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Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo: Episode 2

And now it’s time for Episode 2 of Moon Lovers, which I know aired yesterday, and there’s a whole third episode sitting here waiting for me to get to it. I’m recapping like the wind, I swear! A really slow, tired wind with joint problems.

The second episode was a lot more action-packed than the first, since we could move past most of the introductions (even though I’m still working to keep all the princes and bloodline loyalties straight in my goldfish-memory brain). I do wonder if there was a better way, conceptually, to start this series in a way that could still introduce everyone properly and have more plot happen off the bat. I think there probably are other approaches, but barring a whole rehaul of format and gazillions of flashbacks and other devices, I think it’s just inevitable that it would take a little while to settle in. So let’s start settling.

 
EPISODE 2 RECAP

Hae Su (or to be more accurate, 21st-century Ha-jin, who’s decided to live as Hae Su) is rescued from a fall off a ridge by Wang So, the fourth imperial prince of Goryeo, as he charges by on horseback. Well, I suppose it was his fault she almost fell, so it’s the least he could do.

Su stares up at So with wide eyes, clinging tightly as he continues riding for a bit before halting the horse. She’s transfixed, looking intently into his face, and he glances back at her… before dumping her onto the ground in a heap. Heh.

Glaring, she stops him to chastise him for his rudeness. He’s taken aback at her forthrightness, but responds by purposely rearing his horse up on its hind legs to scare her. She falls down and he rides on with a smirk, leaving her fuming in his wake.

Su exclaims the she ought to report him to the police, but a bystander lets her know that he was the notorious fourth prince—it’s a lucky thing she survived the encounter.

Su’s maid Chae-ryung comes running up to tell her that Princess Yeonhwa is looking for her.

Currently, the princess is with her brothers, or at least the six of them that get along; So is absent. The meeting is for the princes to prepare for the upcoming ceremony, held on the last day of the year to chase out evil spirits from the palace. The others take this opportunity to complain about how difficult it is to get along with So, who’s moody and scary.

Which is, of course, the moment So chooses to step inside, and the princes snap to attention, tensing with worry. The only one who looks happy to see So is Princess Yeonhwa, who (historical spoiler alert!) is both his half-sister and future wife. She lives here with eighth prince Wook (her full brother), and invites So to stay in this house while he’s in the city, which Wook agrees with.

But shifty-looking third prince Yo interjects, telling Wook not to try too hard with So: “He’s understands the language of beasts better than people.”

The others stiffen at the barb, but So just replies, “Ah, that’s why I understand my hyungnim’s [Yo’s] words so well.” Nice burn.

The maids enter with snacks, which is also Su’s cue to join the gathering, although she does her best to hang back out of sight. Her skulking behind a pillar gets the attention of tenth prince Eun, who gets in her face and tries to place why she’s so familiar, while she goes cross-eyed and prays that he won’t figure it out.

Eun makes the connection, though, and asks if she was the peeping tom at the baths. Su blurts a denial, and accidentally knocks down a maid carrying a tray, sending plateware crashing to the ground.

Faced with the princess’s anger and a roomful of staring princes, Su runs out in mortification.

Thirteenth prince Baek-ah comments that Su has changed; she used to be quite modest and careful. Wook merely replies that he was never that close with her and wouldn’t know. (Or so you say—I’ve got my eye on you.) Princess Yeonhwa supposes that Eun was mistaken, since it would have been impossible for Su to get entry to their royal bath.

Su calms her racing heart and tells herself to hang in there, then spots Eun stepping outside—he’s still convinced he recognizes her correctly and goes searching for her.

Su initially ducks for cover, but then sees Eun stopping to peer through a tear in the door. He doesn’t find Su there, but he sure doesn’t stop watching the maid undress.

Then maid girl Chae-ryung sees him and screams, sending Eun running, only to be blocked by a stern-faced Su. Eun insists, rather unconvincingly, that he’s innocent of the slave’s accusation, and Chae-ryung can’t be absolutely sure it was him.

But Su retorts that she saw it clearly, and scolds the prince like an ajumma schooling an errant schoolboy. She orders him to apologize, which Eun can’t even fathom doing—a prince, bowing to a slave?

He storms off, and Su chases him to insist he apologize, grabbing at his cloak. He shoves her off, and when she crashes to the ground, that just pisses Su off more. She trips Eun, then engages in a full-on hair-grabbing tussle.

The sounds of their yelping reach the other princes indoors, and they get up to take a look. All but So, who remains disinterested.

By the time the princes get outside, the fight has progressed to headlocks (his) and biting (hers). Eun knocks her down, she kicks him over, and then she climbs on top of him and smacks him repeatedly. Eun warns that she won’t escape unscathed, but Su is caught up in her fury, calling him a sexual harasser.

He mocks her openly, and then Su delivers the final blow: a mighty head-butt that stuns everyone watching. She rolls up her sleeve and pulls back to deliver a doozy of a slap—only this time, a hand grabs her wrist.

It’s So, who seems amused while she gapes in surprise. Eun tries to charge at Su, but Wook intervenes, warning him that there are many eyes watching. Eun flounces off in a pet.

Su finally wrenches her hand free of So’s grasp, then follows him to have more words. She demands an apology from him, too, for his rudeness. He asks who she is to demand that—what is her social status, that she could treat royalty so roughly?

It’s not an argument she finds persuasive: “So if I’m a slave you’d ignore me, but apologize if I were a princess?” She declares that she’ll get her apology from him, and also “that little kid prince” too.

So nods along, as though conceding—but then he leans way down to look her eye to eye, warning that after he apologizes to her, “You’ll have to die. And you’ll be okay with that?”

He starts to say the words, “I’m sor¬—” but Su exclaims, “Unni!” and uses the arrival of her cousin, Lady Hae, to cut him off.

She then accompanies Lady Hae to the temple for prayer, and Lady Hae tells her that no matter the reason, she laid a hand on an imperial prince—she won’t be able to escape punishment. It’s even possible that Wook will face punishment considering she’s in his care.

Lady Hae wonders how Su could have changed so much, and explains that this is where mothers come to pray for their children. She doesn’t have children, but indicates her tower of prayer stones and explains that these are on behalf of Su.

Lady Hae explains having decided to look after Su, who’d lost her own mother, as a mother would. But on a day like this, she fears her efforts and affection have been insufficient, and feels ashamed thinking that Su’s mother is watching.

At that, Su starts to cry, thinking of her own mother. Lady Hae envelops her in a hug, and asks tearfully what she is to do with her. She tells Su to get along well here, if only for her mother’s sake, and that makes Su cry harder.

Su sits outside the temple for a long while, thinking of how she’s causing trouble for people who take care of her. She wonders if there’s a way to go back and asks Chae-ryung after that man she’d seen earlier (Astronomer Choi)—she recognized his face as the homeless man on the pier, the only link to her time.

Su considers the bathing springs, but Chae-ryung shudders at the thought, warning her against returning to the site where she almost died.

Astronomer Choi examines Eun’s black eye while ninth prince Won and thirteenth prince Baek-ah snicker in amusement. Eun fumes over the audacity of the girl who’d dare raise a hand to royalty, but Won teases him about his “fateful meeting.”

Baek-ah fans the flames, saying that a woman wouldn’t bother raising a hand to him if she were uninterested. Clueless Eun actually seems to believe that, and asks follow-up questions while his brothers try not to laugh.

They clam up when So enters the building, and watch curiously as he makes his way to a room, shoving aside a court lady to force his way in. So wears a smile of anticipation on his face as he enters the room…

But it fades when he sees that his mother, Queen Sinmyeongsunseong, is sitting with his two full brothers, third prince Yo and fourteenth prince Jung. Ouch, that’s got to hurt, considering that she treats him with indifference at best.

So joins them anyway, and his mother consciously refuses to look at him. Younger brother Jung fills the silence by talking about So’s recent improvements in martial arts. At that, the queen asks if he’s really been learning martial arts, and So replies that he hasn’t. The queen supposes that his adoptive family in Shinju would have no reason to do that.

Yo chimes in with the rumor of a dog-wolf appearing in the city, clearly aimed at So. So just replies levelly, “He’s said to be from Shinju, isn’t he?”

The queen calls the visit to a close, and So can barely mask his disappointment, saying that it’s been two years since they’ve seen each other. The queen merely says it’s out of consideration for his adoptive mother, but So replies that he intends to stay longer this time, and asks to stay with his brothers at the family’s private residence.

It’s almost painful to watch So alternate between hope and disappointment, continuing to try for his mother’s affection despite the constant rejections. The queen balks at his suggestion, declaring So a member of the Shinju Kang clan; his return to his birth family would cause strife between the two clans.

