An awesome episode, which isn’t unusual for this drama, which is going strong. But even with the high bar it sets for itself, I was particularly impressed with the action, cleverness, and adorable quotient packed into this one compact 45-minute episode. I love that nothing is wasted here; why bother with filler when you can’t just use that time to cram in more smart, intricately plotted dramatic goodness?
Plus! We have the appearance of Black Avenger Boong-do! Hot AND awesomely smart? Be still, everyone’s hearts.
SONG OF THE DAY
Park Ji-yoon – “그럴꺼야” (I’ll Do That). This song makes me happy. This drama makes me happy. It seemed a logical choice. (Even if it IS a break-up song. Quibbles.)
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EPISODE 7 RECAP
Hee-jin declares that Boong-do isn’t her stalker but her boyfriend, which spares him from being arrested upon arrival. It also makes Dong-min look ridiculous for charging in to the “rescue,” although I wouldn’t feel too bad for him since it was his own fault for trumping himself up as the hero in the first place.
(I do particularly enjoy that Dong-min was keen to “macho up” his image. After the shower stalker incident, he says he wished he caught the guy because it would have addressed his image as a pretty boy without a tough side. Heh.)
I do also love how this has both managers groaning in dismay, since they know how much future trouble they’re courting. Is this out of the frying pan and into the fire?
Dong-min returns to his seat fuming, and Na-jung smirks and says I told you so—she warned him against helping Hee-jin’s career, only to get this in return. She’s loving the chance to rub his face in it; hell hath no fury and all that.
Dong-min lets her get under his skin, particularly when she laughs that the whole country will know that he made a fool of himself the minute they land.
Farther back in the plane, Hee-jin and Boong-do sit stiffly, trying to ignore the looks (and cameraphones). Boong-do says that it seems her friend’s advice was appropriate—you know, the one cautioning him about Hee-jin’s passionate nature. She reminds him that she stepped in to keep him from arrest, and he thanks her for the help. But she sure picked the most passionate way possible.
He leans closer to keep his voice low, just as Hee-jin turns to retort that she couldn’t think of anything else since she’s not a smartypants. This brings their faces just inches from each other. Gulp.
Hee-jin’s pique melts away when Boong-do explains that he’s just worried about her. Still, she grumbles that he’s “spouting crap” after she rescued him, making him wonder what this so-called crap is. He guesses, “Ah, it’s an insult.”
Upon arrival in Seoul, Dong-min climbs into his celebmobile still chafing over his humiliation. Spotting Hee-jin and Boong-do at the curb, he decides to confront them right away for damage control. If they’re seen looking friendly, it’ll soften the story about the airplane fight.
His manager calls after Hee-jin, who ushers Boong-do away quickly—it’s best for him to avoid Dong-min and lie low. She puts him in a taxi and tells him not to worry; this is her world, so she’ll manage. She sends him off saying, “Bye, and don’t die again.”
The taxi pulls away just as Dong-min’s manager gets there, and Boong-do escapes in time to avoid the crowd that gathers as Dong-min joins them. Hee-jin says innocently, “Oops, I didn’t hear you. Too bad, he’s gone.”
Slapping on a smile for the cameras, Dong-min tells her to call him back, since he didn’t get a chance to greet the boyfriend. Hee-jin says he won’t care to greet the guy who attacked him twice, and Dong-min says through forced smile, “Good point.”
His manager wonders why Boong-do was wearing sageuk clothing at the hospital if he’s Hee-jin’s boyfriend, and supposes that he must be an extra. That gets Dong-min even more furious: “You mean I got rejected FOR AN EXTRA?!” Does that hurt the pride, pretty boy?
Hee-jin calls to say she’s sorry for not telling him about the boyfriend at the hospital. But she couldn’t blurt it out with the nurses around—you know how it goes.
Dong-min accuses her of using him to get her the role, but she reminds him that she stated very clearly that she wasn’t interested—it’s his fault for not listening. She hangs up on him, leaving him stunned in disbelief while she giggles to herself at his reaction.
Soo-kyung points out what a mess she’s made for herself. Hee-jin naively says, “The people on the plane won’t post everything on the internet, right? They’ll just gossip about it, right?” Oh, honey. Soo-kyung tells her drily to wait and see when the paparazzi mobs her tomorrow.
Hee-jin starts to worry, then shakes it off with her bubbly optimism: “I’ll worry about that then. The sun rises again tomorrow!” I love her.
