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Red Heart: Episodes 15-16 (Final)

The struggle for power culminates in a stalemate between the king who demands his rightful authority, and those who wish to keep him in check. Yet death spares no one, and the path here has already been stained with blood. It’s up to our king to decide how he will rule over his subjects, and what kind of country he will build.

 

EPISODES 15-16 WEECAP

Caught red-handed, Tae admits to orchestrating the entire scheme, and a disappointed Jung can barely look him in the eyes. She reminds him that actions have consequences — just as the late king’s decision to protect his son led to the execution of her family, Tae’s choices have resulted in innumerable deaths.

Tae calls them inevitable sacrifices, but Jung cannot comprehend how the weight of a life can be taken so lightly. Jung’s words leave Tae deeply shaken, but his loyal eunuch reminds him that he protected those he could.

The royal court convenes, and the ministers beseech Tae to depose the queen dowager for her crimes. On the contrary, though, Tae refuses — instead, he diverts the blame onto the queen dowager’s loyal subjects, thus weeding out those who do not support him.

Tae can’t depose his mother without the unfilial act undermining his rule, which means she has to be eliminated behind the scenes. However, Gye-won recognizes that killing the queen dowager will only set a precedent for even more mutiny during Tae’s reign.

Refusing to set any more bloodshed in motion and ruin the country further, Gye-won vows that he will not murder the queen dowager in cold blood.

As such, Gye-won meets with the queen dowager and asks her to step down of her own accord. He tells her of Tae’s wish to have her killed, and she counters with a question — would Gye-won follow through on that order?

Gye-won says that he would not, yet he staunchly states that the only reasons for his refusal are the queen dowager’s status and position as the king’s mother. Heartbroken once again, the queen dowager renews her resolve to tear down Gye-won’s beloved country.

Determined to wrest power away from those who once opposed him, Tae declares his intention to restructure the Central Army Division so that it falls under the Ministry of War (led by Minister Jo). Gye-won opposes — the Central Army is governed by the Ministry of War, but commanded by the Central Army Division, so that neither side can have absolute power.

Gye-won recognizes the importance of this system that has both sides keeping each other in check, and he even falls to his knees in front of Tae to ask him to reconsider.

Tae remains unmoved, and he points out that Gye-won only stopped back then when the late queen died and Tae agreed to a royal marriage. As such, he demands for the same — either Gye-won offers up a life and something to trade, or he sacrifices the queen dowager. Tae isn’t backing down unless he can claim the same things Gye-won once did.

It’s the epitome of “an eye for an eye,” yet between the two, it seems only Gye-won recognizes that the age-old adage ends with a chilling reminder that such vengeance will ultimately turn the whole world blind. Tae has been through so much pain that he wants his enemies to hurt the same way, but he doesn’t realize that he risks becoming just like them.

Tae’s oppressive rule has already begun to surface negative consequences; Jung understands that if the status quo remains, the Sarim scholars will suppress their disapproval of her in order to avoid angering Tae. Without the scholars’ ability to speak up and challenge the king, no one will be able to keep him in check.

As such, Jung resolves to come clean about her identity and be reinstated as Scholar Yoo’s daughter, even if it will put both her and Gye-won on the chopping block for their charade.

Drawn together yet again by circumstances and shared ideals, Gye-won proposes a deal to Jung — launch an official investigation into the queen dowager’s crimes with the Sarim scholars, so as to find justification for her abdication. In exchange, he will convince Tae to reinstate her status.

Gye-won reveals Jung’s identity to the royal court, which has Tae heading straight to confront Jung. Believing that she was threatened by Gye-won once again, he’s stunned to hear that she was the mastermind.

Jung explains her rationale — Tae has proven himself capable of sowing conflict amongst his subjects to take those who oppose him down. If no one stands against him, he will simply continue to manipulate, purge, and seize power. Since Tae sees it as the easiest way out, there will be no end to it.

