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Red Heart: Episodes 7-8

Secrets are revealed, and the ensuing fallout pushes each of our main characters into a corner. Will they choose love, or power? And is it ever possible to have both?

 

EPISODES 7-8 WEECAP

Jung vows to Gye-won that she’ll earn the king’s affection, but we all know she already has. So when she pays Tae a visit in broad daylight “simply to see his face,” it leads to a private moment in which Jung confesses her love for him.

Tae says the words back, and though he clearly means it too, there’s pain fraught in his gaze. Yet again, Tae asserts that his love pales in the face of what he must do; the woman he needs is not Jung, so she should stop trying to tempt him under Gye-won’s orders. Oof, the way Tae can’t meet her gaze as he tells her all this…

Needing justification to push forward with the queen’s selection, Gye-won seeks the queen dowager out with a request — to vacate her position. We see this scene juxtaposed with one from the past, in which Gye-won asks her to become the then-king’s concubine, and tears fall from both their eyes.

In the present, the queen dowager points out that it would be too suspicious for her to suddenly fall sick out of nowhere. Offering up a small, sad smile, she takes several steps back, tipping herself towards the lake.

All along, Gye-won has been painted as someone who would willingly sacrifice love for power, but for once his emotions win out. He races towards the queen dowager in a panic, grasping her hand and falling into the water together.

Afterwards, it’s played off as a mere accident, though Tae is obviously suspicious of the whole matter. In any case, the queen dowager’s absence leaves the internal court clear, and the two concubines are pushed to step up.

Of course, that sets the stage for calculated internal strife. Once the scandalous news of palace servants taking sides and fighting reaches the ministers’ ears, it isn’t long before they’re beseeching Tae to choose a queen.

Tae catches on quick, though. With the help of his trusty eunuch, he quickly finds out that Jung’s court lady orchestrated the conflict that started at the supplies office.

Tae heads to Jung’s quarters to confront her, and after sending her servants out, Jung finally confesses that she doesn’t want to survive alone again. Despite losing her entire family before, this time, she’ll make sure to protect the people that entered the palace for her sake.

In the meantime, the conflict escalates. A royal family member was caught having intimate relations with a court lady, which sparks debate between the scholars and the royals over whether he ought to be exiled or merely put on probation. Tae’s damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.

With all this turmoil unfolding in the background, Jung makes a bold and shocking decision — she reveals to Gye-won that she is the deposed crown princess, long thought to be dead.

It’s quite a bit of brilliant timing; Gye-won can’t oust her now without threatening his own position and losing his grasp on his goals. Jung declares that from this moment on, she’ll threaten him — the tables have been turned.

Meanwhile, the seeds of conflict are also sowed between Gye-won and his son Nam-sang. Upon finding out that Nam-sang relayed Jung’s suggestion to the scholars, which put Jung’s path to the throne in a precarious position, Gye-won declares that he must crown the future king himself.

Of course, that’s met with protest from Nam-sang, who points out his power-hungry father’s arrogance. Gye-won erupts in anger, screaming at his son and hurling his sword to the floor.

Seeing his father in a new light for the first time, Nam-sang is clearly shaken, and tears cloud his eyes as he realizes just how deeply his father’s morals (or lack thereof) conflict with his own.

Unfortunately, Gye-won isn’t fazed one bit by his son’s dissent. Gye-won hatches a plot to poison Jung’s tea, but the queen dowager almost becomes collateral damage (until Gye-won arrives just in time to snatch away her cup).

It’s clear Gye-won feels threatened by Jung, who’s smart enough to realize that he was behind the plot that framed her family. She’s no pushover, and she’s determined to stand her ground against Gye-won’s treachery.

Gye-won isn’t pulling any punches, though, and he soon finds out that Tae’s trusty eunuch was responsible for saving a young Jung and hiding her away in the village she grew up in.

That sends Gye-won to confront Tae in a rage, but Tae points out that Gye-won is equally culpable — he submitted a traitor’s daughter for the queen selection process.

