Mirror of the Witch: Episode 7
Mirror of the Witch continues to deliver in this episode with breathtaking visuals, a perfectly scored soundtrack, and a tightly written story. We get heart-warming moments with our two leads, and while the many of our questions remain unanswered, the plot continues to develop and the drama remains as riveting as ever.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
Yo-gwang returns to the temple and panics when he realizes Seo-ri isn’t there, especially when he finds that the talismans guarding the temple boundaries are burning.
Seo-ri kneels by an unconscious Jun as she remembers the first time they met. She reaches out to him, but pulls back as she remembers Jun taking the arrow in her stead. Relieved that he survived, she turns to leave. Jun rouses for a moment, barely making out Seo-ri’s profile before passing out again.
Seo-ri turns back and notes the bag Jun had been clutching as he fell. Inside is a familiar bell, whose twin Poong-yeon had given her five years ago. She gently rings it.
The effect of the bell is immediate. In the forest, the shamans suddenly stop in their tracks, while back in Hong-joo’s lair, the jar containing the prince’s spirit begins to shake. Hong-joo rushes to the jar, gleefully realizing that the princess has emerged from hiding. Behind her, Hyun-seo begins to slowly move one finger.
Yo-gwang also hears the bell and rushes off to find Seo-ri. Alerting to the approaching danger, Seo-ri tries to lift Jun when a hand clasps her shoulder. The shamans approach the place where Jun had fallen, but only his bag remains.
Addressing the shaking jar, Hong-joo asks the prince to wait a little longer. A shaman informs Hong-joo that they were unable to capture the princess, but Hong-joo orders that they continue the search. The princess must be captured alive immediately.
Yo-gwang dumps Jun, still unconscious, in the temple cave. Seo-ri asks if Jun is okay, but Yo-gwang lectures her for leaving the protection of the talismans. If she’s caught, their efforts would have been for nothing. Yo-gwang insists that Seo-ri never leave the temple again.
Then he asks who Jun is and if she knows him. Seo-ri denies knowing Jun, but Yo-gwang questions why they were together. Seo-ri deflects the question, saying that there was something she wished to ask Jun, and that she’ll send him away once she’s satisfied her curiosity.
Remembering the burning talismans, Yo-gwang runs to check the protections. He’s bewildered to find them completely unharmed.
At the bottom of the cliff, Ok oversees the search for Jun, while Poong-yeon also looks for clues. He recalls seeing Jun’s face during their horse chase, and how Jun had protected Seo-ri the night that she had gone missing five years ago.
Ok saunters towards Poong-yeon, asking him if he’s certain that Jun had fallen here, his tone bordering on belligerent. Calm, Poong-yeon merely asks if Jun is really Red Cloak. Ok scoffs at this and smacks Pong-yeon with his sheathed sword, demanding to know who Poong-yeon is. This time, his tone is definitely offensive as he takes issue with Poong-yeon’s interference in his case.
Sol-gae attempts to intervene, but Poong-yeon keeps calm and offers Ok his credentials, informing Ok that he is the captain of the royal guard. Ok does a double-take, suddenly deferential and nervous at having put his foot in his mouth.
Poong-yeon states that he’s also chasing Red Cloak and asks Ok to confirm whether Jun is the criminal. Ok stammers defensively that all the evidence from the latest victim points to Jun, though Poong-yeon doesn’t appear to quite believe Ok’s explanation.
Performing their own search of the area separately, Sol-gae finds the bag that had been left behind. Poong-yeon discovers to his dismay that the bell is missing.
Still unconscious, Jun relives the memory of the horse chase, accompanied by the ringing sound of the bell. Just as he relives falling from the cliff, he startles awake.
Looking around, Jun begins to explore his surroundings and finds Seo-ri’s workstation where she prepares her potions. Jun comes across a jar labeled “Memory Potion” and reads the corresponding entry in the Mauigeumseo: Once seen, never forgotten. Jun scoffs, laughing that the creators of the potion are worse than him, assuming that the Mauigeumseo is part of the sham.
His curiosity overcomes him as he examines the memory potion, sniffing it once and then taking two large swallows. He grimaces… and then downs the whole bottle. Jun begins to walk away again when all of a sudden his ears ring. He shakes his head as if to clear it, then notices golden letters rising from the Mauigeumseo. Jun grabs the book, fascinated, and the letters light up in a gold haze as he reads feverishly.