Soo-kyung rips into Boong-do next, annoyed that he caused the trouble and then disappeared. She sniffs, “It’s not even like he’s got a life or death matter to deal with!” Hee-jin counters, “He does have a life or death matter.”
The news hits the ‘net. Soo-kyung freaks out, but adorably, Hee-jin enjoys seeing herself and Boong-do sitting cozily in the plane together: “The picture came out great!” Haha. Soo-kyung threatens to quit being her manager, while Hee-jin wonders how she can save that photo on her phone. The girl has priorities.
Boong-do returns to Joseon and startles Queen In-hyun’s men by appearing just days after he was supposedly shipped off to Jeju. How nifty that his time-skip essentially buys him time here; even if his escape were announced immediately, nobody would expect him back so soon.
He warns her that Minister Min will make another attempt on her life today, but he’s got a plan all worked out. He instructs her to remain calm no matter what she hears outside, and asks her to keep his visit secret from everyone, including the king, whom she’ll be meeting tonight.
Then, Boong-do instructs the men guarding the house to vacate their positions tonight, which of course has them confused. He directs them to hide around the perimeter, in anticipation of their attackers.
Back to the future. Boong-do takes a taxi to Gyeongbukgung, the palace in Seoul, which cracks me up—did he warp to the future to take advantage of its speedier modes of transportation? That’s so smart, and yet also hilarious. Still, just be glad you didn’t get stuck in rush hour, ‘s all I’m sayin’…
Joseon again, where Boong-do sits at a desk wearing black assassin’s clothes. Rawr. (Although I do wonder where he got the hair to tie up his topknot. Did they have topknot toupees in the Joseon era?) He takes out ink and parchment, then uses his left hand to write, disguising his handwriting. Atta boy.
That evening, King Sukjong reads an endless stack of missives, fuming at the mountain of complaints. Now that he’s exiled his best buddy, he has no trusted adviser to talk with, which compounds the frustration.
The king retires for the night, heading toward his bedchamber. From a nearby rooftop, Boong-do readies his bow and arrow and aims just to the side of the king’s entourage, his arrow striking the pillar just next to them.
As the king’s men fly into a flurry of alarm, Boong-do takes out his talisman to time-leap the hell outta there. The king spies the letter, the contents of which Boong-do’s voice narrates as he goes on the move, again in modern Seoul.
Boong-do writes as a concerned and anonymous bystander, informing the king of something he overheard at a party at Minister Min’s home tonight. Among the partygoers are Minister Min’s two cronies; together the trio occupy the three highest positions in the king’s cabinet. The informant explains overhearing their plot to kill Queen In-hyun, which has the king shaking in rage.
Boong-do arrives in a certain Seoul neighborhood, carefully making his way to a certain house—it’s a han-ok structure, built in the traditional style, and he’s either counting his steps or looking for a marker of recognition.
Finding the building he’s looking for, he draws his sword… Ahh, so smart! Not only is he using the time-leap to escape tight situations and travel quickly, it also affords him cover, since naturally there’s no guard posted in 2012 Seoul. I’m so impressed.
At the party, the conspirators drink with gisaengs and tell Minister Min he should’ve been harsher with Yoon-wol, that untrustworthy woman. He excuses himself from the party to fetch something from his chamber, then stops short at the sight of his desk, where his writing materials have been taken out and readied for use.
Suddenly, a sword appears, pointed at Minister Min’s throat. It’s Dark Avenger Boong-do, who lowers his mask to reveal his face, making the minster sputter that he’s supposed to be in Jeju.
Even harder to comprehend is how he could have gone there and back in just two weeks—that’s physically impossible. But Boong-do confirms that he did make it to Jeju—he knows of the poisoned food and hired assassins Minister Min had prepared.
Boong-do orders him to write: “I, Minister Min Am, give the command to carry out the plan that was interrupted one month ago by Kim Boong-do. Gather outside the home of deposed queen by evening and eliminate her.”
Minister Min gapes in shock, but Boong-do says there’s no need for surprise: “The contents are exactly as you wrote yourself one month ago.” He’s just repeating his own orders.
The king continues reading: The informant calls himself too fearful to reveal his identity, but urges the king to hurry and save the queen. Then the eunuch arrives to report that the intruder got away—just as the king finishes reading the letter, which ends with a warning that his eunuch is not loyal to him, but to Lady Jang. Ooh.
