Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 5
Holy moly, this episode jumped Moonlight Drawn By Clouds’ ratings to 19.3%. That’s a nice bump, and judging from the episode, wholly deserved; this storyline is heating up and the emotions are deepening, leading us into my favorite part of a romance—when feelings are still coming into focus, setting us up for a whirlwind of exhilarating, giddy interactions. (On the other stations, Monster drew 9.4%, while Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo dropped to 5.7%.)
EPISODE 5: “Tell Me Your Wish”
After Prince Yeong shrewdly brings the prime minister to his knees at the king’s birthday celebration, he notices that the lead dancer has disappeared and sets out in search of her.
Ra-on slips away from the performance quietly and doesn’t notice that the prince has spotted her until she’s pulled aside in the nick of time. Yoon-sung pulls her around the corner behind a bush, and they huddle with suspended breaths as Yeong heads in their direction.
But it’s a different dancer he sees in the vicinity, so he turns and heads off in the opposite direction. Ra-on is safe, for now.
Caught in her disguise, Ra-on says that it’s embarrassing for her as “a guy” to be seen like this. Ha, isn’t it a little late to still be clinging to the cover story? She explains that she resorted to this because the prince would be in trouble if this important event were ruined, and Yoon-sung asks if the reason she put herself in such danger was for the prince.
She answers readily that it was, since she’s employed in the prince’s palace and thus one of his people. Then Yoon-sung asks why she became a eunuch despite being a woman, and the direct question makes her freeze.
Yeong inquires after the mysterious dancer, and is puzzled to be told that nobody knows who she is. Yeong can’t understand how she knew every part of the dance, including parts he’d only told the original dancer who disappeared at the last minute.
And then, he’s struck with a thought: There was one other person who knew the dance. He flashes back to his conversation with Ra-on, where she’d boasted of her ability to learn song and dance at a glance.
Ra-on doesn’t answer Yoon-sung’s question and excuses herself instead, although he stops her when he sees that her bare foot is bleeding. He kneels to bind her foot with a sash and asks her to wait, then runs off to grab her eunuch’s garb.
Yoon-sung pulls up short to see the prince out in front, looking for Ra-on. Hiding her clothes out of sight, he tells Yeong that he saw her hurrying toward the prince’s palace, under the impression that the prince was already there. Immediately, Yeong and his entourage head off in that direction.
Yeong bursts into his chamber a short time later, and finds Ra-on waiting for him after all. Eyes narrowed, he asks how long she’s been here and what she’s been doing. Ra-on replies that she has been organizing documents, as he instructed, then she spies an ornament from her dancer’s costume peeking out under a book and quickly covers it up.
Yeong notices the movement, but as he stares suspiciously at Ra-on, he asks himself what ridiculous things he’s imagining, and shakes off his line of thinking. He leaves Ra-on to her work, and after he’s gone, she collapses into her chair in relief. In a flashback, we’d seen how Yoon-sung had given her the eunuch’s clothing and urged her to hurry back to the prince’s palace.
But the prince continues observing Ra-on in the following days, and watches her in his library. When she sneezes and holds up a cloth to her mouth, he’s struck by the appearance of her momentarily covering her face.
Yeong tells her to sneeze again, then holds his hand up to cover the bottom half of her face. He flashes back to the dancer’s face, which unnerves him so much that he drops his hand. He shakes the thought aside again.
Ra-on mentions the upcoming Chuseok holiday, asking hopefully if she might be allowed a day off. Yeong guesses that she wants to go to the wishing lantern festival, and she’s surprised that he knew. He orders her to step closer, then holds up a hand to her cheek—a gentle gesture that makes Ra-on stiffen in shock.
Then he smacks her hat, chiding her for wanting to go out when she has a fever. Ra-on retorts that her minor cold is her business, telling him not to worry, and Yeong blusters, “Worry? Who?” He orders her to stay in her quarters tonight, warning dire punishment if he catches her cold.
Princess Myeongeun calls Ra-on out, much friendlier in this encounter than she’d been at the last, what with the sword-wielding and all. She makes the pretext that she called Ra-on out for her exceptional tea-preparation skills, then takes a sip and grimaces, ha.
The real reason for the princess’s summons is to ask about her pen-pal lover, Young Master Jung. Ra-on had assured her before that although she had been the one writing the love letters, the feelings behind them had been genuine. Princess Myeongeun presses her for details about the young man, and Ra-on answers.
Yeong strolls by with his entourage, and Eunuch Jang points out that Ra-on is out, despite his orders to remain indoors all day. Yeong grumbles to see Ra-on disregarding his instructions.
