Wang So gets what he wants, but is it what he wants?
Scarlet Heart Ryeo Episode 17 Recap
Chae Ryung is happy to see Hae Soo (IU) has returned safe and sound. Hae Soo thanks Chae Ryung for helping her. Chae Ryung tells her that Wang Jung told her a way to exit the palace undetected before he left on his next assignment. Hae Soo tells Chae Ryung that the next exorcism must go perfectly.
Woo Hee reports to the King that Wang So is slow rolling building the new capital. The King is angry at this. Wang Yo (Hong Jong Hyun) wonders if Wang So desires the throne for himself. Woo Hee demands to know why the King is forcing her town’s kinsmen to become slave labor to build the new capital. She asks what’s in it for her to continue to be his eyes and ears? Now we know the deal between Woo Hee and the King. Information for excluding her kinsmen from slave labor. The King reminds her that she might lose Baek Ah if he learns she’s been the King’s informant. As usual, the King knows the weak spot in someone.
The King wakes during the night and hallucinates that he sees and hears tenth Prince Wang Eun (Baekhyun). The broken arrow he shot into his brother is thrown at his feet. He freaks out. When the door to the chamber open, Wang Yo hallucinates that he sees and hears his father, the former King. Pain explodes in the chest. Clutching his heart, he falls to the ground. Long scene but satisfying.
Fourth Prince Wang So (Lee Joon Gi) and Thirteenth Prince Baek Ah (Nam Joo Hyuk) plus couple of others flee the palace. Taking matters into their own hands. Love it!
Eighth Prince Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul) bursts into the King’s chamber and calls for a doctor. He realizes this is his chance to become King. He calls for a horse. He’s going to see the sick but powerful Uncle.
Hae Soo recalls Wang So telling her that he wanted to be King. We now see her response. Hae Soo told Wang So that she was tired of being apart. She told him he would be King but he must never kill his brother. Wang So agreed.
A court lady tells Hae Soo the King wants his special tea. Hae Soo is surprised.
Nervous, Hae Soo’s hands shake as she pours the tea. Wang Yo hits the cup out of her hand and asks if she poisoned the tea. She denies it. Wang Yo looks at her and says everything started with her. Hae Soo doesn’t understand. Wang Yo clarifies that the dead people began haunting him because of her. He blames her for covering Wang So’s scar and giving him the confidence to seek the throne. Sounds erupt outside. Hae Soo tries to edge away.
Queen Yoo bursts into the chamber declaring that Wang So is leading a revolt. Queen Yoo puts pen and paper in front of Wang Yo and tells him to abdicate the throne to Wang Jung. Wang Yo stares at his mother and in a broken voice asks if he even matters to her, as a son, as a person. With tears down his face, he asks if he’s no longer worthy of her time, now that he will no longer be King. Queen Yoo urges him to pen his abdication to Wang Jung. Wang Yo throws the pen away. He mentally staggers and says he understands how Wang So feels now. He orders Queen Yoo removed. She begs him to reconsider as she’s pulled from the chamber. Wang Yo rises to his feet and fixes a glare on Hae Soo. Terrific scene. Shout out to Review Leaver who commented after the last episode “It was ironic to me that…Yo and So…get each other…I don’t think any brother, even Jung comes close to understanding Yo or So as much as they do each other”. That was spot on analysis!
The guards close the palace gates.
Queen Hwangbo hears the sounds that mark the end of Wang Yo’s reign. Princess Yeon Hwa rushes in and is upset that she cannot find Wang Wook. Queen Hwangbo tells her she’ll support Yeon Hwa, if she chooses well. Queen Hwangbo realizes what she didn’t teach her children. She tells Yeon Hwa the choice is simple – the whole world without love in her life or love in her life in a small world. That’s an easy choice for her! Yeon Hwa chooses the whole world. Queen Hwangbo tempers her reaction and tells Yeon Hwa she will toss away Wang Wook. Wow! That surprises me.
Wang So, Baek Ah, and the General and their troops wait outside the palace. Just as they are ready to charge and fight, the palace doors open and Yeon Hwa walks out. Loving the tension!
