Wang So (Jang Hyuk) (Lee Ha Nui) and his black assassins are at Sik Ryeom’s house. Wang So enters solo to the evil lair and finds the bronze mirror pieces and starts to leave. A red assassin appears. They begin to fight. Wang So flashes to fighting Wang Wook (Lim Ju Hwan) at the princes fighting competition. Wang So pulls off his veil and utters “Wook”.
The red and black assassins battle in the courtyard. Returning home, Sik Ryeom (Lee Deok Hwa) even gets in the on fighting.
Wang Wook sees an empty container in the middle of the fireplace (where the bronze mirror pieces were stored). Hmm, I can’t recall. Did Wang Wook know Sik Ryeom stored the bronze mirror pieces and where? If so, does Wang So realizes Wang Wook’s offer of the antidote for the bronze mirror pieces may be bogus?
Wang So puts back on this veil. They put down their swords. They fight hand to hand. The bronze mirror pieces fall from Wang So. Wang So seems to get the best of Wang Wook. As he goes to help him up, he hears Sik Ryeom bellow. Decision point, take the bronze pieces and further his cause OR leave the bronze pieces ensuring Wang Wook stays in Sik Ryeom’s good graces?
Decision made, Wang So pockets the bronze pieces. Wang Wook and Wang So dramatically burst through doors and begin to fight outside. Sik Ryeom and Se Won (Na Jong Chan) go to them. Oh no, it is 3 on 1, those are not great fighting odds for Wang So.
Sik Ryeom demands to know what he stole. Wang So engages Se Won and Wang Wook. Wang So hears Eun Chun’s whistle and beats a hasty retreat.
The red versus black assassin fight scene was decent. I was impressed that Sik Ryeom joined in the fight. No word of thanks when Se Won saved Sik Ryeom. The fight scene between Wang Wook and Wang So was good. Here is another instance where the show’s dark lighting made it difficult to discern the nuances of the fight and I like a good fight. Nonetheless, Jang Hyuk’s physical prowess continues to amaze me because he does all his own stunts. Nice spin moves!
Sik Ryeom is livid when he finds the empty container in the middle of the fireplace where the bronze mirror pieces were stored. It is easy to visualize him as a toddler as his temper sputters out of him. Se Won and Wang Wook return to the evil lair empty handed. Sik Ryeom is so angry the black assassins escaped, he goes to strike Se Won with his sword, only to have Wang Wook block the blow with his sword.
Wang Wook asks if the bronze mirror pieces were stolen. Sik Ryeom is surprised Wang Wook knew about the bronze mirror pieces. The swords are lowered. Wang Wook asks Sik Ryeom to explain about the bronze mirror pieces. “Aren’t I always on your side?” Decision point, trust Wang Wook and tell him about the bronze mirror pieces OR don’t trust him and don’t offer an explanation. Decision made, Sik Ryeom says he’ll tell him everything. Sik Ryeom explains the bronze pieces represent a pact between him and 5 other noblemen to kill the First King and rule the nation. Wang Wook looks surprised at the brazen pact. The mirror has their names engraved. Sik Ryeom declares they put their lives on the line for the pact. Hmm, Sik Ryeom does not seem to realize that he just admitted to scheming to kill Wang Wook’s father. Se Won’s glance at Wang Wook indicates he understands.
I was a bit surprised that Sik Ryeom spilled all the details (except the names of the noblemen) to Wang Wook. He just handed Wang Wook damning information.
Wang Wook asks Se Won if he was there the night his father was attacked. Se Won says nothing. Wang Wook wonders how he can cope with this news and rise to the throne. Se Won says nothing. Wang Wook says he will proceed and asks Se Won what he can offer. Se Won asks what he wants. Wang Wook demands Se Won’s loyalty.
Cue opening credits…
When evil men are unhappy I am happy…
The two noblemen rush to Sik Ryeom’s lair demanding to know what the black assassin came for last night. Sik Ryeom tells them the bronze mirror pieces were stolen. The bronze mirror pieces has their pact and names engraved. Sik Ryeom tell’s them it will be hard to discern. The black assassins will be arrested if they show themselves. Sik Ryeom declares he will save them all. He implores them to trust him.
Wang So looks at the bronze mirror pieces he acquired from Sik Ryeom. He recalls Yeo Won (Lee Ha Nui) committing to release Cheong Ok to aid the fight against Sik Ryeom. Wow, with her hair in the tight top knot I almost did not recognize her. Wang So recommends Cheong Ok stay where she is to keep the flow of information. They look at the bronze pieces. Wang So admits he fretting about the antidote. The King must be restored to health to take power from Sik Ryeom. Yeo Won says nothing. Wang So takes a closer look at the bronze pieces.
