Some major revelations, a new set of questions, and some nice character moments… though they don’t quite add up to the most exciting episode on the block. Eun-soo finally begins to realize that there are some unexpected and massive consequences to her being in this time and place, and finds that she’s connected to more than she imagined. But… what does it all mean?
EPISODE 10 RECAP
Eun-soo opens up Hwata’s diary, said to be a thousand years old. She reels as she flips through the pages scrawled with numbers. She gets to the last page, and there in the corner is her name: Eun-soo.
Ki Chul asks what it says, what it means. But Eun-soo just stammers, “Tell me this is a dream. How can this be? Please tell me this is just a really complicated… long… dream.”
She starts to cry, and Ki Chul runs over to faux-comfort her so he can ask what it says. She tells him that it’s her name, and doesn’t know what the numbers mean. She thinks they might be coordinates, and then wonders if they might tell her the location of the door to her world in her time.
That makes Ki Chul yank it out of her grasp in no time, not wanting to have his heavenly doctor running back home quite yet. She kicks and screams and starts throwing pottery, and Ki Chul just dodges like it’s a fun little game.
Jang Bin runs in to hold Eun-soo back and try to calm her down. She cries frantically that she’s the only one who can read the book, but Ki Chul’s too smart to just give her access to what is clearly something important. He says he’ll return with it another time when she’s calmer.
She wails for Jang Bin to stop them, but he doesn’t have the strength to overpower Ki Chul. She finally crumples in defeat and her mind wanders back to the contents of the diary: “It was hangul. And… it looked like my handwriting. I write my name that way.”
Ooooooooh. Things just got weird. I like. She doesn’t recognize the diary itself, but knows the handwriting. Did future Eun-soo go back to the past a thousand years? Is Hwata from future Seoul? Or is it something even stranger?
Ki Chul stops on his way out to fume at Choi Young – how could he have wasted his opportunity in heaven? All he brought back was the doctor, per the king’s orders? His entire face twitches as he laments this country’s terrible luck, in having that precious door to heaven open for such a brainless thug.
Young just scoffs that it’s probably part of heaven’s design, considering if it had opened in front of Ki Chul, he might’ve cleaned heaven out of all its riches. Ha. Did you call him a thief to his face?
The woodalchi watch nervously as Young paces back and forth in the courtyard, and finally Deok-man screws up the nerve to speak up, but then loses it as soon as Young turns around. Heh. I love this group’s dynamic.
So second-in-command Choong-seok speaks up and asks if he’s not going to go check on the doctor. He paces some more.
He looks back and forth between the men, and chooses Deok-man to go protect the doctor. Sidekick Dae-man stutters that he wants to go, but Young complains that he lost her once before.
Deok-man pushes him aside to say way too eagerly that he’ll guard her with his life. Young knocks him upside the head, “I told you not to go around risking your life on anything! Do you walk around with extra lives in your pocket? Don’t! Don’t do it!”
Pffffft. This coming from YOU? It’s like equal parts self-flagellation and I’m-the-only-one-who-gets-to-do-that. Then another of his men treads carefully and asks their leader, “Aren’t you going to go?” Deok-man adds that the doctor will be waiting for Young… and then ducks thinking he’s going to get hit again. Hahaha.
Young just tells him that if anything happens, not to be stupid and fight, but to take the doctor and run for safety. Deok-man grins like a goof, “Can I piggyback her?” Young kicks him. Hard. Hee.
Just then, a patient gets piggybacked into the hospital for Jang Bin to treat. Eun-soo sits in her room in a daze, and then notices Deok-man lurking outside her window, failing at being inconspicuous. Eun-soo greets him in a resigned tone.
She comes to see the new patient, and we’re told that it’s Yi Seong-gye. Wait. THE Yi Seong-gye? As in grows up to be the general who later kills Choi Young and overthrows Goryeo to become the first king of Joseon?
