Three Musketeers: Episode 12 (Final)
All for one, one for all! I hope everyone’s taken this past week to emotionally prepare, because this is an ending that throws a lot of things our way—some of them fun and interesting, others bittersweet. I admit I didn’t quite know how a multi-season format would work out, but if this first outing is any indication, I think we’ll be in good hands by the time the next season rolls around. Of course that means we don’t get everything tied in a neat bow for the sake of story continuation, though there’s enough emotional payoff to help tide us over until we meet again.
SONG OF THE DAY
Youme – “꽃이 피듯 (Like Flowers Blooming)” from the OST [ Download ]
FINAL EPISODE: “A Letter From The Continent”
The arrow that flies right by Sohyeon’s face finds its home in Yoon-seo’s torso, but he’s able to catch her before she falls. All he sees is a hooded figure escaping through the woods.
Sohyeon’s eyes are wide with shock as he carries Yoon-seo back to the palace, ordering that everyone be woken in order to help. All the while he whispers to her, “Just hold on. You’ll be all right.”
Yoon-seo doesn’t want to let him go when Sohyeon lies her down for the doctors to tend to her, but he reassures her that he won’t leave her side. A tear escapes her eye as she falls limp, and as the doctors rush in, Sohyeon’s eyes glisten with sadness and worry.
Outside, Min-seo asks the crown prince if he saw the person who shot Yoon-seo. Sohyeon says it was too dark to see, but his expression hardens when Min-seo tells him that Mi-ryung escaped from prison and has already poisoned Dal-hyang’s father to death.
After describing the sad scene of the murder to Sohyeon, Min-seo thinks that the shooter must’ve been Mi-ryung. Sohyeon gets a dangerous look in his eye as he grabs a guard’s sword and goes stalking through the woods. Does he know where Mi-ryung is?
“Where are you?” he calls out in the darkness. “I’m alone. Come out now.” And just like that, Mi-ryung emerges from behind a boulder, carrying the bow she used to shoot Yoon-seo.
Sohyeon’s voice shakes with emotion as he tells her, “I… I… five years ago, I questioned myself if punishing evil with rage was too hasty of a decision, if that was the best thing I could do. I regretted that every day. So when you appeared, I was genuinely happy that you were alive.”
But, he explains, he also thought she would’ve changed. “I thought that you would change and if you did, that I could be happy too. But now look at us. How could such an ill-fated relationship exist?”
Mi-ryung, on the verge of tears, claims that she just came here to talk to him. Really, Mi-ryung? Was shooting his wife the only way to get his attention?
She explains that she thought she’d at least find him regretful after putting her in prison, but instead saw him all smiles with Yoon-seo. “How could you do that?!” she yells.
“I see. I understand,” Sohyeon says, his cheeks still wet with tears. “You can’t bear to see me happy. I can’t ever forgive you. Fine. Let’s… die together. Our deaths will save everyone.”
He advances on her with his sword, causing Mi-ryung to draw an arrow in defense. She screams at him not to come closer or else she’ll shoot, but he keeps walking. She lets the arrow fly…
…And it lands right in his stomach. Her face is a mask of shock as she realizes what she’s done, and yet Sohyeon continues to advance. With a cry of rage, he raises his sword and brings it down on her.
Blood sprays, and both of them fall to the ground from their wounds. As Sohyeon begins to lose consciousness, voices can be heard in the distance calling for him…
He comes-to in the palace, under Seung-po’s watchful eye. The first thing he asks about is the princess, and Seung-po only gets him to rest by telling him that she’s still in recovery.
Time passes, and Sohyeon wakes again with Seung-po at his side. Again, the first thing he asks about is Yoon-seo, which gets Seung-po riled enough to tell him that she’s fine. She’s actually doing better than he is.
Day turns into night, and this time it’s Eunuch Kim keeping vigil at Sohyeon’s side. When he asks for the princess, Eunuch Kim claims she’s doing much better, but grows nervous when Sohyeon insists on seeing her and claims that she was sent home for a quicker recovery. Uh oh. He’s not lying, is he?