Our trading company family Shin Yool (Oh Yeon Seo), Baek Myo (Kim Sun Young), Gyeong (Jung Woo Sik), Gyu Dal (Heo Jeong Min) and Gang Myeong (Ahn Kil Kang) return empty handed. No one will trade with them. Gang Myeong tells Shin Yool the black assassins breached Sik Ryeom’s house last night. She is instantly concerned. He tells her no one was hurt. She is visibly relieved.
To add insult to injury the rival trading company head and Sik Ryeom’s guard arrive to tell them all the assets have been seized. They know. He stares at them. Why are you still living here? Holy smokes! Even their home is seized! Everyone is gobsmacked at this turn of event. Shin Yool keeps her head and tells them they will buy the land and house. They are given 15 days to raise the money. That’s a tall order and everyone knows it. Shin Yool presses for concurrence, if they raise the money, the land and house are theirs.
I did not mention this last episode but I love Shin Yool’s top with the butterflies embroidered on it – kinda perfect. I love how Shin Yool kept her head and elicited a promise. She is awesome.
Shin Yool tells everyone there is a way that can raise the money. If they obtain the spices on the ships and sell them, the profit should cover the cost of the land and house. They need ginseng roots to trade. Only one person has them…wait for it…Yeo Won.
Shin Yool tours the empty store room, VIP room, and outer area. She is forlorgn at the vast emptiness.
Wang So appears, full of cheer. He tells her everything will be restored. She smiles. Then she remembers the black assassins breached Sik Ryeom’s house. She asks if Wang So is hurt. Wang So realizes he can milk this to his advantage. He feigns a hurt back. That earns him a back massage. She realizes his is playing her. Like a little kid, he brags he was not hurt at all. She admits she seems to be gullible where he is concerned.
Wang So tells her he is making good progress. She need only hang on a bit longer and all will be returned to her. She is not used to someone taking care of her, and finds it odd. She recognizes the weight of responsibility but because she could protect her family, it was worth it. This time, she cannot decide if she will restore things on her own, the price could be too high. He reminds her she once told him when the going gets tough, look at the pros and cons, and pick the pros. That really helps. She tells him she’s got to go, work to do.
These two are so cute! I love the way he still calls her Gaebong. This scene marked an evolution point in their relationship. They have supported each other throughout this series but often it was secretively or without knowing true identities or under duress. In this scene, Wang So supports Shin Yool by hearing her concerns, offering her own good advice back at her, soothing her and laughing together with her. Wang So is the complete package of a man. Smart, sensitive, and sexy!
Sik Ryeom is thrilled when his son arrives. The son will help press the men into service for the move to the west. Holy smokes! It is General Gwak! Recall in the first episodes he wanted to marry Shin Yool but she got out of that with her marriage to Wang So.
Sik Ryeom and General Gwak have not seen each since they fought the Khitans together. General Gwak declares he’s alive due to Sik Ryeom’s fighting ability. Sik Ryeom notes they need to defeat the Khitans again. Sik Ryeom is surprised the General speaks their language. The General says a local man once infuriated him and he learned the language should he ever have the opportunity to seek revenge. Pleasantries aside, the General is here to speak with the King about soldiers for his blitz attack to secure the central district. Sik Ryeom says the King is unwell and not making decisions right now. Wang Wook enters the room. Sik Ryeom tells General Gwak, Wang Wook is the man you need to speak with. Sik Ryeom says Wang Wook is next in line for the throne and has his backing. There seems to be a negative undercurrent between Sik Ryeom’s son and Wang Wook.
They celebrate their partnership with a drink. The General asks about the trading company. Sik Ryeom’s son explains the General and Shin Yool were engaged to be married. That gets Wang Wook’s attention. She married a local man. Sik Ryeom tells Wang Wook Shin Yool is already married and didn’t tell you. How could brothers fight over someone like that? Wang Wook is visibly disturbed by this news. Oblivious, General Gwak comments Shin Yool is a magnificent woman. Sik Ryeom laughs his laugh and tells the General to ask Wang Wook for details. Wang Wook says they can talk about it later.
Outside Wang Wook tries to calm himself. The General approaches and asks if he is close to Shin Yool. Wang Wook gets to the point. What does her husband look like? The General describes a rought looking man with eyes and spirit of a tiger. Recall Wang So’s embellishment was the white tiger in the princes fighting competition. The General says he understood why she married the man. General Gwak asks what Sik Ryeom meant about brother fighting over Shin Yool.
