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Red Heart: Episodes 5-6

As our young king’s worst fears come true, he’s faced with an impossible choice: to let harm come to the woman he loves or to let all of his carefully laid plans come crashing down. Meanwhile, the lady in question has to navigate the new identity that has been thrust upon her.

 
EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP

Tae and Jung are equally devastated to recognize each other in the palace and to realize what this means. For Jung, it’s that the man she’s loved for so long was the crown prince, the son of the man who had her entire family executed – and he never told her.

For Tae, it’s that all his efforts to protect Jung have gone to waste, and now he has to choose between his love for her and his fight against Gye-won.

And that, at least for now, seems to be exactly what Gye-won wants. More than just trying to secure his hold over the throne, he’s testing Tae’s priorities. Will Tae, like his father, do anything and everything in his power to protect his beloved, even if it means sacrificing power? Or will he sacrifice love to maintain control?

Thankfully, Gye-won doesn’t seem to know Jung’s true identity yet, but his scheme of having Jung play the part of his niece is a risky one. And, just as Tae feared, it almost immediately puts her in danger.

A servant woman who practically raised Gye-won’s real niece knows immediately that Jung isn’t her, and her confused protests raise enough questions that Tae is forced to take some kind of action.

While the servant is punished for lying and ultimately takes her own life, it’s undeniable that at least some of what she said was true. And there’s a simple way to check: if Jung is who Gye-won says she is, she’ll have a mole on her stomach.

Gye-won craftily proposes Tae confirm her identity himself, leaving Tae with two choices: he can either expose Jung as an imposter and finally have a concrete reason to oust Gye-won, or he can affirm Jung as Gye-won’s niece, thus saving her life but also solidifying Gye-won’s position.

Tae agonizes over this choice, but in the end, he tells Jung he’s decided to abandon her. By which he means he’ll say she’s Gye-won’s niece, and he’ll treat her exactly as he would if she really were: coldly and cruelly.

And he does. Much to Yeon-hee’s gloating delight, he indulges her and snubs Jung every public chance he gets. Temping as it might be to hate Yeon-hee, though, I mostly feel sorry for her. She has no idea of anything going on behind the scenes, and fully believes that Tae loves her. She’s in for a rude awakening at some point, and I imagine the fallout won’t be pretty.

As much as Tae and Jung try to ignore it or will it to disappear, their love for each other isn’t easy to get over. The turning point comes when Jung learns that Tae had come to her for comfort on the day his father died – proving that his feelings for her were more than just pity or feeling responsible for her life being ruined.

She finds him alone on a bridge that night, and his immediate concern over her tearful face only confirms what she’s guessed. There, she finally agrees to do what he’s been begging her to do since the night they recognized each other: to leave the palace.

With the help of his trusted eunuch, they devise a plan for her escape. During the upcoming feast, she’ll have a veiled stand-in attend in her place while she slips out his secret library tunnel and his eunuch guides her out of the palace.

The plan works beautifully: when they meet with the Queen Dowager to plan the feast, Jung volunteers to oversee fireworks – which will create the perfect distraction – and Tae “grudgingly” agrees but insists she wear a veil so he doesn’t have to look at her.

But there’s one variable no one counted on: Jung’s faithful friend, Ddong-geum, who has gotten herself planted in the palace in an effort to help her escape. As soon as Jung sees her, she realizes that Ddong-geum is the planned decoy and will have to remain behind in direct danger once the switch is discovered.

She can’t let that happen – in fact, her reaction is much the same as Tae’s was when he saw her in the palace – so when Gye-won’s eunuch spy ambushes Tae’s eunuch just outside of palace grounds, he’s flabbergasted to find that the “servant girl” being escorted out is just that.

And when Tae is coerced into lifting Jung’s veil for all to see, he’s dismayed to find Jung herself looking back at him and declaring that she’s determined to survive by becoming queen, after all.

I admit, I never for a moment doubted that it was actually Jung under that veil. So the dramatic buildup to the reveal wasn’t nearly as tense as it seemed to want to be. However, it was satisfying to see Gye-won so unnerved that he was running through the palace, breathless and maybe even frightened, to see for himself if Jung really had escaped.

