My Princess hit the mid-way point of its run today. With the ratings holding pretty steady at between 15-17% for the last two weeks, this drama looks to be a solid hit. I think the numbers are about right. The stellar OTP moments in MP make me think it deserves higher ratings, but the dull and plodding royal restoration plot make me think its rating are too high. Combined together, its ratings are just about right on the money.
My feelings for MP have also settled into a nice comfy place. It’s a drama that I genuinely adore, but never managed to develop an all-encompassing love for it. Which is not to say that when all is said and done I won’t love MP more than some other dramas that made me rabid and cranky with want when I watched them live. I continue to love the OST to an unhealthy degree, and every single freaking piece of music in MP I love without reservation. Thank god, because the music helps me get through the plodding scenes TBH.
As some of you might already know (I didn’t post about this specifically but did mention it in passing in comments and whatnot), Kim Eun Sook (the writer who just finished the mega-hit Secret Garden), has officially joined MP as a co-writer. MP thus far has been written by Kim Eun Sook’s protégé Jang Yang Shil.
This news made me so furious I almost broke a table, if for nothing else than I don’t want another cook mucking up the kitchen at so late in the game. If I notice the characterization or plot going the Kim Eun Sook-way, I am going to break out my big knives when I write any future recaps. Just a fair word of warning. While I don’t think Jang Yang Shil’s MP script is all that stellar, I do want consistency, and having another writer add her two cents worries me immensely.
Episode 8 Recap:
The episode starts with an extended montage of scenes from the last episode, leading up to the moment that Hae Young allows his emotions free rein if but once with Seol.
Hae Young tells the grinning Seol to forget what he’s about to do, and then he kisses her. Later in the night, he lays her down to sleep, looking down at the drunken asleep Seol with a look of concern and worry. He appears to make a decision, and he leaves her in the middle of the night.
He flashes back to the memory of his childhood meeting with Seol, when his father threatened her father. Seol wakes up the next morning and finds herself all alone. She runs outside looking for him, but finds the lackeys instead, who have orders to keep her detained.
Seol tries to bargain with the lackeys, who she thinks is acting on orders of Yoon Joo. She warns that Hae Young will come and save her. The phone rings and its Hae Young, and she orders him to come save her from the lackeys. He refuses. He tells her that he has abandoned her. She will not be allowed to attend the press conference.
Back at the palace, the preparations for the press conference are under way. Seriously, get this shit over with so that I can move on and stop twiddling my thumbs pretending to be worried about a media event that just doesn’t seem all that important as its made out to be. Grandpa is informed by Secretary Oh that the princess has disappeared, likely left the palace the night before. Grandpa asks where Hae Young is?
The younger lady in waiting braves herself to go ask Hae Young where he took the princess the night before. She wants to know when the princess will return. Hae Young dismisses her, and is told the press conference cannot be delayed any longer. Everyone is asking where the princess is, and told the media is furious at the no-show by the princess.
The ladies are worried if the princess is alright. Hae Young walks into the press conference with a determined look on his face. The reporters are grumbling, until Hae Young walks in and starts the press conference about the formation of the Royal Foundation and the announcement of the princess moving into the palace.
He tells the media that the princess cannot attend today due to personal reasons. He then announces that the rumors concerning the princess’ father Lee Han are false. Jung Woo goes outside to call Seol, and the lackeys allow her to have her phone back since she’s not going to make the press conference anyways.
Jung Woo worriedly asks where Seol is right now, and tells her that Hae Young is doing the press conference alone. She asks him to delay the press conference, she’s on her way. Jung Woo asks if her missing the press conference is due to Hae Young. Back at the press conference, Hae Young tells the reporters that all the alleged misdoings was the work of Seol’s adoptive father.
He also announces that he is not acting on behalf of the Daehan Group heir, but as the private tutor for the princess. He tells the world not to suspect that Daehan Group has power hungry or money laundering aspirations for establishing the Royal Foundation. Grandpa gets up and leaves.
Jung Woo confronts Hae Young after the press conference, accusing him of purposely preventing Seol from attending. Hae Young tells him not to interfere, this is not within his purview. Jung Woo is furious at Hae Young for revealing the truth about the adoptive father. Because of this, Seol could lose the only family she has left!
