What a roller coaster ride this drama has been and we’re only 4 episodes in so far! While the first two episodes were a bit more serious, grueling, and dark, this week’s latest episodes took a much lighter direction and blessed us with some comedy, humor, and brightness.
It’s amazing the contrast and difference in mood and tone between episodes 1 and 2 to 3 and 4. One would think that you were watching two completely different dramas. I liked that this week’s episodes were lighter and less heavy; I was even surprised at the comedy aspect that they added into the drama just because it didn’t seem like it was a possible thing with the premiere episodes. Now that the characters and sub-plots have been set up, the drama and us viewers can breathe a little slower now to watch things unfold. While last week’s episodes were vastly different from this week’s episode, I didn’t mind it as much because I heavily enjoyed episodes 3 and 4.
Jae-yi eventually made her way into the palace to work for Crown Prince Lee Hwan as his “eunuch.” Hidden behind the green outfit is actually a mystery detective and the member of a family who was brutally poisoned and murdered. Jae-yi is on the hunt for the truth and she’ll need the help and assistance of the Crown Prince in order to do that. And given that our Crown Prince isn’t as trusting (rightfully so), Jae-yi will have to prove herself and earn Lee Hwan’s trust by solving some murder cases that has happened throughout the country. But this area is her strength and Jae-yi is confident that she can get the work done. She needs to get it done, but she’s also intelligent and more than capable of doing so.
I heavily enjoyed watching Jae-yi stand up for herself and express her thoughts on the cases during the lecture that her “fiance”, Section Chief Han Seong-on, hosted at the end of episode 4. Jae-yi – posing as the newest member of the eunuch group who the Crown Prince introduced to everyone at the lecture – could have stayed quiet or just back down, but instead she rose to the challenge. Jae-yi voiced her thoughts and opinions on the murder cases and remained true to herself even if her current identity wasn’t truthful. I loved how brave and fearless Jae-yi was even when put on the spot in front of a crowd of powerful and intimidating men. This has always been a trait that Jae-yi conveyed and owned dating back to when she was a child. Jae-yi was determined to do what she felt was right even if her father thought otherwise. Once Jae-yi has set her mind to something, she will go to whatever lengths to get it done.
I fear that I might eventually suffer from second lead syndrome in this drama even though I don’t think that’s the direction that the drama intends to go towards (as of right now at least). Jae-yi’s fiance, Seong-on, isn’t aware of her position as the eunuch in the palace and he assumes that she’s still on the run. There was a scene in episode 4 where the two interacted for the first time since Jae-yi’s family tragedy and I’ll have to admit that my heart did skip a little beat watching that scene. I’ll admit that my interest in their story and relationship might have increased a little after watching that scene. And then things just got even more interesting between them in the lecture scene at the end of the episode when they were debating and dueling it out with their thoughts on the cases. Seong-on will eventually come to discover Jae-yi’s actual identity, but it’ll be interesting to see for now what the drama does with their relationship where Jae-yi is the eunuch. Jae-yi still ponders over what things should and could have been like with Seong-on and you can see glimpses of that when she looks at him or is in the same space as him. Seong-on – interestingly enough – has his own character arc going on that involves his father and also Jae-yi so his intentions in the search for Jae-yi could be different from what we’re expecting.
There were great things in this week’s episodes that were lacking in the first two episodes and if I had to point out one thing that I absolutely loved the most with the newest episodes, it’d have to be the editing. Episode 4 was good, but episode 3 was truly magical and fascinating with how the episode progressed. If there’s one word I had to use to describe episode 3, it’d be the word “transition.” There’s Jae-yi’s transition from a crime suspect on the run to being Crown Prince Lee Hwan’s eunuch within the palace. The transition from running for her life to finding some “stability” and “security” by being next to the Crown Prince in the royal palace.
Then there’s also the technical transitions in terms of the editing that we saw throughout the episode which I ended up really liking and becoming a huge fan of. In episode 3, Jae-yi explained to Lee Hwan why she wanted to work for him and also about the mystery cases that she solved under her brother’s name. She referenced that she actually solved them not by herself but with the help of her servant and best friend, Jang Ga-ram. Then the next scene immediately transitioned into a scene of Ga-ram who was showcasing her talents and special skills to her new master, Kim Myung-jin (the son of the Prime Minister). Then she’s explaining to him about her special skills and traits and why he should hire her to be his apprentice and then the next scene transitioned to a moment when Ga-ram and Jae-yi worked together to solve the murder cases together.
These transitions were so fun to watch because you were essentially being bounced from Jae-yi at the palace to Ga-ram with Myung-jin to then a flashback then back to Jae-yi then to Ga-ram again, but it was so cool how all these scenes were connected and related to one another. For lack of a better word, I felt as if the drama was killing two birds with one stone: the episode was explaining Ga-ram and Jae-yi’s side of their stories and the stone in this instance were the flashback scenes of them going after the bad guys and working together to solve the mystery cases. I feel like I can gush about the seamless transitions in this episode forever, but I’ll stop for now and say that episode 3 was probably my favorite episode out of the 4 so far because of the way that it all flowed together excitedly.
