Episode 14 of Tomorrow starts with Ryeon fed up. She’s drinking alone, it’s her day off and she wants to drown her sorrows in soju. She certainly doesn’t take too kindly to Jun-Woong showing up, telling him to keep his distance. When she falls asleep, Jun-Woong appears to check up on her, “I don’t want tomorrow to come.” She mutters.
On her day off, Ryeon decides to head off and visit a friend. Jun-Woong deliberates over what this means, but in her absence, Ryung-Gu shows up. He explains that Reapers only get one day off in a year – their death day. Around this time it’s natural for the individual to find their negative energy increase, and in the case of Ryeon, hers has gone up to 100%.
Jun-Woong continues to investigate this, and figures out that Ryeon actually commit suicide in the past. Jun-Woong wants to help resolve Ryeon’s pain, and the King of Heaven believes he’s adept enough to do just that now. So we’re whisked off to 400 years ago, where Ryeon is much younger and trying to hone her skills as a hunter.
Knowing a thing or two about snake bites – given she herself recovered from one – Ryeon helps a young hunter in the woods who has suffered the same fate. She brings him back to the village, where he’s saved from certain doom.
Rumours in the village start to spread that barbarians from the north have crossed the Amnok River and are plundering villages. War could be coming to them soon. This boy that Ryeon saves is Joong-Gil, whom we see has been a big part of Ryeon’s life. This is the episode we’ve been waiting for since early on in the show, and finally we’re getting some context to the drama we’ve been teased.
Ryeon and Joong-Gil grow closer together, with Joong-Gil eventually admitting that he loves Ryeon after putting red rouge on her. Joong-Gil intends to take the exam to become a military official and fight off the barbarians should they come down and threaten their way of life.
In the wake of this, the pair end up wed and grow up together. Time passes and all seems well… until Joong-Gil receives the call-up to leave and fight against the barbarians. This has been teased for a while and it seems Ryeon was well prepared fir it, It doesn’t stop her from worrying of course, especially as rumours begin spreading across town in his absence.
Namely, one of the other women claims that these barbarians are actually part of the Qing army. Their leader is Hong Taiji, who has ascended to the throne after Nurhaci of Later Kin died. As they talk, those ruthless barbarians arrive and begin destroying everything, cutting up women and men left and right. Ryeon does her best to fight them off, grabbing her bow and arrow, determined to defend her hometown.
There are far too many soldiers though, and despite defending her friend Gop-Dan valiantly, she’s greeted with an arrow through her back. As for Ryeon, she’s taken away by the soldiers, a rope coiled around her beck and dragged off by horses.
Joong-Gil’s forces have sustained causalities of their own too in their bid to fight off the barbarians. Unfortunately, when they return he finds out Ryeon has been taken. Grabbing his horse, he immediately rides off to save his beloved.
Ryeon is cunning though and knows her stuff. Through her time in the village, she makes a broth for the soldiers who have captured her as a prisoner of war. This happens to include a poisonous root that’s known to kill anyone who ingests it. Working with all the other prisoners, they manage to poison almost all the guards. In dong so, the women rush out the camp and try to make it to safety. The flickering orange of torches in the distance are a constant reminder of the danger they face, as the women scramble to safety.
By the time Joong-Gil catches up with them though, they’re long gone from the camp. This game of cat and mouse is a deadly one, with many of the women dehydrated, exhausted and struggling to carry on. Although they do make it to Joseon, the guards outside the gates turn them away in case they’re spies.
Ryeon challenges them but just before one looks set to kill her, Joong-Gil rides up and stops the men, promising to hurt them if they lay a hand on her. “Thanks for staying alive, sorry I’m late.” Joong-Gil says, as he speaks to his beloved.
A year passes since that horrific ordeal and Ryeon is still haunted by the ghosts of the past. She’s suffering from bad nightmares, and has been for a while, Joong-Gil suggests they go to the physician on the off-chance they can help prescribe something. Unfortunately public opinion of those taken as prisoners has declined. Rumours are spreading about Ryeon and the others, with Joong-Gil’s mother even deciding to look for a new wife for her son.
Some of these rumours include Ryeon pregnant with a barbarian child. When Joong-Gil hears this from some men in town, he brandishes a knife and demands to know where these commoners heard this. Just as things escalate, his mother shows again and lets them go. Joong-Gil is livid and wants revenge.
Off the back of all this, Joong-Gil’s mother approaches Ryeon in private and challenges her, asking whether her own life is worth more than the honour of Joong-Gil’s family. She’s forced to decide whether to die “with honour” or by someone else’s hand. Whether this means she’ll bring an assassin into this or not though is unclear but that’s certainly the insinuation.
In town, all the villagers begin throwing rocks, with one piercing the side of Ryeon’s head, and the other hitting Gop-Dan. In fact, her friend is struck so hard while trying to protect Ryeon that she ends up dying. Overcome with guilt, that night Ryeon tries to kill herself. Joong-Gil promises that the rumours will pass and he’ll do everything he can to protect her. Ryeon despairs that she can’t do anything.
Blinded by rage, Joong-Gil kills several villagers who were badmouthing his wife before. Ryeon shows up and is not happy that he’s killed them. “It would have been better had I not returned.” She says matter-of-factly, pointing out that their end could have been better than the living hell they’re currently in. She refuses to keep living knowing that her husband is losing himself, so that night she slits her wrists and lets the blood spill from her hands.
With Ryeon dead, Joong-Gil is beside himself with grief as he holds her.
The Episode Review
Finally we get some context around Joong-Gil and Ryeon’s past. Seeing how these two have been entwined together and their tragic love story that follows is certainly interesting and definitely one of the highlights of both characters.
At the same time though, it actually would have been quite nice to be given this story earlier in the season, that way accentuating the anguish of both Joong-Gil and Ryeon having their memories stored away and unclear how they both slot together in the grand scheme of things.
There’s been a fair amount of historical drama in this show and it’s easily one of the more interesting parts of this seires. We’re into the home stretch now though and with two episodes to go until the finale, we’ll have to wait and see what this one has in store for us next.