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93

Mandate of Heaven: Episode 20 (Final)

Thank goodness this finale was good. When this cycle of dramas started with all the buzz projects and high-concept plots and big stars, who knew that this would be the show to stick? At least for me. I was certainly hoping Mandate of Heaven would be good, in the way that I hope all shows are good, but it surprised me by being solidly funny, sweet, rewarding and at times suspenseful. And it kept it up the whole way through, which is no mean feat.

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FINAL EPISODE RECAP

Jung-hwan is poisoned by the assassin’s dagger, which takes a good year off my life. But Won whips out a vial of antidote and feeds it to Jung-hwan, pouring the rest over the wound. Aha, smart trick for the doctor to always carry it around (this is the same antidote Do-saeng used to cure the prince).

The bandits see that Kim has been felled, and realize to their chagrin that they’re too late to do him in themselves. They recognize Mu-myung as the guy responsible for the bandit village slaughter, and vow to at least get him. Geo-chil orders So-baek to remain behind, which makes me laugh—has that ever worked? The men dash off, and So-baek takes all of two seconds to decide she’s going too.

Keok-jung and Geo-chil catch up to the assassin and engage in a fight. Injuries are inflicted on all sides, which is an improvement from previous battles where Mu-myung was the only one drawing any blood. They even manage to knock him down on his ass, but he’s quick to rebound.

So-baek flies into the mix, and Mu-myung kicks her into a tree. On her way down, she slams her head onto a rock and gets knocked out cold. Eek! The bandits abandon the fight to rush to her side. So-baek’s head is bloody and her father sobs.

They rush to Won’s home carrying the two patients, Jung-hwan and So-baek. Jung-hwan says in his characteristic understated way that he’s totally fine, and that all he needs is Woo-young at his side. Of course the dude can be smooth at a time like this.

Won has been ignoring his slashed arm in light of more pressing concerns, and leaves Jung-hwan to his sister’s care to check on So-baek. The men are afraid to face the possibility that she might not wake up, and while Won’s reaction doesn’t promise a lot of hope, he takes out his needles and starts treatment.

Woo-young panics when Jung-hwan’s eyes roll up in his head, and tries to check whether his heart is beating. Don’t die! As her head lies on his chest, his hand moves up to cradle her face, thank god, and he says that it’s still beating.

“It would have stopped, but the reason it kept beating is because you are here. It felt too sorry for you…” Ha, classic gallows humor from Jung-hwan. He doesn’t get to finish, though, because Woo-young cuts him off with a kiss.

She tells him not to strain himself talking: “I know how you feel, so just don’t die.” Less talking, more smooching!

The queen dowager fumes to hear of Kim’s death. At least the meddling Jung-hwan got stabbed with a poisoned dagger, she smirks—and I don’t envy her court lady for having to deliver the next bit, because I’m pretty sure every time the queen hears “Actually, that Choi Won guy stepped in,” I think she pops a blood vessel. Or maybe kills kittens.

Da-in delivers the daily tonic to Lee Ho, and it does not make me happy to see that (1) the candle is burning, and (2) a eunuch sways and coughs, looking ill. Bah! Stupid evil queen.

Lee Ho is relieved to hear that Won used antidote to treat Jung-hwan, then adds that Won was injured and requests that Da-in check on him. That’s sweet. I mean, I’m sure Lee Ho wants to know he’s fine, but we all know it’s for her sake.

Given Da-in’s resolve to stay away, she struggles with the decision of whether to go. I understand her reluctance, but I sure do hope she can suck it up because Won could use all the medical assistance he can get. He continues to treat So-baek, who’s still unconscious, while ignoring his own untreated injury.

Da-in paces in front of the house, and eventually just leaves. Arrrrg.

Gyeongwon confronts his mother with two candles: one from his chamber, and one from the king’s. He notes that all the candles sent to the king were marked on the bottom, realizing that she wasn’t sincere about her gift. Oh, honey. It’s sweet that you ever thought so.

He demands to know what dastardly deeds she’s planning against the king, crying that he doesn’t want his mother becoming a murderer. Oh, I think that ship has sailed, little man. It earns him a slap and his mother warns menacingly that he’d best do as she bids.

His face still imprinted with her hand mark, Gyeongwon goes to his brother to beg to be stripped of his royal status and evicted from the palace. Being a prince here is like hell, he says.

Lee Ho is shocked, but he sees the slap mark and puts two and two together. Gyeongwon says earnestly that he wishes to live and die as a commoner—one with a warm and caring family, even if that means being hungry. He grows increasingly agitated and claps his hands over his ears at the very title of prince.

Da-in monitors the prince’s condition, deducing that this is the result of excessive psychological stress. Hearing that the queen dowager has summoned him, Gyeongwon bolts upright and hides behind his brother, which, aww. He cries that he’s more afraid of her than he is the grim reaper, and begs again to be evicted.

The eunuch tells the queen dowager that Gyeongwon resisted the summons and advises that she give him space… though that turns out to not really be much of an option since he’s already gone.

Da-in takes Gyeongwon to Won’s house, which warms my heart because Won’s makeshift + real family really is the anti-palace. This is Lee Ho’s doing, and he declines to tell the queen dowager where he sent the sickly prince for his convalescence. She’s offended, but Lee Ho informs her that it was Gyeongwon’s wish to be sent without her knowledge.

