The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 15
Well look who turned the ship around in the eleventh hour. Okay, so it’s more like the ninth hour. Whatever. The important thing is, I like the heroine again. Halle-freaking-lujah. And Yang-myung kills it, and me, in this episode. Moon/Sun consistently inches higher in the ratings, with this one hitting a new series high at 39.1%.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
After recovering her memory, Wol runs out and finds Seol looking for her, worried that she might have been kidnapped or killed. Wasting no time, she launches straight into pointed questions about her past and Seol’s:
When they first met, and when Wol first received her mystical gifts. Seol gives the standard answers nervously, but Wol takes it all in and says, “Why are you lying to me? I saw it very clearly—the day I was pulled out of that grave and you were standing there waiting for me.” Oooh. I love badass Wol. (Oh and by the by, I feel like still calling her Wol until she outs herself publicly.)
The blubbering astrology professor who trapped Wol in for the possession now answers to the queen dowager, reporting that the shaman did indeed survive, which is a first. Grandma actually sighs that it’s too bad they had to cut loose such a powerful and potentially useful force, but oh well.
She asks if the girl was exiled as per his orders, but he adds that she gave a warning and request—that if she was not given time to pray at Seongsucheong and properly get rid of the evil spirit, it would take revenge on all those involved. Finally! Her brains came back along with the memories! He stammers that she was not the same girl who entered that building the night before. Yeah, I’ll say.
Seol cries, pleading for forgiveness, but Wol tells her she doesn’t have time for that now, and asks specifically what she knows. Seol tells her the version that Nok-young told her: that in order to save their daughter who had been possessed, her parents fed her the medicine so she could fake-die and then live without a name.
Wol looks up, heartbroken: “My father knew I was alive?” No, no he didn’t! But Seol says yes, he did it to save the family name. Sadness. What a horrible thing to believe. She asks why the rest of her family wasn’t told that she was alive, and Seol repeats Nok-young’s warnings that it would endanger Wol’s life if anyone knew.
Wol wonders about her supposed supernatural powers as well, and Seol says it always made her curious too, but she was told all manner of things, like Wol hadn’t yet learned to harness her power, or that it was due to her memory loss.
Wol says it’s strange… she has no memory of ever coming into powers or receiving a shamanistic anointing as such… but Nok-young went so far as to bring her into the palace as a shaman.
She remembers that when she entered the palace as the princess bride, Nok-young was the head of Seongsucheong, and under the queen dowager’s thumb. She wonders, isn’t it strange that she happened to fall ill just then?
She asks all the right questions: Why did she suddenly fall ill when she became the princess bride? Why was Nok-young the one to save her? What she assumed was her shamanic powers was really just her memories flashing back. If it wasn’t a demonic possession, then what was her illness? Seol thinks they should ask Nok-young, but Wol stops her immediately: “We can trust no one.” Thank ye gods. I love memory-boost-Wol.
Meanwhile Hwon hits another hurdle in his investigation, when Hyung-sun reports that head shaman Nok-young has gone away to pray in the mountains. He doesn’t think it a coincidence that she has disappeared just as he’s gotten close.
He heads out for a walk and runs into Bo-kyung, who smiles pleasantly and offers him tea. He shoots her down, but then catches himself, perhaps remembering that she’s not so different from him, and offers to take a walk together. She beams.
She chatters, but he doesn’t hear her because he’s paused in front of the Moon Building, lost in a trance. She tells him that she’ll wait as long as it takes, for him to see her, and that she won’t even urge him to forget “her.”
“They say the king is the sun and the queen the moon. As each keeps its place, if you would see me, I’ll go wherever that is, and be there.” It’s a nice sentiment, but tragic, since you’re not the moon he wants to look upon.
Sure enough, her words just trigger his memory of the hairpiece he gave to Yeon-woo on her sickbed.
And at the same time, Wol takes out the very same thing, and clutches it to her heart with tears. Memories of their promises come flooding back, and when Hwon turns to look at his queen, it’s Wol standing beside him.
Oof, that hurts. Seeing what she could have been, dressed as a queen, wearing The Moon That Embraces the Sun in her hair. She looks up at him, and Hwon’s hardened face slowly melts into the sweetest smile, equally heartbreaking because you know he’s smiling straight at Bo-kyung but only seeing Wol.
Wol sends Seol on a stealth mission, dressed as a lady. She stops to marvel at how pretty she looks, like a real girl, and Seol pouts, “Was I a boy before?”
Woon finally releases the guards he had stationed in front of Yang-myung’s house, and Yang-myung immediately packs a bag, ready to head out. Woon tries to stop him, knowing he’s headed straight for Wol, but Yang-myung asks why not?
