Our poor hero just can’t catch a break most days. Just when things start to look up for him and he dares to hope for more, it all comes crashing down around him. It doesn’t help that Su blames him for things he hasn’t even done yet, leaving him without someone he can reliably depend on and call his own. Then again, maybe she does have reason to be afraid, when he’ll do anything it takes to keep her.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
The moment Su looks at So and wonders if he will become King Gwangjong, Astronomer Choi turns as if he’s heard her. Queen Sinmyeongsunseong leaves the ceremonial grounds in a rage, while the people in the capital dance in the streets, celebrating the downpour.
“A hero is born,” ninth prince Won says of So, who seems to have brought on the drought-ending rain by his mere presence at the ritual. While he wonders how So managed to cover his scar, fourteenth prince Jung guesses he must have used someone skilled in cosmetics… and Wook, hearing this, turns to look at Su. He knows.
As So completes his ritualistic bowing, Su realizes with certainty now that So will become King Gwangjong, who was known for killing his brothers and other family members in his quest for the throne. She sends a worried look toward Wook’s back.
The townspeople rejoice as So is carried through the capital in a palanquin, but Su looks more frightened than anything. She worries that she’s helped make it possible for So to become King Gwangjong by covering his scar, before swiftly denying this to herself—according to history, So would’ve become King Gwangjong with or without her help… right?
She can’t stop from worrying that So is going to kill his brothers, and doesn’t snap out of it when Wook grabs her in celebration. “Will they all die because of me?” she wonders, her eyes distant. “That person… will he become like that because of me?”
Looking up at Wook, she urges him to stay safe as her eyes return to So’s retreating form. Wook follows her gaze, but whatever she’s saying must sound like nonsense to him.
Third prince Yo rails against his bad luck in not being chosen for the ceremony, since all the glory is now So’s. His mother is even harder on him as she slaps him across the cheek for letting So take his place. He apologizes, saying it was a mistake, but the evil queen ruthlessly responds that there is no room for mistakes.
If she is to become a king’s mother, she spits, then Yo must be ruthless. While the queen vows to set Damiwon on fire because of Su, Yo looks like he’s seeing his real mother for the first time.
So pays a visit to his father and Crown Prince Mu, who returned later than planned due to his being waylaid by thieves. His father is proud of So, and is even happy to see his son’s full face for the first time in many, many years.
“Show your face to the world now and be confident,” King Taejo says. He also tells So to devote himself to helping the crown prince build a strong nation, and that he’s put his trust in him. So seems overwhelmed by his father’s acceptance, and even the crown prince seems happy for his little brother.
Su is still out of it when Wook finds shelter for them underneath an eave, and can only nod when he asks her if she covered So’s scar. He thinks she’s worried she’ll be punished for touching the face of a prince, but tells her not to be—she did a good thing.
That’s not what eases her worries as much as him telling her that nothing changes just because So stood in for the crown prince at the ceremony. Wook is on a different frequency as he says that the king is sure to grant her freedom now, but Su says she can’t just do nothing, and runs off to find Astronomer Choi.
“Do you know who the next king will be?” she asks. Astronomer Choi smiles that it’ll be the crown prince as long as nothing changes. Su asks about who’ll take the throne afterhim, and Choi says that it will be Gwangjong. That’s what she said, wasn’t it?
Then, Astronomer Choi tells her that when he was a child, he drowned and came back to life. This sounds familiar to Su for many reasons, and it seems like Choi knows why as he explains how different he was once he came back. Now, he sees things—though whether they’re from a dream or not, he can’t be sure.
Once, he tells her, he saw a big bird carrying people in the sky (airplane), and even a building as high as the sky with countless people (skyscraper). Su doesn’t voice her theory that he may very well be from the future like she is, but that he maybe can’t remember because he was so young at the time.
“I also heard that you died and came back,” Astronomer Choi notes, “so I wondered if you had the gift of foresight like I do.” He tells her she can ask what she truly wishes of him, but Su has too many questions to voice all at once: Will So become King Gwangjong? Will he kill his brothers? What will happen to Wook?
Instead, all she can ask is, “What should I do?” Astronomer Choi’s answer is a firm, “Nothing.” Regardless, Su is convinced that she can change the terrible course fate is about to take.
Princess Yeonhwa tries to goad her brother, Wook, into being jealous of So for leading the rain ritual. He doesn’t bite, or at least he doesn’t outwardly seem to, as Yeonhwa says that now So might be getting other ideas. Wook notes that Su said So might change as well.
But then again, Wook thinks it’s a good thing for So to receive the king’s favor after so many years of harsh, unfriendly treatment. Yeonhwa presses him for more information about Su, who he says was the one to cover So’s scar, and who now fears something will happen because of what she did.
