Drama Recaps
Sword and Flower: Episode 12
by | August 13, 2013 | 75 Comments

Our princess learns that being a boy among men is tough work, especially when our hero makes it his mission to find out her true identity—while his pesky half-brother tries to play politics like he isn’t mildly psychotic. It’s nice to see that Choong has retained that core we came to love even with his turn toward the dark side, because the years haven’t changed his single-mindedness when it comes to his one true cross-dressing love. And you know what? I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 
EPISODE 12 RECAP

Choong lowers the sword he’d been holding at Mu-young’s neck once his younger half-brother, Nam-saeng, arrives on scene to defend her (his) identity as his friend.

A long silence passes as Choong and Mu-young look straight at each other. Then Choong, still suspicious, checks her credentials as a son of a lord against a native from Daeja, the town she supposedly hails from—and the man claims that while he only knows her “father’s” eldest son, Mu-young does resemble him.

Choong seems devastated when her story checks out, while Nam-saeng asks Mu-young whether she knows his brother. She shakes her head, claiming it was all a misunderstanding.

When Mu-young updates Boo-chi later, he’s frightened for her now that she’ll be in the midst of two sons of General Yeon. Mu-young: “If necessary, I must walk not only into the tiger’s den, but into hell as well.”

She’s not concerned about getting caught, since infiltrating the intelligence agency means more to her right now. But she knows her time is short because Choong is bound to send someone to Daeja to verify her fake background.

And go figure, Choong does exactly that. (She knows him too well.) As he does so he thinks to himself, “What am I thinking? It just can’t be… The princess is dead.” Go with your gut, Choong!

He spots Mu-young in the palace dressed in her agency uniform and just stares at her, but she forces a cordial smile and walks right past him. His eyes follow her. He so knows. How could he not?

Nam-saeng, as head of the intelligence agency, presides over a meeting on how to deal with a rebellious group of aristocrats. He asks Choong what he would do if he were chief, but Choong barely gets a suggestion out before Nam-saeng cuts in that his plan would fail. I love Choong’s unhappy/annoyed face.

Instead, Nam-saeng plans to find out where the group will be meeting so that he can kill them all at once.

He gathers his agents, including Mu-young, to prepare for the attack while Choong infiltrates the meeting under a fake name. (Worst secret group ever.) This leaves the gates open for the agency members to swoop in and start massacring everyone inside.

Mu-young doesn’t take part in the killing, and neither does Nam-saeng. He just stands next to her and watches the bodies pile up like it’s just a normal work day.

Mu-young happens to see a young girl hiding and signals for her to keep silent so that she won’t be found. It doesn’t work, and the girl is dragged away by men with swords to presumably be killed. One of her fellow agents warns her that if she ever takes pity on the enemy again, she’ll end up like that little girl.

Choong questions one of the captives with a sword to his neck, but Nam-saeng clucks his tongue him, all, Oh hyung-nim, you’ll never find out THAT way. Then with a smile on his face, he mercilessly cuts down the captive next to him. Well then.

With wide eyes and a hint of psychosis, Nam-saeng happily asks the surviving captor to give up the name of their leader. When he stays silent, Nam-saeng is like, “Okay then!” and cuts down another captive. He seems to be enjoying it, too.

When he gets ready to cut down another, the first captive finally gives up their leader. Nam-saeng casually orders that the one who talked be put in their agency’s prison and that all the rest be killed.

Choong instead orders that all of them be taken to prison to spare their lives, and Nam-saeng does this slow, crazy-eyed turn toward him that makes me think someone should take that sword out of his hands. But he agrees to Choong’s order through clenched teeth and a forced smile.

On the way there, Mu-young finds out that the agency has a secret underground prison just for rebels. Good intel to know.

Nam-saeng’s work in rooting out the rebel group is touted at the next council meeting by Yeon’s supporters, but there’s one voice of dissent—a councilman named SUN DO-HAE (whose father was the late king’s advisor) worries that they’re punishing people as rebels when they might only want reform.

When one of Yeon’s supporters barks that reform is just another word for rebellion, the sane councilman replies: “If all who proclaim the need for reform are rebels, then half of Goguryeo’s subjects would be traitors.”

Jang scoffs at General Yeon’s speech about Goguryeo needing cooperation instead of reform, and stews over it later as he drinks with his servants. He has a diatribe about how to properly hunt a tiger by being patient and clever, when we know that by “tiger” he means “General Yeon.”

To prove his point, he shoots an arrow through a painting of a tiger that was just finished for him.

In order to properly show that Mo-seol is too into herself to even be present for a conversation, we find her filing her femme fatalons as she updates General Yeon on her secret spy progress.

(For anyone who’s seen Queen Seondeok, the names she cites will sound familiar. Basically, the show seems to be positing that her spy work is/will be a contributing factor in causing unrest in their neighboring enemy Silla, by turning Bidam against Queen Seondeok. And while that did happen in history, making it seem as if Mo-seol was even a contributing factor is funny in a what-are-you-people-smoking sort of way.)

Either way, General Yeon praises her for her work as a sagan, an type of elite spy who risks their life in the line of duty.

She then prances out to greet her father, General Do-soo, who wonders if she behaved herself during her report. She giggles that of course she was nothing but proper. Bleh. I wonder if this actress ever gets tired of playing this same role in every drama.

