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Three Musketeers: Episode 1

Great summer fun! Three Musketeers kicked off its first episode (and first season, of three planned) yesterday, and I’m hooked already: The show has a swift storytelling style, a delightfully cheeky sense of humor (which often dips into the refreshingly deadpan), and a set of characters with heart.

And you know, despite my misgivings about making Jung Yong-hwa that heart, I’m fully onboard now, partly because of an improvement in his acting performance and partly because of the way the character is written—young, earnest, and in need of a little brotherly bonding. Thankfully, our Three Musketeers—Lee Jin-wook, Yang Dong-geun, Jung Hae-in—are up to the task. Especially Lee Jin-wook, who is wry and shrewd and all-around pretty wonderful.

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EPISODE 1: “First Meeting”

We open in the “future”—it’s 1780, in the fourth year of the reign of Joseon’s king Jeongjo. In what is now Beijing, a Korean ambassador to Qing China (writer and philosopher Yeonam Park Ji-won) finds a book that captures his attention. Titled The Memoirs of Park Dal-hyang, it’s an old text that has gone unnoticed over the years, and Yeonam is transfixed.

He stays up all night reading it, noting that it’s supposedly written by a general who lived over a hundred years ago. It makes him wonder about Crown Prince Sohyeon, the son of King Injo; he died a mysterious death that has been the subject of speculation over the years, with some positing that the king killed his own son, and others thinking perhaps he was poisoned. In any case, Yeonam muses, “If he had become king, what would have happened to Joseon?” If the forward-thinking Sohyeon had led the nation, perhaps Joseon might have rivaled Qing, he thinks.

Yeonam’s colleague tells him that the book is a mere novel, pointing out that there was no General Park Dal-hyang in history. But Yeonam is intrigued.

A narrator informs us that Yeonam has the feeling that the book is not fiction. The camera takes us to the battlefield tent where a grizzled general writes his memoir, and the narration confirms for us that the man did in fact exist—but as the contents of the book were rather shocking, he used a pen name.

Yeonam decides that this story of the courageous Park Dal-hyang is worth being preserved and sets out copying the book.

Now we begin our story proper in 1636, the fourteenth year of Injo’s reign. Park Dal-hyang (Jung Yong-hwa) is currently a 22-year-old, and he shows off some swordfighting moves on a clifftop before shouting into the wind, “Everyone, goodbye! I’m leaving for Hanyang now!”

Dal-hyang is leaving his remote hometown for the big city, where he’ll be taking the military service examination in hopes of gaining office as a soldier. His father gives him a letter to take to the minister of taxation straightaway, as Dal-hyang will find his path smoothed by their “deep connection”: After all, Dad is the minister’s cousin’s brother-in-law’s uncle’s nephew, and the minister is sure to embrace Dal-hyang immediately and fervently. Yep.

Thankfully, his more practical mother adds money to aid in Dal-hyang’s travels. Full of youthful exuberance, he tells his mother that she can expect news of his passing the exam with flying colors, and off he goes on his ancient horse. (Mom: “It was born the same year as Dal-hyang! It’s lucky that it’s even lived this long!”)

Of course, a mere three days into the journey, Dal-hyang’s horse keels over. He loses time waiting for the horse to recover, and then more time due to blocked roads, and yet more time taking a detour to avoid hungry tigers, until he’s in danger of missing his exam.

Dal-hyang finally arrives in the capital with one night to spare—and is promptly turned away from the minister of taxation’s door by a smirky servant. The minister’s out of town and there’s no more room in the house, because the place is stuffed to the gills with young men who’ve arrived to take the exam.

Weary and at a loss, Dal-hyang scours the crowded city for lodgings and finds himself targeted by pickpockets. He only manages to recover a handful of coins, most of which go toward securing a room at an inn that charges an exorbitant fee. Nearly penniless, starving, and feeling ripped off, Dal-hyang finally realizes that all his father’s rosy-colored stories of the capital were fabrication, and that Dad had never even been here.

Then, in the middle of the night, he is awakened by a cadre of roughnecks who come looking for one of his roommates. The men swiftly beat him half to death, then flee just as quickly, before anybody has a chance to react. Dal-hyang is completely taken by shock, while the other lodger guesses that this was a case of sabotage—it’s common for rich noblemen to pay to have certain promising contenders beaten into missing the exam, to cut down on competition.

That rankles Dal-hyang’s sense of justice, and he grabs his sword and runs into the night after the gang. He catches a glimpse of their retreating backs, but he’s about to lose them for good and thus makes a snap decision: He runs into the street into the path of a trio of riders, forcing them to stop.

(Yesssss. We recognize these riders, but Dal-hyang has no idea who he’s just run into, which makes it extra fun for us as he barks orders.) He asks to borrow a horse, and when one sidekick refuses, Dal-hyang just hops into the saddle behind him (to the amusement of the other two) and says, “They’re the bastards who are beating up scholars so they can’t take the civil service examination. Don’t you think they should be caught?”

At that, the three men’s faces turn serious. Dal-hyang rants that it’s unfair that poor talented men are dying just so other people can pass the exam ahead of them, and that they must stop the gang before they do more damage. He tells the men they can stay back if they’re scared, but the leader is no coward; deciding to intervene, he’s the first to ride off after the attackers.

The hired henchmen are just about to target their next victim when they find their path blocked by the men on horseback. The leader (oh fine, let’s name ’em. Surely it’s not spoiling the reveal to tell you that this is the CROWN PRINCE SOHYEON, is it? The instant we saw Lee Jin-wook we all knew, right?) orders them to ‘fess up about who they’re working for. The men scatter when his right-hand man, HEO SEUNG-PO (Yang Dong-geun) identifies them as officers of the high court.

Our guys split up, with Dal-hyang still riding with the younger sidekick, AHN MIN-SEO (Jung Hae-in). He leaps off the charging horse, climbs onto a second story, and engages in hand-to-hand combat with the roughnecks. It becomes evident pretty quickly that our good guys are the superior fighters, with Dal-hyang easily holding his own and the tough-looking Seung-po demonstrating some nifty tricks with a bamboo staff.

