Sob sob T.T
This is a particularly poignant episode for me because of these two:
Myeon asks SR for SY’s whereabouts, she tries to bluff that he has already left. However, Myeon is no fool and sees through her lie. He raises his sword to SR to force SY to reveal himself.
While our hero is still hesitating, KH intervenes to defend SR. Jeong who is anxious to protect his beloved wife also stands up to Myeon -- disarming a hesitant Myeon.
SY shoots at Myeon in the shoulder, inadvertently revealing his position and all hell breaks lose and both troops engage in battle. SY forces his way through the fighting to SR’s side and Jeong helps to restrain JaBun while they reluctantly escape.
The fighting is still ongoing and Jeong thoughtfully shields KH from the gory sights. Myeon who appears to be fine despite being struck by the arrow, reads the situation and queries Jeong on the curious presence of official troops. Jeong pretends to be indignant and dares him to arrest him again. Myeon brings up the matter of him being the lone survivor in the sayushin incident– indirectly insulting him for being a coward. KH and Jeong glare at him, appalled by his spitefulness.
Jeong manhandles Myeon in anger and shoves JaBun out of the way when he tries to restrain him. The letter he has been keeping in his sleeve falls out in the tussle – JaBun reaches for it before Jeong. JaBun passes the letter hurriedly to Myeon after reading its content. Myeon is stupefied to learn that Jeong is planning another coup.
SY is worried, so they turn back to check on Jeong but is told that he’s been arrested for treason because of the letter. SY is sure that Jeong will be imprisoned at the Capital Bureau. KH wants to follow them into the capital.
King Sejo is furious to learn of Jeong’s latest attempt to overthrow him. He wants Jeong sentenced to death by dismemberment of all four limbs (This is an extreme form of killing method – the limbs and head are tied separately to a horse and ripped apart from the torso when the beasts move in opposing directions). Prince GeumSung’s part in the plan is noted and he too is to be punished.
Myeon is dressing his wound when JaBun reports that Jeong is sentenced to death tomorrow. Myeon visits Jeong in the prison to deliver the news. Jeong is surprisingly calm when told but panicked when he finds out that Myeon wants to capture SY with him as bait.
When SY, SR, KH and EunGeum reach MaBu, they are surprised to find BingGukKwan locked up. Fortunately, NohGul who is tasked by Jo to wait for SY, leads them to Lady Ryu and Ah Kang’s place where everyone is holed up at the moment. The officials from the bureau were harassing them after Jo’s release so they figured they might as well close BingGukKwan to avoid further trouble. SY apologizes to everyone for placing them in such unpleasant predicament. Everyone except ChuHee does not seem to mind much. SY is anxious to seek out Jeong but KH offers to go the Capital Bureau instead, believing she stands a better chance in meeting Jeong. SY asks NohGul to invite Lord Park over discreetly.
KH manages to meet Jeong, with the authorization from Myeon who tries to strike her a deal – her husband’s live for SY’s. KH considers this, her hands trembling.
Jeong is preoccupied thinking about Myeon’s conviction to trap SY that he is slow to register the presence of KH. KH eagerly tells him about Myeon’s deal. Loath to damper her cautious optimism, he nevertheless informs her about his impending execution the next day and points out the stark truth that Suyang will never spare him this time. KH’s face falls as she realizes the truth in his words. Holding on to her last glimmer of hope, she relays SY’s message – they will rescue him tonight. Once again, Jeong patiently analyzes the situation for her – his death is inevitable but they need SY to stay alive to continue their fight against Suyang. Desperate, KH places his hand on her abdomen, willing him to consider staying alive for the sake of their unborn child. Reining in his tears and pain with great difficulty, he reasons that SY coming to save him will not change the outcome of his fate, but only put himself in danger as well. He asks her to hide the fact that his execution is tomorrow from SY and to delay his rescue mission.
SY explains to Lord Park that their plans have leaked – the Prince Consort has been arrested and he needs their help to rescue Jeong. We learn that Official Lee from Gwangju (Prince GeumSung’s messenger from epi 20) is arrested as well and Lord Park and his men have been barred from firearms which would have been useful in their rescue mission. SY informs Park that he will seek him out tonight for the rescue mission. Park excuses himself, but notes SR’s curious presence.
KH returns, stares at SY – sighing melancholy before going to her room. SR is worried and tries to find out what happened. KH tells SR everything, from Jeong’s execution to hiding the truth from SY.
SR becomes the unwitting accomplice as KH adheres to Jeong’s request and lies that Jeong wants him to delay the rescue mission because the security will be tight tonight. Furthermore, he might be spared because of their child.
