The two episodes mark two crucial turning points; Gwanghae’s abandonment of the human for the king and the appearance of adult Cheongmyung and Joo Won.
Gwanghae finds out that his two trusted followers were behind his father’s death and that Haneum had known about it all along. He offers Haneum his hand again but Haneum refuses it. Facing the dilemma of betrayal, loneliness and saving his throne, Gwanghae mentally and emotionally goes through a tough battle. We see him struggling and can’t help marveling at the range of emotions he portrays in mere seconds in his voice and face. The moments that feels like eternity between processing the situation he finds himself in and taking that harsh and life-turning decision of abandoning his humanity for the throne are laden with so many conflicted emotions. And we can feel whatever he feels. Then the insane change in his eyes after he holds hands with the evil followers and lets go of Haneum’s hand kills me. All the confusion and suffering his eyes has carried disappear into a determined and cynical look. The moment he can’t handle the pain his humanity gives him, he decides to get rid of that humanity. And Cha Seung Won nails the role completely.
Lee Yeon Hee is here to take over Cheong Myung’s role. After Cheong Myung knows about her brother’s death, her femininity gets exposed and Ja Gyung (the pleasant surprise Gong Myung; who obviously has tagged along because of Seo Kang Joon) talks some sense to her, Cheong Myung decides to live on as a slave and wait for the right time to return to Joseon and fulfill her revenge. She’s grown up to be talented in business and she’s still brave and bold. Though she’s too beautiful to be convincing as a boy (I loved it when Ja Gyung told her that she’s too feminine not to look as a woman), the haircut and the clothes do fit her pretty well.
After young Hong Joo Won finds in the records that the princess’ body has not been found, he revives and gets motivated. He insists on becoming an officer in the weaponry bureau to be close to the king he despises. He’s growing to be the king’s match -nobody can actually be Cha Seung Won’s match but- by speaking up and challenging that authority. Gwanghae keeps him close because he knows he’ll prove useful, and because ‘there’s nothing he can’t do after holding hands with the people who killed his father.’ Gwanghae’s encounters with Joo Won will apparently be my favourite parts of the drama. Gwanghae’s provoking questions, remarks and tasks will bring his doom but I’m enjoying them. So Joo Won is on his way to fulfill his promise to Cheong Myung by taking Gwanghae’s words; ‘you can’t do anything by anger only. You need to calm that anger down then use it to stab me in the back’, to heart.
The villain Kang Joo Sun is working hard on his plan to control the country. His followers call him ‘your majesty’. He meddles in sulfur smuggling deals; buys the sulfur and dumps it in the sea to prevent Gwanghae from pursuing his plan for strong weaponry. He is conspiring with the Chinese as well. His evil grin and arrogance show more of his disillusionment.
Happy things about the two episodes:
The appearances of Gong Myung, Seo Kang Joon, Lee Yeon Hee and Park Won Sang made me glad. Their appearance will be great and the greatest thing about it is that Jeong Wung In’s time will lessen hurray!!
Sad things about the two episodes:
Haneum’s death broke my heart. I was so in love with his character and Lee Sung Min’s performance. It didn’t even occur to me that he’d die. But his death explains why his picture was not in the main poster.
The adults appearance is lessening Cha Seung Won’s time. I love you guys but I love him more damn it!
Things to anticipate:
What would Gae Shil’s crazy love and loyalty for Gwanghae bring more? How would Queen Dowager fulfill her vow of revenge? What would Cheong Myung’s slave name; Hwa Yi which means the child of fire, add to the story? How would Gwanghae act after the ray of goodness; Haneum, left his side?!
The two episodes showed us again the ugly reality of sulfur mines and the slaves lives there. How different narratives of the same story alter the truth and affect people’s life. What’s the point of living, to be someone or just to survive? If you can’t be that person, shall you just die? Is politics about gaining everything or losing everything? In order to gain power, are there certain things that can’t be helped? Doesn’t that make it barbaric?! What’s power and what’s oppression? How clear is the line between power and abstract ideology? Is there justice or is it only about smaller injustice and bigger injustice?! How deep should we believe in people’s power to overcome fate?! For a king, and for us, what do emotions mean on the way to our dreams and ambitions?