Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! This isn’t quite an OTP reconciliation, but it feels like an important milestone leading towards one, which is why it’s headlining our post today.
SOME IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:
ZERO SPOILER POLICY
1. We will be adopting a ZERO SPOILER POLICY for this Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point.
The spoiler tags don’t work in email notifications, therefore, please take note that WE WILL NOT BE USING SPOILER TAGS FOR THIS OPEN THREAD.
ANY AND ALL SPOILERS WILL BE REDACTED to protect first-time viewers in our midst (although, I’d appreciate it if you would save me the trouble of having to redact spoilers, heh 😅).
This includes, but is not limited to, how characters &/or relationships develop, later in the show.
We need to protect the innocent! 😉
2. HOWEVER!! If you’d like to discuss spoilers from a rewatcher’s point of view, I’ve created a SPOILER ZONE for you, where you can discuss all the spoilers you’d like, without the need for spoiler warnings. You can find it here!
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
We get lots of broody Seung Yu this episode, and with good reason, since he’s got a lot to think about and process.
At the same time, our story does press forward, and altogether, it feels like we are on track for Things to happen, as well as for a potential reunion for the OTP.
Key word being “potential,” of course, since we are definitely not there yet, judging from the events of this episode. 😅
To be honest, I’m quite impatient for Seung Yu and Se Ryeong to come face to face again, so this entire episode feels like a tee-up episode to me, pretty much.
I can’t help it; the love story is central to our story, and as long as they’re apart, I feel impatient for them to meet again, so that they can begin to work through all this terrible baggage, somehow.
Right now, I do feel bad for both of them.
I feel bad for Se Ryeong, because she’s miserable and probably feels completely trapped. She believes that Seung Yu is dead, and she’s also being forced to marry Myeon, even though she’d rather never see him again.
At the same time, she’s slowly but surely learning that her father is much more cruel than she’d ever imagined, and that’s a huge deal to deal with as well, particularly since she had used to look up to him.
When I see how she answers Su Yang, about whether she’d moved Kim Jong Seo’s remaining family, I feel like she’s grown up a whole lot since we’d first met her in episode 1.
Now, she’s calmly but firmly telling her father that laws that make people slaves for the people who killed their families, are immoral, and shouldn’t be followed.
I do like how firm she is, in her belief and her stance, even as I clock that she seems rather resigned to what feels like irreconcilable differences between her and her father.
As a silver lining, it does seem like Gyeong Hye’s showing some signs of softening towards Se Ryeong.
First, there’s the way Gyeong Hye talks about how they’re both forced to go through with weddings they don’t want, and then there’s the way she gives Se Ryeong the rings that Seung Yu had once sent to her, believing Se Ryeong to be the Princess.
Although Gyeong Hye does say that this is her last gift to Se Ryeong, and even though she tells Jong that she’s long driven Se Ryeong out of her heart, I do feel like the empathy that comes through, in this conversation between them, is real, and that gives me hope that at some point, perhaps this relationship can be truly healed.
As for Seung Yu, it makes sense to me that he would want to scope out the situation, now that he’s back in the capital, once he’s recovered enough.
Everything that’s happened to him is horrible enough, but it must be even more horrible, for him to learn that, 1, Se Ryeong is set to marry Myeon, and 2, his father’s head has likely been eaten by wild animals.
I’m actually glad that Cho Hee gives Seung Yu a job at her gibang, because not only does that give him a change of clothes (the all-black ensemble is quite cool, I hafta admit), it also gives him some kind of structure, and a way to earn his keep.
I just feel like having a job to do, helps to mitigate all the angsty brooding, at least by a little bit. Otherwise, I feel like Seung Yu would go crazy?
That said, Seung Yu does get told the devastating news, that his sister-in-law and Ah Gang had committed suicide, and that is a huge blow to him, because it means that his last remaining family in the world, is now gone.
Of course, we know it’s not true, but poor Seung Yu doesn’t, and I can understand how he might lose his mind over it, at least for a while.
On an irreverent note, I had to giggle a bit, at the way Show uses Seung Yu’s angst to give us a broody shower scene, because back in 2011, a broody shower scene featuring the male lead, was a given, in just about every drama.
The fact that Show doesn’t allow the lack of showers in Joseon times to hamper its serving up of the requisite broody shower scene tickles me quite a bit. 😁
In the meantime, there’s also Prince Geum Seong’s plan to kill Su Yang on the wedding day.
For a hot minute, it almost feels like this plan might have a chance at succeeding – until we see that one of Prince Geum Seong’s men (one of the assigned assassins, no less!) is a mole, and is reporting the entire plan to Su Yang.
This is when it occurs to me (again), that in these times, and in this drama world, it’s really tricky trying to figure out who you can trust, isn’t it?
Before I talk about our OTP, I wanted to quickly mention that moment between Jong and Gyeong Hye, where he’s about to head off to the wedding, and Gyeong Hye tells him to be careful.
I love how Jong picks up on the fact that Gyeong Hye’s showing concern for him, and leans into it, to embrace her.