Wang Yo tells Hae Soo that he was afraid of being cast aside just like Wang So. Wang Yo clutches his heart. He tells Hae Soo that his mother told him he was not lacking in any way. He yells at Hae Soo, that it is all her fault, her involvement, that changed everything! He pushes her to ground and rushes to the pen and paper. He yells that she should choose the next King. Who does she want? Baek Ah, Wang Wook, Wang So? Wang Yo hears the men approaching and scribbles his choice. He stares at Hae Soo, handing her the paper, clutching his chest, and says he tried to survive. Another heart attack grips him and he falls to the floor. Hae Soo is horrified. Wang So bursts into the room. He takes the paper and reads the Wang Yo’s choice. He asks if Hae Soo read it. Hae Soo shakes her head. Wang So tears the paper. Burn it! Burn it! Queen Yoo bursts into the room. She sees Wang Yo dead on the floor and calls his name. Ji Mong enters the room and sizes up the situation. Hae Soo gets to her knees and offers Wang So greetings as the new King! Bold move! Ji Mong, Wang So, and Queen Yoo turn to Hae Soo in surprise. Queen Yoo demands to know what is happening. Wang So states Wang Yo abdicated to him before he died. Ji Mong leads everyone, except Queen Yoo, to greet the new King. Queen Yoo sputters in disbelief. Excellent scene. Who did Wang Yo choose? I was impressed that Hae Soo declared Wang So to be King when they both knew it was counter to Wang Yo’s wishes. Folks, we’re finally there. Wang So is King!
As Wang So enters the chamber as the new King, everyone is there and watches. Hmm, don’t see Queen Yoo or Wang Wook. Yeon Hwa smiles as she recalls telling Wang So and his army that she would help him transition to the throne without bloodshed. Wang So promised to remember her loyalty. The General declares Wang So King. Everyone joins in.
Wang Wook sits alone. Nope, I don’t feel sorry for him.
Wang So exits the palace and stares at Hae Soo. She thinks to herself that Wang So will never be remembered as the bloody king. She vows to help him. They smile at each other.
Wang Wook recalls confronting his sister about support Wang So by opening the palace gates. She calmly confirms. Queen Hwangbo calmly tells Wang Wook there was no other option. Now they will push Yeon Hwa to become Queen and give up the dream of Wang Wook becoming King. Wang Wook accused his mother of finally revealing her opinion of him. Queen Hwangbo tells Wang Wook that she had to consider Yeon Hwa too. Queen Hwangbo tells Wang Wook that his evolution was upsetting. She believes staying away from politics is his best option.
Yeon Hwa comes to Wang Wook and asks why he did not attend the coronation. Wang Wook mutters that Uncle was dead by the time he got to him. Wang Wook mutters Wang So was King by the time he returned. He asks why would he want to watch someone else take what he wanted. Yeon Hwa asks Wang Wook to help her become Queen. She promises to make it worth his while. Wang Wook doesn’t respond. Do I feel sorry for him? Nope.
The General asks Wang So to allow him to return to his hometown. Wang So tells the General he needs him. The General admits that politics and his daugther’s death are wearing him down. The General admits it has been difficult reconciling Wang So choice to end Wang Eun’s life. Wang So asks him not to leave. The General tells Wang So to be the best King he can be. He promises to brag to Wang So’s father in the afterlife about Wang So’s reign. With tears in his eyes, the General wishes Wang So well and bows. Wang So feels the loss of a friend, father figure, and trusted supporter. Nice scene. The General is a favorite of mine. He is no nonsense, a wonderful father who supported his daughter’s wishes, and an honest, capable, person.
Hae Soo finds Wang So bummed out sitting on the throne. Wang So tells Hae Soo that the General left, tired of politics. Wang So believes the General fears him. I don’t believe the General feared Wang So. He looks at Hae Soo and asks if she’s wondering who Wang Yo choose and if he stole the throne. Hae Soo assures him that she isn’t wondering that. In fact, she could care less. Wang So admits Wang Yo did not choose a successor. Wang So states he ripped the decree because it would only cause confusion and strife. Wang So states that he was already in possession of the palace. Hae Soo sits next to him, takes his hand, puts her head on his shoulder, and assures him that she will never leave him. Wang So leans into Hae Soo accepting her comfort. Nice moment between our couple. Wang So’s fears make him believe the General fears him, but he’s wrong.
