Haechi: Episodes 5-6
Our prince shows his mettle when he realizes that convicting a royal family member of a crime will take more than evidence… it will require a personal sacrifice. He’s willing to make that sacrifice, but his enemies aren’t ready to accept defeat, and they’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse — not if he wants to keep the people he loves alive.
EPISODE 5: The misfortunes of virtue
Just as the ministers are telling Jung-seok that he has no case without a witness, Yi Geum bursts into the supreme court proceedings and says that the witness has arrived. He admits that he, Prince Yeoning, is the one who took the civil service test for Noh Tae-pyung on Yi Tan’s orders.
Moon-soo crashes into the mysterious Dal-moon while running through the market, and Dal-moon just hands him the scroll he dropped and suggests a less crowded route. Moon-soo runs off again, and Dal-moon’s assistant tells him Moon-soo’s name and connection to Saheonbu inspector Jung-seok. Dal-moon has already heard about Yi Geum’s surprise appearance at the Saheonbu, but he’s still waiting to hear from a source what’s going on.
Chief Inspector Lee warns Yi Geum that anyone making false statements during a supreme court will be punished, regardless of royal status. Yi Geum says that it’s true — he substituted the test. The ministers still find the accusation that Yi Tan then killed Noh Tae-pyung ridiculous, and Jung-seok says that that’s why he wants to arrest Yi Tan and find out his connection to Noh Tae-pyung.
The idea of arresting a royal outrages the ministers, but Jung-seok says that the royal family are also citizens of the country, and that this is why the Saheonbu even exists. Suddenly the other Saheonbu inspectors begin rising to their feet, one by one, and they stand in solidarity as Jung-seok informs the court that they are going to arrest Yi Tan.
Only Byung-joo doesn’t stand with them, and he bellows that as the team leader, he has the final say. He states that naturally they should suspect Yi Tan of murder if Yi Geum’s testimony is true, but Yi Tan is only one person, and this could be a trick.
Yi Geum says that high officials get impeached based on groundless rumors from unidentified sources, so he finds it odd that an identified source of royal blood is not enough now. Byung-joo says that it’s Yi Geum’s royal blood that makes this suspect, because the Saheonbu doesn’t get involved in political schemes.
Dal-moon returns to the horse trader (who does have a name, it’s Gae-dol), who’s preparing to get the heck out of town after being beaten by Yi Tan. Moon-soo shows up looking for Gae-dol, but Yeo-ji catches up to him first. Gae-dol isn’t impressed by the small damo and sends his men after her, but Yeo-ji easily outfights them and Gae-dol flees.
He doesn’t get far before he runs into Moon-soo, who has a burst of competence and manages to get Gae-dol into a headlock. Yeo-ji tosses him some rope to tie Gae-dol with while Dal-moon watches them, looking very interested in their activity.
Yeo-ji takes Gae-dol straight to the supreme court and a smirking Yi Geum, and presents Gae-dol as a witness. Surprised to see Yeo-ji, Jung-seok asks Yi Geum what’s happening, and Yi Geum says that he just borrowed Yeo-ji for a bit.
Gae-dol’s testimony removes Chief Inspector Lee’s last objection to arresting Yi Tan, but the ministers still argue over what to do next. Chief Inspector Lee says that with their majority vote he can override the Saheonbu’s authority to make the arrest.
Jung-seok tells his inspectors to prepare to arrest Yi Tan, and as they leave, little Ah-bong snarls traitor! at Byung-joo. Even Yeo-ji elbow-checks him on her way out. Jung-seok accuses Byung-joo of calling the supreme court just to get his case nullified.
Byung-joo says that the ministers can still find a way to stop him, and that the Norons run this world, so they should choose to live under their rules. But Jung-seok just says that they live in very different worlds.
The Noron ministers try to stop the arrest by calling on the royal court to investigate the obvious conspiracy against Yi Tan. The Soron ministers don’t believe that Yi Geum would lie about such a thing, but the Norons claims that as Yi Hwan’s brother, Yi Geum would do this to take out his competition for the throne.
The king arrives, bellowing that he doesn’t trust the Saheonbu’s judgment, giving Minister Min a very pointed glare. He asks why Yi Geum would make up such a lie about Yi Tan hiring him to substitute, and Minister Min says that it’s because he knows he wouldn’t be punished for taking the test, while Yi Tan would face quite severe punishment.
Yi Geum enters the court unexpectedly, saying that he was worried some people might think he had bad intentions because he’s Yi Hwan’s brother. He admits that he used to act inappropriately, but it led to him discovering Yi Tan’s crimes. He tells King Sukjong that Yi Tan indirectly hired him to take the test for Noh Tae-pyung, and that he found Noh Tae-pyung’s body last night after following Yi Tan’s men.
