Haechi: Episodes 27-28
Our prince is undergoing some very serious opposition recently, and he can’t even be sure who is on his side on any given day. Luckily, the hardships seem to be tempering his political prowess, and he’s getting the chance he wanted to prove that he would make a strong, capable king. All he has to do now is to avoid being executed for treason…
EPISODE 27: “Decisive battle”
While performing his repentance ritual, Yi Geum grows weak, and in the middle of the night he hears a voice and looks up to see Yi Hwan standing over him. The sight of his dead brother reminds him of how Yi Hwan would always fall when they sparred, saying that he falls because he knows Yi Geum will help him up again.
He’d promised that next time, he would be the one to help Yi Geum up. Now Yi Hwan’s memory holds Yi Geum’s hand and tells him not to give in to his cowardly enemies. Yi Geum reaches up a shaking hand to caress Yi Hwan’s face, crying for the brother he misses so much, and Yi Hwan fades away.
In the heat of day, Yi Tan comes to Yi Geum to tell him to hang in there, because he wants to be the one to bring him down. Yi Geum says that he’ll survive this, and kill Yi Tan himself.
The king approaches and throws a letter in front of Yi Geum. He says angrily that he tried to trust him, but Yi Geum plotted treason to steal his throne. Chief Justice Jo had told the king that twelve people were discovered plotting treason, and he’d requested a special judiciary agency to investigate.
Moon-soo sees Byung-joo with the SB guards, arresting the officials’ sons, the ones accused of treason. Byung-joo says they were heard plotting to kill the king and make Yi Geum the king, and orders Moon-soo to address him as Executive Inspector instead of by name.
Yi Geum is led to the Department of Justice, and King Kyungjong’s Eunuch Jo looks very worried for him. But Yi Geum tells him not to be, because he’ll prove how far he can go.
The instruments of torture are prepared for the young nobles accused of treason. Minister Min approaches Chief Justice Jo and asks why he’s suddenly abandoning Yi Geum. Chief Justice Jo says they have clear evidence, and that Minister Min is the one acting strange ever since the vicarious governing petition.
Minister Min admits that he wants to bring Yi Geum down, but that this isn’t how he prefers to do things. He says he senses something strange about the way things are going, and tells Chief Justice Jo to think this through.
Yi Hwan and the other SB inspectors eavesdrop as Byung-joo tells Minister Lee to recommend him as a judge, since he’s the one who brought in the treason suspects. Minister Lee says that he’s also convicted of corruption, and Byung-joo asks nastily what Minister Lee will do if he loses control of Yi Geum. He says he should do the job since he’s expendable, but he promises to catch the crown prince and find a way to survive.
Moon-soo wants to visit Yi Geum, but first Jae-dal shows him the documents they found in Byung-joo’s records about Jung-seok’s death. It turns out, the report they’d already seen was fabricated, and the actual autopsy report says that there was a laceration on the back of Jung-seok’s head.
Moon-soo recalls how Byung-joo insisted there was nothing suspicious about Jung-seok’s death. He realizes now that Byung-joo was covering something up, and Ah-bong asks if this means Byung-joo killed him. Moon-soo screams in angry frustration that Byung-joo is after the crown prince, and his sworn brother.
Byung-joo is appointed a judge, so he goes to interrogate Yi Geum. But Yi Geum is at the Crown Prince Palace resting on Minister Jo’s orders, who decided he’s in no condition to be interrogated so soon after the repentance ritual. Byung-joo snaps that Yi Geum is charged with treason, but Soron Minister Lee says that he’s only charge, not proof of guilt.
Byung-joo flourishes the treason report, and Soron Minister Lee asks where it says that the rebels were plotting with the crown prince to poison the king. He knows it doesn’t, and in addition, the rebels themselves say that they weren’t colluding with Yi Geum. He says that the future of the kingdom depends on them getting this right.
After seeing the vision of Yi Hwan, Yi Geum has a renewed determination to make sure that Yi Tan is punished for his murder. He’s still not well, but he dresses in his royal robes and tells Ja-dong that Yi Tan started this war, but that he will win, no matter what.
