As we reach the halfway point, Mr. Sunshine episode 13 shows the strain tightening on Joseon, and a tragic ordeal for Eugene in a compelling episode.
As we cross the halfway point of Mr. Sunshine, I feel like I have a real connection with the characters. I mean, with each episode accounting for a feature-length film, and Mr. Sunshine Episode 13 being a whole seventy-eight minutes, I guess it is rather difficult to not treat these characters as if they were my friends.
That’s not to say I have enjoyed the entire experience; some episodes have felt long and cumbersome and having little knowledge of the history of Joseon means I have spent most episodes googling references alongside the character’s cloddish ways of explaining complex events. Mr. Sunshine Episode 13 almost feels symbolic; with the series signalling a metaphoric congratulation for making it this far. The characters appear to blend together more in Episode 13 and the first thirty minutes are quite upbeat relative to the rest of the series so far. That is, until the end.
The episode started off how the previous one ended, with Eugene and Lady Ae-sin taking a spontaneous horse ride down to the sea, to witness the sun and enjoy each other’s company. I found it profoundly odd that nobody questioned their brief disappearance, however; witnessing both characters actually have something recognisable as a date felt like a milestone achieved, as it has taken a tiresome amount of time to get here. Both characters were relaxed for once, ignoring the pressures of Joseon, politics and night vigilante talk, and instead enjoyed tinned food which, can I add, looked like the sort of sealed meal product you serve to a cat. In fact, I am wholly convinced that the costumes and prop team gave Eugene a Felix tin for the purpose of the scene.
The rest of Mr. Sunshine Episode 13 subjected itself to an almost settled Joseon, with no dramas to savour or to report on initially. Even the Glory Hotel owner Kudo Hina appeared less sinister, though she did decide to consume an entire bottle of some strong alcoholic beverage as she continues to struggle with her journey to avenge her Husband’s death. Gu-Dong Mae is the man to help, carrying her home, rubberstamping into the story that both characters are in an unspoken relationship. Well, that may be a stretch, but it does seem likely.
Meanwhile, Lady Ae-sin is glowing from her romance, improving her English and becoming more openly involved with Eugene in public. It feels like a dangerous game because by exposing themselves they become a target. She does manage to unconvincingly settle her debts with Gu-Dong Mae by agreeing to a payback scheme with the street assassin – a situation forced onto her by Kudo Hina, who refused to assist Ae-sin with her debt. I believe we will be seeing a fight between these two again soon.
As for Joseon itself, you can almost feel the choke that is consuming the community as Japan is slowly getting a grip on the economy, with the authoritarian people of Joseon resisting the use of Japanese currency due to it potentially damaging sovereignty. The politics brought Go Sa-Hong back into the fold, the nobleman and grandfather of Lady Ae-sin who is angered by the Japanese influence and writes a scathing letter asking for Joseon not to consider using their currency. In the same moment, he asks Hui-seong to not call off the engagement with Lady Ae-sin. It seems that no matter what happens, Hui-seong cannot distance himself from his situation with Ae-sin, and he will have to find a solution soon.
Mr. Sunshine Episode 13 ended on gloomier terms, but it was also a great turning point to witness for Eugene halfway through the season. His old lifelong American friend Joseph, who embodies a father figure, has been planning to visit Eugene this whole time since he sent the letter. The episode ends tragically as Joseph arrives at Joseon murdered, with Eugene not having the chance to meet him. As the episode ends with Eugene sobbing uncontrollably, I wondered how this will pan out for the lead character. For all the pain he has suffered in Joseon, another one has arrived at his feet, in the same place he was brutally treated as a slave.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.