It’s the age old battle between obeying one’s duty or following one’s heart — are you willing to risk everything for the person you love? The search for Prince Lee Rim’s wife commences and Hae Ryung’s realistic instincts kick in creating a wedge between our OTP’s blossoming relationship.
The Queen Dowager reminds her grandson that he is a Prince of Joseon and this role entails that he can’t just marry anyone he pleases. It’s such a wistful scene because I feel like she knows there’s no escaping this fate and she’s trying to break it, in the most gentle way possible, to Prince Lee Rim. He and Hae Ryung continue their argument afterwards and don’t come to a resolution. Prince Lee Rim tells Hae Ryung that he doesn’t care what she feels and that he is afraid of losing her. Our rookie historian on the other hand is also upset at the Prince for recklessly confessing his feelings without considering what she feels about the situation.
Much talk and speculation is being discussed by the male historians about Prince Lee Rim’s true identity. They are curious about his relationship with Hae Ryung too given their tense encounter yesterday. Before they can ask her about it, Officer Min interjects and orders Hae Ryung to go record for the Queen from now on. She does not argue with him and accepts it willingly. Prince Lee Rim patiently waits for Hae Ryung outside his room and his court ladies along with Sam Bo are worried that he isn’t showing any visible signs of being upset. The Prince is disappointed when A Ran declares that she is the historian who’ll accompany him today.
Hae Ryung tries her best to record for the Queen Dowager but it’s not an easy experience since she has to jot down details about Prince Lee Rim’s wedding. A court lady breaks the news to her that a Lord So Baek Seon has submitted information about his daughter and she looks pleased. Meanwhile, the Second State Councilor and his minions are also discussing the same thing because they are baffled on why he would want his daughter to marry into the royal family since he has never showed interest in politics before.
Being the quick and sly fox that he is, the Second State Councilor sets up a meeting with Lord So. The former intimidates the latter by saying that the Palace is not for people like him and that he can replace him anytime he wants to. Lord So clarifies that he has no interest in gaining power by marrying off his daughter to gain power (Like he did with his daughter).
A large group of girls enter the Palace as part of the 1st evaluation to be Prince Lee Rim’s wife. It’s like the Bachelorette but the guy doesn’t get to decide his partner, it’s the women around his life who assesses the hopeful candidates. Poor Hae Ryung as she has to sit through this session of girls vying for her man’s heart!😢 Seeing the daughter of Lord So shine and noticing the Queen Dowager’s fondness over her, Hae Ryung tries her best to do her job despite her obvious discomfort. As the evaluation continues for the following days, Hae Ryung finds herself drinking her sorrows away when she gets home from work. She finally says out loud to herself that she is bothered by the fact that other girls are competing for the chance to be Prince Lee Rim’s wife.
In a plan B effort I presume, Sa Hui ends up replacing one of the candidates to be Prince Lee Rim’s wife. She is steaming with anger and confronts the Second State Councilor that she doesn’t want to marry the Prince. He obviously doesn’t care and reminds her that it was her wish to work for him so this is where she needs to be. She is visibly upset about this development but can’t do anything about it. Even the Crown Prince thinks of Sa Hui when she is not by his side as a historian. When her maids were packing her stuff to move, she cries as she looks at the gift the Crown Prince gave to her previously.
Not letting anyone foil his plans, the Second State Councilor makes a petition to the Crown Prince to have Lord So transfer to the province to protect the borders from Russian spies instead of training the military. The Crown Prince doesn’t buy into his request and knows that he’s up to something but the Second State Councilor defends himself saying that he’s only concerned about the country’s safety. The latter makes a threat that if something were to happen to Lord So because of the marriage between his daughter and Prince Lee Rim, there’d be no one to protect the Crown Prince’s younger brother.
Sa Hui happens to be the historian in the room and the Crown Prince takes out his anger on her by accusing her that marrying Prince Lee Rim must have been her plan all along when she allied herself with the Second State Councilor. She is hurt by this and exclaims that she doesn’t want a life where her actions are determined by another person. Being a female historian gave her the privilege to make her own choices, so the predicament with Prince Lee Rim is something she is not happy about. Before she leaves though, the Crown Prince utters that he knows what she feels and asks her to stay and explain her side of the story.
