The beginning of a tragic fraction within the most powerful household in Joseon…
LS and JG arrive at Gookchung and LS asks why JW is tied up and kneeling on the ground. JG explains JW is a suspect in HB death, but LS wants JW to be untied and given a chair to sit on. JG gently signals to LS this is simply not done.
LS: Even if he is a suspect he hasn’t been proven guilty yet.
The guards do as they are told, but JW is still afraid to move an inch. LS assures him and tells JS to sit and comfortable tell him everything he knows about HB’s case. LS asks why JW left Dowhasun after the reinvestigation began, but nothing comes out of JW. Clearly he is afraid for his mortality. “Did you see HB die or do you know who killed him?” Whoa. It doesn’t get any more direct than that 😮
JW’s face turns red, the conflicting voices of reason and survival screaming at the same time, “Please kill me Your Highness!”
LS: Did you throw him down into the well? Is that why you ran away?
JW: No! That’s not it Your Highness!
With shaking hands, he reaches into his jacket and produces a letter he had taken in custody…
It is a note written by HB addressed to JW. LS scans the letter and asks if everything written in there –
JW: It’s all true. HB always resented the royal family. He’s been slandering the royal family for a long time.
WHUT?! Shut the door and throw the key away! What is JW doin’?
Even LS and Eunuch could not believe such tale. JW’s original testimony contradicts what he is saying now. JW ran away because he was afraid of the repercussions not reporting a traitor.
HB’s note to JW:
What I want is the prince’s power and not his friendship.
LS is so livid he throws all the notes collected from the previous investigation and leaves Gookchung, fuming. LS’ bodyguard hangs back and studies JW, something is amiss.
Flashback: JW is forced to watch his brothers being tortured by KT’s men. The assassin slices off the top knot, but the next time it will be his neck. The leader of this group taunts JW to tell the “truth”. And he is… LS’ BODYGUARD?! Which means, HE WORKS FOR KT?! OMOMOMO! Dayum!
So he’s the one who has been taking orders from KT to force JW change his testimony, and the one who killed HB. Dayum. My mind is still spinning with all this back-stabbing, double-faced agents…
YJ and KT are enjoying a board game in the pavilion, glad that the crisis is over. Minister MS chases after JW demanding why he changed his story during LS’ questioning. JW is totally spent and does not want to be part of the mess any longer.
LS’ private room
JG goes through HB’s “notes” with LS, indicating the time line of when each of them were written, with the first one prepared two years ago. All of the notes were slanderous in nature. There’s even a suicide note. LS tells JG to leave him, but JG remains by his side and opens a *Youngji (*Order from the king/ prince), “I will after you conclude this case. Just finish it… Conviction is the easiest way to misjudge things. That’s what you said to me, Your Highness. That HB wasn’t a traitor or wouldn’t do such a thing is all your conviction. It’s clouding your judgment. Just conclude the investigation. If you support him as a traitor you might lose *Juwee (*Position of Prince).”
LS: Juwee? What do you think I’ve lost until now? How do you think that compares?
LS has got to rein in his feelings to be able to understand the subtlety of politics and know when to pick his fights.
He rides out of the palace, remembering HB’s humble dream of helping his ailing mother and marrying off his sister to a decent man. LS rides all the way out into the country side and stops by a waterfall. He re-reads the note HB left for him on that fateful night. He crumples it in anguish and throws it into the stream.
LS stays on at the waterfall contemplating his next steps and only returns to the palace when night falls. As we walks back to his quarters, he stops short to see the king crouched on the court yard, “You were out till this late? Are you doing it because you’re hurt? Once is enough. Don’t do it to yourself twice.”
“Son, for the man who is going to become king, there is one thing you should never do. That is having friends. Even though you’re lonely don’t ever open your heart to anyone. Trust no one. A friend to the king? There is no such thing”
Man, it sucks to be born into a Royal family
LS has concluded his reinvestigation: HB is found to be a traitor. His head will be displayed in the streets and family sent into slavery. LS signs the Youngji in the presence of the King and his court. With a heavy heart, he stamps his royal seal and looks at the King with unshed tears, for he is still conflicted with the his truth and the distorted one.
