A bribery scandal turns into a huge test of loyalty for a king and his woodalchi, and the closer Eun-soo gets to finding her way home, it starts to dawn on our couple how little time they might have left together. Nothing like a little impending rift in the space-time continuum to kick a romance in the rear end.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
Young gets framed for taking a bribe and worse yet, admitting he wasn’t responsible implicates Deok-man and Dolbae since they’re the ones who accepted the incriminating evidence in the first place.
He whirls around and asks the two lugs if they opened the box or knew what was inside when they accepted it, and they swear they didn’t. Young turns back around and says they didn’t know so they have nothing to do with this, and barks at them to get out. Aw. You just know he’d never let them take the fall for this.
They hang their heads and scramble out. Head scholar Lee Je-hyun offers Young a chance to refute the charges and explain himself. He just says in his terse and direct way that he didn’t do this, and looks right into Gongmin’s eyes: “You can believe me or not.”
He tells them to decide and either throw him in prison or take him at his word, and walks out. Gongmin turns to Ki Chul, calling this low even for him, and Ki Chul says he wouldn’t frame Young for that measly sum.
But he does find it amusing, calling it a good day to stop by the palace. He muses that seven assassins couldn’t drop Young, but he’s discovering that the man does have weaknesses after all, and chuckles.
Young storms past Deok-man and Dolbae and growls at them not to come near him. He finds his room turned upside-down and picks the Jeokwoldae bandana off the floor with a heavy heart. People, why you gotta pick at a man’s old wounds? He just locked that away!
No time for brooding though, because Advisor Jo storms in to announce that until the sentence is given, Young is hereby stripped of his Woodalchi leader status and will be placed under house arrest.
His men argue that only the king can give orders to Woodalchi, and Advisor Jo says with a smile that those special privileges have been revoked. Aha. You just gave yourself away.
Young inches closer to him, “It was you.” It’s pretty hilarious if you think about it—the man is jealous of Young’s status with the king and framed him with the crime that he himself commits, in pocketing court money and accepting bribes. You couldn’t have been more creative?
The king confers with his new officials privately, arguing that Young is the very person who protected them and brought them to the palace with his life on the line. They know this, but also argue that rumors surrounding the king are bad—people are saying that because the king is young, his woodalchi pulls all the strings.
Lee Saek warns that keeping an assassin so close to the king is a bad idea. So basically they do support the king, but like Advisor Jo, dislike the power that the woodalchi hold. They say it’s up to Gongmin to make the decision, though the way they present it, there’s not much room for him to make a choice. I’m seriously starting to regret you people being put into office.
Meanwhile Eun-soo transcribes pages from the diary, trying to figure out if it’s a math formula of some kind. Deok-heung asks if she’s figured it out, and she lies (badly) that it’s words, and he snatches the diary away, saying he’s seen enough of the world to know that she’s bluffing: those are numbers of some sort.
He says that Ki Chul was right—that one would have to have the doctor’s heart before she revealed anything, and sighs that it looks like it won’t be easy.
He starts to leave with the book but she asks to take another look at the last page, and traces her name with her finger. Yup, it’s her handwriting. Which if you think about it, is more infuriating. Shouldn’t Past (or Future?) Eun-soo have made her code easier for herself to decode?
Lady Choi watches her mole with an eagle eye, and manages to catch her drop-off to another palace guard, who passes a note along to Eum-ja. Gotcha.
Meanwhile, Deok-heung returns to Ki Chul, who’s been in the loop this whole time. Drat. Ki Chul asks if the doctor has made any progress figuring out the diary, and if Deok-heung has made any progress with her heart.
He offers anything to make it happen, and Deok-heung thinks back to the way she clutched Young’s sleeve when he ran into them, and smiles, “How about the queen’s seat, next to the king?” Huh? OH, you mean for Eun-soo, next to you. I was like, you wanna be queen?
Deok-heung says that at this point, it’s either become king or die—even he knows that much. Ki Chul smiles, happy to have Deok-heung on the same page, and not so without ambition after all.
