Secret Door Ep 2: Power Play is in Session

The pawns are now in play…

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HB’s friend is pacing restlessly outdoors in the dark, a faceless minister approaches him, ” You’re finally here, minister.” o_O Meanwhile, King Yeongjo is still lounging inside the palace, entertained by the ongoing pleas from the entire court. LH’s father hits his bleeding head against the floor, but this time remains still. Everyone stops their pleas.

Yeongjo:  A concussion? (eunuch says he is still unconscious) Then send the doctor. What are you waiting for? (eunuch gently reminds him the People will remember him more for being magnanimous than otherwise).  Yeongjo thinks of various outcomes and which route would suit him best this time…

Minister Hong is rushed to the infirmary, and LS calls for the doctor. However, his father-in-law shakes his head, refusing medical attention. LS senses he wants to speak with LS privately. Everyone leaves the room except for LS’ head eunuch. We learn the entire court has been pleading for 40 days, yet the King has not budged. It’s a powerplay between Yeongjo and the King Makers.

The King is in his official robes enjoying his tea on the throne while complaining about Minister’s minor injury – or supposed demonstration of loyalty to the monarch. Yeongjo brings up yet again, LS’ decision on Saechek which is the catalyst to the ongoing hullabaloo in the palace, which LS fails to understand why.

Yeongjo walks down to LS and looks at him eye-level:

Yeongjo:  This isn’t just about giving them books. It’s about breaking a law that’s been in place for 400 years.

LS:  Why can’t we? What’s the reason that I can’t repeal that law?

Yeongjo:  Once it’s repealed, the civilians will eventually start to complain about other laws too. They’ll start to band together against the two of us and issue a denial. Do you think you can handle all that?

LS:  Don’t you think you’re being too pessimistic? (Think realistically! – Yeongjo) We can hear their dissatisfactions and debate to solve their problems. If I give them permission –

Yeongjo: (getting riled) Only the one in power gets to give permission! If I hadn’t stopped you already the ministers will deny you and start talking about *Sajikso! [*letter of resignation] You don’t even know what to do with the ministers and now you’re talking about civilians?! If you want to change the law, be in charge of politics then you’ll need to be in power first. When you’re more powerful than the citizens and even the king, only then can you allow Saechek.

End of Lesson 1 of Joseon Political Science 101.

LS’ quarters

LS reads HB’s note asking him to stay up the night. Important news to be shared and it is something he needs to see him urgently. Eunuch is wondering what kind of news would be so important that LS must stay up for at all costs.

Is it a joke? LS told HB he would love to meet the writer who skillfully wrote his favorite mystery novel.

Underground Library

The crew is working at full speed preparing books for next round of circulation, JD reminds them to check the *Saechekpae (*label to borrow a book) and also include identification tags for regular customers.

LS’ quarters

Both men are arguing the gender of said novelist, LS thinks it’s a man, eunuch vehemently believes it’s a woman. Bingae is such a girly name, can’t possibly be a guys’. LS is enamored with the writer by just the preface, “Dont let the murder become another murder.” Impressive opening 🙂

JD’s Evening Rendezvous

It is the familiar closing scene of episode 1: JD skipping happily in anticipation of meeting her “secret admirer.” HB is walking over Soopogyo bridge, nervously checking if anyone is following him. On the lower ground, JD walks closer towards the bridge and despite the darkness, notices something strange on the bridge. A figure ominously falls over the bridge, and another man clad in black, walks away. Oh noes…

JD makes haste to the scene of the crime (brave one, this girl) … she even carries her own “torchlight with flint” kit 😀 She finds HB died with a broken neck.

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She gets help from the police, informing them of HB’s murder. She mentions his name, hence she knows who he was. As the group are making their way to the murder scene, someone else has notices HB’s body and also the wrapped package left on the bridge. He picks it up.

However, the body is no longer at the said place when they arrive. Dun! Dun! 😮 Oh dear, could JD be christened the ‘Girl Who Cried Wolf’ from hereon?

Flashback: The officer who heads the investigative team was approached by a Man in Black, forewarning him of a possible report on a murder later that night. He has to be the first on the scene and take care of the body. He labels JD a liar and if she is caught doing the same thing again, death will be her punishment. JD is perplexed and worried but scanning the area for further clues at the same time. I ❤ this girl! 😀

Kim Taek’s Residence

KT:  Where did the body go? [OH? So it wasn’t one of his men who took care of the sitch? o_O ]

LS’ Quarters

He grows weary waiting for HB, but is also concerned for his safety for HB never breaks his word.

Royal Procession

Folks are hurrying to line the street, paying their respect to the royal procession that is en route to Yeongjo’s brother’s grave. The entire entourage finally arrives at the site and Yeongjo asks for water (from the well) to wash himself up after the long journey. LS’ eunuch goes to the well and was puzzled to see a rope already thrown across and into the well. He pulls it with all his might, but the load at the end of the rope is to heavy. Finally, with the help of 3 soldiers, they pull the rope, and a pair of roped legs come into view. Dun! Dun!

