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Mirror of the Witch: Episode 19

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EPISODE 19 RECAP

 

The atmosphere is grim as Poong-yeon lights the kindling around Yeon-hee on fire and almost every face turns away. Except, of course, for Hong-joo, who looks so excited she might as well be holding a bucket of popcorn.

Jun goes crazy trying to break out of his cell, throwing himself against the bars and desperately calling out for Yeon-hee.

Also feeling uneasy, the king exits his quarters. As Yeon-hee struggles to get free, storm clouds rush in. Meanwhile, the queen happily admires clothes for her future child. As Yeon-hee struggles, smoke escapes from the urn left in the queen’s room and takes control of the queen, lifting her into the air.

 

The king starts at the sound of thunder. With a horrible feeling in his gut, he runs into his wife’s quarters, horrified to find her in the air, screaming in fear and pain. The king’s eyes widen as he realizes the queen dowager’s warning of the royal family being cursed if Yeon-hee died was true.

At the burning stake, Yeon-hee flags in despair… but then, her eyes flash and the talisman on her chest (meant to block her powers) starts to burn. Yeon-hee locks eyes with Hong-joo, her eyes flash blue, and then she lets out a blood-curdling scream. The flames shoot up and burn hotter, as though mirroring her anger.

The king rushes to Jun’s cell to confirm Hong-joo’s plot to cut the royal family line with Yeon-hee’s death. Jun begs the king to stop the execution immediately—they don’t have much time.

As the clouds swirl angrily above, Yeon-hee’s hair turns white and she’s encased by a heavenly glow that seems to drain her of her energy. The image hits Poong-yeon as he remembers the last time he’d seen her in this form.

But the image is overpowered by the voices in Poong-yeon’s head. “That isn’t Yeon-hee. It’s not your fault. It’s the fault of those who deceived you.” Poong-yeon clutches his head as the voices continue to confuse him.

The phrase “only you can protect Yeon-hee” snaps him out of the trance, and he gasps at the sight of Yeon-hee. Once all of her energy is gone, Yeon-hee’s hair returns to black and her head slumps forward.

Poong-yeon looks at his hands, horrified at what he’s done, when everyone turns to a frantic voice calling out to Yeon-hee. Jun runs up to the scene, but he’s blocked by a swarm of guards. His voice reaches Yeon-hee and she stirs awake. Thank goodness, she’s okay.

Jun makes sure she’s fully conscious, and then he tears through the guards, knocking down anyone in his way. Poong-yeon joins in to help, slashing Hong-joo’s arm in the process. While Poong-yeon continues to distract the guards, Jun jumps up to the stand and tries to cut Yeon-hee free with his sword.

 

Yeon-hee’s eyes flash, sending some of the kindling away and shocking the townspeople. Jun finally cuts the ropes and quickly carries Yeon-hee away. Hong-joo watches them escape, unable to stop them.

Back at the queen’s quarters, the smoke leaves the queen’s body, but I’m afraid it’s already caused the damage it sought to do. The queen falls to the ground, unconscious.

Jun takes Yeon-hee back to Cheongbing Temple to rest. He gently dabs the sweat off her forehead with a rag when she brings a hand up to his face. “What is this?” she says weakly, “Why don’t you know how dangerous your life is?”

 

Jun takes her hand in his and takes a shaky breath. “I couldn’t save my mother,” he responds, tears pooling in his eyes. He hates that he couldn’t do anything for his mother, and he hates that he can’t do anything for Yeon-hee now.

He admits that he was scared. Yeon-hee musters the strength to sit up so she can wipe his tears away. It’s a very lovely moment as they stare at each other silently and lovingly, as Yeon-hee lets Jun cry.

Meanwhile, Poong-yeon removes his robes and we see that he’s still in pain from the black magic infecting his chest.

Soon-deuk fills Jun in on how Yo-gwang got injured, though she promises not to tell Yeon-hee. Yo-gwang wobbles up to them with a cane, shocked that Jun knows about Hyun-seo’s attack. He glares at Soon-deuk for blabbing, but she doesn’t stop there—Soon-deuk mentions that Hyun-seo was trying to get something…

Yo-gwang claps a hand over her mouth and in a hilarious attempt to get her to shut up, he demands she hurry up and treat him because he’s suddenly in sooo much pain. Bahaha, I can’t get enough of these two.

 

Yo-gwang drags her off, and Jun tries to go after them when he notices Yeon-hee trying to leave. Knowing the king and queen’s baby could be in danger, she has no choice but to return to the palace. Jun sighs in immediate defeat, figuring she wouldn’t listen if he stopped her anyway.

