EPISODE 9 RECAP
Gongmin faces his council with newfound authority, presenting himself and Princess Noguk in the royal vestments of Goryeo. Woodalchi is brought forward as the faithful protectors of the country.
An advisor insists that the king has been hoodwinked by treacherous people, and that Choi Young and Woodalchi are not loyal to him. Gongmin cuts the protest down with its own flawed logic: it accuses Young of being a traitor to Gongmin by conspiring with the previous king, and also the traitor who killed the previous king. Gongmin’s all, Make up your mind.
Gongmin confirms that he authorized everything Young did: “Are you saying that I conspired to betray myself?” Haha.
For Young’s service, Gongmin elevates his rank and grants Woodalchi special privileges, and also puts them above anybody else’s reach. Only the king can disarm them now, or hire and fire. That’s a royal order.
Aww, yeah. I love the beaming smiles on the faces of all the Woodalchi—excepting, of course, their stoic leader. But it’s okay, I know he’s beaming on the inside. And then, Young lets out the tiniest smile.
Ki Chul is thoroughly displeased, but he keeps it to himself. That night the lady-in-waiting he planted as a mole fills him in on the details leading up to the king’s big stand.
Early that morning, Young had been released and rejoined Woodalchi’s headquarters. That means that the king secretly planned with Young and found his courage all in the span of one night. Or, you know, their rapport goes deeper than that. But that’s not something Ki Chul is likely to understand.
Still, Ki Chul figures that everybody else is still on his side. The king and Woodalchi are the only ones on the other side.
Life returns to normal for the Woodalchi men, and Young… sports a new ‘do? Rawr. The hair is pulled back sharply, putting an end to the mane of glory’s Iljimae tenure and beginning its Warrior Baek Dong-soo phase. Just as long as we steer clear of the Rooftop Troll end of the spectrum, we’re cool.
Young broods over the memory of the dead former king, whom he put out of his misery, and the loss of the doctor’s faith in him. Then he gets to work, advising the king of the need to clean house—sweeping out the rats in the palace, starting with the courtiers closest to the king. For instance, there’s Advisor Jo; Gongmin says he’s served him for the last ten years, but Lady Choi is aware of his busy backdoor dealings, like bribing palace soldiers.
Young asks how Advisor Jo would have any money for that, and his aunt retorts, “That’s why people call you a dumb warrior.” Ha. I do love her.
Young explains that Lady Choi knows all inside the palace, while another group is the go-to source for outside affairs, Suribang. The king will need them on his side, and Young will bring them to him, “If I have to beat them into coming along.”
Using janggi pieces to demonstrate, Young outlines their strategy; appropriate since janggi is a strategic war game. They need people, therefore military power, therefore money. The problem is, Goryeo’s money stream is controlled by Ki Chul, and he’s not likely to give any. Nor are they strong enough to take by force.
Gongmin wants to begin by recovering the doctor; he needs that to be able to face both Noguk and Young properly.
Afterward, Lady Choi grabs Young aside like he’s an errant teenager and warns him not to harbor foolish thoughts about the doctor. He asks, “Why can’t I?” Wait, so you’re not even going to go through the customary round of denial? I knew I liked you.
Aunt answers that Ki Chul wants her, and there’s nothing in this world he doesn’t get: “Why? Because anything he can’t have, he removes from this world.” Her concern is for Eun-soo—if he wants to keep her alive, he’ll stay away.
Young tells her it’s not like that (oh hello there, denial), that he’s just concerned because she was under his protection and he made her a promise. Aunt accepts that, knowing he’s still hurting from the loss of “that warrior girl who made you into someone who does nothing but sleep for the past seven years.”
Lady Choi tosses him a seal that’ll grant him access to Suribang.
Eun-soo paces Ki Chul’s estate, working through her thoughts about Young, perhaps ready to reevalute. She flashes back to a recent encounter:
At night, Chun Eum-ja practices his flute-playing, warning Eun-soo not to step in front of him. He hasn’t fine-tuned his powers enough for pinpoint precision, but he can direct them forward.
Eum-ja tells her that Choi Young won’t be able to escape the death note in prison, but that she is to instruct him whether she’d like him killed ore spared. She asks if Ki Chul will really honor her request, and hears that it’s the opposite: If she wants him killed, he’ll be spared, and vice versa. Riiight. This is contrary Ki Chul we’re talking about, after all.