So chokes back his bitterness, saying, “They said I was sent as an adopted son, but hostage was right.”

Yo mocks his use of “hostage,” as though So is being overly dramatic, and the queen asks, “How could I use you as hostage?” So replies, “When you say that, I must believe you.” Then he reaches into his cloak to give his mother a present.

But Jung beats him to the punch, presenting her with a lovely hairpin that she fawns over. Stunned and hurt, So keeps the hairpin he’d brought her tucked in his cloak.

He excuses himself to leave, and Yo throws a parting shot at his back, remarking that it’s quite an embarrassment to see a prince so pathetic. So doesn’t react as he exits, not even when he finds his other half-brothers eavesdropping in the hallway.

After his departure, the queen tells her other two sons to make sure So is sent back after the ceremony, calling soldiers if necessary.

Then Jung shares an interesting rumor he’s heard, that the queen herself was the cause of So’s disfigurement. He says it like it’s unbelievable, but Yo rebukes Jung sharply for repeating groundless rumors.

On his way out, So is stopped by Astronomer Choi, who suggests he bathe before the rites and has a servant escort him away.

That night, Su makes her way alone to the bathing pools in search of a link to that man she’d seen. She supposes seeing him could have even been a divine sign, and hopes that means there’s a way for her to return home. With her prince-hitting punishment hanging over her head, she’s motivated to leave Goryeo as soon as possible.

Once in the bathing pool, So removes his mask (oh thank god, I’ve been dying for that thing to come off), and we see the multitude of scars all over his back and torso. He stares into the still water… and then rears back when Su bursts out of the pool.

She comes up gasping, and as she locks eyes with So, they both freeze. After a beat, he claps a hand over his scarred eye, looking ashamed.

“Did you see?” he asks hesitantly. Su just stares in shock, speechless, and So grabs her throat and bellows, “I asked if you saw!”

She begs for mercy, and when he orders her to forget him, she nods jerkily. So grabs his mask and clothes and leaves the pool—and misses seeing that the hairpin he bought for his mother falls to the ground.

Su spots it and takes it with her, then takes the long walk back home. By the time she arrives, the whole household is outside waiting for her, which stuns her.

Lady Hae chides her for leaving without a word, leaving the whole family to worry. The word “family” sticks with Su, and she realizes, “I’ve… come home.”

Later, Su asks her maid Chae-ryung about the fourth prince, and Chae-ryung freaks out just at the mention of him, urging Su to avoid him at all costs if she were to run into him—his cruelty is famous.

Chae-ryung describes his background as we see an exhausted, bloody So making his way down rocky terrain, to the men who wait down below. They’re his adoptive family members from the Kang clan, and the leader seems both awed and disappointed that So didn’t die—they forced him to battle wolves for sport, and he’d supposedly killed all the wolves in Shinju.

Chae-ryung adds that So is said to kill people, too—especially those who see the scar on his face. Alarmed, Su realizes that she really did just escape death. She’s also surprised to be told that So’s royal status is what enables him to travel freely, because people here can’t stand to look upon people with disfigured faces. Su grumbles to herself that the tendency to give the upper classes preferential treatment hasn’t changed in a thousand years.

So’s mother, Queen Sinmyeongsunseong, bathes alone and thinks back to a recent conversation she’d had with her eldest son, Yo. They’ve been biding their time for a while, and they feel the need to speed things up because of the recent rumors that the king may abdicate the throne to Crown Prince Mu. The queen says that the upcoming ceremony is their best chance at eliminating Mu, and Yo assures her not to worry.

On the day of the ceremony to chase out evil spirits, the palace bustles with preparations. Queen Sinmyeongsunseong is elaborately dressed and adorned, and comments that she will shine the brightest in the palace today.

She encounters another royal consort in the courtryard, Queen Sinjeong, mother to Wook and Princess Yeonhwa. (Queen Sinmyeongsunseong is the third consort, while Queen Sinjeong is the fourth.) With her and the princess is daughter-in-law Lady Hae.

The queens exchange pleasantries, and Queen Sinmyeongsunseong invites the princess to visit her for a chat sometime. They maintain smiles until Queen Sinmyeongsunseong moves on, at which point Princess Yeonhwa’s face darkens.

The princess dislikes the idea of her mother having to deal with Queen Sinmyeongsunseong all alone in the palace, and wishes her brother Wook would bring his mother into the private residence. At that, Lady Hae cautions her to watch her words in the palace.

Queen Sinjeong agrees, and advises her daughter “to forget it all.” The princess asks bitterly, “How can I forget that grudge?”

Queen Sinjeong wonders why Su wasn’t brought along with her, and Lady Hae replies that Su has been making many mistakes in the wake of her accident, and she thought it best to leave her behind.

The princes do one last run-through of their sword-dance, and Crown Prince Mu beams in approval. Tenth prince Eun asks Wook if Su will be here today (now that the idea is planted that she likes him), and that question gets him roundly teased by his brothers, who joke about him getting another black eye to match his first. It brings a smile to everyone’s face, even So’s—although the second he sees Wook noticing, the smile fades.

Meanwhile, shifty-looking Yo looks over at a line of black-clad men arriving for their part in the ritual, wearing demon masks.

But Crown Prince Mu is working his counterplay, and secretly exchanges costumes with So.

Meanwhile, Su and Chae-ryung head out into the city to enjoy the festivities there, admiring the dancing and lights.

At the palace, So takes the lead position as the ceremony begins, though everybody else believes him to be Mu. In this ritual, he plays the part of the leader in driving out the demons from the palace, with princes providing backup.

The performance is a mix of martial arts and dance, and Queen Sinjeong compliments “Mu” for his skilled showing. (This is not a surprise, since Mu has a military background, though notably, So does not—despite his reputation for savagery, his lack of official fighting training has been noted.)

Then it’s time for the demon-masked men to join the performance, and So takes them on in an impressive choreographed display. Masked Yo joins So as they drive out the demons, reciting an incantation together.

But suddenly, more masked men fly in from above, and immediately the king and Astronomer Choi know that this wasn’t part of the planned ritual. The demons draw their swords to attack So, and Astronomer Choi sounds the call to protect the king.

Soldiers rush the king’s platform to guard him, and by now the princes realize something’s amiss. So—still masked—takes on an army of demons, and Wook is the first to charge into the fray to help. The other princes follow suit, evening the numbers.

At one point Yo exchanges a glance with the demon he’s pretending to fight, then maneuvers their swords and points it at So—to the eye, it would look like an accidental stabbing. The sword slices So’s arm and he goes down, and then a demon swoops in for the kill.

But a masked prince jumps in at the last second and defends So—ah, the real Mu—and the demons sense defeat and scatter. Yo orders the soldiers to catch the assassins, and the king hurries to check on his son. The mask comes off, and he’s stunned to see So’s face instead of Mu’s.

Immediately, the king demands to know where Mu is, and ouch, there’s such a look of hurt on So’s face as he registers his father’s priorities, and how he doesn’t figure in them. Mu reveals himself, the king relaxes, and the queen realizes her plot was foiled.

So says he will catch the culprits and runs off alone. Mu grabs his sword to follow, but his father stops him.

So heads into the city streets, spotting the assassins traveling on rooftops, and chases. The pursuit leads him through the city streets, and at one point Su spots him while taking a break from sight-seeing.

Curiosity compels her to follow, even as the chase takes So into the woods. What. Why are you going into the woods?! Don’t be that idiot!

So catches up with the assassins and engages in a swordfight with one of them. They face off in a fierce clash, while Su wanders into a different area of the woods. There, she happens upon a meeting of the other assassins as they meet with their leader—Prince Yo—and bow before him with heads bowed. And then, at his command, Yo’s guards kill the failed assassins.

Su stares in horror and quietly retreats, but lets out a tiny gasp… and Yo hears it. When he whirls around, however, she’s gone.

Back to So, who demands to know whom the assassin is working for. He offers a deal to spare the assassin’s life in exchange for the name, and the assassin wavers, uncertain.

And just as he starts to lower his sword, Su comes running up, gasping about the scene she just witnessed. Gack!

So obviously, the assassin now grabs Su hostage, and holds his sword to her throat.

But So just tells him to go ahead and kill her, to the assassin’s shock. “Or should I do it?” So asks.

He raises his sword and points it at Su’s face, and as one blade digs into her neck, she begs to be saved. So smirks that one woman means nothing to him and presses the assassin for a name.

