My Sassy Girl: Episodes 31-32 (Final)
The path to love is rarely smooth, even when it appears as though there’s no longer any barriers keeping our princess and scholar from patching up their relationship. While Gyun Woo has marriage on his mind, Hyemyeong has her sights on something else that doesn’t involve him — but she requires his support nonetheless, which puts Gyun Woo in a bit of a bind and makes him wonder: Should he let go of what he’s unable to hold on to?
EPISODE 31 RECAP
Ghost Mask fights valiantly, but he finds himself ensnared by a net and surrounded by Minister Jung and his soldiers. Minister Jung removes his mask to reveal… Choon Poong! But Minister Jung recognizes him as Prince Eunseong, the younger brother of Prince Chuseong, and is amused to learn that he’s still alive since he believed he had died ten years ago.
Minister Jung raises his sword to kill Choon Poong, but is intercepted by an arrow to the arm. All eyes look to the sharpshooter, and what do you know, it’s yet another Ghost Mask atop the roof.
Meanwhile, Hyemyeong enters the royal prison and is surprised to find Gyun Woo’s cell empty.
We return to Minister Jung, who’s alarmed to find several Ghost Masks suddenly appearing on the roof. He orders his men to kill all of them, but they’re no match for the skilled Ghost Masks who quickly eviscerate everyone and point their swords at Minister Jung, who has nowhere left to turn. One of the Ghost Masks (presumably Gyun Woo since the voice sounds familiar) orders Minister Jung to drop his sword if he wishes to live, but Minister Jung snarls at them to back off and waves his sword around.
Looking totally crazed, he admits to killing Prince Chuseong, Min Yoo-hwan, and the queen, but shouts that not even the king can stop him. Ghost Mask begs to differ and removes his mask to reveal himself as Gyun Woo. Just then, Joon-young arrives with his troops and the king, too.
Minister Jung is ordered once again to surrender, but he maintains that he sacrificed himself to evil for the sake of the country because the king was destroying it by caring for the “ignorant peasants.” Livid, the king shouts that the so-called ignorant peasants, not the elite, make up Joseon.
Minister Jung disagrees, swipes his sword at Joon-young, and tries to escape, but Gyun Woo swiftly slashes him in the neck, effectively ending him there.
Hyemyeong paces nervously in her room before rushing to see Joon-young with Byul and Young-shin. Seeing the cut on Joon-young’s arm and Minister Jung’s men getting apprehended, Hyemyeong asks Joon-young what transpired, and Joon-young replies that Minister Jung confessed to his crimes and died at Gyun Woo’s hands.
In flashback, we see that Gyun Woo had informed Joon-young that he would don the ghost mask and make Minister Jung confess. Joon-young said it was too dangerous, but Gyun Woo replied that that was precisely why he’s volunteering — to pay for his sins against the king and princess and clear his father and friends’ names.
Back in the present, Joon-young tells Hyemyeong that were it not for Gyun Woo, they might have been fooled by Minister Jung’s tricks again. Hyemyeong wonders where Gyun Woo is, and Joon-young says he’s with the king.
Hyemyeong enters the garden and is flooded with memories she shared with Gyun Woo there, from their kiss to tearful embraces. She grows teary, and from a distance, Gyun Woo watches her, his own eyes misting over.
The next day, in voiceover, the king punishes the two ministers who colluded with Minister Jung for slandering Prince Chuseong and the deposed queen via salacious flyers that faked the voice of Joseon’s subjects. They’re forced onto their knees before bowls of poison, and elsewhere, Chang-hui and his bros are arrested.
Meanwhile, Da-yeon pretties herself before the mirror, but she’s fighting back tears, and through the king’s voiceover, we learn that all the family members of the criminals will be stripped of their status and demoted to slaves in exile. Oy.
No longer incarcerated, Kwang-soo, Se-ho, and the bookseller are happy to be back in business again and open up their bookshop. Mal-geum happily reunites with Se-ho, and the two gush over each other.
The queen dowager and the king meet with Choon Poong and express their gratitude and regret. The king says he’ll discuss Choon Poong and Prince Chuseong’s reinstatement soon, to which Choon Poong replies his brother will finally be able to rest in peace.