Ra-on coughs, and the princess suggests they head back in. Ra-on starts to row them back to shore, then pauses to comment on the princess’s cold “that time” too—according to Young Master Jung, he’d seen her riding a swing despite coughing, finding her lovely, and that prompted him to send his first letter.
Princess Myeongeun furrows her brow, trying to remember when that happened. But when she places the memory, it upsets her and she bolts to her feet suddenly—which makes her lose her balance. Ra-on lurches forward to steady her, and the princess falls back down safely in the boat… while Ra-on falls into the pond. Unable to stay afloat, she flails for a few moments before sinking below the surface.
Yeong witnesses the fall and dives into the pond without a second thought, swimming underwater toward Ra-on, prompting his eunuchs to panic and jump in after him.
Yeong makes it to Ra-on, slings an arm around her, and swims them back up to the surface. Yoon-sung walks by just in time to witness them being assisted out of the water and gapes in surprise.
The prince’s attendants fuss over him, while Eunuch Jang lights into Ra-on for endangering the prince. Yeong points out that he jumped in of his own accord, and sees that Ra-on is shivering uncontrollably.
He pulls the cloak off his shoulders to give to her, but Eunuch Jang stops him—casting a look around, he indicates that eyes are watching and asks how a eunuch who endangered the prince could expect to live.
Yeong registers the warning that appearances matter, and thrusts his cloak at the eunuch, saying that he doesn’t need it. Eunuch Jang orders Ra-on to apologize, and she does immediately. Yeong tells her to get up and heads off first, though he does cast a backward glance her way.
Eunuch Jang warns that Ra-on will be punished severely, I suspect for appearance’s sake, because Yoon-sung and Eunuch Ma—more to the point, the prime minister’s eunuch—are watching.
Hilariously, everybody has forgotten about Princess Myeongeun, who’s stranded in her boat in the middle of the pond, calling out ineffectually for help. Hee.
As a sodden Ra-on makes her way back to her quarters, Yoon-sung finds her and drapes a cloak over her shoulders. She thanks him and excuses herself quickly, and he seems disappointed by that, asking, “You feel that your secret has been exposed, don’t you? Can you not think of it as me sharing your secret? Can you not believe that it’s a reassuring thing?”
He tells her not to feel anxious because of him, or to avoid him. Ra-on doesn’t have an answer, and excuses herself. As she heads off, Yoon-sung makes note of the building she heads toward, which he seems to recognize.
Eunuch Ma asks Eunuch Jang whether the mysterious lead dancer has been identified. Ah, right, Eunuch Ma was the one who spied Ra-on dressing in the dancer’s costume, though he keeps this bit of information to himself. What are you planning on doing with it, and should we be worried?
Next, Eunuch Ma digs up Ra-on’s records, and sees that she passed the physical examination. He wonders how.
The king consults on state matters with the crown prince and the prime minister, who hear of the increased tributary demands from China. Yeong is outraged at the sudden increase, but Prime Minister Kim states that it’s in response to the prince’s regency, which has spurred them to be greedy.
The king sighs in resignation, as is his wont, but Yeong gets fired up about the indignity. Prime Minister Kim argues that you can’t gain things without paying a price and the king concedes, not wanting to rock the boat or ruffle any feathers. He asks Yeong to “close our eyes to it this once.”
Yeong replies that if you close your eyes one time, you’ll get them cut out the next: “I am sorry, but I cannot do that.”
That night, Ra-on dreams feverishly, going back to the day in her childhood when, on the night of the lantern festival, she and her mother had been on the run. Young Ra-on had been dressed as a boy, and hadn’t quite grasped her mother’s fear as they made their way through the busy city. Seeing that the pursuing officers had been closing in, her mother had suggested a game of hide and seek, convincing Ra-on to hide herself and not divulge her identity until Mom came back for her.
Mom had done her best to hide her panic until Ra-on had ducked under a table. Then she’d run, with officers close on her heels. Ra-on had cried, alone in her hiding spot, and now as she relives those moments, she cries in her fitful sleep.
Sitting at her bedside is Yeong, and he wipes the tears from her cheek. Ra-on grabs his sleeve and looks up, seeing only a blur and mistaking him for “Kim hyung,” aka Byung-yeon. She tells him that she dreamt of the day she separated from her mother.
“You dreamed a sad dream,” Yeong tells her. But Ra-on replies, “It was a happy dream. At least I could see my mother again that way.”
