My Sassy Girl: Episodes 17-18
I’ve been waiting for something (or someone) to come in and shake things up a bit, and while I really wasn’t sure what to make of this Qing prince character, by the end of the episode, I found myself wishing that he would’ve shown up sooner. There’s nothing like the looming possibility of an arranged marriage to kick things up a notch and force our sassy girl and her favorite scholar to be honest with each other, and more importantly, themselves.
EPISODE 17 RECAP
The prince from Qing, Prince Dalhan, arrives in all his princely glory and leads his entourage to Gyun Woo and the rest of the Joseon welcoming party. Minister Jung and his band of sleazy ministers grow nervous when it appears that Hyemyeong is a no-show, but their fears are allayed after the princess makes her grand entrance.
As Hyemyeong approaches, she catches sight of Gyun Woo immediately, and they share a longing gaze before both of them break it. Hyemyeong and Prince Dalhan bow to one another, and it’s clear that the Qing prince is immediately smitten with our resident sassy girl.
Sweetly, Prince Dalhan introduces himself in Hyemyeong’s language, and though Minister Jung compliments his language skills, the prince only learned how to say his greetings, so Gyun Woo takes over as translator.
Gyun Woo introduces himself, but he’s no stranger to Prince Dalhan, who says that he has heard of Gyun Woo before due to his popularity when he was living in Qing. Prince Dalhan requests Gyun Woo’s assistance in facilitating his marriage to Hyemyeong and expresses his high expectations of the scholar. At the comment, Gyun Woo’s gaze shifts over to Hyemyeong, who watches him with a troubled gaze.
The royals head to the throne room in order to be received by King Hwijong. Prince Dalhan thanks the king for his warm welcome, and he also thanks Hyemyeong for coming out to greet him personally.
In his mind, Gyun Woo flashes back to a meeting he had with the king, where he had asked to be excused from acting as Prince Dalhan’s interpreter and cultural guide. The king looked worn as he pleaded with Gyun Woo to accept the position, claiming that Gyun Woo was the only one he could trust.
So the king had instead framed his request as a favor instead of a royal command, and he’d held Gyun Woo’s hand tenderly. Back in the present, King Hwijong knowingly nods at Gyun Woo.
Meanwhile, in her quarters, the queen hears of Hyemyeong’s meeting with Prince Dalhan and is in stitches at the thought of Hyemyeong pretending to be a refined and elegant lady. She isn’t the only one amused by the idea: Minister Jung’s cohorts laugh loudly and praise Minister Jung for “taming” Hyemyeong, before proceeding to cheerfully discuss how well their plan to rid themselves of Hyemyeong is going.
Minister Gyun bursts into the room after hearing their impudent laughter from outside. He cryptically warns them not to count all their chickens just yet, and Minister Jung frowns at the threat.
Hyemyeong excuses herself so that Prince Dalhan can rest from his long journey, but their exchange is a bit uncomfortable, since Gyun Woo has to translate every word. She’s polite to the prince but curt with Gyun Woo, and as she leaves, Prince Dalhan watches her go, enchanted.
Prince Dalhan invites Gyun Woo to chat about Hyemyeong over some tea, and he immediately tries to understand Gyun Woo’s relationship with Hyemyeong. He’s disappointed when Gyun Woo plays down their relationship, if only because he was hoping that Gyun Woo could tell him all about Hyemyeong. He’s thoughtful about his intentions and understands that proposing marriage isn’t something to do lightly.
Wisely, the prince says that he wants to learn more about Hyemyeong as a perso — and by doing so, he wants to develop some feelings to serve as a foundation to their marriage. Aww, he’s sweet.
In the princess’s room, bodyguard Young-shin compliments Prince Dalhan’s good looks and manners, but all Hyemyeong can think about is Gyun Woo acting so helpful and friendly with Prince Dalhan. Angry now, she calls Gyun Woo a jerk.
At home, Mom prays for Gyun Woo, adding that she hopes his and Hyemyeong’s fates unravel and that his future career prospects remain bright. Gyun Hee bursts in and Mom panics by throwing her skirt over her prayer table out of fear that she’ll be rebuked by her husband.