At Byul and Young-shin’s insistence, Hyemyeong returns to the medical services bureau. She’s organizing medicine when she hears footsteps, and when she turns around, she’s surprised to find her long lost mother standing before her. The two tearfully embrace while Gyun Woo hears their emotional reunion outside.
Hyemyeong sits with her mother, who informs her that Choon Poong had helped her all this time. In flashback, under Prince Chuseong’s orders, a younger Choon Poong had guided the weak queen to safety after her whole retinue was slaughtered in the forest.
Back in the present, Hyemyeong hands her mother the jade ring and requests that she return to the palace, but her mother returns the ring back to her daughter and says she won’t be returning because she doesn’t belong there.
This surprises Hyemyeong, who wonders if her mother misses the prince, but her mother answers that it’s too late to show herself as his mother. Hyemyeong pleads with her to return, but to no avail.
Meanwhile, the king is surprised to learn that Hyemyeong met with her mother, and the queen dowager sadly adds that her mother doesn’t wish to return to the palace for the prince’s best interests.
Hyemyeong’s gazing at the jade ring and reeling over everything when Young-shin and Byul frantically inform her of some bad news: The prince is at the queen’s quarters.
Hyemyeong quickly arrives to find the prince sobbing at the sight of the queen’s empty seat and asking her where his mother is, but all Hyemyeong can do is hold the crying child and cry.
Meanwhile, in his room, the king stares longingly at the tattered sleeves of Hyemyeong’s mother, the only remnants he has of her.
The next day, Hyemyeong carefully enters her mother’s humble abode, and the two sit and chat. Hyemyeong says that after much thought, she thinks she can understand her mother’s decision and asks if she can visit her from time to time.
Her mother nods and holds her daughter’s hand before stating her belief that Gyun Woo is a decent person, which surprises Hyemyeong.
In flashback, we see that Gyun Woo had met with Hyemyeong’s mother and pleaded with her to not forsake Hyemyeong and to instead place all the blame on him.
Back in the present, her mother tells Hyemyeong that Gyun Woo seems to care for her a lot and advises her to no longer suffer from the past.
Elsewhere, Gyun Woo informs his father that he will leave for Jeonju, because remaining at the capital will inconvenience the king and princess.
He starts packing up his things, but pauses to open up the sketch of him and Hyemyeong. Gyun Hee enters his room (for once, she doesn’t barge in without asking!) and asks if he’s okay since he won’t be able to see the princess again if he moves to Jeonju.
She tells him to cheer up and hands him some dried persimmons to lift his spirits, which remind him of when Hyemyeong gave him the same sweets to treat his insomnia.
In her room, Hyemyeong reflects on her mother’s advice to no longer suffer because of that incident.
That evening, Gyun Woo stops outside Hyemyeong’s residence. Joon-young greets him and is surprised to learn that Gyun Woo leaves tomorrow, and that he just came by Hyemyeong’s place one last time. Joon-young encourages him to see her in person, but Gyun Woo no longer wishes to make her suffer, so he asks Joon-young to look after her in his stead.
Gyun Woo has farewell drinks with Se-ho and Kwang-soo, who are bummed to see him go. Even the bookseller starts snort-sobbing, lol.
Gyun Woo takes a solitary evening stroll through the village and stops to reminisce at the spot where Hyemyeong reluctantly mumbled her gratitude to him over drinks.
Meanwhile, Hyemyeong sits in the garden, her mind heavy, as Joon-young watches from afar and reflects on Gyun Woo’s insistence that Hyemyeong seeing him in person would distress her.
EPISODE 32 RECAP
The next day, with Master Gyun in his arms — guh, so cute! — Gyun Woo takes one last look around his now bare room.
Joon-young meets Hyemyeong in the garden and reminds her that after his mother passed away, she encouraged him to smile nonetheless so that more joyous occasions would arise. He says he wants to bring back her smiles, but doubts it’s something he can do (aww, poor Joon-young) and informs her that Gyun Woo is leaving for Jeonju today.
Gyun Woo wanders through town, taking a trip down memory lane by stopping at the spots where some exhilarating and sweet moments between him and Hyemyeong took place (i.e. narrowly escaping a gang after stealing their ledger and Hyemyeong’s aegyo towards Gyun Woo).
Hyemyeong’s unsure what to do with the knowledge that Gyun Woo leaves for Jeonju today, but she’s compelled to find him and as she runs, memories of Gyun Woo gifting her with flowers and holding her hand surface, and coincidentally, she finds Gyun Woo standing on the bridge.
