Better and better. The Moon that Embraces the Sun continues to envelope me in great storytelling and beautiful directing. My heart is completely lost to Prince Yang Myung in his teenage incarnation, with the little smidgeon of hope he harbors in his heart daring to come out when it comes to Yeon Woo. I’m a sucker for hurt boys, and currently no character is more deserving of happiness and a hug than him. Less the romance of it all, but more like I want him to find freedom from the constraints of his birth.
Hwon and Yeon Woo seem so young in comparison, so much innocence and sweetness that immediately brings a smile to my face. Yet knowing that they will have their lives disrupted leaves me feeling the growing sense of doom. The kids are so effective at their roles that I can even imagine this story just about a teenage love story without even an adult portion. That is how wonderful it is to watch them. At times funny, at times wistful, MoonSun leaves me trembling inside from want of more.
Episode 3 recap:
Nok Young stares at the arriving Yeon Woo and Bo Kyung, realizing to her astonishment that these two girls both represent the moon. Nok Young remembers Ari’s prophecy that the moon will get incinerated if she gets too close to the sun. She must be kept from the sun in order to be safe. More importantly, Ari tasked Nok Young with protecting this moon child. Yeon Woo and Bo Kyung uncomfortably recognize each other from their previous verbal tussle over Bo Kyung’s servants beating Seol up. They confirm that each is here to become Princess Minhwa’s new playmate. Nok Young enters the palace, but not before turning to give both girls one final glance.
Nok Young meets with Queen Yoon and informs the Queen that she accomplished her task entrusted to her. Because the world is in disarray, it took longer than anticipated. Queen Yoon wants Nok Young to gaze upon the visage of the two girls selected as Princess Minhwa’s playmates and see if either one is the future Crown Princess. She wants Nok Young to determine if either girl has the pure face to be the next Queen.
Bo Kyung and Yeon Woo settle into their new shared quarters, promptly moving to opposite ends of the room. Yeon Woo breaks the ice first and asks Bo Kyung if they can get along and forget the past. Bo Kyung remembers her father’s reminder never to make an enemy of anyone in the Palace and always be on good terms with people. She can never show people her true feelings, this is politics. Bo Kyung pretends to have let go of what previously transpired between them and is happy to be friends with Yeon Woo. Yeon Woo moves over to grasp Bo Kyung’s hand and asks again that they get along in the future. Bo Kyung hides her distaste and smiles at Yeon Woo.
Hwon is pacing his room and stares at the budding plant. He wonders what type of foliage it will grow into? He decides to ask Yeon Woo directly. Eunuch Hyung Sun reveals to Hwon that Yeon Woo is one of the two girls selected to be Princess Minhwa’s playmate. Hwon is pleased and thinks to himself that Yeon Woo is such a pretty name. Hyung Sun can tell his master likes someone. Which is when Hwon grabs Hyung Sun’s hand and stares into his eyes, saying that he only has feelings for Hyung Sun. Of course he’s asking Hyung Sun for a favor, which Hyung Sun cries out that it cannot be done.
A Crown Prince cannot meet with a girl privately in the palace. Hyung Sun reminds Hwon of what happened last time. Hyung Sun’s butt still hurts from that beating. Hwon reminds Hyung Sun that when he was distressed from not passing exams, it was Hwon that helped him each time. It was also Hwon who helped Hyung Sun get promoted. Poor Hyung Sun whines piteously that it was all his lord and master’s doing, so of course he caves and helps Hwon. The lovesick boy writes a note for Yeon Woo and poor Hyung Sun runs to deliver it to a serving lady to pass to Yeon Woo. The lady refuses until Hyung Sun bribes her with a pretty decorative charm. The serving lady hides the note in an embroidery box meant for Yeon Woo.
Yeon Woo and Bo Kyung meet with the gentle Queen Han, who is in charge of watching over the girls etiquette. She is certain both young ladies were well brought up at home and she just wants them to play with Minhwa. Princess Minhwa runs in and immediately wants to know which of the two girls is Yeom’s younger sister. Yeon Woo tentatively answers that it’s her, and Princess Minhwa compliments Yeon Woo as being as beautiful as her older brother. Princess Minhwa gives Yeon Woo a present. The buds of jealousy are planted in Bo Kyung, who sees Princess Minhwa thus favor Yeon Woo.