Once more the assassin wavers, loosening his grip, and So feels victory in his grasp… but Su sees the blade moving away from her neck and bites the assassin’s hand, shoving him away. I think this is the definition of digging your own grave.

The assassin moves to kill her anyway, and So starts to react, but a dagger flies in and embeds itself in the assassin’s head. It’s Wook, arriving in the nick of time.

Except, it’s not good timing for So, who’s just been robbed of answers. He grabs Su angrily, raging at her for ruining things. His sword presses close to her neck.

But Wook holds his sword to So’s neck and tells him to let her go. In one quick move, So whirls to clash swords with Wook, and replies that he won’t.

 
COMMENTS

This episode was more satisfying than the first, although I found the premiere episode entertaining and adequate for its purposes. (Although maybe “adequate” is part of the problem, when we were promised glorious. I suspect that the undercurrent of disappointment I’m hearing has a lot to do with elevated expectations, that killer of dramaland fun. Perhaps it’s not the only reason, but surely it’s a big one.) We got to see more of the princes we cared about (So), and it was easier to relegate the lesser princes to background territory, offering moments of levity while the primary princes did the dramatic lifting.

I also liked the way the show had Su slowly seeing this world as more of a permanent place to live, even as she’s still searching for a way out. I still find her reaction to being dropped in Goryeo to not quite ring true, but aside from that point, I like the moment she realizes that her actions have consequences for the people here, who have been very nice in looking after her, and that for now, this is the closest thing to family she has. (I don’t think my feeling of disconnect has to do with time constraints—i.e., needing to set up story quickly—because I recall that the heroine in Splish Splash Love got that across in even less time. It’s all about taking some care to establish tone and emotional connection, and I feel like we’re skipping some of that here.)

And don’t get me started on the frustrating foolishness of her wandering into a forest at night alone while men were clearly fighting to the death. At that point I had to throw up my hands and think that if she died, it would be her own damn fault. I appreciate that she has spunk, and doesn’t let social rank cow her into deference, mostly because that means nothing to her. I like that version of Su, who is driven more by what’s right than what’s expected of her. But the end of this episode was an annoyance, and the show had better smarten her up from here on out, y’hear me?!

By contrast, I think the show’s doing a marvelous job with So, or maybe that’s Lee Jun-ki’s work. Probably a combination of the two. It’s partly to do with the way the story is setting up his background and affection-starved life, but also owes much to his diverse range of expressions and microexpressions. The scene with the queen and her two other sons is a prime example of this, because there was so much emotion going on there and I could track every single thread—So longing to see his mother, feeling hope at her reaction and disappointment at her lack of one, being hurt and her continued rejections, and forcing nonchalance to act like none of this affects him.

It also provides a meaty basis for the adult he’s grown into, who can commit savage acts without flinching. I can’t say I love the way he treats our heroine, but I do like that the drama is humanizing him and providing the explanation without necessarily romanticizing his brutishness. At least, I really hope they don’t take it in that direction; so far, I feel hopeful about the portrayal. And his reaction when she caught him in his most vulnerable state was a lovely moment—not lovely that he tried to strangle her, of course, but that we saw him drawing back first, and then lashing out to cover up. It’s pretty telling of his M.O. all around.

I’m not sure I’m feeling all of the princes, and while we have plenty of time for each one to get his own moment in the spotlight, I think it’s a four-man show with four bridesmaids. Which, really, is fine by me, so long as the conflict remains interesting. Yo’s scheming is familiar strife, but I hope we have more than that as a source of conflict; I find Wook the more interesting potential source of clashing. He’s the most civil and friendly, but he’s also the one I’d peg as the smartest and likely to play his cards close to the vest. I wouldn’t take my eye of him… not that I’d want to.

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Reese, excited to watch this tonight (a little late to the game, but hey...)! Now to see if I can cony hubby into doing choose so I can marathon this and loads of other great dramas airing. Hmmmm...

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I want to con my hubby into watching this too. Not sure I can explain to him why Wang So is interested in his half sister though. Since this is a somewhat loose interpretation of history, maybe they can skip the whole marrying his sister part (cringe) and just show the So-Su relationship.

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I understand that in the past, a king usually had more than one wife, but what I failed understanding is the half-brother/sister marriage. Okay, due to having many wives and it's probably the children of different wives didn't know well one another and could end up loving their half sister/brother, but still...

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It's not about love, it's about King Taejo's to keep his family united and prevent family strife. (LOL, intermarriages cause more family strife, but whatever) Besides, at least its not as bad as Egypt, lolz.

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My oldest daughter and I are watching it, and my husband initially stopped to mock how dirt-free all the peasants were...and then the swordfight stopped him cold. Heh.

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That first word was supposed to be referred, silly auto correct...

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Sorry again! Technology is not helping me now!

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What you really meant to say:

"Really excited to watch this tonight (a little late to the game, but hey...)! Now to see if I can con my hubby into doing chores so I can marathon this and loads of other great dramas airing. Hmmmm..."

=)

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I'm sorry if I come across as rude but honestly I don't mean to
But autocorrect almost never fails to crack me up.
What it has done to your comment is sure annoying to you but I find it a cute and hilarious annoyance. LOL.

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Oh, that ending scene! I truly believe Wang Soo was saying Hae So's life doesn't matter because that would allow for her to live. I don't think he's as heartless as we're lead to believe.

Lee jun ki though @[email protected]

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2 hot guys in a sword fight! Woo-hoo!

Also, the 4th prince really needs some prince charming lessons. You don't save a girl from falling, swoop her into your arms then just shove her down from your horse.

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I guess "Prince Charming" is not the concept that he's aiming for. LOL.

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True, Prince Charming is more #8's concept than #4's.

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Am I The First? Dat Will Be The First Time Ever

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@rentenmann kinda beat you to it with not just one but three comments. Sorry. Anyhow what I'm doing here when I should be watching it first. Oh, wait no subs! *SOBS*

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-Oh! wang so, you puppy. Killer, homicidal puppy but still a puppy. LJK nailed those 2 scenes with the despicable parents. Come here, i'll give you a hug!

-I don't care about historical accuracy because that fight scene b/w the prince and HS was beyond hilarious. I laugh every single time i watch it

-The ritual scene, so so beautifully shot. I was annoyed when the assassins showed up because I wanted to watch more of it. A+ production values.

-The show hits all my sweet spots. It is not so heavy on history and political shenanigans that I feel lost. Nor is it breezy to the point of being silly. I love it.

-Big Budget productions are the new underdogs. Everybody seems to want them to fail without giving them a chance. The hate is relentless. I'm just sad for LJK. He deserves to have a legit ratings hit.

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Honestly, it's a surprise how low the ratings were, but I don't think these big-budget productions are underdogs at all, it's just that this particular one has been attracting nasty comments ever since IU was cast, before we'd even seen one frame.

And the timing, coming in the wake of another high-profile pre-produced drama also ending up with low ratings after loads of hype and even positive comments before airing, probably didn't help.

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I don't get the ratings at all. Even if people say that Ep.1 was crap, they should have at least tuned in to see all the hype. But thats not the case at all

If it was just the ratings, i think pre-produced idea would be dead after these two shows. But apparently they make a lot of money overseas. ML has been sold for like 8 million $ in china alone. So profitable all around. I guess the only ones really hurt are the actors. Without a rating hit in their own country - CFs, future roles - all get affected.

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Yes. I don't understand how the ratings could be so low despite all the hype.

I don't really see a difference for pre-produced film... I mean a lot of Asian films and dramas are pre-produced so the onus is on the script and the actors to convey the desire feelings/emotions.

I have seen the Chinese version of the show and from the first two episodes of Moon Lovers, I am happy that the show was not a replicate. It was nice to see familiar settings but the Lee Jun Ki and Kang Haneul gave their characters different vibes from their Chinese counterparts.

I am rooting for this show!

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I love the show and I have been following all the teasers and writeup, interviews etc but I was watching the show with my husband and he said he is confused by the sheer number of characters and their relationships. So I guess that maybe what an ordinary tv viewer in Korea feels. But well the show had made its money. hopefully the ratings improved when the story goes full swing.

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This drama is a prime example of why casting is very important to a drama's success. From the get go, fans of the original drama already noted that rather than casting for looks and hallyu fame by using idols, they should have been casting people who fit the roles.

Furthermore, while they should be applauded for crafting their own story rather than just copying the original, they have lost so much of the feel of the novel/drama. BBJX was never a slapstick type drama, even in the early episodes when the princes were still getting along, there was still some seriousness among the revelry. With Moon lovers however, 10th prince has been turned into a caricature, made worse by the EXO guy's amateurish acting, did you see the scene, where he literally humphed while exiting, like something a 6 year old would do. He is not the only one to blame though, the director should have fixed that and corrected him.

