Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 13
Today puts us more in Ra-on’s shoes than I think we’ve been in a long time, and it’s an effective way to attune our emotions to hers, feeling the layers of meaning beneath the words she speaks and the smiles she sends. If only that didn’t make me so nervous about everyone else—everyone who doesn’t have the benefit of our dramatic irony and thus know what we do. Sometimes it’s such a burden knowing everything!
EPISODE 13: “Tenderly, goodbye”
Ra-on’s mother is determined to run away with Ra-on, and tells Teacher Dasan of her fears that somebody will make the link to her father. But of course, that’s the exact moment Ra-on arrives at the door, and she overhears the conversation with shock.
Now, Ra-on finally makes sense of all those things she didn’t understand before: Why she was forced to dress as a boy, and why they were constantly on the run. She says she understands her mother now, doing everything she could to shield Ra-on from the fact that her father was a traitor responsible for the deaths of thousands of peasants.
Ra-on’s mother tells her not to hate her father too much; he was trying to make the world a better place for her. But knowing the truth now just makes it all the more painful now, and Ra-on cries, “You should have kept me from knowing through the end.” Then she changes her mind: “No, you should have told me sooner.”
Ra-on’s mother holds her, apologizing. Ra-on cries for a moment, then asks her mother to let her go back today. Her mother is alarmed, insistent that they leave as soon as possible, but Ra-on promises to return soon: “He’s waiting. He doesn’t know anything.”
So later that night, Yeong waits outside Ra-on’s building, his face relaxing in relief when she arrives. She looks at him brightly while he scolds her for being late, and asks if he means to “punish” her again. Yeong laughs, noting that she seems to be looking forward to it, then steps forward to embrace her.
Ra-on keeps her smile in place until that hug, at which point it turns tearful. Yeong tells her he’ll forgive her since she came back safely.
In the morning as Ra-on finishes dressing Yeong, he notices that nobody else is around and asks if Eunuch Jang saddled her with all his duties. Ra-on replies that she requested to take on all the duties for the next few days, because she was unable to see Yeong for so long while he recovered from his injuries.
Yeong feigns a scolding attitude for all of two seconds before he breaks into a grin: “If you wanted me all to yourself so badly, I’ll allow it.”
Then Ra-on takes Yeong by the hand and makes a request to stay within a step of him all day, and to lean on his shoulder and nap on his knee. He readily assents to it all, including her added request for him to look at her all day instead of his books.
Yeong says it’s his turn, and asks if she’s mentally prepared. He pulls her close by the nape of the neck, and smiles when she closes her eyes. When he doesn’t kiss her, Ra-on cracks open an eye, and he tells her, “Do not make requests. I will do whatever you say.”
Ra-on takes his hand again, and they beam at each other like that, for long moments.
Yeong resumes holding court, and Minister Kim makes a show of bemoaning the terrible attempt on the prince’s life. Yeong notes that the minister ignoring his dismissal is an even more appalling occurrence, to which the prime minister says that he has shown loyalty by keeping his post throughout the prince’s absence.
But Minister Jo speaks up to point out that ignoring his dismissal is a flagrant act of disloyalty—and his breaking of the ranks surprises not only the Kim clan but the prince as well. Ah, so has Minister Jo decided to side with the king then?
The dismissed Minister Kim insists that he was just fulfilling his duties in a moment of crisis, and pleads for the prince’s understanding. The rest of the court chimes in.
Yeong hears the report from his royal commander regarding his assassination attempt: By the time soldiers had been mobilized, nine of the intruders were already dead. At that count, Byung-yeon furrows his brow—perhaps sensing a discrepancy there? The commander apologizes for not capturing anyone alive to provide them with answers.
Yeong is certain that they were directed by a palace insider, which would be the only way they could infiltrate the grounds unseen. Byung-yeong looks a bit concerned at that, while Yeong orders his commander to find any survivors.
With his left hand still healing from the fight, Yoon-sung drops a handful of scrolls. He kneels to pick them up, but Ra-on gets there first, and he brightens at the sight of her. She assures him that she’s fine and wasn’t hurt, and Yoon-sung asks after the prince’s condition.
Yeong happens to arrive then and replies that he’s fine, and the two men trade bows.
