Rating:
Average user rating 4.2
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Mirror of the Witch: Episode 15

Jun takes a massive gamble to save his princess, and we begin to delve into some pretty intense emotional beats that have been building up throughout the show’s run. Old conflicts get tied up and new ones begin to rear their potentially ugly heads as the battle lines for the big showdown are drawn.

It also doesn’t hurt to get a whiff of — what is that? Unexpected but oddly satisfying bromance? Blooming now? Why yes, thank you — I’ll take it where I can get it.

 

 
EPISODE 15 RECAP

Jun tells the incredulous king that he will try to cure his disease. Though the king has consulted hundreds of doctors, Jun argues, they cannot cure it or find the cause because it is not a medical problem. The king scoffs — is Jun saying that Hong-joo’s black magic is to blame?

Jun says yes, adding that he has also fallen victim to her magic before, but the king refuses to listen to either him or Hong-joo anymore. He orders Jun to leave. In a last-ditch attempt, Jun urges him to consider what he would do if sacrificing Yeon-hee failed to cure him — there would be no more options.

After a moment’s thought, the king finally relents, telling Jun he has one day to prove his assertions. Otherwise, he and Yeon-hee will die together. Jun only requests some help for this all-important day — for the king to lock Hong-joo up for a day to prevent her from using her black magic.

Having awoken Poong-yeon’s spiritual firepower, Hong-joo watches as he reels in pain after using it for the first time. Reassuring him that his body is just adjusting to using his powers for the first time, Hong-joo explains that he has the power of sacred fire, inherited from his father.

She tells him that using his power to burn Yeon-hee with spiritual fire is the only way to free her from her curse. With a small smile, she suggests that he ask his father if he’s in doubt over what to do.

At the Taoist temple, Poong-yeon asks Hyun-seo if burning Yeon-hee with his power will truly only purify her and free her from the curse. With a blank face and under Hong-joo’s command, Hyun-seo robotically assures his son that this is all true, and that he regrets not having killed Yeon-hee himself this way long ago.

Aghast, Poong-yeon asks his father how this can be true — when Hyun-seo brought Yeon-hee to the Black Forest… he trails off, stopping mid-sentence as he gazes at his father in surprise. But after a moment, Poong-yeon only asks what he should do now. Hyun-seo tells him to help Hong-joo to kill the cursed princess and protect Yeon-hee — this is the reason why this power has been passed on to Poong-yeon.

Poong-yeon seems confused — help Hong-joo? This is what his father wants? Hyun-seo nods that this is the way to help the royal family.

Hong-joo arrives at the palace to give the king his usual treatment, but the king tells her that today, she will be locked in prison. He assures her that it is only for today — in order to do as she has asked (and kill Yeon-hee), she must tolerate it just one day.

Hong-joo agrees to follow his wishes, though not without noting that the pain will be bad today, and leaves with the royal guards.

One of her shaman guards catches up with her and informs her that Jun had an audience with the king. Hong-joo isn’t worried, and just tells her to lie low.

In the palace rooms, Jun faces his daunting task of curing the glowering king, asking him to remove his royal robes so he may examine the afflicted area. The thorn injuries look more horrific than ever, and one prickles painfully as Jun tentatively touches it. To his surprise, there is no obvious evidence of black magic, and the king takes this as a sign that Jun doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

But Jun entreats the king to trust him: “It is said a student who does not trust his teacher cannot learn, and a patient who does not trust his doctor cannot heal.”

The king snarls that he’s going to cut off Jun’s head and throw it at Yeon-hee’s feet if this fails today. Even as he threatens Jun’s life, the king cringes in obvious pain.

Hyun-seo, under Hong-joo’s control, has Yo-gwang pinned against the wall. He demands to know what Jun is up to with the king. Yo-gwang gasps out that Hyun-seo can fight this — he must, for Yeon-hee could die this time. Hyun-seo’s pupils flare white again, as he loosens his stranglehold and stumbles back in pain. Jun arrives just in time to witness the end of the encounter.

Outside, Yo-gwang admits to Jun that Hyun-seo lost his spiritual powers after creating Yeon-hee’s talisman, and has been taken over by black magic. He tells Jun there’s nothing he can do for Hyun-seo, and Jun in turn reports that there was no evidence of black magic on the king’s body or in his chambers — he was planning to ask Hyun-seo for help, but now…

The boys retreat to Yeon-hee’s room to look over her books of spells. Yo-gwang finds an interesting one — an incantation, which need only be spoken over a person to be cast. That would explain why there were no signs of magic being used.

A flashback confirms his hunch, and we see Hong-joo slip into the sleeping quarters of now-King Seonjo back when he was a prince. She whispers into his ear that everyone will disrespect him behind his back, and there is no way out, no matter what he does; he will never be respected or acknowledged. As she speaks, tendrils of black magic snake around his head, tormenting the prince as he writhes in his sleep.

