There’s lots of drama in this episode, but very little fun, which doesn’t really serve this show well. Some shows can run the gamut from comedy to melodrama with equal effectiveness and sometimes much more emotional gain, but this one buckles a little under the pressure, because it’s not equipped for weighty stuff. When we do find the cute moments, we’re golden, but it’s a bit of a wild goose chase in this episode, to find the nuggets hidden amongst all the soulful staring. Jung-woo saves this episode with some much-needed levity and a helpful dose of common sense, making him Prince of the Castle for the week.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Hae-young tells her to “forget this,” and then kisses her. Next thing we know, she’s asleep and he tucks her in for the night. Wait, is this the anti-Sleeping Beauty? Isn’t the prince’s kiss supposed to wake the princess from a deep sleep, not put her in one?
He broods for a while, and then leaves her behind, because he’s tortured like that.
It turns out that ditching her is more than your average guilt-by-kissage, as today is the day of The! Press! Conference! Well thank ye drama gods, because I was not going to tolerate this stupid plotline for one episode longer.
Seol wakes up to find that she’s alone, and goes looking for Hae-young out by the sea. She gets carried away by Hae-young’s henchmen (which are, strangely, Grandpa’s henchmen—what, you couldn’t get your own?).
Once locked in the car, she tells them that Hae-young will come to take her back, so there’s no need for this, as it’s not like they’re kidnapping her in an act of terrorism. Hearing those words come out of her mouth just reminds me that I insanely watched an entire drama relying on her to save the world. Hur hur.
Seol’s faith in Hae-young is so sad, especially since it’s about to bite her in the ass in…three…two…one…
The henchman’s phone rings, and it’s Hae-young. He passes the phone to Seol, who naively asks him to come get her. Hae-young sighs as he tells her in plain language: “I threw you away.” He tells her that he’s not coming back, and that she won’t be attending the press conference today, no matter how hard she tries. Cue bells of “I Geddit, I Geddit…Oh Crap.”
Meanwhile, preparation for the press conference gets underway, as Yoon-ju and Grandpa both get word that the princess has disappeared. It seems that Yoon-ju isn’t in on this plan, which makes me feel a little better that Hae-young isn’t plotting against Seol with the wicked witch.
Time for The! Press! Conference! Finally! Everyone gathers and flutters over the missing princess. Hae-young makes them wait in order to make a grand entrance (oh, you drama queen), and tells them that the princess will not be attending today’s press conference.
He then announces the palace’s official position on Seol’s father and his past, essentially clearing his name of the crimes. But in so doing, he names her adoptive father as the culprit, and even adds that Seol wanted to use this press conference to clear her father’s name. While that’s not untrue, it certainly leaves out that whole part where she didn’t want to throw her other father to the wolves to do it.
Jung-woo sneaks out to call Seol, who finally answers after begging for her phone back. She asks Jung-woo to prolong the press conference for as long as he can, and that she’s on her way to explain everything. He wonders if this is all Hae-young’s doing. Well, it certainly looks that way, doesn’t it?
Hae-young walks out, leaving the press clamoring with questions. Jung-woo stops him in the courtyard to ask if he kept Seol from coming here by force, and if he understands the magnitude of what he’s done. He takes the betrayal personally, saying that despite not liking him, he did think that Hae-young’s concern for Seol was real, and that he was in the very least, a trustworthy man.
Hae-young: “Well you thought wrong.” He can’t help himself though, and tells Jung-woo to back off from Seol, since his concern for her seems to overstep the normal professor-student relationship.
Jung-woo is quick to answer that it DOES go beyond: “Seol is more than a student to me. Lee Seol is living history, and she’s a dream that I’ve been chasing my whole life.” Well, it’s not the most romantic thing a girl wants to hear, but I’ll forgive you since you’re wearing your spiffy Indiana-Jones-in-the-city look today.
Hae-young glares as he muses bitterly, “It must be nice, being able to take sides so definitively.” Jung-woo: “It IS nice, and I plan to do so from now on.” Yee-to-the-haw. Bring on the dogfights.
Seol watches news footage of the press conference from the car, and realizes what Hae-young meant. Back at the palace Yoon-ju asks him if he was with Seol last night. He says he was and wanted to be, but stops at that and doesn’t give excuses. She says she doesn’t care, since she trusts him, but adds that his plan will hardly induce Seol to give up the throne.
Yoon-ju points out that what he did was, in the end, a choice to protect Seol. Grandpa agrees, though he’s angry about where he’s stashed the princess in the meantime. Hae-young: “She’s somewhere…crying.”
Sure enough, Seol requests the car to turn around, and she heads straight to Mom’s house. Mom and Dan see the press conference on the news, and reel at the shock of Seol’s direct betrayal.
Seol runs to the door, crying and screaming for Mom to let her in so she can explain. She heartbreakingly cries out to Mom over and over, saying that she’s sorry, that she was wrong, that this isn’t how it was supposed to be.
