My Sassy Girl: Episodes 19-20
There’s more to this marriage arrangement than meets the eye, and Gyun Woo’s got his hands full trying to sort out his complicated romantic feelings. He’s also the only one trying to get to the bottom of the alliance between Qing and Joseon, which seems fishier with each passing day. He’s got a lot on his plate and it’s taking an emotional toll on him, but the wrongs need to be righted for the sake of the country and for the princess he secretly loves.
EPISODE 19 RECAP
Prince Dalhan, Hyemyeong, and Gyun Woo stand before a lake with floating lotuses. Internally, Hyemyeong expresses her wish to protect the people she loves while Gyun Woo thinks back on Da-yeon deeming Hyemyeong’s departure a foregone conclusion since her brother’s crown prince appointment is on the line. Prince Dalhan asks Hyemyeong what her wish is, and Gyun Woo dutifully translates.
She answers that it’s a secret, but Prince Dalhan replies that he can fulfill it for her and encourages her to divulge it. Gyun Woo translates, but his steady voice makes it seem as though the words are his own request.
Prince Dalhan states that his wish is to live with Hyemyeong for the rest of his life, but a translation from Gyun Woo doesn’t immediately follow. Evidently, Gyun Woo is disconcerted by this wish and shakes his head at Hyemyeong before answering firmly in both languages that he’s unable to translate that sentiment.
Luckily, Prince Dalhan turns what could’ve been a tense moment into a more amiable one as he breaks into a smile and agrees with Gyun Woo that he should learn to tell this to Hyemyeong himself — and until then, he’ll keep his wish a secret.
They return to the palace together, and after bidding farewell to Hyemyeong, Prince Dalhan suggests that he and Gyun Woo grab a drink.
Over drinks, Prince Dalhan says that he plans on holding a banquet where he’ll propose to the princess in her native language. He asks Gyun Woo for his assistance, and though he doesn’t object, his eyes betray a sense of uneasiness.
Meanwhile, Hyemyeong’s in bed and unable to fall asleep as she reflects on Gyun Woo’s unexpected refusal to translate Prince Dalhan’s wish.
Outside, an inebriated Chang-hui — upset about getting jilted by Da-yeon — spots Gyun Woo and starts insulting him while blocking his path. When the warning to back off doesn’t work, Gyun Woo twists Chang-hui’s arm hard before sternly scolding him. Even mild-mannered Gyun Woo has a limit!
In his room, Gyun Woo wonders aloud about what he should do while the adorable Teacher Gyun looks up at him in concern.
Elsewhere, Joon-young and his comrade eye a temple from behind a tree. In flashback, we see that Joon-young opened a letter that was on his desk, the contents of which instructed him to go to the temple on a specific date in order to see who Min Yoo-hwan’s murderer is.
Joon-young has his comrade keep a careful eye on the temple, waiting for any sign of movement. Behind them, the seemingly omniscient Choon Poong quietly observes their presence.
In front of the king and royal advisors, Gyun Woo relays Prince Dalhan’s desire to hold a banquet and to invite everyone, since he’ll be making a big announcement. The king authorizes it and orders everyone to assist with preparations. In response, Minister Jung and the Qing ambassador exchange subtle knowing looks.
Hyemyeong is alarmed to hear talk of a banquet, and Young-shin correctly deduces that Prince Dalhan will propose to her then, which results in a swift smack from Byul for his lack of consideration.
Minister Jung happily offers to help Prince Dalhan with the banquet, and Prince Dalhan answers that he wants Hyemyeong to be deeply content, since the day will be meant for her. Aw. The ministers agree with him before leaving with the Qing ambassador.
Gyun Woo notes to Prince Dalhan that the Qing ambassador appears quite close with the ministers, and though Prince Dalhan says it’s because he’s been to Joseon many times as a messenger, Gyun Woo remains suspicious.
Prince Dalhan had a gift specially prepared for the little prince and eagerly offers it to him. The prince opens the wooden box and beams when he finds a telescope nestled inside, but he quickly frowns and pushes it aside with the excuse that it’s nothing new. But Prince Dalhan knows better and gently asks if he’s sad that his sister will be going away.
