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Our Blooming Youth: Episodes 17-18

Our prince’s loyal bodyguard has a scheming secret twin! But as far as shocking deductions go, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our crack team of Joseon super-detectives will soon go toe-to-toe with royal machinations, drug-wielding hypnotists, and more assassination plots than you can shake a stick at…

 

EPISODES 17-18

Our Blooming Youth: Episodes 17-18

It’s settled: Tae-gang has a less-than-scrupulous twin. But our Famous Four have further deductions; Jae-yi’s cracked the case of her missing memories. That peony incense that keeps cropping up in the unlikeliest of places? It must be laced with opium. Take the power of that soporific concoction, and sprinkle in a smidgen of hypnotic suggestion, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for manipulation. It’s what convinced the head shaman of the prophecy — and what set Young off on a murder spree. Jae-yi wasn’t hypnotized, but she inhaled the fumes, hence her scattered recollections.

Myung-jin’s got an announcement to make, and nothing will stop him — not even Ga-ram looking like she’d rather eat the autopsy handbook. From henceforth, he declares, they will be known as the Shield Investigation Team! And who better than to lead it (here, he smirks at the crown prince) than himself? Hwan snarls, whereupon Myung-jin gleefully pronounces that his skill with a shovel puts him leagues ahead in the leader stakes. He’s having way too much fun with this. But he’s also using his newfound knowledge for good: tenderly, he insists on escorting a skittish Ga-ram home. Cute!

Unfortunately the, er, incense is about to hit the proverbial fan. That night, Hayeon makes her fatal way to Monk Moojin, surrendering her brother to his care. Sure enough, out come the peony petals; under the monk’s hypnotic influence, Myungan is urged to forget about the prince and the peach. Unsuspecting, Hayeon waits outside. Soon, there’s a blade at her throat. Tae-gang’s evil twin has made his entrance.

But the queen trusted too far in Hayeon’s discretion: our eminently sensible princess brought a protector. Out of the shadows leaps Sung-on! He launches into combat with Tae-gang’s sinister lookalike, and with a little help from Hayeon — boy, can that girl wield a blade in a pinch — his opponent is soon bloodied and beaten. But, alas, he’s crafty: with the old handful-of-dust-in-the-eye maneuver, he flees. Still, his shoulder’s wounded… and Sung-on caught sight of his face.

Our Blooming Youth: Episodes 17-18

Lingering in the shadows, Court Lady Kwon screws her courage to the stabbing place and wounds herself as alibi. Sung-on holds a blade to Monk Moojin’s throat, demanding answers. And he gets them. How could Monk Moojin stand by while the land was stained with the blood of innocents? He has one goal: to destroy the Yi family, and bring about utopia. This said, he seizes Sung-on’s sword — and plunges it into his own chest.

As Sung-on escorts the royal siblings to safety, Jae-yi questions Hwan about Tae-gang’s origins. Hwan first met him when he was an orphan cutting purses to survive on the streets. Together, he and Sung-on found him a foster family, teaching him how to write, shoot, and swing a sword. The day he passed the military exam was the proudest they’ve ever been. Hwan always insisted it wasn’t due to his show of noblesse oblige — Tae-gang would have lived an upright life if not for them. Turns out, there’s a twin study just waiting to test this hypothesis…

Sung-on bursts into the library to inform Hwan of Tae-gang’s supposed treachery — just as Tae-gang, original flavor, arrives. For the second time in several episodes, Tae-gang finds himself inexplicably accused of treason. Hwan and Jae-yi watch awkwardly as the man with 15% of the facts shakes his fist at the man with 0% of them. Finally, Hwan explains the twin factor of it all, using Tae-gang’s unpunctured shoulder as evidence. Poor Tae-gang is ordered away, while his world presumably tilts on its axis.

Our Blooming Youth: Episodes 17-18

Across the palace, the queen grieves for her old ally Monk Moojin. Court Lady Kwon, wound still leaking, urges her to take care: if it all goes wrong, she herself will take the blame. Horrified, the queen seizes her hand. You must live, she urges, and return to your homeland. But Court Lady Kwon is adamant: in the grand scheme of things, she’s a pawn. The only way that justice will be served is if the grand prince takes the throne.

Later, the queen ruminates on what must be done. She wishes Hwan were of her blood. But, as is, he must heed the ghost letter… the one that she sent. Plastering on a warm smile, she prepares for her guest to arrive: Sung-on. She has an anonymous letter to share — one she’s positive is just a scurrilous rumor. Her informant tells her that Eunuch Go is Min Jae-yi! Ridiculous, right? After all, if the crown prince knew when he brought her to her household… well, surely he would have told Sung-on, no? (That tinkling sound you can hear in the background is Sung-on’s heart shattering into a million pieces.)

Meanwhile, a figure who looks very much like Tae-gang creeps out of the library. It’s TAE-SAN. He looks up — and meets the eyes of his long-lost twin. Tears well in Tae-gang’s eyes, but Tae-san stops him in his tracks. Pretend you don’t know anything, he orders. Soon, we’ll go back home. Let us talk then.

The door creaks open: it’s Jae-yi. She sees Tae-gang — and behind him, his twin. Tae-san springs for the door; Jae-yi leaps after him. But soon, Tae-gang seizes hold of her. Jae-yi screams in outrage. He’s an agent from Byeokcheon! Tae-gang, furious, slams her against the wall. His fingers meet her throat. All the resentment of the past few weeks coalesces into one moment: he squeezes; she chokes.

But then, Hwan rounds the corner! Seconds later, Jae-yi is sputtering but uninjured, and Tae-gang is appalled at himself. Sinking to the floor, he bolts out an apology. He wasn’t trying to kill her. He was frightened. He did know he had a twin, but he thought he died years ago… in Byeokcheon. As for why he never confessed? People from Byeokcheon were being thrown from the palace. He knew it would have reflected badly on Hwan. Hwan’s face softens — as does Jae-yi’s. I believe you, Hwan says. But you must leave the palace for now. I promise, I’ll send for you soon.

Of course, no amount of apologies will soothe Jae-yi’s sore throat — or make her feel safe in the library. Secretly, she props up chairs against the door to ward off intruders. But there’s already one inside: Hwan! By now, he’s wise to her habit of staying silent in the face of distress; he’s dropped in ahead of time to guard her. Or — sorry, no. He’s here to get some reading done. Yup. Jae-yi peers at him fondly. Hwan looks away. Then, he steals a glance at her. She looks away. Smitten as they are, I wouldn’t be surprised if this carried on all night. But there’s trouble in their tentative paradise: the day of Hwan’s marriage is close at hand. So-eun has been selected as his bride.

More complications arise: having been halfway to emotional hell and back, Sung-on pays a visit to Jae-yi. You must have suffered a great deal, he says. If I’d known, I’d have taken better care of you. Thank you — for being alive. Jae-yi’s eyes widen. The jig is up. But he was nice, she insists, carefully. He treated her with enough respect — the respect due to a eunuch. Regardless, she cannot marry him. Sung-on baulks at this. This charade is dangerous — for both her and Hwan. Besides, they’ve exchanged a letter of approval. They’re virtually married already. Jae-yi shakes her head. All she can wish for him is that he find someone else and be happy.

Our Blooming Youth: Episodes 17-18

As Sung-on leaves, he encounters Hwan, who’s been fully aware of the delicate conversation taking place. You promised, says Sung-on, to return her to me. Hwan rightfully retorts that a woman isn’t an object. Sung-on’s reply is chilling. If she understands the law and her duty, he says, she’ll come back to me on her own. Never have I felt more like violently shaking a character. Sung-on! You had all my sympathy till now! Drop that nonsense right this second!

Jae-yi’s not the only one whose identity’s been compromised — but things are less fraught for Ga-ram. (Thank god. My girl deserves nothing but nice things!) After a clumsy slip-up where she refers to Jae-yi as ‘my lady’, Myung-jin seizes the moment. I know who you are, he assures her. I know who Scholar Park is, too. Ga-ram blinks: one of those things is news to her. Okay, sure, admits Myung-jin, he’s the crown prince — but hush, okay? If he knows we know, we can’t be friends anymore. Then, in a sneaky subject pivot, he tells Ga-ram she looked pretty when he saw her in a dress. Didn’t she mention something about being in love with him…? Flustered, Ga-ram objects. She — uh, just didn’t like to see him being bullied by Woodpecker Lady (may she rest in peace)!

Meanwhile, the gang tackle their latest lead. Ga-ram has remembered something crucial: moments before his death, Jae-yi’s father was drawing an odd red diagram. Hwan, looking over her reconstructed sketch, recognizes it — it’s a jikgeumdo! This special cypher is known only to the sender and its recipient. Through clever deduction, they realize the messenger must have been a judge of the Gaeseong office, and the recipient, Councilor Han. Alas, in the excitement of discovery, Myung-jin refers to Hwan by his royal title, then claps a hand over his mouth. So much for feigned ignorance and continued friendship! You had one job!

Soon, our heroes recover the letter. Now, it’s up to Hwan to speak with its recipient. Cutting straight to the point, he asks Councilor Han, can I consider you one of my people? Councilor Han stares at him, hard. I’ve already put everything on the line for you, he replies. Satisfied, Hwan hands him the letter. It’s about Song, leader of the Byeokcheon rebellion. We don’t hear what Councilor Han reads next — but whatever it is, it causes Hwan to bridle. What nonsense, he asks, is this?

Elsewhere, the queen tends to Myungan, whose hair has, overnight, turned a biologically implausible gray: mark of being drugged and hypnotized. But hair, the queen tells him, doesn’t matter. What matters is having a kind heart. That, she reminds herself, is what his true name means: Song Hyun. Later, in her chambers, she broods over a very particular fish. Your majesty. You know I’m rooting for you. But just what are you planning on doing with those eggs of madness, huh?

Whatever it is, Jae-yi’s halfway onto her. Sung-on is suspicious of Court Lady Kwon. This, in turn, makes her doubt the queen — despite Hwan’s initial outrage at the thought. Unfortunately, she’s about to get a taste of just what makes this royal chessmaster so formidable. Back at the library, she notices that her dagger is missing. Horrified, she races to find Hwan. He’s not in his room. But the ghost letter is — and it’s been amended. You will grow old without a wife, it now reads. You’ll die lonely without any children. Seizing the letter, she springs towards the royal villa. Inside, there’s a crumpled body lying bloodstained on the floor. It’s So-eun. And next to her? Jae-yi’s knife.

Our Blooming Youth: Episodes 17-18

Oh, Jae-yi! Never has one woman been framed for quite so many murders! Turns out, in the palace, there’s no defending yourself with a dagger. Its dangers are far subtler than that. I can’t help but remember when she first entered the eastern palace — how it seemed full of boundless space. Now, she’s boxed in on all corners: whether it’s being gently yet inexorably pressured into an unwanted marriage, or the umpteenth homicidal frame-job. Still, even knowing just how ruthless she is, my heart goes out to the queen. Whatever move she makes, it’s knowing that the lives of everyone from Byeokcheon hang in the balance.

