As our daydream continues we find ourselves at the funeral of Lady Hae. It is a somber occasion. All are in attendance, save one. The 13th Prince mourns his secret love as he sits alone, going over a book of drawings of his beloved Myung Hee. At the funeral, Hae Soo too is in tears. The 8th Prince, Wang Wook, grips the torch he is holding tightly and he hesitates. As Lady Hae’s husband, it is his responsibility to light her funeral pyre. He stares for a long moment before completing his duty. Shortly after, Hae Soo and the 13th Prince sit together. Hae Soo wonders aloud if she will ever see her cousin again and how she will go on without her. The 13th Prince tearfully tells her that he need only look at Hae Soo to see his beloved Myung Hee. Hae Soo is comforted by the idea as they once again sit together in silence.
Later that evening Hae Soo brings a lantern to the 8th Princes’ darkened room. She finds him sitting on the floor. He tells her to leave the lantern. Seeing that he is in pain she approaches him and he wonders aloud “Why could I not say the thing that she so wanted to hear?” He begins to cry in earnest as he realizes the feelings that he believed to be only gratefulness, were actually feelings of love. He weeps openly as he realizes, too late, that he should’ve told her all along. Hae Soo tells him that she is sure that Myung Hee knew his feelings but it is little comfort to the distraught Prince.
The next day Hae Soo wonders to herself what she will do now when a pounding noise jerks her from her thoughts. She gets up to investigate the sound, when an upper window springs open, startling her. One puppet and then two spring into view. The puppets are copies of herself and the 10th Prince. The puppets act out their first meeting and fight. And Hae Soo feels she is being made fun of. However, the 10th Prince is only trying to cheer her up. Suddenly the puppets disappear from view with a crashing thud. The 10th Prince has fallen off his perch of servants and Hae Soo rushes outside to be sure everyone is in one piece. Hae Soo expresses her thanks to the 10thPrinces for his efforts to cheer her up.
Wang So enters what looks like a conference room and finds his evil brother, the 3rd Prince, standing on the platform at the head of the room. Wang So says nothing as he makes his was to the table. The 3rd Prince demands an apology from Wang So. He feels that Wang So had “misunderstood” his mother and him the night of the assassination attempt. The 3rd Prince also expects a proper greeting from his brother. But Wang So feels it is he who should be greeted, as he is the one who saved the Crown Prince. The 3rd Prince bitterly asks how long Wang So will stick by the Crown Prince. Wang So tells him that he has exchanged his life for the privilege to do so. The argument might continue further but it is cut short by the 10th Prince rushing into the room with some political gossip. Naturally, the 10th Prince is followed into the room by the other princes. Unable to continue venting his venom on Wang So (as it is difficult to attack someone who fights back) the 3rd Prince turns his spiteful tongue toward the 13th prince and begins to make “family” remarks. (That’s as bad as making mother jokes. And everyone knows, you should stay away from mother jokes unless you want your ass beat.) Wang So jumps to his younger brothers defense. “Aren’t we all subjects of the King?” Wang So asks. He points out that they are all dogs eating the Kings food and it is useless to talk about such matters. Wang So suggests that drinking alcohol is better than saying useless things. His point sharply made, he rises to leave the room but not before inviting his little brother to join him in a drink. The 13th Prince accepts the invitation, as there is nothing he does so well as drinking. We almost get the shoulder bump we desperately want as the Soju twins leave the room. Outside, the 13th Prince offers his thanks to Wang So for the rescue and Wang So tells him how he hates bullies. The 13th Prince basically tells us that he was raised better than to talk to his own brothers the way the 3rd Prince just spoke to him. At least Queen Witch did a little something right but more than likely a nanny had something to do with his manners more than his mother.
STINK EYE STINK EYES
Hae Soo visits the grave of her cousin Myung Hee. By the amount of grass atop the burial mound, we can surmise that some time has passed since her death. Hae Soo wonders to herself how long she will have to live there. Soon she is joined by the 13th and 14th Princes and they escort her home from the graveside. Once inside the palace grounds, their paths cross Yeon Hwa’s. She has a smile on her annoyingly dimpled cheeks and it instantly sets us ill at ease. She has some news. She wishes she had been able to catch Hae Soo earlier as she could have shared the joyous tidings with Myung Hee. Yeon Hwa gleefully tells Hae Soo that she is to be married and all those who hear the news are none too pleased. She is basically being sold and Yeon Hwa cannot hide her delight at the prospect of being the only flower in the palace again.
