The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 11
Yay, the fun is back! I love this episode. It’s full of funny pranks, stealthy missions, and some new mystical elements that work nicely to integrate our characters further. Hwon finally starts playing detective and asking some key questions, and I say, IT’S ABOUT TIME.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Yang-myung pulls Wol aside to ask if she recognizes him (this time he means from their recent encounter, not when they were tweens) and she doesn’t have a chance to respond.
The guards tear them apart, but this time Yang-myung pulls royal rank, disclosing his identity. The guards immediately bow. He turns back to Wol, but this time Nok-young intervenes, and just in time. She tells them to take Wol away and stands in Yang-myung’s path to block him.
Meanwhile Hwon sits in his chamber, just after having compared Wol’s letter to Yeon-woo’s. (Eeep!) He wonders to himself over and over, “It can’t be…” She enters the chamber and he looks up, angry.
Outside, Nok-young explains that Wol is just a mystical object, no different from a paper talisman. Yang-myung counters that his life is worth nothing more than a slip of paper too, and continues to charge forward.
Nok-young stops him again, saying that it’s not fated to be. He yells back, wondering who determines such things. Nok-young says she’s simply delivering the message of the gods. Yang-myung: “That is not for God to decide, but me.” Gah, could I love him any more?
She finally draws her last card – that going any closer puts Wol in danger. She tells him that his actions could put her in the middle of a war, and warns that he’s putting her life at risk. She tells him the only way to keep her safe is by backing away.
Inside, Hwon is screaming at Wol, demanding to know where she was born. He interrogates her in rapid-fire – where is her family, was she always an orphan, what happened to them.
She explains that when a shaman is endowed with mystical powers she must cut her ties and her memories of her past life. Interesting. So she thinks her amnesia is not specific to her, but a commonality among all shaman?
Still as frantic as ever, Hwon demands she reopen those memories – who was she in her past life, and does she have any memories of him?
But she cries, pleading with him to stop. “I cannot give you the answer you seek. Because I am not that woman you are looking for. I don’t know how much I look like her. But if you wish to inquire more, please, ask her directly.”
His heart sinks, and he backs off the inquisition. Urg, I wish you people would consider the possibility that she CAN’T remember who she is.
At Seongsucheong, Nok-young rips Jan-shil a new one for her colossal mistake, in front of everyone. She wonders why she even bothered to crawl back in here, and kicks her out.
Jan-shil cries and pleads, and Seol tries to get Nok-young to soften, but she means it this time. She wails that it’s because she felt so bad for oraboni, because the king gets everything while he gets nothing. She wanted him to have just one thing…
Nok-young turns around and shoots her a death glare and Jan-shil freezes, covering her mouth. But it’s a little late to take back mention of the king. Nok-young screams at her to get out and turns her back.
Suddenly Jan-shil gets a vision or is possessed, because she stands up defiantly, calling Nok-young “Mother.” She asks why she’s always living to serve others, and Nok-young looks back in shock.
Yang-myung wanders outside the palace walls, and wonders if even this time, he lost the girl AGAIN, to his brother. He finds his mom praying late into the night at the temple, and asks what she’s doing.
She says that as always, she’s praying for the king. He cuts her off angrily, “Just once, can you not call my name before the king’s?” Oof. She asks how he could say such a disloyal thing.
Yang-myung: “It’s disloyal! Hold back! Give it up! Hide it! Don’t waver! Aren’t you tired of it, Mother? Once, just once – Do as you want. It’s okay to be selfish once – Couldn’t you say those words to me?”
Tears fall, but he fights them back and looks up with determination. “I will no longer live for other people!”
Cut back to Jan-shil, who we see now is channeling Yang-myung having this very conversation with his mother. She finishes his words: “If I want to laugh I’ll laugh. If I want to be angry I’ll be angry. If I want to steal [her] away, I will! I’m going to live that way!”
Nok-young watches her in stunned silence, and then Wol walks in. Jan-shil runs over to her, still channeling Yang-myung. “Let’s run away. Run away with me. If it were me, I would’ve protected you. If it were me, I wouldn’t have left you to become like this.”
Oh wow, I just love this scene, the way it cuts back and forth without spelling it out. You can just tell by what she says that she’s a stand-in for Yang-myung. How can a conversation via medium still break my heart for this guy?
Nok-young steps in to wake her out of the connection, and then has her dragged out of Seongsucheong on the spot. She declares that anyone who lets her back inside the palace walls will be punished the same way.
