[Discuss Away!] Our Blooming Youth: Episodes 11-12

This drama continues to move and stay moving. It has rarely ever slowed down in the past 6 weeks that it’s aired and there’s always something going on that keeps you engaged and captivated. And sometimes, it’s not just one thing that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Sometimes, there’s multiple things happening that grabs your attention. Questions regarding one’s identity and how someone might not be who you thought they were are explored in this week’s episodes of ‘Our Blooming Youth.’

Episodes 11 and 12 shifted its focus to our Crown Prince who showcased his intelligence, growth, and loyalty to his allies after what was a difficult and raw conversation with his father. We’ve witnessed Lee Hwan struggle to embrace and embody his role as the Crown Prince, especially with the scrutiny and damage that came along with it. He felt insecure in the way that he inherited the role which impacted his reputation and also in the way that he carried out his roles and responsibilities in the position. It was nice that we got a small and brief peek into Lee Hwan’s mind once again in a conversation that he had with his dad. We got a small glance into it earlier in the drama and we revisited those dark and heartbreaking thoughts once again in the two latest episodes. Lee Hwan wanted to be a better Crown Prince for his deceased brother who he could be proud of but found it difficult and challenging to do. Was he doing enough as the Crown Prince? How was he doing as the Crown Prince? What else did he need to do in order to be the Crown Prince that would make his brother and his father proud? Lee Hwan broke down in tears in front of his father and also blamed him for making him feel ashamed of himself. He’s struggled to embrace the role as the Crown Prince and it doesn’t help that his father isn’t as supportive as he needed and wanted. It doesn’t help that the King is heavily influenced by Right State Councillor Cho so it could be easy for Lee Hwan to feel discouraged and beaten up over time.

But even through all the internal struggles and doubts that Lee Hwan may have about himself, I love how he has fulfilled his role as the Crown Prince so far in the ways that he wants to and not because of how others might expect or want him to. There’s high pressure that comes with the position and Lee Hwan has struggled at times, but we saw how he carries himself outside of the palace walls. He was kind to the villagers – whether that was to the little boy who was caught stealing or to the village couple – Man-deok and Bok-soon – whose restaurant Lee Hwan and his friends have frequented. Upon being in the village, he was exposed to the cruel reality that his people lived in. Upon reading the journal records about the Byeokcheon rebellion, he was devastated because he considered the people of Byeokcheon as his own and the thought of being cursed by his own people broke his heart. He wishes to be a Crown Prince that his people can rely on. This is just another insight into Lee Hwan’s mind and the pressure that weights heavy on his mind as the Crown Prince.

But amongst all the chaos and confusion and conflicts, there’s comfort in knowing that Lee Hwan is not alone. He has the support and loyalty of his close friends and allies including none other than Jae-yi. I’ve always enjoyed watching the two interact and spend time together and bicker over small things (although I do feel guilty at times watching how adorable they are together, haha). I think their interactions in episodes 11 and 12 might be the most adorable and wholesome piece just yet. I loved, loved, loved the little night stroll and walk that they went on together in episode 11. It was absolutely heart-fluttering how Lee Hwan wanted to spend more time with Jae-yi but was shy to acknowledge it so they just went around and around until she eventually reached the conclusion herself. Of course, Jae-yi went along with it from the start and she didn’t complain even after discovering the truth.

To add onto their relationship development that we saw in the 2 newest episodes, another scene between them that I enjoyed was in episode 12 when they both acknowledged and vowed to protect each other. Jae-yi understood that Lee Hwan saved her life and that she probably wouldn’t be alive by now if she was still on the run for her life. Therefore, she owes her life to Lee Hwan and will do whatever she has to protect him. Lee Hwan will also do the same for her and they both expressed these sentiments to each other. Every so often, the two continue to remind each other of their duties and loyalty to each other. Even when they haven’t forgotten or even when they back up their words with their actions, they continue to reaffirm their feelings and loyalty to each other and it’s heartwarming to see. They want to be on the same side, they want to be in each other’s lives, they both make the other a better person, and they work so well together. They both already are aware of this fact but they continue to repeat it to each other over and over again. I love how comfortable the two have become with each other. They really have come a long way.