It seems some of Hae Soo’s relatives have turned up. They no longer have a connection to the king following the death of Lady Hae and they’re desperate to rebuild that connection, so they speak with the 8th Prince about a marriage that they have recently arranged for her. Wang Wook is visibly uncomfortable and would prefer to leave Hae Soo alone. But Yeon Hwa is more than happy to press her brother to change his mind and allow the marriage.
The 13th Prince is despondent at the news and drags Wang So into the courtyard, complaining bitterly the whole way. They are quickly joined by the other princes, who are equally distressed. After a brief back and forth among the princes, they all agree that this is not what any of them wants for Hae Soo. It seems she is to be married to an old man with many sons.
In her room, Hae Soo Appears to be numb as Chae Ryung packs Hae Soo’s things and cries. Suddenly she wakes from her near catatonic state and decides that she’s going to run. Just then, the puppet window is opened by the 10th Prince. It seems she is not the only one who is hatching an escape plan. She runs to the courtyard to find the other princes who tell her of their plan and begin to execute it immediately. She is wrapped in a pink cloak and placed atop a horse.
Our scene changes to a galloping horse carrying two riders. It is Hae Soo and the 8th Prince, or at least that is what we are led to believe. When another group of riders gives chase and catches up to our fleeing bride and her savior, we find the pink hooded rider is really the 10th Prince. Their pursuers have been fooled. Another horse with two riders gallops in the opposite direction through the foggy forest. We get some wonderfully juicy slow motion shots of the purloined bride-to-be and her prospective paramour, within palpitating proximity of one another on their desperate dash for freedom. The director of photography turns up the sexy with close up shots of Wang So’s hand holding Hae So safely in the saddle. Unfortunately, their escape the short-lived, as they dead-end into four servants caring a palanquin. The space between them is quickly filled by Hae Soo’s grinning relatives. We learn that the arranged marriage is with the king himself. The jig is up and Hae Soo realizes that if she does not comply it could mean the lives of the princes. She willingly dismounts the horse and bravely tells Wang So not to worry.
In the throne room, Queen Yoo complains to her husband the king. How could such a busy person be getting married again? They exchange harsh words and Queen Witch leaves the throne room in a huff.
In the palanquin, Hae Soo tries to talk herself out of being panicked. At the same time, news reaches the ears of the royal concubine who is in charge of all things jjimjabong.
On the way to the jjimjabong Hae Soo and Mr. Sunshine chat and she tells him she has no interest in marriage, King or otherwise. She would like Mr. Sunshine to tell the king that there has been some mistake. But before he can offer her any additional advice the royal concubine and her ladies meet up with them. Mr. Sunshine is happy to see the royal concubine and it seems that perhaps they have a relationship deeper than friends or associates.
Hae Soo follows the royal concubine and her ladies back to the royal jjimjabong. Before Hae Soo has a moment to catch her breath, she is essentially strip searched. You see, any wife of the King, cannot have scars. And somebody gotta check!! Hae Soo struggles but it is no use.
In another room in the palace, two queens are having tea. The conversation is quickly interrupted by desperate princes each entreating his own mother to try and stop the marriage. Yeon Hwa arrives as well but I am certain it is for the opposite cause.
Wang So is walking as the 13th prince dances nervous circles around him, begging Wang So to do something, anything to stop the marriage. Wang So comes directly to the point and asks the 13th Prince if he has feelings for Hae Soo. We are shown a memory. The 13th prince and Hae Soo are drinking and being a shoulder for the other to cry on. (When I do this with my friends I call it solving the world’s problems.) She cryptically tells him to wait 1000 years for a time when his status will not matter. She basically tells him “we’re all going to die anyway. You should just live and follow your heart.” She drunkenly gets him to agree and they both smile. We are brought back to the current argument between the princes. Wang So is more focused on the fact that she spoke recklessly to a prince. The 13th Prince counters, that if political marriage/arranged marriage is bad for princes, how much worse is it for the commoners? With this question, Wang So has nowhere else to go except the rules of the kingdom. He asks if they should overthrow a nation and defy the throne. The 13th prince is more concerned for Hae Soo. She has no siblings and no parents to defend her. How will she survive? Once the marriage is completed, she will rarely see the King and palace life will suffocate her.
