First Impressions: “Shine or Go Crazy” Eps 1 and 2 – When Darkness Meets the Light
“You’re destined to meet the person you’re meant to be with even if you try not to be with them.”
And so begins the “Shine or Go Crazy” journey of Wang So (Jang Hyuk), the fourth prince of Goryeo cursed with a dark prophecy of bloodshed for his nation, and the two princesses born from the energy of the North Star that could lead him into the light: Shin Yool (Oh Yeon Seo), the last Princess of Balhae, and Hwang Bo Yeo Won (Lee Ha Nui), the Princess of Goryeo.
Wang So, exiled to Geumgang Mountain as a child, is finally taken back to the palace where the King extends his hand towards his son in hopes of a partnership to restore a kingdom befitting of his dreams. Their not-so-joyous reunion is unexpectedly interrupted by the arrival of assassins and Wang So finds himself protecting his father as an intense battle ensues.
When failure seems inevitable, the only two assassins that remain standing escape into the night, but not before sending a couple of daggers flying first, one of which manages to nick the King in the neck. Intelligent deductions from Eun Chan (Kim Roe Ha), the King’s trusted guard, sends him and Wang So on a trip to Gaebong, China in order to find the perpetrator.
In Gaebong, Shin Yool is in trouble. Her stepbrother has bargained her hand in marriage to escape the wrath of General Kwak (Kim Bub Rae) for provoking his younger sister. Desperate to avoid the situation, Shin Yool spins a tale about her upcoming nuptials to a Goryeo man in fifteen days time. Unable to believe it until he sees it, General Kwak states that he will be there to attend her wedding and will offer his congratulations then.
Fate brings Wang So and Shin Yool together as she essentially kidnaps him as her one night groom, but when it’s all been said and done, Wang So doesn’t walk away empty-handed as she ignites a small source of light into his world of darkness. They part ways with Wang So never having seen her face and Shin Yool having fallen head over heels for him, her savior.
Back to the mission at hand, Eun Chan and Wang So finds the assassin they were tracking and learned the dagger was poisoned. They return to Goryeo at once, but it is too late as the King looks on the brink of death. Wang So gives his father the antidote and the doctor gets to work on healing him, but the poison streaming through his blood for the past two weeks is now irreversible and death, inevitable.
At this realization, Wang So finally takes the hand his father had extended towards him, accepting his duty to fulfill the King’s dying wish of his royal, yet loveless, marriage to Hwang Bo Yeo Won, who can protect him from his curse and from the schemes of the noblemen behind the poisoning, while working to turn Goryeo into the nation his father had visualized. While Wang So undergoes training with the King’s warriors, Shin Yool has moved to Goryeo, both to find her groom and to escape General Kwak when he unearths her ruse.
A new king, Wang So’s brother, is crowned. Five years pass and Shin Yool, never having stopped her search for her groom, finally catches sight of Wang So in the marketplace crowd.
LavelyShai: I wasn’t sure how this drama was going to start off and we did get a lot in these first two episodes, but I am satisfied with what we got so far. How did you like these episodes?
akinahana89: I thought the first two episodes of “Shine or Go Crazy” so far were very solid. The storyline was strong, the acting portrayed by the entire cast was phenomenal, the soundtrack fits in perfectly, and the cinematography was beautiful. I particularly like the creative route they decided to take on a sageuk drama and how they didn’t waste a single minute. It made me curious about the history behind it, but you actually researched that, didn’t you?
LavelyShai: I agree with everything. One of the first things I noticed was the nice soundtrack. Every song used seems to fit each scene perfectly. I started watching for Oh Yeon Seo and she didn’t disappoint (neither did anyone else so far). I have heard that this drama is based on a novel of the same name, but I am also intrigued by what parts of history they are going to twist to make fit into their story. Haha. Yes, I did research the history, I couldn’t help it. I had to know who was based on real life characters and who was from the imagination of the writer. One thing is for sure, because this is a fusion sageuk, we will not know what will happen next.
akinahana89: Haha. To be honest, I decided to watch this drama because the plot sounded interesting and because Jang Hyuk was cast in it. After “Fated to Love You,” I was totally on board with anything he was going to be a part of and I heard he was the best in sageuks. I love the humorous aspect he put into Wang So! I haven’t seen Oh Yeon So in a drama before, but she’s already won me over with her portrayal of Shin Yool.
LavelyShai: If they say Jang Hyuk is excellent in sageuks then I believe them. He’s done a great job so far as Wang So. I nearly cried watching his back story, seeing him being used for political gain and having him thrown out the palace thinking he really was cursed. He’s a prince, but he’s grown up as a normal citizen who suddenly gets thrown back into the palace because of those same founding fathers trying to take back the kingdom. He really isn’t perfect, but he’s not cursed. You could tell it got to him when Shin Yool told him he was a good person.
akinahana89: Actually, I don’t even think Wang So grew up as a normal citizen. Normal citizens don’t get exiled and abandoned at a mountain to fend for themselves at such a young age. It’s a miracle he even survived! His back story was definitely heartbreaking, but I confess that I actually did shed some tears in one of the scenes, the one where Wang So was desperately trying to hold back his tears after his mother slapped him as a greeting when they hadn’t seen each other since his exile. The way she cursed at him until he was reduced to tears from her sharp, cruel words totally tore at my heart. I was glad that Shin Yool managed to, in such a short time, make him think positively of himself, even if it was only for a brief moment.
