King Gwanghae (Soo Kyung’s father) sits alone and remembers Royal Consort Soui (Soo Kyung’s mother) words about turning over their daughter Soo Kyung to the evil enemy Vice Premiere Lee.
Vice Premiere Lee informs Lee Dae Yeob (Shin Hyun Soo) that he has brought Soo Kyung (Kwon Yuri) to him so he can make her his woman. Soo Kyung is outraged. She’s already married. Vice Premiere Lee tells her to zip her lip or he’ll tell the king he wants her mother too. Dae Yeob indicates that Soo Kyung should let him handle it. She glares at Vice Premiere Lee and leaves the room. Vice Premiere Lee demands to know if Vice Premiere Lee threatened the king to get Soo Kyung. Vice Premiere Lee says this is Dae Yeob’s fault for not heeding his words (recall Dae Yeob is the secret son of Prince Imhae, son of the former king, the current king’s father). Vice Premiere Lee declares that Dae Yeob cannot avoid the throne. He will put him there no matter what.
Vice Premiere Lee is fanatical about controlling the next king.
Lee Won Yeob (Vice Premiere’s eldest son) takes Soo Kyung outside. Premiere Lee’s guard commander Tae Chul tells Won Yeob he’ll handle the princess. As they walk, Tae Chul assures Soo Kyung that Dae Yeob will save her, she need only trust in him.
Tae Chul has a heart!
Tae Chul meets with Ba Woo / Kim Dae Seok (Jung Il Woo) and lets him know that Dae Yeob has a plan to free Soo Kyung from Vice Premiere Lee’s clutches. Ba Woo need only do his part.
Ba Woo goes to the trapped dowager queen and her daughter in the western palace and asks her to support a coup to oust the King Gwanghae, and stop Vice Premiere Lee and the northern faction from installing the next king. She hesitates. Ba Woo guarantees her safety. She agrees to help.
Ba Woo goes to Kim Ja Jaeom with a letter from the dowager queen supporting Prince Neungyang and the western faction’s coup. He’ll give it to Kim Ja Jaeom IF he guarantees the lives of Soo Kyung, Royal Consort Soui, and the king after the coup. Kim Ja Jaeom hesitates then agrees to everything in his power to make that happen. Ba Woo hands over the letter. Ba Woo tells Kim Ja Jaeom the coup must happen BEFORE Vice Premiere Lee and the northern fact’s coup on the full moon rising. Kim Ja Jaeom agree to move up the coup.
“Everything in my power” isn’t a guarantee.
Dae Yeob tells his mother, Haeindang Lee, that she must leave and he will soon follow and join her. He wants nothing more than to live his life with his mother. He apologizes for not treating her well when he learned his true parentage. Tears fill her eyes. She promises to do has he says IF he promises to live no matter what. Dae Yeob promises and exits. Haeindang Lee cries knowing he may not be able to keep that promise. She tells herself sorrow has been commonplace from the point she did not commit suicide when Prince Imhae was murdered by Vice Premiere Lee’s assassins. She couldn’t stop Dae Yeob from his path even if it leads to his death. Dae Yeob stands outside his mother’s door knowing this may be the last time he sees her.
Dae Yeob tells Vice Premiere Lee he’ll do as he wants and assume the throne. First, he’d like to go with Soo Kyung and pay his respects to his father’s tomb. Vice Premiere Lee agrees saying he’ll attend too. Dae Yeob exits. Won Yeob warns his father Dae Yeob has a counter plan. Vice Premiere Lee knows this and assumes Ba Woo will try and save Soo Kyung. This will be their chance to capture Ba Woo.
With Dae Yeob and Vice Premiere Lee on horseback, Soo Kyung in palanquin, Tae Chul and Vice Premiere Lee’s guards led the group through the woods. Dae Yeob halts his horse and checks with Soo Kyung. He tells Vice Premiere Lee Soo Kyung needs to relieve herself. Tae Chul confirms that he put a pot in the palanquin. Dae Yeob says it needs to be emptied. Tae Chul suggest they get fresh water from the nearby spring before continuing. Vice Premiere Lee agrees and dismounts.