HB’s corpse is now displayed to the horror of everyone, especially LS. Yeongjo knows who HB is when eunuch mentions him as the painter who is currently working on the Crown Prince’s portrait and he immediately whirls around and glares at KT. LS is shocked and automatically makes his way towards his dear friend, but his eunuch pleads with him to go no further.

Yeongjo goes into Rabid mode, brandishes a sword towards all Ministers who still remain in their position, not offering to assist in the investigation of the dead body. He accuses them of being against him and orders them to get the bottom of the unfortunate event.

Yeongjo:  Who did it? Who dares stand against the king? Find who did it… immediately. If you can’t, I swear on my brother’s tomb, I’ll tear you from limb to limb to pay for your sins.

No one can breathe easily until Yeongjo puts away the sword. Why does Yeongjo look like the Mad Royal here when Sado was painted as such instead in history books? Future episodes shall explain then…

Japochung (left wing of the Police Station)

HB’s body is carried back to the *Gumhumsil (*Autopsy room) for further investigation.

The officer who “took care” of HB’s body is surprised it was found at Ehlong, Gyungjong, and so was JD. They BOTH know that is far from the truth. HB’s fellow artist friend confirms with JD HB’s body was pulled out from the well, and he walks away but far enough to hear JD saying HB died at Soopogyo.

He asks who JD is and how did she know he was there that night. And how DOES HE KNOW? 😮

JD:  You knew that too? Why did he go to Soopogyo? I thought he was there to borrow a book. Was there another reason? [He fidgets] If you know something, tell me!

He insists he doesn’t know anything else and she should go to the Police to find out more. Idiot. I KNOW you know. Karma’s gonna bite your behind. Soon! 😡 Yeah JD, keep your eye on that sneaky *쥐 (*jwi = rat).

Eulgyung

The double-crossing officer digs for more information from the Police Chief, Hong Gye Hee. As far as the Chief knows, the murder scene is at the Royal Tomb.

Yeongjo

He hastily rids his royal robes and instructs the eunuch to burn it. He is more agitated with the fact that it was HB that was fished out of the well.

Flashback: 8 hours before the discovery of HB’s body – Yeongjo in civilian clothes visits KT at his residence.

KT:  You really came to see me because I wanted to see you (read: I still hold you in the palm of my hand)

YJ:  Of course I’d come, when a friend wants to see me.

KT:  Am I… just your friend?

Maenge

Yeongjo is visibly shaken as he realizes the document he is unfolding is the Maenge.

KT:  Are you afraid? (Of course I am – YJ) Don’t forget that I gave you the title of king. This is proof of that.

YJ:  You gave me… and you can take it away too.

KT:  Perhaps I will take it away from you.

YJ:  (throws the Maenge at KT) If you do… (moves closer to him) the whole world will shake [leaves the room].

KT:  I worry about the world more than you do (What do you mean by that? You’re being cryptic – YJ) I’m not the one who’s going to shake the world. [Gets up from the floor] The person who had this Maenge hid from me.

YJ:  Hid from you? Are you joking with me? Alright then. Who gave you that Maenge?

KT:  It was Shin Heung Bok, the *Yeajinwhasa (*painter of Crown Prince’s portrait) Who else would it be?

Back to present time. YJ is extremely worried about other unknown persons being aware of the Maenge’s existence. Why was it at the Royal Tomb? (ie discovery of HB’s body). Why at Yeongjo’s elder brother’s grave? “I have to kill the person who did this. He’s against me,” he laughs. His eunuch asks if the king is doubting LS, but he knows LS has nothing to do with it. So whoever else knows about the document may be in prime position to control the king.

Autopsy Room at Japochung

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LS is remorseful:

He was sacrificed. The people in power murdered this pitiful man. They hurt him and made a victim out of him. [He breaks down] He shouldn’t have been close to me. He shouldn’t have been my friend. That way, he wouldn’t be dead. I am sorry, but I can’t cry for you now. I have something to do as the Crown Prince. I’ll come back here to see you again, and when I do I will cry for you then.

 Outside Japochung

JD meets double-crossing officer about HB’s discovery, why was he found at the royal tomb and not Soopogyo? Is the investigation being done here? She came with guns blazing, I see 🙂 He tells her she will be called for questioning if need be. JD is satisfied with his reasoning for now and leaves. But a tail is put on our illustrious crime writer 😮

Left Wing of Ministry, Lee Jong Song’s office

Even he is wondering who the suspect might be. Another minister pipes in, “It’s not about who, but where. Why did it have to be at Ehlong?”

KT’s office

Joseon Cluedo is now in session throughout all the ministries, even the great KT is at a loss as to whom the suspect may be.