Da-in tries to leave as soon as she can, but she can’t ignore Won’s bleeding arm and insists on having a look. She nags him for not taking proper care of himself, and he thoroughly enjoys the attention, half-teasing that she could come back to him if she’s so worried. He adds, “I think it was good that I got hurt. I am able to see you like this, and hear you worrying over me.”

By morning, Jung-hwan is awake and on his feet. (YAY!) He doesn’t look entirely healthy, but since staggering is a lot better than wheezing half to death, I’ll take it. He tells the sleeping Woo-young to dream of him.

Jung-hwan reports to work, where his corrupt boss cackles at his conundrum. Jung-hwan killed Kim while in the line of duty, but the other side can argue that he’s a murderer who took the law into his own hands. Jung-hwan’s position is thus endangered, but he submits himself to a full investigation.

Da-in updates the king on his brother’s condition. Hearing that Won needed medical care, Lee Ho instructs her to keep checking in on him. Ha, is the king playing matchmaker?

And then… his eunuch keels over. Gahh! I want to run in and ninja-kick those candles, dammit.

Da-in confers with Won about the suspicious circumstances of the eunuch’s death. It’s a particular red flag because this eunuch was always at Lee Ho’s side, who has been subject to more than his share of poison plots.

Gyeongwon—who is under increasing strain and suffering nightmares—overhears the exchange and looks even more haunted. Spill! I wish he’d talk, if only for his own sanity, which looks like it’s on the brink.

Won and Da-in examine the dead body, and coupled with the eunuch’s recent ailments, Won arrives at the conclusion: lead poisoning. It’s extra troubling because the king has already experienced some unexplained stomachaches as well.

So when Da-in delivers the king’s nightly medicine, she looks around for anything that could be the source of the lead poison. She notices the candles, but they don’t spark an immediate suspicion.

The queen dowager is pleased to hear of the eunuch’s death, since that means the king is next. She’s still frustrated at being outmaneuvered away from her son, though, and wants to call in Mu-myung. It’s too risky to bring him to her, so she orders her court lady to deliver a message.

Won mulls over the clues, trying to narrow down the source of the poison. What would affect somebody who was always with you physically, but who didn’t eat your food?

Just then, he hears the children fighting, and that provides the link. Rang protests while clutching a candle protectively, while a shaking, cowering Gyeongwon insists she throw it away. Ding-ding-ding.

He gets Da-in to sneak a candle out of the king’s room, though she says dubiously that it looks like a regular scented candle. Won starts shaving the wax down, and it becomes apparent that the wax was mixed with lead, and the scent added to cover any smell.

Now Won understands that Gyeongwon must have known, hence the prince’s guilt and his request to be evicted from royalty. Won instructs Da-in to discontinue the candles’ usage immediately.

Jung-hwan is on alert for suspicious movement from the queen dowager, and sees her court lady heading out on her secret message delivery. Bingo.

So-baek wakes up, and there’s much rejoicing from her father and Keok-jung. She recognizes them and can speak, but looks blankly at Won: “Who is this?”

It’s a concern that her head trauma has had some lasting effects, but neither Won nor Geo-chil is that worried about it. Won says he must not have been important enough to be remembered, which I suppose is way better than only forgetting the MOST important thing in your life. Ahem. Geo-chil adds that it’s better this way, since it was hard watching her in tears over Won anyway.

Jung-hwan follows the court lady out to her rendezvous point, watching as Mu-myung leaps down to meet her from a tree. What are you, a monkey? She delivers the letter—that’s good, that’s proof—but then someone leaps in to interfere.

It’s Do-moon, out for some justice. I wouldn’t say our pretty monkey boy is getting worse at fighting, but his opponents are getting better, so this time Do-moon escapes getting sliced to shreds.

Into the fray leaps Jung-hwan, who never could turn down a battle (or a heroic jumping-into-action shot), and the swordfight lands in another three-way clash. But this time Jung-hwan gets a piece of Mu-myung, whose blood is drawn first. And second.

Jung-hwan gets knocked back (he’s still recovering, after all) and Do-moon goes in for the kill. But at the last second, Jung-hwan yells for him to stop. Urg! I know Mu-myung is more valuable alive than dead, but damn it makes for an unsatisfying end to a fight.

Jung-hwan argues that he’s the only way to corner the queen dowager for her crimes… just as Mu-myung grabs the blade with his bare hands and thrusts it through his own belly. Accck! With his last breath, he grits out, “The peony flower will never die.”

Jung-hwan is frustrated with Do-moon’s hotheaded intervention, because they’ve traded one death for another, and now they’ve lost their ammo against the queen dowager. Poor, despairing Do-moon—always wanting to do the loyal thing, but not sharp enough to see the bigger picture.

Jung-hwan tells Won resignedly that they’ve lost their last possibility of pinning down the queen dowager (which for him also means keeping his job). But Won says that all’s not lost yet. Ooh, another plan.

The queen dowager is shaken to hear of Mu-myung’s death, then again to learn that the candles have been removed from the king’s chambers. At first furious that her son must have cracked, the queen dowager then realizes the connection: Da-in removed the candles, therefore Da-in must be the one harboring Gyeongwon.

The queen dowager summons her to thank her for looking after Gyeongwon, all sweetness and light. It’s a bit bold of Da-in, but she tells the queen mother that she’s the source of her son’s troubles and needs to show him maternal affection—that’s all he wants, not the bloodthirsty ambition that scares him silly.