Meanwhile, Won Yeob and his men have been told the wrong spot to intersect the entourage. No one is there. Won Yeob realizes Tae Chul lied to him about the location. He isn’t happy.
Ba Woo and his men arrive. Dae Yeob orders Vice Premiere Lee protected. Chun Bae (Ba Woo’s friend) joins in the fight. Tae Chul assures Vice Premiere Lee he’ll protect Soo Kyung. Dae Yeob joins the fray. He and Ba Woo go head-to-head. Just as Dae Yeob is about to strike Ba Woo down, Chun Bae intervenes and Dae Yeob’s sword strikes down Chun Bae instead. Ba Woo helps his friend up and they flee. Dae Yeob takes off after them. Vice Premiere Lee’s guards look to him for guidance. Vice Premiere Lee orders them to follow. When he turns around, he checks the palanquin. It is empty. Vice Premiere Lee realizes Tae Chul betrayed him. He isn’t happy.
Ba Woo, Soo Kyung, Dae Yeob, Chun Bae, Tae Chul, and Jung Yeong (the king’s personal guard there to help save Soo Kyung) gather. We see Chun Bae wore bamboo chest plate and isn’t injured. They decide to split up. Dae Yeob says he must finish something. Chun Bae says he’ll be killed if Vice Premiere Lee catches him. Tae Chul offers to accompany Dae Yeob. Shaking his head, Dae Yeob declares he must do this alone. He asks Tae Chul to get his mother out of Vice Premiere Lee’s household before she is permanently confined. Dae Yeob declares he’ll be there soon, but his mother is the priority. Ba Woo doesn’t understand what Dae Yeob plans to do, but tells him to be careful. Chun Bae, Jung Yeong and Tae Chul exit. Soo Kyung tells Dae Yeob that leaving to live with Haeindang Lee is a good idea. She apologizes for always taking from their friendship and never giving. Dae Yeob apologizes for making things difficult with his one-sided futile feelings for her. Soo Kyung wishes him a happy life, no matter where he ends up. Ditto from Dae Yeob. Ba Woo and Dae Yeob nod to each other. Dae Yeob exits. Ba Woo and Soo Kyung watch him walk away.
Dae Yeob meets his father and two guards. He orders the guards to run if they want to live. Dae Yeob puts his sword at Vice Premiere Lee’s neck. Dae Yeob declares the country’s terrible state is because of Vice Premiere Lee’s machinations. Vice Premiere Lee scoffs that his death won’t make everything perfect. Dae Yeob begs to differ. He reveals he knows Vice Premiere Lee ordered his father killed. Dae Yeob declares he will now avenge his father and grieving mother.
Dae Yeob raises the sword but can’t kill Vice Premiere Lee. He cries and drops the sword. Vice Premiere Lee can’t believe it. Dae Yeob declares he is walking away from everything Vice Premiere Lee wants from him. He suggests his father give up his quest for power and live in hiding. If he doesn’t Dae Yeob won’t forgive him. Dae Yeob turns to walk away.
Vice Premiere Lee is livid. He sees the sword on the ground. He picks it up and runs it through Dae Yeob. Vice Premiere Lee yells that Dae Yeob created this moment, this isn’t his fault. Dae Yeob asks if Vice Premiere Lee ever thought of him as a son. Vice Premiere Lee stares at the blood-soaked sword. He drops it and staggers away without answering a beseeching Dae Yeob.
Ouch, don’t leave swords unattended around Vice Premiere Lee! Dae Yeob’s heart couldn’t allow him to kill Vice Premiere Lee.
Soo Kyung and Ba Woo both feel uneasy about Dae Yeob and decide to find him together.
They are shocked to find Dae Yeob on his knees bleeding out from a sword wound. Ba Woo demands to know if Vice Premiere Lee did this. Dae Yeob admits he tried to kill Vice Premiere Lee to save Soo Kyung, but couldn’t kill the man that raised him, the man that is his father. Dae Yeob tells Soo Kyung to be happy and apologize to his mother for not keeping his promise. He dies. Ba Woo and Soo Kyung beg him not to die but it is too late. They both sob and call to a now dead Dae Yeob.