He says it might have been a different story with Yeon-woo, who was the king’s girl, but he sees Wol for who SHE is, and Hwon has no claim on her. I totally agree… but as it turns out, fate’s not on your side, puppy. I’m sure it’s asking too much that you shed your savior complex and just pick a girl who likes you back. Sigh. Heartbreak it is.
Woon tries to hold him back, reminding him of his princely position. Yang-myung growls, “That tiresome name! The freedom to throw it away whenever I please… well that’s the one thing that I possess, that the king cannot.”
True, and it’s no small thing. The king will never have the freedom to act on impulse or defy the law, or even to simply follow his heart.
Yang-myung heads to the place that is to be Wol’s prison—Hwalinseo, a sort of triage for the sick and poor, outside the main the city. But he finds that she still hasn’t arrived, to his ever-growing panic.
The man in charge is pretty much sub-human, not just in his lackadaisical approach to his charges, but towards the sick as well. A man runs in, frantic that his daughter is dying, and he just shrugs it off. Yeesh. So this is pretty much where poor people go to die, huh?
Later Wol gets led there by royal guards, and she’s shocked to see the conditions—people young and old, huddled together, bloody and hungry. She wanders inside where there’s a big commotion in the corner.
She stops short to see Yang-myung with his arm around a little girl—the one whose father ran in earlier—trying to save her. He calls for some medicine and they meet eyes, and suddenly I have this newfound hope, like maybe the New Wol would see Yang-myung with new eyes.
The girl is saved, and they smile. As he eats, she asks how he knew what to do, and he talks about his teacher (her father), brining tears to her eyes. He says his teacher gave him the love of a father, taught him everything he knows, and treated everyone equally with respect. Aw, now I’m crying. She struggles to hide her reaction.
She walks him out, and he thanks her for being alive, and enduring what must have been unspeakable pain. He assures her that he won’t be back (aw) but he had to come and check on her, when he heard she was missing.
Now that he’s made sure that she’s alive, and okay, and seen her ugly face (ha), he says his goodbye…
But then a group of nurses comes running up to stop him. They say that they’re short-handed here, and need his help—won’t he return, and often? He looks over at Wol and smiles, “This darned popularity of mine. Can’t get rid of it anywhere.” HA.
She smiles as she thinks to herself that he hasn’t changed, and that a bright demeanor suits him. From the shadows, Woon keeps watch.
Hwon asks after Wol, and Woon reports that she is healthy and well. And then he asks about his hyung, and Woon falters as he says he’s good too. Hwon can tell immediately when Woon is lying, and guesses the answer without being told: “Is hyungnim with her?”
As Woon leaves the king’s chamber, Hong Kyu-tae enters, and Woon spies one of the Council of Evil ministers spying on them. The council meets to discuss why the king would be calling the Euigeumbu, while Minister Yoon thinks to himself that the king must be looking into Yeon-woo’s death.
Hong Kyu-tae reports that it’s difficult to get anything solid on such an old case, and then Hwon thinks of a new lead: the teacher who was in charge of Yeon-woo’s princess education. They guess that she must have seen something that could be of help.
Just as the Council of Evil decides to track Hong Kyu-tae’s every move, the king warns him to watch his back, and Kyu-tae assures him that he can protect himself. Let’s hope it’s true.
But it turns out that Wol is a step ahead of all of them, since Seol is the first to arrive on the woman’s doorstep. Awww yeah. Girls for the win. Let’s do some sleuthin’!
The woman recalls the prince and princess’ sorrowful parting with tears in her eyes, as she describes them both with respect. Seol asks if she remembers anything strange about that time—maybe unusual food, or a change in personnel, but there wasn’t anything like that.
But she does recall that night, when Princess Min-hwa came to see Yeon-woo. Yes! Finally! The woman remembers that Princess Min-hwa looked distressed, asked after Yeon-woo’s health, and then turned to go back, without seeing her.
Hong Kyu-tae arrives just as Seol takes her leave, and they pass each other in the street. He approaches the gate, but senses something amiss, and ducks away in time to miss a sword coming at his head.
He fights off two masked swordsmen, and runs inside the house, but he’s too late. The woman lies dead on the ground, her throat slashed.
Hwon fumes at the loss of another innocent life on his watch, and worries that Kyu-tae’s life is more at risk than ever. He offers an out, free and clear. But Kyu-tae doesn’t hesitate, saying that his life already belongs to the king, and refuses to back off the case.
Aw, Hong Kyu-tae is fast becoming one of my favorite characters, probably because he’s the one doing the actual sherlocking, while our hero has to sit there and just be angry. I get that he’s the king, but sometimes it’s hard to root for a guy who sits pretty while other people stick their necks out and get the action scenes.
Hwon does get one thing out of this, for certain: there is an enemy alive and well, covering his eight-year old tracks.
