Episode 1 Review: Shine or Go Crazy (2015)
Months ago, the drama prophets spoke of a wretched prince overburdened by the shadow of a curse. He would inherit bloodshed, pain and suffering by the time he’d open his eyes underneath the nighttime’s Alkaid eerie stare. They also foresaw the advent of two princesses with the light of the North Star on their skin who would try to cleanse the darkness from the prince’s life. There’s a crossroad of two options, Shine or Go Crazy. And the time has arrived for the first episode of a story based on Hyun Go Woon’s web novella Bitnageona Michigeona presented through the lenses of director Son Hyeong Seok via MBC’s Monday-Tuesday drama airing time. And a great cast supports this grandiose fantasy/romance/historical attempt. Jang Hyuk, Oh Yeon Seo and Lee Na Hui will be the prince and the two princesses respectively, bound to bring to life the main lead roles to the fullest and even further of their capabilities. Along with them, many actors and actresses, more well known throughout the years and with a wide variety of filmography and drama appearances on their backs, but also less known ones on a race to prove their worth through Shine or Go Crazy! I won’t invest much on presenting the drama, you pretty much have already done your research, i will keep my thoughts for a forthcoming first impressions article during the following week or whenever time is gracious on me. Let the moon shine!
Nighttime at the palace and 3 children sneak out of the maids and the guards in their quest to fulfill their curiosity! As they reach the King’s resting area a jade necklace falls down and breaks in two pieces. The elder Ji Mong appears and starts shedding some light upon the necklace story as it was designed by half in the first place. Of course, children are children and they ask questions, they want to know about the story behind the necklace, even if it is a long one. Ji Mong will be talking for about 24 hours it seems, since it is a drama consisting of 24 episodes, at least for the time being. Well, for a second i thought that this old man holds the audience’s fate in his hands since he could have spoiled the ending right in the very beginning of the drama and everything would end. It would be fun just for a change and a radical move! It would cause a ruckus, the greenhouse effect in combination with the audience’s tears would overflow the earth and the world as we know it would end. At one of the palace’s balconies, Ji Mong points towards a star, Alkaid, the star of war. It’s the one on the tail of the Big Dipper constellation, one of the brightest stars in the night sky. According to the myth, a frightening prophecy follows the Alkaid’s rare brightest appearances. If a prince gets born under its most radiant glare he will be cursed and blood will be shed in his bloodline. And what spreads its wings in an ominous way with light, only light can cure it and thus break the curse. Aware of the curse, the Queen’s happiness was overshadowed by the prophecy’s ravenous predictions and the prince’s birth didn’t enlighten her soul. And the bloodshed happened and the prince was exiled in Geumgang Mountain. Although, there were two princesses that were born under the stare of the North Star, bound to lead the prince towards the light, the princess of Goryeo and the princess of Balhae.
“You’re destined to meet the person you’re meant to be with.
Even if you try not to be with them.”
Years have passed since the prince’s exile forced him to call the mountains his home and there he is! Wang So’s expedition was successful and with a boar on his back he welcomes us with Jang Hyuk’s renowned laughter! His lifetime servant on the mountain, Gil Bok, informs him that someone from the palace has arrived for the first time all these years and Wang So’s not happy, he’s not happy at all. Ji Mong leads his way back to the palace and right in front of the guards painful memories start unveiling themselves. Young Wang So’s cries and pleas to remain at the palace depict the impact these events had on him. It was something beyond the King and Queen’s powers, they had to do it for the stability of the empire. Once he approaches the arch entrance before the palace yard, the guards deny him the access, until Ji Mong who’s in charge orders them not to do so. Even though he’s a prince, his exiled condition still lingers and his rights are limited.
It’s been many years since he wandered inside the palace and there he is again, inside the throne chamber! He senses someone’s presence, but nobody’s there, until the King’s roar breaks the silence and a slight fight begins for King Wang Gun to realize not everything was in vain and that Wang So crafted well his swordsmanship in the mountains throughout the years. No wonder they’re father and son, their laughter echos the same through a chasm of decades apart! Although the King’s playful mood isn’t going to last for long since Wang So’s anger and bitterness grow as time passes by to eventually turn into an echo of pain. He can’t simply accept that they’ll welcome him back at the palace as if nothing happened; and many things happened in the past. The once unwanted child can’t accept the generosity of feeling appreciated all of a sudden and pretend as if everything was fine. He can’t simply hold the King’s friendly approaching hand and follow him on a quest to change his cursed fate, because it’s the same hand that once abandoned him. And the King’s armor and the imperial sword make their appearance! It’s the sword the King held in his hands during the unification of the three Han states, the sword that depicts the nation’s founding power.
“When you’re building a nation you need the help of a founding contributor.
But after you’ve built a nation, you’d need to eliminate them.
If you don’t, then the nation will crumble like sand.
That’s why the nation’s history needs a bloody King.”
