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Mirror of the Witch: Episode 16

So, not gonna lie—the previous episode had me crying actual tears of frustration. Of course, when we’re rewarded with some good, we must also balance it out with some bad. But because Mirror of the Witch enjoys torturing its characters, I feel as if there’s some imbalance and I’m just waiting for our heroes to get some breathing room.

On the bright side, when there’s so much despair, the small moments of success we do get are delivered with impact. Surely our heroes will get their big moment, right?

 

 
EPISODE 16 RECAP

We take a few steps back to when Jun was racing to save Yeon-hee from her captor, Poong-yeon. This time, we see that as he was riding off on his horse with Yeon-hee, Poong-yeon had tried to fling a knife at Jun—no, to Jun. Attached was a message that we don’t get to see, but, by Jun’s expression, it wasn’t what he expected.

Poong-yeon made sure to present the unconscious Yeon-hee to Hong-joo’s minions as proof that he hadn’t backed out on their plan. He told them to go on and fetch Hong-joo. He turned toward the direction of their meeting place, but paused once the minions left. As soon as he was positive they were gone, he took a different route.

Now back in the present, Poong-yeon locks the door to the abandoned house he’d left Yeon-hee in. He thinks back to the wish he’d had for Yeon-hee to walk a comfortable path covered in flower petals, before her curse had taken over everyone’s lives. Hong-joo sees his hesitation and reminds him that this is the only way to get his old Yeon-hee back. He brings his hands up to the doors and summons his spiritual fire, turning away as the entire building is engulfed in flames.

Hong-joo’s eyes shine with delight as she watches the building fall apart. But, wait… Her smile twists into a frown as she realizes something’s off. Flustered, she checks her arm, and to her shock, it’s still covered in scabby thorns. She marches up to the building, but a strong force pushes her back and burns her hands into a dark charcoal black.

Poong-yeon just stands to the side, showing no concern at all. Because he knows that Yeon-hee’s completely safe. In fact, she’s in an entirely different building. Oh, phew. And gee, thanks for scaring us, Poong-yeon!

Jun somehow finds the building and hurries to untie her, anxious to make sure that Yeon-hee is okay. His eyes find hers, and the second she registers his face, Yeon-hee melts into a puddle of relief. She grasps onto him, and he silently holds her as she cries on his shoulder.

The empty building Poong-yeon just burned is now in pieces. With no sign of a body in the wreckage, Hong-joo demands to know where the princess has gone. Poong-yeon practically shrugs. “What are you so furious about?” he calmly asks. Hong-joo tries her best to keep her composure, but she nearly explodes as she says they need to burn the princess and they need to do it now—they’re wasting time.

Hong-joo walks away from Poong-yeon, leaving him to flash back to when his father had told him to use the sacred fire to help Hong-joo. Now we see that at that very moment, Poong-yeon had been thinking about Hyun-seo’s earlier warning not to trust his father’s words.

Poong-yeon hurries back to the other building to make sure Jun got to Yeon-hee—aha, the message he’d shot at Jun was a map to her location. Poong-yeon tries to approach her, but Jun blocks him. Jun wants to know what on earth was going through Poong-yeon’s head, and Poong-yeon explains that he had to find out Hong-joo’s true intentions, which is why he went through with the kidnapping.

Now that Poong-yeon fully knows Hong-joo’s intentions of killing the princess by spiritual fire, he tells them that the power of fire has been passed down to him, and that Yeon-hee’s safe because he won’t use it on her. Jun is still nervous knowing that Hong-joo is trying to kill Yeon-hee, so he storms off to go find the shaman. “I know where she is,” Poong-yeon calls out, stopping Jun in his tracks.

Hong-joo returns to her lair and confronts Hyun-seo, though she’s unaware that he’s huddled over in pain. She wishes he hadn’t given up his powers to make Yeon-hee the talisman shield. If he still had his firepower, they could’ve killed the princess by now. He turns to face her and the anguish he’s clearly in only upsets her more. “You started all this,” she tells him, “I never wanted you to be like this.”

Hyun-seo wheezes out a strangled “Please!” And though it hurts Hong-joo to see him like this, she can’t just let him go. She reactivates his curse with a fresh whiff of black smoke, and he’s right back to the emotionless Hyun-seo. Hong-joo orders him to remove Yeon-hee’s talisman shield, because once Yeon-hee is vulnerable to her curse again, Heo Jun will collapse and the princess’ white hair will be publicly unveiled, leaving her nowhere to hide.

Ok isn’t exactly adjusting to prison all that well, so he tries to butter up the guards, telling them to call his mother for some money in exchange for his freedom. If only this guy could hear how laughably pathetic he sounds right now.

In town, Soon-deuk drops in on Yo-gwang to see what’s going on with Jun. With so much troubling him, Yo-gwang mindlessly voices his worries to her. Soon-deuk questions how comfortable he’s acting around her and asks if he maybe likes her. “No!” he shouts, a little too loudly. Soon-deuk suggests he get over her since he has enough problems as it is, and she’d only hurt him. She prances off, and Yo-gwang yells after her that he only likes really tall women. Ha.

