The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 19
Things finally come to a boil, as the baddies up their game in a big, big way. Will Yang-myung cross over to the dark side? Will Hwon finally get to protect the person he loves till the end? Will logic hang on by a thread? It looks like you can wound the beast, but you can’t slow it down by much: Today’s episode recorded 38.7% ratings, even after a week’s hiatus.
EPISODE 19 RECAP
After the big fancy declaration and swirling kiss, Hwon and Yeon-woo walk back outside, and he wonders if she doesn’t have anything to give him, since he gave her his heart and everything.
She says she doesn’t have much – what does he want? He starts to inch closer… “You know, IT… I want to try it…” Rawwwr. She wrings her hands nervously. He leans closer…
Hwon: “That thing you did with hyungnim…” Uhhh… she did THAT with Yang-myung? “…with the long stick…” HA. Okay, am I just supposed to pretend I didn’t hear that? Dirty!
But he means the game, of course, the one he saw her play with Yang-myung and the kids. It’s adorably childish of him, but I still say it’s a wasted opportunity for some smooches!
She shows him how to play, and he’s hilariously bad at it. Hyung-sun has to sneak in some tips to help him out, and then the poor man has to run and chase the ball every time. But he finally gets the hang of it, to resounding applause.
Meanwhile Yang-myung is busy being coaxed to the dark side by Minister Yoon. Yang-myung asks if he’s willing to give up his position as the queen’s father, since he knows Bo-kyung to be his only daughter.
Minister Yoon just gives an evil smile, “One can always make another.” Ew. I don’t want to think about you making babies. Stop that. Well that explains the sudden entrance of the niece into the palace. Turns out Bo-kyung wasn’t paranoid about how far her father would go to control the throne.
But as we know, Yang-myung only cares about one person: Yeon-woo. Minister Yoon appeases him by saying that he can’t exactly marry her, but one should keep what’s most precious close to him, in secret.
Yang-myung agrees to board Ship Evil. Please tell me this is a plot-within-a-plot, otherwise I’ll have to assume you ran off and got a lobotomy during the hiatus.
Bo-kyung stirs with fear, guessing her father’s moves before he even makes them. She wonders to herself, “Father, are you abandoning me, and the king?” She realizes that means Hwon is in danger, and she rushes out to find him in the middle of the night. Oh no… but he’s with Yeon-woo out in the open!
And that’s exactly what she sees. Her faces goes dark, and she stops in her tracks before they notice her.
The first plan of attack against the king is swaying public sentiment, so news comes out of Hwon’s secret affair with a shaman. Hong Kyu-tae does his best to counter the smear campaign with rumors of the truth—that the princess bride returned from the dead and she’s the shaman in question.
Hwon meets with the assembly and they argue against prosecuting for Yeon-woo’s fishy “illness” eight years ago, while Hwon in turn wonders why they’re not up in arms about the accusations against the king and his shaman. Are they just saving themselves and watching the house burn down, or are they the ones that lit the fire?
Cue awkward guilty coughs ’round the room. Oh that’s not conspicuous or anything. Hwon laughs it off like a joke, but eyes the room warily.
Bo-kyung tells her father that she saw Yeon-woo with her own two eyes this time, and it wasn’t a figment of her imagination. But Minister Yoon is tired of her paranoia, and tells her it doesn’t matter whether that girl is dead or alive.
She realizes that he’s already decided to cut her loose along with Hwon and decides that she’s the only one who can protect what’s hers. Oooh. Bo-kyung is the interesting wrench in this whole thing, because she could ruin either side’s plan enough to muck up everything. She orders that the last temporary head of Seongsucheong be brought to her at once.
Yeon-woo asks Hwon for a favor, and requests that she be allowed to see Nok-young one last time. He reminds her that Nok-young is the reason she suffered this much, but she counters that she’s also the reason she’s alive.
“Whenever I look upon your face, I feel grateful that I am alive.” She says that eight years’ affection isn’t something to be taken lightly, and asks to see her.
Bo-kyung meets with the evil shaman and asks if she can kill a person with black magic. She says that the most she can do is cause great physical pain, like she did with the king. Bo-kyung only now realizes that Hwon’s attack was her father’s doing.
The shaman says she needs to know exactly where the target will be, and must be physically nearby, and also requires a boost of energy to power the spell, much like Min-hwa’s involvement the last time. She’s specific about needing a virgin. Well I know where you can find a drama full of those. She says if the energy is powerful enough, the target could die. (Desire fuels the energy, thus the more fervently the source of the power wants to harm the target, the stronger the spell.)
