If the past 20 episodes signify the reign of Gwanghae, then from Episode 21 onwards it is his decline, and the rise of King Injo, he who kowtowed to Qing China in the end. We also get to see the slow reconciliation of Jung-myeong and Gwanghae, so yay, while the good times last?
We’re at the 11th year of Gwanghae’s reign, as this week’s episodes shift its focus to the forced sending of Joseon troops to aid Ming China against the Jurchens, after the conflict of Jung-myeong and Gwanghae is resolved. Despite Kim Kae-shi’s many attempts to murder Jung-myeong, her latest failed attempt got her captured by Gwanghae, and banished from the palace. I think Kim Kae-shi her is interesting solely because of her devotion to Gwanghae, and takes it upon herself to get rid of any threat to him. However be rest assured that this will not be the last we see of her, as she still seems as determined to get rid of Jung-myeong, despite getting into Gwanghae’s bad book now.
Kim Kae-shi is extending her claws to In-woo, as she tells him, not unlike a witch telling a person who’s still in doubt, she can give him the person that he wants most: Jung-myeong. He is more than welcomed to look for her anytime he has decided to take up her offer, which also means he will have to become one of his father’s man. Will In-woo sell his soul to the devil?
Queen Dowager Inmok has so much hatred for Gwanghae that she keeps telling Jung-myeong not to trust him, and even arranges with the retired ministers who support her, as well as Joo-won’s father, to bring Jung-myeong away. Jung-myeong understands Gwanghae’s hard work for protecting his citizens, and refuses In-woo (who somehow gets roped into the task of sending Jung-myeong away). She returns to the palace just in time for the ceremony of lighting a new fire for the year (which signifies a new beginning, and the flame is passed to all provinces to be passed to the people), where Gwanghae intends to re-introduce Jung-myeong as the Princess who survived.
Her presence is not all well-received, as Lee Yi-cheom has decided to change his alliance from Gwanghae to Kang Joo-seon, to get rid of Jung-myeong, and secure their own fortune and future, in the face of the impending threat of Ming Chinese invasion. Kang Joo-seon decides to make use of Prince Neung-yang (later King Injo, played by Kim Jae Won), to sway the majority to support Joseon sending troops to aid Ming China in their war against the Jurchens. It is a win-win situation for both parties, as Neung-yang is seeking for the throne, and Kang Joo-seon is looking for a new king whom he can control.
Neung-yang is your usual shit-stirrer, for he goes looking for Queen Dowager Inmok, and claims that he can relate to the pain that she and Jung-myeong felt about losing Yong-chang (Neung-yang’s younger brother was executed along with his father for treason, according to Show). Jung-myeong is suspicious of him, and Queen Dowager Inmok isn’t all too excited either about his sudden and excessive display of familiarity.
This week’s episodes serve mostly as a setup for the impending war, as well as an introduction to Prince Neung-yang. The dynamics are going to change, and I hope Jung-myeong will forgive her orabi before it’s too late!