Queen Yoo won’t believe that Wang Yo abdicated the throne to Wang So. She begs fourteenth Prince Wang Jung (Ji Soo) to investigate. There must be something they missed that would indicate Wang Yo’s choice. Queen Yoo declares the Hae Soo was plotting. She tells Wang Jung to investigate Hae Soo.
Wang So wastes no time reversing the bad choices Wang Yo made. He stops the new capital construction and frees those pressed into slavery. Baek Ah is a bit uncomfortable with Wang So’s new position which amuses Wang So and Hae Soo. She watches Wang So sleep and he calls out her name and wakes from a bad dream. He cuddles her and falls back to sleep while she watches him. When Hae Soo wakes, she’s alone in the King’s bed. Court ladies come to tend to her.
Hae Soo complains to Woo Hee that without her Court Lady duties she’s bored. Each day she can only wait for Wang So to complete his activities. Woo Hee warns her to be careful what she wishes for. Wang So’s young bride has decided to become a priestess and the honor of Queen is still open. People are watching Hae Soo. She sighs and says the waiting is hard, even though she knows Wang So being King is what she wanted. Queen Yoo summons Hae Soo.
Hae Soo arrives in Queen Yoo’s chambers and sees an unsmiling Wang Jung and a stern Queen Yoo. Immediately nervous, Hae Soo asks why she is there. Queen Yoo shows Hae Soo the remnants of Wang Yo’s last decree. Yep, I said burn it, but no one listened. Queen Yoo asks Hae Soo if Wang Yo abdicated the throne to Wang So. Wang Jung offers his protection so Hae Soo can speak without fear of reprisal. Sweet but a bit dim our Wang Jung. Hae Soo confirms Wang Yo’s choice was Wang So. Queen Yoo calls her a liar. Queen Yoo tries to shake the truth out of Hae Soo. Wang So bursts into the chambers and orders his mother to stop. He pulls Hae Soo from Queen Yoo. He tells his mother that she should ask him not Hae Soo. Queen Yoo takes him up on his offer. She asks him why he ripped up Wang Yo’s last decree. Wang So lies that he did not rip the decree, Wang Yo did. Hae Soo looks startled. She does not have a poker face! Wang So squeezes Hae Soo’s hand. He declares Wang Yo made him King. Wang Jung asks why Wang Yo didn’t abdicate to his son. Wang Yo tells Wang Jung to ask Wang Yo in the afterlife. Wang Yo says it would have been messy if he’d have to take the throne by force. He lies that he would have killed many to secure the throne. Queen Yoo understands the implied threat to Wang Jung. Wang So tells his mother to continue to work on the memorial service for Wang Yo. Queen Yoo declares she doesn’t want the title of Queen Mother while Wang So is on the throne. Ouch! Wang So points out as his mother, she is automatically the Queen Mother. Queen Yoo calls him a thief that stole her son’s throne. Ouch! Wang So turns and leaves with Hae Soo in tow. Queen Yoo declares she wants to meet with her powerful family.
Wang So pulls Hae Soo down the hallway. Outside his chambers he firmly states the Hae Soo is not to answer anyone’s summons without his permissions. She agrees. He strides into his chambers before she can get a word in edgewise. Hmm, being Wang So’s woman isn’t an easy job.
Already irritated, Wang So snaps that anyone submits a formal doubt to the validity of him being King should be charged with treason. That surprises Ji Mong. But Wang So doesn’t stop there. He spits out that anyone from the former court must go, and I mean be killed. Wang So vows that he’ll eliminate every one that doubts. He smiles a smile that isn’t pleasant. Fascinating. We’ve seen Wang So’s fury when fueled in the early episodes. It rises again.
The evil minister that supported Wang Yo threaten to expose Woo Hee’s spying to the King. He claims he won’t die alone. Taking matters into her own hands, Woo Hee stabs him in the neck. Bam! He spins towards her and grabs an ornament from her dress as he falls to the ground.
