The stage has been set. The lines are drawn. The enemy’s colours have been flown. Alliances have been made. The conflicts are set up. Episode Five is all about the Face Offs!
“You have done Grave Wrong…”
Professor Jung Yak Yong took the pulse of Kim Yoon Hee while she was unconscious, and his eyes widened in shock.
When she comes to, Prof Jung confronts Yoon Hee, holding up the chastity knife he found on her body. “Are you a girl?” More a demand for a confession and explanation than a real enquiry. Yoon Hee has no choice but to drop to her knees and tearfully beg for clemency.
But Prof Jung is implacable. Even if she entered Sungkyunkwan merely to survive, she has done terrible wrong and must be punished along with her abetting family. And by “punish”, yes, we do mean execution. (It may be hard for our modern minds to understand why the cool Prof Jung is so hard on Yoon Hee, but he is a product of his time, and she has breached a very real, very serious taboo, and in addition defied the kingdom’s order and hence defied the king.)
She must wait for his decision on how he will proceed. Until then, no one must learn of her secret
Two Angry Young Men Face Off! (Protective of your little room-mate much, boys?)
Yoon Hee’s friend hover anxiously outside the school infirmary. Prof Jung dismisses them brusquely (he’s rather preoccupied with graver concerns) – Yoon Hee is fine but is not ready to receive visitors.
Looking particularly stricken (aw) are Lee Sun Joon and Moon Jae Shin or “Geol Oh” / Crazy Horse, room-mates of Kim Yoon Shik, or so they think, not realising that Yoon Shik’s sister has taken his identity.
Jae Shin’s anxiety ignites into anger. He grabs a bow and arrow, but is intercepted at once by Sun Joon who has read his intention to confront Student President Ha In Soo.
“Siding with Norons, I see?” Jae Shin is scornful, thinking Sun Joon is stopping him in order to protect his fellow-Noron Ha In Soo.
“I’m the cause of this,” says Sun Joon, “shouldn’t I deal with this?” Ah. He is taking on the confrontation as his own.
(Fighting over who shall avenge Yoon Hee, boys? Be still my heart!)
Mischief pokes the Moon
Gu Yong Ha ponders aloud the interesting facts as he paces an empty classroom: “Prof Jung has forbidden visitors, the official physician has not been summoned… WHY?”
He turns and demands of Moon Jae Shin, lounging on the ground. “Aren’t you curious?” Yong Ha of course has a pretty good guess as to what is going on, but is deliberately speculating aloud for Jae Shin’s benefit, hoping to stir up Interesting Thoughts which would result in all-important FUN. “Isn’t it curious? That Dae Mul must be keeping a dangerous secret.” Jae Shin feigns indifference, but Seeds of Suspicion are being sown.
“Come over to the Dark Side”
Sun Joon, bursting with righteous indignation, bursts into In Soo’s archery practice. “It was cowardly!”
“That arrow should have been directed at me, not Kim Yoon Shik!” (I dies! So macho and protective!)
In Soo directs the full force of his formidable personality at Sun Joon. “I’m giving you one last chance: Come to the Western dormitory, and you will be the Dorm Head. If you like, you can also be the next Student President.” (Ah, it’s the come-over-to-the-dark-side-Luke-Skywalker-and-rule-with-me speech.)
Sun Joon declines. So In Soo lays into him: “Because of your stubborn pride, do you realise that your team has come to represent political harmony? Political harmony – ha! – that’s just a ridiculous invention of the king’s, designed to unite the Sorons and Namins to bring us Noron down. Do you intend to shoot down your own party, no, your own father?”
“You’re right,” Sun Joon says. And at this surprisingly admission In Soo puts down the arrow he has been pointing menacingly at Sun Joon. (I know, I use the word “menacing” a lot when describing In Soo, but he really is menace personified.)
“I hadn’t thought about the symbolism of a win,” Sun Joon continues. “So, now, I must win. Without trying to win, how would I know whether you are right?”
