Seven Day Queen: Episode 19
Is it really almost over? The amazing feat is that this drama somehow made me enjoy the experience of having my heart ripped out of my chest twice a week and kept me coming back for more. I’m terrified about what’s around the bend, but that’s why we’re in it together right? This is a finale week that’s going to require the moral support of Beanies. And maybe a tub of ice cream.
EPISODE 19 RECAP
In his first official act as king, Yeok struts to his throne before a crowd of people and declares that the death and torture will be put to an end. Countless innocent civilians are freed from prison and their houses and villages are returned to them, and the people line the streets bowing and cheering for the new king.
Myung-hye pours wine on Seo-no’s grave and tells him that Yeok became king just as he wished. But then she puts her hand on the mound and adds that his other wish—for Yeok and Chae-kyung to live happily for a hundred years—might not come true.
Yeok is plagued with Yeonsangun’s last words to him, that making him king would be the ultimate revenge. In his head he replays the moment he found Chae-kyung crying over her parents’ bloody bodies, and the way she looked at him.
He’s shocked when Chae-kyung comes to see him, and runs to embrace her. She cries in his arms, looking conflicted and pained, and then draws a dagger to the back of his neck. In the moment that she hesitates, Yeok senses what she’s doing and pulls her hand down.
But instead of taking the dagger, he simply points it at his heart, telling her that this is where she should stab to kill him. He yanks her arm toward him, letting out a grunt of pain.
Alarmed, Chae-kyung struggles against him, her hand shaking violently. She finally manages to pull away, and the dagger falls to the ground. The tip is covered in blood, but it looks like it was a shallow cut.
She asks Yeok (still calling him “Husband”) if he gave the order to kill her parents, and with tears streaming down his face, he says that whoever did was acting in order to make him king, so the responsibility is his to claim. Gasping, he begs her to get revenge: “Kill me!”
He gets down on his knees and cries out her name, and Chae-kyung chokes down her sobs and backs away from him. Augh that pains me so. She walks away resolutely, leaving Yeok wailing on the floor.
In the aftermath, Chae-kyung looks down at her shaking hand as if disbelieving what she almost did. Yeok looks down at the bloody dagger and finally realizes that this could be very dangerous for Chae-kyung.
Thankfully, trusty Eunuch Song is the only one there, and Yeok asks for his help to quietly burn his robes to get rid of the evidence. Yeok holds onto the dagger and puts it away in a drawer that night.
At the same time, Chae-kyung pulls out the twig binyeo that Yeok gave her while proposing, and the shared memory pains them both. She sits up all night staring at it, unable to sleep.
In the morning Yeok sends Eunuch Song to her, and he leads her to a memorial that Yeok set up for her parents. Eunuch Song explains that Yeok wanted to honor them properly as her family, not as traitors, and so he had this memorial made for her to visit them whenever she missed them.
Crying, Chae-kyung says to her parents that their son-in-law must be very sorry, because he’s trying so hard to apologize to them, and to make her feel better.
Yeok is shocked again when Chae-kyung comes to see him, this time in his bedchambers. She’s there with a tray of medicine, and he lets her in quietly. She slowly undresses him and begins to put medicine on his stab wound, and Yeok can’t take his eyes off of her.
She has to get really close to wrap the bandage around his chest and shoulder, and at one point Yeok is so tense that Chae-kyung has to instruct him to breathe. Ha.
After he’s dressed, Chae-kyung hands him the snail shell that was in her father’s hand when she discovered him. She guesses that it’s another attempt to split them apart (Gah, I love that she’s smart!), and she asks why they’re always facing death at the hands of others, and having to suspect and hurt and resent each other because of it.
Chae-kyung argues that a husband and wife are meant to hold and comfort each other at times like this, “But why is it that we must always wield knives at one another?” Yeok can’t even meet her eyes as he says that it’s all because he’s a foolish man, and because he’s king.
