Vice Premiere Lee and his entourage go to Ba Woo’s house. Bold as brass, Soo Kyung (Kwon Yuri) opens the front door. She makes her bow and asks if he’s been well. She calls him your excellency. Vice Premiere Lee notes the title shift. She notes that he held a funeral for her former status of daughter-in-law. Vice Premiere Lee notes she’s changed. Soo Kyung counters this is a side of her he hasn’t seen. Vice Premiere Lee states they won’t see each other again. He motions to his guard commander Tae Chul who draws his sword. Ba Woo / Kim Dae Seok (Jung Il Woo) rushes in front of Soo Kyung and demands to know what is going on. Chun Bae and Court Lady Jo rush to either side of Soo Kyung. Lee Won Yeob (Vice Premiere’s eldest son) makes to draw his sword. Then a group of commoners arrive for grain. Soo Kyung explains this is grain from her father the king and unwittingly Vice Premiere Lee played a part in helping these people. Won Yeob doesn’t like that and orders Soo Kyung seized. Ba Woo orders them to stop. Won Yeob orders everyone killed. Ba Woo draws his sword and declares they will fight to the death. The royal guard commander Seok Gye is nervous. Soo Kyung steps in front of Ba Woo and declares Vice Premiere Lee can kill her now or step aside. The commoners ask why someone so kind would be killed. Vice Premiere Lee hesitates. Soo Kyung tells him to never bother her again and she’ll overlook his past actions. They stare and glare. Vice Premiere Lee tells his men to stand down. He exits with his men in tow. Soo Kyung can’t believe what she just did. Ba Woo can’t believe what she just did. He chides her not to do that again.
Good grief, Soo Kyung has moxy!
The commoners are grateful for the rice.
Ba Woo’s mother rushes to Soo Kyung to make sure she’s okay. Soo Kyung apologizes for worrying her. Ba Woo’s mother notes Soo Kyung wanted her to think of her as a daughter-in-law. She calls her brave and tells her to rest. Court Lady Jo is all smiles at the upgraded relationship between Soo Kyung and Ba Woo’s mother. She sends both women away to rest.
Soo Kyung finally has a kind word from Ba Woo’s mother!
Ba Woo teases his friend Chun Bae to make a move on Court Lady Jo.
Won Yeob tells his father the king knows all. Vice Premiere Lee realizes this. Tae Chul reports the king has summed Vice Premiere Lee. Won Yeob doesn’t want his father to go. Vice Premiere Lee asks Tae Chul to kill Soo Kyung that evening. He tells Won Yeob to tell the king he’s indisposed. If Soo Kyung is killed tonight, then the king can’t come down on him.
Held captive in the storage room Lee Dae Yeob (Shin Hyun Soo) frets about Soo Kyung. Tae Chul reports Dae Yeob’s father was unable to secure the princess with so many people watching. Dae Yeob must protect Soo Kyung. Tae Chul points out his father will kill home. Dae Yeob declares he’s loved Soo Kyung since childhood and would die for her. He asks if Tae Chul has someone like that in his life. Tae Chul claims not to understand. He tells Dae Yeob to keep calm. He exits.
As Tae Chul exits the storage room, he turns to see Haeindang Lee (Soo Kyung’s aunt but really his mother). Worried she asks if Dae Yeob is okay. He says yes. She brushes past him and into the storage room.
Tae Chul and Vice Premiere Lee’s guards enter Ba Woo’s compound that evening. Everyone is gone.
Ba Woo, Soo Kyung, Court Lady Jo, Ba Woo, et all rush down the lane. They are surrounded by a masked Tae Chul and guards. Ba Woo draws his sword. A fight ensues. The odds aren’t good. Ba Woo is struck down defending Soo Kyung. Tae Chul prepare to strike. A masked Dae Yeob arrives and fights off Tae Chul. Soo Kyung recognizes Dae Yeob. Ba Woo recognizes Dae Yeob.
King Gwanghae (Soo Kyung’s father) and his guards arrive. Dae Yeob grabs Tae Chul and flee. Father and daughter stare at each other.
Soo Kyung assures her father thanks to Court Lady Kim’s warning they were able to escape. Soo Kyung explains she publicly revealed herself to Vice Premiere Lee because he knew she was there. The king asked who told the commoners to arrive just when Vice Premiere Lee did. Ba Woo explains Soo Kyung has been feeding the hungry commoners. Soo Kyung explains in the palace she had no idea what the everyday person goes through but now she does and helps when she can. The king isn’t happy that Ba Woo let Soo Kyung step in front of him and not protect her as he should. He points out that Vice Premiere Lee would kill even the king. Soo Kyung tells her father this was her plan and to chastise her. The king tells Ba Woo to exit so he can talk to his daughter.