Nok-young’s spidey sense is tingling, as she sees a bowl of water turn to blood before her eyes. She gets called to the palace to see Yeon-woo, and greets her with a bow. Yeon-woo asks about her friend Ahri, the one whose dying request it was for Nok-young to protect her.
She says she doesn’t know much, but that Ahri was saved once by her mother, before Yeon-woo was even born. “So the person who saved you was not me, nor her, but your mother.”
Yeon-woo says she hasn’t yet forgiven Nok-young for everything, but she understands why she made those choices.
Yeon-woo: Before it’s too late, I wanted to say this. Thank you. For saving me, thank you. For taking me in, for raising me, for protecting me, thank you. For the last eight years… for being my mother… thank you.
Nok-young cries, hardly believing her words. It’s actually the one instance where Yeon-woo’s overwhelming goodness moves me – to give her thanks when even forgiveness is asking a lot of you… it’s just really touching.
At the same time, Bo-kyung meets the shaman for the spell, shrouded in black. As expected, she offers up herself to fuel the dark magic.
But Nok-young has seen what’s to come, and warns Yeon-woo that a spell is headed straight for her. “But I’m going to stop it.”
It’s shaman vs. shaman as they cast their spells, and Nok-young uses her own blood to power the evil spell back to where it came from. It makes her cough up blood, but she knocks the other shaman down.
Bo-kyung trembles, and then the shaman suddenly wakes up… but it’s Nok-young’s voice that comes out of her mouth. She jumps out of her skin, recognizing her immediately.
Nok-young calls her out for all her sins—keeping her mouth shut about the murder, trying to have what was never hers—making it clear that she is not the victim that she believes herself to be. Bo-kyung screams in terror, and then Nok-young leaves the shaman’s body, sending it back down to the ground. It leaves Bo-kyung in hysterics.
Yeon-woo’s mother gets ready to go pray at a temple for a while, telling Yeom that it’s time to let Yeon-woo go onto the next life, so that she’s not still holding onto the past when the baby comes. Yeom sees her off.
Once she’s gone, one of the servants asks Yeom if he’s heard the rumors – that Yeon-woo’s death may have been murder, and what’s more… that she may still be alive. He adds that there’s something that’s always niggled at him: eight years ago, he remembers going back to the grave the day after they buried her, and it looked like the grave had been dug up. You’re saying this just NOW?
Suddenly their conversation gets interrupted by an arrow that lands inches from his face. It has a note attached, from Minister Yoon. He details the plot to kill Yeon-woo, naming Princess Min-hwa as the culprit, and Hwon as the one who covered up her crime. Oh no.
Yeom reels from the news, realizing now what Min-hwa meant when she had cried and said she was sorry for everything. It’s a piss poor way to find out, but I’m glad he knows.
He comes in to confront her, stone-faced while she chatters on about making clothes for the baby, hopefully a son just like him. He finally opens his mouth, “Was it me you wanted to have? And do you have what you wanted now? What was it that you wanted to have that badly?”
He looks at her hatefully, and she starts to cry. He steps closer, begging her to say that it’s not true, that he’s wrong. But she collapses to the floor in tears, “Please forgive me!” He can’t believe that she’s been lying all these years, betraying their whole family.
She insists she was going to tell (For eight years?? Yeah you were really on the ball with that…) but it makes him complicit in her crime. He says he’s to blame too, for letting it happen. Well that’s taking it a bit far. He turns to go and she clings to him, but he pushes her away coldly.
The Council of Evil sits around waiting for Yeom to make a move, hoping that he’ll be incensed enough to blame the king. But once they figure he’s not going to do what they want, they decide to kill him. But… THAT MAKES NO SENSE. It’s only been like a few hours. Urg, let’s just swerve around that plot hole for now.
Yeom hears noises outside so he heads out, only to be confronted by a group of assassins headed straight for him. He backs away, and then suddenly Seol jumps out from nowhere, wielding her sword. Awww yeah. Finally, some badassery!
She tells him to get behind her, and he’s like, but you’re a girl! Well she has a sword and you don’t, so back the hell up!
She fights them off, killing one, and then another… but she gets stabbed. It doesn’t stop her though, and she lunges forward… as another sword goes clean through her torso. Ack!
Just then, Woon arrives. She crumples to the ground and Yeom runs over to her. Woon takes care of the attackers, but Seol is already bleeding out.