Wang Wook visits Shin Yool at the trading company. He gets to the point. Have you ever been married? She asks why he asks such a question. Ah, answer a question with a question, classic avoidance technique. Our Wang Wook is smart. He immediately realizes she cannot talk about her marriage because she cannot reveal the identify of her husband. He guesses it is Wang So though he doesn’t think the name, he knows. Wang Wook tells Shin Yool he withdraws the question and leaves. He is visibly upset.
Our Wang So is smart. He reasons that maybe heat under the bronze mirror pieces will reveal the secrets. He plunges the warmed piece into boiling water, the temperature change does the trick! He begins to treat all the bronze mirror pieces. Yeo Won watches him work.
Wang So tells Eun Chun (Kim Roe Ha) now that he has the evidence, he will expose Sik Ryeom at the next assembly. Wang So states the King must lead the meeting not Sik Ryeom. They must obtain the antidote that Wang Wook has.
Wang Wook is hanging out with General Gwak. He spots Wang So and asks the General if that is the man that Shin Yool married. The General confirms this. Wang Wook visibly recoils at his confirmation. The General realizes that Wang So is royal…a brother…aha! Wang Wook asks him to keep it a secret. He promises he will reward him when he becomes King. The General warns he is greedy man.
I’m a bit surprised how obvious Wang Wook is in this matter. He has managed to be sly in other areas. I know this is his heart ruling his head, but still it seems a bit much.
Wang Wook is mighty mad when he sits down for a drink with Wang So. He does not get the negative vibe from his brother. Wang So tells him that he has the evidence against Sik Ryeom. He will reveal at the next assembly and strip Sik Ryeom of his power. The King must preside over the meeting. As brothers they can change history. He asks for the antidote. Wang Wook has a one track mind as he thinks “I must protect Shin Yool so she does not die if the marriage is found out.” Wang So implores Wang Wook to do this with him. He offers his hand. Wang Wook’s one track continues as he thinks “The antidote is the last chance to save Shin Yool.” He does not take Wang So’s hand. Instead he tells there is another hand he should take. He leaves Wang So standing there, hand stretched out, offer rejected.
Bad timing with Wang So playing the “we are brothers” card. No way Wang Wook could accept his hand or his offer. Wang Wook is consistent in his tunnel vision about Shin Yool. Keeping her alive is priority one.
General Gwak secretly watches Shin Yool. She senses something but does not see him.
Sik Ryeom tells his son he must be respectful to Wang Wook in public. Wang Wook is the next King. Poong tells his father not to trust Wang Wook. “Loyalty depends on what I have against the opponent”. That sums up the strategy of our “evil” characters. Sik Ryeom says that Wook is his slave because of Shin Yool. Poong is surprised that Wang Wook is under Shin Yool’s spell. He is intrigued with Shin Yool. Sik Ryeom admonishes him to stay away from her. Sik Ryeom says the real problem is Wang So, that interfering man that wants to strip his power. Poong advises his father to go on the attack against Wang So. Sik Ryeom needs to find Wang So’s Achilles heel, his weakness, and then thrash Wang So with it.
General Gwak returns from spying on Shin Yool. The men chuckle about her. Poong is sent away so they can talk business. Before they get to that, the General asks if Wang Wook is one of the brothers that fought over the same woman, who is the other? Wang So is the brother, Sik Ryeom says after a pause. That makes the General happy and me nervous.
Wang So and Eun Chun are running out of time. The King is not getting better. They do not have the antidote. The meeting is soon. Wang So says he and Yeo Won are trust each other. He may have to take action himself. Eun Chun is concerned that everything will be jeopardized. Wang So assures him, he will win.
Sik Ryeom and the General negotiate, it does not go smoothly. Wang So meditates. Yeo Won works to make an antidote.
Sik Ryeom says they cannot come to an agreement. The General says he knows a story that Sik Ryeom will find interesting. Oh no!
Wang Wook reminds the General to keep his promise to him. The General claims he never forgets a promise.
Poong goes to the trading company to meet Shin Yool. He leers and comments that brothers would fight over her. He tells her to try and seduce him. They doesn’t fly with Gyeong. When Poong takes a swing, Gyeong blocks it easily and gives him a twist. Am I a horrible person for enjoying this moment?
Poong declares he is Sik Ryeom’s son and they will pay. He grabs Shin Yool. Wang So shows up and bangs Poong into the table. To further emphasize his displeasure he throws a knife next to Poong’s head. Am I a horrible person for enjoying this moment?
