Tied up to posts, Dae Yeob finally wakes. Kim Dae Seok / Ba Woo (Jung Il Woo) tells him the Ming found the letter from Vice Premiere Lee (Dae Yeob’s father) to the Ming emissary. Ba Woo tells Dae Yeob to say nothing about who his father is. Lee Dae Yeob (Shin Hyun Soo) points out Ba Woo can leverage him to can his freedom. Ba Woo tells him they have to be smart to survive.
Cha Dol’s Mom flings clothes at Soo Kyung to wash. Court Lady Jo intervenes. Cha Dol’s Mom order Court Lady Jo to empty her chamber pot and kicks her for good measure. That doesn’t sit well with Soo Kyung (Kwon Yuri) who demands to know why she’s being to someone that hasn’t wronged her. Cha Dol’s Mom heaps on insults and yells that they both deserve her scorn and need to learn their place. Soo Kyung points out servants are people and she should know that since she was once one.
Cha Dol’s Mom pumps Ba Woo’s sister for details about Soo Kyung. She only knows that Soo Kyung was a servant in a noble house for many years.
Soo Kyung apologizes to Court Lady Jo for putting her in a situation where she is abused. Court Lady Jo points out Soo Kyung is suffering too. She shares she had a good dream last night.
The Manchu interrogate Dae Yeob. Ba Woo tells him to keep quiet. Dae Yeob reveals who his father is. The commander motions to his servant to unsheathe his sword. Ba Woo barks they are on temporary assignment from the military. Dae Yeob reveals Ba Woo is Kim Dae Seok the man in the letter from his father. He tells the commander to release Ba Woo and kill him. The commander motions for Ba Woo to be released. Dae Yeob tells Ba Woo to remember what he said.
Kang Hong Rip speaks with Ba Woo in his hut. He explains he was captured after losing a battle with the Ming. Ba Woo recognizes his name. Hong Rip confirms they are in the camp of Commander Amin, nephew of the Manchu leader. He informs Ba Woo that the proposed alliance between Joseon and the Ming would be bad news for the Manchu. Dae Yeob must die. Ba Woo counters that if Dae Yeob dies, the Joseon royal court will favor the Ming in retaliation. Hong Rip doesn’t understand why Ba Woo wants to save Vice Premiere Lee’s son. Ba Woo apologizes for the situation. Hong Rip remarks Josen can’t get their political ducks in a row. He stands stating he’ll speak with Commander Amin; he doesn’t war either.
Ba Woo brings Dae Yeob water and promises to do everything he can to save him.
Ba Woo offers his take of the situation to the commander. Hong Rip translates Commander Amin’s desire not to fight the Joseon, only to dismantle the Ming. Ba Woo states the Ming can’t win without Joseon’s help. Ba Woo explains the king doesn’t want to support the Ming; therefore, Vice Premiere Lee sent the letter to forge the alliance without the king’s knowledge. Ba Woo points out if Dae Yeob dies, the Vice Premiere Lee will be able to force the king to will favor the Ming in retaliation. Ba Woo offers to eliminate the Ming emissary. Hong Rip warns Ba Woo not to make promises he can’t keep. Ba Woo declares Vice Premiere Lee will eliminate the Ming emissary, but Ba Woo needs a favor to make that happen.
Dae Yeob is released. Ba Woo takes him to Hong Rip’s tent and explains who he is to a surprised Dae Yeob. Hong Rip steps out so the men can change. He eavesdrops and hears Ba Woo admit he had made promises to earn Dae Yeob’s release. Ba Woo knows Dae Yeob doesn’t want to plunge Joseon into war.
The next day Hong Rip tells Dae Yeob and Ba Woo that whether there are war rests on their shoulders. They promise to do everything they can to prevent war. Hong Rip bids them safe journey and success.
Ba Woo and Dae Yeob return to town with gifts from the Manchu.
Vice Premiere Lee can’t believe the Manchu sent gifts. He realizes he better neutral any positive regard this might generate.
Kim Ja Jaeom greet the pair when they arrive at the palace. Ba Woo thanks Kim Ja Jaeom for helping them and apologizes for any hardships. Kim Ja Jaeom chuckles he has a talent in saving his own hide.
Ba Woo and Dae Yeob meet with King Gwanghae (Soo Kyung’s father) who asks how they can neutralize the Ming emissary. Ba Woo explains the Manchu will poise themselves for an attack on the Ming, one they won’t make. The king must persuade the Ming to retreat, with the emissary in permanent exile. The king wonders if Commander Amin can be trusted. Ba Woo points out they don’t have the boats to attach the Ming’s position on the island nor the desire to fight with Joseon. The king smiles in agreement. He praises Ba Woo for coming up with a solution. He asks Court Lady Kim what kind of reward Ba Woo should receive. She notes that Ba Woo’s solution must remain a secret so money makes sense. Vice Premiere Lee is announced.
