Post by ajk on Dec 14, 2013 0:04:01 GMT -5
Gongmin has taken Pyeonjo to some sort of nightclub. Food and entertainment and women--possibly a brothel. He's dressed incognito but his security team is there and keeping an eye on things. (Eunuch Choi seems to be leading the security team, surprisingly.) He's treating Pyeonjo to a good meal. Even starts by pouring him a drink, he's that happy to see him after all this time. Pyeonjo isn't sure how to act or what to do. Be his friend, be his subject, what? Not a clue. Oh wait, it's a brothel; the proprietor is pitching them some gisaeng companionship. As in, "Marvels of beauty who can match Yang Guifei's splendor." (see link) Gongmin laughs and says bring them in. (Dude! King or no king, you forget what you've got waiting for you at home? Heck with the gisaeng.) But maybe he's just getting into the spirit of the place. And look at him, he's just so darned happy to see Pyeonjo again. Then a couple of gisaeng walk in and make themselves comfortable on the two diners' laps.
"You're saying he headed for a brothel with men who tried to kill him?" Gong Cheol has just reported to Choseon and her subordinate what he saw happen to Pyeonjo in the street. They're puzzled, understandably...and concerned because he knows a lot about them now. But Choseon isn't worried. We'll just kill him if we have to, she says. Wow, really? Who knew she was that ruthless. This is a big surprise.
Now who is this who just walked into the brothel? Some guy with his gang of goons. Says he's going to take the owner "to our state compound" and shut the place down. His goons fan out and start clearing the place of gisaeng and customers. Gongmin asks the guy what his problem is. Gets an answer: the owner owes money and hasn't paid. But Gongmin recognizes these men as being from the local military and wants to know why they're trying to tax people. And now Pyeonjo chimes in and clears it all up for us: "It's nothing more than a bunch of Lord Deokseong (Gi Cheol) subordinates, stabbing good-natured people in the back, with the pretense of collecting taxes. Isn't that right?" Well the head guy takes offense to that, and calls in the goons to take care of these two smart-alecks. But Gongmin and Pyeonjo smile at each other, and suddenly they're kicking butt just like the good old days in Yanjing. The security team steps in to finish the job and quiet is restored. The owner looks around gleefully, and for good measure delivers a kick in the stomach to one of the fallen goons (not very sporting, but it sure was funny). The whole lot of them is tossed outside and given a stern lecture by Eunuch Choi, who tells them just who it was they were messing with. Surprise! They beg for their lives and promise to serve Gongmin loyally from now on...and Choi just turns around and walks back inside so I guess he was satisfied with that.
Now it's quiet inside and our two diners talk more calmly. Gongmin asks Pyeonjo why he was leading the peaceful protest in the street. He gets more of an answer than he expected. When Gi Cheol returns, Pyeonjo says, are you going to apologize to him too? "Every time I think of you sitting on that throne, tears cloud my eyes. Those court officials worry only about their own safety and their enriching ways." He believes that eventually the Han Chinese are going to prevail in their struggle against the Yuan and kick them out...and everyone else aligned with the Yuan will eventually be in trouble. And those officials, they'd just blame you somehow and leave you on the hook for it. And then there's the people. The country has plenty of luxury goods for the wealthy few, but most of the citizens are struggling simply to survive. "There is only one thing the people wish for," Pyeonjo claims. "Forget about three meals a day. They'd love to have even a single one proper meal. How could they ever dream of silk robes?" That's exactly why I want to fight the Yuan, Gongmin answers. "So that we can feed our people." But Pyeonjo fires right back, How can you fight the Yuan if the people are starving now? He gets on his knees. "Your Majesty...Feed our people first."
"Feed our people first." It resonates with Gongmin, who's outside and on his horse. He bids farewell to his friend and heads home. Pyeonjo leaves as well, in high spirits.
He heads back to Choseon's estate. To his horror, a group of Choseon's men is surrounding Won Hyeon, and a knife is at Won's throat. "They're going to kill us!", Won shouts. Pyeonjo stays calm, and Choseon's subordinate tells him that they won't harm Won but Choseon wants to see him.