Gisaeng WS’ place
JD sees HB’s mother and sister forcefully dragged through the streets. The gisaeng burns JD’s wanted poster and almost added the note written by LS when JD arrived to nick it off just in time:
I desperately request, that anyone who knows the truth about Shin Heung Bok’s death proceed to the Royal Court.
JD: How could you- Why did you conceal it?
WS insists JD forgets about HB’s case. It has ended anyway. JD argues she just saw HB’s mother and sister sold into slavery. How does this end anything? “Then, what are you going to do.” JD is determined to fix the situation, “What we need is something bigger than a fairy tale [referencing ChoonYang] to turn things around. That’s what we need”
Four days later
Location: Sedapbang, the laundry room of the Joseon Dynasty palace. A group of men are carrying a heavy load. Apparently it’s the royal foxglove tree box that was ordered by Court Lady Han. The box is then placed in a room, and the leader of the group lightly knocks on the box, “This is as far as we can go. I hope you’re safe” JD whispers her thanks.
Night time in the palace
LS is exercising his frustrations (more like exorcising his torments) with his team of bodyguards. Not happy with using practice wooden swords, he commands them to use real ones in the next round. He will show no mercy either. I’m now watching this scene between my fingers… 😮
Minister MS joins JG who has been watching from the sides, “It’s happening again tonight?”
JG: Yes. He hasn’t even eaten since the decree.
JD in the palace
She opens the side door of the box and climbs out for some much needed air. Smart girl looks around the room for some kind of disguise that she can use. But most of the clothes in the room were from the Noble families.
She came prepared with a map of the palace, and carefully navigates her way to her destination, until a voice breaks out, “Your Highness! Aren’t those your clothes?” EEEPS! Princess indicates to her entourage to hang back while she finds out who JD is herself.
Princess: Who are you? Which party are you from? Who do you serve that you would wear royal clothes? Jeepers!
JD pulls her arm from the Princess; grasp and breaks out in flash. “Arrest her!”
Thank goodness for her stint as a Saechek runner, her stamina alone can outlast any chase from the Court Ladies 😀 . The Princess notes that JD ran in the direction of LS’ wing.
Princess marches to LS’ place where the eunuch and his court lady are standing guard. She demands them to open the door for her. Court Lady respectfully replies “No way. After you return to your palace I shall inform the prince that you came by.” She refuses to budge and wants to see what goes on inside. She opens the doors herself:
Let’s all take a moment and say Amen to South Korea’s Mandatory Military Service for eligible males 😀
LS: Where are your manners? Come in… if you came to join me… why don’t you close the door?
Tick-tock, tick-tock.. Princess averts her gaze and closes the doors.
JD, the brave and not easily bashful girl, comes out of her hiding place and says, “The truth…” and shows HB’s tag.
JD: Soopogyo Bridge. This was found at the murder scene.
LS knows it is truly HB’s tag, he was the one who did some improvisation to the Saechek label on the tag, “So… he was at the Soopogyo bridge. Of course… if he made a promise, he would always keep it no matter what.
JD’s act has restored LS’ faith in his one true friend 🙂
LS asks for her name, and leaves the bath room.
Her court lady returns with the clothes JD wore. One of the court ladies must have borrowed it for the fun of it and things got out of hand. But how can this girl disappear into thin air?
LS and JD
JD informs LS that JW definitely said HB was murdered and he was afraid he might be next on the list. She is willing to repeat her statement and even bring the said person to LS.
They both stealthily enter JW’s compound and is shocked to find him dead with a slit to his throat. !!
JD finds a suicide note, “I’m guilty for not stopping HB’s treachery. I will take responsibility with my death.” LS says it is not, he found the real last message from JW, written in his own blood on the floor: “Whabootado.” JD quickly copies the evidence into her handy notebook. Have I mentioned how awesome this girl is? 🙂
JW wouldn’t have written this if he killed himself. LS keeps repeating the clue as JD reaches for the knife. Goodness, could the clue mean the knife? JD knows the owner of the said weapon.
JD brings him to a place and he starts to beat up anyone who gets in his way. Oh dear. This is CJ’s territory. LS confirms CJ’s position as “The Head of the East” and without any warning, wages yet another fight with CJ.
This boy needs to take a chill pill!
