Wang Wook (Lim Ju Hwan) broods over Sik Ryeom’s words of the price he must pay (Shin Yool) for the throne. He flashes back to wishing on the plate that he would not use his love (Shin Yool) again. That scene from epsiode 5 seems like a lifetime ago.
Has the time finally come for the antidote…
Wang Wook tells the King’s adviser, Ji Mong, he must see the King. As he enters the room the King sheaths his sword (his constant companion). Wang Wook tries to talk to him but the King won’t listen. The King tells him to buzz off, then wonders if he is spying for Sik Ryeom, then accuses him of coveting the throne, etc. The King laughs at him, “go ahead become a scarecrow King just like me!”
Cue opening credits…
That was the shortest opening segment in quite a few episodes. I must say the “when will Wang Wook use the antidote” is having the same flavor as “when will Wang So realize Gaebong is a girl”. The longer the writer teases this point, it starts to feel like the Boy that Cried Wolf. This is a quibble with the writer.
Hey…our antidote wish may come true…
Wang Wook tells Yeo Won (Lee Ha Nui) the time has come for the move with the antidote to save Shin Yool for him and Wang So for her. She acknowledges the King must preside over the investigation not Sik Ryeom for any kind of acquittal. Wang So needs Yeo Won’s help to admister the antidote to the King. He notes the King does not trust him. Yeo Won comments “Anyone would feel the same way.” LOL! Yeo Won is in the running for the best line of the show. They reference something (which I don’t get at this point). She tells him it is in the palace prison and he will need Se Won’s help for it is risky. Wang Wook states he must try and lift his chin in his determination.
Wang So if freaking out but the guards will not help Shin Yool. Wang Wook comes with a doctor. He administer medicine as Shin Yool is now on a palate and has blankets covering her. Wang So asks the doctor if her condition is bad. The doctor concurs the situation is grave. Wang Wook orders the guard to prepare a fire for her. When he hesitates, Wang Wook slips into imperious mode and tells the guard to move it. The doctor assures them Shin Yool should wake and leaves.
Like a terminator in the night, Se Won (Na Jong Chan) enters the prison yard with a smoking contains that renders the guards unconsciousness. I don’t know about you, but Se Won has a cool factor with his quiet steely “no problem I’ll take care of it” manner.
OMG!! Wang Wook hands Wang So the antidote!! Folks, we started talking about the antidote in episode 12, Wang Wook took the antidote in episode 15, and now the antidote is given to Wang So in episode 20. Our journey to a lucid King is almost over!
Wang So “Please take care of her. Take care of Gaebong”. He takes the antidote and leaves.
I like how Wang So branded Shin Yool as his by using the endearment Gaebong. For all the talk about trust, you can only trust Wang Wook’s singular need to have Shin Yool alive.
The physician runs into Yeo Won exiting the palace. She asks how “that woman” (Shin Yool) is doing. He states she will wake soon but…Yeo Won prompts him…he is surprised that she’s still alive given her condition. He explains the coldness permeates every part of Shin Yool. He states she will die by the end of the year. There is no treatment.
Wow, that is grime. For Yeo Won, time is her friend. She can have Wang So just by waiting.
Wang So goes to see the King and his constant companion, the sword. Initially happy to see Wang So, the King flips to accusing him of wanting to know about the former King. The King unsheathes his sword and bellows “I killed my brother and rose to the throne!” Wang So yells that his brother is a King, the best King. The King cries and mourns that he didn’t hold it together yesterday. The King bemoans his lack of courage and boldness. Wang So says his help is and was crucial. Wang So assures him, he has value. Wang So offers the antidote. He asks his brother to take it so he can protect him. Wang So declares only the King can protect him tomorrow.
Shin Yool wakes her prison cell and sees Yeo Won who assures her she will not hurt her. That makes me chuckle. Wang Wook is there too. Yeo Won notes Wang So better be back soon. Yeo Won asks Shin Yool why she wanted to see her. Shin Yool asks her to save the trading company. Yeo Won smiles and confirms, save the company not you? Shin Yool is forthright. She knows her medical condition and believes she does not have many days left. She asks Yeo Won to help her so the trading company land and house does not force her family to be homeless. Yeo Won asks why should she help her? Shin Yool says her family is like family to Wang So. When she dies, they will help strengthen Wang So. Yeo Won says she’s sufficient strength for Wang So. Shin Yool eloquently describes the supportive place the trading company has in this world. Yeo Won gives her credit for daring to ask. Shin Yool presses forward with her plan. The spice ships from India will soon arrive, big profits can be made, but the trading company needs ginseng roots to trade with. Yeo Won is a bit surprised at the bold request of ginseng roots.
It’s investigation day…let’s hope it goes better than the assembly did…
Sik Ryeom is happy to hear most of the nobelmen have signed a request for Wang So to receive a severe penalty for his 1st marriage. Se Won watches from behind the screen.