Mom listens from inside, her heart breaking as she holds herself back, wanting so much to let her in, but unable to. She says aloud to herself that it’s okay, that as long as she lives a good life at the palace, there’s nothing else she could ask for. She says that she knows in her head that Seol isn’t to blame, but her heart isn’t letting her face Seol right now.
Jung-woo appears behind her, and gets her to stop crying. He presents her with a simple choice—to stay here with Mom and Dan, or to return to the palace. She doesn’t know how to answer, and he points out that what should be a simple answer isn’t one, for her.
He tells her that he guessed that after what went down at the press conference, he’d find her here, and so he came…but he had hoped he wouldn’t find her here. Because this is where his student Lee Seol would be, sure, but the princess—she should have appeared at the press conference, no matter how late.
He points out that she’s not acting like the princess because she doesn’t consider herself as one. He adds that other than being spun in circles by Hae-young and Yoon-ju, she’s not doing anything.
Jung-woo: Before you are your parents’ daughter, you are Korea’s history. A history that needs to be put right again, and a history that is yet to be written. [This is what you are] To me, and to Korea.
Back at the palace, Hae-young takes out the picture of his father, the glass now broken in the frame. Symbolism! Secretary Oh tells him that he made the right decision (to clear Lee Ahn’s name) but Hae-young is quick to make it clear that it’s hardly going to be difficult for him to bully one little girl out of the palace, and makes his position against Grandpa known.
Yoon-ju looks at Dan’s profile, and wonders if the royal satchel that she claims to have is the real deal or not.
Grandpa gets word that the princess has returned, and in getting a report from his henchmen, finds out that she and Hae-young shared a room last night. He flips his lid, at which the henchman stutters that there was only the one room, and it’s not like a man and a woman sharing a room necessarily means they… But Grandpa goes ahead and has a fit anyway.
Seol and Jung-woo arrive and she heads straight for Hae-young. She runs into Yoon-ju first, in front of the staff, and Yoon-ju ices her with, “You’re late…very.” This time, not to be outdone, Seol ices her right back: “Yes. You must have been happy…very.” Niiiice.
After they clear the room, Yoon-ju remains with Jung-woo, and makes a dig that his student is so unpredictable. He just wheels around to say that it’s what makes her likable—that no matter how unpredictable it is where she might pop up next, it’s guaranteed that wherever it is, it’ll be bright because of her. Aw. He turns to add that Yoon-ju was like that…once. Burn.
Seol runs to Hae-young’s room, banging on the door and shouting for him to come out. She’s doing a lot of crying outside people’s doors this episode. After a while of brooding and avoiding, he finally comes out to face her.
She lays into him for leaving her there, hitting him in a fit of anger and tears. She cries that her family won’t see her because of what he’s done, and he coldly tells her that she herself said that she’s used to being an orphan.
He tells her that she should have expected as much, if she’s going to be a princess, and that she should have known that people would do this to her.
Seol: I did know. I expected this from other people. But not Park Hae-young. A reason? I don’t know. Proof? I don’t have any. But I just believed…that Park Hae-young would protect me.
Hae-young: What are you? What are you to me? Why did you think I’d protect you? Without any reason or proof, why are you putting me beside you at your whim and blaming me? …. Do you want forgiveness? Do you want your family back? Then give up being a princess. If you give it all up, you can return…to your family…and to me.
Whoa. Now THAT I wasn’t expecting. It’s both tragic (because he means it) and down and dirty (because he’s now dangling himself as a reason for her to give up the throne).
He leaves her crying alone in the hallway.
The next morning, Yoon-ju assembles the court ladies to ask if anyone knew about Seol’s disappearing act the night before last. She makes it clear that she must be told every single thing about the princess, from her footsteps down to her sneezes. Okay, creepy stalker. She adds that if Seol manages to escape again, someone here will pay the price with her job.
Seol spends the whole day calling Mom and Dan over and over, with no answer from either. Dan finally gets sick of it, and spitefully texts Seol from Mom’s phone, telling her not to call anymore. Worst sister ever.
Seol makes a move to head out the door, but gets stopped with a desperate plea from her court lady that without Yoon-ju’s approval, Seol stepping one foot out of the palace means that she loses her job. Seol remains trapped in the palace, stewing all day, until Yoon-ju arrives to start a new catfight.
She tells Seol that there’s rampant speculation in the press about whether the princess is sick, or dead, and blames her irresponsible behavior. Seol states plainly that she’s alive and well, so they can dispute the rumors, can’t they? Yoon-ju shoot back that other than being alive, Seol isn’t really good for anything. Yeesh.
She tells her, commands her, really, to get dressed to go to the hospital and play sick for the public. She basically calls her a third-rate celebrity, and for her to do at least that much.
It finally pushes Seol into action, and she tells Yoon-ju to assemble her entire staff. She has something to say to all of them, as the princess.