Woo Hee stares at the blood stains on the ornament. Baek Ah surprises her and she drops the ornament. He picks it up and says it’s dirty. She snatches it from him and states she doesn’t want to lose it. Baek Ah understands because it’s a gift from her parents. Baek Ah states before they marry, Woo Hee needs to be registered as an adopted daughter of a good family. Woo Hee understand that the current regime does not like the violence her kin once wrought. Baek Ah comments all this happened before they were born, but they still must be sensitive to it. He promises to formerly apologize to her parents by visiting their graves.
Hae Soo moves into the palace and now has the title Lady Hae. Chae Ryung asks Hae Soo to allow her to live at the palace too. Chae Ryung tells ninth Prince Wang Won (Yoon Sun Woo) that Hae Soo agreed to ask the King. Wang Won doesn’t want his favorite henchwoman to leave the palace. Chae Ryung thinks he loves her and asks if she can come to him. Wang Won says he still needs her help, then he’ll whisk her away. Unbeknownst to them, someone watches. Chae Ryung is getting used by Wang Won, but what else is new? I dislike how she rationalizes her actions for love. She helped kill the Crown Prince and got away with it. Will the person watching them bring them to justice?
Wang Wook sees Hae Soo and he doesn’t look at her with love. He says that Hae Soo ended up with Wang So after all. He can’t believe that she didn’t support his desire for love and the throne. He wonders how to accept her choice. Hae Soo is blunt. Wang So was honest with her. Wang So said he wanted her and the throne. He was honest about his greed. Wang Wook asks why Hae Soo said he could not be King. Was he lacking? Hae Soo denies that. She says the stars picked Wang So and even Wang So’s father knew it. Hae Soo says fate didn’t pick him. Unfortunately, that doesn’t soothe Wang Wook at all. In disbelief he mutters, I lost because of a star and fate?
Later Wang Wook stares at the bracelet he once gave Hae Soo. He remembers her promise to never take it off. He remembers their happy moments. He remembers her words about fate. He smashes the bracelet. Yeon Hwa enters concerned when she sees the smashed bracelet. Wang Wook declares she will be Queen. Thrilled she asks if he’ll help her. He says no one has everything they want. Do I feel sorry for Wang Wook? Nope, I don’t. He made bad choices and sealed his own fate. He doesn’t see his own culpability in his current state. That makes him delusional and dangerous.
Wang So repeatedly writes Hae Soo’s favorite phrase. He asks why she’s going to do with them. He grouses he only got herbal rice from her. She retorts he ate it all. He smiles and tells her not to share the herbal rice with anyone else. Hae Soo asks what happened to make him smile. Wang So tells her she won’t know everything about him. Hae Soo asks if she can work instead of waiting for him during the day. Then she remembers Chae Ryung’s request. Hae Soo asks if Chae Ryung can stay with her so she won’t be so lonely. Wang So hesitates. Hae Soo pouts. Wang So acquiesces. He tells her once she starts raising their family she won’t be bored or lonely. That surprises Hae Soo. Wang So takes her hands and tells her he’ll send a doctor to advise her on how to take care of herself so she can have babies. Hae Soo sputters they aren’t married yet. Wang So is pleased she mentioned marriage. He asks when they should get married. Hae Soo isn’t happy that he didn’t formally propose. She reminds him of his promise to propose at the prayer tower. Wang So smiles at the memory. He says he may not be able to go the prayer tower anytime soon. Wang So quips that satisfying Hae Soo is harder than satisfying politicians. They both smile. Cute, cute, cute! Did you notice IU had subtle facial expressions? Very nice!
The doctor tells Hae Soo that her knee isn’t well and one day she may not be able to walk. But even worse are the heart palpitations. The doctor asks if Hae Soo suffers from shortness of breath. She confirms this. He says her internalized frustrations have affected her body. The doctor says she may not live a long life. That startles her. She asks the doctor to estimate how long she will live. That surprised me. I hadn’t considered Hae Soo dying early. I was thinking she’d be swept back to present day versus die in the past, to tie in coming from the future.