Gyun Hee tells Mom that her prayers have been answered, because Hyemyeong is getting hitched. Mom starts celebrating and thanking the spirits until Gyun Hee mentions that Gyun Woo is in charge of Prince Dalhan’s reception.
Right on cue, Gyun Woo returns home from the palace, and Mom immediately begins grumbling to her son about his new gig. He sends her away without saying much on the topic, but when he’s alone, he looks troubled.
In the palace, Hyemyeong bugs her little brother with her hand puppet and tries to get him to eat dinner, but he just sulks instead. He’s upset about her marriage and the fact that she’ll live so far away in Qing. He begs her not to leave, and Hyemyeong touches his face, looking apologetic.
King Hwijong gives the deposed queen’s jade ring to the queen dowager and tells her that the deposed queen may be alive. He tearfully asks if it’s right to send Hyemyeong away under these circumstances.
The queen dowager sagely says that whether Hyemyeong’s mother is alive or not may not matter, and it may even endanger Hyemyeong and the prince if this knowledge is learned by their enemies. She advises the king to keep quiet about the matter.
Late into the night, Joon-young trails Minister Jung back to his house and recalls a conversation he had with Choon Poong about the shady butcher’s house. He had shown Choon Poong the portrait of Scarface/Wol-myung and had asked to know more about the man.
Choon Poong had played dumb as he usually does, but he’d taken an opportunity to study Joon-young’s face when he wasn’t looking before offering a little crumb to push Joon-young in the right direction: “It seemed like Minister Jung was another regular at that place.”
In the present, Minister Jung remembers Hyemyeong informing him of Min Yoo-hwan’s letter, as well as her threat that she wouldn’t leave the country before finding out the truth about her mother.
Looks like Hyemyeong is hard at work doing just that, but unfortunately, she hears from Byul that the servants who were loyal to her mother during her dethronement cannot be found. Mysteriously (or maybe not so mysteriously), all have gone missing or died.
The next morning, Prince Dalhan and his new buddy Gyun-woo greet Hyemyeong outside of her residence.
Things get awkward quickly after Gyun Woo has to translate to Hyemyeong that Prince Dalhan was unable to sleep the night before because he was thinking about her. Prince Dalhan senses her reticence and wonders aloud if he’s being too forward, but the sentiment isn’t translated to Hyemyeong because they’re interrupted by Minister Jung, his boisterous minister cronies, and the Qing ambassador making a loud entrance.
They’ve come to propose a feast to celebrate the new couple, but Prince Dalhan has had enough of majestic sights and wishes to see the “real” Joseon. Turning back to the princess, he asks Hyemyeong to show him around town. (I’m really feeling this prince character. He’s pretty swoony.)
The first order of business is dressing like the locals, so Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong get Prince Dalhan fitted in some new duds. Hyemyeong approves of the new look, and Prince Dalhan smiles brightly while Gyun Woo just sighs to himself.
The royal couple stroll through the market and sample some sweets, laughing together. But their attention is diverted when they come across an archery game where challengers can receive a prize (women’s hairpins and norigaes) if they hit the target.
Promising to win something for Hyemyeong, Prince Dalhan tries his hand at the game, and he calls for Gyun Woo to join him. Gyun Woo refuses at first, until Hyemyeong pointedly goads him into it. “Are you afraid you’ll lose?” she asks, leaving Gyun Woo with no option but to participate.
Prince Dalhan goes first, but he misses the target and frowns at Hyemyeong, disappointed. Seeking to cheer him on, Hyemyeong asks Gyun Woo for a translation, and then delivers her encouragement in Prince Dalhan’s language.
However, even with her encouragement, the prince is still unsuccessful for a second time. With only one arrow left each, both Prince Dalhan and Gyun Woo draw their arrows, but they pause to give each other a competitive look.
Eye on the prize, Prince Dalhan determinedly draws his arrow back just a little further and shoots. Gyun Woo does the same, and both hit their targets, though Gyun Woo’s victory is overshadowed by Dalhan, who holds his hand up for a high five. After a moment of hesitation, Hyemyeong obliges him, and Gyun Woo doesn’t look too happy about it.
