As if our resident damsel in distress couldn’t get into any more trouble, a sudden marriage is thrust upon her that she’s in no way equipped to deal with. (For that matter, neither are we.) It comes down to her troop of loyal princes to save her from an uncertain fate, though some need a little prodding to agree. And in the end, there’s only so much that they can do for her—the rest is up to Su.
Note: There are some different versions of these episodes floating around the vastness of the net, but for our purposes, we’ll be recapping off the version streamed live in Korea. So don’t be alarmed if you read of some scenes you haven’t seen, or don’t read of some that you have.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Everyone’s dressed in white mourning robes for the funeral of Lady Hae, but it’s her husband, Wook, who lights the funeral pyre. Thirteenth prince Baek-ah keeps to himself as he cries over his own drawings of his late sister-in-law. Not just a sister-in-law to him, it seems.
Su sobs as the pyre goes up in flames, with So taking particular notice of her sadness. Wook remains in control of his expression.
Next thing we know, we find Su sitting with Baek-ah, who talks about having to wait to join Lady Hae in the afterlife. Su cries about how much she misses Lady Hae, and the two commiserate together. Are you guys friends now? When did this happen?
Su comes upon Wook sitting on the floor in his library later that night, but says nothing. He stares forward as he begins to talk aloud, though it seems like he’s talking more to himself than to her: “Why could I not say it? I knew she wanted to hear it, but I could not tell her that I loved her. I did not think that I did love her.”
But then, he says, he realized that his feelings were love, and that he did in fact love her. He was confused between what he thought were feelings of gratitude and general comfort with her, but in the end, he realized it was love.
Wook begins to cry piteously as he asks Su what he should do now. Like a lost child, he reaches forward to grab her skirt, desperately needing her comfort and assurance. “I should have told her,” he cries. “She waited so long.”
Wiping away at her own tears, Su kneels before him and takes him by the shoulders as she tells him that Lady Hae already knew. It’s not enough to soothe him, as he only sobs more deeply while blaming himself for being unable to tell his wife while it still mattered. He pushes Su’s arms away as he retreats back into himself, crying.
On her own, Su worries about what she’ll do now that Lady Hae is gone, but is interrupted by an insistent knock at her window. She opens it, and up pops a hand puppet dressed just like her. Joining it is another puppet of tenth prince Eun, as the real tenth prince alters his voice and uses the puppets to perform a cute little play of their first meeting (and his first beating).
Su can’t help but smile at the display, and Eun pokes his head up between the puppets to make sure his show is having its intended effect. Of course, he promptly proceeds to fall, having been standing on a servant’s shoulders to reach her window, which also serves to make Su laugh.
She admits that she was touched by the puppet show, adding, “You’re awesome!” (She uses the modern Korean term “Jjang!” with a thoroughly modern thumbs up). Eun’s glad to hear it, since he knew she needed some cheering up. But he hilariously wonders what the thumbs up means, and when she explains that the thumb rules over the five fingers, he thinks that’s a bit too much—the king should be the thumb.
He tries his index finger instead, thinking it a little more respectful. She laughs and goes along with it, telling him again that he’s jjang. He adopts the term as well, and mimics their conversation with the two puppets, adding some flourishes of his own, like Puppet Su gushing over how good looking Puppet Eun is. Hah.
Third prince Yo antagonizes So as has become his habit, but this time, So pushes back. He even helps his younger brother, Baek-ah, after Yo insults the artistic prince for his less than desirable lineage. Yo claims Goryeo is in danger, and So calls him out for acting like a big shot when their father still rules the throne. It’s all big talk, So claims, since Yo wouldn’t dare say any of these things in front of the king.
Su pays a visit to Lady Hae’s grave, mulling over her life here in Goryeo and how long she’ll have to live as Hae Su. These were the sorts of things she wanted to talk to Lady Hae about while she was alive, but she never got the chance. Even so, she thanks her cousin for all that she did.
Baek-ah and fourteenth prince Jung find her there and greet her warmly, so I guess we’ll have to take it on faith that Su and Baek-ah bonded over Lady Hae’s death. Jung can’t get over how fun it is to say “Fighting!” the way Su taught him. Hah.
The trio runs into Princess Yeonhwa in the palace, who claims to have good news for Su: she’ll be getting married. Cut to Wook finding out about the marriage, which Princess Yeonhwa and her elder supporters seem to be all about. It’ll be an advantageous match, and they’ll have to move on it quickly or risk losing it.
Something about it all seems fishy, and there’s only so much protesting Wook can do without looking suspicious. Baek-ah, however, is more than upset on Su’s behalf, and tries to get So to agree with him. So is unwilling to do so, since it’s Wook’s family affair—and after all, Su is of marrying age.
