I can’t quite understand what made Ta-hwan stepped back and decided to check on Dangkise, because the latter seized the moment to break the news about Maha’s identity to him. Seung-nyang approached him, wondering why Ta-hwan was trying to shake off the almost lifeless Dangkise as Wang Yoo took off his mask. Dangkise saw Seung-nyang and told her that she would die in the Emperor’s hands but before he could finish his sentence, Ta-hwan took a sword and delivered the final blow to end the man’s life. They went back to the palace and Seung-nyang thought that Ta-hwan wanted to be alone becuase he was upset with Yoo’s appearance, but he put his ‘I’m fine’ face, saying that he was grateful that she was safe and he won’t forget Yoo’s deed.
Both Seung-nyang and Golta sensed that something was off with the Emperor but only Golta was willing to take the risk and approached Ta-hwan, asking if something was wrong. Ta-hwan initially refused to tell him anything but soon ordered Golta to find where Court Lady Seo was and he planned to meet her personally. He wanted to prevent the secret of Maha’s identity from leaking, no matter what it would cost him..
Seung-nyang later learned from Taltal that he was the one who spared Yoo’s life. He told her that Yoo saved Ta-hwan and her to regain his throne, but judging from Seung-nyang’s tears, I think she knew that it wasn’t the only reason for Yoo to do so.
Ta-hwan went out of the palace to meet Court Lady Seo in a remote village and told his bodyguards, including Golta, to leave them alone. He asked whether the thing he learned from Dangkise was true and she confirmed it: Maha was indeed Seung-nyang’s son with Yoo and Yoo only got to know about it recently. Ta-hwan realized that losing her son was one of the reasons for Seung-nyang to be focused on her revenge. After knowing that the other people who knew about the secret was Yoo and Co., he told Court Lady Seo that no one should know about it..and stabbed her to death. He vowed to kill everyone who knew about the secret, and that included Wang Yoo..
Empress Dowager received a hefty amount of gold (including gold turtles!) from Leader-nim and she agreed to meet him at the temple after reading his letter, in which he promised to let her know about a method to get rid of Consort Ki. She didn’t expect to see a perfectly intact and alive Byung-soo walking into the temple, but he was only sent by the Leader-nim to meet him. She’s more interested about learning how to eliminate her rival and Byung-soo told him the easiest route: Consort Ki would fall without the Emperor. He explained a little bit about their plan to put a new Emperor on the throne that was Bolud since Ta-hwan won’t last that long because of his illness. How does one know when another person will die? Ask Golta because he knew how to do it, which was by feeding Ta-hwan a kind of medicine or poison, killing the unsuspecting Emperor slowly.
Wang Yoo’s focus at the time was to find out who the Leader-nim was but he received a good news: he’s going to be reinstated as the King of Goryeo! He was summoned to the palace but Ta-hwan handed over the edict of his reinstatement to Taltal and told his Chancellor to meet Yoo in his place since he had to prepare for the coronation ceremony on the following day. Taltal directed his gaze at Seung-nyang and the next thing we know, it was Seung-nyang who went to see Yoo. Her face softened at the sight of Yoo and a flashback explained why: she learned that he kept Maha’s death a secret because he didn’t want to see her in pain and he was planning to bring Maha with him after knowing that he was the child’s father.
Seung-nyang handed over the edict to Yoo (and why does this scene feel so bittersweet??).
Seung-nyang: Once you return to Goryeo, please promise me one thing.
Yoo: Please say it.
Seung-nyang: There shouldn’t be any pitiful people like us anymore. After being dragged here, I realize it that a nation, which could neither protect its own people nor accept the tributes back, is powerless and negligent.
Yoo: It was all due to my lacking.
Seung-nyang: It’s not one person’s fault. The same thing goes for restoring a nation to its glory; it’s not something that can be done by one person. There will be people trying to make Goryeo a Yuan’s vassal state and there will be people who keep asking for tributes to be sent (from Goryeo). I’ll block them here, so I hope you can make Goryeo a stronger country. That is the reason for me to help you to regain your throne. If it’s you, I believe it’s something you can achieve.
