Following on from the previous episode, The King:Eternal Monarch continues to deliver its story with a slow pace but manages to inject some intriguing new elements of sci-fi into the fold that leaves things wide open going forward. Between the ideas of time travel and the intertwined fates of Lee Lim and Lee Gon, The King: Eternal Monarch ends things on an open-ended note ready for tomorrow’s episode.
Episode 3 of The King: Eternal Monarch begins with Tae-Eul texting Shin-Jae and canceling her plans with him, instead meeting Lee Gon where we see him proposing to her and offering his heart. She rejects him of course but instead challenges him to take her to the parallel universe. Only, because he doesn’t have the flute then the portal fails to open.
After talking about fate and family, Teu-Eul and Lee Gon head back while Shin-Jae sees Maximus and the Royal seal.
In the Kingdom of Corea, Ok-Nam hires a new writer for the court while looking over the speculative rumours being spread about Lee Gon’s disappearance. At the same time, Prime Minister Koo prepares for her board meeting surrounding salaries. Her ideas don’t go down well with the board, who berate her as Mr Park accuses her of “putting on more make-up”.
Koo bites back though, telling them they should be looking out for the citizens and improving their party image.
Back at the palace, Ok-Nam tasks Jo-Young to investigate Tae-Eul. As he steps into Lee Gon’s study, we jump back in time and see Jo-Young discuss Lee Lim’s body.
Lee Lim however continues to walk through the Kingdom of Corea, straight into Eosu Bookstore where he finds a note labelled “The King Left The Palace” inside a book.
Back in the Republic, a new recruit arrives at the station called Jang Michael. This keen rookie tells them to call him Jangmi. He’s eccentric and a little off the wall but the group take him along to their next stop on their murder investigation, which includes a junkyard and finding a crowbar used as a weapon.
After finding it and handing it over to forensics, Tae-Eul decides to put Jang-Mi to work on boring paperwork before Lee Gon hangs out with Eun-Seop and manages to get Tae-Eul’s desk phone.
However, it turns out Sin-Jae is working with some pretty shady gangsters and as they hand him a bag full of money, he tells them to make sure they’ll be there for the next crackdown so he can get his promotion.
Tae-Eul continues to investigate Lee Gon’s appearance and between the horse and no records of him existing in this world, she instead sits down to drink soju with him and work out just who he is.
As they talk, he mentions the changing monarchy in 1945 and the deviations his world took in the wake of moving the office to Busan. Tae-Eul scoffs at the notion though, telling him he’s a good novelist.
The next day, Tae-Eul’s car breaks down but as she phones the dojo, Lee Gon picks the phone up instead and races off to help her. Only, when he arrives time freezes completely which allows him to properly look at Tae-Eul as she fixes her hair. Suddenly, time restarts just like before but no one else seems to have noticed other than him.
With the flute in hand, Lee-Gon heads straight into the forest where the portal materializes again for him. Given Lee Lim holds the other half of the flute, Lee Gon realizes that both of them can now move through the different worlds.
Thanks to the big scoop of Jangmi finding the bloodied crowbar in the junkyard, the Kim Bok-Man case can now be put to bed. Only, Tae-Eul isn’t so sure it’s that black and white. She takes Shin-Jae with him into an alleyway where Tae-Eul’s investigation takes a turn for the worst when a group of thugs arrive and start fighting them. Thankfully, Lee-Gon shows up and gets involved, managing to fight them all off.
In the aftermath of this, Lee-Gon bids farewell to Tae-Eul and informs her he’s going back to his world given he’s left the palace empty for too long. As he grabs Maximus, Shin-Jae tells Lee-Gon he’s seen the crest before but Lee-Gon reminds him that’s not possible – especially given it’s from Corea.
After stopping at the bookstore and reading a poem, Lee-Gon summons the portal and rides through alone with Maximus, back to Corea while Tae-Eul remains alone in the Republic, where the episode ends.
Although there isn’t a lot of plot development this episode, there are some solid foundations set going forward. With Lee Gon now aware of what’s happening and the faint notion of time travel being involved too, it raises an interesting question around just who the figure was at the start of the first episode. This episode seems to point at it being Lee Gon but whether that’s true or not remains to be seen.
Visually, the show looks fantastic and there’s no denying that Eternal Monarch has a lot of great cinematography, along with playing off the usual humorous ticks to keep things engaging while the characters are built up. Hopefully tomorrow’s episode starts to crank up the tension though as right now the story does feel quite slow and lethargic. The King: Eternal Monarch bows out with another pretty good episode but it still feels like a long way off reaching the same quality as that excellent opener.