Mr. Queen: Episodes 9-10 Open Thread
Things are getting complicated! Mr. Queen continues to use its body swap for maximum hijinks, and the more our hero loses himself in the queen, the more the mayhem. However, with the blending of identities also comes memories that reveal important information about the court politics.
EPISODES 9-10 WEECAP
This week signals the halfway point in our story, and though our trapped hero has come a long way in Joseon, we’re still very far away from any kind of answers about the actual body swap — or even what’s happening with the Bong-hwan that’s still in the present-day. Instead, our attention this week focuses on court politics, all preceded by some make out mayhem.
The kiss Cheoljong planted on a drunk/confused So-yong last week did not end with Byung-in walking in on them, horrified. Instead, things get hot fast. So hot, in fact, that So-yong’s father (who also stepped onto the scene) tiptoes away with Byung-in, letting the newlyweds do their thing.
Both Cheoljong and So-yong seem to be quite earnest as they make a racket knocking stuff over, lost in their moment. It’s so loud, in fact, that So-yong’s father and Byung-in can hear the ruckus outside. They agree to give the couple more space, and Byung-in sets the guard farther away. He’s got his handsome poker face going on, but it’s hard for him to completely hide his upsetness: Byung-in’s eyes are literally welled with tears in every single scene in this episode (and props to Na In-woo for getting so much emotion across just with his sad eyes).
But actually, this make out scene is not that straight-forward — this is Mr. Queen, after all. Before things get too far, Bong-hwan comes to his senses and goes on a rant about how the soul (Bong-hwan) should control the body (So-yong), and not the other way around. Then he/she spits out all of Cheoljong’s kisses. Similarly disrupting the scene we think we’re seeing, as soon as Cheoljong gets the chance, he gives So-yong a ninja chop to the neck, knocking her unconscious.
So, beyond the layer of genuine attraction that’s there (I think?), both parties also have ulterior and/or complicated motives, and that makes this scene part ruse, part fan service, and part confusion. Honestly, I still have no idea exactly what Mr. Queen is trying to do, or trying to say.
What I do know is that the more we get to know Cheoljong, the more we realize that everything he does seems to have two sides to it — for instance, the “puppet king” persona is just a part of his disguise. Similarly, this loud make out session also seems like it was cover to get everyone far away from the house, and to get So-yong down for the count, so he can continue his search for the mysterious ledger.
Indeed, everything that happens during the rest of the episode seems to be a consequence of Cheoljong’s time at the Kim residence. The well has brought back some painful memories for him, but he’s determined to face the trauma and go down there in search of the ledger. Props to Cheoljong here — his determination wins out over his fear and he plunges ahead, but in this case that means a terrifying panic attack that leaves him stranded at the bottom of the well.
This is where the memories, swiftly returning to Bong-hwan/So-yong, start to have an impact. So-yong remembers the pivotal scene from their childhood where Cheoljong was hiding for his life at the bottom of the same well, and So-yong begged her father to save him.
There’s so much action at the Kim residence, in fact, that when everything and everyone return to the palace, it seems almost anti-climactic. The plot drags a bit here, and that’s my main criticism of the drama overall, actually: it front-loads the excitement, putters for much of the middle section of each episode, and then amps up again before the episode closes.
It’s exactly that pattern we have this week, because our other important reveal is around the ledger: Hwa-jin is the one that has it. Thanks to So-yong’s returning memories, we learn that as girls, she and Hwa-jin looked very much alike and were often mistaken for each other. As such, the little girl that promised to save little Cheoljong from the well and the little girl that later helped him were not the same.
While this isn’t exactly the pinnacle of excitement, I do like that a drama about identity swaps/confusion is also exploring that theme in another way, with the two little girls being mistaken for each other. I’m sure there is more to uncover about the lookalike girls and their youth, but for now, it’s the ledger that’s the focus — who has it, who knows who has it, and who knows when it’s been taken.
Although we got some forward motion and new clues around the story of the court this week, I don’t feel that we’ve reached a very compelling halfway point. Personally, I’m more interested in the whys and hows of the body swap itself — and the interplay between Bong-hwan in real life and in So-yong’s body in Joseon. Without this part of the story, all we really have is a fusion sageuk with the gender swap thrown in for extra comedy and hijinks.
There’s so much great storytelling potential here, and so much to play with if the drama explores more about the two dimensions and storyline crossover — because the more we lose Bong-hwan in Joseon, the more color gets drained from the story. Bong-hwan himself called their body swap “the perfect cosplay,” and I for one would love to see that cosplay extend to all of the story’s dimensions — not only the royal kitchen.
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