The queen dowager accepts this all and thanks Da-in, then invites her to eat the spread she prepared specially for her. It’s clear to both that the food is poisoned, but at this point the queen isn’t even bothering to sneak it. She orders Da-in to partake.

Da-in declines, which isn’t really an option. The queen dowager calls her ladies to force feed it to her, and they try to shove it down her throat.

Thankfully, they’re interrupted by Lee Ho, who enters Jung-hwan and Won in tow. The queen dowager says simply that she was scolding Da-in for being disobedient, which nobody believes. Jung-hwan throws a couple candles at her feet, presenting her with evidence of her crime, and the king orders the case investigated.

The queen dowager sees that she isn’t going to get out of this by feigning innocence, so she makes an appeal: “I did it because I wished to live.” For what it’s worth, I do believe her desperation is real; it just fails to stir sympathy in me since she’s so devious.

Lee Ho doesn’t look moved either, and takes the drink she tried to feed Da-in. He holds it out to the queen and tells her to drink.

She falls to her knees and begs for her life, clutching his robes. She won’t harbor any more designs on the throne, and if he’ll spare her life she’ll live in quiet obscurity till old age.

Lee Ho drops the bowl, a tacit acceptance of her deal.

Da-in is badly shaken by the ordeal, and Won comforts her as she trembles in the aftermath. She confesses that more than the thought that she was facing death, what scared her was the idea of never seeing him or Rang again.

Won just quietly offers his open hand, and she takes it. He promises not to let go.

So-baek recovers enough that it’s time for the bandits to leave, though she still looks at the family with a blank expression. Rang’s sad that she doesn’t remember her, but Geo-chil assures her that So-baek remembers all the important stuff in her heart, if not in her head. Which was always kinda true of her anyway, come to think of it.

Won gives Keok-jung medicine and offers more should they need it, and Keok-jung offers help if they need it. Rang tells them to not steal or fight anymore, assuring them that her friend the king promised to make the world better so they wouldn’t be forced to do bad things anymore. So Geo-chil promises too, and Rang sends him off with a kiss on the forehead.

Won decides it would be nice to take a trip back to Tortoise Boulder with Lee Ho, for old time’s sake, and they smile to think of the memories they have of being boyhood friends here. Won starts to answer the king’s question about returning to his position as palace doctor, but Lee Ho speaks first, saying he doesn’t have to answer that.

Lee Ho spares Won from having to give his refusal, teasing that Won took so long to answer that now he doesn’t want him anymore.

But he adds that he has realized Won isn’t someone he ought to tie down and claim for himself. He tells him to continue his work and attend to many more people outside the palace, saying that it’s his mandate of heaven. Won agrees to live his life not by the king’s order but by heaven’s.

And so, when we check back in a short while later, Won has a thriving practice—working alongside Da-in—where he treats common folk and chides them for worrying about the medical bill more than the urgency of their health. In walk Woo-young (pregnant!) and Jung-hwan, whom Rang now calls Uncle.

Rang’s health is all better now, and adorably, Jung-hwan calls Won “hyungnim.” He still works in the palace, but he has left the police department to guard the king personally.

As the drama closes on our happy couple, Won thinks to Da-in that he’s content to live this way forever, without wanting anything more. She corrects him by saying that’s wanting quite a lot, since living happily is no easy feat.

 
COMMENTS

All in all, a satisfying end to a satisfying drama.

This drama didn’t turn out to be the drama I’d expected, and there were a few bobbles along the way, but as a whole I’d call it a successful show. It knew what it was, it was carefully planned (which you could see from how things were established well in advance and planted so that they’d come into fruition later down the line), and it maintained that level of quality throughout.

There were certainly flaws, some minor and some… less minor (which I’ll get to in a sec)… but the main reason I’m so satisfied with Mandate of Heaven is because it was rock-solid in its consistency. It didn’t have wild swings from extreme to extreme, it didn’t lose its way, it didn’t drop plot threads in our laps and yank them away willy-nilly, it didn’t feel lost or meandering. The flip-side of that was that it didn’t perhaps make my heart pound or inspire emotional outbursts, either, so it lacked that crack factor.

Not that there weren’t some giddy moments and couples with adorable chemistry. It’s too bad they weren’t with the main couple, but I was so with the Jung-hwan and Woo-young ship (and the Keok-jung & So-baek loveline) that the stalwart, noble, honorable (and boring) romance between Won and Da-in didn’t upset me. I just treated it as one more expected plot point.

I do think that the director and cinematography are to be praised for keeping the feel of the show cohesive and consistent. At times the camera work highlighted the best moments of a scene, and at times it even elevated the show in what would have otherwise been a pedestrian moment. Maybe it’s an unfair advantage, or maybe that’s the mark of a smart director. Hey, if you can use all the weapons in your arsenal, why wouldn’t you?

It’s a bit of a shame that the show’s weakest link was probably its lead star, which isn’t unheard of but wasn’t something I expected of this show, since I generally have liked Lee Dong-wook and think he can be pretty good in restrained roles. Unfortunately, he never learned to tame the wild eyes and hasn’t hit upon the knack of Dramatic! Acting! that doesn’t feel like it’s, well, upper-cased and punctuated with exclamation marks. The character was better than the acting, I think, since there were some really great moments for Won, particularly as he grew out of his antagonism for the crown prince and embraced him as friend. True, he was kind of too perfect to be interesting, but the smarty-pants did happen to be a wuss, so there were nice touches in there.

