This time I go mad with screen-caps and over-analyze the symbolism attached to the various characters. Because both Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-glass get played with. And that’s a lot of symbols to connect.
Spoilers right through to the end below the cut:
The first connection was, of course, Alice. The level-headed girl who gets pulled into Wonderland, the interloper or outsider who sees when things are weird or illogical. Our main Alice is Han Se-kyung. And she goes down the rabbit hole (or down the stairs into Tommy Hong’s party, which I only just realized when I did the screen-cap), eyes wide open.
Se-kyung is aided and abetted by her old classmate, Seo Yoon-joo, herself a former Alice figure. Now that she’s established in Cheongdam-dong (or Wonderland) Yoon-joo takes on a few different roles. At first she’s a Red Queen, making Se-kyung’s life difficult. Then she’s Se-kyung’s guide, almost a White Rabbit in that she points the way. In the end, she’s the White Queen, firmly on Se-kyung’s side.
But there’s a time, before Se-kyung decides what it is she wants, and long before Yoon-joo realizes what she actually wants, where they’re both aspiring to become Red Queens. There’s a lovely conversation in a rented red room, a rose motif on the floor, both women in red. (Actually, it’s probably very telling that the room was rented.)
I’d played the “follow the Red Queen” game in another post, but there’s a couple of additional observations I’ve had after the drama ended. First, the rose tie foreshadowed Yoon-joo’s husband being total ass. (Which made me sad, but at least she broke from him, yes?)
And second, rather than that small red pendant being a sign of Yoon-joo’s power diminishing, it’s more that the red is holding her back from realizing her actual power as a White queen. Suddenly the heavy silver chain takes on a different meaning — a chain holding her down rather than a chain of office. (Yeah, I’m probably way over-thinking this, but this is the kind of stuff I adore.)
But her story happily ends with Yoon-joo delivering the final blow. (And right when the Shin family thought they had her check-mated.) She frees herself of them and becomes the White Queen fully in her own right. No longer in their section of Wonderland — but with her and Tommy Hong joining forces, I suspect good things to come.
Tommy Hong was another character playing a few different roles. At first he was the designated White Rabbit, chosen by Se-kyung to lead her into Wonderland.
But he pretty quickly shows his true colors. No White Rabbit, he’s actually the Cheshire Cat — knowing far more than people suspect and often present where he’s not looked for. I loved how the photograph of him in his office and on his office building have him sliding off either side of the frame. It was a nice play on the grin without the cat the Cheshire was known for. (The good news for Tommy Hong is the Red Queen tried and failed to have the Cheshire Cat executed. Its body disappeared, leaving only the head. And it’s pretty hard to behead something that doesn’t have a body to remove the head from. So my thought is a few store closings won’t hurt our Tommy Hong.)
Finally there was our prince, Cha Seung-jo. After Tommy proves a little to predatory for the job (if you can be shrunk down to teeny-tiny, you don’t trust a cat), Se-kyung decides Seung-jo will be her White Rabbit. But he’s already the Mad Hatter and also, as she learns, her end goal. The means towards achieving a safe life filled with love. What’s kind of interesting, is Seung-jo shifts, too. For a brief moment he becomes the Alice figure, trapped awkwardly in Wonderland. But there’s also a moment when he becomes the dreamer from Alice Through the Looking-Glass.
The dreamer is also the Red King and there’s an interesting philosophical thing in the book where it’s suggested Alice will disappear if the Red King wakes up, as she’s a figment of his dream. An idea Seung-jo’s father and Yoon-joo seem to support when they urge Se-kyung to keep him firmly in fantasy land. So it does make sense that when she literally wakes him up from his depressed sleep, Seung-jo causes Se-kyung to disappear. Until he finally faces reality, stops looking for an imaginary Candy princess and takes Se-kyung as she is.
So that’s what I picked up. What symbols did you all spot?