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Red Heart: Episodes 3-4

Having patiently bided his time for this very moment, our young king finally sets his carefully-crafted plan in motion. However, his adversary proves to be a formidable foe, and not one to ever be underestimated.

 
EPISODES 3-4 WEECAP

It clearly pains Tae, but he insists that he needs his betrothed for a plan he has set in motion. Jung asks plaintively if he loves that person, and while Tae tellingly doesn’t answer, he maintains that his betrothed is “someone important.”

We see Jung’s strength of character when she pushes past her heartbreak to carry out her duties for the workshop. Fiercely loyal DDONG-GEUM (Yoon Seo-ah) swears to take revenge on her behalf, but all that does is make Jung realize how little she knows about Tae — not wanting to hit a sore spot, she hadn’t asked about his background at all.

Tae and Jung cross paths in a chance encounter at the marketplace, though she recognizes his stoic refusal to acknowledge her, and she pretends she doesn’t know him. In private, though, she asks what he’s struggling with, insisting that she wants to help him just as he did for her.

Tae’s still carrying the guilt of causing Jung’s parents’ death and ruining her life, which makes her declaration that he saved her life and gave her the strength to continue living all the more heartrending. Despite clearly wanting to be swayed, Tae remains firm that his world has no place for her.

Unfortunately, their clandestine meeting is spotted by Gye-won’s right-hand man, who reports back as such. Gye-won’s onto Tae, and he interrogates one of the thugs involved in Jung’s attempted kidnapping. (Nice to see Go Geon-han again after Through the Darkness!) Suspicious that a supposed noblewoman is dabbling in commerce, Gye-won orders a background check, and the next thing we know, the village is being raided.

Tae’s plan to charm Yeon-hee into marrying him proves effective, and she begs her father to put her name in the running for Crown Princess. Minister Jo knows more than he lets on, though, and he reveals that the truth of Queen In-young’s death had been fabricated, covered up, and manipulated for the gain of both Gye-won and Tae. He warns her about how scary the palace can be, but she isn’t deterred one bit.

Still, Minister Jo’s staunch refusal to enter his daughter’s name into the running is tested by Gye-won, who repeatedly infringes on his jurisdiction. It’s a calculated power play meant to humiliate Minister Jo, and it culminates in him paying Tae a visit.

Reluctant to put his daughter on the line without a guarantee that she will become queen, Minister Jo asks Tae how he could possibly defy the queen dowager and Gye-won if they pick someone else. In response, Tae reveals all the machinations he put in place — including orchestrating meetings with Yeon-hee — to make this very moment possible.

“The one who made you come here was me,” Tae says, extending his hand to Minister Jo. “Trust me, and take my hand.” It’s a powerful moment, and tears brim in both men’s eyes as Minister Jo swears loyalty to Tae.

Gye-won isn’t backing down without a fight, though. Not only does he confront Tae about his plan to regain power through the queen selection — which leads to a tense moment where Tae shoots an arrow at an animal behind Gye-won — but he also lures Jung and Lord Im to his residence under the false accusation of theft.

Jung doesn’t waver, astutely pointing out that Gye-won must have an ulterior motive. She’s right, and he bestows upon her the name of his niece — he’s entering her into the running to be Tae’s queen. Ohmygod.

In the face of Gye-won’s threats against her family and everyone she holds dear, Jung has no choice but to acquiesce. Luckily, there’s at least one person in the household who isn’t all bad — the apple seems to have fallen far from the tree, and Gye-won’s son PARK NAM-SANG (Lee Tae-ri, yay!) is upright and noble.

Jung tricks him into letting her “sick” friends out of Gye-won’s captivity to see a physician, but interestingly, Nam-sang turns a blind eye even when he sees them escaping. Believing Jung to be his cousin Ah-ok, Nam-sang asks if she can’t tell him what’s going on — he simply wants to help her.

It’s hard to read his true motives just yet, but I really do hope he ends up joining the fight against his father. (Or is that just my bias for Lee Tae-ri showing in my hope to see him team up with Lee Joon?)