Yo-gwang finds Jun back at Cheongbing Temple, observing the candles. Now that Poong-yeon has inherited his father’s powers, they recognize that Hong-joo is becoming a bigger threat to Yeon-hee’s life. Jun can’t help but wonder what would happen if Hong-joo couldn’t use her black magic anymore. Then, she would just be like any other human. Yo-gwang doesn’t believe there’s a way, but Jun is determined to find one.

Poong-yeon cautiously enters Hong-joo’s current hideout, and finds a strange chest. He reaches toward it, but the magic surrounding it turns his hand black and blocks him from opening it. “What are you doing here?” Hong-joo says from behind him. He says he was looking for her because he wants to know what her next step is. She matter-of-factly says that she must capture the princess, and she’s sure Hyun-seo will help them somehow.

This confuses Poong-yeon. “You ought to know—Choi Hyun-seo is on our side now,” Hong-joo says. Poong-yeon wants to know what Hong-joo did to his father, and she finally tells him that she used black magic to save him from death. Hong-joo starts to say that Hyun-seo must be with Yeon-hee right now, but Poong-yeon is already out the door.

Hyun-seo sits down with Yeon-hee and asks why she doesn’t look so good—he wonders if it’s because the disappearance of the Northern Star is getting closer. Yeon-hee doesn’t answer. She just has one question—when he had visited her in prison with Hong-joo, did he intend to kill her? She tells him she knows Hong-joo lured him there. And she also knows Hyun-seo would never really hurt her. Yeon-hee: “So… Please come back to us, Father.” Hyun-seo’s eyes flash white.

Terrified, Yeon-hee scrambles out of her chair. Hyun-seo backs her slowly into a corner, until she’s trapped and scrambling on her back, and he’s hovering menacingly above her. He reaches out to her to remove the talisman shield by force, when Yeon-hee’s eyes flash purple and she uses her powers to push him away.

But Hong-joo’s magic is too powerful against Yeon-hee’s, and Hyun-seo approaches again. He lifts his hands to her head and starts the spell to break the talisman shield, while Yeon-hee cringes in pain. The white slowly spreads back into her hair.

As Jun and Yo-gwang return to the palace, Jun hunches over in pain as well. Poong-yeon reaches them and sees the symbol of Yeon-hee’s curse appear on Jun’s neck again. Poong-yeon takes off running. Unable to move, Jun tells Yo-gwang to quickly get to Yeon-hee too.

Poong-yeon gets to Yeon-hee first, but the evil look in his father’s eyes freezes Poong-yeon in place. He soon snaps out of it and shoves Hyun-seo away from Yeon-hee. But Hyun-seo is too strong and he flings Poong-yeon across the room. Luckily, Yo-gwang gets there just in time and shields Yeon-hee.

Jun is the last to make it and tries to hold Hyun-seo off, but is thrown to the ground. As Hyun-seo approaches Yeon-hee again with a murderous look, Poong-yeon has no choice. He blasts Hyun-seo with his incredible firepower, knocking Hyun-seo unconscious. Hong-joo gasps from her hideout. The scar from their blood bond glistens. Oh no, is Hyun-seo dead?

Not quite yet. Our heroes tie Hyun-seo to a chair, still unconscious. Now that it’s come to this, Jun insists they must somehow get rid of Hong-joo’s black magic. Jun decides to confront Hong-joo himself, but Poong-yeon stops him and goes instead, reminding them that Hong-joo believes that Poong-yeon is on her side. But Yeon-hee’s worried—it’s Hong-joo’s black magic that’s keeping Hyun-seo alive.

Hyun-seo comes to, but it’s not the Hyun-seo they were hoping for. Still possessed, he mocks Yeon-hee, telling her she sure has a tough life, especially since all those by her side are fated to die.

Yeon-hee stares him down in anger and says, “Hong-joo. It’s you, isn’t it?” Jun stops her right there. He kneels to Hyun-seo’s eye level, also addressing Hong-joo directly. Jun says he didn’t want to speak to someone who’s not even human. Hong-joo scoffs and wonders how Jun was able to cure the king. Jun smirks, and asks in return when she possessed Hyun-seo’s mind.

Hong-joo tells Jun to give up—they can’t get rid of her black magic. They’ll just have to deal with Hyun-seo the way he is now, unable to kill nor save him. Jun laughs dryly. Since Hong-joo is treating Hyun-seo this way, Jun deducts that she doesn’t want to see Hyun-seo die either. That strikes a chord within Hong-joo.

Hong-joo is so distracted by Jun’s comment that Poong-yeon surprises her as he comes up behind her and tries to light her on fire with his powers. She dives for that chest Poong-yeon couldn’t open earlier, and pulls out a large dagger. They struggle and Poong-yeon’s grasp sears into Hong-joo’s arm. In order to free herself, she slashes at his chest, while at the same time, Poong-yeon’s touch sets her sleeve on fire. Hong-joo’s able to pat the fire out, but Poong-yeon drops like a rock.

Hyun-seo’s eyes flash once more, and when he looks up again… it’s really Hyun-seo! He looks around, dazed. He and Yeon-hee exchange tender looks, but there’s no time. Hong-joo may take control again. Jun quickly asks Hyun-seo if he knows how to take Hong-joo’s black magic away. Hyun-seo tells them they must find the original source of her magic, the Blade of Black Magic.

