Open Thread: The Princess’s Man Episodes 23 & 24 [Final]

Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! It’s the end of our journey with The Princess’s Man, can you believe it? Thanks so much for sticking with me through this one! ❤️

SOME IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:

1. If you’d like to take a look at my review of The Princess’s Man, you can check it out here.

Fair warning that I wrote this back in early 2013, when I’d been a pretty new blogger, so it’s.. probably a little rough around the edges. Well, more so than any edges you might see in my more recent posts, that is. 😅

2. There is no Spoiler Zone this week, because we are at the end of our show!

3. We’ll be taking a break from Group Watches for a while, since we’re just about heading into the festive season. Happy holidays, everyone!

Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️

My thoughts

Episode 23

We are at the second to last episode now, and it shows, in the sense that it feels like a lot of stuff happens, this hour, careening us towards an inevitable showdown between our characters.

Backing up to where we left off our previous episode, I find it wistful-poignant, the way Seung Yu and Se Ryeong pronounce themselves married, with a simple proposal, and exchange of rings.

It’s poignant that this is how their marriage happens, after the kind of pomp and splendor that they would have experienced, if their engagement had happened as first planned, in the beginning of the show.

And, it’s so deeply wistful, because this isn’t only their first night as husband and wife, it could be their last as well, given the risky nature of Seung Yu’s mission.

This is goodbye, for who knows how long, and they both can’t stop the tears from streaming down their faces. 😭

The next morning, their smiles are warm, but their eyes still sheen with tears, and – sigh – it’s hard to watch them have to say goodbye like this.

Yet, I do think that this is the wiser decision, for them, because, 1, it would be extremely awkward for Se Ryeong, to be with Seung Yu at Hamgildo, because she’s Su Yang’s daughter, and 2, this way, Se Ryeong gets to say goodbye to her brother, before he passes.

In fact, it feels like she makes it in the nick of time, because it’s not very long after she returns to her old family home, to be with him, that he breathes his last.

I feel bad for him, because he’s been such an innocent, benign sort of secondary presence in our story, and it kinda feels like he’s bearing the sins of his father, in death, which is an idea that Show has suggested to us a couple of times; that Su Yang’s children would pay the price for his deeds.

I also feel bad for him, because, in the lead-up to his death, his own father seems more fixated on killing Seung Yu, than on helping him recover, despite his mother’s pleas, which, honestly, just makes me want Su Yang to suffer, even if means losing his son. 😝🙈

Unfortunately, Su Yang puts all the blame on Se Ryeong, and insists that her brother died because of her – which is how Se Ryeong ends up being scrubbed from all historical records, so that there’s no trace of her ever having been a princess.

Ahhh. I like this detail, because this allows Show to put forth a version of events that could have plausibly happened in real life – and that just never got recorded in the history books.

I’m also glad that we get to see Gyeong Hye give birth to a baby boy.

That scene, where she finally unfolds the name that Jong had left for his son, is so very poignant.

It’s such a comfort that, even posthumously like this, Jong’s able to participate in the birth of his son. And at the same time, how heartbreaking, that he’s not able to be there in person, to look upon the face of his newborn.

Similarly, how poignant it must be, for Gyeong Hye to look upon the name that Jong had chosen.

How comforting, to the name that he had personally chosen, and to see it in his handwriting. And yet, at the same time, how heartbreaking, that these are now the only traces of Jong left, that Gyeong Hye has. 😭💔

Meanwhile, things keep on moving, on the rebel front, with Seung Yu and his comrades taking over Hamgildo, by killing off the governor and all of his soldiers.

..Which only incenses Su Yang, and makes him more determined than ever, to have Seung Yu killed.

Not only is Myeon sent to Hamgildo as its new governor, with orders to kill Seung Yu, the first royal secretary is sent as back-up as well, just in case Myeon can’t bring himself to actually kill Seung Yu.

Well. That just takes up the narrative tension several notches, doesn’t it? And it seems timely too, since we are coming up to the end of our story.

