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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 24 (final)

2014/12/14 | Permalink

"Secret Door" gave me the ending I want although that can't be said for everyone. I was looking for how Seon's life, and subsequent death, had meaning in the grand scheme of things. That is exactly what I was given. While the politics of the drama had a cyclical quality, the relationship between father and son drove the show to its bitter, and then hopeful, end.

The ending made something good out of Seon's tragic death. Seon's son, San, who became King Jeongjo, brought Seon's dream of educating everyone equally to fruition. Seon's death was of his own choosing: he chose death over forsaking his ideals. He did not want to ascend the throne by shedding blood. His troubles came from his inability to compromise on what he believed was right, a quality every admirable hero should have. He didn't fit into a world that manipulated morals, laws, and justice to achieve its selfish ends. Lee Je-hoon played him convincingly and with so much heart.

One of the most effective moments in the entire series was when Seon killed Cheol-joo to protect his father, staining his sword with the blood of a friend; the very thing he strove so hard to avoid.

The politics that Seon had to play, however, were less-than-stellar. At first, when the secret document held sway, the politics were interesting. But then they started to follow a pattern that became boring and predictable. Characters were highlighted, then dropped, most notably Ji-dam, a supposed main character who was stuck on the back shelf and left to gather dust. For a microsecond in this last episode her dialogue reflected the spirited woman that graced the screen in the earlier episodes. It was a pretty horrid oversight.

Also, the show was more about Seon's vision of Joseon than his father's. King Yeongjo's rule, in this show, was very reactionary rather than proactive - he was very protective of the monarchy. I wanted to see more of his ruling style conflicting with Seon's and how their beliefs did not line up. It did show up just enough to fuel a few arguments between them. The premise of the show was based on political differences between the two men, but it became much more a battle between Seon and the ruling class.

This final episode was very emotional, full of tears, and quite heavy. It spiraled towards Seon's death and highlighted the love between Seon and Yeongjo. Han Suk-kyu's tears were incredibly powerful as he made the painful decision to kill his son in order to retain order in Joseon and protect his grandson. While the episode itself was effective, it would've had more punch if the drama as a whole had supported it.

Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'

"Secret Door" is directed by Kim Hyeong-sik, written by Yoon Seon-joo and features Han Suk-kyu, Lee Je-hoon, Kim Yoo-jung, Eun-bin, Kim Min-jung and Kim Chang-wan.


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