Mu-young has to sneak her missives to Geumhwadan through a bamboogram, which she tosses into the river without anyone seeing. Choong is eagerly waiting for the messenger he sent to Daeja, and commands that a close eye be kept on Mu-young until they validate her story.

With her fancy new job comes a dorm room, and Mu-young’s roomie has no problem sleeping shirtless while she lies down in every layer of clothing she owns.

He’s the one Choong asked to keep an eye on her, and before he can ask her why Choong has taken a special interest in her, she asks him to describe what kind of man Choong is.

Her roomie tells of Choong’s underdog story, going from a street performer to who he is now thanks to his father. He starts to add that that’s only the story people hear when they don’t know him, but he refrains from telling her more, and she doesn’t push him.

Aww, sad: It’s both Jang and Nam-saeng’s birthday, but everyone is at Nam-saeng’s party knowing that Jang has no one to celebrate with.

Nam-saeng uses the opportunity of gathered councilmen to talk about a coming envoy from Tang to initiate peace talks. None of the councilmen want peace, but Nam-saeng claims to represent his father when he says that General Yeon wants to maintain peace with Tang for the time being.

He’s very adamant that they decide on the issue now rather than in a formal council meeting, and the new chief minister looks uneasy, since he knows Nam-saeng is working behind his father’s back.

Jang only has his servants to attend his birthday party, and he laughs wildly at the sheer ridiculousness of his situation. I’m actually starting to feel bad for him. His life sucks.

Mu-young’s roomie tells her that she needs to go through the recruitment process of having the king bestow a special password onto her, which she fidgets about for obvious reasons: Jang could recognize her.

But her roomie thinks she’s just afraid of Jang’s notorious temper, which he completely understands—he was almost castrated when he tried to stop the king from streaking once. (If that’s not supposed to be funny, it should be.)

Jang is wasted drunk later that night, so I’d blame the booze for his instant reaction to run and hug General Yeon when he appears. Yeon’s uncomfortable face is priceless.

By this point we should just assume that every line Jang utters is ironic and/or sarcastic, so when General Yeon asks why he’s alone on his birthday, Jang replies: “In this enormous palace, I am always alone. Our Dae Manginji is taking good care of everything, so what else can I do but play?”

General Yeon laughs with him for a bit in a stilted way before he stops suddenly, and with all seriousness reminds the mad king, “You are the king of Goguryeo.”

The king of Goguryeo is too busy laughing hysterically, so when General Yeon tells him that they’ll be exchanging envoys with Tang, all Jang says is that General Yeon is so great, they don’t even need councilmen or assemblies or a law for him to answer to! He can just do everything!

Only after General Yeon leaves does Jang lose the jokey facade to rage at his own powerlessness.

Mu-young is headed for the throne room just as General Yeon is leaving it, and she quickly stands aside and bows her head to avoid his recognition. Lucky for her, General Yeon doesn’t make eye contact with anyone ever.

She enters the room to find Jang still screaming and throwing furniture. This is the first time she’s seen her cousin since the coup, but she keeps her emotions in check. (Plus, there’s no way that the family member she grew up with could possibly see through her perfect disguise.)

And maybe he would if he were sober, but Jang just goes ahead and gives her the secret rotating password, and it’s quite fitting and self-aware that the password he made up (gubiwoon) means a sad or unfortunate fate.

At the next council meeting, the chief minister is fired because of intel Nam-saeng gathered from the rebels he caught. Jang is his usual mad self, and comments that now he and the ex-chief minister will share something in common—they’ll both have nothing to do! Okay, I get that Jang is crazy, but his constant laughing is driving me crazy.

Now that the chief minister seat is once again open, General Yeon’s two remaining supporters wonder which one of them will be chosen for it. They have no pity for the ex-chief minister, even though it seems like he was framed.

Ah, but the framing might’ve been Jang’s doing—he wanted to leave the seat open so he could appoint the one sane councilman and his only ally, Sun Do-hae, to the position.

Nam-saeng asks his father who he has in mind for the position and actually suggests his own name. Ha. What a joke.

General Yeon isn’t keen on the idea, even though Nam-saeng reminds him that he’s the oldest legitimate son, and thus his father should be preparing him for succession. “You are my legitimate son,” his father says, “But don’t forget that Choong is the eldest son.”

That wipes the smile clean of Nam-saeng’s face. He’s pissed.

He leaves when Choong enters, but sticks around to eavesdrop outside while his father asks his half-brother if he’s finally acquired the power he always wanted as of three years ago.

Then General Yeon gives him a list of the men imprisoned by the intelligence agency and ten days to find someone whose support he can acquire for more power. Nam-saeng overhears this and plans to outdo his brother, only I can’t figure out what support can be gained from a prison meant for rebels… unless General Yeon is suggesting that they overthrow Jang.

Cut to: The agency prison, where Leader So has been locked up for the past three years. Then to Jang, as he waits to hear an answer on the chief minister position from Sun Do-hae.

Back at the agency, Nam-saeng acts all bumbling as he asks Mu-young whether she finds him pitiable like everyone else. She’s a bit confused—his father is General Yeon, so why would he be pitiful?

“That’s why I’m saying I’m pitiful,” Nam-saeng sighs. “Since my father has the whole world, there’s nothing left for me. What I desire already belongs to him.” Then he asks, “What kind of man is your father?” Eek. Loaded question.