Ra-on falls back asleep, and from a distance, Byung-yeon sees the prince sitting at her bedside. Then he winces in pain, clutching his abdomen with a bloody hand. Oh no, what happened to you and what are you up to?
The next day, Ra-on comes upon the prince in his library, thinking of him swimming to her rescue as she brings up yesterday’s events. Yeong reminds her coolly that she wasn’t to come near him until her cold was better.
She retorts that she’s all better, which makes Yeong smile, until she adds that it’s thanks to the thoughtful care of Kim hyung. “Our Kim hyung?” he asks incredulously.
He orders her to sit down, and she refuses, coughing deliberately and exclaiming in faux concern that his precious health might be compromised. Yeong shoves a pill into her mouth while she’s talking, and tells her (a little pettishly, hee) that it’ll be ten times more effective than Kim hyung.
Eunuch Jang informs Ra-on that the eunuchs have been granted special leave for the Chuseok holiday, and hands her a wooden pass. She thanks him profusely and runs off in excitement, while Eunuch Jang wonders why the prince is granting leaves all of a sudden.
Ra-on comes upon her eunuch buddy Sung-yeol comforting Do Ki, who had been working hard in his position serving the Chinese envoys, only to have the plum assignment taken away without explanation. Ra-on gets offended on his behalf and demands to know who would do that, not seeing that Eunuch Ma has entered the room.
She shuts up when she spots him, but Eunuch Ma merely leans in to examine her closely, murmuring that she looks quite gisaeng-like. After he leaves, Do Ki confirms that it was Eunuch Ma who took his spot, and adds, “Bad person.”
The Chinese ambassador meets with the Kim faction (which includes Yoon-sung, since he’s being groomed to join them), and asks the prime minister if he thinks the crown prince is up for a regency. The prime minister replies that the prince is still too young; it would be like giving a child a knife before he’s learned to use chopsticks. The ambassador promises to convey that message to his emperor.
Yoon-sung excuses himself, and then the ambassador chuckles that Joseon is full of lovely things, namely women. He expresses a desire to see the dancer again from the other night—and nearby, Eunuch Ma registers this and smiles.
Yoon-sung heads to the building he’d noticed the other day, and reminisces about his childhood adventures here, when he was one of the prince’s close companions. He smiles at the happy memories… but when Yeong finds him standing there, the air becomes strained.
Yoon-sung asks why Yeong accepted the regency, and the air becomes even thicker with tension. Yeong states his intention to drive out his maternal family from the nation—by which he means the Kim clan.
Now it’s Yeong’s turn to flash back to a childhood memory, where he received lessons alongside Yoon-sung and a third companion (Byung-yeon?). The teacher had explained that childhood friends were on equal footing, but a king and his subjects were in a hierarchical relationships, drawing a representation with a horizontal line and a vertical one. “If you had to choose one, which relationship would you choose?” the teacher had asked.
Yoon-sung had combined the two lines to form a cross shape, answering that his role would be to stop the prince from straying, and stay by his side forever to help him make the right choices. Yeong had replied that with a trustworthy friend and supporter like Yoon-sung at his side, he felt he could become an excellent king.
Ra-on peeks into Yoon-sung’s room and is relieved to find it empty, only to turn around and come face to face with Yoon-sung. He’s pleased to see her, and has already guessed the reason for her visit, having seen that Do Ki had been dropped from the roster of eunuchs assigned to serve the ambassador. He stays he’ll rectify it, and Ra-on thanks him for his constant help.
He asks teasingly if she only means to thank him with words, and she asks what he’d like her to do. He asks for half of her day off, and Ra-on tries to turn him down, explaining that she has something to do at the lantern festival. He counters that she could meet him after her errand, and she can’t protest.
Then he offers her a box of medicine balls for her cold, but Ra-on tells him that the prince already gave her some.
Princess Myeongeun returns to the swing where Young Master Jung had reportedly fallen for her. The first poetic letter written by Ra-on had compared a cold to love—something that couldn’t be hidden, and also something that caused pain. Yet in the princess’s recollection, we see that it wasn’t Myeongeun who’d been ill, but her lady’s maid Wol-hee.
Wol-hee sees how dejected the princess is and tries to cheer her up, suggesting a trip to see the lanterns.
Unbeknownst to them, Young Master Jung also returns to the swing, heavy-hearted over his lost love. He sighs that his wish would be to just see her one more time, not seeing that the princess and her court lady are leaving in the distance.
Prime Minister Kim introduces Yoon-sung to another crony, Minister Jo, and the two men exchange a whole round of compliments and flattery about Yoon-sung and Minister Jo’s daughter. Yoon-sung tries to gracefully excuse himself, as he often does, but his grandfather doesn’t allow it today. He’s stuck, looking distinctly uncomfortable.
