This show is going to be the death of me. Our hero is faced with the choice of saving his own life or bringing the baddies to justice, and we’re left wondering: Can he do both? Seemingly insurmountable odds and sky-high stakes make this show a cut above the rest, and this episode combines all the best things about this series into one. Not like that’s a new thing where Queen In-hyun’s Man is concerned.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Boong-do has returned to Joseon to Hee-jin’s dismay, who panics in her own time period at the sight of the bloodied bandages left behind; a stark reminder of the danger he’s gone to face.
Rumors have run rampant among the citizens, who crowd around Boong-do to decry him for daring to show his face again. Is he even human?
Meanwhile, his own house is in a tizzy over an arrest warrant issued for Boong-do. He’s taking everything in stride, as usual, in contrast to Yoon-wol, who sees one of the maids carrying out bloody bandages and panics enough to let herself into his room without permission. (I know blood is naturally frightening, but it’s a nice tie-in that both Hee-jin and Yoon-wol see the same thing – bloody bandages – and share the same reaction even over the time-space divide.)
He’s cool as a cucumber when she sees him, and plainly admits that he regrets not heeding her advice: “Just like you said, I have brought about disaster because of my personal desires.” So to repent, he plans to make everything right again.
As royal investigators set up a perimeter around Boong-do’s home, Yoon-wol urges him to leave now for his own safety – why stay now just to protect his honor? If even the Queen can’t escape her impending doom, how can he expect to do the same?
Boong-do’s smile is serene as he wonders why she wants him to leave now, when she wanted him to stay before. With tears in her eyes, she admits that she developed feelings she knew she shouldn’t have and wanted to keep him by her side, but now she just wants him safe. Wherever safe may be.
One of the servants interrupts to notify them of the investigators waiting outside, and Boong-do orders him to open the doors before the situation gets worse. In a last-ditch effort to save him Yoon-wol grabs onto his arm, and Boong-do gently pulls her hands away before giving her a reassuring smile and pat on the shoulder. Aww, friendzoned.
A Noron official urges Queen In-hyun to save herself by claiming that she rejected a forward attempt by Boong-do, something she firmly denies: “When everyone left me to preserve their lives, he was the only one willing to put his life on the line and save me.” If the king doesn’t believe her, then so be it.
A palace maid informs her that Boong-do has entered the palace, and her eyes go wide with worry.
It’s time for Boong-do to put his smarts to the test, since his first meeting is with the irate King Sukjong. He denies the rumors of his disappearance by claiming that he lost consciousness when he was shot, and awoke as a hostage to unknown men. He came as soon as he could escape to find rumors circulating around the capital that he used a talisman’s magic, which he hands to the king. (Nooooo!)
He’s showing the talisman in an effort to explain it’s ridiculous simplicity – how can something like that grant him supernatural powers? As for the rumors, he claims that they (and those who believe in them) must have rebellious ideas against the royal family.
Sukjong’s unfazed, and wonders how Boong-do will explain how he disappeared from his place of exile and appeared at In-hyun’s private residence. At Boong-do’s explanation that it was all a traitor’s plot Sukjong laughs – does Boong-do mean to say that Minister Min has been plotting all this from jail?
The analogy he uses is taken from the history of the Three Kingdoms, where a general named Sima Yi (Boong-do) was famously ridiculed for retreating in fear from an already-dead general, Zhuge Liang (Minister Min). As if to say that Minister Min is harmless, and Boong-do’s fears are unfounded. Sukjong orders Minister Min brought to him so they can sort this mess out.
Minister Min is perfectly happy in jail since it’s only a matter of time before Sukjong’s ire grows strong enough to kill the queen. It’s unexpected, then, when the order comes for him to report to the palace for an interrogation. (I do like that Minister Min’s conversation buddy is like, Your release will be recorded in history and remembered for centuries! Mostly because it was, until now.)
Interrogation time. Minister Min finds himself sitting next to Boong-do, both of them facing Sukjong. Minister Min uses the I Was In Jail Free card, and Boong-do uses the abduction excuse. Sukjong claims he believes none, so he’ll figure it out by using a trial by ordeal – if Boong-do has the talisman and dies from being shot by an arrow, he’ll consider his story true and execute Minister Min on the spot. But if he disappears, then he’ll consider all the rumors as fact, his household will be punished, and he’ll never be able to step foot on Joseon land again. Either way, Boong-do loses.
