The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 7
It’s a crash course in fates, as we find out that some connections can’t be shaken, even in death. We finally get our introduction to grown-up Yeon-woo, and things move along a lot faster than I had anticipated. This episode is sort of the sister to last week’s introduction to King Hwon and his world, and this time we get to see Yeon-woo’s side, and what life has been like outside the palace walls for her.
Ratings: Moon raked in 29.7%, further widening the gap with Captain at 7.1% and Wild Romance at 6.2%.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Grown-up Yeon-woo finally reveals herself as the girls send Nok-young off at the dock. Nok-young warns her not to talk to strangers, and not to form connections with anyone while she’s gone. Yeesh, I know it’s risky, but are you planning to keep her caged?
The boat approaches, and who should be sleeping on deck, but weary traveler Yang-myung (Jung! Il! Woo!). He wonders to a fellow passenger why there are so many people about, and the man wonders how he didn’t know – that the king is arriving to greet this very town today.
Yang-myung chuckles as he thinks to himself that Yeon-woo has aligned the fates so that he has to see Hwon after all. Once ashore, he walks along the dock headed straight for Yeon-woo, and then passes her by without seeing her face.
Seol relishes the temporary freedom as much as Yeon-woo, and suggests they make a day of it in town, but they soon hear the announcement that the king is on his way here. Yeon-woo perks up just wanting to do something fun, while Seol immediately says no with a worried look. Yeon-woo pouts, but Seol says no, and drags her away.
The king’s royal entourage arrives outside the town, and he orders them to open the shade on his sedan, since the good people have gathered to see his face after all. Hyung-sun regretfully obliges, and then suggests he ought to smile then.
Hwon thinks that inappropriate, plus overkill on top of his pretty face. “Do you think it’s easy for a nation’s king to look like this?” PWAHAHAHA. I’m pretty sure Vain King is my favorite of Kim Soo-hyun’s modes. Woon smiles, and Hyung-sun cringes. Visibly.
The townspeople line up to gain entry to the area where the king will pass by, and Yeon-woo and Seol join the crowd after all. Sometimes the pout is mightier than the sword. Seol reminds her that they’re just here to get a quick look and that’s all. Yeon-woo promises to behave.
A mother and son stand ahead of them in line and are refused entry by the guards for being poor, and Yeon-woo steps up to talk back to the sentry, that he has no right to refuse her. Aw, that brings a smile to my face that she’s just as idealistic as ever.
He talks down to her and Seol reaches for her sword, but Yeon-woo looks the guard straight in the eyes and tells him why his wife really left, and why she’s cheating on him. Oooh, witchy powers, activate! She tells him he should stop drinking, otherwise he’ll die of alcohol poisoning, and sends him quaking in his boots.
Just then, Yang-myung causes some kind of disturbance down the line, and the guards head off running after him. Yeon-woo happily holds up the rope to let everyone pass. Seol yells at her for acting like a shaman again when she doesn’t have any mystical powers (HA) and then stops to wonder how she managed to know about that guard.
Yeon-woo tells her that’s not magic; it’s the power of deduction. She smelled alcohol on his breath, could tell he was a mean drunk who disrespected women, and saw how angrily he reacted to Seol, assuming that she was a good-looking young man. Put it all together, and you get your answer. How funny. I expected her to be a shaman, but this is even better.
They line up and bow as the king approaches. Yang-myung continues to get chased by the angry guards for something, but they all stop to bow, swearing to pick the argument back up afterwards.
Yang-myung bows along with everyone else, but lifts his head to see Hwon’s face, and Woon’s, and lets out a wistful smile. Aw. Why are you already breaking my heart?
Yeon-woo remains face to the ground, but a little yellow butterfly catches her attention, just like the day she first met Prince Hwon. It flutters away, making her lift her head, and she thoughtlessly stands up.