The king asks why Soo Kyung didn’t ask for his help. He wants to protect her but she doesn’t seem to trust him. Soo Kyung asks if he wants the truth. How could he let Vice Premiere Lee attempt this? Why doesn’t he curb Vice Premiere Lee? The king explains the Japanese invasion weakened his armies. But the North faction led by Vice Premiere Lee leveraged the invasion to strengthen their personal armies. The king admits he does not have the military or political strength to oust Vice Premiere Lee. The king admits Ba Woo just told him a king should be able to protect his family. The king admits he’s failed his daughter. Soo Kyung says she has a favor. The king is ready to listen. She asks him to allow her to marry Ba Woo. The king refuses and declares she will come and live at a place he of his choosing. Soo Kyung begs him to let her live and love as an alive person. She’s rather live with Ba Woo for a day than go into hiding. The king demands to know if Ba Woo put her up to this. Soo Kyung declares this is her wish and request. The king doesn’t want to hear it. Soo Kyung tells her father she loves Ba Woo, deeply and truly. The king stares into her imploring face.
Soo Kyung was firm but gentle. Love the admission of love to her father. Similar to Ba Woo’s admission of love to his mother last episode.
The king tells Ba Woo that Vice Premiere Lee will not give up and he must never drop his guard. He orders Ba Woo to protect his daughter. Ba Woo assures him he will.
Ba Woo tells Soo Kyung her father has left. He wishes she didn’t worry about him and could lean on him. Soo Kyung assures him she does lean on him. She waited to speak with him because she can’t sleep until she knows he’s okay. Ba Woo hugs her.
Tae Chul asks Dae Yeob why he saved him noting his father won’t be happy. Dae Yeob points out no one in his family cares about him, least of which is his father. Tae Chul points out his aunt cares. In thanks for his life, Tae Chul won’t tell his father that he saved him.
Tae Chul has a heart.
Tae Chul informs Vice Premiere Lee that the king was at Ba Woo’s house and stopped his men. Vice Premiere Lee swallows hard when the king’s arrival at his house is announced.
Won Yeob tells the king that his father is unwell and wouldn’t want to infect the king. That doesn’t matter.
Outside Vice Premiere Lee’s chamber, the king asks how he is. Faking a cough, Vice Premiere Lee thanks the king for his concern. The king shares he just Ba Woo’s house. He asks if Vice Premiere Lee has anything to say about what happened. Ba Woo is silent. The king suggests it is time to bury the hatchet and work together for the good of the country. Vice Premiere Lee thanks him for his graciousness. The king tells him to come to the palace tomorrow.
The king tells Won Yeob and Dae Yeob supporting their father includes guiding to walk the right path. He states Won Yeob needs to learn this. The king tells Dae Yeob to follow him out.
The king asks Dae Yeob if he’s more loyal to his father or his daughter. He wants the answer next they meet.
Won Yeob asks his father what his next move will be. Vice Premiere Lee declares he will never work with the king. Won Yeob says his men are ready. Vice Premiere Lee tells him to proceed.
The next morning a group of commoners want to talk to the king about their bad living conditions. Entry is denied. They try and force their way and tussle with the guards. Won Yeob’s men (dressed as commoners) stab guards causing immediate retaliation. They flee with glee on their faces.
The commoners are tortured for the name of their leader.
Vice Premiere Lee men install posters stating the king a) killed his brothers et all to clear a path to the throne b) is tanking the country for a new palace c) is in cahoots with the Manchu d) conspired with Court Lady Kim to poison his father.
The public is riled up.
At the palace, the king tells Dae Yeob to read a poster aloud. Court Lady Kim, Kim Ja Jaeom and Ba Woo listen. The king suggests Dae Yeob’s father created the posters. Does Dae Yeob agree? Is more loyal to his father or Soo Kyung? Dae Yeob tries to claim they don’t who created the poster. Angry, the king grabs Dae Yeob’s throat. He yells Dae Yeob has to bring him the concrete evidence Vice Premiere Lee didn’t create the poster.
After they exit, Kim Ja Jaeom advises Ba Woo to keep his distance from Dae Yeob. Kim Ja Jaeom believes Dae Yeob will choose his father.
Won Yeob asks his father how he will remove the king and take over. Will he become the puppet master to the crown prince? Vice Premiere Lee notes the crown prince could try and avenge his father. Won Yeob realizes what his father intends.
Dae Yeob meets Haeindang Lee. They walk. She tells him to give up on Soo Kyung. Dae Yeob declares he will protect Soo Kyung forever, even if from afar. Haeindang Lee points out that path is pure pain. Give up and let love fade away with time. Dae Yeob can’t give up Soo Kyung. He walks away. Haeindang Lee sighs and knows her son’s path is a difficult one.