Wang Wook tells the trading company family, Gang Myeong (Ahn Kil Kang), Baek Myo (Kim Sun Young), Gyeong (Jung Woo Sik), and Gyu Dal (Heo Jeong Min), that Sik Ryeom’s believes General Gwak that the marriage between Wang So and Shin Yool was real. They must be ready to counter that. He tells them General Gwak must discredit himself. Gil Bok enters and declares he will testify too.
The investigation participants gather. Sik Ryeom orders the criminals brought in. Wang So and Shin Yool enter and are seated. Wang So looks Sik Ryeom straight in the eye. Wang Wook stares at Shin Yool. Sik Ryeom’s opening remarks state that per the law, a prince’s first marriage must be through royal command. Wang So ignored this when he married Shin Yool, thus breaking the law and meriting punishment. Sik Ryeom calls upon General Gwak to explain what happened in Gaebong.
Sik Ryeom asks Wang So if he participated in a wedding with Shin Yool in Gaebong 5 years ago. Wang So confirms.
Sik Ryeom asks Shin Yool if she participated in a wedding with Wang So 5 years ago. Shin Yool confirms.
General Gwak looks surprised that they readily admit to the wedding.
Sik Ryeom works himself up and declares their punishment is beheading.
Wang So interrupts and states yes, there was a wedding but there was no marriage. Now everyone looks confused. Sik Ryeom asks, there was no marriage? Wang So confirms. Shin Yool confirms. Sik Ryeom accuses them of semantics.
The King is announced. The shock ripples through the investigation participants. The King enters followed by the trading company family. He pauses to look at Wang So who offers the King a small bow.
The trading company clusters behind Shin Yool. Gyu Dal tells her to trust him today. Gosh that is so sweet, the synergy and love from her family, no wonder she has lived as long as she has. They are tonic!
Wang So, on the other hand, has Gil Bok stand behind him in support.
The King states the charges have been heard. Now it is time for the defense. He states Gyu Dal will testify.
Gyu Dal steps forward and start out timidly. But then he slips into outraged brother mode and lets his opinion of the General be known to all. He is an awful guy, he blocked my love relationship with his sister, and used our “magical night” together to force Shin Yool to marry him. The General asks who says I wanted your sister? The mile a minute rebuttal ensues. We found Wang So, tied him up, he was better for Shin Yool to marry than that old pervert General Gwak. LOL!
Gang Myeong states they were not aware that Wang So was a prince. We was a man from the capital, that what they needed for a fake groom.
General Gwak jumps to his feet, you said you were engaged that’s why you could not marry me.
Shin Yool states lying was preferable to becoming his second wife.
Wang So asks General Gwak to confirm that Shin Yool said she was engaged to another. General Gwak confirms.
Wang So asks Sik Ryeom did his father intend him to marry Shin Yool when he was banished to the mountain? The dowager Queen interjects she never heard of an engagement.
Sik Ryeom asks the General to clarify. The General says his subordinates saw them share a bed.
Wang So states he only wanted to save Shin Yool from marry an old man. They stayed up all night and he left in the morning without seeing her face.
The King draws the conclusion this was a fake marriage. Sik Ryeom begs to differ.
He approaches our couple and asks Wang So if he never saw her face, how is he involved with her now?
Sik Ryeom throws out the trading company family testify. They are lying for Shin Yool. He scolds them for daring to involve themselves with this trial. He orders them removed. The King barks a countermand to that order.
The witnesses are lead out. General Gwak glares at Gyu Dal who positions himself behind Gang Myeong declaring he only told the truth. After General Gwak storms off, Gyu Dal declares himself awesome.
“Then we will die together”, the King states. Bam! “Now that I think about it, my seal is not the only seal on the contract”. Double Bam! “If I reveal the bronze mirror pieces, you will suffer more than I.” You go King!
Sik Ryeom asks if the King is willing to lose the throne. The King laughs, what does it matter what I did? Sik Ryeom is surprised at the King’s moxy. What has changed you? The antidote? Wang So? Sik Ryeom suggests that their weapons against each other no longer have power. They agree not to use them against each other.
Who’d have thought that in that conversation both Sik Ryeom and the King would acquiesce but not back down? This writer allows the characters to be nuanced. Watch out, you may like an enemy. Terrific exchange between Sik Ryeom and the King! However, I do not think that the King’s crime and Sik Ryeom’s crime were equal nor the evidence equal either. So I’m bummed that the King did not allocate the proper worth to his weapon.
Sik Ryeom says all the noblemen demand punishment for the law being ignored.
Wang So demands the royal law be abolished. It is past it’s prime and being used to control the royals. He nods to his mother. The dowager Queen instructs the appeals to be brought in. Wang So nods to the piles of scrolls and states these are the appeals to abolish the law.
Wang So counters that he was never married and there is no proof. Sik Ryeom counters that Wang So’s intent was to marry so save Shin Yool, therefore the marriage was real. Hmm, “intent” versus “proof” is bit flimsy in my book. Sik Ryeom asks how he can prove they did NOT share a marriage bed. Wang So says it was insufficient time to share a marriage bed. Sik Ryeom counters he was in there all night.