Mu-young: “He was a man of ideals. He loved flowers more than swords.” When Nam-saeng guesses that her father passed away, she corrects him—her father was killed by a cruel man’s sword, and now she must take revenge on that man. Nam-saeng has no idea she’s talking about his father.

The agency has a super awkward and quiet dinner later, and Nam-saeng chooses that time to ask his half-brother what he and Daddy Dearest talked about. He gets an angry facial tic when Choong shrugs it off as nothing, because he compiled the list of names their father handed to Choong.

Mu-young’s roomie has had a bit too much to drink and sings Choong’s praises, causing Nam-saeng to wonder aloud if he snatched the director position away from Choong… but then he rethinks it: “Ah! Since you took my place as eldest son, does that mean we’re even?”

But at least Choong sticks up for himself against Nam-saeng’s constant wheedling by warning him that he can take away his little half-brother’s directorial position, too.

Mo-seol tries to save the situation, but Nam-saeng is intent on making this as awkward as possible—so when Mu-young’s drunk roomie accidentally party-fouls on Choong’s clothes, Nam-saeng starts to beat him just because.

Choong stops him by pointing out the obvious, like how this is supposed to be a welcome party for the new recruits. Mo-seol tries to liven the mood by bringing up the agency tradition of having a friendly competition where the loser pays for drinks.

And of course, Nam-saeng has to take it to the next level by challenging his brother to a friendly round of mortal combat. Loser dies and/or pays for drinks, whichever comes first.

The sword fight doesn’t last long, since Choong takes the smaller and feebler Nam-saeng to school without even breaking a sweat.

Choong leaves the party, but we soon find that Mu-young isn’t in attendance either—she’s snooping through the agency headquarters for the list of rebel names while everyone’s gone.

She flips through it once she finds it, and recognizes Leader So’s portrait inside. But Choong’s footsteps outside cause her to hide… really, really poorly.

Choong finds her without trying and throws her down on the table, using his body weight to pin her down. OMO. Omo omo omo.

“Who are you? What were you doing here?” he asks, not letting up for a second. And let me tell you something, it’s just the bee’s knees of scenes. I can’t even care that he still doesn’t recognize her when he’s two inches from her face.

Mu-young uses the excuse that she left her name block, but Choong doesn’t seem to be buying it. They’re interrupted when Mo-seol comes in, but Choong just stays on top of Mu-young, causing Mo-seol to wonder if she should feel angry that there is a very homoerotic scene happening in front of her. Haha. Finally, a bit of comedy.

Choong warns Mu-young against sneaking around again, but she takes the first opportunity she can while her roomie is sleeping later that night to sneak out to the agency prison, which looks curiously like the regular prison but details, details.

Mu-young makes it to Leader So’s cell and reveals herself, causing him to go into shock as he ekes out, “Prin…cess…”

Unfortunately for her, Choong is still as sharp as ever and arrives at the prison, having guessed that it would be her next stop after flipping to Leader So’s portrait in the list.

Their reunion is interrupted by Choong stomping through the hallway in what sounds like cement shoes, giving Mu-young at least an hour’s notice to hide (within eavesdropping distance) before he arrives.

Maybe he wasn’t searching for Mu-young at all, since he’s come to the prison to see if Leader So might finally give in—three years should have been long enough for him to lose his guilty conscience over being unable to protect the royal family, right?

Leader So asks if three years was long enough for Choong to clear his guilty conscience concerning the princess, and Choong freezes for a second before stiltedly responding, “Princess? I don’t have the luxury to hold onto the past. I don’t even remember her face anymore.”

It seems like a lie, but judging by the fact that Choong hasn’t caught onto Mu-young’s not-a-disguise yet… maybe he’s telling something conveniently like the truth.

Choong gives Leader So his proposition to come to the dark side, and gives him ten days to make up his mind, or be executed. Leader So: “If I change my mind, what can you do for me?”

Meanwhile, Mu-young’s bamboogram makes it down the river to Boo-chi to tell him that Leader So is actually alive.

Mu-young sneaks back into her dorm that night, unaware that her roomie is awake and aware that she’s been sneaking out.

Sometime later, Jang sees Mu-young training with her fellow recruits, but doesn’t seem to recognize her.

But when Choong enters, he asks, “How did it feel back then, when you died by hanging and came back to life? If the princess came back to life like you, what would you do? I always wanted to find that out. If that happens, would you be on the princess’ side again? What do you think? Would you be the son who willingly betrays his father again?” Did he recognize her?!

“The princess is dead,” Choong reminds him. “I have no reason to betray a living person for a dead one.”

Mu-young can’t help but notice Jang staring straight at her. He must know.

Jang takes some time to himself to think, without all of the crazy he’s been subjecting us to lately. I’m pretty sure he’s connected the dots that Mu-young is a terrible cross-dresser.

Mu-young finds herself called to the throne room, which you’d think she’d want to avoid at any cost, but alas. She stares at the empty throne with tears in her eyes as she remembers her father during the good times as well as when he died. (You know who else is in that flashback that I miss? Shi-woo. Did he secretly die off-screen?)

At the same time, Choong gets a return message from Daeja. Mu-young’s roomie stutters that her cover story is a lie…

…While Jang comes up to her in the throne room. “It’s been a long time, Princess So-hee.”