Vice Premiere Lee stares at the hands he struck Dae Yeob down with. He remembers Dae Yeob’s dying question. Won Yeob points out with Dae Yeob’s death the blood-soaked northern faction coup doesn’t have someone to put on the throne. Vice Premiere Lee barks at his son.
Won Yeob and his men search the western palace for Ba Woo and his family. The dowager queen orders them out. Won Yeob sneers and tells his men to search. The dowager queen hopes Ba Woo’s family got away safely.
Meanwhile at the gisaeng house, Court Lady Jo can’t help but notice every woman working there know Chun Bae and isn’t happy about it.
Ba Woo admits to Soo Kyung that while he didn’t want to involve himself with the western faction coup, it was the only way to save her. Soo Kyung assures him a new king is what the country needs. Look at what her father did to her. Her father’s wrongs must be righted. She tells Ba Woo not to suffer because of her. Ba Woo promises to save Soo Kyung’s father and mother during the coup. Ba Woo vows to be by Soo Kyung’s side until the end. The heavens can’t tear them apart. They hug.
Ba Woo steps aside just as Chun Bae and Court Lady Jo step away from the door. Obviously eavesdropping, Ba Woo asks if they heard everything. Automatically they respond yes. He tells them to take care of Soo Kyung no matter what. They promise.
He goes to see Cha Dol (Ba Woo’s son), his mother and sister. Cha Dol promises to take care of his grandmother and aunt. Ba Woo promises to return.
Lots of promises being made by Ba Woo – save the king and queen, return safely, etc.
Soo Kyung meets with Court Lady Jo and asks her to take care of Ba Woo and Cha Dol. Court Lady Jo wants to know what Soo Kyung plans. Soo Kyung says she can’t live with her husband. Court Lady Jo believes there is a way. Soo Kyung declares the king’s daughter can’t live forever with the dowager queen’s nephew. Court Lady Jo disagrees. Soo Kyung stands and makes her bow to Court Lady Jo. Upset, Court Lady Jo begs Soo Kyung not to do this. Soo Kyung thanks Court Lady Jo for being the one that cared for her from birth. Soo Kyung hugs Court Lady Jo. Court Lady Jo swears she’ll always be with Soo Kyung. Both women cry.
Kim Ja Jaeom tells Ba Woo the western faction coup is almost upon them. Ba Woo reminds Kim Ja Jaeom of the promise to guarantee the lives of Soo Kyung, Royal Consort Soui, and the king after the coup. Kim Ja Jaeom on the day of the coup, Court Lady Kim has organized a fest at the palace. That’s when Ba Woo must snatch the royal parents.
On the day of the fest, the king drinks with lackluster spirits. Court Lady Kim fills his glass when he drains it. Jung Yeong reports the state councillor wants to see him. The king bids the state councillor to him. The man informs him of the western faction coup plot. Not raising a brow, the king sighs the participants should be questions, but leave Vice Premiere Lee out of the proceedings as he’s more trouble than he’s worth. The king asks Court Lady Kim if there is truth behind the claim.
Court Lady Kim meets with Kim Ja Jaeom and Ba Woo and demands to know if the coup claim is true. Kim Ja Jaeom lies and says the western faction is amassing troops to capture the treasonous Vice Premiere Lee. Court Lady Kim asks Ba Woo if Kim Ja Jaeom is telling the truth. Ba Woo lies and says Kim Ja Jaeom is correct. Knowing she’s being lied to she pretends to accept the lies. She notes if there is a coup, Kim Ja Jaeom must follow through on his promise to overlook her past mistakes (e.g., working with Vice Premiere Lee). Kim Ja Jaeom promises claiming not to be lying.
