Happy New Year, everyone! We’ve officially crossed over to 2021! 🥳 So happy that we’re all here together, you guys. ❤️
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! ❤️
For an episode that’s mainly focused on moving people into place for bigger plot developments, I find this hour surprisingly affecting. There’re many moments of raw emotion, and that’s just the kind of thing to keep me invested, even during a lull in our narrative.
Dae Gil’s inebriated rambling is sad and painful to watch; gone is the swagger and the explosive machismo.. all we see is a man who’s struggling to come to grips with the huge shift in his world, that the dream that he’d held onto – Eonnyeon – is no longer his to dream. He looks so bereft and lost, and his drunken talk is only a shadow of the bravado that’s usually oozing out of him so effortlessly. The fact that he names himself as the most wicked man in Joseon, gives us a glimpse into how he sees himself. He’s not exactly as proud of himself as he usually seems.
That moment when he holds onto Seol Hwa and asks her to just stay still for a bit, because it’s warm that way, he feels like a forlorn, weary, lost little boy, who needs comfort more than anything else in the world. 💔
My heart goes out to Han Seom (PHEW they made it onto the boat, I was so afraid something bad would happen to him while Tae Ha took time out to kiss Eonnyeon on the mountain. 😝); he struggles to hold back tears, but he can’t help but cry as he mourns his fallen Court Lady.
I do appreciate Tae Ha’s sensitivity to Han Seom’s sorrowful mood, and his empathy for him. Tae Ha may be a little clueless about how to express himself in a way that speaks to a lady’s heart – snicker, at Eonnyeon’s failed attempt to get him to say something more romantic than that he’d always be loyal to her – but he is absolutely in tune with his brother in arms.
I found the flashback to how Dae Gil had gotten to know General Choi and Wangson a nice distraction from the relative gloom of the present-day timeline. Pfft. Of course Wangson was a rascal as well, back then, and of course he’d try to rip off the straitlaced-looking General Choi, who wasn’t a General at all, but rather a poor scholar with a wonky gat, hoping to make good at the military examination. I found the three-way scuffle fun, and liked that it brought back the initial jaunty, almost nonchalant feels of our initial episodes.
I was similarly amused by Wangson taking General Choi on one of his lady-focused exploits in the present day, getting General Choi to take off his top strategically – in the dead of winter. 😆 Ahaha, I can’t believe General Choi would actually agree to this, but no matter, since I’m suitably tickled at how the slave girl barely stops herself from drooling outright at General Choi’s very ripped, bare torso. (Ahem. I couldn’t help quasi-drooling a little bit myself. 🤤🤩)
I have to admit that I was quite shocked and horrified at Constable Oh for taking our poor ol’ Horse Doctor and using him as a scapegoat because he’s an easy target. UGH. That scene where Horse Doctor cries despairingly in the interrogation chamber, that he’d paid so many of Constable Oh’s tabs, is so upsetting. It’s all made worse by how Constable Oh storms the Jumos’ bedroom and drags them in to provide false witness accounts, by threatening them. I’m appalled at how Constable Oh has turned on his acquaintances so easily, but I think this is just a reflection of how things work on a larger scale in the court. It doesn’t matter whether you’re innocent or guilty; it only depends on who you know, and what power you hold. 😔
Given this reinforcement of how sucky it is for the non-nobles in this world, I really can’t blame our slave rebel faction for wanting to change the world, by taking down one yangban at a time. When Ggeutbong tells Eop Bok how angry he is at his master for selling his wife and kids, I feel for him, so much. I mean, he’s not asking for much; all he ever wanted was to live together with his wife and kids. Sniffle. 😔 That said, I do love that Cho Bok is kinda-sorta teaching herself how to use a rifle, by listening in on Eop Bok’s lessons with the boys. She’s so smart and such a quick-thinker, I think the boys are making a mistake not teaching her how to shoot. She’d probably be their star sniper, given the chance.
Not gonna lie; this look of pure joy on General Choi’s face, when he sees Dae Gil and Seol Hwa in the distance, is probably the biggest highlight of the episode, for me. I love that big smile. 🤩 Also, it seems to me that all the three men have a sheen of tears in their eyes, on top of the broad smiles that they’re wearing. These three really have come to care for one another a great deal, despite what Wangson’s grumblings might indicate.
Even as the paths of our slave hunter crew and Tae Ha and his men start to converge, I feel the need to give Eonnyeon a shout-out, because she shows wisdom and foresight in a situation where I would have expected a trained man of arms like Han Seom to have more smarts. Her suggestion that she carry the prince, as well as her caution to Han Seom not to address Tae Ha as General, make a whole lot of sense.
I find myself moved by the depth of emotion that Tae Ha’s men show, as they reunite after so much trouble and hardship. The tears in their eyes, as they look upon each other, with unspoken understanding and solidarity written in their gaze, is viscerally affecting. And even though Tae Ha has suffered as much as each of them, he still looks on them with tearful compassion, like a father who wishes that his sons didn’t have to suffer alongside him.
