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Red Heart: Episodes 13-14

Plans are enacted and sacrifices are made, as our hero finally steps up to the battle’s forefront. The question is, though — what makes a ruler? And what makes a good one?

 
EPISODES 13-14 WEECAP

Tae’s plan launches into full swing, made possible by the tolerance to poison he’s built up — turns out his mother had made him drink mildly poisoned tea over the years to protect him from assassination.

Tae reveals himself to the Sarim scholars, promising to clear Yoo Hak-soo’s name and restore his title posthumously. That earns him their support, especially since they’ve been staunchly opposing the queen dowager’s rule.

Meanwhile, Gye-won’s investigations have led him to the truth of Si-wol’s double identity. He demands a private meeting with Tae, who grants it. Their conversation is laden with much weight — Gye-won harshly denounces the late king for being feeble and shirking his duties, accusing Tae of the same.

In contrast, Tae argues that his father’s subjects forced him onto a throne he did not desire; Tae’s actions now are borne out of the need to wrest his rightful power back from his errant subjects.

Tae raises an interesting question: what gives Gye-won the right to determine what a king ought to be like, or for that matter, how the country’s fate should unfold? Yet the counter to that is, what gives the king that same right, apart from his royal blood?

Despite it being taboo for ladies of the internal court to step foot into the royal office, Jung requests an audience with the queen dowager. She points out the Office of Palace Eunuchs’ overstep in detaining Ddong-geum, then declares in front of all the ministers that she is carrying Tae’s child.

That gets her wish granted, and Jung rushes to rescue Ddong-geum. She’s barely hanging on, and upon their tearful reunion, she falls limp in Jung’s arms.

The confirmation of Jung’s pregnancy leads to even more opposition against the queen dowager’s regency. Scrambling to defend her unrightful power, the queen dowager plots to have Jung murdered that very night, along with other dissenters.

However, Jung has inspired loyalty in her court ladies. Using Ddong-geum’s death, they sneak Jung out of the palace in place of the corpse. She’s discovered not long after regaining consciousness, but a group of swordsmen save her from the soldiers, and Jung is finally reunited with Tae.

The same can’t be said for the other names on the queen dowager’s kill list, many of whom are murdered in cold blood. Once again, Gye-won has to walk down a palace path flanked by the corpses of his comrades.

It’s chilling how, in the process of trying to prevent a second tyrant from taking reign, Gye-won has unknowingly been nursing the very same monster in his backyard.

Gye-won fights his way to the queen dowager, holding his sword to her throat. He presses hard enough to draw blood, but can’t follow through. The queen dowager wavers, though, and orders for him to be locked up in the internal prison for now (instead of being taken to the state tribunal).

The queen dowager is growing suspicious of Si-wol, who hasn’t been able to deliver on his promises (such as the king’s death). Unwilling to have yet another of his loyal subjects die, Tae has his eunuch urge Si-wol to leave the palace. Yet Si-wol goes back, claiming to have one last thing to do. Oh no, please don’t let this be a death flag…

Si-wol approaches the queen dowager, but she’s already realized that Tae may be awake, and that Si-wol is likely on his side. She has Si-wol taken away, and under interrogation he confesses that Tae has called upon Jeolla soldiers for his cause.

That matches the regional army tag that was found at the site of Jung’s rescue, and the queen dowager uses the troop dispatch token she took from Minister Jo to mobilize the whole country’s soldiers in response.

Ooh, it was all part of the plan! The queen dowager’s actions have given Tae the necessary justification to gather troops against her — both the regional army tag and the troop dispatch token are fakes.

In another surprise reveal, we find out that Gye-won and Minister Jo had been working together; Minister Jo had deliberately forged the token and allowed the queen dowager to take it, all under Gye-won’s directions.

Flanked by his regional troops, Tae makes a triumphant return. So does Jung, who is relieved to find her court ladies imprisoned but alive and well. Gye-won is released upon Tae’s orders, and the queen dowager’s traitorous subjects are captured. Unfortunately, Tae’s eunuch is one step too late, and he finds Si-wol dead from his torture. Noooo.

Despite the queen dowager’s treachery, Tae can’t openly denounce his mother without risking a rebellion against himself. As such, he offers Gye-won a choice — rally the subjects and depose the queen dowager, and he’ll get to walk away with his life. Else, he’s going down for aiding her.

Of course, Tae’s plan is going a little too smoothly, and a wrench is thrown into the works for the show’s final hours. Having previously noticed Tae’s chessboard that represented the state ministers, Jung puts the pieces together and realizes that Tae was behind it all.

Feeling deceived and distraught, Jung confronts Tae about his scheming — he’d instigated the queen dowager’s regency, and plunged the country into chaos. Tae’s been caught in his lie.

Time and time again we’ve seen that Tae isn’t above manipulating others as pawns (or chess pieces), and the parallels between Ddong-geum and Si-wol illustrate this quite poignantly. Both died for Tae’s crusade, left to be discovered by their heartbroken loved ones. It’s not to say that Tae doesn’t feel guilt, because he’s clearly pained by their deaths, but he pushes forth with his ideas and ideals anyway.