A tear dropped on her cheek and she excused herself as more tears fell from her eyes. Yoo could only send her away with his gaze; his eyes teary as well.
Ta-hwan spent the night before the Empress’ coronation with archery while waiting for Golta. His eunuch informed him that the secret letter had been sent to someone and he’s planning to get rid of Yoo after the coronation ended. Ta-hwan told Golta to stay in the palace while he went out for the ‘mission’ with the soldiers.
We got the coronation ceremony in episode 1, with a few more people added into the scene (and some eliminated): Hong-dan, Eunuch Park, and Taltal. Seung-nyang bid Yoo a silent goodbye with her tears and he walked away from the coronation of Seung-nyang as the primary Empress of Yuan. Did anyone notice that the Dowager was missing? Yeah, because she was busy throwing tantrums (and precious ceramics onto the floor), furious that Consort Ki had finally became the Empress. She promised to make Ta-hwan pay for his crime and blamed Seung-nyang for bewitching the Emperor.
Wang Yoo was at the new Goryeo Village, bidding goodbye to the villagers before departing to Goryeo. He would return with Moo-song and Jeombakyi first since Eunuch Bang and Jeokho would stay behind to finish the remaining task regarding Eagle Group, including alerting Seung-nyang about the merchant group. The little team was happy with Jeombakyi and Moo-song would be promoted once they were back in Goryeo and Yoo urged the other two to finish their work. Yoo shook hands with both Jeokho and Eunuch Bang before taking his leave.
The coronation was concluded with the first night ritual for both Emperor and Empress.
Seung-nyang: I feel like I am dreaming.
Ta-hwan: It’s not a dream. You’re this country’s primary Empress. I, too, have waited for this day to come since a long time ago. It’s the happiest day for both of us.
Ta-hwan kissed Seung-nyang’s forehead and hugged her but he had something else on his mind. He woke up later in the middle of the night, caressing her cheek and hoped that she won’t resent him for what he would do as it’s for the sake of protecting her.
The soldiers were all prepared to march towards Liaoyang and the governor had been alerted regarding the matter. Taltal went to the throne hall, wondering why Ta-hwan was there with the troop. He couldn’t simply ignore it since the Emperor himself was dispatching the troop and guessed that Ta-hwan was going to kill Yoo. Taltal tried to stop him since Yoo was a king now but he couldn’t do anything when Ta-hwan said that it was for Seung-nyang’s sake. Golta assumed that Yoo was the fake leader who had snatched their asset and grains and now, the Emperor would kill Yoo. Suri was there when Golta told the group members about the matter and conveyed the news to Jeokho and Eunuch Bang.
Seung-nyang woke up from her sleep and wandered off to the throne hall, looking for Byul. She saw her son standing at the door, smiling at her; however, another person joined them: Wang Yoo. Seung-nyang was surprised to see him there,even addressing Yoo as ‘Your Majesty’.
Byul: Mother..(Seung-nyang smiled when she heard this ㅠㅠ) Father is teaching me martial arts and he will teach me horse riding.
Yoo: I didn’t get the chance to take care of my son when I am alive, but from now on, I’ll take care of him.
Seung-nyang: Your Majesty..
Yoo: Do you still resent me?
Seung-nyang: If it wasn’t for you, I won’t be here.
Yoo: From now on, even without me, you’ll be able to overcome everything. Although my fate with you ends here, I have no regret at all. It’s because of my true love for you. This is the last thing I’d like to tell you.
Seung-nyang demanded to know what he meant by ‘last thing’ and tried to reach his hand, but he suddenly disappeared..and Seung-nyang woke up from her dream. She was alone on the bed and knowing that something was off, she left the Emperor’s quarters and ran into Taltal on her way out. The Chancellor informed her that Yoo’s life was in danger and Seung-nyang rode the horse while hoping that Ta-hwan won’t kill Yoo and Yoo would leave Yuan as soon as possible.
