And here, we are, the penultimate episode! Only one more left after this… so you know what that means. Lots of anguish and heartbreak, to make the happy ending appropriately satisfying. Or at least the ending had damn well better be happy and satisfying, because all this grief can’t be for nothing.
SONG OF THE DAY
J -“전하지 못한 말” (“Words I Can’t Express”) [ Download ]
Second Moon – “얼음연못”(Ice Pond) Apparently this song was used in both Goong and Goong S? Anyway, a very nice song, although I think there’s still another Second Moon song I’m missing… [ Download ]
I tried doing a “proper” recap this time, so be prepared for a super-long post after the jump cut!
Hwang Tae-hu (Queen Mother) is upset at the dust-up from last episode. If you’ll remember, Pye-ha was caught by the paparazzi leaving a restaurant together with her star-crossed lover, Alex. What unlucky timing, as it was her farewell meeting with him, too — oh, the irony! I’d feel more sorry for them if they hadn’t picked such a public place to carry on their secret rendezvous. The consequences are yet unknown, but the mood is ominous…
Joon shows up drunk at Soon-yi’s door. I’m assuming his pathetic state is from dealing with learning he is most probably Jo Sang-ki ajusshi’s son. And by “dealing with,” I mean “not very well.” It wasn’t explicitly stated, but he was pretty much tipped off when he asked his father in the last ep, “Father, are you really…” and his so-called father burst into a fury of overcompensation: “I AM your father! You ARE MY SON!! Nothing can change that!” (Except maybe a DNA test.)
Joon wakes up the next morning in Soon-yi’s apartment. She slept on the couch while he was in her room. Joon apologizes for being such a disturbance.
The Pye-ha’s situation is more dire than they expected. To fix the problem, the advisors suggest announcing the successor, and issuing a statement that Alex isn’t anyone special to the Queen, merely a classmate from her days studying abroad. Pye-ha doesn’t like the idea; she can’t lie to citizens. Then, the next best solution is to name the successor quickly, or announce news of a royal marriage.
Queen Mother tells Hoo of their options. If they name Joon the Hwang Taeja, Hyo-jang will somehow make Joon ruler and get rid of Pye-ha. So, the only other option is for Hoo to marry, with Sae-ryung. Hoo resists, but the Queen Mother insists that Yang Soon-yi won’t do: “A royal marriage involves all parties; you cannot simply act according to your own wishes!”
Oh yeah, the last princely challenge. I suppose the whole concept is rather moot now that Joon isn’t technically eligible, but nobody knows that yet. Joon is feeling brokenhearted and therefore doesn’t really feel like participating in some lame scroll challenge. I hear you, man. But his father, whose ambition has hardened his shriveled little heart into a black coal, doesn’t care about what Joon thinks. He just wants “his son” — whoever wears that term — to become Hwang Taeja. (To get inside his twisted psychology a bit, I can kind of understand him. The Hyo-jang was cast out of the Palace at a young age when his cousin became Hwang Taeja, and he’s probably felt the indignity of that all his life. It’s become an obsession, and it’s sad that Joon means more to the Hyo-jang as a symbol than as a person.)
Joon tells his father he’s going to give up the last challenge. Hyo-jang tells him he’s almost there. The Pye-ha is on her way down, and all that’s left is for Joon to not only be the Crown Prince, but King. All he has to do is be present for the last challenge. (Overconfident, isn’t he?)
So Joon doesn’t give up, and writes a character on his scroll. It’s the character for “justice” or “right.”
Shi-yeon (the bodyguard) poses as a Na-in to get into the palace. I know we’re supposed to buy it as a plot point, but really, people have recognized her in the past. Plus, she’s about a head taller than anyone else in the palace. But in any case, she futzes around with one of the scrolls.
At judging, Pye-ha’s first scroll is…. blank! How anticlimactic. A ruler needs many qualities. She says actions are more important than words. She’d acted out of self-motivation, and must examine herself further. She has concluded that one cannot express what it means to be a country’s ruler in one character (and the rest of us say: DUH. We were way ahead of you on that one, missy).
Hoo’s scroll says:
It’s the character “heui” (희) and Hoo explains, although he’s not quite sure, from what he can understand, a ruler is a person who self-sacrifices (희생, heui-saeng).
