Oh lord, I just realized we've only covered thirty years in our story. And there's 20 years more before the darn Purple Enclosure is supposed to work its magic, and that's like 16 episodes more. I'm sorry to have to break this, but I don't think I can continue recapping this anymore - it's just not hooking me in (it had 18 hours to convince me). It pains me to admit that I literally have to force myself to sit through an episode to come up with the recap. I may post just short summaries if I ever get around to watching the rest of the episodes, but I don't want to make a promise I can't keep, especially for those who love this drama. So I thought I might as well make my stance clear for those who are still patiently waiting for the recaps. *Mianhae* T.T
In-nim and Jung-geun is eager to attack first but Ryun-gae advises caution. Seong-gye will likely try to approach the King and they must prevent that.
Seong-gye actually wants In-nim dead. Moo-hak chides his temper and impatience but Seong-gye is worried that In-nim will gain more power if they dilly-dally further, and thus the people would suffer. Moo-hak asks if he's prepared to rule the country if he is in power. Would he choose to make peace or go to war with the people who opposes him? If he can't answer that, he's not ready and the people will also suffer. But Seong-gye is mindful of the power In-nim will gain if they do nothing. He dispatches a soldier to inform Choi-young of the situation. Meantime, he plans to see the King and alert him of In-nim's nefarious plans.
Ji-sang gets fitted with new clothes and gifts Hae-in a ring with the black tortoise motive, grateful that his mother's ring led to their fateful meeting. He's all nerves as they prepare to meet Hyo-myung and Ji-sang will formally ask for her hand in marriage. It gets a bit awkward when they bump into Jung-geun who's there to pay a visit to Hyo-myung as well. Jung-geun notes their clasped hands but leaves without a word.
Ji-sang asks for Hae-in but is refused outright by Hyo-myung. He doesn't elaborate but he is firm in his decision, leaving Ji-sang and Hae-in puzzled.
Meanwhile, Jung-geun also asks In-nim for permission to marry Hae-in. In-nim disapproves because he thinks Hae-in unworthy and not beneficial to his career.
Alone, Hae-in cannot understand Hyo-myung's objection. Ji-sang is optimistic and assures her he'd get his approval somehow. Hae-in gives him a necklace with a spider pendant (spider to ward off 5 evils and invite 5 luck) and they share a hug.
Seong-gye tries to request an audience with the King but is predictable intercepted by In-nim and Jung-geun. Jung-geun asks about Bong-chun. Seong-gye is again all meek and submissive and claims that Bong-chun has already committed suicide when he found her. It says a lot that he's no longer as confrontational as he used to. Anyway, he's got no choice but to retreat for now. He does note the curious presence of the new boys though.
Ji-sang calls to Seong-gye as he leaves but he's soon regretting that because Seong-gye wants him to help arrange a meeting with the King. Ji-sang is reluctant to get embroiled in new trouble now that he's back in SWG. Yeah and risk another kickout. Especially since In-nim harming the King does not contradict with Seong-gye's grander plans to become Goryeo's King either. But Seong-gye is loyal to the bone and ask for payback - he IS Ji-sang's savior after all.
Not sure if the King will listen because when In-nim enters the King's chamber, we see that the King is indulging his boy toys and shows no sign of interest in the outside world. In-nim warns Hong-ryun not to allow anyone to meet the King, especially Seong-gye.
Ji-sang is deep in thought when Hae-in finds him. She tells him that Moo-hak has agreed to speak to dad on their behalf. Ji-sang then explains about Seong-gye's favor. Both crack their heads and figure out that they should try to approach one of the boys who's always by the King's side. But first, they need to identify someone who would listen, someone who has the King's best interest at heart. On that front, they are successful.
Hyo-myung admits that he thinks he's wronged Ji-sang because of his part in Dong-ryun's death, which is the reason behind his objection. But Moo-hak wonders if he's holding out because Hae-in's is supposedly fated to be a Queen. Hyo-myung denies vehemently and Moo-hak hopes for Hae-in's sake that that is the case.
Ji-sang leads the compassionate boy to Seong-gye, not realizing that he's being watched by Jong-dae. Seong-gye appeals to the boy to arrange a meeting with the King. Too bad, Jong-dae is already reporting to the baddies who immediately figure out his plan.
As predicted, even though the boy agrees to help but In-nim has him arrested before Seong-gye manages to sneak in. Plan foiled.
The evil couple debates over killing the King. They are holding back because Ban-ya's son is not yet made Prince. The Queen Mother still objects. Ban-ya wants to try, with her son as leverage. And THEN, they can kill the King. *shudders* When did Ban-ya become so cold-blooded?
Ryun-gae leads Ban-ya and the little boy into the Queen Mother's chambers. As expected, the Queen Mother is frosty and contemptuous. Ban-ya swallows her pride and urges her son to greet the Queen Mother, hoping to melt her frosty demeanor. And it works - the Queen Mother softens at the sight of the intimidated boy and wants to speak to Ban-ya alone.
Ji-sang asks Hae-in about the Lion stone sculpture and learns that it's placed to ward off bad energy. Hae-in also explains how they would usually place "haetae" to prevent fires.
