Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 8
Aw, there’s a poignancy in today’s episode that feels like the perfect way to follow up yesterday’s episode. We can’t always hope to top those climactic heart-grabbing moments, so I’m not looking for the show to one-up itself every hour, and I appreciate the natural, heartfelt outflow as the characters continue to work through their emotions and figure out what to do with them.
EPISODE 8: “You don’t even know”
Rewinding to the night before the garden confession, Yeong sits at his table and writes a letter to Ra-on: “These are my feelings that I tried to cover up, so that no one would ever know them. In order to keep you by my side, I thought I could not let them be revealed.”
But we see how he had been moved by Ra-on’s words defending the confession of a love that could not be, and how the memory of being loved could sustain you for the rest of your life. Hence, this confession.
Ra-on, meanwhile, contemplates the woman’s hanbok Yoon-sung had given her, as well as his urging to live as a woman.
Yeong heads to Ra-on’s quarters with determination, but finds the space empty. His letter continues: “At your words, I will find the courage. Though I could be put in danger, or lose you with this confession.”
With letter in his hand, he prepares himself emotionally when he hears footsteps approaching. He turns, expecting to see Ra-on—then immediately whirls around in surprise.
But then he thinks about it for a second, and Yeong turns back toward the room to see… Ra-on wearing that new hanbok. OHHHH.
It astonishes him utterly, and he stands there feeling the gamut of emotions: shock, curiosity, even anger as he crumples his love confession in one fist. It’s all written there on his face.
He puts the pieces together, recalling that dancer he’d looked for, and then his face finally breaks into a smile of relief.
So now we’re back to the garden. He makes his heartfelt confession, then pulls her toward him. He smiles when she closes her eyes in anticipation, then kisses her.
That night, Ra-on sits in a complete daze, and Byung-yeon asks if something’s the matter. She’s so flustered that she overreacts, saying that it’s rude to ask somebody who has had nothing happen to them what has happened to them. Confused, he ends up apologizing.
Then, Ra-on carefully broaches the topic of the people close to the prince: She knows he values Byung-yeon the highest, and also cares for Eunuch Jang. But has he ever cared for a woman? Byung-yeon says no, and Ra-on takes that for confirmation that he doesn’t like women.
Yeong excuses Eunuch Ma and court lady Wol-hee from service in the palace, and enables them to live and work together in a place far away. They’re overwhelmed with gratitude, and he thanks them for showing him “that a person’s true feelings can make a miracle.” He tells them to live a long, happy life together.
Ra-on congratulates Eunuch Ma and brags that this is the thirtieth couple she has brought together as matchmaker. Eunuch Ma tells her to think not of others’ relationships but to look carefully around herself: “Not one person, but two. Don’t you know?”
Yoon-sung meets with Yeong and presents him with past records of the civil service examination. Yeong flips through the list and notes sardonically that all the officials creating the questions were Kims, and all the people who passed the exams were Kims. He asks Yoon-sung what he thinks of that.
Yoon-sung asks if he wants his answer as a member of the Kim clan, or as a government official. Yeong notes that this means his answer would change depending on his place. Yoon-sung replies that as a Kim he would accept reproach, and as an official he would work to correct whatever harm has occurred.
Yeong asks if he means that. Yoon-sung asks if the prince would believe him if he said so. Yeong says that his answers would cause an uproar with the prime minister, but the air does seem to thaw between them.
Ra-on comes into the room carrying a stack of books and boxes, and when she meets the prince’s eye, she gets so flustered that she drops her things. Yoon-sung is quick to help her, while Yeong watches a little grumpily. And when Yoon-sung asks for a moment of her time, Yeong interrupts and calls her over.
As Yoon-sung watches Ra-on wait on the prince, he catches on to her bashfulness around him. He flashes back to a conversation with Ra-on when she had agreed that she should leave the palace soon, but admitted that she didn’t want to. Yoon-sung had been disappointed, and asked what had enough a hold on her heart to risk the situation. It seems he has his answer now.
Princess Myeongeun informs Ha-yeon of her latest diet plan to stay at a mountain temple. Ha-yeon is skeptical of the idea, but Myeongeun pulls out a book about relationships, declaring the author the romance expert. That grabs Ha-yeon’s interest, and she asks to borrow the book, forcing it out of the princess’s grasp.
Yeong asks Byung-yeon if he’s heard the rumor that rebel leader Hong Kyung-rae’s daughter is hidden somewhere in the city. Byung-yeon denies knowing it, and Yeong explains that after the prime minister mentioned it, the king has been unable to rest easy.