Tae’s trusty eunuch is determined to defend Tae’s right to the throne, and he informs Tae that he’s hired bandits to assassinate the queen dowager on her way out of the palace. It’ll be disguised as her mercenaries taking revenge for not being paid their dues.

However, the queen dowager has her reasons for voluntarily leaving the palace despite knowing she’s in danger, and Gye-won realizes that. She’s willingly walking to her death, in order to accuse Tae of it and ruin his reign.

Gye-won rushes to her, arriving just moments before Tae’s eunuch fires his arrow. Finally recognizing her pain, he expresses his regret for not allowing her to live a simple life with him.

But their moment of reconciliation is cut short by the sound of an arrow piercing through the air. Gye-won flings himself in front of the queen dowager, taking all the arrows meant for her. As he bleeds out, he urges her to live on, until she can smile again one day.

Oh, that hurts. It’s so tragically poetic that his actions led to her undoing, and her schemes led to his death. Endless miscommunication between the two set the stage for years of misunderstanding, resulting in a vicious cycle that neither knew how to break free from.

Perhaps that’s the most fitting punishment for the queen dowager; she now has to live in loneliness, accompanied only by her regret and the possibility that things could have turned out differently.

Gye-won’s death seems to have been the catalyst for much-needed growth on Tae’s part — when the Ministry of War amasses too much power, he sends Minister Jo away to the countryside in order to regain balance. Rather than unwavering loyalty from a devoted subject, or the all-dominating power of the royal authority, Tae has chosen to put his country first.

Time passes, and Jung gives birth to a son. Tae has her officially installed as queen, calling her both the blade that keeps him in check and the sanctuary that offers him refuge. And so, we close the book on this chapter, with the hope that Jung will continue guiding Tae to become a benevolent ruler.

What a masterful tale of strategy, deception, and the lengths people will go to for power. I think part of what makes Tae such a sympathetic hero is that we witness his suffering firsthand; being privy to his pain and turmoil primes us to root for him in his quest to regain what has been cruelly snatched from his grasp.

However, power and respect have to be earned, not taken. Gye-won put it best when he said that a king who cannot tolerate harsh advice has the makings of a tyrant — while Tae’s steadfast commitment to his ideals can be admirable, it tends to veer into an obstinate refusal to be swayed, even when his dissidents have valid points.

It’s interesting how the drama starts off by painting Tae as a wronged hero, and Gye-won as a bloodthirsty villain; yet over the course of the show, their positions slowly shift as we come to learn more about them. By the end, I found myself understanding Gye-won’s motivations and even supporting his ideals (though I disagreed with his methods), whereas I wound up quite disillusioned with Tae.

While Gye-won acknowledged and admitted to his faults, Tae often couched his harsh decisions in excuses, claiming to be acting for Jung’s sake. Yet he was acting on behalf of her, not for her; he did what he thought was best without properly consulting her opinion. It makes sense that Tae desperately desired to protect those he loves, especially considering the losses he’s suffered through, but it often felt like he was shirking responsibility for his decisions.

Still, how much of that can be blamed on him? While he made the choice to walk down the path he did, the factors that pushed him there in the first place cannot be discounted. Had he not suffered such tragedy, perhaps he may not have developed such an obsession with power and survival. Yet on the other hand, Jung proved that it is possible to forgive and choose kindness over vengeance.

Hence, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Jung reclaim her agency and stand proud as herself. I like that she never compromised on her compassion or her values, and that she had the courage to walk an untrodden path in order to uphold her ideals. She’s aware of the dangers that the palace poses, yet she never once shies away from it — instead, she strives even harder to survive and do the best she can.

To the end, I was never quite sure how Red Heart would conclude its tale, and I think that’s an indication of how all the characters were layered, well-developed, and simply just human. While each character sometimes made decisions that seemed illogical or irrational, a closer examination always revealed a justification that made sense within the parameters of that character’s worldview.

