letting go…

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“I didn’t let her go. She was the one who let go of me first.” So loses Baek Ah, and ultimately Soo. No thanks to kingly duties and decisions he has to make on a daily basis. Though to be honest, I’m so glad to see Soo go…even for a bit. I need a reprieve from her mind-boggling behaviour. We are coming to the final leg of the drama and brace yourself for tears during the finale. To all of you who have been following the drama along with me here, thank you so much. Get ready the tissues as we say goodbye to the beautiful, charismatic Lee Jun Ki…

Soo is sulking at Damiwon when So comes to find her. He suggests they return to her room but Soo answers she’s never going back there. So says she shouldn’t be treating him this way because of Chae Ryung – the servant girl was never honest with her. Soo thinks back of her last meeting with Chae Ryung where the girl had held her hands warmly. Soo insists that Chae Ryung had always been honest with her. WTH???? The girl played a part in murdering Moo and Eun, plus pilfering Soo’s belongings to pass on to Won and Wook. Seriously, I don’t get IU’s expression in this scene either – she just looks bored. URGHHHHHHHH.

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She further irritates me when she whines with those goggle eyes that that she wants to leave the palace as she can’t endure any of the bloodshed. So warns her, “Do you think I’ll let you go?” He then stalks away. He goes to her empty room, anger and helplessness written all over his face. He knows he is in danger of losing Soo – he feels her slipping away.

Soo meets Ji Mong and hands him all her savings – she requests that he passes it to Chae Ryung’s family. Ji Mong refuses at first, citing that the king would be angry but Soo assures him that the king would not kick up a fuss. Won turns up and Soo tells him off for mistreating Chae Ryung – he is going to regret it one day. Won doesn’t give a damn and scoffs that Soo has no authority to tell him off – she is simply the king’s mistress with no official status.

So is livid when he hears what transpired between Soo and Won. He calls for Soo and tells her fiercely that he will make her the highest level for a concubine and will later make her his second queen. Soo replies that her reason for wanting to leave is not because she wanted status. So insists they do things his way and pleads with Soo not to quarrel over him over such trivial matters. Has she forgotten how much time they had to spend apart before? When he takes her hand, she pulls it away with a resigned air.

Wook wonders what So plans to do after reading the book on political conversations and decides he should make the first move. Won proposes they clip So’s “wings” – Baek Ah.

Meanwhile, Baek Ah pesters Woo Hee to marry him since she has already been formally adopted by a noble family. He also promises that he’ll fight for more rights for the Baekje immigrants. But they come across executed Baekje immigrants who apparently were punished for not paying taxes.

It is all Wook’s doing as he uses this incident to pressure So into confronting the Baekje people. Furthermore, there are rumours about Baek Ah’s relationship with a gisaeng to which So confirmed angrily that Baek Ah had his blessing. Well, this leads to another rumour that So is favouring the Baekje and Shilla people (Baek Ah’s mother is from Shilla) over the Goryeo citizens.

So refutes that is utter rubbish so Wook challenges him to order soldiers to handle the Baekje people. So agrees but all the soldier’s weapons must be made blunt as he doesn’t want any more bloodshed. Wook suggests Baek Ah lead the soldiers. So snaps that the idea is ridiculous since Baek Ah can’t fight at all. Baek Ah offers to lead the troops – he doesn’t want to upset Woo Hee further but he hates the idea that So is having a tough time because of them a lot more. So gruffs that he would rather lead the troops himself. AWWWWW. Baek Ah assures So he is not going to die and he’ll be fine. Even Ji Mong does not try to dissuade Baek Ah.

That night, Baek Ah combs Woo Hee’s hair into a bun – a sign that she is married. He tells her they will get married proper after he returns from the mission and swears she is his only spouse. Woo Hee urges him to return alive since now he has a wife and she doesn’t want to be a widow.

The king puts up a notice in town granting the Baekje people equal rights, abolishing their slavery and absorbing taxes for a period of time. The Baekje people read the notice in disbelief and snort that they are being tricked. They head towards the palace. Baek Ah is nervously getting ready when Jung appears to help him put on his armour. I guess house arrest and death ain’t gonna stop him. Jung blames So for putting yet another brother in danger. Baek Ah asks Jung whether he has received Soo’s hairpin. When Jung says he has, Baek Ah passes him the message. Jung is shocked as Baek Ah goes on to tell Jung to take care of Soo because she and So have drifted apart. When Jung comments no one is sending Baek Ah off, Baek Ah says he didn’t want Woo Hee to send him off.

A commotion distracts everyone and it is Woo Hee on top of the palace wall. She unravels a scroll claiming that Shilla, Baekje and Goryeo are one nation. The Baekje people recognise her and address her as “Princess Woo Hee”. Baek Ah is stunned as he realises that their family feud runs deep now that he knows who she is. He dashes up towards her.