Then he shocks the court by asking to be exiled to Tamra (now known as Jeju Island) for abetting Yi Tan’s crime. He says that it’s not right that royals aren’t punished for their crimes, which is why Yi Tan gets away with murdering innocent people. He declares that he wants the law to be fair for everyone, even himself.
Yi Tan predictably throws a fit when Jung-seok and the Saheonbu arrive at his home to arrest him. His men raise their swords when Yeo-ji grabs him, and Yi Tan yells that he’s the next king and will make sure they all die.
Yeo-ji quickly shoves Yi Tan, grabs a sword from one of his guards, and levels it at Yi Tan’s neck. Yi Tan’s guards attack, but a voice calls a halt. The Saheonbu’s senior inspector arrives to deliver Chief Inspector Lee’s decision, and Yi Tan smirks, then hits him for arriving late.
He orders the senior inspector to take the Saheonbu away, especially Yeo-ji, who yells at the senior inspector that what he’s doing is wrong. Jung-seok bellows that if the senior inspector wants to stop this arrest then he’ll have to go through him.
But the senior inspector announces that he’s arresting Yi Tan on Chief Inspector Lee’s orders. The Saheonbu inspectors drag Yi Tan away, screaming indignantly the whole way and the senior inspector grumbles that he doesn’t deserve to be king. He tells Jung-seok that all of the officials excluding Chief Inspector Lee and the executive inspector agreed, and that the higher Saheonbu inspectors will handle the case from now on.
Moon-soo joins them, and Jang-dal explains that the senior officials did the right thing. Moon-soo nearly screams, “That’s how the Saheonbu should be. This is the real Haechi!”
Yi Geum is informed by his father that Yi Tan has been arrested, but King Sukjong asks why Yi Geum insisted on being punished himself, but Yi Geum just says he’s of no use to the king. He says that he’s always been a wanderer, so Tamra will just be a new place to wander.
He says that he wanted to be a good son but couldn’t manage it, so he’s resigned that he’s just the kind of person who can’t live up to expectations. He bows to his father and walks away sadly, and as he watches his son go, King Sukjong says, “Why can’t you, Yi Geum? You’re a prince, too. It should be you, more than anyone else. Why can’t you become king?”
The gisaeng Yoon-young repeatedly slaps a maid for smiling when she tells her that Yi Tan was arrested. She accuses her maid of being glad about the arrest because she and Yi Tan have a “special relationship,” and orders her taken away.
Moon-soo worries whether Yi Tan will get a proper interrogation under the Saheonbu high officials, but Jung-seok assures him that the officials take pride in their work. Moon-soo brags that he was essential to Gae-dol’s arrest, but Yeo-ji deadpans that he was actually a hindrance, ha. Moon-soo and Jung-seok’s team decide to go out to celebrate, and it’s Yeo-ji who mentions that they should invite one other person…
Yi Geum arrives home to a screaming wife, who’s heard about his exile to Tamra. She sobs that she’s never asked for his affection or a decent life, but that she can’t bear the thought of a life of exile. Yi Geum offers to divorce her so she doesn’t have to go with him, and she gladly takes him up on the offer.
Jo-hong, on the other hand, says calmly that she’ll go with him. Yeo-ji lets herself in the open gate just then, and Yi Geum is put on the spot when his wife and Jo-hong both want to know who she is. Yeo-ji invites him out for a drink, and you can see Yi Geum trying to decide if it’s a good idea to leave with a third woman, lol.
He decides to go, and finds himself with Jung-seok’s entire team. Yi Geum laughs at the close-knit group’s smack-talking as they play a game where they hire and fire each other as government officials, and Jung-seok closely watches Yi Geum.
Jung-seok pours Yi Geum a drink and thanks him for his help today, having heard that he requested exile to convince the ministers to punish Yi Tan. Yi Geum says it doesn’t matter how he lives since he’s already a loser with no future, but he wants to know why Jung-seok, a Noron, would choose such a hard path.
Jung-seok says that actually it was the easy path — it’s easier to fight back than step back. He drags Yi Geum inside and makes him join their game, and they’re all shaken when Yi Geum’s first dice throw lands him on “king,” which is nearly impossible to get.
They tell him that the king can do whatever he wants, so he puts Jang-dal and Ah-bong in charge of Hanyang (the capital city), he makes Jung-seok the prime minister, and appoints Yeo-ji the chief of police. As for Moon-soo, who believes in fairness above all else, Yi Geum makes him chief inspector of the Saheonbu.
The Noron officials gather to discuss the blow to their plans. They decide that Yi Tan’s arrest is a major setback, but that it won’t stand in the way of their goals.