Eun-soo storms into Ki Chul’s chamber to protest (falling off his desk in an attempt to assume a haughty demeanor), upset that he’s toying with people’s lives. He tells her that he’s trying to win her heart, and if it’s his, she wouldn’t care if Young lived or died. So: Does she care?
Ki Chul points to an elaborate white robe and dress he had prepared, for her to wear “if I can have your heart.” Glaring, Eun-soo tells him that Choi Young kidnapped her: “Whether he’s killed or saved, I’ll do it with my own hands.” She warns him not to mess with Choi Young, swearing on heaven that she won’t let him get away with it.
She storms out, but pauses to snatch the white clothing from its hanger.
It’s the clothes she wears now, although tellingly, she looks pensively at a patch of yellow flowers like the one she gave Young. When Ki Chul finds her here, she demands to know if she’s being held prisoner, what with all the guards blocking her path.
He answers her question by asking a question, and she retorts that she was first: “What, do you think you look cool that way?” He doesn’t understand her slang, and she mutters, “Ah, I keep slipping into heaven-speak.” HAHA. So modern slang words are a heavenly tongue now?
He tells her she can’t leave, which prompts a litany of complaints. How is she expected to give her heart when she’s locked up?
Ki Chul asks if she wants to make a deal. He presents her with a map, reminding her that she said Yuan is nearing its collapse. He asks if she can point out on the map which country will rise up in its place, and how large it will span. With the help of the one who sees the future, he intends to “build a grand new world.”
Eun-soo hedges, saying she’s not that good with national or world history, adding that history isn’t something you can (or should) change so readily. If you mess with something now, the future could go terribly wrong.
He asks what kind of future awaits Goryeo. Eun-soo says it’s not called Goryeo, and in fact it becomes smaller than the current nation because it divides in two.
He wants to know which nation prevails—who should he side with? Then he’ll be able to make the nation strong and powerful. If she tells him, he’ll place her at the highest seat, next to him.
It’s not totally infeasible to find his speech charismatic, because he speaks of the good of the country and its people, and she can see how powerful he is. Not that she should side with him, of course, but temptation isn’t completely out of the question.
Choi Young arrives at Ki Chul’s gate to reclaim what’s his. I love how he ignores Hwasuin with her come-hither stare; she’s totally lusting after him, not that I blame her, but it always makes me laugh since his reaction to her basically amounts to an eyeroll, preferring to deal with Eum-ja instead.
Eun-soo wrestles with how to respond and how much—she asks what he’d do if, hypothetically, she weren’t really from heaven and didn’t know the future. Ki Chul says that would make her a wicked thing who toyed with him. Is that what she is?
Before she can reply, Choi Young is announced. Eun-soo beelines for the door, intent on speaking with him, and Ki Chul accompanies her out.
Young’s explanation? “I came for my sword.” Pffffffft. Eun-soo marches up to ask if he didn’t come for her. She wants to step aside and talk things over, but he answers that when she left the palace with Ki Chul, she’d decided her heart was on this side: “That’s what the king believes. Is that so?”
She sighs. She explains that if she were to say she’s being held prisoner and wants to leave, he’d fight. “I’m fine,” she smiles. “The man of this house can’t mistreat me, because there are things he wants from me.”
She reaches over and touches his arm, telling him she’d worried he’d die. “But since you’re alive, it’s fine.” She pulls away.
Eun-soo adds that she made sure Chungjeong was dressed in fresh white clothing before he was laid to rest.
Choi Young asks if people lie in heaven. Stepping close, he adds quietly, “Do you lie well?” He tells her she’ll need to.
Dae-man tags along as they leave Ki Chul’s, adorably doing the goldfish-gulp as he tries, then stops, then tries to ask how things went. Young answers that she’s being treated well despite being held against her will, but that he pretended not to know that.
“Since when has it been?” he wonders to himself. “I can’t remember her face.” Aw, so you are aware of new feelings for Eun-soo.
Then it’s on to the city streets, to make contact with Suribang. Young and Dae-man sit on a bridge, and when the contact approaches he flashes the seal as a signal.
Young dismisses Dae-man and heads to a particular home alone, on full alert. He anticipates trouble, and whirls just in time to avoid being shot with an arrow.