Prince Sohyeon ain’t so shabby either, skillfully wielding a whip like a boss, while baby-faced Min-seo manages some acrobatic maneuvers off his horse.

In no time, all the ruffians are knocked unconscious and police officers are called to collect them. It’s so efficient that Dal-hyang wonders how the whole incident was managed so quickly, asking if they’re police officers. Seung-po says vaguely that they’re “something like that,” just laughing when Dal-hyang asks for clarification.

Prince Sohyeon wishes Dal-hyang well on the exam, saying that with his skills, he’s bound to pass—perhaps even in first place. Then the three riders try to head off with their aura of mystery intact, although Dal-hyang stops them to ask for introductions, offering his name and asking theirs.

The trio exchange amused looks, and Sohyeon answers, “Three Musketeers.” Off they go, leaving Dal-hyang puzzled. And then, as the trio ride off, Min-seo asks why they’re the Three Musketeers and the prince just replies, “I dunno. In making something up suddenly, the words just came out. How am I to know what they mean?” LOL.

The narrator tells us that this was their first meeting, “which felt both like coincidence and the inevitable.”

The trio arrive at a boisterous gibang, which Sohyeon and Seung-po enter first… and is that seriously a fusion gugak version of Crayon Pop’s “Bar Bar Bar” playing in the background? That’s hilarious. Youngest musketeer Min-seo discovers a letter stuck under his saddle and realizes Dal-hyang must have dropped it. What he reads makes his eyes widen.

Sohyeon is here to take a meeting in secret and is briefed on the military situation in China. It’s utter chaos in the Ming dynasty, which has had numerous territories stolen from its control. (Historical note: We’re in the year of the second Manchu invasion of Joseon, during the time of transition from Ming to Qing in China, though Ming wouldn’t fall for nearly another decade.) The military is in chaos, with commanders running to save their own lives, leaving defenses completely abandoned.

I enjoy that the baby-faced Min-seo is the serious musketeer, while the gruff-looking Seung-po is the one always in search of amusement, women, and gambling. Min-seo shows Seung-po the letter he found and while we’re left to wonder what exactly is so problematic about its contents, it has the two bodyguards deciding to seek him out straightaway.

Dal-hyang makes it back to his rented room, where he cleans up and wonders at the meaning of Three Musketeers. It’s only now that he realizes his letter is missing—and ah, it’s not his father’s letter to his relative that he’s concerned about, but another letter.

Just then, an arrow flies into the wooden post next to his head. Tied to the shaft is a piece of paper.

Seung-po shows the letter to the prince and asks, “Isn’t this a type of treasonous plot?” Sohyeon reads, and a young woman’s voice narrates its contents:

“You know my feelings are the same as yours, don’t you? Swear it. I won’t ever marry any other man, and if you don’t come, I’ll probably either die an old maid or shave my head and become a monk. I will await the day we meet again after you’ve passed the civil service exam. If you come to Hanyang and ask for the home of my father, Kang Seok-ki, you will be shown the way. Yoon-seo.”

Seung-po insists that he’s being serious about this grave matter, though the prince sees that he’s smirking and having fun at his expense. Seung-po says they must investigate Dal-hyang, whom he’s already summoned.

As if on cue, Dal-hyang bursts into the room. Okay, Seung-po totally IS enjoying this, and advises the prince to do a thorough investigation before stepping out. Dal-hyang is affronted to see his personal letter has been read, but there’s something stern in Sohyeon’s voice that prevents him from getting more aggressive, and he dutifully takes a seat at the table.

Outside, the more serious Min-seo reprimands Seung-po for blowing this incident up bigger than it needs to be. Seung-po just says that it’s entertaining, chuckling that he wants to see Sohyeon wracked with some jealousy. Hm, over that woman?

Sohyeon informs a baffled Dal-hyang that this letter could be seen as treasonous, identifying the writer as the daughter of the minister of rites. He asks if Dal-hyang has met with Yoon-seo since the letter was written, insinuating that he could have Dal-hyang investigated by the high court if he doesn’t comply with the questioning now.

So Dal-hyang admits that no, he hasn’t seen her since she left his hometown, where she had briefly stayed five years ago. The letter was given to him upon her departure. He had thought to find her after he’d taken tomorrow’s exam, once he had secured himself a position and could ask for her hand in marriage. Dal-hyang has no idea why he has to answer these questions or what they have to do with treason—until Prince Sohyeon asks, “Do you mean to say you did not know that the daughter of Lord Kang Seok-ki was already married?”

No, he most certainly did not know. Dal-hyang is floored, and Sohyeon further clarifies that she has become the crown princess. Thus the letter goes from simple love note to potentially dangerous evidence. In a brief flashback to their idyllic puppy love, Dal-hyang remembers how he’d promised he’d pass the exam in a few years and take her to see the palace.

Sohyeon is amazed that Dal-hyang could be so out of touch with this kind of news, but Dal-hyang, looking utterly devastated, says that his village is so remote that they don’t hear of these things. He asks himself dully, “Then why did I work so hard training?” Tears start to fall, and Sohyeon is taken aback at his emotional reaction. To his own surprise, he finds himself in the role of consoler and orders a round of drinks brought in, feeling rather sorry for Dal-hyang.

Later that night, the princess (Seo Hyun-jin) is surprised by an unexpected visit from Sohyeon. He sits right down and cuts to the chase, asking if she knows a man named Park Dal-hyang. Her stricken reaction is confirmation enough.

Sohyeon lays it out for her, saying that it’s quite unfortunate: The young man who has trained without fail for the past five years has finally come to Hanyang to pass the exam and marry his beloved, and is so good that he could probably take first place. And yet, because he did not know his sweetheart married someone else, now he is in such despair that he has given up on the exam and seems poised to ruin his life. The prince is saddened to be losing such a promising future general.

