This episode gives us a sneak peek into the past, which gives us (and Hwon) a deeper understanding of just how far this cover-up has gone. We also have some secrets revealed, some conspiracies formed, and some tender moments between our lovebirds. So what are you waiting for? Let’s go!
Hwon and Yeon Woo lay in bed in their jammies, talking about how great it is that they’re together. But it’s not a happy ending just yet. Hyung Sun sits between their two beds, blindfolded. Hyung Sun refuses to leave the two alone – who knows what kind of clandestine mischief those two could get into? But Hwon insists that he’s determined to be chaste until he and Yeon Woo are formally united. (And, I’m assuming, after he gets rid of Bo Kyung? Or is she just going sit by the sidelines as his spinster-wife forever?) Hyung Sun caves in after Yeon Woo explains that the lovers just want to make goo-goo eyes at each other all night.
Hwon promises Yeon Woo he won’t lay a finger on her. Instead, it’s Yeon Woo who reaches out and takes his hand. Awwwww.
Bo Kyung is informed that her spy in Hwon’s court has been transferred to another palace. In fact, all the ladies of his court have been replaced. Bo Kyung senses her husband is hiding something, but what?
Min Hwa runs across the courtyard, eager to share good news with her mother. Mama Heo is there, urging Min Hwa to slow down and take extra care of her body. So, she’s pregnant?! Finally!
Gyutae reports to Hwon that his father and the queen dowager visited Min Hwa on numerous occasions after Yeon Woo’s death. It’s not that unusual for a girl to be visited by her father and grandmother, but in this palace everyone is shady, so Hwon’s suspicions are raised. Gyutae also did a little research on spells. He explains that a straw effigy is usually used in casting curses, but an actual person can be used in its place, making the spell much more powerful.
Hwon remembers his comversation with the queen dowager, when she said that she was trying to protect those she loves the most. She also said Hwon’s father had his own reasons for wanting to keep the truth under wraps. Hwon slowly puts the pieces together and wonders why Min Hwa would do such a thing.
Min Hwa joins her mother in law in sharing the good news with her own mother. Min Hwa then excuses herself to go tell Yeom he’s going to be a dad. Before she leaves, Mom reminds Min Hwa to pay her respects to her brother. Ruh roh.
Hwon recalls a time when his deceitful father told him cryptically to forgive his equally deceitful little sister if he ever discovers her crimes. The late king told Hwon that there are enemies all around a king, and some are even his own family members, but he should forgive them (and help them cover up their shady dealings) and prevent a war within the royal family. Hwon also remembers how his little sister was crazy in love with Yeom, and would do anything to have him return her feelings.
While Hwon is figuring things out, he also realizes that Yeon Woo knew about Min Hwa’s involvement in her death this whole time. Now he knows why she pretended to not have her memory back. Oh man, this is a lot for Hwon to process. He probably needs to take an angry walk and brood.
But the brooding sesh will have to wait. There are more memories coming down the pike. Next Hwon observes himself, It’s A Wonderful Life style, begging his father to stop the marriage between Yeom and Min Hwa. Hwon knew that Yeom was meant to be an advisor to the king, and that would be impossible if he married the princess. His father drags him out of the throne room and chastises him for saying all these things in front of the ministers. Doesn’t he know how many people will be affected by his public outburst? Hwon wonders if being a king means that he has to sit by and watch while other people make decisions, and to shut off his emotions completely. Dad is basically like, “Yep.”
The king tells his son that as a king you have to lose one thing to gain another. Hwon wonders what his father has lost and gained, and Dad thinks to himself that he lost Yang Myung to protect Hwon, and lost Yeon Woo to protect Min Hwa. Looks to me like being king means you get to play favorites with your legitimate children, but that’s not the point. The point is that Hwon announces he’s going to be a different kind of king, following a righteous path. Young Hwon then opens the doors and stands face-to-face with Adult Hwon, and asks him when he lost his values. BURN.
Min Hwa is probably the last person Hwon wants to see, but here they are meeting face to face. Run away Min Hwa! It’s a trap! Think of your zygote! Hwon cuts right to the chase and asks his sister why she did such horrible things. Was Yeom really that important to her? Min Hwa plays dumb, but Hwon keeps pushing. Finally Min Hwa begs Hwon not to tell Yeom, and says she will accept any punishment. That’s as good as a confession, and Hwon looks like he’s about to have an emotional breakdown (wouldn’t you?). He tells Min Hwa to look him in the eye and asks her, “How could you do such a thing?”
This is total déjà vu for Min Hwa, who says their father looked at her with the same expression, and asked the same question, eight years ago. Flashback time! Min Hwa begs her father for forgiveness, and immediately throws Grandma under the bus (where she belongs). The king grabs his daughter and tells her she must take this secret to the grave.
Back in the present, everyone’s crying. Even Yeon Woo, who is still hiding behind the screen, getting to listen in on all of Hwon’s business. Just as Min Hwa is gaining my (and possibly Hwon’s) sympathy, her face goes blank and emotionless like a serial killer confessing his crimes, and says that if given the chance, she would do it all over again. She would have Yeom as her husband, no matter what. What happened to the Min Hwa I loved?! Has this baby made her crazy? Does she now have black magic embedded in her soul?
Hwon tells Min Hwa she must be punished, and she tells him she will accept any punishment. But, she adds in a completely evil genius-type move, “please don’t punish my baby.” Oh jeez. And apparently Min Hwa is going to tell everyone about this baby before telling her husband?
Min Hwa comes home to Yeom, who is overjoyed to (be the last to) hear about the baby. Min Hwa looks sullen, however, and tells Yeom that she needs to confess something. She sobs and can’t quite get the words out, not that I ever believed she’d actually confess to basically killing two members of her husband’s immediate family. Yeom interrupts his wife and thanks her and tells her he will now love her more than ever. Oh, Yeom. Save it for the letters you write her while she rots in prison.
