Open Thread: The Princess’s Man Episodes 17 & 18

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Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! We are still in the midst of OTP angst, and this backhug represents their dilemma so well, which is why it’s headlining our post today.

PS: Can you believe that we’ll be done with our watch of this show in just 3 more weeks??

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! 😉

SPOILER ZONE

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! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 17

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Our OTP gets to spend time together this episode, but, unlike what some of us had hoped for, the road to reconciliation isn’t so simple.

In fact, at this point in our story, reconciliation seems more out of reach than ever, to be honest. 🙈

First of all, I’m glad that Suk Joo gets released by Myeon, safe and sound, when Myeon’s lieutenant confirms that lots of prisoners had died from torture before even boarding the boat to Ganghwa, and Gong Chil Goo had filled the empty spots with various random roughnecks.

Ahhh. So that’s how Suk Joo had ended up on the boat in the first place; he’d likely been done dirty by Gong Chil Goo, who would’ve been keen to get rid of him, so that he could take over Suk Joo’s men. That makes sense.

On that note, I give Myeon credit for being fair, and investigating Suk Joo’s claims, and then letting him go, when those claims were proven true.

Honestly, with the way Myeon’s been leaning into his dark side, I was half afraid he would just interrogate, torture or even kill Suk Joo at will, just for being troublesome. 😬

Secondly, I’m glad that Seung Yu and Se Ryeong meet again, first at the marketplace where she pulls him out of Myeon’s line of sight, and then again at Bingokgwan, where No Gul had told her to wait.

Although Seung Yu’s first instinct is to get Se Ryeong to leave, it at least gives Se Ryeong the chance to tell him definitively, that Ah Gang and his sister-in-law are alive, and then take him to see them.

And, while it’s clear that Seung Yu’s determined to stay gruff with Se Ryeong, his care and concern for her does leak through, at points.

Like, when he realizes that her back is still hurting from the arrow wound, and that he’s aggravating it by riding behind her, he gets off the horse and walks instead – even though he must be so anxious to see his family – so that Se Ryeong can ride with more comfort.

And then, there’s also that brief moment on the horse, where Seung Yu moves to touch Se Ryeong, but withdraws his hand, at the last minute.

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It’s things like these that help me to believe that Seung Yu hasn’t stopped loving Se Ryeong, despite his vows to kill her father, and have nothing more to do with her.

The tearful, happy reunion between Seung Yu, Ah Gang and Sister-in-law is comforting to witness; it’s a sad situation that they’re in, but it’s a consolation that they’ve found one another again.

And, like Sister-in-law says, it’s all thanks to Se Ryeong, that they are even alive, and together again.

The panicked look in Seung Yu’s eyes, when he realizes that Se Ryeong’s left, after giving that pair of shoes to Ah Gang, made me think that he would go after her to stop her from leaving, but instead, he goes after her, to thank her, and then tell her that he hopes that their paths will not cross again.

Oof. That’s gotta hurt, but.. given Seung Yu’s plan to kill Su Yang, I can see why he would decide that staying away from Se Ryeong would be the best thing for them both.

I’m glad that Sister-in-law agrees to follow Seung Yu to Bingokgwan, because this means that she and Ah Gang are no longer living in isolation. Plus, importantly, this also means that Myeon no longer knows where they are.

It does look like Se Ryeong’s resigned to her fate, somewhat, from how she visits Gyeong Hye and tells her that she will live in the palace as is expected of her, but will use that opportunity to watch over her father’s actions, and do whatever she can to stop him, if he doesn’t behave in a humane manner.

It feels like this is Se Ryeong’s compromise, between yielding to her family’s expectations of her, and being true to her own principles and values, and given her limited options, it does seem to me like this is a valid direction for her to take.

Her decision not to marry anyone, also feels like part of that compromise; she will live in the palace as expected of her, but will not marry, as her way of being true to herself.

Altogether, it looks to me like the best compromise that Se Ryeong could come up with, given her situation and her limited options, so I do applaud her for at least doing what she can, to stay true to herself, her love for Seung Yu, and her values.