It’s then that she turns to see the king’s face as he approaches. It sends a wave of emotion through her, and she suddenly bursts into tears at the sight of him. Her standing up is enough of a disturbance that Yang-myung notices her, but doesn’t think much of it. Seol tries to get her to kneel, but it’s too late, and the guards start approaching. Seol grabs her hand and they take off running.
Yang-myung suddenly senses something about Yeon-woo and darts back up, just to see her being chased off by the guards. He runs after them. All this happens ahead of the king’s view, so he looks in their direction, but they’ve already disappeared into the crowd.
Seol and Yeon-woo run through the streets holding hands, and that suddenly sends Yeon-woo into a piecemeal flashback of the day she met Hwon, and he held her hand as they ran. As the girls hide, Yeon-woo asks if they’ve ever been chased like this before, and Seol says no. Yeon-woo wonders, “Then whose memories are these?”
At the same time, Yang-myung evades the guards and starts searching for Yeon-woo. He stops a girl dressed like her, and his face falls. He wonders to himself what he was expecting, when the girl he’s looking for is six feet under.
Meanwhile, the king takes a bath while Hyung-sun blathers on, trying to put him in a better mood. But Hwon doesn’t like any of his ideas, and turns to Woon, suggesting that he join him in the tub. Rawr? The servants in the room start scrambling from the awkward, and Hyung-sun sends them all scurrying out in a big hurry.
He warns the king that there are enough rumors about already, he needn’t make it worse by inviting Woon to share a bath. HEE. Is he suggesting what I think he’s suggesting? Hwon asks what he means by rumors.
Hyung-sun stammers that well, he keeps his distance from the queen… and keeps Woon close… Keh. Hwon turns to Hyung-sun: “Then do YOU want to join me in the bath?” Hyung-sun covers his chest and runs out of there like a scared little squirrel. Hwon smiles at Woon, “Finally… we are alone…” Pfft.
Outside Hyung-sun presses his ear to the door, “He couldn’t… possibly… Have his tastes changed?” HA. He scurries about frantically, when Yang-myung arrives to see the king. Hyung-sun knocks and knocks… but of course the bath is empty.
Hwon and Woon walk through the streets dressed as regular noblemen, and Hwon stops for a second, swearing he can hear Hyung-sun’s screams from here. Heh. On their walk, Hwon encounters what he’s really here to see – how people really live, and not just what they want to show the king.
They find streets lined with the homeless, struggling to survive. A little child runs into them on accident, and Hwon stops to ask him about his parents and puts money in his hand. He promises to find his father and send him home, assuring him that he’s high up enough to do so. Yeah, I’d say.
Woon stops short, sensing that they’re being followed by a spy. Hwon doesn’t flinch, knowing that they’ve been followed this whole time. He says good-naturedly that the diligent spy followed them all the way here, so should they play with him? Off they go, running in the other direction, into the woods.
They lose the tail and stop to catch their breath, and look up at the sky to see signs of rain. Hwon: “It’s Yeon-woo. Yeon-woo is falling.” Just then, he sees a vision of 13-year old Yeon-woo smiling at him from afar. She runs, and he instinctively runs after her.
Meanwhile, Nok-young meets the shaman who helped her hide, and he warns her that she’s messing with Fate – that the king is vulnerable because she’s split him up from the one who was destined to stay by his side and keep him safe.
She says that it’s a union already broken, but he assures her that the heavens will find a way to make it right. Nok-young argues that Yeon-woo has no memories, but the shaman tells her that you cannot erase their longing for each other. Nok-young worries for what pain Yeon-woo will face if thrown back on her rightful course.
Yeon-woo sits at home in a daze, and tells Seol that she’s finally figured out whom those memories belong to. Seol’s eyes dart back and forth in worry, but Yeon-woo says that it’s her mystical power, finally settling in. Seol knows that’s not the case, but doesn’t argue. They head outside, worried that Nok-young is running late.