Until now, Gye-won’s control over the throne has felt so total, so unshakeable, that our leads seemed to have slim chances – if any at all – of ever outsmarting him. But this week presented us with a new view of him, and perhaps some glimmer of hope that he isn’t unbeatable.

His hints of a romance with the Queen Dowager is an interesting layer to his character, and may be one area of weakness for Tae to target later. But I’m also intrigued by his wife, who sometimes appears sympathetic to Jung’s plight and other times seems just as ready to kill for power as her husband.

So while I don’t doubt that Gye-won would sacrifice love for power, I do wonder if, in some capacity, love may yet lead to his eventual downfall.

 
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Otteoke~~
It's undeniably pretty but it has barely made me FEEL anything yet. 😭😭😭😭😭

I know, I know. "What Sic? How could you!"
Alas, it's true though.
I know I'm heartless at the best of times but it's hard to be invested in something that doesn't make you care.
I'm most engaged when Kang Hanna is on screen, and, specifically, when her scenes with the King are from her POV. (Like that scene on the bridge where she recalled their past meeting after his father died- THAT was a good scene).
If I keep watching, it will be for her (hardly the worst reason to keep watching tbh).

Otherwise, I'm just not connected with this drama as much as a) a lot of other people seem to be (😬) or b) as much as I'd really like to.*

As a Historical Fashion Nerd aside:
I don't yet know the level of historical authenticity to them yet, but I like how this is as a sageuk set during winter, actually has winter clothing- quilted and or fur lined hanboks, secondary warmer layers over the top, etc.
I don't know if the representation of this is as I said, accurate, but logically to me its completely within the realm of it and I think it's a nice touch.

(*Tbf- part of this may be from a kind of drama burnout I'm experiencing at the moment, in response to which I really need to just bite the bullet and drop a whole bunch of stuff, and never mind why I'm trying to continue them. Lol.)

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Same... I'm definitely not into this show as much as I'd like to be.

I'm just here for Heo Sung-tae and Kang Han-na.

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Thanks for the history fashion bits 😅. My eyes had trouble adjusting to the "thicker" robes and I'm now just realising from your comment that they are made like that for winter.
I haven't watched that many Sageuks, so I think this is the first time I'm seeing those or may be I'm just old and forgot😅.

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It threw me off at first before I realised what they were as well dw, haha.
And as @wapz and @pohonphee also noted- It's also my first time seeing, as far as I recall anyway, this kind of winter quilted hanbok in a sageuk.
An older veteran of the Sageuk Club might be able to tell you otherwise.

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I love the attention to detail with the winter clothing. I don't remember any sageuk doing that but I clearly have only seen a handful to deduce if it's a thing or not. I'm liking the show but I also get ypur point. The emotional connection and feeling that so much is at stake is lackluster. Had it not been for the wonderful direction and cinematography, the story alone wasn't enough to set the mood and emotions. I may sound sexist, even if i don't intend to, but as much as I know the writer is a man and as far as kdramas go, I've noticed the female writers really bring out the emotions and what you should care about part. At times to the extent that there's more focus on the feelings than the plot itself. On the other hand the pd is a woman and well, she's doing an excellent job but I feel a man may or may not have done the same too (the attention to detail and setting the mood is sth i recently found in RSC which was also by a femaled pd) .

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Not femaled but female 😂
Also Your*.

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Can't really relate to your comment the possibility that the emotional connection is related to the sex of the writer, as my favourite kdrama writers are pretty split between the two haha.
And my current favourite drama director is also a man.

But it's probably more that this writer specifically, never mind his gender, struggles with the emotional connection and creating investment side of writing.

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Yeah that would be more likely. But I think one more episode for the background story would've been enough. Still I feel that isn't that big an issue for me.