Vice Premiere Lee tells the king that Ba Woo and Dae Yeob must return to the north. Otherwise, the Ming will demand more than rations and money. The king admits he never suspected Vice Premiere Lee had a relationship with Commander Amin. Vice Premiere Lee doesn’t understand. The king gives Vice Premiere Lee the letter Commander Amin sent via Ba Woo and Dae Yeob.
Commander Amin’s letter reads “I received the letter you sent. As you proposed, if the Ming emissary is fated to permanent exile on the island, I will tell my troops to retreat. However, if you break your promise and help the Ming, there will be war.”
I love it when Vice Premiere Lee is shocked by another player’s move.
The king asks Vice Premiere Lee how long he’s been in contact with Commander Amin. Vice Premiere Lee declares this is slander. He has not communicated with Commander Amin. The king tells him the letter is proof. He thanks Vice Premiere Lee for the foresight. The king tells Vice Premiere Lee to appease the Ming emissary in whatever manner he wishes as long as the exile is permanent.
LOL, for once Vice Premiere Lee was at a loss for words!
Outside the king’s room, Vice Premiere Lee accuses Ba Woo of making this mess. Ba Woo counters he doesn’t use tricks unlike some he knows. He informs Vice Premiere Lee the candidate he sent to kill him sends his regards. Vice Premiere Lee warns Ba Woo he is flirting with death. Kim Ja Jaeom claims not to understand why Vice Premiere Lee is upset when war has been averted. And why did Vice Premiere Lee send his son to die in the North? Vice Premiere Lee asks why the Western faction is taking this stance. Kim Ja Jaeom notes Joseon isn’t powerful enough for war. It would be foolish to fight while they are weak. Vice Premiere Lee wonders if all members of the Western faction would agree. Kim Ja Jaeom doesn’t think so. Ba Woo offers that parroting a leader is the sign of dictatorship not an alliance. Vice Premiere Lee chuckles at Ba Woo’s gall. He orders Dae Yeob to follow him. Kim Ja Jaeom wonders if Dae Yeob will survive his father’s wrath.
Court Lady Kim informs Ba Woo the king wants to meet with him.
The king asks Ba Woo if he’s angry he was used as a pawn. Ba Woo says no. The king points out that Ba Woo must have assumed he’d abandon Ba Woo just like he abandoned his daughter SJ. Ba Woo apologizes. The king asks if Hong Rip is well. Ba Woo reports he is safe and appreciates the king’s concern. The king believes 4 years of captivity must blacken Hong Rip’s heart. If only he’d died fighting instead of surrendering, his family would be esteemed versus scorned. The king says he has to make hard choices like sending good men into terrible situations. The king asks Ba Woo what he would have done if he faced a similar decision. Avidly listening, the king’s personal guard, Jung Yeong, waits for Ba Woo’s response. Ba Woo admits he doesn’t have the desire to put the country before his family. He’d give up the throne to his hated enemy and run away to live in peace. The king asks why he’d give it to the person he hates. Ba Woo chuckles that giving it to his enemy would screw his enemy while he’d be free. The king chuckles. Ba Woo asks what is so great about being a king? The demanding schedule would drive him crazy. The lack of freedom would suck. Everything is the king’s fault. Even widows and older bachelors cannot marry because of silly rules. Everything a king does a hassle to himself and his country. The king stops smiling. Ba Woo apologizes. The king chuckles that everything is a hassle. Jung Yeong gives Ba Woo the death stare. The king continues to ply Ba Woo with drink.
Vice Premiere Lee demands to know why Dae Yeob failed and disobeyed him. Dae Yeob states the king is right and his father is wrong. Vice Premiere Lee can’t believe his ears. Lee Won Yeob (Dae Yeob’s brother and Vice Premiere’s eldest son) can’t believe his brother had the gall to say this. Vice Premiere Lee wants details. Dae Yeob explains that the Ming are on the downswing while Manchu are on the upswing. Dae Yeob argues with Won Yeob that Joseon doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes that Japanese made that brought 7 years of war. Vice Premiere Lee points out Joseon’s official policy is to serve the Ming and be equal to the Manchu and Japan. Dae Yeob points out they don’t have to join hands with the Manchu. Rather they should stay neutral. Know they enemy is quoted. Joseon isn’t strong enough to fight the Manchu. Won Yeob barks the Ming won’t stand for it. Dae Yeob points out the Ming emperor is focused elsewhere and eunuch Wei is the go-to leader. Dae Yeob tells his father EW has abused his power causing the downswing. Dae Yeob points out if he’d delivered the letter the Ming, Joseon would be at war with the Manchu. Dae Yeob declares Ba Woo can be killed later, that wasn’t the priority. Won Yeob charges Dae Yeob with hiding Commander Amin’s letter. Dae Yeob counters he had no knowledge of Commander Amin’s letter. Won Yeob implores his father not to believe Dae Yeob. Vice Premiere Lee asks about his son’s health. Dae Yeob assures him it is improved. Vice Premiere Lee tells Dae Yeob to rest. Dae Yeob exits. Won Yeob declares Dae Yeob is lying. Vice Premiere Lee barks Dae Yeob is still useful to him. He orders Won Yeob to summon the doctor. Won Yeob exits. Vice Premiere Lee smiles.