In any case, Jung is thrust into her new role as queen-to-be. Ddong-geum spots her walking into the palace, and with a bit of quick thinking, she gets herself chosen as Yeon-hee’s maid in order to enter the palace too. Aw, Ddong-geum vows to rescue Jung from the palace — we see in a flashback that Jung had saved Ddong-geum from near-death, and gave her food and a roof over her head.

Tae realizes something bad might have happened to Jung when she doesn’t show up on their usual meeting date, but his eunuch’s investigations prove fruitless. That is, until Tae notices a very familiar face walking through the palace as part of the potential queen candidates. Oof, the disbelief and despair written across his face…

Unfortunately, Tae isn’t allowed to enter the selection hall. With no way of confirming his suspicions, Tae convinces himself that he must have been mistaken.

To no one’s surprise, the queen dowager chooses Jung, further reinforcing her collusion with Gye-won. Tae isn’t cowed, since he already has a plan; he calls for the chief scholar to arbitrate, since even Gye-won doesn’t hold sway over him.

Pointing out that the three-year mourning period for the late queen has not yet ended, Chief Scholar Kim advises that the queen selection process be canceled, which sparks exactly the ire that Tae wants. He has the court stay in assembly until a decision is made, which lasts for three days (and results in many unhappy ministers).

Finally, Tae offers up a proposal to end everyone’s suffering — he will take both Jung and Yeon-hee as concubines, and only make a decision once the three-year mourning period is over. Whoa, that’s a bold move.

That night, Tae disobeys the consummation date set for him and Jung, intending to visit Yeon-hee instead. Following Gye-won’s orders to do anything it takes to get close to the king (in order to keep her loved ones safe), Jung speaks up in protest, demanding that Tae’s eunuch remind him to adhere to proper custom.

There’s more to her actions than it seems, though. Jung’s rude behavior could get her deposed, which is exactly what she’s hoping for; if Tae chooses to oust her, then she can end this charade and leave the palace.

Tae recognizes this, and decides to head to Jung’s quarters to inform her of her deposal — and that’s how the two come face-to-face, simultaneously realizing each other’s identity. Jung freezes in shock, and Tae reels in anguish. Elsewhere, Gye-won lays down a chess piece — it’s checkmate.

Gosh, I knew the drama was leading up to that very moment, but it still hit so hard. In addition to the breathtaking cinematography that skilfully draws out each moment, the acting here is simply top-notch.

I love that Jung has mettle and tenacity in spades, and that she’s more than willing to stand up against authority (all while maintaining poise and composure). It’s so refreshing to have a leading lady with a backbone, especially in an era where the ones engaging in power play are mostly all men. Jung isn’t afraid to wrest her own agency back from the people attempting to manipulate her, and it makes her such a compelling character.

She’s not the only one, either — I have such a big soft spot for Ddong-geum! She was so adorably spirited when standing up for Jung, and I love that she’s taking matters into her own hands to protect her lady. While I fear for her safety in the palace, I’m excited to see more of her.

And of course, I can’t leave out our two leading men — need anything more be said, though? They simply command the entire screen whenever they appear, and the air is always so rife with tension whenever they share a space. Jang Hyuk is outdoing himself again; I will never get over how expressive he can be without saying a single word, and Gye-won intimidates me (and everyone else, let’s be real) with just his gaze alone.

Meanwhile, Tae may have been forced into a corner his whole life, but he’s finally starting to let his fangs show. Lee Joon perfectly captures that feeling of teetering on the edge, a tempest contained beneath a cracking shell, and I can’t wait to see what happens once he’s tipped over the edge. There’s definitely more heartbreak to come, but if it hurts this good? Bring it on.

 
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Sob sob. Why can’t I get to see this, Universe? Why are you being so heartless (a semi pun I couldn’t resist)?