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, and only two episodes left. I’m a little nervous about how they’ll pull this one off! Still, I have every hope that one way or another, our trusty Shield Investigation Team will seek justice for Byeokcheon. As for our leads — this is one last test of trust. And look how far they’ve come! By arranging that house for her, Hwan proved he respects Jae-yi’s autonomy. By accepting his offer of protection, Jae-yi’s finally trusting Hwan with her vulnerabilities. The very fact that Jae-yi felt safe to voice doubts about the queen — and that Hwan, no matter how affronted he felt, let her, is testament to that. It’s been a long, slow burn, but I’m cheering for these lovestruck detectives!

Our Blooming Youth: Episodes 17-18

 
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Jae-yi broke the first rule of incrimination - touching the murder weapon. If you were in modern times, that's a good ticket to jail.

But that's for the modern times. I guess the best way to nail a murder on someone innocent in the ancient times is to use their personal belongings to do the deed. Can someone tell them via a time machine that there's something called secondary transfer? 🤦🏽😩🤣🤣🤣. It's a mix of all.

Seong-on gets a wonderful applause from me with the way he handled the whole thing with the Jae-yi reveal. There's no brute push, all the pushs he gave were done through reasoning with Jae-yi, and Hwan. I know he won't get the girl, I just don't want writing to rob him of the rationality he displayed this week.

You all said the actor playing Tae-gang is green in his acting. I saw it this with during the chokehold. It was supposed to convey a mix of fear, a sense to protect what was thought to be lost forever, and unintentional self-service. Instead, it took redirecting the camera angle to show it cause the one in his face was clearly showing something that didn't translate to the situation at hand.

Myung-jin had just one job. I am of the opinion that he would have kept his ruse if he didn't let Garam know that he knows.

Killed off the incoming Crown Princess? (My deepest regrets to So-eun. The lady was just mourning her very own mother) I'd like to see how Jae-yi gets in line to inherit the Queen's crown. I'd also like to see how the Hwan benefits from the union since we know marital ties strengthens the power of the throne, sometimes. While hers is quite strong, I don't know if Jae-yi has access to it. I'm referring to the fact that her parents are now passed, not the false accusation hanging over her head about her murdering her family.

Not the Queen. You're making it hard to root for you, ma'am.

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Jae-yi that not so clever detective. Should have removed the dead girl's body and dispose of it, reclaimed the knife (no body, therefore no murder). Then dress in So-eun's clothes and marry the Crown Prince. What's Hwan going to do? It's what he wants. What's the Left State Minister going to do? (his family are already lying about So-eun having two live parents and they still get to influence) and what's the Queen going to do? Say "That's not So-eun, I already had her killed?".

It's no more implausible than some of the things we were expected to swallow this week ... a huge one being that hypnotism turns your hair white? What!

I too felt that Sung-on handled both Jae-yi and Hwan with aplomb, and good for him. They have been treating him like he's of no account all this time but when faced with the sudden truth he really rose to the occasion in a flash, pointing out facts, correct behaviour and expectations, leaving them to wrestle with all the guilt and propriety as they should. They've been skulking in corners for too long. Come out and face the music. State what you really want or give it up once and for all.

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With the death of the Crown Princess, the question of marriage seems to have been settled for the time being. I was sure that it would not come to a marriage, but I had not expected this solution.

After last week, I was bracing myself for more time to be wasted on jokes about Hwan's cluelessness when Jae-yi is in love. But fortunately our main characters were too busy solving the mystery.
In contrast, I loved the nightly scene in the library. Jae-yi looked like she'd jump on Hwan and have her way with him in a heartbeat if he'd given her the slightest encouragement. I don't understand people complaining about the lack of romance. It couldn't be more obvious how these two pine for each other.

Overall, I was pleased with the last two episodes. With our four investigators finally making some crucial discoveries, one stone is quickly falling into place. I am curious to see how everything will be resolved in the end.

At the beginning I was not a big fan of Myung-jin, especially his laugh was annoying and I would have preferred to skip many scenes with him. But in the meantime he has grown on me.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he gets a happy ending with Ga-ram. And if the series manages to bring the two together, even though Ga-ram was a slave, I'm sure there will be a satisfying resolution for Hwan and Jae-yi, too.

As for the sergeant, I'm not certain yet how it will end for him. If he keeps hoping that Jae-yi will come to him, even though he can be pretty sure by now that she is in love with his friend, I fear that the scriptwriters have planned a heroic death for him.

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"If she understands the law and her duty, he says, she’ll come back to me on her own." To be fair to Seung-on, that’s exactly the guy Hwan was, too, until he met Jae-yi. SO hasn’t had the benefit of being challenged by her outspoken frustration with traditional Confucian gender norms or her gleeful flouting of them when she's in eunuch drag.

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It took just one verbal beating from her for Hwan to see the light tho. I'd love to see her giving one Sung On too, but, first, she'll hardly have time for that now, and second, he doesn't really seem like a guy who will pay enough attention to woman's opinion altogether. She told him point blank she doesn't want him and instead of giving in, like he once claimed to always do once they're married (remember that? I still do), he chose to change tactic and threaten his male rival to resolve the issue. Both guys are fundamentally different when it comes to being challenged. This time there are no multiple innocent lives at stake, just the hearts of two people who "wronged" him, so I don't expect him to accept defeat and move on as easily as he did in shaman's case.

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And he's right about the law - they technically are married. If Seungon had died in the interim, she would have had to go live with her father in law as a virgin widow.

And love was not a factor in Joseon law or practice!

Jaeyi's rejection of Joseon norms is partly explained by her father's attitude (tolerated her dressing up make, gave her a talk on how she can come home if necessary once married), but unsurprising that that others may not take the same attitude. Only real surprise is that CP is going along with her perspective (and well, he has a bit of a vested interest now....)!

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Hwan was empathetic to Jaeyi's struggles since she first voiced them out because he also experienced a lot of crap thanks to limitations of his unique status. He wasn't just any CP, he was a CP with little to no supporters, terrible reputation and fatal flaw he had to hide with all his might in order to simply survive. They always had many shared woes. Now even more than ever, since he also personally tasted the "pleasure" of unwanted marriage forced on him.

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I had a light bulb moment last night.

What if there was more to the library scene than we were shown?

Their demeanour next morning was different. There was a almostlike a non verbal acknowledgement of shared grief and a body language of defeat. Hwan's look and Jay Yi's responding look was telling to me.The resolute way Hwan closed his drawer was not that of a jealous lover as he used to do before.

Dd something happen? It's very likely we might be treated to a flashback.

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@minniegupta1, hmm... What exactly could possibly happen? Not a grand confession - it's clearly reserved for the final week. And not kiss/anything beyond. Maybe some heavy on hints dialogue? Might also be just Hwan's reaction to his now very official engagement and all the congratulations. Or he really had an epiphany at the worst moment ever...

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@minniegupta1
I don't think anything more happened in the library than what we saw.

Rather, I interpreted the scene of the next morning as simply Hwan being uncomfortable about his impending marriage being talked about in front of Jay-yi.

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What if there was indeed a confession where Jay Yi might not name him, but drops enough hints and makes it clear it's him, and that no matter how much she and the dimwit might want it, they cannot have no future together. It could be the time when Hwan finally accepts it's him but that's where it ends. The more I think of it, more plausible it becomes.

Outside the library, he knew why she didn't go to seargent. He had to.

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I don't think there's death in the mix. We still have an eligible spinster in Princess Ha-yeon, and Hwan just got relegated back to single status.
And, can someone tell autocorrect to stop rewriting Hwan as Jean.

And, I guess he was reminding them to do what is right even though he knows he doesn't stand a chance. They are basically married. And Seong-on will have to dispose of the letter and declare it null and void or as you said, pass away for them to have the freeness of heart to do what their heart yearns for. I am going to believe and hope that his statement as @elinor quoted meant that do what was meant to be done and he'll handle the rest.
And trust me, if Hwan does otherwise, Hwan will be using his very own hands to fulfil the words of the ghost letter. I'm referring to the rift and betrayal part.

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Let’s not use the word ‘spinster’ unless ironically as it is a toxic and misogynistic word.

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I don't think there's death in the mix. We still have an eligible Miss in Princess Ha-yeon, and Hwan just got relegated back to single status.

Thanks for the heads up.

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I'm late to the party, but I couldn't help but notice how easily this drama disposes of brides-to-be-that-we've-hardly-met. I think they're the cursed ones. Wow.

Princess Ha-yeon is Hwan's (half) sister so she's not part of the marriage talks.

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I'm sorry, but this show is badly written; the pacing is downright awful. For about 8 episodes nothing noteworthy happened and now they have 2 episodes to wrap up the ghost letter, Jae-yi's framing and imprisonment, the deceased Crown Prince's murder, the little Prince's true parentage, the Queen, Byeokcheon, the Right State minister, the twins, Hwan's possible dethronement, the Crown Princess' murder, Song-on's marriage letter. That's just too much, there's no way it's not going to be rushed and unsatisfying.

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How about an earthquake? All the nuisance threads get swallowed up never to be seen again. Miraculous survivors are the 4 lovebirds plus Sung-on, who realises he loves the Princess because he was hit by a falling beam and it knocked some sense into him. Peace settles on the land with Hwan becoming King and changing every rotten law to a good one.

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The writers even incorporate the bad soap opera convention of having characters talk to themselves. Surely there is a more natural, less contrived way for the queen or the crown prince to reveal their thoughts than scenes with them sitting alone in their rooms speaking to no one in particular.

I was drawn to the mystery elements of this show initially, but the sleuthing either leads to our detectives coming up with random explanations out of nowhere (e.g., everyone's on opium, hypnosis causes white hair, eating the eggs of a bloodthirsty fish leads to insanity, etc.) or slowly deliberating over questions that have already been answered. At one point, Jae-yi goes so far as to explain the importance of hypotheses, as if their seemingly speculative answers have some scientific basis.

It doesn't help that the acting is so one-note (I blame the direction more than the actors). Jae-yi speaks with grave seriousness and always seems to be on the verge of tears, not because of her family tragedy, but because of her overwhelming love and concern for the crown prince. The crown prince transitions from paranoid self-absorption to ideal champion of the people thanks to Jae-yi, apparently, and now everything he does is right and just (to a poignant soundtrack and the approval of righteous bystanders). Myung-jin exists to add levity, so everything he says and does is lovably eccentric, of course. Ga-ram sets the tone of the scene, telling us with her facial cues whether she's thinking hard (time to solve mysteries), being goofy (time for forced humor), or panicking (time for life-threatening plot developments).

As for the others, Song-on has the potential for more depth, but he's often relegated to being whatever the current scene demands of him, and Tae-san is the twin making the mean face, while Tae-gang looks lost. I could go on, but I think the biggest problem is that the characters respond to each new twist in an irrationally emotional way, forcing the actors to resort to histrionics. Hence, Jae-yi confronts Tae-gang without reservation, behaves in a conspicuously lovesick way around the prince when she's supposed to be blending in as a eunuch, and winds up framed for murder twice.

As an aside, I'm still not sure why Jae-yi waited so long to tell the crown prince about the peach incident, and it's especially frustrating that the true culprit escapes accountability in the midst of the grand prince's meltdown. Also, shouldn't the queen and the Songs be directing their wrath at the Cho/Jo family, not the royals? It all feels very hastily thrown together, and I have many questions.

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Agree with you about the nonsensical talking to themselves. I talk to myself a lot but I don't lose a million braincells and pull stupid faces while I'm doing it (Ga-ram in particular is horribly guilty of this). For me it's just as artificial as turning to speak to the camera.

