So close and yet so far; so far and yet so close.
It’s hard to be you, Seung-nyang darling. *sobs*
Picking up from the end of episode 8, episode 9 opens with the scene of Seung-nyang running into Ta-hwan as she carried away the tray bearing the tea from Lady Park’s room. She was ordered to lift up her face for him to see and she couldn’t do anything but to follow the order, except that Ta-hwan was impatient enough to kneel and peer right into her eyes…and became amazed at the extreme similarities between her and the Seung-nyang he knew (THAT WAS SUPER CLOSE!~sorry, I had to get that out of my system). Empress Dowager’s arrival cut their interaction short and Ta-hwan was ushered to the room where Lady Park was waiting with Dok-man, but he managed to slip an order for Seung-nyang to make some tea for him. She realized that it was her chance to kill him off and looked for a weapon. She decided to use a chopstick and put it on her hair as a hairpin.
Empress Dowager made Ta-hwan sit through Dok-man playing ajaeng while Lady Park danced, something that didn’t amuse him at all. Seung-nyang started to plan her moves inside the room, from counting the people in the vicinity and her ultimate attack that was to stab Ta-hwan with the chopstick in order to avenge her father. But then, Ta-hwan felt stifled by Empress Dowager’s force for him to bear an heir to the throne as soon as possible in order to fight off Yeon-chul’s influence over him. He refused to carry on with the plan to sleep with Lady Park that night and left the room, causing Seung-nyang’s abrupt plan to be called off also instantly. He caught the sight of her but left without saying anything to her. Empress Dowager was not going to give up easily and thought of another plan: to send Lady Park to Ta-hwan’s quarters.
Tanashiri was so full of herself that she thought Ta-hwan would come crawling to her later and chose to wait instead of sending someone to call him. Dok-man and Lady Park had no other choice but to follow Empress Dowager’s order. Lady Park hoped that Seung-nyang would continue to help her and they would trust each other since they were both from Goryeo. She was sent secretly to Ta-hwan’s quarters (wrapped in a blanket and carried off by the eunuchs) and he told her to get out of the room; however, Empress Dowager’s constant reminder, telling him to think of his late father and brother’s sake, sent him into tears and he had to sleep with Lady Park. Seung-nyang could only glare at the sleeping Ta-hwan as she let another chance slip by; however, by becoming Lady Park’s maid, she would have more chances afterwards. She kept thinking about her assassination plan while she apologized to Yoo for not keeping her promise to stay alive.
As for Yoo..well, he’s fighting off Byung-soo and he’s on the winning side for while until Byung-soo decided to use his hidden weapon. He destroyed Yoo’s wooden sword and hit him on the head using his wooden and lead sword. It seemed so painful and the force was strong enough to make Yoo went back and forth in between life or death. He saw Seung-nyang among the screaming soldiers, reminding him about the promise to come back alive in tears. He gathered his courage and hit Byung-soo with his fist as he saw the lead inside the wooden sword. Yoo was about to knock Byung-soo with the sword when Tapjahae blocked him but Yoo proved that Byung-soo played dirty; however, he couldn’t kill him off since Byung-soo had surrendered. He officially became the commander but reminded his people that he’s not doing it because of them; he’s fighting because he wanted to stay alive.
Although he lost, Byung-soo didn’t let it go off easily and vowed to avenge the humiliation he went through. He was made the deputy commander and Yoo couldn’t do anything since he had the backing from Tapjahae. While they were complaining that the armour were so lacking that it’s impossible to fight properly in the war, their enemies (the Turks) were already waiting right outside of their camp, led by a masked man named Batoru.