Is that a smile of pride?
Dae Yeob breathes a sigh of relief when he returns to his room.
Ba Woo succumbs to the alcohol. Jung Yeong offers to take him to quarters. The king wants Ba Woo to rest for a couple of days.
The next day Jung Yeong rouses Ba Woo. His head splitting, Ba Woo winces as he remembers what he said to the king the previous day. Jung Yeong wonders if Ba Woo is brave or stupid. Ba Woo apologizes. Jung Yeong tells him to rest until he summoned again.
Ba Woo returns home and calls for his son. Court Lady Jo greets him. Tears fill her eyes. Ba Woo asks what wrong. He asks where Soo Kyung. Court Lady Jo indicates Soo Kyung is staying in her room. Ba Woo wants to know why.
Ba Woo enters and his eyes lock on Soo Kyung. Tears fill her eyes. He apologizes. Soo Kyung says he looks tired. She thanks him for coming back alive just like her promised. Ba Woo says her efforts helped him come back. He hugs her. Soo Kyung cries.
Ba Woo bursts into his room and orders Cha Dol’s Mom’s to get up. He can’t believe she came her. He pulls her up and out of the room.
Soo Kyung worries this will upset Cha Dol. Chun Bae and Court Lady Jo could care less.
Cha Dol’s Mom declares she knows that Soo Kyung is the princess. That gets Ba Woo’s attention. She warns she’ll tell everyone. Ba Woo’s mother and sister greet him with smiles. His mother tells him to come to her room.
Ba Woo confirms that Chun Bae’s statements about Cha Dol’s Mom are correct. He didn’t want her to worry. His mother tells him to forget the past and move on. Ba Woo declares Cha Dol’s Mom doesn’t care about his son. Ba Woo’s mother agrees but pulls out Cha Dol’s Mom’s father’s badge. Both parents from noble families matters for Cha Dol’s societal status. She refuses accept anything else. Ba Woo plays the only card he can. He reveals that Soo Kyung is royal. That gets his mother’s attention. Ba Woo states Soo Kyung is the king’s daughter, a princess. His mother gasps. His eavesdropping sister gasps.
When Soo Kyung approaches Ba Woo’s sister, she rushes away flustered.
Ba Woo’s mother can’t believe he bossamed (kidnapped) the princess. His mother realizes that Vice Premiere Lee is looking for Soo Kyung. She tells Ba Woo to remove Soo Kyung from their household to eliminate the threat this causes the family. Ba Woo points out Vice Premiere Lee doesn’t know Soo Kyung is alive. His mother assures him that secret will come to light. His mother reminds him Vice Premiere Lee destroyed their family once and she doesn’t want history to repeat itself. She orders her son to remove Cha Dol’s Mom and Soo Kyung from the household. Ba Woo declares he’ll protect his family and his mother needs to trust him. Ba Woo’s mother says Vice Premiere Lee is evil incarnate and cannot be stopped. Ba Woo won’t sentence Soo Kyung to death by removing her from his household. His mother urges him to think about everyone in his household. Ba Woo states he loves Soo Kyung.
Ba Woo’s sister tell him she’s on his side and supports the princess. He tells her to keep quiet about Soo Kyung’s status.
Chun Bae and Ba Woo’s mother discuss Soo Kyung’s past unmarried virgin widow state. Court Lady Jo and Ba Woo’s mother discuss Soo Kyung’s past and why she chooses to live at the Vice Premiere Lee’s household. Court Lady Jo explains Soo Kyung puts others needs before her own. Ba Woo’s sister asks her mother if her discussions with Chun Bae and Court Lady Jo clarified her thought. Who stay and who goes between Cha Dol’s Mom and Soo Kyung? Ba Woo’s mother declares this is Ba Woo’s choice to make.
Ba Woo tells Cha Dol’s Mom to leave. She refuses. Ba Woo’s mother and sister arrive and order her to leave. She begs forgiveness claiming she’s learned from her past mistakes. No one buys what she’s selling. Ba Woo installs her in a small room and tells her to keep her mouth shut.
Chun Bae is surprised to learn Cha Dol’s Mom knows that Soo Kyung is a princess. Ba Woo can’t let her spread the news.
Cha Dol returns from school. He’s thrilled to see his father. He’s not thrilled about the situation in the household. Ba Woo offers to let his son sleep in his room. That puts a smile on Cha Dol’s face.