The princess (aka Yoon-seo) fumbles for excuses, trying to downplay how bad this looks. She says she met Dal-hyang very briefly and was impressed with his skills and merely gave him a few words of encouragement. It’s a flimsy lie and Sohyeon sees right through it, then holds up that damning letter. (I find Sohyeon’s reaction intriguing, since he seems not at all upset, and in fact rather amused by this all, and I want to know why. WHY.)

The princess stammers, “A-are you doubting me right now?” The prince smiles and says simply, “It’s just that I find Dal-hyang’s sincerity so moving, I wanted to pass it along.” He gets up to leave, pausing to wonder, “But where did the daring Yoon-seo of that letter go? Did you throw away your own nature when you entered the palace?”

The encounter leaves Yoon-seo shaken, and she thinks back to her time with Dal-hyang and the promise she broke.

From outside the city, Dal-hyang looks down at the palace with his broken heart and sighs that Yoon-seo lives there now, and that he’ll never have reason to see her face again. Then he thinks back to the challenge the prince had left him with the previous night: to prove his “innocence” (of treasonous thoughts) by passing the civil service exam.

Sohyeon had told him (with that deadpan sense of humor I love, which doesn’t quite register on the doleful Dal-hyang), “If you give up that exam and leave for the country, I will have no choice but to take that to mean that you still harbor feelings for the crown princess.” Prove his loyalty to the nation, Sohyeon challenges. And if Dal-hyang continues to make excuses, well, they’ll have to report this all to the crown prince himself, who is not known to be very tolerant.

The sidekicks play along and add that Yoon-seo herself might be put into danger, since the prince has such a violent and jealous temperament. (Sohyeon interjects, “I wouldn’t say he’s quite so violent…”) Seung-po chimes in, “Not only violent, but also a terrible persecutor of the people. Just thinking of the crown princess makes my heart ache, for meeting such an awful husband.” (Sohyeon glares.)

And so, Dal-hyang mulls over his dilemma: to quit, or to pass in first place to ensure Yoon-seo’s safety. He finds Sohyeon’s ultimatum rather odd, but decides to go for it anyway—the Three Musketeers were the only ones in Hanyang to take his side in anything, so he’ll trust them in this.

The narrator tells us, “At the outset, Dal-hyang had decided to pass the exam in order to marry Yoon-seo. But now, he has decided to pass the exam to preserve Yoon-seo’s happiness. And in first place, at that.”

The exam is administered, and Dal-hyang passes the initial two rounds and aces each portion, attracting growing admiration with each display of prowess, whether with bow and arrow or spear or musket. He is selected for service, and then advances to the final round to try to win top honors, which are bestowed by the king.

King Injo arrives to preside over this round and decides which test will be the determining factor. He picks the skill that gave the applicants the most difficulty—firing five arrows at five targets while riding on horseback. One by one, each man takes his turn at the course, and then it’s Dal-hyang’s turn.

This is when the crown prince makes his entrance, joining his father—and Dal-hyang finally realizes who Sohyeon is. It stuns him enough that he has to be prodded to begin his turn, and he gallops onto the course still half-distracted, staring at the prince the whole time.

Sohyeon gives him an encouraging smile, but Dal-hyang collects himself too late and fires off his shot at the last second—and it flies wildly and lands in another contender’s horse. Ack!

The horse throws its rider and charges around a frenzy, knocking into the course and heading straight for the king’s platform, sending officials scrambling in a panic. Dal-hyang, who had fallen off his own horse, finally gets up and registers the chaos unfolding with dismay.

Narrator: “The third day that Dal-hyang and the Three Musketeers met was a day whose clamorous disturbance was even recorded in the Annals of Injo. However, compared to the events that would unfold every time they were to meet in the future, this was a minor beginning.”

From across the way, Sohyeon bursts into laughter while Dal-hyang bristles with indignation.

 
COMMENTS

Rollicking fun! That’s what I wanted from this show, but was nervous about expecting too much from it sight unseen. So I’m greatly relieved to have it be exactly what I expected, since what I wanted was a pretty tall order: an action-packed, humorous, energetic, well-acted, beautifully shot story that was as much a solid fusion sageuk as it was a legitimate adaptation of the Dumas novel, since it’s too good as source material to do poorly. (And the drama does appear to be taking the adaptation to heart, with the official character descriptions accompanied by a reminder of which Dumas character it serves as analogue to; for instance, Crown Prince Sohyeon is the Athos character, Seung-po is Porthos, and Min-seo is Aramis.)

This kind of fusion historical is right up my alley: It is based around true facts and is set around tentpole events in history, but has a lot of fun playing with the interpretation. I enjoy when fiction is allowed room to take creative liberties within the outlines of history, but stops short of contradicting real history outright, which I have much harder time accepting (like, say, Empress Ki). Crown Prince Sohyeon’s story is one of those that pops up in lots of dramas and has spurred lots of speculation, so it’s fun to see how they blend it into the Three Musketeers narrative. I already love Lee Jin-wook and his wry sense of humor so much that it pains me to think of how the prince ultimately meets his end. But we won’t think of that here! The drama is a safe space! La la la, I can’t hear youuuu.

I had worried for Jung Yong-hwa, because, well, I’d watched all his dramas. I did like him much better in Mi-rae’s Choice than in his previous roles, where I found him duller than dishwater, but I still wanted more life from him—his Mi-rae role was nice, but still bland for all that. So I find it such a relief that he’s holding his own as the D’Artagnan role, bringing forth the character’s naivety and exuberance in an endearing way. I still see holes in his performance here and there, but as a whole he’s done a much more effective job of channeling energy, and I found his moment of heartbreak downright moving.

Yang Dong-geun is as good as I’d expected him to be, with that streak of devilishness that likes to shit-stir for the entertainment factor. I foresee that being a lot of fun, particularly as he likes to take jabs at the prince—I’ll enjoy that. The maknae musketeer is still a bit of a question mark since he’s completely new to me and hasn’t done much yet, but overall the four-way bromance is off to a dynamic start, and I want more of it already.