Prince Dalhan presents Hyemyeong with a hairpin as his prize and asks for permission to place it in her hair. Gyun Woo delivers the translation to Hyemyeong, whose eyes are loaded with meaning as she gazes back at Gyun Woo. She recovers and lowers her head for the prince, while Gyun Woo clutches his own hairpin prize in his hand. Aww.
Minister Jung tells the queen about Min Yoo-hwan’s letter, and she flips out, shouting at Minister Jung for overlooking her suspicions regarding Hyemyeong’s odd behavior lately. Minister Jung reminds the queen of how she came into power in the first place and warns her to watch her words.
He orders the queen to search the princess’ quarters and discover the contents of the letter. She does as she’s told and mobilizes her court lady squad to rummage through the place when the room is empty. Soon, her pet court lady (the one that lied about the deposed queen) finds a letter.
EPISODE 18 RECAP
Hyemyeong and Prince Dalhan’s date continues into the night as they (and their third-wheeler) stroll through a night market. Hyemyeong stops at a stall selling beautiful shoes, and her mind drifts back to her memory of Gyun Woo buying her a pair. She smiles to herself as the boys watch on.
Prince Dalhan picks up on her longing look (this guy has sense) and offers to purchase her some shoes. He insists, but she declines and walks ahead to avoid the conversation.
Prince Dalhan looks back at the shoes and smiles before following after her.
The trio sit down for Hyemyeong’s favorite spicy chicken feet at Prince Dalhan’s suggestion. Dalhan eagerly takes a bite, and although it’s very spicy, he likes the taste and then pours everyone a drink. Hyemyeong, who is still acting like a prim and proper princess, refrains from drinking the soju while eyeing the plate of chicken feet.
This time, it’s Gyun Woo’s turn to reminisce as he recalls Hyemyeong’s hearty appetite as she eagerly drank soju, chomped down on chicken feet, and spat the bones from her mouth. In the present, he urges Hyemyeong to indulge in her favorite snack and promises that the prince will not mind, but she snaps at Gyun Woo to mind his own business. Oof.
Picking up on the mood, Dalhan asks what’s wrong, and Gyun Woo lies that he wanted to order something else for Hyemyeong since she can’t eat the chicken feet.
Prince Dalhan hurries to apologize for being inconsiderate and thinking only of himself, and once Gyun Woo translates Prince Dalhan’s words, Hyemyeong downs her soju and sighs to herself. She pours herself glass after glass and gets very drunk, until she finally exclaims, “Jerk!” to Gyun Woo.
The prince repeats the foreign word to Gyun Woo, seeking a translation, and Gyun Woo covers for her by lying that it means she’s just in a good mood. Ha.
Hyemyeong passes out after drinking, and Prince Dalhan carries her back to the palace on his back. Gyun Woo offers to carry Hyemyeong instead, but Prince Dalhan argues that since she will be his wife, he cannot let another man carry her. Gyun Woo just sighs as he watches them go.
In her room later, Hyemyeong sobers up, and Young-shin scolds her for inconveniencing the Qing prince, who carried her back all the way. Byul informs Hyemyeong that the fake letter they planted in her room has disappeared, adding that they know exactly who did it.
In the fake-letter version of events, Min Yoo-hwan writes that Hyemyeong’s mother died three years ago after he disappeared. The queen and Minister Jung read its contents, and while the queen acts like they have nothing to worry about anymore, Minister Jung only narrows his eyes.
Hyemyeong orders Byul and Young-shin to look for Minister Jung’s weakness now that he thinks Hyemyeong is holding an empty card in her hand, warning that time is of the essence.
At home, Gyun Woo remembers Prince Dalhan’s words about Hyemyeong being his woman and sighs deeply. That night, Gyun Woo has a nightmare about the deposed queen’s assassination (attempt?) by bandits, and we see what’s presumably a young Gyun Woo approach the lone palanquin in the forest, surrounded by lifeless bodies. In a fright, Gyun Woo wakes up from his dream in the middle of the night, panting and drenched in sweat.
