100 Days My Prince: Episode 7
So many smiles from our previously grumpy prince! Yul is still a grump, but he’s somehow a smiley grump, which totally shouldn’t work but somehow does. The best part is that all of his smiles are for Hong-shim, who’s starting to warm up to her odd husband despite herself. But the palace is in crisis and Yul is getting closer to being discovered, putting them both in grave danger.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
As Yul rides to Hong-shim’s rescue, Moo-yeon visits the house where, he was told, the doctor recently treated a man with an arrow wound. He finds Hong-shim’s father sobbing in his destroyed yard, and watches as Gu-dol tells Dad that Hong-shim is in trouble.
The name “Hong-shim” doesn’t mean anything to Moo-yeon, but he remembers his sister telling him that she lives in this house. It occurs to him that the Hong-shim they’re worried about might be Yi-seo.
Yul finds Hong-shim tied to a tree surrounded by her captors. Yul dismounts and quickly scans the area, noting the thugs’ weapons. He asks why they kidnapped Hong-shim as he calmly cuts a branch from a nearby tree, saying conversationally that this particular wood is used to make canes.
Hong-shim mutters that he’s an idiot, and Yul just grins that this wood hurts like nobody’s business. Laughing, the thugs pick up their staffs and swords, but Yul nimbly evades their attacks, sharply snapping them with his branch and making them cry out in pain.
But at one point, he finds himself facing the point of a sword, which triggers a memory of a man with his face half-hidden. It distracts Yul, giving the thug an opening to slash his arm.
While Yul is fighting, Hong-shim works to untie her bonds, and she frees herself just in time to grab a staff and stop another thug from killing Yul. Yul saves her life from another attacker, then grabs a sword and confronts the kidnappers.
They run in fear, leaving Yul and Hong-shim to confirm that they’re each okay. Yul says that it’s no longer safe at Hong-shim’s house, suggesting they go instead to the inn, where it will be harder to attack them.
Before he goes after the thugs, Hong-shim starts to tear off a piece of her skirt to bandage his arm, but Yul stops her, saying that she has so few dresses already. He reaches up to push her loose hair off her face, giving her the sweetest smile when she looks up at him.
At the palace, Je-yoon and the court lady he was caught with in the crown princess’s quarters are accused of being there to retrieve a talisman that was planted to harm the crown prince and princess. Je-yoon says he got lost, being new at the palace, and the court lady says she was returning a hair ornament to a friend.
Minister Kim declares their answers unsatisfactory and orders them tortured. They pause to ask Je-yoon if he was there on orders from his half-brother, Minister Jung (that explains a lot), but he insists he knows nothing of any talisman.
The interrogation is stopped by Minister Jung and his cronies, with the woman who oversaw the search of So-hye’s quarters. She reports that no talisman was found, and the ministers accuse Minister Kim of trying to torture a false confession out of Je-yoon and the lady.
Instead of halting the proceedings, Minister Kim orders more torture chairs to be brought in. He says he was going to question the ministers next anyway, and asks why they’re defending a man who sneaked into a locked area of the palace.
Minister Jung says that it was probably a lovers’ tryst, and that it’s not the first time Je-yoon has been caught behaving lewdly. He tells Minister Kim that Je-yoon deserves punishment, but that he can’t punish the court lady without the crown princess’s permission. Furious at being blamed, Je-yoon snarls that he’ll find a talisman if there is one.
Meanwhile, Hong-shim runs into the village men as she heads back to town. As Moo-yeon watches from the bushes, Dad and Gu-dol check on Hong-shim and send the men after the thugs, and Hong-shim insists she’s fine other than having sore wrists from being tied.
Je-yoon is allowed to investigate, and he asks for white sugar, which he sprinkles around the building, to the ministers’ confusion. He watches as ants cover the piles of sugar he left behind — all but one. He lifts the stone under the untouched sugar and finds the talisman, then explains that the ink used to write talismans is also used on the palace walls because it repels insects. Brilliant.
Minister Kim orders Je-yoon taken back for more interrogation, and when Je-yoon protests that finding the talisman proves he doesn’t work for the queen or his brother, Minister Kim claims that he found the talisman because he helped hide it. They start to drag Je-yoon away, and he yells, “The crown prince! A few days ago, the crown prince gave me an order.”
Minister Kim asks how that’s possible when the crown prince is dead. Kneeling, Je-yoon asks for a private audience, then looks up at Minister Kim and asks, “Or shall I speak right here?”