Woon and Hwon wander the woods in the heavy fog, going in circles, until Hwon finally admits they’re lost. I like that it’s totally Hwon’s fault but Woon is the one to apologize – it’s like the default setting.
But a light appears in the distance – it’s the light from a lantern, but they see it as a big round circle, and Hwon murmurs, “Is it the moon?” The fog lifts slowly to reveal 13-year old Yeon-woo smiling at him.
He stares wide-eyed, but it’s just his mind playing tricks on him again, because the light approaches, and it’s grown-up Yeon-woo that stands before him. They both stand frozen at the sight of each other.
She brings them home and sets a small table for them, recognizing him as the king but not letting on. She tells them that she isn’t the head of this household, so Hwon asks who is. “Who were you waiting for, in the rain? Is there someone you’re waiting for?”
The proximity, the question, it suspends them both for a lingering moment. He asks about the stacks and stacks of books in the room, wondering why an orphaned girl cares to read so much.
She tells him that she wants to know about the world, and when he scoffs wondering what she could ever do with that knowledge, she says that she hopes it will help someone someday. It stirs his memory of Yeon-woo.
She adds that she’s discovered the joy of learning about the world through the eyes of scholars, and can’t stop. He stares at her curiously, as he flashes back to the witty and wise Yeon-woo who used to quote scholars.
In his head, Hwon thinks, “It couldn’t be. It isn’t possible for a dead girl to be alive. She just resembles her. This is a dream.” He tells himself that he’s mistaken her for someone else, or that his longing for her has turned itself into a ghost to haunt him. He quickly reaches for a drink to shake away the thought.
He tells Woon to have a drink as well, to warm himself from the cold. But Woon stoically refuses to bend the rules, even here. Yeon-woo turns to him, suggesting that it’s actually wrong for him not to drink, since no one’s tasted the king’s food to make sure it isn’t poisoned (a common practice for all things the king consumes).
Woon immediately reaches for his sword. Hwon pulls her close, inches from his face, “How do you know? How do you know that I am the king of Joseon?!” Ruh-roh. He demands to know if they’ve met before, taken up by the hope that his crazy idea might be true.
She swears that they haven’t, and he screams at her to tell him how then, how could she possibly know who he is? She stammers that she saw him today, when he came through the streets. The logical explanation sends him crashing back down to earth. He lets go of her arm and lets out a bitter laugh, as if taunting himself for his stupid expectations.
He sees that the rain has stopped, and tells Woon that it’s time to return. They step outside, and Hwon stops to ask Yeon-woo her name. She tells him that she doesn’t have one – that her guardian didn’t give her one so that she wouldn’t form connections with anyone. That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.
She says that everyone just calls her agi, basically short for agasshi or “miss.” He looks up at the sky, and tells her that her name will be Wol (moon). He says it’s his payment for the warm drink, to give her a name. She repeats it to herself with a smile, “Wol. I have a name.”
That night, Yang-myung lies awake, speaking to Yeon-woo in his mind, wondering if she was there to see the king as well. He asks that in the next life, she would see him first, before his brother.
Hwon and Woon return to a harried Hyung-sun, and stop short to see Yang-myung there. He approaches with a respectful bow. Hwon doesn’t look very pleased to see his brother, and sternly asks if he’s come after all this time… and still refuses to show his face.
At that, Yang-myung lifts his head. Hwon: “Mm, you are as good-looking as ever.” Ha. He finally breaks into a big smile, and Yang-myung grins. AW. Even Woon smiles.
The brothers sit down for a drink, and Woon sits in the corner. They each try to coax Woon to join them, but of course he refuses. Yang-myung laughs that it won’t work – Woon will never bring a drink to his lips while on duty.
So Hwon offers up a bet: the one who gets Woon to drink gets a wish for anything they want. This is so awesome. Either way, Woon’s goin’ down. Yang-myung tries first, but Woon won’t budge, and Hwon finally pulls out the big guns, and ORDERS him to drink.