Of course, a ruler has a duty towards both his individual subjects, as well as the overall country that he must protect; sometimes the latter inevitably comes at the cost of the former. That is the weight a ruler must bear, but it also begs the question — were these sacrifices avoidable, had Tae taken another path?

Jung clearly thinks so, and it makes her a more virtuous ruler in Gye-won’s eyes. Where Tae sees the forest, she sees the trees. Yet it is also her empathy that constantly places her in peril, and while that’s no character flaw, it certainly would be an Achilles’ heel for a ruler.

Tae and Jung balance each other out well, which gives them the potential to be a powerful pair once they’re working in tandem and keeping each other in check. Still, it remains to be seen whether their ideals will clash as a result of their differing perspectives, or if they’ll be able to lead Joseon to glory.

 
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The king's face said it all in one word in the end... Busted!
Will Jung forgive him this time? I really don't think so. And the king clearly dont want Jung as an enemy. She would just eat him alive... Cant wait to see what she will do next week.

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'She would eat him alive'

What better words to capture this😂.I can see PGW leaving Lee Tae's punishment in Consort Jung's hands already.

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I really thought she knew he poisoned himself. So that was a weird disconnect to me, when I realized she thought someone else poisoned him. As for Ttontoggeum, I didn't care for her character at all, 🤷🏾‍♀️. That being said it should be interesting to see what Jeong does. She is smarter than the King, but we only have 2 episodes left, so this should be interesting.

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Another good pair of episodes. Tae's plan was pretty good. Jung's rightfully angry, but I can't fully condemn Tae's line of thinking. Being a ruler would suck.

I have to applaud the drama's attention to detail. Throughout the drama all the actors looked flawless except Lee Joon who looked like a vampire with the dark circles under his eyes. I think people even commented on it here. It makes sense now that we know the King had been drinking small amounts of poison.

Since the official KBS title is Bloody Heart, I’ve been expecting this drama to end in a bloodbath but now I think the leads will probably survive, just with a different kind of bloody heart. They might get what they wanted but with a heavy price.

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Imagine a young ruler whose been leashed for most of his life and suffered many tragedies like his mother's suicide and his fiance. This is a recipe for disaster

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Brilliant of the King to use himself to get back power to the Royal Family. I just pray he didn't go a step too far, and lose as much as he gained.

I guess the King came to respect PGW after the confrontation at the outside palace. I respected PGW more. And seeing him relieve the very same thing that sent him down this path, it was a pain to watch. Pulling a sword at the Queen Dowager himself completed everything honorable about PGW. If they are to mention meritorious subject with a heart of meritocracy, PGW is one. He resisted the Dowager to the end, he defended the fort to the end. If only the King listened and returned earlier, his comrades wouldn't have died. Too bad these very comrades were the ones resisting the Dowager. Tae might have succeeded in alienating and cutting off PGW's influence, but to what end? He can regrow his weight. As Consort Jung named the ministers I hope the King saw his miscalculations.

Talk of a villain we didn't see coming I'd give the Queen Dowager that. And she is a very compelling one, unabashed in her ploys, milking the dividends of filial duty to the very end of the cliff, and still milking. Her downfall has better be great and worth her villainry. She can't come this far to come to an end in a swift motion.

Ttonggeum, nah I wasn't moved by her dying, she could have avoided this if she was thoughtful enough to run instead of fumble along dreamily, a complete lack of tact. But Siwol, he made his statement to Eunuch EunKyung, made his father eat his words. Except it meant his life in exchange. The Eunuch, his father, is responsible for that though. Had he acknowledged Siwol, he wouldn't have taken that extreme move which spelt definte death. Siwol's sacrifice could have been avoided.

Lady Cho, I can't wait to see what bitter pill the future has planned for her to swallow.

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Ttonggeum could have left many times or learn to shut her mouth, but when questioned by Lady Cho she went a step too far. Siwol made his choice to go back, that something Lee Tae couldn't have foreseen, so blaming him for this is ridiculous (not you, but I have seen many who has). Indeed, Lee Tae should have gone back quicker to avoid all that bloodshed, but I don't think he accounted for the QD being so cruel. What I like about this show is how human each characters are, which is something often missing in sageuks. All of them have grey morality (well, except for Lady Jung, who is a bit too perfect sometime)

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He is not accountable for her cruelty, but he counted on it. Even when her cruelty reached the skies, he kept on counting on it to provide the exact justification he needed.
Thinking about this now I ask: Would he have returned to the palace after the unfortunate murder of the officials if it meant to insure Consort Jung's safety? Or, would he have returned immediately had Jung became actual damage in this mayhem? Councillor Park could have prevented these deaths but that would mean going against what he and Consort Park now stand for. Knowing fully well the impact of his presence, and now knowing Councillor Park's truest thoughts, he still sat through his plan. That is what I hold him accountable for.

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"reached the skies"

How to tell someone has been watching historical kdramas.