And the logic of this kind of escapes me. As does the logic of the entire archery contest thingee. But I guess we just have to hang with the Dae Sa Rae Big Plot and make friends with it, because it’s going to be the major plot device for a while. I’m not keen on the whole trial-by-ordeal thing – how is it remotely logical that winning an archery contest proves anything about politics or policy? – but I realise that it makes for convenient plotting and suspenseful television.
“Cry all you want”
Meanwhile, poor Yoon Hee is numb with shock, feeling the full force of the impending death sentence on her and her family. What has she done? To herself and her family? How has her hope turned to despair, her joy to poison? Seeking refuge in an empty classroom, she lets it all out in unrestrained sobs.
But the classroom is not empty. Jae Shin is napping on the floor. He is surprisingly embarrassed to be caught intruding on her. And surprisingly gentle as he leaves Kim Yoon Shik to the cry in the classroom as much as “he” wants.
Death Glare Exchange
In Soo’s fawning lackeys remark on the impossibility of that Upstart Jun Soon winning a competition against the Master Archer In Soo. At which precise point, an arrow hits a pillar inches from In Soo’s face.
Jae Shin strides up. “How does it feel? For your life to be played with? Remember it well. Or the next one will go in here.” (thumps In Soo’s chest.) This is a high-octane encounter. And interestingly reminiscent of In Soo’s highly-charged confrontation of Yoon Hee two episodes ago when he tapped her head threatening. But this time, the distribution of power between the two parties is far more even.
Yoon Hee’s heart-grief has evidently moved Jae Shin. He thinks that she has been profoundly frightened by being shot at – a reasonable assumption. How much more compassion and protectiveness would he be feeling if he knew that her problems were even more life-threatening and imminent? Ooooo.
Hyo Eun takes on the Romance Genre
Meanwhile Ha Hyo Eun is busy rationalising her lovely young man’s failure to visit her; her Student President brother must be preventing him. But her young man isn’t staying away because he’s afraid of her brother, oh no, it’s because he wants to protect Hyo Eun from her brother’s wrath. It’s hilarious (and endearing in a sad way) how she has built up for herself an elaborate plot which would fit nicely in a romance novel but which bears not the remotest relation to reality.
She is loitering in the Place of Purveying of her romantic fantasies, i.e., the local second-hand bookshop. The book-seller is trying to foist a book onto her. It’s a famous romance novel that has driven the entire country to tears! Of lovers across a social class chasm! Who turn out to be half-siblings! And she contracts a terminal illness! Curse the cruel fates!
(And I know it’s a cheap and easy shot to mock makjang like this – but I love it!)
Hyo Eun only wants to know one thing: Is there a happy ending? Well, the bookseller scratches his head, in a manner of speaking… In the sense that they love each other to the end… But they can’t be with each other…
Hyo Eun is indignant: Love must work out! If they can’t be together at the end, it’s just too stupid and too cruel! She huffs. She’s not buying this! (Quite. And ridiculous though she is, we feel a bit sorry for her because we know that her delusionary romantical fancies are going to bite her in the ass eventually.)
So much to say, so little that can be said
Sungkyunkwan. Sun Joon scours the library. Approaches a slightly-built young scholar, but backs off when he realises it’s not Kim Yoon Shik. Checks in his room (nothing but a lounging Crazy Horse there). Tracks the length and breath of the campus. (Oh, boy, you are so far gone!)
Finally he finds her emerging from a classroom, the first time they meet since she was at the receiving end of In Soo’s arrow, and their hearts are so full of so much to say, they say nothing at all save a banal “Are you ok?” from Sun Joon. Yoon Hee nods, but walks away, eyes starting to brim with tears. How can she possibly face her best friend? How could she possibly tell him that she has been living a lie? For which she and her family may have to pay with their lives?
His concern un-allayed, his eyes follow her intently.