LavelyShai: I didn’t actually mean normal citizen. I had a brain fart moment and couldn’t think of the actual term I wanted to use. lol. Oh my god, that scene with his mother really was heartbreaking. All he wanted was her to welcome him, but she cursed him instead. I know he was bitter, but you can tell he wanted to just be her son again. Seeing his older brother and staff die in front of him traumatized him so much, I am also glad he felt a bit at ease with Shin Yool (at least I kind of felt that by watching him with her). She’s also a little ray of sunshine despite her hardships.
akinahana89: It’s a shame Wang So didn’t get to see those dimpled smiles of hers! With her brightness and outgoing personality, he would have been a goner. Anyway, it says a lot when you see a grown man reduced to acting like an insecure child who only wants reassurance that he’s loved by his mother. Unfortunately, I really can’t see the Queen offering her love to him and I think putting Wang So in a loveless marriage with Hwang Bo Yeo Won is probably just a disaster waiting to happen. He already has so much darkness and resentment in him, after all.
LavelyShai: Oh, I know the Queen won’t ever love him. Once she heard that “prophecy” when she was pregnant, she was reduced into thinking her son was the cause of all that. It’s a shame she couldn’t see past it like her husband did, I know the late King saw that it was politically driven which is why he had him marry Yeo Won. While I can agree that it can end up being in disaster, but it’s also there to help keep him alive. Everyone else is being killed off one by one, but it’s a risk to kill someone from the Hwang family or their spouse. I kind of want to see what she’s been up to, she’s ambitious and wants to be queen. My question this week will be: What will Hwang Bo Yeo Won do?
akinahana89: There are definitely a lot of different possibilities on where next week’s episodes will go. I’m just as curious as you are about Hwang Bo Yeo Won, but any interference from her towards the OTP that I’ve already boarded the ship for and she’ll go on my next-to-be-assassinated list. lol. I’m eager to see if we’ll get more symbolism and parallels next week, like the rainfall during both of Wang So’s wedding and the power to change fate by taking someone’s hand.
LavelyShai: The symbolism is everywhere within this drama, but that happens quite a bit in sageuks and it’s welcomed because it makes you think. The rainfall during both weddings was an interesting part to me, does it mean that he never had luck to begin with and he can have good fortune as long as he believes? I am not deep, but it made sense in my head. We’ll see if anyone actually agrees. The changing your fate thing can actually correlate with the rain during his wedding with Yeo Won. He took his father’s hand and it can be perceived that he will have good fortune within the palace while the rain during his time with Shin Yool could mean that he has every right to be loved.
akinahana89: Actually, I thought it rained for both of his weddings because both of his bride was born with the energy of the North Star – the only two people who could protect him from his cursed fate. Does this technically mean that he’s married to both women? He never consummated the marriage to either one of them but both weddings were blessed by the Heavens… Hm… Interesting thought. As for changing fate by taking someone’s hand, I was referring more to how once Wang So officially took his father’s hand, there were several scenes that followed where they continued to hold hands. The healthy dose of symbolism is one of the reasons why I love a good sageuk drama and “Shine or Go Crazy” is definitely living up to my expectations so far.
LavelyShai: Your entire comment is why I should stop thinking too much. lol. But I guess that’s what’s good about symbolism, it can be one or all the things you’re thinking about. Technically speaking, he’s married to Shin Yool, but since he’s a prince, is it legal to have, like, two wives or something? The non-consummation of either marriage is what makes this tricky; however, his marriage to Yeo Won is recognized by the kingdom and no one knows he left her alone on their wedding night. Maybe he’ll need both women to achieve a better fate.
akinahana89: That’s definitely an interesting notion, a trio instead of a partnership. I wonder how well that would work out for Yeo Won and Shin Yool. The five year time jump was a bit abrupt too, but not unexpected and I’m curious to know if anything of importance had even happened during that time. Did Shin Yool just look for Wang So the entire time? What has Yeo Won been up to? Did Wang So really just leave the palace for so long or was it purely coincidence that he was just arriving back in Goryeo at that time?
LavelyShai: ‘Tis fate, my dear writer, fate. Remember what that old guy in the beginning said? When two people are fated to be together, it’ll happen even if they’re not trying to (paraphrasing here).
akinahana89: Ah… Very true! I loved that statement. It was so poetic!
LavelyShai: I just thought about something: Shin Yool was given the prophecy that she’d be the light for another nation, we never knew what Yeo Won’s was. Was she given a “fate” when she was born or is it the same as Shin Yool’s?
akinahana89: Oohh, now there’s a question that’s going to burn at me until the answer is revealed! Wouldn’t it be interesting if Yeo Won’s fate was the opposite of Shin Yool’s even though both were born from the same energy? While the King thought Yeo Won would protect Wang So, she would, actually, bring additional chaos into his life and his nation with a dose of… dark energy? Now I definitely can’t wait until next week! Monday, are you here yet?!
Soompiers, what did you think about “Shine or Go Crazy?” Any predictions for next week’s episodes? We’d love to know, so be sure to share your thoughts and observations in the comments below!
For all “Shine or Go Crazy” recaps, click here.