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It would have been a nice and impactful moment if we actually saw Lee Tae return and walk along that very path paved with all the corpses of his ministers...
Quite sure that he counted on the Queen cruelty and for his board to come to reality...
Glad now Jung saw him for real and stoped her nonsense about him becoming a benevolent king...
Curious if Park Gye-won will retire from the court life (if he comes out alive) and let Lee Tae face his full burden alone...
I somehow think he considers that without the rains he will go all peachy when frankly i don't trust him too much...

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Yes, he counted on her being cruel, but not to the point of killing people or harm Consort Jung, which was actually Lady Cho's actions. Also, Minister Cho stood sitting on his hands because of his daughter, so if we are going to hold people accountable, the blame can spread around, particularly Councillor Park who set up this whole situation to begin with. You cannot control people no matter how grand your ideals are

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Minister Cho's case is one I can't even start thinking about. Of all the grand idealistic people, he is the one who pisses me off the most. I hope they give him a taste of his own silent poison mode.

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Anyone notice something about Lee Joon's sageuk diction that is different with the usual sageuk diction I have watched so far?
Can't understand why Lady Jung blames the king for the death of Ttonggeum. Should she be more significant than anybody else that had been died because the palace conflict? Lady Jung should have known, even the late king couldn't save his queen, and the queen had to poison her own child to save him.
I like more if the king stays meekly and oblivious. It will make the story more interesting like he becomes the puppet of his queen.
All the characters in this drama have the same aim to make Joseon better in a big picture, the king, lady jung, counselor Park, Defense minister Cho, all have the same purpose although have different way to achieve it. But somehow for the sake creating conflict for the drama, they are made to stand against each other which I don't understand why they don't understand each other if they are so smart like the drama said.
This drama is forgettable.

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You wanted a meek and clueless king? The heck? A weak king actually leads to rampant corruption and high taxation on the common people and serfs! Also, I feel you clearly did not understand how opposite their views of Joseon is. The king and Councillor Park do not want the same thing, just like Taejong (Bang Won) and Sambong, had diametrically opposite view of the monarchy. The latter wanted a figurehead while the former wanted absolute rule, which is exactly what Lee Tae wants. These two ideals are completely opposite to each other

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Councillor Park does not want a figurehead. He wants an able King, not a feeble one. Even if you are a worthy person, if you are not formidable you have a problem with Councillor Park. That was why he clarified his actions with regards to Tae and his father. He didn't oppress them just because they were weak, he wanted them to build resistance to him. Queen Inyoung providing a justification and his father wasting it all away is a perfect example of PGW's cross with the Royal Family. PGW knew there was a way out of that situation without Scholar Yoo Haksoo, his family and comrades dying. But the previous king was just too weak to act. No matter how kind-hearted he was, Incompetence is sin.

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He wanted control the king via his pick of Queen, which in my book is what I call a puppet. The previous king was bookish and a nice guy, but he barely gave him a chance. He didn't give Lee Tae a chance either, and killed an entire faction because of guilt by association. From what we saw, the Sarim faction are great believers of Confucian ideals and would have at least provided checks and balance in the court.

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hmmmm I know what a meek and clueless king can do to the History but all I want is a meek and clueless king can do to this Story. 😂 Shake this up and give some spark
This is what I meant different way to achieve a goal which is a better Joseon for its people. One wants via a figurehead and one wants via absolute monarch. But I guess they have not heard something called republic and democracy 🤷

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his mother had made him drink mildly poisoned tea over the years to protect him from assassination.

But which cause accumulations of toxins in his body, which leads to profound long term consequences.

Common symptoms include:
Bland acting
Blank stares
Monotone voice
Convoluted plots
...

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I understand Yoo Jung, Lee Tae has cost her too much too many times. I think her anger and resentment has been way less than it should be. And now she is pregnant and she has no out. Tae has been incredibly ruthless, it was necessary.....I love the clear difference in character traits between Yoo Jung and Lee Tae... Yoo Jung gave Lee Tae a way out sacrificing herself without a single loss of life whereas Lee Tae orchestrated chaos and that cost lives to strengthen his power. I am still not sure how thus show will end because it feels like we are at intermission and there was room for more to explore but it is a 16 episode drama.

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We have 2 episodes left and minister Cho and his daughter have been utterly useless.
Ttonggeum's death was inevitable the moment she stepped into the Palace and I think Jung didn't really help the situation either by making it obvious she had an affinity with her in a place as dangerous as the Palace.
It's definitely a breath of fresh of fresh air to see the king making smart moves and I hope we will see him crushing the Queen Dowager in the early minutes of the next episode. He has been planning this forever, so he needs to wrap it up ASAP.

PGW is truly a well written grey character and I felt bad for him when he was walking through his friends' corpses.

Jung's anger doesn't seem justified for me right now except it's because she wasn't informed of the plan. Her maid would have died even without Tae's master plan

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100 percent agree with your assessment. The maid would have been caught in the battle between the two concubines, no matter what. She put herself in danger for talking way too much when Lady Cho asked her about the Lady Jung. She shouldn't have stayed in the palace, she was way too naive. Also, the less people finding out about a plan, the better. It is not like he didn't try to get her out via Siwol

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Jung's anger was not only about her maid's death, it was more about King's plan put the country in chaos and danger, as she said to the king.

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