Then 14th prince, is also now a comedic character, and 13th prince has lost his fearlessness. The characterizations that set the princes apart have been lost, which is why many people are having a hard time differentiating the princes. The drama instead is so focused on showing the pretty, with terrible jump cuts and face zoom ins. Sigh...

They have turned our heroine into another kdrama damsel in distress. The original Maerta Rouxi was a history buff, who used that knowledge to navigate her time in the past. But here, they have our heroine not even knowing the name of the king that succeeds the throne. Instead they have added a new, male character, who will be the one that has knowledge of the future, and uses it to shape the past. Sigh x 2...

Despite all that, I still feel that the backlash and low ratings are way higher than they should be, and like what @javabeans said, it is more of a consequence of the hype, and the long wait and now people are more inclined to support the underdog, Moonlight Drawn by Clouds drama instead. Whoever at SBS is scheduling their dramas, needs to do a better job as well. Why schedule Moon Lovers to come after the airing of a similar, fusion, young people targeting, sageuk. The one that airs later is already at a disadvantage! Considering this was pre-produced, it should have aired weeks ago. It probably doesn't matter, because the production already made a profit, even before one scene was shown, so they can take solace in that at least.

Still watching and hope the drama gets better with later episodes, or at least the team does a better job with the post-production editing.

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@swetu

I don't want to compare Moon Lovers to BBJX, but as they share the original source, I guess you can't completely avoid it. I also haven't watched BBJX fully, so my comparison obviously falls short.

Still, I don't agree that the characters have lost their previous shine or that the actors have been miscast, instead they're used to fill a different purpose in my opinion. Sure, besides the 4th and 8th, the princes have definitely taken on the filler roles, but I personally don't mind them being less flesh-out characters. The fact that the 10th prince isn't as sweet as his Chinese counterpart, but simply uber childish doesn't rub me the wrong way either, mainly because I'm too invested in what's going on with the "main" princes, and by all means I can't see how Lee Jun-ki or Kang Ha-neul have been miscast:)

It might be that I'm forgiving Moon Lovers's lack of smoothness in introducing its myriad of princes, simply because I like the overall mood better. Moon Lovers has a sad tinge to it, it's darker and more fairy tale like, and that alone has me sold.

I do agree that the heroine has suffered a bit in this one, being more of an usual damsel in distress, and that's a pity, but I still like her. I guess a lot of this show reminds me of Faith, which I really loved despite all of its flaws, and Su oddly brings back some Eun-soo feels. Besides, I was irrationally sold by the first frame of IU drinking soju from the bottle and being so damn miserable. Sawry.

As the time-travel trope has been used quite a lot in recent years, I understand that the viewers must feel impatient for the time traveler to get her shit together asap and whip out some smart plan to get out of there or make the most of her stay, because we already know (sorta) what she's supposed to do. But I don't mind Su being hapless and even making outrageously stupid moves (obvious lousy writing) like following So to the forest just to return the freaking psycho his hairpin(!).

Su is ridiculously out of her element. After all those time-travel dramas it's something easy to forget, but I love how they haven't shied away of how dangerous this new world is (more major Faith feels): life means very little, you can lose it just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and your rank doesn't only define who you are and what rights you have, but your individuality is utterly immersed by it (omg, Choi Young all over again!).

Overall I agree that Moon Lovers is pretty clumsy in bringing different parts together. It reminds me of other shows and it lacks that necessary meta to sew the cliches together in a fresh way. That's something every kdrama struggles to overcome.
Whenever So is onscreen, he's the classic Beast+unwanted son, Wook and Su have some SLA thing going on, So and Queen are like Mishil and Bidam, and I already mentioned Faith. BUT, as I really like the sad tone, I overlook the missing meta and jumpy editing and read it as a fairy...

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...tale:)

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@swetu:

Very much agreed!

very well said!

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Lee Jong Suk and Han Hyo Joo were getting hates too due to their personal life issues, but W ended up being successful at maintaining above 10%. Nevermind that the public hates them for the attitude and family, if the show is good and addicting to the mass, people will watch it for the show.

IU was loved during her Dream High days. She fit the bill and could totally act her character. I guess it's just a matter of hitting the right character for you to get the audience attract to you too.

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True enough - clearly something here isn't clicking with audiences, even in addition to the associations that might lead people to balk.

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Sorry, but for LJS, the hate is over long long long ago at least on Naver where most of the netizens are anyway.

His article always get positive comments and No. of upvotes are really good. I know you are just trying to make a point here and mean no harm but it is at the risk of starting false rumors.

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I happen to see this comment and have to clarify a few facts here.
No, Lee Jong Suk is NOT hated by public. Quite the contrary he is well loved. Here are a few links to his recent news. You can take a look at the comments and upvotes yourself:
http://entertain.naver.com/read?oid=311&aid=0000634631

All his drama have been successful for the past two years. Rating wise all 3 of them got the 1st place at the same time slot. I don’t know where you got the impression that he is hated by public. If you are talking about Nate, well that’s for haters and haters gonna hate anyway. They can’t represent public for sure.

BTW I don’t want to get into any arguments here. I just want to clarify the facts for LJS so others won’t be misled.

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Thanks for that - glad to know he isn't still getting hate for something as ridiculous as that.

(but seriously, why do fans go to the airport anyway, don't they realise their oppas are there because, you know, they have to travel? It's a transport hub, not a fanmeeting site!)

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What's the problem people are having with IU. I love her to pieces ever since I saw her in You're the Best Lee Soon-shin. I was excited when she was cast in this.

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I second this.

I came to see hot guys but end up falling for her. She gives this show life (apart from LJG, of course). I love her scenes because they're so funny and makes me giggling non-stop. She succeeds in making Hae Soo as an endearing character.

I'm not saying she deserves some fancy awards, but still the critics are too harsh.

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Thanks exactly how I feel! Her acting though not always the best, doesn't warrant such harsh criticism.

And omona, the scenes with KHN <3 <3 <3

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I guess people just preferred to watch Moonlight, their first week was solid enough to makes you want to watch more.

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Pre-production is no guarantee of success in Korea. The whole purpose of doing that is to get it through the censors and air in China. That is why Korea started doing this. In that sense, the drama already made big bucks off of China. However, like any other drama it can be hit or miss in their own country.

In hindsight, I now realize that Beautiful Mind got thrown under the bus so that station could get their drama on one week early. It apparently had a lot of goodwill in Korea and they got a week head start. I think this is why SH wisely decided to show 2 episodes the same night; they saw the ratings their competition got and they were really good for being the same week as the last week of Doctors. So they knew....It wasn't like people didn't like the first episode; they didn't even try it. (I mean I gotta give the strategy some credit.)

Anyway, this is my take. I am not going to look at ratings or any of that at this juncture but rather enjoy both dramas. I think the first episode of SH was ok; it is a confusing situation and I actually didn't think the starting episodes of the C-drama were that great. The 2nd episode really got me and the 3rd was fantastic.

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@sorrynotsorry , I second you.
I am also will not be influenced by ratings or whatnot - I watched yesterday all 3 episodes in one go (2nd and 3rd RAW) and I was totally blown away !!!! The screen presence and emotional range in acting of Lee Joon-Gi is amazing! Although there are plenty of beautiful princes and interesting characters in the mix, for me, everyone pales in comparison with the very complex, strong & vulnerable character of Wang So by LJG.

I should say that, in general, I am not sageuk person. I find them too complicated and too confusing to follow. Also often too depressing as the real life centuries ago and history is not rainbows & ponies... However if there are gripping character developments I am ready to invest my time in segeuk. I saw 80% of Emperss Ki and Six Flying Dragons is still on my 'to watch' list. So, even with such mindset first 3 episodes of SH hooked me - I am looking forward of "journey" of Wang So character... There were so much blood (probably cinematographic one?) and killing and cruelty but at the same time during the scenes at the pool and with WS mother Lee Joon-Gi gave such performance of raw vulnerability and longing to be loved! It breaks my heart - can you imagine feeling of being disfigured, abandoned and ignored by own mother?

