The King’s Affection: Episodes 13-14 Open Thread
The moment we’ve been waiting and watching for is finally here, but that doesn’t mean our couple’s love story gets any easier. New obstacles arise, as do new duties to king and country. But the more in love these two get, the harder it is for them to keep a lid on it, and it leads down a dangerous road.
EPISODES 13-14 WEECAP
Ladies and gentlemen! That delicious moment of anagnorisis is here — well, maybe I’m giving this big reveal moment a little more dramatic function than it actually has. But still, Ji-woon (finally) learns that his beloved prince is actually a woman, and a menboong ensues.
For me, this was the strongest moment of this week’s episodes entirely — not only how the moment was captured, but how it was suspended. We start up with the reveal scene again as Episode 13 opens, but it’s layered with all this emotional complexity. So good! Rather than a happy kiss and nothing complicated, instead we have this glorious tangle of vulnerability, confusion, a bond grown tighter, a bond changed, a love that’s altered but also as stable as ever… in short, it’s a beautiful mess.
When Ji-woon confirms that nothing has changed for him, the two settle into the perfection of this new bond, and new freedom. Ji-woon treats Dam-yi’s seemingly-dire arm wound (yay skinship!) and soon the two find themselves hatching a plan for their future life together hidden in the woods, which is my favorite thing ever. The humiliation and terror of dethronement was actually also freedom, and it’s like a gush of fresh air.
It’s so great that it can’t last, of course, and here’s where I take the nearest object and hurl it at my screen. I didn’t realize until the action returned to the palace, how very relieved I was to have had everyone (including us) escape it. But like a tractor beam, it pulls the crown prince back.
The king (who I was enjoying infinitely more now that we saw his secret-keeping abilities and tenderness towards his daughter) is murdered. A faction of the royal family (the queen and her father) conspire to this evil end, and the king has his herbal drink poisoned by an evil-looking green powder. In the wake of this, the crown prince’s horrible grandfather is doing his own conspiring to bring the crown prince back to the palace and have him reinstated. Which — noooo — eventually happens.
But first, the entire court goes into mourning, and Evil Grandpa uses the worst sort of threats in order to get Dam-yi to do what he wants. And so, in order to save her people (viz., Court Lady Kim, Eunuch Hong, Commander Yoon, and Ji-woon), she agrees to take the throne and become her grandfather’s puppet. *shriek*
At this point in the story I must confess my spirits were a bit down. We long expected Dam-yi to ascend to the throne (our drama’s title, after all), but I would so much rather have her living in hiding with Ji-woon. The palace is just oppression — especially with her grandfather pulling the strings.
In fact, I think that’s why this felt like such a boring stretch of the story. We know that if Dam-yi were really allowed to lead as she saw fit, the kingdom would be doing brilliantly. But, with her grandfather building armies and being generally evil, nothing good is happening. Hyun is still nearby, but Commander Yoon is forbidden from the court, little Prince Jehyeon is banished, Dam-yi is forced to marry (which happens shockingly fast), and overall I’m just as unhappy with the court as I am with the entire story right now.
The timeline of the drama also gets a little squiggly here, as we quickly have the enthronement, marriage, and the two-month period where Ji-woon stays at the court and secretly treats Dam-yi’s wound. He made a deal with his father, but ye olde Inspector Jung is just as smart (and malicious) as ever.
His new proximity to the king leads his mind down some paths we all hoped it would never find… he recalls the situation with the twins, the mysterious cross-dressing they did at the time, and the scar on Dam-yi’s neck. In the end, it’s this scar that is the undoing: Jung realizes that the king is Dam-yi in disguise. And just to cement that fact for him, he sneaks up on his son and Dam-yi smooching it out in the middle of the court.
And that means it’s time to grumble about the story again, because at this point we have been waiting two entire episodes for our OTP to kiss, but when we finally get to that moment, it’s utterly ruined by Inspector Jung gasping from the sidelines. Not only did neither of them see him, which is a little irksome, but we can’t fully enjoy their kiss, since it’s half for the romance and half for the reveal. Curses!
Complaints aside, I think the plot will pick up next week, between Inspector Jung’s new knowledge, Dam-yi’s secret intelligence chain with Commander Yoon (♥), and ex-bodyguard Ga-on who is slinking about and will probably come in handy at some point.
Another good moment this week (and yet another reveal) was Hyun admitting to Ji-woon that he knew Dam-i’s secret all along, and that he’s chosen to love her silently.
The drama couldn’t have set up a group of more faithful servants and lovers if it tried, so here’s hoping the rest of the drama will pick up the pace, start amping up the tension, and give us something besides scheming ministers. I want sword fights, desperate escapes, heartbreaking sacrifices, and achingly beautiful goodbyes. That is all.
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