The flashbacks that we see running through Dae Gil’s mind, as he races towards Unju Temple, tell us just how emotional a thing this is, for Dae Gil. You can literally see the tears glistening in his eyes, as he runs. (That must be SO hard to do; this is an amazing portrayal by Jang Hyuk, and I am completely blown away! 🤩😭) I honestly feel like Dae Gil might lose all sense of self-control, just as General Choi fears, if he were to really find Eonnyeon by Tae Ha’s side at Unju Temple.
I kind of was cognizant of this before too, but it’s hitting me all over again, how emotionally slanted our story is. I mean, I think our characters are allowed to be more led by their feelings, and more expressive of their feelings, than in regular sageuks?
All the tears in everyone’s eyes through most of this pair of episodes is one thing, but I think the thing that really gets my attention this time around, is how Tae Ha taking time to have a wedding, right smack in the middle of being involved in a revolution, is really incongruous. I think I must have been too invested in Dae Gil’s arc before, to actually care or think much about this, but on this viewing, I find it as odd as Tae Ha’s perplexed compatriots do, that he’d take time out to get married when they are all in a precariously dangerous situation, while planning to replace the Crown Prince.
I think I’m going to have to get used to this, though. This is the same mindset that basically allows Tae Ha the presence of mind to romance Eonnyeon on the mountain top, while they are all on the run from soldiers on their tail. My memory is vague, but based on Tae Ha’s intent marriage-mindedness this episode, I’m pretty sure we will see more of him putting Eonnyeon first, in the midst of all kinds of danger and terror. I’m going to file this away in my head as one of show’s emotionally slanted quirks.
As for Dae Gil, it’s coming together more solidly in my head, that as desperately as he seeks to find Eonnyeon, he’s not only afraid of what he’ll find when he does come upon her, he’s also not exactly sure of what he will do, when he does. For all his dark talk about not letting her live a happy life, his enduring longing for her all these years doesn’t mesh with the idea of him actually capturing or killing her. To this end, I’m guessing that Dae Gil himself hasn’t managed to think that far; not that he hasn’t put in the time, since he is so easily lost in reverie when it comes to the topic of Eonnyeon.. I just think that he can’t find a conclusion that he can wholeheartedly accept.
This scene in at the temple doors says it all; his nervous hesitation; his intense concentration; his apprehensive panting; it all gives way to a defeated look of dazed deflation, when he realizes that Eonnyeon is not behind those doors. Such a huge turnaround, in a matter of seconds. Really well played, Jang Hyuk-sshi. 🤩
I was nicely amused by the little scene with the young monk, particularly at the part where Dae Gil asks if he’s seen the woman in the portrait, and the young monk replies that he looks upon all women as rocks. I am very tickled that Dae Gil basically rolls his eyes and asks, “Okay, but did you see this rock?” 😆 Too funny!
I really like the scene that night, where our crew is putting up at an inn, and General Choi sits with a broody Dae Gil and tries to talk to him about Eonnyeon. Dae Gil doesn’t say much, and General Choi tries to persuade him, saying that they’re family. AW. This is the first time that any of our crew has actually articulated this sense of family, even though I’ve long thought of them as a family, so even though Dae Gil wryly pooh-poohs the idea, it still warms my heart. I luff General Choi. He’s so warm and caring. ❤️
Speaking of family, Left State Councilor sure changes his mind easily about whether or not Commander Hwang deserves to be considered his son. When he’d wanted Commander Hwang to accept his dishonorable deathly mission, he’d said so easily, that a son-in-law is a son as well. But now, when Commander Hwang’s showed up injured and unconscious, Left State Councilor couldn’t care two hoots about Commander Hwang’s well-being. All he wants is for Commander Hwang to wake up and tell him how the mission went. Bleargh. No wonder Commander Hwang decides to turn on him. And because Left State Councilor is so awful, now I want Commander Hwang to succeed in his new self-given mission. I just feel really bad for Commander Hwang’s wife. She cares so deeply for him, but feels so helpless. Such a great performance by Ha Si Eun again, this episode. 😭
I confess that I didn’t use to care much for the relationship between Tae Ha and Eonnyeon, because, 1, I was on Dae Gil’s side and Tae Ha represented the opposite of that, and 2, I found the treatment of the loveline quite boring. Now, though, I have to admit that I do see the appeal of this relationship. There’s a gentle mutual respect and trust which feels measured and mature, and I get the sense that these two could and would last the long haul together.
Now that Dae Gil’s finally found Eonnyeon – and right at the moment when she marries Tae Ha, no less – I anticipate a great deal of internal conflict for him, as he grapples with how to deal with this discovery. What will Dae Gil do..? 😱