Yo-gwang and Jun brainstorm about how to break this spell — the only way Yo-gwang knows of is to destroy the spell’s carrier, but this incantation has no carrier but the victim. He sighs that Hyun-seo would know. Jun gets up, looking resolute.

He arrives at Hyun-seo’s rooms with the question — is there any way to break the incantation that Hong-joo has cast? Hyun-seo simply replies that there is no solution, so they should accept fate. Jun’s appeal for Yeon-hee’s life does not seem to affect him.

Jun’s gaze sharpens, and he eyes Hyun-seo suspiciously — he seems to realize that Hyun-seo has been possessed. Jun meets Hyun-seo’s blank gaze and says that he knows that is not Hyun-seo’s real answer.

In her prison cell, Hong-joo smirks, having figured out now that Jun was playing royal physician. In his chambers, the king writhes with pain. Then we see Hong-joo and Hyun-seo’s mouths moving as one — she is speaking through him.

Desperately, Jun reminds Hyun-seo that he lived his life to protect Yeon-hee, and that he asked Jun to continue the job after he was gone. We see Hyun-seo battling the possession, pupils flashing back and forth and body trembling as he hears Hong-joo’s voice playing in his head.

With effort, Hyun-seo manages to grit out that Jun should look in the Mauigeumseo before he succumbs to the possession again. Jun tells him he understands, and leaves.

A new guard arrives at Yeon-hee’s cell for shift change, but it’s actually Yo-gwang disguised with a spell. He and Jun rush in to see Yeon-hee, and they bring her up to speed about their efforts to find a cure for the king and Hyun-seo’s suggestion that they look in the Mauigeumseo. Yeon-hee seems surprised at this.

Jun notes that the king’s weak heart may have succumbed to the dark magic, and she agrees that they need to make him honestly face his insecurities. She suggests the truth potion — if the king can voice his true resentments, the black magic might be dispelled. But if the king has no desire to face the truth, the potion won’t work.

Yeon-hee refuses to leave prison with them, though — she’s done nothing wrong, and intends to clear her name and be freed from prison the right way. Just before they go, though, Yeon-hee asks if Hyun-seo really helped them — he acted so weirdly when he came to see her with Hong-joo. Jun just tells her not to worry.

Yo-gwang and Jun mix up the truth potion that night, trying to be as quiet as possible. They have a cute bicker about an herb name that Yo-gwang keeps mispronouncing, and he keeps handing Jun a slicing device instead. Yo-gwang is so hapless, banging ingredients around and crashing things as Jun hisses at him to be quiet.

They finally finish mixing the herbs, and Jun pours a liquid into the ingredients they have mixed. When nothing happens after a long moment, they become anxious, since Jun has never done this without Yeon-hee before — but then the potion begins to strain into the flask they prepared.

The queen dowager summons Jun to question him about his promise to cure the king. She wants him to back off rather than putting Yeon-hee’s life at risk, and swears she won’t forgive him if something goes wrong.

And… we cut to Hyun-seo, who has found Jun’s truth potion, still in the process of filtering into the flask. His eyes glow as he reaches out his hand, and a dark smog mingles with the potion.

Jun arrives at the king’s quarters bearing the truth potion that night. The king reminds him of his impending execution if something goes wrong, and the royal guards rush in to punctuate the threat. Jun pours out the truth potion, and upon hearing that Jun brewed it, the king is deeply suspicious — it’s an unknown concoction that could be as deadly as it could be helpful, and he refuses to drink it.

Jun can’t prove those suspicions wrong, but he entreats the king to consider how deeply Jun’s concern for Yeon-hee runs — it’s those feelings that drove him to make this medicine.

Amazingly, in spite of his councilor’s pleas to reconsider, the king slowly raises the bowl to his lips and takes a long drink as Jun watches. As he finishes, though, the king chokes and begins grabbing at his throat like he is being strangled, and a red mark appears behind his ear: the character for truth. Jun is thrown into prison.

The next morning, the king awakens to see another flask at his side, which he tosses furiously away. Hong-joo arrives at Yeon-hee’s cell to gloat at their futile efforts to defeat her, but Yeon-hee shoots back that she’s not done as long as Hong-joo’s alive. She declares that things won’t work the way Hong-joo’s planned.

She wants to know what Hong-joo’s done to her father, and Hong-joo replies that Hyun-seo died after making her talismans, and that she revived him; they are now one body and soul. If Yeon-hee kills Hong-joo, she kills Hyun-seo as well. Yeon-hee replies that she’ll save her father, and Hong-joo basically shrugs, smiling triumphantly as the shamans lead Yeon-hee away.