Woo Hee tells him not to watch her taking her life- if he does, he’ll never forget. WELL. Whatever. He turns away but whips around the next second in time to see her leap off the parapet. Woo Hee claims her death would atone for the sins committed between the two nations previously.

Baek Ah mourns for Woo Hee. Soo comforts him. Baek Ah asks whether the king knew Woo Hee was a Baekje princess all along. He goes to see So and guesses that Woo Hee struck a deal with the king in order for him to put up the notice in town. So admits he did strike a deal with Woo Hee, but didn’t know she was a princess before that. And he didn’t know her death was part of the deal.

But So goes on to state that even if he knew Woo Hee would die, he would still make the same decision because Baek Ah is far more important to him that Woo Hee. So wanted desperately to save his beloved brother. Baek Ah answers tearfully he understands So and his decision, but he can’t accept it. He confesses it is difficult being around So these days. Baek Ah drops to his knees and So knows he is bidding him farewell. He begs Baek Ah not to leave him but Baek Ah doesn’t listen, lamenting he is too weak to serve So. He calls So “Hyung-nim” one more time and leaves. So yells his name but to no avail.

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So visits Yeon Hwa and inquires whether she has come to a decision. She smiles and she says she has and they exchange a loaded stare. I think Lee Jun Ki has way more chemistry with Kang Han Na than IU, which is kinda sad. I actually like that frame of them through the red veil.

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Wook is all pompous during the morning assembly – he is giving So a falcon since the king is known to like falconry. Won recites some phrase of brotherly love being the foundation of benevolence, and says with all three brothers getting along so well, Goryeo will be successful. And the trio laugh forcefully. HA. But the falcon Wook has prepared for So is revealed to be dead, which is equivalent of cursing the king. Wook knows he has been played and his pleas for mercy fall on deaf ears as So drawls that cursing the king is akin to treason, and the punishment for treason is death. Wook turns pale.

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Yeon Hwa is unmoved by her mother’s pleas to help Wook. Soo begs So on her knees to pardon Wook. So doesn’t like the fact that Soo is begging for Wook’s life. She figures the falcon was his doing and he riles that Wook was the one behind Moo’s and Eun’s death, and the departure of Baek Ah. Plus, Wook tried to kill him too. Put that way, So does have a strong case for getting rid of Wook.

Soo warns him that more and more people will leave him if he continues dishing out such harsh punishment. So agrees to spare Wook’s life – but he will be exiled and put under house arrest. That would prove more torturous than a quick, easy death. He laughs cynically, to Soo’s horror.

True to So’s word, Wook is unable to leave his house. Yeon Hwa finds Soo at Damiwon plucking absently at flowers. Yeon Hwa blames Soo for Wook’s downfall. He was only tempted to challenge the throne when Soo warned him to be wary of So. All the flashbacks to the princes dying… and it dawns on Soo that maybe she really kick-started the whole bloodbath.

So is getting his portrait drawn and Ji Mong hilariously instructs the artist to draw the king’s eyes bigger and shoulders firmer. So says the picture has to look like him while Ji Mong grumbles that since So isn’t sitting on the throne, he can’t tell whether he is prince or king. So claims he is too young to be drawn sitting on the throne unless he is going to die young. Ha. Anyway, this portrait is a gift to someone.

At this moment, Jung barges in and So is annoyed that he has broken exile again – does the prince have a death wish? Jung replies So wouldn’t have allowed a meeting so this is the only way. He tells the king that he has a will to show him from the late king.

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It is a written deed allowing Jung to marry Soo and So is furious. He announces that the will is fake and threatens to disregard the will. Even if the will was real, he won’t let Jung marry her. Jung interrupts So, saying that this is Soo’s wish, too.

Thus So rushes to find Soo who readily confesses that marrying Jung is her wish though she is surprised that this was Jung’ secret weapon. Soo advises So to abide by the late king’s deed of marriage or people will question the legitimacy of the late king’s will that let So inherit the throne.

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Soo muses she missed So a lot when they were apart. But now that they see each other every day with smiles, she hates him sometimes. She wants to leave before everything between them turns to hatred.

Yeon Hwa demands that So acknowledge the late king’s deed of marriage or everyone with question his legitimacy. She had to give up her brother and family for him yet he can’t give up Soo? When So reiterates that giving up Soo is a no-no, Yeon Hwa vows to make him eat his words.

Back to Wook brooding and flashback to Soo visiting Wook in the throne room, where he was kneeling earlier. Soo informs him that the king has agreed to spare his life. When Wook asks whether this would make her suspicious, Soo responds that So is aware that she’ll do this for any of the princes. Soo advises him to give up his quest for the throne.

Yeon Hwa seeks Wook out and wants a favour from him. Cut to Wook seeking an audience with So. Wook admits he and Soo were once engaged way before So proposed to her. Before she was So’s lover, she belonged to Wook first.

