Queen Dowager: “Heaven is heedless.” Court Lady Jung: “One day the punishment from heaven will catch up to [Gwanghae].” You know it’s not easy to like characters when you see how much they misunderstand Gwanghae. I shake my head in pity because so far this drama is making me feel very biased rather than a more holistic view of the whole drama. Give me something to hate Gwanghae for, danggit!
On another note, these two episodes visually looked more like a soap opera (where it looks too real, and too smooth). Not sure if the drama started shooting at a higher frame rate or the lighting is not as soft, but it definitely bothered me in these two episodes more than in previous episodes.
So the government officials actually want Gwanghae to shut down the weaponry bureau, and Ohri and Ohsung throw their hats into the ring as well. Ohri also requests a private audience with the king and reveals that all the officials received an anonymous letter claiming that the king is behind the sulfur accident at the weaponry bureau. Hong Young also received such letter, which is why he was so keen on taking on the post of overseeing the weaponry bureau because he wanted to keep an eye on his son and the king’s relationship. It just worked out that Joo Seon also recommended Hong Young to the king for the job instead of himself.
So that smug bastard mayor watches the entire neighborhood go into chaos, evacuating their homes and trying not to breathe the poisonous sulfur. He does not notice Heo Gyun in the crowds, who now knows who might be behind all this.
Hong Young is ready to arrest Hwa Yi for the crimes, but Joo Won helps her escape and asks her to return the favor: this time she should save him. She runs away through a back entrance and Joo Won gives himself up to his father, causing an even greater hullabaloo among the officials who know that this could put the king in deeper trouble. Wanted posters go up for Hwa Yi, and In Woo tries to find a way to speak with his friend through Heo Gyun at a gisaeng house. Hwa Yi finds In Woo there and goes to ask for his help; she tries to shield her face from Heo Gyun but he recognizes her already. He quickly reports to the king that he’s found the “spy” but adds that he doesn’t think Hwa Yi is the guilty one. The Queen Dowager also overhears the hullabaloo and has Court Lady Jung to go and find out what happened. That’s when the court guards see the bracelet that Hwa Yi had accidentally dropped when she had last visited the palace, but have no idea what it is.
Meanwhile, the interrogation is set for the following day, conducted by the king himself to dispel any suspicion that he’s involved. Hong Young tries to convince his son to just give up someone – Hwa Yi or the king – and save himself, but Joo Won is steadfastly loyal. He says as much to Gwanghae as well when the king visits to tell him that he will sacrifice Joo Won if necessary. Joo Won believes in the king’s goal to make Joseon a country that can protect itself, and he is willing to die if it means Gwanghae can keep the weaponry bureau alive. It clearly pains Gwanghae to say this but… he’s going to have Joo Won take the fall. (Thank God for Cha Seung Won’s expressive eyes!)
In Woo and Hwa Yi make it to the hospital where Young Boo is recovering, and despite his weakened condition he is ready to strangle her to death. Heh! She swears she’s innocent, and needs their help to prove that it wasn’t her or Joo Won’s fault so that she can help release him. Since Young Boo has nothing to lose if he trusts Hwa Yi, he and the niter department head Jang Bong Soo (Park Won Sang) decide to help act as a diversion while Hwa Yi and In Woo sneak in and take a look at the kiln. He adds that he noticed something strange with the furnace: the flames were bright blue rather than the usual orange-yellow color.
Bong Soo and Young Boo pretend that they need to check their stores and guide the guards away from their post near the front of the bureau, where they would have a good view of the kiln. Hwa Yi and In Woo crawl through a back entrance, much to his admiration, and verifies that nothing’s wrong with the kiln. She gets the bright idea to test burning charcoal and sulfur together in the furnace, and it does give her the suspicious bright blue flame. However, just at that moment, one of the guards steps out of the storage to pee and notices In Woo carrying the torch to light the furnace. They’re caught!
In Woo valiantly sends Hwa Yi off to run first while he fights the guards back. Yeah! A fighting scholar! The two escape to the forest, and it’s already the following morning when they finally lose the guards’ tail. That also means it’s time for Joo Won’s interrogation. In Woo encourages Hwa Yi to go to the palace and report her findings to save Joo Won, but she can’t. She can’t state that someone sabotaged the furnaces by adding sulfur in the charcoal-fueled furnace because there is no evidence! She had checked the ashes before they escaped bureau and saw only charcoal remains. When sulfur burns, it melts and produces that poisonous gas, and there’s no physical evidence of it left. So how else can they prove Joo Won’s innocence?
Torture begins, and Joo Won insists on his innocence to the end, testifying that the king was never involved and that no one knew Hwa Yi was a spy. It gets to the point where the king himself asks the question if he’s involved, since every other official thinks that Joo Won is lying. But Joo Won maintains his and Gwanghae’s innocence, and so Gwanghae ends up calling for his immediate death by beheading so that all blame can die with him.
At this point Gwanghae really appears ruthless and mad, but a look at Gwanghae’s eyes and how pained he feels lets the viewers know the truth: He really doesn’t want Joo Won to die.