She says with stern resolve, “Yes, you are king. You have become the king, who can do anything. So do not hang your head any longer. Do not make us cry again. I will not be shaken anymore. I will aid your majesty, who has become the ruler of a nation, and steadfastly protect my place at your side—that will be my revenge against those who killed my father and tried to shake us. So you must become an upright king and protect us.”
Damn, can she be king? Yeok finally raises his head and vows to do as she said, and takes her hand.
With a bright smile and a new attitude, Yeok begins his duties as king. Seok-hee gets promoted to the royal palace guard where he’ll protect the king directly, and Gwang-oh is promoted to the royal secretariat, where he will be put in charge of palace accounting.
They bow and address Yeok formally, which Yeok finds so awkward that he runs down from the throne and gets down on the ground with them until they stand up, heh. The three friends have a hard time acting like adults, but they keep it together for appearance’s sake.
Yeok asks them a favor as a friend, and says that he’s returning all the land that Yeonsangun seized as hunting grounds, including Seo-no’s family home. He asks that they move Seo-no and his father’s graves to their house, to fulfill Seo-no’s final wishes. He asks them to pour a cup of wine on Seo-no’s grave for him and say that they are fighting “for the countless Seo-nos remaining in Joseon.” The boys cry as they accept the royal order.
Nanny is promoted to court lady and left in charge of the staff in the queen’s palace, and Chae-kyung smiles as Nanny gapes at the hefty pay raise and fancy new title.
Yeonsangun stops his eunuch from packing up anything to take with them into exile, but then he lingers in front of the box of letters from Minister Shin. He decides to take that, saying that it’s the only thing in here that’s his.
Yeok has Deputy Commander Park brought in to read the list of promotions and rewards for the officials who sided with the rebellion and helped make him king. It says that Park will be promoted to minister of the right, but then he pauses when he gets to the part of the decree that outlines how he disregarded royal orders and acted on his own.
Park gets down on his knees, but he argues that someone had to kill Minister Shin at some point. Furious, Yeok counters that there was nothing his father-in-law could have done to stop the coup at that point, and that Park committed a crime worthy of death.
But Deputy Commander Park isn’t cowed, and he simply asks if Yeok wants to walk the same path as his brother. He argues that a king can’t rule without the support of his court, and Yeok says he knows that, which is why he isn’t going to share this with the court. He says that he just saved Park from death, which means from now on there will be no more second chances for him.
Deputy Commander Park grits his teeth and accepts it, but now I’m just scared for what he’ll do in retaliation. He runs into Chae-kyung on her way to see the king, and they both force fake smiles. He says that the queen’s robes suit her, adding pointedly that it would be better if she were officially crowned.
He asks if she knows that Yeonsangun and her aunt are headed out today, and Chae-kyung volleys back at him that she’s now the lady of the house for the royal family, which means that nothing happens here that she isn’t aware of.
Deputy Commander Park purposely fails to call her queen and then corrects himself, and says that she must also know what will happen to the royal family and the court if she continues to stay by Yeok’s side.
Chae-kyung smiles even wider and replies that in the very least, she knows who is the most bothered by her presence here. She says that “that person” ought to become a truly necessary and faithful servant of the nation and the king, so that she can stand to see him. He asks if he should aspire to her father’s faithfulness to Yeonsangun, insisting that he wasn’t speaking ill of him. Ugh, you horrible troll.
Yeok lights up when Chae-kyung brings him medicine, but after her encounter with Deputy Commander Park, her expression is cloudy and no amount of cheeriness from Yeok can lift her mood. He assures her that Yeonsangun and her aunt will be taken care of as they leave the palace.
Yeonsangun takes one last look at the palace and then gets on horseback to head out with a small entourage, and he doesn’t look back once, not even when his queen runs out to bow to him in tears.
As expected, in court Deputy Commander Park leads the vocal resistance against the daughter of a traitor being made queen, but Yeok is ready for the counterattack. He tosses a book down at their feet and says that he was taught that husband and wife must come first before family and children can exist, and that king and subject come after that.
