LS and IH finally share a passionate smooch – in OJ’s nightmares. OJ finally gets a taste of her own medicine and realises being queen isn’t the be-all, end-all. Plus, she’s starting to make enemies out of allies. On the other hand, LS discovers the novelty of being jealous.
LS pays IH a calculated visit. He apologies for not visiting her, and she replies saying she understands as LS is busy being a new father. He thanks her for her understanding and changes subject to the issue of her dream, which implied he can’t have any offspring. The scene cuts back to where we left off at the last episode – LS vehemently wants to dispose IH. The ministers, though from the opposition, object, equally vehement, while Minister Jo states they all should just follow suit if that is what the king really wants to do.
HJ speaks up for IH,J but Minister Jo’s Number Two still protests, citing that the citizens’ view of the monarchy will be tarnished if that happened. LS retaliates by offering Minister Min on a platter. This way, Minister Jo’s faction will be back in power. He asked them to mull over his offer and dismisses them. OJ flares up when she hears her brother spoke up for the queen, but Minister Jo calms her down saying it had to be done for appearances. HJ suggests using Yoonie to convince the ministers to fully back her.
OJ meets with the Minister Jo’s faction and she orders the veiled screen to be removed. The ministers argue saying it is not proper protocol to do so, and OJ comments that she was never one to adhere to protocol. She orders the screen to be moved aside and lo and behold – she is the very vision of glorious motherhood, cradling Yoonie in her arms. The ministers are slightly unsettled by the sight. She brazenly informs them the queen can’t give birth and the son she is holding is the Seja and he is going to inherit the throne, as what the king promised her.
She asks them how long she has to wait before she can occupy the queen’s position. She adds that the next time she sees them, they will be addressing her as the queen (instead of Hee Bin) and ‘mo hu’, which means mother to the king. All children of concubines will have to address the queen as ‘mo hu’ as a form of respect – they can’t address their birth mother as such even if the child in question is the crown prince. He would address his own mother plainly as ‘eomeoni’, but call the queen ‘mo hu’.
LS is furious that the ministers are still protesting and DP mentions it is not an easy decision to dispose a queen. LS insists that he has to do that in order for Yoon to seamlessly inherit the throne. DP muses that Minister Min probably knows about LS’s intention to dispose IH. LS smirks that he is waiting for Minister Min’s final move. Minister Min discusses with his faction on what to do. The scene cuts to YG informing LS that Minister Min is kneeling outside the hall, together with the scholars.
LS angrily throws the petition on the ground when he walks out to see Minister Min. He asks why the old man is so against making the Wonja the Seja. Minister Min retorts this is against all protocol as the Seja has to from the queen. LS says he doesn’t have a legitimate case to dispose the queen as of yet, but he wonders what Minister Min would do if he found an official reason to do so. Minister Min says it will like killing him if an official case is presented to dispose the queen.
LS says he has one: IH once said he will never have children, no matter how hard he tried. This is akin to cursing the king, and Minister Min realises that. LS continues by saying IH has committed three sins. Firstly, she called Hee Bin a beast, therefore cursing her. Secondly, she implied that the king will never have any descendants. Thirdly, she implied that the late Dowager appeared in IH’s dream instead of his because his mother held a grudge against him. Does he have to say more? All the scholars are shocked. Minister Min finally caves in and LS calls on his earlier agreement that he would give up his life if he had a legitimate case. YAI’s acting here? Pretty swell, I’ll say.
IH finds out her father is to be killed and goes to see the king. She pleads for his life, but LS is unmoved. He is trading her father’s life in order for the opposition faction to agree on disposing her. IH says he can go ahead and dispose her, but in return, he would have to save her father. LS muses if he did that, he would have nothing to offer Minister Jo’s faction. IH reveals she once saved Yoon’s life and in return, she is asking for her father’s life. LS listens in silence. He calls YG to make arrangements for IH to be disposed without fuss and the instalment of OJ as queen. He doesn’t mention putting Minister Min to death so we can assume he is letting Minister Min live for now.
