the kingmaker

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Soo unwittingly becomes a kingmaker, with the help of BB cream, no less. This episode properly set up So’s unwavering ambition to become king. His scar covered, his fate sealed by the heavens, the discarded, unloved prince has tasted what it is like to be loved and respected by others…so heaven help those who stand in between he and the throne, including Soo. Its the height of irony that she healing him both physically and emotionally may have turned him from a fabled monster into a real monster…Best episode so far.

YES – there are different versions floating around again. I have watched both and at the top of my head, the non-domestic version is missing/featuring different aspects of the following scenes: So having a chat with his mom after Lady Oh saves Soo; Yo’s chat with his mom after So runs away from the rain ceremony; Soo making BB cream in her room; Soo telling So that the scar isn’t important to her as much as whether he is a good person; AND the important scene where So announces to Soo that he will never let go and almost kisses her. WHAT???? I don’t get why SBS would cut THAT scene out when it is gosh-darned swoony and important to set Soo-So shippers on fire. I didn’t cover the sweet scenes between Soo and Wook, and some others, because if I’m going to attempt to review this drama regularly, I would be focusing on So’s tumultuous fight and journey to the throne.

Soo goes after So, and he whirls upon her angrily, ordering her to look at him properly. She does and he snaps that he hates the look in her eyes. Soo is confused and So thinks she thinks he is pathetic and pities him. He warns her to stay out of his sight – he cannot guarantee what he’ll do to her the next time he sees her. OMO. LJK…so glorious in anger and vulnerability.

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So broods later that night and the adorable Baek Ah visits him in his ivory tower. The younger prince apologises for not being able to help his hyung earlier and So chides him for not looking at him when he took off his mask. Baek Ah replies bashfully that he thought So did not want him to see his scar so he didn’t look his way. So muses the that human heart is fickle – he was angry at those who looked at him and those who didn’t. With a tiny indulgent smile, he gently tells Baek Ah to look at him in the eye at all times – that is what he wants his little bro to do. Touched and relieved his beloved hyung isn’t mad at him, Baek Ah happily agrees to do just that. AWWWWWWWWWWWWW. This bromance tops EVERYTHING – and I mean everything.

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Wook’s mom has tea with the princes, and Soo is there to serve the favourite tea of each prince to their delight. Baek Ah has a knowing smirk on his cutie face (What can I do? I love Joo Hyukie!) as Soo serves So his tea…to which he curtly declines, saying that now isn’t the time to enjoy the pleasure of sipping tea when the country is plunged in a middle of a drought. Wook’s mom agrees. Ohhh… all the princes are dressed in pastel and silver except So. Interesting metaphor to show that though he is now living in the palace with his brothers, he is still considered an outcast. I love dark colours so I’ll just add that So has great taste in fashion. Heh.

Later, Soo bickers with Baek Ah, demanding to know whether he got his information right – So likes naewon tea and sweet snacks right????? It was the tea she tried to serve him earlier. Haha. Baek Ah grumbles that he’s sure and he made sure to ask ALL the princes their favourites in order to dispel suspicion that he was fishing only for info on So. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

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Soo wonders why So is still so angry with her when she has been trying her best to appease him. Hehehe. I wonder what else she did. Baek Ah retorts she should just ask So himself what she can do to appease his anger. HEH. Baek Ah is equally confounded since So readily made up with the other princes…and wonders out aloud whether So likes… Soo? He pretends to flirt with Soo in front of the other palace maids, muttering this is her punishment for failing to appease So.

Soo treats the Crown Prince secretly and runs into So. They don’t exchange words: Soo averts her gaze while So stares after her, looking a tad guilty. Soo gets into trouble with Yo’s mom and Lady Oh saves her using pure wits and guts. Second to the bromance between So and Baek Ah, I love the womance between Soo and Lady Oh. Lady Oh is furious at Soo for treating the Crown Prince in private and slaps her for her disobedience. Soo riles that she doesn’t get why Lady Oh is so strict with her and Lady Oh bursts out that the younger woman reminds her of herself – someone who trusts people easily, causes trouble and is fearless. She states that like her, Soo shouldn’t be in the palace and fears for her life. Awwwwww…. Lady Oh faints in pain (she has a stomach ailment) and Soo looks after her. Soo assures her she can be careful like Lady Oh and survive in the palace. She cutely adds that Lady Oh can depend on her too where needed. Goodness. Love these two, too.

Meanwhile, So warns his mother it ain’t a good idea to be on bad terms with Lady Oh.

The king prays for rain to no avail so Ji Mong suggests they do a ballot and select a prince to pray in his stead. All the princes throw their lot and the more cowardly ones blanch when they find out that if you get chosen and it doesn’t rain when you pray, you’ll be executed. But So dryly points out that prayers don’t bring the rain – you just have to pray until it rains. Yep. Life outside the palace has sharpened his intellect and develop him some good old useful common sense.

So’s name gets drawn and the king instructs him to lead the rain ceremony. So is stunned and later asks Ji Mong why they (he and the king) picked him – so it is rigged. Ji Mong denies the fact but So is obviously not convinced.The day arrives and So is paraded through the streets, wearing his ceremonial garb. But once the citizens see that is the cursed 4th Prince, they ridicule him and throw rocks at him. Ouch. So literally has a mental breakdown, and the citizens follow him to the palace gates, hurling insults and rocks at him. When So sees everyone from his parents, his brothers, the ministers and the servants staring at him, he runs away like a scared, little boy. Yo and evil mom revels in So’s disgrace. I do not get this mother. Baek Ah attempts to run after So but Jung stops him. GAH. I love Baek Ah for loving So.