Of course, it makes sense that Myeon would want to take Se Ryeong along with him, considering how obsessed he is with her, and how this is a posting, and not just a simple trip.

On a tangent, it’s just like Myeon to insist that Se Ryeong be the one to prepare his bedding, every night.

That’s quite a wifely sort of thing to do, and if he can’t have her as his wife, I would believe that he would make her do as many wife-like things as possible, to feed his obsession.

The pervy corner of my brain also suggests that he probably likes the idea that her scent is on the bedding, even he lies down to sleep in it. 😅🙈

With Myeon being so obsessed with Se Ryeong, I absolutely buy that he would take her along with him to Hamgildo, even though he knows that Seung Yu’s there too.

He’s so emotionally driven, AND so obsessed with Se Ryeong, that I would believe him incapable of leaving her behind, even if it might have been wiser (from his point of view) to keep her apart from Seung Yu.

Well, one good thing that comes out of Se Ryeong going to Hamgildo, is that Mom, aka the Queen, is so troubled by it, that she tries to earn her way to Se Ryeong’s safe return, by visiting Gyeong Hye, and offering to upgrade her to commoner status, so that she won’t have to raise her baby as a slave.

I do feel sorry for Mom, because I can see that she sincerely cares for her children, and at the same time, wants to do the right wifely thing, by supporting her husband.

But now, her husband’s interests and her children’s interests are diverging, and it’s causing her a great deal of anguish, particularly in the loss of her only son.

My heart does pinch for her, when she explains to Gyeong Hye why she’s trying to do something good by her.

I’m glad that Gyeong Hye and Se Ryeong manage to see each other, before Se Ryeong’s departure for Hamgildo.

Now that we’re near the end of our story, I can’t help but look at them, and think back to the beginning of our story, when they’d talked about possible betrothals and future husbands.

What a contrast to now, when they are both separated from the men they married, for different reasons.

And yet, there is a beauty about the new wisdom that they both have, after all that they’ve gone through.

On a completely different note, this episode, we finally get some proper insight into why Suk Joo consistently goes to such great lengths to help and protect Seung Yu.

As it turns out, his parents had felt deeply indebted to Seung Yu’s father, for upgrading them from the slave class to be commoners, thus changing the fate of their entire family.

Aw. This makes Suk Joo’s loyalty to Seung Yu extra poignant, because now, we (finally!) have context for it.

It feels fitting, that Suk Joo and Seung Yu are now such close friends and comrades, who would risk life and limb for each other.

Last but not least, I’m not at all surprised that Se Ryeong would risk it all, to try to send Seung Yu the message, that his life is in danger, because Myeon intends to use her as bait, in order to kill him.

Even though I kind of knew that Se Ryeong wouldn’t end up getting killed, it was still rather tense viewing, to watch Seung Yu race to save her, once he realizes that his comrade, not knowing who she is, had given the kill order.

And, how just like Se Ryeong, to use every last moment she has, to beg her captors to send word to Seung Yu that he shouldn’t believe the message the Myeon’s planning to send him.

I’m glad that Seung Yu gets to see for himself, all over again, just how true Se Ryeong is to him, even when her own life is in danger.

Also, isn’t it quite moving, that Se Ryeong would know Seung Yu by his touch?

All he does, is touch her cheek, and she begins to realize that it’s her beloved, in front of her.

What’s going to happen, now that they’re reunited, and Myeon’s sure to be on both their tails?

Episode 24

Coming into this finale, I really couldn’t remember anything much of the ending, since I’d first watched the show back when it aired in 2011, and watching the events unfold this episode, I was quite struck, really, by how uncannily accurate j3ffc‘s prediction was, from last week.

