My Sassy Girl: Episodes 1-2
This is going to be so much fun! My Sassy Girl premiered with promises of hijinks and fun chemistry (much like the original movie), but it’s definitely a new spin, with the story being set in Joseon. Though we do get a heavier backstory initially, the tone of the show shifts as we enter the lives of our two leads. They get tangled in each other’s lives from their very first hilarious meeting, and it’s a promising start for all the laughs and romance sure to come.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
On a dark and stormy night, the ministers of the palace kneel outside of the king’s quarters, pleading for him to take action. Inside, KING HWIJONG (Son Chang-min) tells his pregnant queen not to worry as he vows to protect her.
Wearing his battle armor, Minister JUNG KI-JOON (Jung Woong-in) meets with the king’s mother and tells her that the queen’s child is not of royal blood — the child belongs to Prince Chuseong, he claims. She refuses to believe him, but when he claims to have a witness to the queen’s treason, she looks conflicted.
While all this is happening, another group of soldiers ride their horses urgently to try stop the impending scheme.
Minister Jung barges into the king’s quarters with his soldiers and announces that they will take the queen for committing treason. The king tries to protect his queen, but the minister shows him a written poster accusing the queen of destroying the king, the people, and the nation. And now with approval granted by the king’s mother, the queen dowager, they have the power to take the queen.
The queen is dragged outside, where she confronts Minister Jung, asking if he’s not afraid of the heavens for committing such an evil deed. He smiles and tells her that soon, the world will fear him more than the heavens. With that, he signals his minions to drag the queen into the palanquin.
But before she’s taken away, a young princess runs toward them, yelling for her mother. The queen tries to comfort her crying daughter with a smile and tells her to take care of her father and grandmother.
She pulls her daughter into one last hug before they’re pulled away from each other. The princess bites the hand of her captor and tries to chase after her mother, but the palace doors close before she can make it. She falls to the ground crying and utterly devastated.
The soldiers on horseback continue to race to stop the scheme, but they’re stalled by a dangerous looking trap that obstructs their path. Then, a wave of arrows fly toward them before they’re besieged by enemies. The leaders of the two sides come face to face, and it becomes clear that the attackers are traitors. The loyal warrior inflicts a painful injury on the head traitor’s right eye, but we don’t know if either of them survive the bout.
King Hwijong walks into his mother’s room, still in disbelief as he asks how she could dethrone his beloved queen. His mother can’t seem to face him, and he yells with uncontainable anger and betrayal.
Minister Jung meets with a royal concubine (Yoon Se-ah) and thanks her for helping him convince the queen dowager. She reminds him of his promise to make her the queen, but Minister Jung immediately raises his sword to her neck. He asks how he can trust that she won’t betray him once she rises up to the throne, so she bows down to his feet as a sign of her submission. He approves with a smug look.
As the queen and her entourage reach the bamboo forest, we hear Minister Jung’s order (in voiceover) for his men to slay the queen once outside the city. The leading lackey nods to his minions, who then proceed to slaughter the queen’s servants. And just as they’re about to murder the queen, a bamboo stick pierces the lackey.
The culprit comes out of the forest, and it’s the loyal warrior from the earlier battle. He swiftly kills his enemies and walks toward the palanquin to retrieve the queen, only to stop in surprise when he hears a baby’s cries coming from inside.
The king and Minister Jung watch Prince Chuseong’s house burn, and the king looks infuriated by the threat to his power that the prince supposedly represented. Then, the loyal warrior arrives with the baby strapped to his body, and the soldiers surround him as he approaches the king. The king demands to know if the rumors are true, and we can now confirm that this loyal warrior is Prince Chuseong (cameo by Kim Min-joon).
On his knees, Prince Chuseong urges the king not to believe the traitors’ scheme. He accepts death as punishment for losing the trust of the king and for failing to stop the traitors, but he insists that the king behold the queen’s sincerity. He offers the child to the king and reveals that the queen died while giving birth to the nation’s successor, the royal son.
The king drops his sword and immediately grabs his child. Minister Jung orders for the traitor prince to be arrested, and the prince bows to the king before following the orders. As he walks away, he tells the minister that he will come back to punish them, dead or alive.
