loving someone you can’t have…

The plot thickens. My hearts sinks. My love for The King Loves rockets. Oh…RIN!!! I cried for him today. I think I will be crying for Won tomorrow. And yes, as a woman, I feel for San and the ridiculously bizarre entanglement between two men as different as night and day, and yet both have the same power to tear your heart apart… No matter how whimsical or naive our main trio may seem sometimes, you certainly can’t fault them for not possessing intelligence and courage. Im Si Wan, Hong Jong Hyun and Yoona are acting with so much heart, soul and sincerity, it is so difficult to whole-heartedly root for San with either man. Right now, Rin and San are crushing me, but tomorrow, Won and San may do the same. Even worse, all three are collectively going to make me bawl. And the score… I LOVE how this drama is musically scored.

I replayed the conversation between Rin and San so many times because of the conversation caused my heart to ache soooo much. It hasn’t happened since Faith. Song Ji Na has a way of wringing me dry over and over with her writing style and earnest depth of character. Plus, she writes the strong, silent male so bloody well. I’ve decided to call the characters by their given names without their surnames because it makes it helluva quicker to type.

Rin calls on San’s bluff, addressing her as “Lady San”. OKAY. There is something about the super formal speech – a.k.a long-winded – Rin uses that channels his earnestness so much more. And makes the whole exchange that much more romantic. She is stunned and when he spills that he knows why she plans to marry Jeon. That is, in order to keep the secret of how she swapped identities with her maid seven years ago. He implores her not to marry Jeon, though she doesn’t know they are related yet.

San tries to skirt around the issue, claiming it is an honour to marry into the royal family and it isn’t such a big deal since there are so many arranged marriages like hers. Rin reminds her how Jeon mistreated her and she brushes it off shakily, protesting weakly that she has forgotten the incident.

Rin is incensed, growling that the incident didn’t happen too long ago. She wouldn’t be able to survive a day with Jeon. San admits she knows as much but explains forlornly to Rin that though she didn’t learn that much from her time with her master in the mountains – she did learn one thing. If everyone suffers and you are the only one comfortable, you are not human. Thus, she beseeches Rin to teach her the maypole dance, so that she can dance at the festival the next day and create precious memories that will sustain her through the hard times. Like how he had advised her earlier. GAHHH. Rinn stares at her in helpless rage and OMO… the desperate, despondent gazes they give each other. DAMN IT. Yoona and Hong Jong Hyun have mastered the art of simmering chemistry.

Rin marches into the inn where Jeon is and demands he call off the marriage. Jeon wonders idly whether Rin is doing this for himself or for Won. Rin is too incensed to care and tosses his brother around like a rag doll, gritting through his teeth he knows exactly what his brother did seven years ago. Song In walks in calmly and reasons with Rin that Jeon is just trying to save San. If the king knew that Minister Eun had been lying to him all along about his daughter, San would be the first to get punished. Rin threatens that if he exposes their deeds, things wouldn’t be too pretty for them, too.

We cut to Rin visiting Won at his quarters, refusing to wait inside for him as the prince takes his bath. He thinks back about his conversation with Song In, who confesses blithely that he initially wanted to serve Rin, who is smarter and has more class than his older brother. HA. I guess everyone from king to subject knows that well enough. But Rin got himself associated so tightly with Won, making it impossible for “them” to choose Rin. Song In highlights that it is not just him, but “them”. How long is Rin going to turn his back on the people of Goryeo to serve the mongrel prince?

The eunuch informs Won that Rin is waiting outside for him but Rin is nowhere in sight when Won rushes out. The next morning, Won and the queen are prepping for the festival. Poor Won has yet another angst-filled encounter with his parents. The queen wants to find Won a spouse but the king begs to differ, saying Won has his heart set on a girl who isn’t noble. Or maybe she is, and she is hiding her status, like him. HA. The king is actually right for once. The queen does some glaring and blood-pricking and surmises the white maiden by the king’s side ain’t some naive gal and warns him to be careful. She also blusters on that she doesn’t care who Won dallies with as long he marries the right person. She leaves and Won half-heartedly offers to stay by the king’s side as per his mother’s orders. When the king waves him away, he is hilariously relieved and scurries off. The king concludes rather cynically that the queen still cares for him though he has mistreated her. Song In’s secret agent mulls over the shrewd sharpness of the queen.

Jeon arrives to escort San to the palace. Minister San is as reluctant as his daughter to take up his offer despite the palanquin he offers. San is about to give in when Rin arrives, announcing he is here to escort San on the orders of the Crown Prince. He doesn’t have a fancy palanquin though – just a horse. San smiles and takes up on his offer, shrugging off Jeon by saying she has chronic epilepsy and can’t be in confined spaces. Her father’s henchman whispers to his master that Rin is the third son of the Minister of Investigation who saved San and got thrown into jail in the process. Minister Eun watches Rin like a hawk and when his daughter and Rin bow to him and ride off in unison, he smiles in approval. AWWWWWWW. He so approves of Rin. And darn it… the wordless exhanges between San and Rin are so riddled with awareness that I have to squeal.