Yeom clutches her close, “Seol-ah! Seol-ah!” She uses her last ounce of strength to open her eyes, “Yeon-woo is alive.”
His eyes widen. Seol: “You asked me to look after her while you were away. I’m sorry I couldn’t keep that promise until the end. I’m going like this. Forgive me.” Trembling, he tells her how grateful he is that she protected Yeon-woo until now, and tells her he’s sorry for giving her such a huge burden.
She tells him not to be sorry: “You were the one who gave me a name. From that day until this very moment… even though I know I shouldn’t… I kept you in my lowly heart.” She asks him to forgive her and her eyes start to close.
Crying, he shouts, “Sorry? Forgive you? For what?!” To herself she thinks: “Master, because of you, I became a person. I became a woman. I became Seol. It was a short life, but right now, I am happier than any woman in the world.”
She dies in his arms, as he cries out her name over and over.
Nok-young wakes up with a sharp pain in her chest, and finds Jan-shil crying outside. They both know without being told, that Seol is gone. Jan-shil says Seol keeps telling her to be well, and to tell Nok-young thank you.
As they cry, snow begins to fall.
Woon reports to Hwon that he’s moved Min-hwa and Yeom to a safe place. He asks if anyone was hurt. Woon pauses, knowing that Yeon-woo is hearing all of this, and then tells him about Seol. Yeon-woo muffles her cries in the next room, barely able to contain them.
Suddenly Hwon orders him to check on Grandma, because she’s next. Sure enough, in her chamber she starts choking on her own blood, after eating something poisoned. She gasps for air, cursing Minister Yoon.
She looks up, happy to see what she thinks is Hwon. All we see is a headless red robe, covered in shadow. Oh THAT’s not creepy. *shivers*
She tells him it was all for his own good, as she coughs up more and more blood. But the vision just turns his back to her and walks away, leaving her to die. It’s then that she flashes back to Hwon’s accusations, which were the exact same words that his father had said to her eight years ago.
And with that, she dies. Well at least there’s one satisfying death to counter the one that makes me angry.
The Council of Evil chuckles at Grandma’s demise, and then Yang-myung joins them for some more plotting. They worry about opposition since public sentiment could be turning against them, so Yang-myung suggests they move up the timetable for the coup.
He assures them that public sentiment is something he holds in the palm of his hand. He notes his last big public deed, making sure that Hwalinseo got the medical supplies that they needed, thus framing him as the perfect King of the People. Gathering support will be a breeze.
Yeon-woo sits in her room, holding in her cries, and Hwon tells her to cry as much as she wants. She says she doesn’t even have the right to cry. Gah, I don’t even know what that means.
Yeon-woo: “She has always protected me, but I could do nothing to protect her.” Well if there’s anyone who understands that, it’s Hwon. Yeon-woo: “She was my friend, my family… no… more than that.”
“I don’t understand why she had to die.” Yeah me neither, but this is where we are.
He pulls her to him in an embrace, and tells her that he will not stop until this evil is put to rest.
Yang-myung meets with the people behind the coup – the extended Council of Evil, if you will. He laughs to see some familiar faces, like the astrology professor who first took Wol into the palace.
He chuckles, wondering aloud who would’ve thought that a publicly-known wastrel like himself would suddenly be eyeing the throne. Listen, if you’re just going to point out the logic holes, it’s going to make it harder for me to ignore them.
Minister Yoon says the time will be during the upcoming hunting festival, where the king goes hunting with the people to celebrate open season. Only “the hunt will be inside the palace.” Yang-myung finishes his metaphor: “…And the prey will be the king?”
He then takes out an empty book and tells Minister Yoon to fill it with the names of all those who will stand with him. Aha! Maybe our first sign that perhaps you did not get a lobotomy after all?
The book gets passed around the room and they all write down their names. Yang-myung betrays a little smirk.
They sort out their plan of attack, while Hwon prepares the same, intending to turn the tables on Minister Yoon. He talks to the assembly about the hunt with a smile on his face, but inwardly thinks to himself that they’ll see who’s hunter and prey when it’s said and done.
He looks worried though, and tells Yeon-woo that he’ll relocate her somewhere safe while he’s out hunting. She just asks him to return safely, and he promises that he will.
Yang-myung looks up at the night sky, and says aloud, “See, what’d I say? I said that moon would follow me wherever I went.” But he’s not talking to himself, because Woon comes out from the shadows, knowing that the comment was meant for him.