A frustrated Yi Tan tells Yoon-young that some of the Sorons are siding with Yi Geum. Yoon-young says that Dal-moon is here, and Yi Tan congratulates her for swaying Dal-moon to their side. Yi Tan asks Dal-moon if he’s changed sides because Yi Geum appears to be losing, but Dal-moon just asks what he wants.
Yi Tan tells Dal-moon that he showed up just when he needs him most. He says that he wants to turn the tables so that he has the upper hand, and he wants to see what Dal-moon is capable of. Yoon-young stops Dal-moon as he’s leaving to ask what he and Yi Tan talked about, but Dal-moon just says, “He asked me to do what I’m best at.”
He says softly that he still wants to save her, even though she abandoned him, and that he’ll do even better than Yi Tan expects. He tells his people to put up a bunch of posters, and when Geun-tae objects, Dal-moon barks at him not to ask questions and do as he’s told.
Moon-soo makes a plan, first to talk with the inspector who was on duty the night that Jung-seok died, then to meet the mortician who took care of his body. On the way, he, Ah-bong, and Jae-dal see the posters that Dal-moon distributed, which claim that Yi Geum is not King Sukjong’s son.
Jae-dal attacks the storyteller for saying that Yi Geum isn’t the king’s real brother and that it’s why he wants to steal the throne, and Ah-bong asks why he’s doing this when they’re supposed to be on Yi Geum’s side. The storyteller whines that he doesn’t want to do this, and that he doesn’t know what Dal-moon is thinking.
Moon-soo goes straight to Dal-moon and grabs him by the throat, demanding to know his reasons. Dal-moon says that he switched sides because Yi Geum lost his power, and when Moon-soo growls that Yi Geum trusted him, Dal-moon shakes his head and calls Yi Geum naïve.
Moon-soo screams and punches the wall next to Dal-moon’s face. He snarls that he won’t waste his anger on someone like Dal-moon, but that he can’t bring himself to hit him since they used to be friends. He lets Dal-moon go and says with profound disappointment to enjoy serving his new master.
Dal-moon calls some advice to Moon-soo, since they used to be friends — that he should talk to Yi Geum and try to find a way to survive this mess instead of just getting angry at posters. Ah-bong and Jae-dal have been taking down all the posters they can find, and they ask Moon-soo if Dal-moon truly betrayed them. He just says that they’re the only people Yi Geum can rely on.
Yi Tan learns that Moon-soo threw a fit when he saw the posters, and Ji-kwang says that Dal-moon is a traitor who switches sides easily. Yi Tan quips that he’s just a beast who looks human. He wonders if Yi Geum can remain strong now that people are being swayed against him, and onto the king’s side.
Byung-joo oversees the torture of the young nobles, who claim that they never called the king a criminal or planned to poison him. Even when poison is found in their leader’s room, they still swear that they didn’t plot anything, nor was Yi Geum behind them. Byung-joo orders them tortured until they say Yi Geum’s name.
Yi Geum watches the torture with difficulty, then turns away. Minister Min visits Minister Lee and Prime Minister Kim, who are in prison, and who beg him to believe that they were framed. Minister Min tells them that their charges are for their attempts to harm the king when he was crown prince.
Minister Lee admits guilt, but he says that they did it for the Norons. Prime Minister Kim pleads with Minister Min to forgive him, or at least his grandson, who’s one of the supposed rebels. Minister Lee also get on his knees on behalf of his son, swearing that they never tried to make Yi Geum king before his time.
Minister Min leaves them and goes to the special judiciary committee, where he’s surprised to see Yi Geum. Yi Geum says dryly that Minister Min seems to want to pull him down, so he came to answer the judges’ questions. But first, he asks to speak privately with Minister Min, which flies in the face of the advice given to him by Soron Minister Lee and Minister Jo.
He says he’s curious what Minister Min thinks of all this, and Minister Min chuckles that he’s very confident. Yi Geum says they’ve butted heads so often that he’s used to the fear, so he wants to face Minister Min and conquer that fear. He asks why Minister Min is distancing himself from the recent events when he’d normally be using them to strike against Yi Geum.