Mourners gather at a burial for Dal-hyang’s father, while his poor mother is beside herself with grief. Dal-hyang stays strong for his mother, who can’t stop crying about how her husband should have never gone to the capital.
Dal-hyang finally takes some time for himself, and cries bitter tears over his father. He’s interrupted when he receives a message from Seung-po, detailing what’s gone down since Dal-hyang went to the countryside.
Through flashback, Seung-po details how Mi-ryung managed to escape the scene where Sohyeon slashed her down, but found a dead end at a cliff. After being shot with arrows by the crown prince’s guard, she fell over the cliff and into the water.
We know in dramaland that falling into water never equals death, but apparently Mi-ryung’s body was found a few days later. (Orrrr was it?)
Seung-po admits in the letter that things have been pretty bad in the palace, and that he’s been unable to tell Sohyeon one thing about the princess: they don’t think she’ll make it. Dal-hyang is devastated by this news.
As if things weren’t bad enough, Seung-po details how he and Min-seo were also arrested. He cautions Dal-hyang to lay low for a while so the same thing won’t happen to him.
Just then, the messenger who delivered the letter is forced to bring the police to Dal-hyang. They confiscate the letter as evidence and plan to take Dal-hyang in.
After gloating to himself that Mi-ryung’s crazy spell will make it easier for him to clear his name, Kim Ja-jeom is brought in for questioning. As expected, he throws Mi-ryung under the horse to save himself, but can’t help from stirring the pot as he makes sure to mention that Sohyeon and Mi-ryung knew each other.
This makes it back to the king, who demands an inquiry into the Anju case. The governor of Anju is brought in to meet with Injo, and claims that the Three Musketeers forced him to rewrite the letter he sent to the palace.
Of course, this comes as news to Injo, who thought his son was out gambling and definitely not in Anju when all this nonsense with Ingguldai, Dal-hyang, and Kim Ja-jeom happened. But while he couldn’t be sure his son was among the supposed Three Musketeers, he knew Seung-po and Min-seo were, and ordered their arrest.
Everything began its downward descent when Injo questioned the eunuch who was stopped by Dal-hyang from delivering the damning letter about Yoon-seo, and found out that the eunuch had made a promise with Seung-po to destroy the letter if/when Dal-hyang was found alive.
King Injo believes that the three musketeers and Dal-hyang deceived him, which is why he ordered their arrests.
In the present, Dal-hyang is arrested and sent to join Seung-po and Min-seo for questioning. But the interrogator’s position is replaced by King Injo, who orders everyone but the three prisoners out of the room. Uh oh.
Since Injo thinks that the governor of Anju was forced to write a letter that they manipulated, he asks Dal-hyang whether he lied to him as well, seeing as he was promoted because his story matched the one the governor was supposedly threatened into writing.
Dal-hyang denies the accusation, claiming that the story is being twisted against them. Kim Ja-jeom did conspire to kill him in Anju, and almost succeeded.
Injo claims that his ire isn’t because he suddenly trusts Kim Ja-jeom now, but that the Three Musketeers were involved in manipulating the report. He knows that Seung-po and Min-seo make for two of them, but he still doesn’t know who the third one is.
But he blames them for manipulating the report, sending Ingguldai back to his homeland, and for deceiving him. The king demands to know who the third musketeer is. Is it the prince?
“It is I,” Dal-hyang says solemnly. He says the three of them used Sohyeon’s name for clout, all in the name of becoming successful. Dal-hyang implicates himself most of all as he says that he didn’t think the people of Anju would be able to know if he was the prince or not, and that the mixup over him being saved by the Three Musketeers was because they couldn’t agree over who would take the credit.
The other two’s faces fall as Dal-hyang damns himself by adding that he came back to the capital in the hopes of being promoted, and he was. Even Injo seems like he can’t believe it, but Seung-po and Min-seo chime in to corroborate Dal-hyang’s story. It was all them—Sohyeon had nothing to do with it.
