The Queen Mother would be proud of In Hyun. Seriously. This girl has a nasty right hook to her. Read on to find out what happens when a baby is thrown into the intrigue filled world of Jang Ok Jung.
Ok Jung faces the retainers in the main hall and in no uncertain terms announces she is pregnant. To drive the matter home she has the royal physician make an appearance to confirm the diagnosis. The retainers are left without a foothold; there is no way they can kick Ok Jung out if she is carrying the King’s child.
In Hyun finds out about the pregnancy and confronts Ok Jung- after all she had only agreed to let Ok Jung go in front of the retainers if Ok Jung left the palace. Ok Jung reminds the Queen that she never promised to leave, she only stated she wanted to see the retainers to tell the truth and ask a question. In Hyun repays Ok Jung’s smugness with two, I repeat, two bitch slaps. Ok Jung is shocked by the Queen’s abuse.
Meanwhile the King is busy playing bows and arrows when Master Jin pays a visit. Their meeting is cut short as the King announces he needs to go see his heir aka the pregnant Ok Jung. Master Jin moseys on over to his palace quarters (as bestowed on him last episode) where he runs into Maid Choi. As she begins to talk to him he puts his hand on her mouth to silence her- the King and Ok Jung are taking a stroll and he has the perfect vantage point.
Maid Choi quickly guesses what is going on and tells Master Jin that he is at the palace to steal- they are two of a kind lusting after people that belong to another. Master Jin dismisses her suggestion and leaves, Maid Choi gazes on, their dual purpose solidified in her mind.
A few months pass. Ok Jung is found picking out makeup in a room full of maids- as soon as she has made her selection word spreads among the women of the palace that the color of the day is red. Apparently everyone has a little Ok Jung fashion envy going on.
We suddenly cut to a scene of Ok Jung in labor. Wow- it seems like only twenty minutes ago we found out she was pregnant! Okay, okay, I will stop the literal exclamations. I promise. Ok Jung is crying out for her mother, labor pains overcoming her. The King waits outside, helpless as he hears her pleas.
The retainers of the Western party are on pins and needles- if Ok Jung has a son their party is surely doomed. In Hyun’s father scoffs at the idea that Ok Jung would be promoted from concubine to Queen. The rest of his party reigns him in- after all this King is unlike his predecessors, he has the strongest royal guard in history behind him.
Ok Jung’s Mom arrives at the palace gates. A royal inspector greets her. Angered at a former slave using a vehicle reserved for the nobility he has her ejected from the palanquin and the palanquin bearers beaten. To emphasis the message of class based transportation he sets the palanquin aflame. As the fire burns Ok Jung’s maid happens on the scene and rushes back to report the incident to the King.
The King arrives at the palace gates and witnesses Inspector Lee’s disrespect of Ok Jung’s mother. He orders the inspector stripped of his rank and title for his actions. After Ok Jung’s mother is escorted inside he looks angrily at the burning palanquin.
Ok Jung is in the hard throws of labor when her mother arrives. Mom holds her daughters hand and coaches her through the birth, within a minute the crying of an infant can be heard.
The King is summoned inside to meet his child. As he enters the birthing chamber he is notified that the baby is a son, his first born. Happily he hugs Ok Jung and proclaims his son will be given the title of Won Ja- a big deal because this title is reserved for the first born son of the Queen.
In Hyun is with her Dad in the midst of a major worry session. They are interrupted by one of the palace maids- the baby has been born and as they feared it is a boy. In Hyun, clearly upset, announces that she will go visit the newborn as this is a happy occasion for the nation.
In Hyun arrives at the birthing chambers in time to overhear the King announce that the infant will be called Won Ja-words that cause her to tear up. She decides that visiting the happy family is not in order and retreats back to her quarters.
The next day the retainers and King assemble in the main hall. The retainers congratulate his majesty on his new title of father and then subsequently start to complain about the punishment of Inspector Lee. If a man upholding the Joseon class system is punished what is next? Seriously Southern party, now you are just stupid. I don’t think telling the King he was wrong in his punishment is a good idea, considering it all stemmed from the mistreatment of Ok Jung’s Mom. The King is angered (as expected) and tells the retainers he has made some decisions. Like his new son being proclaimed Won Ja. Ninety percent of the retainers protest (the Western Party) while our one lone Southern party member thanks the King. I guess we know who benefits from this decision.
In Hyun finally decides to make the trip to meet the prince. She asks Ok Jung if she can hold the baby, Ok Jung emphasis’s her son’s position as Won Ja and then agrees. In Hyun cradles the infant and her face lights up at the sight of him. Ok Jung looks at her son and the Queen apprehensively, the uncomfortable expression on her face reminding us that once upon a time In Hyun promised to steal her son.
Suddenly Ok Jung snatches her baby back. In Hyun responds by apologizing for bitch slapping her when she was pregnant (wait. is this 1998 on the Jerry Springer special we married the same guy but you got prego first so I hit you?!). In Hyun tells Ok Jung she should not be so mean to her. Now if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black. As In Hyun leaves she thinks back to her Mother in laws orders- raise the son of the King even if that means the mother has to be Ok Jung.
