You just can’t mess with time: This gives our hero a new hurdle to overcome, and me a few more gray hairs. (The nerves that come with earnestly wishing your characters well when you actually care about them can age you prematurely, I swear.) Another twist sends our scales of fortune tipping one way, then the other, and my heart seesaws right along with them.
SONG OF THE DAY
Boong-do Er, I mean Ji Hyun-woo – “아이야” [ Download ]
EPISODE 13 RECAP
Joseon. Yoon-wol asks Boong-do if he really means to leave this world for good, to be with that woman. After all his struggles, his life in this world is finally making a turn for the better—how could he leave everything and everyone behind now?
She says that she gave him the talisman to help him, not so that he would give everything up for a woman. She adds that if the talisman were used to fulfill other desires, it would grow angry. Oh, so you tell him this NOW?
Boong-do is startled at both her knowledge of his intent and the vehemence of her reaction, but suggests they work through this calmly, item by item. First, what’s this about angry talisman?
In Seoul, Hee-jin gets everything ready for Boong-do: clothes, necessities, and of course, cell phone. She programs the phones and calls from one to the other, pretending to be “Player-nim” answering a call from “Most Beautiful Woman Ever-nim,” haha.
Soo-kyung watches, clucking disapprovingly. Hee-jin teases her, saying she should have no problem with it since Soo-kyung was always a fan of rich boyfriends. Well, now she’s got one. Soo-kyung complains, saying that Hee-jin has caused a scandal, created a rift with Dong-min, and lost CF offers: “Are you happy now?!”
Hee-jin just says in her chipper way, “Yes, I’m happy! Yay!”
At his desk in the palace, Boong-do thinks back to Yoon-wol’s clarification about the conditions of the talisman.
Flashback to before she’d gotten it. Yoon-wol prays at the temple, day after day, so fervently that the head monk asks what she’s praying for. He’s moved by her earnest spirit and wants to help.
She tells the head monk that she prays for Boong-do’s happiness, which makes him cluck in pity. He can read endless difficulty in Boong-do’s future, with threats to his life. In response, he writes the talisman, explaining that it can carry both fortune and misfortune. He tells her that it does not necessarily follow that what will happen will follow his intention (as the writer), or hers (as the requester), or Boong-do’s (as the possessor). If used with other intentions, great misfortune may arise.
Boong-do recalls Yoon-wol’s explanation of the head monk’s warning, and how the talisman was created wishing for his safety. If he uses it to live in the future, won’t he be acting counter to that original intention? With tears in her eyes, she had told him, “I have never once not wished for your happiness. But I never once thought that such happiness would mean disappearing from us forever.”
As he contemplates the matter, a messenger arrives from the Euigeumbu bearing a letter. It thanks Boong-do for his tip about Ja-soo, whom they are seeking to arrest. However, his aid is requested, because there was trouble in the night, which he tells Boong-do unofficially.
A strange, unidentified man had been seen lurking about Queen In-hyun’s home at night, and had been chased off by a guard. Thankflully nobody had been hurt, but the affront had sent King Sukjong into a rage (not that he needs much help; if ever there was a capricious king…). Sukjong had ordered the criminal caught.
Boong-do is the only one who has seen the bandit leader’s face, hence this request. He confirms that the Wanted sign bearing Ja-soo’s face is more or less accurate, but misses some things. He murmurs to himself, “It would be so easy with a photo…”
But Ja-soo doesn’t seem to be the guy responsible for the latest trespassing incident — that guy was taller and wore a yangban’s hanbok.
Just then, an ambush. A team of bandits pops up on a nearby rooftop, readying their bows and arrows to shoot — all aiming for Boong-do, a sitting duck in the open courtyard. Damn, that’s ballsy — here in daylight in the center of the city?
And then they shoot him. Twice. Oh holy fuck. A commercial break, NOW?
I don’t even have the presence of mind to process that the talisman isn’t working until a third arrow comes at him, and Boong-do vanishes. So perhaps the other two weren’t life-threatening arrows, though they sure look like they hurt.