Gye-won’s line, spoken to Tae as an apparition in the wake of his death, will likely stay with me even past this drama’s finale — “All deaths are humble.” Regardless of power or status, we are all ultimately human, equal in death. It’s a sobering reminder to stay humble, remain cognizant of our faults, and strive to do better while we still can.

 
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A rare drama that was good from beginning to end and didn’t screw up the landing.

I thought all of the characters had a fitting ending.

PGW directly or indirectly was responsible for everything that happened, so I was fine with him dying. I felt bad for his wife though. I was much more interested in her and PGW than the tragic lovers. Their brief scenes in Episode 15 were really good and made me want to know more about her life.

I’m glad the Queen Dowager couldn’t follow him in death. That would have been too easy and honestly, I stopped feeling sorry for her when she was so gleeful about having people killed. Park Ji-yeun was a new discovery for me.

I know the King isn't liked by most around here, but I thought he was actually the most human. It’s hard to let go of grudges. I liked the scene where he imagined PGW and then asked Jung who he was supposed to resent now. I’m glad he had Jung to keep him in line. I liked that he did end up stabbing Minister Cho in the back, for a good reason but a little bit because of old grudges lol.

I liked that the ending was hopeful, but not too hopeful. The King and Jung are lovers, as well as political rivals. There will be problems. Deposing the Queen Dowager will be politically fraught, though honestly the QD’s actions should be more than enough justification. Joseon and their filial piety. Lady Cho vowing to play the long game, restore her family and become Queen Dowager was a good reminder that the political games will go on. Eventually, the political balance will tilt and there will be bloodshed. As an unapologetic PGW said about Yoo Haksoo’s dead “That is politics.”

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Thank you for making an antagonist loveable! If someone had told me that I wouldn't look forward to his death when I started the drama I would have refused. The writers did well here, there were so many layers to his character and you can't help but understand his motives at the end although I disapprove of the methods.
I found the scene between PGW and his son beautiful ; I didn't think that he "approved" of his son's righteousness so I was happy to see that he raised him as such.

Of course the eunuch was going to be the one to put Tae in trouble and Tae was never going to see past his obsession with power if he remained by his side.

I was laughing hard at lady Cho during the finale. She now wants to protect her family in the last hour after making a mess throughout the drama? Please!

I was surprised at Tae outing the Minister of War at the end. It was indeed a long game for Tae seeing how he reminded Minister Cho of his past actions. I felt that the minister of War was a wasted character; he could have been much more.

Jung definitely thought a lesson on forgiveness and compassion throughout this drama. I still think we should give Jung the crown 😆😆.

I really enjoyed this drama. Kang Han Na, Jang Hyuk and Lee Joon were great in their roles as leads.

Thanks @solstices for the weecaps😃

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In the end it all came back to what PGW told the Minister of War about the King...

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I really loved that line of Tae's at the end about Jung being both his sanctuary and the sword above his head. That spoke to the unique dynamic--especially in a sageuk--between the leads. "Bloody Heart" wasn't quite as emotionally affecting as "Red Sleeve Cuff," but I found it to be very well written and compelling. It also presumed an intelligent viewer without ever getting too esoteric which I appreciated. Of course, the actors were wonderful, too. This was a memorable and well-chosen first lead role for Kang Hana, who managed to play a righteous, morally upstanding, and talented heroine without ever getting on my nerves (quite a feat!). I'm always impressed with Lee Joon's skills and I especially liked that he didn't shy away from showing that even with all his supposed power, Tae could be weak and vulnerable. It's always a plus when the male lead doesn't have to indulge in toxic masculinity to prove he's strong.

For about half the drama, I admit I wasn't feeling Jang Hyuk's portrayal. But by the end, when I was actually sad over Gye-won's death, I could more easily see the layers in his performance. I still kept waiting for him to pull out a fan, though.

Oh, and the actress who played the Queen Dowager was amazing as well.