The two girls go to pay their respects to Queen Yoon, along with Queen Han, Royal Consort Park, and Princess Minhwa. Queen Yoon is pleased with how pretty the girls are, though she clearly favors Bo Kyung. Nok Young is hiding behind a platform and gazing upon the two girls. She confirms in her mind that they are Joseon’s two moons.
It’s Joseon soccer day! Hwon is dressed to go kick a ball around, though Hyung Sun wants him to just watch like he is supposed to otherwise he can get hurt. Prince Yang Myung arrives and Hwon is thrilled to see his older brother and hugs him. Yang Myung reveals that he’s here today to see Hwon and Yeom. Hwon is surprised to hear that Yang Myung is friends with Yeom. To spend more time with Yang Myung, Hwon tells his guards that he wants them to split into two teams today and play ball.
The two teams line up, with Hwon, Yang Myung, and Yeom on one team, with Woon on the other. The three Joseon Power Rangers do their fist bump before kick off, which leads Hwon to ask if they all know each other? Yang Myung explains that he studied alongside Yeom and Woon. Hwon is introduced to Woon, who gives a silent bow towards Hwon. Hwon laughs when he remembers how he lied to Yeon Woo that his older brother was the head warrior, which would have meant Woon is his older brother.
The three girls are embroidering flowers in pursuit of feminine learning. Yeon Woo discovers a note hidden in her basket, which startles her to read it. In it, Hwon reveals that he has been sleepless since learning that she is in the Palace. He wants her to wait for him because he’ll come see her. Yeon Woo takes the note not as a romantic declaration, but one where Hwon is warning her that he’s coming for her. When Princess Minhwa gets bored with stitching and drags Yeon Woo out, Bo Kyung sneaks a peak at the letter and notes the name of the letter writer as Lee Hwon.
Princess Minhwa has the girls play a game of blind man’s bluff with Bo Kyung the first blindfolded. Eunuch Hyung Sun walks up to Yeon Woo and identifies himself as from the East Palace (Crown Prince’s residence). Yeon Woo quickly lies and says she is not the sister of Yeom, which leaves Hyung Sun scratching his head since Yeon Woo looks so much like Yeom. Princess Minhwa spots him and tricks him into revealing that Yeom is currently playing soccer with Hwon and the other boys right now. Princess Minhwa drags her playmates along to watch her beloved Yeom in action.
Team Blue (Hwon’s team) has the ball and Yang Myung expertly sends it flying into the goal. Except Woon stops it right before it enters the basket. The game continues when the girls arrive. Bo Kyung and Yeon Woo’s eyes are naturally drawn to Hwon, while Princess Minhwa only has eyes for her beloved Yeom. Team Blue scores a goal and the two brothers happily embrace.
Nok Young reveals to Queen Yoon that the Queen’s desire will come true, i.e. one of the two girls does indeed have the look of the future Queen. Queen Yoon asks specifically about Bo Kyung, and Nok Young confirms that Bo Kyung is indeed the girl who will become the next Queen. When leaving, Nok Young thinks to herself that it is such a cruel joke. Yeon Woo has the look of the next Queen, yet she is destined not to become the next Queen. Whereas Bo Kyung does not have the look of the next Queen yet she will become the next Queen. There are now two moons and two suns in existence, and the smell of death is coming.
Hwon drives for the goal when suddenly a defender accidentally trips Hwon and sends him flying. The other guard has the offending servant grabbed but Hwon wants him to be released. The man begs for death. Hwon announces that during this game, if anyone avoids him or lets him win, he will punish them severely. He wants everyone to play fair and treat him like any other player.
Princess Minhwa’s maid arrives and urges the Princess to return to her chambers now. Princess Minhwa is not worried, she knows her father will be on her side. When the ladies leave, Yeon Woo stops and looks back towards the field. Which is when Yang Myung sees her and smiles happily, thinking she is looking at him. But he notices that Yeon Woo’s eyes are looking past him and directly at Hwon, who is behind Yang Myung. His face falls to realize that the girl he loves might have something going on with his younger brother. Prince Yang Myung thinks to himself – it doesn’t matter if everyone becomes Hwon’s, as long as Heo Yeon Woo, you are mine. Oh god, I’m going to be crying my guts out for this beautiful boy to get his heart broken, aren’t I?
