Do unto others as you would have them do unto you- at least as you would have them do unto you if the King suddenly collapsed. The moral of the last two episodes is finally explained in this entry. Cheers!
We pick up where we left off last episode- Ok Jung clutching her son and pleading with In Hyun to not take him away. In Hyun, in a really creepy way, says she will give the Mom and baby some time, but that does not mean she will not come for “her” son later. I think a shiver just went down my spine at those words-In Hyun with her crazy eyes looks every part the menacing baby stealer (or is that kidnapper).
Lord Min is standing watch over the unconscious King when Prince D arrives. Lord Min cryptically mentions to Prince D that he should beware; as the King’s blood relative people will start to think Prince D is trying to take the throne if he visits the King too much. Prince D scoffs at this idea.
Meanwhile Master Jin is meeting with Lord Min. The situation at hand- the power grab by the Western Party- is discussed. Master Jin steers the conversation towards the fate of the King’s concubines if this happens; will they be thrown from the palace? Lord Min, completely unaware of Master Jin’s past with Ok Jung, is surprised that she is known in China and that there is any interest in her. Master Jin smiles and announces that if she is ejected from the palace he will have to go take a look and see how beautiful she really is.
The father-in-laws two meet with the Queen to tell her the Western Party’s decisions. In Hyun will rule by proxy, the infant son of the King will take the throne, and Ok Jung will be evicted and then murdered. In Hyun seems surprised at the idea. Her father offers an alternative route- after all our baby Prince might get a little pissed when he grows up and finds out what the Western Party did to his Mom. Min suggests that they align themselves with Prince D and overthrow Sukjong all together, that way there will be no messy revenge later on.
The man himself is at the King’s bedside, having a one sided conversation with the unconscious monarch. Prince D relays the news, the Western Party is ready to seize power on the dress tails of the Queen- he wonders aloud what the King would do. Sukjong remains asleep as Prince D sighs heavily.
We return to the father-in-laws and In Hyun. The Queen thinks back to when she saw Ok Jung and Prince D together and dismisses the idea of putting him forth as monarch; he is under the concubine’s spell as well. Plus the King is her husband, even if he has done bad things to her (you know, because In Hyun has never done anything bad). Lord Min relays that if he could crush the bones of the King and drink them he would still hate the King- his hatred for his son in law is that deep (and apparently dramatic enough to talk about drinking bones). Hatred or no, the decision is made, the Western Party will go with the original plan- with one major change. Ok Jung’s life will be in the hands of the Queen.
Next we find Prince D entering the main hall with Lord Min. Prince D admits he always wanted to enter this place (as a royal he is banned from holding a political position), Min asks him if his desire to come here was due to ambitions to sit on the throne…because if he is interested Lord Min and the Western party might be able to help him get there. Apparently Min is not going with plan A after all. Prince D asks what will happen if he refuses, he is told that he will become the top name on the Western Party’s soon to be compiled execution list. Yikes- stage a coupe or die. I feel like this is a lose-lose situation.
Meanwhile we catch up with the Queen as she makes good on her promise to take “her son”. Ok Jung is not having any of it and fights off the maids that rush into her chambers and try to take the young Prince. The Queen enters and the two women exchange words. In Hyun tells Ok Jung that if she wants to keep her son alive she will give up her baby and leave- because if she does not Lord Min will certainly kill both of them.
The next scene gives us Ok Jung’s reply- In Hyun leaves with the prince. Cradling the baby with an evil glint in her eye she sets of on her opulent palanquin, leaving a hysterical Ok Jung behind.
Ok Jung is ordered to enter a plain white palanquin, all set to carry her from the palace to imposed exile in a monastary. Ok Jung protests but with no other option stumbles into the palanquin.
Prince D and Lord Min are still in the main hall, discussing the overthrow of the King. Prince D takes the liberty to sit on the throne, remarking to Min that it feels much more natural than he thought. The two join hands to put Prince D on the throne-on two conditions that is. Prince D wants Ok Jung and Prince Yoon spared and he wants every member of the Western Party to sign a petition proclaiming Prince Yoon illegitimate and not a claimant to the throne. Min promises to get him the signatures. Prince D smiles, his true motivations unclear (is he actually protecting the King or trying to take his spot?).
The Western Party meets and discusses what to do with Ok Jung. They decide to kill her even if Prince D wants her saved. Apparently Lord Min is taking elements of plan A and B and creating a plan C. Okay, I guess we can go with that.
