A belated Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone! I’ve missed you all, I hope you guys had a lovely time of festivities with friends and family. ❤️
Here are our usual ground rules, before we begin:
1. Please don’t post spoilers in the Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point. I repeat: no spoilers for future episodes please! We have quite a few first-time viewers among us, and we don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
2. Discussions on this thread don’t have to close when newer threads open, just so you know! But as we progress through our group watch, please keep the discussions clear of spoilers from future episodes, so that future readers coming to this thread won’t be accidentally spoiled. Does that make sense?
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this pair of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
After the comparatively more action-packed recent episodes, this episode feels like a lull before a storm. I mean, there are things that happen, and people that die, but overall, it does feel like this episode is more muted than average, like people and things are being shifted into place for the next arc of our story.
Lady Ninja dies by her own dagger while fighting Tae Ha, and Tae Ha’s slave tattoo is revealed when his head sash is sliced off mid-fight. It never occurred to me before, but in that flashback that we get, of Eonnyeon watching her brother burn off his slave tattoo, he seems to leave the hot tong on his chest for an incredibly extended period of time. This is, I think, definitely for dramatic purposes, since, 1, it really doesn’t require such a long time for a red-hot tong to burn off your flesh, and 2, it’s hard to believe that he’d be physically able to hold it in place for so long, since it’d be debilitatingly painful. By extension, I find it super hard to believe that the super delicate Eonnyeon would have been able to endure a similarly lengthy procedure to burn off her own slave tattoo. 😜
I do quite like the fact that Eonnyeon and Tae Ha finally talk about the truth of his slave status. Eonnyeon asks the questions gently but firmly, and basically conveys that she needs to know the truth, if she is to travel with Tae Ha. Previously, I’d felt quite indifferent to this conversation, because I’d found the Eonnyeon-Tae Ha arc boring in comparison to all the action occurring elsewhere in our story, but this time, I definitely appreciate it more. It feels like a step in a healthy direction, and I rather like the mutual appreciation that seems to grow out of this. Certainly, this doesn’t excuse the fact that Eonnyeon insists on knowing the truth of Tae Ha’s slave background, but does not tell him the truth about her own slavery.
The fight between Dae Gil and Baek Ho’s men is very acrobatic, but it’s cut short when Baek Ho shows Dae Gil a painting of Eonnyeon, which stuns Dae Gil into a trance. That gives Baek Ho his chance to kill Dae Gil as per Keunnom’s (Eonnyeon’s brother) orders, but General Choi comes to the rescue with a flying spear that basically impales Baek Ho. Gosh, that’s some serious thrust and velocity in General Choi’s spear throwing prowess!
It honestly does bug me a bit, that Eonnyeon is essentially Dae Gil’s kryptonite. Any mention of her, or painting of her, is enough to put him in a trance where he can’t think of anything else except tracking her down. Any and all badassery is gone in the meantime, and I guess it bothers me that she has such an inexplicable power over Dae Gil. 😅
I’d forgotten for a bit, that Dae Gil gets separated from General Choi and Wangson in his effort to find Eonnyeon, and I’m glad that Seol Hwa has the presence of mind and quick reflexes, to go after Dae Gil. Seol Hwa is right; Dae Gil does look like he’s going to do something mad dangerous, and I’m glad that Seol Hwa is there to ground him, even if it’s just a little bit.
Gah. The way Ji Ho’s two men get poisoned and then strung up at the pavilion, is pretty sick. I mean, I get that the food wasn’t given to them, and so, if they’d been smart enough to run away the minute they had a chance, they wouldn’t have been poisoned. But, I also have a feeling that Left State Minister would have then used other means to ensure that these two wouldn’t survive to tell the tale.
I have to say that even though I knew that Han Seom had a mission to protect the prince, I was quite shocked when he turned around and killed his fellow guards, so that he could take the prince and run, after seeing Commander Hwang. I rationalize that this was the fastest way he could get going, but it does feel rather hard to reconcile the fact that Han Seom’s one of the “good guys,” with him killing his innocent colleagues like that. 😝
I wasn’t as shocked when Commander Hwang slit the throat of Ji Ho’s righthand man, for daring to ask for more money, in the midst of an urgent situation like a missing prince. I mean, that I kind of expected, since Commander Hwang isn’t supposed to be one of the good guys. 😅
While Han Seom and his court lady go on the run, I can’t help but admire the gorgeous scenery, all over again. It’s just so expansive and panoramic, and just ups this show’s epic factor by a thousand. 🤩
When Dae Gil comes face to face with Keunnom, and we see the flashback of how Dae Gil had been stuck in the fire, it strikes me that he’d called out to Keunnom for help. And instead of giving him help, Keunnom had instead attacked him and slashed him in the face.