Now that the good guys have followed the mole’s trail all the way back to Ki Chul, it’s time to take them down. The woodalchi capture the guard, and the mole is brought to her knees. Finally.
She reaches for a suicide pill and pops it in her mouth, but Lady Choi runs over and whaps her upside the head until it rolls back out. Awesome. Aunt’s the biggest badass in this place.
Lady Choi reports to the king what she’s gotten out of the mole—they’re after the king’s royal seal, so they can bugger things up with Yuan in his name and get him dethroned. Choong-seok says they won’t stop trying to get their hands on it then, and starts to say they should ask their leader…
And Aunt has to mutter that he’s not their leader anymore but just a regular ol’ warrior now. Gongmin sighs, still calling him by his title, and asks where he is now.
He’s napping on the terrace, where Eun-soo plops down next to him, complaining that she looked everywhere for him. She asks to see his arm and cuts off his stitches, as she tells him about her afternoon with the diary.
She’s figured out that they’re a series of dates—days and times, using “heaven” notation. The problem is, she doesn’t know what they’re for and how to translate that to Goryeo-calendar-speak.
She hopes they’re dates and times for when the door to heaven opens, and Young betrays a flash of disappointment. He asks for some advance notice once she figures it out, because there are things to prepare.
She says that it could be something else entirely, because it’s a series of dates going back a thousand years with no clear pattern. I love that she’s breezing through all this, not catching on that Young is clearly agitated by the thought that she’d leave soon.
She says she stopped by his room, and he sighs that it’s not his room anymore. She tosses him the aspirin bottle with a smile, wondering if the pills can be kept with a flower like that. Hee. Caught!
The mortified look on his face makes my day.
She says that there’s a song about him up in heaven, and starts to recite the lyrics. They startle him, “How do you know those words?”
She reminds him that he’s famous up in heaven, and they made a song about him using the words in his father’s will, because he’s such a good, pure person. “They say you took a bribe? The people in heaven would all laugh!” Aw.
Ki Chul approaches Lee Je-hyun and confirms that he knew Deok-heung’s father quite well. He lays down the bait: “Why don’t you choose for once?” He asks what. Ki Chul: “A king.”
He suggests that instead of always serving kings he’s given, he ought to look around him and choose one he likes, and walks away leaving the carrot dangling. Damn.
Eun-soo wails in frustration trying to figure out the date conversions she needs and calls for Jang Bin’s help, when Advisor Jo brings the two scholars to meet the doctor from heaven. Lee Je-hyun asks her about the future of this country and the king, and she harrumphs that she’ll only tell the king, and maybe just a little at that.
They aren’t happy, and she leaves the meeting with her arms crossed, complaining that she’s not some free search engine.
Young shows up (after overhearing the whole exchange) and tells her to pack lightly because they’re leaving before daybreak tomorrow. If those men decide they really need her to spill the beans about the future, they’ll lock her up and start with the torture. She sees that he’s serious.
She asks if he’s going to come with her, and assumes he can’t—he has things to do with the king. But he surprises her with a “Yes.” He’s going with her? That had better not be a lie, mister.
She races around and packs for the journey, stopping to add the smallest vase that’ll fit in her stash. Heh.
She stops by to see the queen, and says goodbye without saying goodbye. She shares a little of heaven’s wisdom with her: that this nation has many kings and queens, but none who love each other as much as Noguk and Gongmin.
She asks to give Noguk a hug, knowing it’s impolite, “but I’m an unni from heaven.” That’s adorable. She hugs the queen, who smiles in her arms.
But Lady Choi interrupts to say that Choi Young is being called in for his verdict. He’s led inside in front of the assembly, and then Advisor Jo reminds the king before he enters the room that everyone is watching to see if he will step out from under Woodalchi’s shadow, or continue clinging to his arm.