I know that you know, and you know that I know, and I know that you know that I know…
Prof Jung is accosted by Yong Ha. Who notes the interesting circumstances of Kim Yoon Shik’s confinement and the interesting information the medical records reveal. No medical diagnosis or prescription, and most curiously, no record of checking the pulse (which in traditional Eastern medicine reveals many things about a person’s body, including gender). Either the Prof is negligent, Yong Ha deduces aloud, or he is leaving unwritten something about Kim Yoon Shik’s state that is forbidden.
And as Yong Ha speaks, Prof Jung’s wordless face shows clearly that he knows what Yong Ha is up to and what he knows. (How does this actor do this? It’s a wonder!)
Prof Jung does not raise to the bait to admit or deny anything, but instead points out that breaching the confidentiality of students’ medical records is an infringement which warrants ten lashings. Eep. Yong Ha has to quickly back-pedal and apologise ingratiatingly. Even the bold and slippery Yong Ha is no match for our excellent professor. But Prof Jung doesn’t have the luxury of exulting in his victory; he’s just been put on notice that he has yet another complication to deal with.
The King and his Courtiers
The king’s courtiers are trying to persuade him not to hold the Dae Sa Rae. Which had been much relished by the late Crown Prince Sado, the present king’s father, and upon the Crown Prince’s execution banned by the then King Yeong Jo, presumably because it was too loaded with the memory of Prince Sado. Hence, the tournament’s resuscitation under the present king sends a strong political message of support for Prince Sado, one which is disturbing to those implicated in his death (i.e., the Noron Political Faction).
The king replies mildly that it is but his simple way of honouring his dead parent. “I am a king. Can I not enjoy this simple pleasure?” he asks innocently.
The Left State Councillor (Sun Joon’s father, and leader of the Noron Political Faction) is not fooled. He knows that the king is up to something. In any event, he points out to the War Minister (In Soo’s father) that the Dae Sa Rae is the least of their concerns. According to his spies, the king has been meeting Jung Yak Yong regularly. He must have installed his favourite in Sungkyunkwan for a reason – Professor Jung was not demoted, he was sent on a secret mission.
Professor Jung and the young Yoon Hee
Prof Jung, meanwhile, has much on his mind. As he thinks of his late mentor Professor Kim Seung Hun (Yoon Hee’s father), he frets over the whereabouts of the Geum Deung Ji Sa and the fate of Professor Kim’s daughter. Both issues he feels inadequate to resolve.
Flashback to when Jung Yak Yong was a younger man, visiting his professor. He catches a girl sitting out in Professor Kim’s cold porch surreptitiously following her father as he taught her brother. The child is determined, whip-smart and charming. The child is, of course, the young Yoon Hee.
And she hides behind Jung Yak Yong when her mother comes to tell her off for studying. (Portent?)
Back to the present, he stands outside her room with furrowed brow. Inside, the three scholars are lying down in their assigned place. Yoon Hee, not surprisingly, bolt awake in the middle. And we see that Sun Joon, back to her, is also awake, presumably worried about her. And we see that even the rough and tough Jae Shin can’t sleep and is aware that she is not sleeping. Aw. An Angst and Anxiety Sandwich.
The King and his Favourite
The king has one of his consultations with Prof Jung. And they are speaking of Prof Kim Seung Hun and his son Yoon Shik. Eek! Prof Jung, with some misgiving in his eyes, confirms that Prof Kim’s son is in Sungkyunkwan. Aha, so he can’t quite yet bear to turn in Yoon Hee. His Majesty smiles, remembering the pretty and courageous boy he encountered at the entrance exam, pleased that he has turned out to be the son of a man he admired. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I must meet that child. Might he not know about the Geun Deung Ji Sa his father protected?”
Prof Jung is alarmed and protests. And has to cast about for a reason. The Geun Geung Ji Sa is too important a matter to entrust to a young lad! And he wouldn’t know about it anyway! Or some such bumpf. The king is not fooled. But because Jung Yak Yong has never opposed him before and because he trusts him, he will heed his advice without further probing. Meanwhile, he can’t wait for the Dae Sa Rae!