Wol worries and tries to change Nok-young’s mind, but she won’t budge. Seol is more confident that Jan-shil will return in no time, and that Nok-young will eventually take her back in, as always.
Wol sits down with Nok-young and says that if Jan-shil is out then she’ll go too. She confesses that Nok-young was right about her foolish decision to remain here – that she thought she could help the king.
“But I have discovered that I can do nothing for him.” She realized that she’s only made things worse for him, and thrown him into confusion. She thinks that the best she can do is leave him.
Hwon sits obsessing over the letters through the night and into the next day, as Woon and Hyung-sun plead with him to get some sleep or eat. He doesn’t even hear them, and asks what it means when Yeon-woo says in her last letter that her father will bring her medicine and that she won’t see the king anymore.
Woon guesses that she’s predicting her own death. Hwon agrees, and thinks that’s weird. Finally, you are asking the right questions! Hyung-sun gasps—is he implying that Minister Heo had a hand in killing his own daughter?
Hwon thinks back even further – Yeon-woo was always healthy, so what’s with the sudden illness? They ask what he’s getting at, and he spells it out: the princess’s death was not a simple illness.
He wonders if Yeom might know anything, but Woon confirms that he was sent away, and spent his whole life regretting it, because he couldn’t protect his sister. Hwon agrees that bringing up those memories for him would be cruel anyway, and orders him to look into that mysterious medicine that Yeon-woo was given the day she died.
For good measure Hwon actually orders Yeom to go away on a trip, and he packs to leave. Princess Min-hwa is in hysterics, of course, and he comes in to say goodbye. He promises to return soon, but she’s inconsolable.
She asks if he dislikes her because she’s always crying and throwing tantrums, and then wonders if he hates her because he’s locked away in the house, unable to fulfill his potential.
He reassures her that he doesn’t hate her, and that she saved his family. She’s also the one who brought laughter back into this house, and for that alone, he’s grateful. Aw.
She asks if he won’t leave her, and he smiles, wondering what other proof she needs that he won’t. But that’s enough for her, and she decides that she’s going to trust him—that he won’t ever leave her, and that he’ll return from his trip soon.
He wipes her tears and she beams. They’re so cute.
Meanwhile the Council of Evil meets on their latest plan of attack—to go after Yeom for breaching the rules and going on this trip. The assembly gathers and they present their case to the king, that Yeom is required by law not to act as a civil servant in any capacity because he is married to the princess, essentially meaning he ought to stay put in his house.
They argue that his journey could have political implications, but the king argues that there’s nothing wrong with a man taking a vacation. Well now I’m doubly curious about his destination, ’cause it sure isn’t for sun and surf.
Hwon muses that he can just hear the cries ringing in his ears that he’s nothing but a scarecrow, a puppet king. He leaves the council fuming, and decides to kick up a fuss. He storms into the records room where one of the ministers is in charge of sorting civilian requests to the king.
He tears the room apart while yelling at the minister for the same issue he’s always had—that the people’s problems never actually reach the king’s ears. But the whole thing turns out to be a diversion for Woon to steal into the back room and snatch some record books.
He stealths them into Hyung-sun’s hands while everyone else is focused on the king. Nice. Can we get one of these Mission Impossible things in every episode?
Hwon scans the record books from the time of Yeon-woo’s death, but finds nothing other than the official stance that she fell ill. Well that’s not surprising. Did you expect the baddies to write down: “But it was really a super-secret plot to kill her so that Bo-kyung could continue her clan’s line of power”?
Meanwhile Bo-kyung gets a report from her spy that she overheard the king say to Wol that she looks like someone, and that Wol insisted she wasn’t this other person. Bo-kyung starts to get nervous about her hunch.
She walks past the closed Silver Moon Building, and stops short when she hears an echo of a woman crying. Oh creepy. She’s the only one who hears it though, so she tries to shake it off.
Nok-young tells the queen dowager that it’s time to stop using the talisman that draws out bad energy, since remaining by the king’s side might mix good with bad. She says that it’s time to trade her in for a new talisman made specifically for the marriage consummation.
We know it’s all a crock of bullshit, but the queen dowager laps it up, and tells her to do whatever is necessary. Nok-young smiles, now everything in place to get Wol out.
She runs into Bo-kyung on her way out, who asks directly if Wol resembles Yeon-woo, citing the rumors and the fact that the king is acting out of character. She asks to meet the girl.