 
COMMENTS

Thank goodness that’s out in the open. I was starting to worry that this whole cross-dressing plot was going to wear out its (un)welcome, but at least it was only a week’s worth of episodes if we look at the glass half full. If you look at the glass half empty, her boyish adventure feels like an extraneous side plot if it took only a week to play out—especially when it makes negative sense (not even zero sense, she actually sucked sense out of the show) that Mu-young would be the best and only choice to infiltrate the intelligence agency.

Here are just a few reasons why the cross-dressing plot didn’t and couldn’t have worked: (1) She’s a girl. (2) She’d have to convincingly disguise herself as a boy. (3) She’d have to do that in the only place in the world where everyone knew her previously—and very well—as a girl. (4) She’d have to hope that everyone forgot what she looked like in just three years. (5) She’d have to avoid detection by those most likely to recognize her, i.e. her cousin or Choong. (6) She didn’t accomplish 2-5.

On one hand, I understand that maybe the show just wanted to get Mu-young back in on the action, and that they kind of shot themselves in the foot by separating her so spectacularly from every other interesting character. And I was glad to see her at least interacting with the rest of the cast. I have a feeling that the members of Geumhwadan were supposed to be more interesting and/or dynamic, but since that didn’t really pan out, it would have been story suicide to have her stuck with that group plotting revenge for the second half of the show.

On the other hand, that’s a grave this show dug for itself and one that it couldn’t logically find a way out of, hence the inherent absurdity of the latest plot developments. Choong actually sold his side of things pretty well, in that he really did seem to think that she was the princess, but wanted cold hard facts to back his theory up. And for his part, I’m glad Jang finally got something to do that didn’t involve being sarcastic or losing his mind, even though his reasoning for going mad does make sense—it just wasn’t a lot of fun to sit through two episodes of hysterical church giggles and bitter ranting, even if he did have the saddest birthday ever.

Maybe it’s because we weren’t really able to peek into Mu-young’s head for these past two episodes that she seemed extra passive, which is a shame when her character has moved me so much in the past. I expected at least a little surprise when she realized that she’d have to meet Jang face to face, but there was just a tiny murmur of disagreement, when she should have been afraid that her entire scheme would end with just one conversation. The only reason I can see for her to be so fearless as to lock eyes with people she previously knew is because she thought her disguise was 100% foolproof. That, or you remove the “proof” from that word and get what this show must take its audience for.

That being said, I don’t mind some of the other nonsensical things, like Nam-saeng’s sudden appearance—his character does feel shoehorned in, but he’s an interesting addition as a pretty, merciless psychopath who happens to suck at fighting. I’m glad they didn’t make him The Ultimate Warrior, in the way that all thin boys have magical muscles that can overpower even the strongest opponent. It seemed so fitting that Choong would win in a fight against him without even trying, enough to make Nam-saeng even a little pitiable. In that sense, he and Mu-young have a lot in common—they both severely overestimate their abilities and get taken to task for it. A little vulnerability goes a long way sometimes.

 
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75 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. xthemangox

    Thanks for the recap :)

     (0)


  2. Mollee

    This show confuses me.

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    • 2.1 Michelle

      me too

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  3. laraffinee

    Thanks for the recap! I loved “Bamboogram”!

    I am not liking the new characters of Mo-Seol and Nam-saeng – both seem to be so out of place here. Mo-seol seems like she wandered in on the wrong set and missed the door to the high school musical. Same for Nam-saeng, but he is just too exaggerated and the smurk is too much and too shallow.

    I still have hope and have been enjoying the drama. The main actors have been good to watch.

     (0)


  4. whimsyful

    Thanks for the recap Heads!

    Yay for Jang being the first to recognize Mu-young. I think she was talking about approaching Jang in the previous ep, so it makes sense that she’s expecting him to recognize her. Her crossdressing is still really unbelievable otherwise, but I just repeat “wuxia conventions” in my head.

    On a happier note, the library Choong-pining-down-Mu-young scene was *hot*. Please give them more scenes together, show!

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    • 4.1 darcyM

      Agreed. Hands down my favourite scene in the episode. It just oozed sexual tension. I just wanted them to get it on already.

      And, yes! They need more scenes together. Isn’t that the point of the entire show?

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      • 4.1.1 TS

        I must be the only one who doesn’t find them sexy together. They don’t thing for me as a couple. That may be where the show lost me, because dragging me back with No Min Woo-hoo.

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    • 4.2 TS

      her cross-dressing is awful. For one thing, she has so much bosom!

       (0)


      • 4.2.1 Kiara

        Just like every cross-dressing characters out there.

         (0)


  5. JenJen

    I think I’ve complained enough about the sense this drama does not make. Thankfully there is Uhm TaeWoong’s smoldering glare to fill up part of the hole in my heart. The Choong-on-MuYoung action was quite nice although I expected some of that when they first fell for each other. Clearly we’ll need just a bit more of that brand of interaction to keep everything interesting…. Even the costumes, which were so wonderfully colorful and awesome, are slowly becoming closer to 1 shade of 1 color for everyone and it makes me a little sad.

     (0)


    • 5.1 TS

      the current lack of colour represents how the General and his minions are controlling everything and everyone.