When returning to the Princess chambers, the retinue of girls runs into King Sungjo with his officials all trailing him. Princess Minhwa is especially pleased with his new playmate Yeon Woo, which raises Yoon Dae Kyung’s eyebrows and causes Bo Kyung a flicker of distress. The King compliments both girls, leading both fathers to thank their sovereign for the praise. The King asks both girls to explain this saying “In the Palace, more words leads to loss.” Bo Kyung only knows the feminine graces and leaves the politics to the men. When Yeon Woo is asked, she explains the origin of that saying, which means that what happens in the Palace cannot be shared outside. The King is pleased she understands his admonition and reminds both girls to keep what happens in the Palace within these walls.
Prince Yang Myung gathers up his courage and requests an audience with the King. He bows deep like any regular citizen and who he refers to the King as Your Majesty rather than what Hwon calls him, which is my Lord Father. The King is cold to Yang Myung, wondering why he is here? Yang Myung has not forgotten the request that he not come to the Palace. Yang Myung came today to beg something from the King. He confesses that there is a girl in his heart. No matter what happens, this is the girl he wants to spend the rest of his life with. He requests the King grant her hand in marriage.
He knows the King might already have marriage prospects for Yang Myung in mind, but he asks the King to please consider his feelings. This is his first and last request of the King. He steels himself for the King’s rejection, but to his utter shock the King asks for the name of said girl. Yang Myung hesitantly announces that the girl is Heo Yeon Woo, the daughter of Minister Heo. The King’s eyebrows raise when he hears the name. The King dismisses Yang Myung, agreeing to consider it.
Yang Myung is so happy and shocked, thanking the King for his grace. Yang Myung walks outside with a look of unfettered joy. The King chides his son for being a gutless boy. He just told Yang Myung to take care about coming into the Palace, who told Yang Myung to stop coming at all. It’s clear the King loves and misses this son despite his outwardly cold attitude towards him.
The Heo family sits down to discuss how Yeon Woo’s first day went at the Palace. Yeon Woo says everything is going well but doesn’t elaborate further. Her mom wants more details, so Yeon Woo shares that she saw Yeom in the Palace. But she can’t say more because talking too much about what happened in the Palace is not wise. Her father laughs to see his smart daughter learning so quickly. He compliments his beautiful daughter on being the brightest child he’s ever seen. Mom laughs and says she thinks her son Yeom is the handsomest most intelligent child there ever was. The family laughs at their good natured teasing
Yeon Woo goes outside and finds Seol practicing with a stick that she has fashioned into a make shift sword. Yeon Woo came to Seol to ask for counsel on how to interpret the letter she received from Hwon. Seol says the letter is clearly an announcement that a fight is coming. Yeon Woo imagines herself talking with Hwon., who asks if she thinks he is threatening her? Yeon Woo asks if he didn’t meant that? Hwon asks if she will see him if he sends someone again? Yeon Woo asks if he’ll send someone again if she agrees to see him? She looks up and her imaginary Hwon has disappeared.
Yoon Dae Hyung summons his daughter Bo Kyung to find out what has happened today in the Palace. Bo Kyung gripes about how everyone appears to love Yeon Woo immediately and pays her no attention. She’s upset that she’s not Heo Yeom’s younger sister. Because Princess Minhwa likes Yeom, she thus favors Yeon Woo. In particular, Yeon Woo even received a note from some person named Lee Hwon telling her that he will see her again soon. Dae Hyung is stunned to discover that Crown Prince Hwon is interested in Heo Yeon Woo.
Dae Kyung meets with Queen Yoon and reveals this juicy tidbit of news. Queen Yoon is surprised that Crown Prince Hwon is already old enough to be sending love letters. They wonder how Hwon could have met Yeon Woo? Dae Hyung concedes that Yeon Woo appears quite bright. Queen Yoon is not worried since Hwon hasn’t announced he likes the girl. Dae Hyung reveals that the King appears to favor the girl too. They need to prepare for a royal wedding, because if an outsider marries the Crown Prince, the royal relatives will thus be cast aside in power and influence.
Bo Kyung returns to the Palace the next day late. She remembers her request to her father for him to help her so that she can live in the Palace from now on. Eunuch Hyung Sun approaches Bo Kyung and informs her that the Crown Prince would like to see her. Hwon paces an empty chamber expectantly, preparing himself for seeing Yeon Woo again. He remembers Hyung Sun complimenting him on having a very attractive backside, so he stands with his back facing the door. He also practices turning around slowly and smiling, which cracks himself up. LOL, I adore this boy.