Jun and Yeon-hee are reunited in front of the angry king, who snarls that they are both to be beheaded. The queen dowager rushes in then, begging the king to spare Yeon-hee. He orders her to leave, saying that she’ll be next.

Jun steps in, asking the king if he’s afraid of the princess, or Hong-joo. Though the king warns him not to overstep his boundaries, Jun continues to question him: What is he so afraid of, when he is so powerful?

Provoked, the king erupts, yelling that he knows everyone thinks he’s weak and incompetent, especially since he isn’t in the direct royal line. He accuses Yeon-hee of trying to kill him.

Yeon-hee protests that she was trying to protect him, but the king just can’t believe her. The world is against him, he snarls — everyone here is an enemy. His words echo what we heard Hong-joo whisper to him at night when she’d first cast her spell.

But Jun does not back down, leaping up to argue that if the king really thinks that, why did he trust him enough to drink the truth potion? The king could have killed Jun instead — was he really only protecting the throne?

The king grabs Jun and threatens to kill him if he keeps talking. But now inches from each other’s faces, Jun hazards a guess: Did the king want the recognition of those very people who’d pointed fingers and said he had no right to the throne?

In the stunned silence that follows, the king drops his shoulders in defeat and releases Jun. With a pained voice, he admits it: He wanted to be acknowledged by others. Though he wants to be a good king and loved by his people, all his life he’s been powerless, ignored and insulted. No amount of trying could get him anywhere, and now with his body unwell, there is nothing left that he can do.

By now he’s in tears, weighed down by his despair, and the king begins to walk away despondently. Suddenly he drops to the ground, choking violently. Coughing, he expels a piles of blood and black goo and smoke — black magic.

While the others watch in shock, the king straightens and pulls up his sleeve, and the thorns and blisters in his skin vanish. The mark behind his ear flashes once — truth — and vanishes.

Jun murmurs that here is proof — this was the black magic afflicting the king’s body. In Cheongbing Temple, another candle is lit. And in the shaman’s rooms, blisters just like the king’s explode across Hong-joo’s arm as she collapses in pain.

Soldiers bring Hong-joo to the king, where Yeon-hee, Jun, and the queen dowager confront her with charges of using black magic to conspire against the royal family. Hong-joo claims innocence, saying she was only acting on their behalf — the queen mother who desired a child so much she was willing to use black magic to get one; the king who was willing to kill an innocent princess to heal himself.

It’s true that in order to prosecute Hong-joo on these charges, the king would have to sully the royal name and inform others about the queen’s misdeeds. But the king has another plan: On his cue, Jun walks in with Red Cloak — who unmasks herself as she kneels. At the king’s questioning, Sol-gae admits that she committed numerous murders to steal hearts for Hong-joo to use in her black magic.

Caught, Hong-joo only challenges the king — what will he do now? Like a cornered cat, she hisses at the king that the royal family is cowardly and petty — they use people when it suits them, then dispose of them when no longer needed. She turns to Jun to warn him to watch his back — they’ll do the same to him. The king angrily sentences her to death by quartering.

As Hong-joo is arrested and marched off, followed closely by Sol-gae, they cross paths with Poong-yeon. He looks troubled to see Sol-gae, who briefly meets his gaze, wearing her red cloak and clutching her mask.

Ok is hanging out at a gisaeng house gloating that Jun has been locked up forever for trying to poison the king and claiming credit for it. His friends tsk-tsk at Jun’s unlucky fate, and seem to sympathize much more with Jun than his brother does. A moment later, though, the tables are turned — guards arrive to arrive to arrest Ok for telling falsehoods.

Yeon-hee, Jun, and Yo-gwang rush to Taoist temple to find Hyun-seo gone. Yo-gwang finally tells Yeon-hee the truth, that Hyun-seo is essentially dead: He has lost all control over his body and mind, and only black magic is holding him together. Even if they released him by killing Hong-joo, he would simply die. Yeon-hee cries, mourning her father.

Poong-yeon, masked and hooded, takes out the guards and bursts into the prison where Sol-gae and Hong-joo are being held. He drops by Sol-gae first to ask if she’s really Red Cloak. She hangs her head and only apologizes.

Poong-yeon’s utterly betrayed, asking if she took him as a total joke as he ran around looking for Red Cloak with her in tow. He considered her a true friend, but now he knows that it was just fake, and that the feeling wasn’t mutual. Sol-gae only tells him not to forgive her, but in a final act of friendship, he unlocks her prison and walks away.

But Sol-gae isn’t his only motive here: Poong-yeon comes to another stop outside Hong-joo’s cell. She gives him a small smile.

Jun gives the king a check-up the morning after, pleased to see that his skin has healed perfectly, leaving no scars behind. The king says an adorably awkward thank you, and Jun shuffles up beside him to ask about a favor in return for all his help. The king reminds him that he already released Yeon-hee, but Jun points out that she was innocent and deserved releasing; it doesn’t qualify as a favor.

