[Discuss Away!] Our Blooming Youth: Episodes 17-18

It’s hard to believe that we only have 2 more episodes to go and that the finale is almost here. The last 18 hours has been a wild ride with lots of twists, mysteries, clues, stories, and puzzle pieces. Slowly but surely, those pieces to the puzzle are coming together to form a big vision and picture. The drama has provided answers and clues along the way, but there has also been just as many questions that come up. With only two more episodes to go, I’m still left pondering and wondering: just how exactly will this end for our characters?

There’s quite a lot to unpack and process with this week’s episodes but the first major event that stood out to me was Seong-on’s discovery of Jae-yi’s identity. I actually had forgotten that this was going to be a thing; I had been so occupied with all the other hundred things happening in the drama that I completely forgot that Seong-on still didn’t know the truth about Jae-yi! LOL. Even though this was the last thing on my mind going into this episode, it was still just as heartbreaking to watch Seong-on confront Jae-yi about the truth. Through the honest conversation with Jae-yi, Seong-on learned that: 1) his fiancée had been in the palace the entire time right under his nose and that 2) his fiancée was in love with someone else and wished to no longer be his wife and 3) the person his fiancée was in love with is none other than his best friend, the Crown Prince. It was quite the bombshell for Seong-on and my heart broke for him as he had to come to terms with the brutal and hurtful truth. It’s a lot for him to process at the moment because there were many layers to this identity reveal, but the most difficult thing for him to do will be to stop living in the past and to let it all go. It’s much easier said than done and it will hurt incredibly but there’s not much else he can do.

The entire situation also makes me conflicted because I understand where our three characters are coming from. Jae-yi has her own right to make her own decisions and if she doesn’t want to go back her life as Seong-on’s fiancee (because then that means that she would, to an extent, have to return to a life where she’s the old Min Jae-yi which she doesn’t want), then that’s up to her and she has the right to feel that way and to make that decision. I get it and I want the best for Jae-yi and I see nothing wrong with the decision that she made. She wants to let go and move forward from her painful and traumatic past. But at the same time, I also feel bad for Seong-on in that he was left in the dark this entire time about Jae-yi’s identity. Granted, Jae-yi and Lee Hwan had to keep her identity and their relationship a secret from everyone else because they were on a secret mission just between the two of them (and plus, she technically was still on the run for being framed for murdering her family). Revealing Jae-yi’s identity to anyone would have put both her and Lee Hwan’s lives at risk.

But I still felt for Seong-on who had no clue or idea about any of this and even had conversations with Lee Hwan about Jae-yi who was in the palace the whole time next to Lee Hwan’s side. Seong-on was not entitled to knowing about Jae-yi and Jae-yi and Lee Hwan didn’t have to tell him anything if they didn’t want to, but I also get why he would feel betrayed by them (if that is how he truly feels). Lee Hwan knew the entire time about Jae-yi and kept her by his side while also developing romantic feelings for her, but he also promised Seong-on that he would return Jae-yi back to him once she was proven innocent. Seong-on remained patient and optimistic; he was hopeful that he would see the day where Jae-yi would be alive and they could resume their lives as a married couple. Fast forward to the present, time has past and things just aren’t the same anymore. Jae-yi and Lee Hwan spent tons of time together and formed a relationship where romantic feelings were involved. They didn’t say anything to Seong-on even though they were both right in front of his eyes the entire time. Seong-on is not entitled to Jae-yi and her love and should not force her to become his wife. He should respect her decision. But this relationship between the three of them was so complicated and complex with many different layers to it. Would anything have changed if Jae-yi and Lee Hwan was honest to Seong-on just a tad bit earlier?

I also initially felt as if this scene was anti-climatic because Jae-yi and Seong-on went straight into talking about it as if it was no big deal, but then I remembered that the drama never really built up to it anyways and had even sort of forgot about them so I sort of just accepted the moment for what it was. In a way, I liked that this reveal wasn’t so makjang and that the two talked things out with each other instead of dragging it on. Granted, there’s only two more episodes to go so it’s not as if the drama could devote a whole lot of time to these two. In another universe, I’d be incredibly interested in watching a drama where Jae-yi and Seong-on are the main characters instead (I still love you though, Crown Prince). Jae-yi framed as the murderer of her family’s deaths but she somehow leads her own investigation in discovering the truth to prove her innocence. While Jae-yi is on the run and hides her identity, Seong-on also investigates the deaths separately on his own to prove his fiancée’s innocence while waiting optimistically for her return. Then they eventually reunite and solve the mystery together. Can you just imagine the yearning and pining and angst that would happen in this version of the drama? It would simply be too good to be true.

It’s been a while since the Song Family had declared war against the Royal Family but the curse in the ghost letter is slowly being brought to life. It’s frightening just how malicious and meticulous the Queen is in executing the parts in the ghost letter. She killed the Crown Princess so that Lee Hwan wouldn’t have any children and would die alone. She revealed the truth about Jae-yi’s identity to Seong-on and pinned the Crown Prince as the bad guy who kept it a secret all along so that Seong-on would feel betrayed, and thus, want to betray his best friend. We also learned that the Grand Prince is the son of the Queen and the leader of the Byeokcheon Rebellion, Song. Jae-yi’s dad was well aware of this and wrote it in a letter that was supposed to be delivered to Left State Councilor Han originally but due to certain circumstances was only able to be delivered recently. That could explain as to why Jae-yi’s family was killed. Jae-yi’s Dad was aware of this truth that would put the Queen and her team’s plans in jeopardy and at risk. Now the Crown Prince knows that the Grand Prince is in fact not his half-sibling and that the Queen is his enemy. It’s a reality and fact that Lee Hwan doesn’t want to face; he didn’t want to accept the fact that the Queen played a part in all of this and that his family was not all that innocent as he thought. There are many people within the palace who are evil and some of them are just a little bit more secretive and discreet at hiding it – the Queen being one of them. Lee Hwan is going have to step up big time and confront people within the palace about everything that has come to light. He doesn’t have any other choice.