He’s surprised to see her, and with tears in her eyes, Hyemyeong approaches him and pleads with him not to leave. She admits that she hasn’t forgiven him yet — she still resents him, but needs him, because she’d be unhappy without him.
Gyun Woo’s eyes brim with tears as he walks toward her and pulls her into an embrace.
Meanwhile, Joon-young catches a thief that’s been wreaking havoc in the village. Afterward, he feels a tap on his back and turns around to find a mysterious woman shrouded in a cape (cameo by Park Jin-joo).
She informs him that someone’s stolen something from her, and he assures her that he’ll nab the thief right away. But she points to him before revealing herself, and she quips that it is he who stole her heart. Aww.
Now that Gyun Woo plans to marry the princess, his mother has become quite popular, and her friends try to win her over with gifts so they can receive special treatment. But despite the temptation, she declines all of them. Besides, a wedding date hasn’t even been set yet.
Gyun Woo lectures the prince on Confucian values in the hopes that he will one day become a righteous leader of the country. The prince asks if Gyun Woo is leaving, detecting the finality of his teacher’s advice, and Gyun Woo answers that although this is his last lesson with the prince, the two will be seeing each other quite often.
At the bookstore, Kwang-soo and Se-ho offer Gyun Woo some ways of proposing to Hyemyeong, with cheesy lines that include, “Do you smell something burning? That’s my heart burning.” But Gyun Woo cringes at all their over-the-top ideas. His buddies emphasize that words are most important in a proposal, but Mal-geum chimes in that words don’t matter so much as the sincerity, which Gyun Woo can agree with.
While waiting outside for Hyemyeong, Gyun Woo flexes his mouth muscles before greeting her with an awkwardly wide smile, heh. Someone’s nervous!
In the garden, Gyun Woo gravely says to her that he should no longer accompany her to her residence, surprising Hyemyeong. He explains that every time they have to part, it’s too bittersweet because he wishes to rise, eat, laugh, and live with her. He then holds out a ring and asks if she’ll marry him.
Cue sweeping romantic music before it cuts out abruptly when Hyemyeong responds with, “Sorry, but I can’t take this right now.” Uh… what?! Gyun Woo’s thrown for a loop as she explains her wish to become a physician after volunteering for the patients proved insufficient for her.
He stammers that he doesn’t want to inhibit her dreams, but recommends that they get married first. However, he’s in for another shocker when she says she plans to travel to Qing to learn about their various medical practices there.
Gyun Woo wonders if she really has to go that length, but Hyemyeong smiles at him and says, “You understand me, right?” Welp, can’t crush a princess’s dreams.
Choon Poong cackles maniacally at Gyun Woo for getting rejected after proposing. Gyun Woo isn’t the least bit amused, but Choon Poong says he should let her go if he can’t stop her before proceeding to laugh again, haha.
Gyun Woo returns home that evening and finds his whole family waiting up for him. They claim they were out for a walk, but it’s clear they just want an update on the proposal. He nervously laughs and deflects all questions before rushing to his room, but Gyun Hee suspects rejection after smelling alcohol on his clothes, which puzzles the parents.
In his room, he sighs to Master Gyun, wondering if letting Hyemyeong go really is the right decision.
The next day, Gyun Woo visits the medical services bureau and silently observes Hyemyeong at work, tending to patients. He enters the storage room where she’s organizing herbs and makes her promise that her eyes won’t wander in Qing and that she’ll focus solely on her studies and return to him since he’ll be waiting. Hyemyeong hugs him, grateful for his support and promises.
She then informs the queen dowager and the king that she’ll be leaving for Qing to learn medical techniques. The king is against her departure and wants her to stay put and learn in Joseon and get married, but Hyemyeong wonders if she must get married and raise children just because she’s a woman. Preach. “I don’t wish to live like that,” she says, and the queen dowager beams and says that just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean she should give up on her dreams.
Byul and Young-shin start packing, and the latter worries about the food and language barrier, but Byul demonstrates fluency in Chinese, which Young-shin mistakes for cursing. Pfft.
In the garden, Gyun Woo gives Hyemyeong the best language book for learning Chinese as well as a map of all the tasty restaurants in the area, which he frequented as a student. He hands her the portrait of them — he made himself another copy — so she can look at it when she misses him. Lastly, he puts the ring on Hyemyeong’s finger and tells her to make it apparent that she’s taken and wishes her well.