Alone in her room, KH cries for her husband. Heartbreaking stuff.
In the prison, Jeong requests for paper and brush – to name his unborn child. The guard complies, albeit with tacit permission from Myeon.
Song is still critically ill and requests to leave the palace. Queen JeongHui thinks that he must be missing their old home. King Sejo also approves, desperate to see his son recover.
KH grooms herself wanting to leave a good last impression for her husband. She visits Jeong again, insisting on witnessing his execution if only for the sake of their unborn child – she wants the child to know how righteous his father is. Jeong slips her a paper with two names, a boy’s and a girl’s name, and tells her to raise the child well.
The guards come for Jeong, escorting him to the execution ground. On the way, Myeon is waiting for him.
M: In the end, you still choose to die…
J: Are you afraid of SY? SY does not know I am to die today.
J: In the end, you still can’t catch him…
M: How ruthless…
J: Myeon ah….though I hated you, I do not despise you. SY is pitiful…you are pitiful too.
Meanwhile, Park informs SY that Jeong’s execution is today. SR drops her basket in shock but SY notes that she does not look confused. SY asks her if it’s true but she doesn’t say a word. SY rushes off with Jo, Nohgul and Park close behind. SR belatedly follows too.
At the execution ground, King Sejo is overseeing the execution personally, requesting the presence of all officials to serve as warning against those still considering going against him. Jeong is brought before him but demonstrates no fear or remorse.
J: Suyang. Listen carefully. Even if I die, my ghost will return to haunt you in your dreams. Your descendants…they too will suffer!!
King Sejo is infuriated by his insolent speech and orders that he be executed immediately. Jeong seeks out KH in the crowd, the two of them trying valiantly to smile amidst their tears. (I am blown away by their acting here. Incredible.)
Jeong is duly executed; his blood still stains the ground when SY finally arrives much later. SR watches from afar as SY cries in anguish for the loss of his precious friend.
SR worriedly shadows a wandering SY, anticipating his accusation and reproach. When he does lashes out at her, she only looks at him in tearful silence, empathizing with his pain.
Myeon is trying to drink himself to oblivion. He confides to JaBun that he is tired of living, overwhelmed by the fact that he has killed his own friend. (Sheesh…what kind of relationship does these two have. And it strikes me as really weird that he is grieving more for Jeong than he had ever done so for SY. In fact, what he’s done to SY is comparatively worse! I can only say that he must have favored Jeong more…)
SR and SY returns to find KH sitting in the yard, lost in her sorrow. Uncomprehendingly, SY asks her why. She tells him it is what Jeong wanted and he should honor Jeong’s wish. She asks that he retrieves his body, desperate for her husband to rest in peace. (It is a culture in the olden days that the body must be complete and buried in ground for the soul to rest in peace).
SY, with the help of Jo and NohGul manages to retrieve Jeong’s remains which were paraded at the city’s gate. They bury his remains while SR watches from afar, apologizing to them.
In the palace, King Sejo’s cronies are petitioning for the death of ex-King DanJong whom they view as a threat. King Sejo hesitates to sentence his young nephew to death when considering his ailing son. His cronies convince him that DanJong’s death is necessary to clear all obstacles for Song’s future accession.
Later, King Sejo indulges in his new hobby again – drinking. He’s apparently feeling a little sorry for his nephew, he who killed his own brother for the throne. Queen JeongHui tells him to be strong, even promising to pray for him to the Buddha. (This sounds all sorts of wrong!) He’s decided to sentence Prince GeumSung and DanJong to death by poison and demote KH to a slave faraway at the borders, hoping this will prevent further bloodshed.
KH is taking the news hard, barely able to summon her appetite. EunGeum pledges to stay with her to the very end.
SR has been waiting for KH to meet her for several days. She kneels before her. KH sends her away even though she knows it’s hardly her fault. To be fair, she isn’t rude to SR but the wedge between them is just too deep. I suspect it is the same feelings that drove KH to make SR the unwitting accomplice in the matter of Jeong's death. She loves her cousin but could never completely repress her hatred towards her because of SR's relation to King Sejo. She could've lied to SY alone, keeping the matter to herself. By telling SR, she is subjecting her to the same torture she has to endure.
SY broods in his room, frustrated and miserable. SR calls out to him.
SR: I’ll be waiting for you outside. If you feel like talking, I’ll be here.
SY: I feel like letting go of everything – my father’s revenge…my love for you. And just leave…to a faraway place. Why am I so weak? Why do I insist on joining a fight I have no way of winning?
SR: So…have you decided to leave?