In Chinese and Korean mythology, the haetae (獬豸 Xiè-zhì, hsieh-chih/해태) (often spelled haitai) is a legendary creature which resembles a lion but is, in fact, a fire-eating dog. It is believed as a guardian against disaster and prejudice. Furthermore, they are said to guard against all forms of disruptive or violent change. It has the body of a lion, and occasionally is depicted with a unicorn-like horn. The haetae is also thought to be a symbol of water, due to their fire-eating qualities, and a symbol of justice".
The Queen Mother finally softens her stance. She agrees to accept her son but Ban-ya must never see him again. Her son would be raised by another court lady. Ban-ya agrees but asks for a chance to say goodbye.
Ban-ya explains to her son that he'd have to live in the palace from now on without her. Now just in case we think she's being all noble, she's really not. She tells the frightened child to ask for her everyday until she is returned to his side. I know it must be sad for her to leave her child but I can't be more sympathetic when she's being this manipulative.
Ji-sang and Hae-in sets off little fires to the King's chamber by using rats.The smoke raise a minor scare but the currently crazed King is generally unperturbed. The SWG professors , Yeong-ji, Young-suk and Hy-myung, puzzles over the unlikely fire. They decide that new haetae sculptures are needed to increase the essence of water around the King's palace.
Ji-sang finds mum and learns of the plans. Mum invites him for breakfast and they share a heart-warming meal whereby he tells her of his intention to marry Hae-in and asks for her help. Yeong-ji assures him that Hyo-myung will agree sooner or later. They're interrupted by Jung-geun and Yeong-ji tells him to leave. Oof.
Not content with that blow, our dear Jung-geun has to seek more pain by asking Hae-in to marry him. Hae-in apologizes but he feels aggrieved. Why Ji-sang? He met her first, loved her first and waited for her all these time. Hae-in tells him in no uncertain terms that she'd never choose him over Ji-sang. Oof again.
He's still licking his wounds when Yeong-ji stops by later, apologizing for turning him away earlier. She expresses her wish that he and Ji-sang can be brothers. Jung-geun agrees weakly but asks who will she side with if both her sons love the same woman. Ji-sang plans to marry Hae-in but mum should know how he'd crushed on Hae-in since young. He's already lost mum to Ji-sang, so he appeals to mum to help him win Hae-in. Ack, emotional blackmail?
Seong-gye is getting impatient but Ji-sang comes to him with a plan. But Seong-gye would have to follow him unarmed. Seong-gye is to disguise as the servants who'd carry the sculpture into the palace.
Hyo-myung still opposes no matter how Hae-in pleads, even to the extent of moving away and threatening to severe their father-daughter ties.But without a legitimate reason for objecting, Hae-in also stands firm and regretfully chooses Ji-sang over dad.
Jung-geun negotiates with Ji-sang. He agrees to treat him like a brother only if Ji-sang agrees to let Hae-in go. Not surprisingly, it's a no go. So now mum would just have to watch while the brothers fight it out over a woman.
Meanwhile, Choi-young finally gets the update from Seong-gye's messenger. He plans to return to Gaesung to support Seong-gye in thwarting In-nim.
Seong-gye finally sneaks into the King's chamber successfully with Ji-sang's help. But the sight that greets him - the King in role-playing with his boy toy - renders him speechless. He approaches carefully and knock out the boy. But the King is no longer the same so even as Seong-gye tries to explain the situation, all he gets are blank looks and incoherent responses. Shocked and disappointed, he laments to Ji-sang later that Goryeo no longer has a King.
Seong-gye shares his disappointment with Moo-hak who remarks there's still 20 years before the Purple Enclosure would work. Seong-gye's resolved to work hard until then to be a capable leader. He will round out like-minded subordinates and conserve his resources. But Moo-hak reminds him that there's something more important at the moment - for Seong-gye to stay alive. The oncoming power struggle will be fierce and he must emerge unscathed.
Ban-ya's son is duly installed as the prince. So now, it's time to kill the King. In-nim and Ryun-gae warns Hong-ryun that they'd be dead anyway if Choi-young catches wind of their intimate relationship with the King so he must act before that. Hong-ryun is all tears as he considers this.
Later that night, In-nim made changes to the security arrangements for the assassination. Seong-gye gets wind of the abnormal movement of In-nim's men and suspects something's afoot. He plans to go to the King's aid but Ji-sang suggest that they wait for his signal after he checks out the palace.
But that plan fails too because Ji-sang is denied entry into the palace. As they crouch in wait, they wonder if they're already too late.
The King's boys proceeds to kill the poor unsuspecting King with a a heavy heart. I suppose it's pretty hard on them since they appear genuinely fond of the King.
The job all done, they're full of remorse and turn to In-nim who'd promised them refuge. In-nim however repays them by having them slayed on the accusation of assassinating the King. Sigh. Naive idiots.
In-nim taunts the dying King who breathes his last. Then the realization that he's the real King now dawns. It's In-nim's era now. *Gulps.
Considering how much I love the cast, it's just sad that I don't love the story as much. I can tolerate bad technical aspects but if the story cannot engage me, I find myself at a lost. It's near impossible for me to continue watching, let alone recap if I cannot enjoy myself. I've felt disengaged for a while now but I also felt bad discontinuing the recaps for the few who do read them. On the other hand, I felt as bad writing a lousy recap for a drama for which I can hardly summon any enthusiasm.
Like I said, I might still check out the episodes and post summaries, but don't get your hopes too high. Anyway, it's a little late, but Happy New Year everyone!