Hwon can hear footsteps arriving which leaves him nervous as heck. He tells Bo Kyung that he is not just a servant but the Crown Prince of this country. When he hears no response, he turns around and sees a girl with her head lowered. He continues speaking, explaining that he cannot forget her since they met and has been looking forward to meeting her again. Bo Kyung smiles to hear this confession from Hwon. He asks her to raise her head so he can see her face. Hwon is stunned when she raises her head, showing the person standing before him is Bo Kyung. He asks her who she is? Bo Kyung identifies herself. Hwon only apologizes to her, for a mistake was made. He quickly rushes out.
Hwon storms past Hyung Sun and gives him a withering look. Bo Kyung walks out and looks rather dazed. The exit of Hwon and then Bo Kyung from that chamber does not go unnoticed. The court ladies are all gossiping that Crown Prince Hwon met privately with Bo Kyung this morning. Queen Han overhears this.
Princess Minhwa and Yeon Woo are making friendship bracelets. Princess Minhwa tells Yeon Woo that she wants to give her bracelet to Yeom. When she finds out that Yeon Woo wanted to give her own bracelet to Yeom, Princess Minhwa says no, Yeom can’t have two bracelets. She’ll give her bracelet to Yeom, and Yeon Woo’s bracelet can be given to Minhwa’s brother. Yeon Woo is worried that Princess Minhwa wants to give her bracelet to Hwon. Bo Kyung arrives and thinks back to Hwon’s confession to her, leading her to make the connection that it was intended for Yeon Woo.
Hwon is grumbling to Eunuch Hyung Sun about why Yeon Woo would lie about who she was? Hyung Sun is feeling wronged since Yeon Woo lied to him. Hwon demands to know why doesn’t she want to see him again? Hyung Sun helpfully draws a mind chart for Hwon outlining the things that are on Yeon Woo’s mind.
Learning takes up the bulk of her brain (70% is devoted to it), so she won’t pay attention to any random boy. In fact, other attractive guys like Woon and Yang Myung also studied with her brother. Hyung Sun postulates that Yang Myung gets 20% of her mind, with Woon getting the remaining 10%. Hwon is the smallest particle on her mind, a tiny dot only. Ahahaha!
Hwon is incensed that his existence is just this tiny particle in Yeon Woo’s mind. Hyung Sun’s explanation, that Yeon Woo may still think Hwon is a thief, gets Hwon even more pissed, and he orders Hyung Sun to face the wall again.
Hwon gets called in to see his father. On the way there, Eunuch Hyung Sun is dragged away by the royal guards. The King demands to know why his son met with Yoon Bo Kyung privately? Hwon confesses that it was a mistake, and he intended to meet Heo Yeon Woo, who is the girl he likes. Hwon knows it was wrong to meet a girl privately, but once he heard that the girl he likes entered the palace as a playmate for Princess Minhwa, he wanted to see her. The King is stunned to discover that his two sons like the same girl.
The King announces that he will pretend Hwon never said this. Hwon is the future King of this country and his mind needs to be on his position. Because of Hwon’s carelessness, Yeon Woo one day may become a pawn of political warfare. Hwon dejectedly agrees with his father’s request never to see Yeon Woo again. Later that night, Bo Kyung takes the opportunity to gloat to Yeon Woo that Crown Prince Hwon sought a private audience with her. Bo Kyung shares what Hwon said to her, but doesn’t reveal that Hwon made a mistake and those words were not intended for her. Yeon Woo looks stunned to hear this.
The King meets with his officials and announces that Queen Yoon wants to find the Crown Prince a wife since he is already 15 years old. The King orders that all girls from the age of 12-16 are now forbidden from getting married during the Crown Princess selection period, and will have their name added to the candidate registry. Hwon sits and stares at his potted plant, asking poor beaten Hyung Sun what the plant is. Hyung Sun tenderly moves his hurting butt over and tells Hwon that the plant isn’t a flower, it’s a vegetable. Hwon wonders why she would give him a vegetable? He sighs that he shall never know the reason anymore. He tells Hyung Sun to take the plant away.
Hwon runs into Bo Kyung and Yeon Woo in the Palace. Even though he finally gets to see Yeon Woo again, all he does is give her one piercing look before ignoring her and continuing on his way. Bo Kyung looks curiously at how Hwon ignored Yeon Woo. Nok Young tells her shaman ladies that they will enter the palace soon and be careful. One shaman is tasked with preparing a comfort ritual for a departed soul. Turns out it is for Prince Uisung’s mother, whose restless spirit supposedly still haunts the quarters she once resided.