Dalhan says that his late mother was also from Joseon and missed home dearly, but explains that she wasn’t unhappy in Qing because she was deeply loved by his father. He says he’ll try to be that kind of loving husband to Hyemyeong so she’ll always be happy, and adds that he’ll even make sure she makes frequent visits to Joseon after her marriage. “I’m not trying to take her away forever, so please don’t be upset,” he says reassuringly while Gyun Woo silently sighs.
The queen dowager sips tea while the queen gleefully mentions all that needs to be done for the princess’s departure. She’s all smiles, and the queen dowager notes that she seems too eager to send Hyemyeong away. The queen catches herself and adds that her heart also breaks from sadness, but the queen dowager is no fool and sternly orders her to drop the act.
Later, the queen trembles in fury, livid that she still has to be mindful of the queen dowager. Her main court lady advises her to be more careful with her emotions just until Hyemyeong is sent away.
Da-yeon and her usual galpals gather and gossip about Prince Dalhan’s upcoming banquet and the princess’s imminent departure. Gyun Hee bristles when one of the girls mentions that Gyun Woo will be marrying his alleged lover off as head of the reception, but one steely glare from Da-yeon swiftly shuts her up.
Gyun Hee insists that there’s nothing going on between Gyun Woo and the princess, but when no one seems to believe her, Da-yeon subtly threatens to have their fathers fired from their posts. Yeesh.
And in his chamber, Minister Jung broods over his daughter’s desire to marry Gyun Woo.
Over at the library, Gyun Woo sits quietly with a million thoughts running through his head. Se-ho and Kwang-soo aren’t sure how to lift his mood, so they simply advise him to get over it — there are plenty more fish in the sea, and besides, he can’t stop a royal marriage.
When Gyun Woo returns to his room, Gyun Hee excitedly informs him that Minister Jung has invited him to his residence. Meanwhile, Da-yeon adorns her hair with beaded pins, heartened that her father agreed to meet with Gyun Woo even though he told her to keep her expectations low.
From behind a tree and with her face concealed, Byul spots Gyun Woo entering Minister Jung’s residence, which strikes her as odd.
Inside, Gyun Woo blankly thanks Minister Jung for the opportunity to host the reception. He asks if Minister Jung knows who requested the princess’s royal marriage, adding that he’s merely curious, but Minister Jung convincingly lies that he’s unsure before swiftly moving onto why he called Gyun Woo here in the first place.
Minister Jung says he plans on promoting Gyun Woo to a larger government post after the banquet, but Gyun Woo politely declines the offer, preferring to take the moral high road. This amuses Minister Jung, who notes that Gyun Woo takes after his father.
Gyun Woo tries to excuse himself, but when Minister Jung asks if he’s uncomfortable in his presence, Gyun Woo answers that there’s been talk amongst the people that Minister Jung is above the king. Gyun Woo admits that he initially deemed this a baseless rumor, but seeing how Minister Jung offered to guarantee his future, Gyun Woo says he feels slightly uncomfortable that Minister Jung exemplifies that saying.
With that, Gyun Woo walks out and runs into Da-yeon. She wonders why he’s leaving so soon, but he doesn’t stop to offer any explanation.
Da-yeon enters her father’s chamber for an update, and while Minister Jung says that he can see why she pines for him, he says he’ll have to probe into him more to see if he’s worthy of her.
As soon as Gyun Woo gets home, his mother and sister eagerly demand an update, clamoring to know if marriage to Da-yeon was discussed. They promise to keep this a secret from his father, but Gyun Woo deflects and retreats to his room while they insist to his father — who arrives mid-conversation — that there’s no cause for concern.
Byul informs Hyemyeong that she saw Gyun Woo meet with Minister Jung, and Young-shin finds that strange since Minister Jung was also the one who assigned Gyun Woo to be in charge of Prince Dalhan’s stay. Young-shin wonders if Gyun Woo’s playing for Minister Jung’s team now, and that presumption results in a whack from Byul. Hyemyeong’s unsure what to think, but she instructs Byul to continue spying on Minister Jung.
Just then, the adorable little prince enters the room to see his sister. The two chat one-on-one, and Hyemyeong is surprised to learn from her brother that Prince Dalhan’s mother was from Joseon, which is why he wants to marry Hyemyeong.
