Wang So (Jang Hyuk) and Shin Yool (Oh Yeon Seo) change into the stolen clothes before going to the palace library. Wang So changes into the man’s clothes and Shin Yool changes into the woman’s clothes. When he sees her, he is speechless. She asks if she looks strange as a woman. He agrees she does and steps out of the room.
Shin Yool is thrilled at the rare books in the palace library. Her pleasure is his pleasure as Wang So smiles at her enthusiasm. I love watching Wang So watch Shin Yool. When someone enters the library, Wang So covers her mouth and pushes her against the wall. It is the King’s adviser. He and Wang So nod to each other. The adviser leaves.
Wang So pulls away from Shin Yool confused how a man could so thoroughly imitate a woman. She continues looking around. He stares at his hand that covered her soft mouth moments ago. “The Person I Miss” OST 2 plays in the background.
Shin Yool finds herself alone in the library. She leaves looking for Wang So. The King’s adviser watches her leave. He asks Wang So who the woman was. Wang So tells him that she is a he and his blood brother. You can practically hear the adviser think “are you blind?”
The King is thrilled to see Wang So. He wants to know if the palace assassins will support him. Wang So says yes they will support him but the time is not right yet. The King wants to stop the fight competition among the princes. The King believes the next King will be chosen and he will become a fool. Wang So tries to lift his brother’s spirits saying the day will only mark the brotherhood of the princes. The King thanks Wang So for his kind words.
Oh no, the Queen enters the room and is incensed to see Wang So. The King and Wang So look like they got caught with their hands in a cookie jar. The King tells their mother he called upon Wang So. She stares daggers at Wang So. If looks could kill, Wang So would not be alive. Their mother asks Wang So if he is trying to kill the King. She states terrible things happen when he is around. She orders him to leave. Wang So tells his mother he has changed but she keeps him in the box labeled cursed son. She unloads on Wang So. He is a curse. She was cursed to give birth to him. Any memory of him is a curse. Wang So takes his leave. Ouch, ouch, ouch! The vile words the Queen spews is difficult to hear.
Shin Yool cannot find Wang So. Gyeong (Jung Woo Sik) and Baek Myo (Kim Sun Young) are waiting for her at the trading company. She asks if Wang So returned. Baek Myo snaps he has not. Later, Baek Myo informs Gang Myeong (Ahn Kil Kang) that Gyeong and Shin Yool went to find Wang So.
Wang Wook (Lim Ju Hwan) rides up and asks about Shin Yool. He asks to see the bronze mirror. Baek Myo says Wang So has the mirror. Wang Wook goes to retrieve Shin Yool.
Wang So is in a daze from the hateful words his mother spewed at him. When Shin Yool spots him she rushes to him and berates him for worrying her. Wang So marvels how when others are upset with him it is like a knife cutting him. When she is upset with him it is comforting. He hugs her, deriving comfort from her body.
Shin Yool takes Wang So to Geum Sun’s establishment. Geum Sun (Jin Seo Yeon) is happy to see Wang So but quickly discerns that Wang So’s identity is a secret from Shin Yool. Geun So pretends this is their first time at her establishment and says she will send Ryung Hwa to service them. Shin Yool’s mind is sharp and recalls Wang So calling out Ryung Hwa and Cheong Ok in the store room. She asks Geum Sun is Cheong Ok works there. Geum Sun confirms both those ladies are her prettiest servers. Shin Yool shoots Wang So a look.
The drinking is not so merry. Shin Yool is not happy to have pretty servers flirting with Wang So. One of the girls gets grabby with Shin Yool and she pushes her away.
Alone and pleasantly buzzed, Wang So gazes into Shin Yool’s eyes and declares he likes her name. He admits when he visited Gaebong he had good times. He speaks softly about saving someone’s world in Gaebong. Shin Yool is transfixed. He shares that saving someone warmed his heart. The girl he saved opened a door for him and he misses her.
Shin Yool has tears in her eyes. Wang So wipes them away. There is only the two of them. He pulls her towards him. They lock eyes. They get closer…they are going to kiss…and Wang Wook busts through the door cheating us out of their first kiss. Thanks a lot Wang Wook!
They break apart startled. Wang Wook stares imperiously and sits down demanding to be introduced. Shin Yool introduces the men to each other. They pretend it is their first time meeting. Wang Wook asks if Wang So likes men. Zing! Shin Yool clarifies her tie came undone and Wang So was helping. Stamping Shin Yool as his, Wang Wook fixes the tie. Wang Wook asks Wang So what he does for a living. Wang So cannot believe the Wang Wook is toying with him like this. Shin Yool mentions Wang So selling the bronze mirror. Wang Wook gives Wang So subtle but effective digs. Wang So gets snippy. Shin Yool apologizes for his behavior.