On another point. during the previous threads I was among hose persons who expressed worries about how much weight LJG lost for SH. I found the demands of the production to loose weight ridiculous and unnecessary ( especially, if that is only for aesthetic reasons). However, after seeing the episodes I understand the reasoning... Wang So is supposed to be younger than Wang Yo and Wang Moo. But LJG is 34 and Hong Jong-Hyun is 26. Kang Ha-Neul is also 26. I haven't yet figured out his characters age in the drama... So taking this into consideration, the producers had some difficulties to deal with this issue. So I understand the need to make LJG look younger. Besides, WS is not a normal prince who leads idle and careless life in palace - being more skinnier (less fed?) is fitting with the character. So, in conclusion, I see all reasoning behind such drastic measures and I am in admiration for LJG for his dedication to the role and difficulties he is ready to take on in order to portray it as best as he can!

Just as final comment - I have no prior knowledge of the the source material and Chinese drama. So, I am going into watching SH with no expectation (except my admiration for the mesmerizing beauty of LJG) and as a blank page. Perhaps, it helps? I do not find so many things that irritates me and things to complain... Ok, there were the stupidity of Hae Su going into woods but that is topical drama plot device. To expect that there will be no such in drama perhaps is asking too much :)

I want to talk and talk about all the emotions which SH brought to me but I will stop here... :(

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The girl main lead is never the same. She was smart and fast. Intact and have so many knowledge. Unline IU and her acting.

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I completely agree with your review. And I'm loving SH so far. The cinematography is amazing and I'm definitely loving Wang Yo - Hae Su - Wang Wook trio. However, LJG stole the show.
@sorrynotsorry As you said "The screen presence and emotional range in acting of Lee Joon-Gi is amazing! Although there are plenty of beautiful princes and interesting characters in the mix, for me, everyone pales in comparison with the very complex, strong & vulnerable character of Wang So by LJG."

He is just so charismatic!!! I can't take my eyes off him whenever he is on screen. From his dialogue delivery, his stance, to his micro expressions everything is just fantastic. I wasn't much of a LJG fan before, but now i am one; just after 2 episodes of SH.

It's going to be really hard to wait for the new episodes each week. Now i'm kinda regretting my decision to watch it while it's still running and not binge watching. Its gonna be a long wait. ??

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I don't think SC premier is low in rating, they maybe the last but not that bad,
it's actually a good start but the amount of unsatisfied viewer with better drama in the same time slot can be a tough battle,

almost good drama premiere in 7-9% and good follow-up can increase the rating,
what important is the rating for ep 3 since they have 2 pilot and kinda established their plot line

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MLSHR's ratings improved by ep2. I'm not sure about the 3rd one though.

But yes. The ratings are quite good considering the rival shows are ahead of airing. Meaning they have viewers already

And also, since when did ratings became the concern of international fans? It's been going on with forums lately.

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2016.08.30 Ratings #LoveInTheMoonlight 16.4% (+0.4)

#Monster 10.8% (+0.8)

#MoonLovers 7.0% (-2.3)

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I just checked it too,
I find it more shocking that they loose viewer than the other drama improvement,

ep 2 didn't do much and they actually can packed ep 1 and half ep 2 in the same episode for a better impact,
but what's done is done,

at least they can only go up from here,

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I think I understand why the ratings dropped for the 3rd episode. I screamed in frustration a few times. Not sure if it's just me.
But Junki's performance remains good as expected. The rest of the princes..hm.. somewhat mediocre to me. Hope they'll continue to improve

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With regards to the lots recent ratings talks, i think maybe it's because of the hype of these pre-produced dramas? Though it cant be heloed, these are bug budget productions so of course the network will go all out. Though sometimes it feels like people are just raring for these dramas to fail? I remember all the talk abt DotS probably not living up to expectations.. but then people(k-viewers) were hooked by the 1st ep so that really did well.

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LJK is amazingly good. He acts all his scenes well. His character is strong and vulnerable at the same time. IU too is doing good. I already (sorta) watched episode 3, and I'm definitely sticking to this series until the end :) I also loved the action scenes and the scene where HS and WE were fighting.

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Someone needs to say it. And I know EXO fans are going to come after me (tho I love EXO myself), Baekhyun is really bad at this. Maybe he can improve with more acting classes or something, but don't put idols on dramas just because they're cute...

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Yep, he's bad. And I say this as someone who actually thought he was ok in that stupid web drama with his group. He's fine as comic relief, but wildly out of place in a sageuk.

Thankfully the junior princes are minor roles, for now.

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I know, right ?! Oh god it made me cringe so much.... I saw bad acting performance of idol turned actor in my life, but he topped them all...

But I feel that ji-soo too is not at his best in this drama, quite like a fish out of water...

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I don't think its a huge issue overall. this show seems very different from the previous ones.

I am guessing that beyond the 3 main princes, no other prince really matters. All the other are just there to add levity with probably tiny roles and they'll disappear once we hit the main storyline.

So i don't find any of their acting problematic as such. As long as the main players are acting well, its all good.

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Yeah, this is a 20-episoder, and no kdrama is going to flesh out so many characters in that time.

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A pity though, since in the original all the princes were important in some way and all were very memorable.

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Bad scripting maybe? I mean these boys can act, it most likely is something based on the script that makes them intolerable to watch.

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Oppa and Kang Ha-neul are holding up beautifully, though - the problem of the younger princes is probably down to a combination of their own acting and the writing just keeping them there as comic relief. They don't work for sageuk.

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Don't kill me but even Ji Soo seems to be out of his depth here. Or maybe Lee Jun Ki has his way of overshadowing all else, I don't know. The princes here so far, they seem way too immature and lack that princely aura for me. And Rouxi was never this stupid to run into the forest. She was cautious. I get that they had to show the whole two princes fighting over Hae-Soo scenario but they didn't have to make her into a stupid, stupid girl in order to do that.

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@Gem - you didn't say anything wrong - this is not Ji-soo's best work.

I can understand if he looks out of his depth because his character is like that next to his older brothers, but it really seems like he isn't getting the sageuk speech/tone thing at all. This is one case where I'm thankful his role is small (for now).

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You guys all hit the nail on the head. Turning the younger princes into comedic fillers is one of the thing that is throwing off the rhythm of the show. People were expecting a serious sageuk, instead they have princes "pantsing" each other.

The writer has also written the princes to be ego maniacs, who go around screaming, I am a prince, hear me RAWWRRRRRR. Yes, they were princes and their presence commanded respect. But in the original this was shown/implied and felt by the behaviors of the people around them, not by the princes themselves screaming , "I AM A PRINCE. I AM SPECIAL!!"

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The younger princes are annoyingly goofy.
I blame the scenarist and the director who should correct their acting. It's obvious Ji Soo an Baekhyun's portrayal don't fit a sageuk. Yet we know Ji Soo is a good actor.

And the 9th prince looks like a grown man (the actor is 31) but speak like a child.
We don't need 4 child like characters.

However I am pleased with IU's interpretation. She is doing quite right even if the scenarist made her character looks like stupid.
The Chinese show was about a strong woman, the Korean one seems to be about a stupid little thing. This change of direction is unfortunate.

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@Doudou - I actually liked Ji-soo in his scene with Nam Joo-hyuk in the marketplace - they vibe well, even if this is not Ji-soo's best work. I think Nam Joo-huk's role works for him, though - at least on the expressions front, he seems all right here.

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as I remember the prince each has arc with Hae Soo, except for 2nd, 9th, 7th,
almost all that appear in the bath scene + LJK have some arc with her

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That's what I hope for too, but you can never tell with this writer because so far she is one of my main concerns, the risk factor in the success of this show. She sacrifices the first two eps for fan service and awkward bromance (perhaps under some sponsors' pressure and not her fault), but I guess the way she portrays most of the other princes (other than 3rd) as (extremely) childish is to allow for growth and angst later on rather than just sheer comic relief, which means they'll have more screen time. I just hope that in later episodes if they were focused at all their appearance would actually contribute something significant to the plot, rather than just hanging out with one another in a purposeless crowd acting cute and contributing nothing significant to the flow of the story.

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Not too sure about that since the other princes have lovelines as well, so they'll get more focus eventually.

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I don't mind it as much as the others since his purpose is only to lifted up the mood, it can be work and can not work but serve little amount of plot development here,

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Since he's not an actor, I have to agree with the skills part. But I heard in an interview that the character is supposed to be cute, naive, and girl crazy (which I guess they diverged from the original there), so he is supposed to be cute and funny to lighten the tone? So it doesn't bother me as much. But yeah it would have fit more with a drama set in modern times or in a lighter sageuk like Moonlight Drawn by Clouds.

