Ji-sang is left with a pretty young girl who threatens to kill herself unless he...beds her. Yup, you heard me right. LOL. Ji-sang struggles to overcome his incredulity and put on his best romeo act to calm her down. My my...is she desperate for a man.
In another room, the older ladies sighs and laments about their "extreme" strategy to ensure their bloodlines continue.
Ji-sang plies the girl with wine and only got as far as learning that they are 5 widows before the girl gets more impatient and forces herself on him. Heh. Hae-in barges in and it should be difficult for Ji-sang to explain his compromising position but he lucks out because the girl makes no effort to hide her "intentions".
Anyway all that ruckus alerts Moo-hak and Jong-dae. The women explain that all their men die/leave the village so they had no choice but to take drastic measures. During all this, Hae-in is jealous because the girl keeps calling Ji-sang her hubby. Moo-hak makes a proposition - Ji-sang will solve their problem and if he can't, he shall bed the girl.
Back in the capital, Jung-geun is also bucking up in studies. Young-suk is curious about his sudden enthusiasm but Jung-geun is focused on looking for the Purple Enclosure.
Ban-ya is swapping Bong-chun for Ryun-gae, whom she believes is more powerful and fearless. She wants the Queen's baby out of the way. To prove her sincerity, she even tells Ryun-gae of the spy in her home.
Ji-sang decides to accept the challenge with Hae-in keen to help. They see Jong-dae stumbling out of a room, all weak but satisfied. LOL. He had his way (or is it the other way around) with one of the widows and now his yang energy is almost depleted.
Ban-ya manages to meet the King with Ryun-gae's help. She bids a tearful goodbye while professing her love. The King is moved by the degree of her affection and promises to visit her again soon. A women and her greatest weapon - tears. Hah. And it worked.
Seong-gye hits the books but makes little progress. He wants to enrich his knowledge because he's had enough of being belittled for his ignorance. Da-ran suggests that they find a teacher instead.
Ji-sang and Hae-in starts investigating the village and learn that a lightning lit up the sacred tree in the village. Since then, all the men in the village suffer from inexplicable illness. They check out the tree and it seems that the energy of the place is already affecting them. Ji-sang feels cold but Hae-in is just the opposite - she's hyperactive and openly affectionate. She actually hugs and pecks Ji-sang on the cheek before skipping away. Ji-sang smiles but coughs. Oh uh.
Ryun-gae serves the Queen a cup of tea (spiked?) and the Queen starts having contraction pains. Elsewhere, the King is busy being the ardent lover to Ban-ya. Sometime later, Queen starts bleeding out and asks for her King. Oh uh. She has a miscarriage which leaves her weak and dying. When the King finally shows up, he calms the inconsolable Queen by lying that their baby is well. And so the poor Queen breathes her last, satisfied. The King however, grieves for his Queen. Badly. Perhaps even compounded by guilt.
Ji-sang figures out that the burnt down tree could no longer stop the strong wind coming from the valley. Cold = yin = female. Hot = yang = male. Which is why only the guys are affected. By now, Jong-dae has had enough of his lady love and joins them. Hihi. They concluded that the solution of the problem is to plant a namgeunsuk.
The King wallows in misery and refuses audience with anyone, the Queen Mother included. She is angry to learn that the King's been to see Ban-ya the day before the Queen died. She wants to have Ban-ya arrested but she is nauseous. And in dramaspeak, nauseous= pregnant. Ryun-gae is pleased, the King is pleased and the pleased Shin-don assures the King that it would be a prince. Shin-don is given a post as advisor.
Shin-don calls for In-nim and lays out all the cards - he knows all of In-nim's dirty laundry. So In-nim is to leave and Ryun-gae as well. In-nim shares his concerns with Ryun-gae who's not the least worried. Because she's got Ban-ya on her side. She would be the prince's substitute mother.
Back to the creepy village, turns out namgeunsuk (male root tree) is just a piling of rocks which embodies the male reproductive organ. Anyway,the long term solution would be for the villagers to start planting trees to provide respite from the cold wind rising from the valley.
Ryun-gae confessed that she was never over In-nim. Her feelings are sincere and she'd always had his best interest at heart. In-nim holds her but that look on his face - conflicted?
Seong-gye hilariously goes through several teachers but decides none of them are suitable. Heck, he can't even understand a word they say. He remembers Moo-hak's very direct and clear explanations and decides that Moo-hak would be the best candidate despite his eccentricity.
Ji-sang and gang bid farewell to the villagers. His "wife" is reluctant to let him go and asks that he returns, without Hae-in. Hae-in pouts that she plans to stay by his side.
Hyo-myung tells Yeong-ji that he's got the map to the Purple Enclosure but since Ji-sang still hasn't developed his Heavenly Eye, he's still keeping hold of it. Yeong-ji tells him to pass the map to Ji-sang if he is meant to find the Purple Enclosure. Jung-geun is privy to this conversation. He immediately searches Hyo-myung's house for the map and finds it.
