There’s something that just really works about this couple, for me. She’s a little dense and he’s got a pretty large noble streak — though he hasn’t crossed over to the dark side of idiocy, yet — but together, they’re just so cute. The why-we-Should-Not-Be conflict is credible (and harks back to that inescapable point of comparison, Roman Holiday), and because that roadblock is so substantial, the story allows for the two of them to be honest with each other about their feelings. (A pet peeve: When both sides like each other but stupidly keep everything to themselves, leading to Big Misunderstandings galore that aggravate me to no end.)
And when they both know how they feel — though they can’t act on it — there’s a sweetness to the way their feelings permeate their everyday (though veiled) interactions.
SONG OF THE DAY
Fanny Fink – “가장 아픈 사랑” (The most painful love) [ Download ]
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Hae-young asks his question, but Seol says she won’t answer: “I know what you gave up for me, I know who you made an enemy of because of me, but how can I answer? If I do, I know things will get even harder, and I don’t know how you’ll be able to protect me. So how can I answer? I won’t.” He gives her a rueful half-smile, saying that he taught her well, seeing how she gives a good answer to a bad question.
(But…we like bad questions! Don’t just let it die here! Ask all the bad questions you want, for the love of fangirls and plot development!)
He pulls her into a hug and says, “Don’t forget this.” Walking by, Yoon-ju the Heartless Android sees the hug. And she’s not only heartless but shameless, since she next lets herself into Jung-woo’s place using his code, preferring to bypass that whole pesky knocking thing. Social niceties are SO passé.
She guesses that Jung-woo has Empress Myung-sung’s sachet, but he refuses to give her the satisfaction of confirming that it’s real. He tells her he’d like for it to be real, but he knows there are those who seek to use history for their own means (*ahem*), which is not so good. Alas, she knows him well enough to read in his reaction that it’s real.
They’ve both considered the possibility that Dan might be supposed to be the princess, but Jung-woo affirms that it won’t happen, while Yoon-ju is more willing to think along those lines.
True to Hae-young’s warning, the president has twisted the orphans’ visit for his own gain, and Seol declares that she’s going to have to study her butt off to make sure that she’s “able to answer bad questions with good answers.”
Hae-young has to deal with the fallout of his behavior in front of the press, which comes in the form of an angry president, who reminds him that he entered the palace to block the restoration. He orders Hae-young to quit the palace, threatening to do some major damage if he doesn’t.
Dan and Yoon-ju have another meeting to discuss their options, now that the sachet is real. Dan declares, “I want what you want,” and Yoon-ju agrees: Starting tonight, Dan will assume the princess role. But when Dan asks about the restoration vote, Yoon-ju laughs — it would be difficult enough to install a real princess, so a fake one’s out of the question. Dan would merely be playing the part, to ensure that the vote never happens. After that, she’ll leave the country.
Dan drops by to scope out her soon-to-be room, though Seol thinks her sister’s here for a friendly visit. Well, maybe just a plain visit, since I’m pretty sure Dan only has two modes: bitch and bitchier. She reads through Seol’s fan mail and makes a snide remark about the orphan who sent it, saying that her own orphan past is something she’d like to hide, though Seol uses hers as a weapon.
Dan leaves her with the cryptic words, “Next time I come to this room, you’d better not be in it.”
Seol spots Hae-young waiting for her and tries to sneak by unseen, as inconspicuous as an elephant in a tutu. Hae-young stops her for a word, which she doesn’t want to hear, thinking he’s going to tell her to forget yesterday. She asks for just one day of reprieve, wanting to spend today away from him to allow herself to come to grips with things.
But no, Hae-young declares that that won’t be possible, as she’s going to be stuck within a 1-meter radius of him all day, and that every time she rebels, he’s going to reduce that space by 50 centimeters. Well, now I know what I’M gonna be hoping for today.
