They should create a spinoff with Orroz and Chul Seok, because these two are the only ones pulling their acting weight these days. Both are strong in today’s episode, in a way that transcends the cheese factor of the drama’s storytelling (the drama plot itself isn’t so cheesy these days, but it’s all in the execution). Although I’d accept some Kim Byul (Yeon Doo) thrown in for some comic relief, too.
Eric is actually not doing a BAD job, but in contrast, his performance isn’t able to break through that Barrier of Cheese. I’m not quite sure why, but when watching his more emotive moments, I keep getting the sense that it’s too bad since his acting might be effective in the hands of a competent director.
SONG OF THE DAY
Oriental Lucy – “Lorina Homestay” (Their song is listed as “Rorina Homestay” on various portal sites, but “Lorina Homestay” on their own.) [ Download ]
EPISODE 17 RECAP
After digging up the box that should contain the document, Chil Woo and Min find it empty. Min immediately launches into a tirade, thinking Chil Woo is playing with him, but Chil Woo is just as shocked. Min rages on while Chil Woo racks his brains trying to think of who might have found his hiding spot.
Man, I’ve never been a fan of Min, but he’s starting to get insufferable. I’m getting awfully sick of your entitled ‘tude, mister. O, Self-Righteous One, you’re about half a tantrum away from me wishing an ice pick through your heart. Or more delicate regions, perhaps. Thankfully, Chil Woo tells him to shut up and let him think.
Yeon Doo finishes decoding the message and starts reading, growing more and more uneasy as she progresses: “It’s been several days since the prince fell ill. His entire body has turned blackish. Eyes, nose, ears, mouth — seven holes dripped with blood.” She notices Chul Seok reacting strongly and figures it’s because of the creepy message, but Chul Seok urges her to finish.
Having thought merely to have a little fun, now Yeon Doo’s scared and sorry, as though she’s opened Pandora’s box and now wishes it unopened again.
Chil Woo bursts in — having recalled that Yeon Doo saw him near the hiding spot — and sees the message. Seeing his dark expression, she apologizes, feeling appropriately chastened for her actions. Chil Woo intends to take the document to Min, saying it belongs to him, but Chul Seok interrupts: “No, it’s mine.”
So Yoon and Chil Woo’s eyes widen, wondering if Chul Seok can know the truth. Growing angry and tearful, Chul Seok demands to know if the document tells the truth: “Did my father really die in such a miserable way?” He found out about his identity on the day he’d run away from So Yoon.
Chul Seok doesn’t want to leave with Chil Woo and So Yoon as planned, because now that he knows of his father’s murder, he agrees with Min (god help him) in insisting the truth be revealed: “Even if it’s dangerous, a son should reveal his father’s unjust death!” Chil Woo tells him it’ll be dangerous, but Chul Seok isn’t swayed, which brings to mind Woo Young’s similar conviction. Chul Seok’s words start to echo Woo Young’s last words, which spooks Chil Woo; he tells him not to talk like that. He snatches the document away and tells Chul Seok to stay out of it.
Chil Woo hands the document to Min, telling him, “This is all I can do for you.” Min tells him to keep the prince safe. Committed to his plan to leave that night, he and So Yoon split up to make preparations. First off, Chil Woo resigns his post. (This news startles Heuk San, who hadn’t heard news of Chil Woo’s return to the capital. Looks like Chil Woo’s supposition that returning to the city was the safest option was right, after all.)
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Kim hears that Chul Seok is alive, but isn’t quite able to believe that Heuk San could have lied when he’d assured him all three of Prince So Hyun’s sons had been killed. Kim tells his mole (Green-clad spy guy) that seizing the document and Chul Seok is their priority.
Chul Seok and Heuk San’s father are left together, and take advantage of each other’s knowledge to find out more about their own interests. Chul Seok asks about the meeting planned for that night, and hears that this is where the prince’s murder will be discussed. In return, Heuk San’s father asks about Heuk San, and Chul Seok informs him that the man was appointed to Chil Woo’s police unit.
With Yeon Doo’s help (he pulls royal rank to coerce her into cooperation), Chul Seok escapes from the hideaway and makes his way out of the city to crash the secret meeting. Chil Woo’s Mom and Grandma help him by creating a distraction, but it’s not enough. He’s seen and chased by Heuk San’s warriors, who corner him in the forest.
Although Prime Minister Kim had instructed that Chul Seok be kept alive, I guess they’re going on Heuk San’s orders, because one man swings his sword at the boy — which is deflected by the arrival of Chil Woo. Unfortunately, this prime opportunity for some fight-scene kitsch is completely wasted, and we get no music, no strange weapons, no jokey maneuvers. Chil Woo, wither thy humor?
Chil Woo successfully defends Chul Seok and reminds the boy of his sister: “I couldn’t protect her, so I’m afraid that I won’t be able to protect you, either.”
Chil Woo understands Chul Seok, and tries to appeal to him by sympathizing with his grief and anger:
Chil Woo: “My father also died unjustly, in front of my eyes. That makes you like me, and also like Woo Young. Think of me as your brother. Think of my position as the brother who wants to save you, and the position of the sister who wants to protect you. Please, reconsider your stance.”
But Chul Seok turns the tables on Chil Woo, shedding tears but remaining resolute:
Chul Seok: “Hyung, can you think from the position of my unjustly killed father and the unjustly killed Woo Young, and reconsider your stance? It’s unfair. It’s pitiful. That’s why you became an assassin. But this concerns my father and your sister, and you still say you won’t get involved? Well, I will!”