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Picking up the bloody murder weapon... Sigh. Does anybody EVER do that in real life??
BUT, in kdramaland it also seems to guarantee that you will eventually be cleared. Double-sigh.

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I still have so much faith that we can finish strong, but I’m getting increasingly nervous that we have too much story left and too little time.

I admit I was not expecting to get to the last week without an outright confession from either member of our OTP. We’ve somehow even moved past Hwan asking Jae-i who she loves every other minute. That scene in the library where they kept stealing glances at each other was adorable, but I’m a little sad that any romantic payoff we get will be crushed into two episodes at the end.

We did make more progress mystery-wise, and I’m so happy that our investigation team knows each other’s identities and also know that they know. I loved that while Myung-jin’s relationship with Hwan has to change (at least in formality), his relationship with Ga-ram retains its adorable dynamic. I’m also fine with where Seong-on is in his journey right now. It was too much to ask for him to be totally fine with everything right away, he too has had a rough emotional ride over the past few months after all. And I do think that he’ll relent in the end, I just think he needs time, poor guy.

I am going to need some Byeokcheon folks to explain some things to me in the next two episodes. I understand that they were horrifically wronged, and that the people at fault need to pay for that, but I don’t understand why they are okay with so much collateral damage. Wasn’t that the whole thing that they were upset about in the first place? That their family members were killed and their town destroyed because of damage control? But they (at least some of them) seem to be totally fine with using similar tactics. The queen is lamenting the fact that Hwan is not her biological son and wondering if the princess is wearing enough layers while she is plotting their demise, and for what? To put her own woefully unprepared son on the throne instead? Just out of spite for their father? Why aren’t they targeting the actual family that did all this to them? I like that most of our antagonists are sympathetic to a certain extent, but I wish I knew more about their thought process.

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Thank you. Cho Won-bo is right there gallivanting around and the persons you think you should exterminate first is the Royal Family. I get why they're following that logic. In situations like this, its the guy at the top that takes the brunt. This is a classic example of where you'd prefer to be second place than at the top.

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I hope the last two episodes will give us more insight into the thought process or lack thereof behind the Byeokcheon revenge plot. Seemed mighty simplistic for the monk to think that killing the royal family would immediately usher in utopia. What about the entrenched injustices perpetuated by the current political system? All those powerful families would immediately be rendered powerless? And common folk who believed the big lie about the rebel bandits would immediately embrace the truth?

On one hand, kudos to the queen and her allies for their patience and persistence. But I wonder if their arrows are aimed a bit off-target. It’s a bit frustrating seeing them bent on destroying the person who’s trying to reveal the truth about the massacre.

Thank goodness for Ga-ram and Myung-jin bringing a little lightness to the story.

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Queen is either highly delulu from her grief or just a big fat liar. Justice? Utopia with no class difference - but with HER son as a king somehow? How convincing. She's just another bloodthirsty avenger who wants to see the whole world burn because she was personally wronged. And get on the top of food chain while at it so she'll never be trampled over again. Everything else she spouts holds no weight whatsoever. She's not even working hard at raising her son to be the capable and just king material, only spoils him rotten and claims that he'll do fine anyway because he's got "a heart" (aka is a son of a man she loved and hence is already 100% perfect in her eyes).

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Yeah, and a son who will just be a perfect little marionette king for her to control and thus actually have the top spot in the country. It's not like he'll have the conviction to do anything without his mom's approval. I really think she must be deluding herself and thinking that he will be a great king, while deep inside thinking how great a ruler she will be.

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I've had a debate about that on local forum yesterday - imagine her plan works, what will she do once she's old and about to die? Hope one of her grandkids will magically turn out capable enough to follow her footsteps? Leave it to blind luck? Lady's only good at strategy when the end goal is blood and havoc, not stability and peace.

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Yes exactly. And even if Queen was naive enough to think knocking off royal family would solve everything in the beginning, surely she now knows there is more to politics?

Presumably she is banking on being regent, but if she knocks off right minister and henchmen, where is her powerbase going to be do right any wrongs?

Would have been much better off cultivating either of the cp's and getting them to fix things, or cultivating left state minister and using what really happened to take down right state minister and those who actually did the deed....

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Even the current Royal Family is fully aware that they need a supporting power clan. That’s why King is quick to marry off CP to the Han line so they don’t have to be strangled by the Jo clan anymore.

Their revenge plot shows how little they know about how politics work. If she does become regent, I’m sure there’s someone in the wings who will try to get her precious son to be deposed. And it’ll be easier because they have no political ties and her son is too young and incompetent.

Yes, she would have been better off working with the CP, either of them. She spent years within the family and in the palace, does she know that the King and CP didn’t know the whole story about Byeokcheon? Why direct her revenge on the RF when they have a common enemy in Jo Wonbo?

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She needs Jo in the beginning as a regent, which is why she has not knocked him off yet. Her plan is more bloody than the cackling minister can think of.

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I feel like everything is happening in the last few episodes while we were just dawdling during the middle.

I silently screamed when she touched the knife! But then figured they didn’t have finger print /forensics back then?

Poor fiancé had to die. This is the second potential bride that has died.

I will watch the remaining two episodes and earn my bean.

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Had the same thought about fingerprints. But, it would’ve been in her best interest not to risk blood transfer from the dagger onto her hand. I have to think the criminal investigations at that the would examine that at least. Oh well, I suppose the details don’t matter — it’s all about putting Jae-yi’s life in jeopardy yet again.

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Picking up the knife would be a good move if she had hurriedly pocketed it and kept quiet. Then she could have let people assume the killer had not left it behind, cleaned it and put it back in her box as though it had never left. I think we are well beyond the point where we can celebrate her powers of deduction and quick thinking. Absolutely nothing she has done qualifies her to be thought of in this way and personally I think she is an idiot. I know I know, I'm horrible, and I don't care. 😄

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She should have shouted for help or better, left the room immediately. Her reaction was … not clever. Now she’ll be accused of the murder, maybe with jealousy as motivation.
K drama: to boldly create problems where none should be 😏

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I was silently screaming through the whole stupidity of it all. She had to barge into a section of the palace where eunuchs do NOT go, grab the incriminating evidence, and sit by in shock so she could pose as the killer. Just brilliant. She was certainly manipulated by the Queen through the "ghost letter", but I cannot take Jae-yi as a "smart detective" anymore. For 18 episodes she had time to make hypotheses and rule them out, and she's doing it now based on what?

"I will watch the remaining two episodes and earn my bean".
Truer words have never been spoken.

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WTF Moment #1: Opium-laced peony flowers and hypnotic suggestions not only manipulate longterm memory, but also turn one's hair white.

WTF Moment #2: Monk Moojin managing to overpower Sung-on's grip on his own sword and plunge it into himself. In the scene directly before this, we all saw Sung-on defeat a professional warrior younger than himself, but the 70+ year old monk has his way with his sword (which Sung-on appears to be gripped with all his might) while still in a seated position? Come on now.

WTF Moment #3: Tae-gang nearly strangling Jae-yi to death right after discovering his twin is a) alive and b) a murderous psychopath. Part II: Hwan discovering Tae-gang violently suffocating the love of his life, but instead of running over to remove Tae-gang's hands from a clearly suffering Jae-yi's neck, merely yells at him to stop.

Ok, now that I got that out of the way, I feel like I should applaud the show for really picking up the pace in these episodes, delivering a truly shocking death (the poor Crown Princess--I really wanted her to end up with Song-on), and revealing the true villainy of the Queen. I also should mention Myung-jin coming clean to Ga-ram and walking her home, the scene in the library between the CP and Jae-yi, and the fact that Sung-on finally knows the truth.

But all I could think while watching these scenes is that all of them would have had much more of an emotional impact if a) they'd happened earlier and b) if romance (between Hwan and JAe-yi, of course, but also Myung-jin and Ga-ram and even Sung-on and the Crown Princess) had been more central to the plot. Since around the halfway point, I've tried hard to accept the show on its own merits (it's primarily a historical mystery that banks on PHS's tremendous romantic leading man appeal, but then proceeds to ask us to mostly ignore it) and have appreciated the way the female characters are as well--or even moreso--developed as the male characters. But these ending episodes made me frustrated all over again for what could have been. I truly cannot believe that in a show that set up the perfect angsty epic romantic arc from ep. 1 ended ep. 18 without Hwan and Jae-yi having confessed to each other outside of their own minds.

I just can't get past that right now.

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Totally agree with everything you have said especially this "-it's primarily a historical mystery that banks on PHS's tremendous romantic leading man appeal, but then proceeds to ask us to mostly ignore it" While the female lead and second are doing a fantastic job I wonder how many people would still be hanging in here at episode 18 if PHS was not cast. He's the reason I'm still here even though I found the first half of the drama slow, the political machinations boring (fast forwarding through these parts as I feel like I've been there and seen it before) and PHS acting range was very limited due to the character.
I feel like Sung-on has been under utilised and personally when I look at the character Tae-gang I feel like he has been miscast as he doesnt have the physicality, presence of a primary bodyguard.

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WTF Moment #4: Jaeyi struggling to carry a bucket when she can lift a heavy sword and hold her own against trained swordsmen...

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*dons overthinking cap*
That bucket, assuming it’s solid wood and holds about 8 liters/2 gallons, weighs at least 3 kg/6-1/2 pounds by itself. Water is freakin’ heavy. Even if she only has it half full, 4 liters of water add 4 kg/9 pounds. That’s 7 kg/15 pounds of dead weight at the end of her arm - and 11 kg/24 pounds if it’s full. A sword, on the other hand, is maybe 2 kg/4 pounds (basing this unscientifically on the weight of my antique sword) of dynamic weight that is more easily balanced and with which she’s had plenty of practice. So yes, she might struggle more with the bucket than the sword.

Seung-on is still being sexist, though.

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Sung-on hasn't has the benefit of her point of view for a good decade or more since she sent them all over the place looking for a village, squabbled in the dust and was generally out of control. She was on her best behaviour where letters and gifts were concerned after they were betrothed, and while I'm sure he wasn't expecting a perfect malleable wife, I don't see him as rigid and unable to bend and adapt. Hwan has had a very long time to do that and he's still not great at it.

I think if Sung-on actually got the chance to spend time with Jae-yi now, without the confusion and deliberate pretence of her being someone else, I'm sure he wouldn't be sexist at all, and dare I say it - I don't think he'd be as petulant and erratic as Hwan has been all these weeks. SO seems kind and intelligent to me. He's just struggling with the revelation of who she is (and who she isn't) while at the same time coming to terms with the fact neither of them told him, and they have been carrying on some bizarre relationship behind his back.

He's trying to find a way to fight his corner and hang on to her long enough to get to know her and how to appeal to her. I also find it touching that he takes his promise so seriously. I'm sure he can be very dashing and progressive if only he had the chance. He's very late to the party though and it's going to be hard to win her back when she has so thoughtlessly eliminated him. He's had the short end of the stick this whole time, so I don't blame him if he's tempted to punish the pesky eunuch with it.

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He first needs to respect jay Yi for who she is and see beyond her 'fragile' arms and the 'law and duty' that would effectively make her his chattel. What a terrible outlook. he might not have spent time with her Jay Yi, but he still had enough time to understand she is more than his contract paper.