Jung Woo tells Hae Young that every time he has met him, at school or at the hospital, while Hae Young has been a cocky jackass, at least he appeared to be genuinely concerned about Seol. Jung Woo never imagined that Hae Young would do anything to hurt Seol. Hae Young says that Jung Woo was wrong in his assessment of his intentions with respect to Seol.
But Hae Young can’t help himself. Even when he’s pretending to be all ninja assassin backstabby about his motivations towards Seol, he still has to wonder why Jung Woo is this concerned about Seol. Isn’t it a tad too much concern to show towards one’s student? Jung Woo says that Seol is not just any student – she represents the living embodiment of his lifelong dream to study Korean royal history.
Jung Woo says that his motivations are clearly impossible for someone who is motivated by money (i.e. Hae Young) to understand. Hae Young says that it must be nice for Jung Woo, to be so openly able to support Seol. It does hurt me to see Hae Young so internally torn that he can’t hate or love Seol. My poor oppa, come here, I give you a hug. Jung Woo announces that he will continue to support Seol going forward.
Seol listens to the press conference on the radio, and she realizes why Hae Young prevented her from attending. She talks to herself, asking Hae Young if this is the reason, and her eyes fill with tears. She demands the lackeys take her somewhere right now!
Yoon Joo finds Hae Young, and asks him whether he was with the princess last night. He confirms it, and tells her that he won’t explain himself. She tells him that she trusts him, but he shouldn’t have stepped up at the press conference to help Seol. Now the public will only have sympathy for Seol, as opposed to thinking poorly of her. Why did he help her?
He says that this is the only way for her to thoroughly end her relationship with her adoptive family. Yoon Joo says that there is nothing to be sad about when one loses family. She would know, she has no functioning heart organ. At most Seol may cry a few days, but she won’t decide not to be a princess because of this. So what is Hae Young’s real intention? In the end, he just wanted to protect her, right? Hae Young does not answer, because she speaketh the truth.
Grandpa comes and interrupts the tete-a-tete. Hae Young tells Grandpa that the princess has cleared her father’s name, the public likes her now, and he’s played the part of the bad guy and takes the fall. Isn’t this what Grandpa wanted? Grandpa agrees, he doesn’t want Hae Young and the princess to have any further personal relationship, so he has nothing to be angry at Hae Young about.
He demands to know where the princess is, and Hae Young says that the princess is likely somewhere crying. Seol’s mom and Dan watch news about the press conference, and discover that news about the adoptive father’s misdoings have been made public. Dan declares that Seol has betrayed them! Seol arrives at the guest house, pounding on the door, crying to see her mom and her sister.
But they won’t open the door and listen to her explanation. She’s crying outside, and mom moves to open the door. Dan stops her, saying that Seol is not family anymore. Dude, mom, you need to chuck Dan and keep Seol, not the other way around. Seol cries and tells them through the door that she did not want to reveal her father’s situation.
Mom says to the closed door that it’s okay, the news about the adoptive father was bound to come out anyways. She just wants Seol to be happy. Except mom is a human being, too, and it does hurt to see what has happened. The hurt makes mom unable to face Seol right now. Seol is screaming – mom, I’m so sorry, it’s all my fault. Jung Woo arrives and helps her up.
Seol asks Jung Woo what she should do? Jung Woo tells her to stop crying first of all. She has two choices, go back home to her family, or go back to the palace. Seol is silent, but Jung Woo tells her that crying at her house is what a person would have done. But shouldn’t Princess Seol have made it to the press conference no matter what.
Jung Woo tells her that up until now, all Seol does is be influenced by Hae Young or jerked around by Yoon Joo. She’s so passive because she had not yet considered herself a real princess with authority and determination. He tells her that before she is her parent’s daughter, she is a living breathing part of Korean history.
Hae Young looks at the picture of his father that he keeps in his drawer. Secretary Oh comes and thanks Hae Young, and apologizes to him. He tells Hae Young that what he did today at the press conference, that was the right thing to it. Hae Young tells him that doing one thing now doesn’t mean he will always do things for Seol. After all – he is his father’s son, right?
Yoon Joo walks through the gallery, wondering whether Dan’s trump card is the real satchel, or a fake one? She is told that the princess has returned. Grandpa is in a rage when he finds out that the princess and Hae Young shared a room last night. He screams for Yoon Joo to come.