In Hyun is visited by her father, who tells her that it is time to kill Prince Yoon and Ok Jung. In Hyun is against the idea, after all wasn’t it decided that she would rule by proxy and Ok Jung’s fate would be her decision? Dear old dad says the party has changed their mind- it is time to get rid of the Mom and baby as well as King Sukjong. The Queen does not like the idea, a worried expression overcoming her.
Night has fallen and Ok Jung is still on her journey to the monastery she is to be dumped at. Sitting in the palanquin she tries to reassure herself that In Hyun will not kill the young Prince. Suddenly the palanquin is attacked by armed men. Once the guards are disabled a man opens the palanquin and puts a cloth over Ok Jung’s mouth- she passes out.
Uncle Jang and Ok Jung’s brother have an emergency meeting- Ok Jung has gone missing. Big brother announces he will organize armed men to find her; he sets off on his sister saving mission, leaving a very angry Uncle Jang to stew.
Next we cut to a sleeping Ok Jung. A hand reaches out to caress her forehead; she wakes up with a start. Shock overcomes her as she recognizes the owner of the hand- Master Jin.
A short time later the two of them begin to converse- Ok Jung is full of questions. Where has he been? She heard he had disappeared? Master Jin responds with a full on I-hate-your-Uncle-he-is-evil-so-stay-with-me rant. Master Jin reveals Uncle Jang’s part in the fire so many years ago. Ok Jung will not believe her Uncle could have started the fire and rushes off to go confront dear old Uncle Jang herself.
Master Jin follows her out to the courtyard and pleads with her to not associate with her Uncle any longer- to do so would mean Ok Jung may end up as his enemy. Jin begs her to just leave with him. Ok Jung explains that she cannot- she has a home now and that home is the palace. She cannot abandon her child and her love.
Jin is none to happy at these words and grabs Ok Jung’s arm as she tries to leave. Before what promises to be an angry confrontation occurs Ok Jung’s brother and his men burst through the gate- gung ho to rescue Ok Jung. Ok Jung departs with her brother, telling Jin that she hopes he finds peace.
We cut to In Hyun, who is cuddling the baby she stole. She looks down at the infant in an I –really-can’t-kill-you-way. Awww, she is maternal! In Hyun relinquishes the baby to her maid, it is palace custom that the royal children are taken to their nanny for the night. As soon as the baby is gone the Queen thinks back to her father’s words; the baby must die for them to succeed. In Hyun seems to realize something and quickly gets up.
Meanwhile the court maid is carrying Prince Yoon to his nanny when she hears a noise behind her. She looks back but does not see anything. Suddenly we see a shadowy figure dressed as a maid rush her, before he can launch his assault Queen In Hyun appears and yells for the maid. The would-be assassin goes scurrying off, all the while the head of the royal guards observes the entire scene from the shadows.
It must be royal killing night because our next scene is of a masked and armed intruder entering the king’s chamber, a sword gleaming in the candlelight as he inches closer and closer to the unconscious monarch.
Ok Jung is in the throws of a nightmare, her grief over being separated from her child invading her slumber. She wakes up with a start; she is in bed with her mother. Her Mom wakes up and comforts her. The two realize they are similar in that they were both forced to separate from their children. Mom hugs Ok Jung and tells her she will never interfere with her life in the palace- she understands how terrible it is to be apart from ones child.
Morning dawns and the retainers meet up to discuss the death of the King. Because, you know, it had to have happened, they sent that assassin and all. The smug Western Party enters the main hall, gleefully waiting for the new monarch to arrive. Prince D, the assumed usurper, is shown walking towards the main hall carrying the King’s seal.
The doors of the main hall are opened and the arrival of his majesty is announced. The retainers, heads bowed, anticipate their new King. Instead we are given the very much alive original king. Yay! His majesty seems to have made a miraculous recovery.
The King walks down the main hall to the throne, the retainers in full out Oh S**t mode. The King pauses for a moment in front of his father in law, a silent message spelling out I know you know you tried to kill me. The royal guards, Prince D, and the King’s chief eunuch enter the main hall and line up behind the retainers; in no uncertain terms it is evident the monarch holds the real power here. The King takes the throne and slyly asks why everyone has such a long face, almost like they are seeing a ghost. Ha.
