fortune favours the brave

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If SBS doesn’t give Lee Jun Ki the Daesang Award at the end of the year just because of the drama’s low domestic ratings…I’ll send The K2 to kick everyone’s ass on the judging panel. He is single-handedly carrying the show and is utterly, ferociously, glorious as Wang So. He’s so freaking incredible that he’s making those around him appear better than they actually are. This episode cements the fact that Lee Jun Ki is just equal parts swoon-worthy in aesthetic appeal, and and artistic ability and capability. I couldn’t take my eyes off him – or in the sense, I am absolutely enthralled by Wang So, thanks to him. Anyway, another fantastic episode. Warning: Major Lee Jun Ki Swoon Fest.

Before I start, didn’t really spot that many scenes different from the Korean and international version. The Eun-Soon Deok wedding night scene which was excluded from the international version last week appeared this week; the Korean scene had an extra Baek Ah-Woo Hee scene to replace the Eun-Soon Deok scene. I think there were bits of So-Soo added and subtracted but I didn’t really take note. My review is based on the Korean version.

So we start off with the forced kiss So bestows on Soo. She fights him at first but gives up partway, crying silently. So senses her distress and halts his action. When he realises how scared she is, regret overcomes him. But even in regret, So grabs her hand and spirits her away. Jung, who is sneaking back into the palace, spots them riding away and freaks out.

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LJK on horseback does crazy things to my heart rate…he just looks so adept and confident…and swwwwoooooooonnnnny.

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Anyway, Jung panics and goes to find Wook. Main reason being Wook lives outside the palace and would be the best person to help since the other princes can’t leave the palace without permission. Soo is a palace maid and is not allowed to leave – which just means she is in huge trouble if found out, more so if discovered with 4th Prince…who isn’t exactly allowed to do as he wishes either since he now lives in the palace. Wook is stunned and furious. He instructs Jung to return to the palace lest his youngest brother gets into trouble for sneaking out but Jung insists he’ll help Wook to find his beloved noona…knowing how critical it is to find the couple before anyone finds out they are missing…which is kinda adorable. Wook muses that Jung has matured.

So and Soo end up by the beach and have another of their voiceover exchanges. Soo states they are in huge trouble because they left the palace, to which So replies they can just run away. If that is Soo’s wish, he’ll do it. I swear LJK is purposely speaking in a lower tone for this drama…his smooth, gravelly tone is melting me. They stay on the horse, deep in thought.

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They take a stroll and So comments he always wanted to bring her here. Soo slowly starts to enjoy the moments of forbidden freedom. So, who has since calmed down, shares he doesn’t understand why he is always the one forced to leave. Even now, when he hasn’t done anything wrong…why does he have to be the one who leaves?

Soo mentally tells herself she just wants to prevent harm from falling onto those around So. Outwardly, she says that she just want So to live a peaceful life away from the palace where he isn’t maligned and treated badly. So suggests she leaves too but she reminds him she is a palace maid and cant’ leave. So responds matter-of-factly that she doesn’t leave, he isn’t either.

Soo admits she likes someone else. That gives So pause – but not too much – before he asks whether the person in question is Baek Ah. Awwwwww… I love his bromance with 13th Prince. When Soo clarifies it isn’t Baek Ah she likes, So cavalierly replies that he doesn’t care who she likes as long it isn’t Baek Ah. He may consider killing anyone else. Yikes. Soo is rattled too by his in-your-face threat. Double yikes since So obviously means it and even smiles while at it.

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So reiterates that he had made up his mind that Soo was his person the moment he defended her from Yeon Hwa. He liked her because she saw him as he is and he didn’t need to explain himself to her. He doesn’t believe that she is afraid of him and he isn’t sorry for anything he has done so far because he considers her his friend. He ain’t sorry for kissing her, or dragging her here with him or threatening her not to like anyone else.

He pulls out a hairpin (thanks to the reader who pointed out that it isn’t the one meant for his mom!) and orders her to accept it. Soo stammers she only means to help him and doesn’t mean anything else by her actions. So just blithely suggests, “Just try running away from me.” DAMN. And flashes what sweet, disarming half-smile. Be still my poor heart. I know So has warped logic but LJK is so charming yet vulnerable here that I’m lapping up anything he dishes out. He places the hairpin in her palm and tells her she can throw it away if she wants. And swaggers away again. Love the swagger.