Jun takes Yeon-hee through the marketplace safely until they reach the palace. The eunuch seems to be expecting them and automatically grants them entry. Once inside, he informs them that the queen dowager thought Yeon-hee would return, and that he’d been instructed to take care of her if she did. Yeon-hee wishes to greet her mother, but apparently, she’s in bed with the cold.

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It’s bad news for the king and queen—the baby was lost in her womb. Looking utterly disappointed, the king trudges out of his wife’s quarters.

From across the courtyard, Yeon-hee and Jun catch sight of him looking dejected, and it gives them both an idea.

So, they return to Yeon-hee’s room to get to work. Jun cutely ties an apron around Yeon-hee’s waist like a good little hubby, and they set out to make another potion.

They present it to the king as a tranquilizer potion meant to ease the mind. Yeon-hee tells the king to give it to the queen since she’s probably having the hardest time right now.

“Don’t you resent me?” the king asks her. Yeon-hee confirms that she does. But she’s doing this out of pity for the king and queen’s loss.

With a heavy heart, the king acknowledges the fact that he had been inadequate in believing Hong-joo, and vows not to be weak or waver anymore. He entrusts Hong-joo’s punishment to Jun and Yeon-hee, and offers his help to them should they need it.

 

The king also informs them that Poong-yeon has quit the head Taoist position and is intent on leaving. Yeon-hee rushes off to see Poong-yeon, but his door is locked. She calls out to him, reassuring him that she’s fine.

Inside, Poong-yeon just listens to the sound of her voice, his face resolved. “Yeon-hee, I won’t see you,” Poong-yeon thinks. “No… I can’t see you. I’m sorry.”

Yeon-hee and Jun leave him alone and as they walk across the courtyard, Jun notices the queen dowager watching them. But just as Yeon-hee turns toward her, the queen dowager is already heading back to her quarters.

 

Yeon-hee goes after the queen dowager so they can talk, but the queen dowager can barely look Yeon-hee in the eye. Though the queen dowager’s method of giving birth was wrong, Yeon-hee is willing to understand her mother’s intentions. Yeon-hee tells her to stay healthy.

At that, the queen dowager finally looks up. She allows her tears to fall as she tells Yeon-hee to break the curse for sure and to live a good life—it’s all the queen dowager wants. “Yes, Mother,” Yeon-hee utters the word out loud for the first time.

The queen dowager crumbles with the weight of that word and continues to cry as she watches Yeon-hee leave.

Hong-joo treats her wounded arm, venting her frustration to Hyun-seo. She’s convinced that she can’t stop now that she’s gotten this far. She orders Hyun-seo to hand over the last page of the Mauigeumseo. He almost does, but he collapses, the fight for his willpower taking its toll on him. Hong-joo snatches the page out of his hand anyway and hastily reads through it.

Now back at Cheongbing Temple, Jun silently watches Yeon-hee brood over Poong-yeon. Compelled to help in some way, Jun creates a potion just for Poong-yeon, labeled “Clear Mirror.”

 

Jun meets with Poong-yeon to reiterate that Yeon-hee getting hurt wasn’t Poong-yeon’s fault. But Poong-yeon disagrees—it’s all because he had no control over his mind. Jun hands Poong-yeon the potion, hoping it’ll let Poong-yeon see for himself what his mind looks like.

Once alone, Poong-yeon downs the drink, and he’s bombarded with flashbacks of himself in the past, always telling Yeon-hee that he’d protect her. The last flashback shows him as a young boy cradling little Yeon-hee. Hyun-seo had told him to protect Yeon-hee no matter what, and Poong-yeon obediently replied, “I’ll protect her forever.”

“Were my words to protect her too heavy for you?” This time, Hyun-seo’s voice isn’t in a flashback, but right in front of Poong-yeon.

 

Poong-yeon just says he did as his father asked; he learned then that Yeon-hee was the child he had to protect for his whole life. Hyun-seo asks if Poong-yeon confused responsibility with love. Poong-yeon insists that isn’t it—he wanted to protect Yeon-hee because he truly liked her.

“But you didn’t protect her,” Hyun-seo points out. He says that Poong-yeon’s desire to protect Yeon-hee made him obsessed with her, not in love with her. So, Hyun-seo wonders, can Poong-yeon let her go?

 

Poong-yeon lowers his head so he can cry, unable to respond. But when he looks up again, Hyun-seo is gone, having only been a figment of his imagination. Poong-yeon heaves a sigh, his sad and lonely expression changing to one of acceptance.

Yeon-hee is surprised when Poong-yeon turns up at Cheongbing Temple, but she’s glad to have the chance to talk with him. He sits her down and apologizes for hurting her when he’d always promised to protect her. He now realizes that all this time, he’d deluded himself that that promise was for her sake and that it was their destiny. And because of his confusion, he ended up putting her in more danger.

