As our daydream continues we find Hae So running away from Wang So and Wang Wook. The brothers grab at one another’s collars and almost come to blows as they exchange harsh words about their individual relationships with Hae Soo. Wang Wook is insulting about Hae Soo’s current status as a water maid. Wang So doesn’t care about her current title. To him marriage is marriage. He tells Wang Wook to stop pretending to care about Hae Soo. After all, he’s turned his back on her so many times. They are no longer in-laws, so what Hae Soo does is really none of Wang Wook’s business anymore. Wang So looks at Wang Wook’s chest and notices that he is wearing an armored breastplate. His eyes fly back to Wang Wook’s as the two brothers stare fiery holes into one another’s skulls.
Meanwhile, back at the celebration, the sword dance has ended and Baek Ah and Woo Hee appear to be in a fatal embrace. He has jumped between her and the King after realizing, too late, her plot to kill the monarch. At the same time, the king has fallen from his seat and he lay unconscious on the ground as his courtiers gather around him. Bake Ah quietly tells Woo Hee to go as her bloodied sword falls to the ground. He kicks it aside and tells Woo Hee to run. Wang Yo instructs Wang Won to find Wang Wook.
The king is in bed while Mr. Sunshine and the Grand General attending him. He is awake but very weak. He wonders aloud what it is he has been living for this whole time. To him, his life has seemed short. He wonders if Goryeo will last forever. He expresses his gratefulness for having good friends and tells them to watch over the Crown Prince and Wang So.
Hae Soo blends herbs and thinks of Wang So’s proposal earlier in the evening.
In front of the main palace 3rd. 8th , 9th , and 14th princes approach. They are there to secure the king’s final decree. It is an attempt to take the throne. Suddenly, they are surrounded by soldiers. The Grand General approaches the group of princes and speaks. He tells them to return home. Their presence could be misconstrued as an attempt to change the king’s last decree. Wang Won notices that Wang So is nowhere to be seen. The Grand General tells the brothers that if they step foot in the palace they will be treated as traitors and killed.
Queen Witch and Queen Hwangbo stand outside the king’s chambers and demand to be allowed in. Mr. Sunshine and soldiers deny them entry. Queen Witch realizes it is a stall tactic to buy time for the Crown Prince. He has not returned. Inside, Hae Soo makes tea for the king. He wakes and with a weak voice he tells Hae Soo that the aroma of the tea is the same as the tea Lady Oh would make for him. He tells her that he will be dying soon and asks her to bring the Crown Prince. She is shocked to be asked to perform such a task. The King insists that no one from the palace can know about his death before the Crown Prince returns. He wants her to go and find him. He warns Hae Soo to be careful. People will approach her to ask about the king. To those that ask about his condition or ask how he is feeling she is to reply that “the King is asking for tea.” To the ones who ask if he is dead….The King warns her to be careful of them. They are the ones who are after the throne. He tells her to trust no one. The fate of Goryeo rests on her shoulders. Hae Soo quickly runs outside to find the palace grounds replete with soldiers.
Wang So rides quickly towards a group of guards and finds Yeon Hwa with them. He tells them to step aside. Yeon Hwa steps forward and informs him that no one is to leave Songak. He is sure that those are Wang Yo’s orders. The night before he had noticed that Wang Wook was wearing armor inside the palace. The only conclusion he can draw is that his brothers are planning on killing the king.
Hae Soo runs through the palace grounds limping the whole way. Wang Wook sees her and stops her. He wants to know where she is going in such a hurry and without him asking the key question she tells him that the king is asking for tea. He changes the subject to Wang So proposal of marriage. She begins to tell him that it is a misunderstanding but then remembers her mission. He asks if the king has died and her face turns white. She asks him if he wants to become king.
