Drama Recaps
Sword and Flower: Episode 14
by | August 19, 2013 | 53 Comments

There’s plenty going on this episode, the least of which includes questionable crushes, princess-saving, maniacal plotting, battles, and everything else not in that list being on fire. It’s nice to have some action to spice things up, even if Choong keeps sticking his neck out to save a girl he can’t even bring himself to have an honest conversation with. Nothing some life-or-death stakes can’t solve, right?

Ratings-wise: Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising anymore, but numbers dropped from last episode’s 6.4% to 4.6% this hour. All your ratings are belong to Master’s Sun, which brought in 16.8% in the same time slot.


We jump back a bit to the moments leading up to the monument snafu, where Mu-young hopes her thoughts will reach her father. She asks if he can hear the people’s hatred for General Yeon, whose war with Tang cost Goguryeo dearly.

“He erected a monument while disregarding the cries of the people,” she thinks as she sneaks a look to her enemy. “My father and the former kings of Goguryeo will weep tears of blood for this. The sword must protect the flower. All you can do is cut it,” she directs that to Yeon. “I, the princess of Goguryeo, shall punish you.”

Then comes the unveiling of the corpse of the man who had it built, and hung around his neck is the proclamation that Jang finishes reading aloud: “Yeon Gaesomun is not a hero, but a man who killed the king, and one who will bring about Goguryeo’s demise.”

The monument is toppled, and Choong goes into crisis management mode as he stands to protect the platform. Nam-saeng runs through the throng toward his father as Mu-young shoots Yeon a cautious gaze, her hand on a dagger in her cloak. No way, girlfriend. Now is not the time.

She gives up on the plot when Nam-saeng arrives, since her chances of success are a startling 0%. Boo-chi emerges from his hiding place to shoot an arrow at Nam-saeng, though it misses by zooming past his shoulder.

The other Geumhwadan members start to drag Boo-chi away to safety as Mo-seol and Choong pursue him. Mo-seol’s attempt to use one of her hairpins as a flying dagger is subverted by Mu-young “accidentally” blocking it with her spear. Nice.

Jang berates everyone during the next council meeting, and pays special homage to the failure of the intelligence agency as he addresses General Yeon: “Two of your sons were there. How were they not able to protect their father’s honor?”

General Yeon seems to have checked out mentally, leaving the other councilmen to squabble over who’s responsible. Jang knows it’s Mu-young’s doing, since he can already see her isolation plan in motion: Yeon’s supporters are divided, and with any luck, his political stronghold will diminish.

When General Yeon finally does speak, it’s to impose strict authoritarian rules on how to deal with the fallout—they’ll restrict large groups from gathering, arrest anyone who spreads rumors, and eliminate all signs of rebellion with extreme prejudice to remind the people who’s boss.

The councilmen fret over how much power this will now give General Yeon and the intelligence agency under his control, with General Yang noting that things’ll get bloody from here on out. No kidding.

General Yeon asks his sons who they think is responsible, and Nam-saeng is quickly put into place when his father mentions how he ignored Choong’s suspicions.

The rest of the conversation takes place between Yeon and Choong, leaving Nam-saeng looking angrier and angrier. Choong’s plan turns out to be exactly like his father’s (the apple doesn’t fall far), and he’s the one to earn Daddy’s favor in the end.

But Daddy is understandably not happy: “Who dares to insult the Dae Mangniji?”

Cut to Jang addressing Mu-young: “I knew it was you!” Ha. Apparently Mu-young was quite the prankster when they were young, so Jang had no trouble figuring it out. “You’re still very good at it. That was fun.”

Jang speaks to Mu-young like nothing ever happened, which oddly makes me feel a little bad for him. I’m sure he’d actually like things to return to the way they were, but Mu-young is all business as she refuses to celebrate this small victory: “It’s only the beginning.”

Remember Choong’s old friend Jin-gu? The show finally did too. He does exactly what General Yeon didn’t want by spreading rumors about what happened at the monument, though at least he’s still loyal to Choong even though word has spread of his mercilessness in arresting and torturing people.

At the intelligence agency, Nam-saeng wonders about who’s responsible. It was either someone who hates his father, or someone who wanted his father’s power… and while he says this, he sends a pointed look in Choong’s direction. (Oh no he di’n’t.)

It’s when Choong mentions revenge as a possible reason behind the snafu that Nam-saeng thinks aloud until he reaches his conclusion: That the only person who could be leading the rebels is the princess.

Even though the princess is thought to be dead, Nam-saeng asks if anyone confirmed the body. That’s when one of the members pipes up to say that they only confirmed her remains, not a literal body.

That’s proof to Nam-saeng that she’s alive, so he orders a search for her to be performed in secret. Choong remembers cradling her clothes at her grave and insists that the princess is dead. Nam-saeng dismisses him because he heard about his little affair with the princess, and knows that his brother’s opinion is a biased one.

Mission: Find the Princess is on, so Nam-saeng calls on his favorite person ever, Mu-young, to accompany him on a kill-anyone-suspicious spree.