It’s a little startling to realize that we don’t even have our main plot driver in motion yet, since Episode 1 was so much about setup, but since it was such a competent introduction into this world, I don’t worry for the plot. (Don’t make me eat those words!) And given a choice between grabbing us with plot and grabbing us with characters, I’m much happier this way, because once you’ve got me tapped into these people’s feelings, I’m plugged into the show on an emotional level. And I’ll pretty much follow my heart anywhere.

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I don't know where to watch this subbed. :(

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Not sure if I'm supposed to put links here but I watched at kdrama.com

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Kdrama, for the US at least.

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Thank you <3.

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dramacool has it too ..

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dramabay and gooddrama.net...
am sure it will be there .....

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Yeah, as soon as they rip it off from Kdrama.

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Dramafire.com is the answer :)
really fast.
Try it. you can watch and download from it.

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How do you download from it?

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Dramafire.com is the answer.
You must try it.
Very fast.

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K drama also posted the episode on YouTube (hope it's okay to post it here):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVQkRePuxcs

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It's been removed from YouTube already.

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Thank you so much everyone!

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On Viki.com

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Viki couldn't get the license for it because I think Crunchy Roll got exclusive distrib rights to it :/ I'm loving Dramafire just because everything's in one file and you can watch it on your phone/ tablet

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Though that might be only for the US... Viki might have it licensed for other regions and I'm sure if you're a QC on the site you can get it anywhere

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I read the original novel and I don't remember a first love plot at all? is this just kdramaland inserting their own cliches again?

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I think the queen is based off Constance Bonacieux, the drama seems to be tweeking the live stories a bit

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Love*

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You must be referring to the Crown Princess. Crown Prince Sohyeon's mother passed away.
They are definitely not going with history here when it comes to the Crown Princess. She had no former lover and she was a great supporter to her husband.

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Sorry yes that's who I meant

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Yes, this. Not a first love, but he does fall for an "unavailable" woman.

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Don't you wonder at all who might play the equivalent of Cardinal Richelieu in this Korean version?

In the original novel, the complex relationship between the Queen of France and the Cardinal, and the gambits they deploy against each other, is what drives the plot and provides suspense (and gives the Musketeers something useful to do, other than training in swordsmanship all day and drinking all night).

In this Korean version of three seasons, at the end of which the Crown Prince is expected to die, I suspect that the chess board is still being set.

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Kim Ja-Jeom played by the veteran actor Park Young-Gyu is definitely going to be Cardinal Richelieu's equivalent. We will probably get to see him in the next eps.

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Surprisingly I love the show. I like a drama notonly because the actors/actresses.
I know Lee Jinwook ability and how he's so into the character he portrayed. But we need a whole packaging, the director, the scriptwriter, the actors, the ost, sound effects, wardrobes and still a lot of stuff.

But this Joseon's musketeers, a good show for me, at least its pilot told me. I think its worth to be waited every week :)

Thanks JB for the recap, as always..

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I really enjoyed the first episode, can't wait for next week! I love Lee Jin-wook and The Three Musketeers so I'm here for this.

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Oh good, I wasn't imagining the Bar Bar Bar playing at the gibang. I laughed, but was totally doubting myself until this recap.

Yes, Yong Hwa's acting has gotten better. Lee Jin Wook is amusing to watch here.

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i don't how bad Yong hwa acting before but from the first episode he still average to me, not special but i like the first episode. Crown prince charracter sometimes reminds me of king Wang yo of Empress ki in the early episode, esp his interaction with the other musketeers

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Me too. I couldn't help but laugh at his expression when he found out she was married. But He's already growing on me so all is well.

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I am also quite surprised with his acting. Though he certainly doesn't have the skills and the natural performance that veteran actors have, he definitely has that astounding youthful energy that I just love. He's already growing on me and it's just the first episode! Haha I'm expecting great things in the future :)

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I'm liking this show so far. It has a quirky tone to it... Didn't expect the moments of humor.

I really like brotherly bonds and friendship themes. And the underdog rising to the top. Park Dal Hyang is a likeable guy. ^^ His sense of justice was nice to see.

I read briefly about this drama weeks ago. But it all went out the window as I jumped into this drama. I had forgotten that Jin Wook's character was the Crown Prince so it was funny to realize this fact as the story went on.

The Princess looks a bit young for the Crown Prince.

Jin Wook does deadpan so well! Reminds me of his acting in Nine. Lol <3

Too bad that Dal Hyang messed up his final test. I wanted to see him at least stop the horse and save the day or something.

Looking forward to the next episode. Thanks for the recap! I really needed help during the historical events. ^^"

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"The Princess looks a bit young for the Crown Prince."

That still happens a lot even nowadays, even if we don't use the terms "Princess" and "Crown Prince."

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LOOOL

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The Crown Prince is awesome. He's gonna make the show. I was impressed with the interplay of time, narration, and action that set the background and pace of the story. it is also visually so beautiful. I love the way the Three Musketeers jive and have fun. I'm psyched!

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It has a feel of Return of Illijimae,,, in terms of good and witty narration and beautiful visual.

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Yay, thanks for the recap! I've never been able to get through more than a few episodes of any sageuk, even fusion, but since it was TvN I thought I'd try it out. Fun! Love the really old horse and the snarkiness of the two older musketeers.

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I was totally expecting the mom to make some remark on how she hopes her son will succeed out there in the big city- and then she rags on dad about the horse. Love it!

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The first 15-20 minutes were not very exciting, I nearly stopped watching (also the narrator annoyed me) but when they all met up at last, things picked from there.

I forgot that LJW's character was the Crown Prince so it was a nice surprise when it got revealed during his talk with the Crown Princess. The was he was messing with his wife was one of my favorite scenes. Though my favorite character so far is Yang Dong-geun's Seung-po. The way he delivered his lines was epic.

