“A Soul Becomes a Star” is inarguably the most poignant episode of the season thus far.
This recap of Tomorrow season 1, episode 6, “A Soul Becomes a Star”, contains spoilers.
One of the things I like about Tomorrow is what it’s doing with its format. Thus far, we’ve had stories that stretch across two episodes, across one and a half, and here fit neatly within just one, and I appreciate that – there’s nothing more obnoxious than an idea stretched beyond the point of absurdity, and nothing more frustrating than one that doesn’t have enough space and time to breathe. “A Soul Becomes a Star” gets a lot of things just right, and it feels like a nice, contained, standalone story.
Tomorrow season 1, episode 6 recap
Cast your mind back to yesterday’s recap, of course, and you’ll recall that I said the problem with Tomorrow isn’t its episode-to-episode storylines, but the connective tissue binding them all together; the universe that continues to have thinly-sketched rules and ideas that it’s content to pick up and then subsequently abandon at a moment’s notice. I wouldn’t say this episode, as touching as it is, really does anything to assuage those concerns.
So, Tomorrow finds itself in that awkward middle ground, and I find myself having to wheel out the most tired commentary imaginable, but here it is – if you’re not bothered about the logistics and mechanics of this world and just want to buy into the emotionality of the stories, you’ll be fine. If you are bothered about that kind of thing, then you won’t.
Anyway, attention in “A Soul Becomes a Star” shifts to Lee Young-chun, a 91-year-old war vet whom the team is supposed to look after on the eve of his apparently impending suicide. Young-chun is an interesting case study, existing right at the nexus of ideas like old age, PTSD, the responsibility of a society to its veterans, and the idea of being able to settle our affairs and go out on our own terms. Young-chun is old, at the end of the day. He has lived a long and hard life and, after hearing about a neighbor who died alone and took so long to be discovered that he withered down to only his bones in complete abandonment, he is coming around to the idea of ending things for himself.
It’s quite a light episode this, despite the heavy subject matter, and I think that sense of the team just lounging around with Young-chun and getting a sense of his life and experiences really works here. He fought in the Korean War as a youngster and took it home with him long into his adulthood. There’s a lovely moment when Ryeon takes Young-chun, who is wondering what his life amounted to, to an observation tower from which he can see all of Seoul. It only exists now, in this way, because of his sacrifices.
When Jung-gil and the Escort Team take Young-chun away after his passing, we’re reminded of the broader framework of Tomorrow, the interplay between the departments, and the ways things are run behind the scenes. For me, this is where I felt the illusion lift. It’s where I was reminded that we’re watching a work of fiction and that for all Jun-woong’s tears and aghast questioning about why those who are good and kind aren’t rewarded in the same way that sinners are punished, we probably won’t get any meaningful answers to a lot of these obvious questions. Again, for some, that’ll be fine. But for others, it’ll prevent even this quite lovely little story from really lingering on in our minds.