In the morning, Hyemyeong awakes to a wide array of shoes set out on display for her — it’s a gift from the Qing prince. Young-shin explains that since Prince Dalhan didn’t know what pair she liked specifically, he just bought the whole lot and sent them over.
Speaking of, the prince meets a pale-looking Gyun-woo in his quarters. It’s enough for him to ask about Gyun Woo’s health, but Gyun Woo claims to be fine.
Around the breakfast table, Da-yeon announces to her father that she has someone she would like to marry: Gyun Woo. Minister Jung refuses her instantly, leaving Da-yeon startled and unwilling to accept his decision. “I want him,” she argues back. “Haven’t you given me everything I’ve wanted?” Err, girl, that’s a little… well whatever. You do you.
At another breakfast table, the royal couple-to-be eats with the entire royal family, and the queen comments on Prince Dalhan’s romantic shoe gesture. Prince Dalhan explains that Hyemyeong looked brightest when she saw those shoes, but since he didn’t know which pair she wanted, he got them all for her.
Hyemyeong looks toward Gyun Woo for a translation, but he’s lost in thought and needs to be prompted by the queen to do his job.
The young prince sulks at the table and takes a jab at Prince Dalhan for his extravagant gift. When Prince Dalhan asks for a translation, the young prince orders Gyun Woo not to soften his words, and Hyemyeong scolds her brother for his poor attitude.
Gyun Woo tells Prince Dalhan that the prince is upset about Hyemyeong leaving Joseon, and Prince Dalhan looks over to the young boy understandingly. Send me instead! I’ll marry him.
After breakfast, Prince Dalhan adorably worries to Gyun Woo about the crown prince not liking him very much. He’s determined to win the boy over, considering that they’ll soon be family.
Speaking of, it seems that the young prince has gone missing after breakfast, and so the entire palace breaks into an uproar looking for the boy. But it’s Gyun Woo finds him hiding amongst the onggi (earthenware storage containers). The boy tells Gyun Woo tearfully that he doesn’t want to send his sister away because he is afraid that he may never see her again.
Gyun Woo brings the prince back to his worried sister, and the siblings embrace tightly. Hyemyeong puts her brother to bed, and after she’s told where he was hiding, she thinks back to when she and her brother would play hide and seek amongst the onggi.
Later, as Gyun Woo bids Hyemyeong farewell for the evening, she stops him to express her sincere gratitude for finding her brother. She repeats it meaningfully several times, as if actually saying, “Thank you for everything.”
The queen complains to her right-hand court lady about the young prince’s tantrum and stresses about him causing trouble and disrupting their plans. The court lady simply reminds the queen that soon their troubles will be gone and on a ship headed for Qing.
Unable to shake his suspicions that there’s a bigger game at play, Minister Jung orders Wol-myung to tail Hyemyeong and report back on Gyun Woo as well. Afterward, Wol-myung walks the streets alone in the night, but he isn’t alone. Joon-young follows closely behind, but Wol-myung makes a break for it and manages to shake the officer off his tail.
At the smutty bookshop, writers Se-ho and Kwang-soo act out a scene from Lovers in Paris to get the creative juices running on a new piece, which they’ve clev “Lovers in Paju.” The storyline involves a couple who can’t acknowledge their love for each other due to their complicated circumstances, and Gyun Woo, who has been watching the theatrics, seems to find the theme resonant.
Da-yeon proceeds with her marital ambitions and gifts Mom a fancy new handbag. Mom is flustered and tries to turn down the gift, but Gyun Hee plays Da-yeon’s wingwoman and hypes up the handbag, proclaiming it to be way better than the one Gyun Woo gave Mom before.
Mom can’t ignore how pretty the bag is, but since feels a bit conflicted about accepting the large gesture, Da-yeon encourages her to accept it freely before cleverly using the gift as a opening to invite herself over more often.
Gyun Woo returns home just then, so he and Da-yeon relocate to the tea house. Gyun Woo reiterates his stance on wishing to maintain the distance between them, and when Da-yeon asks if it’s because of Hyemyeong, she can only be disappointed when Gyun Woo doesn’t deny it outright.