The other princes are thrown into a panic at the news, with Jung notifying everyone that the man Su is intended to marry is old, and has many sons. They realize that she’s not being married, she’s being sold—and ninth prince Won seems to be the only one who could care less. (Yo, who probably would care less, isn’t present.)
Wook overhears them, and asks for more information about the home Su is supposed to marry into. After hearing the details, he asks for his brothers’ help.
Slave girl Chae-ryung cries piteously as she packs her mistress’s things to prepare for her marriage, while Su looks to be in shock. Finally, she snaps herself out of it and tells Chae-ryung that she has to run. Chae-ryung completely supports her decision, and vows never to speak a word of her escape.
Luckily, Su is helped out by tenth prince Eun, who sneaks her out using the same window he used to perform the puppet show. Baek-ah also lends a helping hand, eventually getting Su to Wook, who disguises her in a hood as he leads her to a horse. “I can’t send you away like this,” Wook says, in answer to her questioning look.
Princess Yeonhwa spots Wook galloping off with Su sitting on the saddle in front of him, knowing full well who’s under the cloth. She orders a chase, and joins in it herself as her search party catches up to Wook, Jung, and his wrapped bundle.
But when it’s revealed that Eun is the one hidden under the silk, Princess Yeonhwa knows they’ve been fooled. The real Su is with So and Baek-ah, galloping as fast as they can on horseback. As they ride, Su looks back at So and thinks that she’s surprised even he pitched in to help her.
As if he can read her thoughts, So thinks, “It’s not because I like you. I simply don’t want to see you live a life where you’re controlled by others. That kind of life is not worth living.” Aw, you big softie.
All the princes converge on a common point in the forest, only to be stopped by Astronomer Choi and his party. He says he’s come to take Su into the palace, and it’s with dawning horror that Wook and the other princes come to realize exactly what he means.
“The king will marry Lady Su,” the astronomer says, much to the princes’ surprise. Wook confronts his uncles (well, the late Lady Hae’s uncles) over the match, but they’re both pleased as punch that they could become in-laws with the king. And if Su were to have the king’s child, even better for them.
Still, So refuses to let the men take Su, despite Princess Yeonhwa telling him that all of them could pay dearly if he doesn’t comply with the royal command. Su, hearing this, decides to go on her own so that no one will get hurt because of her.
Before she does, So stops her to ask if she won’t regret this. She tells him not to worry, and that she’ll try talking to the king. She can only offer a smile to Wook, but looks back up to So. Then, she’s gone. The princes are left to digest what just happened, which doesn’t seem to be an easy task.
Queen Sinmyeongsunseong confronts the king over choosing a new bride now, of all turbulent times. Worse yet, he’s in such a hurry that he’ll have the bedding before the actual ceremony even takes place. She wonders if this has something to do with him still suspecting her in the crown prince’s assassination attempt.
King Taejo basically tells her to mind her place, since he still doesn’t quite trust her and her greed. And since there are disputes on the borders, he claims, he needs the help of the Hae Clan—and the only way to get it is to marry a girl from that clan. Queen Sinmyeongsunseong huffs, and she puffs, but fails in blowing the palace down.
As she’s being carried to the palace in a palanquin, Su tries to think over her options without letting herself devolve into panic. In the palace, ROYAL CONCUBINE OH (Woo Hee-jin) is notified of the king’s soon-to-be wife.
Astronomer Choi gives Su a tour of Damiwon Palace, and completely ignores Su’s attempts to try and talk her way out of marrying a man she doesn’t know. Enter Concubine Oh, who comes to take a personal look at the new bride.
The astronomer couldn’t be happier to exit the scene, and warns Su under his breath to just follow her fate. That fate includes being checked over by Concubine Oh and her maids, since the concubine claims that a woman with scars on her body can’t marry the king.
Su crosses her arms over her chest protectively, unwilling to disrobe in front of strangers. The maids take her and strip her forcefully, with Concubine Oh claiming that they’re on a timeline—she’s to share the king’s bed tonight. What on earth is going on?
Queen Sinmyeongsunseong seems to be much more upset about the king’s potential new bride than Queen Sinjeong, but has no idea that the girl is actually Su. She finds this out when fourteenth prince Jung comes in to beg for her intervention.
Now Queen Sinmyeongsunseong understands why Wook’s mother was so calm about the wedding, because she stands to gain from it. But then Wook enters, presumably to plead with his mother for her intervention. When Queen Sinmyeongsunseong asks why he’s against Su’s marriage, Wook says it’s because he sees her as a younger sister. Also, it’s all very sudden.
Next up is Princess Yeonhwa, though we don’t get to hear what she has to say. In the meantime, Baek-ah tries to get So on their side, though he seems willing to let Su sort her own business out—she volunteered to go, after all. Baek-ah tries explaining that they’d all be dead if she hadn’t (for disobeying a royal command), but So just asks if he has feelings for her.