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They make their way back and boy, I love how So stares at Soo while he rides behind her. Of course, they bump into worried Jung and Wook along the way. Jung begs Soo to get off So’s horse and follow he and Wook back instead. Wook concurs, saying tongues will wag if Soo is found with So. So coolly states since he was the who took Soo away from the palace, he would be the one who would bring her back. He reminds Wook that the king has given Soo to him so she’s his responsibility. He is absolutely right and Wook knows it.

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Soo quickly jumps in and says she’ll return with So since she is under his charge. She reassures Wook that she’ll be fine and he reluctantly agrees. He warns So not to let anything happen to Soo and So drawls cynically that he too doesn’t want anything untoward to happen to her. With that, he rides off with Soo, leaving Wook fuming.

Lady Oh is frantic with worry and is angry when she sees So and Soo return together. So says he brought Soo out on an errand but Lady Oh isn’t fooled. She just tells him not to come round so often as his presence will only invite trouble.

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Wook and Soo meet in secret and Wook proposes to her. He confesses that he is too busy weighing all his options to take her away from the palace, yet So manages to do so all in one go. YUP. That’s the difference between passive and active. But Lady Oh finds them and chastises them for their foolishness.

When she is alone with Soo, Lady Oh suggests they both leave and return to Lady Oh’s hometown and lead a simple life. Lady Oh rails at her for allowing herself to be caught between the two princes. If anyone of them has a change of heart, Soo will die. Soo blurts out that Wook wants to marry her and has no intention to fight for the throne. Plus, he is not one to change. Lady Oh coldly corrects her and says he will change. Just like the man whom she loved – who is now the king. Because of her love for him, she entered the palace but can never marry. She dresses him, combs his hair yet bathes his other women. OUCH.

That night, Soo stares warily at the hairpin Soo gave her – but she doesn’t throw it away. It does say something since So is perfectly fine with her doing so. So comes to see her the next day and Soo invites him to the makeup room. As she does his makeup, she tries to reason with him: Soo is a friend because she supported and encouraged him during hard times. She is worried So is confused between love and friendship.

Then So captures her wrist super gently (*swoon*) and dryly comments he is more concerned about her. HA. To him, there is no difference between love and friendship. It is one and the same to him. He stands up and remarks he knows she is pushing him away…but it ain’t going to work on him. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Love his bemused tone.

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His arm steals around her waist in one quick motion and he pulls her close. GAAHAHHHHHH. And practically purrs, “I told you to brace yourself.” Swooning…. dead away. How does one brace oneself against that sexy voice and intense gaze???? I mean who in the right mind would wanna do so? Hahahaha. So leans in closer to Soo, and she covers her mouth with her hand. He smiles and assures her he won’t try to kiss her again without her permission. Awwwww… he’s finally learning.

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Soo runs into Jung and he is glad that she is unscathed. He sighs that he misses how they were last time when she was friends with all the princes. Though he doesn’t blame So for the situation now, he remarks that because of So, he now knows the true colours of Yo and his mom. The poor boy.

Meanwhile, Wook informs his mom and sis of his plans to marry Soo and settle away from the palace. His mom is supportive while Yeon Hwa is pissed and decides to switch loyalties to Yo. She wants to be a kingmaker. Yeah, right. You don’t have no magic BB cream so dream on!

Baek Ah and Woo Hee have their moments. To be honest, Nam Joo Hyuk has zero chemistry with Seo Hyun, which is why I’m not mentioning much about them though I love my baby boy. Yo’s mom join forces with Won to trap the Crown Prince and implicate So.

So is hanging out with Baek Ah and the latter brings up So’s rendezvous with Soo. Baek Ah reminds So that his actions could have gotten Soo into big trouble…and So says he had no ill intentions. It’s just that he’s just unaccustomed with dealing with people and does not know how to react appropriately. My heart… breaking. Baek Ah comments that he didn’t know So cared so much for Soo. So walks towards Baek Ah and claps his shoulder fondly, “In this world, only you and Soo are my people.” Baek Ah smiles, warmed by his brother’s words.