It’s chaos as people run for cover, officers run to capture the bandits, and bystanders clamor that Boong-do just disappeared, like smoke.
Boong-do reappears in modern Seoul with arrows sticking out of his shoulder and back. People stop to marvel at how good-looking and cool he is, assuming he’s shooting some kind of movie.
He leaves the public square and finds a quieter corner, needing to pull the arrows out. He snaps the shafts off, which looks terribly painful, but he has the presence of mind to change into new (stolen) clothing. Boong-do’s sweating, ashen, and literally dripping blood onto the pavement as he walks, all the while mentally summin up what just happened — that such a blatant act in broad daylight can only mean it’s a trap. It must be Ja-soo, who knows about the talisman and its properties. That means Minister Min is the mastermind.
Flashback to Minister Min, scheming from his prison cell. Ja-soo wants to storm Boong-do’s house to take the talisman by force, but Minister Min has craftier plots up his sleeve: If the talisman brought him all this fortune, then it can also ruin him.
But there’s the hitch about the new criminal not being Ja-soo. And dressed like a nobleman. Boong-do makes a realization…
Minister Min is going to use his disappearances against him to trap him and turn his supporters against him.
Boong-do keeps his pain contained enough that he isn’t attracting strange stares, even though there are growing red stains and strange bumps under the shirt from the arrow shafts.
He staggers to his hiding place in the park, and is initially alarmed when hidden supplies are missing. But then he spots the plastic bag left by Hee-jin (or rather, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World), and finds the supplies she’s prepared: shoes, wallet, cell phone.
He manages to hail a taxi and tells the driver to go to the closest library. Dude. Arrow wounds! Bleeding!
The driver doesn’t notice until he gets stuck in traffic and turns to ask Boong-do a question, by which point he’s unconcious.
On the drama set, Hee-jin acts out a scene with the king, but today her delivery is a little off; she’s stillted and forced. We see why when the camera pans over to reveal her scene partner: not Dong-min, but a random stand-in wearing king’s robes. Looks like Dong-min the Petty was true to his word and has refused to act with Hee-jin, forcing this bit of ridiculousness. Hee-jin isn’t fully into the emotion of the scene and the director calls for a break, frustrated. Na-jung basks in a bout of schadenfreude, loving it.
Hee-jin perks up to see Soo-kyung approaching, and playfully sticks her tongue out at her. Soo-kyung crankily mimes taking that tongue and cutting it off with scissors, which makes me giggle, ’cause it’s such a best friend thing to do. All, I love you, but you drive me nuts and I want to kill you right now.
Hee-jin turns on her phone and sees a screen full of calls from Player, happy to know he’s back. She calls him right away, only to get a strange voice on the end of the line, telling her about something in a taxi.
Hee-jin bursts into the hospital demanding to know where the taxi patient is. She’s recognized by the nurse, so Soo-kyung steps in (literally, by stepping on Hee-jin’s foot as a signal to shut up) to cover for her, to prevent potential rumors linking Hee-jin to man.
While they wait for Boong-do to come out of surgery, the women get an accounting from the taxi driver. Or rather, Soo-kyung talks to the driver while Hee-jin listens in from across the room, worried sick. The driver explains how he saw Boong-do passed out and called the only number programmed into the cell, then hilariously pauses as he gives Soo-kyung the once-over, asking, “And you’re… the world’s greatest beauty?” Haha.
Minister Min cackles to hear that the entire city is in an uproar over Boong-do’s disappearance. Thanks to the ambush, Boong-do has been seen disappearing in front of a number of credible witnesses, just in time to coincide with the mysterious be-hanbok-ed intruder sighting. So devious, and so smart. In an evil way, of course.
Furthermore, the other bandits also disappeared. We know their disappearance wasn’t the same type as Boong-do’s, but this is the power of wild rumor at play.
The king listens to this in disbelief, drawing the natural conclusion. Then Boong-do and the bandits are using some sort of trickery? And where in the world has he gone?
