Was this the Jang Ok Jung Father’s Day special? Because it kind of felt like it with all of the Uncle Jang avenging and Lord Min avenging and Lee Soon protecting and…
The King rushes forward to confront the angry mob at the clinic (who are berating Ok Jung). He demands to know what the Queen, the Mother of Joseon, has done to them. The people quickly bow and fall silent; apparently their hatred for the Queen is only appropriate when the monarch is not around. Lee Soon shoots In Hyun a dirty look and escorts Ok Jung back to the palace, her volunteer opportunity ruined.
Once back at the palace Ok Jung voices her worry over how this will affect the security of the crown prince. The King tells he will make sure the young prince is safe.
That night Uncle Prince D shows up for some drinking. The King laments over the current situation; he is dedicated to governing the people so what can he do when the people he loves so much hates the woman he loves?
After his meeting with Prince D he goes to the Queen’s chambers where he finds Ok Jung sleeping next to their son. He looks at them fondly before lying down next to them.
Uncle Jang is up to his old tricks and calls for the King to visit. His majesty comes to the jail and is treated to Uncle Jang’s request- he wants an interrogation so he can confess all of his crimes.
Lee Soon is not an idiot and sees right through this request, to have an interrogation would mean Ok Jung would be implicated. Instead the King asks Jang what he wants- Jang recounts his desire to be father in-law for even one day to avenge his daughter’s death. Lee Soon throws Uncle Jang a bone and promotes him to Father In-Law. There is a catch, once he is father in law he has to keep his mouth shut. Ha, good luck with that. Uncle Jang accepts.
Ok Jung pays a visit to In Hyun and speaks to her informally. She explains that she no longer feels that In Hyun is above her since she was petty enough to start the scene at the clinic. In Hyun tries to remind Ok Jung once again that her position rests on his majesty’s favor (I think we have heard this one a thousand times already but thanks for the reminder).
Ok Jung admits that this is the case and tells In Hyun that she will someday win the hearts of the people as well. She warns In Hyun to stay away from places that she is visiting in the future, if there is another incident like the one at the clinic In Hyun will be punished accordingly. The Queen leaves, In Hyun watches her go with a clenched fist.
Uncle Jang is officially created Father In-law of the monarch. As soon as he has the title he clearly follows the be-quiet rule by rushing over to visit his enemy Lord Min.
Lord Min is none too happy for the intrusion and tells Jang that the appointment is nothing, he is still low class as that is how he was born. Uncle Jang, who judging by the glint in his eyes is crazier than before, tells Min he will take care of the problems facing his nephew the Crown Prince (also known as Min himself). Guards rush in and Jang laughs manically before leaving- ordering the men to kill Min.
Uncle Jang continues his I-am-the-king’s-father-in-law crazy tour by visiting his daughter’s grave; after all he wanted this position to avenge her death. He begins to tell her he has killed Min and he is now the royal father in law so her death has been avenged. We see Jang’s guard standing behind him, looking very nervous. We also glimpse the royal guard watching the scene from cover. Uh oh.
We cut to a flashback- it is revealed that Jang’s men never killed Min. Suddenly Jang’s guard stabs Uncle in the back. A look of shock and confusion contort Uncle Jang’s features until he collapses, bleeding to death on his daughter’s grave.
In his final moments he remembers the class struggles he has had with Lord Min and whispers to his daughter that it is all true- if you are born low class in Joseon you die low class in Joseon. This scene is not going to win the uplifting deathbed message award of 2013.
The King is playing bows and arrows when the captain of the royal guard arrives. He tells Lee Soon that Uncle Jang is dead but not by the royal guard, someone beat them to it. The King does not look pleased.
Next we see Master Jin getting the news of Jang’s death. We see a flashback where Jin paid Jang’s guard to kill the man. So that is why he turned on him!
Days later we find Ok Jung’s brother strolling around the palace grounds. He sees a royal physician headed towards Suk Won Choi’s quarters. Big brother stop the doctor and questions him; apparently the concubine has fainted and is believed to be pregnant.
Big brother rushes to Suk Won’s quarters and finds out the truth from one of Choi’s maids, the girl is pregnant. What the what what?! I thought she was not the King’s type. Color me confused.
Big brother, being the largely incompetent person that he is, decides to visit Ok Jung and hint at the matter. His question to Ok Jung goes a lot like this “Hey sis, how would you feel if Lee Soon knocked someone else up? I mean, it hasn’t happened or anything, just wondering. Because I am not sure how that would make you feel since you are madly in love with him.” Ok Jung says she was scared something had happened, her brother tries to play up the hypothetical-ness of the situation. I am dreading what he is going to do.