Then Yeong presents him with the mysterious bandit’s mask, and Byung-yeon looks visibly alarmed. Yeong tells him to look into the matter and find out if those masked bandits are looking for Hong Kyung-rae’s daughter. He adds, “If it’s true, we must find her first—before the prime minister does.”
As the prince takes a walk in the courtyard, Ra-on trails behind him carrying an umbrella to shield him from the sun, and struggles under its weight. Yeong sees her having difficulty and grabs the pole, intending to take it from her, but she warns him that people are watching.
He lets go and tells her to not to bother with the umbrella, because he can take a little sun. But Eunuch Jang whines about the exposure, and Ra-on insists she can handle it: “If this little thing is heavy, I’m not even a man!” Yeong struggles to hide a smile at that.
Then Yeong declares that he will be taking a nap on the lawn, and instructs Ra-on to hold the umbrella the whole time. Which results in them sitting together with the umbrella on its side, conveniently blocking them from everyone else’s view.
In a playful mood, Yeong takes Ra-on’s hand in his and sighs at its roughness, and enjoys her stammered response that “all men’s hands are like that.” He has fun telling her how very dashing and manly her features are, declaring, “It’s that toughness I fell for!” Which, pfffff. I literally felt that snort deep in my sinuses.
Ra-on snatches back her hand, worried that they might be overheard, and asks him to take back his words. He replies, “Words that are declared should not be taken back. One should take responsibility.”
She’s touched, and Yeong gently moves her head to rest on his shoulder, though he frowns when she pulls back. She tells him glumly that she can’t be happy about his behavior, and adds, “Do not think you know everything about me.”
He replies that he didn’t say he knew everything, and urges her again to rest on his shoulder. She doesn’t move away this time, but thinks sadly, “Please do not treat me too nicely. It makes me want to keep leaning on you, and that won’t do.”
Ha-yeon seeks out Ra-on, having tracked her down (as Hong Sam-nom) as the author of those love advice books. Ra-on listens to Ha-yeon’s account of how she’s tried everything to draw the interest of a handsome, high-born young man and failed. Ra-on sees right away that Ha-yeon took the wrong tack, and should have acted disinterested to pique his curiosity.
Then Ha-yeon recounts how she even asked him to take a walk with her and got rejected out of hand. Ha-yeon worries that there’s no way for Ra-on to help her, and Ra-on replies that there’s no need for all those romance tactics when Ha-yeon is able to express her feelings as they are, which Ra-on envies. She says that “the truth is powerful,” and that person will soon be made happy, which eases Ha-yeon’s mind.
Ra-on dresses Yeong (which he thoroughly enjoys) in preparation for a big appearance at court, and Eunuch Jang awkwardly stammers through some advice about Yeong’s upcoming twentieth birthday, whereupon he will be named prince regent.
Yeong cuts him off to say he needn’t go through such complicated explanations when he could just wish him well, and Eunuch Jang does just that.
Then Yeong angles for additional words of support from Ra-on, pouty when she says she doesn’t have any. Then she says, “Because I believe you will do well,” and he cheers right up.
Yeong makes his triumphant procession to the king’s palace, and is announced to the court. The doors are flung open—and then, he stops in his tracks. There’s nobody there. Uh-oh.
The Ministers Kim cackle at the idea of the crown prince striding confidently into an empty court. Ah, this is their retaliation for Yeong canceling the regularly scheduled civil service examination and implementing a special one instead, since he figured out they were stacking the deck unfairly. They see that as a declaration of war, as he is actively blocking the Kims’ advancement.
Prime Minister Kim surprises his cronies by telling them to let the prince proceed as he wishes, suggesting that he can be made to give up of his own accord. After all, what can he accomplish in an empty court, all on his own?
In the palace, Yeong reads through the mountain of scrolls left at the throne, conveying everyone’s excuses for missing the session, from indigestion to a skin rash. He’s incensed, but doesn’t look like he’s going to just let them have their way about it.
Ra-on joins Yeong in his library, and he teases that she’s staring rather too openly, “even though I know it’s a face you can’t get enough of looking at.” He motions her to sit next to him, and she sets down a tray of honey cookies (yakgwa), saying that sweets are a good remedy for distress.
Yeong asks what she would do in this kind of a situation, against a difficult opponent. Ra-on replies, “If it is someone who must be fought, should you not fight with all your strength? And if that does not work, one must adapt to the flow.”