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There's something about this drama, the way the atmosphere seethes and sizzles, how the characters are smart, cunning, shrewd and strong-willed that reminds me of Seven-day queen. This could have a bittersweet ending as well.

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I can certainly draw the similarity with Seven Day Queen which is one of my favorite sageuks but for some reason Blood Heart is a few steps ahead right now. I feel this one has a stronger story and smarter characters.

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When they talked about how to annihilate Gye-won's family or something along those lines and having Jung as his niece.... Seven-day Queen came to mind T__T we are bound for a sad ending.

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well CRAP -- talk about a cliff hanger. at first i was irritated by the music, but i had to delete my complaint because episode 4 killed me...
now i am hooked.

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This show drags you in its universe. The cinemtography and angles are so atmospheric, so fitting to the tension portrayed in the show and so is the music. I didn't have headphones on for ep 3 and thought I was missing out on complete immersion. But all in all the actors and story are extremely good too. Not one moment is fast forwarded, I could miss out on a tiny expression otherwise. Everything in these 4 episodes was somehwat predictable from the synopsis of the show but none of it was predictable when I watched the show. The political maneuvers outsmart one after another. Totally didn't expect Yoo Jung to not give up when she has enetered the palace. Park has played a very bold move. He knows it will be hard for Lee Tae to give up on Yoo Jung but I feel the throne and the power it yields is ultimately the most important to Lee Tae. I feel Kang Hanna and Lee Joon have both shown excellent performance and micro expressions especially in these 2 episodes. I'm waiting for Jang Hyuk to go all in too.

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Love the directing and editing especially in the last scene of EP 4, they made it very thrilling and real fun. The cast had such brilliant performance which beyond my expectation. Jang Hyuk with his solo checkmate scene was so damn sexy. Lee Joon show us his various emotions when he finally met Kang Hanna really blew my mind.

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I’m starting to think that maybe the decision to NOT really flesh out the relationship between the two leads so far is to make the point is that it’s just infatuation rather than real love - I mean they meet each other one a month, he was dabbling in a bit of a fantasy and she was idealising a dude/her supposed saviour that she really doesn’t know anything about. Now is where the real ‘love’ begins I think, since the secret is out, they’ll be around each other all the time AND they’ll also have to actively try and break out of the palace shaped escape room they’re locked into.

I’m also starting to feel the ‘Jang Hyuk effect’ where he begins to really steal centre stage even as a supporting character, which isn’t to say that Lee Joon isn’t doing a good job (if anything he's fantastic) - I felt the exact same watching Wok of Love and My Country, despite the fact that both those shows had outstanding ML’s who could hold their own (2PM’s Junho, Yang Sejong & Wo Dohwan respectively) it’s just really hard to compete with whatever magic Jang Hyuk imbues his performances with.

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Also for any Australia based viewers - the show is finally (and randomly now?) on Disney+ woo!!

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@lapislazulii: You just made me so happy, you lovely fellow Aussie Beanie! Ta!

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🥰 🥰 🥰

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Yay!!! Just caught up with it. Loving every minute. I like your "Jang Hyuk effect"

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In regards to the drama not fleshing out the relationship between Tae und Jung: Several times, when I was watching scenes between the two I could follow along on an intellectual level, but not on an emotional one. I understood, that they had in theory known each other for a long time and had developed a bond but we didn't get to see their relationship (aside from one sample date), so it left me a little cold.
So your theory about infatuation is interesting, but I don't think it's a deliberate thing the show is doing. Even the flimsiest of childhood connections means true love in dramaland. The fleshing out probably just didn't work with the brisk pace of the first two episodes.

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Yeah that was me too, I was really hoping they'd flesh it out more this week considering they spent the first week telling us that these two had a connection but alas.

I am grasping at straws here a bit and being hopeful bc yeah insta love from flimsy childhood connections and sageuks go together like peanut butter and jelly hahaha so I also won't be surprised if it just remains as is *sigh*

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@lapislazulii: Your point is really insightful. What they have had is not so much a relationship but encounters predicated on attraction, guilt, sorrow and pain. You are right that now ‘love’ begins and that will expose them to the brutality of keeping their mutual infatuation alive amidst that horror show which is the game of thrones, Joseon version.