The day was an ordinary one for the maids inside the palace with the tasks assigned to them by Dok-man. Seung-nyang was still keen on the idea of stabbing Ta-hwan with her chopstick hairpin, secretly sharpening it against the rock when she had the chance to do so (oh, she used her real name Ki Nyang inside the palace!). The maids were gossiping about a certain court lady who received the Emperor’s grace but Seung-nyang feigned ignorance about it. The news was already spread among the maids and Dangkise knew that they were talking about something related to his dear sister. After a short threatening session, Yeon-hwa broke the news to Tanashiri: a maid/court lady of Goryeo origin received Ta-hwan’s grace. She almost fainted on the scene but decided to gather all the Goryeo maids. Empress Dowager was surprised that Tanashiri got to know about it so soon but it couldn’t be helped since the news traveled fast.
However, the only detail known was about the lady being a Goryeo origin, hence Tanashiri went to see all of the maids and court ladies from Goryeo. She saw through Lady Park, who was trembling from fear and ordered for her to be dragged away and killed. Empress Dowager came to the rescue but Tanashiri threatened to let her father know about the matter. But then, Lady Park felt nauseous and concluding that it might be a sign of morning sickness, Empress Dowager ordered her to be escorted to her quarters as Tanashiri was still trying to recover from the shock: someone’s bearing the future Imperial Crown Prince and it’s not her! Seung-nyang stood there silently as she witnessed the inner court drama unraveling before her own eyes.
Yeon-chul didn’t wait for too long to meet Ta-hwan and reminded him about their agreement back in Goryeo. Ta-hwan couldn’t do anything but to apologize for his lacking and Yeon-chul warned him not to let Tanashiri cry a single tear or he would tear the palace inside out. Ta-hwan headed to the palace gate, desperate to escape the stifling life he’s leading inside the gate. He managed to hide from Golta and saw Seung-nyang bearing the laundry. He suddenly remembered that she was the Seung-nyang lookalike and went to find her amidst the hanging clothes. What seemed like a dream was indeed a dream come true for Seung-nyang since she was alone with him. As he stared into her eyes intently, she reached for the chopstick….and Golta’s voice came from behind. Argh! Ta-hwan recollected himself and ordered Seung-nyang to serve him tea.
He asked whether Seung-nyang had a brother named Seung-nyang back in Goryeo (while he remarked that the male Seung-nyang was prettier!) and he started praising her skills in everything while the only thing Seung-nyang had in mind was to stab his neck (and she kept looking at his neck. LOL). He suddenly approached her and pulled the chopstick out from her hair, thinking that a hairpin like that didn’t suit her. He handed her a pendant and right at that time, Tanashiri came and snatched it from him. She thought that Seung-nyang was seducing Ta-hwan and proceeded to slap her. She was about to do it for the second time, but Ta-hwan managed to stop her. She threatened to tell her father about it and Ta-hwan chose to chase after her while he looked at Seung-nyang apologetically. Seung-nyang took the pendant before throwing it away into the pond, but unknown to her, Lady Park witnessed everything from afar.
The Turks were still outside of the Yuan’s camp; they didn’t make any move but continued to make noise for several days, bothering the Yuan troop all night long. They finally made a slight movement but soon retreated, causing Baek Ahn to get angry and attacked them back. Yoo realized that it might be the Turks’ tactics to defeat the Yuan and the day after, the Turks attacked the camp while the Yuan troop was tired from the sleepless nights before. The Yuan’s side lost again and Yoo decided to use his own tactics. Taltal and Baek Ahn were still waiting for their spy to report about their enemy’s weakness and Byung-soo seemed to have something on his mind about killing Yoo, while I’m so curious to know who is that person behind that veil. Batoru, who are you?? (Woah, that rhymes!)
The guards on duty were sleeping soundly and Seung-nyang, thinking that it was her chance to end Ta-hwan’s life, went to him, where he was sleeping with Lady Park. She was preaching her last word to him and she’s about to strike when Lady Park woke up and blocked her. Having witnessed Seung-nyang’s silent outburst earlier, she knew the feelings of revenge and the need to kill some people, but she reminded Seung-nyang that all the Goryeo servants inside the palace would be killed if she managed to kill Ta-hwan. She told Seung-nyang that killing those people didn’t do them any justice; instead, for people like her and Seung-nyang, staying alive and witnessing the people they despised bowing to them would be the greatest form of revenge. Her words did knock some sense into Seung-nyang because she finally released the sharpened chopstick (together with her hatred) and cried.