He explains: “Before I came to the Palace, when I used to make deliveries, alongside others, I found you couldn’t only think about yourself. I’d worry about my friends first, help them if they had problems. That way, your friends follow you, and when you compete against others, you can win. When I saw the Pye-ha from the outside world, living in a magnificent Palace, I thought you lived an elegant life. But after coming to live here, I saw that the Pye-ha more often gave up things she wanted. And so, I think one cannot be a ruler without a self-sacrificing spirit, which is why I wrote this character.”
It seems the elders and council members are pleased with Hoo’s explanation.
But when Joon’s scroll is revealed… it’s… empty! Gee, I wonder what could have happened. Joon looks surprised as well, so I guess you can’t accuse him of cheating. Although, since he does win the challenge, and doesn’t say anything to rectify the situation, I guess he is a cheater.
Sae-ryung comes to Hoo with news of his mother’s case. She mentions the deceased informant had left evidence to Jo Sang-ki, but Hoo has never heard of it. So Hoo goes to see Ajusshi at the restaurant, where Shi-yeon is snooping, and wonders if people have gone after Ajusshi because of the evidence.
In the car, Hoo is preoccuppied and doesn’t hear anything Sae-ryung says. He gets a call from Soon-yi, but doesn’t answer it. Sae-ryung sees, and asks Hoo to let her out so he can talk freely. When Hoo doesn’t stop, she bursts out, “I said to stop the car!”
“Do you know how I feel, by your side like this? Like a useless, worthless person.
How did I become like this? How did my existence become so…You’re a truly bad person. Why make me so wretched? I really don’t understand, why I can’t have this… No matter how I try, even if I work harder than others, I can’t have it.”
“Please, just for a little while, stay like this.”
Soon-yi is caught hanging around Hoo’s quarters by Queen Mother. Soon-yi says she was worried about the prince, and the Queen snaps, “Which one?” (Rumors of Soon-yi and Joon have spread, so people think she’s playing around with both.)
The Queen’s really harsh on Soon-yi, using pretty strong language. She says Soon-yi doesn’t know her place and tells her never to appear in front of her again. The Queen accuses her of making a mockery of both princes. Hoo overhears. (When did the Hwang Tae-hu become so mean? She used to be so nice to Hoo.)
Hoo: “You said that I was a valuable and necessary person to the Pye-ha. My mother was that person to my father, and right now, that’s the kind of person Yang Soon-yi is to me.”
The Queen tells him not to interfere, and he continues:
“It’s because of Yang Soon-yi that I could live in the Palace. Without her, it would have been too much to bear and I would have run away. In the future, wherever she is, I’ll be too. Because I don’t want to live like my father.”
It looks as if the Pye-ha may have to step down. Things aren’t looking good, and they should prepare to name the successor. However, because of the rumors of Soon-yi and the two princes, both princes look bad, and Soon-yi is the object of scorn (and jealousy). Queen Mother wants to kick her out of the Palace and the Royal Academy. Hoo defends her — she’s legitimately entered the palace and the academy. Joon explains what really happened when he was drunk, that it wasn’t her fault.
But the Queen Mother isn’t having it. It seems like she’s determined to get rid of Soon-yi. Which doesn’t really make sense; I mean, she herself married into royalty… What happened to sista solidarity? I wonder if it’s like the phenomenon of fat girls hating on other fat girls.
Sae-ryung goes to see Soon-yi, and she’s quietly bitter.
Sae-ryung: “Are you satisfied? Both princes were brought before the Hwang Tae-hu. What now? Are you going to hide behind both of them again?”
Soon-yi: “You told me before to choose between the two, didn’t you? Well, from the very beginning, there was only Young Sung Gong. There’s no reason for me to hide.”
Sae-ryung: “Why are you so self-assured?”
Soon-yi: “Are you curious?”
Sae-ryung: “Very much.”
Soon-yi: “Because I trust Hoo.”
Poor Soon-yi is getting bombarded from all sides and pressured to leave Hoo. I suppose the only good thing you can take from this is, it means everyone pretty much knows that Hoo is not persuadable. Yay Hoo. So, they’re going after the girl instead.
