“The King: Eternal Monarch” has ended its run a couple of days ago to mostly positive reception from the fans who stuck by the drama despite the controversies and lackluster ratings in South Korea.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” has in fact been considered the top kdrama in Netflix in many countries around the world including unlikely places such as India.
I previously talked about my thoughts on the 1st half of “The King: Eternal Monarch” and why I thought it was disappointing, today, I am here to talk about the second half and why I found it fun and interesting.
I previously said that “The King: Eternal Monarch” was plagued with issues, from the script, to the editing and production, the final product had many inconsistencies and errors that once spotted can’t be ignored.
While the first half of “The King: Eternal Monarch” was littered with filler scenes, the same isn’t true for its second half, the real fun begins at episode 9 and 10, and it gets a lot more interesting and finally picks up not missing a beat.
The second half had a lot less filler scenes, mostly because the plot actually happens in the second half, which makes me even more upset because when I remember how much I had fun in episode 9 to 16; all I could associate with is what it could’ve been.
My biggest issue with the drama remains its script. Dare I say, it’s the weakest of Kim Eun Sook’s ever? let’s talk about it!
Note: this includes heavy spoilers of episode 9 to 16, if you want to know where you should watch. Skip to the final verdict section.
Writer Lee Eung Bok is absent!
Apparently, writer Lee Eung Bok who had worked under Kim Eun Sook in her past works didn’t work on this one. They worked together crafting some of her best and most memorable projects “Mr Sunshine”, “Goblin”, and “Descendants of the Sun.”
I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing with “The King: Eternal Monarch” and I could feel writer Lee Eung Bok’s absence. If you read Korean and browse Korean websites, then you’ll see many Korean journalists attribute the lackluster effort to writer Lee Eung Bok’s absence.
“The King: Eternal Monarch” is a very ambitious project that could’ve easily gone down in history as one of the best Korean dramas ever but it didn’t. It felt like a project that should’ve left developing inside Kim Eun Sook’s head for a lot longer.
In fact, the writing style and the scope of the project reminded me a lot of a writer that I love to hate, writer Song Jae Jung. She is the one who wrote “W” and “Memories of the Alhambra.” You should be making a sound right now, especially after that catastrophic ending for “Memories of the Alhambra.”
Writer Song Jae Jung also has a lot of ambitious ideas but she does a poor job tying everything together. But I’ll still put writer Kim Eun Sook above her because I could tell she could actually explain some of her ideas and you could tell that some of the ideas she introduced at the beginning of the drama were explained towards the finale.
The second half explained a lot about the first half, but for many of the revelations, they just came a little too late and didn’t carry the same impact it should’ve had.
While Kim Eun Sook tried her best to explain a lot of what she did, she also opened doors and created new scenarios that she probably will never be able to explain.
- There is the yoyo boy who’s just here deciding on people’s fate and telling critical points in the plot but his presence isn’t explained at all.
- There is that time travel point where it works when the writer feels like it but doesn’t when the writer says it shouldn’t. What are the conditions?
- There is the very odd reason why Lee Lim just picks up people from the street telling them about their future and switching them with others just like that.
- There is that build up to the grand fight scene that Lee Lim was preparing for but it ended up being very small and disappointing.
- There is also the fact that Lee Lim despite traveling all the time between the two worlds had no idea he could go back to the past that there were different worlds.
- There is the fact people get killed in the future but somehow still remain in the past, which makes the point of killing them useless… or what?
I could go on and on and on… But I’ll focus on the time travel issue and how it added flavor to the plot but still hurt it.
The time travel
“The King: Eternal Monarch” takes a very weird turn in the second half and introduces ‘time travel’ and not only that, but does a terrible job explaining it.
In fantasy dramas/movies establishing your world is the top priority, you must make sure people understand what it is, its limits, its abilities and such. Poorly explaining the premise or leaving it up in the air will only hurt you in the long run.
Kim Eun Sook does try to explain some of the characters’ decisions and motivations but also purposefully ignores others depending on what she wants to elaborate on and she expects people to follow her lead regardless. Considering her reputation and previous success, I wouldn’t expect her to think otherwise, but I bet the ratings made her doubt that decision.
The bigger you are, the more people expect of you.
Introducing such an important plot point so later on in the drama just threw me off-guard. I re-watched some episodes to understand better but I still have at least 20 questions that will never be answered. The concept is vague and annoyingly so.
It’s also used to give Lee Gon the upper hand because otherwise Lee Lim was always a step ahead of him. I would’ve preferred if the drama carried on without that part because it did more bad than good for the integrity of the script.
It did make the second half more interesting as Lee Gon tries to find out how it works and how he could use it to his benefit. It’s also the reason he was able to stop Lee Lim.
What worked- the cast dedication
Besides, Kim Eun Sook’s name, “The King: Eternal Monarch” boasts a great cast. The reason many stuck around was because of that cast.
The cast had great synergy and worked well together. They had great work ethics and I could feel their dedication to their characters. Woo Do Hwan and Kim Kyung Nam were my favorite characters, they stole the show for me and I stuck around mainly because of them.
I bet many fans also stuck around and defended the drama so badly because of the cast, if the cast didn’t have Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun, I highly doubt the same people would’ve paid so much attention to this drama.
I think this is what saved “The King: Eternal Monarch,” I think it would’ve tanked even more in ratings if it weren’t for the cast.
I was sad about Lee Lim because I wanted to see more character development from him, he felt like a cartoonish bad guy who’s just there to make the leads lives difficult without context.
The final verdict- should you watch or not?
“The King: Eternal Monarch” is an okay drama, I wouldn’t call it ‘bad’ but I wouldn’t call it ‘great’ either.
Many people will disagree with my verdict, but I thought the drama had some great moments that saved it from being labeled ‘bad’ in my opinion, but it also had so many mistakes that prevented me from labeling it ‘great.’
When I compare this drama to the best of 2020 thus far, it falls too short. It doesn’t come close to how magnificently-well-written “Hospital Playlist” was or how suspenseful and intriguing “The world of the married” was.
If you love the actors of this project, then watch it. If you like Kim Eun Sook writing style and her Cinderella-like stories then also watch it.
However, if you like the actors but aren’t crazy about them, there is a good chance you won’t be able to tolerate it. “The King: Eternal Monarch” has its great moments but they’re far and in-between. The first half was difficult to get through and offered little development. The second half is a lot more fun but very confusing. You’ll end up giving up trying to understand the plot and stick to enjoying the mess.
If you care about well-written scripts, then you probably will want to skip this one because it doesn’t compare to some of the best written projects of this year.
So this wraps it up! Let me know what you guys thought of it, did you like the drama or not?