At the rate the ratings for The Moon that Embraces the Sun is rising, MBC likely has the biggest sageuk hit on its hand since 2010’s Dong Yi, and might even rival the ratings juggernaut that was its biggest hit in years, 2009’s Queen Seon Deok. I appreciate how the drama is moving along so quickly, even if I get the sense that the writers are speeding it along to usher the adults in quicker, but taking away some of the magical chemistry and wonderful storytelling that was the children’s portion. I love me some Kim Soo Hyun, but part of me is screaming “I want the kids back!’ when the transition to the adults happened midway in episode 6.
A good sageuk lets the story build on its natural momentum, and I hope MoonSun sustains the seamless flow now that the story has time jumped to a future where most everyone is decidedly unhappier. It’s too early to judge the adult actors yet, but I’m completely on Team Hwon after the last two episodes. While Yang Myung’s sad lot in life and his pining for Yeon Woo did really hook me, it was Hwon who really let all his emotion out towards Yeon Woo in the last two episodes that convinced me the OTP is completely in love with each other. Plus puppy teenage Hwon has turned into cold and calculating adult Hwon, and damn the new Hwon is totally my kind of hurt woobie.
Episode 5 recap:
Yeon Woo starts her rigorous training to become the next Crown Princess. She tries hard but it’s not exactly a cake walk. Hwon walks by her quarters and smiles towards where she is practicing, mentally wishing her best and believing in her ability to succeed. Hwon sends her snacks and a letter explaining that the security is tight and he can’t go see her these days. She’s to wait for him, and he can’t wait to see her on the day she becomes his Crown Princess.
A disguised Queen Yoon goes to visit Nok Young, confirming that preparations are ready. She’s also had someone brought in to witness the proceedings, that person hidden behind the curtains. Yeon Woo’s personal effects and her date and time of birth are given to Nok Young, who performs a summoning ritual and calls forth a black smoke. Okay, this is way too hokey, especially accompanied by the thrumming music of danger. The black smoke passes through Nok Young and whooshes off to seek out its target.
Yeon Woo is sleeping in her quarters when the black smoke envelopes her and starts choking her with its smoky grip. Yeon Woo tries crawling towards the door to seek help, but she’s rendered unconscious before she makes it to the door. Poor Yeon Woo. Queen Yoon confirms the deed is done, only to be told that Nok Young does not have the power to kill Yeon Woo immediately. She’ll fall ill and die on her own. The Queen is pleased with the change of plans, since Yeon Woo’s sudden death will arouse suspicion, and if she’s ill she will be sent out of the Palace. Nok Young is told to take care of everything should Yeon Woo not die on her own.
Queen Yoon goes behind the curtains to see a frightened out of her wits Princess Minhwa. Queen Yoon assures Princess Minhwa not to be scared. Everything is over now, and soon Minhwa will have everything she wanted. Yeon Woo is discovered by her retainers and the Palace doctor is called.
The ministers gather to pressure King Sungjo to expel Yeon Woo out of the Palace. She has an unknown disease that might even be contagious, and her presence is a danger to the royal family. Plus she is the future mother to the next heir, how can someone with an illness hold that exalted position? Yoon Dae Hyung wants Yeon Woo stripped of her position and a new Crown Princess found. He also calls for punishment on the Heo family for withholding the condition of her illness. Yeon Woo is sent away and all items in her quarters to be burned.
Crown Prince Hwon stumbles his way to her quarters and rages for his guards to get out of the way. Yeon Woo is HIS Crown Princess, how dare they expel her from the Palace and keep him from her. Hwon cries as Yeon Woo is led away before his eyes. He calls out for his Yeon Woo repeatedly, but she stoically goes to her fate as Hwon is kept from getting close to her. Poor Eunuch Hyung Sun can only cry as his master cries. Queen Yoon stands to the side and watches this scene. She remembers Yoon Dae Hyung’s warning to her that Hwon must be restrained, he might do something to disrupt their plans because of his affection for Yeon Woo.
Queen Yoon calls Hwon into her chambers and gives him the mighty guilty trip while pretending to be sympathetic to his feelings. She asks him to forget Yeon Woo from now on. It’s the Heaven’s will that this happened because Hwon went against what was meant to be. It’s his fault this happened to Yeon Woo. If she hadn’t been selected as his Crown Princess because Hwon mobilized the Sungkyunkwan students, she’d be perfectly fine at home right now. So what happened to Yeon Woo is the Heaven’s way of returning things to its rightful place. Oh you evil hag, I hope you die a horrible death in the future.
