So this week’s episodes get us into the middle of a battlefield, which was like, gah, child’s play. Of course it’s unrealistic to expect something grand like *insert your favorite war film here*, but ugh, I was vastly underwhelmed.
As I watched the scenes unfold leading to the battle, I was facepalming half the time because everyone keeps asking Jung-myeong to leave the battlefield, and that stubborn girl keeps insisting to stay on. I get that she wants to do her part for her country, and she probably doesn’t really feel her status as a princess anymore, but the plot point continuously repeats itself, it gets facepalmy and eye-roll inducing. And then I was also like, half-screaming at my screen at the OTP to just go already when they’re still talking and talking (and the kissing), because the enemy is coming.
I believe many of the mainland Chinese viewers will have their usual complaints of Korean scriptwriters always painting the Chinese monarchy (be it Ming or Qing China) in a bad light, but hey, history is subjective and here, at least in this drama, Joseon has no obligations to send their troops to aid the losing war against the Jurchens because Joseon is not strictly a vassal state (unlike Vietnam) to Ming China (they were to Yuan, and Qing, but not Ming, apparently). I’m not sure how much of what was depicted in Show is recorded in history, but apparently the Ming Crown Prince ordered to have the Joseon troops in the frontline, planning to use them only as a bait to lure the Jurchen soldiers. Gwanghae entirely foresee this plan to sacrifice his people, which he gave a secret order to Commander Kang Hong-rip to retreat should this plan be carried out.
Kang Joo-seon got wind of this secret order, which he shares with his fellow traitorous Westerners that Gwanghae has plans to betray the honor with Ming (this part is apparently recorded in history), and it is therefore a great chance to dethrone him. Meanwhile, Jung-myeong also got to know of Gwanghae’s plan, and together with Joo-won and his father, they managed to persuade Commander Kang not to call for a retreat, because they do not wish to give people like Kang Joo-seon the opportunity to ensnare Gwanghae in their trap.
Kang Joo-seon and Neung-yang has officially made an alliance, and Neung-yang also managed to convince Queen Inmok to his side (ugh, she drives me nuts). He organises a birthday party for the Queen, much to the displeasure of Jung-myeong. She warns him to call it off, but her words hold no threat over him, and the party still happens. We’re introduced to a new face at the party: Kim Ja-jeom (Jo Min Ki), who will eventually become one of the most powerful man during King Injo’s (Neung-yang) reign. He observes with much interest, Jung-myeong’s passionate lecture about being more sensitive during tensed times, and hence should not hold parties, and labels her as a potentially troublesome figure.
Remember Jo Yeo-jung? Apparently she’s in cahoots with Kim Ja-jeom, which I’m pretty sure this part is fictional, but anyway, she should be beginning her plan to seduce Neung-yang any time soon.
Last but not least, the main love triangle of Show gets into the phase of inevitable separation, and a looming arranged marriage, no thanks to the battle and Kim Kae-shi. Following the initial victory over the Jurchens, Ming troops plan to have a surprise attack on the Jurchens, but together with the Joseon troops, they end up being ambushed by the Jurchens. Joo-won decides to stay back with the remaining troops to fight the Jurchens, to give some time for the craftsmen and other non-combat personnels to escape. Cue an emotional farewell scene, where any seasoned sageuk viewers will know the separation is only temporary, and the third party will take the chance to snatch the girl away.
And In Woo does just that, as he seeks out Kim Kae-shi again, asking her what should he do next. Her wonderful idea is for him to marry Jung-myeong, so that using the new familial relations, Kang Joo-seon would give some protection to Gwanghae, and he can keep his throne. Kim Kae-shi is actually not some oracle (even though she always seems to give spoilers), or her spy networking is not that fantastice afterall, because she doesn’t seem to know that Kang Joo-seon has already allied himself with Neung-yang. Most likely Joo-won will appear just before Jung-myeong gets married for realsies to In Woo, and In Woo will really hate Joo-won forever (ugh). Surprise me, Show!