Mr. Sunshine episode 21 offers love, heartbreaks and war as the series strongly tie up loose ends, providing clear and final objectives for the leading characters.
Here we are again, another week, and a lot more to take in from Mr. Sunshine. Due to Netflix’s lazy admin processes, I genuinely believed that this series was 22-episodes. That number was showing on my Netflix dashboard only until this week, and I was foolishly corrected. We have one more weekend. I am happy that we get two more episodes to resolve this story – it has been a journey with these characters, and Mr. Sunshine episode 21 was a vigorous rollercoaster.
I’ll be frank, I left the previous episode thinking that Lady Ae-sin does not deserve Eugene in almost all respects. The American man has determined every decision based on his love for the noblewoman, and in return, all he has received is a flurry of empty, cold rejections. As he uttered his ineffective resentment, I could feel the pain quivering in his voice, the strain in the eyes. He has put his life on the line for Lady Ae-sin. And don’t get me wrong, I get why she is choosing Joseon over the ex-slave but there is a certain way of stating her choices. Her way of managing the situation has been uncomfortably cruel.
Eugene continues to trust his large heart and offers to take her to Japan. If you could describe Eugene in one specific word, it would be resourceful. Due to his association with the American legation, he can organise official marriage certificates, and he makes Lady Ae-sin his wife, officially named Ae-sin Choi; in the same moment of offering engagement, he reveals the certificates. Initially, I thought this approach was intensely invasive, however, at the same time, it is the easiest way she can get into Japan to try to save Lord Lee Jeong-mun. Mr. Sunshine episode 21 leaves no pages unturned for the leading characters, setting out the agendas clearly.
Despite Eugene’s painful past, he is still willing to help Joseon but under his American allegiance. Since episode 1, the US Corporal has always made it clear that his actions are repeatedly under American citizenship. It’s clear he does it for his associated protection, and why wouldn’t he. Seizing an American dream provides more security than being an ex-slave from Joseon, though apart of me still thinks he has a small slither of respect left for his birthplace. In episode 21, he spends a number of scenes saying goodbye to everyone before he embarks to Japan. His speech to his drill team was a leadership statement, telling them they are the best soldiers and they should be prepared for battle. Mr. Sunshine episode 21 confirmed that Joseon is now a ghost town, whilst it waits for the inevitable.
The train journey to Japan was the first time in this episode that Eugene and Lady Ae-sin acknowledged the true weight of their marriage; Ae-sin offering a ring to Eugene to complete the Western way of commitment was wonderfully symbolic – the noblewoman is willing to accept other cultural ways to recognise their marriage. When she uttered her love to him directly, you could sense the relief on the carriage; Eugene deserves it to be fair, and Mr. Sunshine has tentatively built every scene leading to this pivotal moment. This is not just marriage to help with the war; it is real.
The scene quickly swerved to heartbreaking as both accepted that they had to part ways with Eugene begging Lady Ae-sin to forget her allegiances and join him in America; the looks on both of their faces were telling and heart-rending. I did choke up slightly – despite knowing that it was not obviously the end, it was an important moment for both of them and you could see it.
The rest of episode 21 turns into war as The Righteous Army puts their plans into place to save Lord Lee Jeoung- mun and they did it with such precision and strategy that I was slightly overwhelmed with the thought process behind it. Lady Ae-sin shows that her marksmanship training has paid off as she manages to snipe as many enemies as possible whilst the rest of her group flee with Lord Lee Jeoung-mun. After countless scenes witnessing the noblewoman mull over different weapons and target practices, it was good to finally see her skills come to fruition.
Mr. Sunshine episode 21 shows Eugene living up to his promise to the now deceased Lord Go – to kill Takashi Mori. Regardless of the nobleman’s request, I also wished to see Eugene slaying the Japanese Colonel. And the character did it in style, making Takashi Mori panic, shooting his arms and legs so he was physically disarmed; he was an excellent villain but it was equally refreshing to see Eugene perform the cold-blooded assassination, ending it with, “you are wrong, I am American”.
As the episode draws to a close Gu Dong-mae learns from his mute acquaintance that she has been blackmailed by The Musin Society and she intends to kill Lady Ae-sin in order to save him. His loyalties are clear as he tells one of his men that he is off to Japan. Meanwhile, Lady Ae-sin and Eugene have a romantic photoshoot after “bumping” into each other again before the American has to set off on the ship back home. More drama was afoot as The Musin Society spot Ae-sin and chase her. Of course, Eugene comes to her rescue and sprints to the American Legation in the hope that the soldiers defend them against the group of swordsmen. As the episode closes, you can see the soldiers lining up outside, and a swordsman about to unleash his sword on Lady Ae-sin.
Surely not? Regardless, Mr. Sunshine episode 21 was easily one of the best episodes of the series.