The king meets with Kim Ja Jaeom and Ba Woo. Court Lady Kim declares they are not planning a coup. The king looks at her with disbelief. He asks Kim Ja Jaeom if Court Lady Kim if right. The state councillor rushes in and informs the king the western faction key players are ready to be questioned. The king demands Kim Ja Jaeom answer. Jung Yeong audibly grabs his sword. Ba Woo swallows and assures the king there is no coup. Kim Ja Jaeom sighs in relief. The state councillor presses for the king to begin the questioning. The king tells him to release everyone. The state councillor can’t believe it. The king notes Ba Woo and Kim Ja Jaeom have just sworn there is not coup and they wouldn’t lie to him. The king declares he’s sick of the coup talk. He tells Ba Woo he wants a private word.
The king drinks and asks Ba Woo if his daughter is well. Ba Woo assures him she is. The king approves of Ba Woo’s actions to save Soo Kyung. However, he knows Ba Woo lied to him about the coup. Ba Woo apologizes. The king sighs that Ba Woo wasn’t the only liar, Court Lady Kim, Kim Ja Jaeom and even Jung Yeong have lied to him. The king says there is no one that he can trust. He knows everyone resents him and believe it is time for him to go. He remembers when he was a new king, he had wonderful plans. He swore he wouldn’t be like his father. Instead, he’s worse than his father. He even gave up his daughter. The king gives Ba Woo a final order. Ba Woo agrees to do whatever the king asks. King Gwanghae order Ba Woo to block Vice Premiere Lee’s next king candidate from gaining the throne. The country can’t survive Vice Premiere Lee as the power behind the throne. Anyone else but Vice Premiere Lee’s candidate is acceptable. The king pours Ba Woo a drink and hands it to him. He declares this is drink for his son-in-law. Ba Woo takes the glass and drinks. He stares at the king. The king says he’ll leave Soo Kyung in Ba Woo’s capable hands. He asks Ba Woo to care for Soo Kyung. Ba Woo stands and bows to the king. Ba Woo says as a son-in-law to his father-in-law, this is his first and final bow. The king nods with tears in his eyes.
Ba Woo stops Won Yeob’s beating the head of the General Yi by knocking him down. Jung Yeong arrives as Ba Woo helps General Yi stand. Ba Woo tells the man to leave to proceed as planned. Ba Woo asks Jung Yeong why he’s there. Jung Yeong smirks that he knew Won Yeob wouldn’t follow the king’s order to free General Yi and came to knock him around for the impertinence. But Ba Woo got there first. Ba Woo suggests Jung Yeong join the western faction coup. Insulted, Jung Yeong declares he is the king’s loyal subject and Ba Woo would be dead by his hands if the king didn’t approve of the western faction coup. Jung Yeong knows the upcoming evening will be fraught with peril and tells Ba Woo to take care. He leaves.
A note from Won Yeob is delivered while Vice Premiere Lee talks to his wife. The note says western faction coup was a lie. Both parents are surprised.
Won Yeob begs Ba Woo for his life. Ba Woo agrees…until Vice Premiere Lee is captured. Ba Woo reminds Won Yeob that he killed his sister’s husband without blinking an eye. Won Yeob begs for his life. Ba Woo knocks him known disgusted with the pleading.
Prince Neungyang is ready for the coup. He’s dismayed when Kim Ja Jaeom states their troops number 1200. Prince Neungyang implores his troops to take the country to be better place with their actions this evening.
They arrive at a palace gate. GY has done his bit and they are granted access.
At another gate, Ba Woo lets them enter. He greets Prince Neungyang and Kim Ja Jaeom. He tells them he’s going to capture Vice Premiere Lee. He leaves.
Court Lady Kim and the king listen to the sounds of the troops entering the palace. The king isn’t ruffled. Jung Yeong appears and declares it is a coup. Court Lady Kim is shocked. The king asks if it is Vice Premiere Lee. Jung Yeong reports it isn’t. The king calmly says it must be the western faction. Court Lady Kim flees. Jung Yeong tells the king they must leave the palace. The king tells Jung Yeong to capture Vice Premiere Lee. Jung Yeong refuses to leave the king. Chuckling the king murmurs no one follows his orders. Jung Yeong implores the king to come with him. The king takes another drink and muses over this moment.