In between dodging hits and launching furniture items, LS accuses CJ of murdering HB and then killed JW to ensure the truth remains hidden. CJ denies any of that. At last, a voice of reason asks why then is his *Amgi (*weapon intended to be hidden) at the scene of JW’s murder? CJ then understands their sudden appearance at his place.
The amgi belongs to one of CJ’s men who had lost it. JD warns CJ if indeed this Amgi was used to kill JW, he will be arrested. He knows. But why would someone frame them?
CJ: For many reasons. Swordsmen were divided into North, South, East, and West. And we’ve been fighting over power for a very long time.
LS asks if he knows of a weapon called “Whabootado” but CJ has not heard of it. LS grabs the knife and leaves the room. CJ stops JD from following. He wants some answers from her like who is that guy to start with.
Outside, CJ walks over to LS and bows respectfully, apologizing for being rude to him earlier. LS says he should be the one apologizing. CJ understands the intense rage LS has when he fights because that is how he would fight he had lost his best man. “Do you want to see him?”
CJ brings LS and JD to HB’s grave site and tells LS he’s doing it because of JD, and nothing else.
CJ: Would you like to pour him a drink? No one’s done that for him yet.
LS does, and silently says his final farewell to his only friend he ever had in his life.
King and Eunuch are going through LS’ art work and YJ remembers how fondly LS drew a portrait of HB despite the hardship he faced appealing to King not to abdicate during the winter two years past. YJ saw the happiness in LS’ face that he could overcome any troubles because of this one friend. The pictures LS drew showcases his innate talent in the Arts and he could have continued on doing what he loves if only he was born to a father who was not a King. Instead, YJ has taught him how to lose a friend. 😥
LS and JD return to the scene of the crime and place the knife and suicide note back in position. LS wants the murdered to believe things went well. LS understands now he can’t allow JD to the make a statement, or else she will be next to be eliminated. So, they have to work on this secretly and not buy any more time for the criminals. He takes his handkerchief and wipes off the clue left behind by JW.
JD shares more with LS: JW said HB had on him a very dangerous document. A secret people won’t even dare speak.
KT asks his go-to-guy if he handled the situation well. LS’s bodyguard affirms his task was successful. KT continues with a suggestion of finishing off the girl from the illegal library too. Two other ministers poo-poohs the idea saying the girl is probably scared with the recent crackdown and what can a peasant do anyway?
LS and JD enter a room that has notes and portraits hung all over the walls. What is this place? JD smiles, “It’s a secret only I know about.” LS looks at documents strewn over the desk, notes pasted on the wall – reads one of them and it sounds like a character description… “Don’t tell me… Are you the library courier?”
She takes out a book lending label and complains that someone figured out the murderer even before the second book was released. She was so surprised that she wanted to meet him.
LS: That’s how you ended up seeing HB’s murder.
JD asks if LS found a book at the site of HB’s murder. Not just a book but his sketchbook was no where to be found too. HB uses his sketchbook like a diary. So it’s possible he must’ve written something in it. With those missing evidence it clearly points to someone else was there to “clean up” as well.
CJ and Minister MS
CJ: You look very worried, Orishin.
LS reads through JD’s detailed notes on HB’s case. He finds out a few officers did not reveal JD’s testimony which led her to believe the involvement of a few officers tampering the investigation. He remembers Minister MS waxing lyrical of Captain Hong’s integrity in carrying out his official duties. LS abruptly leave Ahjitoe.
CJ and Minister MS
MS is not comfortable having CJ over at his place, but CJ is there to get the truth about HB’s murder. Who was it? MS shushes him and tells CJ never to bring that name up again. That night at Soopogyo, it was MS who stumbled on the crime and took HB’s bundle away. He went down to check on HB, but he is already dead… and CJ walks up behind MS. And from there, a cover up plan was hatched:
CJ: It’s too late now (What do you mean? – MS) The prince came to see me last night. (Why on earth did he do that? – MS)
And then, incessant banging on the door: It’s LS. They sit in MS’ private room.