Nok-young doesn’t flinch and avoids an answer by going on the offensive: “Since when have you been hearing cries coming from Silver Moon?” Bo-kyung trembles. She assures her that Wol is leaving the palace soon, and that her consummation date has been pulled forward, so everything will go according to her wishes. Bo-kyung smiles, reassured.
Nok-young gives the news to Wol that she’ll leave the palace in the morning, and Wol sighs, disappointed to be leaving the king’s side despite knowing that this is what she asked for.
She gets a letter from Jan-shil that says she’s doing well because of a certain someone. We cut to her writing the letter, with Yang-myung behind her. Aw. I knew he’d take care of her.
She swoons about how awesome he is, and then requests a favor, that Wol pack up some clothes and bring them to her, except without Seol, because she suspects that Seol’s on Nok-young’s side. Heh.
Wol packs up her things as asked, and then finds something in the chest. She unwraps it to find the hairpiece—the moon embracing the sun. She doesn’t react to seeing it though, and wraps it back up among Jan-shil’s things.
Meanwhile Hwon goes over the details of what happened eight years ago, and hits dead end after dead end, figuring that everyone who might know what happened is dead. Suddenly he remembers someone who’s still alive—the king’s servant, ie. his dad’s Hyung-sun.
Hyung-sun comes in to see the king, and he’s carrying… a snowman on a tray? Hee. It’s so cute. He wonders why the king suddenly requested he bring him a snowman. Oh no. Hahahaha. I can already see where this is going…
Hyung-sun enters with his little snowman proudly, and of course, the room is empty. HA. Hyung-sun cries out, and out in town dressed as noblemen, Hwon and Woon laugh.
They go to see the former king’s attendant, and his servant lies that he’s away on a trip, even though his shoes are sitting right there on the stoop. Hwon just says loudly enough for him to hear that the king requests his presence in the palace no later than tomorrow, or else.
Outside he tells Woon that today he just wanted to confirm his suspicions – that Yeon-woo’s death really wasn’t a simple illness, because clearly this man has been told to keep his mouth shut about something, for eight long years.
It also tells him that his father must have known what happened, but had a reason he couldn’t do anything about it. “That reason – don’t you think he left that somewhere?” Yay, treasure hunt?
They walk a while, and right past Yang-myung who laughs as Jan-shil devours a chicken. He tells her to return to Seongsucheong, but she doesn’t want to, scared that she won’t even get to beg and plead, because she’ll be tortured first.
He wonders why she stuck her neck out to help him then, if she was so scared. Jan-shil: “It’s because you were the first. You were the first person who ever put his life on the line to help me.” Aw, I love these two.
He can’t help but smile as she tells him that she doesn’t even remember the faces of her mother and father who abandoned her, but his face, she’s never once forgotten. He sighs that her situation isn’t too different from his own.
She perks up, “Were you abandoned by your parents too, and do you have someone you can’t forget either?” He gives a long sigh, “Well, it’s similar.”
She asks about the person he can’t forget. He says that she’s wise and pretty, and that just looking at her brings him comfort. “She caused me a lot of pain, but she brought me a lot of happiness too.”
Jan-shil sighs, “Then maybe I shouldn’t have called Wol here.” That gets his attention right quick. He asks her to repeat it, and she says that it seemed like he wanted to see her, so she called her here. Who needs fate when you’ve got a mystical munchkin?
Wol walks through the streets on her way to them, but when she passes by the parchment shop she gets another flash of memories of being there with Seol, and then again when she passes by the blacksmiths.
The memories come flooding in, of the festival, the prince wearing his mask, and she starts to get dizzy, and falls.
But someone catches her by the waist before she goes down, and when she opens her eyes, Hwon is holding her. Guess you can’t beat Fate, munchkin.
He’s just as shocked as she is, and they stand frozen like that, looking into each other’s eyes.
They walk for a little while, and Hwon is super awkward, all why are you here, oh yeah, I already asked, and I’m here on business, oh right, I already said. Aw, it’s like he’s a teenager again.
He wonders if it’s okay for her to be wandering about during the day when she’s supposed to be preserving her mystical energy and whatnot, joking that that must be why he feels tired.
She doesn’t get that he’s just pulling her leg, so she looks up with concern, asking after his health. In her defense, it wasn’t a very funny joke. He awkwardly has to explain that he was kidding.
She takes her leave and he starts to call out for her, but then sees one of the palace ministers headed straight for him. Woon says there’s a whole group of them coming this way, so they turn around to get back to the palace before they’re discovered.