Right on cue, Jung enters the room, declaring herself to be the former crown princess. To the shock of both men, she names Gye-won as the person who saved her back then. Accusing Gye-won of treason, Jung entreats Tae to turn her into the State Tribunal and investigate the matter properly.

Whoa, that’s one move I didn’t see coming. Jung managed to set all the pieces in place right under Gye-won’s nose; she’s already gotten all the people involved in her rescue to corroborate their stories and pin Gye-won as the mastermind.

Tae understands that this means Jung will also be executed, however, which makes him reluctant to act. Privately, Jung reassures Tae of her conviction; she would rather die for his cause than live forever on the run.

Gritting his teeth through his tears, Tae vows to honor her sacrifice and rise as Joseon’s true king.

The heart wants what it wants, though, and Tae ends up apologizing to Yeon-hee and walking out on their consummation night. He heads straight for Jung instead, finding her gazing out forlornly over the lake. Overwhelmed by love and longing, he pulls her into a kiss, consequences be damned.

I’ll be honest, Jung’s sacrifice didn’t quite land for me the way it was intended to. Coming this early in the story, I think it was pretty obvious it wouldn’t work out the way she hoped. (If a drama really dared to kill off its heroine halfway through, I’d commend it for its bravery, though I imagine it’d also incite a lot of angry viewers.)

Now that a good deal of the cards have been laid out on the table, I’m anticipating Gye-won’s retaliation. He’s definitely not going to take this humiliation lying down, and with emotions running high on both sides, it looks like the fight’s only going to get uglier.

 
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Watch ep 1, drop it cos jang hyuk same acting for all his dark role, give it another try ep 4 n 5, emm, this drama is getting interesting, hana character is intelligent n the twist of events. Especially ep 8, she drags jang character, to die together. Yes, this is not the usual saeguk drama. For a change, the bad guy, jang character is freaking out. Will continue to watch, hope got more twist n surprises.

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Yoo Jung has "succeeded" where Yi Tae woefully failed. The King has been unable to keep the Left State councillor on his toes and she has done this in a matter of weeks of being in the palace? Even the Left state councillor was impressed 😂😂😂. Can they just give her the crown?

I love a strong and smart female lead and it's such a breath of fresh air because I was getting tired of Yi Tae's never ending tears/lack of plan and seeing the Left state councillor 1000 steps ahead all the damn time!

Now regarding the plan itself... I definitely didn't think Jung's secret would be out so soon because we are only half way through the drama and I'm now left wondering how Jung and the King will manage this whole thing. The Left state councillor will definitely be out for blood!

Yi Tae will have to face the Minister of War and he deserves whatever is coming his way from that end

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I know a lot of us are tuning in for the beautiful cinematography but I couldn't hold my laugh at that scene of PGW and Queen Dowager falling into the pond. I thought I was watching a Sci-fi for a split second 😂😂

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The slo-mo was so bad lol. I laughed and laughed.

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Same 😂😂😂, I actually clicked on the pause button to laugh properly

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I have very few problems with the show but the slow mo had me laughing at its absurdity.

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ITA. Also, there's no way he would have caught up to her before she fell. Physics doesn't work like that, lol.

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I think they should do it more and turn this drama into comedy. The best comedy drama is one who doesn't do comedy intentionally. Looking forward for it.

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Can they just give her the crown? Yes please. Even PGW knew he lost this round , totally.
However, that question he asked actually give me another point of view about PGW. All he is about is strengthening the Kingdom, clearly because the kings have been weak. There's something all Tae and his father didn't have - the will to fight for the people, the will to lay down thier lives. If anything, in all of PGW's moves he bets his life on it. That's why he pushes it through to the end. And since the Kings only use the power of the throne and not their lives they could never match up to him. Were they as tenacious as he is, I believe he would have let the throne be. Why because he is of the belief that the people are in good hands. Lady Jung however, plays the game just as he does, on equal footing and that shocked and impressed him at the same time. Were the roles reversed between Lady Jung and the two previous kings, PGW would have not gotten to the point where he is now.