I love that Nam-saeng thinks he’s helping Mu-young to get over her first murder hurdle by telling her that she’ll be the one to behead Leader So, comforting her with things like “It’s only hard the first time. Then it becomes as easy as using your chopsticks!” Okay, psycho.

Granted, Choong asked her to do the same thing, so his brief interjection on her behalf doesn’t count for much. (Though I’d argue that Choong wasn’t expecting her to actually shoot Leader So back then.)

Nam-saeng hands her the sword to behead Leader So in his cell, which is a bit curious—wouldn’t you want to publicly execute a traitor? Either way, he provides moral support from the doorway, all, It’s more merciful if you end it with one blow!

Face to face with Leader So, Mu-young is left without options. She prepares to strike…

But Choong’s interjection saves him at the last minute as he claims that Leader So is the man he chose to be on his side. In this case, could Choong be considered more merciful than Mu-young? Was she going to go through with it?

Nam-saeng pets a bit of his hyung’s clothing as he coos that he’s not even sure where Choong’s heart lies. “Are you really on Father’s side, or are you just pretending to be?”

And as they leave the prison, Nam-saeng angrily murmurs, “Things won’t work out the way you want, Hyung-nim.”

Gisaeng Dal-ki lures some information out of the soldiers who have been arresting and beating people at random all day—they have no idea who the rebels are or where they are. Obviously, this is good news for Geumhwadan.

Mu-young heads to the gibang in secret—which has become Geumhwadan’s interim meeting place—and unfurls a rudimentary map of the palace so they can plan to spring Leader So from prison.

This goes against their initial plan, which was to let Leader So gain Choong’s trust, but Mu-young worries for his safety now that Nam-saeng is after him. Since security is lax due to the soldiers going out into the town to beat innocent citizens, Mu-young thinks it’ll be a walk in the park.

Dal-ki worries that Choong will recognize Mu-young if she stays much longer, but Mu-young isn’t worried: “I don’t think he’s aware yet. I need to stay there as long as I can.” Phew. Well, as long as she thinks she’s safe, she must be. That’s how it works.

Mu-young uses the age-old emergency bathroom break excuse to distract the guards while Geumhwadan sneaks into the palace later that night.

Meanwhile, Choong hears back from another spy he sent to check on Mu-young’s background, who found everyone she officially listed save for a friend who doesn’t seem to exist. Choong: “You can fake the past, but you cannot make fake friends.” He must’ve had an easy life till now.

This hopefully serves as all the proof he needs that Mu-young isn’t who she says she is, but knowing this show… Naaah.

A masked intruder pours gasoline through the prison while Nam-saeng broods by candlelight. Then a big deal is made of his inability to blow out the candle for three tries, because fourth time’s the charm? (I’m sure this scene could mean something, but in the words of Roger Ebert, “If you have to ask what it symbolizes, it didn’t.”)

Choong finds Mu-young pacing nervously outside, her only excuse being that she’s on night patrol. He’s onto her true identity and asks: “Do you have someone that you want to protect?” She shakes her head that she has no one, then asks him the same.

“She is dead,” he says, referring to her and almost begging her to react. “I killed her.”

The masked man who poured the gasoline now sets it ablaze, but is cut down by someone not in Geumhwadan. While the fire distracts the guards, Boo-chi uses the secret passageway to get to Leader So’s cell and break the lock.

Now free, Leader So refuses to leave without saving some of his fellow prisoners. Choong and Mu-young’s tense moment is broken when fire lights the sky, and both of them go rushing off to the prison.

Choong spots Geumhwadan trying to make a run for it, and as he and Boo-chi fight amongst the flames, Leader So continues to free prisoners. In order to buy time for their escape, a masked Dal-ki throws a hairpin to stab Choong in the shoulder.

He’s about to give chase, but a falling beam knocks both him and Mu-young to the floor, causing her to fall unconscious. (This might be debatable, but it looked like she was the one to pull him back before he could really get hurt.) Choong throws her onto his back to carry her to safety, something Nam-saeng watches unhappily.

Nam-saeng follows them, and when Choong lies her on the ground Nam-saeng comes running up, “Mu-young-ah! Mu-young-ah!” all genuinely concerned. He holds her in his arms and sends his brother a dark look, as if blaming him for her current state.

Mu-young’s eyes flutter open, and Choong takes that as his cue to leave. Nam-saeng is the one who gets her tucked into her own bed, though he’s not happy she refuses to see a doctor. For obvious reasons this would be bad news for her, so she pretends to be fine.

Nam-saeng’s concern is evident, but as he reaches a hand out to smooth her hair, Mu-young abruptly turns over. Aww, his feelings are hurt.

Mo-seol worries excessively over Choong’s stab wound, but he’s not interested. She knows that Mu-young was hurt trying to protect him—ah, so she did pull him back, I think—and is now rethinking her initial suspicions that Mu-young is a double agent.

She mentions how Mu-young blocked her shot at the opening ceremony, and I really can’t tell if she’s trying to be malicious by telling him or not. She looks like she might be trying to get Mu-young in trouble, though.

