The Crowned Clown: Episode 8
With the king more out of control than ever, something has to stop him from terrorizing the entire country. An answer comes from a surprising source, but the solution means committing to a course of action that could save the country or destroy it. The only question is, will they have the courage to do what must be done?
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Yi Heon orders Moo-young to bring him Ha Sun’s head as proof that he’s dead, but when Moo-young gets to the pit where he left Ha Sun, it appears empty. He leans over the edge to looks closer, and Ha Sun’s hand grabs him.
Moo-young unsheathes his sword, but instead of lopping off Ha Sun’s head, Moo-young stabs it into the ground and uses it to help pull Ha Sun out of the pit. He lets go of both Ha Sun and the sword, and Ha Sun grabs the sword and levels it at Moo-young. He asks why Moo-young returned, but Moo-young just says to kill him.
Ha Sun throws the sword into the pit, saying that he can’t kill Moo-young just to save his own life. Moo-young tells him that he’s been ordered to bring his head to the king, and he grabs Ha Sun by the collar. He tells him to leave, but Ha Sun says, “My destination is already set. I will return to the palace. What I cherish most is there, and I can’t leave it behind.”
In the palace, Minister Lee is still reeling from Yi Heon’s threat to kill everyone he cares about if he tries to leave again. He opens the written orders that Yi Heon gave him, and reads that he wishes So-woon deposed, then made to drink poison.
But first, he apparently intends to violate her, as he’s currently ripping her clothes off in her bedchamber. She tries to stop him but he pins her hands down, and when he leans down to kiss her, she turns her face away. He starts to hold her still, but before he forces her to kiss him, he collapses in pain.
Holding his head in his hands, he stumbles from So-woon’s chambers and back to his own. He screams to be left alone, so Minister Lee dismisses Eunuch Jo and Court Lady Kim and puts the king to bed. After Yi Heon is asleep, Minister Lee says to the otherwise empty room that it’s been a long time since he dedicated his life to his king, and that he’s always tried to be loyal and dutiful.
He says that he had one last chance, but he let it slip away, so now he’s prepared to deal with the consequences. He takes the order to depose and poison the queen, and burns it over a candle.
Minister Lee leaves and tells Eunuch Jo that the king passed out, but he doesn’t allow Eunuch Jo to call the royal physician for fear it will get out that Yi Heon is addicted to drugs, and the queen dowager will use it to her advantage. He asks for Moo-young, but Eunuch Jo says that he’s away fulfilling a secret order from the king.
Leaving Eunuch Jo with instructions not to let anyone see Yi Heon until he returns, Minister Lee goes to write an official royal command that the queen dowager is to have no visitors, and stamps it with the king’s seal. Next he writes a note for Jung Saeng to meet him at the rear entrance to the palace after dark and has it delivered to the gibang.
Ha Sun follows Moo-young back to the palace and hides while he goes to see the king. Moo-young asks how Minister Lee intends to deal with the backlash when Yi Heon wakes and finds out he used his authority to confine the queen dowager. Minister Lee says that he plans to have Yi Heon taken outside the palace and treated for his addiction.
But with Yi Heon’s birthday only two days away, Moo-young says that people will know he’s gone. Eunuch Jo says they need to bring back Ha Sun, but Minister Lee tells him that Ha Sun is dead. Moo-young surprises them both, announcing that Ha Sun is actually alive, and Minister Lee demands to see him.
Sweet Eunuch Jo cries to see Ha Sun safe and alive. When he joins Minister Lee in the king’s chambers, Ha Sun only stares at him angrily, then asks why he summoned him. Minister Lee asks in turn why Ha Sun came back knowing he’d be killed, so Ha Sun says that when Yi Heon ordered Minister Lee to kill him, he saw Minister Lee hesitate.
He says that Minister Lee can’t know how it feels to be abandoned by someone you trust, or how he felt in that pit, surrounded by darkness. He says that he didn’t want to die that way, and Minister Lee admits that he also wished for Ha Sun to survive.
Minister Lee tells Ha Sun that he knows he can’t trust him after he left him to die, but that he’ll beg him to stay or let him go, whatever Ha Sun wants. He waits for Ha Sun’s decision, and they both look down at the unconscious king. Ha Sun whispers, “I want to have power. I want power to protect the people I cherish more than my life. I want to be the real king.”