At the party, the others note Minister Min’s absence and send a servant in search of him. The servant finds him sitting alone at his desk, not seeing the sword held to the back of his neck by Boong-do, hidden behind the screen.
With trembling hands, Minister Min tosses the letter to his servant, telling him to convey it to Ja-soo, his warrior henchman.
Ja-soo is puzzled at the message, given its suddenness and the fact that Minister Min said nothing yesterday. But hearing that the letter came from the minister’s hands directly, Ja-soo figures it’s good enough and calls for his men, burning the message.
Boong-do gives Minister Min one more letter to write, which will go to Lady Jang’s brother. Minister Min starts to balk at the nerve of dragging the sitting queen into this, but Boong-do corrects him, saying that it’s the minister himself who hurt the queen—five years ago, when he evicted Queen In-hyun and killed Boong-do’s family.
Boong-do declares that this is no injustice to Minister Min, since he was planning a purge of Queen In-hyun’s supporters soon anyway. Being informed of future historical events, Boong-do adds that the minister’s purges will fail, and therefore he’s just speeding along the minister’s eventual banishment.
The minister is shocked that Boong-do knows of this plan, which he probably hasn’t shared with anyone yet. “Did I not tell you I had a good card?” Boong-do asks. “Now write.”
Ja-soo and his men arrive outside Queen In-hyun’s home, where they see through the paper walls that she’s sitting inside, working at her embroidery. She’s been apprised of the plan and knows to expect something, which puts her on edge as she waits.
By the time the men breach the wall and make their way outside her door, however, they find there are no guards. Something’s fishy…
Hidden nearby, the king’s soldiers light primitive firecrackers… and strap them to a cat? Are you barbarians? Eeeeep! The cat is sent amidst Ja-soo’s group and the firecrackers emit smoke, clouding their vision. Gah, it’s a good thing those aren’t the explody ones, because then you don’t get to be the good guys.
Ja-soo declares that the letter was a fake and orders retreat. The king’s soldiers charge, sparking a massive swordfight in the courtyard.
Caught by surprise, the assassins are either killed or rounded up by the officers. After the fighting ends, King Sukjong joins his men and shocks the queen with his appearance—Boong-do alluded to it, but only in the most cryptic of ways.
It’s clear that Queen In-hyun never stopped loving her husband despite what he did to her (or allowed Lady Jang to do), and with her gentle heart she hasn’t harbored a grudge. Sukjong, meanwhile, has been growing sorrier for his mistake, perhaps seeing what he gave up in favor of the more volatile, more manipulative Lady Jang. Now he takes her hand in his and acknowledges the queen’s tribulations, which I suppose is about as close to an apology as we can expect of a king.
Two assassins escape, one of whom is Ja-soo. The underling assures him that it’ll be hard to pin him for this, since he burned the letter. What they don’t know is that Boong-do has made that irrelevant, with the second letter he forces Minister Min to write. This one he instructs the minister to keep on his person.
Shortly thereafter, the king’s entourage heads over to Minister Min’s household, interrupting the party that is still in full swing to arrest everyone there. Minister Min’s silhouette is visible on the paper siding and the officers order him to surrender himself. Out of their sightline, Boong-do stands with his sword pointed at the minister to prevent his escape.
The minister staggers to his feet, dreading his fate. Boong-do tells him, “Your exile will be to Daejeong, Jeju Island. It is where I am staying. It is a place where the food is poisoned and you don’t know when a sword will come flying at you, but I will welcome your arrival.”
Minister Min says incredulously, “Do you think you will be able to escape from here?! You have run away from exile—you will be executed by dismemberment!”
Boong-do just says pleasantly, “Whatever are you saying? I have never left my place of exile. I will go there and await you.” So. Satisfying.
He ducks behind the screen again when officers enter to arrest Minister Min, who tells them smugly that there is another criminal here for them to arrest. He directs them to find Boong-do hiding behind the screen… and of course there is no one.
The officers remind him that Boong-do is in Jeju, as though that’s that. Minister Min is dragged off confused, looking back at the screen, wondering what the hell just happened.
The king delivers his judgment: exile for the conspiring ministers, with punishments for the eunuch and Lady Jang’s brother as well. He orders Kim Boong-do’s name cleared of false charges and his former position restored. Yay!