Seung-nyang went to her room and fell asleep while dreaming about the person she wanted to see the most: Wang Yoo. He reminded her that being a leader like she was, sacrificing the fellow people from Goryeo won’t be a satisfying way to avenge her parents’ death. She didn’t think of anyone as her friends but Yoo knew that she’s just trying to conceal the truth from herself. Seung-nyang cried in frustration since no one seemed to understand her, including Yoo. He told her not to leave (and chase her dream revenge), saying that he really missed her, but when she turned around, she was alone. Seung-nyang woke up from the dream and Hong-dan was worried that she had caught a cold. She refused to accept any help but as fellow Goryeo people, Hong-dan was just being a good friend to her. Meanwhile, the real Yoo was anticipating the enemy to come and he didn’t waste any of his time when they arrived.
Ta-hwan was happily practicing archery when his arrow finally hit the target and he’s sure that Seung-nyang would be proud of him if that man could see him at that moment. Seung-nyang came to serve the tea and she was fighting her sickness, upset that she was so close to Ta-hwan but couldn’t do anything to harm him. Her mind was full of thoughts about Yoo while Ta-hwan was trying to impress her with his archery. It turned out that he couldn’t hit the target and he gave up, but seeing how Seung-nyang was trying to avoid her gaze, he thought that she was mocking him. Seung-nyang started to hallucinate and saw Yoo in front of her instead of Ta-hwan.
Episode 10!! Yeay!
The two empresses in the palace: Tanashiri and the Empress Dowager went to meet Ta-hwan regarding Lady Park’s status, fighting in between officially appointing her as his imperial concubine or leaving her status just like that. The two women were expecting Ta-hwan to come out with one solution but he’s too busy worrying over Seung-nyang, who passed out earlier. He told the ladies to do as they please and neither Tanashiri nor Empress Dowager showed any sign of giving up on their own idea.
Ta-hwan wanted to know about Seung-nyang’s condition, thinking that he’s just missing Seung-nyang so much that he felt the need to take care of her doppelganger would make his heart at ease. Golta gave him the idea to transfer her to his quarters as one of the maids there, thinking that it would release some of her burdens and make her show some gratitude towards Ta-hwan while keeping her close to Ta-hwan. Ta-hwan started to imagine how Seung-nyang would react all happy and cute in front of her and he’s the one who’s more excited at that thought. Ekekeke. He wondered how Seung-nyang was living in Goryeo at that time as the same Seung-nyang was still unconscious, dreaming and worrying about Yoo.
Yoo led the Goryeo people over at the border to chase after the Turks and their enemies walked into their planned traps. They fought the enemies while the Yuan people were still clueless about what had happened. Byung-soo tried to follow after Yoo to kill him secretly but ended up tied in the camp while everyone was out. Yoo attacked the enemies and had a one-to-one fight with Batoru. He was wounded by Batoru but he himself managed to hurt the masked man. Baek Ahn went to the battlefield to find out that most of the Turks had been killed, something that upset the real person behind the mask that night: Batoru’s daughter Yeon Bi-soo. Jeombakyi and Eunuch Bang were killed in the battle, causing the air to become tense at the mention of their names but it was a happy news to Byung-soo and Ja-chom.
Dangkise was suddenly summoned by Ta-hwan and he was asked about Seung-nyang’s condition back in Goryeo. Ta-hwan really thought that Seung-nyang was released from the prison per his order and Dangkise lied to him, saying that Seung-nyang was living well with her brother in her hometown. Ta-hwan didn’t tell him about his meeting with Seung-nyang lookalike but Dangkise thought it would be better if they couldn’t meet at all and planned to bring her out from the palace. Too late for him, since Seung-nyang was already assigned to Ta-hwan’s quarters as one of the maids there. Ta-hwan asked about the pendant he gave her before and she replied coldly that she had lost it.