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I'm with you on the not really feeling anything yet sentiment!! I appreciate the varying elements of the drama - esp. premise, acting and visuals on every level - but like you, I'm just not super attached to anything (yet??). I think the biggest indicator of that for me is the fact that I'm not dying during the wait between episodes or actively super looking forward to them. I think I'll continue thought bc I'm intrigued to see how the plot develops but it really does feel like this drama has all the ingredients for a great show but something's missing in its execution.

Also really cool facts about the clothing - I didn't know there was winter versions of the clothes (bc I'm dumb) BUT I was wondering why they seemed thicker and different!

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Oh I feel this so much. I got to my Tuesday morning (when it airs for me) and just felt so lacking in motivation to click play on the latest episodes.
We'll see if I continue next week or not, don't know yet haha.

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This is the 1st time I see this type of fabric used for the robe. Not fan. If you have watched many sageuk in years you will notice the trend of the fabric and colors. Older sageuk used brighter color for the red, blue, and green and the fabric is more sparkling. Recent sageuk, the color is darker. I like the navy blue for for Lady Park's cloth.

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I think the colour of the court robes might also have something to do with the production studio behind the sageuk, and possibly budget and costuming design choices- because I remember Inspector and Joy last year had very highly saturated reds and blues- and they seemed to be a lesser quality fabric as well. So I think there's still some variation there.

I love Lady Park's hanboks in this- I like that they're often darker serious colours in comparison to Lady Choi who wears more brighter and pastel colours, which coincides with their respective maturity and demeanor.

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Same here and I am trying to work out what it is. The atmosphere of the cinematography is beautiful, but I keep thinking that the drama and the actors are trying really hard, the effort is there. This is not what I should be thinking, I want to be swept away by the characters and the story.

The king is crying a lot, beautifully, too, but I don't feel his pain. Jang Hyuk is somehow not bringing his magic as he usually does. Maybe he needs to use a fan more often. Kang Han-na is the most watchable.

Palace politics are the usual bore (it is always the same, too).

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Our mission should we choose to accept it: to find whatever tf this show's missing puzzle piece is haha

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I'm sure that the amount of tears Yi Tae has shed will soon qualify/qualifies as record-breaking for all Joseon Kings.

The left state moves are so smart and powerful that I can't help but applaud despite my hatred of him and I begin to wonder if Yi Tae and Jeong will ever get a chance. The King especially always seems 10000 steps behind and I wonder how he survived in that Palace until now when he doesn't come off as quite the smart person. It also doesn't help that the only trust worthy person he has had in that Palace for 20+ years seems to be Eunuch Jung. How? Why? Is the LSC really all powerful and all knowing? 😪

I had called the Left state councillor - Queen Dowager thing after watching the second episode. There was just this way she looked at him and almost waited for his instructions to do any thing that gave it away. Left state councillors are really always assholes and the epitome of wickedness 🙄; he obviously loved power more than any feelings he ever had for her to ask her to do such a thing. I'm not sure how the king will use this "weakness" but it will surely come in handy.

I really really want to see how Jeong will start making power moves on her own and pull in her own weight in this fierce battle after all more than her feelings for Yi Tae, her whole family was annihilated so she has scores to settle as well.

Yeon-hee annoys me a lot, she's such a spoilt brat but then I also realise she doesn't know what's really going on and sigh

Everything about this drama screams pain and I'm here wondering if I really needed another painful Sageuk right after TRS albeit completely fictional

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I don't think any Joseon king can top the amount of tears Kim Soo Hyun's character shed in The Moon that Embraces the Sun. 😃

I totally agree with your last paragraph. I said I wasn't going to watch another painful sageuk after TRS but Bloody Heart is irresistible, so bring on the pain!

Then again, unlike TRS, BH is fiction so there's more leeway for a happy ending.

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😅 I haven't watched The Moon that embraces the sun but it's somewhere in my list.

Yeah, I'm secretly hoping that they find a way to give us a happy ending since it's fictional

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All the scenes where the actors' eyes seem so misty and teary are too much it lessen the effect.
They must be provided eyedrops 😅

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This is the first time I'm seeing this actor in a drama and I have honestly been wondering if he just has a natural disposition that makes him tear up easily 😂😂😂.