Ok Jung is strolling through the palace when she meets Choi. Ok Jung is nice to the girl, further proof that she is working to redeem her past misdeeds. Choi repays the kindness by telling the Queen that her path in the palace is easy, she just has to follow the road that Ok Jung took. The concubine then puts her hand on her stomach, making her meaning obvious. Ok Jung looks worried and leaves.
Big brother starts his stupid plotting and buys poison. He sprinkles the poison on rice punch (that his Mom is making!) and delivers it to the palace kitchen instructing them to say it is from Suk Won’s family. Every step of his plot is watched over by the Western faction who correctly ascertained what big brother would do. It seems that he is playing right into their trap.
Suk Won is having a meal with two court ladies when she tries the rice punch (she does not have it tested for poison first because she does not think someone would poison a lowly concubine like herself- at least that is the reason she gives). She falls unconscious.
The King is notified of the poisoning and orders a full investigation. The interrogation aka torture the maids hour ends with one maid confessing that the rice punch came from Jang’s brother. Lord Jo, who is leading the interrogation, is shocked at her words.
Ok Jung learns that her brother’s name was brought up during the interrogation. She summons her brother to the Queen’s chamber. She questions if he was behind the poisoning, he says he was not. The royal guards burst in and arrest big brother on the King’s orders.
Ok Jung pays a visit to the King. She is upset at the mention of her brother’s involvement. Lee Soon remarks that he found it odd that the maid so quickly confessed and tells Ok Jung not to worry.
The Father in-laws two meet and go over the next step in their reinstate In Hyun campaign. They have recently gained the scholars support. With the scholars protesting the King will be forced to do something.
We cut to a scene of scholars outside the palace, begging the King to kill Ok Jung’s brother, depose Ok Jung, and reinstate In Hyun. The King is furious that the reinstatement of In Hyun is even mentioned as part of the scholar’s requests.
Master Jin is meeting with father in-law #1. Jin reveals that he has a secret card that he has been holding, the evidence that Ok Jung poisoned herself way back when she was a concubine.
Father in-law one takes this information to the King. He asks the monarch if he brings proof that Ok Jung committed a crime will that be enough to get rid of her. In other words we know you know she did it. He implies that such knowledge, once revealed at court, would leave a stain on the Crown Prince’s lineage. The King shouts at the man to leave.
With the protests weighing on him Lee Soon goes for a midnight stroll. Ok Jung sees him, watching him from afar. She looks worried at his troubled state.
The next day the Southern Party retainers meet with Ok Jung and plead for her to ask the King to pardon her brother. After all the fate of the Southern Party is intertwined with her own fate. She says she will consider it.
Next we see Ok Jung in her room. Her son is playing nearby, she watches him with a faint smile on her face. She tells her maid to get ready, she needs to go make a request of the King.
She enters the King’s room dressed in….the white robes of an exile! The King looks surprised.
She bows and then tearfully begins; it is time for Lee Soon to let go of her hand. It is time that she is deposed. Long ago she commuted a crime that is shameful and for that she should be exiled. She did it all because she thought once she was Queen she could freely love him and her class would no longer be an issue- but she was wrong.
The King admits to knowing about her crime, tearing up as well he tells her how hard he worked to cover it up. Ok Jung is shocked that he knew about the incident and still made her Queen. Lee Soon asks her why, after all it took for her to get here, would she leave?!
Ok Jung tells him that she has to request to be deposed, she knows no matter how much political harm it would cause him he would never depose her himself. She begs for him to exile her and, with tears flowing, asks him to do so and then remain a wise and great King for a thousand years.
Ok Jung bows and makes her exit. Lee Soon cries as she leaves. Excuse me while I grab a tissue.
Okay, cry-fest done we find the King visiting big brother in jail. He asks him why he tried to poison Choi. Big bro explains that he found out Choi was pregnant (which is apparently news to the King as he looks surprised) and then begs his majesty to kill him but spare Ok Jung as she had nothing to do with the plot.
Lee Soon pays a visit to Choi’s quarters where he looks at the unconscious concubine. He replays the words in his head, the news that she is pregnant. He looks bothered by the situation which pretty much gives it away- there is no way that Choi is pregnant with his child.
Next we find the King, sans royal robes, visiting Master Jin. The two sit down for a meal and the King reveals that he has been thinking a lot as of late and has deduced that Jin is behind Choi’s entry into the palace. Jin admits this.