At the palace, the princess tries to comfort her crying baby brother with a doll that their mother made. She tells her baby brother that their mother will return soon while she looks longingly at the doll. Outside the room, the king watches with a conflicted expression.
Minister Jung asks the king about his decision regarding Prince Chuseong, and the king has decided to charge the prince for treason. But as for the child, he will keep him in line for the throne. Minister Jung tries to object about the son of a dethroned queen becoming the king’s successor, but the king says that he will implement a ban for the next hundred years which will prohibit anyone from discussing the queen’s dethronement. He’s ready to harshly punish anyone who breaks this rule and fight anyone who opposes this law.
Minister Jung clearly disapproves, but he tells the king that he’s merely a loyal servant. He agrees to follow the king’s orders, and the king looks relieved.
Ten years later. A ship sails through the calm waters of the ocean, and we focus on a scholar who is returning from three years of studying abroad in the Qing Empire. This is Gyun Woo (Joo-won), and he reflects on his meaningful time abroad, during which he learned about himself and his potential. He smiles as he notices the women behind him fawning over him, and we take a brief look back at his time abroad.
At his institution, Gyun Woo’s peers (and the emperor) applauded his lecture, and in the marketplace, the women fought over paintings with Gyun Woo’s face on it. But since his face was painted on almost every piece of merchandise at the market as though he were some sort of celebrity, he would be aggressively chased by women eager to get a look at him.
Back in the present, Gyun Woo tells us that he returns to Joseon with ambitious dreams, but his suave line is cut off—twice—by the ship hitting rocks as it approaches the shore (ha, it’s even funnier with the dog in his hand). At last, he finally steps off the ship and tells Teacher Gyun (his dog) that this is Joseon.
A voice calls for her orabeoni, and Gyun Woo turns to find his younger sister, GYUN HEE (Jung Da-bin). He greets her in Mandarin, and she calls him out for being pretentious.
When he sees his parents approaching, he hands Teacher Gyun, his beloved pet dog, to his sister, who doesn’t look too pleased by the squishy-faced creature. Gyun Woo’s mother (Jang Young-nam) warmly greets her son, but his father, GYUN PIL-HYUNG (Jo Hee-bong) rushes them along, since the king is waiting.
Accompanied by his father, Gyun Woo meets with King Hwijong, who showers him with praises. Gyun Woo reciprocates the praises by thanking the king for considering him a national treasure. He humbly promises to work hard in any position offered to him, and the king grants him a special space to recover from his travels until he’s summoned back to court.
That night, he celebrates with his friends and shows off a method he learned for a special kind of cocktail (basically a soju bomb) that he picked up in Qing. He explains how he got the the name: “do” for the ceramic, “mi” for the collapse, and “no” for the wave. In other words, shot glasses that fall like a wave, aka Domino Shots (pfft).
His friend suspects that Gyun Woo only played around when he went abroad, but Gyun Woo says that one can’t become great without a balance, so he worked hard and played hard. Gyun Woo’s friends nudge him to put in a good word for the rest of them, but he says that power is transient, like petals in the wind. Ha, he really is pretentious.
He tells his friends to drink up as another party rolls up to greet him. The group is led by PARK CHANG-HUI (Kwak Hee-sung), who treats Gyun Woo like a rival. Chang-hui’s friends brag about his appointment to a government position, but Gyun Woo loftily responds by praising Chang-hui’s father for pulling the strings for his son, who failed the civil service exam twice, even with a paid proxy.
Those words clearly sting, and Chang-hui warns him about gaining so much of the king’s attention, since all that attention may come around the bite him. But Gyun Woo shuts him down by telling him to work hard, since losing a position he didn’t earn would be terribly embarrassing. Chang-hui tries to keep his composure, and he tells Gyun Woo to watch out for who’ll slip first before walking away.
Gyun Woo and his friends chuckle at his incompetent rival, and they raise their glasses. But Gyun Woo stops them to introduce the second most popular drink he learned about: the whirly shot. He grabs the glass and swirls the liquid inside to create a cyclone-like effect, once again impressing his friends.