He is already always outsmarted by the left state councillor, so all the tears just make him seem all the more weak/vulnerable for the kind of position he holds.

Let me just attribute it to love 🤣🤭 since it's mostly his interactions with Jeong that seem to activate his tear ducts 😅

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You're right. It's like he has an oceanfull stored somewhere that just drops any moment he sees he messed up or is in a bind😅. They just fall. He doesn't have to force it

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It is not just the king, Lady Park, Left state councilor, Queen Dowager. All teary-eyed.

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I've been following the actor gingerly, and I must say that I actually do worry that he has picked such serious roles lately given his history of mental health, just getting out of the military, etc.

Though his roles pre-military seemed more light-hearted, he just seems to be an actor that gets caught up in his roles. Not too much so, I hope.

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Oh the tears! They are a tad bit too much and take away from feeling Tae'pain. Had he not teared up the last 4 episodes, his tears in the beginning of ep 5 could've been really impactful because he genuinely felt helpless. Though here I was thinking, "there he goes again".

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@wapzy: Initially I thought Tae’s glistening eyes were intended to convey his constant internal struggle fueled by his agitation, fear, anxiety and sadness but maybe it was purely a physiological reaction to filming in the cold and/or having eye drops to facilitate crying? In RL, while my wonderful mother was sick for a prolonged period, I was so deeply grief-stricken that I was always a hairbreadth away from weeping. I would try not to but tears would leak out of my eyes on trains, in meetings, in my office, in restaurants, in stores and while walking. It was an all-consuming tearfest and I was powerless to stop it. I don’t think I could’ve survived without crying as much.

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Oh I'm definitely not linking this to real life. I cry at anything and everything too. I also think it's because of his inner turmoil but the thing is there's a limit to what the audience can bear. While he has been through extreme circumstances, and that may be totally valid to cry that much in real life because of them, on screen it gets tiring. And as I said, reduces impact. Crying scenes are very powerful and in these 2 episodes, there were 2 scenes that would've been way more impactful had Tae not always been crying before that. One where he finds out Lady Park is Yoo Jung and next where she is wiping his tear but he refuses.

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The amount of tears is distracting honestly lol. At first I thought it's because of the weather, since it's winter and quite a lot of them are often teary-eyed. But after some time I was like, nah, it's just their style of acting and their interpretation of how the characters felt. But it's weird because everyone is playing politics and usually you want to keep your emotion hidden, or at least under control. Especially as the King, you shouldn't offer your heart on a platter for others to see.

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Finally Lady Jung makes a move that imprints herself in the palace. At this point it'd be nice to align herself to power. She can build power so she can get protection independent of the King or Councillor Park because time and time again these two men have proven incapable of coming to her aid. Once the King appoints those Sarim scholars, it would be a very good way to hold sway in court. Lady Cho has her fathers people, hence she needs to align her own people.

Frankly, seeing the King and PGW on screen boils my blood. They are impressive but the imbalance this two episodes made the question the King's wit. Did PGW really have all the cards here? He could have backed PGW into the corner but the choose not to. He could take Lady Jung as queen and still alienate PGW from the benefits of being the king's in-law. He has the weight to do so. So why? Why punish Lady Jung twice for the errors of his father, him and PGW, and then his errors and PGW's.

I was really hoping she would hate the King even if it was for an episode. He ruined your ancestry for crying out loud and you do not even have an actual civil conversation about that. It's too easy. Her love really covers a multitude of sins.

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I am most excited to watch her build power and stand on her own in the Palace. I don't think PGW has realised how much power he has potentially given her if she's smart enough (I hope so).

I honestly thought she would be angry for much longer but I'm also kind of happy it wasn't dragged because the king is technically not directly responsible for what happened to her family; he also lost his mum and it looks like he is dedicating his life to make amends for that.

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Not dragged, addressed. It was meant to be addressed as a necessity as she has lived with that grief for more than 1/3 of her life. Brushing it past just like that is pure disservice to her father, ancestry.