He asks if it’s because Minister Min knows Yi Tan is behind this. Minister Min tries to leave, but Yi Geum calls him back and suggests that they try cooperating, but Minister Min says that he can get rid of Yi Geum without having to do anything, so he has no reason to cooperate with him.
Yi Geum knows that Minister Min is worried about the future of the kingdom, so he doesn’t want to cause chaos by framing people for treason. He says that for now they have a common goal, and asks if Minister Min wants to watch uncontrollable Yi Tan take the throne, or follow Yi Geum now and push him out of his way later.
Back in the crown prince palace, Yi Geum tells Ja-dong that there’s a very low chance Minister Min will agree to his plans. They hear raised voices at the gate — it’s Moon-soo, demanding to see Yi Geum. Yi Geum tells Moon-soo that this is the worst time to be here, but Moon-soo says that it’s important, because they’re brothers.
He shows Yi Geum one of the posters that say he’s not King Sukjong’s son, but Yi Geum already knows about them, and that they’re Dal-moon’s doing. He says he knows how Moon-soo feels but he can’t bring himself to resent Dal-moon, because everyone has different problems to bear.
Moon-soo tells Yi Geum that Byung-joo fabricated Jung-seok’s death report, and he vows to stop him, whatever it takes. Yi Geum half-jokes that Moon-soo is bad at choosing which side to be on. Moon-soo says he’ll go burn the posters, but Yi Geum looks at them again, suddenly noticing that each poster has a different letter in the same spot in the message. Oh please, let this be a message from Dal-moon!
He’s sure that the different letters mean something, and Moon-soo recalls Dal-moon’s statement that he has nothing to do but “read the writings all over the city.” It is a message!
Dal-moon meets with Yi Tan and Ji-kwang, who complains about drinking with a beggar. Yi Tan offers Dal-moon a reward for his help, but Dal-moon says he didn’t do it for money. Yi Tan asks what he does want, sure he didn’t do it for nothing, and Dal-moon says there’s something he dearly wants. But Yi Tan gets a visitor so he tells Dal-moon to tell him when he returns.
The visitor is someone from Qing, who tells Yi Tan to be careful using the poison he gave him because there’s no antidote. Yi Tan asks Ji-kwang to translate, but all Ji-kwang tells him is that the poison is very strong. Dal-moon is eavesdropping on them, which Ji-kwang senses, so he sends his bodyguard back inside and suggests to Yi Tan that they take the conversation elsewhere.
As he follows Yi Tan from the shadows, a hand clamps down on Dal-moon’s shoulder — but whew, it’s just Geun-tae. He warns Dal-moon that Ji-kwang is onto him, and says that he knew that Dal-moon would never betray Yi Geum. He urges Dal-moon to leave before Ji-kwang’s bodyguard finds him, so Dal-moon is sitting innocently right where Yi Tan left him when Ji-kwang’s bodyguard bursts into the room.
Moon-soo has the rest of the posters collected, and just as he suspected, each one has different letters. It only takes Yi Geum a moment to figure out that they mean “Consort Suk of the Choi clan,” “truth,” and “secret” — that his mother had a secret, that he’s not the king’s true son. But if he rearranges them, the meaning changes to say, “Someone will defeat and destroy someone,” and “Prince Mil-poong.” Dal-moon is saying that he hasn’t betrayed Yi Geum, and that he’ll defeat Yi Tan.
Moon-soo and Ah-bong go to talk to the former guard who was on duty the night Jung-seok died. He says that Byung-joo inexplicably moved him to a lower position, and has refused to see him since. Moon-soo asks him who else was at the SB when Jung-seok died, already sure of the answer.
Hyuk finds the man who copied the posters, who says that he did it because a SB inspector told him to. Hyuk asks if that inspector was Byung-joo.
When the torture of the “rebels” fails to get results, Byung-joo decides that it’s time to question Yi Geum. The ministers argue over whether there’s enough proof to accuse Yi Geum of planning to poison the king, so they look to Minister Min for the final decision. He thinks about how Yi Geum seemed to understand him, then he says that Yi Geum should be questioned.