At the Royal jjimjabong, a clearly annoyed Hae Soo sits on the floor in the corner following her unceremonious royal strip search. The royal concubine lays out her schedule and Hae Soo points out to her that it was only this morning that she was told she would marry. The whole process is moving too fast. The royal concubine leaves her alone and Hae Soo decides that she will make yet another run for freedom. I’m not sure how she thinks that she will hide, dressed all in white like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man but she gives it her best shot. Her run does not last long as she comes close to knocking down the royal concubine and her ladies like a stack of silken bowling pins.
Wang So has Mr. sunshine in a choke hold. I think he partially blames Mr. Sunshine for facilitating the marriage deal. After all, it was him who showed up in the woods with the palace guards. Wang So is a bit of a brute and doesn’t seem the kind to recite idioms but that is exactly what he is doing now. “A rabbit always digs two holes,” he says while increasing the pressure on our astronomer’s throat. Wang So continues, “the silly man waits at the first hole, while the rabbit sneaks out of the second. I’ve never known you to have less than two escapes. As a matter of fact, it’s usually more. Tell me, what is the other way out?”
In the throne room, the king is informed that his bride has been surrendered. It seems it is only then but he is informed of her actual identity. She is the cousin of his 8th son’s deceased wife. He remarks on the greediness of her relatives and is offered the opportunity to decline the marriage. In his view, it might cause a problem to do so. He tells his servant to prepare for the marriage.
Later we see the king dressed in red walking down a red-carpeted hallway. He turns the corner, on the way to the marriage chamber, when he encounters his 8th son, on his knees, in the middle of the hallway. Wang Wook implores his father to reconsider the marriage but his father does not appreciate being questioned. He asks Wang Wook’s reasons for wanting to stop the marriage. But before Wang Wook can answer he is joined in the hallway by Wang So. The continued resistance from his sons enrages the king. Wang So offers information that would allow the king to cancel the marriage and still be able to control the territory that he desires. We are led to believe for a moment that this might work. But then the king, with a resolute face says that the marriage will continue as planned and their excuses are not good enough. He rounds the corner to find Hae Soo dressed in beautiful red, her hair ornately arranged. He is so angry he only offers her the briefest glance before passing her by. We hear the sound of pottery shattering and the king turns to see Hae Soo, her wrist cut, and her hand is holding a piece of broken, bloodied pottery. She has discovered a way out. If her body is scarred, she cannot marry the king. The king at first is stunned and then he burst into laughter. This clever girl has gotten herself out of a tricky situation again. The king turns on his heel and declares that she is more courageous than a man. He and his servant leave. Hae Soo faints into the arms of the 8th Prince. He carries her out of the Palace where all of the other princes are waiting. Only Wang So lags behind. His expression is unreadable.
Hae So is remembering her drowning and some interesting clues about the fate of the Goryeo King come back to her. She suddenly awakens with the royal concubine by her side. She tells her that she is still alive and unmarried. The doctor has told the royal concubine that Hae So’s cut will leave a scar on her arm. Hae So asks if she is still in the palace and she is told that she is since she is not dead. This answer confuses her. “Are you saying that I will have to die in order to leave the palace?” she asks. The royal concubine asks her if the idea of being the wife of a king was so awful? The royal concubine chalks up Hae Soo’s behavior to youth and gathers her things to leave. But not before she informs Hae Soo that she is to be punished for her defiance towards the king. Hae Soo bravely says that she protected what she wanted to and has no problem paying for it. The 8th Prince is waiting outside and he enters the room as the royal concubine leaves.
The 8th Prince approaches Hae Soo’s bed and gently takes her wounded wrist gently in his hand. He tells her that all will be well and that because of her scar the King has canceled the marriage without question. He tells her how helpless and pathetic he felt. So much so, that he prayed to his dead wife. He prayed that only if Hae So could be returned to him, he would offer her the love and affection that his wife had deserved. Hae Soo confesses that she was afraid she would never see him again. She was also regretful that she did not have a chance to say goodbye. He hugs her and tells her everything will be alright. He almost lost her once, he will never let it happen again.
