It’s been a while since the last TTM recap and I’m terribly sorry about the long break – it took a lot longer than I’d expected to dig myself out of the mountain of papers-to-read. By now, I assume that most people have also heard the bad news: tvN has confirmed that the previously-announced Seasons 2 & 3 have been cancelled. (Apparently tvN thought it was a good idea to announce three seasons and then change their minds and slash two seasons out of the blue.) With that in mind, what was a story meant for three seasons had to be told in one – I do hope that the writer had an inkling of what was to come and wrapped it up satisfactorily.
Regardless, picking up from where we left off…
EPISODE 10 – One for All, All for One
The previous episode ended right before we were about to find out whether Dal Hyang would be skewered by No Soo in his hiding place beneath the floorboards, but Episode 10 begins by winding back to show us what really happened in the fight between Dal Hyang and General Ingguldai.
That ominous downwards swipe of Ingguldai’s sword had slashed Dal Hyang’s leg instead of his neck, thankfully, and Dal Hyang narrowly escapes a second swipe by rolling away and knocking the general out cold with a vase. What Dal Hyang thought was the arrival of help at that point turns out to be one of No Soo’s men, but a speedy sword thrust takes out his attacker. With his last breath, the man chokes out that he’d been sent to check whether Ingguldai had killed him yet.
The sound of No Soo’s approaching voice in the hallway outside sends Dal Hyang hurrying towards the window, only to throw it open and find… a sheer cliff drop. Well, that option’s out.
The locked door serves only as a temporary deterrent, but it’s enough time for Dal Hyang to reluctantly contemplate his only option – he’ll need a decoy. He grabs Ingguldai’s sword, steels himself and swings at the dead man’s head.
Not a second later, No Soo crashes in – and finds an unconscious Ingguldai lying beside a bloody, headless corpse. (Just to make sure we get the point, we’re treated to multiple close-ups of said headlessness. Bad idea to watch this after a meal, just sayin’.)
No Soo’s underling finds Dal Hyang’s name tag on the body and the risk of being found forces No Soo to put aside his suspicions about the absence of the head for now – the two men quickly arrange Ingguldai at the desk with the prince’s sword in his hand, dumps wine on the floor and plants the hairpin and letter. From where he’s hiding beneath the floorboards, the injured Dal Hyang drifts out of consciousness.
No Soo and his lackey comb the surrounding forest for Dal Hyang’s head with growing suspicion that the decapitated corpse might have been their guy, but they’re forced into hiding when a search party for Dal Hyang (or his head) arrives – the grisly scene back at Ingguldai’s room has just been discovered.
We’re now back to where we’d left off at the end of Episode 9, with No Soo stabbing his way through the floorboards in search of Dal Hyang. Jerking awake, Dal Hyang has no time to react when the sword comes flashing down…
…to spear straight through his arm. OUCH.
Dal Hyang desperately stifles his gasp of pain, but it doesn’t do much good – No Soo’s felt his sword make contact and looks positively gleeful when he pulls it back up to find fresh blood dripping from the tip. Standing, No Soo gets ready to make the killing thrust…
Aww, c’mon, another mid-scene cliffie?!
The prince has just arrived at Anju after receiving the bad news from Seung Po and is met by Kim Ja Jeom, all smiling courtesy and good humour. Sohyeon emphasizes that he’s here to find out what happened and that his visit must remain secret.
Kim Ja Jeom doesn’t even bother to hide his delight when he informs the prince that it’s a clear-cut murder case for which they cannot even pursue vengeance – they had heard about what’d happened to Ingguldai, right? We cut to the scene of his execution, where mysterious archers had arrived in time to take out the executioner and surrounding guards and free the general.
Kim Ja Jeom claims not to know who had saved the general, but… is anyone really convinced?
He has one more shocker up his sleeve for our musketeers – with a show of false pity, Kim Ja Jeom has a box brought out with what he claims is the head of Dal Hyang. Seung Po looks away in distress after a brief glance.
Kim Ja Jeom informs them that the head was found under the floorboards of Ingguldai’s room and though the features are unrecognisable due to decomposition, who else could it be?
