So. The awesome drama of the year ended, and we’re left with wondering, did Yeon Hee die? While I’m generally ok to an ending open to interpretation, Mirror of the Witch left me a little bit confused because I have no idea where to begin my interpretation of Show. Did Yeon Hee break the curse? The last of the candles was lit, so she should have right? But it didn’t light when Heo Joon drank the Sacrifice Water, and lit when she drank. So was the rule as stated in the book fulfilled or bent? If all the candles were lit, then why did she die?
My answers to my questions, in no means correct, would be she died and was reborn. I think it’d hurt my head (and heart) less to take the last scene as literal as it is, that she is still a witch looking her youthful self, living a time-bendy life with the amulets on the mountain when an old Heo Joon found the hut. I love that Heo Joon immediately transformed to his younger self the moment he stepped across the magical boundaries, and Yeon Hee looked as though she had been waiting for him all this while. I’d like to think that she retained her magical powers, and the separation was just to let Heo Joon achieve his potential and become the Heo Joon we know historically.
Other than the there’s-a-million-ways-to-read-it ending, Show is mostly consistently written throughout. I was relunctant to brand it repetitive in the beginning, but from about two-thirds way through, I had to concede defeat and agree that it got a wee bit tiring as the plot just kept moving in circles and the same players were always doing the same things to each other. It was just that tiny bit frustrating to watch, although luckily there was so much other things to distract us with. I like that our OTP have friends who believe in them, although they may not be always useful. I lament that Yo-gwang is so poorly written, and is usually used as a plot device more than anything. Seon-deok had less screen time than she should have, which was a shame imo.
Yeon Hee being part of the royal family, it is only natural to have half the screen time devoted to them. Throughout the series I’ve developed a soft spot for the Queen Dowager, who was both trying to atone for her sin to resort to black magic to conceive, as well as strengthening her power. She’s not power-hungry per se, but just wanted her son (before he died) to be the king. And when that became impossible, she realised how evil Hong Joo is and maternal instinct propelled her to protect the daughter she didn’t know survived. I thought it was mature for Yeon Hee to understand the complex situation and not resent the Queen Dowager fervently. King Seonjo on the other hand was frustrating with his insecurity and suspicious nature, making him a perfect tool for Hong Joo to execute her revenge, as well as being a fodder to our good guys.
As for Yeon Hee’s foster family, other than the mother who disappeared from airtime totally earlier on, Poong-yeon is the only person who genuinely cared for her. Sure, Hyun-seo tried to protect and even risk his life for her, but ugh, he’s just too weak as the supposedly powerful Taoist master. There were moments where he seem to be able to fight the black magic that was sustaining his life, but those moments were fleeting and Hyun-seo is mostly this mindless robot of Hong Joo. Poong-yeon too, was inflicted by black magic, but I guess his sincerity in hoping that Yeon Hee will get rid of the curse was crucial in preventing him from being controlled by Hong Joo.
And Hong Joo. She’s a lovely villain to hate, though you can’t help but pity her. Naturally curious, Hong Joo gets devored by her need for revenge thus stepping onto this path of no return in the world of black magic. Aided by her glib tongue, she was not wrong in believing that black magic wouldn’t have worked without fear and greed of the human heart. She’s like a really jaded philosopher dishing out quotes on life, and I can’t help but wonder if someone really loved her would she have been different.
Show is definitely not without its flaws, and the biggest highlight was the chemistry between Yeon Hee and Heo Joon imo. Despite the age gap, Yoon Shi Yoon and Kim Sae-ron managed to portray a youthful love despite all odds, their characters completing and complimenting each other. Yeon Hee and Heo Joon are two kindred souls each with a sad story to tell, and together they’re strength for each other. Thanks for the enjoyable ride, Mirror of the Witch.