He’s ambushed by several fighters, all of whom he takes down pretty easily. He’s not aiming to kill, though, and calls out, “How about we cut this short?” Heh. Is this a frequent occurrence here? A test?
A swordsman in white flies at him, and Young just sighs and blocks half-assedly. Ha, I think I like lazy fighter even more—it’s all, Ho hum, this again.
The man in white has a feminine appearance and a feminine air; he falls into Choi Young’s arms and sighs, “I’ve waited so long for you.” Haha, does he have a crush? That’s so cute.
A man and woman call down to him from a rooftop, and Young bows in greeting; they’re already acquainted. They feed him dinner and ask why he changed his mind—Young had told them he’d come join them after leaving his Woodalchi position.
The couple cracks me up; they speak coarsely and insult each other every other word, but it’s a familiar, affectionate kind of talk, like family. Young says he’s here to “find someone,” by which he means recruit people, but ajumma hears it as, “So you finally wanna get married?” Hehe.
He tells them he’s here because the king needs more people, which makes the couple scoff that he’s become the king’s dog. Young states that Gongmin wants to be a proper king, but lacks supporters. Ajusshi and ajumma have the beat on all of Goryeo’s talents; they can provide recommendations, can’t they?
At the House of Ki, Eun-soo flings off her new white clothes in frustration, then heads outside to face off with the guardians of the gate. She demands they get out of her way, and when they don’t, she swings her handbag around as a weapon, yelling, “Aren’t you scared of Heaven?”
Ki Chul arrives to interrupt, telling her she’s one of his people now—the king has handed her over. She retorts that she’s not anyone who can be handed around, and stomps toward the gate.
Ki Chul grabs her by the wrist. Eun-soo challenges, “How will you tell whether I’m telling you the future or just lying about it?” Ah, has she taken Young’s clue? She says she’ll decide to whom and when to tell her tips about the future: “Till then, shouldn’t you be trying to impress me?”
Haha, I love her spunk. Ki Chul chuckles too, but warns that this is how far his patience extends. He lets her go, but his men drag her back to the house.
Ki Chul returns to find Lady Choi there to request his help; Noguk’s neck wound has worsened. Since Eun-soo treated her initially, these earthly doctors are unable to cope with the injury.
Since Ki Chul is suspicious that the doctor won’t return, Lady Choi’s request is that he accompany her to the palace. She adds that the princess has something to tell the doctor, privately.
The princess is in fact bedridden; either she’s truly sick, or she’s putting on the full act to make this believable. I’m hoping it’s the latter. Ki Chul’s mole keeps a close eye on her, and confirms to Ki Chul that Noguk is as ill as stated, slipping into and out of consciousness.
Gongmin visits her bedside, and after the room clears to give them privacy, Gongmin says, “I am very sorry to ask you to do such a difficult thing.” Aha! So it IS a scheme.
Noguk rises, not asleep after all, and tells him it’s not difficult because she wanted to help; not helping was more upsetting to her. He asks, “Because I was so lacking?” She adds, “That kind of talk is what I hated most to hear.” Aw. Is that a current of understanding finally flowing between you?
Ki Chul and Eun-soo arrive at the palace and are led to the princess’s quarters, while Eum-ja is kept behind. Yet Lady Choi doesn’t stop at the princess’s rooms, and instead delivers Ki Chul to the stateroom—where Gongmin greets him. Woodalchi men hang back, ready to act.
Eum-ja remains out of the loop and is divested of his weapons, told that only Woodalchi fighters are allowed to carry any. Eum-ja reaches for his sword anyway, but Choong-seok warns that ignoring the royal order is an act of treason.
Ki Chul eyes the king through slitted eyes, trying to get what is going on. Young arrives and informs the king that the preparations are complete: commence interrogation.
Young addresses Eun-soo formally… and charges her with kidnapping former king Chungjeong. Eun-soo gapes to be accused of criminal acts, and Ki Chul is just as shocked.
AHHH, so smart! If you can’t reason your way into claiming the doc, you can take her forcibly as a state criminal. HAHA.
Young names Governor Ahn Sung-ho as the mastermind, who harbored Eun-soo and Chungjeong. Said governor is dragged in. Serves ya right for backstabbing.