The other thing that bothered me was the difference of what he said to Jay Yi vs what he said to Hwan. Hopefully its his acute jealousy speaking, having caught on Jay yi and Hwan's love for each other already (the flashback was stupendouly effective, cuts to the chase pretty quick).

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If he's only dealt with "fragile" game-playing women who resort to all kinds of tricks to get his attention (like Hwan's sister) how can he possibly know to behave any differently towards a woman he doesn't know until he gets to know her even a tiny bit? Jae-yi is likely the only woman in Joseon behaving like this, it's an innovation and there are no classes for him to take. Plus why should he guess how to behave (and possibly guess wrong) and how would he even realise that treating her 'fragile arms' with such consideration would pi$$ her off - or women viewers a couple of hundred years later, when in his own era the Princess (and probably scores of others) would be enchanted with his manly concern. 😄

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Ok maybe you are right but it still seems to me you would need to be pretty strong to counter the strength of a man wielding a sword at you.

But she was obviously struggling with it, so not sure that counts as sexism, surely just concern?

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"let me help you" would have been nice. "How will you carry this with your fragile arm" - not nice. She has been doing this for about a year now.

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Well it was the writers that made him say it!

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re WTF moment #3: this was like the second time he saw Tae-gang in a physical altercation with Jae-yi and was like surprisingly cool with it. And I'm not sure if I can continue to employ someone who would strangle an innocent person just because that innocent person knew too much and he was afraid his life would be blown up?

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I was waiting all day for the recap, and as usual, it's awesome. Episode 17 and 18 - so much to unpack.....

Fun Fact out of the way: Hypnosis has been used to cure hair related issues in the East for centuries. One study in Belgium found hypnotherapy could effectively improve alopecia. The study was small and possibly not that notabe, still, there are instances that have been medically researched.

With that in mind, I will take the whole hypnosis/opium/peony turning hair white theory and run with it.

Kang's chocking of jay Yi: Needed a little bit more on Hwan's part I felt. I nice box to the ears would have been awesome to watch.
kang laid hands on the love of his life. Hwan, expected a bit more there....

Jay Yi's fortitude: Despite the emotional turmoil of the reveal between her and Sung On in the library, she pushed it aside and brilliantly deduced and came up with the hypetheses that the Queen possibly might be upto no good. Hwan is traumatized, but you could tell he was already thinking it even before Jay Yi verbalized it. You can't but feel for the poor guy, betrayal comes from places he can't dream.

Sung ON: I beg to differ on his reaction.

It's jarring how differently he started treating Jay yi the moment he came to know she was a woman (fragile arms? Hello dude! She fought off assasins shoulder to shouder with two meticulously trained men and held her own, ran into the mountains after them, limped through it all to find the man she loves, rescued a family and took on a murderous assasin in hand to hand combat, survived jumps from the cliffs.....and she can't carry a bucket because of - fragile arms? Ugh!). That's the best thing this show has outlined: Hwan has always respected Jay Yi's strength and always boosted her confidence (his interest in her keen mind is so refreshing - quote: "If he was so stupid would someone as smart as you would have fallen for him?") and treats her as an equal (quote: "the door opens on the the outside, those chairs would keep people out you idiot?" lol! Spoken like a true friend). More than that he has never played the knight in the shinning armor unless it was absolutely needed (the officer scene where he first lets the women ask for the letter before stepping in). He also has understood Jay Yi's reluctance to seek help for personal distress and turned up to protect her, which she accepted with grace ( and procceded to eat him alive with her eyes, but I digress).

The icing on the cake was Hwan calling Sung On out for thinking of a person like Jay yi as an object. I love how the drama continues with its consistent messaging. 'Law and duty' basically is a medium that can be highly unjust to women, often just a harsh medium to have complete control over their lives and Hwan sees right through it. His dissapointment at his friend's chilling parting shot drives home the point how little agency women had in that era. In reality, Jay Yi's infuence as a woman in this...

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In reality, her infuence as a woman in this era is pitiful - even the Seargent who has first hand witnessed how brilliant she is, is quick to reduce her to someone who can be 'sent' to him, or can be stiffled.

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Jay yi's running to Crown Princess chamber: I do understand her panic though when she went to the Crown Princess quarters - she rushed in hoping to save the princess instead of wasting time trying to get support.

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Hwan during "she's not an object" scene was the first time in the whole drama I found Hyungsik slipping out the character a bit - he made this expression that was 100% like his Suits role of perpetually appalled and disgusted by cruel and unjust world around him naive wide-eyed young guy. Made me laugh))) Poor thing must be very tired atm, plus they just made him act Hwan's teenage Grand Prince self that's yet to become all jaded and numb... Also, will they EVER let CP sleep peacefully in this show? Boy's about to revert back to his zombie days from inhuman lack of rest - or become a vampire, because zombies are probably way below Hwan's level of aristocratic elegance)))

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I'm just here to say that I would 1000% watch a drama/movie/whatever in which PHS plays an elegant aristocratic vampire. Hero or villain, good writing or bad, sageuk or modern, I would be there.

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There's quite a big chance he'll land such musical role eventually))) Drama would be better though, I want to see in detail how much he improved since his hilariously off the mark at gothic villainy Der Tod days.

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I’ve been on vacation and traveling all week so missed this whole discussion, but this caught my eye. Was PHS’s Der Todd that bad? I’ve only seen a few rehearsal clips.

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@happyokaytales, I wouldn't say bad per se, but imo the vibe was wrong - character is this otherworldly chilling, suave demonic being with little to no human emotions other than creepy obsession with FL he doesn't quite understand himself. And Hyungsik played him like some eccentric, hotblooded human macho with anger management issues))) Too much fire when there was supposed to be ice. The in-your-face sexed up styling he was given didn't help either, boy looked like he's auditioning for Carmen's José instead. I think he was just not ready for such role at the time. Would be interesting to see him repeating it now and compare, I feel like there would be a huge difference - if anything, he certainly learned how to properly do scary since then.

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Now for the library scene: OMG sweetness overload! The sly glances, the shy glances, Jay sizing him up like some super edible dessert and him becoming increasingly aware of her 'phang phang' glaces...

Deep down he knows. He is probably writing repressive memos to his subconcious self everyday. Staus quo helps him keep her by his side. That small, sideways, heartbroken glance at her when being congratulated on his wedding was like a needle piercing the heart. She is the one he wants and can't have...

So so he thinks. This show has to end with Hwan with a wife and child to disapprove the curse. Jo family is out, Han family is dead, Jay Yi is the woman he loves above all else (would the "I have sinned' scene come now so he can save his beloved?). The [SPOILER] is interesting in the preview. And who is Jay Yi finally confessing to? I hope it's Hwan.

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Oh I forgot - Where it is, I will go with you....another one of Hwan's famous procaimations.

He can never ever let her go. Even if they were to pine for life, they would pine together gazing at that damned orchid tree lol!

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"Whereever it is, I will go with you"....

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He fidgeted as if under actual physical touch at some point lol. Thank heavens Joseon clothes are neither tight fitting nor revealing or he'd have some things to explain))) Pity we don't have any time left for them to go all out and not just kiss once dramatically while crying. What a picture would this OTP make fully unrestrained...

Also in team "deep down he knows", it became quite evident this week both in library scene and when he stopped eavesdropping Jaeyi's and Sung On's convo right when she opened her mouth to reveal her crush's identity. He desperately wanted to know last week, it doesn't really make sense for him to change his mind so fast unless he already has a theory - and the one he's scared to confirm at that...

"I have sinned" scene is totally him trying to bargain with King to save Jaeyi's life over recent events. He wouldn't go that far for any other reason, esp since he probably just found out Queen's secret via coded letter and thus gained even more resolve to NOT give up the throne. But I'm not sure Jaeyi will have an opportunity to confess to him directly - not until some separation angst at least. So who's gonna run to whom again?)))

Yes, I'm also into not just a happy ending, but a happy ending with kids. Screw that curse all the way!

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Any hot blooded male under those melting passionate gaze, being devoured like a double layered chocolate cake, no matter how dimwit, is bound to develop a very sure theory. I am still so inclined toward thinking something more happened in that library scene. It definitely did not go physical, Crown Prince's morals are too uptight to roll that far, but well, it was too volatile to just pass by. Given this next episode might not have any scope for their physical proximity together, I am wondering if they saved the rest of the scene as a flashback. I hope so.

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She should've done this sooner so we wouldn't have to suffer 3 (and 1 was already too many!) episodes of Hwan doing epic disservice to his own intelligence by counting eunuchs and guards while ignoring the fact that he was right there all along. Our sweet, gullible prince - girl said totally jokingly that you aren't that hot ONCE and you really fell for that?! *shakes head in disbelief*

Maybe he just dropped some books in sexual panic. Or even a whole shelf)))

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Yes, I forgot about that - SO was hotter than our CP in jay Yi's eyes and his getting all riled about it lol! Took it to heart poor guy.

Whole shelf is more like it. I wish they would use the monolouges in these cases.....

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*maniacal laugh* For once I can't fault the drama for lacking the appropriate tension, tho it'd surely be better to not pack so much in these 2 episodes. Essay warning.

Writer leveled up at trolling tenfold by making our leads spend the night together in the locked up from inside library – but not with the purpose we all hoped for, drat! No, it was Hwan slipping into his extremely rare nowadays “dere” mode and deciding to guard Jaeyi's sleep from any danger and nightmares after extra rough day she just had. Aww, he's so sweet when he allows himself to be! Ok, I'm taking back my last week snark about Jaeyi's self-proclaimed “loving eyes” – girl was shamelessly devouring the eye candy that's Hwan pretending to read books in the moonlight with such gusto I got worried she'll burn his dragon robe off him))) And the best part? He noticed! How couldn't he – I bet poor guy felt more naked and sensually bothered under her passionate gaze here than when she was fumbling with his inner clothes before lol. 100% relatable though, show did fantastic job at capturing his picturesque beauty in this scene (yes, I stole HD stills for my desktop to drool over eternally and I have no regrets whatsoever!). Thank drama gods, them stealing glances at each other with gradually rising heat didn't feel forced at all for once. Too bad no one did the right thing of bringing up the issue verbally – or, even better, jumping from looks to actions. You'd better to make our and their waiting worth it next week, drama!

Sung On, why?! *sigh* I expected better from you – both as a friend and a man. Guess some things never really change, esp when it comes to entitled exes... Been there, done that. Meh. How dare you try to guilt trip not just Jaeyi but also Hwan with customs and Joseon version of bro code? You know better than anyone that this engagement has been DOA for ages now, and even if it wasn't, law and duty, really? I guess it makes perfect sense for a man of that era, but still, didn't you learn anything about how relationship rot without sincerity involved by now, dude? Kudos to Hwan (our by-the-book CP came this far!) for rejecting the bait even at the risk of losing his precious friend again. And to Jaeyi – for making her point as clear as possible, even if timing could've been better some episodes ago. She even pointed out Hwan's honorable behavior all this time! Tho now I think it'd be better if she didn't because Sung On clearly isn't 1% grateful for all the sacrifices made for his sake. People here seem to read him not being LOUDLY mad as a good thing, but it's the opposite for me - I'd rather have him throw a huge fit than revert to his first episodes entitled, selectively deaf self and coldly gaslight OTP. Too bad, I really hoped him and Princess could work after Ep17, but she and any other self-respecting woman deserves better.