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Incensed, So finds Soo to trash things out. He FINALLY knows why Soo seemed to care so much for Wook and starts recalling all the “evidence” that the two were an item. Soo admits her previous relationship with Wook and So rails he would rather she lied to him so that they can go on as they are. But she reminds him that they promised not to lie to each other. He can’t accept the fact that the man she admitted to have loved is Wook. All along, she only had Wook in her heart. Soo reaches for his hand but he barks at her not to touch him. He is never going to see her again.
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Soo packs up and leaves Damiwon. Meanwhile, Ji Mong urges So not to let Soo go. If he does, he will lose himself. But So refutes emotionally that he isn’t the one letting go – it is she who has let go of him. So true.

Baek Ah is waiting for Soo at the palace gate with wine – since they met over wine, they shall bid farewell with wine. Baek Ah rues he wouldn’t have agreed to help Soo so readily if he had known what contacting Jung meant. Soo adds she didn’t know about the marriage deed either until So told her. Baek Ah says he wishes So and Soo would be together forever but Soo replies that there is too much bloodshed between them. And she can’t bear seeing things happen this way any longer.

Wook appears and kinda love how Baek Ah ain’t happy to see him. At least someone is still loyal to So. When Soo and Wook are alone, she thanks him. She knows he let the cat out of the bag for her good – he understood how badly she wanted to leave the palace. She knows him well enough that he wouldn’t have told anyone if he didn’t think she wanted to leave. Wook tells her to forget everything that has happened and start life anew. He knows Jung will treat her well. He gives her one last farewell hug and leaves. I love that last smile he gives her – a semblance of the old, sweet Wook.

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Soo takes one last look at the palace and recites a litany of how she and Soo shouldn’t have met…and blah bah. I know it’s supposed to be heartbreaking but I have had enough of Soo. Totally. She irritates me.
So is in Soo’s room. He clutches her wedding gown and cries.

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I hope Baek Ah returns to So’s side later. I think he will. Because he is the only one deserving of So’s love at the moment. So and Baek Ah are my OTP of this drama. Baek Ah’s deep loyalty and affection for his brother truly showed when he said he completely understood why So had cut a deal with Woo Hee to save him but he just could not accept that the deal had led to Woo Hee’s death.

Which brings me to Woo Hee’s dramatic death which I found all sorts of comical and a waste of time. Seo Hyun really can’t act very well and the whole sacrifice seemed so needless and too played up when the writer could have focused on developing another part of the story better. I felt the writer was forcing their romance down our throats.

IU. Sigh. I feel sorry that she has to act with Lee Jun Ki and Kang Ha Neul because it just emphasises how lacking she is in depth when paired with them. Every time the camera cuts from their emotive expressions and eyes, to her one-trick-pony big-eyed stare, I feel disconcerted at how jarring the difference is. Just so lacklustre. That last voiceover should have been a powerful, moving act but it just fell flat with me because I imagined IU reciting those lines with that expression of hers. I couldn’t even tell what she was trying to express inn that last farewell scene with Kang Ha Neul. She had a tiny smile and half-friendly gaze throughout the conversation. Don’t get it all.

I think Wook redeemed himself a little in this episode because I sincerely believe he told So about his past relationship with Soo in order to get her out of the palace. I appreciate they parted on a cordial note, with Wook wisely advising Soo to forget all the damned princes and him, and just lead a new life with Jung. I would say it was an act of love. I don’t think he was trying to get back at So – he wanted to make it up to Soo one last time. He didn’t keep his promise to leave the palace with her the last time – he is doing his best now. I think he did risk his life telling So about the matter since he practically admitted the king’s woman belonged to him first.

So, oh, So. How my heart bleeds for you. I wonder whether he would have forgiven Soo if she had told him about Wook much earlier? Right now, he feels cuckolded and I can understand why. He thinks Soo had been loving Wook all along so where does that leave him? It’s like a slap to his face when he recalls how Soo was worried about Wook though she was physically with So. He feels like a fool for expressing his love all this while when she was pining for Wook. We know she isn’t in love with Wook anymore but from his standpoint, it would be hard to believe otherwise.

Then again, how could So not know they were in love? He should have guessed by process of elimination. I can’t remember the Chinese version as to why 4th Prince didn’t know about Ruo Xi and 8th prince, but I recall thinking it was logical and acceptable.

I’m so bothered by Soo. She seems to empathise and sympathise with everyone except So. It’s a little annoying since we are supposed to believe she had some deep, boundless love for him. SIGH. So was right when he said she let him go first. Though Soo did say long ago that as long he did not change, she wouldn’t leave him. I do think So has been pretty consistent even when he became king. The only difference is that he had to make many hard calls as a king and Soo, for the life of her, does not get that a king has great responsibilities and burdens.

Ha. I think that portrait of So would be featured when Soo returns to the future – she’ll probably see it hanging in some museum, maybe with his famous poem for he wrote for her written somewhere inside it. And she’ll tear upon seeing it, realising he meant to give it to her as a gift long ago. Just guessing!

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