In the throne room, Mr. Sunshine is almost asleep on his feet. The king is going over scrolls when Mr. Sunshine suggests that the king should rest in order to preserve the throne. Mr. Sunshine breaches the subject of Hae Soo’s punishment. The King quickly says that she should be a slave. Mr. Sunshine interjects that many have asked about Hae Soo, including both queens as well as Royal Concubine Oh. He tells the king that Hae So has a talent with medicines and herbs and that she would fit in well at the Royal jjimjabong. The King is convinced that his children have something to do with the many requests to save Hae Soo from a life of slavery. The king decides that he does not want to cause any additional conflict and he takes Mr. Sunshine’s advice, quickly sentences Hae Soo to a life in the royal jjimjabong under the direction of Royal Concubine Oh.
Wang Wook and Hae Soo walk silently in the garden together. He sees her bandage wrist and covers it with the sleeve of her gown. They decide they will visit Myung Hee together. It will make her happy, they reason, since she had asked her husband to look after Hae Soo. Mr. Sunshine appears in the garden to deliver the news of Hae Soo’s fate. Mr. Sunshine is pleased. After all, Hae Soo could have become a slave. Hae Soo chooses to look on the bright side of the situation. She had nowhere else to go, and besides, she has even heard that court ladies get paid. Mr. Sunshine encourages her to work hard. She is a noble lady and will be treated differently. She may even be allowed to marry and go on trips if the king is pleased with her work. Mr. Sunshine turns to lead her to her workstation. With this announcement, she realizes that she may not be able to visit Myung Hee with Wang Wook for a while. He presents her with a piece of paper and she opens it to find a large emoji. She smiles as he imitates what he is drawn. Soon they’re joined by the other princes all of them asking after her health and giving her a hard time for the injury she inflicted on herself. One prince has lagged behind. It is Wang So. He stands in the doorway next Mr. Sunshine. “Now do you understand why did what I did?” he asks Mr. Sunshine. He does not reply to the question. Each prince promises to visit Hae Soo at the jjimjabong in spite of the fact that Concubine Oh is scary. Hae Soo looks at the assembled princes before her and wonders, which of them will be King? She knows that that king will kill his brothers. She stares at the 8th Prince and cannot believe that it will be him. Mr. Sunshine says that it is time to go and she leaves as they speak encouraging words to her. As she passes Wang So, he looks mournfully at her as though he knows exactly what fate awaits her. But is it becoming a court lady that saddens him so, or is it the idea that she too, will live her life as a scarred person?
She enters the royal jjimjabong timidly and looks around, taking in all that she sees. Her eyes finally meet the stern gaze of Concubine Oh.
I really loved this episode. From the somber beginning to the uncertain ending and the thrilling chases in between, this was a captivating episode. You would be hard pressed to find a girl who had not, at one time or another, imagined herself being whisked away by handsome rogue, on a fast horse, through a foggy forest. And as much as this episode tried to make something of a budding relationship between Hae So and the 8th Prince, all of us know where the real fire and passion is. Each moment between Hae Soo and Wang So feels electric and forbidden. Such things are what got us into all of this trouble in the first place. Perhaps if we were never told “don’t eat the fruit on that tree” we would’ve completely ignored it. But once told that you cannot have something, it makes you want it even more. Is this logical? No. Do we do it anyway? Yes!
I’m actually excited about Concubine Oh. She is clearly a wiser, more world-weary, Myung Hee and you get the idea that she has loved and lost. I believe that she too will become a protector to Hae So. She has got some fight in her and I expect that we will see some upper-class confrontation between her and the women in the royal household. My money is on Concubine Oh.
I’m also enjoying the united brothers aspect of the story. Now, instead of just having conversations about Wang So, he is included in the plotting and planning. You could say he’s the muscle. His stoic exterior and his sometimes brute force methods are a nice contrast to the bitchy barbs that the brothers often throw. He is often straightforward and to the point. I also like seeing them defend one another as this brotherly battalion begins to coalesce. I will be sad to see it dissolve in later episodes.
That’s it for now.