Court Lady Kim swiftly packs her valuables. She’s relieved when Kim Ja Jaeom enters her room with his men. She’s shocked when he orders her taken away. She reminds him of his promise. He counters doing her bidding has been distasteful. Now the tables are turned and he has the power. Court Lady Kim declares she’ll walk on her own as the men take her away. Kim Ja Jaeom grins.
Ding dong the witch is dead.
Kim Ja Jaeom urges Royal Consort Soui and Court Lady Jo to finish packing. Royal Consort Soui worries about the king. Chun Bae urges them to follow him.
Jung Yeong escorts the king to a location. He opens the door and finds Ba Woo and Soo Kyung waiting for him. Soo Kyung gives Ba Woo the look that says she wants to speak with her father alone. Ba Woo exits. The king is surprised she and Ba Woo brought him here. She makes sure he’s okay. She promises to escort him away. The king declares that is too dangerous. He doesn’t understand why she doesn’t hate him. Soo Kyung tells her father no matter how much she hates him, he’s the only father she has. The king cries. He asks if she forgives him.
Kim Ja Jaeom and troops arrive to take the king. Jung Yeong refuses to step aside. He fights bravely with his sword, but his body cannot withstand a dozen bullets pummeled into his body. He falls to the ground and dies.
Brave and loyal, Jung Yeong grew on me. He had a nice rapport with Ba Woo.
Ba Woo and troops arrive at Vice Premiere Lee’s home. The fighting commences. Ba Woo finds Vice Premiere Lee in his room. Vice Premiere Lee asks what happened to Won Yeob. Ba Woo replies he captured him. Vice Premiere Lee asks if Won Yeob is alive. Ba Woo confirms this. Vice Premiere Lee states everything he’s done, has been for the good of the country. Ba Woo counters that Vice Premiere Lee has a warped sense of what is good for the country. Ba Woo admits he’d like to kill Vice Premiere Lee for the destruction of his family. However, in honor of Dae Yeob, he won’t because Dae Yeob considered Vice Premiere Lee a father. Vice Premiere Lee is surprised. He asks what happened to Dae Yeob’s body. Ba Woo says he properly buried Dae Yeob in a sunny place. Vice Premiere Lee thanks him.
A bit anticlimactic.
The king is dethroned. With the dowager queen’s concurrence, Prince Neungyang, is declared the new king. Former King Gwanghae is escorted out of the palace. King Neungyang declares he will fix the mess that his predecessor left behind. He reinstates everyone and clears crimes from those falsely accused including Dae Yeob’s biological father Prince Imhae and Ba Woo’s father and grandfather. Ba Woo is satisfied.
After the ceremony, Kim Ja Jaeom asks Ba Woo if he knows where Royal Consort Soui is because they can’t find her. Ba Woo claims not to know. Kim Ja Jaeom warns Ba Woo that some will assume he’s a supporter of the ousted king. Ba Woo states he does not know. Kim Ja Jaeom promises to watch Ba Woo.
Soo Kyung tells the monk she wants to reject the world and become a nun. The monk says she can never go back. Soo Kyung says this is what she wants. The monk says she will have to shave her head but first she must go prayer at the temple for guidance. Soo Kyung leaves the room. Her mother cries.
Soo Kyung cries while she prays at the temple.
Soo Kyung waits for the monk to enter to cut her hair. The monk enters and asks if this is what she wants. Soo Kyung confirms it. The monk decides the scissors aren’t sharp enough and leaves to get a replacement.
When a man enters the room, Soo Kyung assumes it is the monk. She turns and sees Ba Woo. He’s masked and carrying a sack just like the first time they met. From the doorway, Cha Dol tells his father to hurry. Ba Woo and Soo Kyung lock eyes.
The head monk is informed a strange man absconded with Soo Kyung. Chun Bae, Court Lady Jo, Royal Consort Soui, and the monk smile and nod at the news. Chun Bae winks at Court Lady Jo. She takes his arm and smiles.