As Gyun Woo drunkenly walks home, he approaches a well-dressed young woman (Oh Yeon-seo) at a bridge, and he stares as she looks longingly at the water down below. They pass each other silently, but she suddenly trips and almost falls over the bridge.
Luckily, Gyun Woo catches her just in time, and she sees her hero’s face as he lifts her back up. They face each other in close proximity, and it seems like a romantic moment… until she burps, loudly, in his face. Gyun Woo looks disgusted as he fans away the smell, but the woman — who we’ll come to know as PRINCESS HYEMYEONG — drunkenly walks away.
As he watches the princess walk off, Gyun Woo comments that Joseon has changed a lot since he’s last been around. As he walks onward, he spots a jade ring at his feet. He picks it up and looks back, but the princess is already gone. He stores it in his sleeve and continues on his way.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
At the palanquin/Joseon cab station, a worker advertises rides for his customers but ignores the request of an elderly man. When the worker offers to arrange a ride for the elderly man if he pays twice the rate, the elderly man argues that the offer is unfair, so the worker pushes the man aside.
The elderly man falls to the ground, and an angry woman yells at the worker. It’s a still-drunk Princess Hyemyeong, and she impulsively smacks the rude carriage worker across the head. Ouch.
A very drunk Princess Hyemyeong scolds the worker for treating the elderly man unfairly, but the worker argues back that a drunk woman shouldn’t act so rashly in public. The worker grabs her arm when she tries to smack him again, so she kicks him instead. Enraged by her actions, the worker orders his minions to hold her hostage, and he sleazily asks if she wants another drink with him.
Then, from behind, Gyun Woo intervenes. The worker assumes that the two are lovers, but he clarifies that he’s just a scholar who can’t stand injustice. He lists the offenses that the worker could be charged for — assault and overcharging — and men let Hyemyeong go.
Gyun Woo approaches her and asks if she’s okay, and she responds by throwing up on him in a very long, very slow-motion moment, as everyone freezes and/or tries to get out of range. He and everyone around him are disgusted, and then, Hyemyeong proceeds to faint.
Gyun Woo piggybacks Hyemyeong into the Joseon equivalent of a motel, and of course, the owner claims that they only have the most expensive room left. The owner gives Gyun Woo an accusatory and knowing look, but Gyun Woo insists that he’s just going to put her in bed and leave.
After struggling upstairs with Hyemyeong on his back, Gyun Woo throws her on the bed. For a moment, he stares at her with interest, but then he takes a sniff and gags a little.
Meanwhile, a mysterious figure in black looks up at the motel room from outside.
Gyun Woo angrily washes his outer garment and looks incredulously at the soundly sleeping Hyemyeong. He hangs his garment to dry when he notices that the sleeping princess has a bit of vomit left on the tie of her hanbok.
He hesitates, but ultimately decides to try clean off the vomit by carefully flicking it off. But then, the drunk princess wakes up, and from her perspective, she sees a man in his undergarments trying to pull at her hanbok tie, so she punches him square in the face.
Gyun Woo insists that she’s misunderstanding the situation, but she doesn’t listen to him. She pulls him into a chokehold and repeatedly punches his head, calling him a pervert all the while. And when he escapes, she proceeds to throw anything and everything she can get her hands on.
Hearing the banging from down below, the motel owner comments that he was right — never in his twenty years of running this motel has he seen a man just leave. Ha, misunderstandings all around.
After throwing everything she can find, the angry princess looks around the room for anything else. Her eyes fixate on the teapot, and Gyun Woo’s eyes widen when he sees her reach for it.
She grabs it before he can, and he immediately cowers away and closes his eyes, expecting the worst. Hyemyeong raises the tea pot to swing, but then, she begins to gag a little. (And HA, Gyun Woo begins to gag in response.) It looks like she’s about to throw up again, but she collapses to the ground instead.
Gyun Woo looks up to find Hyemyeong unconscious on the ground, and he quickly tries to retreat in fear. Before he leaves, he throws a sheet on the sleeping(?) princess and heads out. But he’s met with the mysterious figure in black at the door, and she blows an unknown white powder into his face. Gyun Woo tries to wave it away, but whatever it is causes him to fall unconscious.