At the court of the palace smoke bombs put the guards to sleep and assassins move around the palace. Eun Chun appears in the throne chamber, from this moment and on he’ll be the prince’s personal assistant. Soon enough everyone realizes that something’s just not right and they become aware of the assassins, everyone gets prepared for battle. The assassins pass through the first line of throne chamber’s defense and march straight forward towards the second one. Wang So can’t stand still and rides into the battle that slows down for a while in utter darkness in the moonlight’s absence. The close combat fight and swordsmanship choreography are well-conceived and well-executed alongside the flashing effect that lights up the room instantly when swords cross paths! And the moonlight shines anew once the clouds pass by and two of the remaining assassins start fleeing after leaving the prince lightly wounded and a failed last attempt to assassinate the King with flying daggers. Wang So encounters his mother for the first time, Queen Yoo, who’s not pleased to see him inside the palace after the pain and suffering he caused to his family due to his Alkaid curse. She still considers him responsible for his older brother’s death and at the present she’s afraid of the King’s life after the assassination attempt, for which she considers Wang So and his curse responsible. Wang So’s wet yes through the duration of the scene depict in a representative way the longing for maternal love and the hurt he received from her reactions instead of her warm feelings after all this time has passed in his absence. The slight smile is unveils how much he’s breaking apart on the inside. And he still wonders whether he’s still welcome in the palace after this turn of events. Eun Chun finds out that the assassins were not from Goryeo and the King intends to bury the incident. Wang So sets sail on a journey to find the assassins accompanied by Eun Chu under the King’s command.
One of the two remaining assassins meets his master and informs him that they didn’t succeed. The shady figure asks him to leave the capital for a while, until the smoke comes down. While the fight was raging on, the assassins were covered with powder made of female silkworm moths’ reproductive organs and the male ones that Eun Chun set free will find the remaining assassins no matter what! Horseback riding time and our two heroes notice that the moths flew towards the boat that had just left and one of them really did find one of the assassins, someone that made the moth meet its creator. Wang So and Eun Chun have to go to Gaebong in China to continue their quest in search of answers. Seasickness strikes Wang So, making his journey an unpleasant experience! In the meantime, the King informs Ji Mong that after the prince’s successful training his marriage with princess Yeo Won will take place. She was not chosen randomly, there’s a crucial criterion for her presence in the Prince’s life, she was born under the light of the North Star, the light bound to break the prince’s curse. And the King calls Yeo Won’s grandfather among the officials of the empire where he states that he wants to offer his granddaughter to Sik Ryeom, who looks like the assassins’ principal, a disciple of ambitious and threatening aims. In such cases there are always two sides, the one close to the King and the one pretending to be loyal whereas they plot to gain absolute control of the throne. So, as Jae Gong states his desire to offer Yeo Won to Sik Reyom, the villainous side is happy and humorous, once the King raises his voice and lets them know that Yeo Won will become Wang So’s wife all smiles get erased from their easily displeased faces! Once everyone else has left, the King invites his brother, Sik Ryeom at the throne chamber. By the time he notices the sword of the Unification of the Three Han States he gets unpleasantly surprised. The King wants him to always look after Wang So and stand by his side and for that reason he orders him to pledge allegiance to the sword, something he responds to, but with trembling hands. The King’s blinking owned! Sik Ryeom notices that the King’s neck is slightly wounded and his smile betrays his intentions to break the promise he had just made once the right occasion asks for it. One question, could it be that the flying dagger was poisoned? And we witness princess Yeo Won’s dreamlike beauty for the first time, caressed by light and surrounded by flowers, cleansing her hands in rosewater.
And another rosewater beauteous figure appears, a delicate young lady of astonishing sweetness that already occupied my eyes’ retina! Of course i’m referring to Shin Yool! She meets with merchants from Arabia and the Roman Empire who desire to trade their goods and she appears to be well educated since she can speak in Arabic and Roman dialect arranging all the deals by herself. Everything seems to be flowing well, until general Gwak and his men break into the yard. They have arrested Shin Yool’s brother for provoking his younger sister! After the trade is complete she negotiates with general Gwak the terms under which her brother will be free, but… her brother made his own contract! He offered Shin Yool as a bride to general Gwak and it’s the only condition to set her brother free! She tries to make other proposals, but nothing seems to flow the way she’d desire. Then she comes up with an idea that surprises everyone, her brother, general Gwak and the people supporting her all these years, the highly expressive Baek Myo and Gang Myeong. She states that she’s already engaged to a Goryeo man and that she’ll be marrying him soon! Shin Yool, Baek Myo and Gang Myeong have to find a way in order to present a proper Goryeo groom so that they won’t face general Gwak’s wrath since he intends to appear at the wedding! The overall discussion is hilarious through Baek Myo’s angst, Gang Myeong’s positive point of view and Shin Yool’s determined spirit!