Good lord. Various solutions are thrown up in the air: continue the investigation, cover it up as suicide, or even cut off the Crown Prince. Whut? o_O Minister Hong stands up in protest.

KT:  Have you forgotten who to follow? You used to be the *Neungchanbong (*Person in charge of Royal Tomb) Our group chose you and here you are. I could just discard you by now… You think I can’t? (No I can’t – MH) Then just obey what I tell you to do. If you don’t (caresses MH’s left hand) I’ll make sure you face death by these hands.

Dayum, KT is one scary MotherFather o_O

LS back in the Palace

LS is in a no-nonsense mood and wants to meet with all the Ministers immediately. They are all en route to LS’ place as a group and HB’s friend calls out… Minister MS? Omo! He is very displeased to meet the person in such fashion (especially in front of the other ministers).  Of course KT with radar levels like a bat notices the exchange. Think I shall name this fool Ee-Dee-Yot.

EDY runs back to the painters’ studio and takes out a journal entitled “Gapshin Year of Shin Heung Bok”.

LS and Ministers

Prince wants to know what is their approach in conducting the investigation. Father-in-law says a plan has been laid down and it will commence shortly. Opposing minister disagrees and requests that he should lead the investigation instead. This is murder. What if there are other victims?

King is aware the Norons and Sorons are bickering over the investigation process. And laughs.

It’s like a long rally of a tennis match between two strong contenders. Both sides trade jibes and reasons for their respective approaches. LS can’t take it anymore and shouts at them to stop.

From my perspective, you’re all criminals. What we should care most about here is the poor, sacrificed citizen. We need to find out who did it and why, but you’re all sitting here fighting over authority. How can we find a criminal when you’re all guilty?

Royal Grounds

LS needs to blow off some steam. His arrows hit the target board, but not the target itself, a reflection of his current political “prowess” in the Court. He has yet to learn to master the Power Play in the big leagues.

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YJ:  This is pitiful. Pitiful! What’s all this? [The king stops by LS’ archery session] Is it because my vision has gone bad? I can’t see a single scoring arrow. Are you worrying about something?

LS: I’m mad at the ministers. They’re fighting over leadership in front of our poor civilians.

I sense Lesson 2 of Joseon Political Science 101 coming right up 😀

YJ:  How dare they? (picks up a bow) During the 30 years of my reign, I’ve always told them never to fight, or even argue. I understand why you’re mad. (picks up an arrow) It is understandable… but even though you’re mad (he pulls the bow) don’t show it like that (releases the arrow – straight onto the target’s head). It’s not becoming of a Crown Prince.

LS:  Have you always been that way? The same as always you’ve hid your kindness until now. Weren’t you lonely?

YJ:  You are the one who cares about me. Just do things the way you think is right whenever you have a problem. Don’t you think the Police should take charge of crimes? You’re mad at the ministers, but that also means you’re mad at the world. So, you as Crown Prince, need to do something about it. One of the ministers is going to be your father-in-law. He should take care of this (Oh? Implying to let Norons take care then?) Right? Why don’t you answer me?

LS:  I will listen to you, father.

Lady Hong’s residence

She’s enjoying a leisurely time outdoors, feeding her collection of carps. She tells her father to find out as much as possible of the crime even as he covers it up. He’s curious to know why KT insists on taking care of this case too. Is the King involved in this procedure? LH believes the enigma must be like a ticking time bomb for the King to be involved as well. It must have some link to someone’s weakness. LH is rather ruthless in coming up with next steps too :/

LS and Minister MS (his teacher)

LS shares with MS what the king” advised” him to do – let the Police take care of things, but LS feels that his father is favoring the Norons by giving them the authority to proceed as they please. MS is disappointed in LS, he did not teach him to be childish when dealing with ministers.

LS summons the Chief of Police to take the lead in the investigations because he believes the Chief is a smart man. He in turn reminds LS to believe in evidence, not otherwise.

Je Gong visits MS and inquires the reason Chief of Police was nominated as lead. Easy: the guy is straight-forward and doesn’t complain 😀

Special Investigation Center

The newly-formed team gets new digs and the Chief cracks the whip, delegating specific tasks to people of appropriate skill-sets to handle such issues. Investigate those who were close with HB. Put up posters. Find witnesses. Leave no stone unturned!

Underground Library

JD is excited with the latest development concerning the homicide. She was about to share latest “news” from JoBo (newspaper) when her father interrupts and reminds the group to continue their work. Father takes the newspaper away too, not wanting JD to read such “trashy” things 😀

JD may be inspired by the murder (new stuff for new novel) but Dad wisely reminds her that it is a real murder and it’s a crime against the king. JD is reluctant to let this scoop go, and she leaves the library to do some snooping on her own.