The king half-heartedly lunges for his sword, almost jokingly berating Jun for putting him through all this trouble and ordering him out. But as Jun leaves (wearing a pout at being denied), the king calls after him to ask what that favor is. Jun grins and says he doesn’t have one now; he’ll ask later when he thinks of one.

Outside, Jun joyfully runs to Yeon-hee, both finally free. But their happiness is cut short as Yo-gwang runs up to give them bad news: Hong-joo has escaped prison.

Now in a hideaway, Hong-joo thanks Poong-yeon for releasing her, but Poong-yeon tells her that after Yeon-hee’s back to normal, Hong-joo must pay for her crimes. He asks what’s next, and she smiles that he just needs to burn Yeon-hee’s curse away with his spiritual fire.

Poong-yeon asks if Hong-joo sent Sol-gae to his side with these intentions from the start, which she confirms. He notes she’s a scary woman, but Hong-joo merely replies that for great revolution, you need to see the big picture and have a cold heart. She tells him to harden his.

Back at the palace, queen dowager warns Yeon-hee that Hong-joo will be planning another attack soon. Yeon-hee’s health is the nation’s concern; and, she adds, Yeon-hee ought to distance herself from Jun now. Yeon-hee’s eyes fill with emotion as she says that Jun is the man she has given her heart to. The queen dowager realizes that their bond is much deeper than she thought, and asks if time will help. Yeon-hee doesn’t look optimistic but says nothing.

Later that night, Yeon-hee and Jun take a nighttime stroll followed by a brigade of soldiers provided by the queen dowager. Jun seems to understand what’s going on, and he tells her it’s time for him to go his own way. But he promises to stay by her side until she’s safe and all the candles are lit.

He sends her in for the night, but when Yeon-hee enters her room, she’s grabbed from behind and knocked unconscious by a masked figure. Jun hears the thump of a guard hitting the ground, sees Yeon-hee being carried away, and races after them on foot. But he loses the abductor, who rides away on horseback.

In an empty room, Poong-yeon dumps a gagged Yeon-hee on the ground and unmasks himself, looking coldly down as she cries out in distress and shock. He walks out, hesitating only slightly as he presses his hands against the door to light it on fire.

Jun arrives just in time to find the house burning with spiritual fire, as Hong-joo watches with a triumphant smile from nearby.


COMMENTS

Let’s take a moment to lower our blood pressure by appreciating that Hong-joo got her comeuppance, at least for half an episode. It was endlessly satisfying to see the king’s skin healed, and Hong-joo finally dragged away by the royal guards. As plotlines go, it was an effective one. The scene with the king’s admission about his powerlessness was beautifully done — this was an episode for the king to finally shine. He hasn’t been the most likable character, but the insecurity and loneliness that has played out in the background for the past 14 episodes finally reached a plot climax, and it was great. He may have been Hong-joo’s puppet, but it’s clear his judgment was handicapped by his physical and emotional condition. In the scenes where the king met with Hong-joo, you could see the softening of his eyes when he looked at her, with dependency and a desperate hope. His desire to be a good king, and the circumstances that have prevented him from becoming one, are a lot more understandable now.

So though he’s been kind of a jerk, I’m glad the king has Heo Jun and friends behind him — he has a fighting chance against Hong-joo now that she’s lost her power over him. To be fair, none of what happened was actually his fault, so I hope he has a chance to redeem himself, stepping make things right that went so, so wrong all those years ago.

I understand that Poong-yeon is misguided (literally, by his possessed father), but he’s smart and capable and obviously has recognized how dangerous Hong-joo is. I hope that he doesn’t go the same way that the queen dowager did, in trying to rid Yeon-hee of the curse that he seems so afraid of. There have been interesting parallels between the characters — the queen dowager’s initial use of black magic, to the king’s desire to kill Yeon-hee, and now maybe Poong-yeon’s need to cleanse her of the curse at all costs — where black magic and the things that drive people to it are very nicely woven into the narrative.

I thought Hong-joo made an interesting point after she was accused of crimes, that all she has done is facilitate and make possible the desires of others. I do think she has some responsibility for whispering in people’s ears and manipulating them, but black magic also seems to have a life of its own after its cast, which perhaps is why the same black thorns that she used to torment the king afflict her after his curse is lifted.

I’ve really enjoyed the growth and redemption arcs of the queen dowager, and now I think the king will have one too. Although they may have made some selfish choices, they are human and they can recognize and move past it. It makes for more real, well-rounded characters. Finally, though there wasn’t much Yeon-hee/Jun this episode, how can anyone resist that smile, and the way he looks at her? I do sense brewing trouble with the old “You’re-a-princess/chaebol-who-can’t-be-with-the-commoner” trope, but fingers crossed that our couple can stay together. They’ve already dealt with some pretty scary black magic and betrayal — there’s hopefully nothing that some societal norms and a scary queen dowager can do… unless, of course, the thing that’s scarier than a meddling mother… let’s not speak its name just in case it hears.