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Btw, about Princess – how awesome is she? Royal siblings in this show are such a crush duo – both smart, loyal and brave no matter what. Her being extra careful to employ hidden bodyguard was already brilliant (and clearly more than anyone expected from her), but picking up a sword to defend Sung On – and actually landing a decent slash? Wow. If only she had better taste in men – or stepmoms for that matter, but that's also a family trait. Didn't expect Hwan to resist the idea of Queen being directly involved that strongly even after Jaeyi presenting him with proof after proof. What was that – his hardcore filial upbringing as CP or naive faith in her caring mommy act? And thank heavens, she finally told him about peach thing. He wasn't as crushed by that as people worried, choosing to prioritize his brother's safety. Poor sweet kids, there's still many more disappointments to come. Queen's regret over Hwan not being her own son made me MAD. You do not deserve even a hair strand of these two, woman! And your own kid will make the crappiest king ever, no matter how much you overpraise his niceness. Thankfully I doubt he'll ever gets the chance to prove my prediction... For whom the caviar of madness is reserved tho – Hwan or her criminally clueless husband? I wouldn't mind if this viper of a woman ends up eating it herself – or going out like a lady with help of that silver knife. I'm officially done with her and all that “brave new world” BS she's been feeding her expendable followers with. Yeah, sure, another utopia built on the corpses of innocent...

I get that gratuitous scene of Tae Gang's twin dressing his wound was to show the scars from the injury his brothers thought to be fatal, but those were not the sweaty naked shoulders I was looking for in this show! Put your shirt back on pls, kiddo. And leave your lil bro alone – as mush as I'm angry at the guy for attacking Jaeyi (he's lucky Hwan is super fond of him or that scene would've end with his own neck broken), I can understand the loyalty dilemma. I hope “our” twin survives and will have to bow to Jaeyi as Queen for the rest of his life, tho chances look slim currently. Same for inn couple – they went trough a lot and they've got kids to take care of. Can't they skip this epic bloodbath at least? One is more than enough for a lifetime. Myungjin yet again proves to be the person with the most EQ in the show – idk what was funnier, him trying (and failing) to keep his knowledge of who's who to himself so he don't have to show proper respect to still lacking shoveling skills CP (will they EVER live it down lol?) or him flustering Garam with his flirting. Writer better to un-doom this ship somehow while I'm still asking nicely!

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Last minute arrival of YET ANOTHER secret letter had me in stitches, but at least it was resolved fast and interestingly. So Queen was behind it too? I can guess why – there's probably her whole dirty laundry in that code – but I've yet to understand all the details. Did she wanted letter to be found along with massacred Min household and blame it all on CP or what? Hope drama won't get too expository by having orphan kids conveniently discussing the matter between themselves this time too. I want Hwan to finish the puzzle himself since, welp, Jaeyi apparently is gonna be unavailable for detective sessions in the foreseeable future... THAT I didn't see coming, at least not how it happened. Girl really has the worst luck ever when it comes to being framed. Why storming there alone, why picking up the bloody knife? Get a grip, woman! Also lol, is Hwan really gonna find out who she loves indirectly by this “murder out of jealousy” accusation? I should've known that Jo is no match for his snakey niece and won't get to do much dirty work himself, even in terms of orchestrating nasty reveals. Such a creepy family they are – not sure about actual blood ties, but so much resemblance in spirit... Jaeyi's upcoming prison blues look got me squealing, she's so damn beautiful like this, I've even had to do a double take to confirm it's her indeed. Hwan MUST see that once he's done with useless (other than for award-baiting performance Hyungsik's about to deliver) things like begging his good for nothing daddy for help! Even better if it finally motivates him to snap. Pls don't waste the insane visuals you've got here, drama!

P.S. So, you know, we ARE getting that OST from Mr Sexy Voice after all, yass!

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"P.S. So, you know, we ARE getting that OST from Mr Sexy Voice after all, yass!"

That flew right over my head.

Your writing is howlarious lol! Burn the dragon robe off, lol! I almost expected Hwan to be like 'Stop looking, I said stop looking' in his stern voice, but boy, was he enjoying it all.

Those under the lid glances - man this guy is killing it. No one can match this guy in these expressions, I have no idea how he does it, but his eyes speak all the time.

Just finished Mr Queen. While it had A grade production value and a furious pace, Kim Jung Hyun does not hold even a matchstick, leave alone a candle, to Hyung Sik as a Crown Prince in pain.

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Oh I got it! Man, I am dense. I hope we get it released on music sites as well.

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Ofc we're getting it on music sites, there's already pre-orders for a whole OST package going.

Asking her to stop looking would mean to admit there IS something forbidden going on and pop the bubble, so he opted to stay silent and masochistically suffer under the safety cover of his loose robe))) So very him.

Kim Jung Hyun pains like a bleeding beast in Time, but that's not the show I'd recommend to anyone. I was madly impressed by him in Mr Queen nonetheless, that "braincells non found" expression he does for comedy bits is pure gold, and so are his bone-chilling rage scenes. Imo he and Hyungsik are on opposite sides of the spectrum - one is a hot and bitter extra strongly flavored spice blend, while another is a super sweet yet intoxicating mead with flower petals. I cannot say one is better than other, they're exist in totally parallel cuisines to me. Wouldn't refuse a chance to personally do tasting and comparison session though^^

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" Jaeyi's upcoming prison blues look got me squealing, she's so damn beautiful like this, I've even had to do a double take to confirm it's her indeed. "

She looked so beautiful that I didn't recognize her in the trailer at all. I thought they had introduced a new character (which made me a little annoyed) but then I remembered the Shaman's white dress and open hair and realized that was Jay Yi.....this dame is absolutely gorgeous. She looked etherally beautiful in that flowing white and open hair...

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I thought it was Crown Princess (girl's got face I have a hard time remembering) for a second and got worried we'll get Hwan's wedding night in full colors (just thinking about it made me nauseous, grrr). But thankfully it was our girl and yes, she is really gorgeous. Hwan's imagination of her in female clothes was quite pretty as well, but this look is simply unbeatable. They really saved all the best for the last week - both in terms of plot and visuals.

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another utopia built on the corpses of innocent

I just had a horrible thought - are all the former Byeokcheon villagers who are gathering in Naean village and hoping to ‘return to their hometown’ going to face mass slaughter there? Or even worse, mass suicide by hypnosis? Court Lady Kwon is so obviously untrustworthy and she sure looks shady when the inn couple and Tae San ask her whether they’ll be returning soon. Getting everyone who remembers what really happened and who might know the Queen is a Song partisan in one place sure would be convenient for covering it all up once and for all.

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Quite possible. Queen had no qualms to sacrifice other "rebellion" survivors along with their whole families before for her goal. Most of them - adult males, I mean - will be thrown into grinder during the upcoming coup. While everyone else... idk. Depends on her fluctuating mood of a clearly mentally unstable person. I wouldn't trust a woman with rusty coin, let alone my life. But her supporters are probably thinking they have no better option anyway.

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Strong agree about the royal siblings - what gems. I bet their brother was great too. Must have been their mom's doing? I can't imagine it was just an accident/good luck and the king certainly doesn't seem to be responsible... We know the queen is borderline useless when it comes to her own offspring, so I feel like she had almost no hand in their upbringing either.

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Yes, aside of slightly weaker health late hyung seemed to be very impressive on all accords himself. And certainly the one doing most of the parenting to his younger siblings once their mom was gone, i.e. teaching Hwan such essential thing for Joseon prince like riding a horse. Note how King wasn't even mentioned there, not even in passing "our royal father was too busy" form. What exactly that man has always been so busy with? It's not like he's doing much of real country ruling by himself...

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My current theory is that Tae-gang repays the trust CP has placed in him by stepping into the shoes of his evil twin brother and freeing Jae-yi from the clutches of Queen's rebels. Perhaps the newly renovated house will be used as a hiding place, Tae-gang is conveniently one of the few who knows of its existence.

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That's certainly better and more practical than him dying a uselessly heroic drama death because he cannot decide where exactly his main loyalty lies.

Still idk why Jaeyi would even be in rebels clutches in the first place... She's accused of a crime equal of treason and thus should be locked up somewhat safely in royal prison waiting for classics like torture and execution, not roam idk where and what for in the middle of palace siege.

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My guess is King will not depose Hwan this time; So kidnap and hostage situation for Hwan to step down or else...and now Hwan knows the truth of Grand Prince so he knows how the game is being played.

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@minniegupta1, that's possible. King is not into deposing his son that easily, but I'm not sure his previous resolve to make Hwan succeed him at all costs includes endangering his own position while he's still alive. He seems to suspect he won't live long though... Well, 1 point for accurately reading the room for once, Your Majesty)))

Now the biggest question - how did Queen knew? About Hwan and lengths he'll go for Jaeyi, I mean. Presenting this as a forbidden love affair to Sung On is one thing, even her slimy uncle had the same idea regardless of the actual truth, but was that two-faced Court Lady really this perceptive to notice feelings that were never spoken of nor acted upon? Or was it Queen's female intuition? She seems to read him pretty well to know where to poke to make it hurt and bleed the most.

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@Gikata. My guess is from the preview for episode 19 that the rebels will kidnap JaeYi on her way to prison possibly to use as leverage for the Queen against the CP to force him to give up on the throne. She isn't useful to them if she's dead or in prison and will only result in revenge from the CP which will likely derail their plans.

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@Gitaka: "Now the biggest question - how did Queen knew?"

Remember the bracelet throwing incident and this entire conversation with the Court lady about personal feelings?

Once they knew who Jay Yi was, and where she lived, it would be easy for the Queen to make deductions. These very conservative societies thrive on gossip, so this closed group probably went all X rated at that when discussing Jay Yi and Hwan.

His spending entire nights at the library probably took on a whole new meaning for this treacherous group.

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To add, initially they must have thought he was just having some 'inappropriate' interest in a new toy. It was at the bracelet throwing incident where they truly realize how deep his feelings run, and how this could be used for their cause.

Diabolical.

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@minniegupta1, dang, I forgot that she was there too... Yes, that was it. And lol - Hwan's poor reputation just can't catch a break no matter what it! First he was labelled fratricidal, then jerk, then cripple, then victim of a curse and now a horndog with a thing for serial killer ladies dressed as eunuchs))) Hope no one in palace makes unofficial history records by using THAT in their notes or future generations will have a very warped impression of his persona^^

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horndog.....LOL!

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If I was Sung-on I wouldn't be remotely grateful for "all the sacrifices made for his sake". He has been kept in the dark this entire time and not allowed to play any part in any decisions, not allowed to know Jae-yi as the actual woman she is, and is then criticised for how he gets it wrong when speaking to her. Well he doesn't know her - they've made sure of that, haven't they!

He's doing the best he can with the bad hand he's been dealt. He should at least be taken seriously, afforded the chance to realise for himself (and come to a mutual decision with Jae-yi) that their connection should end, instead of being considered an irrelevance that should just melt away with zero explanation. Who can seriously blame him for standing his ground? He has been treated appallingly by both of them, so giving them a good twist of the short and curlies is no more than they deserve as far as I'm concerned.