Minister Lee warns Ha Sun that the throne doesn’t grant power to be wielded at will, and that he’ll have to take lives, shed blood, and give up everything to keep the throne, even his own heart. But Ha Sun says he can do it, looking scared but determined, so Minister Lee tells him, “Engrave this moment on your heart. Whatever danger may befall us, I will not leave you. I will protect you.”
A short while later, Minister Lee and Moo-young meet Jung Saeng at the palace’s back entrance. They have a cart with them, and inside is the still-unconscious Yi Heon. Minister Lee asks Jung Saeng to take care of him for a few days and says he’ll visit soon.
Eunuch Jo bandages the wound on Ha Sun’s arm that he got when Minister Lee was ordered to kill him. Minister Lee returns and tells Ha Sun that while he was gone, the king and Minister Shin decided to forgive the officials that Ha Sun found guilty of embezzlement. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to reverse the king’s orders, and the officials will be reinstated tomorrow.
Minister Shin and all of the officials who are being promoted tomorrow celebrate together. The officials thank Minister Shin for his generosity, and he basks in their adoration. One official presents him with a telescope, but the real gift is the letter in the bottom of the box, and whatever it says pleases Minister Shin.
Unfortunately, the man doesn’t know when to stop talking, and he carelessly mentions that Yi-geom is being given a promotion because he’s Minister Shin’s son. Yi-geom looks uncomfortable, and Minister Shin’s expression darkens.
In the morning, Eunuch Jo brings Ha Sun a simple breakfast, and Ha Sun asks how things were in the palace while he was gone. Eunuch Jo reluctantly tells him that Yi Heon was supposed to spend the night with So-woon, but he got sick and ran out.
So-woon is still upset, unable to figure out why the sweet, caring man she’s fallen in love with was so angry and violent last night, telling her to forget the happiness and joy that he never gave her. She goes outside for some fresh air, and Ha Sun comes and takes her where they can speak privately.
As soon as they’re alone, Ha Sun whirls and hugs So-woon, whispering that he missed her. At first she stands stiffly in his arms, but then her hands come up and she hugs him back. Eventually he backs up to look at her as he tells her, “All night my thoughts were filled with you. You’re the reason I got through it.”
Relieved, So-woon’s eyes fill with tears. She notices the cuts and bruises on Ha Sun’s hands, so he fibs that he was training with Moo-young. So-woon says that he seems like a different person than last night, and that she’s glad of it.
Ha Sun simply says that he was scared he’d never see her smile again. So-woon tells him that she’ll never forget how he came to her today, so Ha Sun promises to visit her so often that she gets sick of him. They stand there for a long time, smiling and lost in each other.
Meanwhile, Minister Lee has Woon-shim and Ho-geol freed, and he apologizes to Woon-shim for making them suffer. He says that their arrest was a mistake, and Ho-geol whines that he might have ended up apologizing for this “mistake” to their decapitated heads, ha. Minister Lee just gives him a baleful look, and Ho-geol is all I’m just saying, it was scary in there.
Prince Jin-pyung is turned away from the queen dowager’s chambers, and he accuses Minister Shin of being behind the king’s orders to confine the queen dowager. Minister Shin grumbles that he only just found out, and he tells Prince Jin-pyung to talk to the king if he’s so concerned.
In court, Ha Sun fumes when he sees Yi-geom among the group of officials to be re-appointed. On Ha Sun’s order, Minister Lee calls the smirking Yi-geom forward. Ha Sun approaches him, and he says that he’s decided that someone with Yi-geom’s talents shouldn’t be wasted. He cancels Yi-geom’s previous appointment, and orders him to a faraway island to act as village head.
Yi-geom realizes that he’s being demoted, and Ha Sun says breezily that there’s a new hot springs in that area. He likes hot springs, so he wants Yi-geom to investigate the one on the island and figure out how to make one near the palace. LOL.
Ha Sun continues with each of Minister Shin’s chosen officials, loudly announcing their crimes of embezzlement, bribery, and even affairs with married women then ordering them sent to prison. Minister Lee watches gleefully like it’s Christmas and his birthday all rolled into one, ha.