       (0)


  6. tiny

    mu young looks manlier than namsaeng

    can’t believe choong couldn’t feel those boobs when he was literally on top of them

    i can’t believe park su jin is still playing the same character… only at a different era.

    thanks heads 😊

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    • 6.1 laraffinee

      I totally agree that Mu Young looks manlier than Nam-saeng! I first thought he was a girl. Introducing the character of Nam-saeng is not so much the problem as he is important to the history/story, but, I think a more interesting and skilled actor would have been a better choice. I think he is just mis-cast, as is Mo-seol.

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    • 6.2 unknownX2

      No Min Woo is a casting coup, I think. As part of the plot, it becomes conceivable that someone with a woman’s face can be a man. :-)

       (0)


      • 6.2.1 sweetcloud

        That’s my theory too, his appearance was just so left field I thought it was meant to make the cross dressing Mu Young more believable :D

         (0)


        • 6.2.1.1 the50-person

          oh my goodness i know right!

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          • 6.2.1.1.1 TS

            But he still looks more of a man than she does.

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  7. Kiara

    The show would have been fine without Nam-saeng if they weren’t planning on going all the way to end. Goguryeo ends with him. Choong can fill in for the younger brother because its too late to introduce him at this point.
    I think it would have been better if Nam-saeng was there from the beginning instead of the sudden appearance out of nowhere.
    Mo-seol’s appearance makes more sense. The thought of her having a hand in Bidam’s rebellion makes my eyes roll lol. Funny thing is she played the young Queen Maya (Queen Seon Deok’s mother) in QSD.

    I like this episode. I’m still trying to digest it plus I haven’t seen the whole episode yet.

     (0)


    • 7.1 Kiara

      I meant judging from the recap. Thanks Heads <3.

       (0)


    • 7.2 the50-person

      hahahah oh yes she was young queen maya in QSD lol.
      oh well Queen Maya is trying to help Gorgoryeo take over Shilla?! :O

       (0)


    • 7.3 TS

      I wonder if they could’ve written it so NamSaeng and the Princess had the Romeo&Juliet romance. then we’d have Uhm Taewoong as Nam Saeng and NMW as one of NamSaeng’s traitorous younger brothers.

       (0)


      • 7.3.1 Kiara

        I don’t have a problem with Uhm and Kim as the leading couple. I think they were perfectly cast for this type of roles especially when it requires restrain/control.
        I’m perfectly fine with them having no tie to the real history unlike Nam-saeng. I just can not picture NMW as the lead here. Forgive me but I think he is a pretty weak actor. I’d much prefer to watch him in modern dramas.

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  8. bluemoon

    I’m glad her cousin recognized her. I hope he will help her.

     (0)


  9. Trina

    I will tried watching this but No Min Woo is sooo…. Umm… He look too pretty.. I miss his hairstyle and his HOT look in MGIAG. I thought Park Su Jin will be totally different in this drama. From reading the recap, she is still the same but in different era. I soo hope that she change in later episodes.

     (0)


  10. 10 Midori

    Is No Min Woo wearing circle lenses? His pupils look strangely huge.

     (0)


  11. 11 mary

    Thank you for the recap!

    Some thoughts:

    - I think Mu Young is sticking close to Nam Saeng as part of her disguise. I mean, if Nam Saeng’s pretty face can pass as a guy, no one will suspect Mu Young of crossdresing. :P

    - I find it funny that the only person sure of Mu Young’s identity is a crazy king.

    - If this were a romcom, Choong would trip into Mu Young’s boobs and the secret will be out.

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    • 11.1 Kiara

      King Bo-jang knew Mu-young all her life, longer than anyone else. Makes sense to me that he would be the one to recognize her.

       (0)


      • 11.1.1 mary

        Yes, he’s the only person alive closest to Mu Young. :)

        But seeing as he’s slightly crazy, how will anyone believe him?

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        • 11.1.1.1 Peeps

          Nah, I don’t think he’s mentally-crazy. I think he’s just crazy-bored and frustrated. He’s still got his wits about him.

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  12. 12 mongoose22

    “(6) She didn’t accomplish 1-5.”

    Technically she did pass point #1 (she’s a girl) with flying colors. :p

     (0)


    • 12.1 HeadsNo2

      Whoops! See, this is why numbers and I just don’t get along.

       (0)


  13. 13 triphooligan

    I think I’ll be in the minority here for thinking that No Min Woo’s portrayal actually works. hehe… exaggerated/menacing facial expressions and all. Namsaeng character-wise seems to be a man-child to me, not some restrained broody sociopath with evil plans behind everyone’s back. Loud, cocky, self-centered and annoying. But still there’s a softness enough for us to see his vulnerabilities. I think as far as that is concerned, the actor is delivering. He’s not exactly slaying the character yet, but he’s pretty believable. I like his interactions with Choong and I hope their relationship develops into something deeper. Although I can imagine if someone like maybe Park Ki Woong would do the character. :)

    Now from the last 2 episodes I haven’t figured out what the female spy character’s deal in the story. I think the character is useless can be replaced by a random nameless actor.

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    • 13.1 Cheryl

      The thought of Park Ki Woong as Nam Saeng sends shivers down my spine, and I’m wishing PKW were playing the part because he’d totally own the hell out of it. I have no complaints about NMW, but of the two, I’d rather see PKW.

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      • 13.1.1 herc

        Yeah. PKW would have been the perfect choice.

