My Sassy Girl: Episodes 23-24
There’s a distinction between lying and withholding information, and our lovebirds learn that sometimes the latter is done to protect the person we care about, even though it may come across as a deceptive and suspicious move. Meanwhile, a new and mysterious threat has entered the picture, and this time, no one, not even the seemingly untouchable, villainous ministers are safe.
EPISODE 23 RECAP
At the monastery atop the mountain, Gyun Woo asks the court lady-turned-monk what exactly happened ten years ago. With her back to him, she answers that she knows nothing since her life now belongs to the grim reaper and requests that he stop inquiring. But he remains persistent, and his answer as to why he’s so curious touches a nerve: “I’m trying to find the mother of the person I love.”
Still, the monk doesn’t budge and says the queen was deposed because of an affair with Prince Chuseong, ergo, searching for the queen will be a dangerous endeavor. Gyun Woo presses for more details, and the monk finally turns to face him… and we see that she’s actually the deposed queen herself(!).
As Gyun Woo and Byul descend from the mountain, Gyun Woo sadly recalls Hyemyeong’s dogged determination to locate her mother despite everyone else’s opposition.
They find Hyemyeong anxiously awaiting their return at the palace, eager for an update. But she’s alarmed to learn from Gyun Woo that the monk had nothing to share. Hyemyeong tries to leave to meet the monk face-to-face, figuring she’ll be able to drum up some memories, but Gyun Woo stops her and holds her, telling her not to be discouraged — he’ll find another way.
Back at the monastery, the deposed queen starts to cry in the middle of prayer as her mind flashes back to her heartbreaking separation from Hyemyeong ten years ago. When she turns around, she faces a man dressed in peach-colored attire, but his identity isn’t revealed to us. Uh, Choon Poong, is that you?
Elsewhere, Minister Jung meets with Minister Lee, who reads the letter that was threateningly delivered to the former by a mysterious masked figure. Minister Lee says it’s identical to the letter he received the night before. Minister Jung notes that the letter’s signature and seal belong to Prince Chuseong, which Minister Lee finds hard to believe since the prince has since perished, but Minister Jung wonders if Prince Chuseong has returned.
In flashback, we see that Prince Chuseong warned Minister Jung that even after death, he will haunt them, before he strode toward a burning house, eventually becoming engulfed by the flames.
In his room, Gyun Woo apologizes to a drawing of Hyemyeong for his uncertainty over whether or not the deposed queen’s alleged affair is a fabrication by Minister Jung or the truth, but adds that not knowing is what’s best for her currently.
He’s then notified of a guest, and next thing we know, he’s quickly leaving the palace with a look of concern after Young-shin had informed him that Hyemyeong had left for the monastery.
That evening, Hyemyeong and Byul reach the monastery, but right as she’s about to enter, Gyun Woo arrives and pulls her back. She tells him that she thought it over and felt it appropriate to meet with the “monk,” but Gyun Woo says that they should head back now, since it’s late. She asks him if there’s a reason why she shouldn’t meet with the monk, but he doesn’t have a definitive answer, so she gets out of his grasp to go find the monk.
But another monk informs them that woman they’re looking for already left after Gyun Woo came by. Hyemyeong looks crushed by yet another dead end as she, Gyun Woo, and Byul head back to the palace.
Hyemyeong faces Gyun Woo and pointedly asks if the monk was withholding information. Gyun Woo insists that isn’t the case, but his grave expression and attempts to explain anger her, and she sharply retorts that she doesn’t want excuses.
She adds that she thought that at the very least, Gyun Woo would be on her side. She walks off, and Gyun Woo finds himself in front of a blank poster that suddenly comes alive with the characters, “Maeng Mo Sa Mang Ji Kyo.”
Gyun Woo’s startled to find a child version of Hyemyeong appear next to him. She reads the characters aloud, and then we see him awaken from yet another nightmare.
The next morning, his mother finds him looking worn and asks if he’s reconsidered resigning and moving to Jeonju to ease her worries and his recurring nightmares. Gyun Woo says he’ll do no such thing and heads out, and Gyun Hee, having overheard their conversation, asks her mother when Gyun Woo was sick in the past. But Mom’s in no mood to explain.
Gyun Woo waits outside Hyemyeong’s chamber, but Young-shin tells him that she wishes to stay in and rest. He asks about her health, and Young-shin admits that she didn’t sleep a wink last night.
After speaking to Gyun Woo, Young-shin updates Hyemyeong and says that Gyun Woo appeared exhausted too, but she snaps that she’s not curious about him. Young-shin wonders if he should toss the wilting flowers in the vase, and Hyemyeong’s face softens when she remembers receiving them from Gyun Woo during happier times.