Wook, however, may not be as without ambition as we thought. He muses, more to himself than anything, that there must be a place he’s designated to fill. “What could it be? I am very curious.”
While walking through the palace, Su suddenly finds herself in So’s arms. She screams and pulls away, absolutely terrified. So thinks she was just surprised by his sudden grab, having no idea that what she’s afraid of is actually him.
He’s happy to tell her that he was able to call the king “Father” for the first time in his life. It had been fifteen years since he looked at his face properly, he adds, and yet the king told him to be confident. With a smile, So adds that all the pain he suffered seemed to disappear when the king told him that. Aw, sad.
“Everyone keeps thanking me,” he goes on. No one thinks him frightening, or calls him a monster. “I’m starting to like myself this way. The one who made me this way is you, Hae Su.” Now, Su has a hard time believing that the So she’s seeing right now could become as cruel as the Gwangjong history knows.
Even though she remembers what Astronomer Choi said about not getting involved, Su thinks it’s her duty to help change So’s future. Out of the blue, she gives him advice to hold in his anger no matter how bad it gets, and to definitely not kill anyone.
That’s when Su resolves that she can and will change the future and his fate, in order to save everyone from misery.
Now that it’s time to find Grand General Park’s daughter a husband, King Taejo looks through his roster of sons for a good match. It’s hilarious how General Park cites reasons why each prince suggested won’t work, because he knows how much his daughter loves the tenth prince, Eun.
When he finally leads both King Taejo and Astronomer Choi to that conclusion, they seemvery surprised by his preference. Hah.
The king pays a visit to the princes, commending each of them on their hard work–especially So. In return, he says So may ask a favor from him, and So looks over at Su as he asks the king… to give her to him. Whoa, what?
King Taejo acquiesces to this, and promotes Su up a rank so that she can serve So directly (still as a court lady, though). Wook contains his unease as the king announces that there will also be a royal wedding: Eun is to be married to Soon-deok, General Park’s daughter.
Of course, Eun doesn’t understand how being a prince works, and says that he refuses the marriage. He even drops to his knees to beg the king to withdraw his command: “If you insist on this marriage, I would rather die.” It’s only when Crown Prince Mu urges him to thank the king for his grace does Eun reluctantly do so.
But as he rises, a bag of marbles drops from his sleeve, seeming to emphasize just how young and unprepared Eun really is. Ninth prince Won takes it upon himself to give Eun terrible advice about women, like how they’re all the same after the first night. As for him, he can’t even get his first and second wives straight sometimes.
Won attempts to brighten Eun’s spirits by taking him to watch a fight, but he wasn’t aware that Soon-deok was in it. Eun won’t be deterred, and sees Soon-deok wrestle fourteenth prince Jung and win. You go, girl.
On the day Su’s set to leave Damiwon, she hands Wook a gift, which she says is for the bracelet he gave her. Inside is a silk pillow she made, since Lady Hae had wanted her to become a pillow for him. Methinks Su took the meaning literally rather than figuratively, which is why Wook looks a bit disappointed.
In return though, Wook gifts her a book, which Su isn’t too pleased about because of all the work it involves. Wook laughs, then shows her that it isn’t any normal book—it’s a flip book, making the drawings inside look as though they’re moving.
And, adorably, the drawings are of Su and Wook’s walk in the snow. He drew it himself, much to Su’s joy, and she happily flips through the pages. Wook’s expression grows grave as he tells her that because there will be a royal marriage, it means that a court lady won’t be released from service this round.
Su takes this in for a moment before replying that they’ll be sure to get another chance. Wook’s not so sure, but Su tells him that as long as he’s willing to wait for her, she’ll wait for him. What she doesn’t say is, “I asked you to wait for me because I did not wish to tell you that I was worried. Because I felt like something would go wrong.”
Wook tells her that when it snows again, they’ll walk the same path featured in the flip book. “I will wait,” Su says, with tears brimming in her eyes. Wook pulls her into an embrace and tells her, “I love you.” She wraps her arms around him and smiles into his shoulder. Omo omo.
While helping brew the king’s tea, Su suddenly receives a warning from Court Lady Oh to be careful of So. Now that she’s shown him affection, she has to be straight with him if she’s not going to give him her whole heart. “What if I can change that person’s life?” Su ventures.
Court Lady Oh says she once loved a common man who she thought would give up everything to be with her. But in the end, he rose to a position far out of her reach, and that’s why she believes that there’s no sense in trying to change a person. (I wonder if the man she’s talking about is King Taejo.)
Su gives So her makeup tips as she helps to cover his scar again, so that eventually, he’ll be able to do it himself. She even writes out a guide so that he can make the mixture himself should he need to. It makes So curious as to why she’s distancing herself—she, the girl who loves to talk, is now being demure. Once Court Lady Oh gives her an out, Su tells him that she’s been immature, and is making an effort to change that.
