Moonshine: Episodes 7-8 Open Thread
Move over bad guys! There’s no room for your watered down booze in this town! Our favorite bootlegger has teamed up with a bunch of entrepreneurial women, and they’re about to prove that they’re resourceful and capable. The men… not so much.
EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP
We begin this week’s episodes not where we left off last week, but a few hours earlier. Ae-jin’s sticky fingers are poised to steal another hairpin, but Pyo steps in, buys it for her, and engrains himself in her heart. Lest we forget, though, Ae-jin is engaged to Young, and his father is eager to expedite the wedding. A fortune teller warned that they need to be wed before the summer or else bad luck (a.k.a. Ro-seo and Pyo) will ruin Young’s future. Ae-jin wishes to follow her feelings and cancel the wedding, but Young would rather ignore his growing affection for Ro-seo and plow forward to fulfill his duty to his family and society.
Ro-seo, on the other hand, has a duty to herself. She’s aware that she has feelings for Young, but she also knows that she’s better off building her own future than fantasizing about a life she can never have with him. However, her late night encounter with him after returning from Gwangju did make her realize one thing: she’s tired of lying.
She strikes one final deal with Woon-shim and Dae-mo, and after that she intends to retire from the bootlegging business. The quiet life Chun-geum dreams of sounds appealing… Or does it? Ro-seo now finds herself untethered by her family’s debt, and the idea of managing a business in order to make a profit — not out of survival — is appealing. Woon-shim senses Ro-seo’s desire to make something of herself, and extends an offer to be permanent business partners.
Woon-shim’s alliances may be murky, but I enjoyed seeing her and the other women team up to create, smuggle, and distribute their illegal alcohol. Even Ae-jin, who has a surprising knowledge of firearms, joined in and proved herself to be an unlikely ally among the bunch, and it was her inclusion that I appreciated the most.
Ro-seo’s struggle as a poor, indebted noble woman is relatable, but Ae-jin’s presence reveals that, even in the best case scenario, the life of a woman in this era is unfulfilling. If her family had not fallen on hard times, Ro-seo would still be caged, restricted to where she can go and whom she can meet. Creating her own — albeit illegal — business would give her an independence and importance in a society she’d otherwise never have. It’s no surprise, then, that all signs point towards her choosing the harder — but more fulfilling — path and teaming up with Woon-shim long-term.
While the women seem to have their shit together and work in harmony, the men are still at odds with each other. Intentional or not, I can’t help but see the dichotomy as a commentary on how much better society would be if it wasn’t patriarchal. On a macro level, we have all the political figures who are failing their subjects because they can’t seem to look past their own selfish interests to work together, and on a smaller scale we have Young and Pyo who are constantly at odds with each other because they’re both in love with the same woman.
At least Young and Pyo know when to set aside their differences when needed. One minute Young is showing up to read Pyo a bedtime story in order to — cough — “roosterblock” him from having a clandestine meeting with Ro-seo, and the next they are performing an elaborate heist to break a man out of jail in order to identify the murderous bootlegger who also has ties to Young’s past.
Young gets close to catching Merchant Shim, but Sang-mok isn’t the only bad guy with extra lives. Despite it being a two-against-twenty fight, with Young’s archer buddies having the high ground, Merchant Shim and his sidekick escape. Then, unsurprisingly, we learn that Merchant Shim has some powerful political backers who don’t want their money-and-booze-maker to go out of business. They also want Young to stop asking questions about the night that he has slowly been remembering.
Young had chalked up the events of his memory as either a dream or a story that his childhood brain mistook for reality. It seemed too fantastical that a tiger would come to his rescue, but after seeing the mark on Merchant Shim’s forearm, he’s starting to reevaluate everything. Was there really a tiger, though, or was the tiger a metaphorical stand-in for a man — Ro-seo’s father, perhaps — who came to his rescue?
Another big reveal about Young’s past this week is that the man who raised him is not his biological father, so Young’s uptight personality is not only the result of his upbringing. He’s duty-bound to return his adoptive father’s kindness and help elevate the family’s status though a strong marriage alliance.
But Ae-jin may not have to marry boring ol’ Young after all! A palace maid saw her with Pyo, inciting rumors of an illicit romance between the two. Shi-heum also whispered in her father’s ear and not-so-subtly insinuated that Ae-jin would make a grand match for the Crown Prince. It’s only a matter of time before her engagement is called off, but Pyo will not be happy about Young’s changed relationship status. He’s determined to swoop in and make Ro-seo his queen, but there were hints this week — in the form of matching tiger toys — that Ro-seo and Young have a childhood connection. In dramaland, not even a prince can win against a childhood friend romance trope.
I was starting to feel a little fatigued by all the palace politics, so I appreciate that this week’s episodes took a slight step back from the royal power struggle and focused more on the members of our main quartet. The love threads tying our four leads together are becoming more and more entangled, but as they struggle individually with the decision to either follow their hearts or their obligations, it becomes more and more apparent that their conflicts are a reflection of the society around them.
- Premiere Watch: Moonshine, The One and Only, The Silent Sea
- Yoo Seung-ho and Hyeri’s love is tested in new promos for When Flowers Bloom, I Think of the Moon
- Rebelling against prohibition in new promos for When Flowers Bloom, I Think of the Moon
- Script reading for KBS’s fusion sageuk When Flowers Bloom, I Think of the Moon
- Byun Woo-seok, Kang Mina joining Yoo Seung-ho and Hyeri in new sageuk