They step aside for a private talk, and Yeong admits that at a certain point, he was unable to see Yoon-sung purely as himself. Yoon-sung understands that, given that he’s meant to carry on the Kim bloodline.
“That reason is not wrong,” Yeong says. “However, seeing you take the sword headed for me with your bare hand—I was sorry.” Yoon-sung asks if he can consider some of his debt of gratitude to have been relieved, and states with new conviction, “From this moment on, I will not wait, or take special care, or make requests.”
Yeong understands that he’s declaring himself as a rival (nooo, what about my beautiful bromance) and says he doesn’t intend to stop Yoon-sung: “It’s when one has tried their hardest that one can resign.”
That night when Yeong finds Ra-on in his library, she tells him to pay attention as she indicates which books require airing out, and which have been damaged. Ack, stop making everything sound like goodbye! Yeong asks why he has to know this, and says she’s doing needless work when that can all be taken care of in due time. She replies, “Whether it’s done at once or slowly, it’s all work I must do.”
Then Ra-on asks if she should write down the nighttime story she’d told him when he couldn’t sleep, but he says that there’s no need: “Whenever I want to hear it, I can just call you.”
A few moments later, Yeong looks around for Ra-on and doesn’t see her. She surprises him by enveloping him in a back-hug, and asks to stay like this just for a short while. Yeong smiles, and tells her she can stay like that for a long, long while instead.
Ra-on locks her fingers together as she holds him around his waist, and he places his hands on top of hers and leans back into her embrace. I should note that even the background song is urging her not to break up: If the two of us become one again, let us never separate. Even if the harsh rain shakes us, let us not be apart. Let us not collapse.
Ha-yeon drops by the palace and speaks to Ra-on, and admits ruefully that her advice to be honest about her feelings with the prince didn’t work. Ha-yeon explains, “So from now on, I have decided not to reveal my feelings, in order to stay by the prince’s side. If I do that, even if I am not the person he cares for, I can become someone who will help him.”
Ra-on seems worried for Ha-yeon’s own sake, asking if that won’t be difficult for her. Ha-yeon agrees that it will be, but says that the day may come when he will recognize her feelings. She asks if she’s pathetic, but Ra-on assures her she isn’t, and asks Ha-yeon to take good care of the prince: “A lady like you suits the prince.”
Ha-yeon says that it feels like Ra-on has become her friend and asks if it would be okay to call her when she needs to talk things out. She admits to waiting around the garden for ages for a glimpse of the prince and is about to give up, but Ra-on calls her back, though she hesitates to speak.
The next thing we know, Ha-yeon is making her way to the prince’s private library—Ra-on must have tipped her off. Yeong hears footsteps and starts to scold Ra-on for disappearing on him, but cuts himself off to see Ha-yeon instead.
She explains that she had something to ask him, and reminds him of his words about having a woman in his heart. Given that he’s been rejecting pressure to marry, she wonders if that woman is someone he is unable to marry.
“I will become your nest,” Ha-yeon offers. She points out that he can’t refuse to marry forever, and suggests that he find someone who would be helpful to himself and the king. Yeong asks if she means herself, and she replies yes: “In order to flap your wings and take on grand ambitions, please use me and my family.”
Meanwhile, Yoon-sung calls Ra-on and faces her sternly, making her wonder at his angry expression. Yoon-sung admits to feeling angry with himself for always being a step late: “But this time, I must not be late. Not for me, but for you.” He urges her to leave.
Yeong tells Ha-yeon he won’t be able to give her any of his heart. She replies that she is not so pathetic as to beg for affection from a man who carries another woman in his heart. He asks why she wants to be the princess given these circumstances, and she says that it’s for the future of her family.
Yeong warns, “Your family may flourish, but you will be infinitely lonely.” Ha-yeon answers, “It does not matter. It is only a deal for us both to profit from.” She does her best to seem assured, though her eyes already look sad.
Yoon-sung tries to convince Ra-on of the urgency, saying that he’s not asking her to come to him; he just wants her safe. But Ra-on tells him she plans to leave, and asks him not to let on that he knows: “If you know much about me, it will not be good for you.”
He asks what she means—those words make him wonder if she knows what he does. She cuts him off and repeats her warning.
Ministers Dumb and Dumber get bad news: The tenth assassin that got away the night of the prince’s attack has since been caught. If he confesses while under interrogation, their necks are on the line.