It’s the same issue for Song Ji-hyo, who is again an actress I’ve liked in other stuff who I found dull here. But to look at that glass half-full, it was nice to put the two dull lovebirds together so that I could file them away as plot necessities whose romance I had no issue with intellectually, and save my excitement for the actors who had charisma and chemistry. Like Song Jong-ho and Im Seul-ong.

I was actually surprised at how much I liked Im Seul-ong in this, not because I disliked him but because the only other time I’ve seen him act (Personal Taste) was in a role that was basically buffoonish comic relief. I did hear he auditioned properly to win this role, and I believe he earned it because he completely won me over and elevated the prince’s role from mere tragic wallpaper to feeling real pathos for his loneliness, his idealistic struggles, and his future beyond this drama. You could say that this was bolstered by the writing of the character more than the acting, only then I’d have to point you to Exhibit A: Lee Dong-wook, who proves that that’s not enough. So yay for him.

The wrap-up hit all the important beats for me, so I leave the show content. There’s a tinge of bittersweetness to knowing the history beyond the end date of this show, and it’s not something you can quite escape in dramas like this where you can only show so many hopeful and happy scenes without contradicting trufax.

On the other hand, Mandate of Heaven is an example of a drama fusing history with narrative in smart and effective ways. The term fusion often gets thrown around a lot when I think the show really means period or fantasy, but it’s not always appropriate. I appreciate that this drama told its story and made its characters their own people, while working with the basic framework of stuff we can’t change. Like the fact that Lee Ho (King Injong) had a contentious relationship with his stepmother and was sickly and had a relatively short reign. But in the context of this story, we don’t need to address that stuff, because this Lee Ho has walked this character path and this is where his arc resolves.

Speaking of characters with arcs, I really enjoyed how everyone in this this show felt like their own people, each with his/her own full life beyond what we saw onscreen. Whether secondary, evil, awesome or annoying, I got the sense that the characters had whole personalities and were driven by personal motivations, and not, say, merely by the dictates of the story. That’s something that should happen in every drama, but sadly doesn’t. So credit where it’s due.

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Thanks Javabeans!

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Thanks, javabeans, for recapping Mandate of Heaven! This has got to be one of my favourite dramas this year (along with School 2013, I Hear Your Voice, and Monstar), and it definitely doesn't hurt that there's pretty boy Dongjun in there, heehee. <3 *biased*

I loved this show, but there's one thing that's been bugging me—what was Mu-myung's motivation in helping the queen? Maybe it's because I haven't had the time to watch the whole drama (I've only watched a few snippets of Mu-myung's scenes, haha), but I can't seem to figure out why he'd be so loyal to the queen, even going so far as to kill himself so she can't be incriminated because of him. Am I missing out on something because all I've read are the recaps, or did the writer miss this out? I don't want to think that Mu-myung is just a really devoted boy who simply pledged his loyalty to the wrong side. I don't want his character to be that shallow. I honestly wish the writer had given more thought to his character; I really think the character of Mu-myung could have been expanded on. His motives on tattooing the peony flower on his arm and pledging utmost loyalty to the queen is unclear, to me at least.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the bits of humour thrown into this show, and that was really what made me continue following this show. Other than Dongjun of course ;)

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Thanks for recapping this....now that it's over...I can start its marathon ;-)

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That's interesting. Do you read all the recaps first and then watch? Regardless, have fun with the marathon!

Look out for Im Seul-ong because he totally won me over in this show. I admit I had negative preconceptions of him for the idol moniker but who would've thunk it.... an idol that can act! I still have residual love for Lee Dong-wook from other things but boy oh boy does this role exposes his weaknesses.

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Late late late comment but I am still going to comment even if nobody is never going to read this lol

I totally agree about Lee Dong Wook acting. I also thought it was terrible. I used to read critics saying that he was bad and I never thought so, but in this drama OMG every time he appears that's the only thing I could see, his bad acting... over the top reactions, eyes opened bigger than they should be, showing teeth while running, while walking, while being angry, you name it... If I was to pick one word to describe his acting in this drama, I would say: grimace.

Anyway, overall I liked almost all the characters in this drama specially Rang and the little prince. OMG I almost forgot my favorite : Do Moon!!!

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Oh Betty, u said it girl..

"eyes opened bigger than they should be, showing teeth while running, while walking, while being angry..." HA!

Really disappointed with Lee Dong Wook's acting here..I cringed everytime seeing his expression..as a proper actor and being this acting field quiet long, this is shame..

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Thank you so much for fully recapping this show when you have had many other recaps and things going!

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Sigh.Satisfied viewer.Of course I couldn't wait for the ending after a cliffhanger like that.
It's not going to be my favourite drama but it was certainly worth following. I like the plot it didnt become idiotic.Also the Jung Hwan and Woo Young romance was just so good.It was a combination of the actor and the chemistry.They felt believable.

Good drama.Yay that I am not cursing at the end.

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"Yay that I am not cursing at the end."

You comment made me laugh because these are the words in my heads when I finished watching the finale!! LOL

I needed a break after the GFB whiplash....err, ending.