Leader So is taken to the Geumhwadan Cave, where the umbrella maker meets him with open arms. Leader So is thankful that he led Geumhwadan while he was away, but there’s no time to dawdle when there’s work to do.

They head into a forest to find a group of armed men on their side… led by Shi-woo. SHI-WOO! You’re back! You’re back you’re back you’re back!

Father and son greet each other for the first time in three years, with Leader So glad to see that his son wasn’t dead. Well, he doesn’t look that glad if that’s what he thought all this time…

But yes, this is apparently the only explanation we’ll get for Shi-woo’s absence—he apparently couldn’t bother telling anyone that he was going to travel the country to gather allies in the form of Geumhwadan members around Goguryeo. Somehow it was better for everyone to think he was dead even though no one mentioned so much as his name… but you know what, it doesn’t matter. He’s back!

So it turns out the group of men are messengers from their separate Geumhwadan leaders, gathered by Shi-woo to pledge their leaders’ loyalty and men to the cause. Apparently Geumhwadan is a nation-wide organization with branches in every major town now.

General Yeon convenes with his two sons to find out more about the fire, and Nam-saeng is the first one to point fingers at Choong for letting Leader So live, and for the fire happening at all—the prison is/was under Choong’s jurisdiction.

However, Nam-saeng is sure the source of the unrest are people still loyal to the former king, and declares that he’s sent agents to confirm the princess’ death. Choong finds this a waste of time, and claims that keeping an eye on any military leaders formerly close to the king would be more useful than chasing after a ghost.

General Yeon tells them both to do what they have to, but whichever son brings those responsible to him and kills them in front of him will win his favor—whether it’s the princess or her even her father’s ghost.

Jang is clearly enjoying General Yeon’s unease as he sarcastically teases him about sending him herbs to help him sleep—after all, Yeon had once sent him those same herbs when he had spies reporting Jang’s every move, even down to his sleeping habits.

Now Jang knows Yeon hasn’t been sleeping well, but not because he has spies planted. He simply claims that even the walls have ears so it’s easy to hear when he does nothing all day, which raises Yeon’s suspicions enough for him to say, “I don’t care what you are planning, but I advise that you stop.”

Jang scoffs that he’s merely a puppet, and puppets can’t make plans: “But I can stand by and watch.” Technically he’s not lying. He’s just letting things happen.

Nam-saeng thinks aloud to Mo-seol that the late king’s followers must have a base close to the capital, and she suggests he take a look at the weapons smuggler who supposedly died under torture.

He does, and notes the sword and flower emblem tattooed on his chest for the first time before remembering that the smuggler gave away the location of a weapons cache right outside the city wall. If the smuggler was working for the rebels, then that hideout will give them a clue.

Mo-seol looks maliciously gleeful as she calls out after Nam-saeng leaves that he hasn’t even heard the whole story yet. Look, Mo-seol, I appreciate the effort but this show has already got ninety-nine problems.

When Mu-young sees her fellow agents readying for an attack on the hideout, she thinks to herself: “I’ve got them.” The only snag is that Choong won’t be going with them.

The reason behind her reaction is explained when we cut to Geumhwadan wondering if the agency will fall for their trap. Ah, so even the hideout reveal by the smuggler was carefully planned—though you kind of wonder why the agency never investigated the place sooner.

Shi-woo reports that the agents are on the move to the hideout, which sets their plan in motion.

The plan is a good old-fashioned ambush, with Geumhwadan members hiding amongst the thick grass lining the long winding path to the hideout, aka the only suspicious building for miles. The umbrella maker warns everyone to be extra careful not to hurt the princess, who’s bound to be among them.

Choong finds the agency empty save for Mo-seol, who apparently thinks it’s fun to just give him information in pieces as she (kind of) explains the situation, in that Nam-saeng took charge in order to take all the credit.

As it is, he wants to pin the prison break on Choong, so if he were to find the rebel stronghold alone, he’d win their father’s favor and knock his brother down a peg in the process. But she does tell Choong about the smuggler, and how he died from a terminal illness and not torture.

So that means that their enemies used a dying man on purpose so he would reveal only what they wanted him to, which raises Choong’s suspicions that his brother has just led all the agents into a trap. Now he has to go save them.

The agents dismount from their horses to head to the hideout on foot, and Nam-saeng can’t help but notice Mu-young looking around anxiously. He walks up behind her so he can whisper next to her ear: “Are you looking for me?”

He’s trying to tease her, but you can tell he just wishes it were true. Mu-young has to cover her tracks and claims she was looking for Choong, causing Nam-saeng to pout that of course he’s not coming—this is HIS day.

And then he’s all happy that he’ll get to show off for Mu-young. (I can’t help but feel just a little bit bad for him, even though he’s crazy.)

The umbrella maker makes himself known in order to draw some of the agents away, which goes exactly as planned—Mu-young leads the chase, which gets her away from the kill zone.

