One good thing about a drama premiering on Sunday night, is that you’re likely to be curious enough to check it out. Sort of a balm for the Sunday-evening feeling, y’know? Well, unless you’re totally in love with your career and you can’t wait for Monday to come 😀
This drama is a combination of Sageuk/ Action/ Fusion, and I could clearly see the seamless mash-up of those within its premiere 🙂 . The Three Musketeers busted out of tvN’s gates with a memorable first episode from the get-go.
We’re brought into the bustling city of Yeon Keong, then the capital of China (today; Beijing), and it is also during the reign of King JeongJo in Joseon. Business is booming and overall atmosphere in the city is bright and bustling with activities.
It is also a usual occurrence to have Joseon envoys visiting the capital regularly during this period. Yeon Ahm, envoy participant, was browsing in the library located within the Forbidden City when he came across an interesting book by chance: Memoir of Park Dal Hyang.
“Since his family name is Park, does that mean he came from Joseon?”
A thought crossed his mind. Could this allude to the General Park Dal Hyang who held the position of Provincial Army General during the reign of King SukJong (ie three Kings before the present one)? And was even a close friend of Crown Prince SoHyeon.
Interest piqued, Yeon Ahm borrowed the said book and spent the rest of the day/ evening soaking up the chronicles written by Park Dal Hyang, a hundred years ago. As he digested the information gleaned from the book, he couldn’t help but wonder:
“About Crown Prince SoHyeon, (like the the oldest son of King InJo, and the older brother of King HyoJong) if He had been become King, what might have happened to Joseon? Wouldn’t many things be different? It’s possible that a hundred years ago, Joseon would have overtaken the Qing Dynasty. If, in those days, the one who was most ahead of his time had become King.”
Of course history can be manipulated by the victors in the past, but somehow, there would be shades of reality even when it is written in the guise of fiction. So now the story earnestly begins from the Memoirs of Park Dal Hyang, a bright-eyed, high-energy namja in the prime of his youth who is about to leave his humble home for greatness in Hanyang…
Fourteenth Year of King InJo’s reign, a young man 22 years of age, is seen practicing his sword skills by the mountainside, his agility demonstrated in his swift movements. It was his final day in his home town, and is excited to bits about his destined migration to Hanyang: to participate in the military service exam. This was what he had been training himself for all these years.
Departure day: Dad gives him a letter and tells him to find the Minister of Finance. When said letter is shown, DH will be taken care of. Because his dad is, after all, the nephew of uncle’s brother-in-law’s maternal cousin… Talk about reaching with a 7m bamboo pole! 😀
Mum knows the hardships DH will face on his own and gave some money and jewelry when they were alone (like all Mum’s would do for their kids 😥 )
Feeling bone tired and losing the rose-tinted version of Hanyang, DH and his other roomies fell asleep in various postures within the small room. A stranger comes knocking inquiring the whereabouts of a particular scholar. One of the roomies roused from sleep and acknowledges he was such person.
Without any warning, the lone visitor called out to his gang of thugs and they converged at DH’s room to eliminate said person. WHAT THE – ? DH was understandably shocked 😮
DH and Other Safe Roomie attend to the badly beaten up one when the latter explained the thugs were paid (possibly by rich noblemen) to get rid of candidates who are likely to do well in the exams. Then the offsprings of those noblemen bullies would have a better chance of advancing to the next phase of the exams. DH filled with anger and frustration at the injustice, takes off to hunt the group down.
The group splits, and DH is temporarily at a loss when he sees three men on horses approaching his way… Enter the Cool Namjas: Crown Prince SoHyeon, Ho Seung Po (elder sidekick) and An Min Seo (younger sidekick).
Cue four hawt men on horses cornering and hounding after the thugs and within minutes, DH was told the police would arrive soon. And they did. DH pondered on the horsemen’s true identities as they could summon the authorities with a snap of their fingers.