He’s just a teenager now, and writhing in pain. Eun-soo says he needs surgery, but realizes that her surgical tools were taken. She heads out and Deok-man trails after her, stammering that it’s dangerous.
She gets right in Deok-man’s face to say that she’s not good with directions and mostly she’s been moved back and forth against her will, so could he show her the way to Ki Chul’s house? He protests, and she says someone will die if she doesn’t go get her tools. Deok-man: “But I’ll die!” I love that Young’s wrath is scarier to him than anything else.
She waits for Ki Chul to come meet her, practicing her smile so as to appear pleasant and calm. She’s awesomely terrible at it. But when she asks Deok-man for his opinion, he just blushes, “You’re pretty.” D’aw. You’re adorable. That’ll probably cost you another kick though.
Ki Chul comes in with his entourage thinking she couldn’t wait any longer to read the diary again, but she says she’s just here for her tools today. He uses her wording and asks if she’s not going to make a deal for it, obviously not about to give anything for free.
She asks if he’s already given up on winning her heart. She suggests that if he wins her over, they could decipher the diary together, and then he can go to heaven with her. Well, she certainly knows how to bait him. “Don’t you want to go to heaven?”
She betrays her nerves when she puts out her hand to demand her tools, but he assures her that she needn’t fear him—right now she is his highest concern. Why is that not comforting?
Gongmin goes over the list of people that Young asked of Suribang—those that the king will want to win over to his side. He asks if he can’t have Suribang too, and Young kind of chortles nervously, “They call me… the king’s dog.”
Flashback to that conversation, where ajumma and ajusshi do this hilarious tandem speech as Young eats. Ajusshi: “Have you forgotten how your teacher died? A master will boil water to eat the dog that pledged his loyalty, beating him to a pulp. Why?” Ajumma: “Because then the meat is tender.”
Ajusshi: “But then the leash breaks and the dog escapes. Why?” Ajumma: “Because it hurts.” Ajusshi: “And then the master calls the dog, and the dog comes running back, wagging his tail. Why?” Ajumma: “Because he’s a dog!” Pwaha. I love them.
Young says it’s a different king, and they scoff like he’s drunk the kool-aid, and ajumma actually takes back the food he’s eating, like he doesn’t deserve it. Gongmin laughs to hear the story.
He marks the people on the list for Young to start with, and says that he’s going to try winning some hearts too. Young smiles, and Gongmin adorably checks to make sure it’s not a mocking smile.
Eun-soo operates and saves Yi Seong-gye’s life, and her flashlight glasses finally run out of battery power. So… did she just mess with history or right it when it was veering the wrong way?
Young hands the scroll to Dae-man with instructions, and Dae-man nervously stutters that the doctor went to the House of Ki and returned. Ruh-roh…
He storms in, thwacks Deok-man in the chest, and beelines for Eun-soo. He starts to nag but she cuts him off, countering that she said she was doing fine in that house, and he didn’t have to turn her into a traitor and a pawn.
He scoffs bitterly, “Is that so?” and turns to go. But she stops him with an apology about king Chungjeong—not being able to do anything to save him, making it so that Young had to do that…
He looks up at her in surprise, probably having resigned himself to the idea that she’d never understand. But she apologizes for that, and for stabbing him. She thanks him for living, and says she knows he’s protected her all this time. “Thank you.”
He senses something wrong—she’s being too nice and her words sound so final. He asks what she’s doing. She says she’ll take care of herself from now on, and knows how to deal with Ki Chul now, having tested the waters this afternoon.
She plans to make a deal with him, because she has something he wants. Panicked, Young asks what she has that Ki Chul wants. He shouts until she answers that it’s history. Well, history to her, future for him.
Young asks with alarm if she promised to tell him such things, and she says she’s going to make it up as she goes, giving him the answers he wants to hear—how would he know whether or not they’re true? I would say it’s a good plan if you were a better liar.
Young protests that she doesn’t seem to know what Ki Chul is really like, but she cuts him off: “What I’m saying is, stop concerning yourself with me. I’m going to find my own way back to my world. On my own. I’m saying all this because I don’t know if I’ll see you again. So thank you. I’m sorry. And try not to fight, or get hurt. And eat sometimes.”