The old windbag prattles on and on in the face of Seung Po and Min Seo’s misery until the prince finally has enough and punches him in the face – repeatedly. Oh boy, that is so satisfying.
Kim Ja Jeom’s guards try to deflect the prince, prompting Seung Po and Min Seo to join the fray, and the all-out fight is only halted by the arrival of the governor of Anju. He orders all three musketeers arrested, evidently unaware of Sohyeon’s identity, and Kim Ja Jeom laughs like a maniac in the prince’s face.
The princess is now back at her family home, attempting to ease her mother’s worries that the prince may intend to cast her aside. Their conversation is cut short by the arrival of a visitor who asks to see the princess – it’s Mi Ryung in noble guise. Damn, she has guts.
Once in private, Mi Ryung places Dal Hyang’s name tag in front of Yoon Seo and says with a smirk: “Park Dal Hyang died in Anju.” Yoon Seo’s eyes widen in shock, and on cue, she recalls Sohyeon’s silence when she’d asked him whether he’d received bad news. Oh dear.
Seung Po and Min Seo find themselves in prison again, but this time with the prince for company. Oh, and the box that supposedly contains Dal Hyang’s head – it’s placed directly in front of them. (Because that’s not morbid or anything.)
Seung Po grouches that he’d extracted a promise from the king’s eunuch and now it’s all for naught. We see via flashback that he’d convinced the eunuch (who was investigating under the king’s orders) to keep the finding of the hairpin a secret if Seung Po could produce Dal Hyang alive and well and thus prove that the report of Ingguldai’s misdeeds was false.
Kim Ja Jeom dissuades the governor of Anju from forcing Sohyeon to admit his identity – it allows him to hold the secret over the prince’s head, after all. It’d be disastrous if Daddy King finds out what Sohyeon is really up to, wouldn’t it?
Kim Ja Jeom points out that the offer for the prince to work with him still stands, however, and openly admits that he’s the one hiding Ingguldai. As long as the prince agrees to join hands with him, he’ll let Ingguldai return safely across the border and, as a bonus, he’ll guarantee the princess’ life after she’s dethroned for supposed adultery. That’s so kind.
Mi Ryung’s doing her own share of smirking and gloating as she tells Yoon Seo that the prince had headed to Anju, but too late – not only is Park Dal Hyang dead, but the hairpin is also in the possession of the king’s eunuch, so the princess is doomed to be dethroned.
A shaken Yoon Seo demands to know why Mi Ryung is telling her this, and Mi Ryung confesses that the offer (from Kim Ja Jeom) to become the crown princess was ultimately too great a temptation. She emphasizes darkly that the news of the hairpin will not arrive, and so: “…I came to offer a suggestion of a different way.”
The words sink in slowly and Yoon Seo’s face twists in horror: “Are you telling me to… take my own life?”
Yoon Seo paces in a panic around her room that night – she flashes back to her meeting with Minister Choi, who’d confirmed that Seung Po’s letter had carried news of Dal Hyang’s death as well as the general’s arrest. He had tried to suggest that they hire a hairpin maker to craft a copy, but Yoon Seo had dismissed that idea in despair; it’d never fool the king.
Dal Hyang’s name tag sitting at her table catches Yoon Seo’s eye then and she breaks down in tears, the full force of her grief hitting her belatedly as she remembering how he had wished her happiness even while imprisoned himself.
Another flashback shows us that Mi Ryung had been confident that Sohyeon would accept her as wife when Yoon Seo questioned her on that point – he’d have to, in order to save Ingguldai’s life. And Mi Ryung clearly harbours some very great delusions about her value to Sohyeon, because she’s equally confident he won’t push her away for long owing their past relationship.
Yoon Seo finally stops pacing then, and her eyes are fixed upwards at a wooden ceiling rafter. NO, don’t do it!
Unfortunately, she’s not alone in her contemplation of desperate measures; Sohyeon recalls Dal Hyang’s declaration of loyalty to him and resignedly makes the decision to surrender to Kim Ja Jeom – he had failed to protect his men, so what use is he? When Seung Po asks about the princess, Sohyeon replies that his surrender would at least keep the princess alive.