Seol supposes that the reason for his odd (and warm) behavior is that he wants to spend one day with her as herself, rather than as the princess. Too nervous and jumpy to join him, she makes the excuse that Jung-woo is calling her away.
Visiting Sun-ah at the department store, Seol confides her romantic predicament to her friend, who sees that she’s got it bad this time. Seol says that her usual forthrightness won’t work with Mr. P — just as Sun-ah spots him heading their way.
Panicking, Seol insists that he can’t find her here and climbs into a suitcase, urging Sun-ah to cover for her. But Hae-young’s not fooled in the least and politely insists on buying that suitcase, and rolls away with it.
She pokes her head out when he stops, and he sighs that she’s embarrassing. She figures, “Let’s be embarrassed together!” (love her) and reminds him of their 1-meter rule. I do love how shameless she can be.
Again she doesn’t want to hear what he has to say, assuming (wrongly) that it’s something she doesn’t want to hear. Again he forces her to listen, and gives her five instructions: (1) Don’t let anyone hold her hands (he says while holding her hands), (2) Don’t get in anyone’s car, (3) Don’t accept a piggyback ride from anyone, (4) Don’t get drunk with anyone, and (5) Don’t accept anyone’s confession of affection.
That’s as good as a confession itself, and brings a smile to her face. He happens to be talking like a man about to leave for good, but Seol doesn’t pick up on the little hints (and isn’t connecting his behavior or his statements to that plane ticket she’d seen earlier…).
He takes her to the traditional palace where they’d first met, where a new woman sits dressed in traditional princess garb to greet tourists. Seol wants a photo with her, so Hae-young offers to act as the official diplomat for her, “for the first and last time.” He doesn’t realize his slip until she picks up on it, but he glosses the moment over by joking it away.
Seol quickly attracts a crowd, who recognize her and gather round to snap cell phone pics. Seol gives the fake princess a break and offers to take photos with everyone as though it’s a fansigning, and like the budding celebrity she is, the fans quickly line up for their turn. Including Hae-young.
Later, they look over the snapshots from the impromptu event, Hae-young with a wistful expression that Seol doesn’t notice. Growing serious, he tells her in an earnest tone to remember to face her problems head-on in the future and work them out, like a teacher giving his last lesson.
Seol asks why he’s so grave today, to which he answers that he just feels grave today. She senses that something’s up and asks what’s the matter, which he deflects by saying Jung-woo needs to see her, and sends her off.
Clearly that’s not the whole of it, and he grabs hold of her hand for a long, charged moment, trying to hide his emotion, and takes one of the photos for himself.
Jung-woo confers with Seol about her sister and the validity of the sachet. Granted, it won’t be enough to delegitimize Seol’s birth or anything that severe, but he worries that it may cast doubts on her identity, and suggests another trip to the orphanage.
There, the nun clarifies that while Dan said her mother gave her the sachet, it’s not clear whether she meant a biological mother or an imaginary mother, as many of the kids have a tendency to talk of their parents in imaginary terms (e.g., “My mom and dad are really rich”). Dan often spoke of a mother, while Seol spoke of a father and ajusshi — Young Seol had said that if she stayed with ajusshi, Dad would come for her.
This is news to them — who could the other man be? — and they puzzle over the possibilities.
It’s likely she means Hae-young’s father, a photo of whom Hae-young contemplates while packing his bags. He lingers over Seol’s photo, thinking of how quickl the day passed for him, and leaves behind an envelope for Seol to find later.
Upon Seol’s return to the palace, Yoon-ju storms up and confronts her angrily — oh look, the android can simulate emotion — for causing Hae-young to be kicked out of the palace. Hae-young had crossed the president to protect her, and this is his reward.
Shocked, Seol dashes off in search of him. Yoon-ju warns Jung-woo not to hold her back, saying that even if everyone else takes Seol’s side, he shouldn’t — and that everything she’d given Jung-woo up to have is now Seol’s. Well, honey, that’s not her fault, is it? I like to call this little lesson Bad Decisions Have Consequences, Not All Of Which Can Be Blamed On Royalty.