She bows her goodbye. He can’t say anything to argue and walks away before she lifts her head. He stops at the door to grab Deok-man by the nape of his neck like an errant puppy, warning him not to let her go out again. She watches him go with a heavy sigh.
But as soon as he steps away, he senses a disturbance overhead. Sure enough, there’s Chun Eum-ja, sneaking onto the roof. They both freeze.
Dae-man gives Choong-seok the scroll with the names, repeating the instructions from Young that he memorized so painstakingly. But as soon as it’s in his possession, Ki Chul’s mole passes by and pretends to trip and fall right into his arms… snatching the scroll while he blushes.
Aw crud, just when the good guys were doing so well. Ki Chul gets handed the scroll along with what Eum-ja overheard—that Eun-soo is planning to feed him lies about the future of this country because he’ll never know the difference. Double crud. Could we maybe get some tighter security around the palace?
Ki Chul fumes and orders the people on the list killed and Eun-soo watched for the time being.
Young confides in Aunt and she wonders if Eun-soo’s a fortuneteller or something, but Young says no—in heaven they have like a record or something. I just love that the idea of heaven is more logical than the future.
Aunt calls Ki Chul a little child with a new plaything. He reasons that maybe Ki Chul really won’t harm her, but Aunt implies that he’s an idiot: “Do you not know what a toy is? A toy is something that when you grow tired of playing with, you throw, you rip up, you break.”
Young: “Do you know you have a habit of exaggerating when you talk?” Heh. She tells him the story of an artist who was so talented that they say butterflies would alight on his paintings of flowers. Ki Chul had to have him, and showered him with the finest wealth.
And then one day he asked the painter to draw him, and didn’t like the result (the artist drew a snake, which HA), so he cut off his hands, scooped out his eyeballs, and threw him out into the street, where people were too afraid to even help him.
Young asks how a toy can extend its shelf life and Aunt says it needs to work to be pleasing, to be loved for as long as possible. Young squashes that idea–the doc isn’t exactly the type to bend her will to please others, and Aunt agrees.
He wonders if maybe he should’ve made her run. Aunt asks if he means that he would run with her, “But haven’t you started too many things here for that? Can you handle it?” He lets out a long sigh.
The warriors connected to Suribang get chased down by the Woodalchi, though they only manage to capture the medicine peddlers (Suribang’s front business).
Young drinks with Dae-man at his side. I love that he literally sits at Young’s feet like his puppy dog. He asks if Dae-man still can’t have a drink, and he says no—if he has a drink, the person next to him dies. Now I wanna see.
The Suribang warriors surround them and start attacking, and Young just calmly continues to drink while holding a panicked Dae-man back.
Ajumma and ajusshi sit down at his table and ask if his master told him to run around capturing their men. They throw insults and demand an explanation, and Young just answers, “Ask him yourself.” Whoa.
Someone walks up in a black hooded cloak. He lifts the hood… and there’s the king, smiling at them all casually.
Haha, by the time we cut back to their reaction, ajumma is already on the ground on her knees. Ajusshi hurriedly follows suit. What was that about the dog and his master you said?
Gongmin just picks up the bottle and asks if they won’t accept a drink from him.
Meanwhile, Eum-ja uses super-hearing to eavesdrop on Eun-soo telling Jang Bin about the future of Goryeo. Eeep! Stop talking! She says that Goryeo eventually becomes Korea (where the name comes from, of course) and wonders what would be interesting enough to tell Ki Chul, but not too harmful.
Jang Bin says he’s on Choi Young’s side—he thinks Ki Chul is too dangerous for her to deal with, and even if she gets that diary, there’s no guarantee it’ll help her return to heaven. She says she’s from Kangnam and there are way scarier people who live there, just with smiles plastered on their faces to hide it.