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Speaking of beautiful cinematography, did anyone else stick around to the end of the episode to see the black and white stills taken from the series? So. Gorgeous. It made me want to turn them into the wallpaper for my computer or frame them on my wall or something. The cinematographer's eye for this show was truly amazing.

I feel a bit let down by Lee Dong-wook. Throughout the series I chalked my dissatisfaction up to his story line being repetitve. Captured, not captured. At the camp, not at the camp. Saving a girl, plotting to take down the queen. However, in the last episode where he comes in to check on So-baek, Lee Dong-wook's reaction was so over the top that I had to recognize that he was more the issue than the writing. Kinda disappointing.

Overall, though, I thoroughly love this drama and am so happy Jung-hwan and Woo-young got their happy ending and kisses (more smooching, indeed). No K2H heartache of losing our most beloved character. And also no TWDR nonsense of everyone dropping like flies in the finale.

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I almost forgot! JB,thanks a hundred times over for recapping this drama.

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Me too! I'm loving those black and white stills as well. The score accompanying those stills is wonderful as well, made me want to rewatch the whole thing again (which is a mark of a really good drama in my book).
I hope KBS will release the full soundtrack though, I really love all the instrumental pieces used in this drama.

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A nice quiet endings...before all the bad royal stuff goes down

Though...for some reason I thought they were going to skip to the future with Lee Ho dead, Gyeongwon on the throne, or maybe the bandits being captured with focus on Sobaek and rebel Keok-jung. He's supposed to be the same Keok-jung right?

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I think I read somewhere that when Im Seul-ong read the script for 26 Years he realized his acting is lacking so he worked hard to improve. I'm happy to report that he was good in that film as the conflicted law officer who works with many others to avenge their family.

Which is why I was so happy to watch him here because he did his Lee Ho character justice. I hope to see him in more projects.

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YAY!!! AWESOME. Thanks for recapping this JB.

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Im glad that Im Seulong is actually good as Lee Ho, while Lee Dong-Wook had me LOL-ing at his wide-eye looks.
Thanks to javabeans for the recaps! It's been a great ride!

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Thank you so much for recapping this!!

Iam soooo happy that my OTP (Jung Hwan & Woo Young) had a happy ending.

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i really enjoy this drama. never thought that i'd follow this till the end. one of the main reason is because of junghwan and wooyoung. really ship these two. thanks for this recap!

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I was surprised by Seulong too. He turned out to be really good.

Thanks javabeans! :)

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Overall a very satisfying drama and a very fitting ending. I'm glad that I'm kept in this bubble where I can assume that every character that I love gets their happy ending... and Lee Ho lives longer than what history told us ;)

LDW's acting is one of my very few gripes with this drama, because even though his character is boring, I do like the fact that he always saves the day with his brain. And despite really liking the plot and reversals and how carefully planned they are, it did feel repetitive after the two-third mark of the drama. Fortunately I was already so invested with the characters and the interactions between them and the cuteness and the sweetly awkward romance that it didn't bother me that much in the end.

I have been struggling with being invested in currently airing dramas after Gaksital, but this show is definitely the first one in a while that has managed to keep me interested all the way until the end, and I think it's gonna hold a bigger part of my heart out of all the dramas I'll be watching this year (if I'm finally going to catch another one later).

Thank you for recapping this, JB. Your recaps and response to comments have been helping me a lot in understanding the story and characters. I'm sure that the experience wouldn't be the same without it! :)

Oh and I'll forever ship Jung Hwan and Woo Young! :D Now, I just need to find Song Jong Ho's dramas to help me overcome the withdrawals of not seeing Jung Hwan anymore...

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It's the first time seeing him get the girl he wanted! And he needs his own drama! Again, I'm saying this for the 3rd time!

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Yes, need Song Jong Ho heading a drama pronto!

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I was surprised by Seulong too. He turned out to be really good.

Thanks javabeans for the recap! :)

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Finally a decent drama with a decent ending...
Thanks for recapping this show, Javabeans!

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I can't really believe it's over. Such good drama.

I'm so happy Jung-hwan didn't die! Yay, Show! Thank you!

I'm also glad they didn't put Lee Ho's death into this final episode. It's enough that I know how he ends up. I just don't want to see it. I thought his last scene with Won was excellent and a nice way to say good-bye to his character.

All in all, this was a great drama. It wasn't perfect, by any means, but it was excellent and consistent. The writing was good, even with some of the repeated motives. Like Won being captured again and again.

This is going into my Top 10 list, though. Thanks for the excellent recaps, Javabeans!

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Thank you Javabeans for recapping this series! It was a little gem of a show and I enjoyed it very much! Which is rare considering how I'm getting pickier with dramas these days. :/

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I was surprised by Seulong too. He turned out to be really good.

Thanks javabeans for the recaps!

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Perfect, I refreshed this to see a header of Song Jong-ho in his Jeong-hwan glory. ("We love men in gats"...tho technically his hat is not a gat since...)

XD

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At least, the show's ending was anathema to the failure that was GFB. :) *squees all around*

The palace's ending is open-ended, since it's evident to all what would happen to Injong anyways...

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can this man get his own show stat please. i'm tired of him playing 2nd fiddle all the time.

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Well, nothing says that the hat HE is wearing is the gat...He's just also in the header, right?

We do love men in gats, though. *sigh* It is so interesting how I can mean that sentence with such ardor.

