HWARANG -- EPISODE 13
I know the invite said "come as you are," but still...
Moo Myung holds a blade to Jinheung's throat. Ah Ro talks him down, insisting Jinheung is not the king. Dog-Bird accidentally slices her and stalks off, stunned by his actions. Ji So promises Jinheung that she'll do what she has to put him on the throne and to keep up the deception that Moo Myung is the king. Moo Myung and the young king both think about a fatal encounter with each other. Meanwhile, Minister Park continues to plot against the king. The next morning, a horse bearing severed heads breaks through the fog. The horse bears a message about spies in Baekje. Minister Park suggests a delegation, sending the Princess to Baekje to talk peace, certain that this plan will reveal the king is actually Jinheung.
Later, the Queen suggests sending Hwarang with the delegation. Ah Ro confronts Moo Myung about avoiding her. When the Hwarang gather, Moo Myung again takes Jinheung to task and he replies he'd rather be Moo Myung's friend than be the King. When Moo Myung hears Ah Ro is being dragged along with the delegation he volunteers to go. As does Jinheung. Soo Hyun cuts off her braid and gives it to Ban Ryu for the journey, and they finally demonstrate their feelings with a kiss. Ahn Ji finds the letter Ah Ro wrote telling him of her departure and so renews his resolve to kill the Queen. Moo Myung goes to Sook Myung, angry over her putting Ah Ro in danger, and ends up comforting her when she experiences debilitating chest pain. Ah Ro sees this and misinterprets it, but later they embrace and make up. The idyllic scene is broken as they're ringed in by angry peasants with torches, wielding farm implements like weapons...
"I hate writing in cursive."
In an earlier review, I blasted this show for not having any memorable quotes. Sometimes, I almost wonder if the writers are reading my mind. Like this: "Take a look at this pond. On the surface, it is calm and black. But inside of it are countless rocks, living fish, aquatic plants, and bugs that struggle to live on as in a war. Many will look at this pond and mistake it. Just because you see its calm surface does not mean you know everything about it. I don't want you to make such a mistake." Truly awesome quote, and if I didn't know better I'd almost think they were responding to me. But, I know it's all said and done by the time it airs, so that's not possible. But sometimes, it's nice to have a beef that's settled. This is one time.
Cue side eye in 3, 2, 1...
Finally, it got a little less annoying about Moo Myung killing the king. He kept talking about it and talking about it, and I kept saying clam up and do it! Well, he started to, and his girlfriend stopped him. Which is a good thing, because it would make the show less intriguing (although they could set him up as a puppet king, but more than likely Hyun Chu would take care of him). But for once, I wasn't annoyed, so I think they amped up the tension with that possibly lethal encounter. Frankly, I was glad, because Moo Myung is a man of action. Which makes me wonder: what will Moo Myung do when Jinheung is truly in danger?
I didn't like the romance as much here. It seems like every time they want to throw a monkey wrench in the relationship between Ah Ro and Moo Myung, it feels forced. I know, you're supposed to have a rocky romance until the end where all obstacles are removed, but I would hope that it feels more natural. While I like Ah Ro's loyalty, I think Jinheung as a rival and her having the inability to choose might make things a little more interesting than "he ignores her, and she gets hurt. Again." Or just show us more cute moments, the kind that puts a smile on my face.
"See, the reason why it's funny is..."
The timing of Baekje couldn't be worse. The officials are unhappy with the Queen, the king is nowhere to be found, and Silla doesn't have a strong enough army for conquest. Convenient timing? I'm almost wondering if Minister Park doesn't have something to do with this. Would he authorize the murder of spies just to advance his political agenda? Maybe. Does he have dealings with Baekje, or is this just an absolutely golden chance for Park to get rid of obstacles and take the throne? Regardless, I like this development.
I think Sook Myung and her illness are interesting. I'm not sure where the writers are going with this, but I think they're trying to make her a more sympathetic character. I'm not the greatest fan of the actress (although here, she's ideal because she really doesn't have to act), but I have to ask myself this: is she going to soften up a bit because of being forced to interact with the Hwarang and rely on Moo Myung to keep her secret? I hope so because she acts insufferable and I think a few openings in her armor to remind us she's human would be a good thing.
"Ahh, nothing like tasting the rain on your tongue and...wait, I'm inside!"
So, yeah, it's getting better. Despite the lack of physical conflict here, this was a thrilling and suspenseful episode. The writers have gotten better at what they do, and it's hard to imagine the earlier ones being this good. They were just too awkward and too eager to fill their running time with fluff. Almost nothing was wasted this time around, and the pacing was pretty well done. I really can't wait to see what happens next.