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        • 13.1.1.1 triphooligan

          This role is like, custom made for PKW. But NMW ain’t that bad. He reminds me of Taiga villains with a dash of Bidam. I have no complaints. :)

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          • 13.1.1.1.1 TS

            But Bidam could fight. That was a big difference between the two tortured anti-heroes. So, when Bidam acted crazy, it was dangerous because Kim YooShin was not guaranteed to take him down. Here, Namsaeng just comes off as having a tantrum.

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          • 13.1.1.1.2 triphooligan

            @TS

            Bidam I guess because they’re both trying to get recognition from their parents. :) And both are self-absorbed, manipulative snakes although one is calculating while the other acts on impulse.

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    • 13.2 Mystisith

      I agree with you. Yes, NMW was obviously cast to help with the ratings but it’s a pleasant surprise. A man with delicate features who barrels in the story and reveals to be a bloodthirsty bastard sure helped me coming back for this show. Since he is connected to the main characters in one way or another, I don’t feel like he is artificial to the story and he will shake the dynamics.

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      • 13.2.1 Kiara

        I think he was cast from the very beginning same with Park Soo Jin. I doubt it has anything to do with the ratings.

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        • 13.2.1.1 Mystisith

          Maybe you know more than I do then. I knew he was part of the show 2 days before ep 11 was aired and he is not listed yet in all the K drama databases…

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          • 13.2.1.1.1 Kiara

            No I didn’t know for sure Mystisith, I’m just basing it on the character that he is playing. I’m pretty sure Nam-saeung was planned from the beginning based on episode 1. If he was cast for ratings it would have been all over the news way before eps 10.

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  14. 14 darcyM

    I need to give this episode a re-watch, I think. Despite the cross-dressing fail, there was so much I enjoyed…

    Well, no, let’s be honest, I’m re-watching it for the desk scene. It was intense. Wow. Choong, and his brooding manliness. Gah. Which is why I think that there he still deep down, subconsciously thought/hoped that she was the Princess. Because I don’t think they could have sold me on that scene if there wasn’t such sexual tension there. Who cares if on the surface he thought she was a guy? His hormones knew otherwise.

    And I’m really enjoying the character of Nam-saeng. It’s like he wasn’t able to become the man his father wanted, not the physical warrior, nor the cool, calculating tactician, so he tried another route to gain his approval and instead became a malicious, sly, psychopathic maniac that seems to enjoy killing. And I don’t think that Daddy likes it. And I think Nam-saeng knows this. And now that Choong has usurped his position as eldest, it’s just driving him more into becoming this malevolent psycho. He’s a nasty piece of work, and while I don’t like his character, I am enjoying watching it.

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  15. 15 Cheryl

    I absolutely love that Jang saw through Mu Young’s ‘disguise’ (and when he was completely pissed, no less) and doesn’t seem to have wasted any time letting her know he’s on to her. I can’t wait to see what happens! My money is on Jang making her an offer she shouldn’t refuse to become one of his intelligence agents and assist him in bringing General Yun down in exchange for him not leaking her true identity. Considering Choong knows now she’s not who she claimed she was, it’s only a matter of time until the Dark Side figures out the Princess is alive. There are times I reallyreallyreally wish I spoke Korean so I didn’t have to wait for the subs to go up, and this is one of them. I also wish I didn’t have to wait days and days between epis. GAH! They’re evil, ending on cliffhangers like this! ;)

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  16. 16 Nekoi

    I’m waiting to see how psycho Noh Min Woo will go with his character. It’s quite enjoyable to see him perform that, and I totally disagree that he couldn’t deliver. Maybe those who think so are too sane to see that, kekeke.

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    • 16.1 Mystisith

      I’m on your side. NMW is maybe not the best actor out there but he knows how to use his strong points. As a crazy venomous seductive snake, he is perfect.

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  17. 17 Laya

    All the QSD references… and Namsaeng kind of reminds me of Bidam, speaking of whom, up against Uhm Tae-woong again? :D :D (Also cross-dressing princess, which Deokman did, as a hwarang, no less, before she became Queen Seon Deok.)

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    • 17.1 the50-person

      i so agree. kinda similar. but then kim nam gil did a better job delivering a psychopath.

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    • 17.2 Kiara

      Deokman cross-dressing was just like Mu-young. Boobs, voice and all were out there and it got the same reactions from the viewers. Its so damn hard for a pretty girl to do it convincingly.

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  18. 18 random person

    The desk scene was erm, really hot. But Choong’s reaction to the princess/not princess was hard for me to make sense of, because if he REALLY suspected that she was the princess, wouldn’t he NOT try to out her in front of others? It seemed like he wasn’t really thinking straight…because what he if really managed to expose MY in front of the intelligence people, wouldn’t that mean the end for her?

    Argh head hurts.

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  19. 19 kilmenythrace

    Dear Heads,

    Loved loved LOVED ‘femme fatalons’. Now on a quest to use it when an opportunity arises.

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    • 19.1 ys

      me too me too

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  20. 20 Noelle

    No Min Woo is straight up bat shit crazy! Plus slow clap for Jang for being the only one with 20/20 vision cause the others must have some bad eyesight to not realize that “hey this dudes a chick.”

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  21. 21 Peridot

    I do not think that Jang is crazy at all. His antics and hysterical laughter represent the near-total-powerlessness he feels. It is interesting that he betrayed his family (for personal reasons), thinking that he could make a stronger Goryeo, but now he is unable to make even a single decision for the nation.