Meanwhile, Seo-ri ties a white veil around her face, leaving only her eyes visible.
Jun comes to the end of the Mauigeumseo and reads aloud that before the Northern star disappears, all the candles must be lit and the curse dispelled. He notes that there seems like there should have been more, his fingers feeling the edge of the page that had been torn out.
In his fascination with the book, Jun has unknowingly moved too close to a candle. His sleeve alights, and in his alarm, Jun accidentally drops the Mauigeumseo on top of the candle. Drawn by Jun’s shouting, Yo-gwang runs in to try to help put out the flames and grabs a bucket to fill with water. Jun just picks up the Mauigeumseo and tosses it in the creek itself.
Yo-gwang freezes in shock while Jun apologizes, relieved that the fire wasn’t bigger and grateful that there was a creek present. Jun fishes out the Mauigeumseo, while Yo-gwang gapes in horror. His hand slowly reaches out for his sword.
Jun continues to check the book as Yo-gwang stands and brings his sword to Jun’s neck. Yo-gwang tells Jun through gritted teeth that even his life cannot compensate for the sin that he’s committed. Just then, a veiled Seo-ri walks in.
It’s a funny moment when Yo-gwang tries to prevent Seo-ri from finding out what has happened to the Mauigeumseo, pushing Jun behind him and downplaying the situation. Seo-ri smells burning, and Jun pops out from behind Yo-gwang to show Seo-ri his burned sleeve.
Unconvinced, Seo-ri pushes Yo-gwang aside and advances on Jun, asking what he’s hiding behind him. Yo-gwang frantically signals at him not to answer. Jun attempts to redirect her attention, but then the Mauigeumseo falls in pieces from Jun’s hands, and Seo-ri takes in the sight.
Cut to: Jun tied up with a rope around his neck, struggling to balance on a barrel. Jun begs for a chance to talk this out, but a furious Seo-ri accuses him of repaying the favor of saving his life by destroying a very important item. Jun sobs in fear, but Yo-gwang growls that because of him, someone is in danger of dying.
Jun begins to thrash, scrabbling at the rope around his neck. Yo-gwang angrily kicks the barrel out from under Jun’s feet, and both he and Seo-ri begin to walk away — but then, as he gasps for breath, Jun starts reciting the instructions on how to brew a potion for invisibility, then to see ghosts, and then a love potion.
Seo-ri and Yo-gwang stop in surprise. Jun gasps that if he dies, the contents of the Mauigeumseo will vanish with him. The barrel is placed back under Jun’s feet and he explains that he’s memorized the entire contents of the book. Yo-gwang is suspicious, but Jun appeals to them by explaining how he drank a potion from Seo-ri’s workstation and then the contents of the book somehow just entered his brain. Jun entreats them for a chance to right his wrongs.
Yo-gwang looks ready to kick the barrel away again, but Seo-ri stops him. Jun recites the last line of the Mauigeumseo: “Before the Northern star disappears, all the candles must be lit and the curse dispelled.”
Seo-ri tells Jun that she’ll give him one day to reconstruct the book. If he is unable to complete the task within that time, she’ll make sure he drops off the cliff again.
Ok reports to his superior officer that they were unable to find Jun. The superior officer flips a table in anger, having already informed King Seonjo that Red Cloak has been caught — their lives will be in danger if that’s not true. He demands that Ok deliver Jun by the end of the day.
At home, Ok flings himself down before his mother, worried about what to do. His mother calmly informs him there’s an easy solution, spelling it out for him: If there’s nothing to be found, then something can be made up instead.
At Cheongbing Temple, Yo-gwang leads Jun to an alcove where he’ll be staying, and doesn’t take kindly to all of Jun’s questions about Seo-ri’s name and how she seems familiar. Yo-gwang retorts that there’s no way Jun could have ever met Seo-ri before. Jun asks whether the contents of the book are real. Yo-gwang warns him not to be curious about anything in the temple cave if he wants to live.
Seo-ri hands Jun a blank book to write down what he read of the Mauigeumseo. Seeing her veiled face, Jun flashes back to when they first met, and how Yeon-hee’s eyes had peered out over the edge of the pot lid.
Seo-ri snaps Jun out from his trance, and when he takes the book from her, their hands brush. Seo-ri pulls away first but before she can leave, Jun asks why she covers her face. He asks her to lower her veil for just a moment, explaining that he wanted to see her face while expressing his gratitude for saving his life. He smiles winningly up at her, but Seo-ri remains impassive.