Yi Hwan shows up at Yi Geum’s house unexpectedly to ask him to cancel his exile request. Yi Geum refuses, saying that he requested exile so that Yi Hwan could be king, and because he knows Yi Hwan will be a fair king who won’t lift his exile simply for personal reasons. He tells Yi Hwan that the people need such a king, and warns him to be strong when the Norons fight back.
Minister Min gives Byung-joo some documents containing information about Jung-seok, and after Byung-joo leaves, Minister Min is surprised when Dal-moon appears, seemingly out of nowhere, in his hideout. A ragged bodyguard attacks Dal-moon, and Dal-moon fends him off while telling Minister Min that he knew about the bodyguard before he came.
Minister Min asks who Dal-moon is and why he’s here, but Dal-moon says he’s nobody important. He guesses that Minister Min must be curious how a mere beggar found his secret hideout, and mentions the rumors of Yi Tan’s arrest which spread through the capital faster than Minister Min could contain them. Minister Min asks what he wants, and Dal-moon says that he came to brag that the rumors were his doing.
In the morning, Yi Geum sends notes to Yeo-ji and Moon-soo to meet him at the dock. Moon-soo complains that he’s too busy studying to run around following Yi Geum’s orders, but Yi Geum tells him to give up on studying because he’ll never pass the test. Moon-soo huffs indignantly, and Yi Geum offers to substitute his test sometime.
Yeo-ji agrees with Moon-soo that Yi Geum is rude and arrogant, because he tells the truth regardless of what people feel. But she adds that he’s not a bad person, and tells Moon-soo to just follow him for now because he’ll be gone soon.
King Sukjong is taken out of the palace secretly, and he meets with a low-ranking Department of Justice official to receive a thick packet of information on Yi Tan. He says that he knew this man would have secret information, and that he came to him because he’s the kind of person who will never leave the Department of Justice, unlike the high-ranking officials.
The man promises the king that no secrets will be leaked, but he turns around and gives similar information on Yi Geum to CMinister Min. He says that the Department of Justice works for the king, but the king isn’t eternal. He asks what Minister Min plans to use the information for, and Minister Min just says that he won’t get into trouble because he has a useful beggar.
Dal-moon gives the information to a lackey, telling him to spread it around the city within the day. He says he’s not interested in the nobles’ power plays, he just wants to make sure that his people, the poor, get what they need.
Yi Geum takes Moon-soo to one of Yi Tan’s land holdings, saying that the plots of land will be under different names, so Moon-soo starts taking notes. Yi Geum asks if he’d like to visit a gibang nearby, since there must be one if Yi Tan visits here so often.
They end up at a cheap tavern instead, and Moon-soo grumbles for Yi Geum to save his money since he’s going so far away. With a couple drinks in him, Moon-soo admits that Yi Geum is the manliest man he’s ever met and asks if Yi Geum wants to be brothers. HAHA, Yi Geum literally does a spit-take.
Moon-soo snuggles up to Yi Geum, saying that his pretty face hid his manliness at first, and asks to see his identification so he can figure out who’s the hyung. He gets way handsy with Yi Geum, then decides they need to get Yeo-ji in on this brotherhood since she’s manly, too.
Yeo-ji learns that Yi Geum has a reputation for frequenting gibangs and gambling houses. One villager says that his personality isn’t bad, and another remembers last year’s drought, when the people were running out of food and several bags of rice mysteriously showed up at the government office, supposedly left by Yi Geum. They say that he knows what it’s like to be a peasant, because his mother was one.
Dal-moon has been very effective at spreading the rumors about Yi Geum, including that he took thousands of homes from commoners and embezzled money from the national treasury. Yi Geum holds Moon-soo back from confronting the gossipers, concerned that they’re on the very outskirts of the city and the rumors have already spread this far.
Back in the city, Yeo-ji talks to Jung-seok about the rumors and the fact that Yi Geum was expecting this attempt to discredit his testimony. It certainly seems to be working, and even Yi Geum looks upset as he has to listen to the whispers. Minister Min, however, looks satisfied, and when he and Yi Geum spot each other on the street, he tells his man that it’s time to wrap things up.
A guard pulls some strings so that the gisaeng Yoon-young can visit Yi Tan in prison. He’s pathetically happy to see her, hugging her and bursting into tears. She snaps at him to stop whining, and she cheers him up by telling him about the rumors circulating about Yi Geum.
He asks if he can still be king after Yi Geum’s testimony is invalidated, and Yoon-young says he can. She starts to say something about his reputation, but Yi Tan interrupts her to complain about the food. Yoon-young is alarmed that yesterday they were feeding Yi Tan good food, but today he’s getting rice soup, because “no on feeds a useless dog.”