The little prince admits that Prince Dalhan doesn’t seem like a bad guy, and Hyemyeong agrees, but the prince says he still prefers Gyun Woo and asks if she can marry him instead so that she won’t have to go to Qing. But she stops him from saying more and cups his cheek, touched by his concern.
Gyun Woo sits at his desk, thinking back on Prince Dalhan’s relief in accepting the invitation from Joseon. But Gyun Woo heard that the marriage offer came from Qing and knows something is off, but can’t put his finger on it. He looks sadly at the hairpin he won from the archery game that he wasn’t able to give to Hyemyeong.
We cut to another ambiguous and recurring nightmare of Gyun Woo’s that takes place in a forest with a younger Hyemyeong tearfully repeating, “Don’t go.”
The next morning, Gyun Hee and her mother find him sleeping fitfully before he finally wakes up, drenched in sweat. They’re alarmed by his state, and Mom informs her husband that Gyun Woo’s been acting strange lately and that he’s having nightmares “just like back then.” Hmm.
EPISODE 20 RECAP
Chang-hui and Da-yeon are at the teahouse, and Da-yeon asks him what it is he has to say regarding Gyun Woo, which is the only reason why she agreed to meet him in the first place. Chang-hui nervously tries to profess his love for Da-yeon, but she tells him outright that she has no feelings for him and gets up to leave.
Stung by the rejection, he grabs her and demands to know if it’s because of Gyun Woo, and she reacts by slapping him in the face and refusing to answer the question. Oh, the irony.
At the library, the kooky bookseller and Kwang-soo watch as Da-yeon’s attendant shyly admits to Se-ho that she likes him, although surprisingly, he’s not very quick on the uptake. He doesn’t get it until she literally points at his face and admits that it was love at first sight because he was so handsome, which induces Kwang-soo and the bookseller into such a cackling fit that they knock over a pile of books, haha. The embarrassed attendant runs away after learning that they overheard her, but Se-ho follows her.
Over at the palace, Gyun Woo watches with suspicion as the Qing ambassador and his colleague chat with the Minister of Finance, but they stop when they detect his gaze.
We then see Gyun Woo marching up the steps to Prince Dalhan’s quarters when he suddenly catches a wooden sword in the air. Prince Dalhan stands at the top holding one of his own, having thrown one to Gyun Woo so they could spar.
It’s blue vs. gold with Gyun Woo dressed in the former and Prince Dalhan in the latter. The first match is easily won by Prince Dalhan, who successfully knocks Gyun Woo’s sword from his grasp within minutes. Prince Dalhan allows Gyun Woo to pick up his sword and the two resume sparring, only this time, the two men seem more equal in prowess, as evidenced by Prince Dalhan’s cane against Gyun Woo’s neck, and Gyun Woo’s cane at Prince Dalhan’s stomach.
But ultimately, Prince Dalhan claims victory and bows respectfully to Gyun Woo, whose lips curl into a smile for the first time in a while.
Back in their normal clothes, the two have tea together, and Gyun Woo is surprised to hear from Prince Dalhan that the marriage offer came from a Joseon envoy (which conflicts with his understanding that Qing proposed first). Gyun Woo registers this but doesn’t press the issue further, since Prince Dalhan is under the impression that he received an invitation.
Meanwhile, the king returns the jade ring to Hyemyeong because he doesn’t believe he’s worthy of having it. Apologizing for being an incompetent father, the king sighs heavily, and Hyemyeong can only look down at the ring.
Joon-young finds Hyemyeong with a morose expression on her face in the garden afterward and asks if there’s anything else she’d like to eat, heh. The question makes her smile, and she asks if he’ll truly get her whatever she craves.
“Anything,” he answers. But Hyemyeong just requests that Joon-young look after the prince after she leaves and ensure that he grows into a great king.
However, Joon-young refuses to comply this time, answering instead that Hyemyeong should care for the prince herself. He adds that he’ll make sure she does, implying that she won’t be leaving for Qing.
The next day, boxes of wedding gifts from Qing arrive outside the palace entrance and are let through after a remarkably lax examination.