At the edge of the woods, Wang So and Yeon Hwa exchanges tense words. Yeon Hwa tells him that last night’s events no longer matter. The king has “passed out” now and who will be king next is the most important issue at hand. Wang So reminds her that the Crown Prince is the king’s choice and his will for the kingdom. She asks him point blank if he wants to become king.
At the same time, Hae Soo is having an almost identical conversation with Wang Wook. She asks him if he is going to become king.
Back in the woods Wang So scoffs at the idea that becoming king is so simple, that you merely say that you want it. Yeon Hwa says that she can help him if it is what he wants.
Wang Wook claims that in order to protect the ones he loves, his only alternative is to become king. He was powerless before and no one holds greater power than the king.
Yeon Hwa becomes the devil before our eyes as she tempts Wang So, offering him the whole world. Wang So is unmoved. He asks if he can have a person’s heart as well. If he should become king, will the heart he desires most become his?
Wang Wook tells Hae Soo that he will become king and she is inwardly devastated to hear him speak the words that that king warned her about.
Wang So agrees to become king only if the heart he most desires will become his. Yeon Hwa is speechless .
The Queens finally are allowed into the king’s chambers and Queen Witch is the first to his side. The King stares and has a vision of a beautiful Lady Oh. He speaks her name as Queen Witch listens. He breathes his last and Queen Witch is furious that his final words were of his only love. She pounds on his chest and demands that he return. Queen Hwangbo quietly stands to the side and mourns alone.
Hae Soo and Wang Wook are still talking. He tells Hae Soo that he will become king for her. He reveals his plans to attack the palace with Wang Yo the next day. She tells him that would be treason. He tells her that the Crown Prince will not be able to return. He tells her to hide until everything is over and not to tell anyone what she knows. He then asks her if the king has died. She blankly repeats that the king has asked for tea. Wang Wook releases her and he tells her the Crown Princes is in Chahyeon. He has realized that she is speaking in code and decides to help her. He assures her that she will not be able to bring the Crown Prince back to the palace on her own.
Hae Soo is running and it seems that she is looking for Wang So.
Yeon Hwa scoffs at the idea that Wang So would become king just to win someone’s heart. She angrily tells him that the throne is not a trifle to be given away for such a small thing. He quickly informs her that is all that the throne is to him. He demands that she open the road or he will assume that she is plotting treason. She defends her position and says that she has only closed the road while the king is sick, in order to prevent treason. Who knows exactly who someone could bring back? The restriction includes Wang So. She will make no exceptions.
What’s the password bro??
Baek Ah and Woo Hee face one another. She bitterly complains that he ruined everything. He asks her if she was pretending the whole time and then demands to know why she targeted his father. She explains that the King killed her family. Baek Ah apologizes to her for his father’s actions. He hugs her as she cries. He apologized for being King Taejo’s son.
Wang Yo is his regular plotting self. Wang Won stands by as Wang Yo wonders if the king is dead yet. Jung Ah arrives and tells his brothers that the king must be feeling better since he’s had some tea made by Hae Soo. He’s been drinking it since last night. Wang Yo puts the pieces together in his head and realizes that Hae Soo knows the king’s actual condition and announces that she must be found at once.
Hae Soo goes to the astronomer’s tower looking for Wang So. She does not find him there so she makes her way towards the jjimjabong. There are palace guards everywhere. She hides behind a column just a Wang Won approaches the guards, asking them questions about her. She is suddenly pulled to the side by Wang So. She tells him that the king has died. She tells him her mission and Wang Yo’s plans to attack the palace the next day. Wang So tells her that the Crown Prince is in Hubaekje. She says that she knows of someone who may be able to help them.