The talisman is placed on Boong-do, who seems oddly calm as he tells Minister Min that though this might not be the best way to end their personal battle, it isn’t the worst either. Realization dawns on Minister Min’s face Boong-do asks, “Did you think I would bring the real talisman?”
I’m simultaneously relieved and horrified as we get a flashback of Boong-do switching the talisman for a duplicate. B-but… what if he dies? This is the perfect time for this show to be a trendsetter – instead of having the Best At Everything, can we get the Worst Archer in Joseon on this case?
Boong-do: “Let us die together. Since we will not be lonely on the road to the underworld, it will not be so bad.” These words put the fear of Buddha into Minister Min’s heart as the king orders the archers to ready their bows…
They shoot, and an arrow heads straight for Boong-do – we can see the reflection in his eyes. Oh no oh no oh no oh no.
Cut to: Hee-jin in the car, listening to Soo-kyung rant about Dong-min canceling a photo shoot. No no no. Get us back to Joseon!
Cut back to: Joseon. Everyone looks on as Boong-do is pierced by three arrows. Oh no. Ohhh no. Blood seeps through his hanbok as everyone looks on in shock, with Minister Min being the most shocked of them all. Boong-do loses consciousness, his head drooping down…
Cut to: COMMERCIAL? Show, you are killing me here.
Sukjong rises and declares that he has once again been deceived by Minister Min, and orders that Boong-do be taken to the royal infirmary.
Meanwhile, Hee-jin grows queasy and uneasy in the car. I know normally queasiness equals pregnancy in dramaland, but here I think it’s being employed to show an existential, I-feel-your-pain kind of deal. She can’t bear to look at the Annals herself, so she has Soo-kyung pull over to read them while she wrings her hands in nervousness. (As am I.)
Soo-kyung reads what we all saw, up until the last bit: “He was shot with three arrows and died on the spot.” NO. History can be wrong sometimes… right? Please say it’s wrong.
In Joseon, the royal doctor gives Sukjong the bad news – Boong-do had already stopped breathing before he could attempt anything. With a dark gleam in his eyes Sukjong draws a sword and stalks toward Minister Min: “Because of your evil schemes, I have caused the death of my own friend, and doubted the Queen’s loyalty. Do you think I will let you off?” He points the sword at Minister Min’s neck, while officials rush to stop him.
Instead, he orders that Minister Min undergo the most severe of torture.
We hear the same story continued by Soo-kyung, who adds that Minister Min was beheaded. She’s apparently unable to read Hee-jin’s mood, who’s in the beginning stages of a total breakdown. Who can blame her?
Hee-jin faints in the car, and in the ensuing chaos Soo-kyung loses control of the car and crashes into a pole. This is oddly reminiscent of the last amnesia crash…
In the hospital, Soo-kyung is lucid as she tries to pinpoint where she’s hurt. Hee-jin has been keeping a hand over her eyes, though tears start slipping out. When the doctors ask her what’s wrong the trickle of tears turns into a flood, and she begins to sob uncontrollably in her hospital bed, beating her chest right over her heart as she cries at the loss of Boong-do. (There’s no dearth of tears on my end, either. WAH.)
Across the time divide, Yoon-wol sits and cries silently in her white mourning hanbok. Others comment that Boong-do was the last of his family line and that it’s only downhill from here, while we cut back to Hee-jin, still sobbing. Even the Queen is feeling the loss.
Dong-min’s manager tells him that Soo-kyung and Hee-jin have been in an accident, and the Hallyu star tries to feign apathy. Regardless, he still ends up going to the hospital with his manager.
They spy Soo-kyung in a wheelchair first, with a cast on her leg. While his manager goes to tend on Soo-kyung, Dong-min sneaks away to Hee-jin’s room, where she lies in bed trying to hold back her tears. Like a child, he stomps his feet to get her attention. Dong-min: “Why are you crying? Is it really painful?”
