Haechi: Episodes 29-30
Everything happens so fast in this show, it practically gives me whiplash trying to keep up with who supports whom, who is in favor and who is in trouble, and what everyone’s mental state is at any given time. Our prince is finding that he has supporters in unexpected places, while his enemies are learning that their position may not be as sure as they thought. It’s enough to make anyone lose their mind — literally.
EPISODE 29-30: “Decisive battle 2”
Yi Geum had argued to Minister Min that they have a similar current goal despite their differing longterm goals, and asked Minister Min to join up with him temporarily. Minister Min thinks to himself that he used to view politics the way Yi Geum does, believing that the country would be safe and protected if the king and ministers stuck to their duties.
But he recalls tortures, arrests, and death sentences that were carried out when Queen Inhyun, his sister, was deposed and Jang Hui-bin was made queen, and he’d realized that that ideal is just a fantasy. Jang Hui-bin was King Kyungjong’s mother, and the person who sent her to her death was Yi Geum’s mother. This is why Minister Min thinks that politics is about blood and revenge, not conviction.
So when Yi Geum is brought before the special judiciary committee to be questioned by the king about his treason accusation, Minister Min announces that he cannot support the interrogation, because Yi Geum has committed no crime. He says he’s not the only one who knows the crown prince is innocent, asking the king, “Don’t you also know, Your Majesty?”
He turns to the ministers and says they’ve all seen this many times — a kingdom eliminating enemies with only suspicions and no evidence. He states that the Department of Justice couldn’t find any evidence of Yi Geum planning treason, and even the people they tried to torture confessions out of didn’t speak against him.
He says it’s unfair to have called a special judiciary committee when there’s no evidence whatsoever. Yi Tan seethes as the entire court holds its breath, waiting for the king to speak.
Chief Justice Jo pulls Minister Min aside to ask why he stopped the proceedings without even discussing it with him. Minister Min just says that since the king stopped it, he must agree that it was unreasonable. Chief Justice Jo admits that he felt something was wrong, but he says that even if Yi Geum is innocent, they can’t strengthen the king without sacrificing Yi Geum.
King Kyungjong may have stopped the committee, but he feels unsure and asks Soron Minister Lee and Minister Jo if he really tormented Yi Geum when he was innocent. By their faces, they dread telling him that he did. Queen Inwon is surprised and happy that Minister Min helped Yi Geum, sure that his innocence will be proven. Queen Seonui doesn’t look so happy, and just excuses herself.
Yi Geum thanks Minister Min for his unexpected support, but Minister Min says that he only did it because he didn’t want the palace’s pride lowered by crude plans, not to help Yi Geum. He tells Yi Geum to take back his thanks, because they will never be on the same side. But they’re on the same page now, he sighs, so he urges Yi Geum to overcome this, and he’ll try to destroy him later.
Yi Geum faces Byung-joo and can’t restrain himself from commenting on Byung-joo’s obvious disappointment. Byung-joo says that the interrogation may have been stopped, but others did commit treason. Yi Geum tells him to go make them confess if he’s so confident of their guilt: “Try harder. Your life depends on it.”
He decides to leave the palace and find out where the treason accusations originated. Jo-hong asks why, and Ja-dong says that he wants to catch Yi Tan and punish those who used the king. Yi Geum vows that this time, Yi Tan and Byung-joo won’t get away with it.
When Moon-soo had spoken to the guard that was on duty the night Jung-seok died, he’d told Moon-soo that Byung-joo was the only other person on the premises. Moon-soo feels that this is proof that Byung-joo killed Jung-seok. Yi Geum joins them and says he wants to talk to Dal-moon next and help him, since there’s a good chance he’s spying on Yi Tan.
Through a complicated network, Dal-moon gets a message about the special judiciary committee proceedings, which are still ongoing in regards to the other treason suspects. Dal-moon looks worried when he’s told that Geun-tae hasn’t been seen in a while, knowing that he’d sent him to keep an eye on someone Yi Tan gave all his property, likely for doing Yi Tan a favor.