Gyun Woo’s puzzled when he can’t find Prince Dalhan in his quarters, but that’s because Dalhan is waiting outside Hyemyeong’s chamber. She steps out to greet him, and he shows her the message he wrote (in Hanja, which they’d have in common) in his notebook: “I came to see you.” Aww. Texting of yore!
He turns to a blank page, and an aide hands Hyemyeong a brush so she can thank him in writing for being so considerate to her brother. Her gratitude makes him smile, and from a distance, we see Gyun Woo observe the two before walking away sullenly. He notices Qing workers carrying goods in their hands and also sees the Qing ambassador and his colleague deep in conversation again.
Outside the palace, Joon-young runs into Choon Poong and thanks him for his help from last time. Right as he’s about to leave, Choon Poong picks up a letter from the ground and hands it to him, even though Joon-young says it’s not his. Joon-young opens it anyway, and it reads, “The tip is a lie. He will not appear.”
Back at the palace, Joon-young rereads the old letter that informed him when and where Min Yoo-hwan’s murderer would be and compares it with the new letter, which seems to negate the old one.
Gyun Woo suddenly runs as if something just clicked in his mind. Meanwhile, as Minister Jung heads inside his residence with the Minister of Finance, he detects a dark figure spying on him from afar. It’s Byul, but whether or not she managed to evade his glance is unclear.
Byul jumps over the wall as stealthily as possible and positions herself outside Minister Jung’s chamber to eavesdrop, but he catches her and draws his sword at her neck. Ugh.
Hyemyeong and Young-shin rush to where Byul is being held captive and tied to a chair by Minister Jung and his guards. Hyemyeong is livid as Minister Jung explains with a smirk that he merely caught her foolish dog that ran afoul. When he asks why her bodyguard was spying on him, Hyemyeong’s ensuing silence prompts Minister Jung to assume the spying was unjust, giving him a perfect excuse to brandish his sword against Byul’s neck.
Hyemyeong decides to apologize and requests that he release Byul, and Minister Jung retorts that she can settle this large debt by quietly leaving for Qing.
Back in her room, Hymyeong tearfully apologizes to Young-shin and Byul for putting them in danger and laments that there is nothing she can protect anymore.
That evening, Minister Park grins as he watches Joon-young and his soldiers leave the palace, satisfied that they’ve apparently fallen into the trap he and Minister Jung set up with that false tip on Wol-myung’s whereabouts. Meanwhile, Minister Jung sits contently in his room, satisfied that everything is going according to plan.
Elsewhere, the Qing ambassador and his colleague approve the crate of Joseon ginseng and happily offer a box of horns they smuggled in from Qing. Wol-myung determines the horns legitimate, and the Qing ambassador and Minister of Finance drink to celebrate their successful transaction, with the former thanking the latter for the brilliant idea. But their satisfaction is disrupted when a voice outside alerts them of a thief.
The thief is dressed in all black with half his face concealed (those eyes could only belong to Gyun Woo!), and he’s been caught with a box in his hands by a group of lackeys who yell at him to give it up. He flings the box to the ground, and the lackeys are surprised to see horns fall out. Gyun Woo manages to fend off a few men, but he’s soon outnumbered and tackled to the ground.
The Qing ambassador and Minister of Finance step out and reprimand the thief, but just then, Joon-young arrives with his soldiers to investigate. The Minister of Finance says his service is not needed for a small case of petty theft, but Joon-young states that this doesn’t appear to be a small case at all. Gyun Woo reveals his identity and offers to explain.
In flashback, we see that Gyun Woo overheard the Qing ambassador reveal that the smuggled goods would be housed at the Minister of Finance’s abode and that once the ginseng is ready, profits would be distributed equally. Gyun Woo had alerted Joon-young that under the guise of marriage, another deal was struck, as evidenced by the goods secretly transported to the Minister of Finance’s house.
Back in the present, Gyun Woo picks up one of the rhinoceros horns that spilled onto the ground and states that there’s plenty more in the storage room, noting that these aren’t found in Joseon and were hidden in boxes underneath a layer of silk.
