[Discuss Away!] Our Blooming Youth: Episodes 9-10

This drama is sooo interesting. It continues to remain so interesting in so many different ways. The drama isn’t all black or white, it’s not as simple or easy as it seems, the drama continues to both build and peel layers upon layers in a way that isn’t the most entertaining but is also fascinating. Not everything is the most captivating or engaging but there are also some relationships or characters or sub-plots that are compelling. There are so many different ways to feel about ‘Our Blooming Youth.’

Compared to the past 4 weeks, I actually found episodes 9 and 10 to be a much more difficult watch. Unlike the last 8 episodes, it took me some time to finish episodes 9 and 10 in one setting so I ended up finishing the two episodes in multiple attempts. Episodes 9 and 10 were so much more politically heavy and focused than we had seen so far so it was harder for me to finish them from that perspective. Even with the huge increase and screen time with the King and the court officials and politicians, the show thankfully still managed to give us time with the Crown Prince, Jae-yi, and Sergeant Han.

Sageuk dramas always comes with the court and palace politics so it’s not like I was expecting anything different with this drama. I just really liked how minimal the politics were up until this point because it focused on our characters so much more. Therefore, I was a bit bummed that episodes 9 and 10 were so heavily focused on the politics and the drama within the palace walls. But thankfully, it’s also not a complete bore and I do think there are some fascinating aspects to the politics. You have the Right State Councilor, Cho Won-bo, who is manipulating the King and plotting a situation where Grand Prince Myeongan will inherit the throne. Then you have Seong-on’s father, Left State Councilor Han Jung-eon, who seems like he’s a bit more neutral (or perhaps in favor) of the King. We haven’t seen him plotting anything to overthrow the King or to hurt Lee Hwan and as we saw in episode 10, his perception of Lee Hwan grew more positively. I’m still a bit scarred though from ‘100 Days My Prince‘ where the actor played the villain in that drama so I’m not ruling anything out completely. Haha. It’s interesting to see how the two councilors compete against each other on opposite sides of the spectrum, but what may be even more interesting is the role that the Song Family of Byeokcheon plays in all of this.

You’d think there’s already enough going on within the Royal Palace walls and that there’s already enough threats as it is, but there’s another piece to all of the chaos and commotion. I love it because it just makes everything so much more interesting and you never know what’s going to happen. There’s rumors that the reasoning for the Head Shaman and the ghost letter and all the tragedies that struck the country was caused by the ghost of the ringleader from the Song Family. He led a rebellion of a government office a decade ago but then died in the hands of Right State Councilor Cho who was ordered by the King to put an end to the rebellion. Now there’s rumors that there are still bandits from the rebellion who are alive and has returned which Right State Councilor Cho is being blamed for. So as you can clearly see, things are complicated and there’s quite a lot behind all of this. We have an outsider group – an external factor – threatening the lives of the Lee Family. It’s risky, dangerous, and fearful because the members have to be careful of not only who their enemies are inside of the Palace but also outside of the palace walls. You’re already busy enough protecting yourself from those near you, but to also have to protect yourself from outside threats who you were certain were dead and gone? This shall get very interesting very soon.

Moving on from all the politics and the drama, ‘Our Blooming Youth’ continues to bloom in the Lee Hwan and Jae-yi department. As much as I want to root for the couple romantically, I can’t fully buy into their relationship just yet due to feeling guilty for two reasons: 1) Jae-yi’s dedicated to Seong-on and she’s his fiance and 2) Lee Hwan and Seong-on are friends so it doesn’t feel right for Lee Hwan to develop any feelings for Jae-yi. It seems as if the drama’s also sort of trying to respect those boundaries and limits between the two. There were a few hints here and there sprinkled throughout that made it seem like Lee Hwan felt things for Jae-yi but the drama was so busy with all the politics that we never really received any confirmation on that aspect. And I anticipate that the drama will continue to tread this line between Lee Hwan feeling conflicted over his growing feelings for Jae-yi and then remaining professionally with her to protect himself and his friendships with her and Seong-on.

With Jae-yi and Lee Hwan reunited once again, there’s a sense that the two are happy and content with where they are again. For them, it just feels right to be by each other’s side and to be working together as a pair and I think that’s something that they’ve finally accepted. Now that this is their second time working together (after having separated the first time), they’ve come to accept that they need each other to solve their own mysteries and that being by each other’s side is where they’re destined to be. They even hinted at it when they sat down to eat after a long night of work and Jae-yi mentioned how she wanted to stay as Lee Hwan’s eunuch (I’m not tearing up I swear). Granted, there’s multiple reasons as to why she suggested the proposal but it seemed like Lee Hwan was opened to it as well. Of course, it won’t be easy as there’s enemies and secret spies all over the palace and Jae-yi’s role play as an eunuch probably won’t remain a secret for much longer (I’m looking at you Tae-gang). But in the end, a part of me enjoys watching the two spend together however that may look like and whatever roles they may take on (be it Scholar Park or Eunuch Soon-dol haha).