While the little prince is reciting Confucian values, Gyun Woo fixates on Hyemyeong’s disappointment when she accused him of hiding information from her and not being on her side. The prince notices Gyun Woo’s distracted state and encourages him to spill so that he can offer advice, and Gyun Woo eventually gives in. The prince determines that honesty is the best option to fix the pickle that Gyun Woo’s “friend of a friend of a friend” (heh) is in with his girlfriend.
Hyemyeong runs into Choon Poong at the medical services bureau. He wonders if he’ll spot the princess volunteering, and Hyemyeong feigns ignorance and changes the subject by asking why he’s here. He says he has a stomachache from drinking too much, so she offers him a remedy.
Grateful for her help, he offers to ease her concerns when he notices her sullen face. After hearing her story, he says that the man hiding something from her must have a valid reason for doing so and is consequently probably always distressed. He suggests that she trust the man’s heart, which makes her smile, but when he asks if the man is someone he knows, Hyemyeong deflects. Choon Poong, what/who don’t you know?!
As she’s peeling roots, she’s reminded of when Gyun Woo helped her drape a bag of herbs over a beam in that same room before assuring her that her feelings mattered most to him. Distracted by that memory, Hyemyeong accidentally cuts herself with the blade. While she insists it’s a minor injury to panic-stricken Young-shin and Byul, Gyun Woo suddenly appears, saying it’s not insignificant before he picks her up and carries her out of the room.
He carefully treats her wound, and when she says it hurts, he admits that he hurt immensely yesterday. In flashback, we see that the prince had advised Gyun Woo’s “friend” to not lose the person he loves or lose the right words to say by bungling the timing.
Back in the present, he’s about to explain why he withheld information from her, but Hyemyeong surprises him when she says he doesn’t have to disclose anything because she understands that he has his reasons. She apologizes for her harsh words from yesterday and asks why he keeps staring at her, but Gyun Woo just replies that it’s because she’s pretty before pecking her on the lips. Hyemyeong then reciprocates and kisses him, and they both smile shyly.
At the teahouse, Da-yeon’s girlfriends do what they do best: gossip. They chat about how Da-yeon’s ill in bed, possibly from rage after Gyun Woo sent Prince Dalhan away, and also about Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong’s lovey-dovey times at the medical services bureau. From another table, Chang-hui’s bros overhear the conversation and decide to meet with Chang-hui.
Chang-hui practices his sword skills while his bros watch and express concern that he went from drinking to overworking himself following Da-yeon’s rejection. Chang-hui catches Da-yeon’s name in their conversation, so they have no choice but to give him an update on her.
Meanwhile, Da-yeon’s looks pale in bed as she remembers her father’s request to get over Gyun Woo and accept that it’s over. Meanwhile, her attendant, Mal-geum, grumbles about Se-ho not reaching out to her since they parted.
Da-yeon sits up to greet Gyun Hee, who came to see how she’s doing. Gyun Hee asks if she’s ill because of something Hyemyeong said to her, and after some urging, Da-yeon decides to speak on the condition that Gyun Hee keep this a secret from her brother, which Gyun Hee readily promises to do.
EPISODE 24 RECAP
Young-shin and Byul wonder where Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong have gone and find the lovebirds holding hands inside a room. Hyemyeong tries to let go once they’ve been discovered, but Gyun Woo proudly holds tight. Aww. Young-shin doesn’t want to ruin the moment, but he says they really need to return to the palace, so Gyun Woo requests just one minute with Hyemyeong before they head back.
Young-shin and Byul give the two some privacy. Hyemyeong asks Gyun Woo what he plans on doing in just one minute, and he quips that she has a dirty mind. He kisses her on the cheek and suggests they simply sit together while holding hands, so they do, perfectly content in each other’s company.
Chang-hui gives Mal-geum bundles of medicine for Da-yeon and requests that she not mention that they’re from him. Once inside, Mal-geum serves Da-yeon the medicine from Chang-hui, but she refuses to drink it despite days of not eating and angrily knocks it out of Mal-geum’s hands when she learns that her father has remained silent.
Over at the bookshop, Kwang-soo just isn’t feeling Se-ho’s uncharacteristically dreary (instead of steamy) lines of dialogue, and Se-ho says it’s because he’s unwell.
Suddenly, Mal-geum enters and suggests they talk. Se-ho follows her to the teahouse, where she expresses how disappointed she felt when he didn’t chase after her, all because she told him not to. But Se-ho says he did follow her — he just wasn’t able to keep up because she ran too fast.
Mal-geum grumbles that handsome men are trouble, and Se-ho cackles while fanning himself, flattered that she finds him the most handsome man in the world. He takes her hand and offers to buy her dinner, calling her “baby” (in a nod to the classic Lovers in Paris).
