If you need me I will be at the pub, trying to forget this episode ever happened.
We pick up where we left off last episode- Master Jin dangling accusations of self-poisoning in front of the King and Ok Jung. The King quickly dismisses such idle gossip and what seemed like a big reveal last episode comes to nothing as his majesty laughs it off.
After the meeting Ok Jung calls Jin to her room and makes it clear that she does not want him around the King. She goes so far as to threaten him- keep hanging out with his majesty and Jin will become her official enemy. Jin, still upset that Ok Jung poisoned herself, reacts by giving Ok Jung even more reason to be paranoid. The King is a scary man, Jin says, a scary man that probably already knows what Ok Jung did. Furthermore, the King will no doubt get rid of Ok Jung sooner or later, all he wanted from her was his son. The words set off a new wave of anxiety for the Queen, who looks like she wants to vomit.
Next we find Ok Jung walking through a palace courtyard where she overhears a gaggle of maid’s discussing her past deeds. They giggle over the fact that all that is needed to become Queen is a son, after all Ok Jung was once a maid too.
Ok Jung listens but refrains from punishing the girls- that is until his majesty also enters the courtyard. Two of the maids rush to “accidently” fall in front of the King. Begging his forgiveness the maid’s make googly eyes at the monarch as he walks away. Ok Jung’s expression becomes grim as she witnesses how the maid’s words quickly became actions.
Ok Jung decides (with what I can only assume is something she thought up while drinking heavily, taking some kind of drug, or being possessed with the deceased Queen Mother’s spirit) to have the maids dragged out of their beds and taken to a place where….yes, I am really going to say it…they are forced to drink infertility medicine. While watching the medicine being forced towards one of the girls Ok Jung flashes back to when the same thing happened to her. She begins to cry and orders the operation stopped. She runs off, apparently a sliver of humanity left in her.
That night an assassin breaks into Master Jin’s bedroom. Before he can snub Jin his target wakes up and pulls a sword. Jin demands to know who sent him, the man wisely reveals the source of the hit- Ok Jung’s brother. Jin knows for sure Ok Jung was behind it, fury overcoming him at the realization.
Uncle Jang brings jewels to Ok Jung (reminiscent of how the Queen Mother and Queen Dowager used to receive their “tribute” money to keep the inner court in line). Jang is upset that Ok Jung has not yet asked the King to appoint him royal father-in-law. Ok Jung tries to laugh off the suggestion, after all the people know Uncle Jang is like a father to her.
Uncle Jang proceeds to let Ok Jung in on a little secret, well several little secrets. Like how he poisoned the Queen Mother. Oh, and that time he poisoned In Hyun’s Mom. So he earned the title of the King’s Father in law. Ok Jung is shocked by this revelation but before she can fully respond the King arrives looking for Uncle Jang. The new Queen bids her Uncle farewell, troubled by the reality of how she ended up on the throne.
The King goes for a walk with Uncle Jang and asks the man to supply guns and gunpowder from China. Jang says he cannot due to his relationship with China (his fortune was built there and the middle kingdom is a little nervous about their Joseon neighbors building up too much of an army), his inability to help turns the King’s mood sour.
Exiled In Hyun is introduced to Master Jin. It is revealed that Jin has been providing funds to the Western Party and is firmly behind reinstating the deposed Queen. They discuss their first method to gain ground in the Queen battle- make sure the people are behind In Hyun. Okay, here it comes- looks like Jin has become Queen In Hyun’s man. I know, it really is not that funny but I had to.
The King is in the main hall meeting with the retainers. He is once again frustrated by the incompetency of the Southern Party. He reminisces about the grand political battles he once had with the Western Party retainers (who are now in exile). Uh-oh, I think somebody is missing someone.
We cut to the King visiting his first father-in-law, Queen Inkyung’s dad. His majesty drops several hints about the Western party making a return, planting the seed for the party to begin plotting.
After the meeting, his majesty decides to mingle with the people and find out their minds. While strolling in the market he hears a group of children sing an interesting song. He stops at a tavern and asks the tavern owner what the song is about. She launches into a full out ramble about the song- it tells the tale of the one season Ok Jung and the kindhearted ever young In Hyun. The King looks shocked as the woman continues to tell of Ok Jung’s misdeeds; she poisoned herself, is a tramp, and evil. I think it is time Ok Jung hired a good PR person.
Jin is meeting with In Hyun, where it is admitted that the song and the rumors about evil Ok Jung are their work. The next step in their evil plan to regain In Hyun’s position is to divide his majesty and the new Queen. The former Queen says that won’t be easy, after all the King loves Ok Jung with all of his heart. Jin answers that the best foundations crumble with a simple crack. Almost on queue Maid Choi arrives, recognizing Jin from their run in at the palace a few episodes back. You can almost see the light bulb over Jin, he realizes Choi is the perfect person to seduce the King. Not average, not aristocracy, spirited but loyal to a political party. In other words, a knock off of Ok Jung.
The King visits Ok Jung and asks her to work on pleasing the people. He is worried about the rumors spreading about her but does not outright admit what he heard.
His majesty apparently has a whole lot of suspicions, made apparent when he orders his late mother’s medical records. His curiosity is soon sated as the maid who administered the poison as well as the doctor who ordered it via Jang’s instructions confess.