But when the manager duo enters, he quickly steps back, trying to act cool and unconcerned. Once in the celebmobile, he admits that he can’t stop worrying even though he wishes he could just stay angry at her.
The next day, Soo-kyung ends up overhearing the nurses telling a strange tale: A man who looked exactly like Boong-do was in intensive care, and they’re sure it’s the same man previously put under Hee-jin’s guardianship. Soo-kyung eases closer to get the scoop, and the nurses tell her that there was a patient in intensive care who disappeared that morning who was also wounded by arrows. (!!!!!)
She relates the news to Hee-jin, who knows instantly that it must have been Boong-do. She remembers his words from their last phone call: “I will take responsibility for everything. I can do it. I will solve everything and return.”
Joseon times, one month later. Minister Min is taken from prison to the public execution platform with two others, who are beheaded before him. The executioner readies his sword at Minister Min’s throat, though his eyes grow wide as he spots a familiar face in the crowd… Boong-do. He can’t believe it.
We flash back one month earlier, before the interrogation/execution. A eunuch dares to disturb the king by delivering a letter attached to an arrow, which leads Sukjong to a darkened room. A voice from behind calls out: “Your Majesty.” It’s Boong-do.
Sukjong draws a sword against him, and Boong-do explains everything. He did use black magic, but it was only to achieve the King’s ends – he escaped from exile and visited the Queen, but he was also the one to alert Sukjong to Minister Min’s plot. Though Sukjong still believes Boong-do has committed high treason by deceiving him, he’s somewhat mollified that Boong-do did everything to help Sukjong expose Minister Min’s crimes and reinstate the Queen.
Still, Sukjong wonders how he can ever trust Boong-do again. Our scholar acknowledges this quandary and offers his own life in return – after all, he would have been dead long ago, and all this transpired because he cheated death. Only by his death will the talisman be proven as fake, and the people’s suspicions will be cleared.
He only asks for one thing in return: That along with him, Minister Min be executed too, since he knows of the talisman’s power and can use it for nefarious ends. We know that isn’t quite true, but we can’t blame Boong-do for stretching the truth just a little.
Sukjong is in disbelief that his trusted friend would ask him to kill him with his own hands. Sukjong: “How could you use your life to make such a request?” With tears in his eyes, Boong-do tells him, “My asking you to grant my death, Your Majesty, is so that I can live. I will live on. I really want to live. That’s why I’m begging Your Majesty to let me die with honor. In the future, I will not appear in this world again.”
Ah, so now Sukjong’s hasty decisions during the interrogation make more sense. We cut to Boong-do readying his horse with Han-dong before his official audience with the King, with the instructions that Han-dong is to bring his body to this exact place if he’s shot by arrows tomorrow. Boong-do: “Although death is a high possibility, there is still a glimmer of hope for survival. So you must bring me here no matter what happens. You cannot delay for even a moment.”
And then we see the B-side of the interrogation scene, where Sukjong smiles to himself as Boong-do is taken away, their plan successful. Boong-do is taken to the royal doctor where a eunuch delivers a secret royal order to call Boong-do’s time of death prematurely.
Our smart cookie, of course, remembered the wonders of modern medicine and operated on the slim hope that he would be saved in the future. Han-dong tucks the talisman into his bandages, turns around, and poof! Boong-do disappears…
…And reappears right next to the hospital ambulance – so that’s why he demanded that the spot be exact. Attaboy!
The hospital staff takes him inside just as Hee-jin and Soo-kyung are being taken in from a separate ambulance. As Hee-jin was giving her gut-wrenching cries, Boong-do was wheeled right in front of her. Only she couldn’t see him.
The emergency room doctors bring Boong-do back from the brink, and we finally catch up to the present beheading scene as Minister Min locks eyes with Boong-do – the last thing he sees before he’s beheaded. Boong-do walks away.
He ends up looking at his own grave, which is eerie any way you slice it. Han-dong arrives with word that all of Boong-do’s household has been taken care of, and that Yoon-wol returned to her life as a gisaeng. Han-dong ended up telling Yoon-wol about Boong-do being alive and unable to see her, and a brief flashback shows her relief at Han-dong’s news… and her inevitable sorrow that she’ll never see Boong-do again.