Choong rushes toward the hideout on horseback right as Nam-saeng finds nothing but a corpse and the Geumhwadan emblem inside. This is Geumhwadan’s cue to start raining flaming arrows down on the agents, and Nam-saeng figures out a little too late that it’s a trap.

Most of the agents are already dead by the time Nam-saeng makes it outside, and Choong rushes to his side to simultaneously chide him for being reckless and order that they retreat.

“Retreat?” Nam-saeng repeats the foreign word while his eyes look distant and glazed. “We must kill them all!”

Choong puts his brother’s safety in the care of other agents and draws his sword to do battle with the Geumhwadan members now within range. He ends up directly fighting Boo-chi, Dal-ki, and Chi-woon. A bit unfair. (For them, I mean.)

Mu-young circles back around and starts running toward Choong and the gang. He fights his way through them so that he can join Mu-young on her side, but she approaches with her sword raised as if to stab him

But he merely tells her to retreat, which means a really awkward moment where she tries to figure out what to do—attack and kill Choong, or save him.

She eventually lowers her sword. She can’t stab him now.

Two Geumhwadan members didn’t get the memo not to kill the princess, so they fire arrows straight at the both of them. Choong protects her by cutting the first volley straight out of the air.

When Mu-young’s shock passes, she steps in front of Choong to fight off the next volley… and is shot with an arrow straight through the chest, near or through the heart.

Choong catches her as she falls, their gazes locking for the briefest of moments before her eyes close.


Huzzah, an eventful episode! This doesn’t erase the last episode or the general downward tick in quality and story logic overall, but it wins some points for upping the ante. I guess there was nowhere to go but up, right?

Mu-young had some potentially pivotal moments in this episode that weren’t all that pivotal because it was insanely hard to tell what was going on with her, which I really wish wasn’t the case. When Mo-seol said that Mu-young got hurt protecting Choong during the fire, I had to actually rewind to that point to see if that’s what happened. And yes, it did seem possible that Mu-young could have pulled Choong back at the last moment in order to save him, which would imply all sorts of interesting things. So if that were the case, you’d think the show would make that moment clearer, or stress its importance just a bit more. Nope.

Confusing Mu-young Moment #2 came when Mu-young kept asking if Choong would be part of the group heading into the trap. I honestly couldn’t tell whether she was asking out of concern (because she didn’t want him to get hurt) or whether she was asking because she hoped he’d be there with a target strapped to his back. So I decided to think that she had saved him from the fire, and that she didn’t want him to be part of the ambush, because that’s a nicer thought than the alternative.

Confusing Mu-young Moment #3 came when Mu-young rushed up to Choong with her sword raised, only to have that very awkward moment where she had no idea what to do with it. The idea seems to have been that Mu-young meant to kill Choong, only she couldn’t bring herself to do it. The problem is that there shouldn’t be so much guesswork with important character beats like this—I’m not advocating that motivations be written out on a chalkboard or explained through an exposition fairy, but if this important internal struggle was going on with Mu-young, that’s something that should come across above all else, so that that moment could mean as much as it should/could have. Instead, it feels like something got lost down the production’s game of telephone—or worse, that the show is being deliberately vague.

Which leads us to Confusing Mu-young Moment #4, with her taking an arrow for Choong. It’s possible to connect the dots like so: Mu-young couldn’t kill Choong > Mu-young realized Choong was protecting her > Mu-young decided to protect him, except I’m not really sure what she meant to do. And I suppose that matters less than what she did do, but understanding the why is the whole point of following a character’s journey, isn’t it? Instead of saying “She did this and then she did that,” I’d take the story that tells me “She did this because of that” any day.

Say stepping in front of Choong wasn’t an accident. If we were reaching a moment where Mu-young decided to forgo revenge because she still loves Choong after she’s spent years thinking he betrayed her, wronged her, and never cared for her—then I want to see that moment in all its complexity. I want to see it mean something, darn it. And if it just means that we get to hold onto the cross-dressing cliche staple of the hero finding out the heroine’s gender by having to undress her after an injury, this show and I are going to have some words.


53 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. pace88

    I feel like the little brother knows about the princess, that’s why he wanted her to kill leader So, he was sending her a massage that her leader was safe therefore he believe that she’ll help leader So escape, that’s why we saw him blowing the candle, plus his right hand man knew where the dude that was putting the gas was, and kill that person on the spot. he also seem to be happy with what was going in, during the fire like he knew something like that was going to happen.

    • 1.1 HeadsNo2

      Y’know… that would actually explain a lot. Huh. My mind feels a little blown.

      • 1.1.1 momosan

        Actually, I thought it was Nam Saeng’s people who lit the place on fire (hence the candle scene), and that his guy killed the arsonist just to leave no extra people about and make it look like a breakout attempt.

        Three of Mu Young guys break in and three successfully return with Leader So.

        I don’t think Nam Saeng knows Mu Young is the princess. I think Choong does, at least on some level. The princess, however, definitely saved Choong’s life and can’t bring herself to kill him.

        • pace88

          That makes sense now, I must have not being paying attention because of everything that was happening, it seem so odd about the whole candle thing and his right hand man killing the arsonist.