    I must admit that I haven’t liked how the story has developed in the last week or so. Things were sloppily written and the intelligence of viewers was often insulted with cheap plot devices and the need to really suspend one’s disbelief. I am sure Shihoo’s mysterious disappearance over the last few episodes would have something to do with the activities of CN Blue, but then I wonder why this young man was cast if there were going to be conflicts in schedules (*sigh* perhaps an attempt to get higher ratings through an idol?).

    While I think that Namsaeng is an interesting character, I cannot help but wonder how he was conveniently absent in the earlier episodes. I mean, I know that in real life No Minwoo was a later addition to the cast and that there were other practical (?) explanations, but within the universe of the drama, it makes no sense. One could argue that historically, Namsaeng would have been really young during the time of the coup, but this drama has already taken numerous historical liberties and No Minwoo is obviously well over twenty (so three years earlier, he would have been old enough to take part in events). Oh well….

    Whether he is meant to be psychotic or not, there are interesting aspects of his backstory that could be explored. On a vain note, it is interesting that such a flower boy could be related to some of the two gruffiest, ‘manliest’ men in saeguk-land (I jokingly refer to Choong and General Yeon as ‘the power couple’). I agree with you, Heads, when you liked that he lost against his brother during their challenge. Namsaeng may be cruel and sadistic but I do not think that he could match up to his older brother’s fighting skills and muscle power.

    I apologize if some of these sentences do not make sense :) I just had too many thoughts to get out of my head. My thoughts may be awkwardly expressed so I’ll apologize again :)

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    • 21.1 TS

      No Min woo has actually saved this drama for me. I honestly couldn’t stand it before.

      And it’s okay if he wasn’t there before: General Yeon has family lands and connections in other states, right? Generally, noblemen send their sons off to train with allies/friends/relatives elsewhere and then get them working at home. It’s an aristo thing.

      Plus, perhaps the general doesn’t like flower boys, but also cannot avoid ignoring his eldest legitimate kid for long.

      Also, I’m not a big fan of either uhm Tae woong (did I get his name right?) or Choong, who looks way too old for his role.

      I would’ve liked Namsaeng to have either won against his brother (lithe moves and clever tricks, perhaps) or been smart enough not to try. I hope he manipulates his father into a big fall while looking super-pretty.

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      • 21.1.1 Peridot

        Hi TS :) I hope that No Minwoo brings a new dynamic to the show with his portrayal of Namsaeng. Namsaeng may have been away for a few years but, as I wrote below, there should have been some explanation for his absence (even if it was only mentioned in the background or in passing).

        I’m actually glad that he lost against his brother. That feeling of not being up to par could add more complexity to Namsaeng’s character. And don’t worry about his current fighting skills (or lack therof); he may surprise us in the future “while looking super-pretty.” :)

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        • 21.1.1.1 TS

          ooh, I hope he does surprise us later, especially while looking pretty. :-)

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        • 21.1.1.2 Carole McDonnell

          My hope as well. Bring on the brotherly bromance, I say. I like the way the brother has that noblesse oblige thing going on. He’s not generally snobby or haughty, although he cares about his status..and dresses incredibly flowery/petally. And he hasn’t rejected his brother because of his brother’s low birth. He seems confused and desirous of pleasing a stern dad…and now comes complications with oldest brother. I hope they make him a great character.

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          • 21.1.1.2.1 TS

            Good points, Carole! I hope they end up friends as well.

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    • 21.2 Kiara

      Its Goguryeo by the way. Goryeo was the era before Joseon but I think you know that right?

      Namsang’s character was planned from the beginning. He was not a last minute addition. We saw the fall of Gorguryeo in the first episode (thanks show for the spoiler) with the destruction of the palace behind Mu-young.

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      • 21.2.1 Peridot

        Hi Kiara. Yes, it was a typo :) I know that Goryeo was the era before Joseon. Thanks :)

        About Namsaeng’s character…I was just looking for a more fluid integration of him into the storyline. I knew that the general had other son’s, so the introduction of his character wasn’t completely out there.

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        • 21.2.1.1 Kiara

          Its not completely out there but maybe they could have done a better job explaining where he was all this time.

          Goguryeo had their own organized warrior corp called the Sonbae, the equivalent of Shilla’s Hwarang corp. I’m guessing he was trained there like most of the young nobles in Goguryeo. That would explain why he wasn’t around.

          I was hoping that he would be a better fighter than Choong because Choong is totally a country pumpkin and probably self trained. I think Nam-saeng’s impulsiveness is getting the best of him which is the opposite of Choong.

          I am seriously looking forward to them going to head to head later. I’m guessing they will take turn wielding the power once held by their father.

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          • 21.2.1.1.1 Peridot

            Thank you, Kiara, for the information on the Sonbae. I’ve been trying to locate good sources on Korean history, translated into English. Would you have any recommendations?

            “[...]maybe they could have done a better job explaining where he was all this time.” That’s what I’ve been trying to say. I could understand that his son may have been receiving special training (whether abroad or at home), but there should have been some mention, even if it was in the background. For whatever reason he was away, there should have been some explanation.

            I am also excited to see how things develop between Choong and Namsaeng.