So he goes in, and she's waiting for him. She had him followed. She apologizes for that, but says she still isn't ready to trust him entirely. And then wants to know. "Who did you just meet?" So he tells her. And adds that they became friends in Yanjing. Yeah, right. "Am I supposed to believe that?" A king fraternizing with a lowborn commoner? "His Majesty is different," Pyeonjo answers. But she tells a story about a high official she trusted once in the past; he eventually betrayed her. So "I vowed not to associate myself with people holding the keys to power." What happened tonight, though, wasn't Pyeonjo's doing and he reminds her of that. And she knows that some important person cornered him out there..."So, what did you two confer about? Did he tell you he'll join hands with you, and get rid of all court officials?" He doesn't give her details; only says that he's back in Gongmin's good graces now, "so just wait. I shall advise His Majesty on how to change things for the better." She stares at him blankly, not sure what to do or think (understandably)...but then shouts outside to release Won Hyeon. Still, she cautious Pyeonjo that "if it weren't for Master Wolseon, I would have killed you two already."
Now we see Pyeonjo and Won in what looks like to be a bedroom that they share. Won is equal parts intimidated by what just happened--"the owner of this place is a scary woman"--and intensely curious about Pyeonjo's encounter with the king. "He said he'll discuss state affairs with me," Pyeonjo says with a chuckle. Did he?
Back at home, Gongmin tells his wife about his evening. She's happy to hear that he found Pyeonjo again (she does seem to respect him). He only wishes that Pyeonjo's mother hadn't been a temple slave; otherwise Pyeonjo could be officially ordained and Gongmin could bring him into the palace as an advisor. And a friend--"I wouldn't feel so lonely." Noguk doesn't see the ordination thing as an issue and says that "if he shares your thoughts," by all means just bring him in. But Gongmin knows that the court officials would raise a big stink and never allow it. Still, it's obvious that Pyeonjo's words to him this evening made a big impression on him. "He's too rare and precious a man to remain buried in obscurity."
The next morning: The queen has summoned Jung Se Woon. It turns out, not everyone among the street protesters was freed yesterday. The peaceful ones were, Jung says, but "anyone who threw rocks or attempted arson...." Noguk cuts him off. "Free those people as well." What?! Jung doesn't like that at all. She challenges his sense of compassion; he's more concerned about the message that would be sent by freeing them. (I think there's some confusion here, because the street protesters weren't being rowdy in the least. It was the mob outside the Gi estate that was making the trouble. Those must be the people still jailed.)
Eunuch Choi got word of this and is telling Gongmin about Jung holding his own against the queen's order. Gongmin laughs, knowing Jung's character only too well.
Now Noguk is complaining to Princess Deoknyeong. About those people still held as prisoners, basically because they meant well and were acting out of concern for their king (Sorry, Noguk, but that ends-justify-the-means stuff doesn't work). And about Pyeonjo's birth status preventing Gongmin from having him in the palace. Deoknyeong smiles at her, like, you're just so cute in your naive ignorance. "If His Majesty is too cordial to the people," she explains, "it would be unbecoming of someone with his grandeur." It doesn't make sense to Noguk. If the king can show compassion by freeing the prisoners, "wouldn't the people accept him with sincerity?" Again Deoknyeong smiles, and advises her to just let the situation calm down for now.
Nope. Noguk gets into her gama and heads straight for the prison where the "traitors" are being held.
The queen dowager gets word of this--that Noguk is going there to "console" the prisoners--and scoffs. "We have Buddha in the palace, I see." (Hey lady, those prisoners were standing up for your son. Show a little gratitude!)
Now Noguk is touring the prison. She notices that some of the prisoners have untreated injuries of various kinds. Tells Eunuch An to have court physicians brought here to treat them. And get them some proper food too.
Boy that was fast! Look at all of those attendants and physicians going inside with all sorts of food and medicine. Noguk stays and makes sure it's all done properly. Then she goes into one of the cells to look more closely at the prisoners. She spots a particularly decrepit old man, shivering as he eats. She takes off her outer robe and puts it over his shoulders. It's a remarkable image.
Yanjing: Gi Cheol spots Commissioner Park and thanks him for paving Gi's way back to Goryeo. "I can go back to Gaegyeong, screaming my lungs out in intimidation." And getting the king to go to the Gi family estate and bow to his mother? Icing on the cake. "I shall never forget what you did for me." Then he goes inside to see his sister...