    • 1.2 Ann

      I thought that his guys actually started the fire.

    • 1.3 Rachelle

      That makes sense, because if not, it’d mean that Nam-saeng likes Mu-young in disguise…as in, he’s gay. 😉

      (By the way, No Min-woo looks so prettyyyyyy!)

  2. the other kay

    oh this show. the ratings make me so sad.

    • 2.1 ilikemangos

      Master’s Sun needs to share some of its viewers!

    • 2.2 Niki

      I feel sad too. Oh…such dismal ratings. I really wished it would pick up but since we are at the last leg….i doubt it. I feel bad for the actors that this drama is not popular. The camera work and the actors are awesome…the plotline was good for the first 8 episodes….then…..sigh…..

  3. eny

    I like this show, it’s not just usual romeo juliet story

  4. Elfie

    hmm I’ll just stick to reading the recaps especially since school starts in two days 🙁

  5. Lizzie

    thx so much for this recap! you said it, Mu-young’s feelings are really vague and so her actions were indeed confusing me too, but yeah, i like to also think that she still cares for Choong, even if it’s just a little. But my take on her not showing any emotions for the most part is so that she can keep them in check, but it’d be nice to see her brood a little like Choong when she’s alone…at least a little emotion, right? or to see her torn between her love for Choong and for her revenge… at present, it just seems that she’s indecisive in taking action. But i haven’t lost all hope that this drama will get better. Let’s keep our fingers crossed

  6. darcyM

    Mu-young, I liked you way better when you were a girl. Sure, sometimes you were impulsive and reckless, but you were spirited and did it with feeling. Now you seem to be competing with General Yeon for the Most Impassive Award.

    And, yeah, I agree with you, Heads. The show needs to make it a wee bit clearer as to her motivations. I think probably it is her feelings for Choong making her act that way, but because she has had minimal interaction with him since her reappearance as a highly convincing guy, instead of showing her gradual rediscovering of those feelings and the resulting emotional conflict (which, if we had been shown this, would have made putting up with Worst Disguise Ever kinda worth it), we have just had the major turnabout from “Chong must pay” to “Must save Choong” which is jarring to say the least, and not particularly believable given its vagueness.

    But the awkward moment when she can’t decide whether to kill him or not does make sense to me, because aside from the emotional conflict, she’s probably also deciding whether or not breaking cover to kill Choong is worth it. Could she gain more by keeping him alive and staying undercover?

    I’m finding Nam-saeng’s lil crush on Mu-young somewhat endearing. The way he tries to look out for her is a little creepy but also cute, and I’m looking forward to the fallout when he discovers that she has/will betray them all. He is someone I would not want to get on the wrong side of.

    Also, this show has made me start wearing hair chopsticks again!

    • 6.1 Carole McDonnell

      Me too re: Nam Saeng’s crush. Every true bad guy must have a good side or a weak kindness in his heart. Or else we can’t humanize hem.

  7. darcyM

    Also, I have a question: Does Korean have gender-specific personal pronouns, like the English he or she. Or are they gender-neutral like the Chinese ta? Because the subs of speech from characters who think that Mu-young is a guy have been referring to her as she/her not he/him. So I’m just wondering: if they are specific, has the translator just got it wrong? Or if they are neutral, then it’s up to the translator to determine the gender, and because Mu-young’s disguise is so rubbish, the translator (quite understandably) hasn’t realised that Mu-young is meant to be a guy. In which case: haha.

    • 7.1 Peeps

      Nah. I think.

      I mean, usually, they don’t even mention the subject of the sentence.
      Like ‘saranghae’ just means ‘love’ in verb form. Subjects are usually important implied. So, [I] love [you]/[him]/[her]/[my dog] etc etc

    • 7.2 momosan

      The subtitle translator for Dramafever needs a slap upside the head. They keep using “she” – referring to Mu Young – when Mo Seol was talking about her. If I recall correctly, Mo Seol actually uses the name Mu Young. It’s a pet peeve of mine when pronouns are used in subtitles instead of the names or titles that are being spoken.

  8. Tootsiepatootsie

    Could it be possible she took the blow for Choong because she wanted to mislead him into thinking that she ‘sacrificed’ herself in order to save him? It could be part of the plan or it might’ve not be planned :L

    • 8.1 darcyM

      But it’s not like she could control whether the arrow would kill her or not. It would be something very hard to plan. Really risky if she ends up dying, and then what good would that have done? Suddenly, no spy and no princess. In my opinion, taking an arrow for someone is something that happens accidentally (possible, considering the way the show has been going lately), or is a gut reaction based on emotion, sub-conscious or not, which I think is where they were trying to go with this one.

  9. laraffinee

    I really had hopes for this drama to be GREAT, but it isn’t, yet it is still good though, mainly because of Uhmforce and the princess, despite a meh script.