Yeon Woo is taken home and even the family doctor cannot suss out her illness. Her vital signs are all fine and healthy, yet she is clearly ill. Yeon Woo’s mother cries, begging the doctor to please treat her daughter. She’s so distraught that she faints from being so overcome. Yeon Woo’s father goes outside to clear his mind, which is where he encounters Nok Young. She introduces herself as Head Shaman Jang of the Royal Astrology Office. She was brought here because of Yeon Woo’s spirit. Bok Young asks to see Yeon Woo and diagnoses the illness as a shaman induced sickness.
Yoon Dae Hyung and his cronies are enjoying a meal and laughing about Yeon Woo conveniently getting sick. They will use this opportunity to get a new Crown Princess in place. Yoon Dae Hyung laughs that Yeon Woo will never return to the Palace alive. Bo Kyung stands outside and overhears this. She confronts her father and asks if he intends to kill Yeon Woo. He tells her the truth, wanting her to wise up and learn the truth about how ruthless he is. He’s sick of being called the hanger-on minister due to his connections with Queen Yoon. He wants to prove to everyone that he used his ability to climb so high. From now on, he wants Bo Kyung to remember what it feels like to have something she wants taken away from her. And that desire will sustain her going forward in getting what she wants.
Nok Young tells Yeon Woo’s father that a shaman ritual needs to be performed on Yeon Woo to rid her of the disease. To cure Yeon Woo, the price will be a life. Yeon Woo’s father gladly gives his life, but it’s Yeon Woo’s life that must be sacrificed.
The ministers gather outside the Palace and cry out to the King to get rid of the Crown Princess and install a new one. Hwon is furious at Yoon Dae Hyung and his cronies, wanting to go beg his case to his father. He’s restrained by Eunuch Hyung Sun, leaving him with no choice but to rage in his quarters, feeling helpless and unable to do anything. Yeon Woo has been sent home, even Yeom cannot come to the Palace because he’s related to a sick Yeon Woo. Without Yang Myung around, there is no one in the Palace who he can trust. Hwon suddenly thinks of someone.
Woon is practicing swordsplay with his fellow guards, who watch in amazement at what a sword god he is. They discuss that he could have done more had he not been the child of a mistress to a powerful man. Hwon arrives and asks to meet the person who got the highest scores on the test. Everyone chimes in that it is Kim Ji Woon. Hwon asks for Woon and another guard to come with him. A naked guard crouches in Hwon’s room until Hyung Sun brings him a eunuch’s robe. He’s reminded that this can never leak out.
Yeon Woo wakes up when she hears Hwon calling her name. She thinks it’s her dream, but it’s the real Hwon, who snuck out of the Palace dressed as a royal guard. Hwon cries to see her suffering so. Yeon Woo confirms that it’s not a dream and he’s really here. He gives her a hair pin that has a design of a moon embracing a sun. Since he is the sun, as his wife she is naturally the moon, so this hair pin represents their relationship. In his heart, only Yeon Woo is his wife, so she has to get better soon and come back to his side.
Yeon Woo apologizes for mistaking him for a thief at their first meeting, for being so disrespectful, and for misunderstanding his intentions towards her. She asks him to not blame himself for anything that has happened, everything is her fault. Yeon Woo confesses that she has been so happy since she met him. He promises that she’ll be even happier in the future, so she needs to stop talking like this.
Yeom and Woon stand outside Yeon Woo’s quarters as Hwon meets with Yeon Woo inside. Woon isn’t worried about Hwon getting sick, because Yeon Woo’s family lives with her and are all fine. Hwon might get sick because he misses Yeon Woo so. Yeom and Woon notices Seol hiding and peeking at them. Yeom mistakes Seol as liking Woon, who isn’t so sure about that.
Hwon walks back to the Palace with Woon, asking if he can also call him Woon. Hwon thanks Woon for accompanying him. He always wanted to see where Yeon Woo grew up. Yeon Woo is suffering, yet there is nothing he can do for her. Hwon shares his inner thoughts with Woon about how he feels truly useless despite being the Crown Prince.