Just then, Hwa Yi is dragged in by a bunch of guards – she turned herself in! She wants to give a testimony that will prove her innocence, and states that the king DID know about her. Nooo Jungmyung – don’t ruin this for your brother yet!! A few pieces of evidence need to be gathered first, and that’s where In Woo, the kitchen ladies, and Soo Duk come into play. Hwa Yi had asked them if they noticed anyone from the bureau not in the hospital, and the kitchen ladies identify Mr. Ma as “missing.” That’s because Ma is busy getting paid off by Yoon Do Ha for the accident, and making his escape from Seoul. So while Soo Duk makes an official report to the city bureau, the kitchen ladies go and find the laundry washers to grab the culprit’s uniform. Whoever had handled sulfur will have stains on their clothes for sure, and that should be physical evidence enough. In Woo then goes to the gate to order a closure of the gates so no one can leave. He gets there just in time as Mr. Ma is the next one to be let out of the city gates.
Thankfully the royal guards also arrive just in time – after the king has heard Hwa Yi’s partial testimony – to also demand gate closure. Mr. Ma runs off on his own, but In Woo catches him just in time.
While all this is happening, Hong Young struggles with the idea that Hwa Yi is innocent. He’s been wanting Hwa Yi to be guilty so that his son won’t be executed, but finds a hard tim trusting Hwa Yi’s words that the truth will soon be revealed. Joo Seon visits his friend to see if there’s any news about the case that the officials don’t know (his way of keeping tabs), but Hong Young thankfully keeps his mouth shut. So when Mr. Ma arrives and confesses to the entirety of the thing, Joo Seon is pissed.
As for the officials who wanted to blame the king? They’re chagrined at the failure of their attempt to bring down Gwanghae. And Gwanghae resolves more than ever, in front of the court, that he will find the people behind Mr. Ma and see who is trying to sabotage his plans for the weaponry bureau.
Yoon Do Ha hears of Ma’s capture and that he’s been outed as the one who planned the sabotage, so he breaks into Joo Seon’s house and looks for something – anything – that would ensure his survival as he knows that Joo Seon will abandon him now. Joo Seon’s wife catches him in the act, and he immediately grabs her as hostage, with a dagger to her neck, when the royal soldiers and Heo Gyun barge in. Heo Gyun tries to calm Yoon down, ensuring that the king doesn’t want to kill him, but just talk to him. He relaxes just a bit but then Joo Seon arrives home at just that moment, and the desperation returns to Yoon’s eyes. Heo Gyun takes the opportunity to free the wife and wrestles with Yoon over the knife. Heo Gyun takes the opportunity to then stab Yoon but makes it look like an accident. It’s Heo Gyun’s way to maintain some sort of trust with Joo Seon.
Gwanghae is of course pissed that he lost the one man who could bring him Joo Seon. Lee Yi Cheom is also angry to discover that he is not the king’s only “hunting dog,” as Gwanghae favors Heo Gyun more by giving him the more important missions. How petty. But Joo Won is having his happy ending, making up with his father and getting his wounds treated by Hwa Yi. It makes In Woo jealous too, and In Woo claims his “stake” in Hwa Yi by declaring that he’s interested in her before Joo Won steals another girl from him. (The first girl being Jungmyung. Heh.)
As Joo Won recovers, the king pays a visit and sees Hwa Yi doing the laundry in the courtyard. He isn’t surprised to see him there, and gifts Joo Won some herbs from the royal medical ward for his wounds. Hwa Yi is curious as to why Joo Won seems to like the king now, and he admits that at first he thought the king was the enemy. But he now understands the king more and sees him as a man willing to fight for his country, even if it means he’ll be hurting himself more in the process.
Meanwhile, Heo Gyun approaches Joo Seon as he’s about to enter his secret home, where he houses all of his art and wealth. Heo Gyun knows a lot about Joo Seon, including the man’s familial ties to the Emperor of Ming. However he hasn’t revealed all this to Gwanghae yet; instead he’s offering to do a little “dance” with Joo Seon first. I’m hoping that Heo Gyun is doing this to entrap Joo Seon rather than betraying the king, but if so I hope that Joo Seon does not betray Heo Gyun first.
Hwa Yi finally realizes she lost her bracelet, but can’t find it because it now belongs to a handmaiden in the Queen Dowager’s palace. Seems like the handmaiden and the guard in the front are a little friendly and he gifted it to her. This gives the queen dowager hope because she knows that only Hwa Yi would have such bracelet.
Speaking of whom, Gwanghae summons her to court because he can’t stop thinking about her and her bold declaration that she’s known him for a long time. He serves her some cookies and tea, and then proceeds to ask her where she’s from. She lies about her past being a fisherman’s daughter, and having accidentally drifted off to Japan. However she bows her head in respect when speaking to him and even follows court etiquette when eating a cookie. This is not the normal behavior of a commoner!
Gwanghae wields his sword and holds it right under her chin: “For what purpose did you come to the weaponry bureau? I’m asking who you are!”
Would it be too soon to hope for the truth to come out??