With authority in his voice, Yeok declares that that makes his marriage the root of his rule, and that he will crown Chae-kyung his queen to preserve his family’s harmony. He asks if anyone objects, but no one dares to speak up in dissent, and Deputy Commander Park fumes impotently.
Yeok asks his mother for her support in crowning Chae-kyung, and she asks why Yeok insists on courting disfavor just to make Chae-kyung queen. Do you people even know Yeok, like at all? He argues that Chae-kyung risked her life and lost her family just to protect him, and that it’s meaningless to be king if he can’t even honor that loyalty.
Nanny encourages Chae-kyung to take a walk outside and says in her comforting way that all of this will pass and before she knows it, she’ll have wrinkles on her face and her heart will heal.
Chae-kyung manages a smile thanks to Nanny, though the mood is quickly dampened when they return to her palace and come upon two court ladies gossiping about how Chae-kyung isn’t even queen and can’t be trusted not to seek revenge. They gasp when they see Chae-kyung, and Nanny whaps them with the duster as they pass.
But moments later, Yeok shows up unannounced to personally deliver the royal decree making her his queen. He reads it to her in his official kingly voice, which is cute since it contains an account of how as his spouse, she kept a harmonious family together, and because he became king, naturally she should be queen since she is already his mate.
He orders her to be to this nation what she is to their household, and she tearfully accepts the decree with a deep bow.
In response, Yeok bows to the ground before her, which throws everyone for a loop. He just smiles and takes her hands in his and raises her to her feet. Calling her queen, he says, “Thank you for being by my side.” The staff bows to her in congratulations.
Deputy Commander Park is furious, and he sighs at Myung-hye for spending her days visiting Seo-no’s grave instead of making an effort to become queen. She argues that it’s too late to change Yeok’s heart, and that they need to find some other way to reinstate their family’s good name.
But Park says this is a matter of their lives, not their family honor, and he points out that once Chae-kyung has a son who ascends to the throne, she would stop at nothing to have him avenge her parents’ deaths. Ugh, she’s not you!
Unsurprisingly, that’s all it takes for Myung-hye to apologize to Seo-no and begin plotting for her survival.
Yeonsangun’s eunuch worries that he won’t hold up in this state, and urges him to drink some water. Yeonsangun thanks him sincerely and asks after the queen and his children, and Minister Shin. Oh noes, did nobody tell him?
His eunuch delivers the unfortunate news that Chae-kyung’s parents were killed, and Yeonsangun asks in a quivering voice why, when he purposely pushed Minister Shin away just in case and fought the urge to call him back countless times. Aw, really? But we didn’t know!
Yeonsangun asks if it was Yeok’s doing, but the eunuch doesn’t know the details. And all he’s heard about Chae-kyung is that there are already rumors of her getting deposed. Yeonsangun slumps down in shock.
Meanwhile, the small entourage of guards outside is quickly overtaken by masked swordsmen. Then the eunuch comes out and points them in the direction of Yeonsangun’s room. Sad, I thought he had at least one trusted servant left, despite everything.
The men storm into the room and point their swords in Yeonsangun’s face, and he asks if Yeok sent them. They say that they won’t send him off alone, promising to kill Yeonsangun and then his wife and the rest of their family soon after.
That riles him up and he fights his attackers, managing to disarm one man and fight the rest of them off. But then one of them comes in from behind and stabs Yeonsangun right in the gut, and the sword goes clean through to the other side.
He makes a break for it and runs into the woods, and curiously, the lead swordsman sees Yeonsangun hiding but purposely lets him go and watches from a distance.
Yeok is wowed by the lavish table set out by Chae-kyung, and she says that she made all the food herself with Nanny’s help. They both feel awkward when the court lady stops him from eating because she has to taste all the dishes first (to make sure nothing is poisoned), which is customary here but strange for them.