Th two ride slowly to the palace. Rin asks worriedly whether San is cold and she retorts that she is freezing to death. HAHAHA. He mumbles that he should have prepped a palanquin but notes that she is smiling. She answers sassily that he can’t tell because of her mask. But Rin says he so can even though she is masked. Awwwwwwwwwww. Rin resumes that he is relieved that she can still smile and she muses that he was worried about her. He answers in his forthright manner that he was and San is both happy and a little unsettled. She challenges him to a race to the palace and he says that it is dangerous since her horse is a war horse… and she takes off like the wind. He grins and follows suit. OMO. WHY SO IS THIS SCENE SO PRETTY???? And so sweet?

Biyeon, San’s maid, tearfully informs her master that San has bought herself many knives to strap all over herself in preparation for her marriage to Jeon. Urgh. San’s father ask whether San has her heart set on another man and Biyeon believes so even though she doesn’t know who he is – but San smiles at the thought of him. You know, at this point, I have no idea who San likes. I suspect she liked Rin from the start but Won somehow caught up along the way because Rin is a little passive. BUT he did save her life.

The queen watches as guests start to arrive at the party. The eunuch introduces and identifies the guests by the motiff on their masks – each family is represented by a specific motiff. Dan arrives and Jin Gwan is there to receive her, all stuttering again. She is identified by the buterfly motiff on her mask and the eunuch informs the queen that Won’s own bodyguard is accompanying her, judging by his grey mask. He rationalises that Dan is getting special treatment because of Rin’s relationship with Won, and not because Won has romantic interest in her.

Rin appears with San, and is identified by the butterfly motiff on his mask. San’s mask is plain and this incites the curiosity of the queen. San compliments that Rin looks cool with the mask and he clears his throat. Heh. She notices the butterfly motiff on his mask and he divulges his sister decorated it for him. San realises he has a sister. Won appears and drags San away, warning her they have to hide before the scariest person here sees them. Too late. The queen has caught a glimpse of the trio.

Won gives Rin a new mask and a hairpin, marked with a bird motiff. She doesn’t understand why he has chosen such a motiff but we all know it represents his desire to keep her by his side. It’s dance time. Won prances grandly next to San, who glides gracefully. Rin dances obligingly next to his sister but passes his ribbon to Jin Gwan soon after. He does so to prevent Jeon from attempting anything stupid or funny. Jeon leaves in a huff and from then on, Rin watches San. She catches him looking but doesn’t turn away. Instead, they continue to gaze at each other knowingly, aware what is ahead for San as Won continues to be oblivious. I love this scene and what it represents. San’s fate is intertwined with Won, yet she can see Rin standing there, through all the fluttering ribbons of fate, as he weaves in and out of their existence. Won may be the one dancing with her then, but Rin was the first man who danced with – and taught her how to dance.

Won narrates in a voiceover from a retrospective view – he muses regretfully everything probably started on that day where his best friend whom he trusted more than himself began to deceive him. His best friend and only friend in the world and the woman he loved, who started on something he was unaware of. He was unaware of it then, so he was all happy and smiling. GAH. Won’s soliloquy is simply heart-breaking. But then again, he doesn’t elaborate how Rin and San deceived him… which I think forms the crux of this drama. I don’t think it is your simple romantic betrayal. But something for a greater good.

We cut to Won searching around for San, only to find her deep in conversation with Rin. That causes Won to pause – it always does, doesn’t it? This isn’t the first time he is disturbed by the sight of Rin and San having a converation without him. You know, I refuse to believe Won was ignorant all this time – rather he was feigning igorance because he is just too smart to be otherwise. Im Si Wan does a sublime job of having Won’s inner emotions flit across his face in all the various charged moments he has with anyone. He’s such a joy to watch.

Anyway, San and Rin look up guiltily when Won calls them. San says she is returning home and remains unswayed despite Won’s pleas to drink until dawn. She smiles and reminds them not to stick tooooo closely to each other because it is just weird but also instructs them not to quarrel, and get along well. Rin looks troubled while Won is confused. He claims the mountain is only a day’s ride away and they can visit her anytime. San ignores him and chides him for keeping the bracelet she had given. She also tells him straight on not to slip and fall again – OUCH. She is referring to his excuse for he hugging her that one time. Rin doesn’t get it but Won obviously does. He knows something is up. San leaves and Won asks Rin whether San is acting all strange because she argued with Rin. Rin excuses himself, saying he has to attend to some family matters. Which isn’t far from the truth.

Dan is with Jin Gwan when the queen’s entourage comes to take her away. Meanwhile, Rin gathers all the people who have witnessed or know of Jeon’s and Song In’s misdeeds. He doesn’t know that Won has ordered Jang Eui to find men to follow Rin. Won knows Rin is up to something and doesn’t want Won to know – so he is going to play dumb. Meanwhile, the queen takes it upon herself to give Dan a scary education on the fate of women and their families who refuse to be sent to the Yuan kingdom as tributes.

Rin gets all involved to confess in front of his father about Jeon’s misdeeds. The father is understandably shocked but it is not reason enough for him to call off Jeon’s marriage to San. Dan returns , all passed out, and carried by Jin Gwan. Well, she is well enough to relate what happened, which sends her father into a frenzy. He tells Jeon he is going to get Dan out of this, even if he has to beg the queen.

