4 Times Namgoong Min And Ahn Eun Jin Missed Their Timing In Episodes 7-8 Of “My Dearest”

This show. This show. It’s just so good. “My Dearest” temporarily takes its focus off historical events as the war draws to a close. But the end of the Greater Jin invasion doesn’t mean that things are back to normal. The suffering has only begun for Joseon’s people as they navigate their new post-war reality. Lee Jang Hyun (Namgoong Min) and Yoo Gil Chae (Ahn Eun Jin) find themselves unanchored while the land tries to rebuild, even as everyone within is kept downtrodden by the Greater Jin. Happiness is just within reach. But Jang Hyun and Gil Chae’s greatest enemies on their path to each other may be none other than themselves.

Here are four times the main characters missed their timing in the previous episodes.

Warning: spoilers for episodes 7-8 below.

1. When Jang Hyun didn’t tell her that he was the soldier who saved her

What’s so heartbreaking about this week’s episodes is that so much of this pain (and everything that’ll come in the future) could have been avoided if Jang Hyun and Gil Chae were capable of being transparent. But that is easier said than done in an age where social norms and gender roles were unquestioningly obeyed and where most people were too busy surviving to have the time to gain clarity on the workings of their minds.

We left off with Jang Hyun fighting off the Mongol squad he was pretending to be a part of. He defeats them 16 to one, but his smallpox infection is taking its toll, and the last man nearly kills him. Only one of the king’s soldiers, Goo Won Moo (Ji Seung Hyun), sweeps in and kills the last one, just as Gil Chae arrives on the scene. She searches for Jang Hyun but doesn’t see him collapsed in the underbrush, and Goo Won Moo takes all the credit for Jang Hyun’s kills. Jang Hyun falls comatose and awakens to a new Joseon a day later. King Injo (Kim Jong Tae) has taken his advice and surrendered. Jang Hyun had advised the king’s ministers to threaten the Greater Jin and the Mongols with knowledge of their smallpox problem and twist it to indicate that the heavens are not on their side. The Greater Jin emperor Hong Taiji’s (Kim Joon Won) entire battle strategy has been that he was sent by the heavens to rule over Asia. If the truth comes out that the heavens seem to have cursed the army with smallpox, his rule would not seem legitimate. So, both sides agree to a cease-fire, and Hong Taiji agrees not to harm Injo. Joseon gets to keep their king but is now subsumed to Taiji’s rule. Crown Prince So Hyun (Kim Mu Jun) will be sent as a royal captive and hostage to the Greater Jin court so that King Injo does what the Greater Jin want. The war is over.

Goo Won Moo and Nam Yeon Joon (Lee Hak Joo) are given high honors by the king for their support in battle, when in reality all they did was survive the battle. Won Moo takes all credit for Jang Hyun’s kills, and Jang Hyun, despite everything he risked to help, is given no honors.

He’s nursed back to health by his loyal friend Goo Jam (Park Kang Sub) and Ryang Eum (Kim Yoon Woo), who remains secretly in love with him. Jang Hyun and Gil Chae both find their way to Hanyang as Kyung Eun Ae (Lee Da In) prepares to marry Yeon Joon. Despite playing it cool, they both seek each other out. But with the desperation of wartime days now gone, all social norms rear their head. Gil Chae realizes that all she knows about Jang Hyun is that he seems to like her and is apparently a massive flirt with every woman. He even lives in a gisaeng house at the moment, which doesn’t help her opinion of him. And Jang Hyun feels guilty for having told her to go to Ganghwa Island, believing it to be safe, when she nearly met her death there. So, when she asks if he was there, if he fought off all those men and saved her life, he lies and says he wasn’t there.

And her opinion of him deflates. She wonders what she saw in him even while he yearns for her. Jang Hyun and Gil Chae are both proud in their own way, and it is that fierce pride that dooms them at this hour. And it hurts because happiness was so, so close, and it slipped through their grasp.

2. When Gil Chae continued to be hung up on Yeon Joon

Eun Ae and Gil Chae’s friendship continues to be one of the best parts of this show. Eun Ae, like Yeon Joon, recognizes that Gil Chae’s feelings for Yeon Joon are that of familiarity, comfort, and a child who wants the toy she’s yearned after for years. She’s dreamt of this mysterious man who she knows is the love of her life for so many years and told herself that it was Yeon Joon. He’s the only crush she has ever had. He represents every romantic ideal she possesses. So, even though she know he’s going to marry Eun Ae, part of her can’t help but cling to him one last time and ask if he ever felt anything for her. And Yeon Joon remains a coward, because he leads Gil Chae on by vaguely indicating that he does, and he even says that he’s marrying Eun Ae partly because he can’t abandon her after she lost her father in the war. Jang Hyun witnesses Gil Chae tearfully pleading with Yeon Joon to give her at least one bit of honesty, and his heart just breaks so he calls Yeon Joon out on being a wishy-washy, spineless coward.