Offering her a sweet smile, Poong-yeon tells Yeon-hee he just wants her to be happy now. Yeon-hee returns the smile and rests a comforting hand on top of his. He pats it with his other hand as Yeon-hee thinks, “I want you to live not for my sake, but for your sake.”

And then, another candle is lit. Hurrah! Jun is shocked to see this, his eyes darting back and forth between the candle and Poong-yeon.

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This, of course, ricochets to Hong-joo, and this drama must be turning me evil because it’s oh-so satisfying to see her in writhe in pain.

She crawls over to Hyun-seo, and tells him he’s used up all of the black magic within him—he can no longer live as a human or as her puppet. She berates him for telling our heroes about the Blade of Black Magic, and there’s nothing she can do to save him now. “That’s a relief,” Hyun-seo rasps. Because he can finally escape her grasp.

That hits Hong-joo hard. All the affection is wiped from her face, and she gets in close to tell Hyun-seo he’s now of no use to her. She then has her minions drag him away.

The next morning, Hong-joo’s minions get Poong-yeon’s attention while he’s taking a stroll, and they lure him deeper into the woods. He chases after them until he stumbles upon a body sprawled on the ground.

“Father!” Poong-yeon exclaims. After a futile attempt at waking Hyun-seo, Poong-yeon piggybacks him back to safety. Hong-joo watches from afar, turning away once the two disappear.

Poong-yeon brings his father to the Taoist temple, where Yo-gwang bursts through in a worried frenzy. It’s there that Yo-gwang finally spills the news about Hyun-seo’s condition—how he’s been sustained by black magic and how little time he has left. If any more black magic enters his body, he’ll surely die a more painful death.

 

Yo-gwang gives Poong-yeon a few moments alone with Hyun-seo. Poong-yeon glares at his sleeping father and pounds him with questions: Why didn’t Hyun-seo tell Poong-yeon? Why didn’t he show more trust? Why did he try to endure it all on his own?

Suddenly, Poong-yeon feels a sharp pang in his chest as the black magic inside him begins to take advantage of his despair again. Hyun-seo’s eyes pop open and he brings a hand up to his son’s chest, summoning all the black magic from Poong-yeon’s body into his.

The scar from his blood bond with Hong-joo gleams as it seals the magic inside Hyun-seo, and it causes him to cough up blood.

 

Hyun-seo looks up at Poong-yeon sadly, apologizing over and over. Poong-yeon begs him not to do this, but Hyun-seo only continues to apologize, trudging away and ignoring his son’s cries.

Hong-joo is startled by the sound of her minions getting slashed down. Her eyes widen at Hyun-seo, standing right in front of her, completely fine. Hong-joo gasps, realizing he must’ve taken his son’s black magic.

Hong-joo quickly grabs the Mauigeumseo page out of Hyun-seo’s reach, saying that Heo Jun threw himself into a fire for Yeon-hee without hesitation—therefore, he must be the one who will make the last candle light up. Which is why Hyun-seo can’t have Hong-joo hurting Jun.

 

They get in a tussle, with Hyun-seo trying to snatch the page away, until he shoves her to the ground. Kneeling at his feet, Hong-joo begs him for help, not because of the black magic, but because she’s sincerely asking him to save her. She reminds him in tears that she’d trusted and followed him faithfully since she was eighteen, and asks for his mercy.

In a pained voice, Hyun-seo tells her that he won’t let her wrongs go even if she saved him hundreds of time. He wrings the page out of her fist and stalks off, making Hong-joo completely break down into sobs.

Jun and Yeon-hee are gazing at the stars when one falls, causing Yeon-hee’s face to crumple up in pain. “Only two days left,” she notes. Jun wordlessly brings her head down to his shoulder.

“After lifting the curse, we may have ten thousand days left to us,” Jun says, lightening the mood. Yeon-hee figures they must have thirty years together then.

Jun laughs—how can she propose to him so bluntly? She argues she isn’t proposing and they get into a cute little fight while I’m swooning for days over here.

Jun promises her that everything will be all right. They’ll light all the candles and live ordinary lives. Together.

Ok knocks on the door of a small building to come face-to-face with the same old man who had sold the boat tickets to Jun years ago. The old man gives Ok the exact same speech, saying slaves like him usually get caught. Ok eeeases the door shut, muttering a “nevermind.” Pfft, this guy, I swear.

 

Jun finds Soon-deuk and tries to get her to fess up again about why Hyun-seo attacked Yo-gwang. Jun offers her money, but she’s not interested this time—she claims she also has loyalty.

Jun tries another tactic and explains it’s an important matter. He has to know if he wants to help Yo-gwang. Soon-deuk sighs and relents, telling him that Hyun-seo was looking for the last page of the Mauigeumseo.