Overall a great first episode. Just sad that it's just once a week. Thank you for the recap!

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tvN has interesting dramas; only problem is their schedule of 1 ep per week: Love (angel) in high school and this!

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Sigh, it's so hard to please people. They criticize how K-drama should stop live shooting and then turn around and say 1 episode a week is just not enough.

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I don't see what those two things have to do with each other. If they stop live shooting dramas and have everything pre-produced before airing, it would be just as easy to air two episodes per week as one, because everything would be finished already.

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Those two things have everything to do with each other. Most drama production money comes from ads and ppls. If dramas are pre-made, ppls cannot be written into scenes, ad slots cannot be sold for the highest possible price, etc.

There is a reason why most production cos and actors stay away from committing to pre-made dramas when there will be no possibility to tweak it to achieve the highest rating they can as the drama is shown. The few pre-made dramas have all flopped which has even less encouraging effect.

So even if dramas start shooting a few weeks ahead of the first broadcast, eventually having to air two episodes per week catches up and they have to end up live shooting. If only 1 episode airs, that will considerably lighten up their production schedule.

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Modern dramas benefits from PPLs and ADs. Sageuk depends on ADs only :(.

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Unless it's time travel where modern things (phones, high heels that break, designer bags, police shields, canned beverages, etc.) can go back in time :)

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@Kiara

I am talking about K-dramas in general of course. But sageuks too depend on PPLs, the most prominent things being the hanbok costumes characters wear. Just one item, for example the heroine's jeogori, might cost several $10K. Without hanbok PPLs, they wouldn't be able to make these sageuk pieces.

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Thank you, I thought of hanboks etc but I guess the PPLs in sageuks are not as obvious to me as it is to those in Korea.

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PPLs are easily contracted way in advance. There will always be a chance for actors to drink/eat something or go somewhere that does not need to be written in stone prior to contracting the ppl. American TV has just as much PPL with their advance shooting schedule.

I don't think I really have to go on about tweaking mid-season. There are plenty of examples where this made it worse, not better. Audience opinion is not always right.

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I am not saying mid-season tweaks always make dramas better. But it's true that the more popular a show is, the more PPL offers it gets. If everything is shot and edited already, ready to be aired one by one, come the first broadcast day, there is no room to grab these mid-season offers.

Also, these are Korean PPLs directed toward the Korean audience/consumers, not American ones. I always feel that trends come and go more quickly in Korea and Korean consumers are more fickle and harder to please. So things that were hot even 1 or 2 months ago would not be as popular a short time later.

When I got my latest cell phone, one month later, I got numerous calls from phone guys asking me to trade in my "old phone" for a new model. When I told them I didn't consider my 1-month-old phone "old" and had no intention of trading it in, they were aghast, "What? You'd stick with that ancient junk on an LTE network when you can enjoy this shiny new model on LTE-A?" I just hung up on them.

My point is what works for America does not always work for Korea and vice versa.

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I always find myself of two minds about this. On the one hand, sometimes it feels "stressful" finding the time to watch two episodes in a week, especially if you want to keep up with the discussions. On the other hand, when there's a one-episode drama, I'm all "What! Only one episode a week! I can't wait a *whole week* for the next installment!"

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Totally with you on the dithering!

Sure, High School King is over and (thankfully) so is Trot Lovers, but there's so much good stuff to watch and discuss (not to mention shows not (yet) recapped here, like Surplus Princess and Secret Hotel) - and there's only so many hours in the day.

Still, I guess being spoilt for choice with dramas isn't a bad thing. I'll take the sleep deprivation as a blessing!

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That is certainly true. Better too much than too little!

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Thank you so much JB :).
First sageuk this year that got me hooked on the first episode. This is going to be fun, clever with loveable characters as expected.

I want moooore!!!

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Not into saeguk and came in to watch it coz I'm a fan of JYH but Oh man!!Bias aside!!I never thought I'd enjoy the show..TVN is on a roll and that leads me to wishing that plan end year award will push through..can see Three Musketeers bringing home awards already..Not reely keen on the romance but I'm enjoying the bromance and looking forward to more..I love each character of the 4 leads and I hope that this drama hits daebak as the first episode is sooo good..Fighting Three Musketeers!!

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Great recap and thank you so much for putting the drama into the historical perspective with regard to Chinese dynasties, invasions, etc.

I was very pleased with the tone of the first episode and relieved to see the comedic touches. I think the cast was chosen wisely and will be reminiscent of Dumas' musketeers. The last few minutes with the frenzied horse was just a perfect ending and must set the stage for future hijinks.

Hoping you will continue with recaps; so many times I get a much better understanding and fuller appreciation of the show(s) after reading the recaps.

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I quite enjoyed this first episode.

You can smell the bromances all over this show. Lee Jin Wook is absolutely wonderful and cheeky. Jung Yong Hwa continues to improve upon projects since Mi-Rae's choice. I think he just does better playing earnest, dogged types than cold characters, which is why he'll be putting in a decent performance here -- enough to make me care.

The three musketeers have a great rapport and lee jin wook's crown prince is damn charismatic. I like all the guys here, they could drop any kind of love storyline and their bromance can very well carry the whole show. Maknae musketeer is already flirting with our d'artagnan. Even in real life jung yong hwa seems to be getting along with him the most.

I like the director's slick style and the deft story-telling (exactly what i expect from team of Nine/QIHM).

Sundays will be fun from now on.

My ovaries are exploding all week long with leading MANLY men lee jin wook on sundays, eric mun (yesyesyes!) & jin yi han on mondays&tuesdays, jang hyuk&jo in sung on wednesdays&thursdays.
Pretty boys not allowed. For now.

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@ilikemangoes, i'm definitely with you regarding the exploding ovaries. Esp from Jang Hyuk and Lee Jin Wook hotness. RAWR

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I'm surprised at how fun it was! I love the dry humor between the three musketeers and how oblivious PDH was about everything.
I hope TTM gets good rating, so it can go on untul 3rd season like it originally planned.