Chae-kyung is planning to go to her parents’ home to finalize some things, and Yeok sighs that he ought to go with her. As they begin to chat comfortably, Chae-kyung moves the dishes around like she always does, and suddenly the court lady announces that she can’t just move around the order of the dishes. Yeesh.
Chae-kyung puts it back and makes a hilarious face, saying, “The chances of us having fun in this palace are none, aren’t they?” Yeok agrees while giving the militant court lady the side-eye.
Yeok and Chae-kyung go for a walk through the palace holding hands, and when another group of court ladies bow as they pass, Chae-kyung notes that he ought to wear something other than his dragon robes when coming to see her.
But he says he wore them on purpose because he wants them all to know that he is this nation’s king, and that the woman beside him is their queen and his wife. He says he wants to show off his beautiful wife to the entire palace.
At that, Chae-kyung pulls her hand out of his grasp and asks why he’s trying so hard. She points out that they’re together now and he’s the king, but he seems more anxious than he was when he was a prince always running for his life.
He tries his best to hide it, but she asks if he’s anxious because of her, fearful that she hates him or will leave him someday, or that she’s lying to him right now. He finally admits, “It’s because I know this isn’t the life you wanted. Because I can’t do any of the things I want to do for you.”
She admits in turn that she can’t honestly say she’s at peace right now, but she asks him not to be so anxious. She takes his hand this time and says, “You are all I have. I will be here.”
Yeok begins to breathe again and says barely above a whisper that this is what he was longing to hear from her, and that his heart is at ease now.
Yeonsangun has managed to change his clothes, and he makes his way into Minister Shin’s house quietly. His face falls to see the memorial, and he thinks of the last time he spoke with Minister Shin and made him cry.
Chae-kyung arrives outside and hesitates at the front gate, and Nanny asks if she’ll really be okay on her own. She says there are only a few things to take care of, and sends Nanny to tend to the graves.
Chae-kyung cries as she enters the room, thinking of her mother’s incessant chatter and her father’s teasing. Yeonsangun comes out from his hiding place when he sees that it’s Chae-kyung, and he asks if she’s okay. Oh crud, this is why they let him go, isn’t it?
She’s shocked to see him there and doubly shocked when he falls to the floor clutching his side where he was stabbed. He reminds her of his warning that she would be unhappy if Yeok became king.
Yeok bows at Minister Shin’s memorial inside the palace, when Seok-hee comes to tell him that Yeonsangun escaped while on his way to exile. And don’t you know it, right on cue Deputy Commander Park marches up to Minister Shin’s house with a small army. Aaaaaaaaaaagh.
Inside, Chae-kyung tends to Yeonsangun’s stab wound and asks why he ran away when the cost is surely is his life. He says he was attacked and that his entire family—his queen, his children, and Chae-kyung—were threatened too. He thinks it’s obvious that Yeok is behind the attack, and that they threatened his family as if intentionally warning him.
As he says the words out loud, it dawns on both Chae-kyung and Yeonsangun that this is a trap. He barely finishes the sentence when Park’s voice rings out from the courtyard declaring that traitors are hiding in this house.
Yeonsangun berates himself for losing his mind at the news that Minister Shin had died, and falling for such an obvious trap as a result. He says this won’t end until he’s dead and Chae-kyung is deposed.
She tells him to sneak out the back door, which is the only way for all of them to live, and then she meets Deputy Commander Park at the door to block their path. She says that she’s the only one here, but Park warns her that if the traitor is found here, she’ll be considered an accomplice.
He bullies his way in, but Yeonsangun shows himself first and grabs Chae-kyung as a hostage. He counters Park’s claim that Chae-kyung helped him escape by sticking his sword at her throat, and then he backs them out through a gate.
Yeonsangun takes Chae-kyung to his horse and holds out his hand to her, asking her to come with him. She says she can’t, but he argues that Deputy Commander Park isn’t here to kill him—he’s here to kill her.