He thinks that over, and reaches for a yakgwa cookie. Ra-on excuses herself, but he grabs her by the wrist and whirls her back to him, holding her close. When she steps back and starts to protest, he shoves the sweet into her mouth. He agrees with its curative properties, and when she points out that he hasn’t tried any, he says that he means for her.
And then, suddenly he’s struck with an idea, and he instructs her to hurry to the royal physician.
The Kim faction sends a henchman out to track down Hong Kyung-rae’s surviving relations. He has a lead, having found an old neighbor who knew Hong years ago and may have information about the family’s current whereabouts. The Kims warn that he must find the relatives before the masked bandits do.
The Kims wonder at the other side’s fervor over finding the lost daughter and muse that the dead man must have been really important to have them so intent on finding his family.
A delivery arrives at the Kim estate, consisting of a mountain of boxes addressed to the Kim ministers. Just as they’re wondering at the boxes full of herbs, Yeong comes strolling in to say pleasantly that he sent these to help with their ailments that kept them from court. Ah. Calling them on their bluff, eh?
Byung-yeon gets to the Hong family’s old neighbor first, an eldery woman who knew the family when Hong Kyung-rae was still alive. The mother and child lived in the house, and a man would drop off food occasionally—a man she later learned was Hong Kyung-rae. She supposes the man died after the uprising, recalling how relentlessly the family was hunted by soldiers.
Minister Kim’s henchmen arrive outside the house while Byung-yeon is still asking questions, and they eavesdrop as the old woman describes the daughter: She was a round-eyed, pretty young girl, and her name was Ra-on.
Yeong sits with the prime minister and comments on how ailing men have made such full recoveries. Prime Minister Kim says that the nation has been upheld by the upper classes for four hundred years, and that it is their duty to help the prince when he tries to go off on his own path.
Yeong notes that he and the prime minister appear to have different ideas of what the right path is. The prime minister uses the metaphor of a red flower growing in a green field, stating that it’s human nature to want to pluck that flower. Yeong understands that to be a warning not to stand out too much.
Prime Minister Kim tells him that seven years ago when the queen died, the king was filled with regrets. He advises the prince not to ignore his advice, citing a saying about how there’s no shame in knowing your place. Yeong remains impassive, though his eyes narrow angrily.
Ha-yeon does the rather unconventional thing of requesting a meeting with Yoon-sung on her own, curious to see the person she may be marrying. It’s obvious that she wants to turn him off the marriage, and she tries to put him off by saying with concern that she would be a lacking partner to such an outstanding man as Yoon-sung. Yoon-sung sees through the act and finds it amusing, and presses for specifics on what exactly makes her so lacking.
Ha-yeon names her lack of consideration and patience, but can’t help looking miffed when he agrees that those are bad qualities. Then Yoon-sung says that he’s not so great himself, and she seems concerned that the situation isn’t quite going as planned. Ha, she’s really bad at feigning demureness, and it makes her rather endearing.
But Yoon-sung assures her not to worry, because he understands that she doesn’t want to marry him but is afraid to refuse. She asks if there’s a woman he cares for, and he says they’re in the same boat, then suggests that they search for a way to break the engagement peacefully.
As Yeong walks through the city, he stops when a merchant shows him his interlocking eternity bracelets. He explains that even if two lovers are separated, the bands will turn and turn until they meet again.
Yeong reaches for one band, just as another hand reaches for its linked partner. It’s Ha-yeon, and she’s pleasantly surprised to run into him here. Yeong, on the other hand, asks suspiciously if she’s manufactured this encounter too, and she swears that this time is a true coincidence. And then she brightens: “Then… is it true fate?” Haha.
Then his attention is diverted by a commotion in the distance, and he sees Byung-yeon being chased by Kim’s henchmen. He recalls Byung-yeon telling him the night before that he would be at the training grounds all day, and follows in the direction of the chase.
Byung-yeon is cornered when the henchmen are joined by reinforcements, and draws his sword to fight. He launches himself into the fray and does fairly well holding his own considering how outnumbered he is.
Yeong arrives and sees the fight unfold. Byung-yeon takes note of his presence, but is too preoccupied to do anything but fight.
Then, even more reinforcements arrive behind Yeong and Ha-yeon, blocking them into the fight. Byung-yeol tosses his sword at the prince, who takes on the newcomers, dodging attacks deftly. He manages to alternate trading blows and protecting Ha-yeon, keeping her out of harm’s way.