Gongmin insists that all he cares about is whether or not this accusation is true of false, and nothing more. Advisor Jo calls Young an evil thing, and Gongmin roars back, “Don’t ever call Choi Young that again! The blood that he has had to spill since knowing me, all the lives he’s had to take… each and every one is my price to pay!”
Advisor Jo counters that Young has the king by the ankles, but Gongmin just cuts him off and joins the court.
Young is presented with the charges and asked for a show of evidence or witnesses who will testify on his behalf. He says nothing, and then Gongmin speaks up, “I will testify.” Aw.
But Deok-heung gets up to ask if he can advise the king, and says that if the king is here to be the impartial judge, he can’t serve as a character witness too. Damn you. I know it’s logical, but you’re killing my bromance buzz here.
Young finally speaks up… and confesses to the crime. WHAT? Are you doing this to save the king?
Gongmin fumes, but with a direct confession, his hands are tied. The suggested sentence is house arrest for one to three years. Young looks up at Gongmin and gives a little smile. You ARE sacrificing yourself for the king!
Eun-soo packs frantically, even as Jang Bin tells her about Young’s sentencing. She insists that Young is a man of his word—if he says he’ll come, he’ll come. Jang Bin doesn’t argue, and tells her to pack her surgical tools, and if Young doesn’t show up, she should return.
Deok-heung reports to Ki Chul, who wonders why Young would confess to a crime he didn’t commit. Deok-heung thinks about it and realizes that it was a little strange. Gongmin gave the sentence himself (one year house arrest), but there was no anger between them, no ill will. What gives?
Ki Chul pounds his hands on the table, realizing that Young is up to something, and storms out in an angry panic.
That night, Gongmin tells Noguk everything, and says he felt it in his heart—Young telling him that it would be okay, to put his mind at ease. But he sighs that when Young was thrown in jail last time, he swore to himself that he would never let him be tied up or locked away again.
Noguk tells him that she didn’t know it at the time, but the doctor came to say goodbye to her today.
Eum-ja and Hwasuin burst into the hospital looking for her, and come across Jang Bin instead, who fights them off with his fan. They keep going, in search of Eun-soo. She waits by the pavilion for Young to arrive.
Meanwhile, Dae-man hops rooftops and takes out the guards watching Young in his cell, and quickly sets him free. They knock down everyone in their path.
Lady Choi reports the jailbreak to the king, and Choong-seok smiles that the guards can TRY to catch him, and then realizes he’s being inappropriately happy. Haha. Gongmin just tells them to leave it be.
He lets out a little smile once they’re gone, and tells Noguk that perhaps Young isn’t someone who can be tied down if he doesn’t want to be. He figures that he left because he didn’t want to bring the king down.
Noguk wonders if that means he intends to never return, and Gongmin sighs that he wishes he could know his heart.
Eun-soo waits and waits, growing more nervous by the minute. She ducks for cover when she sees two guards passing by, and then stoops down to get her dagger out.
Young’s voice calls out that she’s taking too long to arm herself, and she looks up in relief at the sound of his voice. He asks if she waited long, and she just runs to him and launches her arms around him. He stands there, utterly stunned, and slowly raises his arms and hugs her back. Awwwww.
Ki Chul flips his gourd and orders every minion and minion’s minion to go after them. He fumes that they must’ve planned this all from the beginning—Eun-soo figured out the diary code, and Gongmin did all this to send them in secret.
Deok-heung wonders if he’s not over-thinking it, because it doesn’t seem likely the king would have Young take the fall for a crime he didn’t commit just to send them away. But Ki Chul is too far gone on his wild conspiracy theory to listen to reason, and screams that they’re talking about the door to heaven!
He lights up with rage that there’s no one around him who sees the importance of that. He really is the loneliest little evil mastermind, isn’t he?
Young and Eun-soo duck in and out of alleyways, but the streets are crawling with Ki Chul’s men. Eun-soo asks if it’s him or her they’re after, arguing that he’s the fugitive who broke out of jail. He counters that with the large presence of Ki Chul’s minions, it looks more like she’s the prime objective, not him.