Minister Shin protests that the officials were supposed to be appointed, not arrested. Ha Sun says that he he trusted Minister Shin’s loyalty but was disappointed. He points out the one man left, the man who gave Minister Shin the telescope, and who was made a village head without having passed the qualification exams.
Minister Lee says that this is proof that Minister Shin appointed these men unlawfully, but due to his position’s exemption from charges, Minister Shin cannot face punishment. But for committing such a serious crime, Ha Sun dismisses Minister Shin from his position of Left State Councilor.
Aiming a glare at Minister Lee, Minister Shin asks Ha Sun if this is truly his will, and Ha Sun says that it is. He stands, and the official on the floor finally looks up at his face and recognizes him — oh crap, he was the head of the village who refused to pay the clown troupe after their performance at his party.
As the ministers leave the court, Minister Lee gives his sarcastic regards Minister Shin. Minister Shin says to tell the king that he deserves to be stripped of his noble status, but that he’ll remember the king’s generosity in leaving him his position as great lord.
Unfortunately Yi-geom isn’t as mature as his father. He flings his new appointment at Minister Lee’s feet and accuses him of humiliating his innocent family. Minister Lee picks up the scroll and growls that Yi-geom tried to murder him, so he can’t claim to be innocent. Yi-geom denies it, but Minister Lee tells Yi-geom that he’ll report him if he refuses his new position.
When he returns to Ha Sun, Minister Lee asks if he’s satisfied his grudges, but Ha Sun says he’s just getting started punishing Yi-geom. He says that he misses his sister and wants to see her, so Minister Lee asks for some time to think of a way without revealing Ha Sun’s secret.
Minister Lee says that tomorrow is the king’s birthday and that there will be celebrations and a feast. Ha Sun admits that it feels strange to have a birthday celebration when he doesn’t even know when he was born.
He wants to cancel, but Minister Lee says that the court officials have been planning for months. Ha Sun suggests that they cancel the feast and distribute the food to the people. Minister Lee looks impressed and agrees to arrange it.
According to his new position, Ho-geol walks through the marketplace gathering vendors’ prices to calculate the tax. He avoids their attempts to distract him, and while the vendors scurry away to get the product Ho-geol knows they hid, Gap-soo wanders by with Dal-lae and mistakes Ho-geol for the taffy vendor.
He shows Ho-geol the knife that Dal-lae took from the hut where Yi Heon was tied up. Ho-geol idly wonders what the knife is worth and finds himself on the receiving end of Dal-lae’s death glare, ha. He notices the ornate dragon painted on the knife’s sheath, and tells Gap-soo that only the king is allowed to use a dragon as decoration.
He asks where they got the knife, and while Gap-soo is trying to think of what to say, Dal-lae snatches the knife and runs. Gap-soo follows her, leaving Ho-geol staring after them.
Prince Jin-pyung finds Minister Lee to ask why the king had the queen dowager confined. Minister Lee says he doesn’t know, but he tells Prince Jin-pyung not to worry about the queen dowager, because the order will be canceled tomorrow for the king’s birthday.
When Prince Jin-pyung finally gets to talk to the queen dowager, she wonders why she was confined at all when the order was lifted so easily. Prince Jin-pyung thinks it was a show of strength, so the queen dowager decides to give the king what he wants and pretend to be afraid of him.
The village head complains to Minister Shin about what happened in court earlier, mentioning that he even gave Minister Shin the deed to his land in exchange for a promotion. He demands his deed back, but Yi-geom has him beaten — until he says he knows something important about the king.
He tells Minister Shin that he hired some clowns, and that one of them looked exactly like the king. At first Minister Shin is skeptical, but then he thinks about how the king seems like such a different person lately.
Minister Lee talks to what’s left of Lord Gil’s people again, and he gives them the Daedang manuscript, which Lord Gil wrote. Woon-shim and Ho-geol tell the people that Minister Lee isn’t a traitor as they believe, but that he actually risked his life to get this book and keep it safe. Ho-geol says that the rice payment law is only the first step in creating their better world.
Minister Lee tells the people that they can still hate him if they want, but that he’ll sacrifice himself for that better world. He asks them to live and learn together with him again, and the people decide to give him one last chance.
