Early Access: Bloody Heart Episode 1

Hi everyone!

Today, I thought I’d share my episode 1 notes on Bloody Heart, because I’m enjoying it nicely, and I was wondering if you’d like to join me? 🤗

These are my episode 1 notes, exactly as they appear on Patreon, ie, without screenshots (I’m saving those for the actual review).

I hope you all enjoy, and I hope you’ll consider joining us over on Patreon, for the rest of the discussions! ❤️

Episode notes:

E1. Well. That was quite a lot, to take in, in just our first hour.

First of all, let me say that I like it, but I’m still in the process of wrapping my brain around what this show is about, and what it wants to be. It’s certainly darker and more dramatic than I’d expected, even though I’d already expected it to be quite dark and dramatic.

So much happens, and it’s all quite convoluted and intense, and we’re only just done our first episode.

On that note, I can see why Show chose to make this story about a fictional king, heh. It really gives Show the freedom to just go ham with all the dramatic developments, without having to worry about upsetting netizens for historical inaccuracy.

I have to admit that I’m not suuper clear on the details of what’s happening on my screen; the way Show approaches storytelling, is to basically throw us in the deep end, without any handholding with any specific exposition, and let us flounder &/or find our bearings.

In that sense, it does vibe rather movie-like, to my eyes, because I feel like movies tend to do that a fair bit.

The darker theme, of kings who have little power, and are at the mercy of powerful ministers like the Left State Councilor, also makes this feel more movie-esque, to me.

Another thing that puts this story world in slightly more movie territory, for me, is how gray our characters are, including our protagonist, Lee Tae.

Before coming into this watch, I’d imagined that Lee Tae would be our proverbial “good guy” who would be easy to root for, but I have to admit that he’s coming across as much more morally ambiguous than I’d bargained for.

For example, I’d expected that at least in the flashback to his younger days, that he’d come across as more overtly “good guy,” so I was quite taken aback at the way he stomped on those eggs, for no good reason at all except to prove the girl (whom he doesn’t even know at this point!) wrong.

That strikes me as quite the jerk move, filled to the gills with some kind of superiority complex, and doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence in Lee Tae’s core character, to be honest.

I’m also not terribly wowed by his decision to marry the girl, listed as Yoo Jung, because he’s satisfied with her.

What I mean is, sure, I do think he’s impressed by her and at least likes her a little bit, but there’s really nothing that tells me he actually really likes her.

Therefore, the whole thing about making her his Crown Princess, lands more of a result of his whims and fancies, rather than as a result of him actually liking her and valuing her for who she is.

..Which makes the eventual massacre of her family feel even more horrible, because I can’t help but think that if he’d just minded his own business and never stepped on those eggs to begin with, Yoo Jung’s family might have lived.

And then sure, he saves her and beseeches her to live, as he will too, because he will make it his mission to destroy the people who had brought about the death of his mother.

First of all, she wouldn’t be in this position if not for him, so.. the fated love thing is already a hard-sell from my point of view.

Secondly, it seems that Yoo Jung has no idea that the person who’d saved her, is actually the person who’d indirectly caused her family’s destruction. So, the idea that she’s now got this long distance love relationship going on with him, without knowing that he’s the reason her family had died, just makes me uncomfortable.

But, I suppose that’s the whole point. She will eventually find out, and this is going to cause a huge rift between her and Lee Tae, which will add to the drama – and the angst! – of this story.

Speaking of angst, man, does Show serve up a lot of it, this first hour.

A lot of that angst has to do with how powerless the king really is, in the face of his Left State Councilor.

The arc that really brings that out, for me, is the one where Park Gye Won decides that something needs to be done about Lee Tae making Yoo Jung his Crown Princess.

The fact that he’s able to take two inconvenient things – the fact that the Queen is an inconvenient survivor of an enemy family, and the fact that Yoo Jung’s family is from the enemy Sarim faction – and use those two things to cancel each other out, demonstrates just how much power he has – and how little power the king has, in reponse.

It’s tragic that the Queen feels that there is no way forward, except to poison her own son at least a little bit, while taking her own life.

And even then, this card, which is bought at such great price, doesn’t actually seem to hold much water, judging form how Park Gye Won successfully has Yoo Jung’s family beheaded.

On that note, I can’t help but say, DANG, Jang Hyuk is giving me Darth Vader vibes in this.