He wonders how that could be true in heaven, and she admits that she’s not from heaven at all. She told Young this, “but he ignores everything I say.” Eum-ja listens carefully, as she says, “I think I came from the future.” Aaaauuugh.
Deok-man finds him sitting outside and claps at him, thinking he’s sleeping. That gives Eum-ja a sharp pain since he’s using his super-hearing, though sadly he recovers quickly.
Deok-man draws his sword and taunts him, calling him White Hair. I’m worried he might die, but Eum-ja just sighs and walks away, not caring to fight him. Deok-man actually trails after him, a little disappointed, “Are you really going? Don’t you wanna fight?”
Meanwhile, ajumma and ajusshi are busy trying to get out of this situation as best they can, and give a half-assed excuse why all this doesn’t concern them. But Young speaks up to tell the king that with subjects so dangerous, he really only has two choices here: make them his people, or kill them.
Ajusshi forgets he’s in front of the king for a moment, and swears at Young. Hee. Gongmin turns to him (ajusshi’s name is Man-bo) and asks his opinion.
Gongmin: “Look here, Man-bo. What should I do? I’m going to choose one of two things right here. My path as king: Do I take the easy road, shedding some blood on the way? Or do I take the path of virtue, even if it’s a little slower, like a person? I’m going to choose today, right here, based on you. So what should I do?”
Man-bo looks up at him, and then at Young, wondering how to answer.
And from the distance, Hwasuin spies on the meeting and smiles to herself. Seriously, the good guys’ lack of security is starting to irk me.
The next day, Eun-soo tends to Princess Noguk’s wound, as the king watches nervously. And the palace mole turns assassin, as she sneaks Eum-ja into the palace grounds…
Choong-seok and Dae-man argue about who had the scroll of names last, because, uh, neither of them has it anymore. Young asks what the hell they’re doing, only to be interrupted by one of his men, reporting on some news from Suribang. (Oh, so Man-bo must’ve said yes?)
The information: be careful of Chun Eum-ja, because he’s watching the doctor, and he has super-hearing. Thank you! Also, if Suribang is like proto-NTS/CIA, then Young was damn smart about getting them on the good guy roster. People who know everything about everyone are key.
Eum-ja sits on the roof and listens in on Eun-soo talking to the king and queen. She says the scar is healing nicely and pats herself on the back. Noguk says she heard about Eun-soo saving someone else’s life yesterday, and Lady Choi says the child’s name: Yi Seong-gye.
Eun-soo gapes—it’s the first time she’s hearing the patient’s name. “Yi… Seong-gye? No, it can’t be. Not THAT Yi Seong-gye, right? In the history books?” Omg stop talking!
She stumbles over to Jang Bin to ask what would’ve happened to the boy if she hadn’t operated. Jang Bin says he would’ve died. Then it starts to dawn on her… if she hadn’t gone to treat Chungjeong, he wouldn’t have been poisoned… How can it be?
I like this turn—it’s far more chilling to realize that you’re the one making history follow its course.
Gongmin asks if that child Yi Seong-gye is someone she knows. Omg don’t tell him! She answers in a daze, “That child… later… later… House of Yi… Joseon…” but then she finally catches herself and clamps her mouth.
Dude, you did not just say those things out loud! At least out of context, they’re meaningless to someone who doesn’t know what she’s referencing, but still… that’s a very dangerous set of words you just spilled.
Thankfully Young storms in and asks to take the doctor away for a moment. He drags her out, kicking and screaming. He pleads with her to just shut her trap, but she won’t stop yelling. Right now would be a good time to kiss her!
She asks if he knows what he did by bringing her here. She says she may not have paid much attention to history and politics, but she does know one thing: you do not mess with history.
She says she was trying to be careful, but today she operated on someone. And not because she’s some great doctor, but because she wanted an excuse to ruffle Ki Chul’s feathers and see if he’d react to her deal.
“So I operated today. But do you know who that patient is?” He tells her to shut her mouth. She just keeps going, “He grows up to…” Aaaaack! Stop!
