In a shocking turn of events, Empress Ki has actually gotten really good again in the blink of a two episode eye, a feat made all the more startling considering its detour to far-out makjang land in the even earlier two episodes. I suppose when the story posits that the baby of the Goryeo King and his pretty wifey is now being raised as the Crown Prince of the Yuan dynasty in a bout of baby snatching, there isn’t much left to shock and awe. That’s actually worked in this drama’s favor because now the story gets down to business with showing us the hows and whys Seung Nyang started down the road to become the eventual Yuan Empress. I’ve always found Yuan Emperor Ta Hwan a giant lovelorn prat but with this shift in narrative his character finally makes me not watch to slap him upside the head. I’m enjoying EK again despite the fact that the OTP of Seung Nyang and Wang Yoo are separated for the foreseeable future (and perhaps for the entirety of the rest of the drama, who knows?). Characters are finally all clicking in the way they are interacting and pursuing their goals. The first 20 episodes felt like characters were plodding through mud at times and spinning in circles in others. Now Seung Nyang has decided to avenge the death of everyone dear to her (dad, the Goryeo serving maids, and her son as she believes him dead) by bringing down Yeon Chul and his demon spawn clan.
She trains to become a lady and the enters concubine selection, overcoming sabotage and using her intelligence and wits to earn herself a spot in Ta Hwan’s harem. The scenes where she marches around the Palace and starts unleashing her counter-attacks on Empress Tanasiri and her minions are awesomely satisfying. What works the most for me is that actions and emotions are finally moving beyond inane fixations on love and wanting someone. Seung Nyang tells Ta Hwan she wants to take down Yeon Chul, and in doing so she’ll help Ta Hwan become the Emperor with power. She gives him both the opportunity to avenge his own father’s death and obtain her forgiveness for the death of her father. It’s a fantastic alignment of their characters without sappy romance undercurrents but instead two people who benefit from cooperation and a common enemy. It also allows Ta Hwan to finally get a clue and stop wallowing in “I can do nothing” self pity. I love that Seung Nyang and Wang Yoo miss each other and grieve, but their tears come with a resolve of self-sacrifice that they have to forge forward because each is capable of accomplishing more while alive then dead and with each other. The latest stills for episode 27 are out and it’s all Ta Hwan and Seung Nyang in the palace but I’m really growing fond of their new relationship. She’s like a teacher and a consigliere while he clearly cares for her but no longer tries to push his feelings on her. I really loathe the shipping wars in this drama and can say that I can ship Seung Nyang with both guys if the drama continues this way. I’m on the new backbone of steel Seung Nyang ship!