There were two characters who was given the spotlight in this week’s episodes: Tae-gang and his (evil) twin brother, Tae-san. We learned more about their back story, their relationship, and their upbringing. While Tae-gang went on to form a relationship with Lee Hwan and Seong-on, Tae-san – who Tae-gang thought had died – ended up alive. The two were also victims of the Byeokcheon Rebellion from a decade ago which explained why Tae-san partnered with the Queen to execute her demands (good thing there’s Seong-on who protected the Princess and saved her life as well as the Grand Prince!! Plus, he was soooo swoony and sexy the way he swooped in to save the Princess in episode 17. That’s my Sergeant!!). We also learned that Tae-gang had no idea his brother was alive this entire time so they were not working together. That then leads me to my next point..

I’ve been generally positive and optimistic about ‘Our Blooming Youth’ because there’s not too many things for me to nitpick. I’ve enjoyed this drama even as slow-paced as it has been (which I understand could be frustrating or irritating to some) and I’ve been able to follow along with all the clues and hints and stories for the most part. But there were two things in particular that popped up in my mind after watching this week’s episodes: Tae-san wandering around in the palace and then 2) Ga-ram finally and suddenly recalling memories of what happened on the day that Jae-yi’s family died. It’s not a big deal because the drama needed to make things work this way for everything else to happen, but I’m fascinated by how easy it was for Tae-san to roam around in the palace. Did nobody ever at one point encounter Tae-san and then Tae-gang a couple of minutes apart? Like did no one else suspect or notice anything? Were there specific times and days where Tae-san was able to be in the palace and walk around? It seemed a bit odd that he was able to go in and out of the palace (and even go as far as to go into Jae-yi’s room to look around) when Tae-gang is also in the palace just as much (although he’s at the Crown Prince’s headquarters the majority of the time but still). Knowing my luck, I would have ran into Tae-san and then ran into Tae-gang three minutes later and be incredibly confused at the difference in their demeanor, attitude, and personality.

In episode 17, Ga-ram was proactive in that she recalled what happened in the moments leading up to Jae-yi’s family’s deaths. She remembered how Jae-yi’s dad was writing or painting on some piece of paper. Though she didn’t know what exactly it was that he was working on, she brought this memory to the attention of her squad (Myeong-jin, Scholar Park (hahaha), and Jae-yi). From there, Scholar Park and Jae-yi concluded that it was a secret letter that only the sender and recipient of the letter can read and decipher. And then from there, they learned that the secret letter was supposed to be sent to Left State Councilor Han. So with that being said, I wished Ga-ram had done this whole recalling her memory thing a little bit earlier. She already knew that Jae-yi was having trouble remembering and recalling accurate details of her memories. They had a brief conversation about it back in episode 13. If Ga-ram was aware of this, I wished she had started the process of recalling her own memories a lot earlier. It would have sped up the process so much faster and they could have all reached this conclusion a lot quicker.

I get that there were a hundred other things happening that was on their minds and that the group was dealing with, but Ga-ram recalling this specific memory at this point in the drama just seemed too convenient for my liking. All of a sudden, Ga-ram now finally remembers how Jae-yi’s Dad was drafting something up on a piece of paper? And the content in the letter contained one of the most important details about the Queen and the Grand Prince and also revealed the potential reason as to why Jae-yi’s family died? This is less about Ga-ram than it is about the fault in the writing and, therefore, the pacing. I liked that Ga-ram contributed by recalling her memories and what she saw on that specific day. But why did it take us this long for her to finally do that? It’s not as if there was some kind of factor preventing Ga-ram from doing so. All she did was sit down and think back to that day and time. We could have been a few steps closer to the ending by now if the drama had introduced the memory about the coded letter written by Jae-yi’s dad earlier into the show.

As we head into finale week, there’s still a few questions and thoughts I have about everything. In addition to seeing everything else unfold, I really hope that 1) no one dies by the end of this drama (but seeing as to how lives has been lost and how dramatic this drama is, I’m afraid someone probably will) and 2) Seong-on does not betray Lee Hwan. The two had made up and made amends and were working so well together. I get that Seong-on is hurt, but I wonder if Lee Hwan’s actions has made him feel so betrayed that he will get back at the Crown Prince and betray him too. Will that part of the ghost letter curse become true? Jae-yi had already defended Lee Hwan in her conversation with Seong-on, but will Seong-on believe her? Or has he lost all trust in Lee Hwan and Jae-yi and not listen to either of them? If he does betray Lee Hwan like the curse in the ghost letter indicates, how exactly will he do that? I hope Seong-on never gets to that point, but I can see a world where he betrays Lee Hwan initially (by either partnering with the Queen or refusing to offer his assistance to Lee Hwan) and then at the last minute sacrifice his life to protect Lee Hwan out of loyalty. They were childhood friends after all and even if their friendship wasn’t smooth or pretty the entire time, it’s clear that they both care about each other.

It’s sad that I’m still on the edge of my seat heading into the finale and that not everything has been settled or cleared just yet. I was hoping that the last two episodes would be dedicated to wrapping things up for our characters in a way that wouldn’t feel rushed or like a cheap cop-out. This leaves me to feel pessimistic that the ending will be rushed and that it will be a lot more heartbreaking and devastating than I would hope. The drama has been engaging and has delivered for the most part so far, but with only two more episodes to go, we still haven’t seen everything just yet. So once again, I ask myself: just how exactly will this all end for everyone?

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