Yoo and his henchmen had reached the fort outside Liaoyang and they found it odd that no one was seen guarding the gate. Jeombakyi announced Yoo’s arrival and suddenly, Yuan soldiers were surrounding them. Ta-hwan appeared and told Yoo that he needed to die. Jeombakyi and Moo-song were ready to protect him and he told them not to die. Both of them tried to fight off the soldiers but it was no use as they were greatly outnumbered. Yoo grabbed his sword and ran towards Ta-hwan, but the soldiers shot the arrows at him…and Moo-song took the arrows, protecting his King until the end.
Enraged with the sudden attack and the death of his henchmen, Yoo took his sword and held it on Ta-hwan’s neck, but the Emperor wanted to deal with Yoo himself. He demanded to know why he was attacked and Ta-hwan told him that he knew about Maha’s identity. Only Yoo’s death could protect Seung-nyang. That alone was enough to make Yoo abandon his sword and urged Ta-hwan to kill him, although Ta-hwan wanted to have a fair fight.
Yoo: Seung-nyang had saved me for countless times; but you? What have you done for that woman?
Ta-hwan: Shut up.
Yoo: You said you loved her. Then, kill me as a proof!
Ta-hwan drew his sword and stabbed Yoo. Yoo hoped that Ta-hwan won’t cause any more pain for Seung-nyang and Ta-hwan questioned whether it was worth it to trade Seung-nyang’s safety with his own life.
Yoo: Even if I die, I will protect Seung-nyang until the end.
Ta-hwan pulled out his sword and Yoo fell onto the ground, calling Seung-nyang’s name until his last breath..
Seung-nyang reached the place when it was dark, with Eunuch Bang and Jeokho already there, weeping over the lifeless bodies of their comrades. She held the cold hand of Yoo and called him but there’s no answer. She recalled the conversation she had with Yoo when they first met after she became a concubine. Seung-nyang thought that it was her fault that things had turned out like that and held the dead Yoo in her arms.
Seung-nyang: Your Majesty..please don’t have any lingering feelings for me and leave in peace. In your next life, please don’t remember a person like me. But I will remember you..in the next life, and the next life, the deeds I’ve received from you..I’ll repay you.
She hugged him and cried her heart out, calling him like what she used to do before…
Seung-nyang rushed towards the Emperor’s quarters the first thing in the morning, but Taltal wanted to have a private talk with her. He knew that she was on her way to see Ta-hwan and he didn’t want to see their relationship fell out because of the matter regarding Yoo. Taltal told Seung-nyang that Ta-hwan said that it was to protect her and wondered if it was something that should be kept a secret forever. She recalled Dangkise’s words and realized that Ta-hwan might had found out about Maha and Taltal told her not to say anything if it was something that would make uncomfortable; but then, he pleaded for Seung-nyang not to make Ta-hwan her enemy.
She still went to Ta-hwan’s quarters and wondered to herself why Ta-hwan didn’t tell her anything about it and Ta-hwan might had thought that he could face it all by himself. The Emperor was calling out her name in his sleep and Seung-nyang held his hand, waking him up and asking what made him so distraught in his sleep, but he just said that it was only because of his sickness. He just said that he missed her and Seung-nyang hugged him. She wanted to stay like that for a moment and promised to tell him something when both of them grew old, but Ta-hwan only thought that she only wished for him to live a long life. However, Ta-hwan started to have a headache and called for Golta.
Golta Leader-nim explained to his minions (in the form of Byung-soo and Jo-cham) that the ‘medicine’ he gave to Ta-hwan would show the effect once the Emperor started to have continuous headaches and he won’t be able to live without the medicine. He would soon lose his senses and even his memories. Golta was planning to use the Emperor’s power since Ta-hwan had complete faith in him and soon, their world would come.
Empress Dowager went to meet her future puppet Bolud and the later had never thought that the Dowager would support him. She told him to gather Baek Ahn’s supporters on their side to send some petitions to the Emperor. Byung-soo assured hi that they would take care of the petitions once they reached the Emperor’s side.