Well. Except for the part where Seung Yu doesn’t actually die, which, PHEW. 😅

Of course, I’m glad that Se Ryeong gets reunited with Seung Yu, and it did give me a stab of satisfaction, to hear him refer to her as his wife, particularly in front of the girls from Bingokgwan, since a couple of them have been gaga over him from the beginning, and have derided Se Ryeong for being obsessed with Seung Yu. 😁

More importantly, Se Ryeong’s timely intel gives Seung Yu and his comrades time to prepare for Myeon’s attack, and that allows them to prevail against Myeon and his men, despite their small numbers, by creating a trap.

I have to admit, I wanted to clunk Myeon on the head, for insisting on attacking in the middle of the night, despite Ja Beon’s warning that this would put them at a disadvantage.

Myeon insists, purely because he’s so upset at Se Ryeong running to Seung Yu, that he can’t control his impulse to run over there too, and rage all over Seung Yu.

And because of Myeon’s stubbornness, Ja Beon, the very one who’d warned Myeon against this course of action, ends up dying. Gah.

I don’t have a particular fondness for Ja Beon or anything, but I can’t help but notice that he’s always been earnest and unfailing, in his loyalty towards Myeon, even from before the time that Myeon decided to align himself with Su Yang.

And what did Ja Beon get for all his faithful loyalty? The chance to die in Myeon’s stead, because he instinctively jumps between Myeon and the sword that Seung Yu aims at Myeon.

I know Myeon’s all tortured and upset over this, but again, I don’t feel sorry for him, because he could have prevented this. He’d been warned. And he’d refused to listen.

I feel sorry for Ja Beon, but I have no sympathy for Myeon, over this.

I know that in the end, Show does try to redeem Myeon a little bit, with the way he refuses to let Seung Yu save him, and instead, tells Seung Yu that he will go ahead to meet Jong first, before standing up to take his final arrows.

I actually feel it’s fitting, that Myeon ends up dying, not by Seung Yu’s hand, but at the hands of those to whom he’d pledged allegiance.

From the beginning, Myeon had insisted on this path, even though he knew that Su Yang and his camp could be really shady and bloodthirsty when they wanted to be.

It feels like some kind of poetic justice, honestly, that he ends up perishing in their hands, though it’s far too late for him to actually learn his lesson and choose a different path.

Also, I would much prefer to spare Seung Yu the anguish of killing someone whom he’d once considered a best friend, so all in all, I’m pretty satisfied with how Myeon’s arc gets wrapped up.

Moving on.

Just as j3ffc predicted, Se Ryeong discovers that she’s pregnant with Seung Yu’s child, and that proves to be an important piece of information that eventually changes the trajectory of our story.

Perhaps I should have anticipated it, but I was honestly taken quite by surprise, when Su Yang and Mom (I realize I don’t have any other way of referring to her. Mrs. Su Yang? Queen?) make their way to Seungbeopsa to pray, and come upon Gyeong Hye telling Se Ryeong to hide, so that Mom won’t be able to see that she’s pregnant.

Oops.

I was even more surprised, actually, when Seung Yu finally makes it into Su Yang’s personal space, and is ready to slit his throat (although, he spends wayyy too much time talking; he could’ve gotten it done, if he’d just gone straight for the kill, instead of stopping to chat 😅), and Su Yang stops him with the reveal, that Se Ryeong’s pregnant with his baby.

Huh. Su Yang might have been livid to hear about Se Ryeong’s pregnancy, but in the end, doesn’t the existence of the baby end up saving his life?

Because, without the baby in the picture, I’m pretty sure that Seung Yu would’ve gone for the kill, in that moment.

To the very end, Se Ryeong remains consistent and true as a character.

Even though Mom and Gyeong Hye make a persuasive case, that she should get Seung Yu to acknowledge Su Yang as king, for the baby’s sake, so that the baby won’t have to grow up without a father, when Se Ryeong finally sees Seung Yu again, she doesn’t ask him to do that at all.

Instead, she empathizes with him, that he’s suffered a lot because of being stuck between her and her father, and even tells him that she can let him go, if he wants (ie, via death).