Ta-hwan asked her to serve him some tea and hinted Golta to talk about her transfer to his quarters. He was getting ready to hear all her gratitude speech and offered to grant her every wish, only to hear that she would like to go back to the harem. Awww..poor Baby Emperor! He seemed disappointed and sent her away to chide Golta for his ineffective way to appease Seung-nyang.
As a maid for the Emperor’s quarters, Seung-nyang had to attend to Ta-hwan’s morning rituals and thank God it wasn’t like how she went through on the island back then. LOL. Ta-hwan was set on bullying her, telling her to wash his face and she followed the order but with her own way: scrubbing, slapping, and pinching his face with all her might. Ta-hwan seemed to be thinking that they were all like feathers to him, enjoying her very own way of ‘pampering’ him while Golta was looking at Seung-nyang with worries, probably afraid that she would kill Ta-hwan with all those slaps. Hehehe!
He told Seung-nyang to wash his feet and remarked the similarity she had with the Seung-nyang he knew. Seung-nyang got tense and accidentally put too much pressure on him and asked for forgiveness (literally saying, ‘Please kill me for the mistake, Your Majesty.’) but Ta-hwan didn’t think she deserved to be punished severely. Golta thought it was time to send her back to the harem; however, Ta-hwan wanted to bully her a little bit more…by turning her into a fan maid (is there any term like this?). If only Seung-nyang could hit him with that giant fan, that would be enough for her to kill him! He commented on her eyes and made her break a not-so-sincere smile, amusing himself in the process. His good mood vanished in an instant and his smile was wiped off his cheerful face when Golta announced that Yeon-chul wanted to see him. Seung-nyang also noticed the sudden change of mood around him.
Yeon-chul was clearly the real emperor and Ta-hwan was only the person who held the royal seal in his hands. Ta-hwan tried asking about the content of the edict thrown away by Yeon-chul but got dissed off by him as always. He could only suck it in and follow his every word, including where to put the seal on the edict (and he’s really illiterate. Poor Baby Emperor ;_;). Yeon-chul warned him not to appoint anyone as the imperial concubine and told him to sleep in Tanashiri’s chamber on that night.
Tanashiri was expecting his appearance when Ta-hwan arrived at her chamber because he had no other choice but to do so. She told the court ladies to leave them and she proceeded to take off his topcoat. He didn’t stop her but averted his gaze from meeting hers. Tanashiri spoke to him softly, telling him to look into her eyes and take off her topcoat. He did as told and lied on the bed with her. She moved closer to him but he quickly put off the light before closing his eyes. Tanashiri felt insulted with his treatment and threw a silent tantrum with tears, unlike her usual screeching self. Somehow I feel bad for her…
News traveled fast (as always) in the palace and Empress Dowager came running to Ta-hwan first thing in the morning, asking whether the rumour about him sleeping with Tanashiri last night was true or not. She kept talking about the heirs and Ta-hwan started to question the real reason of his existence in the palace. He felt like a puppet (indeed he is) who had to do everything told by the people around him, be it eating or sleeping. Empress Dowager consoled him, saying that the most important thing for him right now was to find the courage and wait for the moment to strike at his opponents.
Ta-hwan was left pondering alone in his office when Seung-nyang went to serve the tea for him. He started to talk about Seung-nyang in front of her: how that person looked like her and him treating that person as his one and only companion despite the hatred that person had towards him. Ta-hwan told her about the jump he made at the cliff, the first time he ever found a reason to do something in his life. He pleaded her, asking that if she could be just like Seung-nyang he knew, to give him the courage he needed. Seung-nyang blinked away the brimming tears and told him that it’s something that she couldn’t help him with. Ta-hwan finally came to accept that the woman in front of him was indeed a different person from the Seung-nyang he knew and he mistook her for him. He ordered Seung-nyang to be returned to the harem and she stole a glance towards the lonely Ta-hwan before the doors were closed in front of her eyes.