He complies, and Yang-myung laughs in surprise. He asks for the king’s wish. Hwon pours a drink and asks if Yang-myung is still carrying “her” in his heart. Yang-myung’s smile fades in an instant. But this is Hwon’s wish as the winner of the bet – that he answers the question. Tricksy! You didn’t say it’d be truth or dare!
Yang-myung: Even if she were still in my heart, she would still be dead. When I say I’ll forget her, I miss her, and when I miss her, I quickly forget – that is the human heart. I didn’t want to miss her or forget her, so the only thing I left in my heart is the reminder that she is no longer in this world.
Hwon repeats his words with a sigh, and each brother drinks.
The king returns to the palace and finds that the ministers have endowed more funds to a development project in his absence. He calls them out on spending more money while the people starve, and their defense is that it’s a project he approved.
So he declares that all the accounting be brought to him at once, and that by tomorrow, someone will be held responsible for any funds that have been misused. From all the scared faces, it looks like it’s quite the slush fund.
Later that night Minister Yoon meets with a shaman from Sungsucheong, offering her a promotion in exchange for her help in taming the king. She tells him that in the king’s absence she’s planted a talisman that she can use against him.
Queen Bo-kyung comes to see the king that night, and his servants have to beg him to even let her inside. She asks him to leave an heir, and that she’d even be willing to step aside and let him have a son with a concubine, because what matters is the future of this nation, not her feelings.
He shifts gears from his usual cold demeanor and says he now understands her true heart. She smiles, thinking she’s finally getting through to him. But then he leans on his hand, the cheeky, bitter bite coming back. He agrees to find a suitable concubine at once. Well THAT’s a plan that backfired. She looks up in shock.
He tells her that he dislikes everything about her, like the way she can say the opposite of what she means. I know she’s not exactly sympathetic, but I do feel sorry for her because he’s really harsh. He’s not wrong about her family and her motives, but oof, he’s so mean to her.
She gets up to go, and then stops with her back turned to him, asking how long he’s going to keep a dead woman in his heart, taking up the place where she should be. He suddenly clasps his hand to his heart, the pain in his chest causing him to seize and gag, until he passes out.
Bo-kyung doesn’t even realize it until she turns around and he’s already out cold. Doctors rush to his bedside, and outside the shaman’s talisman sits under his room, the source of his fits of pain. Thankfully he wakes up soon after.
The queen dowager uses this as the perfect excuse to call back the true head of Seungsucheong, declaring that this is happening because her powerful presence is lacking in the palace, to ward off evil. Yeah but the real evil is you, Grandma.
She plans to have Nok-young fight off the mystical curse-illness, and also break the ill will between king and queen. I’m not sure there’s a spell in heaven or hell to make this husband like his wife. Just sayin’.
Hwon stirs in bed, as Woon sits by. He asks Woon to find that girl again. “There’s something in her eyes. She’s hiding something from me.” He orders him to go find her. Woon sets off on horseback by morning.
He returns to Yeon-woo’s house, but finds it empty – not just empty, but hurriedly emptied, like they moved in a big hurry in the middle of the night. He picks up a stone from the floor.
In the morning, Princess Min-hwa screams in horror… at the sight of her bloated face, after eating late the night before. She wails that her husband will surely come to hate her when he sees her face, and that she’ll end up alone and wandering the streets, never having been properly loved. Haha, she cracks me up with her histrionics.
Yeom’s mother finds her distraught and gives him a talking-to for forgetting that he was supposed to be with Min-hwa last night, and chastises him for not being more assertive about that whole sharing-a-bed thing. Well I’m pretty sure being told to do so by your mother isn’t exactly… um… conducive, shall we say?
She says that it must’ve taken a lot for the princess to be the one to speak up about it, and he apologizes, saying that he must’ve fallen asleep while reading. I’m fairly certain that if you prefer to read, this is a bigger issue than forgetting.