Poong leaves but you know and I know there will be payback.
Shin Yool tells Wang So “you could have just used your words”. LOL! “Use your words” is one of those phrases parents of toddlers repeat a lot. Wang So replies guys like that need to be treated like that so they do not return. She tells him he needs to control his temper. He counters that his fortune shows fire above his head. They share a laugh. She asks how the King is doing. He feigns being tired and puts his head in her lap. She gently strokes his hair. He tells her not to worry his is trying. She asks if he needs anything. “You. You just need to be by my side. You’re my greatest source of energy. ” Swoon! He asks if Baek Myo is gone. She tells him to shush.
They are so beautiful together. Shin Yool looked luminous. Wang So’s words…swoon! As I watched that jewel of scene I wondered if this was the calm before the storm for our perfect pair. That scene featured “Are You The Same” OST 1. No new song this week either!
Yeo Won comes through with the antidote! Did I mention she was back in my good graces? Yeo Won sets expectations. This is only a temporary derived antidote, that will offer short term respite from the poison. Wang So is thankful.
Her hair is throwing me. Without the swoop, she seems younger and less menacing. I’m sure that is by design. It is working on me!
Wang So tells the King’s physician and adviser, Ji Mong, he has a temporary antidote. They are thrilled. The big meeting is tomorrow.
He’s back! The King looks fabulous and is ready to here all that Wang So has to tell him. The King is livid when Wang So shows him the evidence that Sik Ryeom conspired to kill their father. Wang So urges the King to punish Sik Ryeom for treason. The King vows to punish.
Shin Yool asks Gang Myeong not to tell the others she is going to broker a deal with Yeo Won. As they exit the trading company they are surrounded by guards. This cannot be good.
At the meeting Wang So enters first. Sik Ryeom and Wang Wook enter next.
Sik Ryeom declares to the assembly that today is the day the mobilization to the west will be ordered. But first, he wants everyone to meet his good friend, King of the central district, General Gwak. Wang Wook is stunned. General Gwak enters and pauses to stare at Wang So. He does not appear to recognize him.
Wang Wook orders him out of the meeting. Betrayal is a bitter pill.
Now for the surprise for Sik Ryeom…
The King is called to enter the meeting. He comes down the aisle looking royal and ready. Sik Ryeom shuffles down the steps from the throne. The noblemen are in shock. The King takes his seat.
Sik Ryeom tells Wang Wook that General Gwak must share his information.
The King invites General Gwak to enjoy his time in the district. Moving on, the King announces today is the first of many meetings he will attend. He asks for his fire and body guards. Sik Ryeom asks why the fire? Why the body guards? He warns the King there are rumors that he has gone insane. Wang So interjects. How can Sik Ryeom make these kinds of statements? Look for yourself. The King is healthy.
Bam! It’s on! Showdown between Wang So and Sik Ryeom begins now!
* What a terrific cliffhanger! Lives hang in the balance with these reveals.
* Another terrific episode. The writer is doing a spectacular job with pacing, reveals, and some of the best nuanced characters I’ve seen.
* Just when you thought the marriage might be buried, General Gwak from episodes 1 and 2 shows up.
* Just when you thought Wang Wook might join Wang So, he learns Shin Yool is married to Wang So. Wang Wook’s focus is only life or death for Shin Yool. He does not see the dimension of her happiness. Her existence is all that is necessary. General Gwak played him like a violin as he ascertained that Wang Wook loved Shin Yool and his brother Wang So married her without royal consent. My hats off to the writer for tying General Gwak back into the story.
* Just when you thought our trading family had been kicked enough, they learn the land and building have also been seized.
* The only character that had an easy episode was Yeo Won. Can you believe it? She practically achieves saint status by creating the temporary antidote and putting her trust and support behind Wang So.
* Jang Hyuk as Wang So is the driver of this series. What I love about this character is his sensitivity. Jang Hyuk mines the tenderness in Wang So brillantly. He is not weak for his sensitivity. It makes him stronger and more connected with the King, Shin Yool, and Yeo Won. What a lovely scene between Shin Yool and Wang So. His head in her lap, he declares she is all he needs, but if they are alone…perfect scene!
* Yeon Seo’s portrayal of Shin Yool revealed another facet of this character. She’s a strong woman, the primary decision maker, uncomfortable with someone in her life telling her to relax, he would take care of her problems. I found it interesting that she told Wang So she had a plan but it might be tricky. Tangling with a cobra like Yeo Won, yes, who wouldn’t think twice about that? How cool is it that all these men like Shin Yool not only because she’s beautiful but for her brains!!