Baek Ah is trying to talk to Woo Hee but she keeps walking away from him. He finally stops her. He tells her that there is no one left who would recognize her and then he kinda proposes to her. He asks if it would be wrong if she just forgot everything and decided to be with him. Her consideration of the proposal is interrupted by the arrival of Hae Soo and Wang So. Hae Soo asks Woo Hee to confirm the name of her hometown and Baek Ah becomes instantly protective. Why does she want to know? Hae Soo tells them that they need to find the Crown Prince quickly. Wang So wants to know who Woo Hee is and why they should trust her. Hae Soo tells him that the two are friends. Wang So tells his brother that their father, the king, is dead. The news of the king’s death hits Woo Hee and she stumbles. Wang So tells Baek Ah about the plot to attack the palace and his plan to stop them.
Yeon Hwa and Wang Wook talk in the library. Wang Wook is numb and calm. Yeon Hwa is snippy and her same bitchy self. She encourages Wang Wook to attack the palace now and announce himself as his father’s choice as crown prince. Wang Wook is more careful. He does not want anyone to be able to call him a traitor. At this point, he is not sure who he should attack first, the Crown Prince or Wang Yo.
Hae Soo is in the empty throne room. She stares at the throne as Wang So joins her. He asks her if she wants to sit on the throne. She tells him no and calls it a scary seat. She remembers that the king threw away Lady Oh to protect it. She turns to him and acknowledges that he will have to fight his brothers to protect it as well. She asks him not to hurt them if he can help it. He promises that he will do his best not to hurt anyone. She assures him that he will be fine.
The Queens are still by the Kings side. Queen Hwangbo tries to cover the king with a royal robe but Queen Witch won’t let her. “He is mine. Don’t touch him.” Queen Witch says as she stares blankly at the king. Queen Hwangbo tries to cover the king once more and this time, when the Witch pushes Queen Hwangbo, she pushes back and shoves the Witch to the ground. The Witch is astonished. Just as it looks like they are gonna go down in a twisting ball of claws and teeth, Wang So enters the room with Mr. Sunshine. He politely requests to see his father and Queen Witch demands to know how he got into the palace. He kneels at his father’s side as Mr. Sunshine repeats the king’s last words. “Life is short and fleeting.” The king had repeated these words several times before dying.
Wang So remembers a time when his father had gifted him with a more decorative mask. It was a sort of tradition, as Wang So received a new one each year. He playfully complains to Mr. Sunshine that the king must consider the mask as a reasonable replacement for fatherly affection. As Wang So tries on the mask he notices the royal palanquin sitting nearby. A hand reaches to move the curtain and we see that it is the King himself. Wang So smiles to see his father, if only for a moment. Inside the palanquin, the King smiles to himself.
We are returned to the king’s bedside and a somber Wang So. With reverence and respect, he places the robe over his father and he cries. He orders Mr. Sunshine to consult with the Grand General. His brothers are planning a rebellion in the morning and the palace must be prepared to defend itself. Queen Witch tries to make an excuse for Wang Yo. Surely he is coming to find out why his mother has been locked up in the palace. Queen Witch threatens Wang So. If he touches a hair on Wang Yo’s head she swears she will kill Wang So herself. Wang So delivers a much-needed dose of reality. Does she really expect Wang Yo to come out unscathed after committing treason? He tells her that she is too greedy and he leaves the room. She screams after Wang So. “Treason??” She is doing her best to sound as innocent as possible as she continues her tirade. Queen Hwangbo tells her that if she doesn’t play this just right, that both of their sons will be on the chopping block. Finally, it seems that the Witch feels some fear.
Baek Ah and Woo Hee ride in the forest at night. They stop and he grips his chest in pain. By a campfire Baek Ah confesses that he wasn’t’ trying to hide that he was a prince. Woo Hee says that she knows that he wasn’t trying to hide. She confesses that she did hide. Baek Ah wonders what their relationship would have been like if he were just a musician and she was just a gisaeng. She says that they have only one more mountain to cross and they will be in her hometown. After that, the two of the will have no other reason to meet with each other. Baek Ah asks her “If they won’t meet after tomorrow, does that mean that he can do whatever he want tonight?” WHOA!! Take it easy children!! Baek Ah slowly leans towards Woo Hee and they kiss.
