“West Sky 1” delves into Ryung-gu’s grim past to solid effect, despite the relative mundanity of flashbacks and exposition.
This recap of Tomorrow season 1, episode 11, “West Sky 1”, contains spoilers.
The latest episode of Tomorrow devotes itself heavily to the past of Ryung-gu, which seems like an overdue deviation. “West Sky 1” starts with Jun-woong being annoyed at the insinuations about Ryung-gu’s background and upset at his plans to leave the department. Ryeon is unbothered about the swirl of rumors and accusations following the end of last week’s rapist case, but as she explains to Jun-woong, they can’t make him stay. And Ryeon would know since it was her who escorted Ryung-gu and his mother to the afterlife after they were both assaulted.
And so begins her narration of his story.
Tomorrow season 1, episode 11 recap
It’s characteristically grim. Ryung-gu’s mother, a commoner, was once a kisaeng – basically the Korean equivalent of a geisha in function, at least according to Google – which she’s reminded about by a new governor who tries to force her into being his mistress. When she refuses, he sends his men to teach her a lesson, resulting in her understandable suicide.
Ryung-gu seethes with rage about his mother’s past and the loss of her, but that rage morphs into a desire for vengeance upon learning the truth, and he kills the governor and his soldiers. The reason Ryung-gu decided to be a Reaper was to keep an eye on his mother, who he is unable to reunite with because of her suicide. In the event of her reincarnation, the pain she suffered in her first life might be so strong as to follow her into her next – a morbid thought, indeed.
This context allows Jun-woong to better relate to Ryung-gu in the present, who opens up to him a little about his mother’s reincarnation. “West Sky 1” ends with the RM team being notified that Yu-hwa is on the verge of suicide, which one assumes is where the next episode will pick up.
Once again, Tomorrow leans heavily into extreme trauma to do a lot of heavy lifting simply by its implications, but it also gives the episode overall a feeling of tremendous melancholy. Ryung-gu’s past is absurdly bleak, and the centering of it gives the whole episode the same dour quality. It’s not fun, but it’s decently effective, even with the relatively artless use of flashbacks and exposition dumps and a preview that suggests that tomorrow’s installment of Tomorrow doesn’t stand much chance of being happy-go-lucky either.
Still, the absence of a typical “case” worked quite well here in characterizing a key member of the team who has remained rather inscrutable thus far. Hopefully, the subsequent stories benefit a bit from this context.