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he;s bad but part of the issue is giving him so much airtime in such a high profile project when he's not been in a drama before. (i dont count the webseries he did with his group since that's obv aimed at fans). It's hard not to think he was cast simply for being in a very popular kpop group. honestly anyone could play his role (and likely better). ah well, i dont hate his character i just wish they'd give him less airtime/lines. hell i'd rather watch nam joo hyuk over him and njh isnt a great actor himself but he's way more natural here.
(and everytime that exo song blares over scenes in the drama i criiiinge. the song is fine itself but its used terribly. much like baek himself)

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Urg..yes he is bad. I know he is supposed to be cute and not so bright but what i got from him was he was 'acting cute' not being cute. I am trying to cut him some slack for being new but with the director's penchant for in your face shots, it's hard not to notice.

And YES! Do they have to make her so dumb? Running into the forest?In the night? Really? It pains me to see that the C-version of the heroine portrayed as a clueless, not so bright bulb here as she was whip-smart, sharp, cautious and with a high EQ. I am just hoping this is a one-off.

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It's like the director told Ji Soo to amp up the doofus in order to distract from Baekhyun scenery chewing (the stomp away from Hae Soo/crowd after the 'fight' was cringey).

Can somebody please love and care for So and give him a damn hug.

As much as Hae Soo's stupidity (fighting, chasing after a man holding a sword running after a group of men with swords), I still find many of her antics funny.

I feel like now we're past the stupid (mostly) antics, I'm going to like her more.

I kind of wish 4th and 8th become buddies, but I know it's not going to happen. But they have great chemistry, just like they both have chemistry with Hae Soo.

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Honestly, they really should have ironed out that first episode in the time that pre-production bought. Hae Su's character does feel like she got a few steps skipped, thanks to how things were written and filmed (and to some degree, acted - though I like IU in the role, and like her even more this ep despite Su's idiocy). It sucks to be right about how this would be received, though.

Also, I am now really into both ships, Su/4th prince, and also Su/8th prince (polygamy was a reality in Goryeo, I can deal). Both Leads Syndrome, ahoy!

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8th-Wook is great, but no, his wife is such a sweetheart. And ill. And Su's cousin!

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I mean, we've got a story where our hero is going to marry his own (biological) half-sister, I think Wook's marriage can't even get close to the 'wtf!' of that.

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WHAT? NO! Knowingly?? I'm not thát into the story yet to just ship them. I think.
Edit: so I just finished reading the recap and OMOMOOOO. He knows, we know, everyone knows who Yeonwha is! I hope they won't take over thát part of history T___T

About So's mother, she didn't care much for him in the past either when she stabbed. She was only using him to win over the King's heart, the only difference now is that he's no longer useful. COLD. No wonder he went on to marry...her...T___T
By the way, does So have any full sibling?

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biologically, So has the 3rd and 14th princes as full siblings

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I just read that historically, Wang So had two consorts - one is the half-sister who became queen, the other is his niece (aka the daughter of Wang Mu).

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oy. I don't know how I feel about that. I was going to accept the half-sister thing but then his niece??.. *sigh*

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*nervous laugh* And here I was thinking that Yeonhwa and So had a weird vibe while she was tending his wound. Omg, the downside of sageuks, you really can't paint some relationships romantic! I'm too brainwashed by modern times!

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Seriously?!!! Incestuous marriage?!!! Ewwwwwwwwww... Was that normal in Georyeo period or what?

Unless there's birth secret about Wang Soo. But then if he's not King's biological son... he has no rightful claim to the throne.

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The ancient Egyptian royals went one step further and had siblings getting married as a way to secure the throne, so even if I don't like it, I can maybe see where it comes from. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

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Historically, I'm fairly sure Wook's wife is also a half sibling... Although both their mothers were their father's half sisters so maybe that's all they know?

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(also, oppa was killing me in that scene with his mother but so is my own curiosity - WHY is his own mother so indifferent/cold to him now? )

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I loved that scene. Like JB said you could track every single expression on LJK's face - hope/rejection/disappointment/hurt/embarrassment ... you could literally see his emotions shifting with every second.

I thought that the mom was thinking about him (when she was in the pool) or about how she scarred him for life. But instead she was thinking about the other prince and how to seize the throne. So i'm guessing she just doesn't care about him because she doesn't think that he actually has any chance to be a king. So he is essentially worthless

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She is grooming the 3rd to be king and Wang-so would be in the way.

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I supposed #14 doesn't get the same treatment as So because she doesn't see him as a potential threat to #3?

Man, it must be screwed up having a royal parent.

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14 is way in the back according to birth order. He never became king so they can easily follow the novel with him.

The throne was passed down from Taejo to #1 (not sure what happen to #2), #3 and then #4. Wang-so ruled for 26 yrs and the throne was passed down to his first born from there.
They won't mess with the succession order no matter what it says in the novel.

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@Kiara - I'm really interested in the ways Goryeo history will force this drama to depart from the novel, if it does - though I've never read the novel either.

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Welp, I guess this means they'll lose all the tension+plot that came from 14 being the most likely succesor in the original (and c- history)

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@kiara: i think 2nd prince is the one that died? So prolly wang yo, so and jung's older brother

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You are right Chocopie :).

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@pogo

I haven't seen this episode yet. I want to sit down this weekend and go through all 3.

I am already disliking this writer from what I've seen so far :(.

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@Kiara - I like it, but that is probably entirely down to a combination of oppa, Kang Haneul, a bit of IU* and pretty shots. But from everything I've heard about the original, it was somewhat unconventional and nothing about Scarlet Heart so far hints at that. /sigh I really hate that Su is such a damsel in distress. And those bloody close-ups!

* I have to give it to her, she absolutely has chemistry with them both even if her own performance is not quite what it should be - or, more disappointingly, what it can be, after the promise she showed in Producers.

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The mother is just crazy and power-hungry. It breaks my heart how loving she is toward Jung and Yo and yet turns her head away from So. Something is wrong in her head; otherwise, how can someone show partiality to that extent between one's own sons?

LJK acted so well in that scene. He was smiling and happy to go see his mother and all that vanished when he entered the room and saw her expression. She even prevented Jung from getting up to greet his brother. Like, which mother does that?

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"She even prevented Jung from getting up to greet his brother. Like, which mother does that?"

The mother I'm gonna assassinate (as soon as I find the nearest hotspring-wormhole to Goryeo).

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can you let me know once you found it? i'll help you with your plan...

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Hoel. Evil queen is rising up the ranks of characters worthy of getting axed.

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Take me along, yo, I'll supply the knives.

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Count me in. I'll guard you.

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count me in, i will waxed her alive for making our poor so miserable

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I don't know if this was explained and I just missed it, but I don't get So's situation. Why is he held "hostage"? Why was he sent to be adopted to a different family? Is his adoptive family also part of the royal family?

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No, its a different household. They are warring factions. And he stays there as 'insurance' that they won't be attacked by their more powerful neighbour as the neighbour's son is living with them. And since no one gives a damn about WS, those people treated him like crap and had him (apparently) fight wolves for sport

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But why him? Why him out of all the royal sons?

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Because his own mother doesn't care about him. That's why.

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because they (his mother and father) were the cause of his scarred eye and they didn't want him to stay in the pallace after that incident since the rumors won't stop and no one will accept a prince with a scar on his face, his parents included as if they weren't the cause of the scar to begin with!! I hate them for what they did to their own child!!!

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Seems to me like in the goryeo days, people handled guilty feelings differently.

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He's no more than a broken toy to the Queen.

Beauty and look matters a lot in Georyeo period. WS's scar is a disgrace... and because of that he's considered as an outcast and isn't qualify for the throne.

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From what i get, it seems like physically damaged people were disregarded in these times. That seems to be the main reason of why pretty much everyone in the kingdom dont like So. Then proceeds to add all these hateful news about him~~

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Actually, his adoptive family is kind of part of the royal family since his adoptive mother is Lady Kang, King Taejo's 22nd consort.

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Not had a chance to check this one out yet - looking forward to tuning in tonight! I seriously thought there'd been some mix-up when I read ep1-3 on the sidebar, only to have read that there actually will be 3eps this week. How bizarre!! Thank you for the speedy recaps, Javabeans!

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Oh my...finally i can read the recap.
I keep refreshing those sites for the subbed version, but till now theres none.
And here you are, the answer to my prayer.?
i watched ep 3 already though it is still unsubbed.
I am so amazed of my addiction with LJk.
I pray before i sleep,hoping that when i wake up ep 2 will have sub or recap.
And yes!, my prayer was answered.
I dont mind if the director focus too much on actors faces. On my point of view, 1st element of the drama is actually facial expressions of the actors.
I dont understand korean. Watching their facial expressions, looking on their handsome faces is actually heaven.?