Truly, for any in power, Incompetence is sin.

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I also saw PGW in another light, he was in admiration at the fact that Jung was ready to put her life on the line for her people.

My issue was during his chat with his son where he went on and on about not Joseon to be ruled by a tyrant... Isn't he basically a tyrant or at least he's as close to being one as anyone can be.

Has he even given Yi Tae a chance to prove that he will be a good Joseon king? This is common with all antagonists in Sageuks I think. Children/Grandchildren are always asked to pay the price for their ancestors' sins

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He actually has. Tae and his father blew it away. They should have resisted him instead of caving in. He is the one who plays the moves so he knows the loopholes there. They(Tae and his father) also know the loopholes in it but since his father was too weak to resist PGW, Tae couldn't much, that's if he even knew what to do. Thier incompetence then is so grave, you'd not think of granting them a chance to display competence. Tae has to earn it by fighting through the teeth, as Lady Jung did.

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Ok, I guess he might have given Yi Tae's father a chance since we didn't get an in-depth background story

I'm not sure but in this case was the "chance" him giving Yi Tae and his father the dilemma to choose between love or power? 😅

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Tae's dad chose love over power, saving his wife from exile, something PGW obviously would not respect. I don't know if he would have had a real shot at power either way though, since PGW and his people were the ones that deposed the former King and placed him on the throne. Even a competent leader would have the deck stacked against them coming into power in that situation. Tae never really had a chance, I don't think.

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Agree with you about PGW. He clearly isn't over the fear of a tyrant king, while he's completely over looking that he's become power hungry and tyrant in the process too. He sees that the kings have never bet their life on joseon hence, I feel he's genuinely impressed by YJ. Maybe if the show is ambitious enough, will get a redemption arc later on.

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It is his first redemption arc. And it's a powerful note. It proves finally that he's not a one dimensional villain.

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The only thing making this drama really attractive to me is the screencaps. As for the story, the weecaps and the following discussions are keeping me and my curiosity satiated. It's not palatable now but in future, it might be.

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I really liked both episodes this week. I love a strong, smart heroine and Yoo Jung is a force to be reckoned with. I didn't expect her to do any of the things she did this week, which was fun.

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When will the people who manage the palace grounds learn to make the pools too shallow to drown in?

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😂😂😂 Is a palace really a Palace if there's no deep pond?

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Or at least put some ornately carved life preservers around the outside of the pavilions!

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Timing is everything. Had PGW confronted her first, she would lose the ammo her revealing it herself would have brought her. I'm really impressed. And I guess we are going to see the other side of Lady Cho now. That menacing glare after discussing with her father can't be for nothing. Just do not repeat The Moon Embracing the Sun vibes please - Don't play dirty, Lady Cho.

It seems like PGW married a court lady. Madame Yoon's collar has the same features of CL's. Are we getting a scoop story in that direction, show?

The moment Madame Yoon began raining accolades about Lady Yoo Jung, I knew PGW had something coming. What I didn't know was how far she was going to play her hand. Lady Jung is smart. A very good one. The way she solved the queen selection issue is....super super satisfying. And she forced the Queen Dowager back to the palace. More points for her. She really played her cards like PGW would. Used the Dowager as collateral damage and it gave her an edge. Unlike the incumbent and previous rulers who messed up despite the collateral damage ammo that was awarded them by Queen Inyoung.
At this point I don't know who to praise, the person wielding the pen for writing such a power play or Kang Hanna for immersing herself into the character. She carried it with this much strength.

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Yoo Jung was brilliant! Any King would want her by his side.

As for Lady Cho, I have a feeling that things will go south really quick. Ugh

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She is really unbalanced and lacks bridle.
Her going south will be a rollercoaster of everything ill.

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I think the show is a well made in all aspects, you can praise all of them collectively. Though in the acting department I'm clearly more engrossed in Kang Hana's scenes than anyone else's also the Queen Dowager's.

