Nah, this post(s) isn’t a self-help article — or maybe it is, if you regard watching kdrama as part of keeping youself sane in a busy work week. Recently, I’ve been looking forward to Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, all thanks to Three Musketeers and Discovery of Romance. Since I watch subs, the former is my Monday blue fix, and the latter keeps me going to survive past the mid-week. I should start praying to the kdrama gods that the successors to the weekend + Mon/Tue slots are juz as good. If not, it’s back to caffeine and chocolates.
*psst…i tried to cram both shows into 1 article…but i kinda overshot the word limit (imposed by myself), so this post is only the first half of the good stuff*
Three Musketeers – slicing the Monday blues into pieces
Lee Jin-wook and Jung Yong-hwa make this show 50% worth watching. Not cos they are seriously good looking (even Yong-hwa with his ever crooked teeth), but also cos they are playing seriously interesting characters. As I’ve mentioned in my First Impression post, Yong-hwa has gradually improved his acting skills. In Mirae’s Choice, he shows that he can play his usual mopey second lead BUT with a little vengeful twist. In Musketeers, he excels in playing the wide-eyed country bumpkin who ends up with more than he can handle after valiantly running down some gangsters in the night. Dal-hyang’s earnestness and gawkiness is a foil for the Crown Prince Sohyeon’s dry wit and sardonic humour.
In ep3, we learn that Crown Prince Sohyeon is actually a Prince by accident. Had his father not been chosen as King after a coup to dethrone the previous one, he’d have lived happily outside the Palace like any other nobility. His sudden transition into the restrictive palace life probably hardened him into the cynical adult he is today. Thus, all his jokes and poking fun at Dal-hyang, the Crown Princess, or even at his own situation seem to me a defense mechanism he has developed and refined along the way, to cope with the stress of being next-in-line for the Crown and having to deal with a weak father/ King in a time of turmoil.
In contrast, Dal-hyang for all his country-bumpkiness is almost too serious. Which makes his responses to Crown Prince Sohyeon and friends doubly funny — cos they are always off mark. And that is such an irony — cos his arrows always find their targets. Maybe his mental arrows are duller. 😛 From his epic failure at the Junsi (after realising who the leader of the Musketeer band is) to his inability to differentiate whether the Crown Prince is serious or juz toying with him, we always see Dal-hyang taking things at face value but yet putting in 200% effort to carry out the instructions from his newfound friends. His inability to second-guess people is what makes him such a fun character to watch and a foil to the smiley-face but troubled Crown Prince. It’s no wonder they are so good friends. The Crown Prince needs someone who can look beyond his title and befriend him juz for who he is.
The other character which I am looking out for is Seung-po. Despite his rougish appearance, he is actually of true blue blood line. Again, Musketeers love to play up contrast — the more genteel and refined Min-seo is nothing more than an orphan boy who grew up in a monastery. For all his gentrified upbringing, Seung-po learns the most galling behaviours — like picking his nose, in public. If Sohyeon’s defense mechanism to dealing with rigid palace conventions is to turn inwards and become jaded, Seung-po’s way of coping is to thumb (or pick!) his nose at decorum and go the extreme in uncouth behaviours. He openly visits gibangs to paw and grope at gisaengs with abundance (he explains that’s becos he has a really ugly wife…duh?), he’s a bottomless pit when it comes to drinking, loves a fight (or picks one when there is none) and gambles away a mini fortune every other night. But he is fun to watch when he is onscreen. We look upon him much like the way Min-seo views him, with affectionate tolerance. Cos beneath those sloppy behaviours, there is a really capable swordsman who is both loyal and very quick thinking.
The other 50% of what makes Musketeer my Monday fix is the fast moving and fixating plot. Okaaayyy…there are SOME politicking involved; it’s a sageuk, you can’t run away from court politics. But they are kept mainly in the background, so that the plot doesn’t feel so bogged down by the historical turmoil. We already know the Manchus are the baddies and those traitors who align with them are also baddies…including Mi-ryung, the ex-Crown Princess, who is not as dead as everyone supposes. And because of the way Crown Princess refers to her in semi-jealousy, we also assume that the Crown Prince still loves her. But a twist in ep3 leaves us reeling — a teenage Sohyeon was the one who imprisoned and coldly ordered Mi-ryung to death (or suicide). (whut?)
And we come to the interesting question — does or CAN Sohyeon then love the Crown Princess (and vice versa)? We are not sure why he ordered Mi-ryung’s death, but since he directly has a hand in it, that love can’t be “unrequited”, right? It puts what he has said to the Crown Princess in a new light — he really means it when he says he doesn’t hate or despise her. And his “cold treatments” towards her may really stem from a desire to shield her from the nastiness around. Imo, I think he probably is sympathetic to her plight — at being wedded to him without a choice, but chooses not to force himself on her until she is ready to like him on her own rights. (from the previews, it seems our royal couple next week will have some sizzling hot moments! woots!)
However, not to forget that our dear Crown Princess still harbours some lingering feelings for her first love — Dal-hyang. Despite her efforts to steel herself to act the role of Crown Princess, she can’t help it but sneak into the ceremony to peep at Dal-hyang receiving his official token. I take my words back when I said Musketeers may be all bromance and zero romance, cos the progression seems to hint that we may get some form of romantic pairing and even a love triangle between Sohyeon-Dal-hyang-Crown Princess.
(and gosh, i’ve really filled one page with Musketeers. kooriyuki says i am a reformed sageuk lover…to clarify, i am NOT. i only happen to like THIS sageuk)