This one started out very promising. It looked like the series had finally learned from its mistakes about trying to force everything. Nope. Most of it was strong but then suddenly it cratered.
The action is over so now we’re back to staged one-on-ones...but amazingly, the ones in this episode were far better than most of the previous ones. The throne room scene with Banggwa and Bangwon was very good, and so was the stuff with Banggwa and his wife--you really felt for both of them. The guy playing Banggwa is too old for the real prince, but he’s done such a nice job in the role that it’s not as much of a bother.
Banggwa to his wife: “It’s over now. I decided to end it.” A very touching moment, her breaking down and the two of them walking away together. Well done.
And the scene with LSG after that was terrific too. There was no good choice for Banggwa and here we saw that
Lady Min changed her clothes to join the fight? Really? Well at least they didn’t actually put her into it, thank goodness for that.
Ha Ryun to Lee Sookbeon: “The beginning of a new country is dangerous because of people like you. Everyone wants to overthrow the throne to gain something out of it.” And this was while full of alcohol, what an observation.
Yesterday I said Park Po got bad deal when he lost his job. HA! Talk about a bad deal....
Banggan is exiled, with rather generous terms. “Thank you for letting me live.” Both princes were sincere, another genuinely touching scene. And then Bangwon’s little bow to Bangui, the sign of respect for the older brother despite everything else, what a nice touch. Scene after scene, all very well presented without any of the heavy-handed juicing that’s been the biggest problem with the series. Hooray.
■ In 1400 AD, the second year of King Jeongjong’s reign, Lee Bang Won was finally installed as the crown prince. And Lee Bang Won’s wife Lady Min became crown princess. This couple who overcame years of struggle finally took a leap towards becoming king and queen.
“overcame years of struggle”—well okay yes they did, but the tone of this was a lot more sympathetic to the two of them then maybe they deserved. Yes we’ve seen Bangwon admit that he wants the throne for himself and not for any more of an altruistic reason. But this gets to what I wondered about yesterday, it’s feeling more and more like the series is trying to soft-peddle Bangwon some, out of fear that if we got the Bangwon we saw in the Jeong Dojeon series it would start losing viewers. Too bad because you can present a complex, deeper character like this series is doing and still make it interesting even if he/she is an awful person.
And then the happily triumphant music scoring during the Min family party, same there, that was a revealing choice of music.
LSG: “You want me to forgive someone who never even asked for forgiveness?” Well he did ask before, a long time ago...This scene was good too—even after everything that Bangwon has make happen, you can still see the little-kid hurt in him when his father scolds him.
Ha Ryun: “If I were the crown prince, I would feel a bit suffocated.” Give this guy his own series, everything he says is terrific.
Then things took a wrong turn. The conversation between LSG and Jiran, this should have been so sad and bittersweet. LSG making one last futile plan to restore what had been lost and a heartbroken Jiran telling him Bad idea, game’s over, give it up. The sadness in Jiran’s face said everything that needed to be said. But instead they broke out the loud music with the dissonance and the pounding drums like it was a national declaration of war. Huh? Totally over-juiced, ruined the scene, made absolutely no sense.
Lady Min: “Then what will happen to the opinions of my family? Will you just disregard them?” Whoa, this came up rather quickly didn’t it?
“Are you saying you will not discuss things with me either?...We did this together. We must lead together as well. I am the one who built you. I made you. So do not think you will do this alone. Half of Joseon belongs to me.” And this over just one policy disagreement? Sigh...I know that 32 episodes isn’t enough time to do justice to everything that happens in this period. But we didn’t even get a moment’s breather before we’re now rushing ahead to the next existential crisis. Too soon! If everything is intense drama than nothing is. And what’s worse, to get it done they suddenly turned Lady Min into a completely different character. She’s always been quietly guiding her husband behind the scenes (mostly), being supportive and smart to the point where you have to respect her...Even if their motives are entirely selfish you can understand how her wanting to give her kids better lives might be motivating her...But now suddenly she’s every bit the power-lusting SOB that all of the men are. It was such a sudden departure that it’s even a continuity error. Maybe it’s just me but this felt like a huge blunder. The next round of deaths is as meaningful as the others have been and the story should be given time to develop properly. I hope they don't turn Lady Min into Lady Kang 2.0.
Well, I was not too surprised at Lady Min's speech at the end. First, because this is her family and their standing that Bang Won is threatening (or so she sees it). Second, she has become increasingly like Lady Macbeth, spurring Bang Won onward; I think she has already gone beyond being merely supportive. And her wanting a better future for the kids - she's not talking about finding affordable housing in a good school district. She wants to be the mother of the next king. She's helped Bang Wong attain power and now she wants some for herself. IMO. (When I say Lady Macbeth I don't mean to imply everything Bang Won does is because she's spurring him on. He alone is responsible for his decisions and all the blood on his hands).
Oh I don't have any problem with the idea that she'd talk tough to him at some point. Especially considering how ugly things are going to get down the road. It just felt way too soon. It was one issue that was discussed for thirty seconds within the family, the first sign of any disagreement about anything. She's always been patient enough with him to get him to come around, and at first she was trying to do that--at least talk to them more about it and be considerate with them--and then suddenly it's You need to convince me because half the country is mine. Didn't care for it.
But they've ramped it up this fast so it will give them more situations to play the loud music, I guess....