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- 4th prince is rude, idk why he has to be rude, there's no need for it, a nice facade ala 8th prince can be as scary as it can be than the blood spill,
- the camera movement can be distracting
- the music is too much this time too, it going for too long to give certain forced feeling,
- I still don't understand the important of the future Hae Soo came to the picture, idk why she has to follow the 4th to the forest either beside the dramatic movement, idk her importance in the household and the skit with 10th prince going for too long

I think the biggest giveaway for me is this drama try to make every moment as the dramatic event without building up properly,

I like how LJK arc and his mother issue come to the light but I still hope he gets some companion,
maybe the 8th in this version

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Re, point #1, it could be that he was raised and trained by the "wild" clan. 4th Prince didn't learn subtlety like 8th Prince did, living among nobles and palace intrigue.

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probably right, but his scene with Hae Soo in unnecessary rude imo,
it wasn't really about the act of a royal prince but being just a normal people since he also familiar with how hard it is to be ignored,

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I think So is pushing his everybody-thinks-I'm-beast-so-I'll-act-like-one-act a tad too much. Still, I like that he's quite the psycho, at least it doesn't feel overly romanticized, apart from hauling Su on his horse mid-ride (that scene was simply lol). He's scary and blood-thirsty with bad temper and he doesn't seem to be that sharp either, rather crazed by hurt.

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Well, it's human psychology. So many people have treated him like a beast, that he just acts like one, even if a part of him wants to be human and morally upright. When he's alone or with his parents, or with those who are consistently kind to him (Mu and Yeonhwa), or even with his brothers, he's more of the shy type.

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You're so right about him being awkward and shy around people who are kind to him. He simply doesn't know how to act. That's so endearing and pitiful at the same time.

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Waiting for this episode to be subbed sort of reminded me of the old days where shows wouldn't be subbed for weeks and I was left to rewatch the raw version again and again trying to guess dialogue. I pray to the drama gods that we never return to those good old days because I am way too spoilt by viki and dramafever and the instant gratification they provide.

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The wait for this episode's subs nearly drove me crazy - and it was less than a day. VIU's crazy fast subbing has spoiled me.
So - this will only be available on DramaFever, nowhere else?

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I don't know how it is for other dramas/stations, but for Beautiful Mind, VIU's subs were almost identical to KBS' own subtitles, except for certain naming conventions (for example, VIU had "Lee Young-oh as opposed to KBS' Lee Yeongo). So I'm not sure if it's VIU's "crazy fast subbing", or it has some sort of deal with the stations (or KBS at least) to have access to their subtitles. It cannot be a coincidence that the subtitles are almost word for word.

I'm sorry that it's off-topic, but it's bothered me for a while and I didn't know where to raise it.

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Hdfree and dramalove.tv have it fully subbed ^-^

We must fight dramafever's thirst for monopoly with their horrible inaccurate subtitles -___-

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YES INDEED!!!

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Why is mom such a bitch? His dad is no better. I'm definitely rooting for him. Off with their head!!!!!

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I totally agree with javabeans about the heroine. How could she be so stupid as to walk into the forest where the people were fighting each other?! No self-preservation at all! I really hope they make her smarter from now on because part of the appeal of the original was how smart and adaptable Ruo Xi (the female lead) was. She was able to attract the princes' and the king's attention because of her wit and talent while here she is just a loud, violent and clumsy girl (at least for now). I'm not criticizing IU by the way but only her character. I actually think she's pretty good with the material she's got.

I love Junk Ki who is amazing as usual but I'm not really feeling this adaptation. They are changing way too much from the original and most of it for the worst. While I don't want nor expect a copy of the chinese drama I wish they had kept some of the relationships of the original, which were its greatest strength in my opinion - the friendship between 4th and 13th prince, 8th prince's first wife and her sister, 8th prince and his second wife etc... I don't dislike the drama I just wish it was better, since the first one holds a special place in my heart and I consider it the best chinese drama I've seen.

On a different note is anyone else bothered by the music? I usually like when historical dramas use modern music but for some reason I really don't like the music in this drama.

Anyway, sorry if I seem too critical. I agree that ep. 2 was better than the first so maybe it will continue to improve. I'll definitely keep watching. Thank you for the recaps!

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I agree with a lot of your point,
the music is distracting and

I just hope they keep something from the original, not much but some good essential thing is okay, because it's an adaptation and I even read they choose to be more faithful to the novel which is not exactly what happen here,
as the example,
- the nature of mom's love towards 14th and 4th can be cleared by words here
- the friendship galore, I don't mind anything else as much as the bond between 13th and 4th who has different mom and way apart in age differ than the other prince with the same mom (14th) or closer with age (2nd, 3rd, 8th)
- or just make Hae Soo aware of the history ,
the things that intrigued about BBJX is how each prince describe by Ruoxi historical information, it builds up some expectation than a grandiose shot,
at least KHN somehow give the old feels back

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I'm not quite following why should Haesoo being historically aware be helpful in the story. I think it will be quite unrealistic that she knows everything and can enumerate all the kings.

Believe me not all people knows their history to a T. Unless of course you're historian.

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it's not a big historical thing,
it's kinda like the most famous one,
Like we knew Seon Deok would be the Queen because of a drama, of Wang So is the king in shine and go crazy,
I just hope she knew perfectly who gonna be the king and that particular era famous for having ton of bloodshed between the brothers and only a few remain until the end,

with knowing the future, she can reassure herself not to changed the history while ensures her safety,
her opinion can't be taken wrong by the winning party so she wouldn't get dragged to the political scheme since she arrived as people from the 8th princes' house,

in the kingdom era, when your head of the house get accused of a bad thing like treason , all of the people that work for him got banned and most often ended up dead,
this raised the stake of her credibility,

- will she use her information to make some prince changed their mind about the throne and let them aware or she just stayed silent while knowing that if she stayed in the 8th house, her future is determined to be miserable?

- will her appearance with the knowledge in that era change the history for the better?

- will she help some prince to become a king because she is sure about it
who knew??
that's the stake of the important information of who is the king that I hope she had,

she doesn't need to be historically accurate but the fact that she knew who gonna be the king is what make this story special in the original and I hope they at least make her knew something of it,

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If you're talking about key people in history i think i got your point. But, is Taejo of Goryeo popular in korean culture?

I've been to Seoul and i saw King Sejong's Statue. And from what i observed, Korea is kind of Joseon and Silla-centric.

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King Taejo is a big deal in Korean history. He unified the entire Korean peninsula under Goryeo.
There is a 200 episode sageuk based on his life with ratings over 60%.

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Thank you The other Kiara, this is the first time i've heard of King Taejo considering i watched a good amount of sageuk. Lol.

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@endo
I assumed it quite a famous era since king Taejo of Goryeo is the founder of the Goryeo Dynasty and the modern name of "Korea" is derived from the name "Goryeo,"
I think it has a popular drama too,

and I remember that Gwangjong/Wang So is the 1st one to have established era after their father and the two of his brother didn't last long in the throne,

beside we have shine and go crazy last year!!

also having a heroine that at least know one future information is not a big harm after all

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I watched the whole 200 eos lol. I can totally understand why the older generations aren't interested in this drama. This is not their type of sageuk for many reasons.

I don't think they are Shilla centric, I think they are most proud of Goguryeo when it comes to the 3 kingdom era. The greatest conqueror in the history of Korea was King Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo. He is just as much of a national hero as King Sejong the Great. They are the only two kings in Korea's history to be honored with the title "Great King".

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* 200 episodes*

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I totally get what you are saying.

In the original story, Ruoxi was aware of history and it played an important key role in her decision makings. For example, she left 8th Prince because he wouldn't give up on the throne (which led to his tragic downfall in history) etc.

I knew they weren't going to aim for a similar vibe as the original, because they had to adapt the setting to Goryeo. But I wished they could have kept some more elements of the original story. Such as the brotherhood between the different "camps" (4th-13th VS 8th-14-th-9th-10th), the heartbreaking love stories between the men and the women (8th and his first wife Minghui, 13th Prince and Luwu, 9th Prince and Yutan etc.). I loved the fact that Ruoxi was a very clever girl, too clever sometimes.. she knew too well what was going on, which is why she made it so difficult for herself as she was unable to ignore 8th's camp's sufferings and the humiliations they had to cope with. I really hope Hae-soo becomes smarter than how she is now.