Yoo received a small feast as a reward for defeating the Turks for the time being and at the same time, Bi-soo was curious about his identity although Taltal’s name was famous among the Turks as the brain behind Baek Ahn’s strength. Yoo also realized that the horses in their possession were restless, thanks to Tapjahae’s horse that was suddenly acting up and threw him onto the ground. Byung-soo managed to lure some of the enemies for some information but the Turks continued to bother them with the noises. Yoo thought that the Turks didn’t plan to make the soldiers restless; instead, the noise was directed towards the Yuan’s horses, because the horses would be used during the battle. He got an idea to defeat the enemies before working together with then in order to conquer the Silk Road before the Yuan did.
Yeon-chul was still angry that Ta-hwan really made Lady Park pregnant and he was about to act according to his own plan again but Dangkise had better idea, that was to use the maid from Goryeo that was working for Lady Park. Dangkise told Tanashiri to test some maids in order to pick the suitable person for their aide. Yeon-hwa was curious that Seung-nyang decided to return to the harem even after working at the Emperor’s quarters but her investigation was cut short when Tanashiri’s court lady came looking for her. She was handed an envelope which contained the name of a maid that would be killed and she was to hand it to the head of the guards without involving Tanashiri’s name. Yeon-hwa was elated to learn that by keeping the secret safe and not looking at the content, she could be elevated to the position of a court lady.
Tanashiri was testing Yeon-hwa, whether she would try to look at the content and fight the curiosity despite the order not to do so or not. Yeon-hwa ended up opening the envelope and she was so scared after reading what was written inside,to the point that she jumped into the pond just to destroy the content. Tanashiri was about to give her another envelope but Yeon-hwa soon pleaded for her life to be spared, proving that she did read the content. She was dismissed and the first candidate for Tanashiri’s mission failed the test.
Yoo had decided to send Batoru’s horse that he caught back to its owner, together with the spies Eunuch Bang and Jeombakyi. Yes, they’re still alive 😉 They were captured as soon as they approached the enemies’ camp and Bi-soo went to meet her. They offered themselves to help the Turks with strategy planning but she only thought of them as street swindlers who happened to found her wandering horse. The two of them were more surprised to learn that the person directly under Batoru’s command was a woman! Yoo waited for the news while secretly hoping that Seung-nyang would hang on until he meet her.
Seung-nyang ran into Dangkise on her way out to do the laundry and he’s so happy to be able to tease her. Ta-hwan witnessed their encounter from afar and he was about to brush it off as a casual one when he suddenly thought of something, prompting him to follow Seung-nyang to the clothing lines. He called out “Seung-nyang!”, just to check her reaction…and she looked around, trying to find the person who called her. She didn’t see him in between the clothes and he’s left wondering about the possibility of her being the same Seung-nyang from before. Ta-hwan ordered for Seung-nyang to be brought to him from Goryeo.
Dok-man brought Tanashiri’s court lady to meet Seung-nyang since she’s the only maid from Goryeo left who could read and Tanashiri recognized her instantly from the slapping scene. She decided to give Seung-nyang a chance anyway and the court lady promised the rank of a court lady for Seung-nyang if she managed to complete the task given to her. But then, Seung-nyang didn’t want the rank; instead, she wanted to live freely outside the palace. Tanashiri didn’t like a single thing about her since she’s still suspicious of Seung-nyang’s ability to seduce Ta-hwan but she relaxed a bit when told about Seung-nyang’s wish if she succeeded. Seung-nyang thought that something was off and decided to read the content of the envelope: the order given was to kill the person who brought the letter. She was clever enough to pick up the clues and thinking that Tanashiri didn’t have any reason to get rid of her, she realized that it was after all a test for her loyalty and trustworthiness.