Injo doesn’t run to his son’s side when he hears he’s finally awake, and instead calls the chief investigator. Even though the investigation isn’t yet finished, Injo wants punishment for the men who deceived him… and sentences Seung-po, Min-seo, and Dal-hyang to kyohyeong, or death by hanging.
Eunuch Kim runs to tell Sohyeon the news, who’s just now starting to be able to sit up after days of convalescing from his arrow wound. The gallows are already being prepared for the executions. Eek, they’re out of time!
Sohyeon can’t believe his father would exact such swift punishment, at least until he hears that the three of them lied to protect him and in so doing, damned themselves in Injo’s eyes.
But when he sees unusual activity outside Yoon-seo’s quarters, Sohyeon turns on his eunuch: “Is there anything else you failed to tell me?” He knows he was lied to when he was told the princess was sent to heal at home, and barges into her quarters despite the reluctance of her court ladies to let him in.
There, he finds Princess Jeongmyeong tsking that it won’t be long now—Yoon-seo hasn’t woken for days, and it seems unlikely that she ever will.
They all move aside when Sohyeon enters and drops to his knees next to Yoon-seo’s sick bed, and as he reaches out a hand to cup Yoon-seo’s cheek, he asks if she’s really been unconscious since the injury. The doctor reluctantly replies that it’s true.
Sohyeon can’t believe he’s been lied to, even though everyone claims it was so that he could focus on his own recovery. But now that his attention is fixated on his wife, what will happen to his friends?
Death, apparently. The three of them kneel before their nooses as the king and ministers take their place to bear witness. Without much explanation other than that they committed a grievous crime, Injo orders the execution to proceed.
As the nooses are readied, Seung-po is clearly nervous as he asks Dal-hyang if he regrets opening his mouth—if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have to be up here with them about to face his own demise.
“Everyone dies eventually,” Dal-hyang says by way of his defense. “It’s better to die together than alone. I have no regrets.” Aww.
As the nooses are placed around their necks, Min-seo bids them goodbye. Seconds before they’re about to be hung, a weakened Sohyeon arrives at the scene, much to the boys’ relief. They’re saved!
But for whatever reason, Injo doesn’t seem to care about his son and orders the execution proceed anyway. The stools are pulled out from beneath the boys, and now the only thing keeping them from a swift death is how long they can hold their breath.
Sohyeon asks his father to halt the execution, even though Injo tells him that they used his name to deceive everyone. “I am the other member of the Three Musketeers!” Sohyeon proclaims.
Perhaps Injo already suspected as much, because he doesn’t seem all that surprised as he orders the stools put back under the boys’ feet so they can breathe easy for a moment.
After Sohyeon drops to his knees and asks his father to hold him accountable since the three boys were just following his order, Injo asks if he’s admitting that he deceived him, his country, and helped the enemy Ingguldai.
Sohyeon says yes. Then Injo asks if he’s admitting that he had Yoon-seo help Ingguldai escape, and that he went to Anju to destroy the report that Yoon-seo and Ingguldai were having an affair. Again, Sohyeon says yes. Aghhh, why, Sohyeon? Tell him the truth!
Then, when Injo asks if Sohyeon even deserves his crown if all of that is true, Sohyeon replies that he doesn’t. He isn’t capable to lead the people if he can’t even save his own friends, he claims.
Injo is shocked, and asks his son if he really has nothing to say even in the face of possible dethronement. Sohyeon just bows his head and agrees that he doesn’t.
So Injo makes it official, and says that if his son is so keen on his dethronement, he should be punished with the other three since all of them were involved in manipulating the case. Dal-hyang doesn’t get to go free just because of Sohyeon’s testimony—all four of them will die.
Why no one is bothering to tell Injo the truth of what happened, I have no idea. But if they’d all rather die, Injo is keen on granting them that wish.
The ministers gathered (where is Minister Choi?) beg the king to reconsider his decision as Sohyeon is placed next to the others and given his own noose. The others are mad at Sohyeon for dooming himself, especially since it makes Dal-hyang’s fake confession useless. Sohyeon can only apologize.