Yang Myung is off wandering, dressed like a hunter again. He sells the wild game he caught, and then follows some men to a Joseon fight club. Yang Myung decides to fight the undefeated champion. Yang Myung is holding his own until his thoughts stray to what his father told him, that some people are meant to be citizens while others the sovereign. He thinks back to Yeon Woo, and then allows himself to be beat up. Yang Myung is nursing his wounds at a food stand when he hears that Yeon Woo was expelled from the Palace and the Crown Princess will be switched. Yang Myung rushes back to the capital, praying that Yeon Woo will live.
Yeom speaks with his father, who is sending everyone in the estate away until Yeon Woo recovers. Yeom refuses to go until his father screams at him to remember that his duty to teach the Crown Prince is of utmost importance. Yeom gets ready to leave when he sees Seol peering around the corner. He finds her and asks that Seol write to him if Yeon Woo wakes and is looking for him. He feels better knowing Seol is by Yeon Woo’s side. Seol cries as Yeom leaves.
Too bad Seol is being sent away as well, to a new master who will take good care of her. Seol begs him not to send her away, wanting to take good care of Yeon Woo, especially since she promised Yeom. Yeon Woo’s father promises to bring her back when Yeon Woo has recovered, but she needs to leave now. Yeon Woo continues to suffer, her illness getting worse until she spits up blood.
Nok Young tells Yeon Woo’s father that only through death can the shaman spirit that is harming Yeon Woo be removed. Yeon Woo’s father confirms that the medicine Nok Young has provided will ease Yeon Woo’s suffering so that she can pass peacefully. Nok Young thinks to herself that she will spend the rest of her life atoning for what she did.
Yeon Woo’s mother wakes up to find her husband outside brewing medicine for Yeon Woo. She wants to do it, but he wants to do his fatherly duty for her. Yeon Woo overheard Nok Young speaking with her father, and knows that she has a supernatural illness. She cries and gets up to write a letter to Hwon. She is writing this letter with the last ounce of energy she possesses.
Hwon wakes up to see a healthy Yeon Woo inside his chambers. He smiles to see her, but she just asks him if he knew why she gave him a plant? Hwon thought she already explained to him. Yeon Woo confesses there was another hidden meaning. She wanted him to write to her because he would be curious about what the plant would grow up into. Yeon Woo bows to Hwon and wishes for him to be healthy. Hwon wakes up and sees his room is empty, confirming that it was all just a dream. Yeon Woo finishes her letter and places it inside her chest. She slowly crawls back to her bed.
Her father comes in bearing the bowl of medicine. Yeon Woo’s father cries, wishing that he would have allowed his daughter to do what she wanted to do when she was still well. Yeon Woo asks her father to smile. She asks to drink the medicine, because she doesn’t want to be sick anymore. Yeon Woo’s father cradles her and feeds her the medicine. She drinks it while he cries, asking if it tastes very bitter. He promises to hold her until she falls asleep. He notices the moon sun hair pin and Yeon Woo asks him to let her keep it besides her while she sleeps. She is feeling very sleepy now.
Yeon Woo dies while her father cradles her, promising that he will soon follow her. Yeon Woo’s mother hears his cries and enters to room to see her beloved daughter has already passed. The parents sob as they embrace their beloved Yeon Woo.
Hwon is told that Yeon Woo passed peacefully in the arms of her father, as if she just went to sleep. A simple funeral will be held today. Hwon stumbles out of his chambers as if in a daze. He is restrained by his guards by order of Queen Yeoon. Hwon breaks down and starts to cry, demanding that they let him go. He still has something to say to his Crown Princess. He repeatedly screams out for Yeon Woo as he tries to break free of the guards.
Episode 6 recap:
Hwon breaks down and cries out for his Yeon Woo after hearing that she has passed peacefully as if she just went to sleep. Yeon Woo is laid to rest in a small coffin, a nondescript ceremony with only a few people attending. Yang Myung arrives too late, and can only cry as he watches Yeon Woo’s coffin lowered into the ground and shovelfuls of dirt thrown over it.
Bo Kyung gets confirmation from her parents that Yeon Woo has passed and she needs to prepare herself soon to enter the palace as the new Crown Princess. Ugh, she’s as culpable as her father, with her silence and tacit acceptance of what was wrongfully given to her. She sits down in her room and looks at the friendship bracelet that Yeon Woo made for Hwon but dropped on the night of the shaman ritual. She remembers her father’s words, that she needs to never forget the pain of losing something she really wanted, as she thinks back to herself crying and watching Hwon and Yeon Woo together.
