We kick things off in true time-traveling fashion: one girl drowns and comes back to life surrounded by handsome hunks who are all shirtless and wondering who the hell she is (hahaha. Not quite, but close). We meet our heroine, our hero and the myriad of princes that are his brothers, plus one bratty sister as well. There’s political intrigue, cuteness overload, lots of hunky men and comedy to tie it all together. All in all, a pretty strong first episode.
Top 10 Moments:
- We meet Hae Soo and girl is heartbroken, miserable and fish bait (?)
We open with a drunk Hae Soo (although at this point, she’s Ha Jin) and she’s teary eyed as she talks to the homeless man who she offers the rest of her soju, about her asshole of an ex-boyfriend and the friend who had betrayed her and ran away with her man. She wonders if the man has ever wished he could go back a hundred or a thousand years and wails some more about the fact that she’d kept herself from changing because she had assumed that if she remained unchanged, then her friends and the man she loves would also stay the same and now she wonders how on earth her life can become what it is. The homeless man replies by telling her that she can’t change her life just because she wants to and her best bet is for her to die and be reborn (dude! That’s harsh). With those nuggets of wisdom given, he goes back to sleep, and Hae Soo’s distracted from her worries when she sees a little boy floundering in the water. She’s at first reluctant to go in and tells herself that someone else would see and go to the boy’s rescue. Unfortunately, everyone else is distracted and even as she wails about it always happening to her, Hae Soo jumps into the water to rescue the boy. The boy’s father finally notices him in the water and takes a boat to go rescue him. He pulls his son into the boat and just as he reaches for Hae Soo, an eclipse occurs, causing Hae Soo’s eyes to widen (huh why?! Is the girl scared of it or something?) and an unknown force drags her into the water. As she drifts down to the bottom of the water, she flashes to her discovering her friend with her boyfriend and her attacking that friend, which had led to her boyfriend hitting her (explains the cuts and bruises then). She also flashes back to a group of older women chasing after her and as the eclipse completes itself, she closes her eyes and lets herself fall.
2. We meet the princes (well hello there my pretties) as does Hae Soo
We fade away from the eclipse to the Goryeo era where a band of black-robbed horse riders come storming into town. They seem to have quite a reputation because the townspeople immediately declare that the black wolf is coming. At the outcry, everyone runs out of sight like it’s the devil walking the streets and we see the fourth prince Wang So, face half hidden in a black mask as he leads the pack. One of the children in hiding calls him the black wolf and Wang So stops for a moment to look sadly at a woman’s jeweled hairpin. We then cut to the bathhouse where the other princes are having a ball. The tenth prince: Wang Eun and the fourteenth prince: Wang Jung jump in happily into the water, happy and jovial. The more serious third prince: Wang Yo looks on calmly as he drinks, whilst the thirteenth prince: Baek Ah smirks as he watches his brothers play in the water. Eight prince Wang Wook pulls on his robes whilst flashing us gorgeous abs whilst Wang Won the ninth prince flashes his guns as he does triceps dips (muscles. Pretty. Sexy. Yummy). From the interactions of the brothers, we establish that So’s more the loner brother and this is the first time he’ll be participating in their cleansing ritual. We also learn that the rumors in town is that So massacred his entire family in the bloody way a wolf would have. We also learn that Jung, Yo and So share a mother and Yo is quick to anger and the one brother the rest of the princes kowtow to (something tells me So the lone wolf won’t be so open to following his brother’s every word. That will be interesting). Whilst Eun’s floating in the outer pool, he bumps into Hae Soo who’s popped out from present day Seoul into the Goryeo era. She’s understandably confused as to where she’s at whilst the princes are outraged at a girl being in their bathing quarters. Her maid: Chae Ryung, though notices her and although Hae Soo’s still confused about what’s happening, she runs off to meet Chae Ryung. When they’re outside the private bathhouse and in the more public space, Hae Soo’s stunned at her surroundings and faints, having figured that she’s died and this is the afterlife.
3. So lives up to his bloodthirsty reputation
So finally gets to the palace and the conversation he has with the captain of the horse riders who rode with him to the palace has us realizing that So had been given to the family at Shinju as an adopted son. So though believes that he was more a hostage than an adopted son and when he steps in through the palace gate, he withdraws his sword and strikes at the horse, killing it in one blow (damn. Talk about animal cruelty). The guards are horrified and one of them points out that swords are not allowed in the palace. So hands over his sword and when the guard asks if he should prepare another horse for when So would return to Shinju, So informs him that he won’t be going back. As he walks further into the palace, unaware that he’s being watched by the homeless guy from Seoul (wait, what the hell is the guy doing there? Is he a doppleganger or did he too come from the future?) he tells us he won’t return to being a hostage at Shinju.