Sik Ryeom asks Shin Yool why she moved from Gaebong to the capital? Why did Wang So work at the trading company? Isn’t this all strange?
Wang Wook sees an opportunity and takes it. He declares that he and Shin Yool are fond of each other. Sik Ryeom is livid. Wang Wook asks the King to grant his marriage to Shin Yool. He tells the King this will confirm the Gaebong marriage was a fake. Sik Ryeom is livid. Wang So and Shin Yool are blindsided.
Sik Ryeom whirls to the King. None of this changes that Wang So married outside of the royal order. He suggests the punishment be working under his son Poong to requisition men to move the capital to the west. Sik Ryeom continues to press the King, if we continue with this trial we can explore who is the head of the black assassins.
The King thinks “Wang So, this decision is to save your life. I’m sorry.”
The King decrees “The marriage of Wang Wook to Shin Yool is so ordered. Wang So will escort requisitioned men under Poong.”
Sik Ryeom is happy. The King is sad.
Wang Wook carries his finance, Shin Yool home. He tends to her. Gyu Dal notes “even when Shin Yool opens her eyes, her life won’t be worth living.” Baek Myo thanks Wang Wook for saving Shin Yool. The rest of the family follows suit with their thanks.
The King tells Wang So, he did what he had to do to save him. Wang So agrees robotic-ally.
Alone Wang So tries to bolster his spirit but to no avail. His world just collapsed. Shin Yool, his anchor, is gone. Wang So is adrift and alone again. It is sad. Jang Hyuk gets me with the lost, desolation, of Wang So.
Wang Wook tells Wang So this was the only way to save Shin Yool. Wang So quietly agrees. Wang Wook tells Wang So to let her go and not burden Shin Yool. As Wang Wook leaves, Wang So thanks him for saving Shin Yool.
Jang Hyuk does quiet desperate pain well. He gets me every time.
They undo their blood brother oath. Shin Yool looks lovely in the sunlight. Wang So says when they were together he loved life. She says she found joy in life with him. Wang So declares now that their brotherhood and marriage are dissolved, he hopes for her future health and happiness. Shin Yool declares her family is still his family. Awk! She’s getting me too! She declares he must not look back but only forward to his new life.
Wow, that ripped me up.
Yeon Seo and Jang Hyuk could not have played those scenes any better.
Do I really care what happens in the last 4 minutes of this episode after going through that breakup?
Sorry Wang Wook, I don’t really feel your pain. Maybe next episode.
Goods arrive at the trading company courtesy of Wang Wook. Gyu Dal is impressed with the quality. Baek Myo chides him for it. The seamstresses to make the wedding dress arrive. Gyu Dal asks them to make a beautiful dress for his sister.
* This episode put both Shin Yool and Wang So into the nightmare realm. They expected to deny themselves a future relationship. But Wang Wook’s blindside royal decree marriage was a sucker punch for our couple. Their breakup was emotionally draining.
* Shin Yool’s death was described as a given by the doctor and Shin Yool herself. This is not what I want to hear. The heart of this series is Wang So and Shin Yool. As you saw at the end of the episode, taking them away from each other hollows them out. They are only shells going through the motions of life. I am not sure the show can survive this death.
* Glad the antidote was offered by Wang Wook and administered to the King. Our wait for the resolution of this long plot point is complete.
* Yeo Won’s surprise that Shin Yool would negotiate for her family while she was sick, in prison, and potentially looking death in the face soon, showcased the differences between the two women that love Wang So.
* Yeo Won’s observation directly scored when Wang Wook fretted the King did not not trust him. Yeo Won comment “Anyone would feel the same way.” was perfect. Thank you writer!
* The investigation was okay. I felt it went on a bit long. The highlight was the interaction with the King and Sik Ryeom when they made their deal to ignore the evidence they had on each other. Their move / countermove was fun to watch. However, the King had the stronger hand and I’m disappointed he equated it equal and called it a draw with Sik Ryeom. I secretly hoped when Sik Ryeom asked Shin Yool a question that she could dazzle him with a smart answer but his question was more rhetorical. Sik Ryeom’s request that Wang So work under his son…low blow dude.
* Jang Hyuk as Wang So once again saw a plan unravel and cost him. The breakup with Shin Yool was emotional. The blindside from Wang Wook and his stunned realization that he had to go along with it to save Shin Yool…his pain was palpable. Jang Hyuk performance is nuanced. He didn’t just hug Shin Yool goodbye. He felt her press into him, hug him with a desperate need, then he allowed his hands to hug her. Simply superb. Their kiss reflected their passion and loss.
* Yeon Seo’s portrayal of Shin Yool was perfect in the breakup and good bye scenes. You felt her pain, her loss, her inability to keep it at the civil goodbye as she ran after him for one more hug and kiss.
* The OST has five songs now. The 5h song, “If you come to me” by Lee Ga Eun has caught my fancy. I still cannot believe there was over a month between the 4th and 5th songs. Listen to the playlist via the link or the embedded playlist below: