This show brings a whole new level to the concept of distance dating, while some excellent swoon-worthy moments serve as padding for the inevitable drama to come. We get a bit more introspective as our characters navigate love over a three-hundred year divide, with one word or glance speaking volumes more than exposition ever could. I love that the sense of falling in love is so palpable here, helped along by sparkling chemistry, music that conveys a sense of longing, and a general, all-around synergy. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
EPISODE 8 RECAP
The privacy screen moment between our two lovebirds ends, leaving Dong-min huffing and puffing enough to blow the house down. He returns to the filming set in the same foul mood, with Na-jung there to jokingly refer to him as “Your Highness,” and to ask how the lunch resolution went.
Dong-min all but orders her to have a drink with him after the shoot, but changes his tune when the director comes. After assuring him that the lunch went well he offers up a story suggestion… how about poisoning Queen In-hyun to death?
But the director points out that a king who wants to kill his ex-wife just because he’s sick and tired of her, as Dong-min said, makes him a psycho. Dong-min comes back with this long tirade about how King Sukjong was a psycho anyway with all his waffling about on wives. Ha.
Hee-jin is next to arrive on set and gets the news of some script changes due to the actor playing Lady Jang’s brother being in the hospital. There are some other changes that furrow her brow (uh oh), and she goes straight to the director… who has no idea what she’s talking about.
She recounts what she’d previously memorized about the gapsul hwanguk event, where King Sukjong purged the Soron faction for conspiring against Queen In-hyun and reinstated her to the throne (with Lady Jang being demoted as a result). The script reflects a slightly different version of the events, even though the end result is the same. The only problem is, the director and staff seem completely unaware that there was ever another version of the event. Only Hee-jin remembers.
Luckily, she’s quick on the uptake and remembers that Boong-do had mentioned a score to settle with Minister Min, and correctly guesses that he might have altered history.
So she turns to the internet to read the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, and is shocked at how different the events are. What she reads is what we saw in the previous episode, with Boong-do manipulating events so that Minister Min was caught red-handed in his attempt to kill the queen. The end result is the same, with Minister Min and his cohorts being exiled, but there’s a tiny addition where Kim Boong-do was cleared of charges and reinstated.
Soo-kyung is still at the cafe with Boong-do, and finally picks up her phone after multiple attempts by Hee-jin. She’s forced to hand it over to Boong-do, who claims he hasn’t left yet because he needs Soo-kyung – as to the ‘why,’ it’s a secret.
She’s eager to tell him about the changed events in her script, to which he calmly replies that he had to save his own life and tried to change the fate of others as little as possible. Now that it’s all settled (Queen In-hyun is back on the throne), he feels relieved. He quotes another proverb (“The planning lies with man, the outcome with heaven”) which has her scratching her head. He’s quick to try and put it in simpler terms, but she thinks he’s making fun of her intellect.
He defends himself – he wasn’t making fun of her, he was reproaching himself. As for the history matter that only the two of them know, he seems much less concerned than she is.
Now we find out what Boong-do needed Soo-kyung for – he wants to know what Hee-jin needs most, because he wants to give it to her. Soo-kyung: “You want to give her a present?” Aww.
She’s sure that whatever it is, Boong-do can’t afford it due to Hee-jin’s expensive tastes. She wants to know what his budget is, though he’s insistent that it doesn’t matter… and pulls out a few one-million won checks. Soo-kyung is floored, until he pulls out another, even bigger stack of bills. (Where did he get all this cash money from? Did he time-warp into a bank vault?)
With wide eyes, she wonders what kind of man walks around with that kind of cash sans a wallet. Smart cookie Boong-do doesn’t know what that is until he sees someone using one nearby, and tells her that he didn’t have the time. I love that he knows what to say to appease Soo-kyung, and when.
And the icing on the cake? He remembers how touched Hee-jin was at his heroic timing, and wants to do something corny and romantic like that for her to go with the gift. He asks Soo-kyung for advice, and my heart just flutters.
Back in Joseon, Minister Min is being carted off to exile. His main henchman Ja-soo edges near the cart and receives the order to investigate Boong-do, a man who entered a room and disappeared like smoke. If Minister Min is to die, he wants Boong-do to go with him.
Hee-jin is stuck filming into the night, and a frenzied Soo-kyung arrives on scene during one of the breaks… and begins to frantically wave her arms about in an attempt to mime her conversation with Boong-do along with her complete disbelief. Even better – Hee-jin starts signing back, so both girls are just flailing about. Hahaha.
When they can finally speak, Soo-kyung is properly frazzled. She doesn’t have words to explain her day with Boong-do so she mimed it – how can an actor not understand? (Ha!) She’s conflicted about Boong-do’s seemingly perfect perfection, and doesn’t know whether to encourage Hee-jin into this relationship or not. In the end her shoulders slump, and it’s with an air of defeat (like there’s no way she can’t like Boong-do) that she tells Hee-jin to go find her boyfriend, who’s waiting for her.
