I feel like I just watched half a drama, but considering all the behind the scenes trials and tribulations that befell this production, I’ll give it as a glass half full scenario. KBS Mon-Tues sageuk River Where the Moon Rises ended today, the ratings were the same as the penultimate episode, and overall was in the high single digits but rarely broke 10%. The hopes that Kim So Hyun and a flashy sageuk would revive ratings did not come to pass, and after the first male lead Ji Soo was replaced by the much better Na In Woo it felt like firefighting more than conquering new ground. The drama ended with a telegraphed happy ending, Ondal pretends to be dead and gets to retire to the mountains where Ga Jin finds him after wrapping up her princess duties for Gorguyeo. The final episode was great, easily the best episode of the series after the premiere one. If the drama were the first and last episode it would be an A+ series, but everything in the middle dragged it down to what I could charitably average out to B overall.
Lee Ji Hoon‘s Go Geun went out in a blaze of glory, his brain lobotomy reversed and he dies to keep Ga Jin safe. He earned his 10 minute death scene, I actually teared up simply because Lee Ji Hoon is such an emotive actor with superb restraint. I wanted to shove Mo Young aside so I could just watch him die so beautifully lol, she was blocking my view. Similarly Kim So Hyun cried like a seasoned expert when she thought Ondal died, so sincere, so heartbroken, so simple in that she loves him without any emotional reserve. If ever K-ent wanted to remake this series into a long 50-episode sageuk proper, all the stepping stones are there and only needs to be fleshed out, including not spending 90% of the time on the Gorguyeo palace fighting and tribal power play, the more compelling villain and enemy was always the Shilla King and the threat of the other two kingdoms. Thanks a bunch to the cast and crew for powering through once, and then a second time to re-film, giving audiences a decent series to watch the last 10 weeks.