Hyun-seo remembers that the day Hong-joo started her black magic, the first thing she grabbed was a dagger. They must find it and burn it with spiritual fire. Jun recalls Hong-joo using that very dagger to stab him when she’d ambushed them in Cheongbing Temple and broken his talisman shield.

Before they can ask any more questions, Hyun-seo’s eyes flash, bringing Hong-joo back in control. “I see you’ve sent me a rat,” she voices through Hyun-seo. Yeon-hee asks what she’s done to Poong-yeon, and Hong-joo tells Yeon-hee to come to Seohyang Forest in person if she wants to see Poong-yeon again.

The queen dowager walks in on them, taking in the whole scene. She sighs, distressed that they’ve lost a worthy ally. Yeon-hee insists that she will find a way to save Hyun-seo. The queen dowager wants to know if that’s what brought Jun back to the palace. She’s thankful for all the help he’s given Yeon-hee, but she offers to give Jun royal guards to help with his quest, so that Yeon-hee doesn’t have to be around him anymore.

Yeon-hee defends him, saying that Jun risks his life without hesitation to save hers, and she wants to protect him in the same way. The queen still can’t allow it. Though she grew up outside the palace, Yeon-hee’s still a princess, and the queen dowager is worried that people are already speaking ill of the unmarried princess running around with a man of low birth. She orders Yeon-hee to stay away from him. Jun hears all of this while hiding around the corner, and walks off with his head low.

The queen dowager comes to a decision and rushes to see the king. She asks that they change the head of the Taoist temple. She recommends someone the king knows very well: Choi Poong-yeon. She’s well aware of the king’s feelings toward Poong-yeon, but he’s the only person she trusts to protect Yeon-hee. The king is skeptical, but agrees to think it over.

Yeon-hee makes up her mind and heads for the door, but Jun grabs her arm. He knows what she’s thinking right now, but tells her not to go to Hong-joo; he’ll go instead. Yeon-hee argues that Jun can’t go it alone. Yeon-hee’s plan is to use herself as bait to draw Hong-joo out, so Jun has a chance to find the Blade of Black Magic.

Still, Jun doesn’t want her getting hurt. “If something bad happens to you, what am I supposed to do?” he asks her, tears stinging his eyes. Yeon-hee promises she won’t get hurt. She clutches his hand and says she’s going to Hong-joo because she trusts Jun, and argues that Jun should trust her and find the dagger. It takes every ounce of willpower he has, but he finally lets her go, Yo-gwang right behind her for protection.

Jun starts to head out as well, when Hyun-seo—the real Hyun-seo—warns him to be careful. The slightest touch from Hong-joo’s dagger could be the end for Jun. Since it’s easy for black magic to infiltrate the weak-hearted, Hyun-seo stresses that Jun has to be strong and can’t let his heart be swayed, or the black magic will swallow him whole.

Jun easily finds Hong-joo’s new hideout with the map Poong-yeon gave him. He finds Poong-yeon, but he’s still unconscious. And just a few feet away, Jun spots the chest. It opens on its own, revealing the dagger clouded in black magic. An eerie voice echoes all around him, hissing that once they get enough use out of him, his friends will all abandon him—even the girl he loves.

Bracing himself, Jun grabs the dagger, and its magic affects him instantly. He remembers Hyun-seo’s warning, but Jun can’t help it—the magic starts to get to him.

It enters his mind and feeds him all the negative comments he’s been told his entire life, from Poong-yeon calling him helpless, to his stepmother telling him to live as if he were dead, to his own mother yelling at him to beg Ok’s forgiveness, to the queen dowager telling Yeon-hee that a person cannot change the station they were born into, and ordering her to keep her distance from Jun. Then he remembers Ok’s words that Jun himself was responsible for his own mother’s death.

It all becomes too much for Jun and he seems to pass out. A few heartbeats later, his hand once again clutches the sword. Jun raises his head, and there’s a deadly white glint in his eye, exactly the color of Hyun-seo’s eyes when he’s been possessed by Hong-joo’s black magic. And in the palace, Hyun-seo breaks free of his ropes and makes his escape.

Yeon-hee and Yo-gwang reach the forest and come face-to-face with Hong-joo. Hong-joo tells them not to try anything funny if they want Poong-yeon back alive and well. Yeon-hee tries to distract her, calling Hong-joo’s magic impressive for being able to save Hyun-seo’s life. Hong-joo wonders if Yeon-hee could sacrifice herself for Hyun-seo like he did for her. Yeon-hee confirms that this is why she’s here.

Hong-joo’s eyes dart behind them and she takes note of Jun’s absence. “Why would I bring him when I came to die?” Yeon-hee asks. But Hong-joo’s too smart for them. She realizes where Jun must be, and she rushes back to her hideout, leaving her minions to keep Yeon-hee here. Yo-gwang struggles to fight all of them, but Yeon-hee’s eyes flare purple and she puts them down with one glare, and they chase after Hong-joo.

Hong-joo returns to find Jun sitting on the floor, still clutching the dagger and looking out of his mind. Hong-joo can hardly believe it. “What a foolish man you are! Touching black magic on your own!” she laughs. Yeon-hee and Yo-gwang burst in behind her, horrified to see the state that Jun is in.