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This drama will be the death of me. The King is playing chess, the left counsel is playing Chinese checkers. When I saw what he does in the preview for next week, I said this man is really diabolical. That being said Jang Hyuk is FANTASTIC in this. He is so menacing, just wow. Lee Joon is doing his thing too. I can't wait until they give Kang Hanna her own weight, she is getting there, but just hasn't had as much screen time. This drama is just so well done, I am not sure I am ready for the heartbreak, but I just feel it coming.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that the market encounter was chance. I understood it to be manufactured by Gye-won in order to find out what Tae's and Jung's relationship is, since he knew they were meeting, but didn't know why.

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Yup, it was all his doing. It was Tae's first time going out to "see the citizens during the day" per Gye Won's suggestion. And Jung was went to the market with a customer who was really Gye Won's underling.

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The drama's setup came together nicely this week. I love a show, where characters are quick on the uptake and come up with actually creative schemes.
Also I, and several others, totally called the Jung-as-Gye-won's-nice thing :-P I still wonder what's up the original, though. She does seem to exist...

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The previews to next week's episodes give a hint.

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Now I'm immersed. All the characters are baring their claws at each other, armed to the teeth.
Park GW banked on the Jung's love for the nobleman. Had he made further findings he'd have known Jung's very likely hate for the Crown and sure hate of him. Everyone definitely shot themselves in the leg this round - Minister Cho, The King, Park GW. And PGW not knowing the instability of his move is... thrilling for me.
How the King and PGW will walk through this...more power struggles please.

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The cliffhanger was so good. Now, the story really begins. I'm so excited to have Jung in the Palace, involved in the power struggle, but scared too. This can't end well for anyone.

I liked that Lee Tae took both as concubines. The setup is so juicy.

The cinematography is still breathtaking. The acting is so good. Lee Joon was the standout for me last week, and he's still doing his thing. I was a little disappointed with Jang Hyuk last week, just because it seemed like a performance I'd seen many times from him, but his Park Gye-won is pretty scary. I'm looking forward to Kang Hanna getting some meatier material now that she's in the Palace.

I do have to say the editing could be better at times. The cliffhanger would have been even better if the love story hadn't been so half-baked, but it is what it is.

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I also am a little disappointed in Jang Hyuk. His lines and actions may be strong and evil but I feel like the man behind them is cool and detached. I also don't think his tiny beard helps his image.

I also was surprised when he uttered lines that could have come from the head palace lady in the Red Sleeve Cuff, about never allowing the king to be powerful again.

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LOL let's hope Bloody Heart doesn't have their own version of The Fairy Palace. It was such a traumatizing experience *o*

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I can't believe there is someone righteous close to Gye Won. His own son! I didn't know Lee Tae Ri was acting in this drama. He could pull off a morally gray character. Curious about his role. Has he been blinded by all of his father's shady actions? Or does he know and has his own plans?

The tension-filled buildup to Tae and Jung's encounter was so good. Ugh, I knew they would save it for the cliffhanger. She was bold and feisty in her demands for him to visit her. She looked strong yet her inner thoughts revealed her desperation. He was a formidable force charging in then he completely changed to a look of heartbreaking agony.

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Thanks for all the beanies' positive feed back I'm seeing here... I have been looking for reviews and wondering if I should add this Sageuk to my ongoing dramas

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Watching this drama back to back with Love All Play makes my heart race in a TOTALLY different way. But it's intriguing and everyone is so smart and cunning. Cannot wait to have Jung play her part (and see Kang Hanna's amazing acting), now that she's in the palace.

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I am enjoying it but can the king stop tearing up every other scene? It's getting tedious to say the least. KH and JH scenes together were the highlight this week, looking forward to seeing more of the uncle-niece act.

