[What Mary Thinks] The Forbidden Marriage: Episodes 1-2

I kind of like this one, I kind of like this one! I enjoyed this one a lot more than I thought I would and I’m definitely going to keep tuning in. A king who can’t forget about his late Crown Princess who died a mysterious death? A court maid who pretends to channel the spirit of the Crown Princess to appease the heartbroken and devastated King? The King’s right-hand man who was once supposed to marry the court maid many years ago? I mean, where can this drama go wrong?!

Except nothing went wrong in the first 2 episodes as ‘The Forbidden Marriage’ impressed in several ways with its set-up. Starring Kim Young-dae as King Lee Heon, Park Joo-hyun as Ye So-rang, and Kim Woo-seok as Lee Shin-won, the drama tells the story of Lee Heon, King of Joseon, who has implemented a marriage ban on the country after his beloved wife’s tragic death. It’s been seven years and he still is unable to move forward and forget about her. That’s when Ye So-rang, a village girl who runs a scam business on marital compatibility readings, enters the picture and she makes her way into the palace as a court maid who pretends to be the late Crown Princess through some special abilities: spiriting channeling and possession. Lee Heon buys into it as he yearns for his late wife. Will Lee Heon be able to find love again to withdraw the marriage ban? What will come of Ye So-rang once her secret is revealed? How will the love triangle play out in all of this?

To start off, I only recently discovered this drama a few days ago so I had no clue about trailers and teasers and all of that good pre-release stuff. But since I knew about it, I decided to watch the two first episodes to give it a try and see what kind of drama it would be. For one, I love historical dramas so I’m glad that ‘The Forbidden Marriage’ delivers so far. It’s wacky, it’s witty, it’s funny, it’s packed with humor, and it’s the perfect dose of chaos. Sure, the drama could possibly turn out very messy the more you learn about the characters, the history, the context between the characters, and more. I mean, I definitely had those thoughts just barely 2 episodes into the drama. This drama could get very messy very fast and that’s something that I’m afraid of. But at the same time, I tried not to think about that as I was watching and instead, just enjoy the show for what it was. It was entertaining and funny and didn’t take itself too seriously.

The drama was a lot more comical than I expected (I didn’t catch any pre-release videos or teasers or trailers at all), but it also was able to be very romantic or serious when it needed to be. This drama is mainly silly and wacky, but there were also more serious moments that made me sit back and just ponder over how talented this drama could be and the potential that it has. I’m not going to take the comedy for granted as I assume the drama is going to get a lot more angsty and dramatic as it progresses, but man, there were just some scenes in this drama that made me sit back in awe.

Such was the case during the end of episode 2 when So-rang’s body was “inhabited” by the spirit of the late Crown Princess, An Ja-yeon (Kim Min-joo), so the drama turned serious: Lee Heon cried his heart out as he begged to spend just a little bit more time with her and So-rang also cried as she said the things that Lee Heon wanted to hear. The scene was just so beautifully shot and it was a much more serious and heartfelt moment. This sad ballad played in the background and So-rang wiped the tears off of Lee Heon’s face. Then Lee Heon laid down to get some sleep and So-rang touched his hand as she quietly doubted to herself whether she could manage to keep this up and continue to play this role. I doubt the two have fallen in love with each other already as we’re only two episodes in and Lee Heon is still very much not over his late wife, but this scene is an example of the potential that the drama has to be a good drama and look like a good drama.

The biggest takeaway for me after watching the first two episodes was definitely the visuals and cinematography and the looks of everything. I’m such a sucker for that stuff and there were quite a few scenes or shots that took my breath away because of how pretty it looked. It also helps because the visuals add to the storytelling instead of taking away from it. If the directing and camerawork and filming wasn’t as nice and the drama was shot in a very straightforward way, I wouldn’t have felt much for the story at all. But this drama elevates its storytelling by providing you with the visuals which I definitely appreciate.

