Drama Recaps
Legend: Episode 3
by | September 18, 2007 | 14 Comments

Just FYI, I’m not necessarily committing to full episode summaries for Legend. I’m not enough into the series to make that kind of commitment, and the recaps are starting to feel a lot like work. So for now, I’m just commenting on the episodes.

Episode 3 was far more interesting because the palace intrigues become more sinister and Crazy Lady Yeon is one awesome actor. I call her crazy in all facetiousness — she’s more power-crazed, not really insane — but she acts with a very intense, barely controlled underlying rage, and it’s really cool.

(Random) SONG OF THE DAY

Lee Soo Young – “Twenty Nine.” From her latest album, her eighth. [ zShare download ]

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Acting by young Sujini continues to be solid. I’ll hold off on the superlatives because as winning and lovable as Sujini is, her appeal is largely charisma-driven, not skill-driven. What I mean by that is, the young actor’s doing a wonderful job being spunky and adorable, but so far she hasn’t had to do anything challenging. In contrast, the girl playing young Kiha isn’t quite as winning, but she’s given more range to cover (in this episode, at least).

The chemistry between Sujini and Hyun Go brings about a few comical moments, which are always appreciated in the midst of otherwise serious and weighty issues. Here, Sujini reports back about Lady Yeon’s suspicious poison transaction with Saryang (the Hwacheon man who’s also Kiha’s vassal/guard). When Hyun Go expresses disappointment that she didn’t deliver a more detailed report, Sujini retorts that she was the one sent into danger while the two older men got to sit back and relax. She also befriends an older woman, who’s the blacksmith from the village of the White Tiger (who was one of the blacksmiths running from the Hwacheon invaders on the night the Jushin star appeared).

 

Lady Yeon’s a tough role to tackle, because she has to seem both desperate and powerful; fearsome but also fearful. Otherwise, she’s just a caricature of an evil witch or some mystical malevolent force, which diminishes her desperation. Her Lady Macbethian ambition drives her to all her dangerous — reckless? — actions, but we have to at least understand her motivation.

Like Lady Macbeth, she feels the crown within her grasp — minus a few obstructing bodies, of course, but that’s nothing a good assassination won’t take care of — and it drives her to extremes. Both Ladies also display a rapacious greed that exceeds that of their men. Because the men are weaker, both allow themselves to be swayed by their ladies’ actions, not necessarily objecting while at the same time being unable to act themselves.

When Hogae distinguishes himself in battle — a charge he shyly dismisses as exaggerated to his cousin Damdeok — the king (Damdeok’s father) sends along a chest of gold coins and other prizes in congratulations. Although it’s a simple gesture, it can be seen as an assertion of power — a KING bestowing a gift upon a SUBJECT, no matter how noble — and Lady Yeon doesn’t take to the implication happily.

She tells Hogae in private that he must become the Jushin King, that he was born to the position, and looks both alarmed and defiant when she turns around to see that Damdeok has overheard. She goads him, daring him to accuse her of treason, boldly and antagonistically as though she wants to be challenged. But Damdeok merely replies, with good-natured calmness, that he’s heard others say the same thing many times before.

 

The King’s health grows gradually weaker, and although Damdeok has his suspicions, he doesn’t trust anyone enough to broach the subject with them. Instead, he reads up on medicine and tries to find the cause for his father’s illness. He asks Hogae what he knows about poison, casually mentioning it as a recent topic of study, perhaps testing for his reaction. But Hogae merely tells him that defeating an enemy with poison is cowardly, and advises Damdeok not to get too wrapped up in his studies.

So, he approaches Kiha as she picks herbs on the shrine grounds. Upon hearing that Kiha has been studying herbs and medicines for many years, Damdeok asks for her help. He doesn’t know whom to trust in the palace, but he wants to trust her.

He brings her to see the sick King — and after inspection, she tells them that his symptoms are very similar to a powerful, rare poison made by dark sorcerers. Taken in small, frequent doses, it can kill its victim in a month.

Kiha presents a demure, obedient picture to everyone in the palace, but her dual nature arises when she’s in the company of the Hwacheons — who refer to her in honorific terms, and with whom Kiha speaks in clipped commands. She’s smart, she’s sly, and she’s working on a dual agenda.
(She’s also aware that the poison used against the king originated from their Hwacheon tribe, and asks what their intentions are.)

And yet, her growing attachment to Damdeok seems genuine — she sneaks out at night to watch him training with Captain Go, one of few people who knows Damdeok’s true character. Damdeok admits that he’s putting on the act to seem dumb and weak as a necessity, to survive. But he fears that he’s truly going to become weak, and cowardly — even though he knows who is poisoning his father, he can’t do anything about it. He has no leverage, no power, and is too afraid to act.