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YAAAAAS. I can feel the imminent bromance approaching *__* #soexcited~ (also, damn the king can ACT. i had so many feels during his monologue. #someonegivehimanaward!)

& I felt my blood pressure RISING because of PY. T__T LOL

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omgsh i know, i'm kind of in love with the actor who plays the king because his acting has been absolutely brilliant! not only an award, someone give him a lead/2nd lead role please! <3

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He's in Blood and Six Flying Dragons too. He's pretty good. :)

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He is in school 2013 together with the monk....as one of bullies

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He's an amazing actor! I've noticed his skills since his very first scenes!

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I simply can't understand the small viewership of this show. It's mesmerizing and has some pretty good acting.
Hong Joo needs an award for her part because I utterly hate her character and the actress herself is probably a pretty nice person!

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Same here...this show has all ingredients of a massive hit..maybe because its cable and relatively less popular cast..i don't know if I can say that about YSY..but the cast is doing an amazing job and the ratings are fluctuating too. Further, isn't above 1 percent quite good for cable?

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As one of those who stopped watching, I think this show would have been better as a movie or mini-series. The longer it went on, the less interested I was in watching.

There wasn't anything wrong with the show per say, and the cast is doing a decent job. It's just the myth behind the story is not meaty enough to carry the length of the drama (imo). There are more dramas out there that offer a richer watching experience.

Take Doctors for example, at first thought it looked like it would be a flop, but the leads exceeded expectations and are doing way better than anyone expected them to. MOTW is decent, has no major flaws, but at the same time, it's not MUST SEE TV, it's more like a I will DVR this for when I need something else to watch.

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I love the acting from many of the cast. The plot is fun if predictable and well executed. It pains me to say this but I agree with swetu. It's an good series but it isn't worth watching live. I read recaps and catch up on the show on weekends.

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I think the the actors, the OST and the special effects are excellent, but there are too many plot-holes (Security? Guards? Hellooooo? Everybody comes and goes as he pleases...) and the "good guys" at times are too dumb to be credible...

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Your opinion could actually be true for a lot of people. Also the show is not the usual feel gooder and high on romance type. Agreed about doctors though! simply love it

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I agree, the actor is very effective in showing the different emotions by the king. who is he?

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Lee Ji Hoon! I haven't seen him in many of his other projects and from the ones I have, I think he had minor roles so I only remember his face. Hoping his acting in MOTW will lead him to more significant roles in the future!

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He has done multiple side roles. Last he was in SFD if I'm not wrong

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Just realised he was one of the actors in School 2013 that stood out. He pretty much stole the scene in episode 15.

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Yes! I also like the way the actor playing the king emotes. Umm I remember him from Blood (yes i did watch that show .. ?!). He played one of Ji Jin-hee's minions!

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I'm in love with Lee Ji Hoon and his royal robes!! Swoooonnn...

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Am I the only one who desperately wants him and Jang Hee-jin cast in an angsty melodrama together? I don't even like those, but I would watch it just to see them be hot together. Seriously, I can't be the only one who feels the weird chemistry going on between these two...

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That is a definite yes. I'm sure the show would have found a way of pairing them had they being playing same-age characters and not playing aunt (??) and nephew (??).

I would definitely watch something with the two of them.

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The king was amazing this episode! That scene where he made his confession was really compelling. We saw the human behind the power. I'm so impressed with all the actors in this series.

I wish there were more Jun/Yeon Hee scenes! After the curse, I hope they just run off together. What would be the point of breaking her curse if she can't be with the one she loves?

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Thanks for the recap, hazelair!

Finally, the moment for the king to shine!! LJH is amazing in this role and I'm so happy to see this climax played out. He's finally relieved from black magic and can be the king that he's always wanted to be for his people.

Jun and Yogwang bromance was funny while brewing the truth potion. XD I hope this is the start of my successful brewing attempts by Jun. Love how Jun egged the king on so that he will explode and lay bare his heart all these years. Well done!

Jun and Yeonhee back together are so sweet. Nothing beats YSY's smile!! =P

Pretty sure Poongyeon can see that his father is under a spell, so he can't possibly be fooled that easily. Plus, he doesn't trust Hongjoo fully at all and knew he wouldn't be like his dad, who always gave in to Hongjoo.

Not sure what would happen to Solgae and where she would go. But I'm glad that prison scene took place to give her and Poongyeon some closure on the huge betrayal. It was really touching to see the contrast in how Poongyeon treated her vs. how Hongjoo treated her when her Red Cloak identity was unveiled.