OJ is informed of her new status and is elated. Jang Hyun is promoted to being the king’s father-in-law and OJ’s mother is given a higher status, too. OJ goes over to the king’s quarters and sees DY walking away with a tray. OJ is suspicious, but goes on to see LS. LS is playing with Yoon and when he sees OJ, he says he has to start addressing her as queen. OJ smiles that she hasn’t been officially installed yet. OJ says she came to see him because she was so full of gratitude and LS shares that he is merely keeping to his promise – to be her new clothes that can wash away her low status. He mentions he has a present for her.
The present is a wedding dress – the metaphor is obvious, but lovely. It is a symbol of her newly given status. Her lowly status has finally been eradicated. LS has fulfilled his childhood promise to OJ – he has made for her the best clothes in the world. No matter the state of their relationship or what has transpired between them, this scene was rightfully touching. Love the simplicity. And yes! They finally played that beautiful melody in the background, which has gone AWOL the past few episodes.
Their wedding ceremony begins and LS is quietly happy and satisfied. Their kick-ass scenes from the past are shown. A Chinese contingent is present. The scene cuts to IH leaving her quarters and boarding the nondescript palanquin. The priestess sees her off. We are shown an earlier scene of them meeting, and IH says she has no regrets other than her inability to fulfil what the late Dowager wanted of her. The priestess says she will fulfil her promise and says even in death, IH will die as a queen in the palace. IH is shocked: how could that be possible when she has been disposed and kicked out of the palace. The priestess says IH will definitely return to the palace one day.
OJ is arrogantly on the way to the queen’s quarters, knowing that IH is just leaving. Full bitchy mode here. OJ snidely comments that she hasn’t left yet, but IH keeps her cool. She says she will patiently wait until the day she will return to the palace. She sounds so confident that OJ is slightly shaken.
She announces that is impossible as she is now the mother to the future king and will be the future Dowager. IH reminds her that LS is no ordinary man but a king and his affections can waver anytime. OJ retorts saying the king will never abandon her, but IH points out that the king already abandoned her once when he married IH. Touche.
IH dismisses herself and OJ stops her and asks IH not to blame her for all that has happened. OJ simply did what needed to be done to secure the king’s heart. It is a position she risked her life for and she isn’t going to let anyone snatch it away.
IH gives a bittersweet laugh: she tells OJ to go ahead and experience what it is like to be in the queen’s position. One who is forever worried and anxious of losing the position, and someone else taking over the position. Now OJ is taking over IH’s path, while there will be someone in the wings who will take over OJ’s path.
OJ says she will guard her position with full force until the end. IH enters the palanquin and breaks down but she finds consolation in the priestess’ parting words. She clutches her heart in distress. Sigh. Life in the palace really takes a toll on your health.
DP is with LS – the latter shares he saw IH leaving the palace. He is chasing out the very queen that his late mother fought so hard to protect. DP says he did it for the future of the country, and LS adds that he’s doing it for Yoon in order to give him a perfect throne to inherit. He really, really loves his son.
LS says he has a task for DP. He needs to get approval for OJ’s instalment of queen from China and he wants DP to settle the issue. OJ escorts her mother to the queen’s quarters and they cry in relief and happiness that she has finally attained her goal. Jang Hyun seeks an audience with OJ and she comments that he is the first person she is entertaining as a queen.
He says it is time to fulfil the rest of her promise to him – he wants to take over Joseon, as it controlling all the trade and business of the country. OJ says she can’t fulfil that part just yet as she doesn’t have enough power, and instead mentions the death of her mentor. She asks JH to find out who is behind her death and he agrees, gritted teeth and all. When he walks out, he notes that OJ is playing with fire by trying to cross him. But he wonders why she is suddenly bringing up her mentor’s death.
IH is surveying her humble new home and her court lady promises to help her as much as she can to regain her rightful place in the palace. DY arrives to see her. She is imprudent about what happened and the court lady chides her. IH says to let her be as she is still young and ignorant.
OJ is having a nightmare and we see a re-enactment of the famous seduction scene on the bridge, only the seductress in the flimsy undergarments has morphed into IH. OJ watches in horror, wearing her queenly garb, as IH jumps LS’s bones and they share a passionate kiss. Haha. I’m just wondering how YAI feels about filming the exact same scene from start to finish but with a different woman altogether. Well, the kiss is well, serviceable but there isn’t much chemistry.