Han-dong is already blubbering about separating from Boong-do forever, and Boong-do speeds away in order to hide his emotions. Han-dong calls after his lord, to no avail. So. Sad.
And poor Yoon-wol cries as she plays the gayageum.
Boong-do even grows emotional as he sends his horse off, pressing their foreheads (or gat-to-forehead) together as a last farewell. He begins to untie his gat as he looks over an awe-inducing vista, seeing it all for the last time.
Han-dong turns around once he sees Boong-do’s riderless horse and heads to the river, where only Boong-do’s sword remains pierced through his gat and into the ground. He sits on the riverside and calls out to his lord in futility.
In the present, Hee-jin walks like a zombie to her house, dragging each step. Her eyes go wide and her hands limp, dropping the bag of groceries as she spies Boong-do standing with his back to her. She knows he kept his word and says casually: “If I continue to meet you, I might end up being the one who can’t live out my normal lifespan.” Aww.
He turns to her with tears in his eyes: “Although I am a little late, I have returned.” She asks him why, and he explains that he doesn’t know – but he’s without a home now, and feels like an orphan. Hee-jin reaches forward to wipe the tears from his face, explaining that she wanted to slap him for all the worry he caused her, but she can’t now with him crying. “See, you really are a player. You are a natural-born player.”
Then she perks up for his sake. “What’s there to be lonely about? Aren’t I right here? Me. You have me, the world’s most beautiful woman.” Love her. Love him. Love them together.
He pulls her into an embrace. “Has it all ended?” she asks. He replies, “Everything is over.” Only then does she fully embrace him, relieved.
Boong-do: “There are many words that I do not understand, and words that I am hearing for the first time. But there is one thing that has not changed.”
Boong-do: “I love you.”
Now that’s what I call a beautiful ending, even though this isn’t the drama’s ending – we’ve still got two episodes left. No complaints here, because I can definitely stand to see more of these two. (And more, and more, and more.) My curiosity is piqued to see whether we’ll be hit with more conflict in the final hour(s), or whether it’ll be smooth sailing from here. But let’s face it, this is dramaland, where happy endings are earned by blood, sweat, and tears. Even though I’m pretty sure Boong-do and Hee-jin have paid their dues by now.
I loved the way this episode set up all the puzzle pieces leading to Boong-do’s execution, and how it used time, much like our hero, to tell us the full story in the most dramatic way possible. If we had known the whole Boong-do/Sukjong plot before the execution it would have inevitably carried less weight, even though he still got three arrows to the chest either way. Despite knowing that Boong-do would get out of his troubles somehow, the reveal was still fantastic. Bravo, show.
Sukjong’s portrayal is an interesting one, and consistent in the way that all characters are portrayed in this show. We know from history that he was a bit of a flighty king who demoted his wife only to reinstate her, so I like that while history is being finagled with all of Sukjong’s actions seem rooted, as if the writers were always asking themselves, What would King Sukjong do? And I liked that while Boong-do told the truth, he wasn’t averse to a little lying, which you can’t blame him for. A guy’s gotta be resourceful when it comes to, you know, not dying.
We’ve still got the wild cards like Ja-soo in the mix, though only time will tell whether there’s still a place in the story for him. It’s all dependent on whether Boong-do returns to his time, which seems unlikely at this point – though part of me hopes that he might return for Yoon-wol. This show has been great about its attention to detail, and considering that she mentioned wanting to go to this “new world” before, it’d be nice to see some followthrough on that. Her Joseon life doesn’t seem to be doing much for her, anyway.
So I’m simultaneously happy as a clam that our lovers have reunited, yet worried about the talisman’s dark side at the same time. Boong-do did get to kill two birds with one talisman – saving his life and seeing his girl – but it can’t be that easy. Will there be a new alternate reality now that the Queen lived, or will it just boil down to more script changes? Oy, my nerves are still fried from all this emotional time-skipping, history-changing, script-changing, completely-lovable whirlwind. I’m going to take the optimistic stance that everything’s gravy and we’ll get tons of cute to make up for all the worrying we were just put through.
- Queen In-hyun’s Man: Episode 13
- 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