Winding down to the last few ep's! Let's hope the ending will not disappoint.

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Re: Sol Gae. I didn't notice that contrast until you pointed it out. Thanks. (= I kinda feel for Sol Gae, and I was worried that she would feel spurned in the earlier episodes where PY was just using her as a model/errand girl when shopping for YH... but with these words, I think she would feel really compelled to try to live her life better.

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Awww thanks!! =) I think that part left an impression on me because of Solgae's reaction. With Hongjoo and with Poongyeon, she was in disbelief both times--couldn't believe her master would toss her aside like that and even kill her vs. couldn't believe the man that she's been serving would release her since he valued their friendship.

You can see she's not a bad person at heart. Most likely Hongjoo had rescued her from being a beggar girl and she is just following her instructions to repay her. And perhaps she was raised by Hongjoo and never expected to be so betrayed by someone who is like a motherly figure in her life. (Would actually be cool if this series elaborated on Solgae's back story.)

On the other hand, even though her intentions to approach Poongyeon were dictated by Hongjoo, being by his side all this time has made Solgae grow close to him and even fall for him. That's why she was moved when he gave her the hairpin--it's like a realization that: Oh, you're not just buying one for Yeonhee. You also think I'm an important enough person in your life to buy me such a gift as well. He wasn't thinking about her romantic feelings when he bought it, but he probably somehow understood the hardship of pretending to be a man all the time and this would be a great gift. So, it was easy to see why her heart began to waver the more time she spent with him, hoping that she can prevent him from being harmed by Hongjoo.

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I still can't get over that Sol gae killed all those innocent people simply because she was following orders and was grateful to Hong joo. Plus she hasn't looked that conflicted/devastated or guilty or even question the motives of Hong Joo. So So gae is coming off as some kind of mindless soldier to me, not really feeling any sympathy for her.

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My personal made-up story for Sol Gae is that she suffered badly as a kid, and was easily brainwashed by Hong Joo that their misfortunes were because of the heinous attitudes of the royal family...

And maybe she didn't have any real friends to even consider leaving the shaman group. Her job with PY was even orchestrated by Hong Joo. And by the time she started to want a different life (like when she tried on the feminine robes and hairpin), she probably realised she's in too deep for change. So she might have felt like she was "destined" to be with Hong Joo's group, with the most she can do is try to whisk PY away from danger, because she never questioned that Hong Joo would betray her.

Remember that scene where Sol Gae returned to the shaman temple badly injured after all the fighting (she ran away because she was unmasked by PY)? I felt that Sol Gae walked in more weary than cowering or afraid of Hong Joo's wrath. Almost as though she trusted that Hong Joo would not behave rashly or dangerously towards her even with the failed mission.

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the thing that’s scarier than a meddling mother… let’s not speak its name just in case it hears

Is it of Noble blood?

Thanks for the recap, hazelair! I'm glad the king has been redeemed at last. I won't forget how he was trying to make good decisions at the start when the murders were happening. Good on the show to not let that part of his character be forgotten.

Now I'm hoping the same for Poong-yeon. Wake up from Hong-joo's lies, please! Maybe Jun has to bromance him for that to happen? Maybe bromance is the ultimate cure?

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What do you mean by 'Noble blood'? As in birth secrets?
I just don't understand what hazelair implied in the last sentence..

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My guess is noble idiocy but I'm not sure either. ^^

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Nnnnooooooo!

She spoke that which should not be woken!

Oh Noes!!!!

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Did I ever mentioned how LJH wowed me and turned me into 1 of his fans with his exceptional performance in this drama? Uh, well, hundreds times i guess..

LJH portrayal of insecure-lonely king who long to be acknowledged as legitimate rules and of his accomplishment is so perfect. His vulnerability was so achingly real. His sadness and loneliness were so heart wrenching. Touchingly superb. Love love LJH. This drama had uncover the hidden gem in him.

The rest of the casts are as good as ever. This drama would stay long in my mind, just like AATM,

Thanks for the recap, dear~!

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Lee Jihoon! I knew you had it in you. Looking forward to more awesome roles in the future!

I'm a little disappointed that this is a 20-episode drama. 16 episodes would have been perfect.

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+100

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Hong Joo must be graduated from School of Manipulation and Blackmailing, alongside School of Black Magic for sure.
How else she easily manipulates everyone and blackmail almost every one of them to think she's doing good cause.
Good thing now the King and Queen Dowager are on Joon's side.
But Poong Yeon, oh what will he do? And what will happen to Choi Hyun Seo? I'm pretty sure he will die, with or without Hong Joo died. He's basically a zombie now, only alive because of black magic.

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Despite the awesome King's truth scene and the cliffhanger ending, the moment that linger in my head is Jun & Yo Gwang being all pouty and kissy :D

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That was my favorite scene too!
Along with the king's heartfelt confession scene, big applause for the actor!