Jun stands up, glancing at Yeon-hee briefly, his expression unreadable. He turns to face Hong-joo as if ready to hear her orders. And then… Jun smirks. OMG, yes!

“You think I’m you?” Jun asks Hong-joo. He nods toward the figure behind him. Poong-yeon has regained consciousness and is standing behind him. Double yes! With the same burning hatred glowing in his eyes, Poong-yeon uses his power to light a spiritual fire.

Hong-joo looks more terrified than she’s ever been, as Jun waves her precious dagger in her face. Then, without a moment’s hesitation, he dumps it into the fire.

Hong-joo screams and jumps in to save it, but the force of the fire shoves her back and her own black magic starts to choke her violently from within. As the dagger gets destroyed by the flames, Hong-joo writhes painfully and vomits blood until she’s a heap on the floor. Every bit of black magic is drained out of her body until she’s pale as a ghost, and she looks up at Jun.

 
COMMENTS

Is it weird that I’m cackling? Because I’m totally cackling. That ending was just what I needed after weeks and weeks of our heroes getting stomped on by this shaman. I had faith that Jun was strong enough to win over the black magic’s hold on him, but this show does have a tendency to mess with me. I can only hope that this massive triumph finally gives the good guys the upper hand.

Speaking of messing with me, I should’ve known that Poong-yeon would’ve never gone as far as to kill Yeon-hee. He was desperate, but that would’ve just made him straight-up crazy. The twist did take me by surprise, but considering how much Poong-yeon cares for Yeon-hee, it makes more sense that he would’ve taken more precaution. Now that I think about it, putting Hong-joo’s trust in him to his advantage was genius. I just wish the show had given out more hints on his scheme, because for the longest time, I was really starting to believe Poong-yeon was losing it. Either way, I’m pleased with how things ended up.

I’m not too pleased that the queen dowager is still pushing this issue with Jun’s social standing—we so don’t need that cliché right now—but I do like that that element was another factor that hit a sensitive area with Jun. His biggest weakness has always been the burden of his background, so taking another hit from the mother of the girl he loves… just, oof. His agony was palpable as the black magic taunted him.

And I couldn’t be prouder of Jun for finding the strength within him to push away every self-doubt he’s ever felt for Yeon-hee’s safety. After this triumph over Hong-joo, I have enough reason to believe Jun can overcome whatever obstacles may come his and Yeon-hee’s way, even a royal mother-in-law. I’m curious as to how the last four episodes will play out now that their biggest threat has been rendered powerless. All I know is that Heo Jun’s signature smirk is now one of my most favorite things ever.

 
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This story HAD to turn around to give our heroes some relief. The downers had become relentless and occasionally the story was making no sense.
Why wasn't Yeon hee using her powers?
Well, I have the urge now to continue with the show.

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Yeon hee's powers are weakening as polaris approaches, so she could barely use them.

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Oh, I'm totally in love with that smirk. That hahahaha got you smirk always has me busting a gut. Love Jun and his smirk and the fact that he was able to stand strong in the face of the black magic. At the same time though, I wonder if Hong Joo still has some back-up. Like evil Hyun Seo was able to escape but now that the blade's been burnt with holy fire does that mean that the dark magic's also gone out of Hyun Seo and he's now okay and well or okay and dead somewhere else? Or was that black magic just in relation to Hong Joo and Hyun Seo is still running around with his black magic controlled self? Also, although I know we still have to focus on the whole lighting the candles bit, but I wonder what else the show has up its sleeves. it seems to be like this isn't the end of Hong Joo yet. And I don't mind. Because I'm still looking forward to Hae Ran's prophecy that the black magic will tear her apart because I took that literarily and with how dark this show is, I fully expect to see and enjoy the sight of Hong Joo being literarily torn apart. Does that make me bloodthirsty? I don't know. Blame Hong Joo. She'd tossed whatever heart I had for her, into the flames right when she tossed Mae Wol's into her flame.

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I'd mostly forgotten about the prophecy, but I'm with you on that. I can definitely use some Hong Joo-dying gore.

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That smirk is what made me a YSY fanboy.

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Correction of my earlier statement:

..The smirk that slays @Oshi's heart..

Hahaha. Welcome to the club. dear.. see his sparkly eyes? Enchanting.

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He uses the smirk a lot in Me Too, Flower which I really liked and still go back to from time to time!

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In all honesty, episodes 15 and 16 had me frustrated UNTIL the ending of ep 16. Every time I think I know what is going to happen next this show throws a curve ball. She lost her black magic? Yes! But there are still 4 eps left, what is going to happen now? This is why I love this show, even if it is not perfect at times.

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Honestly, they should cut her tongue out. It's the most dangerous part of her.

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It did not look too difficult to destroy Hong Joo black magic.
If Hyeo So knew how, why didn't he do it like 20 years ago?

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Hi there. I guess it's because :
- getting the blade doesnt mean that the curse is broken. It only prevents her to do more magic .Anyway, actually, we only saw her vomitting blood. I dont believe that she is completely helpless without the blade.
- we all know that HS is not the smartest guy around *lol*. This idea came from Jun, when even YG dismissed that. Anf I guess HS wouldnt have the heart to do it, considering how he had protected Hgng Joo before and let her did awful things.