Tae Chul blocks Dae Yeob from seeing his father noting he doesn’t want to be disturbed due to his guests. Dae Yeob knows his brother is in there. Tae Chul apologizes.
Kim Ja Jaeom and Ba Woo arrive outside Vice Premiere Lee’s house.
Vice Premiere Lee tells the selected ministers that the king’s actions merit the posters. He worries about the country’s future. They nod.
Kim Ja Jaeom and Ba Woo split up to follow the ministers.
Ba Woo follows a minister to a hut and watches him review a stash of swords and guns. He’s spotted. He runs. They chase. He evades. When he returns to the hut, the stash of weapons are gone.
Ba Woo and Kim Ja Jaeom report their findings to Court Lady Kim. She’s frustrated at the lack of concrete evidence.
Court Lady Kim meets with Vice Premiere Lee and asks if he’s plotting treason. Vice Premiere Lee declares he supports the king. Court Lady Kim counters he held a funeral the king’s daughter who wasn’t dead. Vice Premiere Lee reminds her the king forgave him. Court Lady Kim remind him he promised never to slander her yet the poster did just that. She snaps they put King Gwanghae in power to save the country from the Japanese invasion. Vice Premiere Lee lies his loyalty is solid but the king’s loyalty wavered. He infers the royal chef (poison provider) is still alive. Vice Premiere Lee notes if the king had concrete evidence, he’d throw her to the wolves. He suggests they join forces. She asks what he wants.
Kim Ja Jaeom and Ba Woo for Court Lady Kim’s report of the meeting. She tells Ba Woo to follow her.
Court Lady Kim tells Ba Woo he must return Soo Kyung and return to being a commoner as his family nobility will be struck down, then the king won’t learn about the truth of his father’s death. She tells Ba Woo the only way out is for him to kill the royal chef (poison provider). If he doesn’t then she’ll be forced to join Vice Premiere Lee, the king will be framed for killing his father, and Soo Kyung will be hurt too. Ba Woo asks what the king will do with Soo Kyung if he survives this mess. Court Lady Kim believes the king won’t let her remarry and will send Soo Kyung away to a live of his choosing.
Ba Woo’s mother offers Soo Kyung her stash of cosmetics. Ba Woo returns to the household. His mother asks to speak with him.
Ba Woo’s mother asks if Ba Woo can request the king release the dowager queen from confinement. She’s heard the conditions weren’t good. Ba Woo says he can’t visit the well-guarded dowager queen. His mother admits her improved station has made her think about the dowager queen more. She tells him not to worry about it.
Chun Bae meets with a friend and thanks him for finding what he asked for so quickly.
Court Lady Jo waits for Chun Bae to return home. They are awkward with each other. She tells him to go to her home. He’ll know why once he gets there. He gives her a letter. She’ll know why once she reads it.
Chun Bae finds Court Lady Jo has prepare a death anniversary memorial for his father.
Court Lady Jo finds Chun Bae has located her sister and provided a letter from her brother stating he and their mother are well. Court Lady Jo sobs at the touching gesture. Chun Bae finds her. He explains he wanted to lighten her worries with the news that her family was well. He reports he sent them money. Court Lady Jo sobs. Chun Bae asks why she’s crying. Court Lady Jo admits she thought they were dead and the shock and joy they are alive is overwhelming. Chun Bae tells her to dry her tears. He asks who she knew about his father. She reminds him he told her one time he was drunk. He thanks her.
Chun Bae pays his respect to his father. He cries. Court Lady Jo soothes him and lets him cry.
Chun Bae brings Court Lady Jo something to drink. He thanks her for the opportunity to formally honor his father. She thanks him for finding out that her family was alive. Chun Bae wants to ask but can’t. Instead, he tells her to look at the stars. Then hiding behind a tray, he asks Court Lady Jo to live with him. She smiles. She asks if he can handle her. He admits he may not but he wants to try. She informs him taking a former court lady has a punishment of 100 lashes. Chun Bae says he’ll take the pain as long as he can have her. He lowers the tray. They stare into each other’s eyes. Court Lady Jo aggressively kisses Chun Bae. He can’t take it. She kisses him again!
Chun Bae is all smiles the next morning. He tells Ba Woo Vice Premiere Lee must die so they can live in peace. Ba Woo asks Soo Kyung if she remembers the royal chef. She can’t quite recall. Chun Bae says it might be the avenue to defeat Vice Premiere Lee. Court Lady Jo believes Soo Kyung would know.
Soo Kyung goes over Cha Dol’s lessons with him. Ba Woo finds his mother outside listening to the lessons and smiling. Chun Bae joins him.