Ta-hwan’s headache was getting worse but he still insisted on getting his work done. Dok-man went to the Emperor’s quarters to send the petitions to him and noted that something was fishy with the medicine brought by Golta. As soon as he drank the medicine, Ta-hwan started to lose consciousness and passed out. Golta was the only one left in the room and he took the chance to stamp the petitions with the Imperial seal. When Ta-hwan woke up and asked for the petitions, Golta only said that he had sent them away and even asked about the preparation for the hunting. Ta-hwan found it odd that his mind seemed off a bit nowadays but Golta told him that he was probably overworked.
Eunuch Bang and Jeokho went to meet Seung-nyang and brought with them the mask used by Yoo when he impersonated the Eagle Group’s Leader-nim. She was still thinking of confiscating the group’s assets since they were conducting illegal business and it would be a great help for the Imperial Treasury. Seung-nyang was surprised to learn that they knew about Ta-hwan’s plan to kill Yoo from the Leader-nim and suspected that the person was close to her all this while..
A meeting was conducted for the Eagle Group’s members and this time, it took place outside, different from their usual place. Although Yoo was already dead, Byung-soo was still suspicious of this Leader-nim. Just as they greeted him, Golta appeared, demanding to know who dared to impersonate him. The fake leader took off the mask…and it was Seung-nyang! Golta called out loud ‘Empress!’ and she realized that Leader-nim must be familiar with her.
“Who are you?”
Ah, the final episode…
Episode 51 (Final)
We backtrack a little before the end of episode 50, where Ta-hwan was thinking about the sudden memory loss he had been experiencing recently. He realized that his memory would be jagged each time he drank the medicine prepared by Golta. He suspected something and summoned Golta, but got to know from Guksu that his eunuch had to make a trip home since his mother was sick..again. Ta-hwan wanted to have the medicine prepared once Golta returned to the palace.
Meanwhile, Seung-nyang got to know that Eagle Group would be having an emergency meeting on that night and Eunuch Park suggested for them to order the soldiers to raid the meeting, but knowing that they would disappear way before the troop reached the place, Seung-nyang offered to infiltrate the meeting herself..and she smiled while holding the leader’s mask.
That brought us back to the meeting and Seung-nyang’s side engaged in a fight with Leader-nim’s side. She was so close to shoot him with her arrows, but he managed to flee from the scene. Seung-nyang’s men chased after the members of the group and brought the captured men into the palace for interrogation. Although she didn’t manage to catch Leader-nim, she thought that they would soon learn about his identity from the other members. Namu assured Golta that no one knew about his identity apart from a few people, but Golta had to issue the order for the rest of the group to go into hiding for the time being.
Seung-nyang changed into a Goryeo styled hanbok and the Imperial Concubines were also wearing the brand new Goryeo hanbok. Empress Dowager was not that happy to find out that Seung-nyang had been supporting the people from Goryeo outside the palace and it got worse when she saw the concubines, who were all of Yuan blood, wearing Goryeo hanbok proudly. Seung-nyang didn’t see it as a big problem since they were living there together, so people from Goryeo in the palace should be able to practice their culture in the forms of Goryeo styled dishes and clothing. She offered to send the clothes to the Dowager, only to get a cold response in return.
Her next destination was the prison, where the captured men were being interrogated; however, Taltal informed her that they didn’t know anything about their leader. Seung-nyang thought that it was impossible not to know anything about Leader-nim, such as his name, age, or where he lived, and one of the men disclosed the fact that their leader had access into the palace. She told Ta-hwan about the information and the palace staff were being investigated for that matter. Golta stood there nervously but he had another thing to be happy about: both Seung-nyang and Ta-hwan were unsuspecting of the medicine he prepared. Well, it’s too soon to rejoice, because Ta-hwan was getting suspicious of him.
Golta was thinking of finishing his work faster before the Empress found out about it and sent the poisoned medicine to Ta-hwan, who had been attacked with intense headache. Unknown to him, Ta-hwan grabbed a piece of the broken bowl and held to it after drinking the medicine to ensure that he stayed awake instead of drifting into unconsciousness. He overheard Golta pleading for him to stay alive as long as he could before Golta finished his work and Namu informing Golta about the meeting between the Dowager and the officials who would support the new Emperor. That was enough for Ta-hwan to confirm that Golta was indeed the leader of Eagle Group and his own eunuch had betrayed him.
