River Where the Moon Rises: Episodes 3-4 Open Thread
After a promising start last week, River Where the Moon Rises continues to be awesome. Rather than drag out its reveals, we meet them head-on — and so does our princess. Uncovering her true identity has a huge impact not only on her future, but on everyone around her, from old friends, to new enemies.
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP
Shaken by the rumors she heard, and the memories that are swiftly coming back to her, Ga-jin soon begins to stitch the mystery of her past together. The man who she was told was her father admits that he took her in when she was a young girl. He returns to her the jade necklace that proves her royalty.
A mystery that was bugging me last week was also solved — I thought it was the mysterious monk that took her in as a girl. This week, however, we learn that it was the ringleader of Cheonjubang. He not only knew/knows her true identity, but took advantage of that when he trained her as an assassin and sent her on a mission to kill her own father, the king. And in case anyone was also curious why Cheonjubang is so anxious to commit regicide, we also learn that they’ve been hired by the all-too-evil General Go. He’s already destroyed the royal family, but now he’s ready to take over the kingdom permanently.
Watching Ga-jin discover, confirm, and accept her identity as Princess Pyeonggang was as satisfying as it should be, and as mentioned above, I’m happy this wasn’t dragged out for too long. The two episodes it took her to meet with her father, receive the necklace, meet the court lady that raised her (yay Kim Jung-young), and then have her memories flood back as further confirmation — this all felt quite well-paced.
The fact that the princess is alive and well makes a few people rejoice, but makes most everyone else get a murderous glint in their eye. Ga-jin’s presence creates a major problem for General Go and his tribes’ plans — his only aim is to get rid of her.
And that’s a perfect segue to talk about his son, GO GEON (Lee Ji-hoon). I’m always impressed by the range Lee Ji-hoon is capable of (he somehow slips right into every role), but I think the character of Geon is quickly becoming a favorite.
We met him as a boy during our premiere — importantly training the princess in her swordsmanship, and even more importantly swearing allegiance to her above his own father and tribe. There’s a reason we’re shown this, of course; it’s a fateful comment, and it’s set up to be a metaphor for Geon’s entire story arc.
In fact, we’re seeing this play out a little bit already, when the princess is discovered in the present day. While Geon’s father is demanding her death, Geon himself is already torn. Deliciously so. The two have a great moment of recognition, and I must say, their chemistry is fantastic. Geon, in particular, is so full of complexity and calculation — we’re watching him play both sides already, and I have no doubt the intensity will only increase.
Speaking of chemistry, Dal is clearly one-and-done smitten with Ga-jin. He comes to her aid again and again this week, whether she’s trying to sneak into the palace to meet the court lady, or when he voluntarily stays behind as collateral while Ga-jin is out uncovering her past.
It’s here that we meet HAE MO-YONG (Choi Yoo-hwa), wealthy trader of medicinal herbs… and dangerous hallucinogenics. Also intel. She’s clearly dangerous and conniving, but there’s something I quite liked about her — in a femme fatale sort of way.
Mo-yong also sets a nice contrast with Dal. While she’s keeping him as collateral, we see her vicious and powerful side come out. But it’s Dal that’s been playing her all along — she might have him bleeding out and hanging upside down, but he’s only playing along. It was such a great moment when with one quick flip, he frees himself and changes the power dynamic between them.
As expected, the growing friendship (and romantic interest) between Dal and Ga-jin is impacted when they recognize each other from the past. This was another reveal we were all waiting for — and what a great one it was. We get the enjoyment of seeing them remember each other separately, and then sharing their recollections when they meet. So much great, yet ill-fated, angst and weight from the past!
While Dal is aggrieved that she’s indeed the princess (since the royal family was what caused his tribe to be slaughtered and go into hiding), it’s Ga-jin who is weighed down the most. Not only does she have to come to terms with the havoc her lineage caused in the past, but she must, according to the monk who advises her, find a way to live as the princess.
This, indeed, is the mountain that our heroine is facing as she accepts her identity, and everything that it means. However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that she’s not alone — she has Dal, she has the wonderful people of the Sunno tribe/Ghost Valley, and who knows, she might even have Geon on her side, too.
There’s lots of great setup as we move into phase two of the drama, and if there’s one thing that’s exciting me the most about River right now, it’s that we have rich and interesting characters to follow as the plot thickens.
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