And then, I love what he says, as he holds her, “I imagined holding you like this so many times. I won’t say I could die right now without any regrets. I’m going to come back alive and hold you again.”
Dang, that’s affecting and melty. I love how, even in the midst of danger and impending chaos, Show manages to squeeze in an important milestone, in inching Jong and Gyeong Hye towards becoming a true couple.
On another note, I’d wondered how Show might pave the way for Seung Yu and Se Ryeong to reconcile, given the devastating nature of her father’s actions on his life and his entire family, and this episode, we see Show sow the seeds for this.
It makes complete sense that it would take many different moments, for an accumulation of evidence to build in Seung Yu’s mind, such that he would begin to reconsider his enmity towards Se Ryeong.
And so, every time we see him respond roughly or curtly or coldly to something that he sees Se Ryeong do, or hears Se Ryeong say, it’s not nice to witness per se, but, it does make me feel like little seeds are being sown, towards him eventually coming around to Se Ryeong’s sincerity.
Like the way Seung Yu takes the rings from the prayer stack that Se Ryeong places them on, and starts to break them, and then walks away, even as Se Ryeong asks that he please return them, because they are very precious to her, and had belonged to someone she’s very grateful to.
And of course, like the way Seung Yu moves to kidnap Se Ryeong, even as he’s just heard her muse to herself, that she’d once wanted him to be her shadow, and vice versa.
Perhaps I should be more alarmed about this turn of events, since Seung Yu’s literally gagging and binding Se Ryeong against her will, but I can’t help thinking that this is an important milestone, because thanks to this abduction, they will finally have a chance to talk, yes?
This episode is mostly all about Seung Yu holding Se Ryeong captive, and the various little moments stacking up, where you can kind of see Seung Yu’s resolve to hate Se Ryeong being eroded, tiny bit by tiny bit.
Yes, he mostly sticks to his guns pretty well, and stays rough with her, and tells her that he’s going to kill her, but you can glimpse the conflict in his eyes, even as he does so.
Because of that, it makes all the roughness easier to bear.
That said, it occurred to me while watching this episode, that in rooting for Seung Yu and Se Ryeong to be reconciled to each other, we’re actually having to almost condone a lot of poor treatment from Seung Yu to Se Ryeong.
I just wanted to take a moment to say that this is all completely contextual, and just because I’m bearing with Se Ryeong’s ill treatment by Seung Yu for now, doesn’t meant that I condone abusive relationships in general. 😅
Basically, if someone treats you the way Seung Yu does, and is cold and rough and even violent towards you, RUNNN in the other direction.
This scenario is only tolerable, in my opinion, because Se Ryeong’s father has done such terrible things to Seung Yu and his family.
And, in this time and space, it’s quite natural that Seung Yu’s concluded that he needs to get vengeance – well, justice – for his family, and since Su Yang had used him as fair game to entrap his father, Se Ryeong is now, likewise, fair game for Seung Yu to entrap her father.
Also, even though I don’t generally think it’s a good idea to throw yourself at your captor the way Se Ryeong does (like I said, runnnn in the other direction!), I have to admit that I did get a stab of gratification each time Se Ryeong surprised Seung Yu, by acting against expectation.
Like the way she insists on keeping the rings even though one is broken, because the rings had conveyed someone’s whole heart.
And like when she sees Myeon’s men in the distance, and instead of outing herself to them in order to be rescued, she pulls Seung Yu out of sight, so that they won’t be found.
I’d wager that that’s the complete opposite of what Seung Yu expects her to do, and even though he doesn’t say anything about it, you can tell that this perplexes him, at least a little bit.
And of course, there’s the way Se Ryeong literally throws herself into his embrace and tells him tearfully that she would gladly die for him, if it would help him forget the pain that he’s been through.
Through it all, there’s also how Se Ryeong shows empathy towards Seung Yu and care for his wellbeing, even though he’s the one who’s abducting her, in the present.
I think another part of the equation is how Se Ryeong doesn’t waver in her tenderheartedness towards Seung Yu, even though he is so cruel to her, in his words and actions.
Even after he’s declared that he will kill her, and even after he’s left the room in order to escape her presence, she still reaches for his shadow in such a gentle, wistful manner, that it cannot help but bother Seung Yu, despite his best efforts not to be bothered by her.
I think it is important that Se Ryeong realize that her father had been behind the sinking of the boat that had been carrying Seung Yu and his fellow prisoners, because that means that he hadn’t been true to his word.
He may have kept Seung Yu from being formally executed, sure, but with his other hand, he’d made plans to ensure Seung Yu’s death anyway.
That said, I do think that in his own way, Su Yang is a caring father.
I mean, I’d honestly half expected him to declare that Se Ryeong was necessary collateral damage, and not send anyone after her, for not wanting to put his own life at risk.
But no, he does go out there as Seung Yu demands. And yes, he does put on armor underneath his clothes, but I reason that there is still risk involved, since only his torso is protected, and Seung Yu could absolutely aim for his neck, or his eye, or his forehead.