The King tells the doctor that if he wants to live he will do what the King says. Firstly, make sure Uncle Jang has no idea that the King knows about the poisoning plot.
The doctor runs into Jang and tries to act calm but his nervousness is apparent. Jang ponders the man’s strange behavior.
Later that night the King sadly realizes that he is truly alone, even the Mother of his son is a conniving schemer that has lied to him. He leaves his quarters to take a walk, the weight of his loneliness and betrayal hanging heavy on his mind.
In Hyun and Jin make the decision to send Choi to seduce the King on the day of In Hyun’s birthday. Choi will set a table for the deposed Queen’s day and hopefully catch the monarch’s eye. The King falls right into their trap by noticing a light on in the deserted special quarters as he takes a walk to ease his lonely heart. He enters the room to find Choi.
The maid explains her love for the deposed Queen and asks for forgiveness. The King moseys on in to sit at the table Choi has set, seemingly falling right into the trap set for him.
He asks Choi about her life at the palace, when she became a maid. Choi answers with extreme brazenness that all he wants to do is serve the King. Uhmmm…wow….that is really upfront. We see the King look surprise and question her abruptness. Next, he moves the table in front of them, apparently ready to let her serve him. We pan to the outside of the quarters and see that the light inside goes out.
Next we see the King sitting at Ok Jung’s bedside. Ok Jung is sleeping and the King stares at her, his expression uncertain.
Morning dawns and we find Choi waking up. She is laying on golden blankets, the king’s bedding. No, no, no, say it ain’t so! Choi realizes she is alone in bed but still smiles widely, looking the part of the gleeful seductress when the palace maids enter the room and find her- much to their shock.
Word spreads quickly, the King has given favor to a maid. Ok Jung hears of this and goes crazy. She orders the maid to be brought to her.
Choi is busy visiting In Hyun where she decides to reveal what really happened. The King did indeed blow out the candle, caress her face, and even lay on top of her. But then he backed off. He told her that should be enough to get her a promotion and that she should tell whoever sent her that he slept with her. The King saw right through the Western Parties scheme, yet he still allowed the court to think he had spent the night with Choi. I am not sure if this worries me more than an actual sleepover.
We find the King playing bow and arrows, only Prince D is nowhere to be found. Instead the King’s new playmate is Jin. His majesty asks Jin if he was the one that sent Choi to seduce him, he knows Jin has been involved with the Western Party. Jin laughs off the suggestion but accurately relays what the situation indicates, that the King would even allow the court to know he granted favor to a maid must mean that he is opening the door for the Western Party.
Choi is washing clothes when Ok Jung’s maids find her and drag her away. At the same time the King is holding his son. He decides to go visit Ok Jung so they can both spend time with their child. Nooooo! Bad timing, bad timing alert!
Choi is dragged to the Queens’ quarters. Ok Jung realizes who Choi is- the girl from ages ago that stole a hairpin, the girl that used to serve In Hyun. She demands to know if the Western party was behind the seduction plot, when Choi will not talk Ok Jung takes out a stick and begins to beat the girl’s legs. Blood begins to drip from the wounds being inflicted, Ok Jung keeps hitting her with a crazy look in her eye (and a voice over of the paranoia inducing words of In Hyun- good luck being Queen cause everyone is out to get you).
The King arrives and the maid’s hurriedly shove Choi behind them. Ok Jung looks like a kid caught stealing candy and bows nervously to his majesty. The King orders his son to be taken away and then lets Ok Jung have it. How could she? Is she this type of person when he is not around? How could she treat a person worse than an animal?
Ok Jung tries to plead and explain but the King will have none of it. He demands that the maids move and when he sees Choi’s injuries his anger grows. Ok Jung pleads some more but before her words can get her out of the situation Choi yells out: Majesty- please help me!
I knew it was coming but I was able to put on a nice shiny cloak of denial for the majority of this series. That cloak has been torn to shreds by episode 20 and will most likely be burnt to a crisp in the next four entries of JOJ. My denial has ended, the inevitable has occurred- Ok Jung has become a villain and has pretty much lost the love of the King (I think there is still some deep seated love for Ok Jung in the King’s heart yet, but it is slowly being buried by all of the stupid things she is doing). And most of that was due to her own stupid, stupid actions.
I get that Ok Jung is tortured with paranoia and I feel that the writers are doing a big “Karmas a bitch” theme to end the series. But I still don’t like it. Because we started out with a kind and friendly Ok Jung, a truly likable heroine. I have a hard time accepting that paranoia or not she would start inflicting such pain on others. I mean, she herself was traumatized by being forced to drink infertility meds, yet she so brazenly does it to others?! And beating Choi? I could see the old Ok Jung tearfully confronting her but not drawing blood. Even if this show tells me I should believe that Ok Jung has been pushed to such lengths I just don’t buy it. This character was strong and purposeful in past episodes, well fleshed out, which leads my opinion. Someone with this much of a defined personality doesn’t go all sadistic in the face of a few suggestions and maid’s lusting after her man.
So…I will be drinking heavily until next episode. Because I am really starting to hate you Ok Jung. And it took a lot for that to happen.
Next episode, can you fill yourself with rainbows and unicorns and make me happy? Please……