The next day hundreds of soldiers are outside the palace, Wang Wook and Wang Yo stands in armor at the head of the line. Wang Yo is sure that most of the army is with the Crown Prince and so they should not have to face too many soldiers within the palace grounds. Before they advance, Wang Wook has a request. If Wang So tries to stop them, Wang Yo must promise to kill him. Wang Yo almost laughs. That wasn’t even a request that needed to be made. The soldiers advance inside the palace grounds only to find Wang So, also wearing armor, standing at the head of a group of armored soldiers.
Wang Yo pretends that he is there to find out what is going on with his mother. She has been locked in the palace for days. He demands his mother’s release. He then accuses the Grand General and Wang So of attempting to take over the throne. Them’s fightin’ words. Wang So and Wang Wook draw swords and Wang Wook viciously attacks first. This is a Wang Wook we have not seen before as he rains blow after blow down on Wang So sword. Wang Yo looks on and smiles. As their battle rages, archers rise from the rooftops and shoot Wang Yo’s soldiers. Suddenly the tables turn as the courtyard floods with more soldiers, Wang So and Wang Wook face each other, both prepared to begin another round of their fight.
The Crown Prince approaches with Baek Ah in tow. Wang Yo quickly tells Wang Wook to flee and retrieve more troops but to his surprise, he finds Wang Wook’s sword at his neck. They were never on the same side. Wang Yo’s treachery against the Crown Prince has been revealed. Wang Wook had sent word to the Crown Prince about Wang Yo’s plot. Wang So’s face visibly twitches in frustration, as it was not his plan that brought the Crown Prince back to the palace. Soldiers rush forward and force Wang Yo to his knees. Mr. Sunshine emerges from the palace and announces the king’s death. Wang Wook is the first to drop to his knee and shout “Long Live the King!!” Wang So follows suit but we are keenly aware that he has had his thunder stolen twice by Wang Wook. All present drop to their knees in fealty to the Crown Prince who is now King. Queen Witch emerges from the palace to witness the scene. Her hair is down and she looks like a crazy woman. Well, crazier than normal.
The princes stand by the body of the king. For them, it is difficult to believe that he is dead. Jung Ah kneels and cries at his father’s side. Yeon Hwa looks at her father’s body and thinks to herself that she will show her father the level of her ambition. She will make this empire her own.
Soon Deok blocks the 10th prince’s path. She is convinced that if he goes to the palace that he will die. It is the way princes are treated when a king dies. She begs him to wear her armor and he refuses. He suggests that they should just remain quiet and live together. She flings her arms happily around his neck.
Hae Soo and Wang Wook meet on a balcony and she asks him why he lied to her. He counters with the knowledge that she went to Wang So. She asks him if he was planning on killing Wang So. He does not answer the question directly. He tells her that it was not a lie that he wanted to become king. And in that pursuit, it is not a bad thing to get rid of those who would get in your way. She is shocked to hear his ambitious and heartless confession. She realizes that he meant to use her to kill Wang So, in spite of knowing that Lady Oh died because of her. He tries to accuse her of lying to him but she was only following what the king had asked her to do. She was only following what was logical and she couldn’t bring herself to go against that. She also tells him that Wang So had promised not to kill Wang Wook. He is stunned to know that she had asked for his life from Wang So. She changes the subject. She is ready to go with him and live in peace. Wang Wook flatly tells her that he cannot do that. She is crestfallen, as she realizes that he had lied when he said that he was doing everything for her. She can’t believe what she is hearing from the once kind man. She walks away from him and he can only assume it is because of her feelings for Wang So. His accusation brings tears to her eyes and she asks if he has ever trusted her. He tells her that he will make her come back to him. “It will not be easy,” she says just before she leaves him.