Out-prostituting each other
The Provost Choi Shin Mook is beside himself with anxiety and anticipation making elaborate and meticulous preparation for the upcoming Major Suck-Up-to-the-King sports day. Even the beautiful gisaeng Cho Seon will grace the event with her presence. It will be the triumph of his ass-kissing life!
Cho Seon herself is also preparing meticulously for the day, when she will get to meet the pretty young scholar again. He has not visited even once since they first met. Never before has she been treated thus by a man! Her interest is piqued, very piqued…
Boy tortures Girl
Sun Joon gets on Yoon Hee’s case to start practising her archery, notwithstanding having just been discharged from the infirmary. Yoon Hee realises she must keep her secret and agrees, not wanting to draw attention to her sick bay episode.
But she has no strength to pull the bow-string and no technique to speak of. It’s painful to watch her and galling to me to watch Sun Joon stand by with arms folded and intoning “Again” every time she fails, without giving any helpful instructions on how to do better. Ho hum, I guess this is the requisite boy-is-mean-to-girl-and-it-breaks-his-heart-but-it’s-beause-he-cares scene. (Usually followed shortly by the gratifying boy-is-smitten-by-girl’s-gutsiness scene.)
Yoon Hee fortifies herself with memories of being admitted personally by the king, of her family’s blessing, and of the fun times she has already had in Sungkyunkwan. But the more she tries, the more she fumbles, the more her thumb bleeds, the more tired she gets, and the less she is able to make headway. Sun Joon starts looking a little concerned at her pain, but he is stubborn. “Again!” Their on-looking friends think he is being unnecessarily cruel in his pursuit of glory.
Tears stream down her face as she pulls the bowstring yet one more time. The string snaps and cuts her face.
Yoon Hee has had enough and moves to quit. But Sun Joon is unmoved – She is nowhere near mastering the skill, it’s far too soon to give up. Inevitably, both frustrated and tired, they start shouting at each other.
A Three-way Grab!
Jae Shin, whom we saw earlier has been lounging in a tree overlooking the archery grounds, can’t take it anymore. He strides up to confront Sun Joon. Is Sun Joon’s head so full of desiring to catch the king’s eye, that he sees nothing else? Can’t he see that the little fellow is terrified because he was nearly struck by an arrow?
Jae Shin grabs Yoon Hee’s arm to haul her away, and Sun Joon grabs her to keep her. Aha, the classic three-way wrist-grab! Gah! How much more symbolic of a love triangle can we get?
Sun Joon: “If he walks away now because of fear, he’ll never be able to hold a bow again.” (Hmm, so all your bullying was for Yoon Shik’s own good? Riiiiiight, if you say so. Except that, because this the is the righteous Sun Joon, I actually do believe him.)
A three-way glare ensues.
A Clash of Ideals
Sun Joon self-righteously carries on: “Excuses are worthless.”
Yoon Hee is not one to suffer in silence. Wrenching her arm away, she throws at him “Excuses? So easy for you to say. While you learnt archery at your leisure, I was too busy trying to survive to have held a bow. You are the peerless Lee Sun Joon. I am a Namin of no consequence. I can’t even remember my father’s face! I, am Kim Yoon Shik.”
Jae Shin is moved, but Sun Joon is implacable. “That’s why you must persevere, so that you can win at Dae Sa Rae and open doors of opportunity.”
With feelings high, the argument escalates into a serious verbal bout fought with short sharp knives (metaphorically speaking).
Yoon Hee: “So what? Is this again for my own sake? Don’t you realise what you have done to my life? You think you can just change the world if you want to? You have no idea how the real world works! You’re a precious young lord!” (ouch!) “Doors of opportunity? Opportunity which you take for granted is an impossible miracle for me! Don’t ever talk again like you know it all. Or I’ll want to kill you.”