“I am not the one who has feelings for her,” Baek-ah retorts, though he doesn’t say who does. Instead, he tells his half-brother about how he and Su bonded after Lady Hae’s death, supplying us with flashbacks about their drunken antics following the funeral.
Su had asked him about his own feelings for Lady Hae, but Baek-ah explained that his status was too low for him to do anything about his feelings back then. Thoroughly wasted, Su had bemoaned the status system in Goryeo, and told Baek-ah to wait a thousand years—there (then), no one is above anyone else.
Though he’d tried to hush her, Su had gone on to tell Baek-ah that a person only lives once, and that death can come at any time. “You can just fall right out of the sky and end up living in a place like this,” she said, alluding to her own situation. So with that philosophy in mind, she’d advised Baek-ah to just live in the moment, and do whatever made him happy.
In the present, So gets after his little brother for listening to Su spout such nonsense, but Baek-ah firmly believes in what she espoused about status and rank. If it’s this bad for them as princes, how bad is it for ordinary citizens?
Baek-ah has no aspirations for the throne, he adds. “I only want to be free. That’s what you want too. And what about Hae Su?” So knows as well as he does that a girl without parents or siblings won’t survive in the palace, and that the king won’t pay any attention to her past the wedding night. She won’t survive living such a life, and they both know it.
Su looks like she’s had better days after her full body examination, and asks for some time alone—none of this has set in yet, since she didn’t even know what was going to happen when she woke up this morning.
The second Concubine Oh leaves, Su plans her escape, remembering the secret passageway from the bathhouse… but she’s foiled in that attempt by none other than Concubine Oh.
Now it’s So’s turn to confront Astronomer Choi over the marriage, likening him to a rabbit who always digs two holes to always guarantee at least one escape route. He knows Choi wouldn’t have just banked on one plan, and demands to know what the other part of his plan is.
King Taejo is notified that Su is waiting in the marriage chamber, which gives him momentary pause. It turns out that even he didn’t know he was marrying Su, only that he was marrying someone from the Hae household. Though he wishes it didn’t have to be Su, he’s pretty businesslike about it, and is ready to do what must be done.
Su waits in the wedding chamber dressed as a bride, but as King Taejo walks toward it, he’s stopped by the sight of his son, Prince Wook, kneeling in his path. Wook knows that what he’s doing is dangerous, but he asks the king why he’s bringing another household into the palace.
The king explains that he needs the help of the Hae Clan to settle border disputes with the Kitan (the people of Manchuria to the north), then asks Wook what stake he has in stopping the marriage. That’s when So steps in to provide another solution.
Their intervention doesn’t please the king in the least, but So goes on to say that he has a witness who saw one of Lady Hae’s uncles conspiring with the Kitan, adding that the Hae Clan should be punished, not brought in as in-laws. Their strength should be hindered in his view, and not helped.
But King Taejo says he will proceed with the marriage, since none of the options So presented are feasible. He has a responsibility to protect the border, and he sees no better way than to marry within the Hae Clan. Punishing them is not an option.
Su, having overheard the boys trying to stand up for her, runs out of the chamber. The king advances with the princes powerless to stop him, until he hears a crash and turns around. In her hand, Su holds a bloody vase fragment, which she’s used to cut her wrist.
In a shaking voice, Su tells the king that she cannot marry him with a scar on her body, which she’s now created. “Let me go now,” she pleads, and the king can’t help but admire her gumption. He orders Lady Hae’s uncle brought in, and Su proceeds to collapse.
Wook scoops her up in his arms and carries her outside where the other princes have been waiting. They all hurry around her, their faces painted with worry, as So watches on from the palace steps.
While unconscious, Su dreams of falling into the water, and of a death shroud covering King Taejo. She sees him drown, and also sees the fourth king of Goryeo, King Gwangjong, falling to the ground with a knife in his hand.
His face is obscured because she can’t remember which prince becomes King Gwangjong, but she does know that he kills his brothers in order to ascend the throne. “Which one of the princes is it?” she wonders.
She wakes with a start to see Concubine Oh at her bedside, who affirms that Su is alive and unmarried. She took over caring for her in lieu of a doctor, but Su is still being held in the palace. She also notifies Su of her impending punishment now that she’s conscious, but Su is ready to face it—she has no regrets.
Wook enters the room next, and Concubine Oh seems to understand why Su did what she did to escape the marriage. He comes to sit at Su’s bedside and takes her bandaged wrist in his hand as tears form in her eyes. “Everything will be all right now. It’s over,” he soothes her.
He informs her that the marriage has been cancelled because of her scar, and that the Hae Clan will stop pressuring her to marry. “Last night, I felt so pathetic,” he says in a low voice, almost in a whisper. He admits that he bent so low as to pray to his dead wife to return her to him, and that he would pay his wife back by showering Su with all the affection he could never give her.