Wang Yo is on foot being chased through the forest by soldiers on horseback. Among them are Wang So and Wang Wook. Wang Yo reaches a dead end. A sheer cliff yawns before him and he turns to face the soldiers. A sword fight begins and Wang So and Wang Wook watch. Wang Wook passes his sword to a soldier and trades it for a bow and arrow. He nocks the arrow and aims at Wang Yo. Wang So stops him. It wouldn’t be right to shoot his brother down like an animal.
Wang So rushes forward and he engages Wang Yo. Wang So entreats Wang Yo to give up. Wang Yo puts the question back to Wang So and says “If it were you, would you give up?” They engage again and Wang So strikes a blow to Wang Yo’s chest. Wang Yo is shocked but his ambition will not allow him to yield and he moves to attack again. Wang So ducks his swing and then draws his sword across Wang Yo’s belly. Wang So stares into his brother’s shocked eyes for a few frozen moments and then Wang Yo begins to fall. Wang So drops his sword and thrusts his hand forward to catch his brother but it is too late. Wang Yo has fallen over the edge to his death. Jung Ah rushes to the edge of the cliff desperately calling his brothers name. Jung Ha turns an accusing eye toward Wang So. Wang So turns from the cliffs edge and walks away without a word. He is clearly troubled by what has happened.
Jung Ah delivers the news of his brother’s death to their mother, Queen Witch. Her hair is even whiter than before. She initially refuses to accept that Wang Yo would leave her side. She blames Wang So as she clings to Jung Ah. He promises that he will not leave her.
Wang So sits by the lake with tears in his eyes. What has happened weighs heavily on him. Hae Soo finds him and he tearfully confesses to her that he has stabbed his brother. She reaches to comfort him and he begins to cry in earnest. She embraces him and he leans on her as his grief overwhelms him.
This episode begins to show us just how dysfunctional and fractured this extended family is. It also shows us how much of their movement is controlled by palace protocol. Although ultimately commanded by the king, it appears as though the servants are the ones controlling access to the ailing monarch. How odd and disconnected it must feel to be told by a servant that you cannot see your dying spouse or father. But, control of the king and his seat is the name of the game. It is a game that everyone seems to be playing now, whether they want to or not.
The death of a parent often brings out the true colors of a child. Unfortunately, for many of our royal children those colors lean more towards a blackened heart. The 9th Prince Wang Won, who has remained mostly silent or provided brief comic relief, moves forward into the edges of the 3rd Prince’s spotlight. He does so in such a way, as to appear totally innocent should things go south with the planned coup. Wang Wook has put his neck out much further than the others but manages to save himself by appearing as a double agent. At least the 3rd Prince has never changed his goal and there is something to be said for his consistent greed for the throne. For all his manipulation and scheming at least you can call him honest about his desire to rule. While others hide their ambition to be king, Wang Yo is in your face about it, so, little of his actions are a surprise. Sometimes, it’s nice to have something to count on.
Wang So is most conflicted about the race to the royal seat. He knows it is something he must attain in order to protect those that he holds near and dear. Without it, they are all dead. He takes no pleasure in his pursuit for the crown save one, he will be able to live as he chooses, or so he thinks. He takes pains to save his traitorous brother from an ignominious death and attempts to turn him away from his regal ambitions. Sadly, it is true, that pride goes before a fall. The 3rd Prince refuses to lay down his fight and Wang So is forced to defend himself, resulting in the 3rd prince falling to his death. The death of his brother breaks his heart. Only Hae Soo is allowed to see his agony. She understands him as no one else does.
It’s good to finally see that Queen Witch doesn’t always have ice in her veins. She seems genuinely distraught by the king’s death, although we don’t know if it’s because she will actually miss him or the power she is no longer able to wield. She shows us a new kind of crazy when she receives news of the 3rd Prince’s death. I can only imagine, that from this point, her devious nature will be dialed up to eleven with a touch of crazy now added to the mix.
Things are fixin’ to get ugly my friends. Pull up a seat and grab some popcorn.