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It feels like such an ironic moment, later, when Se Ryeong gets dressed for the first time in her Princess robes.

This feels like such a somber echo of that scene we got in the beginning of our story, when she’d first gotten dressed as a Princess, in order to sneak a peek at Seung Yu, whom she’d believed was her husband-to-be.

Ahh. What a faint memory that feels like, in this moment, when everything’s changed. 😭

Seung Yu making the decision to join Teacher Lee and his group, in removing Su Yang, and reinstating the previous King to power, is a dangerous undertaking, not least because it exposes his identity to more people.

But, it does feel slightly more constructive than his other approach, of slaying all the people who had been involved in his father’s death.

I do think that if Seung Yu’s father had had a say in what direction he would have preferred his son to take, he would have asked Seung Yu to help reinstate the previous King, rather than simply go on a vengeance trail.

However, like I said, it does make me nervous, that with Seung Yu joining this rebel group, he is exposing himself to more danger, as more and more people learn that he is alive, and that he is, in fact, Dae Ho. 😬

And then, to make things even more complicated, as we close out our episode, Se Ryeong overhears Seung Yu talking about how he will do his best for the group, and will even give up his life if necessary, to kill Su Yang.

Eep. That’s going to put Se Ryeong in such a difficult position, really, because, how does one choose between one’s father, and one’s beloved?

In this moment, though, with Myeon about to arrive on the scene, Se Ryeong doesn’t actually have time to think about this.

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I find it quite telling, that the moment she hears that Myeon’s about to arrive, her first instinct is to look at Seung Yu, with concern.

Ahh, our Se Ryeong.

No matter what the conflict is before her, there is no denying her deep care, for Seung Yu, is there? 🥹

Episode 18

As I’d expected, Se Ryeong’s first instinct is to protect Seung Yu, and prevent him from being caught by Myeon.

Augh. Her steadfastness in staying true to him, despite everything that’s happened, is really very touching.

I think under more ordinary circumstances, Seung Yu’s defenses would have melted by now.

However, these circumstances are far from ordinary, and given that Seung Yu’s decided that his mission in life is to eliminate Su Yang, I can see why he would see no future between him and Se Ryeong.

He already knows firsthand, how hard it is to face the fact that the father of your beloved has killed your own father.

And now, he sees it as his duty to kill Se Ryeong’s father, and therefore, he believes that he already knows how Se Ryeong would struggle to think of him the same way, once the deed is done.

I do think that that’s the thing that keeps Seung Yu from reconciling with Se Ryeong, even though we see multiple instances of him feeling conflicted, and wanting to reach out to her.

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Also, while Se Ryeong expresses that her hope had been that Seung Yu would forget everything, and go far away with Ah Gang and Sister-in-law, to live a happy and quiet life, I can understand Seung Yu’s point of view, that it’s just not possible to forget.

This episode, we get a deeper glimpse at the conundrum that Se Ryeong’s faced with, now that she has an inkling of Seung Yu’s plan.

Truly, it’s a horrible position to be in, where you only have the option of saving one person.

If she tells her father about Seung Yu’s plan, Seung Yu would die, but if she doesn’t tell her father about Seung Yu’s plan, it’s likely that her father would die. What’s a girl to do, really?

Because, for all of his faults and misdeeds, Su Yang is a loving father, in his own way, and we are reminded of that, through the flashbacks that we see from Se Ryeong’s point of view.

I believe that the reason Seung Yu asks to see Se Ryeong, is to attempt to free her from himself.

What I mean is, he’s heard from Teacher Lee that Se Ryeong’s now declared that she will not marry anyone, and has inferred that he is the reason Se Ryeong’s made this vow. He doesn’t want her to change the course of her entire life on his account, and neither can he walk away from his revenge mission.

That’s why he asks to see her, through Gyeong Hye, to ask her to forget about him, because Su Yang will die by his hand.

It’s all very tortured, with the way Se Ryeong backhugs him and beseeches him to run away with her, and the way he is gentle with her, and even touches her cheek to wipe away her tears, but ultimately still turns away from her. Oof.