Prime Minister Kim overhears the conversation and demands and explanation, nearly blowing his top upon hearing that the last assassin is now in custody.
Young Master Jung reports to Yeong that the white masks worn by the assassins were not the same masks belonging to the rebel secret society (named Baekwoonhwe, or White Cloud Society, for the white masks they wear and the “cloud” character written on the messages they leave behind).
He explains that the rebels wear their masks not to conceal their identities but to make their cause more widely known. That’s why every time they are involved in an incident, they leave behind something explaining their reasons. But there was nothing left after the prince’s attack; they were only there to kill Yeong.
Byung-yeon joins them just then, and Yeong clocks his reaction to seeing the mask there on his desk. Byung-yeon does his best to not betray anything, and informs Yeong that he needs to go somewhere right away.
The tenth assassin is tortured and interrogated at the royal tribunal, under the watch of the three Kim ministers. The man begs for mercy, saying that he was only doing as ordered, but Minister Dumber presses him, acting the part of the righteous official. The man looks over to Minister Dumb, who nods back. Hm, there’s something there.
Yeong calls a halt to the proceedings, then orders Minister Dumber to stop with the torture and resume interrogation. So the torturers step aside and the minister asks again who ordered the assassination attempt.
But the Kims aren’t too worried that he’ll spill, and a flashback shows us why: Minister Dumb had visited the assassin in his prison cell and offered him a deal. If he did as ordered, the man’s family would be spared.
So now, the minister digs the hilt of his sword into the man’s leg as a reminder, and the assassin mumbles a name: Baekwoonhwe. Gack! Byung-yeon (and quite possibly Yeong too) has to know he’s lying, but is hardly in a place to dispute it. The man declares that there’s a Baekwoonhwe member inside the palace who helped them infiltrate it.
To make the claim even more credible, the assassin declares that Hong Kyung-rae’s daughter is alive and inside the palace, preparing to revive the rebellion. Minister Dumber asks who that is, and Byung-yeon and Yeong both tense as he starts to answer.
And then, a hand grabs a sword and drives it through the man, stunning everyone present. Prime Minister Kim silences him before he has a chance to say it, and Yeong turns on him furiously. The prime minister says that the man confessed to treason (hence deserved to die), but Yeong argues that he had no right to kill anyone, traitor or not, without the king’s approval.
Prime Minister Kim replies that both the king and prince are so prone to hesitation that he had no choice but to step in.
Yeong grabs Byung-yeon’s sword and levels it against the prime minister, demanding, “Killing my citizen in front of me, the crown prince, makes you another traitor—do you not know that?” The prime minister replies levelly that if his action endangered the royal house, the prince ought to kill him right now.
The ministers all call for Yeong to back down, and the prime minister tells him that endangering the nation is cause for swift punishment. Yeong replies that this is exactly why he cannot withdraw his sword now, and the cries of the ministers grow.
Finally, it’s Byung-yeon who places a hand on Yeong’s and refuses to let go. Yeong glares and resists, but ultimately lets him pull his arm down.
The ministers breathe a sigh of relief, although Prime Minister Kim scarcely bats an eye.
The next day at mealtime in the eunuch department, Ra-on surprises Eunuch Jang by setting a piece of food on his spoon. Ah, will you stop with the touching final acts of consideration to people who don’t know you’re leaving? *Wahhhhhh*
She tenses when the other eunuchs talk about the captured assassin, who was supposedly acting in concert with Hong Kyung-rae’s allies. Even more upsetting is the rumor that Hong’s daughter is currently a spy in the palace, and opened the gate for the assassins.
Princess Myeongeun takes tea at an outdoor pavilion, and lovelorn Young Master Jung watches from a distance, a letter in his hand. It’s that letter that she discovers left for her on her way out, and she opens it to find a picture—of herself, in her chubbier days.
The accompanying message is something of a riddle: “You who are not present, but neither are you absent, my nim (dear).” (That’s a reference to how he’d told the princess his sweetheart was neither still in the palace nor gone from it.) The letter is signed with the name Jung Deok-ho, and she tries to place it, finally landing on Young Master Jung.
He appears before then, and while her first reaction is assuming that he’s here to annoy her again, he identifies himself as Jung Deok-ho. Princess Myeongeun is shocked, having thought he’d loved Wol-hee, and he’s so astonished that he stutters to come up with an explanation, grabbing for her hand to insist that she’s the one he loved.