That evening, Hyemyeong hands Gyun Woo a pouch and tells him to open it when he gets home, since its contents will help him sleep. He smiles and says that it’s only right that she assumes responsibility for him since she keeps appearing in his dreams and disrupting his sleep.
He doesn’t want to leave her, so Hyemyeong suggests they both leave at the same time at the count of three, but neither budges after the count. They both linger adorably, all smiles and dimples.
Joon-young witnesses this before turning away solemnly, reminded of when Hyemyeong would make silly faces at him just to make him smile. Aww, poor Joon-young!
Inside her room, Hyemyeong happily opens a notebook, where the pink flowers from Gyun Woo have dried nicely.
Gyun Woo finds dried persimmons in the pouch from Hyemyeong with a handwritten note saying that they’re good for fixing sleep issues. He takes a bite out of one and closes his eyes in enjoyment, when suddenly, Gyun Hee barges into his room and jolts him out of the moment. She chides him for not sharing and snatches a persimmon from him, only to take a bite and learn that it’s just an ordinary dried persimmon, nothing special.
He asks her why she’s here, and she’s about to share some dirt on Hyemyeong (courtesy of Da-yeon), but Gyun Woo cuts her off, refusing to hear any of it. He tells her that it’s dangerous to hear one side of a story without all the facts, regardless of the subject matter. Gyun Hee protests, saying that he should know how shameless Hyemyeong is, but Gyun Woo stands firm, uninterested in what she had to relay.
Gyun Woo’s parents remain concerned about their son’s health and the recurring nightmares, and Mom wonders if Gyun Woo’s memories are coming back or if there’s something wrong with his head. Minister Gyun says if Gyun Woo keeps up his refusal to move to Jeonju, he’ll go so far as to deliver his son’s resignation to the king himself. Mom wonders if there’s more to Gyun Woo’s condition that she isn’t privy to, but her husband swiftly dismisses the notion, although Mom doesn’t seem convinced.
That night, the queen meets with Wol-myung in secret. She smiles at the sight of him, but he reminds her that seeking him out is a risky move. The queen doesn’t seem to mind in the slightest, and is instead moved by the fact that he’s still the only one who looks out for her.
We flash back to several years prior, when the queen was just a commoner with Wol-myung as her lover. Wol-myung had eagerly informed her that he passed the royal guard exam and that they would no longer struggle if she married him, but she wanted more and told him that his sixth cousin, Minister Jung would bring her to the palace and make her spouse the king, and not some lowly guard like Wol-myung.
Their romantic relationship had ended when they both moved to the palace. Once there, she became queen, and he became a royal guard. But even then, she secretly met with him to ask favors; she instructed him to kill Prince Chuseong and become Minister Jung’s right hand man, expecting him to comply only because she was the one issuing the orders.
Back in the present, she asks Wol-myung what Minister Jung is thinking and whether or not he’s plotting a rebellion. He wonders why he should answer her question, and the queen replies matter-of-factly that he’s her person.
But moments later and back in her room, the queen fights back tears, devastated by Wol-myung’s declaration that he is no longer her person.
On the rooftop, the masked figure from before fires an arrow at a floating lantern, cracking it open so that its contents — flyers — flutter to the ground below and reach the masses.
Da-yeon’s girlfriends, the kooky bookseller, and Chang-hui’s bros all read the flyer that paints the Minister of the Left as a power hungry man who sits above the king and reigns from above. The flyer describes the king as foolishly helpless and accuses him and the Minister of the Left for the downfall of Joseon, threatening to punish them now.
Minister Jung reads it as well, and his cohort says that a masked figure is behind the flyers.
Minister Gyun gives the same information to the king, adding that the people have started to call this mysterious masked figure “Ghost Mask.” He says the handwriting and type of paper is different from previous flyers, and the king wonders who’s behind all this.
In the garden, Hyemyeong eagerly asks Gyun Woo if the dried persimmons alleviated his sleep problems, and although he replies that he slept very well last night, she senses that something’s wrong. She correctly guesses that he’s hiding something from her and tentatively asks if it’s another matter he can’t expound on, but Gyun Woo hands her the new flyer with a sigh. She reads it, and he says it doesn’t seem to originate from the Minister of the Left this time.
The flyer weighs heavily on Hyemyeong’s mind, and Joon-young greets her to let her know that he’ll be accompanying her on her volunteer trips. She declines his service since Byul suffices, but he says that the city is unstable due to the flyers and asks for her cooperation.
At the medical services bureau, Hyemyeong overhears patients gossiping about Ghost Mask and how he has the audacity to target both the king and the Minister of the Left. She freezes when they mention that the Ghost Mask may be Prince Chuseong and that he wears a mask to conceal burn scars, which prompts her to immediately leave for the palace with Byul and Young-shin.