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Thank you. I wonder why some of the commenters here are labelling him as sexist and he's objectifying Jae-yi when that is just one end of the issue and it isn't even the main or secondary problem at hand that comes with the reveal. Even if Jae-yi was skeptical of him from the beginning, what happened to after she got to know him a bit more? We ain't talking about how Hwan and Jae-yi have basically deceived him for how long now? Or is that supposed to be overlooked because Jae-yi should not be objectified? It seems like a simplistic and hypocritical thinking to me. The guy deserves a full explanation from Jae-yi and Hwan, not that slap on the wrist talked they had in ep 18. Not just deserve, he earned it.

To expatiate on simplistic and hypocritical, I'd like to point out how Hwan and Jae-yi deceiving Seong-on is something that can spell doom. They'll both be using thier hands to fulfil the words of the ghost letter. I can already predict the words that will be said here if Seong-on goes the other way, but I'll perfectly understand if he does. It's a two way street for the words to not come to pass, and it's very unfair to expect Seong-on to deliver on his end when Hwan isn't helping matters on this one.

It seems like OBY forgot the graveness of the situation at hand and instead opted for a lesson on how to not be sexist. Seong-on deserves something better, not the nonsense Hwan and Jae-yi were spouting about agency and objectifying. More so, he deserves someone better.

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That letter and all the curses in it are nothing but fake ass BS though. Why are we even treating it 1% seriously at this point?

Script of OBY does suck big time, esp regarding love triangle's treatment, you're right about that. I'd seriously recommend any writer that cannot deliver THE DEEP MESSAGE properly to avoid including them in their stories altogether, but that will probably never happen, sadly...

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The letter and curses are nothing but fake, but you know how easily they can become a reality, a reality no one will deny unless you do not want to face the truth. It doesn't matter if it is fake or not.
And yes, we will treat it seriously if Seong-on acts like the letter said, not because it is a fake letter, but because we know it is fake. Seong-on and Hwan do not know that it is fake. Even Cho Won-bo doesn't know. Nor does the King. It's very easy for that letter to become a prophecied saying, so why shouldn't we take it seriously?

I'm worried that they'd be playing the roles of cast members in the Queen's play, but we are the only ones who knows.

And if ever the truth about the letter comes out, the fact that any of them Hwan or Seong-on might have acted based on a fear of the letter might plague them once in a while.

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@jerrykuvira, well, we're at the point where Queen casually murders Crown Princess right under King's and CP's noses and blames it on the curse by being all "told you so". Which is kinda unintentionally hilarious. Doesn't make it any more of a "prophecy" than magician's tricks are real miracles. Honestly I don't even know why she bothers with this betrayal thing at all if she - I assume - plans to poison Hwan into clinical madness with fish eggs within next few days? Because that's the final part of "the curse" - him loosing his marbles and becoming super easy to kill off after that. Or does she hope he'll eat them knowingly and willingly as an act of despair - OR because he's blackmailed into it? Wouldn't put THAT past her.

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@gikata I do not care about the Queen or how she writes the scripts of the ghost letter. As the letter's owner, I know that she will work things to that end.
What bothers me is the words of the letter hanging around them. The words of that letter has influenced both Hwan and Seong-on in earlier episodes. And I thought we were passed that. Until Evil Queen brought it back to notice. To be fair, I saw this coming.

To the end of your paragraph, I guess she wants to tear the the crown prince piece by piece, fiber by fiber, tendon by tendon, before delivering the final blow - him losing his marbles and becoming easy to kill off.

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@jerrykuvira, undoing any significant character and relationship development to delay the climax beyond any logical or structural sense is one of writer's favorite tricks here. I hate it with passion, esp in regards to main trio. They went through so much together - and for what, to regress into cliche crap that's happening right now? Ugh. Bring me back my pitch perfect Ep13 pls!

Yep, that's exactly what Queen is doing. As I said below - sadistic psycho she is. Hwan is way too polite to give her an adequate response for all that - how about Jaeyi delivering a good catfight beating to avenge both her family AND her darling?

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As I mentioned before, there is no question Sung On was wronged, especially by Hwan, but he also owed it to Jay Yi and respected her will. Jay Yi had her instincts correct, Sung On would never have allowed her to be her, forget investigating by Hwan's side.

There are so many things Sung On could have told Hwan when Hwan himself asked Sung On, fully expecting the dressing down. 'I thought we were friends' would have been a good start. to THAT Hwan would have no answer to. The pain of being kept out is real. If Hwan is guilty, it's of that. Hwan's life might center around Jay Yi, but he has been a gentleman extraordinaire so he does not have any guilt of being illicit as far as I can see. Once Jay Yi spoke of her free will to follow her heart and not return to seargent, it basically freed Hwan of that burden as well.

Instead Sung On went for the kill. Which is why he did not belabor the argument with Hwan about a woman not being an object that can be 'sent'. Rather, he dipped to where Jay Yi would be cornered, and that was the dissapointing part, though in all fairness, expected of a male who has grown up in strict gendered environment. Does not make him bad, just not right man for Jay Yi.

Sung On knew how resourceful she was, he knew she fought off so many soldiers and could have escaped. He saw her madness on the mountains and questioned himsllf. But never once did he think of giving Min Jay Yi the credit of pulling something like this off. He has undervalued her person from the very beginning.

Hwan on the other hand never ever under estimated her. He always turned to her when he found himself lacking. The way he valued her opinions and her person has been an incredible graph. The fact that he gave her space in the very beginning by allowing her to speak up in the murder investigation speaks volumes of his progresive outlook. 'Woman is not an object' is so in character of who hwan truly is, it's incredible.

Asking Hwan to send her to him as if she was some kind of chattel was a great disservice to her as a person, especially after how clearly she outlined to Sung On she would never be held down by a marriage contract.

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Exactly. None of them were surprised with his unhappiness over big reveal, like people claim, neither they tried to deny or undervalue their mistakes. Thing is, Sung On did NOT get angry at them for what they did (lying to him), he got angry for what they either didn't do (having an actual affair behind his back) or couldn't control (falling for each other). While I can recall at least one case when Sung On was guilty as hell - also of deceit by silence, how ironic! - but never truly owned up to his mistake nor apologized... He's not bad, but quite a one-street way guy who thinks everything, including human relationship, should benefit him first and foremost, and when it doesn't, someone else is clearly in the wrong here, but never him. Hwan made a huge leap of faith to trust and forgive him just because they ARE friends once, how about returning the favor now?

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Seriously 😑. I'm not surprised though. It is funny how you are looking at this through the modern eye when you are watching a Saguek. There are Joseon laws. And the things you're saying are anachronistic in nature.

Seong-on telling Jae-yi to leave the palace? Jae-yi's life is in danger already. Cho Won-bo ✅ The Queen ✅ And now, a murder charge✅✅. Was he still wrong to ask that she left the palace. Even though his emotions were at play there, do you think she didn't need protection? You can go on and on about how she's not to be objectified and she deserves an agency but the truth is, she is a human whose life is in imminent danger and needs all the shield she can get. The same reasons Hwan told Tae-gang to leave the palace is the very reason Seong-on wants her out of the palace. Not to force her to marry him, or to his bed. And, Hwan cannot give her that protection. He is the crown prince but he has his limits. Hwan would have to delegate protecting her to someone else. But I guess you'll feel better if the ask comes from Hwan and not Seong-on.

Hwan never underestimated her? I guess you've forgotten about the prickly way he interacted with Jae-yi during the first half of OBY.

Hwan's progressive outlook? Don't start please. It isn't progressive when he expects his childhood friend, colleague and likely political ally to get in line while he dips his fingers into his eye. If Hwan cares a bit for his friend, he should do what is right. And please, don't make it like Seong-on asked him to bundle Jae-yi and bring her to his bed.

Seong-on bringing up the marriage letter? Did the letter not exist? It did. Has Jae-yi's mind changed? Yes. Does her mind changing render the letter null and void? Not exactly. Why? Jae-yi's family is the one who sent the approval letter to Seong-on's family. Jae-yi, Hwan and Seong-on knows that. Was he wrong to bring it up to Hwan. Did that make Seong-on non-progressive? No. He's reminding Hwan on how he's being a bad friend. It wasn't Hwan's truth to tell, but he's ruining years of friendship in the process. If this was a loyalty test, Hwan failed woefully. I hope he does not expect same from Seong-on cause he does not earn his keep.

I just wished this came up sooner so he wouldn't be pining for Jae-yi. She's definitely not the right person for him. And he deserves way better. And I hate it when dramas drives a wedge between friends because of a romance. It is toxic, and ruins the other friend who becomes a third wheel.

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@jerrykuvira: Sung On could have successfully given all of those arguments to Hwan and come out like a winner. He possibly can give her better protection. But he won't give her agency, and that's what this is about. This is what Hwan is objecting to, and rightfully so.

He might not have known it was Jay Yi, but he got to know as Sun Dol very very well. Her acumen, her strength, her extraordinary mind, her determination - he had over a day to think this through, and yet he chose to ignore all of it.

Of course Hwan was prickly. He still is. He cusses her more than he has cussed anyone in life (rude bastard, idiot....but then isn't that something actual friends do?) he was prickly but was fair. he never gendered her, unless it was truly needed (not having her walk to his palace at night - a respect he instictive bestowed on her).

Honestly this is how I see it - if it was Hwan's woman jumping off the cliff, Hwan would not be sitting by the desk looking at the paper hoping 'maiden please be alive'. He would ask for leave and dive into the water and cave himself to find her.

Like now where he is ready to give up the throne for her (most likely).

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@minniegupta1, diving from the cliff to prove your love is so last year! Plus, to Sung On's credit, he already did that for eunuch Go, tho romantic love was not his motivation back then... How about going for an ultimate husband material test - asking both men to choose between saving Jaeyi and obeying their daddies who demand from the sons not to?

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Respecting Jae-yi's will is something I think Sung-on will eventually do, once he manages to have a proper conversation with her. That's difficult when she has deliberately avoided revealing her identity and having a sensible conversation that isn't built on lies. The library confrontation- expecting him to come up with a perfect argument without resorting to demanding his chattel back is also a big ask when he's still reeling from having the rug pulled from under him and finding the CP is actually his love rival rather than conducting an illicit relationship with a eunuch!

He may be asking for her to be formally sent to him so he can have the important conversation and actually understand WTF has been going on between the other two, instead of being left in the dark and forced to guess. I also don't see him as some Victorian villain with twirling moustaches who will keep her against her will. He is far more likely to let her go without a fuss once he understands what they want. And on that score, what exactly do they want? They haven't even talked about it.

Nevertheless, she IS a chattel, whether our modern sensibilities like it or not. All women of that era were, everywhere in the world. It seems pretty ludicrous to me to complain about this, and looking at it through the modern prism of emancipated women ignores the fact that life just wasn't like that. Even the Queen is subservient to the men in her life. Sure she does as she pleases behind their backs but doesn't expect them to treat her any differently than the conventions of the time.

Comparing our two male leads here also makes no sense. One eventually got used to her, having spent weeks/months in her company when he felt unable to trust anyone else, the other never got the chance. Once the fantasy playtime of pretending to be a eunuch is over, even Hwan won't be treating her any differently from other women, because he won't be able to - not unless something drastic goes down to change things.