At the site of the lantern festival, Ra-on takes up a spot on a bridge and watches everybody who passes with sad, disappointed eyes—she must be looking for her long-lost mother. Over at the palace, Yeong thinks of Ra-on’s longing for her mother.
In flashback, we see Young Ra-on crying alone at the festival, separated from her mother. Then, she’d looked up to see somebody, which made her wipe her tears.
The moment repeats now in the present, and she looks up and recognizes a figure in the distance. We see her mother, walking toward her and breaking into a smile—and then it’s the prince, smiling as he joins her on that bridge.
Yeong teases her for acting like she’d be having such a ball on her day off, and she retorts that she’s having fun right now. When she says she’s meeting someone here, he takes that for a fib and tells her not to waste her time off, and instructs her to follow. He heads off wearing a big grin.
Ra-on tries to decline, but he grabs her around the shoulders and insists she follow.
Together they take in the sounds and sights, observe the street performances, and play some festival games. Aw, Ra-on is so hopeless at the archery game that Yeong actually shoots a doll from behind her, letting her believe she won it herself.
Delayed by his grandfather’s politicking, Yoon-sung runs up to the festival and looks around for sign of Ra-on.
Meanwhile, Yeong stops to chat with a little girl selling wishing lanterns, and unintentionally insults her by offering her money without taking a lantern. He apologizes, then asks what her wish would be. She replies that she’d like to meet the king, to ask him to make Joseon into a better country. Yeong asks what a better country would look like, and she thinks a minute before replying that the king, who worries the most about his own people, will know the answer.
That’s when a well-born young lady joins them to buy a lantern, only to have trouble locating her purse. Yeong asks to buy all of the lanterns, and the lady, JO HA-YEON (Chae Soo-bin), assumes he’s buying them for her and preens a little.
Yeong leaves the girl one lantern for her own wish, and another to give to someone who has a wish but no money, indicating Ha-yeon. HA, Ha-yeon wasn’t expect to be dismissed like that, but Yeong just leaves with a bow.
The lovelorn Young Master Jung makes his way through the crowd, but freezes on the spot when he sees Princess Myeongeun and Wol-hee walking toward them. They pass by without noticing, but he stammers so loudly that they turn back questioningly—and then widen their eyes in recognition.
Looking horrified, the ladies turn and run away, dropping a lantern in the process. Devastated, Young Master Jung sinks to the ground… revealing Yeong standing behind him. Pwahaha. Poor lonelyhearts!
Yeong has seen his sister in the crowd, but just laughs as she darts off fearfully.
Young Master Jung picks up the princess’s dropped lantern and makes his wish on it: to see her again. The princess’s wish, meanwhile, is to become beautiful “like that girl.”
From the palace, the king watches the lanterns floating into the sky, calling them the wishes of his people—wishes to not be hungry, to be healthy. He asks if he can make a wish of his eunuch, not having a lantern of his own, and requests, “Take care of the prince. So that he does not break or collapse like my foolish self, watch over him.” The eunuch vows to do his utmost, though he looks a little concerned at what prompted those words.
Meanwhile, Byung-yeon meets with a man who informs him of the date and time of the Chinese envoys’ planned departure. Ah, he’s a member of a secret organization that’s planning an attack on the envoys’ land route, to take back the tributes demanded of the downtrodden people. At Byung-yeon’s hesitation, the leader asks if he’s afraid of his activities being discovered by the crown prince.
Byung-yeon asks for more time until the prince makes his decision—he must be holding out hope that Yeong will find a different solution—but his leader warns him not to forget his duty: “You are not the prince’s friend.” No, but you are! Don’t let him tear your bromance apart!
At the festival, Ra-on watches wishing lanterns floating away with tears in her eyes. Yeong joins her and proudly presents her with a lantern of her own, which makes her smile.
Yeong initially declines to write a wish of his own on the lantern, but Ra-on presses him to, saying that if only one of their wishes were to come true, it would be better if his did.
Yoon-sung scours the festival grounds and finally smiles to spot Ra-on off in the distance, preparing her lantern… and then registers that she’s with Yeong. The smile drops from his face.
As Ra-on prepares the lantern for flight, Yeong looks over at her… and in that moment, with the bottom half of her face masked by the lantern, Yeong is struck with her eyes, and how they resemble the mysterious dancer’s.
Then it’s time to let them fly, and Ra-on declares, “Let our crown prince’s wish come true!” As it floats upward, Ra-on reads the wish Yeong wrote on it: “Let Eunuch Hong find his mother.”