The minister return to meet with Vice Premiere Lee. Won Yeob tells Tae Chul to block Dae Yeob from joining the meeting.
The minister vow to support Vice Premiere Lee. He vows to depose the king. He demands they sign concurrence so no one betrays them. The ministers sign. Vice Premiere Lee declares their mission is a great one and past kings will support their efforts. Outside the meeting room, Dae Yeob listens to everything. Tae Chul and his men are at the entrance and don’t see him.
Does Tae Chul know Dae Yeob is there?
Dae Yeob goes to Ba Woo’s household. Court Lady Jo asks why he’s there. He assures her he wants only to see Ba Woo.
Ba Woo asks why Dae Yeob has come. Dae Yeob states he’ll handle his father but won’t say how. Ba Woo grouses that Dae Yeob never shares details. Dae Yeob says he came to stop Ba Woo from mucking up his plan. Ba Woo asks if the king will be informed. Dae Yeob doesn’t trust the king. Ba Woo agrees when it comes to Vice Premiere Lee, there is no trust. Dae Yeob admits he has loyalty to his father and family. He promises to try and stop his father, but he can’t eliminate him from power. Ba Woo murmurs that nothing is easy for Dae Yeob. Ba Woo tells Dae Yeob this is the last chance before he engages. Dae Yeob leaves.
Dae Yeob asks Court Lady Jo is Soo Kyung is doing well. Court Lady Jo assures him she is. Dae Yeob exits. Chun Bae sees Dae Yeob leave. Court Lady Jo quickly explains. Chun Bae flirts.
Dae Yeob looks at Ba Woo’s house one last time and walks away.
He returns to his father’s household. He offers his nightly greeting to his parents. He enters his father’s office. He searches for the document with the minister’s signatures. He finds the document. Won Yeob finds him in their father’s office. He scoffs that Dae Yeob’s betrayal was a given. Dae Yeob rushes past Won Yeob. But Vice Premiere Lee stands there. Won Yeob tattles and declares Dae Yeob must die for this betrayal.
Vice Premiere Lee takes Tae Chul’s sword. Dae Yeob closes his eyes ready to die. Instead, his father kneels in front of him. Tae Chul follows suit. Vice Premiere Lee intones “Your highness, the prince. Forgive me for taking so long to reveal the truth. You are the only direct descendant of this country’s previous king. You are not my son, you are the son of Prince Imhae, son of the former king”.
Didn’t see that coming. Writers Kim Ji Soo and Park Cheol revealed that Dae Yeob isn’t Vice Premiere Lee’s son, which we knew, but the son of the former king, which we didn’t know. Haeindang Lee must have had an affair with the former king and went to her brother pregnant and unsure. Seeing the tactical advantage, Vice Premiere Lee allowed her son to be brought up as his son. Good grief, Vice Premiere Lee plays the long game! I was thinking that Tae Chul might be Dae Yeob’s father for as many times as he’d protected him. Dae Yeob being royal is better. I enjoy how the writers give each lead – Ba Woo, Soo Kyung, and Dae Yeob – sufficient story to standalone yet they are entwined.
Ba Woo (Jung Il Woo) may be backing the royal that won’t win. Ba Woo is stuck backing Soo Kyung’s father, the king. I’ve got to give the king props for knowing he doesn’t have the power that Vice Premiere Lee has and still leveraging any advantage he has. Ba Woo, Kim Ja Jaeom, and Court Lady Kim are the king’s supporters. Vice Premiere Lee put the pressure on Court Lady Kim to come to his side or he’d reveal her role in the poisoning of the king’s father. Court Lady Kim ordered Ba Woo to find the royal chef that provided the poison to get her out of the untenable position. Ba Woo’s victories seem fleeting as Vice Premiere Lee’s long game threatens to overwhelm.
Soo Kyung (Kwon Yuri) was denied marriage. She told her father she loved Ba Woo. She begged her father to allow her to marry Ba Woo but he refused. Nope, let me send you into exile was his counter offer. I must say fathers of this show give their children more grief than happiness.
Lee Dae Yeob (Shin Hyun Soo) learns he is a Prince. Dae Yeob was stunned when his father kneeled before him and declared his was the only direct descendant of the previous king. Won Yeob kneeling to his brother was satisfying. What is the family relationship between Dae Yeob and Soo Kyung? Now we know Vice Premiere Lee’s long game is to install Dae Yeob as the next king. I have to give him an A for planning and patience.
The fifteenth song of the OST is “Black” sung by H3ATHR SUN with Vivid Slow. Link to lyrics
I rank this episode as terrific, 9 on a 10-point scale.