The ladies fuss over the princess, and she asks to see Hae Young right now. As she is walking out, Yoon Joo arrives and chides her for being late…by a lot. Seol retorts that she must be happy…by a lot. Yoon Joo smirks and confirms that she was indeed a mite pleased by the turn of events. Yoon Joo looks at Jung Woo and says that she was not worried about Seol’s well-being since Seol has many white knights looking out for her.
She dismisses all the staff, and address Jung Woo as Professor Nam. She worries that his student is too innocent and naïve, doing whatever things she wants. Isn’t that tiring? Jung Woo says that Seol’s behavior is cute and spontaneous, and wherever she goes she shines a light with her personality. Oh, in your face, Yoon Joo! Like, what’s with the constant digging for information from both guys whereby you know you are only going to hear information that will stab you in the chest.
Before Jung Woo leaves, he tells Yoon Joo that she used to be just like that. Except she’s surrounded by so much darkness now that she can’t remember her old self. Oh lord, that was sad to hear. For both of them. Seol pounds on the door and screams at Hae Young to open the door and stop hiding from her. He does, and walks outside whereby Seol screams that he is a bad guy, and starts to hit him. He just takes it from her, without a word to defend his actions.
She’s crying, and asking how he could just abandon her, and then do this to her. He finally grabs her hand to stop her from hitting him, all the while his eyes never leave her face. He tells her to keep her voice down, and she wonders why? He doesn’t want people to hear what a horrible person he is? Because of him, her mom won’t even see her anymore. How can she salvage the situation?
Hae Young reminds her that she is supposed to be used to having no one in this world to protect her. So why is she suddenly so vulnerable and hurt? When she agreed to be a princess, she must’ve have known that all her background would be made public. Seol thought that anyone would divulge information about her, but she did think that Park Hae Young would not. She doesn’t have a good reason, but she believed somehow that he would protect her.
Hae Young hears this and his eyes reveal his hurt and torment. She asks how he could do this to her? He asks her – who is she to him that he needs or wants to protect her? OUCH. Hae Young, please shut the hell up before you say anything you are going to regret. He asks why Seol keeps him by her side and expects him to protect her?
She was the one who made the decision to be a princess, thereby requiring that she sever her relationship with her adoptive family. He tells her that worst things will continue to happen. If she’s overwrought by just this, how can she be a princess? She might as well give up now, and go back to her family! And then Hae Young adds – and come back to me as well. Oh. My. God. My heart just stopped beating for an entire minute.
Seol is stunned into silence, as she stares at Hae Young, processing what he just said. Hae Young turns and walks back into his room, leaving Seol in the hallway. She drops to her knees, overwhelmed by everything. Hae Young can hear Seol crying outside, and he calls for staff to escort the princess back to her room. He looks really tormented, and makes a move to open the door and go back outside to her.
But as he touches the door to open it, a lady in waiting comes and takes Seol away. Hae Young can only be upset all by himself. The next morning, the staff is grumbling at how the princess can just miss the press conference like that. The young lady in waiting gets upset at the criticism of the princess, especially the talking behind her back.
Yoon Joo comes to speak with the staff, telling everyone that from now on, every single move made by the princess needs to be reported to her. She asks if anyone saw the princess leave the palace? The young lady in waiting clearly saw it but doesn’t speak up. She leaves an implicit threat that anyone can be sacked if they don’t follow her rules.
Seol calls her mom, but Dan has the phone in front of her and refuses to take the call. Dan texts Seol using her mom’s phone, pretending that it’s her mom and telling her not to call anymore. Seol rushes to go back home immediately, but is stopped by the young lady in waiting. She tells her that Seol’s every move must be reported. She begs Seol not to go, otherwise she’ll be fired.
Seol stays in the palace, deep in thought on her bed. Yoon Joo comes right in, and tells Seol that she’s dead already. The fiasco with the press conference, now rumors have arisen that Seol died when she was admitted to the hospital earlier. Yoon Joo cuts Seol down, comparing her to a third-rate entertainer with her lack of decorum and esteem. She wants Seol to change and go to the hospital and pretend that she’s sick for the sake of making an excuse for missing the press conference.