Hae Soo prays that she has longer than 10 years to live. She notes she’s only in her twenties. She wants more time with Wang So. Wang Jung finds her praying. He wonders if she’s praying for Wang So to rule for a long time. She counters she is praying for Wang Jung to be her friend again. Wang Jung snipes that Hae Soo took Wang So’s side when she promised to be impartial. Hae Soo reminds Wang Jung that Wang Yo killed the Crown Prince and Wang Eun. Wang Jung can’t deny that. He maintains everything started going wrong when Wang So returned to the palace. He made the fight for the throne brutal. He stole the throne. Wang Jung worries for everyone’s safety. He asks Hae Soo if she’ll become Queen. That surprises Hae Soo. She admits she hadn’t considered being Queen. Wang Jung states a Queen uses her influence and family’s power to support the King. Wang Jung says that’s why his father married many times. Wang Jung warns Hae Soo that she’ll end up being one of many wives to Wang So. Wang Jung wonders if that’s the life Hae Soo really wants. He reminds her he can whisk her from the palace. She need only ask him. Hae Soo thanks him and returns to prayer.
Wang Wook enters the King’s chambers. Wang So, Baek Ah, and Ji Mong are there. Wang Wook informs Wang So that he’s speaking for the people. He suggests that Wang So loosen his hold on the military and money. Wang Wook infers that will make him more popular. Wang So retorts that losing control over the military and money would nullify his power. Wang Wook suggests any path. He proposes that Wang So marry into his family. Wang So is surprised. Wang Wook didn’t scrap and bow to Wang So. He pointed out a problem and offered a solution through marriage. I thought the zoom in on Wang Wook’s face just before he suggested marriage was odd. The camera work in this series hasn’t utilized the quick zoom much.
Yeon Hwa visits Hae Soo and compliments her on her decorating skills. Hae Soo asks Yeon Hwa what she wants. Yeon Hwa says they both want something from each other. Hae Soo says she wants nothing from Yeon Hwa. Acting like she’s already married to Wang So, Yeon Hwa declares that she’ll allow Hae Soo to remain the King’s woman. Hae Soo doesn’t understand what she’s implying. Yeon Hwa states what she wants is honor and recognition. She wants her son on the throne. She declares she’s marrying Wang So. With relish she claims she will be Queen. Hae Soo’s eyebrow twitches and she stares at Yeon Hwa in shock.
Wang Wook tells Wang So that the political power his family will bring is considerable. Wang So retorts he’s not swayed by that arguement. He reminds Wang Wook that he’s like a wolf. Wang Wook chuckles that the throne is hard to get and hard to keep. Wang Wook states the political influence power families wield can be a sword to cut down Wang So’s enemies or cut down Wang So. Wang Wook recommends Wang So embrace the powerful families to ensure he’ll have a long reign. Wang So states he’s promised to marry someone else. Wang Wook declares Hae Soo cannot become queen. Wang So counters that if he wants to marry Hae Soo, he will. Wang Wook reminds Wang So that Hae Soo has a self-inflicted scar from avoiding marriage to their father. Wang Wook states a scarred woman cannot marry the King. Did Wang Wook just checkmate Wang So?
Good episode as Wang So becomes King. What impressed me is that every character that remains contributed this episode. With the large cast, certain characters have been window dressing in episodes or ignored for stretches. But this episode mined everyone’s evolution and used it to direct their actions. Multiple times the question was raised, what or who shifted the balance so that now Wang So is King? Who shifted the balance / who changed things has been asked multiple times during this series. Today the finger was pointed at Hae Soo. Finally, should Wang So be thinking be careful for what you wish for? It certainly looks like in gaining the throne, Wang So is experiencing unforeseen and unpleasant consequences. And these are the initial days of his reign!