Hee-jin heads out, with Boong-do in a car a few feet away. He eyes the key studiously, before repeating the steps he’s memorized to start and drive the car. Haha. Scholar versus Car, welcome to the thunderdome.
He heads straight for Hee-jin, and remembers how to stop just in time before poking his head out of the window so she can recognize him. (I love that he has the steps memorized in numeric order. How much do you want to bet that he practiced the heck out of this grand gesture?)
She’s completely shocked – what is he doing driving a car? We’ve gone through nine steps in the Boong-do School of Driving, and the tenth step is to hand over the key to Hee-jin. Aww. Did he get her a car?
Closing her fingers around the key, he tells her to accept it as payment for her kindness to him. Gesturing to the car, he asks if this is what she wanted more than anything (she had to sell her previous car for rent money). Proudly, he tells her that learning to drive was much easier than riding a horse. Ha.
Hee-jin is speechless at first. Why does he do these things straight out of a manhwa? “Your friend said that if I did something this corny, you would love it,” he explains. Double aww. Add a side of swoon to that too, super sized.
At first she’s ecstatic, but then a thought occurs to her: did he steal it? He replies that he’s not a thief, but she points out that he has to steal clothes all the time. Ha. He reminds her that the clothes thing is different, and that he wanted to give her something more – but the car took all the money he had. He brandishes the one bill he has left over.
He explains how he got the money… by selling his father’s relic. Awww. It once belonged to King Taejo, the first king of the Joseon Dynasty, which is a pretty big deal. Even he knows it, because he thinks that he might have gotten scammed on the amount he was given for it. Boong-do: “Whether it’s now or then, the merchants have their tricks.” Ha.
She’s definitely moved by the gesture, though he notes her hesitancy and claims it’s not in keeping with her character, which he describes as “Someone shameless, but charming.” Oh boy. Boong-do is lucky Hee-jin is so positive, because he’s got a bit of a ways to go in the compliments department.
She asks if he’s insulting her, even though she knows he isn’t, and he replies that it’s a positive thing: “I sincerely think that you are charming.” Hee-jin puffs up at the compliment, even more so when he explains that if his father were still alive, he’d repay her kindness as well. Besides, it’s not like he can take the car back to Joseon.
When she finally accepts the gift, he laughs outright. She is shameless, but he’s right – she’s super charming while she’s at it. She decides to show him what real driving is and takes the car for a happy spin around the parking lot, laughing all the while as she circles around the standing Boong-do. Be still, my heart.
Things take a more serious turn as she begins to see Boong-do in a different light, and we can practically see her falling in love. Who can blame her?
So it’s with desperation and a hint of sorrow that she tries to name him as a con artist and a swindler – because any of those options would be better than him being from another era. She admits how hard it is to find someone you like, even if you don’t understand why. She asks again if everything was a lie, wanting so much for it to be true.
Boong-do seems to know this, and responds that yes, everything was a lie. She knows as well as he does that it isn’t, and calls him a liar. Aww, sad.
Ushering him into the car, she explains that he may think it’s just for transportation, but there’s another purpose… and kisses him.
Afterward she’s back to her bubbly self, though Boong-do’s face looks troubled and serious. Just as she’s about to leave the car he grabs her close, and after a slightly hesitant test kiss on his end, the two share a gentler, longer kiss.
They’re interrupted by a crew member whose job specialty is bad timing, and Boong-do muses that maybe selling that relic wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Hahaha. Hee-jin knows she has to leave, though no part of her wants to go.
She wants to know what he’ll do from here, and he explains that he’ll return to Jeju so that he can be found (still in exile) and reinstated to his position in Hanyang. She worries that he’ll have to return to daily life and get married while he’s there, even though he assures her that he’ll come back in about a month, once things are settled in his time. “Do you have any reason to come here anymore?” Hee-jin asks.
Boong-do: “My lover is here. Isn’t that a reason? Didn’t I say that I would try my best to be your lover?” Hee-jin’s jaw pops open. Wasn’t that just for today? He reminds her of the conversation they had on the plane, where she asked how things would end if they became lovers.
He tells her that several days of thought haven’t sorted out an answer, but until he knows, he’ll keep looking for her. Only if she agrees, and as long as he doesn’t misunderstand with whom he’s to do her special brand of goodbye kissing with. D’aww.
Hee-jin’s got a hope in her head and a song in her heart the next morning, greeting a drowsy Soo-kyung from her spot on cloud nine. Her manager can’t figure Boong-do out and asks for the truth – and hilariously, Hee-jin tells her the whole truth. You know, that he’s from the past. She knows Soo-kyung won’t believe it, and it’s enough to get her off the subject for now.
A kind old man sweeping the streets spots Hee-jin and laments that she hasn’t moved out of her crummy neighborhood even with such a nice car. While driving she touches her lips, remembering the kiss, and we flash back to see the end of her conversation with Boong-do. She wanted to go on a real date when they meet again in a month and spend the whole day together, only he didn’t know what a “date” was. She told him she’d explain when they see each other again.