Wang Wook leans close to Shin Yool and asks that she refrain from calling him “your highness”. Wang So stands angry at the suggestion. Wang Wook is unruffled at the outburst. Shin Yool calls Wang Wook the same term “Hyungnim” (brother) she uses for Wang So. Wang Wook tells Shin Yool is it time for her to go home, people are worried for her safety. After a moment of tug of war, Shin Yool pulls away from Wang So. Wang Wook leaves with Shin Yool.
Alone Wang So utters “He let go of my hand”. Great scene! Wang Wook pushed Wang So’s buttons as he showed his interest in Shin Yool. The best part of the scene was the subtle digs. Unlike the Queen’s interactions with Wang So, which are hard to watch, Wang Wook enjoyed toying with Wang So, but it did not feel mean spirited in that scene.
Wang So continues to sulk that Shin Yool left him, the blood brother, for Wang Wook. He recalls Shin Yool telling him that a handsome member of the royal family visited the trading company. Wang So laughs that he is more handsome than Wang Wook! Dear Jang Hyuk, I can only agree with your assessment.
Wang Wook returns to the room. Now the princes get down to business. Wang So explains he met Shin Yool around and they became blood brothers. Wang Wook omits sharing that Shin Yool is a girl, says that Wang So has plenty of brothers. Wang So laughs that he has a number of brothers, but none of them care for him. Wang Wook says he knows Shin Yool through the assistant manager. Wang So confirms he has not met the assistant manager. Wang Wook smiles thrilled at Wang So’s ignorance that they are one in the same. Wang Wook states he has a personal relationship with the assistant manager and Wang So’s blood brother. Wang Wook leaves. At that point I feel that Wang Wook has the ammunition to hurt Wang So and looks forward to using it.
Wang Wook gripes about Wang Wook’s familiarity with his blood brother. He imagines Shin Yool flirting with him in the room. He imagines starting to kiss Shin Yool again. Then he recalls Wang Wook asking if he likes men. Wang So denies this chalking his behavior to excess alcohol.
The 4 remaining conspirators discuss who killed Jong Sik. Wang Sik Ryeom (Lee Deok Hwa) believes it was the former King’s palace assassins. He sidesteps identifying Wang So as the leader instead saying that Jong Sik’s bronze mirror is in their possession. Not good for them because the bronze mirror has their names engraved via code. If the code is broken, their part in the conspiracy will be revealed. Sik Ryeom suggests they consolidate their individual tokens. No way is the group consensus. Sik Ryeom leaves the room to spy on his conspirators. Gyu Ui pats his token. Se Won (Na Jong Chan), who is a good looking man, watches. Sik Ryeom tells Se Won they can kill two birds with one stone. Use Gyu Ui as bait to lure Wang So then kill them both.
The craftsman that made the bronze mirror has died. Wang Wook learns from his son that his father engraved letters on the bronze mirror. Eun Chun (Kim Roe Ha) approaches the son after Wang Wook leaves to ascertain the same information.
Yeo Won (Lee Ha Nui) learns that Wang Wook met with Wang So at Geum Sun’s establishment (recall Yeo Won owns the establishment). She learns Wang So was with a man from the trading company and stayed in a room by himself all night. Yeo Won wonders what hurt Wang So.
Wang Wook tells Yeo Won about the bronze mirror’s craftsman being killed. Yeo Won assumes Jong Sik killed the craftsman. She gets excited thinking about Wang So taking on Sik Ryeom. She recommends that Wang Wook use Sik Ryeom’s weakness to his advantage. She asks if Wang Wook had fun last night. He admits he did enjoy himself. He states he was with an employee of the trading company.
Wang So is still shaken at being attracted to a man (Shin Yool) and meets with Eun Chun. Wang So hugs Eun Chul from behind to see if he feels attraction for another man. This unnerves Eun Chul. He reports to Wang So that the bronze mirror craftsman was killed. Wang So has trouble focusing on the information. Eun Chun tells him they must track Gyu Ui and He Pyung, the men that killed his father.
Shin Yool is still shaken at being attracted to Wang So. She has trouble focusing on the meeting with Yang Gyu Dal (Heo Jeong Min), Gang Myeong and Baek Myo. She hugs the men in the room to see if she feels any attraction to them. Everyone is surprised when she hugs Wang Wook thinking it is Gyeong. Embarrassed Shin Yool runs off. Baek Myo asks Wang Wook what he needs. Actually he has questions for her. She gets flirty annoying Gang Myeong.