The not-so-common girl we first saw reprimanding thirteenth prince Baek-ah for mocking commoners, WOO-HEE (Seohyun), is now dressed in her finest silks as she does a sword dance in the middle of the forest. She’s not as good as she’d like to be, and becomes distracted when she hears a nearby bamboo flute.
It’s Baek-ah, playing for a group of children. They see the swords in her hands and panic, but she reassures them that she was only practicing a sword dance. Baek-ah recognizes her from before, and demands that she pay for the drawings she ripped from his notebook.
If she can’t, he claims, she can pay him by showing him her sword dance. She’s less than thrilled at the idea, claiming she doesn’t dance for strange men, and she certainly doesn’tbelieve him when he introduces himself. He’s just about to tell her that he really is the thirteenth prince, but she disappears when she spots her two attendants lurking nearby.
But where she stood, Baek-ah finds a gold norigae pendant she left behind.
It’s Eun’s wedding day, and Su finds herself accosted by the soon-to-be bride as Soon-deok asks for her help in getting through to the tenth prince. Su is reluctant to interfere, which Soon-deok thinks must be due to her feelings for him. She promises that Su can become Eun’s second wife if she helps her now, which is really not the time for Su to be silent.
Eun has apparently locked himself in his room, and just as fourteenth prince Jung is about to break down the door, Soon-deok arrives with Su. Su’s able to get him to open the door for her, and she slips inside to have a chat with him.
Of course, Eun is drunk as a skunk, and Su has to grab the bottle away from him. “You don’t know how I feel,” he whines. Su does know, and replies that he likes her, but is having to marry another woman he doesn’t like.
It becomes clear where Soon-deok got the whole “second wife” idea from when Eun asks Su if she’ll take the job. Despite him promising to be good to her, Su says she doesn’t want to share her husband. “Liar,” he calls her. “Even if I had asked you to be my first wife, you would have said no.” Awww.
Sinking to the floor, Eun admits that he’s always known himself to be a fool, which must be why she doesn’t like him. “I was happiest whenever I was with you,” Su says, as she extols his virtues. “You laugh when you’re happy, and you know to cry when you’re sad.” That, she claims, is why she was always at ease when she was around him.
But Eun doesn’t want that kind of consolation, and calls her cruel for giving it. “If I said I was sorry, that would truly be cruel, wouldn’t it?” she asks. That’s when Eun asks if she ever truly liked him, and with a small smile, Su says she still likes him very much.
And with that, she wishes him happiness and leaves. Eun follows her out of the room, ready to go through with the marriage, much to Soon-deok’s joy.
At the ceremony, Eun and his wife are showered with gifts from his brothers, which Soon-deok is more than grateful for. Her father, Grand General Park, watches from afar and grudgingly notes that if she were to grin any wider, her face would simply split. Aww, what a good dad.
Su also watches the festivities, but the scene of So’s bright, laughing face suddenly changes before her again. In her vision, she sees So laughing with blood splattered on his face as he cuts down Eun and his new bride.
She staggers backward when she comes back to reality, though Wook and So notice the terror on her face. Wook follows her as she runs off. “Be careful of Wang So.” She tells him in a trembling voice. “Stay away from him. Don’t ever try to stop him. If you try… you will all die.”
Wook grabs her by the shoulders to seek some clarity, but Su is too overcome. She wants to leave the palace, she says, and in answer, he pulls her into an embrace. He promises her that he’ll help her to leave, and tells her that everything will be okay. Poor Su can only cry.
Once the newlyweds are alone, Eun attempts to lay down the law with his wife: “We may be married, but I can’t acknowledge you as my wife.” He plans to keep living exactly the way he did before, but she reminds him that they’re formally married.
She also tells him of an old principle that a true union lasts a thousand years, which means a married couple’s conjugal harmony lasts a hundred years. This language is beyond Eun, who wonders how he’ll ever grow fond of her.
On that note, he says he’ll be needing all the bed, and presumes to fake sleep. Soon-deok, kind soul that she is, watches him for a time while smiling, then makes her bed on the floor. After she’s out, Eun sighs, “You said to just wait until the first snowfall. Hae Su, you’re a cruel liar.”
Elsewhere, Wook muses over what Su said to him, repeating it multiple times: “Be careful of Wang So. Don’t ever try to stop him.”
After the king gives third prince Yo his “new appointment” to leave the palace, thus giving So his old responsibilities, Yo asks Astronomer Choi if the king is casting him aside. Choi denies it, but he’s no fan of Yo’s greed and ambition, and makes that much known. Yo just warns him to wait and see what he’ll come up with.
That seems to involve a tense family dinner with Queen Sinmyeongsunseong and her three full sons, Yo, So, and Jung. The strange thing is, the evil queen acts cordial to So, even going so far as to compliment him. You guys better not do something awful to him, I swear.
