There’s no such thing as the calm before the storm as problems are always pouring hard in Joseon. An unlikely visitor makes his way inside the country, but does this spell a blessing or disaster? Get ready for a jam-packed episode as the story gets deeper and shocking secrets are unveiled this week😮
Last episode’s confession has Hae Ryung dolling herself up more than usual in the morning while the Prince is deliriously spaced out again. He has a serious case of lovesickness as he sees Hae Ryung’s face in Sam Bo and his 2 court ladies early morning, haha! He tries to distance himself from the temptation of wanting to kiss her when she arrives at Nokseodang, but she takes charge of the situation and kisses him on the lips anyway, hee💋
The Crown Prince is informed that a male foreigner from the West was caught in a nearby river and has been taken to the Investigation Bureau. He wants to talk to the person directly as he speculates that he isn’t simply passing through Joseon like any other merchant. His interrogation proves to be futile as the foreigner remains silent to the interpreters (Mandarin, Japanese, and Dutch) or even Prince Lee Jin’s (Korean) questions. He gives a slight response when spoken to in Dutch, only to say in French (Aaahhh💡) that he does not speak Dutch. Before he is imprisoned though, he fakes a stomachache and takes a guard’s spear before escaping. Gunshots are fired and the sound echoes throughout the palace. An official manhunt is executed to find the missing runaway.
Just as the guards finish searching in Nokseodang, the foreigner jumps in front of Sam Bo and they all get into a small brawl. The group manages to tie him up in Prince Lee Rim’s room but Hae Ryung suggests that they don’t tell the Royal Investigation Bureau just yet of his capture. She, just like the Crown Prince, is curious of his reason for being in Joseon. The Prince agrees with her (of course) but they find no one in the room as their intruder has already escaped.
Officer Seong runs into him in another part of the palace and the former shows him a wooden beaded bracelet with a cross. The runaway sighs in relief as it signifies a friend in Officer Seong for having the same religion. He and Officer Min attend the royal meeting and the King is furious that the intruder has yet to be found. The Second State Councilor declares that he must still be inside the palace because no uproar has been heard in Hanyang of a strange man loose in the city. They deduce that someone inside must be helping him: Catholics who have sided with Westerners before. Officer Min notices Officer Seong’s discomfort as the King orders a thorough inspection of everyone in the palace. Anyone who is suspected to be a Catholic will be severely punished.
Several court ladies and eunuchs are dragged away for possessing Catholic books and cross bracelets. The search continues to the Queen Dowager, but she shows up before the guards outside and tells them to search her right then and there. The guards don’t enter her chamber because of this and it is revealed that Mo Hwa is inside. It turns out that the foreigner has knowledge about Seoraewon and that she was supposed to meet up with him. The Queen Dowager issues a warning to Mo Hwa that if he is caught and mentions his true intentions for being in Joseon, he will have to face an unfortunate punishment.
It’s the historians’ this time who are searched for having any Catholic possessions. Officer Seong is nervous as he clutches his bracelet hard in his hands, but Officer Min pries it away for him to hold instead. A guard tells another to back off when Officer Min refuses to show his hands. The search continues into the library but Officer Yang quickly makes the guards leave because of the sensitive information stored inside the room. Luckily, they don’t find the foreigner hiding in between the bookshelves.
Officer Min confronts Officer Seong on how long he’s been a Catholic. The former scolds the latter how dangerous it was to risk his life for having the bracelet. Officer Seong argues that he would be willing to put his life on the line for the belief that everyone is created equal.
The hungry foreigner is fed a ton of food when he is found scurrying around Nokseodang again. Can I just say how scrappy and quick this guy is? Haha! He can apparently understand and speak Korean and is delighted to finally eat. They don’t understand when he utters his name (Jean Baptiste Barthelemy) so he explains that what he just said was indeed his name. He recounts that he is a merchant who sells books that got screwed over by the bookstore rental owner (Mister Kim). Sam Bo and Prince Lee Rim sympathize with Jean because of their bad experience with Mister Kim in the past.
Not fully convinced of the backstory just mentioned, Hae Ryung cautions Prince Lee Rim to be careful. This is because merchants are more fluent in Mandarin when conducting business, but Jean is remarkably good in Korean despite their language being more difficult. She also retorts that Mister Kim is not bold enough to trick a merchant out of his money.
Unable to sleep, the Prince thinks about what Hae Ryung said and checks on Jean. He finds him outside and they talk about what it’s like living in France. Jean tells him that they have no King anymore because the people overthrew him for making them suffer. He talks about democracy and repeated Officer Seong’s sentiments that everyone is born free and equal. Jean suddenly asks him if he knows of a place where the dawn comes to greet you (pertaining to Seoraewon). When the Prince is genuinely clueless, he retracts his words and bids our loverboy a good night.
Mo Hwa is hesitant to knock on the Goo residence when Hae Ryung sees her outside. The former doesn’t want to intrude but the latter insists on treating her to a meal. Jae Kyung is invited by Hae Ryung to meet Mo Hwa and unbeknownst to her, both of them are already acquainted with each other. When Hae Ryung steps out for a moment, Mo Hwa looks at him very suspiciously. She asks him how he could have a younger sister when his father died before he was born and his mother was sickly. She looks around Hae Ryung’s room and it dawns on her that she is someone else’s daughter. She is livid at what Jae Kyung has done and he begs her not to tell anyone. The last scene is a flashback showing a young Mo Hwa meeting a a much younger Hae Ryung.
Between the external (Smallpox) and internal (Salary corruption, Historians getting investigated) problems that happened, I’m glad that they are finally expanding and building on the 1st and main conflict of the show. I’ve only realized again that Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung has 40 episodes and that the creation of other but relevant dilemmas has made the show more interesting. Other than Mr. Sunshine, I don’t think any other period kdramas that I’ve watched tackled the timeline of Korea getting to know democracy and the influence of Western culture. I know that this kdrama promotes girl power but I’d like to see the men learn a little something too💁🏻♂️
Before watching episodes 25 and 26, I did for a split second think that Hae Ryung could actually be the physician’s (Yeongan) daughter but since Mo Hwa wasn’t more surprised when they both talked back at Pyongyang, I dismissed the thought altogether. I’m not sure what the big deal is if my hunch is correct.. could it be that Yeongan has proof of the King’s father’s death? But why do I get the feeling that she could also be the current King’s daughter?👑 Since Prince Lee Rim is presumably not the King’s legitimate son, what if they were somehow swapped? My conspiracy brain is kicking into overdrive but anything is possible with a TV show. Gimme the next episodes stat!!🙈