While episodes 3 and 4 proved to be improvements from the first 2 episodes, I’m still a bit cautious about some things regarding this drama such as the pacing. It didn’t click until a little bit afterwards that episode 1 was a lot more chaotic than I was expecting or would have liked. It’s a bit conflicting because on one hand, I like when a drama develops to a point where it’s not dragging or taking a bit too long, but at the same time, it’s also a bit concerning when there’s too much going on way too quickly. That’s how I felt about episode one of ‘Our Blooming Youth.’ I get that the drama probably had many things that it wanted to set up and introduce to get things going right away, but I also would have liked for the first two episodes to take its time in laying out the foundation. Within the first 15 minutes of the first episode, Jae-yi’s family had already been murdered and she was on the run for her life. I was not expecting such a huge part of the premise to already play out so early into episode 1 and it might have been more helpful to wait just a tad bit longer.
To add onto my concerns with the pacing, episodes 1 and 2 were darker, more serious, and consisted of more mature themes, but then episodes 3 and 4 were so much brighter and lighter. Again, I liked episodes 3 and 4 because of the humor and comedy aspects that were added, but I also couldn’t help but notice the huge contrast and difference. In episodes 1 and 2, Jae-yi and Crown Prince Lee Hwan were acting as if they didn’t know each other (when really the two met each other when they were younger) and Lee Hwan was being completely standoffish. All this happened only for Lee Hwan to then acknowledge at the end of episode 3 that he remembered Jae-yi from when they were little kids. The sudden trigger in memory was a bit surprising and abrupt given that the drama showed no hints of the two displaying any signs of that recognition in their interactions in episode 2. The drama made it seem as if the two didn’t remember each other only to turn it around and have them acknowledge that they did remember each other by the end of episode 3. While I can understand why Lee Hwan was so cold and distant and harsh to Jae-yi at first due to the rumors that she was the murderer behind her family’s deaths, I would have liked to see him use this childhood memory with Jae-yi to guide his decision in allowing her to work for him and be next to him in the palace. Their childhood connection should serve some kind of purpose. How could he be so cruel and distant to her in one episode and then so warm and friendly to her the next? What exactly changed?
But looking past this minor distraction, I think the drama has done a good job afterwards in developing Jae-yi and Lee Hwan’s relationship. Sure, it could have helped if the two acknowledged their childhood connection in their earlier interactions, but it’s good that they got that out of the way now. The two will eventually grow closer and get to know each other better as prince and eunuch but also as partners in crime. She needs him to solve her family’s deaths and he needs her to get to the truth behind the ghost letters. And it’s these conversations they have with each other at Lee Hwan’s room that I’m slowly warming up to and enjoying. There was a conversation between the two in episode 4 where Lee Hwan and Jae-yi were discussing updates related to her family’s deaths and Jae-yi was a bit bummed that she couldn’t remember much at that time. Lee Hwan was empathetic and he resonated with Jae-yi and mentioned that he too has a hard time remembering anything from the year that his brother passed.
My heart ached watching this scene because it’s clear that Jae-yi and Lee Hwan are the only ones who can understand each other and what they’re going through. They have their own traumatic experiences and mysteries that they’re battling. They’re widely accused and suspected of doing something that they claim they didn’t do. They’re clearly misunderstood. No one knows what they’re really feeling inside. But Jae-yi and Lee Hwan do. They can relate to each other; they can empathize for the other person because they understand what that person is enduring and going through. I just love this connection between the two and the many ways that they will bond and grow and bloom. No one understands them like they understand each other. And maybe one day, it’ll come to a point where it will be Jae-yi and Lee Hwan against the world (if it hasn’t gotten to that point already).
I’m doing this new series on my Tumblr account called ‘Highlight of the Hour’ where I highlight my favorite scene from each episode (since each episode is about an hour.. get it?) and I decided to jump start the new idea with ‘Our Blooming Youth.’ I have a feeling it might get more and more difficult to choose just one scene that stands out the most to me from each episode because as we saw in episode 4, there were various scenes that accomplished that goal. From Lee Hwan practicing his fighting with his soldiers (btw, Park Hyung-sik was soooo cool in that scene!!) to Jae-yi and Ga-ram’s touching reunion to the lecture scene about the crime cases to Jae-yi’s conversation with Lee Hwan where she shared that her father was always on his side and believed in him, there were many wonderful scenes in episode 4.
But the scene from episode 4 that I chose as the ‘highlight of the hour’ was the apple scene towards the end of the episode. Who knew that a drama could make apples such a romantic thing? Who knew that a drama could make me crave and want to eat a juicy apple (while also reading a love letter)? Jae-yi has to earn Lee Hwan’s trust and she has to prove herself to him. While I don’t doubt she will get there eventually, it’s nice to see the subtle, small ways that she’s doing just that. It’s also nice to see Lee Hwan’s actions in return and him showing her that he’s slowly opening up to her and trusting her, such as rewarding her with a nice, plump, one-of-a-kind apple. It’s not the biggest or grandest reward and one might say it’s just an apple so it’s not a big deal. But there’s a much bigger impact, significance, and meaning behind this action and it’s going to be the first of many rewards and interactions to come between the Crown Prince and his beloved pretend eunuch.
Jae-yi seems to be following in her father’s footsteps by now serving Lee Hwan and supporting him the way her father did. She shared how her father believed in him and was worried for him when his brother passed away. Those words could have been both comforting and heartbreaking to Lee Hwan. There was someone who believed in him all along; there was someone who was on his side. But that person is also now gone and is no longer alive. However, there is still a light in the tunnel knowing that Lee Hwan isn’t alone and that he won’t be alone in this fight for the truth. Because there’s another person who’s also willing to fight. She’s also fighting her own war in the pursuit for the truth and she’s willing to fight alongside Lee Hwan. And together, Jae-yi and Lee Hwan will fight to reveal the truth. Because in the end, the truth always prevails. The truth always wins.