I’m actually truly impressed that Se Ryeong never once attempts to change Seung Yu’s mind about Su Yang, or his vendetta against him.

She recognizes that Seung Yu’s suffered a great deal of pain because of her father, and that this is something that Seung Yu needs to resolve, on his own.

I’m half side-eyeing Show, for teasing us with Seung Yu’s and Se Ryeong’s deaths.

Not only do we get a “death scene” where Seung Yu “dies” in Se Ryeong’s arms, we also get that scene where Suk Joo and friends visit their graves and perform memorial rites for them, some years later.

In the end, though, we see that Mom had decided to fake their deaths, so that Se Ryeong and Seung Yu could live together in peace, somewhere far away.

Of course, there’s the troublesome little fact, that there had been nothing wrong with Seung Yu’s eyes, even when he’d been on the brink of death in that prison cell, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, that he would lose his sight thereafter.

But, I rationalize that maybe the blow to his head had caused some slow deterioration, that had eventually resulted in blindness..? I dunno. That’s all I’ve got. 😅

I think that Show might have made more sense, AND been more tragically memorable, if Seung Yu had died, honestly.

But, I’m guessing that with audiences overwhelmingly rooting for our OTP to have a happy ending, perhaps writer-nim decided on this outcome instead, as a way to satisfy viewers?

In the end, I’m glad that Seung Yu survives, and like I said before in my review of the show, I figure that Seung Yu losing his sight, is the only way for him to actually slow down, and give up on his revenge.

And, like Seung Yu had predicted, in the moments before he’d failed to kill Su Yang, Su Yang does suffer in his own way, with sleepless nights and terrible body itches from the welts on this skin.

It also looks like with the passage of time, Su Yang’s mellowed out. Now, when he sees that Seung Yu and Se Ryeong are living happily together, he actually grasps his wife’s hands appreciatively, for making this possible.

Last but not least, it’s a great callback, to have Seung Yu and Se Ryeong ride a horse together, for our final scene.

The difference now, is that he’s the one putting his safety in her hands, where before, she’d put her safety in his.

It’s a great picture of how far they’ve come, and how happy and settled they now are, in each other, even as their love for freedom and liberty, expressed through horseback riding, stays constant and true. ❤️

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uyen
1 month ago

Yes to what everyone’s said about the little details blending in with what happened historically. It stayed angsty until the end, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks for picking this as the group watch, KFG!! Not sure I could’ve watched it through all the way on my own and it’s one of the shows where I preferred doing 2 eps a week instead of binge watching because it got so heavy at times.

I found the characters very interesting, even our antagonists (at least in their initial conflicts/motivations). While the ending would probably have had more weight if our lead(s) had actually died, my heart probably wouldn’t have been able to handle that, so I’m okay with the fake out. I’m happy that our leads, who had very little choice in the beginning on situations that unfolded, ended up being able to choose their own happiness in the end.

j3ffc
j3ffc
1 month ago

So, yes, all that snuggly-wuggly did turn out to be an important plot point (thanks for the shout-out, kfangurl!)! For all his vinegar toward Su Yang, our (princess’s) man Seung Yu’s actions were altered by his knowledge of his impending parenthood, and taking that road turned out to be all the difference. I was braced for Seung Yu’s death and, while not exactly surprised that they didn’t go that way, it doesn’t feel quite right that blindness somehow impaired Seung Yu’s ability to read the writing on the wall re revenge and rebellion as well. 

I agree that with KFG and @Flowergirl that it was a real strength for the drama to meld the story in with the historical facts in a satisfying way. “I’m writing you outta the Historical Record, kiddo!!!” was a stroke of genius and made up for the dreaded onset of Random Blindness and I am very, very glad that they stuck with the historical fact that Su Yang had a relatively long, and apparently successful, reign (or should we now call him King Sejo?) Not being Korean or having learned this in school, I mostly looked up some of the details after I finished the show (although I did happen upon the fact of Su Yang’s reign about half way through). It’s interesting to speculate on how more detailed knowledge would have changed my enjoyment of the show. I do think that knowing that Su Yang was King Sejong’s son would have added drama and pathos his to his path and would have heightened the anticipation about how they would have dealt with historical accuracy.