Yul follows one of the thugs all the way to Magistrate Jo’s office. The thug reports to Magistrate Jo and Master Park that Yul was skilled enough to fight off all four of them, and though Master Park is furious, the thug is more scared of Yul and tells Master Park to hire someone else.
Hong-shim slips away to watch for Yul when the restaurant ajumma brings drinks to calm everyone’s nerves. He finally arrives and notes that she seems worried, and tells her not to make fun of him now that she’s seen his incredible fighting prowess. Is he… is he teasing her right now??
If he is, Hong-shim shocks him out of it by ordering him to strip. He looks around like Right here?, but doesn’t seem reluctant, though she just means that he can’t be seen wearing those nobleman’s clothes. She steps close to help, and he doesn’t move a muscle until she squeezes his arm. When he flinches, Hong-shim jokes that he’s a whiner, and they both laugh.
Minister Kim allows Je-yoon his private meeting, wanting to know how he got an order from the dead crown prince. Je-yoon says he received a secret letter that led him to Crown Princess So-hye’s rooms, where he met the court lady by chance. He refuses to say what was in the letter or let Minister Kim see it, leading Minister Kim to accuse him of making it up.
While Hong-shim doctors his wounds at the inn, Yul closely watches her worried expression. He sees her injured wrists and swears to punish the men who hurt her, but she tells him that “people like us” should just be grateful they survived. He asks what she means by that, and she says sadly that they aren’t treated as humans.
She asks where he learned to fight, and he says he doesn’t know, but he adds (smiling again!) that he remembers being good at martial arts. He pronounces himself perfect, with his ability to read and his fighting skills.
Hong-shim snarks that he’s still bad at being humble, and she starts to leave for the night. But Yul stops her and asks her to stay with him tonight — he even makes it an order.
Je-yoon takes a letter to the gisaeng, Ae-wol, for safekeeping. He warns her that it could put her in danger, but she says her life isn’t that safe anyway. In return, she asks him to take her looking at flowers, and Je-yoon says that his heart belongs to someone, but Ae-wol isn’t bothered, finding the whole situation romantic.
After Je-yoon leaves, Ae-wol is attacked in her room by an assassin. He gropes her, looking for the letter, and she tells him calmly that she may be a gisaeng but he should still talk to her first. Ha, I like her spirit.
Though Hong-shim agrees to sleep in the same room with Yul, she’s startled to find him only inches from her face and tries to turn away. He throws an arm over her shoulder and pulls her closer, claiming that he needs to elevate his injured arm. Riiiiiight.
Moo-yeon meets with one of his men, who gives him a hand-drawn picture of Yul. He says he got it from a performance troupe that came through town, and that they plan to ask the troupe where they saw him.
At the same time, Ae-wol’s attacker takes Minister Kim the letter she got from Je-yoon, which is just a wanted poster. Angry at being tricked, Minister Kim orders Je-yoon brought to him immediately.
Hong-shim has a hard time sleeping, her thoughts busy remembering Yul fighting off her attackers, then gently stroking her cheek. She sits up, then takes his hand in hers to look at it closely.
A little while later, she goes into her father’s room, where she startles a stranger (cameo by Ahn Se-ha) who’s also staying in the room. Dad has gone home to dig up the clothing that Yul was wearing when he found him.
Moo-yeon is also still awake, recalling the night his and Yi-suh’s father was murdered and they’d escaped from Minister Kim’s men. Exhausted, they’d stopped to rest, and as the men hunting them drew closer, Moo-yeon/Seok-ha had covered Yi-suh in leaves and promised to meet her on the bridge soon.
He’d led their pursuers away, and had ended up at Minister Kim’s home, holding a knife to young So-hye’s throat. He’d told Minister Kim that Yi-suh was dead, and to call off the search or he’d kill his daughter. Minister Kim had intoned that sacrifice is a necessary evil, but had smirked that if Seok-ha took after his father, he’d be too weak-hearted to kill So-hye.
Seok-ha had raised his sword at Minister Kim instead, but Minister Kim had easily flipped and disarmed him, and Seok-ha had begged him to just spare his sister.
Back in the present, Moo-yeon tells his man that he wants to finish this job quickly. Even his man is unsettled at their orders to kill the crown prince, but Moo-yeon says he made a deal, and that after this, they won’t have to kill anymore. Their third friend returns to report that he found their target in Songjo village.
Minister Kim visits Magistrate Jo to say that he needs to kill Yul, and suddenly an arrow flies past them and embeds itself in a post, with a note attached. Minister Kim decides that no matter who did this, they can blame Yul and punish him.
