Dreams are a tricky thing. Depending on what we encounter and face in our lives, we either try to hold onto them or let them go because, let’s face it, reality is cruel and unforgiving. When you’ve faced a multitude of hardships, the idea of dreams, of actually being happy, turns into something forbidden. Happiness becomes fleeting because there’s the internalized belief that we are undeserving. That such a thing is meant for other people. These thoughts and more seem to be the premise of Castaway Diva Episodes 7-8, where happiness is a pipedream when confronted with real stakes.
Castaway Diva Episode 7 starts things off by diving into how the brothers’ parents met. This clues us into how the family has been able to evade Jeong Bong-wan (Lee Seung-joon) for so long. Song Ha-jung (Seo Jung-yeon) met Kang Sang-doo (Lee Joong-ok) when Sang-doo was working as a civil servant. She is trying to find ways to get names changed without her husband finding out. Her options limited, she dejectedly began to trek home until Sang-doo followed her. Taking on the identities of a missing family, he takes Ha-jung away under assumed identities, making it nigh impossible for Bong-wan to track them down.
We then jump to the situation at HeyDay. Both Yoon Ran-joo (Kim Hyo-jin) and Eun Mo-rae (Bae Gang-hee) have to sing live for their Heyday performance. Ran-joo, in particular, must reveal that she has been lip-syncing, with the emphasis being placed on revealing Seo Mok-ha (Park Eun-bin) as the true voice behind her recent performances. This opens up a different side of Ran-joo we’ve never seen, with her pointing out to Mok-ha privately that she’ll betray her and leave her just like everyone else. Mok-ha placates her with a story about a gull she befriended on the island (but the truth is revealed later on that Mok-ha did betray the gull out of a sense of survival).
This story appeals to Ran-joo, prompting her to go with the script that Kang Bo-geol (Chae Jong-hyeop) has drafted for the program. Things mostly go smoothly, with Ran-joo slightly going off-script to further promote Mok-ha, before the performance goes underway. It’s noted when it is Mo-rae’s turn that her voice is straining, whether due to nerves or damaged vocal cords, it’s unsure. Needless to say, when it comes down to voting, Mok-ha narrowly wins over Mo-rae and is fully revealed looking regal and beautiful before diving into another ballad.
After the performance, Mok-ha is on cloud nine until she overhears a conversation between Bo-geol and Kang Woo-hak (Cha Hak-yeon) confirming that Bo-geol is Jeong Ki-ho and that Woo-hak is his brother. She disappears quickly before she observes outside the window that Bong-wan is waiting outside. This leads to a calmer confrontation between the two, where he is trying to eke out information from her, and through her non-answers realizes that Ki-ho is still alive. Realizing that her friends are in danger, she tries to run and makes decisions with long-lasting ramifications that carry over into Castaway Diva Episode 8 and future episodes.
She tries to go as far away as she can, but Mok-ha doesn’t realize that now that she’s been on TV, she can be easily tracked on social media. This ultimately leads to her being found by Bo-geol and Woo-hak, who follow various posts and pictures people have made tracking her whereabouts. Castaway Diva Episode 7 ends with a heartfelt moment between Bo-geol and Mok-ha, where Bo-geol admits that he wanted to be the first one to find her on the island. It’s why he’s spent so many years dedicated to picking up trash on neighboring islands to try to locate any trace of her existence. Things end with them hugging each other.
In Castaway Diva Episode 8, we deal with Bo-geol trying to find a way to protect his family and Mok-ha dealing with the ramifications of her emotional text message to Ran-joo, pushing away her dream and Ran-joo’s in the process. It starts off with a conversation between Bo-geol and Woo-hak providing further context as to how the two siblings were split up, leading to where we were first introduced to Ki-ho in Episode 1. With Woo-hak’s injury and Bong-wan being transferred, the families are easily split apart. But, it places Ki-ho in the position of having to survive long enough to reunite with his mother and brother.