In the end, though, it is Su Yang’s torso that Seung Yu aims for, which means that Su Yang isn’t actually hurt, even though he pretends to be, at least for a few moments.
And of course, when Myeon shoots that arrow at Seung Yu, against Su Yang’s orders, it’s Se Ryeong who ends up saving him, by throwing herself in the way of that arrow, so that it hits her instead of Seung Yu.
Danggg. Her devotion to Seung Yu is truly singleminded and selfless. She would literally rather die, than see him get more hurt.
I have no idea where Show is going to take this next, since Seung Yu is now literally surrounded by armed soldiers, but surely – SURELY! – now he will believe that Se Ryeong’s heart is truly for him?
Sorry to be late to the party, but I would only add a couple of things about our villains. As kfangurl has already intimated, Su Yang took serious risks in meeting the “kidnappers”, armor or not. Like him or not, gotta admit that the guy has guts.
Secondly, Su Yang’s strategist (don’t know what else to call him) is pretty darned savvy. Tough opponent.
I have to admit, I had not foreseen an abduction. So show continues to confound expectations in that sense.
Have to say that at this point, I’m kind of rooting for Seung-yu and Se-ryeung to just run away, adopt assumed names, and live as a humble anonymous couple out on the frontier or something….
I think it’s kinda hilarious (do not how else to call it) that Seung Yoo kidnaps Seryung on her wedding day of all days (meaning her wedding will be cancelled) to take revenge against her father, but I feel like in a way he really still loves her as he cant allow her to marry another man.
I was also just curious about the rings and found this interesting blog post on double rings in Joseon: https://thetalkingcupboard.com/2012/10/25/of-rings-and-earrings-throughout-the-dynasties/
“They held special meaning in marriage life, as they symbolized the harmony between husband and wife according to Confucianism. When the husband died, one of the ring would be given to the husband while the wife kept another one with her until she die, symbolizing faithfulness.”
I thought this was interesting in light of how Seung Yu smashes one of the rings. Sort of a nod to the betrayal that he feels from her and for him in this moment that love for her is kinda dead (or so he thinks!), while she does what she can to keep that ring and is still, as we see, quite faithful and true in her love.
This OTP is so damn angsty and somehow I am staying glued to the screen. Agree with KFG’s comments on this phase being harder to watch bc Seung Yu’s venting his anger/sadness/guilt on Se Ryeong right now (also the “I will gladly wait for the day you come to kill me”? Peak angst. Whew.)
I also laughed at the shower scene 😂 haven’t seen one of those in a while!
I did love the scene where they’re separated by the door and she reaches out to touch his shadow, and he sees her shadow. The show has some scenes like this that are very poignant, mirroring some lovely lines/deliveries like when Se Ryeong in her wedding gown says “I wanted to be his shadow, and I wanted him to be my shadow.”
Jong!! coming through with an epic line/moment there!! (I swooned a bit too, Princess)
I am really not sure where we’ll go in the next 10 eps, but I am here for it. Su Yang’s pretty awful but some of these moments where he shows a sliver of care for Se Ryeong (even if it’s still within the larger goal of his ambition), keep me interested in the politics (which is wild because normally I am fast forwarding through that so quick).
Chae Won is really amazing in this episode. I can really feel all the emotions and love her character has for her lover. I really hope someday we get this drama on netflix, I’m just really sad this dram is not as accessible as her other successful lead role dramas.
As the story progresses, I observe that TPM is less prettified and conflicted than some recent sageuks (Red Sleeve, The King’s Affection, Bloody Heart).
Sageuks sometimes let sets and setting tell a chunk of the story, or fill in its deficits. Personally, I love the pretty of sageuk. TPM sets, though, are rustic and less grand. They offer few visual distractions from the essential grittiness of the times and the situation.
That may be intentional or the result of budget, but it’s effective in conveying how thin the veil between prosperity/power and
ruin/death is. That said, Se Ryoung is pretty gorgeous in her wedding garb. 😍
Often sageuk court machinations are storylines and scenes to be “gotten through” on the way to enjoying the OTP or other more compelling story. In TPM, though, they pretty much drive everything. They’re the direct cause of our fractured love story and broken friendships, versus being the context for them. Thankfully, the scenes are short and stripped down to being road signs for what’s coming next.
In TPM, they also delineate good and bad characters. Is there really a reason to root for Prince Su Young and his venal, power grubbing sidekicks?! Compare him to complex and conflicted, Park Gye Won in Bloody Heart. Myeon seems to be our only grey character.
Right now, I’m equally interested in the storylines of our OTP and of the life-long friends in the second generation. Can the latter end in anything other than tragedy? 😢 Make me wrong, please.
Ah, Seung Yu is so conflicted! I agree with KFG that such behavior in a different context is totally unacceptable, but it makes perfect sense in this story. I am also wondering what will happen next. Se Ryung taking an arrow for SY will certainly let Prince Su Yang know that the son of his archenemy is alive.
The scenes between Jong and Princess Gyeong Hye have become one of my favorite slow burn romances.