Dad calls out his third son and tells him San’s father visited him earlier in the day – and asked a very odd question. He asked whether Rin knew San well and whether Rin had feelings for his daughter. I bet he is so going to find a way to marry San off to Rin if Rin does like her. Back to the present, Rin’s father demands the truth from his youngest son – does he want to stop the wedding because he covets San? The previous time he went to jail – was it because of her? Rin’s expression here totally kills me.

He recalls the conversation at the festival before Won interrupted them. San thanks him for not telling Won about what is going too happen and Rin admits he couldn’t bring himself to tell Won either. San figures Won would probably flip and cause a fuss. She goes on and on how Won would react and says she would like it if he never knew what she was going to do while Rin wonders in a voiceover whether San has ever considered how he would react or feel. Awwwww. So San does like Won? And was this how all the deception started? San not wanting Won to find out the truth and Rin sacrificing his friendship with Won to help her keep her secret because he is secretly in love with her. GAHHHHHHHHH.

San fingers the mask and says she’ll be wearing a mask her whole life and Won wouldn’t know where she is anyway. Rin interjects and states that he would know. She stares at him and I think she suddenly realises – or confirms her suspicion – that Rin does have feelings for her. Rin repeats that he would know and they stare at each other… before Won butts in.

Back to the present again. Rin’s father yells at his son to answer him honestly. Rin confesses he knows San but when pressed whether he likes San, he thinks back about his conversation with Won where the latter emphatically ordered him to escort San to the festival – and he was asking Rin as a man, asking a favour of another man. Rin’s eyes tear up and goodness, I almost thought he was going to declare there and then he liked San but instead, he chooses Won again and replies that San isn’t someone he should or can have. Well, it doesn’t really answer his father’s question but it is good enough for the older man. Rin collapses in heartache. My poor boy. Jung Joon Young’s song, Stay, plays in the background… It goes “ Even though I don’t know where. I’ll stay with you. I’ll always be beside you, no matter when, no matter where you are. Ill stay with you. In a place that will never change. For you… for you.” GAAAAAAAH. This is Rin’s song. Totally. He is going to look after San even if San loves Won, is he? Hong Jong Hyun is totally the bomb here.

Jang Eui reports to Won about what Rin is up to – and Won concludes that Rin is trying to stop the wedding so that his brother can’t attain the wealth needed to contest for the crown prince position. But he is aware that Rin can’t do so himself. HA.I love the running joke of Won forever complaining about how uncomfortable his princely robes are. I’m sure there is a metaphor somewhere.

Rin has disappeared for five days… Won corrects that it has been six days. Argh…. my heart. He is counting the days. Jang Eui offers to hunt him down but Won prefers to wait for Rin to seek him. On cue, Rin walks in while Won looks expectant. Darn, Rin is going to tell him San’s true identity so that Won will do something, isn’t he? Unless he comes up with yet another story to deceive Won.

The Eun household is all prepped for the wedding and San straps on her knives. Biyeon comes in with hair accessories sent by her master. Eun picks up a sharp hairpin and smiles. She informs Biyeon the hairpin isn’t for putting on but for hiding – and she slips the hairpin up her sleeve, another weapon to be used. Well, Minister Eun is about the best dad ever on some fronts.

Jeon arrives to be wed… and royal soldiers barge in. Won sweeps in, dressed and acting like the crown prince he is. Love he spares Jeon an irritated glance like he is some annoying housefly. Jeon is nervous while the fathers are just flabbergasted, even more so when Won claims he is here on the queen’s command to investigate the wedding… since something apparently isn’t right. San freezes in shock to see him and freezes more when she hears her father address him as the crown prince. Won walks over to San, obviously recognising her, and just looks at her with understanding. Like he finally figured out the puzzle. He spares her another casual glance before turning around with an authorative air.

GOODNESS. This drama sets me on a rollercoaster ride. If it wasn’t Im Si Wan as Won, I think my heart would be all for Rin and San. But Im Si Wan IS Won, so I can’t make up my mind. And I don’t want to because Hong Jong Hyun is doing a subtly beautiful job as Rin. I mean I lurrve Rin so much because his stoic impassiveness and loyalty, and bad-ass-when-I-need-to-be bad assiness remind me of Choi Young. But Won is plain intriguing and dynamic that you can’t help rooting for him, too. Yoona has settled into her role as San nicely and she is hitting all the right emotional notes, especially when she is with Hong Jong Hyun. I don’t exactly get why she would like Won more at his juncture other than he is a screwball but she is not unmoved by Rin either. I mean who the heck can remain unmoved by Rin??? But Won is such a complex, perplexing character that I can’t help being charmed.

I know there are some viewers who are surprised by Won’s sporadic dark and violent side, but I’m not. I think his dark side has been reigned in by the kindness, friendship and loyalty of Rin thus far – there have been hints of how cunning he can be so he going dark isn’t all that surprising to me. What gets me is whether Rin’s betrayal would be the tipping point…

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