The assailants take some losses, but manage to block in the trio. Byung-yeon instructs the prince to run away with Ha-yeon when he launches himself toward the attackers, and then they swing into action.
Instead of running, Yeong joins the fight alongside Byung-yeon, and together they cut down more assailants—enough to spook the remaining ones into retreat. Byung-yeon chases one, while Yeong checks on a distraught Ha-yeon, who is so glad to see him safe that grabs his hand in relief.
Yeong helps her up… and then sees a mask, dropped nearby. Byung-yeon returns to the scene, but the moment he sees the prince with the mask, he ducks out of sight in alarm.
When he rejoins the prince, Byung-yeon asks why Yeong isn’t asking questions. Yeong replies that if this were something Byung-yeon could share with him, he wouldn’t have hidden it in the first place.
Yeong’s face hardens as it turns away, but he keeps it friendly when he faces his friend and says, “If there were exactly one person in the world I had to trust, it’s you. You know that, don’t you?”
That seems to weigh down Byung-yeon’s already heavy heart further, and he hangs his head.
Yeong visits his mother’s grave, thinking of the prime minister’s comments about his father’s regrets in the wake of her death. He remembers angrily confronting his father after she’d died, demanding to know who killed their mother and begging his father to do something about it. But the king had been vehement about Yeong not repeating those words.
He sheds a tear at her grave, and later when he returns to the palace, Ra-on asks where he has been all day. He replies that he went to visit someone he missed: his mother.
Ra-on asks what she was like, and smiles to hear that she found the palace stifling and was curious about life outside of it. “She was like you,” she laughs.
He remembers how his mother had often acted in odd or inappropriate ways, causing a headache at court. Ra-on points out that similarity, too.
He adds that she was warm-hearted and wise, and grows teary-eyed as he says, “I couldn’t protect her.” He turns to Ra-on and adds, “That’s when I realized that to protect loved ones, I had to become strong.”
He asks if she was very worried about him today, then flicks her forehead and calls her his yakgwa (as in, sweet pick-me-up).
Ha-yeon gets to work on the embroidery she’s so bad at, and makes a decorative book cover. She wraps it up and has it sent to the prince with a letter, and he looks at it blankly in surprise.
Ra-on spots Yeong walking across the courtyard with the wrapped gift, and follows him to the garden. Her face falls to see Ha-yeon there with him, and we flash back to a recent conversation, where Ha-yeon had told her of her crush rescuing her from danger, calling it fate.
Moreover, Ha-yeon had decided to take Ra-on’s advice to be serious and honest about her feelings. Ra-on touches her hat self-consciously, and looks down at her eunuch’s garb.
Yeong hands the package back to Ha-yeon and tells her he didn’t open it. Disappointed, Ha-yeon says she overcame her lack of skill and spent days making this, and confesses, “I keep thinking of you, and wanting to see you.”
From afar, Ra-on is despondent as she watches his reaction, and starts tearing up.
Later, she’s awkward and withdrawn, and tries to avoid him when he steps in front of her path in the library. He teases her, asking if this means she can’t bear to be a step apart from him, but Ra-on turns silently and walks away with tears in her eyes.
Then she turns back to ask if he has ever loved a woman. He considers his reply, then declares firmly yes. Heart sinking, Ra-on asks when, and what kind of woman.
Yeong replies, “Right now. A very beautiful woman.”
Ra-on’s face falls further, and she looks devastated. Voice trembling, she asks why he treated her so well then, and he realizes the way this conversation is turning and starts to explain.
But she continues, “Many times in one day, I feel happy, and angry, and pained, and it has been difficult. I don’t know what feelings you have toward me—am I not able to ask? Even though I may be a eunuch in the palace of the crown prince, you do not own even my heart.”
She walks away, and Yeong stops himself from following.
Ra-on lies in bed with hurting heart, recalling the prince’s meeting with Ha-yeon. Meanwhile, Yeong hears Ra-on’s parting words replaying in his mind as he sits up late into the night.
Byung-yeon is back on his tracking mission the next day, as are Kim’s pack of henchmen, who tail him through the city. Byung-yeon is following Ra-on’s adoptive father, the traveling performer, but catches on to his followers.