He runs into Minister Yoon, who quotes a text to give a thinly veiled warning not to dig too deep. Hwon counters that an honorable man shouldn’t let the truth be covered up. I love that they exchange pleasantries about the king’s future success, all the while threatening each other’s lives in subtext.
Seol reports what she learned, about Princess Min-hwa’s visit the night she fell ill. Wol doesn’t remember anything about that, and then asks Seol to accompany her to her father’s grave, where she tearfully bows and says aloud for the first time: “It’s me, Father. It’s Yeon-woo.”
At the same time, Mom, Yeom, and Min-hwa walk up the hill towards Father’s grave. Yeom thanks Min-hwa for always being so bright and cheery, and a happy presence in their home, and she smiles, but also reminds him to stop thanking her. That’s always the problem with them—he’s always grateful, but she just wants to be loved.
When they reach the grave, Wol and Seol are gone, but they find traces that someone was just there, not very long ago. Min-hwa wonders if maybe Yang-myung came by.
Mom puts her hands on the grave, and Yeom comes up to console her. But she whispers a confession instead: “Your father did not die of an illness. He committed suicide.”
She falls to the ground in tears. Yeom’s heart stops.
She finally tells him the truth—that Father lived in pain and darkness over Yeon-woo’s death, and the guilt consumed him. Once Yeom’s future had been secured by Min-hwa, he ended his own life.
Min-hwa overhears this now and breaks down in tears, never having known the full extent of her actions (or what she believed to be hers, since Grandma twisted the truth). But the sad part is, it’s still a consequence of her keeping her mouth shut to get what she wanted.
Mom speaks to Dad directly, telling him that she saw a young woman the other day who looked just like Yeon-woo. She wonders if it could be possible, that their daughter could be alive. But to be cast aside, spit on by the world… “Our Yeon-woo wouldn’t be living that way, would she?” Oof.
She wails, “Tell me it isn’t so! Tell me that she’s with you, at peace, in that place! Tell me!”
She cries and cries, and then we find that Wol is still there, on the other side of the wall, and has heard it all. Augh, heartbreak. She covers her mouth to drown out her cries.
As she and Seol walk down the hill, she chokes back her tears and says it’s all her fault. “I was so young. I thought that if I died it would save everyone. I should’ve pleaded, begged to live.” *crumple*
Seol tells her to go tell her family now that she’s alive. But Wol says no—she did the same, didn’t she, to protect them? Someone wanted her dead, and she can’t endanger her family, or the king, until she finds the truth.
“Until the truth is uncovered, Heo Yeon-woo needs to remain dead.” I love her newfound determination. If it were purely out of noble idiocy, I would hate it, but I don’t disagree with her in this case. She needs to find out what happened, and she can’t do that if she just outs her identity.
Bo-kyung encounters a group of shamans entering the palace, and mistakes one of them for Wol, throwing wild accusations at her for trying to reenter the palace. Eek, I’m a little embarrassed for you. I guess this is what happens when you have nothing but your obsession to keep you company.
She receives confirmation that the shaman she’s looking for has been sent away to Hwalinseo according to her punishment, but then comes to a start when she hears her name: Wol. It’s the first time she’s hearing it, and it rattles her. (Just based on the symbology?) She orders Wol to be brought to her at once, in secret.
Wol returns in low spirits, and happens to catch a little stick that comes flying in her direction. She looks up and sees Yang-myung surrounded by a group of kids. He comes up with a stick pointed at her like a sword, as he declares, “You are now my enemy!” Hee.
She ignores him, so he does it again, and then she just walks right past him. He’s like, I have to spell it out for you? You are now on the other team. She looks confused, and he explains, duh, you caught my ball, now you’re on the other team.
Omg, schoolyard Yang-myung is So. Cute.
She smiles as the kids run up to her, and then gets all serious as she winds up to play what looks like a primitive form of baseball. I love it—she gets all into the game, and every time they switch batting/fielding, Yang-myung flicks her on the forehead when he’s won the inning. It’s adorable that he brings out the childish side in her too.
She gets all huffy, not wanting to give up the bat, and they play-fight over it, giggling like little kids.
But something wipes Yang-myung’s smile right off his face: It’s Hwon and Woon, watching them from a distance. Aw, damnit, I don’t know who I feel worse for.
Hwon watches bitterly, frozen in place. Wol notices the change in Yang-myung’s expression and starts to turn in Hwon’s direction…
Thinking quickly, Yang-myung grabs her in a hug, to keep her from seeing him. Hwon should turn away and hide, but he doesn’t, his heart wrenched further to see Yang-myung holding her like that.
Yang-myung gives his brother a pointed look, as if to stand his ground. Hwon finally turns away.
Wol stammers, trying to pull out of the awkward hug, but he waits until Hwon is gone before letting her go. He covers it up by saying she looked like she was going to fall, so not to read into it or anything. Right, back support. Sure.