Hwon stands outside his residence and thinks back to Yeon Woo asking him not to blame himself for what happened. An angry and tearful Yang Myung arrives and confronts Hwon. Hwon asks how his teacher Yeom is holding up, and whether Yang Myung saw Yeon Woo’s last visage before she passed? Yang Myung wonders why Hwon cares since he did nothing for Yeon Woo. When Yeon Woo was suffering, when she was lowered into the cold ground, Hwon did nothing.
If it was Yang Myung, he would have given up everything to protect Yeon Woo until the very end. Yeon Woo was the only thing Yang Myung wanted, and yet Hwon couldn’t even let him have her. Hwon is racked with guilt, and also stunned by the knowledge that his brother also loved Yeon Woo. Yang Myung lists all the things that Hwon has taken away from him – his father, his friend, and now even Yeon Woo. Is there nothing Hwon will leave for him? Yang Myung blames Hwon for not protecting Yeon Woo. As Yang Myung walks away, he thinks to himself that Yeon Woo will be his in the next life. In the next lifetime, it will be him who will protect her with his life.
Queen Yoon thanks Nok Young for doing a great job and promises to protect the Royal Astrology Office from now on. Nok Young asks for a short leave of absence because she performed a forbidden magic which has severely depleted her energy and power. She needs some time to recuperate, plus her presence might ruin their conspiracy. She promises to return.
Yeon Woo wakes up inside her coffin, a frightening experience that causes her to faint again from the lack of oxygen. Thankfully she’s dug out by a worker under Nok Young’s orders, who she extols to dig faster knowing the time is coming that Yeon Woo will awaken. Suddenly a barefoot and beaten up Seol arrives at the dig site. Not sure how she found out and got there.
Yeon Woo has all her memories intact until she wakes up in an unfamiliar room. She sees the little shaman girl Jang Shil that Yang Myung saved and later went with Nok Young. Seol runs in calling for her young mistress, but Yeon Woo does not recognize Seol, or even herself. Jang Shil talks with Seol about how Seol is destined to be Yeon Woo’s shadow for the rest of her life. Nok Young explains that Yeon Woo is a shaman who was overcome during a shaman ritual and thus lost her memories. Yeon Woo asks if she has family but Nok Young lies that she doesn’t know? Yeon Woo wonders if her family discarded her because she possessed a strong spiritual aura. Nok Young wants Yeon Woo to forget about her past and Yeon Woo tearfully nods her head.
Hwon encounters Yoon Dae Hyung and his cronies, who ask how he’s faring. Hwon acts all fine and laughs with them, but tosses a piercing look at him before departing. He leaves with a throwaway comment that someone who pushes a rider off a horse and then squeezes on can always hitch a ride.
Yeom returns home and sees how his parents are dealing with their grief. His father imagines Yeon Woo is around. He discusses with Yeom that their exiled residence has been determined, where they will go because they are criminals. They are called to go assist, where they see Yeon Woo’s mom has brought home a beggar girl and is feeding her, asking that Yeon Woo not go wander outside anymore because this is her home. Yeom takes the beggar girl away while his father shakes his wife until she remembers that Yeon Woo is dead.
Seol accompanies Yeon Woo and Jang Shil as they board a ship bound for destination unknown. Nok Young wants Yeon Woo to hurry, but she lingers, worried that if she leaves this place, she might never see her family again. Nok Young asks a man to handle things here for her, as she leaves with girls. The man waves to Yeon Woo, hoping that the next time he sees her, she will be smiling. A voiceover discusses how the moon has gone into hiding and the country is plunged into darkness. But a waning moon is part of nature, and one day the moon will find itself and become full once again.
On the boat, Yeon Woo looks at Seol and asks why Seol calls her agasshi? Jang Shil calls Yeon Woo a moon, and Nok Young hurries to explain that Yeon Woo serves a very powerful deity so she is well respected. Seol starts crying because she knows the truth. Nok Young thinks to herself that it is up to Yeon Woo whether she one day resumes her position as the mother of this country, or lives the rest of her life as a shaman.