Dal-moon goes to see Yi Tan, who’s throwing a tantrum after seeing Yi Geum exonerated. Yi Tan shoves Yoon-young to the ground, and only a pleading look from her stops Dal-moon from doing something dangerous. Yi Tan screams that he’s the rightful heir to the throne, and Dal-moon tells him that he has an inferiority complex, drawing Yi Tan’s attention.
He says that Yi Geum doesn’t base his treatment of people on their birth status, so Yi Tan hates him because he makes him feel inferior. Yi Tan tells Dal-moon to get out before he kills him, but Dal-moon says that would put Yi Tan in a difficult position since “information is everything” right now.
Yi Tan reluctantly lets Dal-moon go, and he tells Yi Tan to use him properly and he may be able to help him. Yi Tan grabs Dal-moon’s face in a shaking hand… but Yi Geum’s voice demanding to see him sends him running outside. Yi Geum ignores Yi Tan and glares at Dal-moon instead. He says that Dal-moon sided with Minister Min, then himself, and now Yi Tan, and recalls that Dal-moon said he needed power to protect his family.
Yi Tan steps up to Yi Geum and tells him to leave, but Yi Geum snaps back that he’s going to arrest Yi Tan for plotting the treason case. Yi Tan says he has no proof, but Yi Geum just asks why he thinks Minister Min sided with him. Yi Tan asks how he got evidence, and Yi Geum repeats the message in the posters, in their original, accusatory form.
He looks right at Dal-moon and asks why he did that, and Dal-moon says that it was risky. There’s obviously more behind their words as Yi Geum asks Dal-moon if he’s sure, and Dal-moon says he is, since Yi Geum came here. He says he’s staking everything on Yi Tan, so Yi Geum says that if that’s Dal-moon’s choice, then he’ll make sure he sees the end next to Yi Tan.
After Yi Geum is gone, Dal-moon tells Yi Tan that he shouldn’t be so confident since Yi Geum isn’t a pushover, and Minister Min did turn his back on him. He says that Yi Tan has to survive for himself to survive with his family, but he can’t do anything when Yi Tan won’t give him information. Yi Tan just stands, not saying a word and looking tuned out. He’s losing it.
Ja-dong asks Yi Geum if he thinks Dal-moon got his message. Yi Geum says he did, and that he’s close to discovering Yi Tan’s crimes. He sends Ja-dong to the Saheonbu to tell Moon-soo, while he returns to the palace to take care of something.
Dal-moon meets with Geun-tae and tells him that Yi Geum figured out the hidden messages in the posters. He shows Geun-tae the information Yi Tan gave him, which he plans to use to hunt Yi Tan.
At the Saheonbu, Moon-soo writes “I accuse Executive Inspector Hwi Byung-joo for suspicions of having murdered Inspector Han Jung-seok” on a plaque. Some inspectors are worried that he’s damaging the Saheonbu’s reputation, so Moon-soo lets them off the hook for participating in his plans. But he says that if they stay quiet now, nobody will step up when it happens to them next.
Young-han barges in, demanding to know what’s going on. Moon-soo ignores him and leads the others out for a night inspection to expose Byung-joo’s wrongdoing.
The Saheonbu officials already want to get rid of Byung-joo if the special judiciary committee fails to find any evidence of treason. Their only fear is that it would strengthen Yi Geum, who could become a threat to the Saheonbu if he gains more power. Young-han tells them about the inspectors’ planned night inspection, and the officials run to stop them, saying that it will make things worse if people learn that Byung-joo murdered one of his inspectors.
Moon-soo simply points out that they were all officials at the time of Jung-seok’s death, yet they kept quiet, knowing there was something strange about it. He admits that he wants the Saheonbu to get in trouble, because they’ll only understand how serious this is if they’re the ones in danger.
He leads the inspectors away, ignoring the officials’ orders to stop.
In a fury, Byung-joo remembers the day he passed the civil service exam with the highest score. He’d endured years of bullying on account of his Namin background, but he’d excelled despite having no support. He remembers the night he killed Jung-seok and thinks that he did it once, and he can do it again.