Hae-in tries to blame the village's energy to explain her over affectionate behaviour. Ji-sang teases that she's using that as an excuse to hug him. He adds that he likes it though. And if they head to a village with strong yang energy next, he'd hug her back. Hae-in grins happily.
Armed with the map, Jung-geun sets out in search of the Purple Enclosure. Months seem to have passed because now Ban-ya heartlessly ditches Bong-chum for Ryun-gae as the date of her delivery draws closer.
Ji-sang's group has reached another village, only this time they are kicked out. Well, they are short on money. Moo-hak tells Ji-sang to gamble for more money. Heh. What a great teacher. He gives Ji-sang an advice - don't look at the money, look at the people. He does, and easily earns lots.
The King finally gets his baby and Shin-don finally cues in on his awkward position He's got power but no allies now that Ban-ya chooses Ryun-gae over Bong-chun. Ryun-gae offers to help his cause. Well, herself and In-nim of course. Shin-don is wary but In-nim convinces Shin-don to use him. And his first advice to Shin-don : Get rid of Choi-young.
Bong-chun tries but fails to convince Shin-don that it's a bad idea to collaborate with the evil duo since they'd only tarnish his greater ambition. Choi-young is duly demoted. Choi-young is uneasy that a mere monk is granted the power to interfere in court affairs. Later, Seong-gye asks if Choi-young has thoughts of being a master himself, and no more a hunting dog. Choi-young is speechless and berates him for harboring such treacherous thoughts. A disillusioned Seong-gye declares he shall retire quietly behind the scene too.
Moo-hak speaks of Ji-sang's father and how he admires him. He tells Ji-sang to complete his father's incomplete will - to find the rightful owner of Purple Enclosure.
In-nim assembled a special unit which composes of pretty young boys to attend to the grieving King. Of them, a young man named Hong-ryun seems to be in cohorts with In-nim. (*Gulp. The movie Frozen Flower comes to mind).
Seong-gye finally catches hold of Moo-hak and asks to be his student. Moo-hak asks if he's prepared to kill or save the citizens. And in order to save them, he must first destroy Goryeo. Is he prepared to betray Goryeo?
Seong-gye claims that he's prepared to save Goryeo even if it means that he would be a traitor. And so, Moo-hak agrees to be his teacher but there is someone Seong-gye needs to meet first. Moo-hak calls for Ji-sang and starts explaining about the origin of Purple Enclosure - it's formed by the blood and tears of the people and represents the people's hope. Therefore, it cannot be shown to just anyone but a certain destined leader. So for Ji-sang to find it, it makes more sense for him to look for the rightful owner of that land - like Seong-gye?
When the time is right and Seong-gye is ready, the Purple Enclosure will appear. So to Ji-sang, the person he needs to follow is Seong-gye. To Seong-gye, the person he needs is Ji-sang. And so our two heroes' lives are entwined. Jong-dae eavesdrops on thier conversation.
Shin-don is busy implementing new policies which involves returning the lands from the nobles to the commoners. In-nim and Ryun-gae cooperates on the surface but In-nim gripes in dissatisfaction once they are alone. Ryun-gae mollifies his feathers by revealing her plans to hasten Shin-don's downfall - a woman.
The woman plays the damsel in distress card to approach Shin-don - a lowly maid on the run from abusive masters. She eventually offers herself to him and her alleged backstory strikes a chord with Shin-don who accepts her. Hmm. That was EASY.
Elsewhere, Jong-dae informs Jung-geun about Seong-gye being the rightful owner of Purple Enclosure.
Meanwhile, Ji-sang undergoes training under Moo-hak's watchful eye. It's a hands on kind of thing and progress is slow but he's got Hae-in by his side. She frets over him and he basks in her concern.
5 years later, it's the 20th year of King GongMin's rule. By now, Ji-sang has improved by leaps and bounds. His sense and reflexes are top-notched and his Heavenly Eye fully functional. It's time to honor his promise to the King. He must return to the palace and answer to the King.
Ji-sang first informs Hae-in of his decision. She's reluctant for him to return to the palace, given his uncertain fate. Ji-sang asks if she'd wait for him regardless and she promises to. And they seal their promise with a kiss.
Next, he stops by the Northeast border to pay a visit to Seong-gye. Both openly address their respective dilemmas. Ji-sang would probably steal the Purple Enclosure to save his mum than hand it over to the rightful owner, Seong-gye. Likewise, Seong-gye ponders if it's wiser to send Ji-sang away than to keep him by his side since he knows that Ji-sang would steal the Purple Enclosure. In the end, Seong-gye decides to keep him. Aww, they're sort of like besties now.
Everyone sets foot back to Gae-sung. Jong-dae actually excuses himself first- he missed his missus. Ji-sang and Hae-in are now in a openly hand-holding relationship.
Shin-don's fate is decided when all the carefully placed chess pieces convenes to determine his guilt. He can hardly defend himself before the King in the face of hard evidence and is duly sentenced to death. Besides his liaison with a woman, his downfall is also attributed to the enemies he made through his policies which resulted in him being ostracized by the rich and powerful nobles. Moo-hak and Ban-ya are there to witness his final moments.