Chae-kyung remains firm and insists that he hurry, and finally Yeonsangun is forced to leave without her. Park’s men fire arrows at Yeonsangun as he rides off, and two of them land in his back, the exact same way Yeok was driven off-course on his way to exile.
Yeonsangun abandons his horse to hide in the woods, and he makes it to a small shed, where he passes out. Someone approaches and sees him inside…
Meanwhile Deputy Commander Park gets exactly what he came for, and has Chae-kyung locked up in prison. She says defiantly that Yeok won’t sit by while he obliterates her entire family.
But he says he’s prepared, because the Snail Brides’ next flyer will detail the illicit affair between Chae-kyung and Yeonsangun. She says that no one would believe such lies, but he challenges her to watch what rumors people will believe once they’re out there in the world.
Then he dangles the carrot and offers to withhold the rumor and only charge her with aiding the escape of a traitor, as long as she confesses to the crime. He asks if this second option isn’t better for Yeok, rather than mar the beginning of his rule with a dirty scandal between his queen and his brother. YOU ASS.
Yeok storms into court and gets in Deputy Commander Park’s face to tell him to focus on capturing Yeonsangun and let Chae-kyung go. Park just calmly says that they should have the queen explain herself before the court. Yeok grows livid at the idea of some public interrogation or torture of his wife, but Park suggests that they should merely hear her out if she’s innocent.
The queen dowager is quick to believe the worst of Chae-kyung when she hears the news, which surprises no one.
Yeok paces nervously until Chae-kyung is brought into court, and they exchange a short greeting, their faces full of worry for one another. Deputy Commander Park asks if Chae-kyung has heard that Yeonsangun escaped while on his way to exile, and then asks if she’s the one who helped him escape.
Yeok jumps to her defense immediately, but Park outlines how it couldn’t be mere coincidence that Yeonsangun happened to go see Minister Shin on the same day that Chae-kyung happened to go there, and says that bloody bandages were found at the house as if she’d treated his wounds.
A wave of murmuring begins, and when Yeok claims that Park is inventing lies, Park says that there are already plenty of rumors about Chae-kyung and Yeonsangun…
Yeok blows a gasket at that draws a sword to Deputy Commander Park’s throat, asking if he truly wants to die.
The other ministers fall to their knees, and Chae-kyung looks around at what’s become of them and she seems to come to a decision. Ohgodohgod.
She tells Yeok that it’s true, that she helped Yeonsangun escape. Nooooooooo. Yeok looks back at her like she just stabbed him in the heart.
In the woods, Yeonsangun regains consciousness for a moment and sees a blurry figure standing above him. He thinks it’s Chae-kyung and tells her to run away because it’s dangerous.
Yeok doesn’t believe her and asks why she’d say such a thing, so Chae-kyung asks if he really thought she’d just live as if dead and not avenge her parents’ deaths. She says that he probably thought he could win her over or just have her deposed if it didn’t work.
She says coldly that he didn’t win her over, and his efforts only made her hate and resentment grow. She asks if he thought she was just an easily mollified girl who would be swayed by him, that he could just kill her parents and not worry. Yeok looks pained, but he seems to see through her lies right away, and thinks to himself, “Chae-kyung-ah, it’s dangerous. Stop!”
He cuts her off and says that’s enough, but tears trickle down her face as she thinks, “No, it’s time to cut off the twisted knot.” With grim determination, she says, “To my parents and to me, there is only one king.” Oh shit.
She continues that she never said she would serve Yeok as her ruler. Yeok knows what she’s doing but she’s already said too much.
And then just to pour gasoline on this fire, the queen dowager storms in and slaps Chae-kyung across the face and demands that Yeok do something about this traitor immediately.
He’s beside himself in tears and argues in Chae-kyung’s defense, but the queen dowager is like a bulldozer and exclaims that he must order her execution right this second. The ministers all bow and chant for her execution, and Yeok looks around helplessly and meets Chae-kyung’s eyes.
With tears streaming down her face, Chae-kyung thinks, “This is where we end, your majesty.”