...and gets a rude awakening. "Do you think that's acceptable? When you head back to Goryeo, lie down in remorse and don't make a single sound. Stop causing trouble!" She's very worried about the problems that the Yuan are having with the Han Chinese rebels and don't want Goryeo adding to it all. But Gi Cheol has the answer: make me king! "Wouldn't all your worries disappear in a beat?" She shoots him a disgusted look that's absolutely priceless. And tells him, You don't get it. "Do you think the King of Goryeo went to bow down to our mother because he was afraid of me?" She thinks something's going on down there, so she advises he'd better just keep quiet and behave himself. "How would Prince Gangneung achieve his goals as long as you're still alive and kicking?"
Now Gi Cheol is with Park again, and that last suggestion has him wildly agitated. "The King of Goryeo will try to kill me?! What is that supposed to mean?" Park says it was probably just hyperbole on the empress's part. But he echoes her advice about going back home peaceably and trying to "mend fences." Nope. "If I just wanted, I could gather soldiers numbering in the tens of thousands. What on earth is the reason I should fear the King of Goryeo? I shall have a life and death struggle with him."
Now he's headed home, on horseback with a sizeable delegation of hangers-on accompanying him. Out in the countryside, Gi Ryun leads his own delegation to meet his brother on the way. The brothers reunite happily, and Ryun tells Cheol about their mother's "good spirits" these days. (Hmmm...that woman, it doesn't seem like she'd ever be in good spirits.) Cheol is brimming with confidence.
And speaking of Mrs. Good Spirits...she's come to visit the queen dowager. QD's attendant Lady Kim (finally we learn her name, or at least part of it) receives her and escorts her in. Mother Gi is moaning and groaning about her supposedly aching back from her time in the prison...but clearly it's baloney, she's just playing it up to remind her host what happened to her. The QD tells her that because of such things being allowed to happen, "I shall step forward and check on things myself from time to time. "I was thinking the same," replies mother Gi. "When my older son comes back from Yanjing, I shall step forward and keep an eye on things." They chuckle together, each undoubtedly disguising a deep contempt for the other.
The king is meeting with Lee Je Hyeon, Lee In Bok and Yeom Je Shin about what to do when Gi Cheol comes back. Doesn't look like this is going well...
...and from the three councilors' agitated conversation afterwards, no it did not go well. Apparently Gongmin was hinting about the need to just go ahead and kill Cheol, but among the three of them, none was both was savvy enough and brave enough to pick up on it and speak freely about it. It isn't even about just killing Cheol--that's simple enough--but what would happen after that and how to deal with it.
Mother Gi gets back into her gama and heads home, grumbling about what her son is going to do to everybody--apparently including the queen dowager--when he returns.
Evening: Who are those soldiers headed straight for the Gi party still traveling out there in the countryside? Gi Ryun says not to worry; probably local military allies of theirs. And yes, it is. Jo So Saeng, chief general of the Ssangseong Commandery leading a regiment to greet Gi Cheol and offer him some local hospitality.
So they go to the military base and Jo offers Gi Cheol a lavish meal and lots of sucking-up. And a promise to send military muscle to the capital any time he should need it. Of course Gi Cheol loves every bit of this. But now who's this other guy sitting there at the table? Jo introduces him as General Lee Ja Chun, chief of guards of the commandery. (Subtitling tells us that he also is--and get this--Lee Seong Gye's father!) Quiet guy; hasn't said a word all meal. Gi tries to open him up by offering to pour him a drink, but Lee (speaking at last) says he doesn't drink. Multiple disgusted grunts from Cheol (very funny) at this weird guy who won't drink or suck up.
Lee eventually leaves the gathering. Outside the room we see his son! Apparently helping guard the place. "Listen to everything they say inside," his father orders. Why?
Back inside: "In no time Goryeo will be hit by a wind of revolt." Now it's just the two Gi's and commander Jo. "So," Cheol says to Jo, "I need your help." Wow, he lost no time in taking advantage of THAT offer. Jo not only is happy to help, but is confident that "We can make Goryeo submit even with the Ssangseong Commandery's troops." Music to Cheol's ears.