Much to the surprise of 2 court ladies passing by, Sa Hui is caught leaving the Crown Prince’s chambers early morning of the next day. The rumor spreads all over the Palace and even the male historians ask Sa Hui point blank if she indeed spent the night in Dongungjeon. She does not deny this fact and everyone is speechless at her admission. Before she could explain any further, she is summoned to the Crown Princess’ chambers.
Sa Hui gets an earful from the Crown Princess about how she must think lowly of her and that she must be confident that she will become the Crown Prince’s concubine. Sa Hui says that she never once coveted him and that all she wanted to come clean about her feelings. The Crown Princess scoffs at this and asks if she is not afraid that such emotions could get her in trouble, to which Sa Hui confidently says she does not regret anything.
Even the news reaches the Queen Dowager and she is happy because this means that Sa Hui will be out of the running for Prince Lee Rim’s wife. She meets with Lord So Baek Seon secretly and decide that it’s too dangerous for his daughter to continue with the evaluation since his job is on the line. What’s the point in having royal blood when you can’t even use this advantage to battle your enemies?🙄 They walk towards a place where they can see Prince Lee Rim studying from afar. Lord So recognizes the resemblance between him and another King in his younger days. Could this be the King that our current one dethroned? I always thought that the current King dethroned his father but I was mistaken. I think he dethroned his older brother and Prince Lee Rim is his brother’s son😮
Mo Hwa and Jae Kyung have a drink later that night and talk about Hae Ryung. She tells him that Hae Ryung will find out one day about the truth of her identity. Jae Kyung then reveals that he is more fearful that she cannot handle the truth of knowing that it was him who killed her true father. Okay, I can confirm it: Hae Ryung is the physician’s (Yeongan) daughter😙
Sam Bo encourages Prince Lee Rim to go outside and look at houses to distract him from his sadness. He does go out though but all he can think about is Hae Ryung as he imagines his future with her. He envisions feeding her snacks while she reads, wiping her sweat when she plants flowers, and even fanning her while she sleeps. A flashback of all their most significant encounters come flooding back to him and he decides to go and see Hae Ryung that night.
With a firm resolve, he barges in the Goo residence and hugs Hae Ryung tight when she tells him to leave. Prince Lee Rim says that he can give up everything for her, even his title as a Prince. Hae Ryung takes his hands away and expresses that running away with each other is not a happy ending. They’ll eventually grow tired of each other and she does not trust herself enough to not blame him when the time comes. Prince Lee Rim has tears in his eyes and calls out to her one last time, proclaiming that she is everything to him. Hae Ryung is on the verge of tears, and with all her might, she looks back at the Prince and responds that she does not feel the same way towards him.
As much as I’d like to hate Sa Hui, there’s just a certain determination to her character that I admire. She and Hae Ryung are similar in many ways, yes, but at least for this episode, I preferred Sa Hui more. She knew that her feelings for the Crown Prince won’t amount to anything, but she was still true to herself even if her life and reputation could be tarnished. I do think that she overstayed her welcome in the Crown Prince’s chambers to foil the Second State Councilor’s plans for her, but it also signified her last time that she can spend with the Crown Prince. She has also revealed information written in the sachaek and when the day comes that she is caught, I know she’ll be ready to handle the consequences.
I know that Hae Ryung said it’s not her wish to be married to a Prince probably because her freedom will be lessened and her actions will be scrutinized. But more than this, I think she realized while attending the evaluations that she doesn’t fit the bill to become his wife. Lord So’s daughter was prim and proper and recited all the traits (Gentle, patient, humble) on how a Princess ought to be. Our Hae Ryung is nothing like that, in a good way (haha); and as much as she’s been confident of herself all throughout the show, this is the 1st time that she felt unsure of herself🥺 I think she also realized that she can’t be like Sa Hui who can put her feelings on the line because marrying into royalty is a whole different world. I know she’s confused and scared but pushing Prince Lee Rim away is not the answer!😭
Lastly, why is it that the Second State Councilor has so much power over everyone? It’s crazy that in every Joseon period kdrama, it’s the one seated on the throne that seems to be controlled by the advisors. Can’t they just secretly kill him and be done with all the conflict?💀 haha! Can’t wait for next week!