Injo asks his son if he has anything to say now that he’s about to die, and all Sohyeon says is that he regrets making his friends die when they’re all innocent.
He also regrets putting his wife in danger, as well as for killing someone while he was crown prince. It’s all his fault that he had his friends deceive their country on his order. Injo is confused, and asks his son if he wants to take the blame and die alone.
“If that’s possible… then yes, Your Majesty.” Sohyeon says. Despite the other ministers’ pleading, Injo orders the execution to continue. The stools are once again removed, and the three musketeers (plus Dal-hyang) begin to hang from the neck.
A long moment passes until Injo orders a stop to the execution. (This seriously better be the last round of indecision, or else we’ll get a parody.) He wants to talk to Minister Choi about all this, and at least for now, the boys get to live. Injo doesn’t fail to notice Sohyeon’s wound begin to bleed, however.
Sohyeon passes out from his wound and off of the stool, forcing Eunuch Kim to save him from accidentally hanging himself. He takes the prince in to be seen by the doctors while the other three are put back in prison.
They’re not alone, since Kim Ja-jeom is still warming his cell and his vocal cords by preaching to Dal-hyang about the king’s indecisiveness—just because he’s alive today doesn’t mean he will be tomorrow.
“I’m not your enemy,” Kim Ja-jeom croons, but Dal-hyang isn’t having it. How could he not consider a man who tried to kill him his enemy? But Kim Ja-jeom claims that the impending war would change all that, making Ingguldai their common enemy and him a possible friend if he saves the three of them.
Kim Ja-jeom and Minister Choi are brought before the king, who admits that he hadn’t intended to hang his own son—he just wanted a reaction out of him, and never thought he’d get up there willingly, much less ask to take responsibility on his own.
“I’m afraid of my son,” Injo admits, even though Minister Choi asks him to consider Sohyeon’s act of selflessness and sacrifice as bravery. That’s not what Injo wants to hear, since he doesn’t want a son who’s braver than he is.
So even though Injo is considering dethroning the prince, it’s actually Kim Ja-jeom who tries to talk him out of it—not because he cares about their relationship, but because changing the royal heir would upset the ties they’ve made with Later Jin/future Qing.
He doesn’t have to trust his son, Kim Ja-jeom argues, he only has to keep an eye on him. Minister Choi agrees with him, though not for the same underlying reasons. I’m sure he’ll say whatever he has to in order to keep Sohyeon alive.
Sohyeon overhears palace eunuchs talking about whether to tell him something “before the funeral ends,” which is a pretty bad sign when they’re all wearing white mourning clothes. His eyes fill with tears… could Yoon-seo be dead?
Someone reaches out to wipe his face and ask, in a weak voice, whether he’s well. Sohyeon looks from her sleeve up to her face…
…And it’s Yoon-seo staring back at him. She’s very much real and in mourning clothes just like the rest of the palace, but Sohyeon can’t even believe his eyes. “Am I dreaming? Are you really alive?”
Yoon-seo just seems confused, before clarifying that an older member of the royal household died, which explains the white. Only then does she ask if he was crying because he thought she was dead, but she doesn’t need to ask to know. She’s so flattered. Aww.
Her happiness causes Sohyeon to all but suck his own tears back into his eyes as he tries to protect his wounded pride by telling her to forget this ever happened. In fact, if she ever brings it up again, he’ll never forgive her.
Yoon-seo plays coy as she tells him that she’ll think about it—after all, she almost died, and she’s not scared of him anymore. It’s cute how Sohyeon tells her to stop smiling because they’re in mourning, but when he can’t help but smile himself, she throws the same words back at him.
They smile together and laugh, just happy to be safe and with each other again.
Seasons later, we find Ingguldai in the capital of Qing as the emperor, Hong Taiji, tells him of his plans to invade Joseon. Dal-hyang’s narration takes over as he says that the war came two months later in what’s known today as the second Manchu invasion of Korea.
