HWARANG -- EPISODE 7
"One prick, and you'll lose total control of your bowels..."
When we last left off, Ah Ro and Jinheung were alone, and he leaned in for another kiss, deftly avoided with a swift headbutt. She leaves, and Moo Myung warns him to leave his sis alone. Venturing out, he comes across Wi Ha and blows him off. The next morning, his punishment is to bear Wi Ha's litter. Jinheung continues to try and get to Ah Ro, who paralyzes him with a well-placed acupuncture pin. Moo Myung gets dubious advice from his roommates about how to handle Ah Ro, which leads to awkward hilarity. Later, Ahn Ji is to treat the queen and contemplates killing her using his acupuncture knowledge. We find out that she is a woman scorned, which is why she pursues this odd vendetta against Ahn Ji and his kin. The first exam is given, and Moo Myung flunks out, despite giving the best answer. That night, the other knights help Moo Myung sneak out to help commemorate his "mother's" death. Turns out it's actually her birthday, and a slip-up casts doubt in Ah Ro's mind as to whether he is really her brother...
There were more cute moments in this episode than in previous ones. And I think I like that. It's obvious from the first half of the episodes in this run that it's not about high action. It is still a little awkward here and there, but I think the funny parts help make up for it. You can't be serious all the time, and some of the actors lack the intensity to have that aura of danger, so if you stick some well-timed comedy in there it makes things better. I have little doubt that once they're better trained they'll become deadly. For now, embarrassing coming of age vignettes are more appropriate to the concept.
"You might catch more fish if you cast your line where the fish are."
This episode seemed highly acupuncture-focused. If I thought the fights were excessive in the last one, this one just seemed to kind of hammer the acupuncture thing home. One of the things I was glad about was some of it served to give some more insights into backstory and motivation, but at times it seemed more of an excuse to bring that ancient healing art into the story -- almost like they'd read a book or seen a show and said, "Hey, that's cool, let's put that in the script," while writing it. Not too sure about the lethal prick to the ear, but the ear has about 150 acupressure points all by itself, so it doesn't seem too impossible.
And of all the "eww" moments (there were a few), I think I'd have to pick the queen's assertion that she had to marry her uncle (eww!), who was over 60 years old (double-eww!). Compared to that, the peeing-my-robe scene was positively tame. I know they tended to keep it in the family 1,500 years ago, but it sounds weird and creepy to these modern ears. Talk about family ties!
"If I flail my arms fast enough, I can too fly!"
And I didn't expect it from this show at all, but I heard what probably has to be the most direct confession I've encountered so far. Jinheung confronts Ah Ro and asks, "What must I do for you to see me? When I look at you, I feel like nothing. It drives me mad. I forget about who I am and what I must do. I think only of you." Maddeningly, they don't really show what her answer is -- I guess her protests while he delivers the speech have to be enough. Still, it's a step up from just grabbing and kissing her.
I liked some of the quotes this time. Sayings like "they say a woman's jealousy can make snow fall in summer" and the scholarly answers to the exam I thought were interesting and thought-provoking. As ambiguous as Tao Te Ching is, it makes for an interesting source to draw from, though there is some advice on ruling over your subjects that they could have based answers on.
"These caramel nut clusters are the best!"
Overall, I think this was one of the more enjoyable installments. Wi Ha makes for a real character and is a nice contrast with the youthful brashness of the Hwarang. He is funny, both intentionally and unintentionally, and I think that's a large part of the fun. Now that it's found its footing it's a lot of fun, and it's a pity it had to shuffle and stumble to get here.