The King then asks about Jin’s participation in the plan to restore In Hyun. Jin admits this as well but says he does not really care one way or another who is Queen he just wanted revenge. Jin wonders aloud what will happen to Ok Jung now that she is to be deposed.
Lee Soon picks up on his words and connects the dots- Jin must have known Ok Jung in the past. Lee Soon asks Jin if the quarter he requested in the palace was Chwi Seon Dang, the quarter the King had built for Ok Jung. Jin denies this and instead explains that her downfall was part of his revenge. In order to see the downfall of Uncle Jang his niece had to lose her power as well. With Uncle Jang’s death Jin’s revenge is now complete.
The King responds “I am not interested in what you will do next but if you take another step towards me you will not avoid death”. Jin does not respond, instead he bows slightly as the King leaves. I guess these two won’t be playing bow and arrows together anytime soon.
Lee Soon finds Ok Jung, still in her white exile robes, on the bridge at Chwi Seon Dang. They remember how happy they were when this place was first built- this place where they could be together, this place where they dreamed they would have children.
Lee Soon asks Ok Jung if they can go back to when she was Hee Bin. Ok Jung tells him they cannot turn back time but that she will always treasure such memories, no matter where she ends up after being exiled. The King pulls her to him. He whispers that he does not like memories and that if she is not next to him…
The two embrace tearfully.
The King calls for Lord Min. He tells his old father in-law that it is time for the reform to occur; he will reinstate the Western Party. In Hyun will also be reinstated as Queen and the Crown Prince will officially be registered as In Hyun’s son. Ok Jung will be demoted to Hee Bin.
Apparently Lord Min wants to push his luck and demands that Ok Jung is exiled out of the palace instead of just demoted. The King reminds Min that he knows all about Choi and the reason that she was sent/ her poisoning; if the Western party wants to keep their scheme quiet than they will deal with Ok Jung staying in the palace. Min can only agree.
The next day we find Ok Jung’s maid informing her of the situation- the King has announced that she will not be exiled outside of the palace and instead reside in Chwi Seon Dang. Ok Jung cries at his generosity, remarking through tears that he still cannot let go of her hand.
Lord Min is busy sending In Hyun back to the palace with fighting words. He tells his daughter to safeguard the image of the royal family and restore peace to the inner court. In Hyun, happy as can be, leaves for the palace. Her father watches her go but suddenly collapses, his vision blurry.
In Hyun arrives at the place and is greeted by the court servants. She asks them to support her and restore the peace of the inner court.
Ok Jung is still in the Queen’s quarters. Her son is on her lap. She tearfully tells him (but does not really tell him, she thinks the words) she can no longer raise him, the child cries as well.
Next we see Ok Jung descend the steps of the Queen’s quarters just as In Hyun is entering through the gate. The two stare at each other as they walk forward, one leaving and one entering. From the side of the courtyard Suk Won approaches, looking ever so smug and full of herself. The three women stop as they meet, the tension between them palpable.
Ok Jung requesting her dismissal was a brilliant move on her part and another reminder of the fact the “evil Ok Jung” is long gone. Ok Jung knew that the King could never depose her but realized that if she stayed in power the end result would only hurt his majesty. So she did something I doubt most people could ever do; gave up her parental rights and nominate herself to wear those ugly white exile robes. These actions were selfless and carried out to protect her son and her love. When she was saying farewell to Yoon my heart felt like it ripped in half. I am not a Mother but I cannot fathom what pain it would be for a Mom to give up her child (to In Hyun none the less). Hugs!
On a random note: was I the only one that felt like Suk Won strolling up in the final scene resembled a kid playing dress up and appearing at the big kid’s table? Because to me she looked a little too smug and a little too young to be getting in the middle of the Ok Jung-In Hyun Queen bitch fight. I wanted to jump into the show and steer her away while explaining that she should come back in ten years once she has completed a degree in court intrigue.
Next week is the finale and I am actually starting to become more optimistic. Which probably means I will just cry more at the last episode. But hey, this episode laid on the never-let-go-of-your-hand element to the point I believe (ahem, want to believe) that the way history tells this story is not the way this fictional telling will end. Maybe Ok Jung did not drink poison but just went somewhere to lay low forever, with Lee Soon paying regular visits of course. Or maybe unicorns will show up and frolic in the palace as In Hyun and Choi quit their positions to open up a hat shop, leaving Ok Jung to live happily ever after with the King. It is probably just wishful thinking but I will stay wishful until the end. Cheers!