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I simply cannot imagine that Hong-Joo is without a backup for her black magic. She's probably got a Joseon analogue of a RAID array in her den of iniquity.

An awful lot can go haywire in 4 episodes (= 20% of series). Heck -- just look at what went down in the final 15 minutes of OHYA...

As it is, Polaris is disappearing soon, and there are still candles to be lit. I can't help but wonder if two would flicker alight when Hong-Joo (and by extension, His Excellency) cashes in her chips... Since Heo Jun is a historical figure, he cannot buy the farm... but I suspect that Oraboni and/or Yo-Gwang are redshirts. The present Queen Dowager was intimately involved in the original black magic to procure an heir, so her number could be coming up soon, as well.

I loved Writer-nim's fakeout at the start of this episode. The way the switch-o change-o was staged between the two locations was brilliant. (And gave us yet another parallel -- this time with Jun's mother's demise.) So tricky.

One thing I have not been able to fathom: As the son of the chief Taoist priest, why wasn't Poong-Yeon trained better by his father, especially as he stood to inherit the internal fire? He was left completely out of the loop regarding his kid sister and the protocols for protecting her. Was it that he was not cut out to be a scholar, so went the military route instead? It just seems like a gaping oversight to not have brought him up to be a well-trained successor to Hyun-Seo...

Speaking of whom: That scene where he's begging Hong-Joo to let him die was heartrending. That may have been foreshadowing... and perhaps a clue that the mudang can be vanquished indirectly by releasing Hyun-Seo from the grip of black magic. When he dies, she croaks with him. I suspect it will involve internal fire at a time when Hong-Joo is distracted.

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I'm still confused on why Polaris (North Star) is disappearing. That's the whole point of it being the North Star, it doesn't disappear. If it's just obscured by clouds then wouldn't Polaris have disappeared many times already? Is this a mistranslation?

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@Midori,

Very good point about Polaris. Maybe I jumped to the conclusion that this is the same North Star that was used for navigation in the West. Will have to go back and look at what the Book of Demon Banishment has to say.

Now that you mention it, why would a star disappear? Is it going to go supernova? It could also be blocked from sight by another heavenly body... Curiouser and curiouser.

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Good point about being blocked by another heavenly body. That would be obscure enough that only the people studying the skies (shamans and astrologers alike) would notice.

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@Midori,

Just checked back and found your post.

I'm not an astrologer, but over the years have gotten a lot of grist for the mill from this ancient science. In ancient times there was no distinction made between astronomy and astrology... which were of enormous importance to agriculture and animal husbandry, to name but two mundane applications.

For a different take on the heavens, you might like to look into astroposophy, from astro (star) and Sophia (Divine Feminine Wisdom). It shares a common source with biodynamic farming and gardening, which is how I encountered astroposophy. StarWisdom dot org is a place to start. The usual disclaimers apply...

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@Midori

I just rewatched ep. 3, and according to the Viki subtitles, it was "Northern Star." I have no idea what the Korean name was. It could have been taken from Chinese astronomy. It occurred to me that it might just refer to a comet such as Halley's, which had been known to Chinese astronomers since BCE.

At the beginning of ep. 1, Taoist chief priest Choi Hyun-Seo performs an intercessory prayer for the nation that states that the power of the sun is being darkened... Later it is revealed that Hong-Joo's black magic five years earlier caused the sun to weaken. If her magic is black enough for the sun's light to conk out, maybe that goes for other stars as well. Interesting that the Book of Demon Banishment makes it sound as if the scenario could play out more than once... Or maybe it's just a really comprehensive reference work for all your demon-banishing needs. ;-)

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Thanks for the early recap!

That twist on Poong Yeon was real good. I love how this show keeps me on my toes. This is really one of the best drama plots I've come across.

But I'm slightly confused about one thing - didn't PY already know, even before he actually "kidnapped" YH, that Hong Joo meant for him to burn her with the internal fire? I don't see why he made it seem as if he only learned her real motives after burning the hut down, because she's been telling him since she discovered that he commands the fire.

The Queen's objection to Jun seems kinda inorganic, a bit clunky. Like maybe it was shoe-horned to lead into Jun's struggles with evil sword.

And damn, I'm so so so scared for Jun. Although the ending made it seem as if Jun overcame the black magic, I think the momentary flash of white is significant. So is PY's slash wound. Does it mean that they, although not completely bewitched like Hyun Seo, might still falter? Perhaps not to Hong Joo's magic (assuming she's mostly powerless now), but whatever temptations the evil spirit lures with.

Anyway, now that it's clear PY is still sane... I wonder if part of his reason for saving Sol Gae was to "test" and see if she can be an ally to them.

I can't believe it's only episode 16. It feels like the plot can wrap up any moment and I'm so so anxious that we'll get silly tropes to lengthen the story. I mean, can it really take them 4 more episodes to light the remaining candles if Hong Joo is out of the equation?

PS. I am sorta on the Yo-Gwang/Soon-deuk ship, but that scene felt a bit out of nowhere - compared to when they bickered while they were hiding together.

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But I’m slightly confused about one thing – didn’t PY already know, even before he actually “kidnapped” YH, that Hong Joo meant for him to burn her with the internal fire? I don’t see why he made it seem as if he only learned her real motives after burning the hut down, because she’s been telling him since she discovered that he commands the fire.