She has to put on her smart pants back wherever she kept them.

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Yes, it should have been addressed

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I don't know if it's because this drama is so beautiful that my brain can't focus on the plot or if the story is lacking and it's why I don't really care about the characters... I mean Jang Huyk and Lee Joon are big enemies but it sounds more because the plot wants it than a real reason behind it. After 6 episodes, it's only about Palace intrigues and the people could dance naked, nobody would care.

I'm like @sicarius, I love their clothes are actually made for the cold season. They look cozy like that.

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The cinematography is excellent. It can really take you outta the drama you wouldn't care about what's actually going on on screen.

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I continue to be impressed by the directing. There are some really interesting shots and visually, this is the most beautiful sageuk I've seen.

Both episodes were predictable, but I thought they did a good job building the tension anyway. I loved the end of Episode 6 with Jung declaring her intentions to become Queen. She's definitely the most sympathetic and interesting character in my eyes, and she's smart. PGW definitely seems to respect her a bit.

I appreciate a restrained Jang Hyuk, it's something that doesn't happen often, but he's playing it a little too restrained for me. I feel something for the other characters, at least, but not him.

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I keep pondering if the king played by Junho. It is not like Lee Joon is bad, I love his expression at the scene where he must to lift up her veil like the mix between he is glad she stays and fears that she can't leave. Junho retains his cocky-ness (like NJH that always has that nerdy aura) in whatver character he plays which suits this type of character.

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I feel Lee Joon is doing a really good job. If i compare Lee Junho's performance in the RSC then that was a rather whiter character than greyer like Lee Tae. Lee Joon is bringing the bad and the good aspects of this character together.

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ITA. I think he's giving an incredible performance, as usual. Whatever the drama lacks, it's not great acting.

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I think I got what you meant. The King felt too weak for a King. And for Junho, yeah I could see the characters he played in the past usually have strong core (in Confession he's physically weak but mentally strong). But maybe the director wants the King to appear that way here, let's see if there will be a bigger reveal.

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I had zero expectations going into this drama. Maybe that's why I'm just enjoying the ride. I'm not BLOWN AWAY by it, but I'm really captivated by the characters, the cinematography. It feels like slow burn, and that's okay with me :)

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What a conundrum the King finds himself in. He is so worried about Lady Jeong that he can't focus on accumulating power. He needs to impregnate Yeon Hee, but keeps looking out for Jeong. He needs the backing of her father, but he just can't focus. Jeong meanwhile said I don't care, I am going to get my man, lol. What a mess. Bloody heart indeed.

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The betrayal scene of that eunuch of PGW was actually a real plot twist, even the bossy PGW couldn't trust anybody. His people could be enermies in a blink of an eyes. Maybe the next one was his son or wife? Let's see. Ddong-geum isn't gonna end well for sure.

And The scene I'd like to mention was when Lee tae going to see Jung at the bridge and she realised that he wasn't play with her heart.

I'm with a lovesick-puppy king but he needs to step up his game from now on.

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If anyone gets me anxious in this show it's Ddong-geum. I know she's a friend to Jung, but she has no notion of how to be discrete. She's going to get herself killed or put Jung in more danger.

And as most Beanies here have mentioned regarding Gye-won, he's certainly doing some bad things, but you just have to give him points for how he makes his moves.

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This show does many things extremely well. It's expertly directed to be addictive and supremely watchable, even when not much is actually happening. It also manages to show the soul-sucking horror of living in and being beholden to the palace (the casual way the King ordered the flogging of all those servants--which we then had to actually see--was brutal largely because the naked disregard for those people's lives was casually accepted) while still making viewers (or this one at least) want to believe redemption and a way out of this mess is possible for everyone.

The actors are playing all the layers of what are often very straightforward lines and dialogue expertly, and the costumes, sets, cinematography, makeup are extraordinary. I enjoy watching this drama and will continue to do so.