Now we return to Yoon-wol, who has been living at a temple ever since Han-dong escorted her away from Hanyang. She prays at the altar endlessly, enough to bathe her face in sweat, until she’s called out by Han-dong.
She lights up to at Boong-do’s approach, having heard of the villains’ capture. But isn’t he supposed to be in Jeju? He tells her that it’s all thanks to the talisman, although he can’t explain the details.
Yoon-wol expresses her relief to see him well, and he thanks her for enduring her trials patiently. She modestly says that she endured because he endured, but he says, “If it were not for you, I would have given up.” Words that lift the soul. Aw, it makes my heart pang for her sake, since he is so sweet to her and genuinely cares for her, though not as a lover.
Boong-do tells her to pack and return home with Han-dong, since he’ll soon be called back to Hanyang. That means he’ll first have to return to Jeju to pretend he was in exile the whole time—although he has one more person to thank first. He smiles a secret smile to himself that makes Yoon-wol look anxious, as though she’s vaguely aware of what he means by that.
2012. The drama’s director sits in the editing room with two editors, who chuckle over Dong-min’s airplane humiliation. They’ve seen the whole video on Youtube, which totally shattered his cool image.
Dong-min’s fall from his pedestal has the director worried, because it affects the drama as well. So when Hee-jin drops by with snacks for the producers, the director asks her to wait for him outside. The editor chimes in that her boyfriend is good-looking: “Just my type!” Stand in line, honey.
The airplane love-triangle-scandal has been front-page tabloid fodder for days, and Hee-jin heaves a worried sigh. The rumors have grown and twisted in all directions: Some call her a two-timer, some paint Dong-min as the victim, and others say that the boyfriend was sent to the hospital for injuries and is preparing to sue.
The hubbub makes the director uneasy, and Hee-jin apologizes for the trouble. She assures him that the boyfriend wasn’t hurt and won’t sue. Still, the director worries that if his two stars’ images both collapse, so will the drama. He concedes that Dong-min overreacted, but urges her to reconcile with him since they’re all in the same boat together. Soon. Like, today.
This presents more difficulty than the others know, since the boyfriend is no longer in this world. Literally. Soo-kyung points out that Dong-min was right about smoothing things over at the airport—if they’d taken the photo op to look cheery together, it could have killed the gossip. Soo-kyung decides it’s better late than never: Call the boyfriend to stage that photo today.
Hee-jin says he’s busy doing important things (talk about an understatement); it’s a good idea, but he can’t make it. Soo-kyung can’t understand how he can’t have time for one measly meal (“Even the president eats!”) or why he doesn’t have a cell phone. Or home phone. Or email.
Soo-kyung asks, “Then how has he called you all this while?!” Hee-jin: “Pay phone.” Soo-kyung just about has a fit, and it is SO entertaining. Her reactions just make these conversations so hilarious, because she’s trying not to blow her lid, but Hee-jin’s answers are so frustrating. She wonders, “Is he even your boyfriend? Is this just a one-sided thing on your end?”
When Hee-jin gets called in for a scene, Soo-kyung makes a grab for her cell phone. She’s got to have some info on him, right? She hilariously gets stuck guessing the password, just as a call comes in.
Dong-min sulks in the bathtub, rejecting his manager’s suggestion to eat lunch out, in no mood to face the public. He perks up when the manager says that Hee-jin has requested the lunch (she must have been shunning or avoiding Dong-min all this while).
Hee-jin returns to find her phone gone and a message from Soo-kyung awaiting: Meet at a restaurant for lunch with Dong-min.
Hee-jin is escorted to Dong-min’s table, drawing stares all the while. The managers wave from the next table, and it’s so cute to see them happy for once, those perennially frustrated handlers of their troublemaking stars.
Dong-min keeps his movie-star smile on his face for the sake of their audience, but speaks sarcastically through his teeth. He informs her of the plan concocted by Manager Central: Boyfriend will arrive, the men will greet each other warmly, and Boyfriend will show that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with his ribs. Hee.
Hee-jin tells Dong-min that the Boyfriend wants to sort out the mess, but just can’t make it. Well, that’s news to Dong-min, who asks if she’s still harboring revenge fantasies against him and angrily calls his manager (at the next table, ha).
But no, Soo-kyung assures him that she gave Boyfriend the time and restaurant address, so he’ll be here. And lo, there he comes.