4. Hae Soo finally learns that she’s not dreaming. Nope, the poor girl’s been dropped way way back in the past
Hae Soo finally regains consciousness and Lady Hae and Chae Ryung immediately come to meet her. She’s surprised at the fact that everyone is calling her Hae Soo. She remembers though that she thinks she’s dead but is stunned when Lady Hae informs her that she’s very much alive. The words have Hae Soo running outside as she realizes that her dropping into the lake has transported her to another world. She wonders who she is and where she’s at and Lady Hae introduces herself as her cousin Myung Hee and informs Hae Soo that they’re living in prince Wang Wook’s quarters. The area has Hae Soo’s realizing that she’s in Goryeo and Lady Hae adds to her horror when she spills the beans that they’re currently in the reign of the founder of Goryeo. Hae Soo completes the words in horror that they’re in the reign of Taejo Wang Geon.
5. Someone desperately wants Crown Prince Moo out of the way
Taejo is at the moment in front of the court bringing up the attempted poisoning of Moo. Luckily for Moo, it was a bird that had gotten to his meal first and so the bird had died in his stead (the amount of animal cruelty in this episode alone. Sheesh). Interestingly, Sik Ryum steps forward to ask that Taejo replace Moo with another prince as Crown Prince because Moo has been slacking off on his duties and there are suspicions that he has an incurable illness. An angry Taejo asks the rest of his sons (sans So) if any of them think they’re fit to replace Moo. Yo and Won look like they seem to think they will make a suitable replacement whilst the other princes are surprised. Wook, ever the peacemaker, steps forward first to ask Taejo to take back the words as they don’t want to be the Crown Prince. Baek Ah joins him next, then Yo, Won, Eun and Jung. Sik Ryum doesn’t look too happy about the development, but he doesn’t say anything. The astrologer: Ji Mong (hello there homeless guy) steps forward to declare that Moo’s star shines brightest in the heavens, as is fitting the Crown Prince. The words has Taejo re-emphasizing that Moo will use the upcoming ritual to chase away evil spirits. The words has Yo looking very uncomfortable and we see why because Sik Ryum meets with Yo’s mother: Queen Yo and fills her in on the development. She declares that Moo is lucky and states that what this has done is to make Moo more vigilant. Their talk is then interrupted by a court lady who’s come to inform Queen Yo that her son, So, is outside waiting to see her. Queen Yo’s unconcerned about the son she hasn’t seen in two years and is clearly playing favourites as she has the court lady lie that she’s not feeling well enough to see So. So doesn’t believe it though and merely gives a bitter smile and then walks away (poor baby).
6. The beginning of the Wook-Hae Soo shipping war
Hae Soo locks herself in her room, lost in thought as she realizes that she must have died when she drowned in the lake and the real Hae Soo must have also drowned in the pool in Goryeo time which would explain why her spirit is now in Hae Soo’s body. The only thing is who is she? Ha Jin? Or Hae Soo? She’s also terrified of the world outside seeing that she knows nothing about Goryeo. Whilst Hae Soo’s lost in thoughts, a worried Lady Hae’s outside her room and it’s this sight that Wook sees. She explains to him that for a short moment, Hae Soo had died but had then come back to life. It’s this reason that the doctor believes is the cause for Hae Soo’s amnesia. At the words, Wook breaks into the room and his face softens as he sees a clearly terrified Hae Soo. He speaks calmly and softly, telling her that he brought her into the palace and so would help her to the very end. The words has Hae Soo internally telling herself that seeing that she can’t return back to her time, she will stay in the present time and live. And with that thought, she accepts Wook’s outstretched hand.
7. We learn the cause for So’s mask (seriously, his mother needs a lot of work)
Still reeling from Queen Yoo’s rejection, So flashes back to the past when Taejo had informed Queen Yoo about his impending marriage. Queen Yoo had been devastated because her son had just died and she’d dragged child So from where he’d been hiding with Crown Prince Moo and had pulled out a small dagger which she’d placed against Soo’s throat. Her threat: Taejo should choose between his new marriage or his son’s life (what the fuck? Seriously woman?). Taejo had informed her that she wouldn’t be able to change his mind and Queen Yoo had called him a piece of work (so are you madam) and had then attempted to kill So. Taejo had moved to stop her and in their struggle, Queen Yoo had slashed So’s face (fuck). Now back in the present, Taejo catches sight of So whilst on a walk with Ji Mong and Ji Mong asks if Taejo had brought So back so he can also protect Moo. Taejo replies that he’s not sure if So would be Moo’s shield or if he would also be a sword pointed at Moo’s neck.
8. Hae Soo gets a quick lesson about other Hae Soo (Well thank goodness for amnesia)
Still going under the guise that she has amnesia, Hae Soo’s given a quick lesson about her life as other Hae Soo. But Chae Ryung takes a break from the tutoring session to ask Hae Soo to come clean to her. She figures that Hae Soo’s faking the amnesia because she’d gotten into a rendevouz with a young man or maybe she has a ton of debt. Hae Soo’s shocked that the other Hae Soo’s like that and Chae Ryung doesn’t understand why Hae Soo’s talking about herself in the third person. Hae Soo considers coming clean but shakes off the thought as she figures that that would just be her asking to die again. She is however delighted at how young and wrinkle free other Hae Soo’s body is and while she marvels at the way better body she now has, Chae Ryung wails about Hae Soo really being ill (hahaha. Poor girl). Meanwhile, the princes (sans So) are in Ji Mong’s workspace where Yo brings up the fact that Moo has Ji Mong in his pocket what with Ji Mong’s declaration about Moo’s star being the brightest. Baek Ah then asks Ji Mong to read his own fortune and soon the brothers are all teasing each other about their attributes (so cute). They then bring up So and the killing of the horse he’d arrived on. As if thoughts of him had summoned him, So shows up and his younger brothers freeze up. Wook is the only one who greets So and has a smile for him and So gives a little smirk then stalks off (ooooh. He’s got plenty charisma this one).