Namgoong Min is excellent at showing just how much Jang Hyun adores Gil Chae. He realizes that no matter what Gil Chae feels for him, her yearning for Yeon Joon has been going on for years and won’t just vanish overnight. So when the Crown Prince asks Jang Hyun to accompany him as a translator as he heads off into royal captivity, Jang Hyun agrees. He has nothing left to live for here.

3. When Jang Hyun kissed Gil Chae

Gil Chae doesn’t want to show that she’s affected by Jang Hyun’s departure but runs to him anyway when she finds out. He teases her about the ribbon she snuck into his saddlebag as a wartime memento to keep him safe and recalls how much she seemed to care for him during the war, but his eyes are sad. It’s like she only relied on him when things were bitter, and now that they aren’t, she backs away. When he kisses her, it’s because he can’t help himself, and he sees that she’s not opposed to it.

He quietly tells her that he knows she doesn’t love him but hopes she won’t forget this moment. And perhaps, if he returns safely after serving the Crown Prince as an interpreter, then maybe, by then, she’ll want him. It’s heartbreaking because he even tells her that he has never believed in marriage but that he’ll marry her if it’s the only way for him to have her. The scene is powerful, moving, and painful because we know Gil Chae isn’t there yet. Her ties to Yeon Joon have deep roots, and even though she’s pulling them out, it won’t happen overnight. Jang Hyun is all the way in, but Gil Chae doesn’t trust him enough to dive in. Her position as a woman is too precarious. Taking the wrong man to be her husband could literally ruin her life—which is why it’s so bittersweet to see her watch Jang Hyun walk away and freeze in shock. His departing figure is the same as that of the mysterious man in her dreams, the man whose face she never sees. Gil Chae finally realizes that Jang Hyun is the love of her life she’s been dreaming of. And he’s leaving.

4. When Gil Chae didn’t hold Jang Hyun back

The next day, she risks everything to run to him as he follows the Crown Prince’s procession into captivity. He rescues her when Greater Jin soldiers attempt to drag her as a captive and is short with her, asking why she came. Gil Chae doesn’t know how to explain to him that she is falling in love with him and doesn’t know if his feelings for her are equally strong. And Jang Hyun doesn’t know if Gil Chae is here because she cares or because she just likes the idea of him liking her. The thing is, he loves her. And from his perspective, she seems to only be interested in him, so he keeps playing off everything he does as a joke, and that confuses her because she can’t tell if he’s serious or not! But in a heartbreaking moment, he puts everything on the line and asks her to stop him. If she can tell him that she has no interest in Yeon Joon, then he’ll leave the crown prince’s service and go with her. It doesn’t matter if she’s lying about having no interest in Yeon Joon, just the words are enough.

But Gil Chae can’t lie to him. She honestly tells him that her feelings for Yeon Joon aren’t completely gone yet. And Jang Hyun’s heart shatters so completely, you can see it in his eyes. Namgoong Min nailed every inch of Jang Hyun’s pain as he cups Gil Chae’s face and tenderly says he kind of hates her right now. He promises to bring her the loveliest pair of shoes when he next sees her, and he leaves.

Weeks pass, and Eun Ae and Yeon Joon are married. Gil Chae realizes that she doesn’t feel much jealousy seeing them being happy together. The king tries to force Yeon Joon into a suicide mission so he can save his captive son, but Yeon Joon refuses and is jailed. Eun Ae and Gil Chae are kicked out of their home and move to a small village. She thinks of Jang Hyun most days and falls asleep holding onto his coat. News arrives, and the Greater Jin have rounded up and executed all the interpreters for supposedly conspiring against Hong Taiji’s righthand man. Among the dead men’s belongings, Gil Chae finds the ribbon she gave Jang Hyun. And it’s her turn for her heart to break. She weeps, begging for him to be alive even as Jang Hyun is taken before Hong Taiji. And we leave off there.

Next week’s episodes will end Part 1 of the show and leave us with about a month and a half’s wait until October. Thus far, every political action Jang Hyun has taken has been motivated by Gil Chae, be it ensuring her safety or making the country safer for her. But that resulted in him gaining the attention of the rulers of both Joseon and the Greater Jin, which has required him to play both sides. Unless this show devises a way for him and Gil Chae to flee to some remote, happy village, then he is all but doomed at this point. And yet, like her, I continue to hope that next week will bring a conclusion to Part 1 that won’t rip our hearts out! Give Namgoong Min a reason to smile! He has such a lovely one!

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Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she fangirls over Ji Sung, and spins thrillers set in increasingly fantastic worlds. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!

Currently Watching: Longing for You,” “My Dearest,” “Moving,” and “My Lovely Liar.”
Looking Forward to: “Gyeongseong Creature,” “Ask The Stars,” “The Girl Downstairs,” “The Worst Evil,” “Queen of Tears,” “Vigilante,” “Daily Dose of Sunshine,” and Ji Sung’s next drama.

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