On the king’s birthday, the queen dowager is greeted by Prince Jin-pyung and many court officials who apologize to her for the way she’s suffered at the hands of a disrespectful king. She says the socially correct thing, that she as a parent is responsible for her child’s behavior. But she adds that on behalf of the country, she won’t ignore the trouble the king is causing, and calls for their support.
Court Lady Kim wishes Ha Sun happy birthday as she dresses him for the day, and he has to force himself not to cringe away from her. She notices that the wound in his ear, that she just saw yesterday, is suddenly gone, but she doesn’t say anything.
Yi Heon wakes up in a cave, with Moo-young still by his side. Moo-young explains that when he collapsed again, they brought him here to hide his illness. Yi Heon asks if Moo-young brought Ha Sun’s head, but Moo-young says he couldn’t complete the order and that he should die for disobedience.
Yi Heon tells him to die, then, and grabs Moo-young’s sword to kill him himself. He’s almost too weak to lift the sword, and he drops it when Minister Lee’s gentle voice calls out to him. Minister Lee takes the sword and tells Yi Heon that it’s his birthday, and asks him not to taint such a happy day with blood.
Delighted, Yi Heon tells Minister Lee to imprison Moo-young and bring his birthday meal. Does he even know where he is?? Instead, Minister Lee sends Moo-young to the palace alone and says he’ll bring Yi Heon back later.
Because Ha Sun canceled the birthday feast, So-woon brings him a meal she made herself. As he eats, the consorts arrive to bring his birthday gifts. Hwa-dang gives him a golden tortoise to represent long life, and So-woon surreptitiously tucks her own gift away — awww, it must be the same thing.
Ha Sun says a live tortoise could have been eaten, but a gold one is useless. He brightens and decides to sell it and use the money to replenish the ration rice, and So-woon and the other consorts struggle not to laugh. One consort asks So-woon about her birthday gift, but So-woon lies that she didn’t get him anything.
Ha Sun says that the commoners don’t exchange gifts, and that they should do the same. But he notices So-woon’s downcast expression, so he says pointedly, directly to So-woon, that he’s going to the library this afternoon to spend time with his true friends.
Minister Lee feeds Yi Heon a simple meal of rice and seaweed soup. Yi Heon says bleakly that it’s a day of birth, but also of death, as his mother died after giving birth to him. He say that the late king never even got him a nanny because he resented Yi Heon for his mother’s death, or let him call him “father.”
He suddenly perks up and asks excitedly if Minister Lee made So-woon drink poison, then figures he can just poison her when he gets home. His hands are shaking too badly to feed himself, so Minister Lee helps him, and he listens patiently while Yi Heon rants that he’ll kill everyone who opposes him.
They visit a nearby beach that Yi Heon used to love as a child, to a drink to celebrate his birthday, and Yi Heon wonders what’s on the other side of the water. He remembers the books that Minister Lee used to bring back from envoy trips to Ming, and decides to one day travel to other nations himself to bring back foreign weapons.
He vows that his nation will be the most powerful, and Minister Lee says that the powerful nation Yi Heon wants is exactly what he himself wants. Yi Heon promises to create that nation, but Minister Lee only looks at him sadly.
Minister Lee gives Yi Heon the drink he promised, though he almost changes his mind when Yi Heon says it would have been nice if Minister Lee had been his father. Yi Heon downs the drink, and he and Minister Lee look out over the ocean. Yi Heon says it’s time to return to the palace, but suddenly he drops his cup and clutches his stomach.
He collapses to the sand, vomiting blood. He looks up at Minister Lee and laughs crazily, saying, “That clown is not dead. I was afraid that this would happen. That’s why I wanted to make you kneel, to make you stay. Why are you turning your back on me? Why are you giving up on me?!”
As he looks down at his king, Minister Lee says softly, “I’m not giving up on you. I chose our nation, its people, and the new world over you.”
Yi Heon growls that when he returns to the palace, he’ll kill the clown, the queen, Moo-young, and even Minister Lee, but first he’ll make them all regret this betrayal. But he spits up more blood, growing weaker, and Minister Lee tells him kindly that it will hurt less if he stops speaking.
Yi Heon asks if Yul, his brother, suffered like this. Minister Lee was the one who carried out Yi Heon’s order to kill Yul, and he sobs that he thought in Minister Lee’s obedience he’d finally found someone truly loyal. Minister Lee explains that when he said he’d die for Yi Heon, he was truthful, but Yi Heon calls him a liar since Minister Lee still lives and he’s the one dying.