The smuggled goods are clearly undeclared, but Gyun Woo says it’s not so much a matter of unpaid taxes, but that rhinoceros horns are used to craft bows and arrows, and a large amount of smuggled horns indicates that they’re plotting treason. Joon-young has the Qing ambassador and Minister of Finance promptly arrested.
Minister Park frantically updates Minister Jung on what went down, and he fears they’ll be caught as well, but Minister Jung clarifies that as it stands, only the Minister of Finance is guilty of plotting treason. He orders his colleague to silence him before he spills important details.
Prince Dalhan opens a jewelry case of beautiful accessories and holds up a ring. In Korean, he says, “Princess, will you marry me?” and beams, but then he recalls Hyemyeong staring yearningly at Gyun Woo when he went to see her with his notebook. He also remembers Gyun Woo’s refusal to translate his wish to Hyemyeong. And speak of the devil, Gyun Woo arrives to have a word with him.
Hyemyeong hears from Young-shin and Byul that Gyun Woo caught the Qing ambassador and Minister of Finance illegally trading goods. Young-shin figures that if the marriage was used as a front for shady deals, Gyun Woo may have been trying to stop the marriage. Hyemyeong steps out, concerned that Gyun Woo may have gotten hurt, but ends up running into him.
They relocate to the garden, and Hyemyeong scans him, tearfully wondering if he’s injured anywhere. Gyun Woo firmly asks, “Why did you worry about me? You told me not to care about you, so why are you looking at me on the brink of tears?” Hyemyeong is silent, and Gyun Woo continues, asking if he should really stop caring about her: “Do you want me gone from your side, Your Highness?”
Gyun Woo shakes his head and answers that he can’t do that before embracing her: “I do worry. I do care. I will protect you, Your Highness.”
He pulls back and adds, “It may not be my place, but there’s nothing I can do about it.” And with that, he leans in and kisses Hyemyeong.
Finally, feelings are out in the open! Their love is mutual, and that kiss sealed the deal! Gyun Woo is great, but he was really testing my patience with his indefatigable patience. Obviously, I didn’t expect Gyun Woo to profess his love impulsively since that’d be out of character for such a man of morals, but it seemed like when he boldly refused to translate Prince Dalhan’s wish, there would be more instances of respectful defiance to follow. However, that didn’t end up being the case, and instead, we saw Gyun Woo silently suffer and sigh for most of this episode, which wasn’t exactly fun to watch.
I have an inkling that Gyun Woo may have come clean to Prince Dalhan about his feelings for Hyemyeong right before his big confession and kiss. Either that, or he updated Prince Dalhan on the shady transaction that he thwarted moments earlier. Prince Dalhan has been shown to be quite observant and astute, and seems to be a gentle and reasonable man. It’s obvious his chances for a Joseon wife are nil, but because of his maturity and Gyun Woo’s as well, I feel like this failed marriage arrangement won’t be such a devastating blow to him. At least I hope so, since Prince Dalhan has been nothing but courteous and kind. He sensed early on that there was more to Gyun Woo’s relationship to Hymeyeong than he let on, so hopefully he’ll have the capacity to understand and move on.
Admittedly, with the drastic tonal shifts taking place sporadically and unpredictably, I find it difficult to laugh when comedic moments occur and to feel the “high” stakes when a pivotal incident takes place, such as when Gyun Woo exposed the illegal trade of rhinoceros horns. I wish the undercover trade operation felt more perilous, but even after that failed, Minister Jung didn’t seem all that fazed. I wish that I was wild about our couple or that I feared for their safety, but I like Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong just enough, which is slightly above indifference. Sure, they make a pretty couple, but are they made for each other?
The highlights of this episode were pretty much all the Prince Dalhan scenes, and I was amused by Se-ho’s delayed understanding that a woman crushed on him as well as the wacky bookseller’s repeated snorts. I’m curious about Gyun Woo’s recurring nightmares, especially since his mother said he’s had them before, and I hope there’s some significance to them and that they’re not just empty stress dreams.
But I do wish that Hyemyeong didn’t look so defeated and helpless in this episode, and I wondered if she had suddenly forgotten about her lifelong search for her mother. Now that she’s got a sturdy partner in Gyun Woo, I hope the sass returns to her and snaps her out of this slump. Chop chop!
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