Mainly, it’s to do with how he’s using such deep registers in this voice, and the way he’s speaking, which, curiously, sounds big and booming, yet also restrained and coming from the recesses of his throat, at the same time.

We don’t see him do a whole lot, this episode, but what he does do, already results in the deaths of entire families, which makes me think that he’s capable of a lot more, given the appropriate situation and provocation. Which I’m sure will unfold in due time, in our story.

I am fascinated by his character, listed as Park Gye Won.

Park Gye Won wears all the trappings of a faithful and loyal servant to the throne, what with his repeated mantra, that his role is but to advise and thereafter carry out whatever orders the king gives, but he’s so clearly the one with the real power and influence, to whom the king must pay heed – if the king wants to survive.

In my head, I can understand that Lee Tae is basically forced to play Park Gye Won’s game, in order to survive, but I still find that grayness of his character difficult to digest.

For example, when he stages the rescue of Yoo Jung from the prison, it literally entails that dozens of other people be burned to death, just so that he can rescue her. That’s pretty disturbing to me, that he would readily sacrifice so many people, to further his own interests.

But at the same time, I can recognize his desperation to save Yoo Jung. It’s.. complicated, to say the least.

And then there’s how he treats his Queen, in this episode.

On the one hand, I can understand that he is impatient to get rid of her, because she had been forced on him, for political reasons, and he desires to be connected to a more supportive faction.

On the other hand, am I to understand that he’d had a hand in poisoning her, since he knew that she would die?

And, he’s really pretty cold and cruel, in the way he toys with her feelings, even while she’s so close to death. 😳

It’s things like this that give me pause – and yet, in our story, it seems that Lee Tae is the lesser of two evils; the larger evil being the formidable, inscrutable Park Gye Won.

The only true bright spark of an overtly good character, is Yoo Jung herself, whom Kang Han Na is bringing to life with a great deal of ease and charm.

She’s self-possessed, confident and appears to be a shrewd businesswoman, on top of everything else.

Plus, she possesses a lovely sparkle that belies the tragedy that she’s experienced in her life; I can’t help but be won over by her, in the few short minutes that we see her, this episode.

As we end the episode focusing on the dreamy, almost magical display of fire sparks floating above the water, while Lee Tae and Yoo Jung smile at each other on the bridge, I find myself suitably curious to see what unfolds next – even as I gird myself for more tragedy and angst, because that’s surely in our future, yes?

*This show is being covered on the VIP Early Access (US$15) Tier on Patreon*

To view episode 1 notes in Patreon, along with everyone’s comments, you can go here!

You can find my Patreon page here, where episodes 1 through 6 notes are already available. Just look for the tag “Bloody Heart” or click here.

Episode 7 notes will be out on Friday, 3 June 2022! I hope you’ll consider joining us!

It’ll be a way to have fun, and support me at the same time? ❤️

PS: For more information on what the Patreon experience is like, you might like to check out my Patreon update post for June, which you can find here!

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Leslie
Leslie
3 months ago

I love that only Lee Tae/Lee Joon is staring directly at the camera, in the promo photo. I suspect that’s because had more than one lead done so, the collective intensity of their gazes – as we’ve experienced them, so far – would have broken the lens! Possibly Jang Hyuk’s gaze alone could have done it! 😂 The trio are bringing outstanding performances. Really enjoying this watch.

Last edited 3 months ago by Leslie
Kiki
Kiki
3 months ago

Am very happy to say I found this show on YouTube.

Ele Nash
3 months ago
Reply to  Kiki

Oh really? I will check it out! Thanks for the heads up. xx

Ele Nash
3 months ago

I need to see this drama – my Jang Hyuk withdrawals are escalating just reading your notes and the comments 😅 His character sounds very complex and I saw a clip on Insta of him dashing to rescue (the Queen?) from falling in a lake only for them to tumble together and somehow – somehow! – he was acting all intense eyes whilst falling backward 😍 Impressive… But, gah, no Disney+ for me 😭

Trent
3 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Ooh, it’s far enough along now (10 episodes released) that you could sign up for a single month of Disney+ and catch all the episodes in that one month! Then cancel! Might be worth it; this is a special show, in my estimation…. (Plus, bonus: you could watch Soundtrack #1, which I ❤️❤️❤️ to bits, too! Win!)