    The last few minutes of this episode were the best – when Choong and Mu-Young instinctively protected each other. It is those kind of moments that keep me watching this drama – the dynamics between those two. I wish that the scriptwriter who wrote “Conspiracy in the Court” and the director that directed it were in charge of this story. That is the standard that keep holding this show to. Sadly, it isn’t it.

    I must be in a minority I would think the people involved with “Conspiracy in the Court” would be flooded with film and drama offers, but no. The same lame ratings game that rules most cinema rules Korean cinema, which continues to churn out slop like “Faith” and “Gu Family book” “monstar” etc.

    The Shakespearean greatness of “Conspiracy in the Court” goes unnoticed.

    • 9.1 Carole McDonnell

      I so HAVE to finish Conspiracy. Thanks for the reminder. I think this will go down as one of my faves anyway. I kinda sorta see where it wants to go and what it wanted to do…so I’ll pretend it did.

  10. 10 sheilla

    i am going to have some words if they pull a sungkyun kwan. like soon joon and demul. otherwise loove the show so far it has not slowed down even a bit. just great. thanks 4 the recap. what would i ever do with you. lots of love.

  11. 11 Naz

    The episodes drag out soooo much! It’s awful slow. I love the recaps, thank you so much. I can just skip to the part I want to see played out and avoid all the staring contests.

  12. 12 kookicookie

    I watched the first few minutes of episode one and was unimpressed. The monotonous grays and shoddy effects during the first chase scene was a drama turn-off. I do like the recaps though. I might watch highlights on youtube or something. Also, just my opinion, lol don’t crucify me! I had enough of that by dear @Anonymous in the other post about the e-book. xD

  13. 13 bearla

    this drama starting to show some improvement i think….

  14. 14 Nekoi

    Well, they up the stakes at the last part! About time, we’d say.
    Anyway, I feel it makes a big difference to the story whether Namsaeng knows about MY or not.
    I am totally not convinced that a potential psychopath like him can actually care that much for a stranger (he met the ‘male’ MY just a few days ago right?), so I am all up for it that he knows. He could have easily sent people to check out the princess. Plus it’s really weird to see a guy in that era with such power to act so affectionate towards another ‘guy’. Or maybe because I cannot bring myself to believe that a rugged father like Choi Min Soo can have such a beautiful androgynous kid like Noh Min Woo. XDD

    • 14.1 Carole McDonnell

      I suspect male friendships might have allowed for a lot more touchy-feely stuff back in the day. The idea of what is manliness is not really carved in stone. Maybe in that era affection between guys was okay. Of course, maybe not. Not up on K-cultural history.

      About homosexuality..it was probably understood but not spoken off. In any case, in many cultures, rich guys often got away with having male lovers.

      Trust me…the ruggedness of the dad has little to do with not having a homosexual son. One of my gay friends, a fellow writer named Mattilda Bernstein, has written about how he was raped by his psychologist macho dad beginning at age 4. Not tha Gaesomun raped his kids..but some cruel stuff happens in this world.

      • 14.1.1 Nekoi

        Ok, come to think of it, you are right! Rich guys prolly do have male lovers and they do get away with it in those times. Ok, I take back my previous comments.

        Can’t wait to see how Nam Saeng will react when he finds out, that he’s not so gay afterall. Heee.

  15. 15 Cheryl

    MY definitely needs to start letting the viewers in on what’s going on inside her head, and the show really needs to stop treating important plot beats so lightly. They shouldn’t beat us over the head with them, but more tension and tenterhooks would be nice.

  16. 16 erem

    I thought it was quite evident that she saved him from that beam. She still loves him, so she can’t kill him.

  17. 17 Quiet Thought

    Really, I am trying to watch this series, but the scenes are shot so agonizingly SLLLOOOOWWW that I feel like episode ten took me two hours to watch even though I skipped through it in a half hour

  18. 18 Carole McDonnell

    Thanks so much for the recap.

    There were so many moments which felt as if they were supposed to be huge highs or huge lows but which fell flat. Am glad Shi Woo is back for instance…but somehow not glad enough. Don’t know why but the return felt as if some great thing had been accomplished and i was still in the dark about what it was. Only by reading your recap did i understand– ohhh, so THAT’s what they were off doing!!! And i still don’t know what Mo-seol is up to, if she’s spying/working for anyone or just for herself.

    I’m from the “fool me once, can never fool me again” school and so main leads dying at the end of an episode are taken with a grain of salt. And while i know that everyone ELSE who gets an arrow to the heart or even to the shoulder dies irretrievably and immediately…the leads are quickie recoverers from pesky death blows. But if she does die without learning the truth, poor Chong. Oetteke???

    Gotta say that just because you are trying to show daddy how murderous and tough you can be doesn’t mean you don’t have a heart. Nam saeng truly loves Mu Young i think. Whether from affection, romantic love, friendship…. and Choong’s protective care for his brother also came out in that he got his bro outta dodge mighty quick. Just hoping bro sees that as love and not as hyung trying to take credit as super-guard. The subtle ways in which all this love and humanity is shown in this drama is its blessing and its curse. It’s a blessing because that’s how human love would appear or show itself in such a fierce world. But it’s a curse because as Heads says it’s so vague. How can I — interested viewer and (wannabe) nail-biting audience member– be all worried, tense, empathetic…if I’m confused about what all is going on?

