This episode made me sad. But it also made me interested in seeing where this story takes us next. More on my case of the sads after the recap. For now let’s get down to business!
Hwon has woken up to find Wol leaning over him. He pins her down and demands to know who sent her. He calls for Hyung Sun to light every candle he can find – Hwon’s about to do some interrogating. The weird thing is, no one steps up to explain the situation to Hwon. I get that he’s the king, and you don’t just go telling the king what’s what, but he’s explicitly asking to be filled in. So why not just tell him?
Anyway, Hwon is convinced Wol is a spy sent by the Yoon Squad to kill him in his sleep. (Okay, if she was there to kill him, why didn’t Woon kill HER? If someone’s in trouble, shouldn’t it be Woon?) Hwon stares at Wol and finally recognizes her, just as the diviner who turned Wol into a talisman shows up and explains things. He tells Hwon that Wol is more like an object than a person, and he should think of her as such. Hwon strikes back by asking why an “object” was reaching out and touching him while he slept.
Wol explains that she was trying to give the king some peace, at least while he slept. He has the weight of the nation on his shoulders, and agony in his heart, and she wanted to relieve him of that stress in whatever way she could. Hwon wonders how Wol could know about his heartache, and she tells him that she heard him call Yeon Woo’s name in his sleep. Hwon thinks to himself that this woman couldn’t possibly be Yeon Woo, or she would have responded to him calling her name (I don’t follow this logic. She clearly has no idea who he is, and she told him she doesn’t HAVE a name. If she were pretending she wasn’t Yeon Woo, she would have given a fake name, not said that she doesn’t have a name. Put on your thinking cap, Hwon!)
He snaps back to attention and orders Wol to be banished from the palace immediately. He coldly watches her go, still trying to convince himself that she’s not Yeon Woo, and he should get ahold of his hopeful heart.
Wol is locked in a room, like she always seems to be, and quickly panics and bangs on the door for help. She remembers Hwon referring to her as nothing but an object, and her heart sinks. Hwon sits in his room, remembering Wol’s hand on his forehead.
Yang Myung is strolling toward the palace, eavesdropping to get some scoop on what happened to Wol. He runs into the diviner, who has no poker face whatsoever, and gets him to admit to taking Wol. The diviner tells Yang Myung that they sent her far away, but he doesn’t know where. He actually gets away with this lie, surprisingly. Looks like it’s one step forward, two steps back for Yang Myung.
Yang Myung then runs into his grandmother and the queen mother. They seem to be in a hurry and Yang Myung wonders if there is something wrong with Hwon. The Queen Dowager implies that Yang Myung is only interested in Hwon’s condition because he wants to take over the throne. Hwon’s mom defends Yang Myung, saying that he is just worried about his brother, which makes her an even classier lady in my eyes. The QD ignores her daughter in law, and tells Yang Myung that she’ll have to be dead before he’s allowed to be king.
Yang Myung throws decorum to the wind and tells the QD that she’s really just worried that Hwon doesn’t have an heir. She’s shocked at his brazenness, and he continues, saying that she’ll have to live to 100 to get her heir, and Yang Myung will probably outlive her, so she’ll be nervous about the fate of the kingdom for the rest of her life. He adds that he hopes she’ll live a long life, and smiles. Once he’s turned away from the queens, though, his expression turns serious. (Does this mean Hwon learned his grin-to-grimace trick from his hyung?)
The queens check in on Hwon, and he assures them that he’s in good health. The Queen Dowager again tells him that Yang Myung is gunning for the throne, and he needs to get himself an heir – fast. In the QD’s eyes, Yang Myung’s very existence is a threat to the throne. I’ve heard of playing favorites, but the Queen Dowager takes it to an extreme. Remember, Yang Myung is just as much her grandson as Hwon.
Yang Myung visits his mom, who has left the palace and is studying to become a monk. She comments on how she’s been unable to shave her head yet, and Yang Myung tells her not to. After all, some misfortune may befall Hwon and she could end up becoming the Queen Dowager. Mom is shocked at her son’s words and tells him he cannot speak this way. He is only safe if the king is safe. Yang Myung tells her he knows – she’s only been telling him this his entire life.
Yang Myung asks his mother if she believes in reincarnation. He tells her that if reincarnation is possible, there’s one person he’d like to meet. But, he wonders, what if she doesn’t remember him? What if she chooses another over him yet again? With his eyes welling up with tears, Yang Myung tells his mother that his only worry is that he will meet Yeon Woo again, and he will lose her again.