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@KAaddict: I agree with a lot of points here. My beef is Sung On is on him being blind to Jay Yi's capabilities, not the fact that he was lied to and feels betrayed. I wish he had railed at Hwan for lying to him, about his feelings of betrayal, of being left out.

As for Jay yi being a chattel, yes, true, but that is the underlying theme of this story - her finding agency within the absolute pitiful state of women in that era.

However, showing the Queen as the actual mastermind underscores the point how powerful a woman of position truly could be even in that era.

Her plan was perfect. Drive current crown price crazy, helpless, and chase him out of the palace raving mad, take the king down at the right opportunity, enthrone her son with the help of Jo clan, and then take the Jo clan out one by one until they were finished.

What she did not see coming was Hwan's fortitude against all odds, and Jay Yi's escape and teaming up with Hwan.

Hence, Jay Yi's rise to a position of power could signal a lot of changes, which might or might not last but nevertheless open up more opportunities for women during the time period (which I am sure, happened at some point even in the Josean era. Progressive men have been known to exist all through history who helped women chip away at patriarchy in a very slow but steady race all around the world until we reached various stages of freedom in the modern era ).

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In fact I truly hope Sung On gets treated to one of her "You bastard, I won't hold back" volleys lol (not addressed to him of course, but hopefully some of the kidnappers who dare to kidnap her).

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I will stick my neck out and say Sung-on is going to show us just what he's made of next week. I totally distrust the writer to do this properly, still I believe an attempt will be made, if only because there's no time for anything but him voluntarily walking away, unless he dies a heroic death which would be a cop out.

Neither Jae-yi nor the Queen can act openly, they are both plotting and running around under cover (the only independence they have is fake) so I don't buy that the Queen has any "agency" at all, she doesn't. She's no better than a terrorist enabled by her position and her position was achieved via marriage. Her master plan has the end goal of putting a different man on the throne and her son won't listen to her forever.

I still think it extraordinarily unfair to Sung-on to concoct arguments he should
have made, when we have had the benefit of watching how the CP has gradually fallen into an unconventional relationship with Jae-yi that has not been without its ups and downs. There has been some pretty high-handed and autocratic behaviour towards her on his part but he seems to have been given a free pass, while the man who has not had the benefit of knowing her at all is criticised for his attitude immediately after finding out who Eunuch Go actually is. Does anyone remember Hwan's attitude?

I also think it irrelevant to say he ought to have recognised how capable she was as Eunuch Go - how does that even matter? She isn't Eunuch Go, she is just pretending and cannot run around behaving like that dressed as a woman however capable she is (just as the Queen can't).

I think both Sung-on and Hwan are realists, even though Hwan is clinging to the fantasy landscape just that bit longer. He could accept Jae-yi's independence and outspokenness when they were the only two inhabiting that secret reality because it didn't include societal rules and other people's opinions. That is the only way it could exist and it is stretching credulity too far to insist on how understanding and progressive Hwan is and how he gave her "agency" when nobody even knew and there could be no consequences!

Let's put her behind closed doors with Sung-on for months and see what he's willing to acclimatise to when no-one else is within earshot or knows what they are talking about and doing. I'm sure he'd adapt just as easily in similar circumstances when the world doesn't intrude into their private space.

Once Hwan and Jae-yi are dragged back into the real world of laws, contracts and strict hierarchy their play acting will have to come to an end unless Hwan finds some way of overturning history in the blink of an eye. At any rate, I firmly believe Sung-on will fall on his romantic sword when he finally understands why she won't come back to him no matter what. He has not been given the opportunity to discuss anything with her but when he does, sensible man that he is, he will accept it. She has put him in an...

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.... unenviable position by her refusal to come clean to him and reveal who she actually is. That is not his fault, it's hers, and for that I'd be making her carry a bucket of water in each hand while running up and down the polo field in the noonday sun. She's capable and the arms can handle it .... 😄😄😎😎😄😄

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I'm still standing by my initial stance from many episodes ago that Jaeyi's refusal to tell Sung On anything until it's WAY too late is 100% on her. Hwan didn't tell him either, yes. But that's it. He asked her about a million times to either go to Sung On or come clean to him at least. And she pointed that out specifically, accepting all the blame herself. If Sung On has the issue with Hwan's silence anyway, he's in his right. But he acts as if Hwan actively STOLE his woman and demands her to be equally actively returned to him like some property. He doesn't pick a fight with Hwan over lack of transparency or trust, he's all "she's MINE, remember?" during their convo. Yes, Hwan shouldn't give him any promises in the first place, but that was when he genuinely thought Jaeyi WANTS return to Sung On and the only things that keep her from doing so right away were circumstances plus maybe Hwan's growing crush on her. And that part Hwan honored until now - he ignored his feeling and didn't confess, didn't propose, didn't make any real moves, even didn't give her that tiny bracelet and certainly didn't stop her from going to Sung On in any practical way. So what exactly Sung On wants from Hwan here and why when it's Jaeyi who lied to him and rejected him? His reaction to the whole situation is not even really about pain or anger, but a calculated manipulation. First he goes through long list of arguments with Jaeyi (including "reminding" her she's endangering Hwan too by staying in palace - dude knows very well what he's doing at this point) and when it doesn't work he switches to Hwan with even more arguments, including the final "I own her legally anyway and neither you or her can do anything about it". I sincerely applaud his debating skills and masterful use of sophistry, but the fact that all that was used to trap a woman in relationship she doesn't want to stay in - and was FORCED into in the first place btw - is just not it. I'm fine with him being rightfully mad and heartbroken but I can and will side eye everything beyond that. Let's agree to disagree here.

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"Yes, Hwan shouldn't give him any promises in the first place, but that was when he genuinely thought Jaeyi WANTS return to Sung On and the only things that keep her from doing so right away were circumstances plus maybe Hwan's growing crush on her" - bang on. Hwan was acting on the belief that she wanted to return to Sung on, and yet even back then he clrearly stated she is a strong woman, and even if Hwan didn't she would come herself when she was ready.

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We will definitely agree to disagree on this. All the nitpicking over what Sung-on was entitled to be angry about and what he wasnt, still ignores the fact that he still has no clue who did and didn't lie to him because they have told him nothing.

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Didn't he say he doesn't want to know when she was about to confess why she's rejecting him? I'm pretty sure he did that because he already guessed the answer, but there's certainly a bit of contradiction here then.

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- So glad that they didn't kill the Princess, she's quite smart and brave.
- I disappointed of you Sung-on! You clearly now that Jae Yi loves Hwan (the only person who doesn't aware) but still wants her to come back to you?!
- The queen kills the Crown Princess means her uncle can't use her as a weapon to attack Han family due to the crown princess doesn't have live parent when she married the crown prince (btw, Hwan never seen her, we really skip the jealous Jae Yi if Hwan meet his bride)
- It's a long slow burn but I really hope we have a happy ending for Je Yi and Hwan ... or are they going to make 2nd season like Poong?

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No second season for sure. Drama underperformed on TV domestically after taking YEARS and huge amount of money/effort to be made, plus they've already used up all the 4 books of source material.

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Because they had books as support for the script? O_o

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I'm afraid I didn't quite understand your question.

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It's based on books?

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@kurama, yes, it's loosely and unofficially (there was quite a drama about that, more info under script reading news article here) based on famous chinese series consisting 4 novels. I didn't read it but there are translated bits on sns and from them setup, characters and many plot points are roughly the same. We're currently at book 4 events, so nothing to squeeze a sequel from anymore.

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Ah yeah, I forgot about the fact it was based on a Chinese novel.

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On plus side, the storyline is finally moving forward, and nice scene in the library.

But agree with others that it is hard to see how everything can be tied up satisfactorily in the time left without a lot more voice to camera reveals by the protagonists, which would be annoying.

Apart from annoying non-sharing of info at crucial points between our shield team and Seungon, really, the fundamental problem with this drama is that writer seems to have forgotten the 'show not tell' principle, resorting to children helpfully expounding the fish story rather than a flashback or two to life in the village before it all fell apart; showing us the notes rather than showing us the info being discovered (how did twin or whoever discover that Eunuch Go was jaeyi - what did he find in the library???); would be nice to know how Jaeyi suddenly decides its opium in play, etc etc.

In general, not showing scenes of what other side are up to (beyond accumulating lots of supplies and uncovering notes) has really hampered the story development.

The other annoying thing is the treatment of Seungon - I can totally understand where he is coming from on Jaeyi, they are legally married, and him burning the letter of approval as I guess he will eventually do (unless they knock him off altogether which I'm not altogether ruling out) won't really change that. Would have been much better to have the process be at a slightly earlier stage and/or bought Seungon in on the investigation properly, especially as he is actually a very good actor.

At the point where CP decided he can have friends again, he could have shown Seungon the ghost letter and thus explained why Jaeyi went to him, moved along that investigation (with Jaeyi perhaps discovering the note network, or questioning a few of the eunuchs court ladies discretely), and he would have had time to come on board with the unfolding romance (and maybe try to make his own case to her?).

Anyway, not much more to go!

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I have to come in defense of Sung-On here, mainly because he's being judged unfairly for his reaction. Jae-Yi and Hwan have been deceiving him for weeks (months?), and he's understandably shocked.

Sung-On and Hwan have been best friends since childhood. They trust each other and even had the epic bromance reunion several episodes ago. Him and Jae-Yi were/are engaged, and even though they only met once as kids, they still have a connection. They absolutely should have come clean about Jae-Yi's identity a long time ago!

It's funny how so many people blamed Jae-Yi foe "cheating" on Sung-On in week 1 (which was absolutely not true and blaming a woman for a man's actions), but are just fine with it in week 7. It's not wrong for Jae-Yi and Hwan to fall in love, but it is wrong to hide that you've fallen in love with your best friend's fiancée and act surprised that your best friend is shocked about it.

Plus, Hwan has had so much time to learn from Jae-Yi and change his perspectives on women and marriage. They spend almost all their time together and have grown/matured along the way. Sung-On hasn't had that chance (he's been absent for so much of the action). He's known about Jae-Yi's identity for all of 5 minutes; cut him some slack! He's shocked and traumatized (let's not forget he thought she died on their wedding day) and needs time to process everything, including his bestie's betrayal.

This shows the poor writing and direction because the drama could've addressed this a whole ago, let everyone sort their feelings, and move the story along. If they did that, we probably could've gotten some Jae-Yi/Hwan skinship by now!

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Hwan started out as a progressive man even without knowing who Jay Yi truly was, even when he was suspicious of her. He threw her out at a mere suspicion, yet even then he respected her will not to go to seargent.

We forget that before Jay Yi is Sung On's fiance, she is Hwan's subject. He was also protecting her and doing what was best for her at that point of time, irrespective of his own feelings. The entire conversation in the library (that Tae San heard and realized Sun dol was Jay Yi) was about sending Jay Yi to Seargent before it was 'too late'. And right at time Jay Yi had made it clear - she would not go to him.

In reality, Jay Yi was never Hwan's to 'send' to Sung On, even if they are best friends. @Gitika is right, it was completely on Jay Yi.

And call it a woman's instinct, but Jay Yi chose her man correctly. In order to survive as herself, she went with her instincts and proven correct. She is definietly better off without a man who only sees her as 'fragile' arms (I can't get over that) despite knowing everything.