    • 18.1 TS

      i agree: NamSaeng really loves MuYoung too. I kind of ship them, even though that won’t happen (guessing she and Choong will ride off into the Tang Dynasty or Silla).

  19. 19 blackjack

    Quote: “Mu-young circles back around and starts running toward Choong and the gang. He fights his way through them so that he can join Mu-young on her side, but she approaches with her sword raised as if to stab him…”

    I’m think, she thought it was his brother, Nam-saeng and wanted to kill him (because it Choong was not supposed to be here).

    But when he turned around and said, retreat , she stopped in shock…

    • 19.1 Carole McDonnell

      both bros have different hairstyles and body build, though.

      • 19.1.1 Nekoi

        The outfits. The color are similar? She must have thought it was someone from the Yeon side and was about to stab it in. She didn’t think Choong was going to be there since Nam Saeng said he wouldn’t be.

  20. 20 Quiet Thought

    It probably says something about the problems the show has with direction–and ratings–that the three exact same, interchangable face shots for General Yeon have appeared in virtually every re-cap.

    I’ll have to make another try at catching up this weekend.

  21. 21 PeterRabit

    Thanks for the recap. However, I totally disagree with the writer of this episode recap in aspect of the princess’ confusing moments.
    I don’t think the princess is lost in emotion of killing-saving game as commented above. Back to the episode when her king father and brother were killed in one day, her royal family was destroyed in a blink of an eye, that misled her to see her love as an enemy. She spent all these years thinking only of killing enemies (including mistakenly Choong as she was put in a case of his silence from telling her that he would protect her). Since then, there is no evidence of her confusion in her plan of killing him. She even was going to chop down leader So in the prison when she was put in no other choice then she has to protect her cover for a long plan of vengeance.
    Right in this episode, there are 2 events that are debatable. First, did she save him from the flamed block in the prison? There is no proof of that. Clearly no if you watch again the moment. But the girl spy giving an information that Mu-young saved Choong seems to be a way that the drama writer wants to prevent a seem-to-be-problem between two female spies when Mu-young caused a suspicion from blocking the girl spy’s shot in the monument snafu.
    Secondly in the strike event at the end of the episode, Mu-young is looking for Choong as she wants him to be here, in her planned trap. Yes, she did escape from the kill zone. But she circled back with a sword. You can see blood stained on the sword, then you may ask if that is her sword. If yes, then did she kill somebody? If no, then obviously she took the sword from somebody. But please ask why she did come back to Choong’s place with the blooded sword raised aiming to him. We can see her lips hold tightly for a firm target: killing him. Yes, it is an awkward situation that Choong turned out to protect her, putting her in confusion for a moment of what to do now, continuing the killing job or err… But arrows from Geumhwadan members did help her an idea. Actually I think she is a little smart (I don’t mean I like her idea of killing him out of her misled emotion) that she came to get arrow as that is a way she thinks she can get his attention to her, so that Geumhwadan members have chance to take down on him. So, no protecting him after all.
    But, how about Choong? He did save her in the prison. He was reported about her background from secret research. He listened arguments of Nam-saeng against the possibility of princess’ death. He is not dumb, at least a talented swordmaster to make some thought. He is/was even her love, protected her. It’s just 3 years while he keeps thinking only of her. Carrying her on his shoulder out of the fire is enough to let him ascertain that Mu-young is her who he longs for. With Nam-saeng closure to Mu-young as well as his conclusion on princess’ survival, Choong must be careful not let any sight of his recognition about her. That’s why he turned out to protect her in the recent event without holding any thought that she might target to himself. I feel really bitter for him.
    One addition to the recap that the man killed the masked guy set fire in the prison was Nam-saeng’s right-hand man.

    • 21.1 smyrna

      I agree with you at some points. Yes, i also think that the man who poured the gas and burn the prison is Nam Saeng’s man, did it as instructed coz Nam Saeng purposely wants to damage Choong’s reputation by creating chaos in Choong’s jurisdiction. He knows that he can always blame the jailbreak with Leader So in there and accuses his followers as the one who burn the prison. That masked man then killed by Nam Saeng’s right hand man coz there shouldn’t be any witness left for his cunning mind. But what Nam Saeng didn’t predict was that Leader So’s people were already in the prison and save him.

      I also agree with all your thoughts about Choong. But regarding the princess, hmmm …. I still a bit unsure about her which i somehow blame the unclear directing/editing.

      All the previous rebellion done by General Yeon to the royal family and all Choong’s appearances in the wrong moments give these ideas to the princess that he might betray her. She knows he loves her, the hairpin she saw Choong wore when they were swordfighting told her that. But she also knows that Choong chose to be on Dad’s side after she’s gone. Something she can’t understand why. Alas it only points her that he betrays her.