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This show, though interesting and exiting does some pretty fraking obvious stuff! What was the point of that cliffhanger at the end of this episode? Remember waay back when across episodes 4-6? Pretty much EVERYBODY died, and then it was like, "Oh wait, this one isn't dead, nor that one, nor that other one, and that last one wasn't supposed to be dead in the first place, and that one guy that did die came back to life and that other guy that died for sure, for good (I swear! cross my heart and hope to die*smirk*) well people spent large amounts of time trying to bring that one back as well! I mean what the actual f***!"

Also I believe questions have previously been raised about why do people keep listening to Hong Joo, I mean come on, knowing her history, no matter how dire the consequences, the one thing I wouldn't do is trust that woman, (except for her recommendations in cosmetics, where can I get that lipstick?). And yet! people keep at it! Even the king in this episode! You KNOW she's dangerous, you have ALREADY sentenced her to death, the what are you waiting for? Why bother throwing her in jail? At this point we know the woman is like the wind, seriously mere walls cannot contain her and you don't have a vacuum flask large enough! Of course she was going to escape.

And seriously Poong Yeon, what are you five? Kill the princess to save Yeon Hee? "You're not the person you were", is a great thing to say metaphorically but it DOES NOT work literally.

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Thanks for the quick recap! And for spending time on the king's character.

I find the acting quite intriguing. The way he told Hong Joo to bear with the imprisonment just for that day, it almost sounds as if he's doing HER a favour - her minor inconvenience would be key to put the noose around Heo Jun and Yeon Hee. For that moment, I couldn't tell if it's a case of him keeping his options open by not directly angering Hong Joo, trying to trick Hong Joo, or if he's still deceived by her lies - and it really kept me guessing. And then the way he finally lets out all his worries and fears is pretty heart-wrenching. The actor captures all the emotions and nuances very well in his changing expressions.

I love that the show keeps things balanced with small dashes of light-heartedness. The king's bromance with Heo Jun is so cute. Guy really needs a friend. d= And the scene of Yo-Gwang trying to help with the herbs is hilarious. (Although it also proves he's more heart and brawns than brain...)

I want to know why Poong Yeon let Sol Gae go. I thought his sense of justice would at least convince him that Sol Gae needs to be punished for her crimes, because there is no misunderstanding here that Sol Gae was in a trance/posession.

The scene where Hong Joo accused the queen dowager and king about their involvement with magic was interesting, because she looked more betrayed and scorned, than just trying to blackmail her way out of the situation. There is no denying how evil she is - after all, she has no qualms about using the man she loves - but we get enough hints of how her actions in rooted in revenge. In the same vein where she told Jun (or was she also directing it at Sol Gae? I wonder) to be careful lest he get cast off, I sensed that she, in her own warped way, saw herself as just a vessel or catalyst that has acted on the dark desires of the selfish royalty and betrayed after her usefulness is up.

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Thanks, hazelair, for your dandy recap!

It really looked as if the king coughed up a cosmic hairball. Gross! But as my dear ole Dad always says, "Better out than in."

I've been impressed with LJH's understated performance. His portrayal of the king has come across to me as nuanced and sympathetic, especially after it was revealed how he came to ascend the throne... How awful to finally admit to oneself that the reason for getting the (apparently) most powerful position in the land is because you're weak and easily manipulated.

In a similar vein, Lee Sung-Jae's performance as Choi Hyun-Seo has been memorably dignified, until he was co-opted by Hong-Joo's black magic life extension spell. Even so, his constant attempts to break the thrall have been signaled by his eyes (and I don't mean the CGI white pupils) and micro-twitches. Nicely done...

My uncle was a college chemistry professor. When his students' lab experiments got particularly out of hand, he called them "ceiling reactions" (i.e., splatter hit the ceiling, and was memorialized with the date.) Jun and Yo-Gwang looked like a pair of mad scientists, but at least they didn't blow the place up. With more practice, Jun could start a lucrative sideline in brewing and distilling hooch.

In her own way, Sol-Gae got a raw a deal in life just like Jun did. Learning her background made her a more sympathetic character.

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I think in general everyone gets a raw deal. The subversive (not really) message of the series is just how effed up the system is. What seperates the good/bad characters is how they deal with it.

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The initial set up of this show through the first half was thoughtful and well done. I do enjoy this show and the actors and appreciate the production value. That said, I think it could have been done in 16 episodes. There is enough to keep me coming back, but there is also some repetitiveness in the story. I will finish it and, again, am overall happy with it but not one I'd re-watch.

The actor who plays the king definitely got his moment to shine in this episode.

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I'm still trying to figure out who revived / rebooted Yo-Gwang after Hong Joo apparently finished him off following the battle between her minions and the Taoists at the house in the Black Forest.

