Finally! After a few weeks of impatient waiting the second part of The Glory was released on Netflix. These eight episodes were, in short, very satisfying. As you could probably tell by my piece of part 1, my hopes were very high.
Yet because of a cautionary nature partially instilled by highly critical media Youtubers like the Critical Drinker I let the show play out its story and held my opinion back. I was not disappointed. Yet again the Korean series machine manages to produce a show that is intelligent, well acted and above all: fun to watch.
Excellent build up
In the end The Glory is a very rewarding show to watch. The plot unfolds over the episode like layers of an onion. Each layer provides new information and a deeper understanding of each character through their behaviour.
Especially during the latter episodes of the show, when the gaps of information are filled it becomes clear just how much transpired to get to this point. We eventually know every action Dong-eun took to get to the endgame.
Like a game of Go she takes all that once belonged to Yeon-jin’s territory. Even if Yeon-jin knew that she was playing a game with these high stakes it is very likely she would end up in the same place. A place of social death. Without friends, a job and eventually her family. Yeon-jin was under the impression that she was in a few skirmishes with Dong-eun while she actually was in a war. And Dong-eun executed her plan like a great general.
War strategies and Go
I already commented on the game of Go in my previous blog on The Glory. The link between Go and the plot is very apparent in the show, but there is another link that I didn’t expect. I’m currently reading The Art of War (TAoW), which is a treatise on military strategy. It consists of 13 chapters which talk about different parts which contribute to a successful strategy.
The strategies utilized by Dong-eun are viable war strategies. I’ve divided her plan in three parts. To make things a bit more clear there is a description and I’ve added some examples. Let’s go to war!
1. Preparation (and information gathering):
When preparing for revenge you must know the precise end goal. For Dong-eun this was to humiliate Yeon-jin. Humiliation to the same level as happened to her. She would take the others of the group as collateral damage but the focus isn’t on them. The focus is Yeon-jin. Hence the letters she wrote over the years.
To successfully execute her plan Dong-eun needed to stay out of reach of the law. She needed to be clean and have the right information to hold leverage over key players. So it was imperative she’d gathered information. On all of Yeon-jin’s family, friends and business partners. In the modern age with social media and the internet it wasn’t hard to learn about Yeon-jin’s group. And some smart bribes also helped. Speaking of bribes; Dong-eun also made sure she had enough funds to execute her plan. A rich boyfriend helped as well, but most funds were her own.
2. Strike precisely and without mercy:
After the initial preparation Dong-eun makes herself known by being present as Ye-sol’s teacher and appearing in social situations where Yeon-jin’s group is also present. An act very similar to the initial stand-off between armies or putting the first stone on the Go board.
Through preparation Dong-eun intimately knows her enemies. She knows how they work and react so she can strike where it hurts. The plans used to bring down the enemy have been created to strike at the specific target’s weakness. Long in the making but when the trigger is pulled, they are without mercy. Sa-ra’s drug addiction became a tool for blackmail and when Myeong-oh disappeared it was relatively easy to seduce Sa-ra in episode 12 to take the drugs and cause her own downfall.
The Glory shows that people die a real or social death for their greed or foolishness. Dong-eun’s Judgement comes without mercy yet it is executed with discretion. This is to limit collateral damage. Think of Ye-sol and Do-yeong. but more importantly, it is the only way to make sure Dong-eun and her allies stay out of the picture.
3. Be agile and creative:
Dong-eun has the end goal in her mind. It is implied that she wanted the total victory without gathering media attention yet it is not clear if she fully knew the way to reach this goal. In other words if she played the Xanatos Gambit or the Batman Gambit1. Based on what we’ve seen I think it is the Batman Gambit. Dong-eun knows her enemies pretty well through her extensive preparation. She is also smart enough to deal with unforeseen challenges such as Hyeon-nam’s greedy husband and a dirty colleague (Jeong-ho). Yet her strategies are flexible enough that these disruptions do not interfere with the end result. She uses them to her advantage.
As an example: Dong-eun probably expected that Jae-joon’s greed would be beneficial to her, yet she could not have planned that he would be the one to deal with Jeong-ho and have that event drive a wedge between him and Ye-sol. Dong-eun’s strategies are smart and well executed, which makes it a delight to watch.
The people in Yeon-jin’s group were living their best lives after what they did when they were young. But their past did not stay buried and came haunting them. In a way, all the group members got what they deserved. Like I said earlier, The Glory is a smart show. Not just in the plot and its execution. It also gives the viewer what they want to see. Revenge with a good ending. A big plus is in my opinion that it does not have over the top romantic moments that do not fit the overall tone of voice of the show. The romance serves the plot and is not intrusive. I greatly enjoyed how the show concluded both Dong-eun and Yeon-jin’s character arc. There is an opening for a new season, but who knows if that will happen. Perhaps if it stays on the netflix most hours watchlist for a longer period of time. If that happens, I’ll certainly watch it.
Xanatos Gambit: a plan for which all foreseeable outcomes benefit the creator — including ones that superficially appear to be failure
Batman Gambit: A plan that revolves entirely around people doing exactly what you’d expect them to do.