Wasn't she implying that PY had to burn out the "evil" part of YH? Maybe she was making him believe that his magic fire will just cleanse her and not roast her. Maybe PY wanted to know why HJ was desperate to kill YH. I'm not sure if he knew beforehand that every time YH succeeds in lighting a candle, HJ pukes blood or gets black magic reflected back on her body. At least when the hut was burning, it was kinda obvious that HJ was waiting for her wounds to heal.

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Yep, I remember those scenes where PY looked quite daft and naive when he asked if YH will really come back, and Hong Joo kept reassuring him in with a patronising smile. But it seemed so obvious (okay, to me) that there's no way the fire wouldn't hurt her in the process!

To be fair, I think keeping up the pretense was worthwhile because he got access to her hideout, and could approach Hong Joo wouldn't putting her on her guard. I just wish his explanation didn't seem so weak. /=

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"And damn, I’m so so so scared for Jun. Although the ending made it seem as if Jun overcame the black magic, I think the momentary flash of white is significant. So is PY’s slash wound. Does it mean that they, although not completely bewitched like Hyun Seo, might still falter? Perhaps not to Hong Joo’s magic (assuming she’s mostly powerless now), but whatever temptations the evil spirit lures with."

Seriously took the words right out of my mouth!!! I have been wondering this too.

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That was what I thought too! What if Jun become evil and become one of the enemies?? Since now Hong Joo becomes weaker , wont we need another enemy??

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The Queen's objection to Joon didn't feel inorganic to me. It's in keeping with the times, Yoon Hee IS a princess and Joon is of a different social station. Unless there's a drastic change somewhere ahead, they can't likely stay together.
OTOH, the show is setting up Poon Yeon as Yoon Hee's likely pairing. Though not of noble birth, he is from a respected family and with the inherited Taoist spiritual fire, he's able to protect the princess from future black magic. Poon Yeon's appointment as head of the Taoist temple will elevate his status, deeming him fit to marry princess Yoon Hee. This is what the Queen's planning, i think. Otherwise, why the need to replace the head Taoist now when the spiritual fire is already Poon Yeon's, whether he's the head priest or not?
Joon will have to overcome the obstacle of his birth and the two guys will have to work it out between them who at the end of the day gets to hold Yoon Hee's hands. This, I think will be one of the arcs for the remaining eps.

P.S. - I don't think Hong Joo's quite out of the picture yet. Too resilient of a villain to just go away after, what we think, losing the source of her black magic.

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Hmm I do get that social class is a real issue for someone of her status. What I meant is that the Queen has seemed to moved too quickly from a "I'm rooting for you because I need your help to cleanse the royal family of the curse" to "I will never let you down again, my poor daughter", to being presumptuous and ordering Yeon Hee what to do with her life. There wasn't enough screen time of her maternal affections to Yeon Hee to make me feel convinced of her new agenda.

I was actually rooting for the Queen quite early into the series. I suppose it stemmed from her moments of tenderness to YH's late mother. I was hoping she'd be on Team Seori, so I was really glad that she seemed to prove herself after the urn-smashing. Which is why her thoughtless biasness (come on, he risked his life for YH so many times! More than anything you did!) is even more upsetting for me - I don't want to have to hate her!

I did also wonder if the Queen was trying to set up PY and Yeon Hee. But right now that's really more like a faint, faint suspicion (plus she needs to make sure Hyun Seo has no more official authority to the other ppl around the palace). And man, if that were the case, it's just going to be double the pain for PY and Yeon Hee.

You've got a point about Hong Joo. And I guess 4 episodes is also too long to spend time chasing candles without the main antagonist. Actually I'd like to know more about Hong Joo's back story. I can't read enough Korean to understand the webtoons, and I'd love to understand her better. Maybe she can be one of the candle lighters? (Hah, not like we have any voting power anyway) And also her story with Sol Gae.

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Argh forgot to mention this. I don't mind having Hong Joo around, as long as we're going beyond the usual HJ-trying-to-kidnap/burn/thwart-Yeon-Hee trope. It's gone around in circles too many times. I generally like the way the show keeps throwing plot/character twists, but I feel the ping-pong between HJ and YH, and use of possessed-Hyun Seo is getting old.

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What more can i say? The show never fail me...i just love it! A lot of emotion that keeps coming when i watch this...i know i said this too much,but don't the main lead couple is so loveable,argh! I love them, want more of them,don't care what yeon hee mother says,just live with the one you love,and thank you jun for stay strong against the blade black magic...i hope who ever watch this show,keep on watch it won't disappoint you! I love MOTW!

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I coudl wax poetic but fuck it!

Yoon-shi-yoon fighting!

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I always love to see you in your fangirling mode, dear.. ^^

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Public Apology to Poong-yeon: you are awesome. *bows 100 times*

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You know, this would be a perfect place to end the drama, when the evil witch who is the cause of every bad thing that ever happened loses her magical power and dies (?). But there are still some loose ends that need to be tied up. Let's hope the drama continues to surprise us.

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Yes but let's not forget that even if Hong-joo died like that Yeon-hee would still be cursed. She still has to break the curse to live, she needs to light the candles before the disappearance of the northen star!