DH senses that the horsemen may begin their gracious exit so he quickly prolongs their stay, his curiosity working overtime:
DH: However, how was everything handled so quickly? Was I just lucky to have the first people I meet, the police?
SP: It’s similar to that.
DH: How is it similar?
SP: [scratches side of his head, looks back to his posse for back up] Uhh… uhh [saunters back to his steed]
SH: Did you come here to take the military service exam as well?
DH: Yes, I did.
SH: You have nothing to worry about. Just take care of your wounds. And do well on your exam tomorrow. With your talent, you can easily pass the exam.
DH: I, too, have confidence
Everyone smiles and the horsemen, this time, really make their exit… but far enough for DH to inquire their names after all they had gone through that evening.
Cue an improvised whistling tune that reminds me of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly XD…
SH: Samchongsa (The Three Musketeers)
… which was a name made up on the spot by the Crown Prince – LOL! XD
The trio adjourns to a Club Joseon where gisaengs were abundant and live entertainment was underway. I swear I could make out 2ne1’s I Love You tune in this scene where traditional musical instruments provided background music that had a modern structure.
SH was meeting up with a Chinese spy (?) who came with the latest battlefield information. Overall tone is that the Chinese armies are at unrest and even to the point of in-fighting. Defense system is totally compromised and this situation is not relayed to their Command Center.
MS, on the other hand, discovers a note that was slipped underneath his saddle. He remembers DH mounting his horse and as he struggled to a seating position may have accidentally transferred the note under. When he read the contents of the letter though, his expression turns grim.
Back at the hostel, DH washes up and cleans up the best he could when he realizes the missing letter. Scurrying back into his room, he turns his things upside down – wait, there’s a letter in one of his bags, but that’s the one his father said to pass it on to the Minister.
So, What Other Letter Are we Talkin’ About HERE?
As DH steps out into the garden, an arrow whizzes and embeds a note into the wooden post, right next to him.
DH: What is this now?
Next Scene – Club Joseon, SP with SH and the Letter…
SP: We thought this was a kind of treason, so I thought you needed to see this also (as though egging on the Crown Prince to Do something)
Female Voiceover (content of Letter):
You know that I feel the same as you, right? I promise this, I will never marry another man, and if it’s not you, then I will probably die and old maid while waiting, or shave my head and become a monk. I’ll wait for the day that we meet again after you pass the exam. When you come to Hanyang, if you tell people my father’s name is Kang Seok Ki, someone will tell you where the house is. From Yoon Seo.
Oh-Kay. I can see where this headed…
Turns out, the letter was written five years ago when Yoon Seo was staying in DH’s village for a short while. They became close friends, and DH has been diligently preparing himself for the said exam in Hanyang so that he can meet her again, and perhaps ask her to be his wife…
The only problem is, five years have passed and YS is already married – To The Crown Prince!! 😮
SP: Don’t you think we need to investigate that person (DH)? …[ you can see he’s just itching to see some action!]
SH: For some reason, you look excited.
SP: No way, over this serious matter… How could I be excited [trying his best to NOT look excited]. Right now I’m really serious.
SH: So, you mean to investigate this person?
SP: We can’t just let this go, right? [itching, itching…]
DH turns up at the room the moment SP mentions he sent a “directive” to him. LOL! During this tense interrogation, DH finds out that the love of his life, the Reason for his migration to Hanyang can no longer be his (and he still has no clue on SH’s real identity). His honest heartbreak reaction to this news tells SH that indeed DH did not know YS has become the Crown Princess but tells DH to ace the exam anyway and not return to the countryside. His fighting skills and talent would be a great addition to the Army.
Exam Day! The high potential candidates rose through the screening tests and it’s no surprise that DH made it to the top 28 where the King himself proclaims the final test to confirm the victors. However, an additional Royalty makes his way to the arena to witness the final round…
DH is on the horse, about to begin his round for Mounted Archery (final exam) and he sees this figure in Royal robes, making his way towards the King… FLASHBACK FLASHBACK… heart now rising to his throat…
OH. MY. GAWD.