LS: JW also said that HB was murdered. Of course it will turn out to be a suicide. I thought about it on my way here. I mean, why you would recommend Captain Hong to me. How far will this go? The reason you asked me to go the crime scene was to ask if I could catch up to you. You tried to find the prince’s intentions. You were trying to mock me. Now it’s your turn. Why aren’t you scolding me for my poor answers? Not you. You can’t be the one who conceals the truth.
What was the secret document that HB and JW saw? Why did they have to die for it? Is Captain Hong the culprit? Or is there someone else? Please say something! Tell me the truth!
MS: Will you be able to handle it even after you know the truth?
LS: I’m the prince of this country. I can’t just ignore the deaths of innocent people. The moment I do I’m not qualified to be a prince or to become the 22nd king of this country. What is the truth? I will endure even if the truth is too much to handle.
MS: Your highness, I’m sorry. Even though you want to know the truth there is only one thing I can tell you. The truth… is something…. you need to find out for yourself. (Teacher! – LS) Don’t trust anyone if you want to find the truth. You can’t even trust your own teacher.
LS leaves MS’ house at the break of dawn. CJ wonders why MS did not reveal the truth to LS. JW died because MS underestimated the enemy. It’s not just a murder, but something that could control the entire kingdom. It’s important now to gather proof of such entity. CJ informs MS that one of their daggers was found at the crime scene. If the Western Swordsmen were trying to set them up, CJ can take care of it. But, if it’s someone who knows of their relationship, what would happen then? They simply have to speed things up on their end.
Authorities finally arrives to investigate the site. Double cross officer picks up the suicide note and informs the scribe to record as such. He hands the note over to one of the artisans and tells them to forward it to his parents. They need to claim his body too. But, what’s up with the tiny smirk on your face?
JD is sad how JW’s beloved lives listlessly after receiving news of his death. “What should a human do for the wrongful death of a friend?” JD tearily asks her dad.
LS’ private room
LS shares the news of JW’s murder with JG. He holds a scroll that lists everyone involved in the investigation. He asks JG to do some sleuthing especially on Byeon Jong In and Min Woo Seob, and tighten the security of this investigation. No one else can know except JG himself. LS knows the masked man is someone powerful enough to control Captain Hong.
KT meets YJ
YJ is admiring the Lotus flowers near the pavilion, and KT joins him with a smile saying he has been taking care of business the past 30 years of YJ’s reign, and has succeeded again in eliminating any possible leaks of the Maenge. KT says it is time to straighten out the country’s history. First on the list is Captain Hong. YJ smiles and nods.
Tea time with the Devil in disguise
YJ invites LS to join him and Captain Hong for tea one fine afternoon in the Royal gardens.
YJ: Son , the reason I called you was because I was hoping you would pour drinks for Police Chief Hong Gye Hee.
LS: Pour drinks?
YJ: He brought his letter of resignation and asked to leave the capital city. He’s stubborn (LS mind is furiously working overtime connecting dots)
Hong: Under your orders, I tried to maintain the royal family’s honor. It’s my fault the results were not satisfactory, so I’ve decided that I’m no longer qualified for this job.
YJ: Just take this back [hands the letter to Hong] (Your Highness – Hong) Hurry… [LS looks at the letter being returned to Captain Hong] Son, why don’t you just let him become *Byungjopanseo (* One of the highest positions in Joseon governement). I think it’s about time for him to take that position.
Hong: I couldn’t, Your Highness
YJ: Just let me handle this [LS notices Captain Hong’s distress increases as more accolades are showered on him] Son, pour him a drink as an apology for not recognizing your loyal servant. We can’t lose such a talented servant.
LS remembers the covered-up reports from Captain Hong and the facts JD had amassed from her own legwork. He receives the wine bottle from YJ and instead of pouring the contents, he smashes it into the ground and upends the table that had sumptuous dishes prepared for the occasion.
He goes for Captain Hong’s throat, strangles him as he cries aloud, “You should die, you bastard! I am going to kill you for making innocent civilians suffer and then killing them!” Everyone present is cowering in fear at LS’ violent outburst except of YJ who initially was laughing at his son’s actions, but rises to shout at him, “Do you want Me to Kill You?”
And when LS turns to look at YJ and he sees that unwavering defiance on his son’s face, he knew LS is no longer a mere puppet for him to pull strings with.
The Game is SO ON!
Even Darth Vader wasn’t this maniacal