They finish the game and the kids run home, leaving them alone. Yang-myung asks if she’s okay now, wondering what worries were weighing her down earlier. Surprised that he noticed, Wol asks if he did it on purpose then, making her play the game.
He says that when you play with children, you can toss off all your cares and worries. Aw. She agrees, saying that she feels much lighter now. He pouts, And not because you were playing with the handsome, awesome me?
As they laugh, he thinks to himself that it’s a good thing she’s a shaman. At least he can be with her in this way, and look upon her smiling. (Meaning with Yeon-woo, he couldn’t even be by her side.)
He picks up a rock from the ground, wondering if they should play a game with it tomorrow, and she says it’s too pretty a rock to be hit. She asks him to give it to her, so she can tell it her problems, calling it a haewooseok.
Awwww, she’s purposely asking him for the same gift he gave her when she was thirteen. He happily wipes the dirt from it and hands it to her as a gift, and watches her go with a smile.
She takes the rock and tells it, speaking to her father, that she’ll put everything aside until she finds out the truth.
A woman approaches, asking if she is Wol. The queen requests her presence.
At the same time, Yang-myung walks home with a grin, and then suddenly remembers the rock he gave to Yeon-woo eight years ago, and that he’s the one who named it a haewooseok. Eep! A flash of recognition crosses his face.
The moment is interrupted by a call from the shadows: “Hyungnim.” It’s Hwon.
They share a drink at Yang-myung’s house, and Hwon asks how he can be so reckless, by going to Hwalinseo so often. Yang-myung: “I don’t go often. I go daily.” Oooh. Them’s fightin’ words.
He continues, “The woman in my heart has fallen into disrepute. How can someone who calls himself a man just stand by and pretend not to notice?” Dayum. I love that he does not mince words with Hwon.
Hwon reminds him of his orders not to go near her, but Yang-myung repeats that he can throw his name away. Hwon shouts, asking if he’s going to disobey. Really, this is not the tactic you should be employing. Tell him the truth, that you’re worried for his safety! (Not that it would do any good, I suppose.)
Bo-kyung sits in her chamber, nervously awaiting Wol’s arrival. She bites her nails, practically clawing at the walls, and I wonder if Wol will really show her face.
But in she comes. She’s told to bow, and so she does. Bo-kyung finally looks up at her…
Wol raises her head with a smile, calm as you please. Awesome.
Bo-kyung reels, recognizing Yeon-woo in her at first glance.
Nice. I’m much happier watching a show with a heroine I like, who’s got brains and some wicked wit to spare. I’d love it if she just said screw love, imma go Lady Vengeance on you people, but I suppose that would kill the romance.
This episode reignited my second-lead love, mostly because it kills me to see how happy Yang-myung could make her, how at ease they are together. I know she’ll always choose Hwon, but for a while with all his mopey-mopey, I had forgotten how sweet Yang-myung could be, and the things that he always saw in Wol and Yeon-woo that differed from the things that Hwon saw. Hwon’s love is the only one that’s requited, but I like that we’re seeing more dimensions to Yang-myung’s pure-hearted, protective love too, even if his heart will end up trampled for it, along with mine.
I really hope this episode is an indication of Wol’s path to outwitting every baddie there is, because so far, I love this new turn in her character and the story. I was getting really tired of watching our main characters get beaten into tragedy over and over, and breathed a huge sigh of relief when Wol recovered her memory but more importantly declared that the little girl “would cry no more.” Now her tragedy fuels her desire to set things right, and her new agency gives me cause to like her again.
In watching Wol take a more active role in figuring out the big mystery, it did highlight a big lack in Hwon’s character for me—namely that he’s so stationary. Being the king limits him, yes, and it’s perfectly logical that he sends Kyu-tae or Woon to do things and then gets reports. It just that from a drama standpoint, it’s hard to really pump your fist in alliance with your hero when he’s sitting around in his silk robes all day.
It’s why I’ve always loved any time he sneaks out of the palace, because even in the brief moment with Yang-myung in this episode, he came alive. I don’t even think it’s a fault of being the king, so much as this drama’s lack of action for him, even inside the palace walls. I want him to DO more, because right now, I’m with Yang-myung, asking what on earth he’s doing for the woman he supposedly cares for, other than being mad. It’s hard not to be swayed the other way, when Yang-myung can bring out that carefree young girl in her, and give her a tiny bit of the childhood that we thought was lost for good.
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 14
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 13
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 12
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 11
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 10
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 9
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 8
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 7
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 6
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 5
- Interviews with Moon/Sun’s child actors
- Jung Il-woo and the adults of Moon/Sun to appear this week
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 4
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 3
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 2
- The Moon That Embraces the Sun: Episode 1