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Accdg to twitterland it is the most highest rated 1st episode among tvn dramas so that's a good start I think..plus the re-run did a good rating too..

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2.8% is pretty darn good for a cable drama.

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OMG! Saegeuk! and a good one at that! Count me in. The episode is all about the three musketeers trolling dal hyang. Ha. Ha.

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Enjoyed the first episode.Loved the Three Musketeers characters especially Lee Jin Wook, the hottie Crown Prince.

Jung Yong Hwa has improved immensely or maybe it is just the way his naive and vulnerable character is written? He still doesn't look that comfortable with the swordplay, martial arts, or the archery even though he is suppose to be the best.

Having taken archery, I noticed his form is off. You really never see him hit any of the targets. Only arrows already in the bullseye. Anyway, doing archery from a horse is really horribly difficult, so I admire the ancient soldiers who could perform this difficult task. The scene was hilarious when he shot the poor horse by mistake and the pandemonium it caused, but I really felt bad for the poor animal!

Didn't know it's only once a week... Can't wait to see what coming up next.

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Just caught the first episode and came over to see if DB was recapping it.
I did not expect Yonghwa to have such a major role to play and he had more screen time than Jin Wook too, didn't he? But that man, Jin Wook, gosh I need to squee! The prince is a hoot and I can't wait for all the amazing one-liners to come.
I get the 'this-is-going-to-be-epic' vibe from the show. Hope it stays that way.

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Wait, this is ALSO only once a week??? Oh come on!!
I would not have started this if I knew it airs only one episode a week (damn my LJW love, blinding me!)
That's 3 shows (High school love on and Surplus princess being the other two) that I have to put on hold because of the airing schedule :(
Once a week is just too slow for me. Andweeee!!!

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Oh, the poor horse! I was really expecting Dal-hyang to redeem himself by performing some kind of horse whispering or something.

And yes to the hottie Crown Prince! Smokin'!

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Finally, some good animal acting!

Those horses are mostly trained to do that. And that one was hilarious. Since they've built some wild-wild-west undertones into the show, I hope that animal can become his requisite horsey sidekick. :-)

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am i the only one who likes the newbie young actor?
don't know his name, but he is the serious one <3

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His name is Jung Hae-in and he portrayed the brother of Lee Hong-ki in "Bride of the Century"; his hair was blonde in that series.

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Ah, yes! He looked awfully familiar. Thanks for placing him for me!

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He looks like he could be Kim Soo Hyun's brother. They have similar facial features.

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Thanks, Javabeans for the recap.

As it is, the first episode of TTM was really hysterical, rollicking fun, which took me by surprise (although, I don't know why I should be, since it's tvN -known for its high quality dramas) as I had no expectations whatsoever.

I was a little afraid that Yong-hwa's acting would be as stiff as in previous dramas I've watched him in (didn't watch Mirae's Choice because of him) but I'm glad to see that he has greatly improved and is holding his own.
Lee Jin wook is a riot especially his deadpan humor and Yang Dong guen's hysterical. I'm looking forward to more of the same in future episodes. Definitely a thumbs up from me.

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So far the show is keeping some recognizable parts of the original Dumas story, and definitely keeping the character personalities the same as the Dumas, but blending it with facts from Korean history, plus adding, subtracting, and blending stuff from the original to make a unique story. For example, they changed the way they all meet, but both had a big fight scene. There was no first love story line in Dumas, but d'Artagnan was in love with someone's wife. From the previews it looks like they're going to keep something of the Athos/Milady relationship for Sohyeon (but I wonder if they'll keep the d'Artagnan/Milady relationship) So it seems to me that they're not hewing close to the original story, but are truly doing an interpretation of it. Basically the big question for me is, will Dal-hyang be as slutty as d'Artagnan? Only time will tell!

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This drama wasn't in my "to watch" list. But I love the book and the words "Great summer fun!" and "hooked already" coming from javabeans are an invitation to watch the drama. And Im glad I did! (I was watching Discovery of Love, and i paused it and watched this one). This is like the book, adventure and humor and of course Im expecting a lot of bromance.

And yes! the fist thing I did when the Three Musketeers appeared was to identify who was who (who was Athos, Porthos an Aramis) I got it right :D

But nooo! Why the prince has to die? Ok, because history is like that. Sigh, well Im going to enjoy the ride until that sad moment.
This is year I´ve been having so much fun with the dramas i have watched, so I hope this one can join the club.

Thank you for the recap!

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I can't wait for more!! I haven't watched such a fun drama in a while.

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Seems everyone is very much loving it so far... but I wasn't compelled by it just yet.

The whole opening scene I just wanted to cut. It was boring and too long.

I couldn't figure out Park Dal Yang – is he a bumbling fool? or a gutsy hothead? Yong-hwa's acting felt pretty flat to me, the only part where I really felt his character was when he was utterly devastated about the news of his love being married. That was indeed touching.

Other than that, some scenes felt contrived. Like how Dal Yang met the musketeers. Or Min-seo finding the letter (why would Dal Yang stick it under saddle? Accidentally dropping it in fight would have made more sense.) The conspiracy part was confusing at first, but they did explain that nicely eventually.

Hated the paneling technique they were using. I guess they were going for 'modern with the sageuk' but thought it was clumsy. (But my quality measurement for fusion sageuk there is Lee Myung-se's Duelist.)

I'm not saying it's bad btw, just that I wasn't quite swept off my feet.

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Regarding the contrived "why would Dal Yang stick it under saddle?". If you were paying attention they showed if slipping under the saddle when he climbed aboard the horse. Let us know if you need more help.

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Yeah, but why did he slip it there?

I was confused because it seemed so precious... wouldn't he hold onto it rather than keep it on himself (in a bag hidden on his body)?