A letter summons Yi Geum to see Minister Min, who tells Yi Geum that the Norons are ready to support Yi Hwan to become the next crown prince now that Yi Tan isn’t eligible. But he says that in order for that to happen, they need Yi Geum to do something for them.
At the same time, Chief Inspector Lee is taken to see the king. King Sukjong hides the bloody handkerchief he’s been coughing into and tells Chief Inspector Lee that nobody can find out about what he’s going to say next. He drops a huge bomb — that he wants Yi Geum, not Yi Hwan, to become the next king.
Minister Min’s request of Yi Geum sends him storming out to the street in a fury… he wants him to withdraw his testimony against Yi Tan and say it was a scheme thought up by Jung-seok. Yi Geum had said he couldn’t do that, but Minister Min had reminded him that a candidate who fails to become king will die.
Yi Geum had asked why Minister Min was doing this, and Minister Min had growled, “Because that’s how we win, Prince Yeoning. We must make everyone fear us… We need to stomp on them and make them fear us so they never dare to even stand.”
Jung-seok sends Yeo-ji home (she lives with his family), where she finds his wife pacing nervously after receiving a letter and a box full of ingots. Yeo-ji runs to where Yi Geum is waiting for her, and he collapses on her shoulder, sobbing his heart out.
First of all, I want to apologize if I get some of the ministers and chief inspectors and officials, etc, mixed up, because I don’t know what’s going on with the lighting direction of this show, but every scene is so dark. Even the outside daytime scenes are oddly shaded, and forget about the night time scenes — I can’t see anyone. At all. I’m also not as familiar with the actors playing those roles, and normally in that situation I’d rely on other visual cues such as their beard patterns or costumes, but I can’t see those, either! So please forgive me if I misidentify a character, and let me know in your comments — I do read them all, and will fix any mistakes I make.
Also, as much as I do love this show so far, I’m getting a little frustrated with the way it’s edited. Obviously it’s trying to be mysterious by withholding shocking revelations in order to make an impact, but it gets repetitive and confusing when every shocking revelation has a vague lead-in, then you have to wait several more scenes to find out what’s happening. In some places these shocking revelations are even overlapping, so I’m not sure which thing I’m supposed to be shocked about during which scene. Hey Show, sometimes it’s fine to just tell us stuff… save the dramatic editing for the really big moments.
Okay, I thought Moon-soo was my favorite, but it turns out that drunk Moon-soo is my favorite. The way he got all up in Yi Geum’s bizness after only a drink or two was hilarious, and I just love how completely unself-conscious he is about everything he does. He’s just all flying elbows and half-baked ideas and uninhibited feelings, and it’s freaking adorable. Mostly I love how much fun Kwon Yul is obviously having, because as I’ve mentioned, I’ve only seen him in roles where he was either the gloomy second lead or the literal embodiment of evil. He does those roles well, but Moon-soo might just be my new favorite role of his simply because he’s just letting it all hang out and I love it.
I said last week that I was withholding judgment on Go Ara because the quality of her performances depends a lot of factors, such as her character’s personality and how she’s directed. I think now I can safely say that I really like her as Yeo-ji. She’s a bit serious for my taste — I’d like to see her loosen up enough to trade snark with Yi Geum — but she’s a badass fighter and has a strong sense of justice, and I think Go Ara is playing her quite well. Maybe once Yi Geum joins their team, he’ll teach her to relax and have a little fun in life and not take everything so seriously.
Conversely, I enjoyed seeing Yi Geum take his father’s words to heart (that he could be so much more than a royal screw-up). I was proud of him for being willing to be exiled in order to make sure Yi Tan is punished for his crimes, because if Yi Geum got away with a crime then the ministers would have argued that as another royal, Yi Tan should also literally get away with murder. But I worry that Yi Geum’s request to be exiled was as much a way of taking the pressure off himself as it was a political move, because he still believes that as the son of a water maid, he’s not worthy of being a royal. I wish King Sukjong would tell Yi Geum to his face that he has the potential to be a great king if he just thought more highly of himself, but even if he did, self-esteem isn’t something you can make someone have. Yi Geum will have to earn that self-esteem for himself. We know that he will eventually, as history tells us that Yeoning became such a great king in part because of his humility, and I think that’s what I’m most looking forward to as the show moves forward.
- Premiere Watch: Haechi, Item, The Light in Your Eyes, The Fiery Priest
- Jung Il-woo defies all odds to become king in SBS’s Haechi
- Haechi stars Jung Il-woo as a problematic Prince Yeongjo on quest for justice
- Haechi as the judge of good and evil in SBS fusion sageuk
- Jung Il-woo confirms comeback in drama Haechi with Go Ara and Kwon Yul