Had this drama been shown in 2016, it would really have been a year of reincarnations in KDramaland. The setup here is more similar to Legend of the Blue Sea than Goblin, in the sense that it’s more straightforward than mystical, like in the latter. Suspension of disbelief is as usual, required, even though we spend most of episode 1 and 2 in the modern times.
I guess the biggest draw is without a doubt Lee Young Ae, making this her first drama in 14 years. To be honest, I found it a little strange seeing her in modern settings, and when scenes of her as Shin Saimdang appeared, it felt so familiar and right. I have no idea how she managed to look as if she hasn’t aged a single day, she really hasn’t and it’s like watching Dae Jang Geum all over again. Anyway, her other character, Seo Ji Yoon, is an art history lecturer desperate to become a Professor. Her supervisor Prof Min is such an asshole I can’t help but curse at him at every scene he’s in. He’s petty and unscrupulous, willing to do anything to destroy people whom he deem as his enemies.
We haven’t seen much of Song Seung Heon‘s character, fictitious Lee Gyeom, who is a member of the royal family. We do however, see more of Lee Gyeom’s younger self in the second half of episode 2, played by Yang Se Jong. Yang also appears in the modern timeline as Han Sang Hyun, and while it is yet unknown whether Sang Hyun is a reincarnated Lee Gyeom, he does have plenty of run-ins with Ji Yoon as her junior as well as her new neighbor. It’s more animosity between these two in the modern times than budding love between young Lee Gyeom and young Saimdang (Park Hye Soo).
The discovery of Saimdang’s portrait by Ji Yoon was an accident, and the root of it all was a Geumgangsan painting by An Gyeon, which any seasoned drama viewers will probably bet it’s an imitation by Saimdang. Prof Min insists that it’s an An Gyeon original, and he feels sabotaged by Ji Yoon when she was asked publicly by Sang Hyun her opinions, at some workshop. I hope Ji Yoon can discover the evidence ASAP and get her revenge on Prof Min. I’m not sure if it’s a good move having Ji Yoon “time-travel” as it seemed at the end of episode 2, because then how does the rules of this universe work? I’ll definitely watch this even though I’m a little confused about how things are supposed to work.