Dal-hyang doesn’t go into too much detail, since it was a shameful time for the frightened King Injo and for the country who suffered under his indecisive rule.
We then see Dal-hyang in a snow-covered but empty palace as he explains how the crown prince and princess were sent to Qing as hostages. (This is also true in history, since the conditions for Injo’s surrender included that his first and second sons be given as hostages.)
Since Dal-hyang has no story to tell of the time when he had no master, he skips two years ahead to his arrival in the Qing capital. But, much to his surprise, Sohyeon and the other two musketeers aren’t there to greet him—they supposedly had some urgent matters to take care of.
Left without company, Dal-hyang agrees to have a drink with one of the Joseon envoys, which lands them in the Qing equivalent of the gibang they used to have so many adventures in, way back when.
Dal-hyang rises to protect a Joseon woman’s honor as she’s sold off in front of the crowd, only to be told that there’s nothing he can do. (It’s a tiny nod to the tragic reality of Injo’s surrender, in that an estimated 500,000 Joseon people were captured/given as tributes. Life for women was especially bleak, since they were subjected to sexual slavery and—if they were lucky enough to survive—rejection in their home country for what they’d endured.)
He finds Seung-po roaming the place, and the two share a happy reunion marred only by Seung-po asking why he never replied to all the letters he sent on Tani’s behalf.
It’s sad that Dal-hyang has to ask who Tani is only to remember when Seung-po says, “Tani! The girl you promised to marry!” Hah! She hasn’t forgotten, has she?
Suddenly a man screams, “The Three Musketeers! The Three Musketeers are here!” Dal-hyang and Seung-po look up as a masked figure takes down an entire group of (what I’m guessing must be) Qing thugs. Did the thugs not know how to count?
Though the hair and clothes would lead us to believe it’s a girl under the mask, when the acrobatic fighter’s face is briefly revealed, it’s… Min-seo? In full drag. Why? But also, hah.
Seung-po leaves Dal-hyang to join the fray, as he and Min-seo deliver a smackdown of epic proportions. “Who are they?” Dal-hyang’s panicked drinking buddy asks.
“The Three Musketeers,” Dal-hyang smiles proudly. “They’re my friends.” The two are soon joined by Sohyeon, who has a grand entrance by swinging down from a pulley rope after hanging one of the thugs as a counterweight. Nice.
Sohyeon and Dal-hyang finally get to see each other and exchange smiles. Dal-hyang is invited to join them in the fight, and he doesn’t need to be asked twice as he draws his sword and stands with his buddies.
“I was worried about you in this place,” Dal-hyang says to Sohyeon with a grin. “I didn’t know you’d be having fun here.” Just then, a massive group of backup thugs arrive looking for the Three Musketeers—a group that’s become quite popular as of late.
The running gag about the prince’s face going unrecognized is continued here, as Min-seo puts the kibosh on Seung-po’s suggestion that they run because the men they’re fighting slaughtered people of Joseon.
So they prepare for battle—stylishly, of course.
Kim Ja-jeom meets a shadowy figure outside his home, and is shocked by who it is: Mi-ryung, looking alive and well. “How did you survive?” he asks.
She calmly tells him that she’s here because he made a promise he didn’t keep—a broken promise that cost her her life. Now she’s here to collect what she’s owed.
Kim Ja-jeom shakily asks if she still wants to be the crown princess, a thought which makes her laugh. That position means nothing to her now.
“I want to be… the king’s woman,” Mi-ryung says.
Whew, this was a lengthy finale. Even if I’m not a wizard at brevity, it’s certainly something I like to see in shows, especially considering that Three Musketeers is already a shorter show in general. And while we could easily say those last thirty minutes or so served as necessary setup for the next season, there was just something missing in that extended epilogue/possible prologue. It tried for fun, but didn’t necessarily hit that sweet spot it’s managed to harness in previous episodes.