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Yep!

That's one of the loose ends that need to be tied up. I anticipate it with fear and dread. This loss of life of someone who loves her (to light the final candles) means either Poong-yeon or Jun has to die, doesn't it? They are both crazy about her, although only Jun wears the mark of the curse at this point.

Keeping my fingers crossed and major deep breaths....

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I'm thinking dad could be the one to lose his life - not sure why he didn't think of it sooner but then both PY and Jun get to live!!

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It can't bee jun because he already helped light one of the candles with his "seeing ghost" potion. If he were to die then I think it wouldn't add another it would just lose one. That's just my thoughts though.

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The smirk that slays the black magic... and captivating our hearts in process. Yayy~! Finally the good men win the battle one step at a time, together, joining forces. Gotta put PY back to the good men list.

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I think Hong Joo will be save by Poong-yeon's father since he escaped.

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Good grief. No. Please! The show got to end with her dying. She must die immediately. Let our heroes have some great moments without black magic. Give us 4 episodes of peace and happiness.

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I feel like I've been watching the same thing repeating itself for several episodes now. This show started out so good that it made me giddily wait for a week until the next episode comes out.

It took great effort to make myself watch episode 16 and I was playing on my phone for about 3/4 of it. The acting is spot on as always but the writing just started falling apart a long time ago. I hope it saves itself for the remaining episodes.

Also, I think they have to kill Hyunseo. That would probably light a candle because looking at his state now, I bet the only thing he wishes for now is to die.

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Yea, I feel the same way. First 4 episodes were brilliant. Everything after that should have been compressed in half the episodes. There are some great moments in each episode, but a lot of filler in between.

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I am so stinking relieved Poong Yeon is still on team Hero although I do agree the show should have made it a little more obvious to the viewers what he was thinking because for the past few episodes i have said lots of nasty things regarding Poong Yeon that I feel bad about now! Lol!!

And I am so happy that we finally got a solid WIN! I really was disheartened when Hong Joo got to escape and I really thought it was going to take the next 4 episodes for her to finally get what she deserves. But Jun.... He has really been pulling through for the while team lately!

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This is one of the weirder things to note, but - Hong Joo really does the internal-injury-via-black-magic thing with style.

The coughed up blood plus convulsions plus the scarlet lipstick? Amazing. In a show that's excelling with visuals, the fact that every time her plan goes wrong she ends up with a faceful of blood really works for me, especially since she goes through the rest of the scene without even trying to wipe it off. It must be a nightmare for makeup and continuity, but it's much more effective than the quasi-elegant way queens in sageuks always seem to get poisoned, with a little blood dripping off their chin.

This is full-on, she is doing full-on black magic and that means a faceful of hard-to-clean blood over her perfect makeup when it goes wrong! She's got more important things to worry about than a little internal bleeding, or even a lot of internal bleeding, and she doesn't even seem to care it's all over her face!

I don't know why I find this so unreasonably satisfying, but I do.

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I agree with this. This show amazed me from the beginning, not only for its wonderfully written story and the amazing effects, but also for the tenacity of its team to "go there." The actress playing Hong Joo has made her (Hong Joo) a tough biotch by her actions...like you said, she doesn't care about her "beauty" onscreen vs the character that she has created. You almost think that Hong Joo is all like, "So what if she has a little bit of internal bleeding? She has BIGGER fish to fry!"

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Yum Jung-Ah is doing a bang-up job. What a performance! She's totally sold me on the twistedness of the Hong-Joo.

The character has gone over to the dark side, and her tragic backstory makes her a walking cautionary tale. I can't help but have at least a modicum of sympathy for her. Her lowly status being trampled led to her turning to black magic as a means of revenge in the first place.

There's a glaring parallel between Hong-Joo and Heo Jun with regard to the immutability of status and being on the receiving end of ill-treatment as a result. As His Excellency warned Jun, a weak heart will be devoured by black magic... Earlier, he could have killed Ok in retaliation for his mother's death, but managed to hold back. That self-control stood him in good stead when he had to find and destroy the Short Black Sword.

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I love that they have made Poong Yeon one of our allies! Yay!! Great writing and acting!

Some of the commenters were wondering why he pretended to be so naive for so long. He might have been acting that way 1.) to figure out *if* Hong Joo truly wanted to "cleanse" Yeon Hwi like she said, or if she wanted to KILL her (as she proved later were her intentions). 2.) that Holy Fire actually is lethal to HONG JOO! Yay! Did anyone else see Poong Yeon's interest in this?! Smart fellow.

I hope that the cut to his chest does not lead to trouble later... I love Poong Yeon, but his ability to ward off dark magic is not so strong as our Mr. Sparkly Eyes. Only Jun has been able to fight off the strong influence of the Dark Magic.

Hopefully, with all these different characters facing their own demons (I had to!), they will be able to band together and fight against not only Hong Joo, but the mysterious dark magic that has tempted her to hurt and destroy others for her own gain.

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Okay, so I wasn't the only one who fell in love with the smirk. So well done.

I have been feeling like there was some wheel spinning and sagging in the story in the last few episodes so I'm glad to see some major forward progression in the story.

Hope the last 4 episodes are well done and explain everything thoroughly.

