Score one for the Queen Mother as she gets creative in her protection of the Queen (an actual ingenious plot from her, I would have never thunk it.) Don’t believe me? Read on…
Ok Jung’s poisoning is the talk of the court. Minister Min and the Queen Mother, two people well acquainted with a good scheme, discern Ok Jung is the mastermind. The Queen Mother pays a visit to Ok Jung to tell her just that.
Ok Jung meets with her Uncle and reveals that their plot missed two key elements- one she did not have strong enough support from the Southern party and two she is not pregnant. Both factors have made her self poisoning lack the desired immediate effect of In Hyun’s dismissal. Meanwhile the King ponders the poisoning and who was really responsible (hint, he suspects OK Jung a little too). He remembers his father’s dying words- that he can never trust anyone but himself.
News sweeps the palace that one of the court maids, currently subjected to torture as part of the poisoning investigation, is ready to confess. The King, Queen, and Ok Jung are called to hear the confession. Before the maid can accuse Ok Jung or the Queen the Queen Mother appears and announces that she was the one who ordered the poisoning. She explains her motivation was her usual reason- she could not see the royal blood tainted by such filth as Ok Jung. Before the King can do any more than plead with his Mother to say it is not true the Queen Mother collapses, her long term illness getting the best of her.
On her death bed the Queen Mother tells the King that Ok Jung is actually the one behind the poisoning, even if there is no proof to back this up. She goes on to urge the King to support and stay with the Queen. Deathbed request complete she passes away, leaving the court in mourning.
After his Mother’s death the King stops visiting Ok Jung. When encountering her in the palace he ignores her, causing a lot of teary eyes from the concubine. Prince D pays a visit to the King and discusses his recent distance with Ok Jung. He explains that he has stopped seeing Ok Jung because he fears the truth and what the truth would cause him to do as King (apparently his majesty’s distance is a means to ignore the reality- that his love would ingest poison to oust the Queen. It has been easier for him, and was easier for him, to see the investigation carried out as it was).
A set of flashbacks reveal the truth of who set the fire that killed Ok Jung’s teacher many years ago. We see a series of scenes featuring Master Jin and Ok Jung’s past (mostly shots of him making puppy eyes at her). It seems that Master Jin has been aware of Ok Jung’s trajectory for some time- he even tried to bribe Uncle Jang so she would not enter the palace (but was promptly told by dear old Uncle that he better give Ok Jung up or he would be ripped to pieces. Nice old Uncle Jang!). Before the attempted bribery he was beaten and left to drown by Ok Jung’s Uncle, an event that inadvertently revealed it was one of Uncle Jang’s henchmen that started the fire many moons ago. Master Jin’s hatred of Uncle Jang is given a full fleshing out by the revelation of these past misdeeds.
Meanwhile, Minister Min makes good on his promise to Master Jin and sets up a meeting between him and the King. The King is surprised to find that they have already met- last episode during a jaunt in the market to be exact. Master Jin asks the King for his support in business with one request- he wants his own quarters in the palace. The King, unaware of Master Jin’s larger goal, concedes to his request.
The Queen has a vivid dream. In her dream the Queen Mother warns that Ok Jung is the reincarnation of an animal the king killed, come back to life to take revenge. Not only is Ok Jung only out to hurt the King, dream Queen Mother says, she will never have his child. In Hyun, disturbed, tells her personal maid of the vision. Her maid urges her to tell his majesty about the Queen Mother’s warning from dreamland.
The Queen follows her maid’s suggestion and meets with the King, naively describing her dream. The King takes her dream as a sign of her jealousy, remarking that her thinking is no different than that of the late Queen Mother’s. He then orders her to leave him.
In a coincidence that the Western party does not need Master Min pays a visit to his son in law (aka the King of Joseon) and shares a happy dream that his wife, (In Hyun’s step mom) had, a dream that points to In Hyun getting pregnant soon. Given the Queen’s dream reveal earlier in the day the King is pissed at another instance of jealousy towards Ok Jung and makes that known to Minister Min.
Min pays a visit to his daughter the Queen and they discuss the grave mistake she has made- the only thing she has going for her right now is the image of a wise and kind queen. If she starts spouting jealousy ridden dream talk her future will not bode well. In order to protect his daughter Min announces that he will kick the evict-Ok-Jung plot into overdrive and go for the throat.
It turns out the throat is Ok Jung’s mother and the old rumor that Ok Jung’s father is actually Minister Jo. Repeating themselves the retainers once again plead for Ok Jung’s dismissal, a plea that only enrages the King.