He tells her to stop because all that talk about the future and what she knows is just putting her in more danger. But she ignores him and barrels through: “Today, I saved the person who will kill you.”
WHY WOULD YOU TELL HIM THAT?!
Oh. My. God. Seriously? After that speech you just gave about not fucking with history, you’re gonna tell him who kills him? And then she has the gall to whine that she has no one else to talk to about this stuff. And you couldn’t have say, shared your feelings in abstract terms? Bah.
But Young doesn’t have time to dwell, because he senses Eum-ja’s presence. I love that he just calls out, “Woodalchi,” and his men just appear, out of the shadows. So cool. He leaves Eun-soo in their care and chases Eum-ja down, but loses him in the end.
Ki Chul lights up with greedy anticipation of all the things he has yet to learn about heaven and the future, gleeful that it’s true. His brother asks if they should kidnap the doc, but the minion shrewdly says that guarantees nothing if she plans to lie. Ki Chul agrees that they need a way around that, and forces himself to calm down.
Hwasuin tends to Eum-ja, whose ear is bleeding from using his powers. She warns that he could lose it completely if he keeps doing that, but he just says that Ki Chul wanted to know, like a faithful puppy.
Hwasuin’s only interested in Choi Young, which puts Eum-ja in a bad mood. She says that Ki Chul is interested in collecting hearts, while she’s interested in collecting men. She wonders what Eum-ja is after. Hm, so do I.
Eun-soo goes to check on her young patient, who thanks her very politely for saving his life. She hesitantly asks his name, and he confirms it: “Yi Seong-gye.” He starts to describe his family and his father, and she answers for him: “House of Yi.”
Young sends Dae-man to check on the doc, but it’s a step too late. Eun-soo goes to her room to find Deoki held captive by Hwasuin. Who wants to be the one to tell her gagging a mute girl is kinda unnecessary?
She takes off her glove and puts a fiery hand on Deoki’s shoulder and asks the doctor to go on a walk with her. With no other choice, Eun-soo throws Deok-man off her trail, and heads out.
At the same time, Ki Chul goes to see the king, and Young gets called to the stateroom. He and Choong-seok flank the throne, and Ki Chul makes a point of asking if everyone on the king’s side has gathered.
He says he heard that Gongmin was collecting people and thinks it’s a smart idea, but he can’t just let it happen either. And then he takes out the scroll with a smile. Oh crap. And poor Choong-seok, who looks at it wide-eyed, knowing it was somehow his mistake. He gets a glare from his general.
Ki Chul asks why the king is bothering with these others, “when I am your person.” He admits one of his irreproachable faults is jealousy. Gong-min: “So?”
Ki Chul’s voice hardens, “So I don’t like those people on that list. I don’t want to let them live.” Yikes. Young draws his sword and puts it to Ki Chul’s throat, asking for the king’s word whether to let him live or die.
The king asks what he’s planning, since clearly he couldn’t have come here with so little regard for his life. Ki Chul just returns to his smiley self and says he’s got the doctor. Young looks behind him, and Deok-man and Dae-man stand there, heads hanging.
Eun-soo walks out of the palace with Hwasuin, and Eum-ja comes up with horses. She starts to protest, but then Hwasuin points ahead to a cage being wheeled by… and inside is Yi Seong-gye. Oh crap.
He screams for help and Eun-soo panics, asking what they’re doing with him. I start to panic that they’re far smarter than I had anticipated, but they didn’t capture him because of who he is—just that he was her patient and she’d want him to live.
So he’s their weapon: do as they say, or the boy dies.
Young says he could kill Ki Chul now, but the king tells him to put down his sword. Gongmin asks what it is that Ki Chul seeks. “Nothing. For you to do nothing.” Gongmin fumes, “You want me to be a puppet king?”
Ki Chul just says he wants Gongmin to be a king loved by his people. “Those on that list—they’re your people too, aren’t they? Give them up, and they get to live.”