Hee-jin gapes as Boong-do arrives at the table, bows, and apologizes for being late. Dong-min makes a show of laughing it off—people are watching, don’tcha know—and offers a hand. Boong-do shakes it, giving the managers their money shot.
Time to order lunch. Boong-do takes his menu and uses it as a privacy screen, whispering to Hee-jin, “Do I just have to read it?” He explains that he wanted to repay her for all her help, so when he heard she was in need of his, “I came running.”
He adds that he was instructed to play the part of boyfriend thoroughly: “I do not quite know how, but I will give my best effort to acting your boyfriend.” Aw, yeah you will!
Hee-jin notes his perfect hero timing, just like those hundreds of scenes in all the romantic manhwa books, which makes her feel all embarrassed and bashful over the grand romantic gesture. Boong-do asks, “What does that mean?” At her non-response, he guesses, “Ah, another insult.”
Hee-jin gives him a shy smile and whispers, “It’s a compliment!” She adds that if he wants to do a good job with the boyfriend act, all he has to do is keep it up, “Because I love feeling this way.”
So much plotular goodness. Let’s start with Boong-do’s intricate, thoughtful takedown of Minister Min and the Joseon baddies. I love that he figures out a way to use his talisman as a strategic card, not merely a get-out-of-jail-free card to whip out in a tough spot. He has taken it past the point of mystical force (you know, helpful in a vague, paranormal way that allows a drama to create problems without needing to solve them logically, since the magic element can be that narrative panacea) into being a literal tool. Talk about a brilliant use of the time-travel device, which isn’t just a cute gimmick anymore but an active agent in the story.
Then on top of the time-travel strategery, where he zips around the past by using the tools of the present, Boong-do creates himself an alibi with the help of the talisman. How smart of him to use his exile to his advantage. What a way to turn tables; he doesn’t merely make the best of a shitty situation, he actually lulls his enemies into a false sense of security, then uses their own complacency against them. (Not that you can even accuse them of being complacent when his movements are impossible using the time-space laws of their world. Nobody could know he had another way around them.)
What’s especially interesting to me is the way Boong-do explains his actions in the Joseon timeline. Take his confrontation with Minister Min, whom he says is heading to his eventual fate anyway. Since Minister Min’s plot would fail and he’d be executed anyway, what Boong-do does now isn’t unfair to Minister Min or to future events. He’s not altering the course of history, just tweaking its finer details, since the result will remain the same. I wonder whether Boong-do’s logic is a rationalization to him—or to us, for that matter, since we know exactly where his work causes deviations from history as we know it. Is he cheating Fate–as he wondered when he escaped Death with the talisman’s help–or is Fate going to claim its share no matter what? Do Boong-do’s actions only matter on a micro level, or are the ripples far-reaching?
It’s one of those questions that’ll never have a concrete answer, but which can be argued in so many different ways, depending on the perspective you take. Is the butterfly effect subject to the whims of the tiniest aberration, allowing huge change based on a small act? Or is Fate powered by incredible inertia, where most of the time you end up where you were headed all along, despite small fluctuations in the details?
Then on top of those compelling existential-type questions, we also get a load of cute interactions between our couple, with Boong-do really stepping it up now by coming through for Hee-jin. He’s learned how to make the time-skips more or less at will (and while we don’t see the exact mechanism of his warps each time, it’s pretty clear that he’s manufacturing life-threatening scenarios, presumably with cool efficiency), and now that he has accomplished his big goal in the Joseon lifetime, he gets to use this tool for more personal purposes. Hey, why not? There aren’t any rules guiding this kind of usage, so it’s up to him to decide what to do with this knowledge.
The fact that he chooses to go back to Hee-jin shows a conscious decision on his part to maintain this connection; it’s as he said earlier, that some stuff may be coincidence, like their initial repeat encounters, but other stuff is the result of choice, and of wanting to be together. It’s pretty clear they like each other, but the question is how far they’ll let this time-skip capability work for them. And if you have to risk your life (even if you tell yourself it’s perfectly safe) every time you meet, is there a limit to how far you can use the tool for your own purposes before Fate wants its payment or closes that loophole? I dunno the answers, but I just know the questions make me nervous…
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 6
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 5
- Thing vs. Thing: Time-traveling Heroes
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 4
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 3
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 2
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 1
- Queen In-hyun’s Man’s additional stills and teasers
- Queen In-hyun’s Man casts rivals, releases stills
- Queen In-hyun’s Man releases romantic promos