Playing with fire not only burns you in the moment, it leaves you with scars. Queen Shim crosses Hong Joo and pays the price, Yeon Hee continues to work towards breaking the curse, alongside a name change, Heo Jun suffers a loss but plans his revenge and Hong Joo… Hong Joo continues to play with fire.
Top 10 Moments:
1. Hong Joo clock starts to tick
Getting feedback from her henchgirls that they couldn’t find Yeon Hee after she fell into the lake (I wonder if only Yeon Hee sees the lake’s surface as frozen), Hong Joo tries using black magic to locate the princess and find out how best to kill her only for her skin to start to shrivel up and she remembers Hae Ran’s prophecy that her pursuit of black magic is what will lead to her destruction. Something tells me Hong Joo still has no intention of stopping.
2. The Crown Prince wakes… as does Poong Yeon
With Yeon Hee at the bottom of the lake, the Crown Prince wakes to ask his mother for food as he’s hungry whilst the curse mark behind Poong Yeon’s ears disappears and he too wakes to the relief of his own mother.
3. Heo Jun survives and his mother’s discovered by Heo Ok
Heo Jun survived the arrow Hong Joo’s henchgirls shot at him thanks to the taoist silver he had on him. The silver also healed his wounds but his healing leaves him panicking about the fact that time has gone and he still has his and his mother’s boat tickets on him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t make it on time and everyone leaves, leaving his mother alone in the shed to be met by Heo Ok who had tortured Jun and his mother’s whereabouts from Dong Rae
4. Heo Ok leaves Jun’s mother in a burning shed
While beating her and threatening her of all the harm she and Jun would come to, Heo Ok accidentally pushes one of the oil lamps onto a bale of hale and sets the shed on fire. Thinking of only himself, he uses Jun’s mother as a human stool and gets out of dodge, leaving her behind in the burning shed where falling debris knocks her unconscious. The minute he sees Jun, he takes off and although Jun is able to get his mother out of the shed. It’s already too late.
5. The Crown Prince dies
Not believing Hong Joo that the crown princess is dead (and of course the queen is not saying this out of concern for the girl but rather for her precious prince) and suspicious about Hong Joo’s plans for the Crown Prince that Hong Joo claims she created, Queen Shim sends an assassin to take Hong Joo out, only to learn that not only Hong Joo, but her henchgirls as well, have all disappeared. Just as she’s learning this new development, she is taken to the dying Crown Prince whose spirit, we the audience see was taken by Hong Joon just before she ran away.The news of the dying prince knocks the Queen Dowager out. Bye bye Queen Dowager. You caused this.
6. Heo Ok doesn’t know when to quit
As if leaving Jun’s mother to die wasn’t bad enough, Heo Ok gets wasted celebrating his ‘birthday’ and mocks Jun who is wearing his mourning clothes after he’s paid his respects at his mother’s grave. Even his mother looks like she’s holding back from telling Heo Ok to act with more tact and Jun who discovered Heo Ok’s ring after it dropped from his mother’s dying hands barely holds himself from punching Heo Ok in the face.
7. Five years have passed and some things have changed, yet remain the same
Jun now works for Ok who’s an incompetent officer of the king but who is able to catch gambling scoundrels thanks to Jun who goes there before him and ties the men just before Ok can get there thus guaranteeing Ok’s quick rise in office as the officer who never misses.Whilst Ok tells Jun that it’s a good thing Jun has given up on his big dreams, we can see from Jun’s eyes that that is not the case and he’s just waiting for the time to strike. In the meanwhile, he keeps scamming people out of their money with the same tall tales he’s said since he five years prior. Yeon Hee, who now goes by the name Seo Ri has now become a powerful witch and Yo Gwang who the last time we saw was slashed by Hong Joo, got a talisman slapped on him that night by an unknown person and is now alive and well and is Seo Ri’s bodyguard.
8. Hong Joo’s still practicing black magic
Seeing that her skin is fast shriveling and she hasn’t killed Yeon Hee yet, Hong Joo has been harvesting the hearts of innocent villages to keep her magic strong and keep from dying just yet. The villagers attribute the attack to Seo Ri, not knowing that they have another witch in their midst. Hong Joo’s still looking for Yeon Hee though and one of her henchgirls almost tails Yo Gwang to the mountain but is stopped by Poong Yeon who is right to suspect the person. But why do I have a feeling that that henchgirl is actually his father, Hyeon Seo, brought back as a mind controlled minion of Hong Joo?
9. King Sunjo is cursed
King Sunjo who is King Myungjong’s successor is cursed with what looks like thorns growing out of his body to pierce through his skin. He has to have them manually removed through a process that looks freaking painful and orders the doctor to keep it a secret. And it would seem that it’s even being kept from Queen Shim who is still alive (although her husband and mother-in-law are dead) but who King Sunjo doesn’t particularly trust and for good reason too. She is one of the architects of what Joseon is like at the moment, after all.
10. Seo Ri promises to find out why she has the curse and we catch a glimpse of Hyeon Seo
Seo Ri who is focused on breaking the curse also adds her desire to find out exactly why she has the curse (not looking forward to the part where she finds out she was born using black magic) and we pan to Hong Joo who like we expected has Hyeon Seo alive in her cave, with a talisman which is probably what’s keeping him alive. But is he the same henchgirl wearing the mask?
Character I wanted to bitch slap:
Heo Ok, for not only slapping Jun’s mother but leaving her to die in the fire and then shamelessly rubbing his mother’s death in Jun’s face just because he has no sense when he has just a sip of alcohol in him. Asswipe.
Headache inducing moment:
The callous way Ok’s mother spoke about Jun’s mother’s life, like it was worthy only of saving her own son and Ok had nothing to feel guilty or terrible about had me screaming, especially because in the scene prior to that, Jun was mourning his mother.
This episode’s a bloody mary. It’s perfectly layered mix of sweet, salty, savory and sour and packs a punch. Over an hour and I didn’t even feel the time slipping away. As always, it’s complex perfection.