Fourth Prince Wang So (Lee Joon Gi) became King. He is no longer a passive slave to Wang Yo. He declared himself King when Wang Yo refused to pick his successor. His cadre of supporters – Hae Soo, Baek Ah, Ji Mong, and the General was reduced by one when the General eloquently expressed his need to move away from the palace politics and the memories of his daughter. Wang So couldn’t deny him, and rightly so. Wang So experienced happiness having Hae Soo by his side and available in a way she’d never been previously. Wang So surprised Hae Soo with the declaration they’d marry and have children. Wang So tends to be a linear thinker. He wanted the throne. He did what he had to do to get it. But it’s not an easy job. The powerful families are restless and need to be included. Wang Wook offered a solution by marrying Princess. Will Wang So put stability of his reign before Hae Soo? The unsettling aspect of Wang So’s new role, is his susceptibility reverting to force to achieve results. Eliminating his enemies, while straightforward, may not be the best path. Wang So could take a page out his Father’s playbook and keep his enemies close or banish them as needed. The King is a political position. Winston Churchill, who was twice British Prime Minister said “A politician must have the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”
Hae Soo (IU) supported Wang So’s decision to become King. I was pleased to see her support him. She loves him. She was willing to support him. She believes she’ll help him avoid the pitfalls she fears. Is she right? It struck me that Hae Soo does not have a poker face. She cannot lie with her face, she looks tense and nervous when she tries to lie. I was surprised and impressed when she was the first to acknowledge Wang So as King. I was surprised when the King’s doctor told her she’d only live another 10 years. I did not have an inkling that she’d have a short life span. I wonder if she’ll die in the past or make her way back to the future. Yeon Hwa stunned her by declaring she’d be Queen. Will Hae Soo accept this? Will she flee rather than share Wang So?
Eight Prince Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul) lost his family’s support for his pursuit of the throne. His mother and sister blind-sided Wang Wook when they put their energy into making Princess Queen not Wang Wook King. To maintain the power of the family, it’s smarter to embrace the King versus try and topple the King. That’s treason and would ruin the family. Wang Wook is a better strategic than Wang So. He effectively laid the bait for making Princess Queen then used the law to nullify Hae Soo’s chances to marry Wang So because of her self-inflicted scar. That was the one-two punch. Wang Wook showed his bitterness at Hae Soo choosing Wang So and accepting his ambitions. What Wang Wook fails to remember is his slimy duplicitous ways and his repeated rejection of Hae Soo in favor of the throne. Hae Soo was right. Wang So has always been honest with her about what he wants. And when he wanted the throne and her, he told her. Wang Wook hide his ambitions and eventually lost Hae Soo because of his dishonesty.
Tenth Prince Wang Eun (Baekhyun) haunted Wang Yo. It was fitting that Wang Eun wielded the most power over Wang Yo after his brother cruelly cut him down with trumped up treason charges.
Fourteenth Prince Wang Jung (Ji Soo) is no longer on Team Wang So. He followed his mother’s request and found the shredded request from Wang Yo. He supported his mother’s questioning of Hae Soo about Wang Yo’s intent. I doubt he believed Hae Soo or Wang So when they declared Wang Yo chose Wang So to be his successor. If he did ask Wang Yo to make Hae Soo his bride, that appears to be a non-issue. But he did tell Hae Soo should she ever wish to leave the palace, he’s available to escort her through a secret passage. Will Hae Soo eventually take him up on his offer?
Thirteenth Prince Baek Ah (Nam Joo Hyuk) plans to marry Woo Hee. Baek Ah is unaware of Woo Hee’s spying for Wang Yo. You’ve got to hand it to Woo Hee, she killed the evil minister that threatened to reveal that secret. Will Baek Ah be able to accept Woo Hee’s actions? At least we know she agreed to be a spy to Wang Yo wouldn’t bother her kinsmen. Unfortunately, Wang Yo reneged leaving Woo Hee as the only person honoring their agreement. I wonder if being Wang So’s trusted advisor is fun.
Ninth Prince Wang Wook (Yoon Sun Woo) is still plotting against Wang So. He’s using Chae Ryung while implying they have a future. Wake up Chae Ryung, you don’t want this scum. Who was it that spied Wang Wook and Chae Ryung talking?
King Wang Yo (Hong Jong Hyun) hallucinations lead to heart attacks. The multiple heart attacks finally killed him. I felt pity for him when he realized his position with his mother was similar to Wang So (though Wang So is hated by his mother something Wang Yo never experienced). His pleading with his mother and her lack of response confirmed his conclusions. While he was valuable, his mother supported him.
The thirteenth song of the OST is “Goodbye” by Im Do Hyuk. Check out the video below.