He manages to pull aside Ra-on’s father before the henchmen see them. He asks after Ra-on’s whereabouts, assuring the man that he’s out to protect her. Dad lies that he doesn’t know where she went, and although it seems Byung-yeon knows it’s a lie, he just asks Dad to be sure to lie when other people come asking. Better yet, avoid them entirely.
Dad struggles with whether to trust him, and asks, “Nothing will happen to Ra-on, will it?”
Yeong comes to Ra-on’s quarters full of purpose, clutching an eternity bracelet in his hand. He takes Ra-on’s hand and places one bracelet around her wrist; he’s already wearing its mate.
She asks what it is. Yeong replies, “An ornament perfectly suited for a beautiful woman. What else would it be?”
Confused, she asks what he means by beautiful woman. He declares, “I told you there was one—the woman I love right now. Right in front of me.”
Dad asks Byung-yeon one more time if he truly means to protect Ra-on, wrestling with his doubts. And then he blurts it out: “Sam-nom.”
Byung-yeon freezes, eyes widening. Dad clarifies, “Hong Sam-nom. She’s at the palace right now. Sold there by thugs for a debt.”
Stunned, trying to process Yeong’s words, Ra-on starts to step backward. Yeong stops her retreat by taking her hand, and vows, “From now on, I will treat you as the most beautiful woman in the world. May I do that?”
First up: That initial confession. So he totally knew yesterday that Ra-on was a girl, ha! I know there were suspicions that he’d known, and there were a lot of good theories about when he could have possibly figured it out. I’m very satisfied with the way it really happened, though, and think this is the best possible outcome—because even though it would have been interesting to have him figure it out ages ago and have been pretending all along, I prefer to have him figure out more recently, for multiple reasons.
For one, it means that the confession that he made was actually sincere, and not just some tongue-in-cheek wordplay. He had decided to accept his feelings and follow his heart immediately prior finding out that Ra-on was a girl, so we still get to bask in his process of angsting and deliberating and accepting. It’s done in a way that we get to have our cake and eat it too, without feeling like we’ve been cheated of the work, because he still had to go through it before coming to terms with himself.
Another reason I prefer this reveal is that we get to see the immediacy of Yeong’s reaction, rather than being deprived of it. Furthermore, it means I don’t have to feel like I’ve been purposely left out of the loop for the sake of a twist reveal, like the drama tricked me by making me think it was being sincere when really it was lulling me into a false sense of security. I mean, it’s my own loop! Don’t lock me out of it! For the sake of narrative credibility, I’m grateful to have the show demonstrate that I can still trust it.
I also think the show struck a good balance in playing with the prince’s knowledge without letting it get too out of hand. One the one hand, it was adorable to see him smiling every time she referred to herself as a man, and finding little ways to tease. But I also think he was a bit shortsighted in not really seeing it through Ra-on’s point of view, and understanding that his playfulness was putting her into anxiety-provoking situations. It’s one of those things he doesn’t see from his place of elevated power, how she isn’t in a position to assert herself very strongly in the first place, and on top of that he’s having a little fun at her expense.
Not that I found him mean-spirited in the least; I think the show hit it just right in showing him his error, and Park Bo-gum acted it nicely, showing us how he realized that what he intended wasn’t what was being conveyed. I really liked that Ra-on reacted strongly to Yeong’s reply about being in love with a woman, because he was thinking it would be fun to have her misunderstand—he doesn’t mean to hurt her, but he doesn’t think of how he just dug her wound deeper.
It’s interesting how in a contemporary drama, the issue of the girl deceiving the guy about her gender would be a salient issue at this point in the story, but making this a sageuk does rather neatly take care of that. I accept that there are Dire Reasons for her disguise, literal life-and-death ones, and those trump the gender deception. Furthermore, at this point if her disguise were revealed, she’d be in even more in danger, since it would be seen as an insult to royalty and could cost her her life.
So now she and the prince are in the open with regard to their feelings, but still dodging peril within the palace and forced to maintain their roles, which ought to provide us with more conflicts down the line. I suppose we do have our second leads as well, but while I do like them, I wonder if Ha-yeon was introduced a bit too late for me to care much about her; I was way too invested in the main couple to give her a second thought. But then again, if she’d been a legitimate contender, I might have had to deal with that angst, and I’m fine with the level of angst we’ve already got. Which is to say, not an excessive amount, and when delivered, often resolved to satisfaction: just enough to spice the soup, but not make it impossible to choke down.
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 7
- KBS in talks to extend Moonlight Drawn By Clouds
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 6
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 5
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 4
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 3
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 2
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 1