I did watch it late at night, so I might have missed something. :-)

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*rather than put it somewhere instead keep it in a bag hidden on his body

{sorry been taking underground / trains / planes / buses / trains / trams all day so I'm out of it ;-) }

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I think, from the flashback, that it happened by accident. It fell out from where he was keeping it on his person, and as he got astride the horse he ending up shoving it under the saddle as he settled in.

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Holy sarcasm, Batman!

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Unnecessary tone

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it is interestingly and smartly written and has a sense of humor above the petty hijinks so I am in. usually the jokes and tropes are so simple but not here. it is clever.

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hmmmm....hmmmm...i'll reserve my desire to comment since its just the first episode i love 3 musketeers since i was young watching it and reading it was so fun...but since i think they will probably insert a lot of things and their own unique kind of 3 musketeers will come out i just have to watch out for the days to come but i do love the Crown Prince LJW enough for me to watch some snippets.....he he he he.....

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i watched this drama because JYH at first, didn't expect anything because i don't really like saeguk drama.
and yes! even in 15 minutes first it made me laugh *dal hyang's mom smirk when his husband lied to dal hyang about hanyang* and the rest it really impressed me with the character, the plot, the humour, uggh to bad it's only 1 episode per week.

btw LJW is awesome! cannot resist his charisma, hotness overload >.< and i like the other musketeers too. and I think JYH suit this character the most rather than his previous cast, so i hope he can be better in the next episode *although he did well in ep 1*

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I love the Three Musketeers the novel and judging from the re-cap I'll love the drama as well.

I wonder if they'll follow the history or novel more closely because in the novel, and apparently two sequels of which I only knew of The Man in the Iron Mask, all four musketeers live.

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The royal family existed in history so I think they will stick with some of the major historical events like the Manuchu invasion, the Crown Prince/Princess in Qing as hostages etc. The characters seems to be loosely based on the novel.

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how i can download korean series ?

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I have been waiting for this drama ever since the JYH teaser was aired - swishing swords and hair and all. I have no idea why I was so taken in by Yong Hwa, because I had seen his earlier dramas and even though I liked him alright, I hadn't really thought of him as an actor whose drama I would eagerly wait for. (I did think he improved a lot in MHIYD)
This teaser though made me watch a lot of running man episodes which featured him and I came to the conclusion that action & humour is his forte ( besides being a mindblowing singer) and was glad TTM had both. Ok, ending what sounds appallingly like a fangirl rant - I was very impressed by him in TTM.

Park DalHyang is so naively innocent that such a character is believable only in that era. Yet he is smart enough to learn new things, is skilled and brave - with a strong sense of justice. My favourite moment was when his heart was broken- such an honest scene. Even the crown prince was moved by the tears.
Crown Prince Sohyeon (firstly I felt bad that he never got to be king sigh!) was a very intriguing character - there was no jealousy in his actions. Just amusement. He seemed to be worldly wise and aware yet unable to overlook the simple honesty and bravery that PDH displayed. Loved his wicked sense of humour .

The other two musketeers seem unafraid of the crown prince which comes as a welcome relief. The crown princess was unique too like the crown prince, I thought she seemed like two different people - one who wrote the daring letter and the other, the timid princess .

Enjoyed this ride that mixed all the elements so well, never a dull moment . Looking forward to this drama!

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Daebak! Was a bit skeptical Korean version of '3 musketeers' but the turn out is absolutely entertaining. Geee... to wait for Sunday comes or air Monday is sure keeping up the suspense and thrill..still, glad to see JYH in the screen and looking hottie...but so are those 3 musketeers!! With bromance, witty humor, cheekiness, epic brawl, action and more, bet this drama will be a hit. Keep coming in!

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Thank god I found a new addiction now that Marriage Not Dating is ending!

SO MUCH FUN. Love the characters! Can already tell that this is going to be an epic foursome. And we get three seasons of them!

Seriously though. Can the writer and director just get married and make awesome dramas for the rest of their life. And then have kids that carry on their legacy.

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Yippee! It's showing and I'm watching it all here!

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First episode was great, I'm in can hardly sit still while waiting for more.

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I loved the first ep. I have been so scared for this show. Cos I love the PD and Lee Jin Wook so much and I'm so happy that my fears were unfounded.
Now, is it Sunday yet? Lol

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The "Nine" team has given us a "10" show (sorry, couldn't resist)! This really is the perfect summer-fun, swashbuckling tour de force I wanted. Even if the details deviate somewhat from the Dumas book, the feel and swagger remain. And watching the showrunners blend the dashing elements of the French musketeers with the uniqueness of Korean history is very interesting.

I've always been a fan of JYH's music, and have liked him as an actor some of the time. I think this will be his best work yet. The writers have channeled his love for action and cheeky nature into the character. And the occasional glimpses of vulnerability we saw here were, I think, very well done.

As an aside, props to the make up artists and special-effects people for their work on Future Old Park Dal-Young. That was JYH too, right? Very impressive.

Thanks for the recap! Looking forward to getting back into actually watching a K drama and discussing it with everyone while it's airing :).

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javabeans ~

Thanks for the recap. Not bad so far. Interesting mix of actors. Had a good pace, hope that keeps up. Saeguks often suffer from plodding story lines, I doubt if that will be the case here.

My wife squeed when Seo Hyun-Jin appeared, she enjoyed her in King's Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang .

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Thanks for the recap JB!

First saeguk without Lee JunKi that i am watching!

1st episode was fun! Wonder what's the story between Crown Prince n Princess - arranged marriage?

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Totally miss Lee Jun-ki :(. No one is as believable as Junki when it comes to handling a sword or a gun.

People rarely marry for love in this era. I was mostly for political reasons.

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Thoroughly enjoyed this first installment! Just the right level of everything served up with Bar Bar Bar in the gibang. That had me rolling but it just worked >.< Lee Jinwook, I can look at him forever. Here's hoping for more awesome to come. Thanks for the recap!

