no turning back

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Soo warns Wook to be careful of So – crossing him will cause heads to roll. But now, everyone is wary of So since he has gained the favour of the king and the citizens. But So, while quietly revelling in this newfound favour, has hardened against Yo and his mother. To Soo, he wears his heart on his sleeve and believes that haviing her by his side will enable him to achieve greater things.

To make life easier, I’ll review based on the Korean version since it seems to be the better cut of the two. Missing scenes from the international version: Soo putting on makeup for So and Eun’s unconsummated wedding night. What did the international version did get that the Korean one didn’t was from a longer cut of the kissing scene at the end which showed Soo’s ebbing resistance against So’s hungry kiss…after which she came to her senses and pulled back.

So it pours and So becomes an overnight hero, both in his father’s eyes and the citizens. Baek Ah is delighted that the heavens have shown favour on So and cheerily warns his siblings they shouldn’t treat So bad from now on. So is revelled by the citizens and Soo wonders whether she bizarrely changed So’s fate and set his course to become king. So’s sense of naïve wonder at the outpouring of respect from the citizens tugs at her my heart…or maybe it’s just Lee Jun Ki tugging my heartstrings. HEH.

Yo gets ripped through my his mom for letting So lead the rain ceremony, snapping that Yo has to be king in order for her to be Empress Dowager. Man…this woman is toxic. Even Yo is disgusted that his mom truly has her own interests at heart.

Meanwhile, So and the king reconcile, with So calling the older man, “Father”. Aishshhhh… the look of yearning on So’s face when he mutters that and his unconcealed joy when his father compliments him, urging him to stand brave in public from now on and support the Crown Prince. So apologises for taking the Crown Prince’s place in the ceremony but the latter brushes off the apology, saying there was no way he could have reached home in time because he was waylaid by bandits.

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Wook shares that since it did rain, the king would allow select palace maids to return home. But Soo isn’t really listening as she is too busy fretting whether she had something wrong – or unwittingly changed the course of history by dabbing BB cream to cover So’s scar. She rushes off to find Ji Mong who is unable to give her a straight answer.

Yeonhwa is musing that now So has the king’s favour, they should be wary of him. Wook thinks So deserves as much, considering how he has led his life thus far. But a detached look flits across his features as he opines that he is sure he has a place in this world…and he’s curious to know what he is. There’s something in his expression that gives me the chills. It’s as if he is a sleeping dragon awakening.

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Soo is still going nuts thinking of what she did when So pops up and gives her a quick hug. She shrinks from him and stutters that she didn’t mean anything rude just that he startled her. So is relaxed and smiling, which is really the first time we see him like this. He relates what happened with the king and how he called him “Father” for the first time and how the older man had looked him in the eye for the first time in years. He humbly relishes how everyone is wishing him well instead of cursing him – thanks to Soo and her handiwork. He figures he will live his life supporting the Crown Prince the best he can.

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So is being so sweet that Soo wonders how someone like him could be so vicious and ruthless later. Soo skittishly reminds So to control his anger no matter furious he is and assures him that everyone will like him from now on…So teases her for being a nag and extends his hand out to play with the rain, while sighing in contentment, ” This feels good.” Awwwww…his childish naivety here is stirring. Soo is enthralled by him, and is determined that she’ll do what she can to make sure no one gets hurt.

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Eun gets betrothed to Soon Deok. The king acknowledges So’s contribution and offers to reward him anything he wants. To Soo and Wook’s horror, So requests that Soo serves him. Arghhhhh. I’m reminded that So has no idea that Soo and Wook are in love and if my memory serves me well, neither did his Chinese counterpart in the original version. In the Chinese version, 4th Prince finds out only much later and was furious that Ruo Xi loved 8th Prince so much then that she warned him against 4th Prince. Anyway, back to the Korean version. The king agrees to let Soo serve So and even promotes her.

Because of Eun’s wedding, the king isn’t letting palace maids return home this time. Wook assures Soo that there will always be a next time but Soo isn’t so sure, sensing her time with Wook is coming to an end. Lady Oh warns Soo to stay away from So if she is not prepared to accept his feelings for her. He has always been unloved and learned about love through her…so he isn’t going to be easy to shake off unless she stands her ground. Soo suggests that she may be able to change So but Lady Oh begs to differ: it is hard to change people because people, in essence, do not change.

Soo applies makeup for So and suggests he learns to apply it himself as it is more convenient that way. She even gives him skin care tips. She is rather subdued throughout, which confuses So a little. Fortunately, Lady Oh interrupts them and cast a knowing look at So as he gazes indulgently at Soo.