She tries to reason with him, explaining that Hyemyeong is as good as gone, especially since her brother’s fate (in being named the crown prince) is on the line. Shocked to hear this, Gyun Woo leaves without another word and hurries back to the palace.
On his way there he runs into Prince Dalhan, who guesses that Gyun Woo is on his way to see the princess. He invites himself along and thanks Gyun Woo for finding the young prince the day before. Smiling benevolently, Prince Dalhan mentions how much he’s enjoying his trip to Joseon since he met the princess and made a good friend like Gyun Woo.
He adds that he would have regretted turning down the “invitation,” and that word stops Gyun Woo in his tracks. Prince Dalhan confirms that he was invited to Joseon with a short nod before abruptly asking where the people of Joseon go to make a wish.
He, Gyun Woo, and Hyemyeong later stand before a lake and stare at the floating paper lotuses in the water. Prince Dalhan asks the princess what her wish is, and she answers that it’s a secret while looking over the water mournfully.
The Qing prince promises that he can make her wish come true and encourages her to tell him. But when Gyun Woo translates directly, it almost sounds as if he’s saying the words: “I could make your wish come true. Please tell me.”
At this, Hyemyeong turns and looks straight at Gyun Woo even as Prince Dalhan says behind her that his wish is to spend the rest of his life with her. Hyemyeong turns back toward Dalhan as he says this, and after a moment of silence, he looks over her shoulder to encourage Gyun Woo to translate.
With Hyemyeong once again staring straight at him, Gyun Woo suddenly shakes his head and says, “I cannot translate that.” He then turns to Prince Dalhan and repeats his refusal in his language, causing both Prince Dalhan and Hyemyeong to look at him with surprise.
Okay, Prince Dalhan is my favorite character in this show. My second favorite is Young-shin, but it’s only because they give the poor man so little to do (I love his sass! As far as I’m concerned, he’s the Sassy Guy). Call me biased, but I really thought this show used the translation aspect really effectively in conveying Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong’s unspoken feelings for each other, while also allowing for Prince Dalhan to really express himself fully in his own language, which helped give us a deeper understanding of his personality. I was worried that it might become tiresome to keep repeating lines from language to language, but it was done so well and loaded with lots of meaning.
I love that they made Prince Dalhan so perceptive and in-tune with Hyemyeong’s moods and reactions, and also very sincere and kind. I was really into it! He read her so well despite not understanding what she was saying, and I thought that was a really smart decision. The whole scenario was setup in the just the right way, and I found it enjoyable, but not so much that I wished for him to end up with Hyemyeong instead. I was really caught off guard with how balanced and subtle everything was emotionally, especially since this show tends to be pretty in-your-face about what’s transpiring on screen.
Throughout this show, I’ve had such an issue with believing in the romance between Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong, since it often felt forced and lacking in chemistry. But after this episode, I’m starting to warm up to the idea, and I really hope we continue in this upward trajectory. No more vomiting, please!
I think my low expectations really helped me to find enjoyment in this episode. This show has taken a lot of missteps and is tonally all over the place; in fact, I think the actors are somewhat confused about what exactly the tone of this show is supposed to be, so they’re trying their best to be true to their characters instead of relating to each other and building a natural dynamic. The result is that some actors play their characters with more nuance, and others go over the top. It’s a sign of bad directing that the actors aren’t being reined in to convey the right mood of the story in any cohesive way, and that creates a really clunky viewing experience.
It’s also a problem of genre since the show started off so slapstick, and then it seemed to abandon that spirit (which isn’t a bad thing since their version of slapstick tended to overshoot its mark most of the time), so I felt like I could see the actors in this episode trying to calibrate to this new, more pensive atmosphere.
It helps that they brought in a new character that had such a big role in this episode, so that the tonal shift felt a little less bipolar when attributed to Prince Dalhan’s arrival. The actor played him with appealing gentleness and charisma that seemed to permeate throughout the episode (expect whenever the queen was around), and it was a welcome feeling. Obviously I want more Prince Dalhan, but story-wise, I think the character has pretty much fulfilled his purpose, and I could see him stepping back to give his new friends a shot at love.
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