Another stroke of genius was having the Queen be the architect of the ending, as pointed out by @Snow Flower. A little research reveals that this particular queen had quite the influence even after Sejo’s death, so it made a lot of sense to give this character significant agency, as well as a senior military “fixer” who was obedient to her, capable, and apparently discreet. And finally, ever dedicated to the premise that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, I note that our scheming Right State Councilor, Han Myeong-hoe, disliked by me but compellingly portrayed by Lee Hee-do, would go on to pull strings for decades to come (he lived to be 72). So, yes, to the great annoyance of many of the commenters on my Viki feed, not only did the bad guys “win” but prospered.

In the end, I agree with @Trent’s assessment that this saeguk had surprising heft along with its considerable entertainment value. I liked our OTP and also appreciated Se Ryeong’s mettle, at least once she decided to quit lying all of the time. And you gotta appreciate forever-faithful Yeo-ri, who stuck with her princess through thick and very thin indeed. Above-average writing, some nice performances, and a stellar soundtrack made this a highly enjoyable show – of course, along with the commentary by kfangurl and the faithful (thanks, all). Overall grade: A

Flowergirl
Flowergirl
1 month ago

Thank you so much, fangirlverdict! I really appreciate the episodic review of this drama, I think this is the first one to have a review episode by episode on the internet for this drama. It also came at a good timing, I was binge rewatching when you gave the synopsis of the first few episodes.
For me, this is one of the best sageuks ever. One reason that is is that this show managed to become entertaining while stoll staying true to the historical facts or at least what they had known back then.
Here’s a video about this drama: https://youtu.be/ue_lxcEWioU
—-> talks about the record Geumgye Pildam, in it mentioned the story of Suyang’s daughter and Kim Jong Seo grandson, presented they were real lovers
—-> documentary said they were not sure whether it was real, but there was a possibility of the love story since an earlier record (about King Sejong) showed Suyang having 2 daughters 1 son, but Suyang’s record as King Sejo showed 1 daughter, 2 sons. The record suggests a daughter was removed her princes title (the number of sons also changes because the younger son wasn’t born yet when the King Sejong record was made).
—-> some interviews made also with Kim Jong Seo grandson
—-> at 11:43 a bts clip of Moon Chae Won was shown, she also gave a very short interview
https://youtu.be/cwnD1nd9iN0
—> short drama clip about the love story based on Geumgye Pildam. The scene of Suyang seeing his granddaughter reminds me of this drama

Snow Flower
Snow Flower
1 month ago

Yay for Queen Mom, the Most Valuable Player in the final episode! One part of me thinks that the ending is a little Deus Ex Machina (Regina Ex Machina!), but on the other hand I am very happy that our OTP got their well-deserved happy ending. I wish that Seok Ju and company knew that Seung Yu and Se Ryeong were alive, but I can imagine their paths crossing in the future.

Trent
1 month ago

Ah, KFG, the pervy corner of your mind is so innocent, relatively speaking; the pervy corner of my mind is marveling that Myeon was apparently only forcing her to prepare his bedding, and not to inhabit it as well… but I do have to say I’m glad that a public broadcast Korean sageuk in 2011 is definitely not going to swerve that direction.

Anyway. This was a surprisingly weighty offering, even though it had a fair amount of what we might refer to as “swashbuckling” in Western lit, what with the shipwrecks and rebellions and swordfights and so on. I appreciate that Se-ryeong was able to stand up to her forceful royal father and his ambitions, in her own quiet, determined way, and stick to her guns to the end. And as unlikely as it seemed, they managed to arrive at something resembling a satisfactory, happy ending, even if with a fair amount of sorrow and bittersweet mixed in along the way.