OJ wakes up in cold sweat and informs her court lady she is going to the king’s quarters. The court lady tries to stop her, saying it is too late to visit the king. OJ insists she has to go, and does not want to inform him of her arrival beforehand. YG stops her at the door, saying LS is meeting with officials. OJ says he’s lying as there is no reason why the king would be having a meeting so late.
She barges in and slaps the palace maid who is carrying a tray out. LS, DP and the officials watch the whole scene unfurl in horrendous shock. OJ is horrified and embarrassed when she finds out YG was telling the truth. She shakily apologises and leaves, with LS watching her with resignation. He can guess what she was thinking.
OJ wonders what came over her and her court lady assures her she her position is not in danger and begs her not to think of anything else. DP seeks her out and asks whether she is okay. She replies she is fine, but looks so forlorn that he reaches out to touch her cheek. OJ avoids him at the last second and tells him she is no longer the OJ of before. He has to forget that OJ . LS is watching their encounter silently from afar. He notes DP’s gentle manner with OJ. He turns away without announcing his arrival. OJ senses something and catches sight of his departing back. She is worried.
DP is walking back when HM stops him. The bodyguard implores DP to stop all interactions with OJ. He is not worried about OJ or DP – he is worried about LS. He is already lonely enough and he can do without any suspected betrayal from the two people in the world he finds the most comfort with. HM adds that he won’t stand for anything, even though DP is one person he respects. He also informs DP that LS saw the exchange between LS and DP. Awwwww. I’ve got a soft spot for loyal, protective bodyguards of kings.
HJ and lackey are strolling the markets when they chance upon the maid that helped poisoned the food the last time. They give chase, but CS, who happens to see everything, saves the girl. Uh-oh. LS brings Yoon to the morning meeting and shows off Yoon to the ministers. The ministers have an issue with another fortress he is building as it affects them. LS is sick and tired of their self-centredness and leaves the hall in a huff.
LS shoots arrows to vent his frustration, and DP drops by to pay a visit. LS muses that it doesn’t matter which faction is in power, the result is always the same. LS suddenly brings up OJ and DP is visibly rattled. When LS asks about his relationship with OJ, DP decides to tell the truth that he met her when he was still a seamstress and has worked with her brother before.
Well, sorta of the truth, deleting the part on his massive crush on her. LS says he is envious that DP got to know OJ before he did and asks him to have a safe trip to China. DP notes that LS is a little more remote than usual and guesses the reason.
OJ prepares gifts for the Chinese female nobility and invites them for tea. HJ is her translator, but she surprises the visitors by speaking Mandarin. HJ praises her for her conduct and her ability to speak their language. OJ spots a pretty palace maid and gets jumpy again. She orders that the girl to be moved to the laundry department. Ha. She’s becoming like the dowager, dumping pretty girls into the laundry department.
CS is at the gisaeng house and he finds out why HJ is after the palace maid. He hits the roof and sweeps everything from the table in anger. He is livid that OJ will risk her life to attain her goal. OJ gets called to see the LS and she’s happy. She walks into his room with a new outfit and practically has a heart attack when she sees CS with him.
LS introduces OJ as the mother to the future king, and introduces CS as a merchant from China. In order to congratulate OJ’s instalment as a queen, CS has brought some gifts. OJ thanks LS , who notes that she should be thanking CSinstead.CS announces he has heard some news at the gisaeng house.
He asks whether there has been a poison incident in the palace and the royal couple is rattled and shocked. CS continues that he has met a palace maid who claimed to be involved and she had some interesting things to tell him. LS is full of apprehension and dread, while OJ looks as if she just lost ten years of her life. I think LS always suspected OJ was somewhat involved but chose to turn a blind eye for both personal and political reasons. LS prods CS to reveal what the woman said and CS turns to look at OJ…
Another not-too-bad episode. DP is back in the game, while LS plays his cards shrewdly with cool detachment with everyone. I liked the scene between IH and OJ and how it emphasizes that when it comes to the harem, the queen and the king, it is a continual vicious cycle. I don’t know what OJ is going to do if/when JH and CS turn against her – both know her sordid deeds and there’s just no win-win situation to this.