That night Cha Dol complains about not being able to sleep with Mom and Dad. He complains his father is always busy. Ba Woo promises to see him every day. Cha Dol says he doesn’t want to live with his birth mother. Ba Woo is agreeable. They giggle.
The next morning Ba Woo’s mother and sister are awkward with Soo Kyung knowing who she really is. Soo Kyung tells them to treat her like normal. Ba Woo’s mother tells her the woman peddler will be there today.
Dae Yeob sees Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul leading the woman peddler into the compound. Tae Chul blocks Dae Yeob from questioning her. He shares that Ba Woo’s first wife has returned.
Dae Yeob goes to Ba Woo’s home. Court Lady Jo talks Soo Kyung into speaking with him. He tells her not forget he’s there for her. He can’t believe all she has to endure. Soo Kyung says she is well. He repeats his offer to help when she needs him. Soo Kyung thanks him for stopping by. Dae Yeob exits.
Chun Bae sees him exit and chews out Court Lady Jo for letting him see Soo Kyung. Cha Dol’s Mom shamelessly eavesdrops as they argue about Dae Yeob, Soo Kyung, Ba Woo, and Vice Premiere Lee. Cha Dol’s Mom considers how she can leverage what she overheard.
The monk comes to visit. Ba Woo, his mother and sister explain the challenge of having Cha Dol’s Mom in the household. The monk offers to take her. Cha Dol’s Mom shamelessly eavesdrops and isn’t excited about the offer. When Ba Woo and Chun Bae go to get Cha Dol’s Mom, they find her room empty. They find that she’s stolen the land property and jewels.
Cha Dol’s Mom sees the women peddler talk to Tae Chul outside Vice Premiere Lee’s home. She approaches Tae Chul with news for Vice Premiere Lee’s ears.
Vice Premiere Lee learns Soo Kyung is alive. He pays Cha Dol’s Mom enough to reveal Soo Kyung lives at Ba Woo’s house. When she tries to leave Vice Premiere Lee orders her “taken care of”. The guards take her away. Won Yeob is thrilled to find know the truth. It explains why Dae Yeob has supported Ba Woo. Vice Premiere Lee tells Won Yeob to bring the royal guard commander Seok Gye to him.
As the guards drag Cha Dol’s Mom through the courtyard, Dae Yeob encounters her. She begs him to help. Tae Chul says she’s no one. Cha Dol’s Mom blurts she only told them the princess was alive. That gets Dae Yeob’s attention. He asks if his father knows. Dae Yeob tries to leave to warn Soo Kyung. Tae Chul strikes him down.
Won Yeob meets with the royal guard commander Seok Gye. They leave together.
Court Lady Kim learns the royal guard commander Seok Gye left with Won Yeob.
Vice Premiere Lee and his entourage go to Ba Woo’s house.
Bold as brass, Soo Kyung opens the front door. She makes her bow and asks if he’s been well.
Cha Dol’s Mom alerts Vice Premiere Lee that Soo Kyung is alive. Writers Kim Ji Soo and Park Cheol used Cha Dol’s Mom to spill the secret that Soo Kyung was alive. It was time. It was a bit of a stretch that the secret wasn’t discovered earlier. I would have loved to see the monk take Cha Dol’s Mom in hand. My money would have been on him. Vice Premiere Lee finally knows. You have to respect Soo Kyung’s calm and collected greeting to the father-in-law from hell.
Ba Woo (Jung Il Woo) admitted he loves Soo Kyung. Ba Woo confirmed Soo Kyung was the something more precious than himself waiting for him at home. He rejected his mother’s suggestion that he accept his first wife back in his life so Cha Dol would have nobility in father and mother. He finally told his mother (and eavesdropping sister) who Soo Kyung really was. Ba Woo’s machinations with the Manchu and the letter to Vice Premiere Lee was inspired. He is a survivor. I had to chuckle at his candor with the king as he steadily drank.
Soo Kyung (Kwon Yuri) was cool and composed. Her motto must be “keep calm and carry on”. She took Cha Dol’s Mom’s abuse, for that is what it escalated to. She was concerned about Cha Dol’s reaction to Ba Woo rejecting his mother. She had a lovely reunion with Ba Woo. Their eyes shone love for each other.
Lee Dae Yeob (Shin Hyun Soo) offered to help Soo Kyung. Dae Yeob had to see Soo Kyung once he learned Ba Woo’s first wife was back. Earlier he neatly argued with his father that the Manchu’s status was rising while the Ming’s status was falling. Tae Chul hit him so he couldn’t warn Ba Woo. Would it have mattered?
The fourteenth song of the OST is “Please Tell Me” sung by Gloria Sim. Link to lyrics.
I rank this episode as almost terrific, 8.5 on a 10-point scale.