A shaman ritual is underway in preparing for the Crown Prince’s upcoming engagement. A man holds a giant inkbrush and writes on a piece of paper the size of a platform. Then dancers wearing masks perform a ritual dance. Prince Yang Myung sits with the rest of the officials and smiles when he sees Yeon Woo standing off to the side. He notices her gaze, which is directed at the impassive Hwon sitting on the dais next to Princess Minhwa. Hwon turns to look at Yeon Woo, and Yang Myung also sees this. Yeon Woo opens her palm which reveals the friendship bracelet she made, which Princess Minhwa told her to give to Hwon.
Nok Young is performing the departed spirit’s comfort ritual in a dark and empty quarter. She is suddenly on a mountain top, where she turns around and sees a mound of dirt signifying the grave of a dead person. The ritual performance becomes rowdier and more lively as more people wearing masks join the dancing. Yeon Woo suddenly hears a voice (Nok Young’s voice), telling her to run away. Nok Young warns Yeon Woo that she cannot endure the fate to come, so she ought to leave now before falling deeper into her destiny. It is not yet too late to run away from it all. Yeon Woo looks around for whence the voice came. She suddenly sees Nok Young standing silently amongst the dancers. Nok Young repeats her warning to Yeon Woo and then disappears.
Yeon Woo continues to look around when suddenly a person wearing a large mask appears before her. She screams but he gestures for her to be silent. The masked person grabs Yeon Woo’s hand and leads her away. As they run, Yang Myung sees them pass by. He initially dismisses them until suddenly he realizes that it’s Yeon Woo running past. He hurries after them. In a private courtyard, the masked person removes the mask to reveal that it’s Hwon.
Hwon asks if Yeon Woo recognizes him? She nods her head. He tells her to identify who he is. Yeon Woo says that he is this country Joseon’s…..which is when Hwon finishes her sentence and confirms that he is Crown Prince Lee Hwon. He then smiles at her. The fireworks start and everyone looks skyward. Princess Minhwa looks towards Yeom and smiles. Bo Kyung stands in the courtyard and looks on the ground, where Yeon Woo dropped her friendship bracelet.
Hwon apologizes to Yeon Woo. She asked him to forget her, but he cannot forget her. He smiles as the paper from the fireworks floats down past them. The camera pulls back and we see Yang Myung standing off to the side, watching this interaction.
Thoughts of Mine:
The arc of the story is starting to come into focus, portending what’s to come. Yeon Woo’s fate in life is a double edged sword. She has the regal visage of a future Queen, yet if she gets too close to the sun she is fated to die (likely by political machinations). Nok Young sees this, so she is starting to lay the groundwork for making Bo Kyung the Queen in order to save Yeon Woo’s life. But one wonders how much of this is a Catch-22, and the prophecy only gaining credence because Nok Young believes in it. While I find this all so unfair for everyone involved, but the prophecy is no different than the political machinations behind the scenes. It’s clear that Queen Yoon will not hesitate to get rid of anyone standing in her way to preserving the power for her faction and her relatives.
My heart, which was already hurting for Prince Yang Myung, started to tear up in this episode. Watching his every gesture and expression when it comes to Yeon Woo just kills me. Because he met her first, and he so genuinely loves her. He even got up the courage to request an audience with his father the King to ask for her hand in marriage. Too bad I’m sensing heartbreak coming like a freight train towards this boy. I wouldn’t feel nearly so bad except for the fact that he’s got so little to begin with, and wants so little to be happy. He’d be content with just a tiny house and Yeon Woo, and yet it’s fated that he can’t have even that. I love how the princes love each other, and worry about how all the politics and entangled fates might screw with their care for each other down the line.
Hwon was adorable in this episode, in some ways he’s just a boy, yet when called upon he seems on the cusp of manhood. He understands politics, it just doesn’t color his entire thought process the way it does for his father. What’s so sweet about his budding romance with Yeon Woo is how clueless they both are. She takes his note as some sort of dire warning that he’s out to get her, he takes her rejection to meet him as a sign that he’s not on her mind. The mind map Eunuch Hyung Sun drew was priceless. I would concede that the cute and silly moments inherent in the childhood portion of this story stretches the sageuk credulity. But since the fantasy elements are also out there, I suppose it’s okay to toss in some wink wink drama fun in the mix. I don’t take MoonSun seriously at all, either at the politics or anything else. It’s not very nuanced and frankly toddles between sturm and drang and giggling frivolity. But it makes me care about the lead characters, and that’s my hook into this story.