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          • 21.2.1.1.2 TS

            I wanted him to be at least a challenging fighter. I was really disappointed he was checkmated so easily. Without some skills – political, diplomatic, or martial – behind him, he’s going to be a weak character, instead of a catalyst.

            off to look up the Sonbae now!

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          • 21.2.1.1.3 Kiara

            I don’t get my Korean history from the internet but try this link guys. It may also be spelled Sun bae. Its not as detailed but you’ll get the idea.
            I know Baekje had a similar organization in which the famous General Gae-baek was a part of but I don’t remember what it was called.

            http://www.martialartsresource.com/korean/ancienthistory.htm#2

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          • 21.2.1.1.4 Peridot

            About sources on Korean history, if you have book titles, etc., I don’t mind. I can look at both internet and print sources. Thank you for the link.

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          • 21.2.1.1.5 Kiara

            I took a history class back in the days :). A new History of Korea by Ki-baik Lee is informative. I only read it because it was written by a Korean historian.

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          • 21.2.1.1.6 Peridot

            Thank you for the book title :)

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    • 21.3 Cheryl

      I agree with you about Jang. Acting like he’s off his nut is a cover so he can release frustration and speak his mind (to a point) and get away with it. If he didn’t act like he wasn’t a can or two short of a six pack, General Yun would likely decide he needed to be removed and replaced with someone more bidable. Getting drunk is probably 100% coping mechanism.

      I have some, but not much, sympathy for him. He betrayed his uncle and cousins to help a power-hungry, war-loving general, and he’s surprised when that power-hungry, war-loving general isn’t content to take the new king’s orders and consider non-war options? Seriously? And he thinks that if he sounds sufficiently kingly that’ll convince General Yun he means business? Jang, you silly, naive boy! *shakes head sadly* Now that Yun’s had himself declared Prime Minister, I hope Jang’s learned enough in the School of Life to be able to take down his former ally.

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  22. 22 LSJ LADY

    So many expectations …….קפ 13
    Nothing takes off

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  23. 23 LSJ LADY

    .Is heartbreaking I WAS WAITING ALL DAY…

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  24. 24 Ele

    Oh my lord that scene!!! <3

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  25. 25 Carole McDonnell

    I really really hate watching an episode (or two) where I feel something has been missed. I so do not want to rewrite this drama or these two episodes but yeah, a shame the crossdressing had to happen. They couldve done so much else to hide the princess…even if she has this deep desire to kill Yeon and company.

    Poor nephew..i feel for him. Is that wrong? to feel for a family-murdering tratoir?

    Am glad younger (legitimte) son has popped up. I really feel a tension when he’s around (hoping its not menopausal tension on my part mixed with noona lust.)

    So far there really isn’t any kind of heavy exploration of theme and I’d be willing to go along with clashing loyalties and tragic Romeo and Juliet scenario…but we really didn’t see clashing loyalties over the past two episodes. Choong went over to the dark side when he thought princess was dead and we didn’t even see him go real dark. In no way at all is he battling within himself about whether he is emotionally-spiritually-psychologically like his dad.

    But now that younger hottie son has popped up… we see ruthlessness without any sense of loyalty to country. (I think.) Gaesomun may be ruthless but he’s a pure despot, he totally believes in the rightness of his cause and in protecting Goryeo. Younger son doesn’t have that. Now at least it looks as if we will be treated to the old “who is the truer son? and in one way is X the truer son of Gaesomun?” Are fathers and sons equally passionate? Is hottie younger brother capable of loving anything or anyone passionately? And that at least gives us something of a theme to hold onto?

    Am looking forward to see how it all comes together. Thanks for the recap.

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    • 25.1 LSJ LADY

      Carole McDonnell

      i like reading your comments. and the fact is i stay because i like history.
      you put your finger exactly on my mind…..(:

      yes …Poor nephew but this stupid king ,reign 20 years ..i am not sure in reality he was so poor.

      even that choong choose the power and dark side ..he is weak,frustrating and full of suffering.

      the last 2 episodes i really miss the presence of general yeon
      it is not enough..for me he is the one who save this drama

      actually nothing meaningful happens
      2 wasted episodes
      and do not expect an increase in ratings

      good bless you all

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      • 25.1.1 Carole McDonnell

        Yes, I missed Daddy Yeon as well. And i also hate it when i finish watching an episode and all i can think is, “And what exactly just happened that was of any importance?”

        I agree with you that he’s the one who saves this drama because all good tragic love stories are not primarily only about the lovers. When the lovers are up against FORCE B — Gaesomun– then there’s tension. When hero has succumbed to Force B, when heroine is off dressing as a boy and hanging around the marketplace, and when FORCE B isn’t actively battling hero or doing anything that pushes the theme or the plot, then it’s all flat.

        Now I’m just hoping bromance begins and sibling hatred …then younger brother might find out about the princess being alive and might have to feel he must betray princess (who appears to be hottie’s only friend, apparently). Something to bring back the tension.

        And you’re right about the reality of this king. It might be a cheap way to move the plot ahead…and fanservice to the audience who want to see a traitorous nephew feel guilty, used, and useless. I guess it wouldn’t work to see two ruthless folks or to see the nephew be all happy about the murder. I figure the nephew will keep silent about the princess but who knows?

        We’ll see. And thanks for the kind sweet words.

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  26. 26 Tharindi Ariyasinghe

    confusing…but i still love it ♥♥♥♥♥

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