Kiha has some wisdom to impart: “Hunting a tiger by attacking with an axe isn’t courage. That’s just being too ignorant to have fear. Having fear means you have wisdom. The wise man doesn’t capture the tiger by wielding an axe, he uses a trap. Acting despite fear, using one’s wisdom — that’s courage.”

Damdeok’s response?: “Kiha. Always be by my side. So that whenever I turn around, I can see you.”

Unfortunately, cousin Hogae has also fallen for Kiha. Uh-oh! Something tells me this will not end well.

 

And as for Damdeok’s trap… He lays a pretty good one, that’s for sure. He calls Lady Yeon and shows her the vial of poison, describing its fatal properties. Immediately on high alert, Lady Yeon is prepared to defend herself — but Damdeok doesn’t give her the opportunity, because he shows her a signed confession written by the court physician, admitting that he was paid and instructed to poison the King’s food every day. Damdeok presents her with the physician’s form of payment — the same gold coin that the King had awarded to Hogae. Furthermore, the physician says he was instructed to act by Hogae.

Lady Yeon immediately bursts out in outrage, demanding to confront the physician face to face. Damdeok calmly informs her that soldiers are detaining Hogae on the training grounds, ready to exact punishment — and Captain Go shows her the physician’s head — severed from its body. So basically, all they’ve got is his signed confession pinning the blame on Hogae. Wily Damdeok.

Lady Yeon finds herself backed into a corner, wild with anger and panic, and Damdeok calmly tells her he’d prefer not to punish Hogae, either. If only there were a way to find the “true” culprit… then they could absolve Hogae of guilt. He’s cleverly showing her he’s in control, while at the same time giving the appearance of backing down.

In a pretty great acting display, Lady Yeon bursts into teary, giddy, stunned, relieved, indignant laughter — she doesn’t know what to make of Damdeok’s power play. He isn’t going for the jugular in demanding immediate punishment, but she knows he’s got her. She grabs her poison, then stumbles out of the hall —

— to the courtyard, where Hogae has been held, surprised and distressed. He sees his mother stagger out of the palace and rushes to her as she collapses, clutching the now-empty poison bottle.

She gasps to Hogae that he must become the King of Jushin, and as a final warning, tells him not to trust his “false prince” of a cousin with his sly, snakelike cleverness. Hogae doesn’t understand what’s going on as his mother dies in his arms.

 
I’m only sad that this means we get no more awesome acting by Lady Yeon — it’ll be a huge loss that we never had Lady Yeon and adult Kiha (Moon Sori) acting in a scene together. Now that would’ve been intense. Do you think they’d have engaged in a fierce display of acting one-upmanship, trying to outdo the other in an “act-off” replete with bursts of intensity, angrily furrowed brows, and furious glaring? That would’ve been fit for a separate category of awesome, to go with Zoolandery walk-offs and impromptu post-breakup dance-offs of Britney and Justin-eque proportions. (Sigh. Remember when that was the juicy Britney gossip of the day? How those kids grow. And skank up.)

Anyway, that sets us up for the future adult conflicts between the now-rivals, as Hogae doesn’t understand any of this and immediately leaps to accuse Damdeok of some sort of foul play. Damdeok arrives at the Yeon residence to tell Hogae’s father that Lady Yeon was responsible for poisoning the king — but he had no idea she would take the poison herself. Hogae immediately attempts to fight Damdeok, but his father holds him back — probably because he knows the truth of the accusation. Hogae may be innocent of any crime as a child, but this is likely to change as he’s driven by his need to avenge his mother’s death, which he blames on Damdeok, per her dying words.

 
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14 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. apple

    thank you, thank you, off to read it now ^^

  2. jinkzzmec

    thank you, javabeans, for this summary…As much as I wish you’ll do recaps for each and every single episodes of this drama, i’ll take whatever you can offer and be grateful for it. This recap, as well as all your previous recaps, have been very helpful in making me understand the drama that i am watching better :)

  3. Avid Reader

    Thank you for sharing this with us. I kinda miss your kdrama summary. I’ve followed every recap you’ve done on Coffee Princes. Even you’re not doing a full summary on Legend, I still like what you write down. Hope you keep writing about this drama :) Thanks again for sharing.

  4. Eve

    I probably can’t sit through this drama but your summaries/reviews are doing good to keep my drama watching being at bay lol…instead of sitting for an hour I can read for 10 minutes – it’s great..probably better on my grades as well.

  5. ginnie

    *nods in agreement* I agree Javabeans that young Suzeeny’s acting is mostly charisma-driven. She’s cute. She’s meant to be lovable but…hmm…I find her actions sometimes over and fake. Thank goodness though she does not make it overboard with her hyper actions. Maybe it is because she does not have enough material to work with.