Similar to the development we got between Jae-yi and Lee Hwan, we also got some more interactions between Seong-on and Jae-yi. Because I’m still a bit a bit conflicted on who to root for as a couple, I have to remind myself to not be too biased towards one couple or the other (and it also helps that the drama has plenty going on so I’m not always thinking about the romance). I like Lee Hwan and Jae-yi’s dynamic; they’re lot more informal and casual and relaxed around each other and they need each other in order to solve the mysteries plaguing both of their lives. But at the same time, there’s this little spark between Jae-yi and Seong-on that I just can’t ignore. Maybe it’s the fact that I know they’re supposed to be married that compelled me to feel this way about them or maybe it was due to the fact that they have some chemistry with each other. Regardless, it might not be a big, brightly lit spark but there’s something there between them. While our Crown Prince was trapped inside of his room, he came up with a plan that included Jae-yi and Seong-on setting out on a small trip to the village together. And Seong-on, being the kind man that he was, bought a ribbon for her that she was interested in (which, not to mention, made Lee Hwan a biiiit jealous once he found out, haha). Given that Seong-on isn’t aware of Jae-yi’s identity as the eunuch, their relationship is a lot more professional and formal. But I wonder when and how the drama plans to reveal Jae-yi’s identity to Seong-on. I can already imagine all the pain and angst that is going to come with it and I can’t wait.

Episodes 11 and 12 also featured another competition this time which meant more outside time for Lee Hwan (yay!). While watching the earlier parts in the drama, I have to admit that I was a bit sad for Lee Hwan (and Park Hyung-sik) who was stuck inside of the palace all the time. I get that it’s a part of his character and story, but still, I wanted to see more of him doing things instead of just sitting in his room repeatedly. Therefore, I was glad to watch Lee Hwan participate in a few more activities such as competitions and trainings with the military. In the most recent episodes, we got the return of Scholar Park once again (my favorite!) and an archery competition between Lee Hwan and the King. The two have such an interesting dynamic with each other and it sort of feels as if the King is testing Lee Hwan and they’re indirectly competing against each other. One thing I wished the drama did more of was hype up the competitions and activities that our Lee Hwan participated in. Along with giving us more context on what the competition is or how it’s going to be run, I want to hear more about its significance and the excitement that comes along with it. With the archery competition, there were a few brief mentions about it and then we just dived straight into the game. It was very pretty and cool and all, but I want to feel excited as a spectator. Our Crown Prince is finally allowed to step outside again! Where’s the excitement and celebration leading up to the game?! Haha.

With the two latest episodes, we also got more information and details on the Byeokcheon bandits and how surviving members of the group is closer than one might think. The restaurant owners in the village are a part of this group, but they aren’t the only ones. Jae-yi was able to retain a part of her memory on the day that some wedding gifts and the secret letter that was supposedly written by Lee Hwan was delivered to her house. The messenger in this case was none other than Tae-gang so it then begs the question of: who exactly is Tae-gang? He was also the bandit who wrestled Jae-yi onto the ground and aimed his bow and arrow at her at the end of episode 8. Does that mean he is also a part of the Byeokcheon rebellion group? What’s his role in all of this? Does this reveal of Tae-gang’s identity bring Jae-yi one step closer to solving the mysterious deaths of her family? At the end of episode 12, she realized that it wasn’t Sim-yeong who poisoned her family so then who exactly did it?

As I type out these questions and ponder on all the pieces to this overwhelming and confusing puzzle, it makes me intrigued as to how it’s all going to come together. How are all these characters related? It’s not just the people inside the palace that one has to worry about. There are also people outside those palace walls that are threatening. There are enemies hiding everywhere – some who are not as obvious and some who are. How will Lee Hwan to react to Jae-yi’s revelation of Tae-gang’s identity? Will he believe her or will he trust his bodyguard instead (why is this giving me ‘Crash Course in Romance’ nightmares? I hope this isn’t all that it seems made out to be). How will all the characters and stories – whether from a decade ago or in the present – mesh and come together? There’s so much to uncover and just as much to put together. How will it end for all our characters, especially for Jae-yi and Lee Hwan who remains in the center of it all?

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