Governor Ahn begs for Ki Chul to help him, and the king feigns surprise—he knows this man? Ki Chul knows which way the wind is blowing and disavows knowledge an acquaintance.
Young turns his interrogation to Eun-soo, asking her about being with Chungjeong. She starts to protest that he was right there with her, then sees the tiny shake of his head. She stops.
He asks who ordered her to treat the ailing Chunjeong. Eun-soo flashes back to his cryptic comment about lying, and quickly reaches for the right answer, assisted by another head-nod. She indicates the governor, and that seals his guilt. Young informs Gongmin that the governor had asked him a baited question—the one asking what Young would do if Chungjeong wanted to regain the throne.
Ki Chul interrupts, wanting to argue. But he’s about ten steps behind, and Gongmin reminds him of the accusation that Young stole Eun-soo from his property that one time. Young replies that he couldn’t possibly have the power to do that alone, and states that Ki Chul let him leave under the condition that he visit Chungjeong.
Aha! Trapped him. (He can’t admit that’s true, otherwise he’ll be pegged as a traitor.) Gongmin: “Surely you didn’t?” Ki Chul: “Why would I do that?”
Gongmin strips the governor of his office and orders his assets handed over to the state.
Young hands over a ledger of the governor’s assets. The king reads, and curiously wonders whether a portion of this belongs to Ki Chul. With Ki Chul already having stated he doesn’t know the governor, he’s forced to answer no. Bye-bye, claim to assets.
Then the matter is settled. Governor Ahn will be punished for his crime of treason, and Eun-soo will also be held accountable for her part in it.
Eun-soo is dragged off, and Ki Chul can do nothing.
The governor begs Young to forgive him and spare his life. Young declines, telling him his secret to success was misguided, and has him dragged off to meet his punishment. I suppose I’d feel a teeny bit sorry for the man being blindsided, but he is a traitor scheming against the king; just not in the exact way they accused him of doing it.
Eun-soo protests as the ladies pull her along, fearing that she’ll be tortured or killed for her “crime.” She is brought to see the princess, and cries that all she did was listen to his instruction to lie!
Lady Choi explains that Ki Chul is too powerful to attack directly, so they started with the governor. Eun-soo wails about her punishment—what is it? Lady Choi informs her that she is to treat the princess, and remain restricted to the palace. HA. So basically, they got to claim her back from Ki Chul with no ill effects.
Young waits to see Eun-soo, but she stalks right past him. Aw. I don’t blame her, even though if she were to think two steps ahead, she’d see the cleverness of his maneuver; it’s an extraction plan worthy of Alias.
Eun-soo pauses, then turns back accusingly to remind him of all her grievances against him: he kidnapped her, forced her to operate, tied her up and dragged her around. She kicks him right in the shin, which, ha.
Furious, she says, “Do I lie well? I’m a traitor? I have to receive punishment?!” She reaches back to deliver another kick, but he avoids it this time and sends her tripping at the loss of balance. Young reaches out to steady her, but she yanks back: “I told you not to lay a hand on me! Don’t you dare come near me.” She storms off in tears.
Cue… music video flashback? What a weird sequence. It’s like they cut this for a short episode again and we should be ending now, only we’ve got ten more minutes.
As Young watches her leaving, he thinks back to all their interactions, starting with the kidnapping and ending with her “trial.”
Eun-soo trudges to the hospital, at the end of her rope. So when Jang Bin sees her, all gentle concern, she heads right for him and cries into his arms. Jang Bin looks up to see Young arriving as she sobs, “I can’t take this! This world is too horrible! Why do I have to do this? I miss my mother, and my father. I really can’t take any more.”
Jang Bin leads her inside and offers her comforting tea. He tells her that Choi Young promised to send her back
She insists that she doesn’t belong here, and that there’s nothing she can do. When the young king was dying, he’d asked if there was anything she could do, and she felt helpless. She asks if there’s anything Jang Bin could have done, and he replies that there’s no cure for that poison—all one can do is look for an easier way to die.
She clings to that, confirming that there really was nothing to be done, and that she didn’t kill him with her lack of skill. Jang Bin thinks about what he would have done in that situation, saying that he wouldn’t have been able to do what Choi Young did.