He gives Young-han something to take to the Saheonbu, saying that the treason may have been fabricated by Yi Tan, but Young-han warns him that it may be too late for him. Outside Byung-joo’s home, Moon-soo and the Saheonbu inspectors display the plaque accusing Byung-joo of murder. Byung-joo confronts Moon-soo, accusing him of trying to ruin him, but Moon-soo says calmly that he ruined himself.
The other inspectors stop Byung-joo from attacking Moon-soo, but he yells that the Saheonbu never undermines itself. Moon-soo says that they seem to be doing that exact thing, and the officials arrive right on cue. Moon-soo tells Byung-joo that he’s under arrest for Jung-seok’s murder — Byung-joo struggles, but he’s taken away screaming.
Young-han belatedly joins the inspectors standing against Byung-joo, and Ah-bong and Jang-dal marvel that he’s talented at grabbing the last rope, ha.
Byung-joo is marched through the streets, Jang-dal shouting his crime while Ah-bong reminds him to hold his head up high. Ah-bong says that this is the same road where Byung-joo humiliated both Moon-soo and Yi Geum, who were innocent, and the people begin to throw rocks and insults at Byung-joo.
The king is suffering a lot of guilt, after Minister Lee told him bluntly that he was persecuting Yi Geum. He’d said that King Kyungjong almost seemed to be waiting for accusations against Yi Geum that he could jump on, and Minister Jo had regretfully agreed with him. Minister Lee suggests they leave him alone to reflect, and the king experiences chest pains in his misery.
Yi Geum returns to the palace, dresses in his crown prince robes, and respectfully insists on speaking with the king. He’s allowed in after waiting an hour, and King Kyungjong notes that Yi Geum’s eyes and hands are steady, while his own are shaking because he feels guilty.
He admits that Minister Lee is right — he was quick to accuse Yi Geum because he was expecting betrayal. He says that Yi Geum is the king their father wanted to rule the country, which makes him the true owner of the throne. He says that’s why he appointed Yi Geum crown prince, but also why he wanted him to fail.
King Kyungjong asks Yi Geum if Yi Tan was behind all this, then confesses that he already knew, but didn’t want to admit it. He’s already issued an order to give command of his king’s guards to Yi Geum, and instructs him to use them to “stop this tiresome circle of political revenge” and do what he himself couldn’t.
When Ji-kwang learns that Byung-joo was arrested, he tells his bodyguard to gather all their money, planning to run away. As his people are packing, Moon-soo leads his inspectors into the gibang, saying that Ji-kwang won’t get away this time. Ji-kwang tells his people to attack, and Moon-soo leads his men fearlessly against them.
Meanwhile, Dal-moon takes his followers to the docks, where they confront a boat full of the Qing human traffickers. He heroically saves Geun-tae when he’s nearly overpowered, then levels his sword at the leader’s throat. The leader tells his men to stop fighting, and Dal-moon says that he wants his testimony against Yi Tan.
At the gibang, Moon-soo gleefully invites Ji-kwang to fight with him. Ji-kwang complies, and Moon-soo quickly knocks him to the ground, but just as he’s about to inflict the killing blow, a knife thrown by Ji-kwang’s bodyguard buries itself in his back. She goes to stab Moon-soo in the heart, but she’s struck by an arrow.
Moon-soo looks up in surprise to see Yi Geum aiming a second arrow at Ji-kwang. It hits its mark, and Ji-kwang goes down. The palace guards swarm in to arrest Ji-kwang and his people.
Impressed, Moon-soo asks Yi Geum how he managed to shoot true in the dark. With a familiar arrogant grin, Yi Geum just says he’s that good. Moon-soo quips that he was late, again, but Yi Geum just helps him to his feet and says that now they have to arrest Yi Tan.
Yi Tan appears to be losing his grip on his sanity, praying and shaking violently, having heard about Byung-joo’s arrest and being unable to reach Ji-kwang or Dal-moon. He leaves his house, telling Yoon-young that he can’t give up now when he’s so close.