That’s tough, it really is. 😭

Elsewhere, I’m glad for Jong, that Gyeong Hye finally opens her heart to him, and confesses that she can no longer live without him.

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Aww. That is such a huge milestone for this couple, honestly. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, for Jong’s sake as well as Gyeong Hye’s.

They are more perfect for each other than they realize, and it’s just so heartening to see Gyeong Hye finally embrace Jong as her husband.

They share so many firsts, in this moment. They share their first kiss, and their first night together, we even hear Gyeong Hye addresses him as “husband” for the first time, as she presents him with the rings that he’d once given her, and asks him to personally put them on for her.

All this is so poignant and bittersweet, at the same time, because in this moment, neither of them know whether Jong will make it back alive, after the attempt to eliminate Su Yang, and put the previous King back on the throne.

And so, the feels are extra weighty and heartrending, because as much as these milestones are a lot of firsts for them as a couple, there’s a very real possibility that these will also be the last time they will share these types of moments together. 💔

It’s not exactly a surprise that the planned coup doesn’t go well, but it was still hard to watch our earnest rebel faction get their plans foiled, without even getting a chance to execute said plans.

And, it was even harder to see Jong and Teacher Lee get arrested, along with the rest of their group.

Gah. I’d had a feeling, that with Jong and Gyeong Hye finally coming together in such a heartfelt way, that Jong might have bad things in his future, in true kdrama melodrama tradition.

Will he.. survive, I wonder..? 😬 I really hope so!

Just as worrying is the fact that Myeon’s arrived at the conclusion that Seung Yu is alive, and is, in fact, Dae Ho, which is why he calls out Seung Yu’s name, when he sees him making his getaway with the rebel soldiers.

..Which is how we end the episode, with Seung Yu and Myeon, finally face to face with each other again.

Ack. This is unlikely to end well, right, since it’s unlikely that they’re just here to talk, and if they draw swords against each other (which looks inevitable at this point), it’s quite possible that one or both of them might end up dying, or at least, severely injured..? 🙈

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uyen
10 days ago

Yet another pair of angsty eps.

I laughed a bit when everyone, including Myeon, is so shocked when Se Ryeong says she’s never going to marry (esp him) — hello, she’s said it multiple times now!

I did love the reunion with Seung Yu and his family. And the little bit when he sees Se Ryeong buy the shoes for Ah Gang and he has a little smile on his face, we missed that, Seung Yu, we missed that!

Also still love Jong and Princess very much. I know last eps the realization about the Princess’s Man connecting to Seung Yu and Se Ryeong came to light, but I also felt here with our second couple that Jong is also a Princess’s Man and we have another thread coming in. I like it for Jong that he has a family to protect now and he’s come a long way from the guy being chased by thugs for being in debt and from a disgraced family.

No easy answer for Se Ryeong, I completely feel for her. As much as Su Yang has been awful, I do see how she still has fond memories of him. I also wished for a moment that Seung Yu agreed to run away with her.

Bracing myself for more tragedy to come lol

Leslie
Leslie
9 days ago
Reply to  uyen

@uyen – I like the additional connection you’ve drawn between the title of the drama and Princess (#1) and Jong. Neat! Transformed Jong is a treat to watch. Love, and the turning of history, can do that for you, it seems. And ya, I don’t want to know which way the coming tragedy blows. La la la la la. 🙉 

Trent
11 days ago

It feels like Se-ryeong is tiptoeing up to the brink of just making a break with her family. It’s caused me to start idly speculating on just how possible it would be for someone from a prominent family to run away, drop off the grid, and live out life anonymously in some backwater village?

I feel like, Se-ryeong has drawn her line in the sand–she’s not going to get married (which, good for her; I would refuse to marry Shin Myeong as well, and if a blanket ban on all marriage was the price to avoiding him, well, I guess I’d take it)–but her parents, particularly the new king, seem to not be putting much stock in that and kind of taking it as a matter of course that she will too be going through with the getting-married-to-Myeong plan. So now I’m speculating…if running away wouldn’t be realistic, we’re probably looking at the fall-back “take your own life” as the last possible means of defiance. Wondering if she would go there? She’s threatened it before, but would she actually do it? (I don’t expect show to head that direction; it’s dark, but it’s not that dark).