Seol finds Hae-young’s room emptied of his belongings and tries to call him, but his phone goes unanswered. In her room, she finds the envelope containing a document and a note from Hae-young regarding the completion of her first royal decree: He has donated all of her funds (all $140 of it), as instructed.
Now she gives in to her tears, sobbing alone in her room just as Hae-young sends her a text message: “There are two presents.”
Curious, she looks around for the second, not finding anything until her mother calls her name. Hae-young had told her to go comfort her daughter, who’s hurting.
Now it’s time for the men to meet. Hae-young asks Jung-woo to take good care of Seol, which surprises Jung-woo a bit in that it’s something you ask when you have a clear claim on the person in question. In other words: Hae-young is claiming a connection with Seol that he’d previously denied.
With that, Hae-young prepares to head to New York, where he has tracked down his father — who, by the way, has been barred from returning to Korea. Harsh, Grandpa.
Seol is introduced to her new teacher/diplomat, Seung-hyun, and this spurs her into action. Well, she’s not the brightest bulb, but at least she has finally figured things out, and she requests Hae-young’s whereabouts, perhaps guessing that he is, at this moment, awaiting his boarding call at the airport.
She races to the airport, and catches Hae-young as he’s in the line to board his plane. Angry and hurt, she tears into him for trying to leave without telling her properly. She asks hopefully if he’ll return soon, but he’s not sure.
Yoon-ju calls to tell him he owes her another one, because she’d grabbed him in time for him to protect the princess again. An important matter has popped up, requiring Seol and Hae-young to report to the palace. Girl may be counting all the times she’s owed, but why do I suspect that this is not a two-way street with her?
This latest matter relates to the empress’s sachet, and the relevant parties are called for the unveiling. Chairman Park immediately recognizes the artifact, but Seol can’t recall it specifically. Yoon-ju puts on a front of false concern, explaining that she’d been searching for it because its absence could become detrimental to Seol, and now finds herself “thrown into confusion” upon learning who had it.
With that, she introduces the owner and Dan walks in, declaring that it was left to her, the sole remaining possession of her parents. Seol realizes (as do the others) that the implication is that she’s not the princess, and the chairman states that that’s not possible, since he’d left the sachet with Lee Han, Seol’s father.
Assuming a dignified air, Dan says that she had intended to remain quiet to allow Seol to become the princess (so generous!), but now finds she must speak up (and so honorable!).
Thus begins the false story undoubtedly provided by Yoon-ju: That Dan had been left at the orphanage at age 5 because someone had been following her father. One night, he had died, after which point she met Seol at the orphanage — where she told her story to Seol.
Seol bursts out in confusion, knowing this is a lie, but Dan says in her patronizing way that the truth will come out. Oh, we’re counting on it.
Yoon-ju explains that it’ll be problematic to present Seol as the princess without investigation of the matter. The chairman eschews the necessity for further confirmation, but Yoon-ju pulls rank, saying that she considers it her job to investigate all matters thoroughly. And perhaps occasionally invent some?
The chairman asks Dan if she remembers him, and she answers in the affirmative, adding that he’d ridden in on a helicopter the day she’d met him. That’s Seol’s own memory, but slyly, Dan is prepared for this: She asks Seol if she knows why she was at the construction site that day, which Seol doesn’t remember. And since Dan has been coached, naturally she can pass off the truth as her “memory,” saying that the man chasing her father had threatened Dad to never appear in front of the chairman again.
And this, sadly enough, is a memory that even Hae-young can confirm, having been there himself. It’s also enough to introduce substantial doubt that Hae-young avoids looking at Seol. Dan even insinuates that the man chasing her father is Hae-young’s father, which is something Seol doesn’t know.