Bo Kyung gets primped for her wedding to Hwon. Her mother wants Bo Kyung to remember that she was the real Crown Princess and no one will ever take away her position. The wedding commences, with Hwon just going through the motions with a poker face. Hwon looks over at the smirking Yoon Dae Hyung and gives him a pointed look before resuming the ceremony. Hwon takes a deep breath before he can continue. Princess Minhwa is huddled in her bed, still frightened out of her wits, remembering Queen Yoon’s words that she will soon get what she wanted.
While waiting for Bo Kyung to get into the palanquin, Hwon looks up and sees a misty falling rain. He reaches out his hand to catch the drops, which reminds him of Yeon Woo since that is what her name means. He smiles, missing her and knowing that she is in his heart. When Bo Kyung walks out, she turns to see Hwon looking up in the sky and not paying attention to Hyung Sun asking him to raise the curtains for Bo Kyung to enter the palanquin.
Yang Myung also looks up to see the falling rain, causing him to miss Yeon Woo the same way as he remembers shielding her from the rain.
Time passes, and we see a young King standing on a small bridge over a frozen pond with his hands outstretched as if he is catching rain drops. Eunuch Hyung Sun comes to remind his sovereign that he’s needed to attend to matters. Hyung Sun asks if Hwon needs anything warm to drink, but Hwon playfully chides Hyung Sun for always talking so much. He asks that all the ministers be brought outside for their meeting today because the weather is nice for a game of golf.
Ministers stand around as Hwon plays golf. One particular brown-nosy minister makes a big deal when Hwon strikes the ball, which earns him teasing from the King and a glare from Yoon Dae Hyung. When Hwon goes to putt, he suddenly pauses as he touches his chest, feeling some discomfort. Everyone notices. He shakes it off and putts, missing the hole. When it’s the brown noser minister’s turn to putt, he makes the shot after much preening. Hwon laughs at how talented he’s gotten and the man says he’s been practicing a lot. Hwon asks the minister where the largest hole in the Palace is, and then offers to show it to him.
Hwon barges into the royal document depository and takes out missive after missive detailing widespread hunger during this Winter season in the country while local officials get fat off the suffering of the people. Hwon looks at his ministers and notes that these local officials appear stronger than the King of this country.
Hwon reads these missives with a fake laugh and then turns to demand why none of these missives ended up in his hands. He tells the ministers that it is not up to them to determine what suffering of the people deserve the Kings attention. THIS is the biggest hole in the Palace and he will plug it.
The minsters gather to discuss how the King has grown and the dowager Queen Yoon’s regency appears to be at an end. They note that Hwon’s supposed weak constitution is nowhere in sight since he was so heated today. They suggest he save his energy for the wedding night with the Queen, and stop listening to his excuses for why he can’t consummate the wedding. They discuss whether to send the King away under the guise that he needs to recuperate. Yoon Dae Hyung speaks up, using the analogy that a dog will bite its owner so the owner has to treat it well once in awhile.
Yoon Dae Hyung alarms Queen Yoon with talk that the ministers want the King to have a concubine and produce the next generation. Queen Yoon insists the next heir must be produced by Bo Kyung. Dae Hyung suggests that Queen Yoon have the King relinquish all his official duties and retire to the vacation palace to recuperate from his seeming exhaustion.
Yoon Dae Hyung meets with the King and suggests this course of action. Hwon knows that if he is not in the Palace, then the father-in-law to the King is in charge. Hwon pointedly teases that he will go to the vacation palace if Yoon Dae Hyung comes with him. Hyung Sun enters announcing that Queen Yoon is seeking his attendance.
Hwon walks to see Queen Yoon and runs into Bo Kyung. She greets him warmly while he just ignores her. After he leaves, she calms herself and plasters a smile back on her face.
Queen Yoon begs the King to go to the vacation palace and recuperate to produce the next heir. He declines with the excuse that his health is not that bad. When Queen Yoon wonders why there hasn’t been a heir yet, Bo Kyung tearfully takes responsibility for the lapse. Hwon tells his grandmother that it’s the Heaven’s will that he rule over the country and he isn’t about to hand off his duties to relatives and ministers. Queen Yoon asks if he’s directing his words at anyone in particular? Hwon smirks that it was merely a throwaway remark. Queen Yoon vows to not eat until Hwon consummates his marriage.