Jae Shin is forgotten and relegated to watching this conflagration from the sidelines. (Poor baby. As Second Lead, I’ve a feeling he’s going to be relegated to watching from the sidelines quite a lot.)
And can I just say how much I love this scene. I mean, SKKS is not a drama that needs to be taken seriously. It’s about the feel-good romance, the eye-candy, the humour, and the fan-service. And how we love it for all that. But when the plot calls for an obstacle for our OTP’s story arc, it doesn’t insult us with a stupid or contrived difficulty, but presents with an adult problem – he is idealistic and too quick to discount the cost of ideals, whereas she has been too far ground down by the need to survive to have the courage of her ideals. Particularly now, with a death sentence hanging over the heads of her and her family, what can she possibly care about winning a dumb archery contest with a view to catching a government position? And wasn’t it precisely over-reaching that dropped her into this deep pit in the first place? At the same time, this conflict is gratifying because it shows us how complementary they are as a pair – she to lend his ideals realism and grounding, he to inspire her with new hope.
Someone Strikes at Sun Joon
Yoon Hee stalks off and Sun Joon goes after her. As he walks past a stack of large heavy wooden poles, someone (unseen) cuts a rope and causes the stack to fall on him.
Which leads to a fanservicey show of skin in the school infirmary as Sun Joon’s shoulder is bandaged. He is informed by the administering Prof Jung that while he has broken no bones, the archery contest is now rather difficult.
The Provost: “Does anyone bear a grudge against you, to harm you this way?”
And the students’ speculations mirror our thoughts: “Is there anyone who doesn’t bear him a grudge?”
Not one to be left out when there recriminations and accusations to be flung about, Yong Ha puts it to In Soo that the Student President is responsible for hurting Sun Joon. Or at least, that is what people say.
In Soo: “I’m not so foolish nor so powerless as to have to resort to such tricks.” (Hmm. Yeah. We can probably take him off the list of suspects. Darth Vadar would never resort to such petty ploys.) “What I want is for him to come and submit to me of his own volition.” (Why do I find this scary and titillating at the same time?)
Hyo Eun hears that Sun Joon has been injured. She must do something!
She bursts upon Daddy – the War Minister who is busy fretting over what Prof Jung’s secret mission to Sungkyunkwan might be. “I’m going to Sungkyunkwan!” Why ever? “My brother is the Student President. We must present gifts of food to those practising!” Daddy’s head is already fit to burst with impenetrable political intrigue, why must he concern himself with such trifles? But he is helpless before the force of her DPW (Daddy Pout Wiggle).
Jae Shin Faces Down his own Faction
Jae Shin overhears his fellow Soron students dissing Sun Joon and regretting that they didn’t break his legs instead.
They think Jae Shin will keep their evil deeds a secret just because he is Soron too, but they are badly mistaken in their man. “Say that of me one more time and you’ll not speak out of that mouth again.” Jae Shin is moved more by justice and fairness than by loyalty to his faction.
Sun Joon and the Target – Making a Point
Sun Joon heads out to target practice with his bow and quiver. Meeting Yoon Hee, he says, “This is the first time that this left hand has pulled a bowstring. No different from you. I will achieve the highest level of archery (hitting five consecutive bulls-eyes) like this. If a miracle is needed, I will perform one for you. And you shall compete with me.” Stirring music plays.
Sun Joon sets about making his miracle happen. At first with much difficulty, his pulling arm trembling weakly, arrows falling well short of target, thumb bleeding. But he persists stubbornly, building up his strength even during class.
He slowly makes progress – finally hitting the target board. He practices into the evening – getting closer and closer to target. He is observed by Jae Shin lounging in his tree
And by In Soo who looks royally displeased.
And by Yoon Hee who grows thoughtful.
The light is nearly gone and Sun Joon is still practicing doggedly.