She says that if things ever get dicey, she’ll just give herself up and he can run. Technically, since she got to Goryeo, Ki Chul’s house had the nicest bed and fancy new clothes…
He gapes. Eun-soo: “You’re supposed to laugh right about now… because it was a joke…” He snaps that her jokes aren’t funny. Heh, they are to us.
He leaves her in Suribang’s care while he goes to check on some possible ways out of town, and ajusshi and ajumma offer her a bowl of food. She’s a few bites in when Young returns and digs into her bowl, as he asks ajusshi if there are any ways out of the city.
There aren’t, and Man-bo advises the safest thing to do at this point is to hide away in a room, right under their noses. He says he can procure one room. Well hurray for ajusshi helping the romance along. Make it a tiny room. With one bed.
Eun-soo: “You can’t possibly…” Everyone turns to look at her. “…have eaten it ALL?” Haha. She’s talking about the food? She eyes the empty bowl with a pout.
Young asks if she can handle it—just doing nothing and hiding out for a few days. Eun-soo: “Just breathing? … … And food?” He laughs and promises there’ll be lots of food, and she agrees to the terms.
He sends two of the Suribang boys to tail Advisor Jo in the meantime, which gets Man-bo’s hackles up that he’s still serving the king. But Deok-heung beats them to the punch and asks Advisor Jo to join him for a game of badook, and says that Ki Chul has gone mad. He asks Advisor Jo to become one of his people, and offers him Ki Chul’s position (and wealth) once he becomes king.
Advisor Jo hems and haws, threatening to expose him for being a traitor, but Deok-heung laughs, “Is there someone who doesn’t know I want to be king?” He sighs that he’ll just have to find someone else then… and has to wait all of two seconds before Advisor Jo jumps ship to his side.
Young keeps watch while Eun-soo bangs her head over the dates and formulas, ranting and raving like a lunatic. He tries to convince her to do something about her hair, but she just keeps going ’round and ’round in word circles.
Turns out her big problem is that the book of dates that Jang Bin gave her is written all in hanja, which she can’t read. Heh.
While she’s busy headdesking, Young reaches out for a moment like he might touch her… but then backs away. Of course. He just puts on a cheery attitude and tells her to hurry up and solve it so she can get back home, but his smile fades as he walks away.
Ki Chul regroups and wonders why they haven’t caught them yet. Hwasuin guesses they’re still in the city, if none of the ways out have produced anything. He asks after Deok-heung, and Ki Won says he went to the palace, but they’re low on moles at the moment, so they don’t know why.
Ki Chul puts Eum-ja on Deok-heung watch, and wonders to himself if he didn’t call in a bear to catch a fox.
Young waits impatiently while Eun-soo washes up. Did you really have to stand guard for that?
He shows her to her room and they end up with their faces inches apart, in the darkened room. The tension makes them freeze like that for a moment, just hovering in possible kissing space, before they break apart awkwardly.
He tells her to sleep and then takes up his post outside her door. Aw man, this was not the layout I was hoping for when Man-bo gave them one room.
He leans back and then she calls out to him, just on the other side of the paper wall. She says she can’t sleep because it feels like they’re on an MT, and explains that it’s like going to camp with your coworkers and staying up all night to become better friends.
She tries to think of what people do on MTs, and remembers the Truth Game. Yes please! She tells him he has to answer any question truthfully, and he says he doesn’t really lie anyway, because he finds it bothersome. You would be too lazy to lie.
She asks if she figures out this date and time, and they go to heaven’s door, and the door is really open, and she goes… “Will you be okay?” She quickly adds that he would be without a doctor and all…
Young: “I would… not be okay.” Eee!
Eun-soo: “I knew it. I wouldn’t be okay either.” She says that if she returned to her world, she’d think about them a lot—the king, the queen, Jang Bin, the woodalchi. Her voice softens, “And you. I would miss you a lot. Will it maybe feel like a really long dream?”