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Thanks for recaping this drama. I have not seen the final ep since I'm waiting for subs. Oh finally getting a satisfying ending and a happy ending that makes sense in a drama really almost brings a tear to my eyes. I'm realizing that it seems difficult to get satisfying ending in dramas. This was a good show and I think overal it stayed very consistant throughout.

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i disagree with you about the leads' acting, in particular Lee Dong-wook. i felt that he portrayed his character excellently and he was one of the main reasons why i found this drama to be the best in this season.

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oh yes, and kim yoo bin is such a good child actress!

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So happy. And satisfied. I agree with the consistency of the story telling and the camerawork. It does have some of the nicest fight scenes I've seen in a while.

It's kinda funny that I actually prefer Seulong's acting (he irked me a little in Personal taste) to LDW who I usually quite like. But the crazy eyes and intense frowning had me rolling my eyes. I mean he had 20 episodes to get it right yet he never quite did.

Song JongHo is a revelation for me here. He had fantastic chemistry with KangByul (who gets stuck with the worse wardrobe and hair ever) but together they were adorable and theirs is a story full of delicious reversals.

Personally I love this drama - it's the first sageuk in awhile to capture my heart...the last being TPM I think.Every other sageuk I tried since then left me dissatisfied....

The follow up sageuk with UTW looks promising with two of my fav ahjussi actors anchoring the show as well...

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The reason some of the sageuks felt bleh is the way they always start with the childhood thing....and first love as a kid. Seriously. Can't people meet as adults and fall madly in love as well? TPM and MoH is two examples of why we don't always need all those fated, pre-determined childhood meetings.

I also want to commend the child actors for doing a good job in their roles, and for once not just in the first 3-4 episodes only. GyeongWon and Rangie held their own against the adult casts. And I'm so glad they don't get shuffled around but are properly fleshed out even as their screen time dwindled.

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Good point! If you think about it, there are so few roles for kids on television that last a whole drama. The casting director hit the ball outta the park with those two young talents.

It was the scenes with Ranga that made watching LDW, um, watchable at all.

Can't we have a sequel with Ranga growing up along with the prince and then somehow, I dunno, helping him fight off Omamamamamamama throughout his reign?

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Yeah, quite few child roles that last the whole way through!
I think as of now the only show where it was literally all about the children is the currently airing The Queens Classroom.
Such talented young kids.

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Beside Cruel Palace, Queen of the Classroom is my current love. Well written and well acted. The child actors, all of them and Ko Hyun-Jung are fantastic.

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Thanks for the recap! love the ending XD so sad that Moh was ended...

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Yes, LDW deserves a Most Acting nomination (though he isn't quite in the same league as Dr. Jin, thankfully) and he seemed to be channeling Mr. Ed a couple of times, but he came across as being very sweet and earnest.

I think this would've been better as a 16 ep. drama-- the conflicts were too repetitive. But shipping Jung Hwan and Woo Young was a lot of fun, and I loved Rang and the bandits.

Thanks for sticking with this, JB, especially when you've had so many other dramas on your plate.

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Thanks for the recap! I ended up loving this drama more than I thought I would, thanks to the secondary characters. (I agree with the point about LDW and his acting - the scene of him eavesdropping on the evil ministers in Ep. 13 was all big eyes and gritted teeth.)

The only fly in my ointment is that So-baek lost her memory :( but it did add a nice bittersweet note when you think about the good times she had with Rang. I agree that it was all for the best for her - and for Keok-jung, who gets to start all over again and court her properly!

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Thanks for recapping, I loved this show from beginning to end!

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Thank you so so much for keeping up with the recaps, despite the low ratings!! I would have let this drama go without your recommendation and awesome recaps!!

I really loved the normal, happy endings, and despite knowing what history had in store for Lee Ho, that didnt sour the ending too much.... I LOOOOVED that my favourite ship sailed quite well into the sunset, and the way it ended with Jung Hwan all pouty about how they are '' ill treating'' him, him having to rub his wifey's feet all night, and on top of that now he has to help copy ALL THOSE books for Won, is sooo sweet and cute... heheheheh

Finally, for a long well, a good drama with a good ending! YAAAAY!

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Yay!!! I've been chanting jung hwan's name like hell since the last epi... Just the thought of him dying was driving me crazy. Thank you thank you thank you so much for not killing him:) Ah... I am so happy with this ending with a special mention of that kiss:)

I totally loved this show:) The way the in which the characters grew... (Jung hwan, won and lee ho) it was so very right. The show provided full space and freedom for it:)

The queen... I do wish she had died but i guess there's nothing we can do about that. But i had a teensy doubt. I really dint understand why (monkey) mu myung gave up his life to protect such a heartless bitch. Though am glad he died. N am very much happy kim died too ( I was too obsessed with jung hwan hurting to comment about kim last epi).

All in all, i loved it. Thank u sooooooooooooo much for recapping this drama.... Jung hwan.. I'll miss you sweetheart..

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Just wanted to say, thank you thank you thank you thank you for recapping this drama.

I think I'm pretty satitisfied with the ending.
Although, I would have liked it if they made Sobaek have some cute interests in Keok-jung, post head injury. Or a heavier sentence towards the Queen (dowager). But all in all I'm satisfied. Forever shipping Jung-hwan and Woo-young.

Ps. On an unrelated note, your song of the day Hats, has been my Jam for the past week. Loved the song when SALTNPAPER performed live on sketchbook.