Mom thinks so too, ’cause she asks if he’s avoiding her on purpose, but he swears he isn’t. He says that she’s still young though, still thinking of her more like a little sister. But Mom reminds him that she’s of age to have a child and then some (which kind of blows my mind, but that’s how they rolled back then) and that she’s not his sister, but his wife.
She adds that the princess has bestowed an immeasurable grace upon their family, and that his father said to his dying day that they shouldn’t forget it. Yeom assures her that he won’t.
The queen dowager sends a trio of ministers to bring Nok-young back to the palace, and they find her at her new home. She turns down their requests to return to Seongsucheong, and when they start getting curious about Yeon-woo, she tells them that she’ll come see the queen herself.
Meanwhile Yeon-woo heads out to town to find Seol, trying to use her new powers to see her. She puts her finger to her forehead, like an antenna (ha) to no avail. She wonders if her powers are gone, or if she never had them at all. But then, where did those memories come from?
What Nok-young doesn’t see is that one of the men eyes Yeon-woo as something more than just a curiosity. He orders his servants to capture her, and they head back toward the palace with Yeon-woo locked in a box.
She struggles to get out, and suddenly memories of waking up in her coffin start flashing back. She claws at the walls of the sedan and gasps for air.
As she clutches her heart, she wonders, startled: “Whose memory is this?”
I’m surprised that Hwon and Yeon-woo met so quickly, since I assumed there’d be lots of fateful longing and near missteps before they came face to face. I’m happy that in that respect, the story seems to be flowing quickly, rather than teasing an encounter for so long that we stop caring. SO many dramas do that, and I do really stop caring.
I suppose I’ll have to start calling her Wol now, since adult Yeon-woo has finally been named. Han Ga-in was in some respects better than I expected – she’s playing the naïve innocent side of Yeon-woo quite convincingly, and her tears are moving. Her speech feels a little stilted, like she’s being too careful, but it’s better than the alternative, which is to sound like a valley girl reciting sageuk dialogue, which would be far worse. I felt her connection to Hwon in their scene together, though admittedly, it was his reaction that got me in the heart. Kim Soo-hyun does heartache so convincingly. I do however, feel like Kim Yoo-jung (the younger Yeon-woo) was better than Han Ga-in, so it’s hard not to miss her, especially when that’s the memory that both Hwon and Yang-myung carry around in their hearts.
Removed from the sheen of the beautiful setting and the world, there are things about the story that bug me. The brothers both still pining for the same first love is kind of ridiculous when you strip it from the circumstances. It’s because the whole situation is wrapped in such tragedy and the constraints of being royals that it has enough spin for me to care. Basically it’s the upside to her “death” – because otherwise the severity of their fixation would be troubling. It’s still a little troubling, but they’re still young.
The amnesia, I’m less troubled by, since it’s actually motivated by the trauma of waking up in her own coffin, and the divide between present and past isn’t mystical – that is, she could recall her memories at any point. I also like the surprise that she isn’t mystically endowed after all. I do think she might have some kind of hidden powers that she hasn’t accessed yet, because even 13-year old Yeon-woo seemed to have some connection to things beyond this world. That said, I do think it would be hilarious if she entered the palace as a shaman who had no powers. Her con in this episode was priceless, and I’d love it if they kept that light and amusing side of her around.
I’m happiest about the fact that growing up with the characters doesn’t mean losing the sense of humor and comic book feel that the drama had from the beginning. It’s still cheeky and light in surprising moments, even amidst the darker situations they face as adults. The characters still feel very much the same, at the core, which makes me a happy camper. I like that Yeon-woo is still sassy and defiant, and that her hunger for knowledge isn’t something that amnesia or a new name can change. And when that’s the thing that makes Hwon suspect it might be her? Love.
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 6
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 5
- Interviews with Moon/Sun’s child actors
- Jung Il-woo and the adults of Moon/Sun to appear this week
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 4
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 3
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 2
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 1
- Hanboks galore at press conference for Moon That Embraces the Sun