Empress Dowager went to meet Bolud, who had brought with him the officials who were originally on Baek Ahn’s side. She told them that they needed to deal with the Emperor and the Empress who had been destroying their country. They swore allegiance to the Dowager and Byung-soo told them that Leader-nim would make the Emperor issue an official decree. They were glad to hear that the Emperor was ailing and soon, they would be able to take over the throne.
Dok-man was at the Emperor’s quarters, sending the medicine and checking on the sleeping Emperor. He wished for Ta-hwan to have a fast recovery and Ta-hwan opened his eyes, calling Dok-man’s name. He whispered something to Dok-man and the latter was shocked to hear his words but obeyed his order. But then, Ta-hwan started to cough out blood..and according to Byung-soo, it meant that death would come for the Emperor. The Dowager was curious about Leader-nim’s identity but she would learn about it later; for now, Leader-nim’s focus was to disturb the relationship between Ta-hwan and Seung-nyang.
Ta-hwan soon found his food being poisoned and further investigation led by Namu revealed that Eunuch Park had something to do with the death of the servant who prepared the food, implying that the Empress might be the one who orchestrated it. He wondered what Golta was planning by trying to break Seung-nyang and him apart but kept it to himself, leading Golta into believing that he was indeed disappointed with his Empress. Seung-nyang went to visit him but received cold treatment and anger from Ta-hwan, but it was a show he staged to fool Golta; however, Seung-nyang was upset about Ta-hwan’s sudden change of behaviour.
Dok-man went to meet Ta-hwan and we got to know what Ta-hwan’s order was: he wanted Dok-man to find out the content of the medicine from Golta and it was a poison from a venomous bird which had no antidote. Ta-hwan listed out his symptoms, including restlessness, unable to sleep, constant headache and coughing out blood. Dok-man was worried when he heard about the coughing out blood since it meant that Ta-hwan had already reached the final stage of poisoning. Darn. It took a while for Ta-hwan to let the fact sank in and he wondered if there’s something that would delay the effect of the poison. He was thinking of consuming the poison to trick the people who was trying to get rid of him and he planned to root out the traitors to protect Seung-nyang and Ayu before he died. Ta-hwan was thinking of keeping it a secret from Seung-nyang since he knew that she won’t agree with the plan. It was the least thing he could do to protect his family. Stop messing with (me and) Dok-man’s heart, Ta-hwan!!
Ta-hwan consumed the medicine without fail and he acted like he grew suspicious of Seung-nyang after the poisoning incident. Golta said that it was easy to lead him into believing it thanks to the secret letter that was supposedly sent by Yoo to Seung-nyang and Ta-hwan, secretly eavesdropping on his conversation with Namu, realized that the love letter was fake. Golta finally introduced himself as Leader-nim to Empress Dowager and she totally didn’t mind of killing the Emperor and leaving the trading business to Eagle Group, as long as she got the power in her hands. Golta then grabbed the chance to suggest that Ta-hwan leave the court business to the Empress Dowager since the Empress had tried to kill him. This time, Ta-hwan assured him that he would get rid of the officials who supported the Empress.
The whole court was summoned for an official audience with Ta-hwan and the Emperor ordered for immediate dismissal of the officials, including Taltal and the Three Lords from their positions. Seung-nyang didn’t even get to interfere and Ta-hwan issued an edict, leaving the matters of the court to Empress Dowager for the time being. Seung-nyang left the court as a protest but Ta-hwan’s condition grew worse all of a sudden, in front of the court.
Ta-hwan called for the Dowager later and he was in his office since he was thinking of abdicating the throne. His health was getting worse and he thought that he should leave the matter of governing the country to someone else, at least for the sake of Yuan itself. He wanted to hear her suggestion and got to know that Bolud (or his official title King of Datong) was the person whom the Dowager was thinking of putting on the throne after him. He wrote the edict in front of both Empress Dowager and Golta, while at the same time, Seung-nyang learned about Ta-hwan’s condition from Dok-man. Dok-man explained that the Emperor kept this as secret from her for the sake of his plan. Taltal also received a secret order from Ta-hwan and he suggested that Seung-nyang didn’t do anything for the time being and prepare her heart.
