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Posted by eric_r_wirsing AKP STAFF Wednesday, September 7, 2016

[Drama Review] 'Scarlet Heart: Ryeo' - Episode 5

Baekhyun, IU, Lee Jun Ki


If she bowed any lower she could taste the floor.

Hae Soo learns she's a stranger in a strange land, and tragedy strikes.

Prince So is at the palace and mom's not happy about it. He moves into the astrologer's quarters over the man's objections. Wook gives a poem to Hae Soo, who has to have it translated (she can't read hanja) and doesn't know it's a bona fide confession. The significance of the poem isn't lost on the 13th Prince Baek Ah, who is enraged by Wook's actions. But our heroine has something else to occupy her time -- medicinal herbs. She gets to work making soap for Lady Hae and the Queen.

The time to give the gifts comes around, and both Queen Sinmyeongsunseong and Queen Sinjeong (Lady Hae's mother-in-law) get a box of handcrafted soap, though Hae Soo stumbles over the proper speech. She's awestruck when King Taejo visits, and she kneels and begs forgiveness -- he knows she's the one who got in a fight with Prince Eun. He asks if she fears him and she replies no because he's a good and wise king. He asks why, suspecting flattery. She gives an awkward and accurate answer, thanks to her junior high history teacher. He laughs and gives her a Persian rug, and she thanks him, again falling to her knees, which elicits more laughter. I loved these parts, though I have a feeling the soap supplies were to keep her out of trouble. She is quite adventurous for a girl in Goryeo. Her reaction to the king was completely understandable and funny to me.

So does this mean emoticons are poetic?

The levity is disturbed as Prince So receives more insults from his mom. Hae Soo recognizes astrologer Choi, who feigns ignorance about knowing her. He's the homeless drunk on the bridge in the modern era. He cautions her, winks and scurries off. This intrigues me because she's seen him and made that connection before, but he runs off when she tries to get his attention. He's the only anchor she has to the modern world. But how, and why? I presume we'll get some answers before this drama has run its course.

Prince Wook asks her if she liked the poem, and tells her it's proper etiquette to respond in kind. After failing a lot to copy anything all night, she instead gives him a scroll containing...an emoticon!  ^0^/ Oh God. Mountain Dew burns when it comes out your nose! Prince So figures it out, and Prince Baek Ah screams his displeasure at Hae Soo. That totally cracked me up... until the 13th Prince came out and made it all serious. This scene was a deft move because it also firmly establishes that she's not from their era and it makes us laugh one more time before things fall apart.

Lady Hae coughs up blood, and asks for one last makeover from Hae Soo, so Wook can remember her as a beautiful woman. I've already got tears. They walk together in the snow, reminiscing, Hae Soo trailing behind. Soon, Wook carries her as pain overtakes Lady Hae. She expires, and a teary Wook continues his steady pace, his dead wife on his back. That scene seriously made me cry several times -- while watching it, thinking about it, and writing about it. It was very poignant, and I have to give the actors serious kudos. They played everything to the hilt, and there was a quiet dignity to her death that really played with the heartstrings. Lee Jun Ki was flawless, calmly telling Hae Soo not to disturb his wife when she's sleeping. A less capable actor would have made that line funny. As it was, he had me crying like a baby.

You'll probably be surprised that I loved this episode. There were zero action scenes and that's okay, because it totally pulled me in, from beginning to end. I think a fight would have cheapened the ending somewhat. I like that they made us laugh and they did so naturally -- the bumbling lead is not new, but it made total sense, given the circumstances she's in. This episode hit all the right notes, a beautiful addition to the already top-notch episodes that came before it.




  1. Baekhyun
  2. IU
  3. Lee Jun Ki
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