When Boong-do wakes up after his surgery, with an anxious Hee-jin at his bedside, the first thing he does is to muster his energy to tell her to confirm something. It sounds like he says the Annals, but it’s barely whispered and she doesn’t pick up on it, instead sitting outside in a miserable state until Soo-kyung tells her they ought to leave. Not only is she already in a scandal for dumping Dong-min, supposedly after cheating on him, it’ll be worse if gossip circulates that the Other Man turned up at a hospital injured and bloody.
Soo-kyung adds that just because she previously said that rich boyfriends are the bee’s knees, merely being rich doesn’t automatically make somebody acceptable. After all, what student goes around getting shot by arrows? Soo-kyung pulls out a plastic bag containing the extracted arrowheads to show Hee-jin — the sight of which makes a lot more to Hee-jin.
Hee-jin returns to the set and receives a revised script, but flips through it in growing confusion. The new story pisses her off, and she storms off to confront Dong-min for being a petty bastard, forcing a rewrite just because he’s angry with her. These are real people in history, you know! You can’t just go around changing things willy-nilly!
Dong-min looks at her in confusion, wondering if she’s drunk, saying that all that’s happened is that Queen In-hyun dies a little earlier. Hee-jin fires back that it’s not that, but the method of death. And then it falls into place, as she recalls Boong-do’s request to check the records. Something must have changed again.
Hee-jin goes online to read about Queen In-hyun’s life, and what she finds shocks her. Uh-oh.
Hospital. Boong-do awakens in bed, gasping in pain. Hee-jin arrives at the door, excited to hear that he’s awake now, and the lovers trade relieved looks. That restores their good humor, and she chirps that she sure was prescient in getting him a cell phone right away, since that’s what alerted her to his condition.
He’s been out for ten whole days, and Boong-do is reminded of his initial goal: He needs to check the Annals. She says that she checked them for her… but that things are pretty much the same. The only thing that changed was that it recorded his attack and disappearance, “and he was not seen after that day.” She keeps her expression unconcerned and blank that we’d be tempted to believe her, if only we hadn’t seen her own reaction to the news.
She says that she figured that explains him staying here from now on, and confirms that nothing else was any different. She teases that if he thought he was so important that his simple absence would change history, he’s got an inflated sense of self.
Boong-do doesn’t look convinced, but he doesn’t get a chance to ask about it. The doctor comes to check on his wound, and Hee-jin steps outside to take a call. She’s told by a nurse that since Boong-do is now awake, they’ll have to alert the police (since injuries like stabbings and violent crimes have to be reported).
While Hee-jin is taking care of that, Boong-do painfully gets up and removes the IV drip from his arm, heading to the closet to reclaim his talisman… which isn’t in any of his pockets. OH NOES. He changes quickly and leaves the room, only to get stopped by Soo-kyung and the nurses. They try to tell him he can’t leave, so he blocks their path with a rolling table, then hurries out.
When Hee-jin returns to the hospital room, she finds Soo-kyung huffing about how suspicious Boong-do is — why would he run away?
Boong-do heads to the library and reads about his attack and disappearance (which took place on May 25). The next day, the king decided that the trespasser to the queen’s property must have been Boong-do and ordered punishment. The day after that, a witness presented himself to confirm that Boong-do often visited the queen in the middle of the night.
Over the ensuing days (during which Boong-do had lain unconscious), stretching into early June, more “evidence” popped up to incriminate him, such as the timeline of his Jeju escape. The gossip increased among the people, and along with it the discontent over Boong-do’s association with the queen. The king demanded an explanation from his queen, but she did not explain.
On June 20, the increasingly furious king declared him guilty of capital crimes, and ordered a reinvestigation of all the events of April… which then led to Minister Min’s release. Urg!
Finally, on July 2, the king had fumed that with no sign of Boong-do, he had no choice but to punish the queen without Boong-do for threatning the royal line. On the 25th, she was beheaded.
Oh, crap. Who knew that Boong-do’s fear of being in love with the queen — played so well as a comedic runner in a previous episode — would turn so dire? Well done, show.
Hee-jin fidgets anxiously as she calls him, guessing that he headed for the library. But she doesn’t know which library, and he isn’t answering his calls.
