crossing the line

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When is enough enough? So is reaching his breaking point as those around him manipulate him, holding his loved ones hostage to their evil desires. It just breaks my heart that every time So genuinely tries to do good and help someone, he ends up being the fall guy and forced to commit heinous deeds against his wishes and honour. His integrity is both a charm and a curse, as we are finding out. On a separate note, is it me or is Hong Jong Hyun acting much better sans eyeliner plus caveman hair?

So throw his sword down and kneels before Yo, addressing him as the new king, bristling with rage, grief, disgust and self-disgust. Soo slumps down on the ground, knowing that So is doing this for her. He is willing to be utterly humiliated and have his honour, and loyalty for the late king questioned.

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Flashback to a teenage Moo, with a teenage Ji Mong and an adorable little So. Moo bemoans the death of his younger brother, while Ji Mong assures him Moo that he would make a good king. Little So announces he wants to be king, too and Ji Mong assures him that he will be king too one day. Awwww…now I understand why Ji Mong was so devastated by Moo’s death and called him by name. They were childhood friends.

Back to the (Goryeo) present, Ji Moo cries over the late king’s lifeless body. Jung and Baek Ah arrive, and grieve upon seeing their eldest brother. Soo and So are still kneeling where Yo left them. Ji Mong mumbles they can’t leave a Goryeo king lying on the ground like that and Baek Ah immediately hunkers down to embrace his late brother, tearing as he does so. So watches them from afar, devastated. Baek Ah also tells the late king to forget everything and go in peace. Ooomph. My heart. Gotta say Nam Joo Hyuk has been crying very well in this drama. Picked up pointers from Jun Ki Hyung?

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Soo blames herself and apologises, saying it was her fault that So was humiliated. A lone tear trails down So’s cheek and he stands up, dragging Soo with him. They are stopped by Won, who says smugly that the new king has decreed that Soo can’t leave Damiwon or the palace, or she will charged for treason. Well, we all know Yo’s word cannot be trusted. Soo clutches So’s hand in fright, and slinks behind him. He fear doesn’t go unnoticed by So.
The new king’s troops storm Eun’s household, killing all his family members.

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At Wook’s suggestion, Yo pins the blame of the rebellion on Eun’s grandfather. Yo also thanks Wook for suggesting to use Soo to control So. Er… well. I assumed anyone with half a brain would know that by now. Yo’s uncle reminds Wook to greet the new king properly and he does. Yo muses they cannot let Eun live to which Wook comments the king has a dog which is good at killing royals. Oh, Wook. How despicable you have become.

Yo and his mom watches in satisfaction as Eun’s grandfather and other members of the family are killed. Yo’s mom congratulates him on becoming king but when she tries to assert her opinion, he cuts her off, asking her to enjoy the luxurious life of being a dowager empress and leave the politics to him. She isn’t happy.

So arrives and Yo drawls he owes his life to him – So avoided all his vital points when stabbing him the previous time. So growls he’ll happily kill Yo off now if the king so wishes but the latter orders him to find Eun and kill him. When So refuses, Yo reminds him the lives of Ji Mong, Baek Ah and Soo are at stake. So stalks off furiously and Yo gripes that he hates the fact that So pitied him so much that he let him live the previous time at the cliff.

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So informs General Park that Yo has ordered him to find Eun and Seon Deok, and kill them. The older man warns him not to touch his daughter. So meets up with Soo, who worries about him. So figures the dust hasn’t settled yet and warns Soo not to trust anyone just yet. He tells her he is leaving the palace for a while and feels uneasy leaving her alone. When Soo asks him where is going, he replies that the king has ordered him to catch a traitor. Soo frets So has been threatened again but he hugs her gently and says he’ll take care of things. Soo smiles in relief, while So looks worried.

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Soo chats with Chae Ryung , and wonders who poisoned the king when they were the only two people who served him in private. The younger girl jumpily pleads her innocence to which Soo is surprised that the girl could have thought that Soo suspected her. Oh, Soo. Soo also finds out about the slaying of Eun‘s family and frantically asks about his welfare. She recalls her earlier conversation with So and realises with horror that Eun’s the one he is after.
Eun and Seon Deok seek refuge at Damiwon with Soo. They will stay with her until the day their getaway boat is ready to help them escape. Eun innocently asks about his family and Soo pretends she knows nothing. Seon Deok obviously knows what happened and exchanged solemn looks with Soo.