And then we watch as one by one, Eum-ja assassinates the people on the king’s list. He leaves a note stuffed in their mouths. It’s curious that they bring Eun-soo along, but it must be to scare her into talking—to show her that Ki Chul’s threats aren’t idle.
Back at the palace, Ki Chul actually delights in telling them that it’s already begun, and the first three on the list should already be dead by now. Gongmin screeeeeams in a rage, but he’s backed into a corner, and Ki Chul knows it.
Young tells the king to buy more time and send him out to deal with it. He asks, “Can you do that?” Gongmin nods and braces himself, and Young marches out.
His men race ahead of him and find dead bodies in Eum-ja’s path. They dig the note out that he left: a phrase meaning, “If you know your mistakes, fix them.”
Eun-soo vomits and quakes in fear, and the baddies agree that she’s seen enough to know that they aren’t nice people. Hwasuin says it’s time for phase two, where Eun-soo chooses their next target.
He eyes widen. Hwasuin gives her the choice between: Princess Noguk, Jang Bin, and Choi Young.
“Of the three, who is the one you hold dearest? That person is our next phase. Who might it be?”
I hope she’s smart enough to target Young, because at least if she sends them after the warrior, he has a chance of fighting them off. It does up the stakes for Eun-soo to know exactly how crazy Ki Chul is, since she clearly thought he was small beans enough for her to just wheel and deal her way around him. I’m already tired of the back-and-forth game of keep-away with Eun-soo though. I really thought we were in one place for a while, but apparently we’re just going to shuffle her back and forth which is senseless and starting to lose its punch.
The thing about this show is, it’s interesting—I’m always interested and I find the maneuvers clever and the characters witty—but it’s not exciting. And obviously every show can’t be heart-stopping, but it’s the kind of plot (conspiracy, intrigue) that you want to be a suspense-thriller. I desperately wish it were more exciting. But it takes great components and just… lets them lie there. Like a lump. It makes me sad.
I certainly enjoy the characters (the moments with Young and his aunt are always fantastic, as are any Woodalchi moments) and I feel like the time travel has finally gotten to an interesting place. It’s opening up all the right questions and making me really curious… but I’m not clawing at the screen for answers or feeling that thud in my heart when the revelations happen… even though I really really want to.
I thought it was very clever to bring Yi Seong-gye into the story, because he’s such a crucial figure in history, and we know at the mention of his name that he’s the one who brings about the downfall of pretty much our entire cast of characters. Normally what we’d expect is for Eun-soo to screw with history by traveling back in a time where she doesn’t belong, and that’s what she expects as well. But it starts to dawn on her that she’s unknowingly doing things that keep history on the correct course, which is even spookier. Because Yi Seong-gye can’t die. Who would found the nation of Joseon?
It opens up the world in a big way and I like where we’re going on a story level. But I still can’t believe she told Young that about the boy who would grow up to kill him. That was the dumbest thing she’s ever done. So far he hasn’t seen his face or learned his name, so that’s something, I guess. I just think that chance encounter was handled wrong—it would’ve been enough and plenty of dramatic weight for her to know and keep it to herself. And it would’ve been far more suspenseful for us to have him cross paths with the boy, neither of them knowing the fate to befall them. So epic, right? Sigh.
But so far the overarching mystery is taking a backseat to Ki Chul and Gongmin’s War of Hearts, and though I find that interesting on a cerebral level, it’s not gripping me entirely. I do think it’s much better in action—Gongmin leaving the palace to earn Suribang’s hearts, or Eum-ja slicing everyone on Gongmin’s list. I just feel like the story suffers any time we’re not with Young as the center, and I feel like he spent most of this episode in the sidelines or reacting to stuff, but not doing much about it. I sort of miss the days when they were on the run, because everything gets simpler when it’s life or death. He seems more contemplative and less Action Man, and well, I hate to say it, but I liked it better when he was flinging himself headlong into death. Not the death wish part, certainly, but the danger part. Less broody! More fighty!