He pleads that he wants to live, but Minister Lee says that this is the only way to create the powerful nation Yi Heon dreams of. Yi Heon asks how it’s possible without him, and Minister Lee promises to make it happen.
Yi Heon’s body convulses with spasms, and he collapses to the sand. He gasps, “I’m scared. I’m so scared. In the afterlife, who I am will not matter.” Minister Lee says he’ll stay by Yi Heon’s side until it’s over, and seconds later, Yi Heon stops breathing.
Crying, Minister Lee stands, then offers one final, formal bow to his king.
I’m speechless. I was NOT expecting this. I had a feeling we would most likely end up with Ha Sun on the throne in the end, but not this way, with Yi Heon dying so early in the story. And I certainly would never have guessed that it would be at Minister Lee’s hand, although thinking about it, I’m glad it happened this way. Yi Heon was in so much pain on that last day that, even knowing what a monster he was and how much destruction he would cause if he went back to the palace, I cried buckets to see him shaking and struggling just to feed himself. I don’t think that he could have been redeemed, or blameless for what he’d done, but seeing him so weak and pathetic really hit home that he was a victim whose weaknesses were exploited by his power hungry enemies.
Coming from Minister Lee, Yi Heon’s death was an act of mercy in so many ways, and the gentleness with which he helped and spoke to Yi Heon on his final morning just broke my heart — you could tell that he cared for this boy that nobody loved, regardless of what he became. He even took Yi Heon to his favorite place to die, likely wanting his last moments on Earth to be in a place that made him happy once. Minister Lee released Yi Heon from his physical and emotional pain, he saved So-woon from a life with a man who would terrorize her constantly or kill her for the tiniest imagined slight, but most importantly, he gave the country the king that would work for the betterment of his people. What he did wasn’t done lightly, and he did it with the utmost respect and with the intent of bringing about a better world.
I also didn’t expect for Ha Sun to ask for this, because he’s always been so humble and self-effacing that at first it seemed out of character for him to blatantly ask Minister Lee to make him king. But then I thought, he just saw Yi Heon at his worst, and he was realizing that Yi Heon would never be anything more than a tyrant who terrorized his people, even those closest to him. Of course Ha Sun knew that Yi Heon was beyond redemption and that he would be a better king. He’s a good person, and he doesn’t want power for power’s sake — he has an opportunity to use power to protect and help those who can’t protect themselves. I just hope that he doesn’t get carried away with his personal vengeance, because that’s where I can see this plan going sideways, but luckily he has Minister Lee to keep him focused.
I’d really hoped that Yi Heon could find redemption, but after seeing how his return to the palace only made him more paranoid and more vicious, I had to admit that he was beyond saving. Nothing would ever fill that hole inside himself that craved power and control and absolute obedience, and he was more than willing to kill over and over again to get it. Even in his last moments, his final thoughts weren’t regret or remorse for how he’d hurt others — they were worry that in the afterlife, he would be the same as everyone else, and no longer have power. There’s nothing in this world that can redeem someone like that.
So, now Ha Sun is king, for good. I’m very curious to see what he does now, when there’s no end and no out for him if things go badly. The queen dowager is up in arms and has a strong following, and it looks as though at least two people are going to figure out that he’s not who he claims to be — both Court Lady Kim and Minister Shin have reason to suspect that the man on the throne may not be the true king. Ha Sun and Minister Lee will have to do some fancy talking just to keep Ha Sun alive, much less on the throne and trying to change the country for the better. It makes me feel sympathy and understanding for Yi Heon, even though he let his fear and paranoia destroy him, and I wonder why anyone would ever want to be king.
- Premiere Watch: Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho 2, The Crowned Clown, What’s Wrong Mr. Poong-sang
- The clown gets a lesson on how to be a king
- Three teasers for The Man Who Became King
- Lee Kyu-han joins The Man Who Became King
- Yeo Jin-gu, Lee Se-young become the king and queen of Joseon
- First script read for The Man Who Became King
- The Man Who Became King confirms main pairing Yeo Jin-gu, Lee Se-young
- Lee Se-young courted to be Yeo Jin-gu’s queen in Gwanghae remake