Woo Hee seeks an audience with the king, representing Hubaekje, and pleads for welfare and land for her people. Yo agrees to consider on one condition… we don’t know what it is.

So is out in town drinking with Baek Ah since he’s hunting for Eun. They overhear citizens gossiping that So was the one who killed the king and is the one who is responsible for the plight of Eun. Baek says he found out where Eun’s boating is docking – but there are four boats, all going to different locations. Smart Seon Deok. Baek Ah asks So whether he is really going to capture Eun and drag him back to the palace? So cynically replies that Baek Ah doesn’t trust him too. But Baek Ah answers that it is Yo that he doesn’t trust since their third brother is always using people’s weaknesses to his advantage. LOVE THIS BROMANCE. Ha. Nam Joo Hyuk is piling on the eyeliner here… almost as heavy handed as Lee Jun Ki.

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So asks Baek Ah to continue checking Eun’s whereabouts – he most probably is with one of the brothers, maybe Jung. Baek Ah comments that Wook is acting strange and has not made a move since the revolt. So snorts in derision.
Woo Hee appears. She announces she is going back to work in the gisaeng house, but just as a dance instructor. The minister in cahoots with Yo watches Woo Hee with the princes from afar. Argh. Is this all part of Yo’s schemes?
So pays a surprise visit to Wook, and muses that the latter seems to be in a hurry to go somewhere – to meet the new king perhaps? So knows that only someone as smart as Wook can help orchestrate Yo’s rebellion and succession to the throne.

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So asks Wook straight out whether he killed the late king. Wook asks him coolly whether he is going to kill Eun. They trade glares and Wook bits out that they are both just trying to survive – such is the fate of princes who fail to be king. Which is true…. What a sad, painful existence.

Soo serves tea to the new king, who asks her why she poisoned the late king. She denies that she did and asks him instead for the culprit. Yo knows that he can use Soo to control his younger brothers, which is why she isn’t dead yet. She claims there is no harm telling her since she won’t dare tell anyone – not with the accusation of treason hanging over her head. Wook walks in at that moment and Yo mumurs that the timing is perfect. Soo’s eyes widen at the meaning of his words.

Yo laughs and informs Wook that Soo is curious as to who murdered the late king. Wook remains calm and reiterates that their eldest brother died from his illness. Yoo concurs sarcastically and Soo just gapes at Wook with growing suspicion. Outside the king’s quarters, Soo tries to reaffirm that Wook has nothing to do with the late’s king death. Wook thinks back about his conversation with his mother, where he riles that all he did was try to live an upright life, yet he lost Soo, and lost everything. Wook dully replies that he did not do anything wrong. WELL. He isn’t exactly answering her question… and isn’t exactly denying his involvement either.

A worried So waits for Soo outside the king’s quarters. She reassures him that Yo isn’t going to kill or harm her for now. So confesses that he was asked to hunt and kill Eun, but he plans to help Eun escape once he finds him. Soo just mumbles an answer, not telling So that Eun is with her. Just then, she sees the vision of So slaying Eun. The real So stands in front of her, smiling confidently.

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Later, Ji Mong tells So he is sure Eun is still in the palace since his star is shining above it. So returns that he has searched everywhere, including Damiwon. Ji Mong urges him to search the palace again.

So is exasperated with Ji Mong, snapping he isn’t sure whether to trust Ji Mong and his predictions. Why did the astronomer not know that Moo would have died this way and Yo would become king? Ji Mong is also flabbergasted himself – he predicted that Yo would be a traitor… but how did a traitor become king?

Well, the scene cuts to Wook, who is deep in thought. He keeps repeating Soo’s earlier warning to himself: stay away from Fourth Prince and don’t get in his way. Wook acknowledges Soo was right since he has since lost everything to So.

Jung discovers Eun and his wife are hiding in the palace. They huddle in Soo’s room and Seon Deok groans that all the gates are heavily guarded and there is no easy way out. If only there was a tunnel… Soo remembers the secret passageway between Damiwon and the outside world. Seon Deok wants to send word to her father and suggests they use Ji Mong as a messenger. Soo disagrees, saying that Ji Mong is close to So. Seon Deok wonders why Soo doesn’t trust Soo, to which Soo replies she has her reasons. But Seon Deok points out that So hasn’t done anything so far to break her trust and if Soo loves him, she should trust him. Soo realises Seon Deok is right.