That makes the betrayal even worse, I feel, because Dae Gil had looked to him to save him. It’s no wonder that Dae Gil reacts with such strong emotion and starts charging at Keunnom with his knife drawn. This man had basically played a huge part in destroying Dae Gil’s life as he’d known it.
Augh, what an emotional, tense, complicated confrontation this turns out to be, between Dae Gil and Keunnom. It occurs to me that Keunnom must have not only killed Dae Gil’s family, but must have also stolen money from the household, otherwise how would he have had the money to buy himself into nobility?
Also, what a world-tilting revelation for Dae Gil, to realize that Keunnom is his half-brother. I’d forgotten that detail, and I legit gasped when Keunnom revealed that, because it means that he’d killed his own father, in order to save his half-sister. At first glance, that’s very dysfunctional indeed, but when we see what had happened via the flashback, I feel more sympathetic towards him. Like Keunnom said, he would not have turned on his master, if he hadn’t been desperate to save Eonnyeon, and the reason Eonnyeon had been in danger, was because Dae Gil had been foolhardy enough to declare to his father that he wanted to marry her.
In that sense, Keunnom is correct in saying that it all had happened because of Dae Gil. And I think that that’s part of the reason Dae Gil looks so blindsided. The thing that blindsides him the most, though, is the nugget of information that Keunnom passes on, that Eonnyeon has joined in conjugal ties with Song Tae Ha.
I feel like Eonnyeon is a dream that Dae Gil’s been holding onto for all these years, in order to keep himself going. His life has been so drastically changed, and he’s lost everything, so I think the only thing that he can hold onto, to motivate himself to keep on going and keep on living, is the dream of Eonnyeon. And this episode, Dae Gil’s finally being forced to let that dream go.
You can practically see the life force drain out of Dae Gil, the way he becomes a barely functioning zombie. There’s so many facets of emotion in his eyes; jadedness, derision, disappointment, sorrow, disbelief, hopelessness; it all leaks out from his gaze, and I feel like we are witnessing the beginning of a huge fundamental shift for him.
I know we’ve talked about how Eonnyeon is basically a catalyst – and that she definitely is – but I can’t help thinking, this episode, how so many things could’ve been different, if not for her. If not for her, Tae Ha could’ve moved so much faster, and then perhaps Court Lady wouldn’t have died, or perhaps Han Seom wouldn’t have gotten hurt. If not for Tae Ha going back to get her, Han Seom and the little prince could have left on the that raft, together with Tae Ha, and not have to stand around waiting, risking being found by everyone who’s on their tail. So while I’m reminding myself that Eonnyeon is a catalyst, so that these things can happen, I can’t help feeling frustrated at her for existing, heh. 😜
I find Han Seom’s arc with his Court Lady so, so affecting. Gah. I hated that Court Lady had to die. The way she struggled to tell Han Seom about herself with her last breath, because these were the things that he’d asked her, and the way Han Seom struggled to hold back tears, as he told her that she could live, and that he would let her bask in luxury, is so gutting. Gurgle. I found this arc so heartbreaking and haunting, despite its brevity. I will always ship Han Seom with his Court Lady. ❤️💔❤️
The fight between Tae Ha and Commander Hwang is gorgeously filmed. The slo-mo shots of swords slicing through water; the dance of the fight itself; the massive canvas of expansive scenery; it’s really beautiful.
Also, it occurs to me that when Commander Hwang is too wiped out to continue to fight Tae Ha, he still has enough strength left in him, to take down the entire group of soldiers that come after. This makes quite the statement about how formidable Tae Ha is – which I’m only realizing now, on this third watch.
Although it makes a very pretty picture, with colorful hanbok and romantic smooches set against an amazing backdrop of craggy cliffs and rolling waves, I can’t shake the feeling that Tae Ha stopping to romance Eonnyeon is a huge waste of time.
I keep thinking of Han Seom with the little prince, waiting for Tae Ha to hurry back – and all the while, Tae Ha’s making moony eyes at Eonnyeon and taking his time to kiss her. I just can’t get into it; I feel like there are much more pressing things at hand.
..Which brings me to the question of how Tae Ha, as a serious man of arms who takes his mission so seriously that he would die for it, could possibly be in the mood for romance, when things are so tense and urgent? This just doesn’t sit right with me.
The scene where Dae Gil sees a vision of Eonnyeon, still gives me chills. The way Jang Hyuk plays it, is so full of nuance and emotion. And the way his irises literally change size through the duration of the scene, still amazes me.
What strikes me this time, though, is that the vision of Eonnyeon that he sees, is wearing her hair up like a married woman. This means, that as she walks away from him in his vision, she’s walking away as a married woman. That gives a lot more meaning to the scene, I feel, and I’d never thought of this before, during my earlier watches.