“I asked her for her forgiveness, and for her to send you to me,” he confesses. “I begged her. If you had become the king’s woman, I would have never been able to forgive myself.” Crying, Su says that she was so afraid she’d never see him again, and couldn’t bear to part with him just like that.
Wook pulls her into his arms and tells her that she’s safe now—he lost her once, so he won’t let it happen again. She cries into his shoulder as he continues to soothe and comfort her.
When Astronomer Choi asks King Taejo what he plans to do with Su, the king nonchalantly says he’ll send her into slavery. Astronomer Choi is quick to do some damage control, claiming that Su could be of much more use as a court lady—Concubine Oh put in a request for her, since Su knows so much about herbs and cosmetics.
He frames it in such a way as to make Su seem pivotal to the success of the royal household, but Taejo knows his sons likely had something to do with it. He doesn’t know what her relationship to the princes is, but he seems game to go ahead with Astronomer Choi’s suggestion.
Wook and Su go for a walk in the garden, and share a silent moment as he looks down at her bandaged wrist, then pulls her sleeve down to cover it. In voiceover, we hear him say that he’s happy to take her to see his late wife, believing that she would’ve liked to see them together at her grave. Aw. So cute. So morbid.
Astronomer Choi meets them to deliver the news of Su’s new appointment as a court lady, and surprisingly, Su’s all for it. She knows court ladies get paid, and Choi’s more than happy to tell her about all the perks she’ll enjoy if she does her new job well.
Su is pretty positive about the job, and tells Wook not to worry about her. He gives a manly clearing of his throat before handing her a piece of paper, which she unfolds to reveal: \^ㅁ^/. (He uses the “ㅅ” and “ㅁ” Hanja characters to make up the face. It looks more like Hangul, but Hangul wasn’t invented yet.)
But the best part? Wook tries to imitate the symbol for her, and literally couldn’t be any more awkward about it. Love. At least he’s happy that he’ll be able to see her often in her new appointment.
All the princes (minus the crown prince and Yo) come running out to see Su, all hovering around her protectively as they each tell her how they worried about her and tried to save her. Su smiles up at all of them, until she remembers that one of them will go on to be King Gwangjong and kill all his brothers… and she wonders if it’s either Wook or So.
When it’s time for Su to go into the palace, fourteenth prince Jung gives her a little, “Fighting!” Wook tells her not to be afraid, and So just tells her nothing, even though he takes note of her bandaged wrist and small bundle of clothes.
Su walks alone into Damiwon Palace, and clutches her small bundle ever tighter when she sees the formidable Concubine Oh standing before her.
This was a bit of a strange watch, and I wonder if that has something to do with the airing order having changed due to the first week’s triple header. I’m trying to figure out if this episode would’ve been better served had it come directly after Episode 5 as opposed to one week afterward, and while I think that might’ve mitigated some of the problem areas here, it wouldn’t necessarily have fixed them.
It’s hard to know whether there’s an issue in the editing, directing, or writing, but this episode more than ever had a sort of disjointedness about it, like we were seeing scenes chopped from other scenes that didn’t need to be in any specific order. A through-line emerged as the episode wore on that I was more than happy to cling to, but I felt more confused than Su ever was about what was happening to her and why. We slowly but surely came to understand the king’s reasoning even if he seemed to get short-sheeted in terms of information, but it all happened so fast that it was hard to actually get invested in Su’s struggle to not marry the king of Goryeo.
It was adorable that all the princes jumped to her defense though, even if Baek-ah’s storyline was resolved so quickly—and the presentation of it was a little lacking, what with them acting friendly directly after the funeral to us getting a flashback explaining their sudden friendship after the fact. I love Baek-ah being supportive and cute, but he lost a little bit of his personality in the process, since all the princes (minus Yo and the crown prince) all dote on Su now. Still, maybe complaining about having so many men at one’s disposal is neither here nor there, and we should just be happy that Su has such a ready and willing support system.
But since Baek-ah was on her side by whatever offscreen means necessary, it was great to have him be the one to convince So as to why he needed to intervene in the marriage. Even so, So’s reason for intervening was mostly left up to the imagination, and we got only snippets of moments from him this hour. I can’t help but want to see more So despite loving every moment with Wook and Su, primarily because I don’t want to be disappointed in the end by going down with the wrong ship. But man, this show really isn’t making it easy to not care about Wook and Su, who are just so sweet with each other—how are we honestly supposed to resist that?
It feels like we’re on the verge of a major shift in the story at least, with Su moving into the palace and out of Wook’s direct orbit. Maybe this means she’ll be in So’s orbit more, and we’ll get to know more about our most enigmatic of princes. But maybe, it just means we’ll get to know more about Su, who’s perhaps better off not knowing who becomes the future King Gwangjong. What you don’t know can’t hurt you, even if it kills everyone else.