In the early light of dawn, the princess’ lady-in-waiting drops her tray in horror when she enters Yoon Seo’s room to see a noose hung from the rafters. Thankfully the noose is empty of Yoon Seo, whom the attendant finds standing outside, quietly resolute and devoid of the emotional distress she’d displayed the night before – she orders the attendant to pack, because they’re returning to the palace.
Kim Ja Jeom is more than happy to meet a subdued Sohyeon the next morning and hands over a contract – all the prince has to do is sign an agreement to take his next crown princess from Kim Ja Jeom’s family. Sohyeon’s not stupid, though, and asks outright whether it’s Hyang Sun/Mi Ryung.
Kim Ja Jeom doesn’t deny it, either. His claim that he had taken her in out of pity when he found her close to death from heartbreak leaves Sohyeon trembling in visible fury.
Yoon Seo finds Mi Ryung (predictably) observing her return to the palace by the roadside and has her called over. It’s immediately clear to both that Yoon Seo is not the wilting flower Mi Ryung had met yesterday, and Mi Ryung comments that the princess had lost her chance to preserve her honour by taking her own life. Yoon Seo disagrees: Firstly, she’s certain that Dal Hyang would not die so easily and the name tag is insufficient to prove his demise. Secondly, she knows the prince well enough by now to be sure that even if he doesn’t love her, he wouldn’t throw her away to take a murderer as wife.
Yoon Seo challenges her to wait and see who turns out right in the end: “Even if I die, I will die in the palace as the crown princess. How dare you presume to dictate my life?”
With that, she orders her palanquin to depart, leaving Mi Ryung fuming in the wake of her sheer awesomeness.
As furious as he is, Sohyeon appears trapped with no better option but to sign the contract. Just before he puts brush to paper, however, he’s halted by a voice coming from outside calling for “the three musketeers.”
OOH, it’s young Tani – the Manchurian girl with an obvious crush on Dal Hyang – who bursts through the door. Kim Ja Jeom doesn’t understand the reference and the guards dismiss her as a confused foreigner before dragging her back outside, but Sohyeon’s eyes widen with the realization that Dal Hyang had been the only person they’d introduced themselves to as “the three musketeers.” Which means Dal Hyang’s alive!
Seung Po and Min Seo come to the same conclusion and rush outside in pursuit of Tani, while Sohyeon’s lips twitch in a smile.
Flashback to Dal Hyang still lying beneath the floorboards: He’d overheard Kim Ja Jeom whisper urgently to No Soo that Dal Hyang’s head must be found if they’re to dethrone the princess and proceed with their plans for Ingguldai.
So No Soo goes a-stabbing floorboards, having figured out where Dal Hyang must be hiding. He’s a second away from delivering that final blow (the point where we’d begun the episode, 5000 flashbacks ago) only to be interrupted by Tani leading a group in search of… Dal Hyang? No Soo’s forced to make his getaway before his actions are questioned.
Dal Hyang is rescued from beneath the floorboards and before he loses consciousness again, he begs his saviours to hide him; he’ll be killed if it’s discovered that he’s still alive.
When he comes to, Dal Hyang finds Tani nursing him at his bedside. The man who’d saved him (who happens to be fluent in both Joseon and Manchu) informs him that he’d been hidden as promised and everyone believes he’d been killed by Ingguldai.
Dal Hyang’s worried about the others’ (or really Yoon Seo’s) safety, but perks up when his benefactor hands him the prince’s sword, which had been retrieved from Dal Hyang’s grave – the man adds that the three men who’d placed it there were crying. In brief flashback #5001, we see the three musketeers mourning as Sohyeon, tears streaming down his face, drives the sword into dirt of the grave as tribute.
Thrilled to realize that his friends are nearby, he asks his benefactor to seek them out by asking for the “three musketeers,” which they would recognize. So the man and Tani had stumbled around town, accosting everyone and asking whether they know the “three musketeers.” HAHA.