9. Hae Soo’s not very good at hiding the fact that she’s from another time whilst So is desperate to forge a place for himself in the palace
Hae Soo looks in on Wook as he attends to his wife, Lady Hae. He’s so gentle and caring and Chae Ryung sings his praises, declaring that Wook’s as educated as any scholar and so amazing that a lot of people believe that he should be the Crown Prince instead of Moo (girl, don’t let Taejo ever hear you say that). Their moment is ruined when Princess Yeon Hwa shows up and curtly snaps at Hae Soo for peeking at the married couple. She gives a snide smile when Hae Soo’s resistant to bowing down to her and states that she heard that Hae Soo lost her memory but she didn’t know that Hae Soo’s lost her manners as well. Just as she implies that now’s the time for Hae Soo to learn some manners, Hae Soo who’s immediately assessed Yeon Hwa and concluded that she’s just like the bullies she’d known from back in her time, confronts Yeon Hwa to stop faking it and just come out and state that she doesn’t like her. Yeon Hwa’s angry and raises her voice and this has Wook coming to intervene. He takes Hae Soo to the library where he brings up Hae Soo spying on the princes during their bath. He then offers to get Hae Soo a place to stay, separate from the palace but Hae Soo’s quick to tell him that she would take care of herself as she’s not the type to accept handouts. The use of the word “handout” confuses Wook who has no idea what the word is. Hae Soo brushes over it though and insists that she will survive just fine in the household, so much so that she can become indispensable. Wook points out that her behavior and words has him thinking that she’s a whole different person, and he warns her not to worry Lady Hae in anyway whatsoever. Hae Soo murmurs her agreement and takes off. Meanwhile, So gets called into Ji Mong’s workspace where Ji Mong informs him that the servant girl who had served Moo his food was found hung. He believes that it’s a cover-up, but So’s not interested and he informs Ji Mong that he’s not a dog. Ji Mong though is merely working off of Moo’s instructions and Moo soon joins them to ask So for his help. The plan is for So to take the place of Moo during the ritual as a plot to kill Moo during the ritual has been uncovered. So agrees and as his payment, he wants to remain in the palace.
10. Hae Soo and So meet (damn, Lee Jun Ki is fineeeeeeeeee)
Hae Soo’s not as adept as the other Hae Soo in making the festival lanterns and so Yeon Hwa has her go make herself useful by mixing glue. Hae Soo who thought it would be easy enough is soon covered in soot and lamenting how big a bitch Yeon Hwa is (hahahaha). Wook who sees the funny sight teases her about her declaration to do her best and learn everything needed to survive. He walks away smiling and goes to meet his brothers in their training with Ji Mong for the ritual. So is the only one not present but the brothers are not too bothered about the absence. Won even brings up the fact that the rumor around is that Taejo is going to abdicate the throne to Moo after the conclusion of the ritual and Ji Mong makes excuses and walks away. Wook points out that Won shouldn’t have asked as he’s sure that Taejo wouldn’t be happy about the question should he get to hear about it whilst Yo points out that Ji Mong didn’t deny it. Ji Mong meanwhile strides out of the palace and Hae Soo spots him. She recognizes him as the homeless man and chases after him, but soon loses him in the market. At that moment, So comes riding in on his horse and as is the usual practice, all the villagers scatter, except for Hae Soo who didn’t see him early enough to react. She’s pushed, and just as she’s about to make a tumble into the stream, So reaches out to grab her and then swings her onto the horse.
Character I wanted to bitchslap:
No one in this episode.
Headache inducing moment:
None in this episode.
This episode’s a Whiskey Lemonade in honor of Hae Soo who’s decided to take the lemons life handed down to her (getting tossed back a thousand years has got to suck big time) and decided to make the best out of it. It’s also in honor of So who’s been brought back to the palace after years of being an outcast and who’s now resolved to make the best of the situation by ensuring that he doesn’t return back to the town where he’s nothing more than a glorified hostage. Our main characters have shown us that hint of sadness and being outcasts (one because he is feared and the other because she’s a 21st century girl in the body of a girl in Goryeo) and I’m eagerly rubbing my hands together at the chance this couple has to make their relationship one of mutual respect, understanding and friendship. And to this effect I really did like this first episode. It gave us the chance to know the characters and take a deep breath before we delve into the intrigue, murder and politics of the princes’ struggle for the throne because we all know that’s what we signed up for. The blood and gore and the romance that will be thrown into the mix. I haven’t watched the original Scarlet Heart yet. I almost did watch it two months ago but I didn’t want anything to spoil the kdrama version for me. And so, I’m thrilled to be watching this through new eyes. Of course after the Kdrama is done, I shall be watching Scarlet Heart 1 and 2, just because I can :).