When Gyun Woo wakes up, he finds himself surrounded by criminals in jail. They shame him for attempted assault on a woman, but from the corner, another prisoner says that attempted assault and fraud are both crimes all the same. He reveals to Gyun Woo that the other criminals are famous thieves who are known to sell stolen goods and commit fraud.
Then, the man notices the white powder on Gyun Woo’s face and examines it closely, but Gyun Woo is called to face his charges before he can ask about the mysterious white powder.
The jailer asks for Gyun Woo’s identity tag, but Gyun Woo refuses to comply because he’s been falsely accused. The jailer doesn’t believe him and accusingly asks about the powder on his face. From the cell, the outspoken prisoner reveals that the white powder is an anesthetic, surprising both Gyun Woo and the jailer.
Gyun Woo and the helpful prisoner are released from jail, and the man says that Hanyang is now full of gold diggers who use anesthetics to trap people. He advises Gyun Woo to think lightly of his bad luck, but Gyun Woo coldly responds that he’ll take care of his own business. Still, he’s thankful for the help and asks the man for his name. He whimsically responds that he’s the rustling spring breeze, and he’s not exactly lying — his name is CHOON POONG (Shim Hyung-tak), which literally translates to “spring wind.”
Choon Poong is greeted by two women who rush to him with their frivolous worries. They ask how he was captured again for bilking a gibang and offer to pour him extra alcohol when he comes to their place. He clearly loves the attention and walks off with a woman on each arm.
Gyun Woo sneaks back into his home after his all-nighter, but he’s caught by his parents. His mother immediately stands by her son’s side as his father advises Gyun Woo to avoid actions that may cause bad rumors and to act righteously. Gyun Woo respectfully accepts the advice, and his mother tries to hurry her husband off to work.
Gyun Woo’s sister, Gyun Hee, is in the middle of searching her brother’s room when he walks in. She notices his dirty garments, which is uncharacteristic of him, and she asks for her gift.
She opens up a painting collection containing only his likenesses, and she angrily asks how he could bring back portraits of himself as presents for his family. He says that they’re rare commodities in Qing, but she demands that he hand over her real present. Gyun Woo ignores her request and says he’s tired, and she storms out of his room.
Sitting on his bed, Gyun Woo thinks about his unfortunate encounters with the drunk princess as he tries to convince himself to forget them. But then, he remembers how she beat him up and becomes incredibly irate, now unable to forget the shame.
The princess is woken by her eunuch servant in the palace, who is ready with honey water to help with her hangover. Her guard (the mysterious figure who blew the white powder anesthetic at Gyun Woo) tells her that the pervert was sent to jail. Her servant freaks out and says that he will punish the pervert himself, but then he realizes that he can’t, because he needs to keep the princess’s outing a secret.
But it looks like the secret is out, as we see a factory of underground printmakers making posters with pictures of the princess’s nightly escapes from the palace. Overnight, the posters are spread throughout the city, and Minister Jung looks over one with a pleased look on his face.
The next morning, the people see the posters, causing rumors to spread like wildfire. King Hwijong also receives a poster, which accuses him of being lousy at his job and of being uninterested in his people — and now, the princess escaping the palace every night makes him look even worse. Gyun Woo’s father, Minister Gyun, advises the king to address the false rumors right away, but Minister Jung argues that denying these claims may make him look guiltier.
Alternatively, Minister Jung advises the king to divert the attention and disprove the rumors by setting up a marriage for the princess. Minister Gyun is against the idea, and the king agrees that this matter will require more careful thought.
The king discusses the options with his mother, who favors the idea of marriage for the princess. She suggests the scholar who just returned from his time abroad, but the king says that Gyun Woo is destined to do great work for the nation, not to be the princess’s future partner.
QUEEN PARK (former the royal concubine) offers her suggestion, but the king coldly tells her that she’s overstepping her boundaries, and she immediately apologizes as she glares ever so slightly at the king.
The young prince dozes off during his studies and quickly claims he was wide awake when a voice calls out his name. But it’s just his older sister, Princess Hyemyeong, with the doll made by their mother. They play Joseon soccer outside, and Hyemyeong sets up the assist for her brother to shoot the ball. But when the prince trips on the ball, Queen Park rushes out onto the field and makes a scene of overreacting to the simple fall.