As she talks, he watches her shadow on the wall. He reaches his hand out to trace the line of her face, which just kills me.
Eun-soo: “But a dream is forgotten when the day grows brighter, isn’t it?” He pulls his hand away.
She tells him it’s his turn: “Is there anything you want to know about me?” Young: “No. There’s already too much.” Oof. It’s a lovely scene, and I wish we lingered on the moment a little longer instead of cutting out of it so abruptly. *sticks a pin in PD voodoo doll*
Aunt gets called in by Deok-heung late that night, and he shows her a stack of blank paper. He asks her to take a look at the pages. She tries to thumb through them but she can’t, which is the point he’s trying to illustrate—they’re thick, and so most people have to lick their thumbs to flip the pages.
He says the paper happens to be laced with a curious poison that accumulates in the system slowly, and then suddenly manifests days later when a person falls ill. It’s a paper he happened to have on hand when he showed the doctor her diary…
Aw crap. We’ve watched her lick her way through those pages for days! Also, what a dumb way to deliver poison. What if there was no licking?
He asks where the doctor is, because he’s the only one with the cure to save her. Of course you are.
Young gets woken up by Eun-soo’s cries, and he tries to wake her, thinking it’s another nightmare. But when he gets close, he finds her covered in sweat and sick from poison. He cradles her in his arms in a panic.
I like this turn in Deok-heung, because he’s a great new villain to throw into the mix. At first we just assume the same thing that Ki Chul does: This guy is lazy and spoiled, and will make an easy puppet king. But when he sharpens his claws, he turns out to be more dangerous than Ki Chul when it comes to our core cast. He doesn’t care about having hearts or keeping anyone alive; he wants the throne and knows how to manipulate other people, and without any superpowers to boot. I guess Ki Chul really did shoot himself in the foot by inviting a bear to chase out a fox, which is just karma’s way of saying hello.
Poisoned pages are frankly funnier than menacing, because it’s just the silliest and most inefficient way to kill anyone. I suppose Deok-heung’s goal is to find her and save her, only he couldn’t have known she’d be on the run when he gave her the paper. It’s just randomly convenient that he happened to think of poisoning her (Does he go around poisoning everyone just in case he might need to rescue/capture them?), which makes the plot point inadvertently comical. In any case the important part is, Deok-heung isn’t just another patsy on the baddies’ side; he’s a whole other evil faction on his own, making for some fun interplay between Good Guys, Baddies, and Even Badder Baddies. Especially if he and Ki Chul are going to get into a pissing contest over who’s the bigger bad, and get in each other’s way.
I’m fine with Young being a noble idiot for bromance, but I don’t know what they’re going to do to fix this. Obviously rather than have Gongmin lose his credibility as king, Young chose to throw himself to the wolves, and in the short-term, he can use the opportunity to escape with Eun-soo. But then what? Man-bo points out how absurd it is that he’s still acting in service of the king after taking the fall for a crime he never committed. And it’s true—he’s just still on the job, whether it’s official or not. There’s no way he can stay out of this fight, which means they have to clear his name at some point and get back to the palace, which might make all this moot. I just hope it’s not for a while, because I like it when he’s outside and on the run.
Thank goodness for some confessions in this episode, even if mined in roundabout ways. I really liked the buildup all episode long. Every time Eun-soo’s excitement grew at solving the puzzle, the way Young’s face fell was so sweet. She seemed oblivious to it at first, but then she ends up being the one to ask the question directly in the Truth Game, which is great. I love that they could be honest with each other, once there was a wall between them to hide behind. Go figure they’d need the literal version to get rid of the metaphorical one. And the way Young let himself touch her shadow as she talked about all of this being something that would disappear at daylight? So perfect. But I think my favorite thing was that he didn’t want to know her any better because he already knows too much not to care. It’s a nice little twist on how he feels without saying it directly: Any more and he might not be able to let her go through that door at all.