’s chemistry reaches a new level. While there isn’t a whole lot of action here, we do see some much-needed characterisation from a lot of the characters, moving the plot forward to a heart-wrenching finale.
The episode picks up where we left off last time. Jin-Woo is rushed back to his hospital bed before collapsing from exhaustion. A heated fight between Yu-Ra and Hee-Joo in the hallway results in the hotel owner retreating back to her family. When Jin-Woo appears in the middle of the night lamenting her disappearance, Hee-Joo reluctantly joins him on a mad scramble through Alhambra in the middle of the night. His motivation? Finishing the duel with Hyung-Seok once and for all. The second half of the episode returns to the refuge of Jin-Woo’s apartment as Hee-Joo watches over him. All of this culminates in a heart-wrenching ending and the first real sign that Memories is adding some romance to the fold.
The returning inclusion of the augmented reality game this episode is a welcome addition and it certainly serves an important function. We learn how shops work, and in particular weapon merchants. With pop-up stands fizzing into existence, Jin-Woo is graced with a handy user interface that shows what level weapons he can and can’t obtain. It’s something many gamers will be accustomed to but seeing this in augmented form is a reminder of how realistically depicted this series is.
While most of the episode focuses on the interactions between Jin-Woo and Hee-Joo, part of the run time for this 65 minute episode is given to Hyung-Seok’s father, the Professor. He discusses the implication of Jin-Woo being involved in his son’s death and after consulting his close circle, decides to bury anything linking Jin-Woo to the murder. Although this could just be a temporary measure, it’s also a sign that the extra characters introduced are likely to play vital roles going forward in this series.
I didn’t really mention it last week but the general music and ambiance in the show is really quite impressive. From the haunting bites of Memories Of The Alhambra playing just before Hyung-Seok shows up or the various slow, piano segments that accompany the action, the series continues to deliver an impressive musical score. Nowhere else is that more apparent than in the ending of this episode which adds a heart-wrenching song to the fold, adding to the emotional weight of what happens. Of course, for spoiler purposes we won’t divulge what this is but suffice to say, it works incredibly well.
While Memories Of The Alhambra doesn’t quite hit the lofty heights it set for itself during the fourth episode, there’s still an impressive amount of work done here. The show continues to outdo itself and the sprinkling of romance this week add an extra element to an already compelling series. Hee-Joo is the stand out character again though and it’s hard not to love everything about her. A tender moment with Jin-Woo deep into this episode helps add to the likability of his character too but Hee-Joo is the one who really stands out. It’ll be interesting to see where the next episode takes us but based on what we’ve seen this week, could love be in the air for our two main characters?