As our daydream continues Hae Soo and Wang So stand outside under the stars. They have received word that the King is growing more and more ill with each passing day. Wang So addresses the elephant in the room and asks Hae Soo if she wants him to be king. She says that she dislikes the idea, but she dislikes being away from Wang So even more. She lays down the law and tells him that he is not allowed to kill his brothers and Wang So agrees with her rule with a smile on his face.
The next day Chae Ryung welcomes Hae Soo back to the royal jjimjabong from her sneak out/sleep over with Wang So. She also has a message for Hae Soo from Jung Ah. If she wants to leave the palace, he knows of a way.
Outside three black-clad figures emerge from the palace. It is Wang So, Baek Ah, and Mr. Sunshine. Wang So signals to several others, also dressed in black, and they run into the night.
The next morning, Wang Wook finds his brother unconscious on the floor of the royal bedchamber. He orders the royal doctor to be summoned and then calls for the army to be put on alert.
Chae Ryung meets with Hae Soo at the royal jjimjabong. Hae Soo instructs Chae Ryung to close the royal jjimjabong for the day and stay inside. She vaguely hints that there will be some trouble later in the day as her reason why Chae Ryung should lay low. A court lady comes to Hae Soo with a message. The King wants his medical tea right now. Hae Soo briefly hesitates and then goes to prepare the tea.
The King waits for a trembling Hae Soo to pour his tea. She offers him a cup and he knocks it from her hand as he accuses her of hiding something from him. He’s been thinking and he is sure that all the trouble started when Hae Soo arrived. He says it’s all her fault that he decided to kill his brothers. She is the one who covered Wang So’s scar and allowed him to take Wang Yo’s seat. Queen Witch bursts into the room to the sound of a large shouting crowd. Wang So is on his way and she is desperate for Wang Yo to name a successor to the throne. She grabs a parchment and a writing brush and tries to force his hand to complete the document she’s been begging him to write for months. He views her insistence as an attempt to grab power and make him useless in her eyes. Only now does he understand how Wang So has felt for years. He has his mother forcibly removed from his presence. She squirms and shouts the whole way out. It’s about time!!! Hae Soo is still standing nearby, trembling.
Outside, the guards close the doors to the main gates as a large army approaches. Inside Queen Hwangbo speaks with her daughter, Yeon Hwa. She tells her that if she wants to own the palace that she must sacrifice something. Yeon Hwa answers her mother and says that she wants the whole world. Her mother pledges to throw Wang Wook away.
Outside the palace, an army is led by Wang So, his brother Baek Ah and the Grand General. Wang So draws his sword and give the signal to advance. The palace doors open and Yeon Hwa emerges flanked by a few palace guards. She advances and Wang So is unsure what to do. She reads his expression and smiles broadly. She is there to help him take the palace without bloodshed. To his relief, she has opened the doors and will allow them in without incident.
In the King’s bedchamber, Hae Soo is slowly being stalked by Wang Yo. He rambles about Wang So and then pitifully asks what he had done that was so wrong. He clutches his chest in pain and then desperately grabs the paper and brush to write the abdication document. He hears Wang So’s voice as he approaches his room. He crumples the document and the brush in his fist and offers them to Hae Soo insisting that all he ever tried to do was survive. He kneels, frozen, in front of Hae Soo, his arm still extended towards her. He collapses to the floor, his eyes wide and fixed. He is dead. Hae Soo clutches her own chest and gasps for air. Wang So enters the room to find a panic-stricken Hae Soo sitting next to his deceased brother. He sees the document in his hand and retrieves it. He looks at the document and asks Hae Soo if she has read it. She shakes her head that she has not. He rips the paper to shreds and throws the pieces to the floor. Queen Witch rushes into the room to see her son dead on the floor. She is followed by court ministers, Wang So’s soldiers, and Mr. Sunshine. She is stunned to silence by what she sees. Hae Soo gathers her courage and kneels before Wang So. She breathlessly speaks the words “Greetings to the new King, Long Long Long may he live”. Everyone looks at her with disbelief. Wang So tells his mother that Wang Yo abdicated the throne to him before he died. Queen Witch flips out as everyone else in the room kneels to the new king.
It is coronation day. The entire kingdom’s pageantry on display. The court ministers wear colorful robes and golden headdresses. The royal children are dressed in their very best boot licking attire. Wang So wears the guhangbok and myeonryugwan of the king. The guhangbok bears 9 symbols, 5 yang symbols- dragons on the shoulders, mountains on his back, fire, pheasants, and tigers on his sleeves and 4 ying symbols-millet, rice grains, axes and fire (representing brightness). He holds a gyu, a rectangular tablet with a pointed end made of blue jade. Wang So rises to the throne and presents the royal seal to the assembled nobility to the cries of “Long Live the King”.
Wang So emerges from the palace in blue and gold royal robes. He sees Hae Soo and smiles at her as she thinks to herself that he will no longer be known as the bloody king. He will be a good king and she will help him.