To show her support, Queen Inwon gives Yi Geum a gift of a pair of glasses before his questioning. She says it’s just a small gift, but Yi Geum is moved because they used to belong to his father. Queen Inwon says that they belong to King Sukjong’s son, and that she knows better than anyone that the rumors are a lie.
On his way to the special judiciary committee, Minister Min asks to speak to Yi Geum alone. Yi Geum says that he must have failed to persuade Minister Min, but Minister Min says politics is about revenge, not persuasion. Taken aback, Yi Geum has no response for that.
As Yi Geum stands before the king and the committee judges, Moon-soo runs to the palace, hoping he makes it in time. Geun-tae finds Dal-moon and tells him that he found “it.”
Minister Lee and Prime Minister Kim are brought before the judges as witnesses, though they come in yelling that they’re innocent. King Kyungjong asks Yi Geum if he has anything to say, promising to spare his life if he confesses. Yi Geum says that the king is generous, “But I never plotted treason or attempted any rebellion. I cannot confess a crime that does not exist, Your Majesty.”
King Kyungjong says that he has no other choice but to question Yi Geum himself. But Minister Min shocks everyone by interrupting, and asking if he may speak. He announces that he cannot support this questioning, because there are no charges against Yi Geum.
Argh, what? I’m so confused! I guess Minister Min decided to cooperate with Yi Geum after all, but then why did he break the tie in favor of the questioning, and why did he tell Yi Geum that politics is about revenge? I know he has a reason, but I confess that I have a difficult time remembering all the political maneuverings that have happened. I fully believe from Minister Min’s initial support of Yi Tan (knowing he’s a repeat murderer) that Minister Min is not a guy we want running the government, but he does seem, as Yi Geum says, to care about the country, he and Yi Geum just disagree on how that should be done. I have no clue what Minister Min is planning now, but I’m thankful for the help to Yi Geum, however it comes.
People switch loyalties so fast in this drama, my head is swimming! Chief Justice Jo was all gung-ho about Yi Geum and even convinced Soron Minister Lee to support him, but now he’s listening to anonymous letters without proof and even when those involved say under horrendous torture that Yi Geum isn’t part of their group. Minister Min is now arguing on Yi Geum’s behalf, which just breaks my brain, though at least he’s honest that it’s not that he thinks Yi Geum would be a good king. Soron Minister Lee is now completely supportive of Yi Geum, after being against him for so long, but right now he and Minister Jo seem the most likely to stick with Yi Geum and help him through this.
Dal-moon is the worst, flip-flopping sides so quickly and easily that I can hardly keep track. I know he has good reasons (aside from Yoon-young, I mean) because he has a lot of people he’s responsible for and he almost has to align with whoever has the most power, because he’s got more than himself to think about. But I’m the most disappointed in him when it happens, because he truly seemed to be moved by Yi Geum and claimed that his wishy-washy days were over. He even threw his ID badge in with Moon-soo, which I thought was a declaration that he would no longer change loyalties and was trusting Yi Geum no matter what. But then we saw that Dal-moon is actually keeping loyal to Yi Geum, and I wanted to cheer. I was so worried that his lingering feelings for Yoon-young would influence him to help Yi Tan so that she could be queen, and that message restored by faith in him.
Yi Geum really showed his political genius in this episode, when he confronted Minister Min and suggested they temporarily work together. Yi Geum has a way of sizing up a situation and knowing exactly what motivates each player, and how to convince them to support him even if they were previously against him. And the truly amazing part is that he’s not being manipulative — when he offers an alliance, he truly intends that alliance to benefit both sides. His brilliance comes from his ability to figure out how to give everyone what they want in a fair and honest way, or if that isn’t possible, to give everyone an equal fighting chance to get what they want. I even think that he may be able to win over Minister Min for real before this is all over. He’s becoming the force that his father saw in him, that Yi Hwan knew he had inside all along… a king who will truly work for the betterment of his country without sacrificing people or integrity along the way.
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