At this ever-so-convenient juncture, the meeting is interrupted with the announcement of a special news report — handily supplied by Yoon-ju to the pesky Reporter Yoon, of course. Proving that the media is entirely capable of creating news as it is of reporting it, the story states that there is currently heated debate over the true owner of the empress’s sachet, and that Seol’s validity is being investigated.
I’m vastly relieved that Chairman Park is immediately suspicious of this development; he rails to his secretary that there are only a handful of people in the world who know about Hae-young’s father. Secretary Oh cowers nervously, perhaps fearing that the chairman will put two and two together and realize that Yoon-ju might be the one. But the characters in this drama aren’t very good at math, so it’s Hae-young he yells for.
Hae-young confronts Dan, asking how she knows the story. She says firmly that she experienced it firsthand. When asked why she waited to speak, Dan answers that she opposes the restoration. She has no intention of being the princess — she damn well won’t do it for the very people who chased her and her father out into the streets.
Grandpa accuses his grandson of being behind this whole mess, which is a charge that shocks — and hurts. To be sure, it’s not like Grandpa’s SO off the mark since Hae-young had been plotting to derail this princess project from the start, and even tried to whisk Seol abroad, but he’s stunned now.
Grandpa tells him disgustedly that he’s just like his father, and warns that he won’t get his way. Hae-young says bitterly that he’s right, and storms out.
A few more hard words, this time from Yoon-ju to Jung-woo: “I’m hoping for a miracle — that before the people vote on the restoration, Chairman Park collapses.”
Perhaps understanding the emotions driving Yoon-ju, the hurt and fear that exist way, way, way down inside the heartspace in her chest cavity, Jung-woo gathers her into a hug, countering her bitterness with care: “Don’t do it, Yoon-ju. You can stop now.”
She says that she knows, “But I don’t want to.”
Seol stops her sister, who taunts, “Are you scared? Worried? Why? If you’re the real princess, prove it.”
But that’s not her main concern right now, and Seol yells that that’s not the issue — what about what she’s doing to Hae-young?
Yoon-ju steps in to take over this showdown, and mocks Seol by calling hers a tragic Romeo & Juliet situation — just as Hae-young enters.
One thing I worry about in every episode is that the conflict will get dragged out forever, but so far I’ve been pleased with the way the story is advancing at a brisk clip. Case in point: When Dan is brought in as the possibly-real princess, I groaned as doubt was introduced and it seemed as though everyone was starting to suspect she might be telling the truth.
I was on the verge of blowing up into a full-fledged rant — that these very smart people could suspect Dan, independently, of lying about her identity, and of Yoon-ju of lying about things to thwart Seol, but were seemingly oblivious to the fact that these two could lie, together? — but that fear was relieved when it became clear that nobody was taken in by Dan’s story. Of course, they can’t dismiss her claim either, no matter how much they doubt her, because it’s enough to threaten Seol’s position. But at least they weren’t so stupid as to be taken in by such a pat story told by someone with everything to gain by interference.
I actually enjoyed Hae-young’s bout with angst in this episode, although to be sure there’s nothing all that original about it. He gives up his position to protect Seol, and bears his punishment in silence. Normally this self-sacrificing type of character tends to irritate me, but I appreciate the turmoil it puts Hae-young in because for a substantial stretch there, he wasn’t noble, not at all. He was purposely attempting to undermine her and working against her, and no amount of guilty conscience negates the fact that he was prepared to strip her of her birthright to protect his inheritance. (I’m under no illusions that he was operating under any ideological impulses or political beliefs — it was purely in self-preservation.) So he deserves to stew a bit (as Seol herself put it), and his pain is surprisingly gratifying (to me — does that make me a sadist?), because he sorta earned it.
But he’s still sympathetic enough that I feel for him when he’s hurt, as he is with his grandfather’s callous dismissal of him at the end. Seriously, dude — I know patriotism is a virtue and all, but at the expense of all human feeling and compassion? Who d’you think you are, the Yoon-ju Bot?