Queen Han tries to reason with her son to consummate the marriage, promising to do a small ceremony that won’t spend too much money per Hwon’s excuse that he doesn’t want to expend funds on it. Hyung Sun runs in to tell Hwon that Bo Kyung is perched outside Queen Yoon’s residence crying for the Queen to eat and blaming herself for the lack of an heir. Hwon goes to see her and gently asks her to get up since it’s cold out. He promises to talk with Queen Yoon herself and convince her to eat.
Bo Kyung gets up, except her legs give way and she falls into Hwon’s embrace. The servants all avert their eyes. Hwon whispers that Bo Kyung uses his grandmother on the inside, and her father on the outside, all to get him to consummate their marriage. He asks her if she remembers what he told her on their wedding day. He leans in to whisper the reminder to her again. She will get everything she and her family wants, but she will never ever get his heart. Bo Kyung cries as Hwon lets her go and walks away.
Bo Kyung puts on her woe-is-me sacrificial act for the world to see, but when she is alone in her room, she lets out all her seething pent up anger at Hwon. She wonders if Hwon hasn’t forgotten “her”, but she is dead and Bo Kyung is the rightful owner of the position of Queen. Princess Minhwa comes to visit with her sister-in-law so Bo Kyung is immediately smiling and cheerful again. Minhwa came to cheer Bo Kyung up, though Minhwa inadvertently insults Bo Kyung by correctly pointing out that her brother doesn’t visit because he doesn’t seem to like Bo Kyung.
When asked why Minhwa is at the Palace today, she shyly confesses that she came to consult the Royal Astrology Office for a list of the best dates to consummate her marriage to her husband. Minhwa leaves because she doesn’t want her husband to be missing her should he notice she’s gone.
On her way home, Princess Minhwa adds a few more dates to the list. LOL, she’s cute. Princess Minhwa goes home and can’t wait to show her husband the list of auspicious wedding night dates. She runs into her husband Yeom’s quarters to deliver the dates. She thinks she’s talking to Yeom, who is laying on the ground with his back to her. Minhwa says that today just so happens to be one of the good dates, and since the blankets are already laid out, they ought to strike while the iron is hot. She says all of this while inching towards him.
When the person speaks to correct her use of the proverb, Minhwa realizes that it’s not her husband, but her older brother Yang Myung. Yang Myung gets up and takes the slip of paper. He teases her about the marriage consummation dates, noting that the date in the middle must’ve been added by Minhwa. She wonders how he could tell, and he mocks her for the bad counterfeit job. Minhwa huffs out of the room while Yeom enters. Minhwa is so annoyed at Yang Myung that she takes his shoes and throws them on the roof.
Yang Myung dines with Yeom, who asks why he is constantly making Minhwa angry everything he comes. Yang Myung lies that he is jealous of Yeom and Minhwa’s affection. Turning serious, Yang Myung reminds Yeom that he was destined to assist the King, so Yang Myung is angry at his deceased father and Minhwa for what has happened to Yeom. But Yeom sees Minhwa as his savior, saving his entire family when they were about to be cast away as criminals.
It’s dark outside by the time Yeom and Yang Myung leave the study. Yang Myung notices his shoes are missing, but he’s fine since as a wanderer he always travels equipped for emergencies. Yang Myung tuns to stare at Yeom, wondering if Yeom ever thinks about what Yeon Woo looks like if she were still alive. They’ve all grown up, but the Yeon Woo in his mind is forever 13 years old.
As Yang Myung walks home, he imagines a 13 year old Yeon Woo talking with him. She asks what he is thinking about? He answers that he’s thinking about her. She encourages him to go back to the Palace, but he demurs that no one is waiting for him. She says the King is waiting for him. Yang Myung doesn’t think so, after what they went through.
Yeon Woo confidently says the King misses him, and ask Yang Myung to please keep the King company. When Yang Myung looks around, suddenly Yeon Woo is gone, and a horde of folks are loitering outside his residence waiting for him. He runs and hides, asking Yeon Woo if she understands that this is his way of protecting the King.
Hwon dreams of Yeon Woo and what happened between them, which wakes him up. All he can remember is Yang Myung’s words that Hwon did not protect Yeon Woo. Woon asks if it was the same dream? Hwon asks Woon to accompany him for a walk. They go to the Hidden Moon Residence, which has been sealed since Yeon Woo resided there.