Stunned, she asks if that was really his wish. He replies, “Yes. Asking for your wish to be fulfilled is my wish.” Kaboom. Well there goes my heart, and from the looks of it, Ra-on’s too. Smashed to sentimental smithereens. Let it never be whole again.
Yoon-sung walks away, shoulders drooping, thinking of how he’d hidden Ra-on from the prince’s view and called her his woman, and then asked her to consider them sharing in her secret.
Belatedly, Ra-on realizes something strange, and asks how Yeong knew of her separation with her mother. Ah, right, she thought that was Byung-yeon in her fever daze.
But Yeong is lost in thoughts of his own, remembering the dancer and staring intently into Ra-on’s face. It makes her uneasy, and she asks why he’s looking at her that way.
Yeong says, “I know this is absurd, but I don’t know why I keep seeing someone else in you.” She asks, “Someone else?”
“Yes,” he says slowly. “A woman.”
Ra-on’s eyes widen and she stands stock-still, not knowing how to react. Yeong continues staring closely at her face, and the tension builds and builds…
“Eunuch Hong!” A voice interrupts, and Yoon-sung joins them, apologizing for his tardiness. He informs the prince that he has a prior engagement with Ra-on, and Yeong doesn’t say a word, waiting for Ra-on to react.
Ra-on excuses herself and turns to go with Yoon-sung—and Yeong grabs her wrist.
“I disallow it,” he says. “[He’s] my person.”
Whee! I love this stage of a romance, particularly a mistaken-identity (or hero/heroine-in-disguise) romance, when the feelings are brewing, but the mask is still in place. I so want for Yeong to connect all the dots and figure things out right away, except the one thing I want more is for him to stew in the indecision a bit longer and suffer some delicious angst. It’s not even just the gender-confusion angst, because to be frank that’s a thing that loses its punch once it’s been done a lot in dramaland, and by now we’ve had too many really great dramas explore that confusion the straight (heh) way.
For me, it’s more about the fact that he suspects she’s someone else who’s captivated him, and really the gender aspect is just one facet of the tease. I love it when the sought-after party is right under your nose, and the questions are there but the confirmation is tantalizingly out of reach. It’s like Clark Kent all over again, or Healer, and I can’t get enough of it.
Of course, the question now is how long to draw out the tease, because I expect the prince to figure things out fairly quickly, given his smarts and suspicions. (And if he were unable to, he’d start to seem dense and that would dull the excitement in a different way.) I’m both anticipating and dreading the path to Yeong discovering the truth, because I’ll miss this stage of nerve-tingly, heart-in-my-throat near-misses when he does.
In the meantime, though, I love the bickering friendship he’s built up with his favorite eunuch, and their smorgasbord of hilarious, cute, and poignant facial expressions enriches the whole experience—it feels like we’ll never run out of them, and that’s a lovely gift.
I do appreciate that the show points out that their friendship isn’t without problems of its own, because it’s unseemly for the prince to treat Ra-on too much like a friend. I thought it was a nicely expressed moment in the aftermath of the pond dive, where he had to outwardly castigate Ra-on rather than show her concern. It’s a particularly hairy situation since he’s in a relatively weak position in the palace, and a political target himself—and it must chafe that his budding rival belongs to that dangerous faction.
Speaking of whom, I like how Yoon-sung is being portrayed, as a reluctant member of his party who doesn’t like his grandfather’s brand of cronyism but isn’t in a position to reject it. He’s so much like Yeong, and he seems like a decent, principled person, but his affiliation makes him exceedingly dangerous—especially since it’s easy to downplay his role because he seems so nice. I wonder at his future trajectory even as I’m wailing, But why aren’t you friends anymooooore? It seems as though Yoon-sung would like to be friends again and it’s Yeong who’s keeping him away, and I find that both saddening and wise at the same time, which is why it’s a great setup for the romance. I mean, it’s not like the setup is new for dramaland or anything, but I do feel like Moonlight has fulfilled the setup well and brought emotion and pathos to it. And as long as I can feel with the characters, I’ll overlook that it’s a familiar story. Really, all stories are familiar; it’s up to the show to make them entertaining regardless, right?
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 4
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 3
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 2
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 1
- Hearts and smiles at Moonlight Drawn By Clouds’ press conference
- Friends turn to rivals in politics and love in Moonlight Drawn By Clouds
- Bold, faithful, and devilish for Moonlight Drawn By Clouds
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds promises unpredictable, hilarious, heart-stopping romance