Oh ho ho, this drama continues to get more and more intense and the cycle that the show had been repeating the past 8 weeks continues. Once every few weeks, we get a pair of episodes that slows down and reels us back in on Jae-yi and Lee Hwan’s relationship only to amp it up to greater heights the following week. This week’s episodes was no exception and there were quite a few secrets or important details that were revealed in episodes 15 and 16 — so much that I had to even write notes down just so I could remember.
One of the biggest things I took away from this week’s episodes was the way that the drama was setting up for the future. Jae-yi and Lee Hwan reconnected on what a life after everything looked like and what they envisioned their life would look like. Jae-yi hoped that she’d be able to live alone and also teach kids the Korean alphabet. From time to time, she’ll think of Lee Hwan who would hopefully be the King at that time and be reminded of him in small little ways. Lee Hwan himself will do the same and be reminded of Jae-yi every time he interacts with an eunuch who’s haughty and fierce like Jae-yi. He even went as far as to go house searching and prepare a house for Jae-yi to live in – confident that he and Jae-yi will come out of this alive and that they’ll be able to clear their names and reputations.
I’m not sure about you but these talks and conversations about a future where Jae-yi and Lee Hwan have cleared their names and move forward from all of this chaos and commotion feels bittersweet to me. I want to see them both survive and thrive after everything because that’s what they deserve after all that they’ve endured and because they are innocent in all of this. It was nice to see them chat about their dreams and hopes for the future. But at the same time, it was bitter in that Jae-yi and Lee Hwan won’t be able to stay together forever. Jae-yi won’t be able to role play as an eunuch once all of this is resolved and she’ll go back to living a new chapter in her life where 1) she’s innocent and 2) she’s not next to the Crown Prince’s side every single day of her life. Jae-yi and Lee Hwan have been by each other’s side for so long this during this time that it will look and feel weird when they have to be separated. Is there a possible future where the two stay together as a couple or are as friends? Where maybe they can continue to maintain their friendship or relationship with each other? Is it possible for the two to keep in touch and not lose the strong connection that they have with each other?
And it’s this conflict between acting on one’s feelings and emotions versus taking responsibility as the King of the country that Lee Hwan wrestled with in this week’s episodes. I joked around at one point that it felt as if he was suffering a life crisis in which he sort of was. He threw away the bracelet that he intended on giving to Jae-yi as a gift, claiming that he was throwing away his heart (feelings) as a result. Lee Hwan’s father has set up a future where Lee Hwan will be able to maintain his position as the King with the support and protection of the Chief State Councilor Kim and Left State Councilor Han once his father is gone. But with that comes not being able to be with the person who he loves and wants by his side: Jae-yi. Lee Hwan’s deceased brother is dear to him so he wants to make his brother proud by creating a Joseon where he’s a reliable King who serves his people. Lee Hwan wants to do his best in the Royal Palace and as a member of the Royal Family. But that huge pressure and responsibility comes with having to give up things or having to make sacrifices such as a relationship with Jae-yi. It was heartbreaking to watch Lee Hwan go back and forth on this conflict, taking his anger out on Jae-yi or throwing away the bracelet that he one day imagined he would gift to her.
As for Jae-yi, it was also difficult for her because she was well aware of the Crown Princess selection process so that prevented her from expressing her feelings for our (dimwitted) Crown Prince. It’s been hilarious watching her give him tons and tons of hints as to who the man she has feelings for is.. in front of the man who she has feelings for! Haha. As frustrating as it is because a part of me just wants Jae-yi to confess to Lee Hwan and tell him already, a part of me also understands why she’s hesitant on telling him the truth. Confessing to Lee Hwan would only make things more complicated as Lee Hwan is already conflicted on having to let go of an idea and future where he isn’t with Jae-yi. Just imagine how much more challenging it’d be if he was aware that Jae-yi liked him? What would he do then?