SY: (Shakes his head slowly). Teacher and Jeong have given me a mission.
SR: What is it?
SY: Now the only person who can oppose Suyang….there’s only me.
SY: I care not if I’m injured and die…as long as I put up a good fight, victory is not important. I will not avoid fighting just because I fear defeat.
SR leans on his shoulder, silent and accepting.
SY: The fight will begin soon. Your burden will be even greater then…I’m sorry for causing you greater hurt…
SR: No…it’s alright. I know not how to atone for my sins.
SY meets up with Park and his men and learns that Song is now ill and residing in his old house. SY suggests relocating their headquarters to another place because his identity is well-known around these parts. They will rebuild their strength at the new place until they are strong enough to oppose Suyang. Park suggests that they move to HamGilDou, a place where General Kim used to spend time at, where they will surely receive support.
Meanwhile, SR is at the temple and learns that her brother is ill. She runs into her mother, who was there to pray. The Queen is glad to see her safe. SR refuses to disclose where she is staying. The Queen enlightens her on her brother’s condition – they are unsure of the exact nature of his illness but he is losing weight day after day, he is currently resting at their old house and asks for SR every now and then. The Queen implores her to return, promising to convince her father to forgive her and concedes that she could stay at their old house if she detests the palace. SR is torn – she is worried about her brother but she is bitter over the way her father treated Princess KH. The Queen asks if she’s determined to oppose her father. SR replies that she does not want him to die. Her contradictory words lead the Queen to her next question.
Q: What is it you want to achieve?
SR could not answer and excuses herself. The Queen is disappointed she is abandoning her family for an outsider.
Queen JeongHui relates her meeting with SR to King Sejo, confident she can convince SR to return. For a moment there I thought he’d actually forgiven her because he is receptive to the idea of SR’s return, but no, the King is only interested to know if SR is still with SY. He orders Myeon to use SR to capture SY. All the servants overhear this- Yeori included.
When SR shows up at the old house, Yeori leads her aside, telling her about the King’s plans. In a moment of weakness, Yeori asks if it is possible for her to return, addressing her as Princess. One of Park’s men who is spying on the place, hears them.
He brings up the matter in their meeting. SY does not deny her identity but insists that she is on their side. Park warns that their men in HamGilDou would not welcome her with open arms because of her identity and advises him against bringing her along. SR overhears their conversation. Even Jo is against him involving SR in their plans, though he actually means well.
J: I know her loyalty is not to be doubted and that she’s a lovely and kind-hearted girl. But it’s precisely because she is that kind of girl, she would hurt more. Don’t you realize that? Even if she’s cut off all ties with her father, how can you expect her to stay by your side and watch while you kill her father?
NohGul: Anxious when together, similarly anxious when not together.
(This is the first time NohGul says something of worth!)
SR is tending to the sleeping AhKang, still disturbed by what she heard when SY calls for her. He tells her of his plans to relocate to HamGilDou and comforts her regarding her brother’s condition. When SY turns to leave, SR requests to ride the horse. Even though it was rather late, SY does not have the heart to refuse her knowing how down she has been lately.
The two of them ride into the night, temporarily forgetting their troubles and content in each other’s company. Suddenly, it rains heavily and they seek shelter at an abandoned hut. SY tells her to enter and wipe herself dry while he searches for light.
Inside, she removes her dripping blouse and unconsciously reaching for her scar from the arrow. When SY enters a moment later, she quickly puts on her blouse. But the air is crackling with awkwardness as SY hesitates before placing the light in the room and putting a blanket on her.
SR: Teacher, I will not be joining you…I do not wish to be your burden.
SY: What do you mean? Did you, by any chance heard them speaking about it?
SR: I will await your return…Please do not forget me…
SY: I will definitely bring you along with me…
SY notes her distress and hugs her from behind, etiquette be damned. He slowly removes her blouse and blanket, caresses the scar which is now symbolic of her love and sacrifice for him, and kisses her scar gently.
Their dilemma was never resolved. The conflict was always there, threatening to surface at the expense of their admirable but ultimately tragic love. Everything that has happened thus far only serves to pull them further and further apart. Her father’s continued violence, Jeong’s death, KH’s banishment, SY’s inability to abandon his revenge, his men’s rejection of her presence, her brother’s illness and her love for her father --- it is impossible for SR to ignore all these, however hard she tries. It is telling that she is withdrawing herself from him, and SY senses this and tries to hold onto her in desperation, reluctant to let her go yet understanding that her torn allegiance would tear her apart.
The last scene is beautiful, but tragic because of the future it implies.