Also, the reason why Bu Bu Jing Xin's "Prince fanbase" became such a buzz was because all the princes were so distinctive and individually unique. 4th Prince was cold, reserved and calm. 8th Prince was gentle, virtuous yet cunning. 13th Prince was loyal and warm - the best BFF. 14th Prince was proud and courageous. And so on. Even though each have their own personality, they were all still very "Prince-alike". You know.. that royal aura. Whereas in the K-version.. I just don't get that vibe. I can't differentiate the princes. And most importantly.. they don't look like princes. I'm especially disappointed with the characterization of 14th Prince. He seems like a clueless kid in here. Well.. in fact, they all seem like kids who are going to run back home when Mommy calls for diner.

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I don't know if it was misleading but I saw a trailer for the show and it did show IU slowly grasping the scenario and understanding that she could prevent the tragedies from happening. But I'm not sure if this meant that she has a clue about what would happen or she's just gonna go about trying to persuade everyone to give up their ambitions. Let's hope it's not the later.

As for the alliances, since the show is starting off with all the princes (save 4th) being all buddy-buddy and not very politically ambitious (except 3rd), I'm expecting that they'll show us the formation of those alliances and shifts in loyalties, as the show progresses into a more darker tone and the political struggle for the crown takes centre stage. I think this would be more intriguing as well, also it would align with the production team's choice in using a younger cast than the ori, so us viewers can see their transitions from young, bright and unscathed princes, to something more mature as they all face their own conflicts, be it internal or external.

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I have to say, in reading everything, the music is taking a lot of heat online. But I like it.

While I am not a huge fan of the songs, I am enjoying the instrumental compositions. As a HUGE fan of movie scores and soundtracks-they are probably the only music I listen to regularly-I think that this score is really engaging and interesting.

It's like they locked Daft Punk and Yo Yo Ma in a basement and said "Have Fun!". Together they have introduced Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon to Tron. For me this music fits with the Historical meets Hidden Future Heroine narrative that seems to be threading through the story. It has enough spunk and enough traditional notes to make it work.

I know I am an outlier but anything that takes something traditional and plays with it is something I can get behind. On a side note if anyone knows where I could find the score or composer I think I would like to check it out.

What I see at fault is not so much the music itself but rather the editing and cutting of the scenes combined with the music. There are times when it flows seamlessly and then they will cut the scene and the score in and out which is a nuisance because it does not continue the narrative thread.

On that note the big issue I see as a whole for the show is the editing. I look at Soo when she is running into the forest and while we, the audience, knows that she is running into a fight zone, the way it is edited showed her following So. But, because we have been following So following the assassins we, the audience, know she is walking into trouble. The editor only used one scene to show Soo spotting So before having her run off after him while showing us So following the assassins and providing us with the "danger" narrative it does not provide Soo with the same information through the cuts of So in the streets and woods.

Finally, I see Soo as curious and very ignorant of the times, but not stupid. Coming from the modern world she is so removed from violence that she was surprised just by the celebrations in the street when people where chasing each other with swords and play fighting. I know if I were transported in time 1000+ years and I saw people running after each other with swords after I had just seen people doing it I might think perhaps people are acting/performing a ritual as well. It is a completely unfamiliar environment. Add these scenes together and you get a somewhat reasonable narrative for why she chases after So upon seeing him.

For me on the whole bad editing choices makes Soo look more naïve than think the character generally has been presented to be, and the music more inconsistent than it should be given the interesting combination of the modern meets traditional score.

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I am a fan of fitting scores, too. :) I could listen all day to instrumentals of movies and drama I like. The C-drama did great in this aspect. Now on to MLSHR:

"What I see at fault is not so much the music itself but rather the editing and cutting of the scenes combined with the music. There are times when it flows seamlessly and then they will cut the scene and the score in and out which is a nuisance because it does not continue the narrative thread.

On that note the big issue I see as a whole for the show is the editing."

+1

I used to make music videos using clips of my favorite dramas on YouTube and the editing makes all the difference.

When the shooting is done, and even if we say the camera angles, etc. are done to perfection; post-production could still ruin things.
Selecting the shot or frame to show, selecting the right score, knowing when to insert music, knowing when to amplify or tone down the colors.

Viewers most of the time just take note of the script/writer, actors, director.
It should be Script, Acting, Directing, and Editing.

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The editing gets better on the third episode, in comparison to the first two episodes. :)

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I think the music on it's own is fantastic..but my peeve is with the music director in the way he chooses to insert the music in the scenes. The MD usually works very closely with the producer, director and editors in post pro. So an experienced MD should be able to determine the type of music to use in what scenes. This MD however chooses to insert Dramatic Scores to underscore moments which should be left alone or contemporary music(songs) in moments that don't fit the mood, the MD is employing the 'hit you over the head' kinda strategy to score the drama and is contributing to the cheese that's present in the last 2 eps. This is a problem as it breaks the audience's focus instead of elevating it. I was watching the show with a couple of my peers in the music industry and we were all laughing at the over dramatic scores used on moments which otherwise would have been more effective if a more quiet score or even silence is used. I am sorry for the ranting but music, when not appropriately used really gets to me. Subtlety is not this team's forte I think.

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I think most of heroines become loud, clumsy violent girls in Korean adaptations

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My heart breaks for So while i watch him with his evil mom and brothers.

Liking this episode so much. And that performance on the ritual was awesome.

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Dude. Duuudee. That scene of 4th prince with his mom, where she's disdainfully putting him down and you can barely, barely see Lee Jun Ki's lower lip trembling at the corners, THAT'S how you do acting. I'm also amazed at how his cold, sneering face was able to turn into wide eyed vulnerability once his mask was off in the bath scene. Lee Jun Ki is sooo good. I've never watched anything he's been in before but now I'm turning into an oppa-oppa chanting LJK fangirl.

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He is good but I can't help compare him to Jang Hyuk who plays the same role in Shine or Go Crazy. Maybe because I saw that drama first, and really felt for that Wang So character, this scene with a rejecting mother didn't have the same dramatic effect for me. Still very good.

I'm so glad Li Jun Ki is in this drama - the rest of them seem so "light", even the villainous one, in comparison, and not totally real to me. I've never loved Li Jun Ki's looks, he's just okay to me, so he almost seems odd man out for me too, and I like him all the better for it.

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I am not a fan of Jang Hyuk because he tends to overact sometimes, in particular his loud sarcastic laugh. I find Li JunKi really nailed his expression.

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Hi, atz...

Did you watch BEAUTIFUL MIND? There is absolutely no trace of Lee Gun's laugh in the show. In fact, it is one of the most self-contained performances I've seen by him... His eyes speak volumes, as they did in FIVE SENSES OF EROS.

As with LJG, I love him in sageuks because he does his own stunts... and submerges himself in the character.

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Thank you so much for mentioning this! I wasn't too sold on the character after the first episode (it's the first time I see LJK in anything too) but that scene with his mother sold it for me. I honestly almost gasped when I noticed his lips trembling - as you said, that's EXACTLY how acting should be done.

My two favourite scenes were that one and the one at the bath - the shock when he realises she's there, the vulnerability...admirably done!

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YES YES YES.... OMO... I noticed his trembling corner lips too..

I was so amazed by that scene that I keep replaying it. I just can't believe what I saw. It's so subtle and natural. He made it like it's out of control.

It reminds me of myself whenever I'm so upset. My corner lip would tremble a bit. I always try to hide it but it's hard, I just can't control it.

Well done Lee Joong Ki. I didn't understand why everyone was so excited when he's going to join this drama. But now I got it.

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And because of his trembling corner lips scene, I was feeling thankful for that overdone close-up shots for the first time.

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Also, one more thing that drove me nuts: Hae Soo knows her cousin is ill, and she and her husband have been nothing but kind to her. She knows she doesn't belong in that place, but here she goes beating up people and yelling and screaming, instead of just keeping her head down and blending in. Even in modern times most people know that's just plain bad behavior. I was hoping she'd be smarter than that.

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Honestly, I think less than lack of smarts, it's mostly that she hasn't adjusted to the situation or understood the whole idea of royal status, which is understandable imo. I would imagine she'd, especially in her anger, would view the situation as the equivalent of a high school boy spying on the girls' changing room or something and confronts him in the same manner (especially when you think that Ha Jin is probably older than them.) Like she knows they're princes, sure, but I'm not sure she truly gets the idea of consequences till that talk with her cousin. I found it v. realistic that she realizes at that moment that her actions have consequences because she kind of feels like she's in a dream world, which isn't really reality per se or as she knows it, and is treating it as such. That's what came across for me, that her headiness has something to do with how she's sort of convinced she's invincible. And that's what changes when she sees those men getting killed and gets captured herself and has a sword to her throat and realizes "I'll really die," as if it's something she hadn't realized till now.

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Nice post Zoe. Hadn't really thought about it, but this makes sense.

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