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So the whole trap for the Crown Prince kicks into action. His family is implicated and the ministers announce that they would like 4th Prince to replace the Crown Prince. Won later adds fuel to fire when he deliberately tattles that So meant to dishonour the Crown Prince behind his back.

This makes the king decide to send So back to Shinju before he can pose a bigger threat to the Crown Prince. The king know that it is all Yo’s mom’s doing and So is innocent but he is worried that So may be influenced to change his mind. Argh. I know the king is right but So’s dejection at being tossed aside again hurts me so.

So storms into his mom’s quarters, demanding she stop toying with him. She snickers that she is just helping him to become king as what he wanted. She openly admits that she will attempt to kill the Crown Prince the next day at a festival, and So can do his part by doing nothing. The palace maid who serves the Crown Prince tea will be one who will take the fall. And we all know who the palace maid will be. So spits out that he will never let his mom have her way.

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At the festival the next day, So watches both the Crown Prince and his mom like a hawk. When the Crown Prince calls for tea, Soo is the one who brings it, to So’s horror. He is caught between a rock and a hard place. He decides to sacrifice himself instead, offering to toast his eldest brother and swears his allegiance. So keeps drinking the tea – three cups – staring determinedly at his mom as he does so. Yeon Hwa is distraught that So is consuming the tea meant for the Crown Prince.

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So gazes resignedly at Soo as he gulps down the tea and says to himself, “You poisoned me.” Soo leaves. The poison is taking effect and Soo excuses himself. He walks away, gritting his teeth against the toxicity, blood oozing from his mouth. But even then, he doesn’t look beaten.

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Another fab episode for So. I mean he is the centre of the universe in this story, rendering the rest, even Wook and Soo, to perform ancillary roles. This is mainly because LJK is just incinerating the screen and everyone around him with his piercing gaze and exquisite balance of vulnerability and ferocity. I can’t gush enough just how magnetic he is as So… just so terribly wonderful and he’s gets better and ups the swoon factor and blistering intensity with every episode.

Fortune favours the brave – as Wook finds out. I feel sorry for Wook in this episode because So is just too much of a force to be reckoned with. As he admitted readily to Soo, So managed to spirit Soo away so easily and single-mindedly from the palace – which is her biggest wish – while he has been hesitating and calculating all his options, and keep delaying her departure. So has nothing to lose since he possesses nothing; Wook has so much to lose since he possesses so much more.

I like the level-leaded So in this episode. He is still wild and unhinged in many aspects but he is slowly learning how to manage people and his emotions. He knows now that force-kissing Soo against her will is wrong. I like how he lays all his cards on the table. His confession to Baek Ah about finding people/emotional management foreign broke my heart. He has been locked up and tortured for so many years, forced to fight with wild wolves, and had barely any human interaction ad connection to normalcy.

We also finally understand what So means when he claims someone is “his person”. In his conversation with Baek Ah, he states in a heartfelt manner that he considers only Soo and Baek Ah as his people in the whole world. What So really means that he only trusts Soo and Baek Ah. He trusts them so much that he considers them a part of himself — that’s what he means. They are not his possessions but a part of him. And when you are a part of him, he’ll do anything for you. I’m sooooooo happy that Baek Ah remains loyal to So till the end. It also aligns to his line of thought that he finds no difference between friendship and love. If you are friends, you care and love for each other. In his eyes, she is doing that and he feels that way for her.

Soo, on the other hand, is shaken by So’s confidence and resolve. As much as she loves Wook and fervently believes that he can take away from the palace, it is not lost on her how So easily achieved that feat with pure boldness and daring. So knew the consequences and was willing to take responsibility. He was smart enough to know he could cook up a decent excuse since Soo is under his charge. He doesn’t hold back and she is aware that when he says he’ll do something, he’ll move heaven, earth and hell just to fulfil his vow.

At the last scene, So knew that Soo would be implicated either way. Maybe he thought killing him would be lesser offence than killing the Crown Prince. But at the same time, we know that there was no way on earth he was going to let his mom murder the Crown Prince. He literally decided to take a gamble and bite the bullet.

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