Again THANKYOUU!!

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Oh and I thought I was the only one who thought Lee Dong Wook's acting in Mandate a bit uncomfortable to watch at times.

Especially those eyes. I mean dude, whats up with those crazy eyes, just stop, staph STAPH!

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Thank you for recapping this. I had to stop watching because of RL obligations, but I'm still planning to come back to it when time allows. That's also why I'm trying to avoid reading the recaps now (though time to time I'm too weak to resist). Glad to hear the ending was satisfying. And from scanning through the pictures I see that Jung Hwan didn't die (my biggest worry). Great! Thus I can finish the drama without worries :--)

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I'm surprised that no one or so few of the comments here have mentioned the excellent portrayal by the child actor acting as the Grand Prince in this episode. He made me feel more for him in this ep than any other, and he really deserves an ovation. Alongside Rang, he's been carrying his own weight among the adult actors so very well, that he definitely deserves our praise. The way he begged to be freed of his mother's control was so heartbreaking.

Yet what do we see here? Shallow comments about loveliness again. Sheesh.

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I don't mind all the relationship talk because the secondary love story is what kept a lot of us around to really appreciate all the other good stuff the show had to offer.

You're right, the child actors were great. I thought they did well in the early episodes, but they showed their talent best in the last couple of episodes. It can be hard to portray fear well, so often it can fall into caricature. These two (especially the boy who looked like he was losing his mind at the end) made it believable. My heart hurt when for Rand when she hid behind her dad as the Queen came into the new King's quarters.

I also enjoyed the story telling. At times it could be repetitive; however, the story continued to move forward which is not the case with a lot of shows. In addition, the story teller set the characters up in a way that I can see how history played out. I can see how the King continues to be sympathetic in his dealings with the Queen and ends up dying, how the Prince loses his minds from the Queen's manipulations and the King's death, and how Keuk-jong could come lead a rebellion.

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Hey hannah,
I completely agree 100% on your 1st two paragraphs.

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Haha... I'm agree.

I thought I'm the only one who saw JH-WY moments as something boring... there's nothing special about them, its just like ordinary couple in drama.

Different from Rang who is just like the ordinary kids which is bubble, cute and etc.. The Grand Prince character is someone from Palace which is must have some politeness, a tone in speaking, and elegancy of acts, but the other hand he's just a kid. So I feel the kid actor is somehow standing higher than Rang.

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Thank god for a happy ending!

Thanks for the recaps!

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Thank you so much for recap this wonderful drama

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Great to read the recaps.

Yup, I love the jung hwan and woo young chemistry and am also glad the ending was nice and proper.

And...I was really IMPRESSED by the child actor acting lee ho's brother. his protrayal was good especially the emotions he felt towards his evil mother.

The actress acting the queen is not bad too!

Overall, I enjoyed watching and reading the recaps. (gets ready for the next drama Blade and Petal, hehe)

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Oh yeah, the kid who played the Grand Prince was awesome. I could feel his fear of his mother! SO scary...

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Can some kind soul tell me why they r called 'Gats"? "We love men in gats". What is the reference?

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Google told me what wiki knows.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gat_%28hat%29

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LDW and SJH were the weakest links. LDW's OTT big eyes aside, his showing of his clean white shiny teeth also bugged me. Ok I get you are anxious/running/hiding/whatever but can you close your mouth for a moment? :X
SJH is just SO.DULL.

TBH I only watched for Yoon Jin Yi and she did a nice job in this after Gentleman's Dignity.

Like most people here I'm impressed with Im Seul-ong's acting. I remember groaning when he was casted (another idol. yawn) but I will be watching out for his next role. Song Jong-ho (hello drama gods give this man a lead role already! His charisma **)... and ISO had the standout roles.

Don't like the way they wrapped up YJY's role though.

Guess I won't be watching sagueks for a while, so sick of all the politics/evil hatchmen/evil queens.

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Ahh, it's over...Thanks for the love and recaps...I guess I would miss the show if I didn't have all the episodes downloaded.

Everything everyone said up there about the characters and plot and surprisingly well acted roles.

LDW? I think my overall good feelings for the badly acted role come from the fact that he, Lee Dong-wook, is so likeable. You don't want to be critical to him because it seems like he was trying soooo hard to be good.
He really should stick with the understated roles in the future though. Brood away, Big Fella!

I will leave you with this perfect screen cap/subtitle combo with the lasting entertainment I am taking from this drama. Although, it's kinduv a "Duh, I already do, as often as I can."

http://i1187.photobucket.com/albums/z392/Jomo143/Lookie/dreamalittledreamofme_zps08357cbe.png

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I watched both this and Jang Ok Jung so I can't help but compare the endings. I loved the ending for this more because it made for a very plausible happy ending which I love. There is enough sad endings in reality!!! Love the Junghwan Woo Young couple and luckily they didn't resort to killing him for God knows what effect. The ending with the narration was good and sweet. We do not need to know that the King we love, Lee ho ends up well..with a sad ending. But I have to agree that Seul Ong deserves praise! And praise goes to the two child actors too! Where does Korea find them???!!

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Thank you so much Javabeans for recapping this series!

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Thanks for all the recaps! What a journey with my fellow beanies through this drama.

Im Seulong was surprisingly good. glad to hear he got this role the right way (auditions and not an entertainment company pulling strings), looking forward to his next project!