One tangent that I was going to touch on but didn’t get around to last week: I’ve been curious about the one kisaeng at the Bingokgwan, the tall pretty one (as opposed to the short pretty one that likes Seung-yu). In the early episodes, there were a couple passing mentions that seemed to indicate that she was cross-dressing, perhaps what we would today call trans… and I was wondering if that was an acknowledged thing in Joseon (we see a similar thread in the currently airing Under the Queen’s Umbrella, and one of the grand princes, and the attitudes there are portrayed as quite strict and harsh).

But anyway. I looked up the actress playing that part (Choi Han-bit), and it turns out she is actually transgender. She worked as model, and wanted to also be an actress, although it appears that this is one of the only roles listed for her: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choi_Han-bit

j3ffc
j3ffc
10 days ago
Reply to  Trent

Interesting background re Choi Han-bit; thanks for sharing. I would be surprised if many in Joseon would have been particularly enlightened on this point (but then again, I’m surprised nearly every day about something). My guess is that the producers, knowing Choi’s story (it was apparently well publicized), liked her and hired her, and then wrote this into the role.

Trent
10 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

— I think that is reasonable speculation, that the role, which after all is fairly minor, was crafted with her in mind. Which is great and all, although it’s a shame to see she apparently wasn’t really able to sustain a career; I am (again, speculating here) thinking probably a combination of writers/PDs not interested in creating a string of similar type roles, and most likely unspoken (or even spoken) unwillingness to have her appear as just a straight woman? I dunno.

uyen
10 days ago
Reply to  Trent

Thanks for sharing, I didn’t know about Choi Han-bit!

I’m curious about that too, esp after Queen’s Umbrella. I thought that the strict attitudes were more the norm in Joseon with the influence of Confucianism, but am not sure if that’s the case, or if there was more acceptance in Goryeo or earlier periods.

Trent
10 days ago
Reply to  uyen

I think attitudes were probably pretty strict; I think it is often the case when societal attitudes are quite strict, there will be some sort of unsanctioned or semi-sanctioned demimonde type situation or quasi-institution(s) that function as a safety valve or outlet for nonconformity. But whether that was the case in Joseon generally, and what form, if any, it took, is well beyond my knowledge…

j3ffc
j3ffc
11 days ago

Oh, and this: from a strictly technical standpoint, is it only me, but do the action sequences sorta come across as Chuno lite?

And also this: the Ming dynasty need to stop by and sign off on the new (faux, IMHO) king….is this a reflection of Joseon being under the thumb of China in this time frame? I would appreciate it if the historically knowledgeable among you would comment on this. Thanks in advance…

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
11 days ago
Reply to  j3ffc

, I had the same thought about the action sequences. They lack the brilliant choreography of Chuno, but they get the job done.
As for Joseon needing the approval of Ming (or Qing, depending on the century): throughout its history, Korea has been part of the Sinosphere. Having the approval of the Chinese Emperor was seen as a bestowal of legitimacy. I am not sure exactly when and how that relationship between the two countries started, but it continued well into the early 20th century.

j3ffc
j3ffc
11 days ago

Suk Joo has quickly become one of my favorite characters. He is obviously smart, resourceful, and hairy, and he speaks truth to Seung Yu. Plus he’s great with kids.

Actually, it seems as though SY was having truth spoken to him through numerous sources, including Sister-in-Law, and being in Bat-mode, he has little use for it by and large. Although, in these eps, I think we it finally dawning on him that he needs to be more strategic than he has been if he is going to reach his goal of real revenge.

I knew throughout the whole Jong’s coming together with Gyeong Hye that the regicide expedition was totally doomed. As of right now, it hits as more tragic than anything else insofar as I totally expect we’ll lose one or more beloved and non-evil character sooner than later. Ugh.