"Gi Cheol is at the Ssangseong Commandery?" Gongmin knows already. Lee In Bok is telling him. Apparently the two Lees we just met are a lot more loyal to the Goryean throne than their commander is. In Bok also fills him in on the local politics up there: Ssangseong isn't considered part of Goryeo any more because "during the war with the Mongols, two men called Jo Hwi and Tak Cheong killed local magistrates sent from Gaegyeong, and submitted to the Mongols. Ever since that, Ssangseong Province has been under Mongol control." Which also explains why Commander Jo had the Yuan-approved hairstyle we saw on him. In Bok tells him that "reclaiming the Ssangseong territory is of utmost urgency." But Gongmin wants all of the lost territory, not just that one. (There's at least one other such territory, the Dongnyeong Commandery.)
Afterwards, Jung Se Woon tells In Bok that he has troops monitoring the road to the commandery and will "get rid of Gi Cheol at first sight" if Gongmin orders. "I'll wait for the right time," In Bok replies, "and tell him that." Jung urges that Gi Cheol not be allowed back into the country, and Lee seems to agree.
Choseon has brought Ban Ya for a visit to Gaetae Temple. Wait--not just for a visit, she's brought her back here for good! Wolseon loves the girl and is always happy to see her, but is shocked by this. "Of course I miss her! I've seen her grow up under my eyes." But what's the problem? He thinks, "it looks like she didn't quite grow on you." "Of course she did," Choseon answers politely, but "she grew on you much more, Master." Hmmm...you wonder if Choseon is sending her to a safer place because she's planning something big and important and dangerous soon.
As we see that evening, Wolseon is ecstatic to have the little girl back with him. Seems to do his spirit a world of good.
Next day: Lee In Bok gets a report from Choi Young, his military ally, and immediately heads for the palace. Unfortunately he has to wait for the time being, because at the moment, Gongmin's mother and Master Bou are meeting with Gongmin...
...because the queen dowager is nominating Bou for the post of "Royal Preceptor." Apparently Gongmin had the same idea back in Yanjing. This is all well and good, but Lee's impatience outside in the hallway suggests he has more important matters for the king's attention.
Choseon's men are reporting to her on Gi Cheol's extended stop at the commandery. Her subordinate wonders, "Maybe he smelled something already?" No, Choseon says, "he's just being careful." Her subordinate asks, "Then should we proceed as planned?" Proceed with what? Wow, what the heck is cooking here?
"There's not a minute to waste, Your Majesty. Give us your consent." Lee In Bok finally got in. "We shall kill him before he sets foot back in Goryeo." Wow, look at this--there's a steely glare in Gongmin's eyes that we've never seen before.
At least fifteen men dressed in plainclothes go scurrying out of Choseon's estate. Presumably headed out to do something involving Gi Cheol.
Pyeonjo knows something's up and confronts Choseon about it. "Who could have imagined it? That inside that charming figure, murderous intent could be brewing?" He stares at her...until she spills it. "We can't spare Lord Deokseong. What the king can't do, I shall take care of." Okay, so that's what those scurrying guys are up to...but what's going to happen now? Are we going to have dueling groups of assassins?
"Your Excellency! Did he give his consent?" Choi Young asks Lee In Bok what to do. Lee just looks at him. And then starts laughing. Not an evil laugh, but like the whole thing just got wildly entertaining. Does Gongmin have something up his sleeve?
Now Choseon's men have changed into black clothes and masks and are sneaking through the countryside. They reach the side of the road to Ssangseong just as the Gis approach on it. And now look at this--it's Jung Se Woon leading a group of cavalry, approaching on the road from the opposite direction. "I'm following His Majesty's orders," Jung tells Gi Cheol, "to escort you safely back to the capital." Gi loves it. "Really? To protect me, His Majesty sent me the Royal Guards? What a most pleasant surprise!" You can practically see Gi's ego inflating. Concealed in the nearby brush, Choseon's men watch in frustration. They're not exactly equipped to take on a whole squad of royal guardsmen.
Back in Gaegyeong: In the Council hall, Gongmin is sitting on his wide throne. On the floor in front of him is some sort of black pan--looks almost like a wok. Not sure what this is about. "Greetings, Lord Deokseong," he says to himself, almost as if he's practicing. "I'm fully prepared to welcome you back."