Wang Wook finds his mother and sister and confronts them. He asks if it is true that Yeon Hwa opened the palace gates for Wang So. She says that she did and her mother speaks up and says that she instructed Yeon Hwa to do it. Next, we see Wang Wook as he remembers that meeting. He remembers how his mother said that she was shocked at how he had changed. She felt that she had no other choice than to push for a queen instead of a king. She warns him to distance himself from the royal family. Yeon Hwa arrives and finds Wang Wook sitting in the dark. He blankly tells her how he had rushed to capture the throne but the seat had already been filled by the time he had returned. Yeon Hwa entreats her brother to lend her his strength so that she can become queen. She promises that she will help him once she has achieved her goal.
In the throne room, the Grand General tells Wang So that he wishes to retire. No matter how he tries, he cannot forget his slain daughter. Wang So begs him not to go. In return, the Grand General begs Wang So to be a good and wise king so that when he sees Wang So’s father in the afterlife he will have many things to brag about. The Grand General cries as he offers his final bow to Wang So. He is grieved to lose his mentor.
Hae Soo finds Wang So in the throne room alone in the dark. He tells her that the Grand General has left because he is afraid of what Wang So will become. He asks Hae Soo if she is curious about the name on the paper that Wang Yo had written. He tells her the space was blank where a name should have been. He says he destroyed the document because it would only cause more confusion. She sits next to him and promises to stay with him.
Queen Witch still cannot believe that Wang So is King. She orders Jung Ah to look into his brother’s death. She is sure that Hae Soo and Wang So plotted together to steal the throne.
Wang So returns to his room after a long day of palace business to find Hae Soo sleeping next to his bed. Wang So wakes her and they have dinner with Baek Ah. Wang So gives his brother a piece of meat and Baek Ah jumps to his feet and addresses his brother very formally, thanking him for the meat. Wang So scolds him and asks to be called brother again. They laugh together and Wang So expresses his happiness at being able to have a family meal together.
Later Hae Soo finds Wang So sleeping. She pulls the covers over him and he wakes with a start and calls her name. He reaches for her and holds her tight. He had dreamed that she was gone. She says that she will go after he’s fallen back to sleep. He smiles and wraps his arms around her once more and lays down. Why go back and forth? he questions. She says that she does not want bad rumors to start considering that he has just become king. He tells her he doesn’t want to stay there alone. He doesn’t feel comfortable there. He asks her again to stay as he rests his head in her lap. He wants to hear a story from her and qualifies his request by saying that they haven’t nearly reached one thousand. I’m guessing that Hae Soo has told him about Scheherazade and the 1,001 Nights. In brief, a king is cheated on by his wife, so he swears he will marry a new girl every day and kill the girl from the day before. His logic? That way she can never cheat on him. Scheherazade is a vizier’s daughter who tells the king a story every night, making sure to stop at the most exciting part so that the king will keep her alive in order to hear the rest of the story from her the next night. At the end of 1,001 nights, Scheherazade had run out of stories but it didn’t matter because the king had fallen in love with her. Hae Soo proceeds to tell Wang So the tale of Little Red Riding Hood as he falls asleep.
The next day she wakes in the King’s bed, alone. She has Woo Hee to tea and laments that now that Wang So is King, it seems that she is waiting on him even longer than before. Chae Ryung rushes into the room just ahead of another court lady. Hae Soo is being summoned to Queen Witch’s chamber.
When Hae Soo arrives at the Queen Witch’s bedroom she is immediately confronted with the shredded pieces of the abdication document. Queen Witch tries to shake what she wants to know out of Hae Soo. Wang So arrives and pulls Hae Soo to safety. He confronts his mother and tells her not to call for Hae Soo again. He is forcing her to deal with him alone. She accuses him of shredding the document and he asks a pointed question. “Who says I shredded it?” Queen Witch has no answer. He points out that, it is a good thing that Wang Yo abdicated the throne to him. “Imagine the palace covered in the blood of Jung Ah and my slaughtered brothers and nephews.” He advises his mother to work on the dead king’s memorial service. She tells him not to call her queen mother and she calls him a thief. Wang So turns and leaves with Hae Soo, his hand tightly gripping hers.
In the hallway, he scolds Hae Soo and tells her she is never to go to them even if she is summoned. She says that she understands. He leaves her standing in the hallway, blocked by court ministers from following him.
In the throne room, Wang So receives word that his succession is being questioned. In his current mood, this news sends him into a controlled rage. He orders that anyone who submits an appeal questioning his right as the king should be charged with treason. He orders all of the previous king’s loyal soldiers and court ladies destroyed.
Woo Hee meets with Mr. Shady and he threatens to expose her for the double dealing that she’s been involved in. She pulls a cute little lady knife and stabs him in the neck. He drops like a stone, blood pouring from his neck. She clutches her dress ornament as she remembers how he had pulled it from her as he died. Baek Ah jumps next to her like a silly ninja and she drops the ornament. He remarks on its cleanliness, or the lack thereof and moves straight into talk of marriage when she snatches it from his hand. He wants to marry her but in order for it to be accepted by relatives, she will need to be adopted by a good family.