Yul wakes early and goes to the cottage, where he sees that everything was destroyed by the thugs. He goes to the woodpile where he left his book, but it’s gone, which seems to upset him the most. The patrol comes to arrest him, so he sends Meok-goo to find Hong-shim and send her to Magistrate Jo’s office.
Yul is brought to the magistrate’s office, where he’s told that he’s been arrested for shooting at Magistrate Jo. Yul asks for proof that he shot the arrow, so Magistrate Jo shows him that the attached letter contains the poem he recited at Master Park’s party.
Yul says that’s not evidence, since everyone who was there heard that poem. Magistrate Jo hits him hard, saying that Yul needs to know his place, and orders him taken to the rack.
Hong-shim arrives with what looks like most of the village, asking what her fool of a husband did to deserve a beating. Master Park bellows that he’s heard Yul is a good fighter, and looks guilty when Yul asks if he sent those thugs.
Hong-shim is knocked down in the scuffle, and she starts wailing that she finally got married at her advanced age, but her house was ransacked and her husband can’t help her if he’s injured (LOL, Yul is actually rolling his eyes as he’s strapped to the rack). Master Park raises a sword to her neck and orders Yul untied.
At the palace, the Sungkyunkwan scholars petition the king — in fact, the king is bombarded with petitions, all asking for the deposition of Queen Park and Prince Seowon. The young prince visits him to ask why an interrogation that was supposedly secret results in hundreds of petitions within a day.
Prince Seowon believes that Minister Kim planned this in order to take over the country. He brings up Yul’s mother, and how she conveniently died just as Neungseon was being made king, asking if his father will risk losing him and his mother, too. Outside the door, Minister Jung listens, then walks away looking smug.
Yul is given a bow and arrow and told to shoot at a target to prove his guilt or innocence. Yul says that he can’t shoot because he lost his memory. Master Park aims his sword at Hong-shim’s throat and tells Yul to shoot, or she dies.
He says that if Yul hits the target, it proves he shot the arrow with the note, and if he misses, it proves he’s hiding his skill, and Hong-shim will die. The villagers exclaim over the unfairness of this, but Yul picks up the bow and takes aim. His hands begin to shake and he lowers the bow, and we see a rivulet of blood streaming down his injured arm.
But then he looks at Hong-shim, and he raises the bow again… then turns to aim at Master Park. He has another flashback of an arrow winging towards him, and when he lets the arrow fly, it misses Master Park’s sword. Furious, Magistrate Jo orders Yul beheaded.
Suddenly the crowd scatters, yelling that the royal inspector has arrived. It’s the man from Dad’s room last night, and he catches Magistrate Jo as he tries to make a run for it. The royal inspector introduces himself as Heo Man-shik, and when Magistrate Jo says he’s done nothing wrong, Man-shik tosses Yul’s missing book at his feet… a list of the corruptions he’s committed.
Man-shik issues an order to his men to arrest everyone involved, and in the resulting mayhem, Yul grabs Hong-shim and escapes. Once they’re safe, he hugs her and apologizes, explaining that he was aiming at Master Park’s sword.
Hong-shim reminds him that he said he couldn’t shoot, but Yul says that when he picked up the bow, he just felt that he could do it. She thinks it’s his injury that made his shot go off, but Yul says that he remembered something in that moment. She’s concerned about his arm, but he says he has to see someone before he goes to a doctor.
Minister Kim and his lackeys are upset to hear that the king granted an audience to Prince Seowon. They hear of an accident that killed the son of a chief officer, so Minister Kim goes to see Crown Princess So-hye in her quarters. He’s been waiting for a death in order to learn who the father of her baby is (was), and he congratulates her on her efficient work, but after he leaves, her smile fades.
Magistrate Jo is arrested and dragged off, though Master Park got away for the moment. The villagers eyeball Town Official Park, who sits in the dirt to cry that he was the one shielding them until the villagers take pity on him, and he jumps up to join the celebrations.
Yul correctly guesses that Man-shik shot the arrow with the poem on it. He calls Man-shik a shabby royal inspector, because he nearly got him and Hong-shim killed, and he even knows that Man-shik tripped the girl at Master Park’s party. He asks how Man-shik got the ledger of Magistrate Jo’s corruptions, and Man-shik confesses that Hong-shim gave it to him.
The ministers get their audience with the king, where Minister Kim’s side argues for Queen Park and Prince Seowon’s deposition. The other side state that a talisman isn’t enough evidence of a plot against the crown prince, and the king agrees. He decides to send the chief censor and Prince Seowon to look for evidence at the mountain.
So-hye visits Queen Park, saying that she hasn’t been able to sleep because of the queen’s “gift.” She brings her own gift — a plain wooden hairstick, which So-hye says will come in useful outside the palace. She turns to go, stopping first to gag for show and tell the queen that she’s pregnant.
