Mr. Queen: Episodes 19-20 Open Thread (Final)
The finale is here! As we follow our king and queen through their final battle at maximum intensity, we also find a resolution to our story. Though the details are not explained, the ending stitches together in a way that’s both exciting and satisfying. It’s rare that finale episodes are the best, but these were surely my favorite of the show’s run.
EPISODES 19-20 WEECAP
A fierce and terrifying Byung-in has So-yong by the neck. But rather than jump off the cliff a la Cheoljong, and rather than die at Byung-in’s hands, he has mercy on her just in time. Though he realizes she’s not his So-yong, the memories that are in her are enough for him, and he winds up back on the queen’s side, and fighting off the men who once answered to him.
I’ve been interested in Byung-in’s part in this story from the beginning, so I enjoyed how long of a stretch is given to wrapping up his story. In the end, he comes full circle, having begun with this secret/devoted love of her, to have that morph into anger and jealousy, only to have it turn back to loving devotion in the end. I do love that.
Byung-in protects So-yong till the end, gives her the evidence she needs to prove treason, and dies a beautifully heroic and soldierly death in order to protect her.
So-yong’s terror is palpable at this point in the story — running from the guards who will stop at nothing to kill her, heartbroken and horrified over Byung-in’s sacrifice, and wondering if she’ll ever make it out alive.
This tension is quickly broken, though, when So-yong is reunited with her crew. Lady Choi and Hong Yeon are okay! Cheoljong is there! Ah, the feels over this wonderful scene where everyone is reunited. Even the royal chef turns up (I couldn’t love this side romance more).
In sum, all the best and best-hearted characters have joined forces with the rebels, and are ready to march on the palace and stop the false enthronement from happening.
But first, romance! This was the first point in the story (for me) where the romance between Cheoljong and So-yong felt real and epic, and it only heightened the poignancy of the story’s climax. They’re so damn cute together; I could watch them as this ragged rebel crew forever.
In fact, the dynamics are so great in our story’s final episodes that I almost wish we had longer to enjoy them. Couldn’t this rebels-in-the-woods thing have taken up a little more time? I could have done with less hijinks in the court, and a little more rebel action.
We definitely get the action in our finale, though! Cheoljong and So-yong sneak back into the palace and then proceed to march through the courtyard to stop the enthronement. But, the evil henchman of Kim Jwa-geun (Scarface) is hiding from a secret perch and shoots both So-yong and Cheoljong. I would love to talk about the weaponry here, and how firearms totally changed the face of combat during this time, but we have more important things to worry about on this scene!
It looks like So-yong was shot in the back, and Cheoljong in the heart, and they’ve both fallen to the ground in agony. They’re reaching for each other while also blacking out and wow does this scene pack a serious punch! It’s better than anything I expected. I also found myself wondering if they would just die tragically in each other’s arms.
But also important here is that while So-yong is writhing in pain and clutching her stomach, there are also flashes of her as Jang Bong-hwan in his hospital bed in present-day Seoul. She’s screaming that it’s the worst time to go back and she needs to make sure Cheoljong is okay… but suddenly we’re back in Seoul, and Bong-hwan jumps up out of his coma.
After all the tragedy and bloodshed of the courtyard scene (which is still suspended mid-scene), the drama quickly pivots, as it so frequently does, and we have a burst of comedy. Bong-hwan takes off and escapes the hospital by flinging himself through an open window, finds the nearest bookstore, and frantically leafs through a history book to find out if Cheoljong and So-yong did indeed die that day.
Then, we cut back to Joseon, and get the rest of their story. It’s an odd and slightly uneven choice to jump back and forth at this point, but that’s not to say it doesn’t also work.
So-yong is now the real So-yong, and we learn that the two were saved by bulletproof vests. So-yong herself goes through an agonizing recovery, but luckily both she and their baby are fine. Ah, the court is just filled with such love and happiness and wholesomeness at this point.
Cheoljong takes care of all the corrupt officials once and for all, the grand queen dowager and queen dowager are all but banished, and So-yong makes some important changes in the court. Indeed, we see Bong-hwan reading about it in his book — Cheoljong and So-yong have gone down in history as wonderful rulers who cared deeply for the people, and planted the seed of democracy in their country.
And one step further, Bong-hwan is no longer a wanted criminal, but a lauded hero. Both he and Cheoljong saw a major change in their fate, and all for the better. With the souls returned to the correct bodies and everything set to rights, we’re left with a happy ending — with just enough cheekiness to leave us satisfied.
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