Princes Myeongeun slaps him for daring to touch her and turns away angrily as he tries to stammer out that he loves her. With no other way to stop her from leaving, he yells, “HEY!” Omo and hahaha.
The princess turns, and he says, notably in the most familiar banmal, “It’s you. You. The person I love.”
The Kims convene to discuss the death of their henchman, and who he’d last met with. Once they meet with that source, they’ll be able to figure out what information the henchman died before he could deliver. As we know, it was Yoon-sung who intercepted that message to keep Ra-on’s identity safe—though if his elders track down the message’s source, they’ll discover it anyway.
The queen receives word that her hidden court lady has given birth to a son. That’s exactly what she was hoping for, although she’s not out of the woods yet, since she’s still pregnant. She informs her eunuch to ensure that the baby’s cries are not heard…
Which is exactly what Yoon-sung hears when he drops by to make an obligatory greeting to the queen. He spots a court lady slipping out of a room, and files this information away. Then when he visits the queen, he inquires after her condition and notes her uneasiness.
The king rebukes the prime minister for acting in haste in killing the assassin. Prime Minister Kim says he’s ferreted out the identity of the spy in the palace and hands over a scroll as proof. The king reads the name Hong Ra-on, which makes Head Eunuch Han look up in alarm.
Eunuch Han meets with Byung-yeon later, and tells him that they will now protect Ra-on under Baekwoonhwe’s name. “The time has passed for waiting for a choice,” he declares. Byung-yeon is alarmed at the implication that they’d take Ra-on by force, but Head Eunuch Han says they can’t leave her in danger and informs him that they’ll remove Ra-on secretly tomorrow.
With the palace ready to start their search for the hidden spy, the Kim faction is equally aware of the need to locate Ra-on first, knowing that she would be a valuable trump card for them. Yoon-sung overhears this, looking stricken, and leaves his home wearing a stern face.
He runs right into Byung-yeon, who’s been waiting for him outside, armed with a request. He reminds Yoon-sung that he’d acted against his grandfather’s wishes once to save Ra-on, and asks him now to take her away from the palace secretly.
That night, Ra-on watches Yeong as he sleeps—or rather, as he drowsily insists that he’s not sleepy¸ and that there’s no need for her to stay up all night. She replies that she wants to look at him all night, to which he replies, “You can see me tomorrow to your heart’s content.”
She says, “Things we always see and always do—there are times when they suddenly feel precious, are there not?”
Yeong thinks, and says, “That’s true, when you think they are the last time.” She agrees, the tears pooling in her eyes as she explains how the most trivial things can feel special when you think they’re the last time.
Yeong concedes the point (but doesn’t connect the dots) and pats the space next to him, inviting her to look her fill. Ra-on kneels next to his bed and smiles down at him tenderly, cupping her face in her palm as she stares at his face. Suddenly Yeong grabs her hand and pulls her into bed with him, covering her with the blanket.
Ra-on asks, “If I had been born the daughter of a nobleman and come to your side, would you have looked on me fondly?” He replies, “Is that not obvious?”
She asks if they would have still been fated to meet if she hadn’t dressed as a young nobleman that day, and he replies with the same answer.
He cups her face with his hand, their eternity bracelets just inches from each other, and says, “Did I not tell you? Even if we turn and turn, we are fated to meet again.”
He falls asleep then, and she continues to stare at his face. She thinks forlornly, “But, one day, even if you were to learn that I am the daughter of a traitor, will you not regret having met me? Right now, this moment—will you long for it just once?”
With a tear falling from her eye, Ra-on leans in to press a kiss to Yeong’s lips. His eyes flutter open for the briefest moment as he smiles into the kiss, and then they fall closed in sleep again.
Ra-on pulls back and traces his face with her fingers, then nestles close as she cries quietly in his arms.
When Yeong wakes in the morning, he’s in bed alone. He calls out for Ra-on and doesn’t see her, then calls out for anyone outside. It’s Eunuch Jang who steps inside, and he says he hasn’t seen Ra-on yet this morning.
Yeong steps outside to an ominous sight, with soldiers combing the palace grounds. Minister Kim greets him, and Yeong asks about the disturbance. It’s the first time he’s hearing of the king’s order to capture the rebel leader’s daughter, who has finally been confirmed to be hiding in the palace as a spy.