Wang Wook wants to know how Wang So became involved with the trading company. Baek Myo calls Wang So “that idiot” and explains that Shin Yool met him while dressed as a man. She felt sorry for him and thought working at the trading company would improve his lot in life. Wang Wook asks about Shin Yool’s biological parents. Baek Myo filters the truth saying Shin Yool was separated from her mother and brother at a young age. She still searches for her mother though Bae Myo thinks she is dead just like her brother. Wang Wook is interested that Shin Yool was born in Balhae.
The king’s adviser meets with Queen about the princes fighting competition. He tells her that Sik Ryeom has switched allegiance to the Hwang family and no longer is the Choon family’s advocate. The Queen does not believe him.
The King orders his adviser to determine how the support is lining up for the upcoming princes fighting competition.
The princes visit the trading company just has Gyu Dal hoped they would. Wang Wook is surprised when Gyu Dal brings the princes into the VIP room. Shin Yool is surprised that Gyu Dal offered to provide the embellishments to all the princes.
In a sidebar conversation Gyu Dal states providing the embellishments to the princes guarantees the trading company will have supplied the embellishments of winning prince who will be the next King. Showing faith in her brother, Shin Yool tells him to do as he pleases and she’ll clean up the mess, if there is one.
Shin Yool helps the princes select embellishments. Prince Wang Moon gets a leather head band. Prince Wang Whi gets a wolf fur hat. One of the Princes takes an interest in Shin Yool. Wang Wook notices and blocks him. Shin Yool asks if all the princes are present. They note that Wang So is not there. They laugh at what a bad fighter Wang So is. They describe Wang So as a fool and freeloader. Shin Yool asks Wang Wook for additional details about Wang So so she can select his embellishments. Wang Wook calls Wang So dangerous.
The princes bicker judging each other’s clothes and family’s power. Wang So joins them all smiles. He tells the princes if they want to know about Geum Sun’s establishment, he is the authority. He tells the princes that the fighting competition is about celebrating their brotherhood through martial arts. Wang Wook counters that saying it is the way to the throne. Wang So looks around the room and sees agreement. He states he will participate in the competition and demonstrate the true meaning of the competition. The princes leave the room.
As Wang Wook moves past Wang So, he asks why Wang Wook wants the throne. Wang Wook wants to protect the people. Wang So counters that the king’s duty is to cut out the rotten roots of the world. Wang Wook chuckles at the sentiment. Wang So dreams of no more slaves, officials that help the people not themselves, and the palace filled with hard workers not entitled nobles. Wang Wook states all the nobles would have to die for that vision to come true. Wang So says so be it. If the king must shed blood to achieve a vision, so be it.
* This episode was solid and Wang So was the centerpiece character. The romance between Wang So and Shin Yool is on track even with their mutual confusion about their feelings and gender. Wang Wook is officially interested in Shin Yool and jealous of others attention towards her. The politics and chess board maneuvers are crucial and this episode had some good ones:
1. Sik Ryeom decides to plot against his 4 conspirators, willing to pick them off one by one so he cannot be fingered for killing the King.
2. Yeo Won mentioned that Sik Ryeom had a weakness that Wang Wook must exploit if he becomes King. Is it his need for status and power? Sik Ryeom was upset with his conspirators worried that if it was learned they plotted against the king their wealth and families would be destroyed.
3. The Queen would not believe that Sik Ryeom would betray her family.
4. Wang So has a vision, but he is a lone solider in a sea of embedded power and corruption. The odds are not in his favor.
5. Wang Wook is going to make his play for the throne. His time has come.
* Jang Hyuk as Wang So articulated a wonderful vision of the country he wanted to create and rule. He embraced the charge from Shin Yool to cut out the rot. With so many enemies, how can he achieve this vision? Does his wife Yeo Won secretly admire his moxy? She seems to vacillate between loathing and subtle admiration. I shake my head that he does not realize Shin Yool is a woman. Whatever. He and Shin Yool sparkled in this episode. Their encounter at the library (Wang So’s admiration of Shin Yool was lovely) and their almost kiss packed a punch.
* Yeon Seo’s portrayal of Shin Yool demonstrated confusion at falling for Wang So. She did not recognize it as love. This was somewhat surprising because she felt for Wang So 5 years prior. It must be the depth of the feelings. Crush transitioning to tangible emotions. I liked that she allowed her brother to run with the embellishments for all the princes scheme.
* Let’s stare at the image for OST song 3 “Missing You” by Postman. Jang Hyuyk is yummy. Brief article that includes the official music video (link)