Hwon sits with Woon, and asks him if he thinks Yang Myung is a threat. Woon is his hyung’s old pal, after all. Woon asks the king if he thinks Yang Myung is a threat, and Hwon answers no. Hwon laughs to himself and says it’s funny how he has to treat his own brother as an enemy to keep the throne. Hwon remembers Wol telling him that she wanted to ease his mind of all his troubles, and he asks Woon to check on her.
Wol is asleep in her little prison, and she looks to be having some upsetting dreams. Someone is calling Yeon Woo’s name over and over, and it turns out to be Yeon Woo’s mom, who is also having bad dreams. Mom wakes up and finds Yeon Woo by her side. She asks her daughter if her death was peaceful, and if she’s all right. Yeon Woo tells her to always take care of herself. Yeon Woo’s mom wakes up again from her dream within a dream. Cut to Wol, still asleep, calling for her mom while she dreams.
Seol begs Nok Young to do something about Wol’s imprisonment. After all, explains Seol, it’s Nok Young’s fault Wol has panic attacks when she’s in tight, dark spaces. Seol suggests that Nok Young tell the king the truth about Wol – that she’s really Yeon Woo – and Nok Young yells at her to never speak those words again. Nok Young says that she is working on a plan…
Yeom stands in front of his old family home, thinking of Yeon Woo. He hears cries coming from inside, and goes in to find his mother sobbing on the floor. He asks what’s wrong, and she tells him that she saw Yeon Woo in her dream, and it seemed like her daughter needed to tell her something, but couldn’t. Yeom asks Min Hwa to take care of his grieving mother while he goes to make sure the old house is locked up.
It’s Dream of Yeon Woo Night in the palace, and Bo Kyung is next in line. She dreams of Yeon Woo in her queen clothes and wakes with a start, wondering why Yeon Woo has invaded Bo Kyung’s dreams.
Hwon also has a restless night - he can’t stop thinking about Wol. He wakes up in the morning and is a big grumpus to the servants, complaining about the stew they served him. The ladies are taken aback, since that stew got such a joyful, un-Hwon-like reaction from the king. Looks like he’s back to his mean old self. The ladies reminisce about Hwon’s beautiful smile, until they notice that the queen has overheard them. Normally, the queen would chastise these women for speaking in such a way about her husband, but she puts on a sweet (fake) smile and says she’s just happy to hear the king is feeling better.
But Bo Kyung runs to the queen mother and begs her to allow Bo Kyung to be by the king’s side whenever she wants. Bo Kyung is worried about the rumors that Hwon’s sudden good health is the result of him hooking up with a mysterious young lady. Hwon’s mother tells her there’s nothing to worry about, and the diviners and shamans both agree Bo Kyung should not see the king until their consummation date. The queen mother also tells Bo Kyung about the shaman/talisman that has been staying by the king to absorb evil. Bo Kyung is placated, but she’s probably imagining her husband’s shaman to be a wrinkly old woman. I don’t think she’d be too pleased to find out Wol’s the one having slumber parties with Hwon.
The king meets with the ministers, who are a little antsy about the king possibly knowing about the secret army they’re building. The king teases them a little, almost broaching the subject, then pulling back. The Sinister Ministers get together afterward to complain about the king, and wonder when he’s going to make a move to stop their operation. Yoon tells them that he’ll probably wait until he can do a clean sweep of all corruption in the kingdom. Hey, if you’re going to do a job, do it right.
Bo Kyung meets with her dad to complain about her husband’s new bedtime buddy. She doesn’t care if the talisman is seen as a object and not a person – she’s still a woman spending the night next to Bo Kyung’s husband. Yoon tells his daughter that she’s being ridiculous, and he won’t ask the Queen Dowager to remove the talisman, as Bo Kyung suggested. He tells her a lowly shaman shouldn’t be a threat to her, and Bo Kyung seethes.
Yoon goes to see the Queen Dowager, and while they both smile and act nice, they’re each inwardly sneering at the other. Yoon is worried about Nok Young’s appointment as head shaman, and ask the QD to reconsider the replacement shaman. Of course Yoon would want the head shaman to be in his control, but the QD is set in her ways. Nok Young stays, even if she has a frightening amount of power. She proved her loyalty eight years ago (at least in the eyes of the Queen Dowager).