One year later: Gyun Woo reads a letter from Hyemyeong detailing her time in Qing — the numerous medical herbs that don’t exist in Joseon that she plans on importing, and the many men who’ve show interest in her because of her beauty, heh.
But she reassures him that she’s been focusing solely on her studies and adds that she’s gained some weight because of the delicious dumpling restaurant he recommended. She writes that she’ll return as a great physician soon and that she misses him, and Gyun Woo echoes the sentiment out loud. Suddenly, he hears her voice call out his name, but he thinks he’s hearing things until the voice persists, prompting him to run outside.
And there Hyemyeong is, in the flesh, with Byul and Young-shin smiling behind her. She walks toward him and eagerly exclaims, “Let’s get married!” and whips out her ring-clad hand before jumping into his arms. They’re all smiles, and Gyun Woo jokes that she must’ve really had one too many dumplings since she feels heavier.
Offended, Hyemyeong kicks him and angrily wonders if he even missed her. But Gyun Woo smiles and opens his arms wide and says he did. No longer peeved, she happily returns to his arms, and they linger in a long embrace.
My Sassy Girl has finally come to an end, and it unexpectedly ended in much the same way it began — on a light, playful, and cheery note. Admittedly, the bright finale was somewhat jarring since we spent so many episodes with “evil” Minister Jung and his machinations, Ghost Mask, and the dark mystery surrounding the missing queen. Looking back at the show as a whole, it seems as though the bookends were all low stakes and sunshine and everything else in between was a murky gray or brown mush that consisted of some comedic (not actually all that funny) moments, a smidgen of cute romance, and truckloads of angst and conspiracy.
One of the major issues I had with this show is that it flip-flopped between comedy and drama without succeeding in either, which made for a rather tepid viewing experience from start to finish. The humor didn’t land, and the dramatic moments weren’t exactly riveting. The leads, while both very pretty and perfectly dimpled, were an attractive couple, but I never saw sparks fly. Even still, they strike me as close friends and not so much lovers. I’m well aware of Joo-won’s acting prowess, but he seemed half-awake for most of the series while Oh Yeon-seo used every facial muscle to appear ebullient and animated. Sassy didn’t know what kind of show it wanted to be, yet it still had that famous title to live up to… even though TV’s Sassy had nothing to do with the beloved movie. I think it was a mistake to lift the title from the movie, mistake viewers into believing that the show is an adaptation when it was its own separate entity, and then make a show that lacked the very attributes that made the romcom classic so popular. It was a puzzling move that may have succeeded in attracting early buzz and raising expectations, but not much else.
Storywise, I thought Minister Jung’s final moments were well executed (all things considered), and it was cool to see multiple Ghost Masks band together to defeat him, with Gyun Woo at the helm. It obviously reminded me of Gakistal and made me wish Gyun Woo had more action scenes. It would’ve been nice for Hyemyeong to have also taken part in Minister Jung’s annihilation, but no, she was just in her room the whole time. Bummer.
That tiny twist at the end where Hyemyeong initially declines the marriage proposal to pursue her dreams was nice, but I would’ve appreciated it more had I been more invested in the show earlier on. One plot point that I still find rather sad is the fact that the adorable prince didn’t get to reunite with his real mother. I sort of understand the mother’s reasoning, and she claimed to have the prince’s best interests at heart in her decision not to return to the palace as his mother, but still, she’s alive and well, yet he’ll continue to live on totally oblivious to this fact.
Though hardly a significant character in the show, Joon-young just may be able to smile again thanks to the last minute love interest, and for that, I’m grateful. Jung-shin was woefully underutilized, and barely counted as the second lead, and I can’t help but wonder why his character was even written in if he had nothing to do.
The highlights of the show for me were Prince Dalhan, Master Gyun (yes, the precious pup), Young-shin, Choon Pong, and Byul (when she actually spoke and moved), but unfortunately, My Sassy Girl was otherwise a forgettable show. At best, mediocre, at worst, dull. And what I’ll probably remember most about it, if anything, is the casting hullaballoo that made a bigger splash than the entire series itself.
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- Premiere Watch: My Sassy Girl, Seven Day Queen, Best Hit, Duel
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