Out of the blue, arrows of fire fly into the practice grounds. It is Jae Shin, lighting the area. It is his indirect way of showing his support and admiration for his resolute room-mate. Yoon Hee looks on thoughtfully. Sun Joon continues practicing.
Yoon Hee pierces Yong Ha’s armour
As ever, Yong Ha is lurking, and sidles up to Yoon Hee as she watches Sun Joon practice. He’s just toying with her as usual: “Penny for your thoughts?”
But she turns a serious gaze on him and asks him point-blank, “Why did you come to Sungkyunkwan?”
And Yong Ha seems caught off-guard by this direct question and is perhaps surprised into giving an honest if rueful answer, “I wanted to resist this class-ridden and unfair society.” But immediately he realises he has revealed too much, and he tries to joke it off, “Well, you know, I can’t have any concubines unless I pass the civil service exam, what else can I do?”
And I find this both interesting and frustrating. Interesting in that we are learning more about the enigmatic Yong Ha (possibly). Frustrating in that his character seems rather random still. I found him fascinatingly amoral at first, but I’m starting to get a little tired of him popping up everywhere and being on intimate terms with everyone, as if he were just planted wherever the director wants someone with a rubber face to do an expressive reaction shot. So I’m in two minds about this “humanising” of Yong Ha. It’s nice to see more of the man behind the mischief. On the other hand, his character development seems random. I thought I caught a glimpse of him being disconcerted by In Soo’s Evil Overlord act at one point – but, why? I almost suspect that merely because Song Joong Ki is so wildly popular (and the cutest thing since Hello Kitty) the script is on its way to redeeming Yong Ha just to gratify viewers. Well, perhaps I’m being too critical – let’s wait and see where his story takes us.
Yoon Hee and the Other Professor
Yoon Hee packs to leave Sungkyunkwan. Being allowed to leave alive is probably the most optimistic decision she can expect from Professor Jung.
She goes looking for Prof Jung in the staff room, where she meets instead Professor Yoo, and passes his impromptu recitation and comprehension test. As a prize, he gives her the book she had been admiring, his own copy passed to him by his teacher. Kim Yoon Shik is in turn to give it to a clever students he meets in future.
Yoon Hee is much struck by Prof Yoo’s confidence in her and the whole notion of being part of a cycle of learning.
Sun Joon makes his Point to Yoon Hee
Meanwhile, Sun Joon is still bull-headedly practicing. In the driving rain. His manservant beside himself with worry for his health. If anyone can stop his madness, surely the young master Kim Yoon Shik can?
Yoon Hee: “What are you doing, with your injuries?”
Sun Joon: “I said I would work a miracle for you if you need one.”
Yoon Hee: “Don’t presume you know anything about me. Why are you doing this?”
Sun Joon: “Observe. That which you mock – being a Noron scion – isn’t so easy either. No one can choose the circumstances of his birth. But one thing we can choose: How we are to live today. Only that. Didn’t you say you come from a ruined Namin family? You must feel wronged by the world too. Do you intend to just feel pity for yourself for the rest of your life?”
(Nice! Sun Joon gives as good as he got. Yoon Hee had scored a hit in scorning his privileged upbringing, and he is challenging her to rise even beyond what fate hands us. Such a nice, well-matched pair.)
Yoon Hee: “What do you know about me?”
Objectively speaking, he still hasn’t won his argument, because he doesn’t understand the full extent to which the world disadvantages her, as a woman, which would daunt even him. He forges on:
“The world is unfair, but freeing yourself of its chains is your lot. Everyone stands before their target, and is responsible until the last arrow is shot.”
Sun Joon is full of conviction. I suspect his motivational speech would have been less assured if he had known she was a woman. But his words work their magic on Yoon Hee.
Yoon Hee and Jae Shin get to grips (but it’s still all about Sun Joon’s point!)
Jae Shin has observed this whole exchange. His maternal instincts, er I mean brotherly, er I mean matey, er I mean lover’s, er … whatever, his protective male instincts are aroused. He pauses to exchanges glares with Sun Joon as he leaves the archery grounds.