He had so much time to stew over the knowledge. Did he even once give credit to her for doing everything that she did to survive?

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Btw if we're REALLY to look at this conflict purely from Joseon lenses, then nothing other than his own sky high morals stops Hwan from ORDERING Sung On to burn the damn marriage promise letter... or go full Yeonsangun and make Jaeyi his woman regardless of whether she's Sung On's fiance, wife or mother of his 12 children))) Potential repercussions of such act is another topic, but based on authority only he can. And boy, does he probably want to - very, very deep down in the darkest corner of his heart... She doesn't even need to be delivered to his bed for any of this since she's already been sleeping there - for months. And some of these nights he was with her - yet NOTHING happened. Might as well place that sword from legends between the two to make it a full picture of knightly honor)))

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hahahaha! For a grandson of a palacemaid, Hwan's morals are too draned high.

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darned*

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I feel like this is exactly the reason, or at least one of them. He's been surrounded by people of starkly contrasting morals all his life - his brother, teacher on one side and his notorious grandpa, to a certain extent father, all Jo clan on another - and learned early on to spot the difference. Not that he's all that saintly himself - his rage fits and jerk mode in particular are not unlike his father's, even if for usually different reasons. Plus family tradition to take inappropriate male interest in a woman serving him... Bet the fact haunts him at his insomniac nights quite a lot. Such an embarrassment after years of believing he's totally above it)))

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I don't understand how your comment relates to mine. I *never* said that Jae-Yi belonged to anyone. She is not property. As Sung-On's best friend, however, Hwan should have told him about Jae-Yi a long time ago. Who Jae-Yi decides to love is 100% her business. Both she and Hwan had multiple opportunities to come clean and tell Sung-On that she's alive (they know he's worried) and that she doesn't want to continue their betrothal. That's what a true friend who has full trust in his friend and his people would have done. I honestly believe that Sung-On would've come around and happily joined the mystery-solving team if the drama had this conflict 3 weeks ago. (But alas, here we are.)

I also said that Sung-On *literally just found out* who Jae-Yi is. I don't know why we can't give him time to process his world crashing down before saying he's a horrible person. No one said that Sung-On is the right match for Jae-Yi. I did say we should give him grace since this all happened in the last 10 minutes of episode 18 out of 20. Tae-Gang literally physically attacked Jae-Yi, but 'that's fine, he didn't mean it!' But Sung-On said some (harsh) words out of hurt and shock, but he's the worst person? No.

All I'm saying is, let's give the man a chance. Hwan and Jae-Yi have had 18 episodes to make decisions and learn from their mistakes. Let's give Sung-On one episode to do the same.

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Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This isn't a case of who gets who. It's a case of what you're labelling Seong-on as in just a matter of few minutes. All because he wasn't 'progressive' in quote, in his reactions. The guy demands an answer, deserves an answer and definitely does not deserve the hand that Hwan and Jae-yi served him.

All this talk about agency and independence and whatever does not rule out the fact that Jae-yi and Hwan owe Seong-on an explanation.

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Before Jae-yi became Hwan's subject, she was Seong-on's fiance. That's the correct order according to the timeline of events. Not the other way round.

And, before Jae-yi came into the picture, Seong-on and Hwan are the best of friends. And despite of their lack of trust and open communication, they still are.

It wasn't Hwan's truth to tell. But he could have given him a hint, or tell him who she is without giving any other story and let things unfold. That's what a friend would do. Not keep it a secret and gaslight him into feeling guilty when its Hwan who messed up. Like Hwan didn't know that Seong-on was worrying about Jae-yi. Like we all didn't watch both Hwan and Seong-on go through several phases of believe and distrust when new evidences come to light that paints Jae-yi innocent or guilty? Like we all didn't watch Seong-on and Hwan say one thing vocally to Jae-yi and say another in their heads? Like we all only saw Hwan go through this phases but somehow conveniently and selectively forget that Seong-on passed through the same phases - all the nine yards. Like Jae-yi didn't know that Seong-on was worried about his fiance? Questions to be asked, confusions to be cleared, a desperate wish that everything they said about Jae-yi's involvement in her family death is all lies. Like all the conflicts that buggled Seong-on's mind were all unworthy of lashing out when he learnt the truth all because he was not 'progressive' to your liking. It's hypocritical and self-serving that one chooses to be blind to his pain and hurt and expect him to get in line.

He asked that Hwan send his woman to him. He's not wrong. He's right. She is Seong-on's woman, for now. And that should be respected. Besides, all the court ladies are called the king's women, the king's queens and concubines are called the king's women so why can Jae-yi be addressed as the Hwan's woman if she does become Queen and Seong-on cannot? Or is it because with Hwan she has her agency but with Seong-on she somehow does not? She hasn't married Hwan. They've not spent a night together in bed. She is not a royal concubine yet so technically, on the basis of the letter Seong-on is right to tell Hwan to send his woman to him.
And if Hwan decides to go Yeonsangeon on him, he's free. Hwan should even exterminate the entire Han family to show the strength of his power. As a progressive CP and will be crowned King, he'll be forgiven.

And please, Seong-on helping with the bucket of water is not in any way seeing her as fragile or frail. He just learnt that she's the woman he's been on the lookout for. You really expect him to let watch her struggle with the bucket of water. And yes, it was clear to us that she was struggling with the bucket of water.

And the fact that her instincts choose correctly and she made the right choice of Hwan(believe me I'm glad she didn't go to Seong-on), that does not make Seong-on less of an honorable man. Hwan reacted in...

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... the exact same way Seong-on was reacting except he was a bit more open to reason. Mind you, Hwan was not the one who's marriage was botched, Seong-on was. And they've not seen each other before at all(their encounter as kids do not count). They were going to build a rapport during the wedding ceremony. There was no possible way Seong-on would be as objective as Hwan cause he's the one with the greatest distress and not Hwan.

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I loved the fact that each character had their fair share of flaws.
CP is going to grow old as very loving, very loyal, but cranky at the same time when things don't go his way. He rises to occasion when someone truly needs him (he was so gentle with Jay Yi when she was miserable after the Tae Gang incident, and he was same with Tae after the twin discovery). He is also insanely possessive but tries to do right by everyone ( he does not always succeed but I digress). I wish we could have an entire season of him reading poetry to Jay Yi.

Jay yi dives head long into something without thinking, she got into troube with CP over this (her barging onto Crown Princess quarter was same what she did with Tae Gang when she remembered his face, not caring that she blew her cover). This is an integral part of who she is. She is going to grow old brilliant and unconventional (Sung On will probably end up having a small army shadow her as she jumps palace walls to go do her sleuthing, with the King following her at times. What a security nightmare this couple is going to be!)

Sung On is loyal, and tenacious. The fact that he waited for Jay Yi when the entire world was against her speakes volumes of his strength as a protector and a man. He is also fair, and rises to occassion despite circumstanes (he gave space to a mere Eunuch despite the beating his image took - a big chocolate brownie for him). But he is also shaped by the era he has grown up in, and understandably, hard to let go of notions that a woman has capabilities beyond darning socks.

Queen is crazy by spades but extremely calculating, and brilliant at the same time. The network of spies she has puts the entire royal investigation division to shame.

The only character I found was completely cardboard was Minister Jo. His disloyalty towards the King does not match with the immense loyalty he shows for his family. It's does not gel. But well, it's OK I guess. Maybe that's how greed looks.

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- How the royal siblings ended up so smart, nice and caring for each other… must take after their mom. The puppet king is useless and their stepmom is crazy. The queen has been in the palace for years, she should know that CP and PH had nothing to do with the massacre and see how much they care for her son (she even wishes for them to be biologically hers) but yea, she’s fine seeing them suffer for years and get killed.
- Myungjin wanting to keep status quo with Park Seonbi after discovering he’s the CP, just so they can be on friends level and still get to tease him (especially on his shoveling skills) …I hope he still does and that Hwan allows him to, I enjoy them bickering
- The library scene was so romantic, those sneaking glances, the tension. I’ve always had that image of them, if they end up growing old together, these two smarties would be side-by-side reading books.
- I don’t feel deprived of romance, the stolen glances and monologues are enough (for now) coz it makes sense for their characters to not have any overt romance considering SO and their situation. Some viewers already accuse them as traitors to have betrayed SO. What betrayal though? Hwan has tried repeatedly to get JY to tell SO the truth. They barely acknowledge their feelings to themselves and have little skinship. I even think that in their current situation, they themselves don’t see any chance of them ending up together even if they did confess now.
- So disappointed in SO, agree with the others here that his reaction was not nice at all. He may have reacted calmly and not thrown a fit in front of JY but he was manipulative in bringing up the agreement to JY and Hwan’s promise. He didn’t listen when JY flat out told him she won’t go with him and to find someone else. I hope it’s just a knee-jerk reaction and he’ll come around.
- Jaeyi storming into the Crown Princess’ palace is just like her though. CP had berated her about it, not thinking first and just jumping head-on to things. As for the touching the knife, did they have fingerprinting then? Hindsight not smart, but maybe she wasn’t thinking of fingerprints and her best chance was to grab and try to hide it but alas, she was seen.
- So many things left to unpack in the remaining episodes. I still wait for when they’ll use *that* scene from the highlight reel, the OTP kiss and Hyungsik’s OST.

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But why didn't CP just tell Seungon any way, regardless of Jaeyi's views on the subject - after all, he's the one who has been hiding her, giving her a cover etc.

And SO is her fiance, technically husband - under joseon law she doesn't have a lot of rights.

It is easy to see why she doesn't want to tell - she's suddenly discovered freedom, and enjoying crush on CP.

But for CP, the consequences of not telling for him are potential loss of his only friend and political support from Left State Minister which he really needs. Not to mention all the risks associated with her potential discovery which are presumably about to unfold.

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Simple reason, it’s not his secret to tell.

Also, remember that at the beginning, he didn’t trust SO and they weren’t exactly close and confiding with each other at that time. He didn’t even tell him about the curse (in fact it’s still only CP and JY that knows). And JY at the beginning, threatened to tell everyone about the curse if he didn’t help her. So he couldn’t exactly force her to go to SO or tell SO about her then because she’d tell SO about the curse.

Then when he and SO became ‘friends’ again in the later episodes, I think CP liked JY enough that he could not betray her and tell her secret to SO. The show doesn’t even show much of CP and SO’s improved/revived friendship. CP still doesn’t confide much in SO, probably still worried about the curses coming true or at this point CP trusts or relies more on JY than SO.

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@mmsik16: So right. It's NOT Hwan's secret to tell.

We have to understand something here - Hwan has not shared his deepest fear with anyone by Jay Yi. They are two tortured souls tied together. Not even Shield knows about the ghost letter. Both Jay Yi and Hwan have it close to the chest because that is one thing that can set off a political turmoil of a 'cursed' prince (and prove the rumors true).

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This drama is really weird.... The scenes themselves are not bad, I like the actors (except Tae-gang, he never was convincing as a guard for the Crown Prince, he looks weaker than the CP himself) but this drama has no rythm at all. There is no more the intensity of the first episodes.

The Queen is attacking the royal family when it's her own uncle who made this disaster in the first place... She made her own son to be completely terrorized by the curse and I don't think that the monk's solution to heal him was a good one.

Sung-On w