Bolud was already addressed as ‘Your Imperial Majesty’ by Byung-soo, who was impatient to get the highest command in the military body (like a General). Bolud was more than willing to grant him his wish and said that they would meet in the palace after before leaving for the palace. Byung-soo thought that he finally got to choose his own master and his own minion Jo-cham promised to stick to him (like a gum) forever. Both of them laughed to their heart’s content without realizing that Eunuch Bang and Jeokho were spying on them. Eunuch Bang felt disgusted to see those two following after people who could give them the power but something would happen really soon in the palace and they would be killed soon.
Ta-hwan had to be supported as he walked to his throne and Seung-nyang couldn’t do anything at the moment. She heard about Ta-hwan’s plan from Dok-man and the Emperor’s health was not getting better. The people in the court were all on Empress Dowager’s side and Ta-hwan thanked the Dowager for acting as a regent. She urged him to read the abdication decree and he read it out loud…but it wasn’t for his abdication. Ta-hwan issued a decree to have all the traitors, who dared to commit a treason act of assassinating the Emperor and the Empress, to be killed. Taltal entered the hall together with the soldiers and killed everyone there except for a few.
Both Golta and Empress Dowager were spared for the time being since Ta-hwan wanted to know why they betrayed him. Empress Dowager thought that Ta-hwan was the first to abandon her by giving all the authority to Seung-nyang and her vying for the power was simply to protect herself. Ta-hwan’s confrontation with Golta was heart wrenching, because he thought that his eunuch was loyal to him.
Golta: I’ve never betrayed anyone. From the start, the Emperor wasn’t my owner. My owner is only money. I can betray the authority by not money.
Golta argued that what he did was only trying to switch the weaker person with a more powerful figure. Ta-hwan was clearly disappointed in both of them whose eyes were only on money and power, but he’s more disappointed with himself, who trusted such people more than the precious people around him. Golta said that Seung-nyang was no different than them since she won’t give Ta-hwan her heart for nothing in return.
What’s more heartbreaking to hear your most trusted person calling you a stupid Emperor in front of you? Golta didn’t get to finish his words when Ta-hwan stabbed him to death. Ta-hwan shed tears and cried out loud as Golta called him for the last time before he died. Ta-hwan challenged the Dowager to argue with him before coughing out blood again.
Seung-nyang accompanied Ta-hwan and admitted that she heard everything from Dok-man, but Ta-hwan said that he won’t leave her alone and die. He wanted to live a long life with his family. She hugged him, promising that she would put her utmost effort to see him recover.
Empress Dowager was sitting alone in her quarters, looking at a suspicious bowl before drinking the content of the bowl. Seung-nyang paid her a visit since the Dowager was to be sent to the temple, although her crime was punishable by death. The Dowager refused to leave the palace since she couldn’t stand the fact that a lowly Goryeo woman was the one who chased her out. Seung-nyang hoped that she won’t die easily but the Dwager started to spit out blood, vowing to become a ghost in the palace once she died and she couldn’t leave, because she’s the ruler of the Inner Court. Seung-nyang witnessed her death and told Dok-man to burn Empress Dowager’s dead body before disposing it outside the palace.
The troop was sent to capture Byung-soo and Jo-cham and as usual, they were thinking of running away. Byung-soo thought that he could hide in the New Goryeo Village although he was the one who betrayed the villagers before but he ended up getting caught. Seung-nyang noted that for someone who sell his fellow countrymen, Byung-soo sure lived a long life.
Byung-soo: Living a country which killed its own citizens to die, I don’t really have any other choice other than that to continue living, right?
Seung-nyang: You too, won’t admit your mistakes until the end.
Byung-soo: You too! You too, for the sake of living, you stepped on other people to rise to your position today. You become the Empress and I only did what I could, so what’s the difference between you and me?
Seung-nyang: Are you really in the dark about your crime?
Byung-soo: My crime..that bad luck being born in a helpless country like Goryeo! If it’s indeed a crime, then that is my crime.