Seol tells her to get the fuck out (okay, she says to leave), and summons her lady in waiting to help her change. She tells Yoon Joo to summon the entire palace staff, Seol has an announcement to make as the princess. Everyone is gathered together, including Hae Young and Jung Woo, and Soel arrives to address her staff.
She looks at Jung Woo before speaking, and he gives her a nod. She turns to look at Hae Young, and her smile disappears and she makes a decision. She can’t see everyone so she gets on the sofa. She apologizes for gathering everyone, for missing the press conference, which led to rumors in the media. From now on, she will work to fix everything.
During this time, she didn’t know who she was, she was afraid of everything that was happening. She entered the palace to clear her father’s name, but now she knows what she needs to do. Her father is not just her father – he is a part of royal history. She has decided to hold an official ceremony to commemorate the formation of the Royal Foundation.
Yoon Joo says that the formation of the Royal Foundation is not the princess’ concern, and Seol asks why not? She tells the staff to immediately prepare for the ceremony. Jung Woo is pleased with her announcement, while Hae Young looks tired. Yoon Joo asks Hae Young what happened that night to make Seol behave this way all of a sudden.
She doesn’t want Seol to be involved with the ceremony, as that will steal away the spotlight. Damn, it’s all about her own glory, isn’t it? Hae Young tells Yoon Joo to make it as flashy as she wants. She wants to know what Hae Young’s real intention is? Doesn’t Hae Young want the same thing she does? He asks her what that is, and she answers tentatively “to marry each other, right?”
Hae Young repeats his statement that if he loses everything, he won’t marry Yoon Joo. That is the most he can do for her. She correctly calls bullshit on him. He’s just using that as a way out, an excuse to cry off anytime. She says that she doesn’t want just money (oh really, I couldn’t tell, and neither can anyone with brains), does Hae Young think she’s that kind of woman?
Hae Young tells her that he doesn’t think of her that way. He wants her to be happy, and give her what she gave up in her life. Yoon Joo says they should just get married. Right now. She’ll marry a Hae Young who is slated to have nothing. She says that Hae Young can’t agree, right? Because he has been affected by her (meaning Seol). Hae Young tells Yoon Joo that nothing will happen between him and Seol. Yoon Joo says that something has already happened between him and Seol, even if he refuses to admit it.
Seol is in her room, trying to calm herself. Jung Woo comes and compliments her on doing well earlier. She’s delighted to have her support, but confesses that if the press conference situation happened again, she would still head to the guest house first. Her family is always more important than royal history. But since things are what they are now, at least she should try to salvage one of the two.
Jung Woo hands her a detailed royal history book about the last Korean Emperor. They joke around, and she practices using her royal sageuk speech on him. They are adorable together, but what I love is that they are genuinely friends. Her crush is totally warranted, he’s a great guy, and I’m glad she has him around as a friend and confidante.
Seol is hiding in the antique car and writing down a list of all things about her previous life that requires her to try and erase, such as her membership in various websites and fan clubs. She’s calling when Hae Young comes across her. She tries to shove her list in her mouth (who shoves paper in their mouth? the first place I’d shove something is between my boobs), but he grabs it and reads it, thinking it’s about pornography.
She tells him not to think of her as anything like him. Hae Young makes a call that will erase all of Seol’s web history. She asks why he’s so nice to her all of a sudden. Does he want to set her up to off her later? He tells her to stop watching sageuks along with pornography. She’s insistent that she wasn’t watching porn!
She tells him not to laugh so easily in front of the person who is going to take away his inheritance. He doesn’t think she has the ability to do so. She says to wait and see. Even when she was doing odd jobs, she worked as a princess, right? Hae Young says that thanks to Seol, Korea always had a beautiful princess to show the world even back then. She’s still upset until she registers that he just paid her a compliment.
He tells her that she’s very pretty. She asks what he intends to do, tell her she’s pretty and then abandon her again. Is Hae Young testing her? He says that he is testing himself. They get called to dinner with Grandpa, and Jung Woo and Yoon Joo. Grandpa is pleased with Seol’s newfounded determination to be a princess.