Jung and Seon Deok start to unblock the entrance of the tunnel and when Jung offers Seon Deok the use of the comb that he stole from Soo, she suspects he has a lady love. She encourages him to go for it and he is inspired.
Yeon Hwa tries to feminine wiles on Yo but he isn’t affected. Instead, he tells her he is sending her off to Kitan as a hostage – to take the place of the late king’s daughter that So married. She is furious. And thinks about her earlier exchange with So where he claims he has no future without Soo.

Eun and Seon Deok enjoy a sweet night together….sigh. They will probably die soon which makes this scene so painful to watch, knowing they won’t live any much longer. Eun leaves the cloth toys he make on the deck. Soo finds them the next morning with a smile. But Yeon Hwa drops by to see her and I swear she recognises Eun’s handiwork, too.
Yeon Hwa speaks to Soo in private and orders her to leave So. In return, Yeon Hwa will find a rich man for her to marry.

The princess states that she knows about the now-defunct romantic relationship between Soo and Wook – and knows that So doesn’t know about it. And now Soo has seduced Fourth Prince, Yeon Hwa doesn’t intend on letting her get away with it. Soo replies that she wants to marry So because she makes him happy, and he makes her feel special. Er….ok. It is a fair enough reason but exactly a compelling one. Soo continues her feelings for So won’t change as long his feelings for her don’t change. Yeon Hwa scoffs that such a statement does hold in the palace. She warns Soo that she’ll regret going against her.

Wook is with Yo. So has General Park on Ji Mong on his side – that is equivalent to So having the army and the gods on his side. Wook advises Yo to kill So but Yo isn’t in a hurry to do so – besides they share the same mother. Wook then suggests they separate So from General Park and Ji Mong at least.

Yeon Hwa sweeps into the throne room to Yo’s annoyance. She offers a deal – if her plan works, the king has to rescind his order to send her to Kitan. The next we know, So visits Yeon Hwa since she claims that she has clues of Eun’s whereabouts. Yeon Hwa divulges that Eun is hiding in Soo’s quarters at Damiwon. When So asks for proof, she says she recognised the cloth toys that Eun has been making since young. So rushes off.

Soldiers storm Damiwon just as Eun and Seon Deok is about to flee. Seon Deok asks Soo to lead Eun away first – the soldiers won’t dare to kill her. The two women know it ain’t true. SIGH. I love this girl. Seon Deok takes off and Eun pursues her. When Soo tries to stop him, he smiles and says he is responsible for his wife now, and she has no one besides him. He takes off and Soo is overcome with her vision of Eun and Seon Deok dying at the hands of So.

While Soo’s visions are fairly accurate, what isn’t as clear is the context of So’s involvement. I have no idea whether he really kills Eun and Seon Deok in the end – but if he did, we know that he probably had no choice. Based on the teaser, I think he did…but maybe to prevent them from suffering a humiliating death. My heart aches again at the thought that So has to hurt one of his brothers again where he clearly hates to do.

I would think this is a more Wook-centric episode and while he still claims that he is gunning for the throne because of Soo, I doubt that is the one and only reason. The loss of Soo gave him justification and an excuse to pursue his ambition. To him, he has always led an upright life so maybe he is using his so-called attachment to Soo as a morally sufficient reason to embark on a different path.

Soo still irritates me slightly since she has become a plot device rather a main character helping to command the flow and process of the story. I’m glad she can sorta handle Yo on her own and doesn’t need So to come to her rescue all the time. I do understand why she finds it hard to trust So, but Seon Deok was right in pointing out that So hasn’t done anything to cause her to mistrust him, while I have plenty of choice words for Wook and his empty promises. It is a physical and emotional risk she has to take.

So….my poor So. The next episode sees him officially declaring he wants to be king. He is sick of being manipulated by everyone and of everyone using those he love to threaten him. While I love the way So loves Soo so deeply, Soo still has yet to convince me that she loves him as deeply. I was beyond convinced in the Chinese version so I’m disappointed I’m not here. But then again, all the characters are written differently here so I’ll just accept it and march forward with my awesome Fourth Prince.

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