Boong-do recalls Yoon-wol’s warning about the side effects of using the talisman for other reasons. He finally calls her back to ask her where she hid the talisman.
He’s at her house, looking through drawers, but she says that she burned it — he must know by now that Queen In-hyun was beheaded, and returning to his time will just cost him his own head. She says she’s sorry, but he knows how simple-minded she is, and that’s the only thing she could think to do, so it’s too bad but he’s just stuck here.
Boong-do just says, “You’re terrible at lying, yet you keep doing it.” She protests that she isn’t lying, but he replies, “Do not anger yourself at my next words. I do not much care for dumb people. You call yourself dumb, but as I see it, you merely lack information, you’re not dumb.” He reminds her that when the talisman was torn, he lost his memory — what would happen if she really burned it? Would they be fine? “Or would we go forever not being able to recognize each other?”
She knows all this, so he supposes she has hidden it away carefully. In flashback, we see Hee-jin trying to light it on fire, but unable to go through with it. Hee-jin insists that she is indeed just as dumb as she says, just as Boong-do opens the freezer and spies a bit of telltale yellow. He tells her he found it, and she jumps up to exclaim, “Don’t go, wait!” She starts to cry as she begs him not to go, accusing him of being cruel to the person who saved his life. He promised to take responsibility for her.
He asks, “Will you heed my words for a moment? I told you I would take responsibility for you, but five years ago, I decided to devote my life to protecting the queen. Not only could I not protect her, but to have her go down in history and punished because of me — I could not live the rest of my life happily here, knowing that. I have learned I should not live like that. Therefore, I will take responsibility for everything. I can do it. I will solve everything and return.”
That night, Hee-jin returns home and sees all of Boong-do’s modern accoutrements neatly stacked on the table — clothing, wallet, phone.
So many time-travel stories deal with the idea of time resisting change, or having adverse effects to that change, but I have to credit this show with handling this ever-changing butterfly effect in a believable way. I don’t mean realistic, of course, given the physical impossibilities of time travel (or IS it?), but that the fallout is painted in a well-thought-out, credible way. I love that the drama’s motif of cause and effect is painted with a thoughtful, nuanced touch. Cause and effect, push and pull, yin and yang. You can’t gain something without losing another thing.
There is an invisible Higher Power at play here, but it’s not Fate, or at least the same kind of Fate that exists in most other K-dramas. You know, the kind that tells you something Must Be, and therefore does everything to bring about that conclusion, regardless of how the characters feel. Or, often, in direct contradiction to how the characters feel. (Fate’s a sadistic bitch, what can you say?)
This drama’s supernatural entity has no value judgment attached, and for that I am vastly grateful. That is to say, Fate seems weirdly fixated with principles of purity and morality. Which isn’t to say I’m pro-impurity and immorality, but that just tends to get preachy and judgy. We all have a general sense of what’s just and unjust, or right and wrong, so having Fate hammer that in gets tiresome. Here, it’s almost a scientific matter of action and reaction: Something was meant to do one thing, and will react when used improperly. It’s just framed in a vaguely paranormal/spiritual context. It’s interesting, and different.
I was (and am) pretty worried about the effects of the talisman (or as I like to think of it, Talisman’s Revenge), in that it makes so much sense for there to be repercussions — this isn’t the kind of drama that doesn’t tie up its loose ends. There’s such a wide range of possibility for what those repercussions might be that I feel that kind of dread that comes with knowing something’s coming, but not knowing what to expect. It could be anything, and that’s an ominous thing.
Yet Boong-do’s one word of confidence at the end, assuring Hee-jin that he can keep both his promises, is enough to give me a sense of relief. I have no idea how he intends to go about doing both things — or how he can remain in the future without, say, pissing off the Powers That Be into killing him off — but if we’re talking about Boong-do with his super smarts and thoughtful planning, I’m suddenly feeling a lot more reassured.
Go, Boong-do, you can doooo eeet!
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 12
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 11
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 10
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 9
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 8
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 7
- 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