Jung-geun introduces Jong-dae to his evil parents, who gets an update on the current situation regarding Seong-gye. They are wary but unable to go on the offensive for the moment. Jong-dae is to continue his surveillance.
In-nim invites Seong-gye over for some drinking session and tries to provoke him. Unlike days of old, Seong-gye actually swallows his pride and plays the coward move. In-nim is satisfied with the new submissive Seong-gye.
Meanwhile, we catch up with the little prince (Ban-ya's child) who's growing up well - a smart kid. Moments later, we see the little guy kidnapped by Bong-chun.
As expected, the King immediately sentenced Ji-sang to death when he returns empty-handed. Mum tries to buy him time by offering her life instead - it doesn't work. And who should come to his rescue but step daddy dearest In-nim who's here to report the prince's disappearance. Ji-sang is granted the chance to find the prince and if he succeeds, the King will spare his life.
Jung-geun meets Hae-in at SWG and she tells him honestly how she sees herself as Ji-sang's wife. Oof, another blow to poor Jung-geun, but it's not like he did anything for her in the last five years. All of SWG disciples also receive orders to find the prince, Ji-sang included. Hae-in is ecstatic to learn of this current twist. Ji-sang promises to find the prince so she wouldn't become a widow. Aww.
The lovers playful conversation is overheard by the green-eyed Jung-geun. Jung-geun receives an advantage with the date of birth of the prince provided by Young-suk.Well, in short his clue is water and they postulate that the prince must be somewhere near water. Jung-geun despatches a search party with the instructions to scour all places close to a water source.
Comment: The date of birth is part of the Chines Zodiac in which the 5 elements (water, fire, wood, earth, metal) plays an important role. You can read more on that here.
Ji-sang and Hae-in investigates he servants at the residence, with Jong-dae on their tail. Ji-sang quickly homes in on a suspicious maid who eventually admits that a female merchant was in the premise earlier. From the description of her features, they conclude that the kidnapper is born with a fire element. Which means she would be near wood, as in the forest.
Jung-geun finally realized that his deduction is flawed because the prince must have been kidnapped. He retraces his steps back to the residence and is just a step behind Ji-sang. At that point, Ji-sang and Hae-in have already identified the likeliest hill - JinBoong Hill. They split up with Ji-sang going first in search while Hae-in recruits help from Seong-gye.
Ji-sang stops his blind search and deduces that the kidnapper is most likely somewhere he deems safe equivalent to a mother's embrace. He glances at the shapes of the hills - one of which embodies a mother rat.
Moo-hak informs Hyo-myung that the time is right to pass the map to Ji-sang. And only NOW that he discovers that the map is missing.
Jung-geun finally catches up with his search party to the same hill, thanks to a timely head up by Jong-dae. Ji-sang finds the wooden hut where Bong-chun is keeping the little prince hostage. As Ji-sang negotiates with her, someone knocks her out. It's Jung-geun's search party, Jung-geun forcibly grabs the prince from Ji-sang. But right outside, Seong-gye and reinforcements have just arrived. Jung-geun surrenders the prince knowing he's at a disadvantage and retreats.
Seong-gye finds Ji-sang in the hut. Bong-chun is awake and hysterical - screaming that the prince would bring the downfall of Goryeo.
Later, as Hae-in piggybacks a sleeping prince, Ji-sang teases her for being good with children. Hae-in shyly says that she'd be happy with just a child who resembles him and look forward to them being a happy family. Oy, they're being so lovey dovey I'm getting a bad premonition.
Bong-chun tells Seong-gye about In-nim and Ryun-gae's evil deed and how they'd use the child to harm the King.
The King explains gently to Ban-ya that the Queen Mother still refuses to accept them so she is to wait some more.
Back in the palace, the King continues his decadent lifestyle by indulging with his boy toys, with Hong-ryun being his favourite. In-nim strikes a deal with Hong-ryun. All he has to do is to make sure the King continues to neglect his duties. Ryun-gae adds that he must be prepared to assassinate the King at one point.
Seong-gye is keen to expose In-nim but Moo-hak thinks it's futile with the King's current state of mind (he's changed after Noguks death).
Jung-geun reports that Bong-chun is the kidnapper, and right now likely have joined Seong-gye's gang. That worries the evil duo because Bong-chun knows a lot about them.
We've reached and passed my favourite part of every hero story - the training. I find that K-dramas seldom dwell on this part of the hero's growth. Oh well, we move on. Unfortunately, is it me or are we moving back in circles. I believe this is the fourth time that Ji-sang is back at SWG. He's hardly stayed for long, always ending up being kicked out for some reason or other. Actually, I had anticipated a story that begins right about here but for some reason, we always seem to move away. So much so that I'm actually doubtful that SWG is integral to the hero's experience at all.
But the scary thing is I'm only halfway to the finish line. And our couple are already together, Jung-geun as the third wheel is totally redundant. I did read somewhere that Hae-in will be romantically linked to Seong-gye as well though I'm curious how they're gonna make that work. But it's not like the Hae-in - Ji-sang loveline was handled well. Ah well.