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This show is so beautifully shot. As for the messiness of Lady Jung's plan, sigh, lol. It was going to fail. As for the King, he is pretty useless, but his family left him ill equipped. His mother poisoned herself and his father only told him to survive. He didn't try to cultivate loyalty for him at all. What a mess. Lady Jung on the other has had to survive, so the Palace is probably not that hard for her, but she does have more allies than the king. The King unable to spend one night with Yeon Hee was not romantic, it was stupid, but everything he does is emotional so that makes sense. Sir, one night, but like solstices said, the heart wants what the heart wants.

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"The King unable to spend one night with Yeon Hee was not romantic, it was stupid, but everything he does is emotional so that makes sense."

I was shocked/annoyed and also not shocked but it was such a dumb move! Did he even think of the consequences. And the way he went about it was so humiliating. He could have sneaked out in the night or come up with an excuse but no he had to make a whole scene by immediately heading to Jung's quarters and frantically looking for her.
I won't even pity him when the War Minister's fury lands on him because he deserves!

And as you said, it was just one night! He's the king! Isn't it historically expected that he will have many wives? Or does he now intend to swear his "faithfulness" to Jung only? LOL

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Exactly, he could have literally had sex with her and then left to go to Lady Jung. The assumption is she was going to die the next day anyway. He makes no plans because he simply isn't the brightest. This is a first for me, a dumb male lead. lol

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And it's not like the consummation would actually birth a child because it's an auspicious date. We all know it actually takes one time, but that one time can clearly not be this one. So if he wants to strengthen the throne through Jung, he definitely can.

And yes, it's really humiliating. I know he's king and he has the agency to do and undo and all but he shouldn't have led her on as per consummation. The Internal Court could take up an issue with him for this.

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Imagine the whole nation get dictated your sex life? What if you just are not in the mood to do it, it is not about politic ha ha ha

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🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

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I know a drama has a license to be dramatic, but this drama take it way too seriously the slow motions, falling petals, teary eyes, trembling chin, these make me laughing, when I'm supposed to feel kind of sad. But that's the reason I enjoy this drama.

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first of all, I want to appreciate how beautifully shot this drama. The color scheme at night is bright warm orange but also have the sense of darkness, but not so dark like any other saeguk drama. And the ballad ost is so fitting also played wisely on some highlighted moments.

and how things turned to be unexpected. The King and The Councillor were trying so hard on creating a strategy to win over each other, yet both eventually played in the game set by the Lady who is ready to lost her life. And I eager to see if the Councillor will have a change of heart after saw that the Lady is the kind of ruler his heart desire. One who sacrifices to protect her people.

compared to the other King in other drama (Red Sleeve Cuff), I found this King though stoll intriguing, rather undesirable. both King accepted their fate as heir of the throne, but King in the RSC took the burden with courage, responsibility and confidence. He also have wits and wisdom to overcome struggles so he did not need to be malevolent to sustain rule and order. And more important, he has the willingness to protect his people for his main purpose is the well being of them.

but this King in the BH, he bears the crown with fear of losing it, therefore it made him somewhat cowardice. At the moment he is “forced” to chose between getting rid of his enemies or protect the woman he loves so she can live, he is tempted. Straightly tempted. His first impulse is to take Jung's offers to bring down his enemy, though he know the cost is also Jung’s life. He also appear to lack of wisom needed, cause in some scenes we've seen him made decisions that would end him up in difficult situations. But interestingly, he is somewhat smart enough to find way out of it and sometimes cunning enough to turn things into his benefit.

On other thing, I feel there is lack of depth about the conflict between The King and Park. The King hatred toward Park quite understandable, but the attack on Park's part to the King somehow for me driven by prejudice. We don't yet actually see what kind of ruler the King will become if Park just left him alone. There is no evidence that he is a bad King although there are some substantion that indicate he might not be the best King Joseon would have. I wish this old man would just give the mighty boy some time to catch his breath, rest his wounded heart, and let him work without continuosly reminded that his future is at old man’s mercy.

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Yoo Jung owned episode 8! That is all.