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The princes celebrate Eun’s wedding and Soo watches the brothers fondly until she gets another vision of Eun and his wife being murdered by So, who laughs manically while doing so. Yikes. I hope it is just her imagination influencing her hallucinations ala visions. The sight of So frightens her and she runs off. Wook notices and goes after her.

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Soo is a shivering mess and when Wook comes to her, she warns him in a terrified manner, ” Be careful of Wang So. Avoid him and don’t try to stop him. If you do…everyone will die.” Wook is stunned at her words and Soo stammers that she wants to leave the palace…as far away as possible. Wook gathers her in his arms and promises he’ll do that for her. But he mulls over her words later, wondering why he has to be careful with So.

The king sends Yo to the border – a dangerous place – and puts So in Yo’s current position as head of army supplies. The next thing we know, So is invited to dine with his birth mother and blood brothers for a “family” meal. Yo and his mom are sickly sweet while Jung seems genuinely happy they are having a meal together.

So finds out soon enough why he was invited to dinner – Yo and mom want him to kill the Crown Prince since he would be working closely with latter. This way, Yo can become king. GAH. So warped, this mother and son. Even the usually clueless Jung senses something is just so wrong about the whole thing. So drawls that he can kill the Crown Prince, on one condition – if mom wants so much to be the Empress Dowager, So can become king instead and she’ll still be able to hold that rank. If he becomes king, he promises not to kill Yo and Jung. She ridicules him and snorts that he was being made used by the king as a sacrificial lamb to save the Crown Prince in the event it had not rained.

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So corrects her – he offered himself. Plus, he would rather not be invited to any more family meals. He stalks off. Yo comments that So is indeed hard to win over – like they even tried – and they should just kill him. Jung is upset that the family meal was ruined and they had the cheek to ask So to kill for them while at it. He leaves in a huff.

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So wanders around moodily and heads to Soo’s quarters but doesn’t seek her out. Soo is still hyperventilating and decides to go out for a breath of fresh air. Lee Hi’s solo is playing here… perfect!!! Instead, she bumps into So and makes a dash for it but he pulls her into a back hug, pleading for her to stay with him as he just wants to rest a bit.

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But she pushes him away and rails that she finds him scary. Yo is rattled and reminds her that she had stated earlier that she was not scared of him. Soo prattles that she thought she could change him but she figures now that he is going to ruin everything. She screams at him to leave the palace and stay away as far as possible. OUCH. So’s hurt and disbelief.

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So: You can’t say this to me! Don’t push me away, don’t ask me to leave. Don’t call me a beast. You can’t do this to me. Because you belong to me.

Soo: I don’t belong to you.

So: You are mine, you belong to me! Without my permission, you can’t leave me or die. You are one hundred per cent mine.

He leans in and this time he kisses her with all the yearning inside him. In the international version, Soo fights him at first but he keeps his lips locked on hers determinedly. She slowly starts to succumb but comes to her senses and pulls herself away.

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So is driven by his yearning for acceptance and love from those around him, things that he has been starved of since he was struck with the scar. If that means being king, so be it. He doesn’t actually want to be king at the moment though he toys detachedly with the idea but I do think that once his brothers start plotting against him, he has to become king to save his own life.

Thought Kang Ha Neul did very well in that scene where he was musing aloud about his place in the world…if he isn’t meant to be king, that is. He looked jaded and his eyes looked cold and detached. Maybe he was affected by Soo helping So…and maybe even wished he had been the one to lead the rain ceremony. As I said, So’s sudden shift in power has evoked something in Wook…if So could…why not him? A sleeping dragon…who is now stirring.

The last scene…I don’t think So was being possessive since I think he doesn’t even know how to be possessive in the first place being stripped of everything at such a young age. To him, Soo is akin to his lifeline. She enabled him to be accepted with his family, with society. Lady Oh was wise when she warned Soo not to play with So’s feelings – he has been so starved of love that he would cling on to her because she was the first person who treated him like a normal human being. He’s volatile and unpredictable because he has never experienced human affection and does not know how to react when it is being snatched from him.

So keeps saying “You’re mine” so desperately because he could never call anything his own until now – no family, no friends, no precious possessions. Soo has been his friend, his confidante, his supporter. At this point in time, she is everything to him. But inwardly, he is crying out for her to want to want him, to want to have him belong to her.

Now on a superficial note… is it me or does LJK’s voice sound extra sexy in this drama??? He always had a nice voice but there’s this lovely depth and tone to So Speak. I admit I was staring at his chiselled jawline during the kiss more than the kiss itself. Hahahaha. Like how I was so mesmerised by Lee Min Ho’s jaw when he kissed Kim Hee Sun in Faith. I had to stop myself from screen-capping LJK at every second. He just looks so bloody gorgeous.

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