Eun-soo asks for clarification, and he explains that Choi Young is a warrior devoted to protecting his master. Yet he had to kill that same master by his own hand. She agrees, having seen him kill the boy herself. Jang Bin contradicts her: “What Choi Young killed was his own heart.” As a result, he has given up his intention of ever leaving the palace, the thing that was “his only hope—to leave the palace and live free.”
Ki Chul stews about losing several sizable income streams, but it’s not long before he’s struck with a new idea. He grabs a book and heads out—this will be his confirmation, in case the doctor might still be partially loyal to him…
Suddenly, he clutches his hand. Huh. Is it an effect of his own ki powers? The hand shakes, and he struggles to hold onto his control, gritting out, “There’s too much in this world I still have to do, and have. There’s too little time.”
He said “this world”… Is that a figure of speech, or a clue about his origins?
Ki Chul heads straight for the medical wing of the palace, intent on showing Eun-soo something. Aw, even mute girl Deoki tries to block him out, despite her dislike of Eun-soo.
Eun-soo expresses no interest in seeing it, but he reminds her of Hwata’s artifacts and dangles a new one as a carrot—if she wants to see it, he’ll show it to her privately, secretly.
She leads him to an empty room and tells him to cut to the chase. He brings out Hwata’s book, which he’s been studying and unable to read. Eun-soo opens the package and finds…
Yet she looks stunned. Wait, is it hers? She asks, with difficulty, if this is really Hwata’s, from hundreds of years ago. Ki Chul confirms it, saying that Hwata dates back a thousand years.
Eun-so opens the leather binding, and flips through the weathered pages inside. There’s a grid with handwritten numbers, which she recognizes. They mean little to us (an address book? a personal ledger?) but the sight renders her speechless. She shakes her head in disbelief to read a name scrawled on the last page: Eun-soo.
Wait, SHE’S HWATA? We’ll have to wait till tomorrow adds to the story, but… you’re not gonna Jin out on us and have her as a multiple time-traveler who crosses paths with her own self, are you?
The power plays heat up with both sides upping their game—and for whatever reason I find the strategies and outwitting pretty exciting, even if a lot of it is political maneuvering. It’s built on clever feints and counters, though, which build the tension nicely; I recall a similar back-and-forth interplay between our two teams in Story of a Man (same writer), although we’ve just stepped out of one milieu (present day, stock scams, money grabs) and into another (palace intrigue and war games). I don’t think Faith’s maneuverings are quite as fun or thrilling as that drama, but I do enjoy the sense of scoring a small victory, only to feel the weight of an immediate setback.
I really liked the moment when Eun-soo casts an accusing look back at Choi Young as she’s being dragged off for “punishment”—up till now, I was enjoying the chess match between Gongmin and Ki Chul, happy to see our good guys outwitting the evil mastermind. I figured Eun-soo would stew in anger for a short time, then perk up to realize her punishment was just a cover.
Contrary to that expectation, she’s just as offended/hurt/outraged after finding out the story, because now she feels like she’s been jerked around as a pawn. (She cries to Jang Bin that she hardly cries, but today her pride was just too battered.) It’s true, and no doubt Young figured she would come around in the end.
So I like that she flings his offenses in his face, not letting him off the hook for kidnapping her and basically treating her like a rag doll. Yes, he’s mostly been a decent guy who vowed to protect her, but he hasn’t really seen it from her side; she’s essentially been shoved into a snow globe, and every once in a while he comes along and shakes it up. Or, okay, Ki Chul, or Gongmin; he’s not the only offender.
There’s such a thing as “it’s for your own good,” but there’s also such a thing as “let me decide for myself, asshole.” And this breach in faith actually feels deeper to me than the one regarding Chungjeong’s death, which Jang Bin clears up for her. She didn’t have the wrong idea before, but he frames it to more accurately reflect what it meant to Young, and you see her take that in with fresh perspective.
Then again, maybe she’ll perk back up soon enough, once she’s had time to process. That’s what makes me such a fan of this character, the ability to keep her head on straight about what she believes (no Stockholming of her with Ki Chul, despite his best attempts), while still making the best of it. ‘Cause dramaland has had enough weepy heroines, hasn’t it?
Now it’s time for Young to go about winning her back, and THAT I really want to see. Like, now. Go woo, Choi Young! Woo like the wind!