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I was right about PGW not knowing Yoo Jung yet which is why she can outsmart him but the actual surprise was PGW's reaction to all of this. Seeing Nam Sang's righteousness it really feels like younger PGW would've been different had he never encountered a tyrant king. His current behavior isn't innate and the show has given me a glimmer of hope that we may be headed towards a redemption arc for our villain. This is where his greyness shows. While he deserves the punishment for his evil doings, it would be awesome if he turns a new leaf seeing a righteous leader in Yoo Jung and trusting her to raise a son as a capable king. But yes he's behind the execution of her parents so I doubt we'll see sth like this though as I said, the show can surprise in places you don't think of.

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I will be pleasantly surprised if they actually give him a well crafted redemption arc because if my memory isn't too poor, the Left state councillor/antagonist always dies/ is exiled in all the Sageuks I have watched so far

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Yup and i feel this show can certainly do that

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I think he will get his redemption though. They showed him to be impressed by YJ at the end of ep 8. He genuinely wanted a good leader for the country, and not for his own greed.

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“ I’ll be honest, Jung’s sacrifice didn’t quite land for me the way it was intended to. Coming this early in the story, I think it was pretty obvious it wouldn’t work out the way she hoped. (If a drama really dared to kill off its heroine halfway through, I’d commend it for its bravery, though I imagine it’d also incite a lot of angry viewers.)”

It has worked exactly as Jung hoped for. She is prepared to die to bring to fruition her goal but her intent is to survive. She has survived another day in that nest of vipers and at least, for the time being, has a superior bargaining position. If Tae could become hers in the process, that would be a bonus.

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Our heroine did in a few days what two Kings could not even dream of doing,make Park Gye-won back away having the upper hand and gain his admiration at the same time...
Curious what role that Monk will play,will he also have a secret identity?
I must say that i enjoy most the scenes between Jung Hyuk and Kang Hanna and kinda less among our King and Concubine...I guess it's because our King looks so tired,out of life almost always...Kinda wished there would even be a hate/love relationship between Yi Tae and Yoo Jung,that at least would be more thrilling and full of sparks...

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I don’t know about the rest of you but my tolerance for Jang Hyuk seemingly screaming every second line of his dialogue is at a very low point. This is such a counter-productive acting technique yet it seems to be entrenched in the KDrama world. Let it die. Please.

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This isn't an entirely accurate comparison, but when he does that I just think "Oh, he's Korea's Al Pacino." I feel like he's the one who popularized that technique of quiet, controlled delivery that suddenly explodes into an emotional volcanic blast. Sometimes it's effective, but only in small doses, and also only when it's a truly cathartic moment.

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As always, nicely put. I agree. “In small doses” are the operative words here.

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Well played, Yoo Jung. Gye-won certainly didn't see that coming. Everything was unexpected for Gye-won, for sure, but I also kind of sense he's now intrigued by Jung. I dare say, this thought seemed to also cross the Queen Dowager's mind after the whole tea incident at the temple.

Looking forward to everyone's next move.

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I enjoyed the achingly sad but seductive lead up to the kiss more than the kiss itself (which was ok).
I have also been thinking of what I came across recently in a few years old article that a friend sent me. It was an interview with Lee (I) Joon where he discussed his diagnosis of bipolar disorder, how he has come to manage it better and his difficulties sleeping. It made me feel compassion for him as a person and an actor as it might be much harder for an actor in his position to deal with emotionally demanding and fraught roles than those who don’t take any of their work home and compartmentalise it well so maybe part of the reason that he always seems so intense and emotional in this role exemplified by his glistening eyes and readily shed tears is because of who he is as a person and his own struggle to survive as well as thrive.

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I didn't know that he suffered from bipolar disorder--thanks for sharing that. It definitely makes me respect his work even more.

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@laurensophie: I agree. I have only recently become a bit familiar with his work but I find his acting captivating and breathtaking. He seems to vibrate with tension and anxiety in this role so I hope it didn’t spill over into his RL as by comparison, Junho seems to be a goofball in RL despite having had some difficult and emotionally exhausting roles.

