The King’s Affection: Episodes 5-6 Open Thread
There’s so much puppy cuteness going on in this show sometimes I forget that there is also danger lurking at every turn — and our princess-in-disguise isn’t the only one that has to worry about her safety. Her royal tutor has earned his place, and finds himself strangely drawn to the prince against his will, but it turns out he’s no safer than anyone else in this palace of secrets.
EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP
This week’s episodes: personal attack or clever narrative structure? Most of Episode 5 is spent chronicling the cute interactions among our
puppies royals and nobles. It’s easy to get mesmerized by the gauzy glances and hidden attractions — so much that when things turn dire in the latter half of Episode 6, it almost feels like a personal attack. What! Where is all the cute?
We open up with a replay of the gat tying scene, and that’s just fine, because I could watch it all day. This little interlude reveals some coming relationship triangles, though — first, Dam-yi learns that Ji-woon and Hyun are friends. We’ve seen her warm up to Ji-woon despite her best attempts to get rid of him, and we’ve also seen the close friendship she has with Hyun. Now, to learn that those two are also friends is a bit of a shock to her. But I love it. It’s gonna get juicy.
Hyun, eagle-eyed for all things related to the prince, saw him (her) eyeing a pretty ring in a shop, and later gives it to her. He says meaningfully that the prince should, “Give it to the lady he loves.” Uh, wait, is that what he’s doing right now? It certainly feels that way.
Sure enough, rather than keep us squirming on this question a little more, the drama confirms that Hyun indeed knows that Dam-yi has taken the place of her brother. In flashback, we see how he accidentally observed the whole thing happening in the prince’s chambers. I love that he’s known for a good decade and hasn’t given a thing away. It seems his only mode is Adore the Prince Mode, and I’m okay with that.
Meanwhile, our goofy tutor seems to be falling under the same spell when it comes to the prince. More often than he’d like to admit, he finds himself utterly transfixed — it’s like a spell comes over him. His pupils turn into hearts.
We get to enjoy a bunch of cute hijinks between them — and I’m loving how the drama is playing with the role reversal. We have our traditional hero/heroine moments, like when Ji-woon saves Dam-yi from the falling vase and scoops her out of the way protectively. But then we also have really fun inversions of this too, where (for instance), Ji-woon is shown with a basket full of flowers gazing with admiration as Dam-yi displays her epic sword fighting skills. That the drama can serve us both regular swoons and inverted swoons makes this a whole lot of fun.
Amidst the glossy cuteness and hijinks, though, is a deeper danger that starts to creep in. It starts with a few threats to the prince’s safety, the first being the mysterious assassin making another appearance in the court. COMMANDER YOON (Kim Jae-chul) (marry me!) spots him and gives epic chase, but eventually loses the assassin in the palace shuffle. However, there’s a pretty big neon arrow pointing at our silent bodyguard Ga-on being the culprit. (My money is on Ga-on being a red herring, but we shall see.)
The next threat comes from Prince Changwoon who, being an utter tramp, sets up a weird plot with his gisaeng of choice. Why doesn’t the prince seem to chase women? Prince Changwoon decides that gassing the crown prince’s bath with an aphrodisiac is a good idea, and even adds his gisaeng there for good measure. Luckily this plot is quickly exposed by Ga-on (who seems as intuitive as he is silent), and Prince Changwoon rightly faces hell from multiple characters.
The inexplicable attraction between the prince and his tutor continues to grow on parallel tracks. Ji-woon is smitten, as we’ve seen, but Dam-yi also has trouble getting Ji-woon out of her head — I mean who can blame her for liking being wrapped up in Ji-woon’s protective embrace?
As if her struggle with being attracted to him isn’t enough, Ji-woon is such a silly, heart-on-his-sleeve kind of guy, he doesn’t even mind opening up to the prince about his first love. Thanks to the Zuo Zhuan volume he transcribed for Dam-yi all those years ago, Dam-yi hears first-hand how much he cared about her.
My favorite thing about this setup is that all the angst and emotional pressure, for now, is all Dam-yi’s. Not that I want her to suffer, but objectively in terms of dramatic angst, I quite like that she is the one that knows that Ji-woon is Ji-woon, that he was also her first love — and that she can never even give a whisper of that truth away.
Even more so, she has to make sure her identity remains safe, and thus confirms in the palace annals (and shows Ji-woon as well) that ten years in the past, Dam-yi left the palace due to grave illness.
This lie being perpetuated, Dam-yi is safe, the cuteness is free to continue, and it seems (at first) like the best of all possible worlds. Ji-woon even goes hunting for the secret cottage where Dam-yi used to live, and starts cleaning and sprucing up the place (omo, is this going to become their secret love nest?).
However, things do not stay cute for long, and soon Ji-woon’s very life is at stake. The truth comes out about Ji-woon being the physician from Samgaebang — So-eun seeks him out in prison and uncovers the truth by accident. This simple lie has huge and terrifying repercussions. Ji-woon’s resignation is ordered immediately, but rather than be fearful for his job, or even his own life, Ji-woon’s only concern is saving the two kids that worked with him at the shop, Jil-geum and Young-ji.
The whole thing actually comes to a terrifying peak, because we see (again) how ruthless Ji-woon’s father truly is. He’s more than ready to murder both Jil-geum and Young-ji (particularly the former). His plan is for Jil-geum to die as the infidel who ran the shop, and for Ji-woon to be free to remain a respected scholar and tutor to the crown prince.
The more we see the evil that’s in Inspector Jung, the more we get a direct contrast to Ji-woon, who’s ready to fight for the truth, take responsibility, ask for help (from the prince no less!), and protect those he loves — even by falling on his own sword if that’s what it takes. Indeed, it looks like Ji-woon just might face death for his crimes (i.e., lying to the royal family).
Dam-yi might spurn his request for help, but we know she’s just as good-hearted as Ji-woon is (ack, it’s why we love them). And so, in a pivotal moment, she not only sweeps in to stop Inspector Jung’s total massacre, but, in our ending scene, marches into the court right when Ji-woon is getting his sentence.
The king has just asked a loaded question about Jil-geum, who was supposed to be in prison, but again it’s the crown prince to the rescue. Dam-yi comes in with full Dragon Mode engaged. “Allow me to answer that question,” she says.
Now, I know that Ji-woon won’t actually be put to death or even banished (right?) but the evilness and total power that some of our characters have (Inspector Jung and Dam-yi’s grandfather, the Left State Councillor) makes everything feel even more dire. Even so, it’s a pretty delicious ending, because it not only means that Dam-yi is willing to step out on a limb for Ji-woon, but that she’s as capable of moral bravery as he is — and there’s nothing better than that.
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