He challenged them to tell him the deathly crime he had committed and Goryeo people started to get out of control, shouting for Byung-soo to be killed. Byung-soo mocked the villagers, who had thrown stones to him, calling them as foolish and ignorant.
The guards couldn’t stop the villagers from beating both Byung-soo and Jo-cham to death, and Seung-nyang shed tears at the sight of her fellow countrymen dying in front of her. Eunuch Bang asked why she was crying for them and Seung-nyang thought that if their country was better, Byung-soo too would make a good husband and father in Goryeo. He represented the pitiful people of Goryeo who couldn’t be protected. She saw some tribute women from Goryeo being dragged into the palace and found out that it was sent by the officials as gifts. She knew it too well – the feelings of being dragged away from her country – and ordered for the women to be sent back to Goryeo.
*A few years later…*
Seung-nyang was acting as a Regent and she was angry that the Goryeo King (Gongmin, if we’re to follow the history) had killed her brothers. Eunuch Park, now a Commander, thought that the King had forgotten her help and pleaded for her to make the decision. Seung-nyang opted to launch an attack on Goryeo led by the new King of Shenyang, Prince Deokheung /Tas Temür (he was King Chungseon’s son, which made him Gongmin’s uncle since Chungseon was Gongmin’s grandfather. Wang Go’s grandson was the King of Shenyang/Shen in history at that particular time, so I thought they were the same person. Sorry for the mistake!).
*A few years later..*
A messenger from the battleground arrived at the capital and Seung-nyang got to know that Taltal had been killed in a battle. Commander Park urged her to leave the capital since the army was getting closer to the capital. She recalled the last meeting she had before Taltal left for the battle with the Red Turban Army. Taltal informed her that the army had marched past the remote land and they could endanger the capital if they were not stopped. Both of them seemed to realize that Yuan was on the verge of being defeated and Taltal advised her to retreat to the North should he failed to return after the battle. He knew that there were Mongols there and she should be able to set up a new future for the country.
Seung-nyang went to Ta-hwan’s chamber and the sickly Emperor was coughing like an old man. He asked about the Red Turban Army but Seung-nyang chose to lie to him that Taltal had ceased the rebellion so that he won’t be worried. She suddenly asked him to go with her to the North and it’s like he knew that they were losing the battle, but agreed with her wish otherwise. He told her that his ears were itchy and Seung-nyang offered to clean his ears. She remembered that he made her do the same thing when she was a servant and suddenly, he held her hand.
Ta-hwan: I love you. I love you, Yang-ie ya.
Seung-nyang: I love you too.
Ta-hwan nodded in her lap after hearing her reply but before she could finish her next sentence, his hand lost its grip…and he passed away. Seung-nyang hugged him, telling him that she truly loved him.
It was the same scene in Episode 4, where Seung-nyang brought Ta-hwan out for horse riding and Yoo went to find them, worried that they might be in danger. Seung-nyang was told to ride with Yoo and the scene ended before she could make her choice.
I would like to offer my interpretation of the epilogue first.
I didn’t find the epilogue that significant at first but after sitting down and giving a good thought about it, it was indeed a good one. It could be interpreted in different version, but it was definitely more than just ‘Seung-nyang choosing Ta-hwan over Wang Yoo’.
It was her destiny to become Yuan’s Empress but if I am to interpret the symbolism of that scene, she chose to ride with TH because she didn’t want to cause trouble for Wang Yoo. This was parallel to the moment she decided to become an Imperial Concubine: she partly did it for the sake of Goryeo, represented by Wang Yoo. She held tightly to her destiny to govern Yuan (=holding Ta-hwan tightly on the horse) but once in a while, she looked back behind her, looking at her Goryeo (aka Wang Yoo behind her). There’s no way for her to turn back the time, as she would forever stuck between Yuan and Goryeo, just like how she was always in the middle of the argument between Ta-hwan and Wang Yoo.
I’ll come back for the longer comments and thoughts later. I can’t stop crying and it’s sort of surreal that the drama has ended. Thank you for all your support! I don’t think I’ll be able to finish this recap without your encouraging words and insightful discussion. Thank you so much!