Instead, Seo-ri takes out the bell, asking Jun if it is his. He’s never seen it before, and she asks why he had it then, he has no answer. She tells him to document the Mauigeumseo quickly, eager to be rid of him.
Acting on his mother’s suggestion, Ok presents a corpse to Poong-yeon, declaring it to be Red Cloak. Half of the corpse’s face has been driven in so that the man is no longer recognizable, and Ok explains that the man’s face hit a rock upon falling from the cliff. He’s certain that this is the man, regardless. As Poong-yeon inspects the body, he does not find evidence of the shoulder wound he inflicted in his encounter with Red Cloak. He leaves without a word, however, and Ok heaves a sigh of relief.
Poong-yeon reports to King Seonjo, informing him with certainty that the body does not belong to Red Cloak. There is no evidence of the sword wound, and the man’s build is not a match for Red Cloak. The king sighs with regret; he had been happy to hear the news of Red Cloak’s capture.
Yet in court, the king promotes Ok to captain of the royal guard (Poong-yeon’s original position) as a reward for capturing Red Cloak. Poong-yeon remains stoic.
King Seonjo also orders that the criminal be dismembered and displayed in the city so that the citizens may be reassured that the murderer has been captured and punished. Soon-deuk happens upon the sight, startled to discover what has supposedly happened to Jun.
In a private meeting, Poong-yeon questions the king’s decision when he’d known the body wasn’t the right one. The king responds that whether the body was real or fake, the important thing was to stabilize public morale. Given the current political situation, the people’s support for his rule would decrease even if the people knew Red Cloak remained at large. Poong-yeon argues that this deceives the people, while the king retorts that the people just want a scapegoat, something to appease their fear of Red Cloak.
Poong-yeon asks what happens if there’s another victim, but the king just wants to deal with that issue when the time comes. Poong-yeon says that he has always respected the king but he cannot follow his decision in this case. He asks the king to reveal the truth.
Then the king seizes in pain and blood begins to drip from his hand. He falls to his seat and Poong-yeon runs up to support him. Poong-yeon urgently calls for help, but the king quiets him.
Suddenly, the entrance of the queen dowager is announced. With no other recourse, Poong-yeon kneels to cover the blood on the floor and positions his body to hide the king’s bloody hand from view. The queen dowager is taken aback by Poong-yeon’s proximity to the king and demands to know how dare Poong-yeon approach the king.
The king forces a laugh and tries to deflect her concerns by saying that he and Poong-yeon are close friends merely having a conversation. The tension is palpable, as the king struggles to hide his pain and the queen dowager looks suspicious.
The queen dowager orders Poong-yeon to move away, but the king grasps Poong-yeon’s arm, preventing him from moving. The queen dowager approaches the king, and he attempts to stop her approach by smiling and saying that it’s truly nothing, but she isn’t appeased. The king tells her that he merely wanted to have a quiet conversation to rest from the burden of political matters and offhandedly wonders if he should take a retreat soon.
The tension mounts as the queen considers his words. Finally she agrees, saying she has been worried about the color in his face for a while. The king smiles and places Poong-yeon in charge of security during the retreat.
Hong-joo sprinkles black ash over a brazier. Tendrils of black smoke make their way to Hyun-seo’s body, still lying prone with a talisman on his chest, and enter his nostrils. A shaman reports that the king is once again in pain. Hong-joo remarks that the king’s illness is getting worse and he must get better soon.
Jun writes the last line of the Mauigeumseo and leans back with satisfaction. He goes looking for Seo-ri, making his way through the temple cave.
Wandering through town, Soon-deuk muses to herself that Jun didn’t seem like he was Red Cloak. Ok spots her just then and orders his men to capture her, since she’d double-crossed him the last time. She tries to run, but gets cornered by Ok and his officers.
Ok questions Soon-deuk about her relationship with his brother. She denies all knowledge and turns the questions on Ok: Isn’t it too much to quarter and hang your own brother, even if he’s a murderer? Ok is offended that Soon-deuk dares to compare the two brothers and accuses her of conspiring with Jun, calling for his men to arrest her. Soon-deuk fights them off and hops over the wall to easily make her escape.
The queen dowager speaks with her eunuch, who confirms that the court lady with him is trustworthy. The queen dowager orders the court lady to closely monitor the king during the retreat, and to observe his body in detail and report his whereabouts at all times. After the attendants are dismissed, she says to herself that the throne is her son’s, and that she must protect it.