And Boong-do, in modern-day Jeju, travels to his time-skip spot and finds his Joseon clothes hidden where he left them. I guess he did wear a topknot toupee when he was the Dark Avenger, because now he’s walking around with a modern haircut in Joseon clothes, and it’s just funny.
He uses the talisman to jump back while he’s sitting on a bench, which lands him flat on his bum in Joseon. Ha. Multiple arrows fly at him the second he gets up. Poor guy can’t catch a break.
An assassin charges him from the trees with a sword, while Boong-do remains unarmed. He hasn’t had a chance to tuck his talisman into his clothes, which results in it getting sliced in half before his eyes. Oh no!!
Something strange happens as a result, and Boong-do grips his head as the world around him grows fuzzy. The assassin uses this opportunity to attack and slices Boong-do on the chest, causing our scholar to fall to the ground, unconscious.
Memories of his fight in the library – when the talisman first saved his life – come and go. He wakes up in a bed to see his loyal servant Han-dong keeping vigil, though he doesn’t stay conscious long.
The Jeju officials are just happy to have him back, though he’s been unconscious for ten days. He expresses confusion at his surroundings, though the minister tells him that he’s in his private residence – he’s been reinstated, after all, and is no longer an exile.
But Boong-do’s confusion goes deeper than just the four walls around him. He seems surprised to even be in Jeju at all. “Why am I in Jeju, and why the reinstatement order?” he asks, eyes wide. Oh crap. This seems like some mystical mumbo jumbo caused by the torn talisman.
Boong-do doesn’t remember anything about his exile, and I wonder if his amnesia extends back to the library fight (judging from the flashback). So when Han-dong arrives to express happiness that his lord is in one piece, Boong-do only responds with more confusion. How did he get here?
Han-dong explains that the evil Minister Min sent an assassin to kill him, which sends us to a scene with Ja-soo receiving word of the failed assassination attempt. Boong-do was saved from death this time not by the talisman, but by guards that happened to be nearby.
He’s too excited to notice anything amiss about Boong-do, and exclaims that Minister Min will be coming to Jeju for exile soon, too. Our scholar looks like he’s checking his reactions very carefully, but this is all coming as news to him. (Also, where did he get that topknot?)
Back with Ja-soo, the assassin minion hands over the only thing he found at the scene – the two halves of Boong-do’s talisman. I love that Ja-soo is like, he carries a talisman with him? Which sounds akin to, He still plays with toys?
Boong-do asks Han-dong what day it is, and is shocked that it’s April 30th. The last day he remembers is the first of March. The last two months are a complete blank in his memory.
As he explains to his servant that his last memory was being stabbed in the library (in his first confrontation with Ja-soo), the same assassin who stabbed him puts the two pieces of the talisman together and begins to read the characters aloud.
An interesting turn, and that’s something I never thought I’d say about the amnesia plot device. Here’s the thing – the world has been so well established to where the mystical time-traveling bits seem like part and parcel to daily life, so in that sense, we believe in the power of the talisman just like Boong-do. When it was slashed in half I knew there’d be some sort of repercussion, because that’s just how the world has been set up. Because of that, I don’t believe that Boong-do’s amnesia was something randomly chosen from the grab bag of drama cliches inasmuch as it’s being used to hammer home the point that mystical circumstances beget mystical problems. It’s actually (gasp) being used believably.
Now that Boong-do has been playing with history, the choice to make Hee-jin’s career revolve around the historical events he’s living through – albeit in a TV drama – makes a lot of sense. It keeps Hee-jin intimately in tune with history enough to know when things change, and without a reason for her to care about historical events (so, if she worked any other kind of job sans historian), she’d be more out of the loop, and so would we. Her job isn’t just window dressing for her love story or something for her to do during scenes where she’s not with Boong-do; it’s been clearly thought out and serves a purpose. Love.
Time travel gets existential and funky when you start to think about the ramifications of what is and isn’t kosher to do in the past, though I like that Boong-do knows that he should meddle as little as possible. Still, it’s a pretty big deal that he changed the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty overnight, and that no one in the world remembers how history used to be, except for Hee-jin. I wonder what qualifies her to get a free memory pass – if it’s just a matter of knowing Boong-do, then Soo-kyung would remember the past events too, wouldn’t she? I’m guessing it comes down to who knows whether he’s a time traveler or not, and as of right now, Hee-jin is the only one to fill that quota.
With this new development things could take a more dramatic turn, though I’ve been loving the easy balance of comedy and drama so far. None of it ever feels forced, so when Boong-do was reciting the Ten Steps To Impress Your Girlfriend, I was laughing and swooning all at once. I like that they’re both frank in their own way about their future – they may not know all the answers, but they know that they want to face the questions together. Now with a broken talisman, the future becomes even more uncertain. To be separated from your lover by three-hundred years, and for him not to remember that you exist? That’s quite the pickle.
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- 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