The prince is escorted back to his room, and the queen confronts Hyemyeong for distracting the prince from his studies. Hyemyeong says that freedom and playing are important and fitting for the prince’s age, but Queen Park says that the prince is too important for those things when he’s the heir to the throne.
On that note, Hyemyeong says that coddling the prince will not create a strong heir, and Queen Park accusingly asks if she’s trying to lecture her. The queen mentions the news of the princess’s nightly outings dampening the king’s reputation, and that quickly silences Hyemyeong.
As Hyemyeong walks through the palace with her entourage, her eunuch servant, YOUNG-SHIN, gossips about how the queen spoils the prince to lift her moods. Hyemyeong hits and kicks him to make him stop, flinging her shoe in the process. A guard picks up the shoe, and he’s familiar to the bunch — it’s KANG JOON-YOUNG (Lee Jung-shin).
Joon-young walks up to Hyemyeong with her shoe and slips it on her foot like a proper knight in shining armor. She tells him to stop acting so cool and serious, and he breaks the mood by asking about her outing last night. Whoops.
Her entourage gives them space to talk, and Hyemyeong says that he must have gotten the wrong information. He tells her that it’s been three years and that she should stop now, and something about those words dampens her playful mood, though we don’t know why.
Hyemyeong mindlessly skips rocks at the pond, with Eunuch Young-shin assuring her that Joon-young was just worried while her female guard, BYUL (Taemi), hands her the rocks. But then, Hyemyeong suddenly remembers something from last night and starts patting her dress, looking for a lost object.
Hyemyeong searches her room with Young-shin and Byul, but they come up empty. She think back to where she could have placed this precious object, and then her eyes flicker with realization.
Meanwhile, Gyun Woo walks through the marketplace, asking vendors if they recognize the painted face of the princess. They shake their heads, and he continues to search while Hyemyeong makes an accusation: “It was that pervert.”
What a delightful beginning to the series. This first episode was a great balance of comedy, intrigue, and some light hijinks to get the ball rolling. And the character introductions were woven into the story, so nothing felt too forced. The directorial choices and comedic timing were really on point throughout, and I think that elevated a lot of the hilarity.
Every time a moment felt marginally romantic, there would be a quick record-scratching moment to follow — a burp, vomit, or stench that would ruin any potential for romantic developments. Of course, I expect that to gradually change as we move forward with the romance, but right now, I am loving how disjointed and confusing the relationship is between Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong.
While the show is loosely based off of the movie, I don’t think this is a clear remake of the movie. For starters, this is a fusion sageuk, and I think that this genre grants the show a lot of flexibility in how much they want to base their stories and scenes on the movie. I think it was a smart choice to remake the movie in this genre, because it’s different enough but also allows for a modern twist — like with the domino shots — or some references to the original content.
At first, I thought the sageuk element was too weird for an adaptation, but I’m pretty pleased with the result, because it really does stand on its own. Even character-wise, Joo-won mentioned talking to Cha Tae-hyun about his role, but there was very little advice that Cha Tae-hyun could offer —
because fundamentally, the two characters are different. I’m glad that this show is aiming to be more of an independent production, but at the same time, why name it after the movie? I’m arguing on both sides here, but in the end, it’s a fine balance.
I admit that I had some expectations for the show (how could you not with Joo Won as the lead?), and I’m relieved to report that they’ve been met with promises of more funny misunderstandings and a deeper backstory to add dimension to our sassy gal. Even with all the drama and bad decisions regarding the casting process for the female lead, I think Oh Yeon-seo was a good choice. She has great comedic timing and a commitment to making her scenes feel full of life.
She often stretches the boundaries of her character, but it always feels rooted and organic. I’m looking forward to more of her comedic chops as well as her dramatic potential — a balance that was showcased nicely in Come Back, Ajusshi. I think she’ll be carrying most of the comedy, but Joo-won’s opposite personality makes their combo even funnier. I can’t wait to see more of their chemistry in the next episodes.
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