The queen dowager expresses concern over the rumors swirling about Prince Chuseong as Ghost Mask to the king, and the king assures her that it’s only plausible that someone else is pretending to be the prince. The king is unsure what that person’s goal is, but he’s certain that Ghost Mask is dangerous.
At the bookstore, Gyun Woo fails to recall who Prince Chuseong is and also the fact that he led a rebellion ten years ago. Se-ho and Kwang-soo fill him in, saying that Prince Chuseong was thought to have died when he walked into a fire, but that he may have returned for revenge as Ghost Mask and is now targeting all the ministers of the left. Strangely, none of this rings a bell for Gyun Woo.
From behind a wall, Gyun Woo watches as the Minister of Personnel orders his men to guard his home before meeting with Minister Jung and Minister Lee.
During their meeting, Minister Lee states that the Minister of Personnel’s home is the last residence Ghost Mask has yet to strike, adding that it should be protected accordingly. But Minister Jung proposes that security be removed, since Ghost Mask shouldn’t be aware that he’s being hunted.
Meanwhile, Gyun Woo witnesses the Minister of Personnel return to his home and order his guards to not secure the residence.
Hyemyeong hurriedly returns to the palace, and Byul and Young-shin wonder why she’s in such a rush. She explains that the day her mother was deposed, Minister Jung said he had found evidence that Prince Chuseong was plotting treason, so she concludes that there may be a connection between her mother and Prince Chuseong.
She quickly heads to the queen’s quarters for answers. The queen isn’t thrilled to see her, but Hyemyeong mentions the flyers and says that she must learn more about Prince Chuseong. The queen smirks, warning her that she’ll get hurt by learning about him, but Hyemyeong says that shouldn’t matter since the queen delights in her pain anyway.
The queen divulges that Hyemyeong’s mother was deposed for having an affair with Prince Chuseong, who tried to cover up that crime, started a rebellion, and ended up dying. With glee, the queen tells Hyemyeong that this was the secret everyone withheld from her all this time and the truth behind her mother’s deposition. Hyemyeong tenses as she registers what the queen is telling her.
Gyun Woo’s still outside when he hears someone call out, “Ghost Mask!” Another flyer attached to an arrow has been delivered, and Gyun Woo whips around to find Ghost Mask on the roof, aiming his arrow straight at Gyun Woo.
Wow, I feel like quite a lot happened in this episode. It was unexpected but no less welcome, since it finally feels like we’re heading somewhere with the big mystery surrounding Hyemyeong’s mother. I could finally detect the wheels of the central plot kicking into gear, and while it’s unfortunate that the show took this long to rev up, I will say that it’s better late than never… but really, it would’ve been nice to have this pace and momentum from the get-go.
We know that Hyemyeong’s mother is still alive, but the circumstances that drove her and Prince Chuseong out of the palace ten years ago still need to be uncovered. I wish I could see Minister Jung sweat for once and fear that his master plan won’t come to fruition because he seems to get away with literally everything while never appearing fazed, but I hope this means his demise will be all the more satisfying.
It’s interesting that we have another “villain” in the mix, but from what I can tell, it seems that Ghost Mask’s ideals probably align closer to the good guys. I don’t know enough about Prince Chuseong to determine if he’s Ghost Mask, but seeing how Hyemyeong’s mother narrowly escaped death, it seems possible. But I also have this niggling suspicion that Choon Poong is Ghost Mask because Choon Poong is all-knowing and all-seeing, and that man manages to spring up at the most opportune moments! (On an unrelated note, Ghost Mask reminded me of Gaksital, which then made me wish Joo-won picked a meatier role before heading off to army.)
The queen’s backstory was presented to us, as well as her history with Wol-myung, and though it surprised me, it felt rather random. She didn’t seem to have changed much since she was greedy for influence even then, and it seems like that greed has only multiplied since she became queen. But I almost didn’t recognize Wol-myung in the flashback because he appeared so bright and happy (and sans mustache!). In the beginning, it seemed the queen and Minister Jung were one team, but as the show progresses, their alliance appears to be splintering, and they’re no longer relying on and communicating with each other. I don’t remember what their end goal is, other than domination or disruption of some sort, but I wonder how long their tenuous partnership will last.
In addition to court politics and new flyers, we also had some adorable moments with Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong. I liked how neatly and maturely the two lovebirds resolved their first tiff, by seeking solid advice from others and being open, honest, and understanding of each other. I wish Gyun Woo’s chivalry made me swoon and/or squeal, but it merely struck me as cute. The two aren’t the most exciting couple, but the dynamics of their relationship do seem more realistic and relatable (especially with the conflict of communication and transparency), and I suppose there’s merit to that.
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