The stakes in this episode were an interesting watch as they fluctuated scene by scene, because there was the feeling that everything and the kitchen sink was thrown in for bombastic dramatic effect since we were at the end. It started with Mi-ryung shooting Yoon-seo, which worked on the level it needed to even if the logistics were a little iffy at times. I’ve long since stopped being able to fully understand Mi-ryung, but it wasn’t difficult to buy that she felt betrayed when Sohyeon tricked her into jail, and chose to take it out on the woman who (she felt) stole her rightful place away from her.
But that wasn’t so much what it was about, it seemed, since Mi-ryung just wanted to be heard. Sohyeon’s emotional aloofness has caused him to make some enemies in his time, but what’s peculiar about his brand of unavailability is that it makes people crave his attention all the more, so much so that they want to hurt him if it means they’ll get a peek at what lies beneath. I seriously wonder if Sohyeon’s apparently unattainable perfection and unbreakable spirit caused him to have the Joseon equivalent of sasaeng fans—heck, even his dad was itching to use pain just to get his son’s attention.
King Injo has been a favorite sageuk staple to explore because of his storied history and his literal crazy, though this has been more like watching Injo Lite after last year’s epic exploration into the man behind all the history. So for what little time Injo has had here, he’s been handled fairly well—we got what he was about early on, and that he was indecisive and cowardly. His admission that he was afraid of his son spoke volumes about what makes him tick.
That being said, the sudden execution of the not-so-three-musketeers felt a bit cobbled together, and more like a written-in showstopper than something that might’ve actually happened. Maybe it was for that reason that the weight of the scene never really sat with me, and it’s a matter of stakes that some shows either get right or don’t when it comes to killing off one—or in this case, four—of their main characters. Smart shows know the audience won’t actually be holding their breath if character deaths at whatever point in the show or episode wouldn’t make sense logistically, and the best shows manage to make the audience doubt the perceived immortality of their favorite characters. And of course, the scariest shows actually kill a character you thought couldn’t die after luring you into a false sense of security.
But this was one of those situations where we just knew nothing bad was going to happen, which made all the dramatics surrounding the execution scene come off a bit haphazard and tedious. It’s something I wish would’ve been executed with more panache, because it would’ve made for a different kind of experience if we were actually sitting on the edge of our seats and biting our fingernails while waiting for that last minute save by Sohyeon, or Minister Choi. If nothing else, that scene at least showed us how deep the camaraderie between our three musketeers (plus one) went. When you’re willing to die for your friends, I’d say that’s a pretty good indicator of a lifelong bond. And hopefully one we’ll get to watch for seasons to come.
I liked the finish the show gave to Sohyeon and Yoon-seo’s relationship, since the two began with a loveless marriage and grew into the couple we see now—they’re not perfect, they’re both just a little bit unsure and still like strangers in some aspects, but we left them as they’re still growing together. And for the jaded Sohyeon, who endured years of guilt thinking he’d been unjust to the woman he once loved only to almost die at her hands, and even for the innocent Yoon-seo who not only grew as a wife and princess but as a woman, it’s a fine start.
Too bad their immediate future was so rocky, since the show seems to be following history as we leave off for the second season. Perhaps we’ll see the escapades of the three musketeers (and Dal-hyang, of course) take place in Qing next season, since Sohyeon would remain a hostage for almost eight years. Or maybe we’ll return the action to the palace after a time skip, only to find that Mi-ryung has installed herself as one of Injo’s concubines. Even if the time for fun and games is over for these characters historically, I wouldn’t put it past Three Musketeers to give us a rollicking good time no matter the setting. See you guys next season.
- Three Musketeers: Episode 11
- Three Musketeers: Episode 10
- Three Musketeers: Episode 9
- Three Musketeers: Episode 8
- Three Musketeers: Episode 7
- Three Musketeers: Episode 6
- Three Musketeers: Episode 5
- Kolorful Palette: Great expectations [Three Musketeers]
- Three Musketeers: Episode 4
- Three Musketeers: Episode 3
- Kolorful Palette: Black and white [Three Musketeers]
- Three Musketeers: Episode 2
- Three Musketeers: Episode 1