Yang-myung: “I’ll ask one thing. Are you here on orders, or are you here as a friend?” Woon: “I came as a friend.”
Yang-myung sighs that “friend” is a good word. “I’ll ask one thing.” Woon: “You already asked.” Hee. Yang-myung points out how little fun he is. “Then I will ask one more thing. Do you consider me a friend, even now?”
Woon: “I have done so until now, and will continue to do so.” Yang-myung smiles, “Then no matter what choice I make, no matter what I do, will you remain a friend?” That alarms Woon, and he asks what it means.
But Yang-myung shakes it off as nothing, and says it won’t matter now, because the choice is made. “How did we end up like this?”
The day of the hunt arrives, and everyone prepares. Hyung-sun tells Hwon that it’s time to go, and then suddenly stops to say that it was an honor to serve by his side. Oh no. Hyung-sun, not you too! Stop it!
Hwon asks why he’s talking like he’s going to die, and reassures him that he’ll be fine. He turns to Woon: “Are you ready?” They brace themselves and march out.
The king is announced. Hwon thinks to himself: “It is time. The time has come for everything to find its rightful place.”
He comes down the steps and meets eyes with Minister Yoon, and then Yang-myung.
As they march forward, Yang-myung follows just behind him. Flashback to the plan, which begins as soon as the king approaches the main gate. The doors burst open, and soldiers come running in.
Everyone raises his sword in defense, surrounding the king. Yang-myung and Hwon stand back-to-back, in the center of the circle.
And then at the same time, both brothers turn around and raise their swords, poised at the other’s neck. No! Crap crap crap crap crap. THIS ISN’T HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO GO.
Woon whirls around, his sword now pointed at Yang-myung.
Following that cue, the Council of Evil turns around, now joining the attack against the king, and killing off anyone who’s defending him. It leaves Hwon completely outnumbered.
With his sword held to Hwon’s throat, Yang-myung’s voice cries out:
Yang-myung: I have come to inform you: The sun lives in the sky. But the sky has banished the sun. Fate has shifted and you have reached the end of your providence.
Damn, he went there. High treason it is.
It’s both better and worse that Yang-myung has gone this far. It’s better because it’s at least one unexpected turn in a plot that otherwise left very little to surprise. But it’s still completely under-motivated, because he’s been a totally different character up until now. It’s not like he’s been harboring a dark side since the beginning (which by the by, would’ve made for a MUCH more interesting character). I just refuse to believe that it’s happening… even as it happens before my very eyes. I know, I know. Maybe it’s my Jung Il-woo love that’s making me hang on, but I swear, sans lobotomy, it doesn’t make sense. Call me an optimist, but I’ll put my money on a double reversal.
There were a lot of big reveals in this episode, but they clearly maneuvered the big ones for the finale, like Yeon-woo’s reunion with Mom and Yeom (though I don’t get why he isn’t charging into the palace to see her the instant he knows she’s alive). Yeon-woo’s character really took a backseat in this episode, which I didn’t understand, given how close we are to the end. It kind of makes me give up hope that she’ll have any agency at all in restoring her name. Ever since she moved into that closet room, she’s done nothing, which kind of makes me throw my hands in the air. So much potential, so little done with her in the end.
Seol’s death wasn’t exactly necessary, but I understand it in terms of giving her character an ending. She probably never would’ve confessed her love for Yeom if she weren’t on her deathbed, and it seems fitting that she’s the one to tell him that Yeon-woo’s still alive, and that she kept her promise to him all these years. Personally I wanted her character to be more badass throughout the series, because her one show of swordfighting skills got me all excited and then ended with her death so prematurely. Though Yeon-woo/Jan-shil/Nok-young’s reactions to her death were heartbreaking, it felt wrong that they were all apart, and that they weren’t the ones to be there in her passing.
At least we go out on this episode at a high point in the action, which hopefully means that tomorrow’s finale will deliver a satisfying epic battle, though I really should stop anticipating Baek-Dong-soo-style badassery in a drama that is just not going to give me that kind of action. Still, heads better roll from somewhere inside those walls, because I have had enough of the sitting around with clenched fists, waiting for the baddies to get their due. Off with their heads!
- MBC confirms Moon/Sun will not air this week
- MBC strike threatens to delay Moon/Sun finale
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 18
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 17
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 16
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 15
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 14
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 13
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 12
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 11
- 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
- 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