Hae Soo’s things arrive from the royal jjimjabong and Chae Ryung helps her unpack. She asks Hae Soo if she can do her a favor. She wants to stay at the palace instead of being granted to leave. We find out that she is being directed by Wang Won to remain in the palace. We also see that someone has overheard their exchange.
Jung Ah presents himself to the king and asks for Chungju to be separate from Goryeo. Or at least that is the appearance of Jung’s request. He reasons, that Wang So taking the throne was under suspicious circumstances and it is not comfortable to serve such a king until the facts become clear. Wang So asks if Jung Ah wants to cut ties and Jung Ah realizes that he may have overplayed his hand. He reverts back to waiting for the circumstances surrounding Wang Yo’s death and Wang So’s ascension to the throne to become clear.
Hae Soo and Woo Hee make rice cakes together. Woo Hee asks if she were to wrong someone for her own happiness, would it come back to bite her in the ass? Hae Soo says it would be that she feels that the two of them deserve a bit of slack. Convenient.
Hae Soo runs into Wang Wook and they have the “Do you like somebody else?” conversation. Wang Wook is pathetically slow on the uptake. Hae Soo tells him that she chose Wang So because he was honest with her about his ambitions. She writes everything off to fate and leaves Wang Wook feeling betrayed and foolish. He remembers giving her the jade bracelet and their walk in the snow. It all seems meaningless now considering that it was all left to fate anyway. He smashes the bracelet as Yeon Hwa enters the room. He tells her that she will be queen and she can hardly contain her glee. Just remember to be careful what you wish for sweetheart, you just might get it.
Wang So writes the poem he had given Hae Soo over and over again. She asks why he’s smiling so much. He tells her to stop trying to know everything about him. She asks to be allowed to spend time at the royal jjimjabong and then she works Chae Ryung into the conversation. She makes the request for Chae Ryung to stay at the jjimjabong and he agrees. He tells her that she won’t have too much time to get bored as he is wanting children. She complains that he hasn’t even proposed and he will need to do better than he just did if he wants her to agree to marry.
A doctor visits Hae Soo and tells her that her leg injury may keep her from walking in the future. He also has worse news for her. Her heart is not good. She asks him how long he feels that she has left to live.
Hae Soo has built prayer towers of her own. One for Myung Hee and one for Lady Oh. She prays that she can stay alive longer than 10 short years. She prays to stay with Wang So longer. Jung Ah arrives and gives Hae Soo a bit of a hard time. She says she was praying for him to be more understanding. He tries to blame everything wrong on the arrival of Wang So at the palace. Jung Ah talks with her about the requirements of being queen and how eventually she would just be one of many women waiting for the king.
Back in the throne room, Wang Wook arrives and presents himself as a representative of the clans. He tries to place control of the kingdoms money and food in the hands of the clans. Out of nowhere, Wang Wook offers his sister in marriage to Wang So in order to gain the clan’s loyalty.
Yeon Hwa visits Hae Soo and tells her in no uncertain terms that she will be queen and her son will be the next king. She doesn’t care if Hae Soo is one of Wang So’s women but she will be the only Queen. Hateful witch!!
In the throne room, Wang So resists Wang Wook’s offer of a bride. He tells Wang Wook that he has already chosen a bride. Wang Wook verifies that he is talking about Hae Soo and then reminds Wang So that she has a scar and is ineligible to marry the King.
This episode is a tribute to set designers and costume designers alike. It is stagecraft on opulent display. The director of photography shows us all of the delicate embroideries that he can and it is wonderful to see. Likewise, the set designers are showcased with beautiful shots of intricate painting on the eaves of the palace. There are also incredible perspective shots that reveal a 3-D feel to a normally 2-D experience. It is a technical showcase of all the things that we mostly take for granted when we watch almost anything. You see the artist soar in their creations from the smallest carving on the handle of a writing brush to the large patterned designs in the massive throne room. For a moment, stop and consider that all you see had to be created by someone and once those things are combined they become a living breathing thing that transports us to another time and place.
The episode’s main theme seems to be freedom or the lack thereof. It is a misperception that those with great wealth or power are automatically granted access to more freedom. While this may be true to a degree, often with greater power comes greater responsibility. At least that’s what Spiderman tells us and what Hae Soo is finding to be true. She is beloved of the King but limited to where she can go and who she can talk to . She’s even limited to when she can spend time with Wang So. The question you should be asking, “Is Hae Soo really freer and is she really out of harm’s way now that Wang So is king?” I think she would say no.
I love the inclusion of the Tale of Scheherazade. And I love that Wang So is hearing fairy tales that are 600 years from being told for the first time. It is a clever device for a woman who is trying to stay alive to be telling a king about a story that involves a king and a girl telling stories and trying to stay alive. Goryeo inception anyone? When Hae Soo first uttered the words “Little Red Riding Hood” I said “HEY!! That story hasn’t been written down yet!!” And then I remembered that Hae Soo is a time traveler. I had completely forgotten her future self in spite of the fact that she worries about the future that she has pre-knowledge of. Silly me. Tired me.