We flash back and find out how the King came to return from near death. We revisit the meeting the King had with Prince D. Last episode we saw a glimpse of this talk, the moment the King asked Prince D for assistance in securing his son’s legitimization. Now we witness the rest of the meeting:
The King explains that he is at the point where he needs to flush out the enemy. What better way to find out who is against your best interest than to suddenly go away- slip into illness and see who does what. The plot will of course involve Prince D- the King knows that is where the Western party will concentrate their efforts. Prince D agrees and it is now apparent that Lord Min fell right into the trap set for him. The King emphasizes that they need to secure the signatures of the Western Party on a pact denouncing the crown prince; such evidence is enough to oust them from the court for treason.
The flashback further explains what happened the night assassins were sent to the King’s chamber. The royal guard, in on the King’s trick, stop the assassin. The King tells the man he will let him live if he reports back to the Western Party that the King has been killed. At the same time Prince D shows up, carrying the signatures of the Western Party members- all of which lent their marks on paper with an end goal of denying the young prince’s chance at becoming Crown Prince. The King smiles- his plan has come to fruition.
We return to the present. The king, holding all the evidence he needs to oust the Western Party, throws the pact to the floor- how dare they attempt to go against his wishes to make Yoon the Crown Prince! Lord Min tries to get a word in but the King is too pissed to allow it. Besides, the monarch says, he needs to have a more in depth discussion with his father in law. This should be fun.
We cut to the meeting between Min and the King. Min enters and tries to act surprised at the King’s summons (nice try, but I guess at the point treason charges are staring you in the face you will try any tactic). The King tells Min he knows of his treachery, Min has the gall to scoff at the accusation. The King takes this opportunity to reveal his secret weapon; he has captured the assassins sent after him as well as the Western Party members that ordered the hits.
Faced with the evidence against him Min is left to meekly ask what the King wants. His majesty makes it clear- step down and let the Southern party take control. If he does this then treason charges will not be brought against him. Backed into a corner Min agrees, he has no choice but to let the King claim victory. He angrily glares at the King, the monarch smiles in joy at his successful reformation of the government.
Ok Jung arrives at the palace gates only to be met with armed guards demanding to know who she is. In Hyun, meanwhile, is spending time with the baby she stole when the royal guard bursts in. The chief of the guard orders her to give the young prince up- orders of his majesty. In Hyun is shocked, even more so when Ok Jung walks in and takes the infant from her. Ok Jung leaves with her son; we witness In Hyun collapse in confusion as the doors of her chamber shut.
The happy family is reunited. The King embraces his son and his love, apologizing for having to put them through such a traumatizing event. Ok Jung, as usual, forgives him as she is just happy to be by his side.
The retainers gather in the main hall. It is immediately apparent that the Western party is scarcely represented- only two members are attending this session of the royal court. The King arrives and announces the appointment of officers of the court- all Southern party members. The overthrow of the Western Party has come to culmination.
Lord Jo speaks up after the appointments are complete, asking the King to see to the fate of Lord Min. The King agrees as long as the retainers agree to what he wants- the deposal of the current Queen. In Hyun, looks like your days are numbered.
Wow, this was a great episode. I love the game changing truths between this episode and the last- the scenes I thought were unfortunately played against the King and Ok Jung were really actions in their favor. That said I can understand why the King did what he did, after all there is no better way to ferret out your enemies than playing dead. The King’s fake illness played on his enemies weaknesses to great effect; he knew Lord Min and the Western Party would jump on the opportunity to oust him as soon as they saw a viable chance.
This episode gave us two instances of characters mistakenly considering a situation from their own viewpoint to the exclusion of all other ways of thinking. Master Jin assumed Ok Jung would jump at the chance to renounce her uncle and run away- after all how could she do otherwise? Lord Min believed Prince D’s acquiescence in the face of seizing the throne because he himself would have leapt at the chance- an easy overthrow to gain absolute power. Min failed to understand that Prince D possessed loyalty and a lack of power hungry madness- in other words the man has a conscious. Master Jin had dismissed the reality of Ok Jung’s relationship with the King and her baby. Both men suffered defeat all because they considered their way of thinking above those around them. I think these two need to go out for a drink together and drown their sorrows. Though I am guessing their drunken conversations may be a little one sided…
We have six episodes left. Historically the Western party was overthrown and Ok Jung was made Queen- remaining in that position for six years. Will we have six years worth of history packed into the next six episodes? Consider me curious.
Episode 19…why so far away?!