Oh ho ho, now things are rolling! Episodes 7 and 8 were a little slower and took its time in developing the storylines this week. We got some quiet yearning between our Crown Prince and his “eunuch” as well as a fun, competitive game of polo lead by team captains Crown Prince Lee Hwan and Sergeant Seong-on. But of course, things could never stay too quiet for too long and the dangerous curse that had been haunting Lee Hwan came to life thanks to the head shaman of the Shamanist Bureau. The last 20 minutes of episode 8 was the pivotal moment when everything started to break and fall apart. How much worse can it get?
Episodes 7 and 8 did a great job in showcasing Lee Hwan and Jae-yi’s love-hate relationship with each other. After losing trust in Jae-yi, Lee Hwan dismissed his “eunuch” from the East Palace and no longer allowed her to work for him. But he was still bothered by her actions and words and it didn’t take long for him to reflect on their relationship as well as secretly watch over her. It was clear that Lee Hwan felt betrayed and hurt by Jae-yi. A part of it was because he trusted her after the alliance they had formed with each other and how they understood each other in ways that no one else did. Another part of it could also be because Lee Hwan had been so desperate for so long for someone to see him for him and not as the “Crown Prince who allegedly killed his brother for the throne.” He’s well aware that that has been his reputation within the palace for so long and so here was Jae-yi who showed trust and loyalty to him — something that Lee Hwan had never received or rarely received before from anyone else. He felt and thought Jae-yi could be that person for him and then he thought she wasn’t. And then, the longer Lee Hwan thought it, the more it lingered on his mind, the moment he witnessed the burning of the plum tree that signified the start of the curse, that was when Lee Hwan knew: Jae-yi was that person. As doubtful as he was sometimes and as cautious as he can be towards everyone he meets, he knew Jae-yi was the only person who could help him break the curse that’s haunted him and his family for so long. He needs her to break free.
I found the bickering and quiet yearning and quiet missing between Lee Hwan and Jae-yi adorable in the most recent episodes. Lee Hwan felt betrayed, frustrated, and hurt at first because he really wanted Jae-yi to be that person and he was rooting for her (*insert that one Tyra Banks gif*). Then he couldn’t hold it in any longer and he kept her in his line of sight. Whether it was watching her work at the eunuch bureau or eventually reuniting with her as Scholar Park at Myeong-jin’s office, Lee Hwan couldn’t stay away from Jae-yi for too long. I absolutely loved the reunion scene between the pair in episode 7. There were no words exchanged when they saw each other again. Instead, they just shyly and awkwardly exchanged glances at each other. Then Myeong-jin and Ga-ram were curious as to why Scholar Park returned to join them and they assumed it must have been because he missed them. Lee Hwan may be the Crown Prince, but he is a little lonely after all. I think a part of this statement can be true. Haha.
Seong-on has made it clear to Crown Prince about his hopes and intentions of finding Jae-yi. He still hasn’t forgotten about her and he still owns meaningful items that signifies that he’s waiting for her. This didn’t surprise me then that Lee Hwan started to distance himself a little bit from Jae-yi after that conversation with Seong-on. He’s going to remain professional with her where their only work and interactions will pertain to the curse and the mystery behind her family’s death. But at the same time, it’s clear that Lee Hwan cares for Jae-yi as his master’s daughter, as his partner-in-crime, and as a person. Those feelings for Jae-yi will not go unnoticed and I’m afraid that the love triangle will arrive sooner than later. And when this happens, I’m not so sure what I’m going to do (maybe I’ll just cry and scream internally the entire time).
With how slower episodes 7 and 8 were, it came as no surprise to me that my favorite part out of the 2 episodes was the ending for episode 8. Things intensified and escalated with the interrogation of the head shaman. She sacrificed herself to ignite the curse and the comments that she made at the interrogation became true. The plum tree inside the palace started to burn and wouldn’t go out even with all the water being thrown at it. Who exactly is from the Song family that is behind the curse and all the deaths? Who exactly is it from the Song Family that vows to destroy the Lee family? It’s crazy just how intense things got with the ending of episode 8 and how fast it all happened as well. Everything started to happen all at once and there was this fear of not knowing what was going on or how to stop it or what was going to happen next.
Perhaps my favorite part of it all was when Lee Hwan and Tae-gang witnessed the burning plum tree. It was in this moment when Lee Hwan realized he needed Jae-yi. The only person who would be able to help him solve this mystery was Jae-yi. She was the most important person and the key piece to unlocking all of this chaos. Those doubts and concerns of not being able to trust her vanished and he realized the importance of her help and their alliance. And so he repeated for Tae-gang to go get Jae-yi and bring her to him as fast as possible (I got goosebumps watching this scene!). But Jae-yi herself was occupied running around the village and chasing after assassins who was doing their part in the curse. The episode concluded with Jae-yi fighting for her life with a bow and arrow pointed at her face as she laid on the ground. The last few minutes to episode 8 was definitely action-packed and suspenseful. I liked that the drama picked up the pace after slowing down a little bit for a few episodes earlier. Now it finally picked up again and things are definitely getting interesting (again).
With 8 episodes in, there aren’t too many things about this drama that stands out to me (in a bad way). I’m actually enjoying pretty much every aspect of the show and there’s nothing that comes to mind that frustrates or irritates me. Even the observation about the background music that I made in my review for episodes 1 and 2 has now lingered in the back of my mind. I’m not sure if it’s because the drama has learned to tone it down or if it’s because I’ve just become accustomed to it, but even that aspect of the show doesn’t bother me as much anymore.
I’m heavily enjoying this drama and it only gets better and better every week. ‘Our Blooming Youth’ is not a perfect show by any means, but it would be hard to point out a weakness from the drama if you were to ask me for one. Because as of right now, I don’t think there is one. I absolutely love and enjoy the directing, the camera shots and angles, and the cinematography. I can’t emphasize enough just how many times within a episode I gasp in awe of how beautiful the shot is or how cool the camerawork is (how about that ending scene for episode 8 when the camera spun around Jae-yi as she stood and waited for the assassin to appear?!). The drama took 8 episodes for one of the primary points of the premise – the curse of the ghost letter – to finally come to life, but what does it say about the drama that everything that happened before was just as entertaining and fun to watch? ‘Our Blooming Youth’ is definitely holding down its own fort successfully and I anticipate that it will only get more intense from here on out. And I’m definitely all here for it.