Yo and the queen turn the conversation toward So taking Yo’s responsibilities in the palace while he’s away, which will involve him being in close proximity with the crown prince. Only then does So figure out the game they’re playing, and his mother clarifies: “Kill the crown prince. It isn’t the first time you’ve killed someone for me. Will you do it?”
So asks his mother if that’s what she truly wants, before responding that… he’ll do it? But then he adds that after he does, he’ll sit on the throne. All she wants is a son of hers as king, right? Why can’t he be that son, and not Yo?
As evidence, So claims that he has heaven’s will behind him (as evidenced by the rain ritual), and Yo only has his in-laws. Queen Sinmyeongsunseong claims that Yo is destinedto become king, and So laughs. But he does ask what would happen if he were to sit on the throne, causing his mother to quip that he must think he can do anything just because of “a few brush strokes.”
This seems to get to So, but of course, she doesn’t stop there. She claims that the only reason he was chosen for the rain ritual rather than the crown prince was so that he’d be the one who would pay with blood if it didn’t rain. His father, she adds, used him.
So refutes this, saying that he didn’t just let himself be used—he knew what he was getting himself into. After he leaves, Yo comments to his mother that they may as well sever their ties with So. Jung finally speaks up to ask his mother why she gave birth to them if she was going to raise them as enemies. Good question.
Outside, So chides himself for daring to expect more from that family meal than what he was given. Aww. He approaches Su’s quarters, and we can see her huddled in a terrified ball inside.
Getting too stuffy inside, she rushes out for some fresh air. So finds her, and grabs her into a backhug when she attempts to run from him. “Let go of me,” she says, but he asks her to just stay like this for a moment. She wrests herself from his grasp and says, “I’m afraid of you!”
Poor So looks like he’s just been punched in the gut as he all but whispers that she said she wasn’t afraid of him. “I thought I could change things,” she stammers. “I was wrong. You will ruin everything in the end! Go! You’re better off running far away from here!”
“Not you as well!” So shouts as he advances toward her. “Don’t try to push me away. Don’t tell me to leave. Don’t tell me that I bring misfortune, and that I am a beast. You, at the very least, cannot do that to me. Because you… are mine.”
He grabs her as he says this, but Su only replies that she isn’t his. “You are mine,” he stresses. “You belong to me. You are mine! Without my permission, you cannot leave me, nor can you die. You are completely mine.”
And then, he swoops in to kiss her. Su tenses against him.
Well. Uh. Hm. That was… intense. That was pretty intense. Right, I should write some words here. Just give me a second—we’ll talk about some other things first.
I have to admit to being a bit confused as to the visions Su’s having of the future. At first I thought that her overactive imagination was just inserting So into what she thought he’d look like as King Gwangjong, but the vision of him killing Eun and his new wife in cold blood was much too specific to seem like anything but an actual flash of the future. But, given that the show hasn’t touched on Su wondering where these visions are coming from, it also seems possible that it is just her putting two and two together. They really do seem like glimpses of the future though, no matter which way you slice it.
There seemed to be a lot of promise in Su’s resolution to change the future, but then we arrived at the end to hear her say that she thought she could, but now believes she can’t. When did she try? Or was it supposed to count when she told So not to kill people? I wish we were able to get a glimpse into Su’s thoughts when it comes to her relationship with history, or even her perceived relationship with it. She swapped back and forth between thinking that she could change history, to giving vague warnings, to giving up on the idea wholesale. I’m sure this isn’t the end of her struggle with the matter, and there seems to be no better way to make her confront it than what So’s unintentionally doing right now.
I felt so bad for So during that most awkward of family dinners—he always has his guard up, but sometimes, you can just see him want so desperately to be able to put it down for just one second. Which is why he finds solace in Su, and why it’s so doubly sad that even she’s turned against him now.
That last scene had a lot going on, and more than anything else, it served to make So and Su’s relationship the most compelling one in the series. I wasn’t expecting that to be honest, but it came on like a freight train. It’s not just another romance for Su, or a romantic rival for Wook—So is a very dangerous man, capable of doing terrible things, and Su knows that. What she’ll do with that knowledge is the big question, especially now that she’s more or less stuck with him as his court lady.
And it all only serves to make So more complicated, so that we can’t sort our feelings out one way or the other. On the one hand, we have the son striving for acceptance, wanting desperately to be wanted. That’s the So we saw when he approached Su, and why he looked so heartbroken when she, of all people, said she was afraid of him. He could’ve been more delicate in his reply to that, but tensions were running high, and since he hasmassacred people and burned a temple down in the past, we can safely say that he doesn’t tend to make the wisest decisions when emotions are involved. He was raised killing wolves, so maybe we can’t exactly hold it against him that he doesn’t know how to properly communicate his feelings. Or maybe we can. Only time will tell.