As far as becoming disillusioned with Tae, even when Jung was critical of his actions and I knew he was simply repeating the same barbaric cycle of those who had come before, I felt for him. I could understand why he simply didn't have the capacity to envision another way of dealing with palace dynamics. If he doesn't retaliate, he'll be destroyed; if he does, he's just continuing the cycle of violence. No one modeled any other kind of choice for him, and for all his worries about tyrants, it's not like Gye-won laid out a clear alternate path for him to follow.

All in all, very worth watching.

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I can't say I enjoyed this after the death of PGW. And Tae's gloating about it( I really eyerolled and wanted to sliced his gut through the screen as he went on, unapologetic) and Consort Parks silence only vexed me more. It is like these two never saw past the PGW who lead the opposition in court, they never saw the PGW I saw. Not even a honorable mention from Consort Park, not even a word talk less of a sentence. The writers really made me grow fond of the character I'm cranky that they did him this disservice.
I wanted him to survive, and retire in peace.

Minister Cho had it coming for him. He deserves something more worse. PGW's warning would prove true at the end. Were PGW alive, he wouldn't have been exiled as he would have a purpose - check PGW. He can't check the Queen. He knew that yet he went for the end of his greatest discomfort which in turn left his Achilles heel wide open. One more, I felt he was extremely underutilized, but he gave an impressionable delivery of his character.

Death is too easy for the Dowager. Her life is loneliness is the best punishment ever. Despite this, I liked her character a lot. Serving as a foil to several characters isn't a easy feat as a villain but she owned it. She is one of those bad guys that makes you feel and understand them, no matter how deep they sink into their evilness. Till the end, I was invested in her arc.

All in all, Bloody Heart is my second Business Proposal. It had me looking forward to a Monday-Tuesday drama. And it was so from start to finish.

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The ending was a little anti-climatic. It just kind of ended. I guess because I expected tragedy and it just didn't happen. The drama itself was beautifully shot and all our leads did a great job. However, it lacked a certain something to make it a good drama instead of just an okay one.

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I was happy that we didn't get a confected tragic or happy ending. Neither extreme. It ended as an ongoing story about tension and balance attained by a strong, determined and intelligent woman who loved her king and who refused to let him descend into tyranny by taking the easy way out. That tension and balance was never going to have a once-and-for-all resolution, but we could see they were both "in it". They knew it would be difficult, but they loved each other and so they would be intimate antagonists. We could actually have another season of that ongoing story. At the end, it made me think, "Oh, maybe this was what it was like in the past, especially if the Queen represented a powerful faction and she was wise and on equal terms with her husband." It gave a whole new world of meaning to the cliche, the power behind the throne. I was happy too that he understood that there was a sword over his head and that he loved her so much and found a safe place with her. Nice tension. The drama was so artful on so many dimensions. One of the best.

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The last two episodes were a bit bland despite some action, but the overall drama was mostly interesting. I think all the politics were going over my head. Stellar acting from multiple actors & actresses.

I like how well layered the characters were and how their initial impressions weren't all they were made out to be.

I thought there was a chance Gye Won wouldn't survive the end of this drama, but I was still crushed when he died.

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Will this drama be available on Disney + in the US? I am very upset for not being able to watch it.

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I have thoroughly enjoyed this drama... and as every week I had said over here, I found Councilor Park the most intriguing character of this show. He was an evil villain in the beginning but over time I found to be understanding his tenacity, ideals and where he was coming from.

I loved loved how he was 2 steps ahead of his rivals and his mind worked, but the best part of it all was not this, but Lady Jung who just showed she was as good as a match to these chess players or even better! I love a heroine when she is much more than a flower pot, neither a damsel in distress and an all around girl crush!

All in all, this drama is a huge hit to me! Am gonna it.

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The last two episodes were not that intense like I thought. It peaked at EP.8-14, I still like how it ended.

Red heart was one of my favorite sageuk dramas of all time. Top notch at cinematography, acting , music, writing. Kudos to Jang hyuk, Lee Joon, Kang hanna and Park jiyeon for amazing acting. I hope they're going to win at KBS awards because they really deserved it.

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