We’re finally at the BIG reveal, and it could not have come any sooner. I feel the pace for this week’s episodes a tad slow, and it feels like a filler week, to set us up for the capture of Heo Gyun and Kang Joo-seon. It feels like alot has happened, yet nothing has happened. I guess this is the way primetime sageuks work, having to fill airtime.
In Woo lays out his suspicions to Hwa-yi, asking her directly if she IS Princess Jung-myeong. Despite being cornered, Hwa-yi denies flatly. Joo Won is a tad slower in linking the dots, and had to have In Woo to spell it out for him. However for the two guys, their friendship is tested yet again because of Hwa-yi, or Jung-myeong if you prefer. In Woo is doomed in the cruel world of 2nd leads, because we keep getting flashbacks of Hwa-yi and Joo Won spending time together.
Queen Inmok drives me nuts, although I totally understand where she is coming from. Her hatred for Gwanghae blinds her from seeing his sincerity, when he said he did not frame her for the coup she’s now being embroiled in. This is where her hysteria made me wanted to throw something at my screen because UGH. Poor
Hwa-yi is no different from her mom, although she is still rational (?) enough to make a deal with Gwanghae, when In Woo reveals to her what his secret investigation has found out, about his father’s and Heo Gyun’s nefarious plans. Hwa-yi appears in front of Gwanghae in the yangban girl’s hanbok, admitting to the shocked Gwanghae that she is his sister who’s supposed to be dead. She pleads with him to spare Queen Inmok’s life, to which Gwanghae tells her firmly that he has no intention to kill the Queen Dowager, although I’m not so sure if Hwa-yi can bring herself to believe him (despite Gwanghae being totally truthful and sincere!). Her second secret meeting with Gwanghae leads her to reveal the truth about the “coup”, and strikes a deal with Gwanghae that they work together to capture Heo Gyun. It pains me to see Gwanghae is still out to protect Hwa-yi, despite knowing fully well that she hates him for the death of her brother, as he tries to hide his meetings with Hwa-yi from Kim Kae-shi.
Both the meetings roused Kim Kae-shi’s suspicions (ugh, that ahjumma, she’s out killing everyone and tarnishing Gwanghae’s name), and she is too smart for her own good. I have no doubts that she is closing in to the real identity of Hwa-yi, and it’s a matter of time that she proves herself correct. Her relationship with Lee Yi-chum is interesting, because while they do share information with each other, with regards to who’s out to threaten Gwanghae’s throne, they withhold information as well, such that both parties do not know the full story of what’s happening.
Despite being forced to mete out a punishment for Queen Inmok, Gwanghae calls for a special meeting, where all the relatives of the royal family as well as the high ranking ministers are to vote for the suitable punishment for the Queen Dowager. Gwanghae rebukes those who call for an extreme measure, ie to execute Queen Inmok, and announces that with such ardent support from everyone, his throne will not be threatened even if Queen Inmok is alive. Hence, he will only execute those involved in the coup, but spare the Queen Dowager’s life. She’ll be stripped of her title of the Queen Dowager, and be referred to as the “West Palace”.
Joo Won brings Hwa-yi to see Queen Inmok, and both mother and daughter had a tearful reunion. Queen Inmok tells Hwa-yi not to let anyone else know her identity, especially Lee Yi-chum and Kim Kae-shi, and lets slip the prophecy of Hwa-yi being the controller of fire and the ruler of the Joseon land.
Heo Gyun is shocked that his plan has failed, as he was telling Kang Joo-seon confidently that Gwanghae will take the bait and order a bloodshed, in order to secure his throne. A flashback tells us why Heo Gyun is hellbent on taking down Gwanghae, an event which Heo Gyun’s followers were all framed and executed (I assume), which was orchestrated by Lee yi-chum, in the name of Gwanghae’s orders (again). Kang Joo-seon, having gotten wind of the conclusion, decides to abandon Heo Gyun, and orders an evacuation of his household, and also the assassination of both Heo Gyun and Hwa-yi, as both know of the plan of targeting Gwanghae through Queen Inmok.