It’s time for Wol to be punished for her transgressions. She’s dragged out of her cell and tied to a chair, where she waits to have her forehead branded. Nok Young watches in horror, as do Seol and Jan Shil…
But we don’t get to see any branding happen, as we cut to Hwon practicing his archery skills. Woon asks him to have mercy on Wol. Hwon sighs and says, “I know she’s not the dangerous one. I am.”
The hot iron is inches away from Wol’s forehead when Hyung Sun barges into the room and declares that the king has changed his mind. Wol will not be branded, and she will continue her work as a talisman. Hwon tells Woon that he knows he should stay away from Wol, but he can’t – she’s bewitched him.
Wol is curled up in her room with puffy eyes and tear-stained cheeks, having not touched her food. Nok Young visits her and Wol asks for permission to leave the palace, just once. Wol says that she has something she needs to do, and this will be her only and last request from Nok Young. Wol looks so upset, so disheartened, that I would let her run off and join the circus if she asked me.
Wol walks through town, narrowly missing her mother and Min Hwa walking nearby. She heads to the paper store, and when the shop owner asks her what she’s looking for she tells him she needs paper to write an apology letter. She’s been in this exact place before, also looking for paper to write an apology to Hwon, and she has a hazy recollection of that day. She leaves the shop, and decides to check the last place she saw Yang Myung. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be there.
As a matter of fact, Yang Myung is there! He stares at Wol as if he’s looking at someone who’s risen from the dead (See what I did there?). He follows her to the paper store, and she apologizes for not returning to meet him, and he says it’s no biggie, since he didn’t succeed in saving her. Wol is surprised to find out Yang Myung isn’t really a monk, and even more surprised when he leans in and tells her that means he can get married.
Yang Myung tells her if she needs to run away he can take her anywhere, anytime. She tells him she’s safe now, but his words bring back the memory of young Yang Myung telling Yeon Woo he would give up everything and run away with her if she agreed. Wol misinterprets this as her spiritual powers giving her a vision of Yang Myung’s past. She tells him he should forget about the girl he’s holding in his heart, and make room for a new love. He asks her name, and she initially tells him she doesn’t have a name, but stops when she remembers the name Hwon gave her. She tells him her name is Wol, and leaves the shop while Yang Myung stands in a stupor.
On her way out of the shop Wol runs into her mom (Ahhhh!) and Min Hwa. She apologizes and hurries on her way. Yang Myung runs out, chasing Wol, and runs into his sister and her mother in law. Min Hwa teases him and directs him in the direction Wol went. Mom muses that they should have gotten a better look at the girl, who was wearing a cloak over her head. She wonders if that girl was about Yeon Woo’s age, and Min Hwa gives her the side-eye.
Wol writes her apology letter before going to the king’s quarters to fulfill her duties. To her surprise, he’s standing there waiting for her. He tells her he’s not going to drink any more sleepytime tea, and tells her that she needs to help him forget his worries. He asks if she’s up to the job, and she responds, to his surprise, that she will do her best to help him in whatever way she can.
Bo Kyung is going nuts in her room, and can’t take it anymore. She gets up and goes to Hwon’s room. Hyung Sun tries to keep her from entering, but you can’t get in the way of a queen on a mission. She hears Hwon telling Wol to show him her face, and Bo Kyung sneaks a peek through the cracked door. She sees Wol and is taken aback (following my theory that she would never imagine the shaman to be a hot young thing?). Bo Kyung watches from the shadows as Hwon stares into Wol’s eyes.
A Few Thoughts…
This episode made me sad. It wasn’t a huge tearjerker, but I felt a more emotional connection with the characters in this episode than any before.
First off, Wol. Oh, Wol. In this episode she fully realized that she’s just an object when she’s in the palace. She can be used up and thrown away at anyone’s discretion. Seeing her sitting in her room, after losing all hope, really tore at my heartstrings. She was so bright and optimistic, both as a kid and as an adult amnesiac – but now what does she have to live for? Hopefully Hwon (or Yang Myung. I can’t choose just yet).
And speaking of Yang Myung, he’s another one that broke my heart in this episode. Both when he speaks to Wol in the paper shop and with his mother about reincarnation, he had a look on his face that was so full of heartbreak, but also hope. I give a lot of credit to Jung Il Woo’s acting that he was able to so perfectly convey Yang Myung’s big ol’ mess of feelings. Since Hwon hasn’t really taken the plunge and become a full-fledged member of the love triangle, I’m on team Yang Myung with everything I’ve got.
Follow @Sarchrz on Twitter, and read more drama recaps here!