The King meets with Uncle Jang to have a chat about power. It seems that our majesty wants to kick out the ruling Western Party in order to further centralize power, an idea that immediately benefits the Southern Party (because you need at least one party in this government, give and take as it is). Uncle Jang suggests that the King ally with the Southern party and the merchants and officers that support them, a suggestion that rids the ruler of his reserve over the Southern Party’s lack of business focus.
A secret meeting is afoot as we cut to the King’s chief eunuch slyly letting a man inside the royal chambers. The mystery visitor is none other than the royal physician. The King has been feeling unwell lately- his diagnosis is the same liver disease that plagued his father. The doctor warns that he should try to stay calm or the disease could become acute.
Prince D arrives (making his obligatory once an episode visit). The King confides in him that he has arrived at a decision, a decision that will legitimize his son.
Meanwhile In Hyun and her father are trying to tell each other it really is not that bad- until they realize it kind of is. There is no way for the King to make Ok Jung’s son his heir, at least not in a class based society like Joseon. Dear old Dad remarks that if the King even tried it would mean one step closer to his majesties dethronement. In Hyun repeats the word, staring off to the reality of the situation.
Dethronement is the next word we hear out of the King, who is hashing out his legitimization plan to Prince D. The Prince looks on shocked as he hears the words “change the Queen”. The King responds to his friends worry, if the Western Party tries to oust him he will oust the Western Party. In other words I am King Sukjong, I have the power! The King asks Prince D to support him as he announces his son’s legitimacy the next day. Prince D looks worried, the situation weighing on him.
The King visits Ok Jung. The happy family is made happier when the King announces that Yoon will become his heir. He warns Ok Jung that the fight for this to happen may be long and painful; OK Jung tells him she can endure anything as long as he is at her side.
The retainers gather in the main hall and immediately dispute the King on his son’s appointment to Won Ja. The King, in a master move, tells them he is not there to dispute the title of Won Ja but to announce his son’s appointment as Crown Prince. The retainers are stunned; the father-in-laws-two begin to argue with the King. If Ok Jung’s son is Crown Prince then that means he will dismiss the Western Party. His majesty reminds the retainers that he has the right to reform the government- a right that has thus far never been invoked by a ruling monarch. The retainers continue to protest and the arguing appears to be too much for the King – he clutches his chest and collapses in the middle of the debate.
The palace is in an uproar at the news of the King fainting. Ok Jung is notified, as is the Queen (who promptly rushes to care for her husband). The Southern party convenes in a place courtyard and discusses the incident- the King could not have collapsed on a worse day. Now the Western party knows of the Kings intentions to make his newborn son the crown prince, all while the appointment could not be made official due to his majesty collapsing. Uncle Jang wonders what nefarious plots the Western party will concoct to turn this news around.
The Western party meets to discuss their nefarious plot and realize the answer is clear- make the Queen ruler by proxy. They decide to do just that- and In Hyun apparently gets the message. She stays at the King’s bedside and denies OK Jung entrance when she comes to visit.
Ok Jung, panicking because she cannot see the King, begs Prince D to help her. Before he can answer one way or another In Hyun appears and tells Ok Jung she needs to speak to her.
The two meet in private. Ok Jung hears the words she has feared- In Hyun wants her son. Ok Jung pleads with the Queen to not harm the prince- In Hyun reminds her of her old promise; she will never poison her son but she will force Ok Jung to leave the palace.
Ok Jung exits the meeting incensed with rage. She looks back at the Queen’s chambers and curses In Hyun; she promises that one day she will make In Hyun feel the pain of being thrown from the palace. The court ladies pick this time to make their entrance; they are carrying the young prince off to his “mother” the Queen. Ok Jung reacts in Mama Bear fashion and grabs her son away. The Queen appears and tells Ok Jung that it is not time to break her promise; because her promise starts at that moment. Ok Jung clutches her son to her tightly, pleading with the Queen.
Did In Hyun take her angry-confidence pills this episode? Because it really seems like it. From being a silent bystander to a quiet conniver this episode saw In Hyun emerge as a take no prisoners plotter. No wonder the Queen Mother liked her so much. I love seeing this character finally take charge but I am hating what it is doing to the lead couple, I mean they just had a baby and all (yes, I know-I ship them way too much).
Evil Queens aside am I the only one that thinks Prince D’s existence in this story is to have one sided vent sessions with the King? I know this man played a much more substantial role in earlier episodes but as of the last four shows I feel like all he does is show up, listen to the King’s latest range of feelings and thoughts, stare at Ok Jung for a moment, and then depart back to Prince D land. Just a thought.
Seeing Maid Choi and Master Jin have a veiled discussion of their similarities was interesting. History tells us that Maid Choi ends up replacing Ok Jung as Concubine number one while this show hints that Master Jin will replace the King (or at least try really, really hard) in Ok Jung’s heart. As Maid Choi stated both characters are thieves, going after what does not belong to them. I have a feeling their kinship in motives will continue in later episodes and I would be lying if I did not admit I am kind of excited to see where their partnership goes.
The redundancy factor also made an appearance this episode- after all this is not the first time Ok Jung has been kicked out of the palace the moment the King fell ill. This situation, though a repeat in actions, is not exactly a repeat in situations. Ok Jung has a son now and the stakes have been raised- I am assuming the moment the King wakes up In Hyun is going to want to be far, far, away.
So….as usual I really would like the next episode to be right now. Because I love this show. Cheers!