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Thanks for the recap, SailorJumun!

YSY is love!! Ending smirk + in your face, Hongjoo was perfect! I loved how it showed Jun had to wrestle his fears and doubts, yet he overcame them to complete his mission of destroying the black magic blade. *fist pumps*

Poongyeon testing Hongjoo out was great! Bring on that fire!! It was good to see him heed his dad's advice to not trust him. Also, I knew he could never bring himself to hurt or kill Yeonhee.

Pretty sure Hongjoo still has some fight in her and I'm also curious how Hyunseo will behave from here on. Let's hope the last 4 ep's won't be too draggy. Get 'em candles lit!! ;)

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Hong Joo without mojo with still 4 more episodes just makes me curious on how she's going to mess with Jun & co, coz she definitely will. It was never explained how the black magic got her in the first place, was it just hanging around people with power (e.g. Hyun Seo's book rack) to tempt these people? Could there be some bigger bad behind her..? Or bigger puppet master who played both side? Hope the show will explain. Also hoping Sol Gae will appear again, her story seems incomplete still.
Wondering whether Heo Ok will have something to do in the finale, he seems pointless somehow, and him being in jail is not enough, need to see him suffer more!

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Still trying to get a handle on Yo-Gwang's reanimation.

Maybe I'm not recalling it correctly... but I thought that Hyun-Seo was tied up and enthralled with the black magic smoke right after he was spirited away from the aftermath of the shootout at the OK Corral... He was already in Hong-Joo's custody at the time that someone made off with Yo-Gwang's (apparent) corpse. And His Excellency was missing for something like a year. This is why I don't think he's the one who reanimated Yo-Gwang.

For the life of me, I can't figure out who dunnit. Unless there was some sneaky way that Hyun-Seo sent his fetch to do the deed... Except that he himself was in the clutches of Hong-Joo's black magic.

I have the sad feeling that Y-G has been a dead man walking this whole time...

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Your recollection of YG's reanimation is accurate, IICR. ?
Without introducing a new character this late in the show as the big bad behind all the bads, could YG' saviour be Sol Gae? She's been around from the beginning, mysterious enough that the reveal of her being Red Robe was a surprise and without a fully revealed back story, she could really be YGs saviour. Admittedly, I'm grasping at straws here. Is Sol Gae strong enough to cart away a grown man on her back, even if she did carry away Yeon Hee, a young woman?
If YG's a dead man walking, he's a funny dead man walking. Still chuckle at his I prefer girls, really, after manhandling Joon's chest. Funnier than his I prefer really tall women quip to Soon Deok! ?

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I would love to know the answer to who it is behind too, but at this stage in the show, I feel like chances are quite high it was a dropped plot line. It was too deliberately shot to be a completely plot hole, but too un-addressed to seem like we're gonna get answers. As Patinalee said, we're not likely to get any new characters so late.

Uh, but I don't think it can be Sol Gae. Sol Gae genuinely seemed to be a hench woman of Hong Joo and not a double-crossing agent.

So I think they might have intended something but decided to forgo that aspect of the plot?

On a side note, I'm a bit bewildered by the fact that Heo Jun's father is not really explained. He was an official, but it's not clear enough if he's dead or away long-term. Seems more dead to me, but it's so ambiguous it bothers me.

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@osmanthus_tea

Aside: love your name! Osmanthus is one of my favorite flowers... I might just have to make a cup of the tea now that you've reminded me. ;-)

There has to be a rational reason for YG getting reanimated and patched up by persons as yet unknown... otherwise we're stuck with deus ex machina, which simply does not fit with the careful plotting of the story thus far.

I agree that it's too late in the game for a new character to be revealed as the party behind it -- without it looking too cheesy for words.

As for Pops Heo, he is a cipher. Reminds me of Eun-Oh's father in ARANG AND THE MAGISTRATE. He appeared late in the show, but had been mentioned a lot before that.

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Heh, thanks! I discovered osmanthus the first time I watched a gongfu tea demo, and that kinda started me being interested in teas. (=

You're definitely far more optimistic than I am. But I do hope you're right because I'd prefer it that way too.

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@patinalee,

Thanks for the reality check!

Your hypothesis that Sol Gae might have saved YG makes a lot of sense -- as she's has access to talismans, and one of them was plastered on him when he was carted off. (Yes, I think she would be strong enough to carry him as he doesn't seem to be as big as Jun or her boss.) Just don't tell me he's her long-lost brother...

The part I'm having difficulty with is Sol Gae's motive. She knows YG is a family friend of her boss? But why would she go up against Hong-Joo?

If Hong-Joo co-opted him just like His Excellency, has poor YG been booby-trapped with a time delay? (Perish the thought!)

And, yeah, I'm still chuckling over YG's "inspection" of Jun's pectoral talisman. "I prefer girls," indeed. What a hoot... As for sparring partner Soon-Deuk, I cracked up when I first recognized her voice as that of Mini Min-Hee in TOMORROW'S CANTABILE.

Thanks for brainstorming what's going on with YG. It really bugged me to think he got killed off so early in the story.

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Actually I thought the scene with Poong Yeon & possessed dad did kinda show that Poong Yeon realised is was Hong Joo not dad. I noticed his gaze changed when he agreed to do what possessed dad says.

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