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So beautifully shot and rollicking fun indeed! I've liked JYH in his other dramas (I thought Heartstrings had a lousy plot), and thought he did a fine job in Mirae's choice--this is the first that gave him much scope with humor, and it may turn out to be his forte. This reminds me of the Michael York version of 3 Musketeers so far, and JYH kills it with the same initial naïveté and earnestness of d'Artagnan. Men in gats--hooray!

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i don't think so...

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I started watching with some reservations. The trailers didn't give away much, and for some reason, their clothes looked too costume-y at first.

It took me a while to warm up to it (and I admit I'm still puzzled as to how Dal-hyang got gun training in a remote village), but after I heard "Bar Bar Bar" playing in that gibang, heck, I decided to abandon caution and enjoy the romp!

Thanks for the recap, and for filling in the historical gaps! Look forward to more pretty screencaps heading our way!

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Bingo about the gun training. I was trying to remember what era Josean Gunman was based on to see if it is the same as this drama's era.

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This drama is set during mid-Joseon era. "Joseon Gunman" is the very end of Joseon.

The Enlightenment movement in Joseon Gunman were not the first to push for a modernize Korea. Crown Prince Sohyeon made many attempts and end up paying for it with his life.

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Thank u. Guess the Enlightenment had been flickering for a while during the Josean period.

Learning lots of things thru the various dramas!

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Thanks +1 :)

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Stupid question but... Why is it called three musketeers when there is four of them? I haven't read the book

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It's not a stupid question! This is one of my favorite books and I've always wondered the same thing.

I think it's because Athos, Porthos, and Aramis were really a unique unit with a whole collective past before they met d'Artagnan and he was sucked into their world and court intrigues. They eventually worked together, but it was really their identity and brio as "The Three Musketeers" that, in part, attracted him to the musketeer and the lifestyle. And although he didn't remain the naive young idealist he started out as, he was always somewhat an entity apart from the original three. That's my interpretation, anyway, for what it's worth.

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yay thanks! I spent the whole episode counting them and being like... who's gonna die so that there's only three? Glad that there'll be four of them after all even if that's hella misleading

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Lol..Whose gonna die to make them three...please No...I think the four of them each has his own to portray and I can sense a perfect bromance with the four already so even if they said Crow Prince Seohyun died a mysterious death..please no!!I want them together at the end...and I'm not rooting for the romance anymore coz the 4 male leads are intriguing enough.keke

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D'Artagnan (the young one that the book sort of follows) isn't a musketeer until the very end of the book. So only three are musketeers. But there is a series of books and they're overall called the "D'Artagnan Romances". So they are all D'Artagnan books and the first one is him meeting and adventuring with the Three Musketeers.

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Athos, Porthos and Aramis are the Three Musketeers. They are who d'Artagnan wants to be. The book is all about d'Artagnan trying to become part of the group (or their crew).

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so kind of like mean girls but without the revenge? haha
Now I can just see Athos being like "YOU CAN'T FIGHT WITH US"

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Ha! What's funny is that Mean Girls kept popping into my head when I started talking about this! X-D

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Having watched "Cruel Palace War of Flowers" (love!) which also includes the Crown Prince and Princess as main characters, I am dreading their fate.

However I love Dumas and I have a sageuk to watch!

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I loved Cruel Palace, one of my favorite sageuk. CP Hands down has the best first episode of any sageuks I've seen. The Crown Princess was my favorite character and Song Sun Mi played her so well.

I'm enjoying this writer's take on it. It's light and fun which is what I'm in the mood for.

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Am totally loving this show. Thanks for recapping it.

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Just a side note, though is a small part but I realize they use someone who can speak proper mandarin during that era, because usually even in movies, they cast korean to read the script with broken pronounciation and it always sound really funny. LOL

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But it's this kind of attention to detail that make the audience feels reassured that they're not being treated stupidly and that the production crew respect their audience :)

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I really enjoyed the first episode! I thought it would be boring n melo dramatic but it was actually light hearted n funny. I like how the younger guy is so naive while the three musketeers are trolls lol

I am looking forward to the next episode!

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Okay, I will suffer the one-episode-a-week for Lee Jin-wook. I don't think I want to wait until the whole show is done to watch!

I'm usually not into sageuks (I've only watched a few and thoroughly enjoyed them), but I'll catch one every now and then. I really liked the first episode, especially the underlying humor of the situation. We knew Lee Jin-wook plays the prince, so to see him humor Dal-hyang along made me laugh.

This show's got potential epicness, and I'm excited to see what comes of our characters (not Sohyeon, though, since we know he dies! AAAHHH!).

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Oh dearrrr
So ill have to watch lee jin wook die again?! As if the ending in nine wasn't heart wrenching enough. Arghhh :'(
But yayy this drama looks promising. Really looking forward to the next episode! Bring on the awesomeness, the three musketeers team!!

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I recently realised that Yang Dong Geun, the guy who's been grabbing my attention in all the promos vids and photos, is the rapper YDG who's on season 3 of Show Me The Money. He is absolutely hilarious on SMTM3 and super charismatic in a very laidback way; I'm looking forward to seeing what he's like as an actor

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Oh, that's cool. I didn't know he was a rapper. Thanks for the info. ^^

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Good to know that it was an inspired from Alexander Dumas. If it has followed thru originally then it would be predictable where expectations and comparisons will be intense and watching the continuance drama will be unbearable.
Hoping for a great 3 seasons adventure.
btw no mdm Bonacieux?

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I think the Crown Princess is going to be their version of Constance Bonacieux, but with the added complication of not only being married, but married to their version of Athos. The previews suggest that they are going to have the Milady character as well. Things will get REALLY interesting if they keep the d'Artagnan/Milady relationship, but I don't know if they're willing to be quite that…French.

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Dalhyang is so naive but totally cute and adorable. Awwwwww I pitied him. Everyone's fooling him without him even knowing it HAHAHAHA
The Three Musketeers... Actually it's more accurate to call them "The Three Trolls" HAHAHAHA I laughed so hard watching them.

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