This review of Mr. Sunshine Episode 2 contains spoilers.
Mr. Sunshine episode 2 is the honorary first episode. The Netflix Original Series arrives from the continuation of the pilot, serving up a linear storyline that to be fair, was desperately needed. I did complain that episode 1 relied too much on choppy exposition to articulate a complicated story about the confusing political landscape between the Americans and Joseon. I only had to wait one day though, as Mr. Sunshine releases an episode every Saturday and Sunday, much to my annoyance. I am human, I like a rest now and again.
Luckily, Mr. Sunshine episode 2 is another fine piece of technical work, with the two lead characters taking the throne of the story. There is more focus on the present, bringing insight into the Aristrocat’s daughter Ae-sin. It turns out that Ae-sin has more fight in her than initially revealed, and is the cornerstone of what Mr. Sunshine is about. Episode 2 reveals that she is erred by the growing presence of foreigners entering Joseon land and she yearns to learn how to fight and involve herself in political matters. She forces the hand of the authority and gets a mentor, who teaches her the ropes of how to use a gun and scale different landscapes. These scenes were all very interesting, however, I did scoff slightly at the speed she learnt how to become a militant person that I almost resorted to the mentality of fanboys who believe Rey is a Mary Sue.
Meanwhile, Eugene, who has made himself 100% American, is carrying out his duties in Joseon, dealing with political matters and scoping the towns. There was a quick montage to detail the pain he went through in a battle between the Americans and the Spanish, which I felt was slightly unnecessary after the number of war scenes in episode 1, but with the technical brilliance achieved each time Mr. Sunshine decides to portray war, I will not complain.
Episode 2 makes strides with a vital development for both Ae-sin and Eugene when an American is assassinated by a hidden sniper. Before this sniper shot the bullet, another sniper was nearby with the same intentions and is shellshocked that someone has beaten them to it. It was blatantly obvious who the two snipers were, snaking and commanding the roofs of Joseon. As I originally explained in the previous episode, Eugene is suspicious of foreign powers trying to colonize Korea and now he has returned to Joseon, he is willing to take matters in his own hands. Ae-sin has similar ideas.
Almost like Batman and Catwoman, both characters try and sniff each other out as they roam the streets as normal citizens. Mr. Sunshine finally brings to the fold the tension that sits between both Ae-sin and Eugene, with the pair talking to each other in almost code, recognising the unspoken secret between them. Episode 2 decides to take the journey of both pretending that neither of them knows their secret.
The most absorbing moments of Mr. Sunshine episode 2 is Eugene trying to strangle with his own identity. Due to suffering at the hands of foreign powers when he was a young boy and vowed to become an American to prevent further anguish, he struggles to maintain that culture as he is constantly reminded of his origin when he returns to Joseon. There is a moment in particular when Ae-sin refers to him as a foreigner and he looks offended, but unfortunately, the character cannot have it both ways. At the end of the episode, Eugene and Ae-sin both seem to have a common understanding that they have a similar goal, leaving a tantalising week’s wait to see how this all unfolds.