I also understand those who are saying that it's surprisingly difficult to feel a strong emotional attachment to the characters or the story. I think part of the problem might be the decision to start the story in the middle of things. Doing so meant we were spared extended backstory and set-up scenes (which I appreciate!) but it also makes it difficult to connect to these people. For me, although Lee Joon and Kang Hanna have excellent chemistry and convey a lot of feeling in just a glance, I'm not yet feeling the intensity of their love. And I have to feel that way in order to be invested in the story as that love is supposed to be the basis for every plot turn and development. Maybe it's because the early scenes of their romance showed a very restrained and careful connection, and perhaps a dynamic that was more familiar and passionate would have worked better (although I understand doing that may have made the King look like a selfish jerk).

In the end, I think the fact that this show is so good makes me have higher expectations for it than is perhaps fair, lol.

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Oh i totally agree with your last point and i feel this is the general sentiment too. There's quite some criticsm here for a show that's actually doing really well. Though valid. But very mediocre shows are usually spared this much criticism. That supports your point, it's overall quality is high so we expect it to be good in all aspects.

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Hey now, we all know I would criticize anything :P :P

But I do also find that to be often the case- a show that has obviously put a lot more technical effort and finesse into itself in general, or into specific areas of itself, I think brings a more critical eye to other areas when the technical finesse isn't maintained over the whole board.
A show with a big budget, high production value and start studded names behind the wheel and on the screen I think attracts something similar- "are you going to live up to hype you've deliberately attached to yourself?".
And high production value becomes a facade if the technical fundamentals of storytelling, id est: the writing, are not strong.

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@laurensophie: As always, you hit the nail right on the head, and are eloquent as ever. The brutality of targeting the servants for the sins of the ‘nobles’ is such a marker of unbridled authority. It was gut wrenchingly awful. It reminded me of a historian’s point regarding how Lee San punished and/or killed Seong Deokim’s family's servants when she rejected him on the second occasion even though he spared her.
Also, I know actors gotta eat but to see Lady Kim from the King’s affection committing suicide was horrible.

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Yeah, I agree that I think part of it is how the story was begun, or rather has been shown to us so far.

There's a fine balance between too much backstory to slog through to the point it detracts from the main story, but enough set up to build a relationship, as it were, with the characters you're going to spend all show with.
And there are multiple ways of achieving that balance too.
But I don't think this show has quite succeeded at its personal attempt.

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Still excited about this drama despite it being predictable this week. It was still a setup mode for the main leads to get in place. I knew Jung couldn't have left Ddong Geum in danger. The last scene to reveal them was drawn out a bit much.

I couldn't remember if Jung's court lady was known to be Gye Won's spy so I was surprised to see her report to him this time. I wonder if she will be conflicted by Jung's genuine care and actions in the future. It was also interesting that his eunuch spy went to Minister Won Pyo instead. Oh how the different sides will have various betrayers.

There was a brief, but notable line from Tae when he mentioned the Queen Dowager's affection for Inspector Park (Gye Won's son). This made me instantly think that maybe he is her son as well.

Want to see more of Madam Yoon and Gye Won. I was shocked when he gave her his thanks. It sounded so sincere too. Does he love her? Does he love Ga Yeon? Madam Yoon seems very loyal to her husband.

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Like you, I was also surprised Gye-won actually said thank you.

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But to state the bleeding obvious, what are “his carefully laid out plans” beyond the desire to rule absolutely? Power for its own sake and the riches that it brings has been the motivation for countless absolute monarchs and other authoritarians/dictators throughout eons. Does Tae have a vision beyond his seething, humiliation led revenge agenda?

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I think what Tae said to Jung is true--he is simply trying to survive. He saw with this father that the minute he cedes any power to Gye-won that he will end up dead shortly thereafter. So I think his number one priority is to stay alive. And while he's alive, I believe he wants to try and succeed on another level where his father failed: to be able to simultaneously hold enough power to stay safe, while protecting those he loves. If he does that, he's also avenged the deaths of Jung's family.

Tae is not interested in power for power's sake at all, imo. All his plans and strategies--which are always hatched and made in response to Gye-won's plans--are about carefully deconstructing Gye-won's power so he himself can maintain control over his own life and protect those he wishes to protect.