King Seonjo leaves for his retreat, where he soaks in a tub under a tent, pain evident on his face. The queen dowager’s spy prepares a tea tray to bring to the king, but is prevented from entering the tent by Poong-yeon, who blocks her path. He looks at her suspiciously before he moves again, blocking out the view of the king.
Jun finds Seo-ri at her workspace and he smiles at the sight of her preparing a new potion. She comments that he adjusts well to situations and he replies that he’s been living off of his wits and observational skills for a while. Jun follows her around as she works, and Seo-ri wonders if he’s done with his writing. Rather than admit it, Jun says jokingly that there are a few pages he can’t quite seem to recall.
Seo-ri says that it’s impossible since he drank the memory potion, but Jun calls it just an herbal potion that helps boost memory. He insists that it’s a good thing that he was smart to begin with, otherwise the contents of the book would have disappeared forever. Seo-ri retorts that it was his fault that the book ended up in that state to begin with. Jun says leadingly that perhaps he’d remember better if he ate something, looking up at her with puppy eyes.
Seo-ri tosses a wrapped bundle at Jun and he opens it to find rice balls. She asks if he’ll be able to remember a bit more now, and Jun teasingly comments that the rice ball is salty. Ignoring her indignation, he says shamelessly that he might remember better with meat, adding that he can just live here until he recalls everything.
In a huff, Seo-ri gets up and glares at him. Unperturbed, Jun just tells her that she needs to treat him like an important guest. Seo-ri’s gaze falls on Jun’s burned sleeve.
Yo-gwang is indignant when Seo-ri asks him to run errands to feed Jun, through she asks him to do what Jun wants until he completes the Mauigeumseo.
Walking past Jun’s shelter, Yo-gwang spots Jun still happily munching on his rice balls. Caught mid-bite, Jun guiltily lowers the ball and reopens the book to continue working on the Mauigeumseo, making a face at Yo-gwang’s backside when he leaves.
Seo-ri flashes back to her conversation with Yo-gwang, who had asked what would happen to Jun once he finished writing down the Mauigeumseo. Jun would still remember all the contents of the book, as well as his time at Cheongbing Temple.
So now in the present, Seo-ri asks Jun for his help, needing the instructions for the Oblivion potion. Jun begins to recite the instructions, but falters at a point as he looks at her thoughtfully, and Seo-ri asks if he can’t remember again. Jun pauses, wondering wistfully, “Why can’t [I] remember?” Though he doesn’t specify what he means, it seems more likely he’s asking why Seo-ri can’t remember him.
Jun gazes tenderly down at Seo-ri for a moment, so she impatiently calls for Yo-gwang, and Jun spills out the rest of the instructions in a rush. Seo-ri heads over to gather the rest of the ingredients, but she’s unable to reach an item and stretches up on her tiptoes with difficulty. Jun reaches from behind and easily retrieves it for her, startling her with his proximity. He looks at her gently and she quickly averts her eyes, returning to work.
Potion complete, Seo-ri flashes back to her conversation with Yo-gwang, who’d advised her to dose Jun with the Oblivion potion. He’d impressed upon her the importance of breaking the curse so that everyone can live. In the present, Seo-ri says to herself that Yo-gwang is right, and Jun must forget everything.
On Seo-ri’s orders, Yo-gwang brings meat to Jun and feeds him by hand. He’s also brought clothes to replace Jun’s burnt ones. Jun asks why the Mauigeumseo is missing the last page, which gets Yo-gwang excited thinking Jun is done writing already. Jun backtracks and replies that the book was originally missing the last page. Yo-gwang looks disappointed to hear that Jun isn’t done yet, but Jun blusters that he’ll tell them right away when he’s finished.
Jun asks for privacy to change, and Yo-gwang turns to leave when he notices the scar on Jun’s chest. Yo-gwang recognizes the shape of the scar but can’t recall from where. Jun is thrilled, having been curious himself for the last five years. There’s a funny moment of Yo-gwang squeezing and generally manhandling Jun’s chest to get a better look at the scar, at which point Jun realizes the awkwardness of the situation and smacks Yo-gwang’s hand away. Affronted, Jun pulls his top over to cover himself, and Yo-gwang belatedly realizes what he’s thinking and insists that he likes women.