Hwon explains the meaning of the name of this residence. When his father built it, the moon reflected in the pond was so beautiful, he wanted to hide the moon away. And now Hwon has secretly hidden a moon here as well. The sun and the moon cannot exist in the sky at the same time, but at least in this residence it can be together.
Nok Young is in the forest doing a ritual when suddenly the flames in her candles extinguish. Jang Shil comes bearing a letter, telling Nok Young that the time has arrived and he will go see her in three days time. Nok Young, Jang Shil, a grown up Seol, and a woman hidden beneath her robe are walking down to the edge of the pier. Nok Young turns and tells Yeon Woo that it’s time for her to return now. Yeon Woo takes off her covering and reveals her to be all grown up.
Thoughts of Mine:
Knowing something doesn’t mean watching it unfold can’t have the same visceral and emotional impact of blissful ignorance. All of episode 5 I had this pit in my stomach, watching diabolical Queen Yoon get her way and Yeon Woo suffering so much under the spell of the hoodoo black smoke monster. I know she’s not going to die, but that doesn’t mean what is happening to her didn’t make me hurt inside knowing she’s in physical pain and everyone who loves her is in emotional agony.
This was the episode that I really connected with Hwon’s love for Yeon Woo. It felt raw and deep, not just affection mixed with newfounded interested. It might have happened fast, but the boy really fell hard for her. His frustration over being kept from her, his helplessness at doing something to save her, his tenderness towards her when he snuck out to visit her. I disagree with Yang Myung’s assertion that Hwon didn’t do enough to protect Yeon Woo. Hwon did everything he could, he had no clue that a conspiracy brought Yeon Woo down and that she would be taken from all of them.
I look at Minhwa and Bo Kyung the same way, which is that one might be rainbows and unicorns and the other a pit of scheming vipers, but both of them did the same thing with respect to knowledge about what was done to Yeon Woo. They kept silent, and I expect both of them to pay for it when the bill comes due. I don’t care that Minhwa is a sweetheart and had no ill will towards Yeon Woo. She kept her mouth shut to get Yeom, and that’s as devious and calculating as Bo Kyung keeping her mouth shut to get Hwon. You never know what a person is made of until they are forced into a tough position, and both Minhwa and Bo Kyung proved they are not a person with integrity.
On the other hand, Hwon really stepped up for me as a character. I loved watching him so intelligently understand the political landmines in the Palace and realize who his adversary is. His sweet courtship of Yeon Woo was lovely, but it’s his adult self missing her and keeping her deep inside his heart that makes me melt inside. I believe that adult Hwon has the mental firepower and guts to go up against Yoon Dae Hyung and Queen Yoon and ultimately emerge victorious. I can’t wait to watch Hwon meet up with Yeon Woo/Wol again, even if he doesn’t immediately know who her real identity is.
I’m a little disappointed that Yang Myung appeared to break off his relationship with Hwon over Yeon Woo’s death, even if it’s clear he still loves Hwon. It’s completely unfair to blame Hwon for the fiasco, other than Yang Myung really letting out all his hidden grievances towards Hwon that have been building up for years. That I really do feel for him and understand. But Yeon Woo went with Hwon as her own choice, and getting involved with royalty is a path fraught with danger and hidden landmines. If only Yang Myung knew that Yeon Woo wanted Hwon to stop blaming himself, then he might let go of some of his painful anger towards Hwon.
It was devastating to watch the Heo family suffering when they lost Yeon Woo, though Yeom was strangely stoic through the ordeal that left me scratching my head at his outward impassive demeanor. I was bawling when Yeon Woo’s dad fed her the medicine to send her on a peaceful sleep, knowing that he was putting his daughter to death to save her from further suffering. Yeon Woo is such a strong character, a steel magnolia if you will, one who shows how deep her true strength lies when she faces her own death.
I discussed that it’s yet early to fully critique the adult actors, but a first impression isn’t too far fetched. Aside from Ha Ga In showing up for exactly five seconds and one scene, everyone else had a few minutes or more to give a sense of what to expect. I think Kim Soo Hyun is hitting his role the hardest, though compared to the effortless performance by Yeo Jin Gu, even Kim Soo Hyun comes off as “acting”, even if it’s very solidly good acting. While Kim Soo Hyun really nails a lot of the mannerisms set by his predecessor, there is a bit of a disconnect between Lee Min Ho and Jung Il Woo’s versions of Yang Myung.