At the beach, Ba Woo looks at his wife’s shoe on the sand. He picks it up. It’s the red shoe he bought her early in their relationship. He takes the shoe to her and puts it on her foot. This time she smiles and allows the intimate gesture. She smiles. He smiles. They hold hands. Ba Woo says it is time to go. They walk the beach together, ready to face life, no matter what it throws them.
Even bad fathers are hard to walk away from. Writers Kim Ji Soo and Park Cheol encapsulated much of the season when Soo Kyung told her father “No matter how much I hate you, you are the only father I have in this world”. She gave him a pass because she loved him. Dae Yeob gave Vice Premiere Lee a pass, and it cost him. Strangely enough King Gwanghae had a cool vibe as he ended his tenure of power while Vice Premiere Lee sitting alone in his room seemed anticlimactic. I’m not sure I bought that Dae Yeob’s death bothered him. He’d been impervious to anything but his own power. Everyone was a pawn in his life. Regardless, Vice Premiere Lee was a worthy enemy.
Quick Series Thoughts. Superb writing and ensemble acting elevated this series. This series was a chess match with moves and counter moves galore. There was an honorable hero, a stronger than we initially thought heroine, a second male lead that mattered to the story, and a cadre of watchable characters when combined with excellent production values and a voluminous well matched OST, made this a stellar historical series.
Ba Woo (Jung Il Woo) gets a happily ever after with Soo Kyung. Forced to lie to the king and Court Lady Kim there was no coup, when both knew there was, Ba Woo did what he had to do. When playing with liars, joining in was his only option. One of my favorite moments of the episode was when King Gwanghae offered him a drink as father-in-law to son-in-law. Ba Woo returned the honor by bowing to him as son-in-law to father-in-law. Ba Woo’s final confrontation with Vice Premiere Lee was surprisingly quiet. Could you stop taking revenge on the man that killed your grandfather, father, and stripped your family forcing them to live as servants and commoners out of respect for a friend that loved the evil man?
Soo Kyung (Kwon Yuri) gets a happily ever after with Ba Woo. She was willing to give it all up and become a nun, certain that she wouldn’t be able to live openly with Ba Woo as the daughter of the ousted king. That was a bold decision on her part. We got a full circle moment when Ba Woo appeared to bossam her (remarriage kidnapping as widows could not remarry). Soo Kyung’s goodbye with Dae Yeob was sensitive. She apologized for being a burden and wished him well.
Lee Dae Yeob (Shin Hyun Soo) was killed by Vice Premiere Lee, the man he considered his father (who killed his biological father). I knew Dae Yeob was doomed the moment he dropped the sword and turned his back on Vice Premiere Lee. As expected, Vice Premiere Lee used the sword to impale Dae Yeob. The only thing Dae Yeob wanted from Vice Premiere Lee was whether or not he ever thought of him as a son. Vice Premiere Lee refused to say as Dae Yeob beseeched him while walking away from the dying Dae Yeob. That was heart breaking. It is somewhat understandable why Dae Yeob couldn’t kill Vice Premiere Lee, versus Ba Woo. Dae Yeob had spent his entire life believing Vice Premiere Lee was his father and wanting to please the emotionally elusive man.
Did my wish list for the final episode come true?
- Soo Kyung lives and spend the rest of her days with Ba Woo and his family. GRANTED. It was dicey when Soo Kyung went to conscript herself as a nun, but Ba Woo appeared and bossamed her. This time he knew who he was kidnapping. This pair deserved happily ever after.
- Vice Premiere Lee dies. UNKNOWN. The last we saw of Vice Premiere Lee was sitting alone in his room while the troops invaded his household.
- Dae Yeob lives. DENIED. Over the series, Dae Yeob learned lots of terrible things about Vice Premiere Lee, but those were actions against others, which Dae Yeob was able to forgive. That forgiveness and compassion cost Dae Yeob his life. Yet it was true to this character, an honorable man who loved deeply.
The nineteenth song of the OST is “’m Waiting For You” sung by Hana Rumi. Link to lyrics.
The twentieth song of the OST is “I’ll Protect You” sung by Nam Seung Min. Link to lyrics.
I rank this episode as terrific, 9 on a 10-point scale.