Pye-ha: “Living life, you’ll find there are some fates and feelings you must give up. I still want Young Sung Gong to become King. But, it isn’t certain; there are still many hindrances in his way. In this situation, if your relationship were to be revealed to the public, it could become a huge blow to Young Sung Gong, and the royalty. As woman to woman, this is a very difficult thing for me to ask. But, as a person who must first think of the royal family, I must ask you. Please help him to lay down strong, firm roots in the royal court.”
And then she shows Soon-yi the scroll Hoo wrote about “self-sacrifice.” Come on, now that’s just mean.
Joon and his father get into another fight. Hyo-in Dae-gong tells him he’s won the fight, and now it’s time to get rid of that palace girl — he should know when to throw away his toys. (Ouch!) But Joon can’t be like his father. He can’t use people so easily: “Not being royal blood, I can’t become king. And Yang Na-in isn’t a toy, she’s a person. She’s the woman I love.” And he walks off…
Joon: “Please. Come with me and let’s go somewhere.”
Soon-yi: “Don’t do this, Moon Sung Gong!”
Joon: “I can’t help but be this way. Please… give up this place, and leave with me.”
Soon-yi: “Highness, I don’t know what’s going on, but please leave.”
Soon-yi: “Why are you making things so difficult? Giving others a hard time isn’t love.”
Joon: “It’s the only way I know.”
Soon-yi: “I don’t like your methods. I don’t want to see you anymore, who makes things so difficult for me.” (Literally she says, “You, who’s making things so hard for me… I don’t want to see anymore.”)
Soon-yi walks off, leaving him there. That said, I still do not feel sorry for Joon, and here’s why: He’s brokenhearted about something that was never his to begin with. He never had Soon-yi’s love, or even her inclination. She felt grateful to him, and maybe flattered at his attention, but she developed feelings for Hoo pretty early on and didn’t lead Joon on. He knew that going in. It’s basically 욕심 (yokshim), or a person’s sense of selfish greed for something. So he’s not mourning real, reciprocated love — he’s mourning this infatuated obsession. Which makes him a little bit creepy.
Pye-ha gets a phone call from Alex. I guess they figured if acting opposite Alex was the same as acting with an inanimate object, they might as well substitute him for a REAL inanimate object. Some wonderful acting by her, as she tells her phone that she’s worried about him as well. She’s caught by the Hwang Tae-hu, who asks if she’s hurting that much. Pye-ha says she’s always lived according to her oath, but today, she hates her position. Sometimes she resents her fate.
Hoo finds out Soon-yi quit the Academy, and rushes to find her. This scene is no surprise, as we were hit over the head last week with the foreshadowing hammer. Yes, she must leave. Yes, he must be sad. They’d just better not end things that way.
Hoo: “You said your dream was to study and become a queen’s attendant. Now what will you do?”
Soon-yi: “I’ll take a break, and figure things out. Don’t worry.”
Hoo: “Should I just take you in and marry you?” (He says ‘take you in and live together,’ but that’s another way of saying ‘marry’ in Korean.)
Soon-yi: “Say something that makes sense.”
Hoo: “What doesn’t make sense about it? I lost the competition already.”
Soon-yi: “Who says I’ll live with you?” (Again, ‘marry.’)
Hoo: “Then what?”
Soon-yi: “if it’s possible, I want to study to go to college. I’ll become a competent, impressive woman of the times. Then, even if I’m a commoner, I might suit you.”
Hoo: “We suit each other plenty now. But you’ll be able to do anything well. Of course. Our Yang Soon-yi, fighting!”
I actually thought this scene was nicely done. They were sad, of course, but no melodramatic hand-wringing and chest-thumping. I think they both realized what was important to them — and ironically (or maybe not), what’s important to both people is the other. So it’s a self-sacrifice on both parts for the other person. It kind of makes sense, in a bittersweet way. Of course, I’d hate this if the story ended this way, but come on, we’ve got one more episode left! A lot of reversals can happen in one last episode…
As for poor, sad Joon, he’s gone to what seems like to a family house somewhere, and drinks, alone, brooding over his father’s words.
He drunkenly knocks over a candle, and tries to stamp out the fire with his jacket. Then, he gives up, and sits back down amidst the flames….