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Finitely an easy watch drama that made my Sunday's special. I too agree that all of the secondary characters truly made this a good drama, especially our adorable Rang! I could watch the ending over and over again! Funny how our leads neve kissed! Oh well. Still worth watching.

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Finally it ended I just dislikes medical saguek Even if the actors are good I knew this show will not get high rating its just not interesting as a prince warrior or run away would be.

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I knew Jung Hwan wasn't going to die!!!!! Well, mostly.
I remembered how Won remembered about the darts before he dashed off after the bandits.

Seriously adore all of JH+WY's scenes.
I thought it was so precious how she laid her head on his chest to check his heart beat and then he moved his hand to touch her face. ^^
I wanted to see a smoking hot kiss outta them, but their first kiss was sweet. Hehee

Gotta admit it was cute how Da In was nagging at Won and he teased her back.

Man, I wanted a more satisfying end to Nameless than his suicide like if Do Moon just finished him off.
But Nameless was very loyal to the Queen so I can understand his way out. Meh.
Do Moon looked so freaking sad after Jung Hwan chided him.

I didn't realize Lee Ho's dropping of the bowl meant that he agreed to the Queen's pleas.
The Queen won't stop trying to destroy him. (I'm not famliar with the actual historical events, fyi...)
After so many attempts on his life and others, she has got to go.

Really cute how Rang lifted up Geo Chil's bangs to plant a kiss on his forehead, hehe.
And it was cute hearing Jung Hwan call Won "Hyungnim"! O:

It was nice seeing the happy ending and Won's health center.
This EP had a lot of medical scenes and parts relating back to the job of a doctor and treating his/her patients.
It felt like the begining EPs and how there was more medical parts back then too.

Overall, I liked this drama. Although the ending was not quite thrilling, it was a lovely one.
All my fave characters did not die. ;-;

The only other drama I've seen Seul Ong in was Personal Taste too! But dang, I barely remembered his character. x3
He definitely impressed me more in this drama.

Thank you for the recaps!

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I agree, this show was good, but it didn't make me go all ohmygodwheniswednesdayandthursddaygoingtocomesoicanfindoutwhathappensnext
the Junghwan & Wooyoung and Sobaek & Kookjong moments and the moments with Rang were probably the only reason i kept on watching this show. It does deserve some higher ratings though since it did nothing wrong. the lightings were beautiful and the action scenes were really well played out too, it just lacked an oomph to it i guess

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Thanks for the recap!
Could I request to recapping MGY's new drama Goddess of Fire? It will start on July 1st and looks promising

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I beg to differ, i think Sword and Flower looks alot more epic while goddess of fire looks a bit more on the juvenile side. But to each their own.
we'll see when they both air.

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Yes Yes!!!! Sword and Flower looks so epic, it's not even funny. It might be my next drama. And the romance looks like it's going to thug at our heart strings.

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awwwwwwwwwwww yeyyyy yeahhh it's a HAPPY ENDING>>>I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT SOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH ♥♥♥♥♥ I LOVE ALL THE GOOD CHARACTERS IN THIS DRAMA>>>GONNA A WATCH IT AGAIN & AGAIN ♥♥♥♥♥
JUNG HWAN AND WOOYOUNG MY FAVORITE COUPLE ♥ O:) WOAHHHHHHHHH
And Thank You SOOO MUCH for the recap ♥♥♥♥♥

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What can I say? I loved this drama from start to finish. It was the only drama that I actually couldn't wait until it came out. It competed with Gu Family, Jank Ok Jeong and came out on top for me. Why? because romance wasn't the main plot of the story. I loved that as the drama started we where thrown straight into a chase that never let up. I also love the fact that they gave us enough character to keep us occupied. And let's not forget our fav. Couple. You have no idea, how much I fan girl-ed when she kissed him to shut him up. I can go on and on, on how much I enjoyed it.

Another thing I actually like about this was that, the bad guys really brought it. I wasn't left to ask, why the hell they didn't just kill him when they had the chance? These baddies was going for the kill since episode 1 and didn't stop even until the end. I also love that we get to seem these bastards suffer (something I wished the Gu Family showed, The hell kind of easy death was that?). I'm not one for amnesia, but this is the first drama, where I'm actually glad the played this card. With this she can move on, considering how much in love she is with the horse thief.

All in all, I enjoyed it. Just here wishing my Song Jong Ho and Kang Byul ship would sail.

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How could I ever forget about Im Seul Ong. What an performance. Definitely see him in a whole new light. I'm not one for idol----> turn actor/actress, but he seriously impress me and changed my mind about idol--->turning into actors/ actress. He's actually the reason I gave Suzy a chance and can actually say she's not bad. But for some reason her acting/ face expressions reminds me a lot of Yoon Eun Hye. Not that I don't adore Eun Hye, I just wish Suzy acting will change over time. It's no fun watching two actress( or maybe 3 while I'm at it) with same expression/acting. But with time I'm hoping Suzy has her spark that only she has, until then I don't mind watching future work considering, I won't ever watch Dream High. #Tired Of High School love stories.

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رائع رائع رائع رائع رائع , مذهل
الحمد لله أن المحقق هوان لم يمت
لقد كان الشخصية الأفضل في المسلسل
أفضل مسلسل كوري شاهدته حتّى الآن
رائع رائع رائع رائع

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