At the retreat, Poong-yeon keeps guard outside of the king’s tent. Sneaking up from behind, Hong-joo’s shamans approach and place a brazier in the grass, and black smoke begins to seep out. When the smoke reaches Poong-yeon’s nose, a mark flashes behind his ear (in a similar location to where the curse tattoo once appeared). Poong-yeon’s eyes roll back and he stumbles. Sol-gae notices.
Suddenly, Poong-yeon sees Seo-ri (as she was when she was Yeon-hee) and follows her into the dark. When he catches up to her, he spins her around to embrace her — but the voice that responds is Sol-gae’s. The mark on his neck flashes again, and he comes back to his senses to find himself holding Sol-gae.
Shamans enter the king’s tent, and he wakes with a jolt. Poong-yeon and Sol-gae rush back to the tent, only to find the guards incapacitated and the tent empty.
In the forest, the shamans bring the king to Hong-joo. He demands to know who sent her, suspecting his father-in-law and the queen dowager. Hong-joo informs him that she’s here to save his life. She knows the cause of his illness and she knows that all over his body, his flesh rips and thorns appear. She tells him she can rid him of his illness, but the king laughs in disbelief, asking what she really came for.
Hong-joo asks for his arm, and after a moment, he bares it, showing the bloody mass of thorns and scars. She passes her hand over the brazier and black smoke comes out, swirling around the king’s arm. When the smoke dissipates, so does the open wound and the thorns. She tells the king that though his arm is healed now, the symptoms will reappear if the cause of the illness is not eliminated. She asks again to be allowed to cure it, and he asks again what she’s after.
Poong-yeon searches for the king and finally find him in the forest. The king tells him that he merely went for a walk, but Poong-yeon is unconvinced.
The queen dowager’s spy watches in the shadows, but she’s captured by the shamans. She feigns ignorance, but the shamans threaten her with blades and she admits to working for the queen dowager.
Hong-joo gives the order to kill the spy, which is carried out just as she receives the report that Choi Hyun-seo has disappeared. Returning to her headquarters, Hong-joo finds an empty bench and a burnt talisman. She orders the shamans to immediately search for Hyun-seo.
Seo-ri carries the completed Oblivion potion and places it on the altar next to the candles. Returning, she sees Jun asleep in his shelter and makes her way down to him, kneeling beside him as he sleeps.
She slowly reaches out to touch Jun’s face, only to have him grab her wrist and pull her close to him. Jun opens his eyes and says, “It’s you, isn’t it? Persimmon.”
There is so much to love about this episode. I especially loved all the interactions between Yo-gwang and Jun, as well as between Seo-ri and Jun. Major props to Kim Sae-ron for acting nearly the entirely episode with just her eyes and her voice. Jun also finally voices what I’ve been thinking this entire time, which is, “All these candles and no one’s worried about a fire?”
Everything about this drama is so well-crafted, from the detailed construction of mythology to the breath-taking visuals and perfect musical scoring. The instrumental background soundtrack is really just so on point. The scoring of the scene when Yo-gwang and Jun are trying to save the burning Mauigeumseo really helped to delineate the quick tempo shifts between the comedic and dramatic beats, which might have been confusing otherwise. The same goes for pretty much any scene with Yo-gwang and Jun together, as well as when Seo-ri and Jun are together.
It’s interesting how despite the name changes that Seo-ri has undergone — from princess, to Yeon-hee, now to Seo-ri — Jun identifies her as Persimmon, the young girl straining against her confinement and yearning for the sweet taste of something so simple as a persimmon. He sees her simply as herself, someone who’s longing for something we all take for granted: freedom.
In this sense, I am so glad to see Jun finally by Seo-ri’s side. There’s a very easy rapport between the two of them and the chemistry is evident: His gaze is always so tender when he looks at her. Other than the all-to-brief scenes shared between Jun and his bestie Dong-rae, Jun doesn’t seem to have many opportunities to let down the facade that he’s has to wear when he’s around his brother. However, he is anything but opaque or guarded when he’s together with Seo-ri; in those moments we get wonderful yet rare moments of Jun being light-hearted and emotionally transparent.
While the plot made many strides forward in some areas, particularly with regards to bringing Jun and Seo-ri together, there are still so many questions that remain. We still don’t know who is Red Cloak, or whether the King’s illness is caused by the curse or by Hong-joo. I’m also curious about why Hong-joo has kept the prince’s soul — is she using his soul as a sort of spiritual compass for detecting the presence of his twin sister? There’s so much complexity in this drama left to explore, I’m glad that we still have many more episodes together!