Chul Seok’s comment resonates; Chil Woo brings Chul Seok to the secret meeting, where Min presides. Min reads from the stolen document, moving everyone with the recital of the prince’s pains — except for the Green Spy, that is, who merely pretends to feel what everyone else does.
Min backs up the contention that the current king is the one behind the murder by saying they have proof in Prince So Hyun’s surviving son. Chul Seok walks in, and everyone bows in reverence. (I’m a little perplexed as to how readily they accept his existence as true without asking for proof.)
Thus Chil Woo has reluctantly come onboard this scheme, but it’s clear he’s got reservations. He wishes that it could be true that he is wrong and his father right in believing the world could change, though doesn’t truly seem to believe it. He wonders with a cynical smile whether Min could understand his turmoil. Min nods and answers, “I understand.”
Chil Woo grabs Min’s shirt — though without hostility — and draws him closer: “If you understand, then let’s do a good job.”
Green Spy reports back to Kim and confirms Chul Seok’s existence. The next secret meeting has not yet been planned, but he’ll be on alert. Kim orders the other government minister to prepare soldiers — when it’s pointed out that Kim also has men of his own, he dissembles, which makes me wonder if he’s aware of Heuk San’s wavering loyalties.
Heuk San’s men report that Chul Seok got away when another man jumped into the fight and intervened.
Chil Woo is formally announced as part of Min’s league. Chil Woo only has this to say: “Please, let’s just not die.” They outline their roles for the upcoming meeting: Jaja as general bodyguard, Min coordinating his noblemen, Choi and Jo mustering troops, and the blind man as watchguard. Wait, did I get this right? The blind man is going to be lookout?
So Yoon will watch over Chul Seok, and Chul Seok’s sole goal is to stay alive.
“비상” (bi-sang/emergency) [ Download ] ::
The assassins’ anthem starts playing, and I think, Oh, thank god.
Jaja hangs bells, digs grooves in the ground, and lays out a tripwire according to the blind man’s specifications. Chul Seok is taken to an abandoned house because their other hideout is too conspicuous, and admits his non-intention to be king. He just wants to bring his father’s murder to light.
Meanwhile, the others oversee the martial-arts training of their men.
Heuk San’s father is drawn to the police quarters but merely stands by, unable to work up the nerve to find his son. Instead, he gives a letter to the boy assisting him to be delivered to the section chief (Heuk San), not knowing that Heuk San is just around the corner to witness this.
A return message is issued to the boy, who leads the blind man that evening to a meeting spot designated by Heuk San. The man senses the presence of his son and calls out hopefully, “Heuk San? Is that you?”
Dressed as Orroz tonight, the son tells the father to draw his sword, and they clash; Heuk San’s eternal cool gets cracked a bit as he visibly fights his emotions. He has one question to ask, and recites words his father had instilled in him: “A warrior’s sword is his voice. When drawing his sword, he must have a meaning.”
Father drops his sword, while son starts to break down into angry tears: “What meaning was there when you committed such foul betrayal? Tell me! Why did you do it?”
His father starts to defend himself, but Heuk San is having none of it and calls him on false excuses. His father sputters that he was tricked, but Heuk San counters: “Are you saying you bear no responsibility?”
Dad relents, agreeing: “What excuse can I make? Kill me.” Dying by his son’s hand might erase a tiny fraction of the wrong he’d done him. But Heuk San bites out with emotion, “Until the day you die, I won’t forgive you. Wherever you are, whatever you do, live feeling the price of your crime every day, then die.”
He leaves his blind father in the forest, calling out after him pathetically. Heuk San is shaken as he wonders, “Why did you seek me out? No, why are you still living? What do I do, when I can’t kill you?”
Green Spy is notified of the meeting that night, which he reports to the prime minister. Thus he arrives with reinforcements with the intention of recovering both the document and the lost prince.
Green Spy is led away by the blind man, who takes him down the road, up a hillside, and to a second location. All the while, he is followed quietly by Kim’s troops.
While Min is hosting this scholarly get-together, Chil Woo and Jaja are away on another mission. Having heard that the king is prepping a secret memorial service for the last Ming emperor (which sounds suspicious), they head out on reconnaissance to find out what he’s up to.
Green Spy is admitted to the meeting. The other scholars don’t seem to be aware of his intentions, but the blind man — the blind lookout man — hears his alarms being triggered. The soldiers who’ve followed Green Spy here have set off the tripwire, which rings the bells hung outside the gate. The blind man yells for everyone inside to run away, warning them that dozens of intruders are on their way.
As the men start to evacuate, Min looks over at the precious cargo they’re harboring, and senses the disaster that would occur if Kim’s men find Chul Seok there.
Strongest Chil Woo desperately needs a good director, stat. GEEZUS he can turn the most interesting sequences into dull, flat dialogue recitations. In scenes with a sense of humor, however inadvertent the comedy, this odd and jerky directing style can work with the moment. Like an unintended bonus. But when the series starts doing straight drama, wow does the dull directing (and blocking, and editing) get tedious. Shots are held too long and scenes left bloated and in dire need of pruning; long stretches of silence would do better with scoring, and have I mentioned I really, really miss Absurd and Farcical Chil Woo?
Still, the story itself is ramping up in intensity, with Chul Seok now aware of his significance in this coup and, furthermore, taking an active role in it. Will he end up another over-idealistic casualty like Woo Young and Chil Woo’s father? Or will he stay alive as Chil Woo and So Yoon wish, but at the expense of the greater goal?
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 16
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 15
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 15
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 14
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 13
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 12
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 11
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 10
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 9
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 8
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 7
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 6
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 5
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 4
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episode 3
- Strongest Chil Woo: Episodes 1 & 2