I love what I’ve seen in the first two episodes. Things just keep happening and 2 hours passed by without me knowing. It left me wanting more, and I think it’s a good sign. I also love that the cast included a good number of veteran actors as the various ministers in court; it is reassuring that Show is in good hands (crossing fingers).
Although I’ve read that Chajumma Cha Seung Won‘s Prince Gwanghae is gonna be a real bad guy here, he’s kind and earnest so far, though it feels his Prince Gwanghae is having alot of restraint on self, so I guess it’ll make sense for Gwanghae to go over to the dark side eventually. He’s surrounded by more evil people than the good, which also likely contributed to his change in character. In the first two episodes, he seems to care sincerely for the welfare of Queen Inmok and his younger half siblings, which is going to make it extra heartbreaking when the time comes for Gwanghae to order for the execution and exile of them.
Show started with King Seonjo’s (Park Young Kyu) final days, when it was the third time Ming China rejected Joseon’s appeal to officialise Prince Gwanghae’s status as Crown Prince. It’s enough to make King Seonjo decide it’s high time to change a Crown Prince, and he’s rather willing to go ahead with his one and only legitimate son, Prince Yeongchang, who was only one or two years old. The court was clearly divided on this issue, as despite Prince Yeongchang being born to a Queen (Queen Inmok (Shin Eun Jung) was King Seonjo’s second Queen, while his first Queen died childless), he is way too young, and Prince Gwanghae had displayed exceptional traits fit to be a King, although he was only born to a concubine.
Apparently King Seonjo often displayed the changing of minds of retracting Gwanghae to be his heir, what was shown in Episode 1 was the most tensed and absolute display of his decision, which had all the ministers in fear, even though the King invited them to play a game of drinking and making poems on the spot. Gwanghae obviously suffered (and it was shown as flashbacks) throughout the 16 years he was named heir, working hard to earn his father’s favor, while keeping up with what is being expected as a Crown Prince. It is the latter that earned him the hatred and fear from his own father, especially during the Seven Year War (1592-1599), also known as the Invasion of the Japanese (Battle of Myeongryang being one of the many battles fought then). King Seonjo ran for his life and retreated all the way to Pyeongyang during the War, while Gwanghae remained in Hanyang, taking care of daily court matters and also fighting in the frontline. King Seonjo felt that Gwanghae is “snatching” away the respect and reputation from him, and gradually resented Gwanghae.
I don’t think Gwanghae usurped the throne here, as mentioned in the pre-broadcast description, because Gwanghae had repeatedly mentioned that he has no need to steal what is his, and did not show that he has any fear of being removed from being the Crown Prince. It is however, his aides, who acted on their own (or so it is in Show), by poisoning King Seonjo. Historical records mentioned that Kim Kae Shi (Kim Yeo Jin) poisoned the King, and Show goes along with this record. Kim Kae Shi is palace lady, and while again in history, she was mentioned to have earned the favors of King Seonjo, in Show she was nothing more than a palace lady who served and tested food to the King before his consumption. The other aide of Gwanghae is Lee Yi Chum (Jung Woong In), and he seems more a crazed for power person than anything. It is also hinted by Show that Lee Yi Chum killed Prince Imhae (Gwanghae’s older brother). The only person who seems to genuinely have Gwanghae’s interest in his heart is Minister Lee Deok Hyung (Lee Sung Min).
Princess Jeongmyeong (Lee Yeon Hee) is still a little girl in the first two episodes, and so are the two guys, Hong Joo Won (Seo Kang Joon) and Kang In Woo (Han Joo Wan), in the love triangle here. A spoiler here: She’s supposedly the great-grandmother of King Jeongjo’s mother Lady Hyegyeong, so if you know the family name of Lady Hyegyeong, you’ll know who Princess Jeongmyeong end up with here in Show.
I hope to be able to keep up with Show, because at 50 episodes it requires a certain degree of commitment. But I do think it’s going to be worth it, as I think this writer (who also penned Yi San and Dong Yi) is capable of writing gripping political fights, yet not churn out ridiculous plotpoints just to maintain the interest of the viewers (here’s eyeing Empress Ki). And there’s always
Chajumma Cha Seung Won to look out for!