The letter was handed to the commander and she was about to be killed when she refused to disclose the sender of the letter but Tanashiri arrived there, concluding the test for Seung-nyang. Tanashiri was still wary of her but after judging how desperate she was to get out and meet her man, she decided to trust Seung-nyang. She promised to let her out and told Seung-nyang the plan: she was to feed Lady Park something that would deny her the fate as the mother of Ta-hwan’s child.
OMG this week’s episodes are playing with my heart, my soul, my everything! So many things happened and while the plot doesn’t really move that fast, I’m glad that we’re given some opportunities to get to know the characters better.
The chopstick hairpin revenge might seem a little repetitive and tiring but behind the planning, we get to know more about Seung-nyang. So far, we’re not given the chance to prod into her thoughts, mostly relying on her words and action alone. Maybe because we are in the palace and her movement is restricted, so she makes up for the lack of words with a lot of inner thoughts. I love how focused she is in any situation and she’s truly a gem, be it as a man or as a woman. We have seen her in action as a man and it will be more interesting when she gets to know her charms and use it for her own benefit.
Seung-nyang is indeed falling too deep into her own plan of revenge and the act of sharpening the chopstick is like sharpening the thorns inside her own heart. It hurts to see her so helpless and lonely inside the palace and the dream she has about Yoo is even more heartbreaking. She rarely shows how vulnerable she is and when she needs someone the most, she’s actually alone in a stranger’s land. Ah Seung-nyang..you break my heart with your constant dreams about Yoo!
I think Yoo is more attached to the promise he made with Seung-nyang. Everything he does, he will think of her and that makes her his reason for everything. The fact that both of them start to dream of each other probably marks the beginning of an invisible ties between them and PLEASE let them meet each other again soon!
Ta-hwan…..oh, dearie Baby Emperor…I want to push you away and pull you into a big bear hug at the same time! He can be so clueless at times but that’s the reason to feel bad for him: because everything is moving against his will. He can’t even decide for himself about where to sleep and who to sleep with every night, the women keep talking about heirs and sleeping arrangement while the men were turning a blind eye against him. He’s like a puppet that is pushed and pulled from different directions and finally, he shows that he’s also capable of reaching a breaking point. Plus, he’s still a baby that needs proper guidance from someone he can look up to and that’s probably the reason why he keeps missing Seung-nyang, the only person who saw through his weakness but still extended her hand to him and believed him. The scene where he remembers the jump he made from the cliff actually made me tear up (..umm..I was sobbing actually) because he was that desperate for a source of courage and strength. Even Seung-nyang was affected by his sudden realization that she’s no longer the same person but it’s too easy (and still early for the sake of the length of the drama) for her to admit that she’s the one and only Seung-nyang.
I feel so bad for him that I actually enjoy watching him having fun a bit with Seung-nyang, just for him to escape the reality of the cruel palace he’s living in. It’s quite frustrating when he’s still trying to figure out whether Seung-nyang in front of him is the same Seung-nyang or not, but that’s probably part of the fun watching this drama.
I actually feel bad for Tanashiri. If only she wasn’t born as Yeon-chul’s daughter, she won’t have to undergo that kind of treatment from Ta-hwan, but then, she won’t even stand a chance to become his empress in the first place. Any woman would feel humiliated like her but yeah, she can be too violent at times due to her jealousy firing up inside that petite body of her. Being an overly pampered little daughter and sister sometimes can be fatal to others and Tanashiri is one good example of it.
There are lots of swoon-worthy scenes: the dream scene on the bridge to the harem, the hallucination scene, the face-washing scene, and Dangkise-Nyang’s encounter but the scenes at the clothing lines are super duper pretty and dreamy. I can’t even express how breathtaking they are and the screencaps don’t do them justice, but they still turn out pretty!