The King’s Affection: Episodes 19-20 Open Thread (Final)
It’s all come down to this. Our king has to defeat her enemies before they use her secret, and her loved ones, against her. She’s determined to make it out alive, but the more she fights, the more it seems like her long-lived nightmare is inescapable. Someone hold my hand — I’m definitely gonna get emotional.
EPISODES 19-20 WEECAP
This has to be one of the most exciting finale weeks I’ve had to dive into. Tensions have been building, with greed for the throne threatening numerous lives. Dam-yi and her inner circle have been getting strong, but her enemies have been getting stronger. And the couple is so in love and desperate to protect each other, it KILLS ME. I wanna jump through the screen and protect them myself.
After Ji-woon finds out that Dam-yi is the Dam-yi from his past, they reaffirm their love and decide to see to the end together. So-eun, being lovely and understanding as always, decides to cancel her arranged marriage with Ji-woon, reassuring him that he doesn’t have to feel sorry towards her. When Inspector Jung hears of this, he warns Ji-woon that he can’t protect Dam-yi any longer.
However, since day one, Inspector Jung’s heart has been with his family, even if his loyalties have been with Lord Sangheon. And now that Lord Sangheon has caught on to his lies and is targeting his family, his loyalties (finally!) shift to Dam-yi and her cause.
I love the turn with Inspector Jung, but I also love where the story goes with some of our other characters. As Dam-yi promised, she explains to her queen Ha-kyung why she’s been so distant, removing her robes and revealing that she’s a woman. I never cared for the queen character that much, but she did deserve the truth and I’m glad that she got it. Dam-yi also reveals the truth to the Queen Dowager, and though the Queen Dowager is shaken, you can tell that she does care for her granddaughter.
At first, things seem to go smoothly — almost too smoothly — as Dam-yi and friends get the evidence to arrest Lord Sangheon for treason. Dam-yi readies to get rid of her grandfather once and for all and to hand the crown over to Prince Jehyeon. But, somehow, Lord Sangheon escapes prison and meets up with Hyun’s brother Prince Wonsan, along with the huge army they’ve been recruiting. They’re on one team now, sharing the same goal to kill the female king. It’s truly a frightening scene, seeing them lead this army into the palace and towards our heroes.
Dam-yi sends Hyun off to guide Prince Jehyeon to safety, while she and Ji-woon stay to fight the soldiers. Inspector Jung does what he can to help, eventually breaking off to go after Lord Sangheon. But Lord Sangheon ends up stabbing Inspector Jung — AH, WHY — and leaving him for Ji-woon to find.
Ji-woon’s last moments with his father are quite heartbreaking, because all the anger and resentment that was between them gets pushed aside. Inspector Jung lets Ji-woon know that he loved that Ji-woon was different from him. And Ji-woon can only sob and embrace his father as he dies.
If that wasn’t enough, Prince Wonsan catches up to Hyun and Prince Jehyeon. Though Prince Wonsan can’t bring himself to kill his brother, he can and does kill Prince Jehyeon. Our trusty bodyguard Ga-on swoops in and takes Wonsan down, but it’s too late — Dam-yi’s hope for a good king to replace her is gone.
I expected Inspector Jung’s death, but oof, Prince Jehyeon’s death completely surprised me. It leaves Dam-yi in shock as well, and she feels that she’s all out of options. She has a moment alone with Ji-woon to confess that she loves him and always has, and as beautiful and heartfelt as it is, her pained expression is scaring me…
Dam-yi then confronts her grandfather for the final showdown. Much like their other interactions, their conversation is quiet and respectful, yet tight with tension. They both drink a cup of tea, and Dam-yi ominously states that they can leave this world together. Oh my god. She laced their tea with the very poison that Lord Sangheon used to kill her father.
Enraged, Lord Sangheon attempts to choke Dam-yi. But they fall apart, both of them coughing up blood. As they lie on the ground dying, I’m just staring at the screen with my jaw dropped. I cannot believe she did that. She wanted so much to survive, but wow… Like a true king, she did what she thought she had to do for her country and her loved ones.
While Lord Sangheon’s death is confirmed, there’s still hope for Dam-yi. We see her dreaming of a very different life, where she’s the princess and her twin brother is alive.
She’s dressed as a bride and eagerly runs over to her groom — Ji-woon. She looks so free and happy, until Ji-woon, and Eunuch Hong and Court Lady Kim behind him, start to disappear. She calls out to them, and the fear in her voice is the absolute saddest thing. It’s like we’re finally seeing Dam-yi with her defenses down, when it’s just her and her vulnerability, and she’s immediately crushed.
But then she wakes up and realizes that Ji-woon hasn’t disappeared; he’s right by her bedside, clutching her hand. He tells her that the nightmare is over, and they hug, crying. I have a theory that Dam-yi survived because of the anxiety medication she took right before drinking the poison, but at the end of the day, I don’t care about how she lived. I’m just glad she’s okay.
During the time Dam-yi was unconscious, Hyun, who was next in line for the throne, became king. Again, I didn’t expect this kind of outcome and I’m pleasantly surprised by how well it fits with the story. Dam-yi chooses to stand before him in trial, wanting to accept her punishment for stealing her brother’s identity. And Hyun, being the good king Dam-yi wanted, listens fairly as the officials and scholars stand up for her.
Dam-yi’s “punishment” is to be cleansed and to be given her own identity back, and it washes over as the biggest relief ever. My heart was racing all throughout these two episodes, and it was finally able to calm down. From there, my heart started racing again, this time from giddiness, as our happy ending plays out. Hyun and Ha-kyung seem to be at peace, Ga-on seems to have a hint of romance going on with Ji-woon’s friend Young-ji. Last, but certainly not least, Dam-yi and Ji-woon are living outside the palace, married!
I can’t even begin to explain how satisfying the last few minutes are. Dam-yi looks even more free than she did in her dream, and she goes by a name that is fully hers (Yeon-sun, as Ji-woon called her when they were kids).
As they kiss and walk along the beach, eventually meeting up with Hyun and friends, I smile through tears during their last exchange. Dam-yi: “Everything that has happened feels like a dream. A long, scary, yet beautiful dream.” Ji-woon: “Your dreams will no longer be scary. They will only be beautiful.”
The King’s Affection really was a long and scary, yet beautiful journey. It had gorgeous directing, phenomenal acting led by Park Eun-bin, and rich, charming characters that I couldn’t help falling in love with. I already know that I’ll be keeping this show close to my heart for a long time.
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