Ele Nash
3 months ago
Reply to  Trent

I tried, Trent 😂 but WAAAAHHHHH it’s not on Disney Plus in the UK!!!!!!! Whaaaaat!!!! 😭

Trent
3 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Oh no!! I didn’t realize (or forgot, sorry) that you were in the UK… Yeah, Disney+ is only making it available to its Asia-Pacific subscribers. Gotta go the extra mile and VPN to an appropriately located server (Australia, say) to get it to show up. Bummer, right?

chamathsara
3 months ago
Reply to  Ele Nash

Sorry, link has been redacted to stay clear of the DMCA bots. ~KFG

this is from the site where i download full eps , streaming sites like netflix or disney are too expensive and too bothering

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
4 months ago

Fangurl – I have this high on my list but I will have to cross over to the dark side to watch. Thanks to Beez I can now do this on my TV. Your write ups over on Patreon are so tempting (I am reading them with my hand over one eye 😁). I have to see this.

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
4 months ago

I thought I would share the thoughts that I had on KFG’s notes over on Patreon re Episode 1:

I must say, it was an interesting first episode. By this I mean it has an interesting blend of facets going on. We have serious elements of palace intrigue contrasted against the light and “freedom” of village life. This is further underpinned by how they have filmed show. The early scenes in the palace are filmed in a way that give the feeling of a well inhabited (musty/dusty) place. Then we have those moments of our heroine on horseback winding her way through the bamboo that reminded me of how Maid Marion is portrayed in a number of movies and other shows.

Despite it being a fictional Sageuk, this is the first time I have seen the structure of the court referred to correctly when the King mentions the three members of the State Council and the six ministerial offices. This is an important little detail. A powerful king in Joseon would maintain the six ministerial offices, but not the full State Council. In other words, there would be no Left State Councillor (the equivalent to a prime minister).

I think Hyuky is doing quite well in the role. However, he doesn’t look quite right in the red minister’s robes – a bit to drawn and not enough girth 🤣

In essence, JH is delivering his advice in a way that anyone who has been in change of a government at any level or provided advice in a public office, knows. He is saying “for your advice,” which is correct – it shows formality and distance. Other variations on a theme are: for your information, for your consideration, for your action.

On the matter of treason, this is interesting from the point of view that treason is often misrepresented in dramas of all sorts. Treason is in essence, defined by the king (or queen) i.e. against their person, not the state. If the monarch hasn’t specified what it is, a coup becomes justified for all sorts of reasons, as we see in BH. Joseon kings are often shown as hamstrung when confronted with such dilemmas. At an equivalent time, European Kings and Queens would go to war. The War of the Roses was slightly before when BH is set, but is a case in point.

As for our Crown Prince/Young King – he is very grey, for good reason. Those at the top, do not inhabit a black or white space. It is very, very grey. Sometimes, it is more than mist, it is full on fog and navigating this without any sort of beacon, is beyond frightening. However, it is what defines you.

I am hopeful that BH goes down a path that watchers will not expect. Now, that would be refreshing!

Trent
4 months ago

Just popping in to say I’m glad you’re sharing these notes, and to confirm that through ten episodes (I’m watching ahead), I am well and truly besotted with this show. I have to say that so far, it is hands down the most gripping, dramatically intense sageuk I’ve seen, certainly of the palace sageuk at least (Chuno is more epic, of course, and The Red Sleeve has a deeper, more fleshed out OTP dynamic; both are doing somewhat different things than this show, though).

For one thing, it’s just so surpassingly pretty, the cinematography is really at least a couple steps above average. And the cast is fantastic — Jang Hyuk brings the coiled intensity, and makes this the first time I’ve really found one of those high state councilors to be actually viscerally menacing; I’ve been a Kang Han-na stan since I first saw her, and she’s so good as the kind-hearted but also very very smart FL; Heo Sung-tae has been in so many great shows recently, and he’s doing his usual yeoman’s work here as a rival minister…the list goes on. The plotting is absorbing, almost never bogging down in boring stretches, with a decent amount of little makjang or makjang-adjacent touches thrown in to stir things up.

I’ve been rewatching each episode before you post your notes, and reading your episode notes has been a delightful way to relive the highlights of each episode. So I highly encourage all and sundry to check it out and join the bandwagon…

(Alas, it’s running on Disney+, so if you’re not in the Asia Pacific area, you will have to VPN into an Australian server to access it. But it’s worth it!).

Kiki
Kiki
3 months ago
Reply to  Trent

As I just posted, I found Show on YouTube!!! 🇨🇦