Augh, is there no other way? Why can’t we just kill Deputy Commander Park and feed his body to wild beasts? Who would miss him? I knew Chae-kyung would sacrifice herself, and hell, I even felt relief for her in the moment, but I hate hate hate with the fire of a thousand suns that Deputy Commander Park and Myung-hye are getting what they want. It makes me sick to think that he just stood there smugly while Chae-kyung and Yeok had their entire world torn apart, and that he’ll continue to be respected as a virtuous man by everyone else. Even Secretary Im wasn’t that two-faced!
Narratively, I thought the show did a great job of building up the sense of dread and unease as soon as our couple entered the palace, because it actually made me feel a twinge of relief (amidst all the anger), like Chae-kyung was choosing freedom in her own way. How horrible that these are her choices in life. I just felt suffocated for her from the moment she went there as Yeonsangun’s hostage, and it didn’t get that much better once Yeok became king. She seems broken and sad inside that place, and the way she and Yeok both struggled to put on brave faces for each other made it even sadder.
How tragically ironic that keeping Chae-kyung by his side was such a huge part of why Yeok ultimately chose to become king, and the second he did, he began to lose her. The glimpses of their relatively upbeat moments inside the palace today made me think that there was no chance for them to be truly happy here, because what they really wanted was that quiet life in the countryside that they had already lost. It was so apt when Chae-kyung noted how much happier Yeok seemed while facing death outside the palace than as the king who should be able to do anything, and in turn his anxiety about her staying by his side shows how well he knows and senses her unhappiness.
It’s so interesting that in the outside world, Yeok was fearless and reckless, but now he seems so lost and unsure. Yeonsangun may have been crazy and made all the wrong choices, but he didn’t let his court rule him, and I seriously doubt that he would’ve let his ministers pull one over on him like this. Heads would’ve been rolling if anyone dared to speak to Chae-kyung that way. It pains me to think that Yeok’s boyish idealism and virtue are what keep him from being ruthless as a leader, but I think there’s something to be said for the efficacy of a cutthroat king. But yunno, one that maybe doesn’t murder the staff on a nightly basis! Why are these the choices?
The thing that this show has done consistently well from the start is avoid frustrating misunderstandings between the couple, so that even when our heroine is throwing herself under the bus and saying all of those terrible lies to rip out Yeok’s heart and paint herself the villain, he sees right through her noble idiocy to the truth—that she’s doing this to save him because she loves him. It’s that difference that keeps me from tearing out all of my hair, because these characters trust each other before anyone else, and their sacrifices mean something in this world.
I’m mad at Yeok for not having the political clout to protect his queen, but I also understand how he is utterly powerless and at the mercy of the people who made him king. I’m mad at Chae-kyung for bending to threats of rumors and lies, but I believe the threat and how damning it would be to her and to Yeok. And more importantly, I believe that she wouldn’t want to become a political liability and Yeok’s weakness, to be exploited at every opportunity. It’s fascinating that on paper, these plot turns might drive me crazy, but our characters’ motivations and the circumstances are made so crystal clear that the tragedy moves me, because this isn’t a story about missed timing or star-crossed intentions—it’s about people making the best choices that they can and struggling for some happiness in a society that’s rigid and harsh and not built for them. If only they had known what a hefty price they would pay for the throne. The saddest part is, Yeok would give it all up in a heartbeat, but that ship has sailed, hasn’t it?
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- Premiere Watch: My Sassy Girl, Seven Day Queen, Best Hit, Duel
- Arranged marriages and love at first sight for the Seven Day Queen
- Queen for a week, heartbreak to last a lifetime
- Seven Day Queen’s young lovers realize their tragic fates
- Elegant tears and waking forbidden hearts in Seven Day Queen
- Thwarted kisses and rom-com hijinks in Seven Day Queen
- Blood, thorns, and tears in first teaser for Seven Day Queen
- Seven Day Queen team puts in their first four hours at script read