That in itself doesn’t startle Yeong, who just asks if the report gave a description of that daughter. Minister Kim tells him that they have no physical description, but know that she’s eighteen years old and used to live with her mother—and that her childhood name was Hong Ra-on.
At that name, everything goes fuzzy as Yeong’s brain shuts out all sound. He doesn’t hear the rest of Minister Kim’s sentence, and asks him to repeat that name.
The minister clocks Yeong’s odd reaction, and explains that everyone in that age range is being investigated, and that the daughter will be using a different name now.
Yeong reels. He stands stock-still in the rain, hardly knowing what to do with the information.
He next heads to Ra-on’s quarters, thinking of when Ra-on first told him her name. He calls Ra-on’s name aloud and looks around, and then all goes silent for a moment…
…until he sees her eunuch’s uniform neatly folded and left behind—and her eternity bracelet with it.
Aw, sniff. *wails* Why can’t they just find some magical miracle solution to be together without somehow committing capital crimes and upending the whole social order? Is that asking for too much? Where’s our fairy gatmother when we need one?
That said, I thought the whole episode was a classy affair. It was a loving tribute to farewell—I knew it was coming and felt it in every interaction, but it was handled in such a tender, heartfelt way that it felt like there was comfort mixed in there amongst the dread. (I mean, mostly dread. But still, a little comfort.) A lot of dramas employ this type of farewell trip motif, often in the form of one perfect day meant to sustain both people through the separation stretching before them—and most of the time, I hate it. Mostly because it’s crushingly unfair to the one party who’s left in the dark about it being farewell at all, and also because most of the time the ensuing separation is dumb as a doorknob. No offense to doorknobs, which are frequently useful.
Sometimes, though, a story finds the poignancy in the perfect last day and uses it well. I don’t actually know how this drama managed to make me like it, except maybe I appreciated having an episode’s worth of time to anticipate the eventuality, like easing into the mourning. Or maybe it’s because it I loved that it gave Ra-on a chance to be freer with her emotions in a way she couldn’t be before, prodding her into pouring all of her love out into every possible moment. As a result, not only does the episode show Ra-on really feeling the preciousness of every last moment, it also accomplishes that on a meta level, because it got me emotionally right there with her at every step, feeling the finality and momentousness of each interaction.
I’m extra sad that Ra-on left behind her bracelet, because it makes their separation feel extra final; Yeong reminds her of the superstition associated with the bracelets, that as long as the two lovers keep wearing it, they are fated to reunite. So it’s a rejection of that promise to reunite, indicating that she doesn’t expect to ever see him again. I suppose in that sense it’s an effective way to set the prince free to marry; historically speaking it makes every kind of sense for him to marry Ha-yeon no matter what Ra-on’s status, but given that this is a fusion sageuk meant to satisfy modern sensibilities, it gives narrative permission for him to marry someone else.
I have to say I am glad that Ra-on is finally out of the palace, because it feels like it’s been a long time coming. I don’t wish that they’d done this earlier, because I wouldn’t take back any moments of Ra-on and Yeong’s relationship development; it’s just a good time in the story to have her identity finally outed. Having Ra-on stay in the palace till now gave their relationship a chance to blossom and flourish in such a way that I feel like they’ve become a married couple—they have interacted like a firmly established couple who are solid in their commitment and assured of their standing, in a way that goes beyond mere sweethearts. So from a story standpoint, it’s time to move to the next part of the conflict.
It also turns the royal wedding into less of an expected angstfest for me, because I don’t think any of us were looking forward to watching Ra-on step back while another woman married the prince. I’m a little wary of what the drama will feel like when you take away the sweet stolen moments between Yeong and Ra-on, because that’s been a huuuuge part of its charm. Not the only charm, but definitely one of the prominent ones. I suppose after twelve episodes of satisfying, emotionally gratifying emotion, it’s time to put my trust in the producers to find a way to maintain its energy and emotional pull in new situations. Eeeee. *squints* *holds breath*
- Dramabeans Podcast #34
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 12
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 11
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds from the original author’s point of view
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds rejects extension, to end with 18 episodes
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 10
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 9
- Moonlight Drawn By Clouds: Episode 8
- 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