HWARANG -- EPISODE 17
Another set of robes stained
The Queen has nightmares about her son. The Hwarang, having repelled the assassins' attack and tend to an unconscious Moo Myung. Ah Ro notices a wagon dropping star anise, a herb impossible to find in the capitol. At the palace, the Queen's brother makes an ambiguous threat. Sook Myung pays a tender visit to Moo Myung, but she quickly turns cold, then confused. She confronts Ah Ro and warns her against stringing the king along. The Queen, meanwhile, experiences hallucinations now while holding court. Wi Hwa gives Jinheung more advice on being king. As the young king leaves Wi Hwa's chambers he is chewed out by Dog-Bird, and it rapidly devolves into fisticuffs.To settle their beef Wi Hwa has them work together to stage a raid on Young Shil's sheds in order to liberate much-needed meds for the plague-ridden villagers. This requires a plan, one which sees Wi Hwa drunk to distract the guards. Even Ban Ryu joins in the fun, after an encounter with Soo Ho's sister, telling him that whatever he's going through she'll be there. Wi Hwa gets the extent of Young Shil's schemes from Ban Ryu's ravings. The village now has the meds they need. Meanwhile, we find out the fate of the Wonhwa, and the Queen has brought Ah Ro before her, threatening to give her the same fate for giving Jinheung a spine...
So now we have king vs. king, sort of. I really feel that Moo Myung has a legitimate claim to the throne. The man has put his life on the line for his love, for his kingdom, and for the people. Jinheung has done far less, though I'm hoping he at least legitimizes his claim before it's taken from his grasp. In some ways, it almost feels like Moo Myung wants the throne, which he'd probably have a good shot at taking, given the people that want to put him in power. It's a little hard because I like Jinheung's character, but their fight really put it into perspective: what makes you think you're a king?
"You know, we could draw on his face before he wakes up..."
And we have Scar, or Do Go, or whatever his name is. His appearance is sad in some ways. Because while the writers do their best to present him as dangerous, really he's just there to get beaten up. In a reasonably fair fight, like this last episode's, he has zero chance of getting the upper hand. He's like the proverbial snake biting the proverbial file -- he keeps biting down and wondering why his mouth hurts. We've got three episodes left, but I'm doubting whether we'll see him again. He's an opportunist, likely to go whichever way the wind blows, and the wind is blowing strongly against Young Shil.
I like Ban Ryu's development. And I'm vindicated in some ways: I said his friendships will push him to be a decent guy. He's got Soo Ho in his corner, not to mention his buddy's sister. He's got every reason to go against his dad and end up the hero. It's much better to be liked for doing good than being hated for being bad. And I think he's finding that out. It had to sting when he eavesdropped and heard they couldn't trust him.
Primal scream therapy
I think the queen is not long for this world. I'm not sure what exactly is going on with her, but somehow her hallucinatory paranoia has spilled into her everyday life. Usually, older characters don't last long in K-Dramas. The 'Reply' series is the mold-breaker there, but it's almost a standard trope that if a main character is old, they're going to either die or fall deathly ill. I don't think she's that old, frankly, but she does seem as if her health is failing. I wouldn't be surprised at all if she ended up on a pyre before this drama is done.
This was a fantastic episode, and they kept things suspenseful, even when there was very little action. It was pretty taut from beginning to end, and I liked the raid on Young Shil's estate. That had me laughing sometimes, and other times gaping and replaying it. This episode worked well on a couple levels, where we got our darkness in, but the medicine raid was largely played for laughs. And of course, it ended on a cliffhanger. I could be mad, but the problems seem to wrap themselves up quickly. I'm sure we'll find out today how Ah Ro is saved.
"Oops. Need to adjust my belt!"
We have yet another stellar episode. There's no reason why this should be trailing behind in the ratings, other than people gave up on it. It's gotten better by leaps and bounds and seems to be heading to a satisfying conclusion. Why satisfying? Because I'm really not sure exactly how it's going to end, but I'm going to enjoy seeing it get there. Hang on gentle readers, we only have one week left.