While he’s gone, Yoon-young runs inside and starts to pack her things. A voice behind her says it’s all over — it’s Dal-moon, who tells her to give up and focus on just survival. She realizes that he’s been lying to her and Yi Tan and backs away in fear, but he grabs her hand and urges her to leave before the soldiers arrive.
Yoon-young looks terrified, and Dal-moon confesses that he couldn’t turn his back on her… or Yi Geum. She slaps him and pounds on his chest, sobbing that he lied to her, then she gasps that she can’t let it end like this. Dal-moon grabs her in a rough backhug as she wails over everything she’s been through to get where she is.
When Yi Tan arrives at the palace, he finds the torture equipment being removed and learns that King Kyungjong called an end to the special judiciary committee. Minister Min sees him and says that he’s the only one who doesn’t know the situation he’s in right now. He tells Yi Tan that Yi Geum and the king’s guards are out looking to arrest him, so the last place he should be is the palace.
Yi Tan asks why, when the conspiracy was accusing Yi Geum. Minister Min says that there was no evidence, but that it was a nice strategy, it just wasn’t good enough. Yi Tan says that his great-grandmother died because it was suspected that she tried to murder King Injo even though there was no evidence, causing his family to lose everything, including their claim to the throne.
He shrieks, “So why? Why can’t that happen again? Why do some people die when there’s no evidence, but some people live because of that? Why does Yi Geum get to get away with this?”
Minister Min tells him to get a grip on himself and find a way to survive if he feels so wronged. Yi Tan seems to calm down, and Minister Min says that he doesn’t want him to get caught, or see Yi Geum grow more powerful by letting him catch Yi Tan. Yi Tan goes home, but the guards are there and Yoon-young seems to have run away.
He huddles just outside the wall until he’s spotted by a guard. He manages to overpower and kill the guard, carelessly smearing blood across his face and snarling that he no longer cares about the souls of his victims.
He makes his way back to the palace and approaches King Kyungjong, still covered in blood. Yi Geum is back, and he finds Yi Tan and barks out a challenge.
Whoa… I knew that Yi Tan was going to go off the deep end eventually, but I didn’t expect it to happen this soon. And I certainly didn’t expect him to walk his crazypants right into the palace, covered in the blood of his victim. But he’s been showing signs of growing less and less stable, bouncing from fits of rage to an almost catatonic state with alarming frequency, so I shouldn’t really be surprised. The sad part is that he actually has a legitimate complaint about the treatment of his family a few generations ago, and I don’t even blame him for wanting to recover his true birthright. But he also uses murder as a convenient way of getting rid of anyone who annoys him, and this episode showed that his fixation goes way beyond obsession with the throne — he’s almost certainly actually mentally insane.
I loved seeing Yi Geum and Moon-soo together again, even if only for a few moments, because I’ve missed their friendship while all of this political maneuvering was going on. I can’t wait to see how they are with each other now that they’re both gaining confidence and strength of character, because it’s bound to change their dynamic, but in a positive way. We know that historically, Moon-soo because one of Yi Geum’s most trusted advisers and that he’s best known for rooting out corrupt government officials, so I’ve really enjoyed watching him go from a bumbling but over-confident goofball to a force whose confidence has been well-earned. In particular, seeing him face off with Byung-joo and leave Byung-joo quaking with fear was so gratifying!
I’m shocking myself, because I’m actually developing a grudging respect for Minister Min as a political opponent opposite Yi Geum (outside of his bizarre support of Yi Tan). He’s aware that his political views are skewed because of his personal losses at the hands of the palace, but he’s fiercely loyal in his way, and if nothing else, at least he’s honest. Minister Min spoke up for Yi Geum against the false accusations, unwilling to see Yi Geum taken out by unfair and illegal means, choosing instead to help him now so that he can beat him fair and square later. If the two can find a way to be opponents but respect each other at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if Yi Geum, after he becomes king, installs Minister Min as some sort of adviser — he would make an excellent devil’s advocate, arguing the opposite side and helping Yi Geum see all angles of a situation.
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