The king pronounces that he will do nothing until the crown prince’s death is solved. Minister Kim asks why he doesn’t trust him after putting him in charge, and when the king says that Prince Seowon is his only living heir, Minister Kim drops the bomb that there’s another descendant — So-hye’s unborn child.
Yul wonders how Hong-shim knew that Man-shik is a royal inspector, and he thinks about how she often switches between standard language and local dialect, and how she can read but never tried to make money with her ability. He asks Gu-dol asks how Hong-shim became separated from her brother, but Gu-dol says she’s an only child. Kkeut-nyeo pipes up that actually, Hong-shim’s dad brought her to the village after his own daughter died, and Yul asks her to send Hong-shim to meet him in the field.
Hong-shim is also having doubts about Yul, remembering how he fought the thugs. Dad gets the hiccups from fright when he runs into Hong-shim, and she tells Dad that she came home safely because of Won-deuk/Yul, who took on four armed men with only a tree branch, then did archery when he was arrested. She asks Dad who Won-deuk really is, demanding the truth this time, but Dad just stammers an apology.
On his way to meet Hong-shim, Yul stops at a vendor to buy some ladies’ shoes. He specifically asks for a pair embroidered with cherry blossoms, and all the vendor has is a pretty pair of pink shoes with plum blossoms, but Yul takes them.
Moo-yeon and his men are searching the village, and Moo-yeon recognizes Yul as he’s buying the shoes. He follows Yul to the field, then hides and takes aim with his bow and arrow. He lets loose just as Hong-shim arrives to see Yul.
Over Yul’s shoulder, Hong-shim sees the arrow, flying straight towards him.
Oh no… Hong-shim is going to jump in front of that arrow Joseon Noble Idiot style, isn’t she? I’ll never understand why character do that, instead of just pushing the person out of the way while also not getting themselves hurt. Hopefully I’m wrong, and this show does have a tendency to turn tropes on their ear, because I’d rather not see Yul feeling guilty all next episode because Hong-shim got hurt on his behalf.
It’s beautiful to see Yul’s gradual softening towards Hong-shim, and by extension, the villagers that make up his new community. It’s like a slow-motion version of how Hong-shim changed him when they were children, showing him that a person’s station in life doesn’t mean they’re lesser, or give him the right to treat them badly. I knew he’d come around because he’s proved that he’s open-minded before, though it’s taking longer this time because now Hong-shim is working against sixteen years’ worth of protective barrier that Yul put up between himself and other people. But it’s lovely to watch Yul learning from her example, and how he’s coming to care for her despite himself. And just like I predicted, he may be entrenched in his behaviors, but once he changes his mind, he’s interestingly unselfconscious about showing that he’s changed. I love that about him — he’s not shy about admitting, even just through his actions, that he feels differently than before, and is open about showing it. I mean, he bought Hong-shim a present! He spent money on someone other than himself!
The palace intrigues are getting more complicated, particularly regarding So-hye’s pregnancy, but my main takeaway from this episode is that she had a random official’s son killed in order to protect the real father of her child (I believe it’s Minister Jung, Je-yoon’s half-brother, but the show still hasn’t told us for sure yet). I don’t think the man she killed is truly the father, because while she’s going along with her father’s plans for now, think that So-hye has her own agenda that involves her baby’s father. Meanwhile, the king refuses to kick out Queen Park and Prince Seowon even though everyone agrees they must have planted that talisman, instead choosing to send Prince Seowon to look for evidence regarding Yul’s (supposed) death. Of everyone at the palace, I think that the younger prince is probably the one with the clearest moral compass, so he could end up being a great help if he can find Yul before Moo-yeon kills him.
Once again, I appreciate how the plot seem to move forward at a consistent pace, allowing for more interesting developments in the story. I was surprised that Hong-shim and Moo-yeon found each other so quickly, and that Moo-yeon only gave a token attempt to deny who he really is, but now we have him poised to discover that the man he’s been sent to kill is the man is actually his sister’s husband. That’s going to put a wrench in things, especially since it’s clear that Moo-yeon is only carrying out these orders to win his freedom, and not because he likes killing. I actually hope that Moo-yeon’s part in the story increases, now that he’s the only one who knows where the crown prince is — I’d even love to see him turn, and actually help Yul and Hong-shim hide from Minister Kim. He’s got a big decision to make… he can kill Yul and win his freedom but lose his sister, or help his sister and find another way out of whatever unholy arrangement he has with Minister Kim.