Then steps up to Yoon Hee.
“Hey, Dae Mul, I hate to see you suffer like this.” He grabs her wrist, “Listen, if that punk or anyone else lays a finger on you, use your fists like this.” He shapes her fingers into a punching clench. And at the same time slips onto her thumb a wooden ring-guard he has been carving for her. (Everyone together now – Awww!) “Now it won’t hurt.”
And if that weren’t dreamy enough, he takes her in his arms and guides her through a shooting motion.
And that’s when she notices the target. Five arrows are in the bull’s-eye. Sun Joon has delivered his miracle!
Totally ignoring the hot guy whose strong arms are encircling her, Yoon Hee runs away. (Argh!)
“I have done nothing wrong”
We might think that she is running off to seek Sun Joon. But no, she confronts Professor Jung. For Sun Joon has done more than merely win her admiration, he has won his point. Yoon Hee is now convinced she can fight her fate. She is buying into the symbolism of a Dae Sa Rae win, and she is taking its significance even farther than Sun Joon ever intended.
“I will not leave,” Yoon Hee declares. “I wrote the exam script that got me accepted into Sungkyunkwan, and his majesty himself admitted me. What crime have I committed?”
We have come full circle to the opening scene of this episode in which Yoon Hee and Professor Jung faced off. Once again Yoon Hee is in tears and entreating, once again Prof Jung is implacable. But Yoon Hee has mastered her arguments and speaks them clearly and forcefully from her heart.
“Are men and women different? What if they are not? What if I am as good as the rest of the students? What if I win the archery contest? Did you not say yourself that we should question the world?”
Once again, Yoon Hee kneels.
“Please give me a chance. For the first time in my life, I understand questioning and learning. For the first time I have met someone who has acknowledged my talents.” (She is thinking of Sun Joon.) “For the first time, I have met someone who has taken my side.” (She thinks of Jae Shin and the ring-guard) “Please give me a chance. To continue learning. To dream of a new world.”
As I’ve mentioned, the whole big deal about the archery contest doesn’t connect well with me. What does sheer bloody-mindedness with a bow and arrow really prove? Oh wells, Sun Joon gets to be heroic and to pay Yoon Hee a great heap of attention (seemingly of the unwelcome sort, but we know it is lurve), Yoon Hee gets to be pitiful and also show off the strong stuff she’s made of, and Jae Shin gets to be angsty. Why complain. Enjoy!
What kept me going through this episode was the interesting and adult conflicts. The principled professor and his brave young student. The pampered lordling and the girl who has had to grow up too fast. The machinating courtiers and their thoughtful king in a political dance. The clash of idealism and pragmatism.
Nonetheless, this is essentially a fun and light-weight show which probably does not bear too much analysis. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode, and I think it was the recapping exercise that actually causes some disgruntlement to seep in: Screen-capping Ha In Soo, it becomes clear he always has the same expressions (fierce and fiercer). And I suspect I’m on a fool’s errand trying to articulate a coherent arc or pattern to Gu Yong Ha’s behaviour – one moment siding with the evil In Soo to trap Sun Joon and plotting to expose Yoon Hee publicly so as to get her executed, next moment inexplicably letting Yoon Hee (that hitherto inconsequential play-thing) see his vulnerable side and showing signs of distaste at In Soo while still smarming up to him.
But never you mind. We are treated to the fleshing out of our Sun Joon as a young man of considerable strength in spite of his privileged background, and our Jae Shin as a young man of considerable principle in spite of his devil-may-care image. And, of course, both growing an admiration for and attraction to their pretty room-mate. The relationship between Yoon Hee and Sun Joon is coming along particularly nicely. It’s fraught at the moment, to be sure, but they are dealing with one another in a way that only soul-mates who engage meaningfully and who truly care can, just as we have our deepest and most painful arguments with the people in our lives we love the most.