This week’s episodes also gave us much more insight, information, and answers on the rest of our characters. Myeong-jin has finally figured out the real identities of his friends (haha) which was entertaining and funny to watch. We all knew he was going to figure out eventually and it was quite the show once he discovered their identities. Thanks to Myeong-jin, we also learned that Tae-gang, indeed, has a twin. So there’s not just one Tae-gang but two! Two! One working with the Crown Prince and then the other working as a secret assassin who I assume is somehow related to the Byeokcheon Rebellion. And it is also this twin who is conspiring with the Queen of the palace to carry out missions and orders – such as the most recent order which was to assassinate Princess Ha-yeon. Are the Tae-gang twins working together or are they doing two completely separate things?
Speaking of the Queen of the palace, there’s also a possibility that she’s the wife of Mr. Song – the leader of the Byeokcheon rebellion from a decade ago (I say possibility because that’s what the drama is making it out to be butttt there’s always a small part of me that stays doubtful about everything). If that truly is the case, then how exactly was she able to enter the palace as the Queen? How could she be the niece of Right State Councilor Cho but also the wife of the Song Family? She wants to kill her Uncle but she also wants to kill Princess Ha-yeon in an effort to protect her son, the Grand Prince, who shared an important secret with the both of them: he was the one who fed the first Crown Prince the peach that ultimately killed him. Annnnnd it was Right State Councilor Cho who gave the Grand Prince the peach and told him to share it with the first Crown Prince. Along with all of this, even the Crown Princess selection was gaining traction. Seong-on’s cousin is in the lead as the person to be selected for the position, but her mother isn’t alive and one of the requirements for the Crown Princess is that both of her parents have to be alive. Soooo yeah. There was quite a lot that happened in episodes 15 and 16 that will now pave the way for the villains in this drama to be taken down.
And the intriguing thing is: there are certain characters in this drama who aren’t all exactly black and white. Obviously, there’s Right State Councilor Cho who’s the primary villain. But the Queen herself isn’t all that innocent and kind. Princess Ha-yeon’s intentions towards you and your son were kind and genuine and then you decide to have the evil Tae-gang twin assassinate and kill her off? But at the same time, this is all a part of the Queen’s plan in cementing the Song Family to destroy the Lee Family. Then there’s also the other Tae-gang twin who’s working with the Queen to assassinate Princess Ha-yeon and whatnot. Right State Councilor Cho might feel as if he’s the most powerful one in this situation and that he has plenty of tricks up his sleeves to conquer. Little does he know there are other people near him who can also inflict just as much damage to him and to others.
Another important detail that was revealed was the person behind the poison that ultimately killed Jae-yi’s family. It turned out to be Sim-yeong who gave Jae-yi a bracelet that contained the poison inside which he then secretly unlocked on that day that her family died. But why did Sim-yeong do this? Why did Sim-yeong want to murder her family? And more importantly, what is it with this drama and bracelets? Haha. There’s the bracelet that Sim-yeong gave Jae-yi and then there’s also the bracelet that Lee Hwan bought that he originally intended to give to Jae-yi. This drama seems to love bracelets, it’s quite a fascinating thing. And it’s even more interesting that a bracelet could contain a secret hole or pocket where you can put something as dangerous as poison inside without someone knowing. How alarming and scary.
So just what exactly is going on? Who else will get killed? I couldn’t help but ponder these questions as I finished episode 16. All the talks about the future and about a life where Jae-yi lives alone and Lee Hwan is the King made me worry (the over thinker in me definitely jumped out!). Is everyone going to make it out alive in this drama? Will Jae-yi and Lee Hwan both survive by the end of this drama? Maybe I was just overthinking and overreacting to everything but there were some scenes that gave off ominous vibes. So many lives were lost and killed so far and my biggest fear is that one of the good characters in this drama will also lose their precious life in the act of protecting their loved ones (
why do I have a feeling it might be Seong-on….). But I’m going to keep my hopes up and my optimism alive. No one’s good is going to die and everyone will get their happy ending after all of this is resolved once and for all. Right.. right?!