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@ayrulent: I am easy to tear too so I have a soft spot for others like me. I find his glistening eyes a sign of his internal struggle and not just a hammy Sajeuk trope.

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@dncingemma same. I cry when I'm frustrated or angry. I also find his tearing up show how struggle and desperate he was.

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I'm just not convinced by the way the king seems to have half-formed tears in his eyes before he even realises Jung is around. Tearing up irl is one thing, but restrained sadness on-screen can be more effective imo, especially in this case where their present day story is not developed enough yet to warrant so much emotion. I feel like there's too much disconnect between the "sunbae" who's obsessed with Jung and the king who's fighting for the court.

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Same feeling, I also felt he teared a little too frequent

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I have watched the first two eps. Work for a living sucks so have to watch the other eps later but a line from ep 2 made me think about what an amazing show that premise could make.
The line is something to the effect that the machinations will create a powerful family “that would be in power for generations to come”. Won’t it be interesting to have a hybrid Sajeuk/modern thriller which traces how certain -ahem ‘fictitious families’ have maintained power for centuries and have come to be part of the military, business and political ruling classes? I’m already casting it in my mind.

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I seem to recall that Live Up to Your Name has something of that.

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@jorobertson: Thank you for letting me know about this!

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So far, everything about this is great and it just pulls you in. Oh my gosh, the moves and countermoves! The setup we ended up with! Being 20 steps ahead of your enemy doesn't seem enough.

Bonus: We saw Jang Hyuk with a fan!

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I'm so late to the party, but I'm going to join soon for the man and his new fan.

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Hehehe noticed him with his fan immediately!

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I love Jang Hyuk’s acting but it doesn’t viscerally scare and disturb me even though it does intellectually. I know I’m an outlier on this. In contrast, the evil Grandpa in King’s Affection was bone chillingly horrific.

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Totes

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I can't wait to see the whole power struggle unfolds! It's exciting to see that everyone's so cunning in their moves yet no one gets to totally dominate the game because people's hearts are the most unpredictable. I'm in!

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It’s really great to have the two powerhouse actors as a protagonist and the antagonist in this drama. Usually, in sageuks, we get a hot ML crown prince or a young king against the evil old looking prime minister. This time, we got Lee Joon against Jang Hyuk. What a wonderful treat to our two senses - visual and hearing (their voices are so deep and sexy, full of emotion). But the weird thing for me, so far, is that Jang Hyuk has better chemistry with all the ladies (swooning and brooding). Especially, in the scenes with queen dowager (do they have some sad back story?) while Lee Joon shines in the revenge scenes with genuine evil glimpse in his eyes. It might be just me, but he always has more chemistry, and his talent shines brighter with his male counterparts in all dramas, and not with the FLs.

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It's not just you...I think LJ is at his best here when he's pseudo shooting arrows at left councillor.

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Hooked and sinked... cant wait for next week

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I finally started this and the visuals are breathtaking!

I cannot wrap my head around the fact that the King didn't bother investigating who shot him with an arrow or what happened to the guy who wanted to rob Jung. How foolish of him! Did he get too excited thinking he had the upper hand in his power tussle with the LSC for once in his life?

I can only applaud that power move from the left state councillor! That was a brilliant checkmate move! The King's hands will be tied between his allegiance to the Minister of war and his feelings for Jung...good luck to him.

It was good seeing Kang Han-na 😃, I can't wait to see Jung's power play. I think this is the first time I'm seeing both male leads in a drama. Lee Joon's tear glands are working overtime 😆😅 but his voice is >>>>>>>

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I'm just glad this is pure fiction, not historical adaptation, so the writer has the liberty with the story. I still can hope for happy ending. Still remember the foolishness of some writer who tried to romance national figure woman with someone besides her real husband. Even if the real husband is chauvinist assh*** still 🤷 cue Saimdang

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Ep4 was so exciting! I don't think PGW is really a bad guy coz he was secretly pleased when he saw the king fighting back. He really has the country's interest at heart and is trying to make a good king out of LT.

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