But Wol stops when she sees that minister berating a child for running into him and ruining his very expensive clothes, and orders his minion to cart the kid away as a slave. Wol steps in to ask that he forgive the child, but only incenses him further, causing him to turn his slave-intentions toward her instead.
The minion grabs for her, but then Hwon comes out of nowhere and runs off with her, head bowed so no one can see him. They take off running down the street, and happen to zoom right past Minister Yoon.
He doesn’t see them straight-on, but after they pass, it gives him pause and he wonders to himself—could that have been the king? Ruh-roh.
Hwon and Wol manage to get away, and he berates her for being so fearless, and not in a good way. She asks if she sees wrongdoing, is she supposed to just ignore it?
He argues that it’s not wrong to expect recompense for ruining expensive clothes, and she starts to ask how expensive they could possibly be, and looks up at the clothes he’s wearing. She says that the higher up you are, shouldn’t you live more simply?
She quotes a story about a king’s duty to set an example in living humbly, so that his subjects follow suit, and it pretty much shuts him up. He wonders how she always knows the right answer to aggravate him. Heh.
He starts to complain but something grabs her attention and she turns away. He’s about to pitch a fit about not paying attention to the king, but sees what she’s looking at – it’s a puppet show.
A wave of emotion hits him, as they stand there silently watching. A man comes up to sell them the best seats in the house, and ushers them to the front of the crowd. He takes Hwon and then sticks out his hand for payment.
But of course, he’s got no money. He’s the king. He looks down sheepishly and Wol laughs to herself and pays for them. Ha. Not so easy to look cool when you don’t have a penny to your name outside the palace walls, eh?
They sit down and he awkwardly says he’ll repay her, and she holds back a laugh. The puppet show happens to be his tragic love story with Yeon-woo, of all things. Hwon is actually bored since he lived it, but Wol watches, captivated.
He turns to look at her, taken with her expression.
Yang-myung paces back and forth, waiting for Wol. He finally can’t take it anymore and heads out to look for her.
Wol turns to Hwon and asks if he’s met that woman he’s looking for yet. He says no. She wonders why, so he finally tells her, “Because she is no longer in this world.”
Wol asks how. Hwon: “It’s my fault. I wanted to protect her, but I couldn’t. There were so many things I wanted to say to her, but I couldn’t. That’s why I haven’t been able to let her go.”
He asks if a shaman can speak to the dead. She says she can. He asks her to send a message: “That I really, really liked her.”
Aw, it’s so sweet and sincere. She looks at him with tears brimming in her eyes, and then he breaks into a cute little smile.
They sit smiling at each other, which is the way Yang-myung finds them. Oh no. Heart breaaaaaaaak.
Damn, if it’s one thing this show does well, it’s that perfectly tragic love triangle where you’re literally rooting for both brothers, and torn up about it each time one of them loses out to the other. It’s like whiplash, but every five minutes it’s Hwon! No Yang-myung! No Hwon! Aaaaaaagh.
It’s certainly not something you could pull off without such strong leads. Jung Il-woo slays me with his puppy angst more each episode, but his character is very naturally sympathetic anyway. Not that it doesn’t KILL ME every time, mind you, but you’d have to be void of a heart not to feel his pain. It’s actually Kim Soo-hyun who has the harder job of making the king sympathetic despite his character type. Hwon can often times come off quite assy, and bratty in an entitled way (like the small moment when the puppet-watching crowd takes issue with his view-blocking and he blurts, “Do you know WHO I AM?” like a big spoiled brat).
But the glimmer of the old Hwon is in there, and it shows at the seams which is what I love about the portrayal. And the more he’s with Wol, the cute teenage version of him comes out to play. The intensity and strength is a given, but the smiling, that just does me in.
I really love the new turn with Jan-shil and Yang-myung—both their team-up (’cause oh-so-cute) but also the way she channeled him and spoke directly to Wol. I want to see more of that kind of thing, because so far most of the magic has been a big con. I like the con, mind you, especially where Wol is concerned, but I also want to see more mystical interference from Jan-shil or others who really do have a direct line to the other side.
The best thing about this episode was the breath of fresh air it brought by taking everyone outside the palace walls. I love any time we come outside, because those walls feel suffocating to me (in a good narratively-effective way, but it still feels stifling). I love any chance to see Hwon outside his normal protected environment, and I certainly wouldn’t mind if they played hooky more often. Poor Hyung-sun will just have to start a little snowman family.
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 10
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 9
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 8
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 7
- 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