She comes out where the staff including Hae-young, Yoon-ju, and Jung-woo are assembled, and gets ready to address them. She stands on her tiptoes trying to look at everyone in the room, but finds that her highest heels aren’t doing the job. So she gets up on the couch to address the room with authority. It’s both adorable and regal—in other words, the perfectly princessy thing to do.
She apologizes for missing the press conference and for all the rumors milling about, which she plans to start correcting.
Seol: I didn’t know who I was, or what I was supposed to do. This circumstance that I came up against…scared me, you see. The reason I entered the palace was to clear my father’s name. But now I know—that my father is not just my father, but the monarchy’s history.
She announces that she’s calling for a re-do on the press conference. Oh dear lord, are we doing another press conference? But! We just got rid of the last one!
Yoon-ju confronts Hae-young about what on earth happened between him and Seol that night to make her act like this. He just brushes it aside, but Yoon-ju says that she thought they were on the same path…is that not the case anymore?
He asks what path she means, and she spells it out: M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E. Duh. He reminds her that he said he wouldn’t marry her if he became penniless. He says it’s the last thing he can do for her. With tears in her eyes, she asks why he thinks that’s what she’d want; if he wants to make her out to be that kind of woman.
He answers that it’s true he was never impassioned towards her (ouch) but that he’s always wanted to take care of her, and to honor her father’s loyalty to their family. Oooohhhh…double ouch. That is the WORST possible thing you could say to the woman who loves you. Geez, I’m shuddering.
Instead of rejecting the man who clearly thinks of her as an obligation, she stupidly asks him to marry her now then. She calls his bluff, noting that he can’t do it, because it leave him no out…and because he’s feeling something for Seol. He denies that he’ll do anything with Seol, but Yoon-ju sees right through him: “You already have.”
Jung-woo presents Seol with a history of her family, and they have a good flirt over whether he’s giving it to her, or just showing off that he does super important research. She catches him smiling at her, and actually calls him on it: “You’re totally looking at me like I’m so cute right now!” OMG, she cracks me up.
She wonders if she can pull it off, being the princess, and he encourages her, with the reminder that all her days from here on out will be recorded as history, just like her ancestors. He tells her to be careful, and especially not to write love letters to just anyone. Ha.
Seol realizes that if she’s going to be recorded in history, there’s a few things from her past history that needs to be erased. She starts making a list of all the things that need to be erased, starting with her comments in online forums. Hahaha. Future princesses be warned: your life online can haunt your reign. Discretion advised.
Hae-young walks into the gallery, and she hurriedly crumples up the paper and sticks it in her mouth. What are you, a goat? He pulls it out and starts to read it, wondering what the titles are: “What is this? Do you watch porn?” Seol: “NO! I only watched the trailers!” LOL.
He gets on the phone and has someone just sweep the online history, stopping to ask: “Do you watch porn on foreign sites too?” Ha. She wonders why he’s being nice to her again, and what backhanded move he’s got planned next. He asks how she plans to pull it off, with her limited skills.
She reminds him that even in her part-time job, she played a princess. Hae-young: “That’s right. Because of you, every foreigner who visits Korea thinks princesses are pretty.” She’s about to spit back another retort, until she realizes what he just said.
Seol: “What…what did you say?” Hae-young: “That you’re pretty.”
She starts to stammer and he follows it up with: “Are you being swayed right now?” She glares at him, trying to figure out if he’s doing this just to mess with her. Seol: “Are you testing me?” Hae-young: “I’m testing ME.”
They get called to dinner by Grandpa, who makes the announcement that Hae-young needs to do something to make it clear to the public that Daehan Group no longer has any ties to the monarchy…marry Yoon-ju.
Everyone sits with bated breath, and then Hae-young answers that he will, not for Daehan or the monarchy, but because he wants to. Seol and Jung-woo both stare agape. And then, Yoon-ju one-ups him with her answer: That SHE won’t marry him.
Wah, where did all the fluffy fun go? We barely recovered some of it in the last five minutes, but it was sorely missing all episode long. I really only like this show for one reason, and that’s silly, frothy, evaporate-into-fluffy-clouds fun, and well…this episode had none of that. **princess pout** It’s not like I hate the drama when it’s all angsty, but its weaknesses really start to show at the seams when the whole episode is spent in Serious Stuff, because…well… I hate to point out that the emperor has no clothes on, but this show doesn’t exactly hold its water in the Serious Plot Department.
I get that the characters are all taking the angst seriously, but I’m not, so there’s a gap that gets widened when I’m not pulled in by much more compelling things like romance and funny hijinks. Seol’s angst is a little more raw (and better performed, truth be told) so I connect a little more with what she’s going through, but now that she’s got all that crying out of the way, I’d really like to see her do more of what she does towards the end of the episode, and stand up to Yoon-ju and Hae-young instead of whining that the universe is messing with her.
But mostly, please, bring back The Cute. Bring it baaaaaaaack.