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@laurensophie: Survival is Tae’s main objective but I was wondering if the writer/show-runner had a grander vision, and if not, why not as for me his survival as the end game is rather solipsistic and I can only care up to a point when there is no other motivation or at least an overarching narrative about what else?

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Great question. It'll be interesting to see if a larger agenda emerges because you're right--if one doesn't, we're probably just going to go around in circles. And that's the quickest way to lose viewers' interest.

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There's this one line that has been repeated about four times already, from all three of our main player parties- I'm probably going to misquote it because I can't remember it directly rn- but it goes something a long the lines of "What is the true foundation of the nation?"
The King, Gye Won, and Jeong and her father all have different ideas of what this is- that stand out one for me is that Jeong's father says in episode 1 "so many have forgotten that it is the people that are the foundation of our nation".
Despite me having little attachment to this show, I thought the different responses to that idea showcase the different worldviews held by our three main players quite well and probably contribute to their underlying motivations.

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Jung is finally in the game and I believe that it's all for good. Park Gye Won is extremely smart , he knows everything about Tae. Surely he knew about the library exit too which is why Tae can never outsmart him. Though YJ is different.

He just knows she's smart but not what she's capable of. Now that she is in the game too, I guess her and Tae teaming up equal to PGW's sly moves. But I loved seeing him running frantically that he's going to lose it all. Seriously the story becomes boring if only one party keeps on winning and outsmarting everyone so it was good for a change that he did not predict the king will make an exit for Yoo jung.

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I think one reason the story feels thin is that the drama really is more focused on presenting one intense moment after another. It really has no interest in downtime, in little everyday moments. It goes from one beautifully filmed intense scene to another, and the tension never lets up. That's OK for a 90 minute spy movie, but hard to sustain over a series of one-hour episodes. There needs to be more storytelling, less crises. And yeah, I get that Tae is always bursting with suppressed emotion, and his glistening eyes do convey that, but you can only use the same device so many times before it gets tired.

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i don't know if it just me, but the makeup in this drama really distract me to focus. it feels like they used "cheap" products so you can really see the rough skin, i mean really rough lol. i remember kang hanna is so flawless in other dramas i watched.
regardless, i enjoy the story and the chemistry between Tae and Jung.

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I love the tension in BH, but to be honest I fear the show might lose the audience (me!) if they place the focus on the wrong character(s). Up to this point, the only engaging character is Jung who is clear where her heart and mind should be despite being kept in the dark for many things. PGW is evil and cunning, which is fun to watch but his intention is not one I can wholeheartedly root for. The king is given the most screen time but he's the weakest link of all. His move to snatch Yeon Hee's dad appeared to be smart at first, but then his fake shot revealed his intention to PGW too early! I was like wtf you're weak, you're not even half-way there, and now the enemy just sees you through, how are you gonna survive *sigh*. He desperately needs to get a child from Yeon hee but can't seem to act his part. His maneuvers suck, his love sucks, his focus sucks. Without substantial character growth, I feel like it's a waste of time to give Tae that much screen time. I'd rather watch more of Jung gathering support to rise to the power and take revenge for her family. I wouldn't mind if the king dies at the end and Jung leaves the palace to live with her people lol.

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Very interesting to see so many of the comments say they are not yet into the drama. Because I feel the exact opposite, and I DO NOT get into saegueks, often finding them slow, convuluted in their characters' ambitions, and tedious with their angst.
Now does this drama still have those things? Yes, but I am actually getting everyone's motivations here (except for the left councilor setting up his own imposter, that didn't make much sense to me at all and could have easily gone south if the king is as powerless as he takes him to be). And also, everyone is so formidable, down to the usual figurehead queen dowager and even the eunuchs, that the power struggle is actually believable to me for once.
So I feel for everyone struggling with the pace, I really do, but I am loving this so far (not the pace, that can pick up). Just so long as the main leads don't get dumb for the sake of tension building, and continue to capitalize on their potential to be competent. I'm good.

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