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Rebooted? *dies laughing*

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What a term: Reboot one's life...
*LOL*

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I've been wondering the same thing. Was that point just forgotten, or is there some reason why the person's identity has not yet been revealed?

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yes, me too! I've been holding out hope that it'll be a plot twist but it's becoming more and more unlikely...

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Yes, a plot twist to mix things up even more, lol! That was in the back of my mind, but, like you, I no longer think it's likely.

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I forget what episode it was, but they show Yo-Gwang with Hyun-seo back in the palace after she's mowed down the Taoists. (The scene where Hyun-seo is struggling with Hong Joo and the stabbing happens.) So I always assumed it was Hyun-seo that revived him with the talism.

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"When Jun's and the king's face where inches from each other I was wishing they would kiss. Lol. I mean the king is shy so he wouldn't initiate it, so Jun should have just grabbed him and given me an angsty kiss.
Really, if the king was a girl in a modern drama that scene WOULD HAVE BEEN a kiss. Argh, just make them kiss!"

This is what my inner fujoshi keeps saying inside my head.

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I am immensely enjoying this drama, but the fact that there exists the last page about sacrifice tells us that noble idiocy IS on the table and Jun NOT surviving any of this is a huge possibility.

Just pleeeeeeeeeease kdrama shamans/gods/taoist monks .... End it beautifully.

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Also, props to everyone for making the Yeon Hui/Jun romance seem so sweet and innocent. I know a lot of people had reservations because of the real life age difference of KSR and YSY, but the show made it work.

I love how our princess is just like, "He's someone I've given my heart to," when talking about Jun. I'm glad they didn't show the romance blossoming with fluff that could've induced ickiness, but instead, let the small but significant moments shine through to let us know that these two are in luuuuurve. :)

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Yes, I know! They're just so innocent and sweet and the way Jun looks at her, with those sparkly eyes, awww!

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OMG. Hong-joo's smile at the end!! I want to punch her so bad and break her teeth UGH!! She creeps the hell out of me, she is finally getting what she wants but I believe Jun will be able to save her somehow. This is how his mother died and he couldn't do anything to save her, I don't think he'll let Yeon-hee die, not now, not ever!

Poong-yeon seemed confused and in disbelief of whatever his father was saying but then he goes and helps Hong-joo escape prison, why?! I don't get why he thinks this is the only way to break the curse. Why doesn't he just go to Yeon-hee and ask her, she is also trying to break the curse, why can't he trust her and help her out instead of joining hands with the devil?!

I felt so bad for the king, his eyes look like he's in so much pain, you can't help but feel for him, Lee Ji hoon is amazing! And the coming bromance, Yes please!

I love how the writers used the the fact that Heo Jun was the Royal physician and made our drama Jun cure him, I was wondering why they went with an actual figure in history rather than just coming up with a fictional character but seeing how they used that bit of history I'm blown away, they're awesome!

The scene in which the king spits out the black magic felt so real. I've always heard of it, people around me talked about real people affected with black magic and then cured, they always described them spitting out something like ashes and blood, this was scary!

Thank you hazelair for the recap.

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One thing I do not understand is the truth potion. I mean, the black magic was added, but it still worked. So I guess that the black magic caused the choking, but the base potion still worked and the black magic was included in the gunk that the king spat up?

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I wondered about that, too.

First, I'm not sure whether His Excellency was in control at the time, or whether he was still in thrall to the black magic.

If he were temporarily free at the time he seemingly tainted the truth potion with back magic, I can easily imagine he was using it homeopathically: Like cures like. It may actually have made the truth potion more efficacious by helping the king's system recognize the external influence and throw it off.

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This was a really great episode, after the happenings of the last episode. Good won over evil (at least for half of the episode).

I really loved the king's outburst in this episode. I was hating him the last few, what with him blindly believing Hong Joo and throwing Yeon Hee in jail. This episode made me understand why he became that way and it was a tear-jerking revelation.

Am I the only one who sort of feels that the Queen's meddling in Jun and Yeon Hee's relationship is not really her place? I mean, she chose the prince over Yeon Hee and wasn't really the best mother figure.

There's one thing I'm really curious about though, who was it that saved Yoh-Gwang when he was killed earlier in the series? I thought it was Choi Hyun Seo at first but then they showed that he unconscious and was hidden by Hong Joo. Hope the show address this later.

Also, I miss the character played by Dohee. I wish she had more appearances. Her bickering with Yoh Gwang is cute and signals the start of a potential relationship.

I wish more opportunities arise for Yeon Hee to smile, cause she looks soo pretty when she does :)

Off-topic, but I love your name Hazelair. Sounds so magical.

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Once Yeon hee finds out about Hae Ran she's probably going to realize she owes the royal family zilch and leave them behind to be with Heo Jun to travel the world picking persimmons.

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