In Hyun pays a visit to Ok Jung and asks her to leave the palace, she is only hurting the King by remaining at his side despite all of the vicious rumors of her low birth. Ok Jung tells the Queen to leave, as soon she is alone she holds her chest and cries out that she feels that she is suffocating. A physician is called and he has happy news- Ok Jung is pregnant.
Ok Jung calls the King to her quarters and cryptically tells him she has a present for him, but once he takes the present he can never let her go, ever. He asks her what her present is and she tells him of her pregnancy. The King falls silent, a serious look on his face he walks away. Fear registers in Ok Jung’s expression as she waits for his response. Finally the King holds out his arms and embraces Ok Jung, telling her he is happy for this news and he had to choose her after all. He further tells her that it is time they announce that they are going to have a son to the people who are trying to kick Ok Jung out of the palace. We hear a voice over from the King- Ok Jung has to have a son, if she does he will make sure his heir is the strongest King in Joseon.
Next we see the King and his entourage walking through one of the palace courtyards. A gaggle of maids bow to him as he passes, noticeably one maid raises her head and stares after the King. The woman, Maid Choi (the future concubine of the King as history tells us) is reprimanded as she mindlessly watches the monarch walk away.
Ok Jung pays a visit to the Queen and tells her that she will leave the palace on one condition- she is allowed to face the retainers and tell the truth. If the retainers still demand she leaves than she will. In Hyun, unaware of Ok Jung’s pregnancy agrees.
The retainers are called to the court. Ok Jung faces them and announces that the rumors of her parentage are false. The retainers skulk at her, she responds with a loud declaration of the truth- even if the Queen dreamed Ok Jung would never have the King’s child she is in fact pregnant. Would they cast off a level one concubine pregnant with the King’s child, she asks. Would they?
So… I was wrong about a lot of things last episode. I do not think that Maid Choi paid a late night visit to the King based on their one sided stare fest this episode (but it could, remotely still be a possibility). Ok Jung’s batshit crazy plotting was guessed by almost everyone that means anything, much to my surprise. And my constant curiosity towards Master Jin was partially sated in a manner I found anticlimactic but unexpected- he has been involved in our story behind the scenes longer than I thought.
False impressions aside this episode was unfortunately redundant. It feels like we jumped back several episodes and are recycling the same old accusations with the same old outcomes. The only refreshing part of this episode for me (other than the whole pregnancy of course) was the Queen Mother’s master play, take the blame and save the Queen. You definitely scored one on Ok Jung with that tactic Queen Mother.
In other news, related but not part of the show, I made a grave mistake today by googling the novel this drama is based on. I found a translation of the last few pages, opened the document, read the first sentence, shrieked and then closed it. I have that hanging over my head now, a partial reading of what happened without any context. Bad, bad, bad idea Lore. A thousand times worse than watching the next episodes spoilers (which I hate doing). I will be slapping myself on the hand until the next episode and I will definitely not be looking this up again. I want to know what happens but I really don’t, especially only one sentence of the conclusion without an idea of how it all fits in. Show, why is your next episode so far away and why is does my curiosity get the better of me!
Eep! I’ve been avoiding talk about the novel ever since I got partially spoiled (?) in a comment section on Koala’s recaps a while ago. (I threw in a question mark because I did the same hasty backpedaling and can’t quite recall — and I’m not trying — what it said.)
I have to agree that this episode was a little… unsatisfying. I’m not sure if it’s that the story is failing or if it’s going in an unhappy direction. I don’t like the distance between the king and Ok-jung. I didn’t like how sloppy the investigation into the poisoning was (was torture until someone confessed the only method? did no one do any sleuthing at all?).
I do agree that the Queen Mom made herself a grand exit. It was very well played and I have to give her props for it. (Felt in-character, too; she always liked the grand gestures.) But the rest…? I’ll have to see what the next episodes bring.
Good point on the investigation- apparently torture is the best means of crime solving in JOJ world?! I also hate the distance between Ok Jung and the King. It made me start questioning their entire relationship and how easy it was for him to start ignoring her (maybe easy is the wrong word, she did poison herself after all).
I am hoping episode 17 is not as redundant. I still love this show a lot and do not want to start hating it now.
Love your recaps, still loving this show!
Thanks! What do you think of JOJ and her recent plotting? I am still pulling for her…
Thanks for the recaps and reviews of JOJ! I’m catching up to episode 16 now, and every time I finish an ep, I feel like there’s a thousand thoughts in my head about it. But now I’ve found your gloriously snarky recaps! Certainly makes it much more fun as I troop towards the final few eps. I hope it ends well; history tells us it doesn’t, but I’m hoping for a miracle of sorts. Too emotionally invested in this! 🙂
Thanks! I am with you on hoping for a happy ending, I am too emotionally invested also. Stupid history!