His Fighting Power…It’s…Over 9000!!!
After the heartbreaking end to last week’s episode, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the hours for Netflix to release the next chapter in this Korean drama. The seventh episode sees a change in pace and location as the series skips forward a year, bringing with it a fresh perspective and an intriguing new direction for this augmented reality sci-fi show. Jin Woo takes a far more central role this episode, bringing with it a clever use of editing and an absorbing narrative for good measure. All of which builds to an emotional reunion in the rain-soaked streets of Seoul.
Before we get to that point, we open this week’s episode with Hee-Joo’s family. This segment works well, explaining away some of the niggling questions raised around her brother Se-Ju’s disappearance. From here, the series relocates to the gorgeous, bustling metropolis of Korea’s capital Seoul, a year later. The augmented reality game appears to be in its testing phase for the general public with Jin Woo’s company plowing forward with numerous changes to the game in defiance of the CEO’s wishes. It also happens to be a year since Hyung-Seok’s unfortunate death in Alhambra and his close friends and family attend a memorial to honour his legacy. It’s at this point where we’re reintroduced to Jin Woo, complete with a walking stick, heavy gait and a faraway look in his eye.
The majority of the episode dives into what Jin Woo’s been doing this past year, how he’s handled the coding glitch with Hyung-Seok’s fighting spirit and what his plans for the future are. All of this coincides with the original mystery over Se-Ju’s disappearance. This inevitably brings Hee-Joo back into the fold as her family pack up and relocate back to Korea. Hee-Joo has her own guitar shop, her family seem happy but yet that lingering sense of emptiness hangs heavily over our lovable female protagonist.
I’ve been pretty vocal this season about how much I’ve loved Hee-Joo’s character and this week Shin-Hye Park shows her acting range with a stunning performance. The subtle glances, her restrained actions and general mannerisms do such a good job showing a conflicted woman, one grappling multiple emotions toward a certain character she meets again this episode. (If you saw the preview from last week you know who this is)
At times, the constant jumping between past and present feels in danger of overloading the episode with confusion but thankfully Memories Of The Alhambra handles this with finesse and care. There’s a great rhythm and pace to this episode that makes the 70+ minute run time fly by. Some of this is thanks to the sudden jump forward in time and new setting away from the sun-soaked streets of Spain. It’s a nice touch and one that helps give a sense of scale and time to proceedings. When characters reunite after a long period of absence you really feel that connection and some of this is thanks to the way the series expertly handles its characters.
Where will tomorrow’s episode lead? It’s something I’m certainly intrigued to find out after watching this seventh episode which leaves things wide open for the future. While it may not have been as shocking as Jin Woo falling from the top of the stairs or as heart-wrenching as last week’s train dash, there’s still a suitably heavy emotional hammer blow awaiting you in the final scenes. I’ve been singing this show’s praises since the early episodes and that is certainly going to continue if Memories Of The Alhambra can keep this quality going.
There’s something particularly original and grounded with this series that helps keep its sci-fi elements in check while weaving a beautifully written romantic drama into the heart of the show. As we reach the midway point of this 16 episode Korean drama, it’s still unclear how this story arc is likely to conclude but given what we know already, Se-Ju is almost certainly going to play a big part in proceedings. Roll on tomorrow for the next episode but if today’s episode is anything to go by, we’re in for a real treat.