Like a true stalker, Seol is watching this whole scene from behind the wall. She comes home crying, just as Jan Shil is possessed by her shaman powers and announces that the baby will be a boy. She adds that he’ll be smart like his father, and do great things for the country. Comforting! Jan Shil snaps out of her trance and is embarrassed to see that she’s made Seol break down in sobs. Seol cries that she wishes she never knew the truth – now she has to live knowing that her first love has a baby with the woman that killed his sister.
Hwon tells Yeon Woo that he can’t face her now that he knows his own family is responsible for her death. Yeon Woo comes out of hiding anyway, and tells Hwon that this is what she feared would happen. Hwon admits that he blames himself for everything that’s happened to Yeon Woo. She asks him to cover up this whole fiasco. She knows that her brother couldn’t handle the truth. She wants to spare him the pain she’s had to endure.
Hwon suggests that the queen dowager go spend some time in a remote palace. You know, for her health. The QD is suspicious, but Hwon tells her she can either go rest in the countryside, or stick around and be tried for her crimes. He tells her he knows everything, and instead of insisting she’s innocent, the QD just asks, “Where’s your proof?” Hwon tells her not to confuse him with his father – he’s going to get justice for what was done, even if it means convicting his own family members.
The queen dowager is maaad. She screams at Hwon, who has left the room but waits outside the door, that she is the one responsible for him having power. She got blood on her hands to make sure he could take the throne. She screams so much that she passes out.
The Yoon Squad learns of the QD’s essential banishment, and they realize that Hwon must know everything. No one is safe, and the ministers will surely lose their positions. Yoon decides that the only way they can protect themselves is to go on the offensive.
Yang Myung’s shoulder has healed, and it’s time for him to leave his mom’s side. She tells him that she will support whatever decisions he makes, and that eventually his sadness will subside and he will find a new love. Awww, what a good mom.
Yang Myung returns home to find his gang of followers waiting outside his door. He invited the noblemen in and listens to their concerns: the king is unwell, and they are worried about the future of the kingdom. Yang Myung lazily explains that the king is young and his health will surely improve over time. Sure, sure, the noblemen agree, but they want to have a backup plan, just in case.
Yang Myung plays along, but then pulls out a sword and threatens to behead each of the men for being traitors. The noblemen leave, but one goes to another secret meeting. He was sure Yang Myung was on their side – after all, he did invite them in – but then he threatened to lop off their heads. And look who he’s reporting all this to: YOON! The lackey reports that Yang Myung has a message for the leader of this gang: Stop sending minions to do his dirty work. If he wants Yang Myung’s attention, he needs to say it himself, face to face.
Bo Kyung sees her mom entering the palace, but hides when Yoon steps in and asks his own wife why she’s there (he insists she’s at the palace way too often). Mom explains that she brought her niece to be a companion to the queen. The niece is ambitious, which Yoon admires. They notice Bo Kyung, and Yoon scowls at his daughter and quickly leaves.
Bo Kyung is wary of this new companion. She worries that her father will replace her with a queen that he can more easily control. She also tells her mother that Yoon would be totally willing and capable of replacing the king as well.
Yoon goes to visit Yang Myung. Yang Myung knows exactly why Yoon is there, and tells him to cut to the chase. The two dance around the subject of Yang Myung taking the throne, with Yoon insisting Yang Myung is perfect for the job, and Yang Myung slyly calling Yoon a traitor. Yang Myung finally tells Yoon straight out that he better stop this monkey business or he’ll report Yoon to the king.
Yang Myung says that even if he wanted to dethrone the king, there is no justification. Au contraire, counters Yoon, the king has failed to produce an heir and had a close personal relationship with a shaman. Yang Myung then reveals that he knows all about that shaman, or should he say, the princess? Yoon is surprised to discover that Yang Myung knows the truth, and asks how he could remain loyal to the king.
Hwon gives Gyutae a to-do list and sends him on his way. The attack has begun. Hwon says that soon the enemy will retaliate and spread lies about him, so he has to be ready. Yeon Woo blames herself for adding to the king’s problems, but Hwon insists that he would never sit by and let injustices happen. He adds that soon a certain rumor will be spreading through town.
Hwon takes Yeon Woo outside to present her with a gift that he’s hidden. Yeon Woo searches, but she can’t find anything. Cornily enough, the gift is Hwon himself. Hwon hugs Yeon Woo and tells her that she’s given him her heart, so in return he’ll give her everything.
Yoon is still trying to convince Yang Myung to join his revolution. He tries using Yang Myung’s mistreatment by his father and jealousy of his brother as motivators, but Yang Myung insists that’s not what he’s after. No, the only things Yang Myung wants are his rightful claim to a royal burial… and Yeon Woo.
A Few Thoughts…
Oh man, has Yang Myung joined the Yoon Squad? Is he a bad guy now? I’m not sure, but I am sure that Min Hwa is totally rotten to the core. How could she go from my favorite character to someone I completely despise?! And when exactly did she become so heartless? I bet that baby she’s carrying is going to come out half demon. With horns.
This episode also made me feel a little bad for Bo Kyung. I mean, she’s totally being painted as a paranoid cuckoo, but in fact she’s very observant and sees things for what they really are. She knew Wol was Yeon Woo before anyone else. She knows not only that her father is evil, but just what he’s capable of. She knows that her time as queen could very well be coming to a close. And yet, she can’t get anyone to be on her side. Look, I’m shipping Yeon Woo and Hwon all the way, but I just wish Bo Kyung had at least one friend to hold her hand while she has yet another nervous breakdown.