He asks everyone around the table to assist Seol. Jung Woo says that since she was his student, Seol was always bringing happiness to everyone around her. Grandpa says the reason for the dinner is to resolve the ongoing scandal between the Hae Young and Seol, which impacts how the public will support the princess.
He asks Yoon Joo and Hae Young to get married. Once they set a date and make an announcement, the scandal between Hae Young and Seol will be over. We get an awesome montage of Jung Woo staring at Yoon Joo, Yoon Joo staring at Grandpa, Seol staring at Hae Young, and Hae Young looking constipated (okay, I’m kidding, he looks not happy at all).
Grandpa wants to make the announcement that Daehan Group and the princess have no relationship with each other. Seol looks distressed and keeps staring at Hae Young, and Grandpa asks Hae Young to answer him. Hae Young agrees, but it’s not for the Daehan Group or Grandpa, it’s for himself. But Yoon Joo speaks up and says that she’s not going to agree to marry Hae Young.
And the scene freezes on the tableau of these four people faced with this big announcement. Seriously, worst dinner evar!
Thoughts of Mine:
After the big kiss at the end of the last episode, I’m sad to say that nothing really happened in this episode. At all. It wasn’t like a balloon deflating, per se, but more like a marathon runner who does a fast sprint for the last mile, and then stopping to walk for a bit to catch his breath. My screencaps dropped by half because pretty much every scene was a face-to-face between various participants in various iterations. It’s becoming a modern sageuk! Just kidding, or at least I hope so.
Eight episodes in, I’m struggling to really understand the motivations (both real and for show) of Hae Young and Yoon Joo. Jung Woo and Seol are pretty transparent. She wants to clear her father’s name, save her relationship with her adoptive family, and live up to her duty as the sole heir of the Korean royal family to preserve history and heritage. He wants to prove to Yoon Joo that he can accomplish his academic dreams, while helping out a student he genuinely is fond of and care for.
Hae Young is starting to show cracks in his characterization, which stems from having him do everything and then having multiple reasons for why he did it. Take the press conference announcement, for instance. He did it to protect Seol? Yes, but then he also did it to push her away. Hae Young is like a two-headed Hydra at his point, and it makes him less compelling because I sometimes get the sense he’s doing something for the sake of plot moreso for the sake of being true to something his character would do.
Yoon Joo just confuses the shit out of me. Yes, she’s self-serving and exceedingly bitter and jealous. But she appears to actually care for Hae Young and Jung Woo (though not as much as she cares about herself). She doesn’t want the princess to be the princess because that would mean Daehan Group and Hae Young would be left with diddly-squat. And yet she pushed Hae Young to marry her even if he had no money.
Was she just jealous that Hae Young seems to have feelings for Seol? Maybe, but then why did she reject Grandpa’s request thereafter that she marry Hae Young? I feel like episode 8 was a heck of a lot of talking, but not all of it made sense within the context of the drama. I feel like the writer wants to do a lot, throw in a lot of plot points, but hasn’t yet developed any of it fully.
Well, except for Hae Young and Seol – their relationship continues to develop organically and meaningfully, even when they fight. It looks like Seol either really doesn’t remember the kiss, or else the combination of being ditched by Hae Young and having her family pissed at her after the press conference made her unwilling to consider the events of that night on the staircase. I hope it’s the latter, because unless she drank an entire bottle of 50-proof vodka and passed out, a normal drunken person sure as heck remembers stuff.
I do love how Hae Young’s decision pushed Seol to steel herself and really stand up to Yoon Joo and everyone out to see her fail. It was hard to watch Seol cry her way through 2/3rd of this episode, but at least I got my reassurance that Kim Tae Hee’s improved acting has also carried over to performing crying scenes.
This is the first drama where I didn’t get the uncontrollable urge to laugh at her crying, but was actually really moved by her sadness and tears. (Now why couldn’t she have been this good when she made The Restless with My I Lub You, where watching her act gave me eye pain). Anyways, you go Kim Tae Hee, keep on impressing me!
Song Seung Heon was asked to play Hae Young as internally tormented for the entire episode, and I thought he did alright. His scene with Seol in the hallway was very well done, and I really felt how much Hae Young is confused and caught between a rock and his heart place. I continue to love my perfect coupling of Hae Young and Seol, and hope that they have many more sweet moments in between the sure to be tortured angsting coming their way.