Autopsy is performed on HB. Chief and his sidekick are there to witness the doctors working on HB’s body. First test: Airway. A rod is pushed into the side of HB where fluid ought to have oozed since he was “drowned” in the well. Nothing comes out, “There’s no water in his lungs…” So, drowning is not the cause of death then? Hmm…

Alleyway

JD is gingerly walking on flagstones that make the path in the alleys, somehow she knows she has company. She makes a dash when she turns round the corner, determined to lose her tail. One girl against 4 men? Is that fair? Or is she such a formidable opponent that it takes 4 men to stop her?

She manages to escape them the first time, but when she finally runs into a dead end, she doesn’t show she’s panicking. She takes a pole, points to more than 4 men (now) and tells them off. How “manly” of them to have a troop just to capture one girl.

But! A savior steps in with so much suave, hitting those thugs one at a time as he makes his way towards JD…

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As they were struggling to flee, JD gets into offensive mode and wants to beat information out of them. We have to know who sent them!! Huff and Puff! Imma whoop you so bad! He allays her indignation: he caught a ‘souvenir’.

Bo Heng Inn

The thugs report to Double-Cross officer of Na Chul Ju’s appearance when saving JD earlier. Apparently, CJ comes from the prison area. So? Is the girl his? o_O

“Gumgyeseobang?” JD inspects an insignia carved out of jade. CJ tells JD to cease whatever she is about to do 😀 Getting involved in the murder case is too dangerous. He warns her the people who are picked into the team may do more harm than good to JD. She’s so matter-of-fact about it and ends her speech with “Investigations are supposed to be dangerous.” CJ sighs, just gives up 😀

HB’s home

LS pays a visit to his friend’s house. HB’s mum, already unwell, remains in bed most of the time. He has left word for his attendants to take care of HB’s mother, for it is the only thing he can do for HB. And he will send for the doctor once he reaches the palace.

Yeongjo’s Study

King is painting and KT is his guest this time:

KT:  Don’t you think we should stop this?

YJ:  Of course I tried, but the crown prince is growing up. He doesn’t listen to me anymore
Hmmm, one day, your manipulations and machinations will bite you back Big Time, YJ!

KT:  Then, you’ll do nothing? What if you reveal the Maenge? What if you reveal that secret door?

YJ:  There’s no way. It’ll only happen if my son doesn’t listen to me, right? (he pushes a collection of scrolls to KT)

KT:  What is this? (Take them with you. They’ll help – YJ)

KT’s room

He opens each of the scroll, scanning them: “March 2… May 6… July 26…” … They are the solution.

JD is in the medical examiner’s room, reading the findings. Whoa! Where’s security? And that’s for leaving a messy table behind too! Warnings from the dad and CJ ring loudly in her mind.

Autopsy report

Chief is given the medical examiner’s formal report:

Chief:  So you wrote it wasn’t a drowning accident, but a broken neck? So it is…

Doc:  It was a suicide

Chief:  Hey doc. A situation like this couldn’t be a suicide.

Doc:  Mar 2, May 6, July 26… Do you remember those dates?

Chief:  (immediately knows what those dated mean) What are you trying to do?

Doc:  (takes out an envelope from his apron) This is from Minister Young Sam.

Whatever the letter is about, Chief is dang straight frustrated with it.

JD sneaks into SIC, as a new employee, passes a note meant for Chief’s sidekick. She got flustered when he asked for her name and she blurts out her real name, Seo Ji Dam. In the corridor, she berates herself for not thinking fast on her feet. She needs an alias! At that time, Double-Cross officer enters the corridor with his men, and she quickly runs out of sight.

Meanwhile Sidekick presents the note JD gave him on the pretext “someone” had witnessed HB’s murder to the Chief. What is the meaning of this? HB was killed in a place different from where he was discovered? The witness even mentions “breaking the neck” in the letter, which demonstrates this person knows the truth which the Chief just found out from the medical examiner. Apart from the two of them, no one else knows hoe HB was killed.

Sidekick is understandably excited with the new lead, Chief however is thrown yet another loop, not so happy with such “breaking news”. The former is puzzled with Chiefs’ reaction to the new clue. Shouldn’t he organize teams and bark orders? What’s going on with him?

Doc’s voiceover:

If you want to stay alive, this needs to be wrapped up as suicide.

Dang. Dang. Dang. What’s a guy gotta do to survive in Joseon these days?
He burns a letter, presents his findings to the king and LS.

LS:  Are you saying Shin Heung Bok committed suicide? (Yes – Chief)

LS finds it incredulous. Yeongjo sees it as another job well done.

END

 

What a Second Episode. The gears in my mind are spinning out of control, one might’ve snagged onto something, but WHOA NELLY!

This was a non-stop Jab-cross, couple of hooks and a tremendous finish of a tremendous right upper cut.

I need some downtime to process all these, peeps! o_O

 

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