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Yo and his mom are stumped that the king and Ji Mong are letting So lead the ceremony – evil mom knows the ballot is rigged. She explains to Yo that it isn’t heavens that control the people, but the opposite. She goes on to state that it isn’t the prayers that bring the rain, but the person just has to pray until it rains. Yo is unsettled that So and Mom are uncanny in their thinking. It’s rattles him a little knowing So is more like their mom than he is. I’m not surprised that So inherited his cunning, ruthlessness and intelligence from his mom. It’s ironic and it’s a slap to her face if she knew.

So goes into hiding but Soo finds him snoozing in a boat by the river. She loses her balance while getting on the boat and lands next to So. They have a moment before Soo informs him everyone is worried about him. She comforts him, saying that people would forget what happened. So muses whether she knows why she was born and she replies she doesn’t but she does know that whether she is born rich or poor, she has the power to live her life the way she wants it to be. That seems to stir something in So.

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Soo can’t sleep that night and grouses that it is all so So’s fault for asking her why she was born. She springs out of bed and starts to make… BB cream??? HAHAHAHAHA. Okay. I know it’s to cover So’s scar but still it tickles me it is the famous Korean BB cream.

Ji Mong is unsuccessful in persuading So to lead the rain ceremony again. The Crown Prince is late in rushing back to take So’s place (since Yo bribed bandits to waylay his journey back to the palace). So refuses and Ji Mong airs his disappointment that So is giving up so easily. He tells the prince he is too fixated on his scar to achieve anything. That seems to rile So and he grabs his ceremonial garb.

Just then, Soo appears with her magic BB cream and requests So to let her take off his mask. He lets her and she pins his fringe to the side, allowing her – and US – to finally see a two-eyed Lee Jun Ki and get a clear view of the scar. It runs from under his left ear, up his nose, straight through the middle of his forehead and into his hairline. Some may think the scar is nothing but imagine a little boy carrying this scar (which I would think hurt like crazy when it was being stitched and probably took ages to heal) and my heart breaks.

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So is practically bristling with insecurity as Soo traces his scar with care. So catches her hand and asks defensively whether she feels pity for him because of his scarred face. Soo smiles and replies she can’t pity someone who keeps threatening to kill her. Soo says that the scar isn’t important to her as much as whether he is a good person. That seems to settle So and he lets her touch his scar again. Soo opines the scar isn’t any bigger than her hand yet is inhibiting So from living a full life, which is unfair. So gives a tiny smile at that.

So: Can I really trust you? I’m always curious and suspicious whether I should.

Soo: Previously, I always trust people and always get betrayed in return. So I understand how difficult it is to trust someone. So I won’t ever change. If you trust me, I won’t change. I promise.

So: Since it’s you, I think I can leave myself in your hands. Do what you want with me because at this moment, I am yours. (Someone catch me as I SWOON dead away!!!!)

So stares at Soo hard – I’m dying at LJK’s expression…with two eyes now so it’s double the effect. She is obviously affected by his words (Who the hell wouldn’t be????). So close his eyes, trusting her. Soo takes a deep breath and gets to work.

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Meanwhile, the Crown Prince is no where to be seen and Yo is selected to lead the ceremony since he is next in line to the throne. Soo dabs on the BB cream and when So opens his eyes, they gaze at each other. When Soo is all done, So’s scar is barely visible.

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The drum sounds and it’s time for So to leave. Soo hurries him but he pulls her close to him and we get to ogle and admire the perfect symmetry of LJK’s pretty mien.

So: Do you remember? I once said you are mine. Then, now, the moment you touched my face, I decided I wanted you to become my person [mine]. Take your time to accept this [in your heart]. I’m definitely not going to let you go.

SWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON. Be it his voice, his tone, his beauty, the expression in his eyes…. LKJ is killer here. So leans to kiss Soo but when he sees she is shocked senseless and motionless, he gallantly lets her be and swaggers away. OMOMOMOMOMO…. I don’t think I ever swooned so seriously in a looooong time. Maybe since Faith. Soo grabs on to the jade bracelet Wook gave her desperately as she tries to calm her racing heart.

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Yo is just about to hop onto the sedan chair when So appears, wearing his mask. When So claims he is going to lead the ceremony, Yo slaps him and the mask falls off. Yo is stunned to see that So’s scar has disappeared. So confidently climbs on and starts down the streets again. The citizens are shocked to see it’s him again but when they discover his scar is gone, they switch gears and begin to worship and pay respect to him. So absorbs this newfound adoration with greedy eagerness and continues the ritual with confidence. The seed of ambition has been planted. You can see it in So’s eyes as he takes in the citizens bowing and praying to him in earnest. He feels the first stirring of power.

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He marches into the palace grounds, with the people trailing him faithfully. Everyone is surprised to see his scar has gone and Wook knows it’s Soo’s doing. Awwwww…. love how happy, smug and proud Baek Ah is. So pauses in front of his mom mockingly before he proceeds.

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So walks up the steps to the top of the altar. He pauses to turn around and smile at Soo. She smiles back but suddenly, she sees a vision of him robed as the king. Her smile fades and she wonders whether she is hallucinating. A raindrop falls on her.

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The heavens open and rain starts to fall…and everyone savours the cool shower except Soo, who is downright trembling with fright now. So, who was equally flabbergasted at first, turns around to find Soo again. He smiles at her again, this time with cunning, and he faces forward, his jaw set, his eyes taking on a new fire of ambition and determination. You know that So has made his mind he wants the throne. Soo realises she is looking at the next king of Goryeo. Ya know…just the king who killed nearly all his brothers in order to gain the throne.

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