      While Choong never sways with his feeling for her, So Hee only has one objection in her life. To take revenge and kill all the Yeons, the people who slay and destroy her family/kingdom. Of course i’m disappointed with how the PD/writer doesn’t want to add layer to Moo Young’s complexity by showing that somehow deep inside she still cares for him, and that it suppose to be unacceptable for her.

      It would be better if they show that she’s conflicted too coz it’d be so in sync with Choong and makes them as a match-made in heaven lovers. I see the moment when Moo Young saves him in prison as her impulsive act. When the geumhwadan ran away with Leader So she pulled him back with the same time a burning pole fell down, it’d be much better if the camera at that time shows Moo Young glanced at that pole and instinctively pulled Choong. It’s not about saving or not saving Choong, it’s a humane thing to do and in character with Moo Young/So Hee or any people in the drama but may be Nam Saeng or General Yeon.

      About why Moo Young keeps asking whether Choong will join to the trap, i agree with Head that it’s very confusing. At least a thought to herself will be very helpful to help us viewers determine in what mood Moo Young is now. An inner dialog to self like that won’t disturb the flow, won’t take any specific time away from the scene but it helps giving us a certainty.

      Yunno, something like, “Choong please don’t come. I hope you won’t come.” Well, this equals Moo Young still loves him doesn’t want him to get hurt.

      But a, “Come to mama, baby. I’ll kill you here in one swing!” Ha, don’t you think it’s also enough to tell us what she wants from Choong?

      • 21.1.1 aqua

        “So Hee only has one objection in her life. To take revenge and kill all the Yeons, the people who slay and destroy her family/kingdom.”

        Yeah, this goes to show what kind of life she’s led in the past. Choong was more flexible in his judgments and had more room to show his ethics over his “duty”, because he had led a freer life than So Hee. But she only had the palace so she couldn’t imagine anything else.

        Also, did anybody feel that her father, the former king, was a huge hypocrite, who believed so much in his own bullshit that he also managed to blind his children, especially So Hee, to the kind of man he really was? That talk about the flower and the sword – and then we find out how unfairly he had treated Jang all along, how he used all sorts of nasty methods to suppress any dissent among his subjects, etc. So Hee was shielded from all that. So her love for her father is totally unrealistic and so is her hatred and need for revenge. She’s the one who has to wake up soon. Choong is already wide awake.

    • 21.2 aqua

      It’s interesting that many viewers don’t think Mu Young saved Choong twice in this ep. When I saw the prison fire scene it was obvious to me that Mu Young pulled Choong back from under the falling beams. But it’s this kind of ambiguity that makes this show great, I think. She IS ambiguous in her feelings for Choong because of her need/duty for revenge, just as Choong couldn’t let himself believe Mu Young was standing in front of him because of his guilty feelings.

  22. 22 Tharindi Ariyasinghe

    I really don’t care about ratings! I love this drama …I watch it…♥♥♥ Mu Young & Choong ♥♥♥

    • 22.1 aqua

      Yeah, low ratings can mean it’s an excellent series but not everyone’s cup of tea. Don’t know if this would make the execs happy, though. Just as long as people don’t go by the ratings to judge this series or any other.

      • 22.1.1 PeterRabit

        Agree with you both

  23. 23 cloudsdancing

    Could you please recap episode 15 soon? Dying to know what is going on at the moment he finds out Moo Young’s identity.

  24. 24 Timbone

    Hahaha the show stirs up the same feelings I had for some Chinese dramas which were lavish but lacked any content.
    I was thinking the production team had too much money spent on everything but the script lol

    • 24.1 Kiara

      Yes the script is the weakest in an otherwise beautiful show. I didn’t expect much from the writer anyway, this is his first sageuk.

  25. 25 Lia

    When is episode 15 recap please??? So exciting to have some revelations finally!

  26. 26 mika11

    ok wtf is going on?? like ep 17 is out there and you still didn’t review ep 15…you’re like the worst reviewer ever! i think you’ll make the next review when this drama is finished..may i ask what’s the point of all this??

    • 26.1 javabeans

      The point of all this is that you are being a demanding asshole. Normally we’d just delete comments like yours but I’d like to leave it here as an example of what NOT to do.

      If you hadn’t noticed, it was a busy weekend. We had things to do. Recaps are written when there is time for them to be written, so just cool your little heels until they are.

      • 26.1.1 mika11

        i’m sorry..i realised i’ve been out of line i guess because i really love this drama and i get anxious and unpatient…i like youur reviews but i think they are a little too slow and that annoyed me..anyway i souldn’t have reacted like this so i apologize one again

  27. 27 Gasenadi

    Heads2, javabeans, samsooki, et alia – FYI, I LOVE your recaps no matter when they come out, cuz I don’t even start a drama until the last episode’s aired. Even then, I might wait weeks or months before I get to it. Busy living sometimes.

    Heads, once again, your writing gives me all sorts of giggles!! Thanks. Oh, and I definitely thought MY saved him from the falling beam. And I enjoyed the candle scene, the curling smoke was beautiful against the darkness. Glad for the input about NS masterminding that arson – works for me.

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