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My absolute favorite thing about this drama is that unlike most others, and especially sageuks, the women drive the action and the men react to them. Typically, and historically, it's almost always the opposite. Even when the writers are striving for balance, the female characters tend to be developed in accordance with or opposition to what the male characters do, say, or believe. How cool is it that in Red Heart, both Jung and the Queen Dowager are the ones driving the action and forcing the King and Gye-won to react to the women's choices rather than their own?

Jung's plan was selfless and clever; I was as impressed as Gye-won with the fact that she's acting more like a King than anyone else. This is not a criticism of Tae as he's clever and noble in many respects, but he's also clearly trapped by his circumstances and can't see any way out. His impotence and deep depression about it comes through in every scene and makes him a tragic, and sometimes weak, figure. Without Jung, he would have nothing. Or, I should say, whatever power he would manage to hold on to would be empty.

Finally, another interesting gender reversal rests in the fact that he's just like traditional female characters and historical figures in the respect that he's forced into a position where his role is to sleep with someone he doesn't want to sleep with. Of course, the difference is that he can ultimately reject a concubine if he wishes, at least temporarily. But I almost laughed out loud when he thought "Tonight, I will allow you to embrace me" while leaning in to kiss Jung. Pfft. She's the one allowing you to embrace *her.*

This drama is also extremely unpredictable. The plot is simple as is the central conflict, and yet, I never know quite where we're going. I did not guess Jung's plan, and I also didn't expect the King to (initially, at least) go along with it once he realized her intent to sacrifice herself.

And as an aside, I'm struggling to get over the fact that Gye-won ever asked the woman he obviously loved to be someone's concubine. Who does that? I hope we get a better sense of his motives because only a psycho would do something like that simply because he desired power and influence.

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@laurensophie: Profound observations. The reversal of the gender dynamics is exhilarating because it appears to have been carefully integrated into the plot and not just written in shortly before the shooting began. As you noted, it is a rarity in Sageuks. It made me think of Lee Saeyoung’s restrained and plaintive point that in the latter stages of filming The Red Sleeve, her role had little guidance/input from the show runner and it was often difficult for her to ascertain how she should interpret her role given the dearth of information. The fact that her character was shortchanged so much in favour of expanding Junho’s in the final leg of the show was an abomination notwithstanding the earlier nonsensical ninja court lady plot and the other ‘peril of the week’/deus ex machinas which already had squandered an opportunity to examine the gendered power dynamics in that fictional with a twist of reality setting.

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I love this take so much, it's opened my eyes to a perspective I didn't consider at all. The role swap observation was something I didn't consciously pick up on but you've laid it out so eloquently and cleanly and I agree that it is really smart and interesting, a subversion of the usual sageuk tropes!!

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@laurensophie: I thought you might be interested in reading this article: https://koreaexpose.com/korean-men-and-masculinity-viewed-from-inside-korea/

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Thanks--that was fascinating!

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Very interesting observation and thanks for pointing it out because it does seem intentional. Also agree with you on the show's unpredictability but simple story. It uses familiar tropes and sageuk schemes to gain the attention of the viewer but how they go from A to Z is quite unpredictable, full of surprises, intense and sth that makes us come back every week.

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Loving this show because of Jung’s character—she’s no basic b**ch!

I’m mainly interested in how the left state councilor handles her current move. He clearly has found some kind of respect for her. I think an interesting turn would be him deciding to support her because he genuinely thinks she would be a good queen. It’s too bad she can’t be king cause she’s running circles around Yi Tae.

Speaking of him, he is an exhausting and frustrating character. Always brooding and kind of also moping…? And plotting revenge but with plans that are 10 steps behind everyone else. What is he bringing to the table???? Love?! Psh, get out of here. He lied to her for years. No matter how he tries to rationalize that it was for her own protection that is just not true. It was for his own guilt/selfishness. If he truly wanted to protect her he would have either told her the truth or never contacted her after helping her escape the palace. Ugh, MEN.

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