 

As Jun wanders back to Cheongbing Temple, he’s greeted by Hyun-seo, who gives him the very page Soon-deuk had talked about. After Jun confirms Hyun-seo is currently the real Hyun-seo, he learns that the last candle cannot be lit with a wish. “The last candle can only be lit by the sacrifice of true love,” Hyun-seo informs him.

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It slowly clicks for Jun as to what he must do: in order to lift the curse, he must die for Yeon-hee. Hyun-seo says he’ll follow whatever decision Jun makes.

Hyun-seo turns to leave, apologizing for all the trouble he’s caused Jun and Yeon-hee. Jun tells Hyun-seo not to blame himself too much. “You were Yeon-hee’s one and only father,” Jun reassures him.

 

Yeon-hee is waiting up for Jun when he returns. He makes up the excuse that he was looking around for someone whose wish could light a candle. Yeon-hee smiles and says that she won’t be impatient or anxious. She believes everything will be all right, just as Jun said. Jun beams at her hopeful face and nods.

Jun goes up to see the candles alone, eyeing the last candle dejectedly. He unfolds the last page of the Mauigeumseo where it states Hyun-seo’s exact words: Only true love’s sacrifice can break the curse.

Jun sets the page on fire with one of the candles and lets it burn, having made up his mind.

Epilogue. Jun kneels down to where Yeon-hee is sleeping and gently caresses her face, making her smile in her sleep.

“Yeon-hee-ya,” he thinks. “I think I finally found the reason why I was born.” He takes her hand in his, feeling grateful for all the happy times Yeon-hee has given him.

He leans forward to kiss her forehead as he thinks, “During my remaining days, I’ll live for you.” Then he walks away, turning back for one last look: “If this is for your sake, I hope you’ll never find out.”

COMMENTS

Oh, man, I was not ready for this episode. The show has been spinning in its wheels a bit throughout its second half, but with it being nearly over, I’m beginning to realize I’m a lot sadder than I initially thought to say goodbye to Mirror of the Witch. Or, I guess, I’m sad to say goodbye to its wonderful characters, since I’ve been emotionally done with the plot for a while now. But this episode really did feel like a farewell as we got some closure for a number of characters. And tears. A hell of a lot of tears.

I was actually taken aback by Hong-joo’s tears especially, but I think it’s about time they’ve been shed. She’s been consistent with her sinister smiles and deadly glares, yet I’ve always felt she was hiding away a load of emotions just waiting to erupt. Having Hyun-seo by her side seemed to be the last thing holding her together, and when he refused to help her, she just fell apart—*snaps*—like that. I’m long past feeling sorry for her after all she’s done to our heroes, but watching that breaking point was oddly disheartening. I’ve been relishing the moments when she’s beaten down by our heroes (because let’s be honest, those moments were pretty rare), but it’s never easy to watch someone fall apart at the seams. Nonetheless, it doesn’t take away my desire for her to get a proper comeuppance. I’m not sure how the drama plans on wrapping up her story—I just hope it doesn’t leave me unsatisfied.

So far, I like what I’m seeing with the other characters. The queen dowager didn’t quite receive forgiveness from her daughter, but there was an understanding between them, and even a little bit of affection on Yeon-hee’s part, that left me with just the right amount of satisfaction. Even the way things ended between Yeon-hee and Poong-yeon felt justified. The flashback of young Poong-yeon determined on protecting his baby sister gave a lot of insight into how his mind was working this entire time, and I can even understand why it was working that way. I never got the feeling that he loved Yeon-hee in that way, so I commend the writers for turning it around to show that more than love, it was more of a duty he felt to protect her.

Which leaves us with Jun. Ah, Junie. His devotion to Yeon-hee has had me swooning for the longest time, and the last scene seriously ripped my heart to shreds. I know for a fact that Yeon-hee would never allow Jun to die for her sake, and I dread seeing her reaction when she finds out what he’s planning. I have a love/hate relationship with the “for one to live, the other must die” element in dramas, so I’m feeling a bit conflicted over this episode’s ending. I, of course, want both of our heroes to live, but unless there’s some loophole waiting for us around the corner, I don’t see that happening. Whether it’s Jun or Yeon-hee who goes, I think the drama could still whip out that satisfying ending. The question is, who will it be?

[Editor’s note: I know the finale has aired, and I know it’s the nature of the beast that most fans have probably already seen it. But out of respect to the recap writer, and to the fans who haven’t seen the finale, PLEASE refrain from major finale spoilers in this post! Also consider fans who come to this show months down the line and don’t expect to be spoiled. It would be the worst type of surprise. Don’t do it! If you can’t refrain for my sake, refrain for the fandom brother/sister/siblinghood! We’re all in this together!
—]

 


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2 Comments

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