With the truth finally revealed surrounding Bo-geol’s and Woo-hak’s identities, the real danger is just emerging. With Bong-wan zeroing in on the family, it’s like a slow boil roll of tension as the episode progresses. However, Bo-geol towards the beginning is full of more positive energy, trying to uplift Mok-ha by distracting her with getting her autograph. Woo-hak, now definitely third-wheeled, distracts her by getting the family involved in a family camping outing.
It is during this family outing that Bo-geol reveals that he still has feelings for her which, taken into the context of all of his actions leading up to this point, almost everything has been directed towards making Mok-ha’s dream happen. For Mok-ha, though, her feelings are more up in the air. These feelings of ambivalence and uncertainty carry over into where she stands now with Ran-joo when she returns home after the outing.
Discovering a torn-apart card from Ran-joo and a dress that was going to be gifted to her, Mok-ha is desperate to find where Ran-joo is. Throughout the course of Castaway Diva Episode 8, the relationship between Ran-joo and Mok-ha is left up in the air, but there are hints throughout that Ran-joo will reject her. Between her ghosting Mok-ha, the ominous conversation between Mok-ha and Mo-rae, and how many people are contacting Ran-joo to book Mok-ha, the writing is on the wall.
It’s no surprise by the end of the episode that Ran-joo verbally rejects her, calling her talentless and forgoing her goal to reach x amount of CDs sold in order to acquire RJ Entertainment stocks. What likely doesn’t help on Ran-joo’s end is dealing with her declining mother. That encounter with declining mortality does little to help Ran-joo as she sees her future laid out for her while she’s on a downswing.
This outright rejection from Ran-joo solidifies the theming in Castaway Diva Episodes 7-8 surrounding dreams and how easy it is to relinquish them when life continues to knock you down. We’ve seen it with Mok-ha and her ease in sacrificing her goals when she realizes it is leading her friends to danger. And with the taboo surrounding talking about abuse, she’s not in a comfortable position to talk with her mentor about her reasoning. For Ran-joo, we see it after what she perceives to be the final betrayal she can stomach. Mok-ha’s text message stating that being a singer wasn’t her dream is the final death knell for Ran-joo in pursuing her career.
The same can be said for Bo-geol in Castaway Diva Episode 8. After the camping trip, he goes out of his way to try to distract his dad away from Seoul by returning Chunsan Island. Taking advantage of his dad’s blabbermouth friend, he aims to put himself in harm’s way to keep his family safe. However, Bong-wan is intelligent and immediately sees through what Bo-geol is doing. This leads him to take potentially dangerous actions by confronting his father face-to-face by the end of the episode. And on Bong-wan’s end, the timing couldn’t be any timelier, because he has now honed in on the family’s hiding place.
Part of this self-sacrificing nature from Bo-geol is revealed in the episode by how he mentions constantly looking back waiting for the happiness to end. His brother’s lost memories give his family space to finally learn how to be happy, to feel safe, and to not wholly focus on survival. But for Bo-geol, that survival mode never turns off, and it’s been operating on all cylinders since Mok-ha’s returned. For him, if he can help others feel safe and live their dreams, his sacrifice is worth it. And that realization is sad
Castaway Diva Episodes 7-8 highlight further how similar Mok-ha and Bo-geol are so similar but also how far-reaching and damaging abuse is in the long term. Whether it’s self-sacrificing behavior, self-sabotaging, or even contemplating the extreme with violence, the long-lasting damage is real and it alters how people behave daily. For Ran-joo, a similar argument can be made. She’s constantly being used and toyed with only to be betrayed at every time. Mok-ha was her only hope, and her betrayal forced her to give up her dreams.
Castaway Diva Episodes 7-8 further highlight the insidious nature and complexities of abuse while also using the media scene as a backdrop. Now that Mok-ha has had her moment on stage and with Bong-wan having discovered his family once more, the stage is set for the second half of the season to really explode. Either way, Castaway Diva continues to be compelling viewing.
Castaway Diva Episodes 1-8 are now available on Netflix, with new episodes airing on Saturdays and Sundays.
Castaway Diva Episodes 7-8 further highlight the insidious nature and complexities of abuse while also using the media scene as a backdrop.