In the same dinner scene where Jae-yi and Lee Hwan joked about their future together, the pair also expressed their gratitude and appreciation for each other. Jae-yi was able to save lives with Lee Hwan’s trust in her and the opportunities he gave her. He gave her the confidence to speak up and say what was on her mind and to set out to do what it was he trusted her to accomplish. She fought to save lives because she experienced having lost her own family herself so she didn’t want anyone else to go through a similar experience. Jae-yi was well aware that she would not have these opportunities if not for roleplaying as an eunuch (a sentiment she’s mentioned multiple times throughout the drama). Lee Hwan was also thankful for Jae-yi as well; he has found a friend and a companion and a partner-in-crime with her presence and he’s not as lonely or miserable as he once used to be prior to her arrival.

Though I didn’t perceive this scene to be romantic, I thought it was a beautiful representation of their friendship and relationship that has cultivated overtime. It reaffirmed their alliance, teamwork, and strong compatibility. It reaffirmed once again the fact that they only have each other and that they need each other in order to solve the mysteries and tragedy that has plagued their lives. It reminded viewers of Jae-yi’s values and how much she cherishes her independence and “freedom” (she’s still accused of being a murderer). It also reminded viewers of Jae-yi’s determination and intelligence and how she acknowledges that this grand opportunity of being independent was only allowed through her position of roleplaying as an eunuch. And this scene also reaffirmed what Jae-yi and Lee Hwan’s current relationship status is: Jae-yi will wait for Seong-on while Lee Hwan will respect Jae-yi and Seong-on’s wishes. He’ll be the bridge that will connect them back to each other and serve as a supportive friend while doing so.

This leads me to my next point which is that perhaps one of the biggest strengths of this drama are the friendships and the drama’s amazing ability to highlight and develop these friendships so far. I enjoy watching Myeong-jin and Ga-ram be goofy, silly, funny, and clumsy as master and apprentice. But I also love that they’re actually both pretty smart and they work well together. They’re complete opposites but they’re also pretty similar in some ways. Then combine this duo with Scholar Park (hahaha) and Jae-yi and you have a group who drinks together, eats together, dig up dead bodies together, and rely on one another to discuss clues and hints together. It’s been nice watching the 4 spend time together because Lee Hwan has been lonely for so long so he finally has people who he can rely on and go to for help.

Episodes 9 and 10 also provided updates and progress on Seong-on and Lee Hwan’s friendship which had been sort of rocky up until this point due to the ghost letter. Lee Hwan became paranoid because the ghost letter mentioned that he would be betrayed by his best friend so that caused some rift and distance in their friendship. Thankfully, the two turned it around and rekindled their friendship. Lee Hwan had reason to trust Seong-on and his father once again and Seong-on felt the same. It was sweet to watch the two cry and express their honest thoughts to each other with Jae-yi there as witness. Though the two guys tried to deny it and pretended as if nothing ever happened between them, it was obvious that things had changed. Things weren’t the same and doubts and paranoia had been creeping up behind them. But fortunately, things turned around and the two friends made up. A part of me is fearful that this trust and loyalty won’t last for long. A part of me is afraid that the part in the ghost letter about the betrayal will eventually come true (which will definitely be devastating because I really hope it won’t). It’s uncertain how strong and steady Lee Hwan and Seong-on’s friendship will remain the more things go on, but it was nice seeing the two work things out and then work together on the plum tree/Byeokcheon rebellion investigation.

Some viewers might not be a fan of the pacing and how slow the drama has been in providing progress or making moves with the primary premise. I might be in the minority where I actually don’t mind the slow pace of it all and it wasn’t something that stood out to me (negatively) either. The drama started off with Jae-yi proving herself by solving the mysterious deaths caused by the Head Shaman. Now it’s moved on to our characters working together to solve the mystery behind the plum tree fire incident and who the leader of the Song Family that led the rebellion was and what his involvement in all the chaos could be if he had died a decade ago. I like that there seems to be certain phases to this drama – each marked with a certain mystery, event, or incident that our characters have to solve. The first one being the mysterious deaths and the next being the plum tree fire incident. With each event or incident, there’s various layers that are peeled. With each chapter, there’s pages and pages of writing that details what happened and what clues could be used to help our characters solve the mystery.

‘Our Blooming Youth’ may be slow (and slow-burn) but it does a solid job of giving you all that you need to know in chunks and phases. You go from one event to the next. The first case relates to the next one and they’re all connected somehow in some way and it’ll all eventually add up and build up overtime into something bigger. We’ll get the answers to the ghost letter and the culprit to the family tragedy eventually, but it’ll take some time and patience. Thankfully, the drama has found ways to keep viewers occupied and busy (and happy) through relationships and friendships development where our characters are presented with opportunities to work together in order to find more clues and to solve the mysteries.

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