    On the other hand, I like young Kiha a lot. She’s versatile and I feel that although she has the disadvantage being Kiha (because people tend to associate her as evil Kajin’s reincarnation) but she has been able to portray gentleness and her affection towards Damdeok. I was surprised when she’s suddenly transformed into the commanding Kiha-nim to the Hwacheon follower. Conflicted internally and longing to love…ah..I can’t wait for Moon So Ri to come and command these future episodes. (Javabeans, is Hwacheon actually Fire Tribe? I am guessing you used romanized names instead of translated names in your TWSSG write-ups…)

    I wonder what the Hwacheons are doing to Kiha too. The creepy old man who has a face lift have “stamped” a mark on Kiha’s back shoulder. They seem to be doing something on her mark but not sure what. I wonder how the creepy Hwacheon elder know that she’s the reincarnation of Kajin. She’s the owner of the ruby amulet when she was found and thus, he should’ve mistaken her as the reincarnated Sae-oh in this life, no?

    Lady Yeon!!! She’s a strong believer that her son is THE king. So strong in her belief, she’s willing to do anything for her son. When I was watching this, I could sense her pain because she’s thinking that the entire world is being deceived and she’s the only one with the truth. I don’t think there was anything that could make her change her mind. If Lady Yeon lives, it will be so interesting. I agree Javabeans…wish too that Lady Yeon and adult Kiha have a dramatic scene together especially one filled with strong, emotional lines but it is a pity this acting heavyweight is asked to leave the stage so early on.

    Adult Kiha should appear next week…she’s going to be an interesting dual role. Hopefully Moon So ri will be able to find an equivalently skilled acting partner…

  6. jxbeaucp

    if u don’t recap…it’s okay….just show some images thanks………

  7. tealeaf

    Thanks javabeans for this quick update. Appreciate any effort that you put into analyzing Legend. Thanks WITH S2 for the first subbed episode also.

    Alright, we’re getting into interesting stuffs; CG special effects behind us and the real drama begin. Glad that Lady Yeon is more complex than I originally thought. Even though I have seen this type of willful madness portrayed many times before, I still shudder at the extent of Lady Yeon’s crusade to realize her son’s destiny. Damdeok may have won the battle against his enemy but he has just entered into an unpleasant war against an adversary that he may not want to face. I think that Lady Yeon is one up against the boy. Damdeok must now learn to be a great strategist in court politics if he is to survive. He must be able navigate this dangerous ground to separate his allies from his foes. Oh my, that’s tough for a ten-year old!

    I sympathize for Hogae – that he continued to be manipulated by his mother, even after her death. He’s going to be one scarred boy for life – the two people that he loves (Lady Yeon and Kiha) being taken away from him by Damdeok. Do I sense need for psychotherapy here?

    Kiha, what a fox! Who she is at this point reflects how she learned to live with the Hwacheon. She became cunning and shifty – good survival skills. Adapt and survive! Kiha was robbed of a normal childhood – thus, that makes her a sympathetic character in my eyes. Yup, one goldmine of a role for any actress to portray. Can’t wait to see how they will develop this intriguing female character.

    Episode 3 is the best so far (still as what sounds like a female-dominated episode)… Maybe it’s time for the boys/men to show us what they are made of this week?

  8. bethany

    oh my intense.
    and yes! agreeing with others~ i’ll take what i can get. episode recaps, thoughts, summaries… =D

  9. ANNIE797

    thank you Java,
    i love to read your recap, so i have to see the drama.

  10. 10 Iranian Espresso

    Thank You Dear Javabeans.

  11. 11 Beng

    Wow, even though you’re just commenting on it, it’s fantastic. I think it’s way better than watching the drama itself =). Hope you continue it till the end. Thanks!

  12. 12 ayasi

    I’m loving it!

  13. 13 Skangrrl

    You know, so far I have always taken your recommendations and never been led wrong … till now! Why oh why did you recommend this drama because I managed to find Episode 1 translated into English and for some reason after that they are all not translated! I can’t use bit torrent so can only rely on streaming or veoh for downloads and for some reason there are no sub episodes after Ep 1. It’s killing me! Agree with you on all points though … LOL. Thanks for the recaps so I at least get that for rescue me from the doldrums.

  14. 14 kittycat

    It is extremely frustrating that China has banned this drama! Almost all websites within China have deleted this drama and I only managed to follow up to Ep 7 before the sources got “cleaned up”. China has the fastest uploading speed for drama in chinese subs and now I am doomed! :( Wonder if the Eng subs will come soon :)

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