Wang So and Eun Chun wander around the city until… Wang So feels like a child again by the time he notices the dumplings! It’s not like he hasn’t eaten, it’s just a snack, a grand plate full of snacks enough to full two people! Of course he eats them all alone by himself since Eun Chun’s views doesn’t relate to Wang So’s since they’re chasing the assassins, he wants to keep his stomach empty and the last dumpling gets launched far away with the chopstick machinery, causing discomfort to Wang So! They notice a blacksmith and the owner he examines the flying daggers, he’s the one who made them, but he can’t recall to whom he sold them because many people pass by his store. All they know for now is that the assassins must be in the area. And one of them is nearby and starts following Wang So and Eun Chun by the time they start walking, something Eun Chun’s sharp eye easily notice and they manage to hide. And this time they are the ones who are after the assassin’s tail, but they lose him easily inside the crowd. Although Wang So recalls that he noticed him earlier and they’re going to the place from which he came out.
In the meantime, Shin Yool and her faithful followers are in the streets trying to find out the most wanted Goryeo groom to present to general Kwan! But nobody’s pleasing enough to own the position, but she’s determined! Wang So and Eun Chun enter the building and once they enter a room they surprisingly witness a ladies’ group that gets frightened in the beginning, except for the chubby lady with a warrior’s spirit that gets on her feet and starts chasing them! Shortly after the rest of the young ladies follow her lead and try to capture the trespassers of their beauty harmony! An overall entertaining and humorous scene takes place, with moments full of pain on body spots that should never get hurt, awkward moments, impressive acrobatic moves that eventually lead to Wang So’s escape who’s running in the streets followed by the villainous young ladies! Shin Yool starts feeling disappointed because she can’t find someone worth to be her husband, even for one day and she gets lost in her thoughts. Bad choice! A chariot’s moving towards her at full speed and right before getting hit the acrobat prince Wang So puts his life on the line to save her. And of course while they’re on thin air the scene progresses in slow motion and we witness Shin Yool getting overwhelmed by her savior’s fortitude as she’s left stunned simply staring at him! Yet, the villainous ladies return and he has to rush on a new quest to save his own life! Shin Yool just found her Goryeo groom! Wang So finally finds Eun Chun and they visit a tavern to quench Wang So’s thirst for booze! Gang Myeong, Baek Myo and Shin Yool are there as well, spying on them from the upper floor! He looks overly suspicious to Baek Myo’s eyes, although Gang Myeong stands on the other side of the fence and concurs Shin Yool’s decision! The interaction between Baek Myo and Gang Myeong started really well, i think this couple of characters will offer us tremendous amounts of laughter in the future episodes! And along with Shin Yool, they forge a pretty strong triple combo!
Eun Chun leaves for a while on another investigation and leaves Wang So at the tavern to drink until his liver becomes a cactus and he receives the first treat on behalf of the table on the upper floor! He notices that they’re staring at him and he considers them the assassins’ informants! His thoughts are hilarious as he thinks he will not fall for their trap. In the end, he decides to dance to their tune and drinks the booze with passion to later on wake up inside a gunnysack at the wedding chamber right before the wedding! In the meantime, Jae Gong can’t accept Yeo Won’s fate to marry the once exiled prince. She intends to marry him, she’s not negative, rather thoughtful i would say. She will either make her brother or her husband a King. If everything flows well. One way or another, she will become the Queen. The future still lies ahead. As for the current King, he’s still worried whether the princess’ light will enlighten the world of the cursed prince, relieving the discomfort of his tragic nature through the curse. Ji Mong indicates that this very evening will judge his fate and the signs will point towards either the welcome direction or the opposite.
Back at the wedding chamber! Wang So wants Shin Yool to get him out of the sack! Until this happens he’s like an asylum inmate on a restricted demented frenzy! She finally releases him from his prison and he wants to leave. But he can’t leave, Shin Yool will be in great trouble if he does! She has to present a proper Goryeo groom in front of general Gwak! She offers him money and the proposals become higher since he denies them one after the other! By the time she gets warned that general Gwak will be entering the room soon, she drags Wang So close to her to present an intimate moment of passion in front of general Gwak’s eyes! Wang So can’t do otherwise but act like her soon-to-be husband, otherwise both of them will be in trouble, along with Shin Yool’s lowlife brother! The overall discussion is humorous! Wang So refers to the general as an old corpse. He can’t understand the language and he gets to know what Wang So would probably say had he been her real lover through Shin Yool’s translation! She pretty much says anything that shines inside her braincells at that point and presents a caring husband that feels frustrated at the presence of the general inside the wedding chamber right before the wedding! The general wishes her all the happiness in the world and lets her know that everything will be fine with her brother! Her happiness is grandiose!
And the marriage ritual begins! Wang So feels as if he was sentenced to penal servitude and Shin Yool tries to make the overall ambiance more playful with her cheerful character. Eventually everyone starts having a good time as they depict a gifted with mutual feelings couple! It starts to rain and Wang So protects her from the falling rain with his clothing and her eyes shine differently, somewhere between surprise and awe; things have just started getting emotionally serious! And i’m already shipping this couple as the ship ships the water in the vast ocean of feels!