In episode 2, Shin-won and So-rang sat down to have a talk with each other and the episode showed us how the two were originally supposed to marry each other 7 years ago. We’re shown flashbacks of Shin-won excitedly going to see So-rang (whose real name is Ye Hyun-seon) and secretly watching her nervously as she reads a marriage letter written from his family. During these few scenes, there was this amazing combination of beautiful traditional music playing in the background as well as beautiful camerawork and I just couldn’t help but think to myself of how this was so unfair. It was unfair in how beautiful it looked and sounded because everything shown in that flashback was just so powerful. You could understand what type of mood and tone the drama was going for and even I felt nervous watching Shin-won be nervous as he secretly declared his love and affection for his bride-to-be. This drama so far is intentional and thoughtful and it shows in the work and effort they put into the details and the little things. You definitely notice these things the more you watch.

That’s not to discredit the premise because I think the drama does offer you something with its set-up, the sub-plots, and the characters. There are a lot of things already going on in the drama which should make for an interesting and entertaining watch. The late Crown Princess died, but who hired the assassins/hitman to kill her? Who was behind it and what was the reasoning? So-rang is basically in hiding and living a new life after her stepmother tried to kill her, but what will happen once So-rang is discovered to not be dead? What will happen once So-rang gets caught by Lee Heon and he discovers that she’s not who she claims to be? So-rang and Lee Shin-won obviously have history with each other and they were supposed to marry each other on the same exact day that the marriage ban was imposed. They’re playing pretend right now and acting as if they don’t recognize each other or remember from years ago, but this game can only be played for so long. There’s so much that’s going to happen and unfold from here on out.

But perhaps what I look forward to the most is the strangers-to-lovers trope that the drama is heading towards between Lee Heon and So-rang. I don’t think I’m going to suffer any second lead syndrome (for now) as I’m way too invested already in the relationship between our King and So-rang so I’m probably not gonna be the biggest fan of the love triangle that the drama has already been hinting at. And I describe So-rang and Lee Heon’s relationship as strangers-to-lovers and not enemies-to-lovers because the two didn’t know each other prior to all of this (unlike So-rang and Shin-won) and they don’t necessarily hate each other.

Over the course of the drama, they’re going to get to know each other better, So-rang is going to keep telling bedtime stories to Lee Heon so that he can fall asleep, he’s going to want her to be around him more often because he enjoys her company and having her around, and the two will eventually catch feelings for each other and fall in love. The romance between the two will build and the relationship development will be inevitable and that’s why I’m so excited for these two. I can’t wait to see Lee Heon fall for So-rang as I assume she will be the one who will eventually change his mind on the marriage ban. She will be the one who he falls in love with and she will help him move forward with his life. I’m getting all giddy already thinking about it and it’s obviously not gonna be easy once the truth gets revealed. Hearts will get broken (again) and the truth is going to hurt and feelings will get hurt and characters are going to feel betrayed. But it’s the process of falling in love that I’m the most excited for and I have a feeling it’s going to be good.

The other aspect that I like so far is how less heavy the drama feels with all the politics. Politics in sageuks are inevitable and there’s bound to be tons of politics and drama because certain characters and groups are going to want to overthrow the King. I anticipate that ‘The Forbidden Marriage’ will follow that format and do the same here, but I liked that the drama didn’t throw too much at us with the politics at least for now. We got a glimpse of it here and there and there’s definitely a character who the drama is setting up to play that type of role to the King, but the show focused more on our 3 main characters than the politics within the palace. I hope it stays this way for most of the drama.

Overall, ‘The Forbidden Marriage’ had an entertaining start and if nothing else, it was a fun watch. I laughed many times throughout and the drama knew how to just have fun. Given that it’s also a sageuk drama, it felt refreshing and different. As much as I enjoyed the first two episodes, I’m also gonna have to remind myself to temper my expectations. Things could spiral out of control just as quickly so I can’t get too excited. But through it all, there is one thing I’m certain of: watching how Lee Heon and So-rang fall in love and how their relationship will develop. Will So-rang finally be the cure who heals Lee Heon’s broken heart after seven long and painful years?

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