Tani had finally stumbled upon the right people (unknowingly), and when Seung Po and Min Seo answer to the name, she happily leads them to Dal Hyang.
In the meeting room, Sohyeon smiles and rips up the contract right in front of a baffled Kim Ja Jeom. Kim Ja Jeom warns him that there won’t be another chance for negotiation, but the prince has a warning of his own – stay out of his affairs or be taken down, because he won’t sit still again.
Uh oh, the musketeer reunion had better happen pretty soon, because No Soo spots Dal Hyang’s benefactor asking around town for “the three musketeers” and recognizes him as part of Tani’s search team. No Soo tracks down Dal Hyang’s hiding place with the poor man at sword point and sets out to try and kill Dal Hyang again – injured and outnumbered, Dal Hyang soon finds himself on the ground, at the mercy of No Soo’s men.
But YAY! In the nick of time, the three musketeers arrive to prevent the flashing swords from skewering Dal Hyang beyond repair. Anju is alive with the sound of bromance as Seung Po and Min Seo joke that they just knew that Dal Hyang was fine – what kept him so long?
Sohyeon even tells Dal Hyang that he should be honoured, since the prince himself will be making a special concession by protecting Dal Hyang today, heh. They need him alive to thwart Kim Ja Jeom’s plans, so Sohyeon orders him to make for Hanyang with all speed.
But wait! Seung Po suggests a proper goodbye this time before Dal Hyang sets off, since he was devastated when Dal Hyang was rude enough to “die” without saying farewell last time. With that, Seung Po raises his sword, and they all join him with swords raised in salute. Awwww.
Dal Hyang sets off, though with a hand to his side and stumbling painfully, it doesn’t look like he’d make it very far… and that’s when Pan Swe appears on horseback in true knight-in-shining-armour style. LOL.
Tani catches Dal Hyang to deliver her own farewells just before he rides off, which Pan Swe helpfully translates – Dal Hyang has to keep his promise to her! And that means the promise to marry her if she saved him. Dal Hyang: “…When did I?” HA.
Dal Hyang gallops off when he turns to see No Soo hot on his heels, while the prince and his men fight off No Soo’s men at the marketplace with aplomb.
At the palace, the princess can delay going to Princess Jeongmyeong’s birthday celebration no longer – it doesn’t look like the prince will arrive with the hairpin after all. Yoon Seo knows what fate awaits her if she appears without it (and already the palace ladies are gossiping in spiteful anticipation of Yoon Seo appearing sans hairpin), but she gathers every ounce of her resolve and sets off.
The king also departs for the party, just missing the arrival of his eunuch with supposed evidence of the princess’ indiscretion. Someone stops the eunuch before he can intercept the king’s procession, and the sight of the visitor makes his jaw drop in shock. Is it Dal Hyang?
The king arrives at the party and is furious to find the princess absent, but the announcement of the princess’ arrival right on his heels brings about a tense silence as everyone waits.
Outside the gates, Yoon Seo closes her eyes and tries to muster her reserves of courage – but when she opens them, she finds someone kneeling at her feet.
It’s Dal Hyang! He gently places the hairpin in her hands and Yoon Seo’s eyes fill with tears of relief at the knowledge that he had survived after all. Dal Hyang assures her with a smile that he doesn’t die that easily: “I will live for a long, long time to protect Your Highness. Don’t worry.”
Yoon Seo smiles back through her tears and thanks him – not for the hairpin, but for being alive.
The princess walks through the gates to greet the king with her head held high and Injo cringes when he sees the hairpin, realizing what a mistake he’d almost made. Is it bad that I feel particularly satisfied at the look of obvious disappointment on the face of Princess Jeongmyeong? No birthday “festivities” for this lady.
HAHA, events seem to have gone less smoothly on the prince’s end though – we cut to see our three musketeers looking battered and rather the worst for wear as they’re carted off to jail. The local police scoff when Sohyeon tells them cheerfully that he’s the crown prince of Joseon and demand again to know their identities – y’know, their real identities, since there’s no way he’s the prince. Sohyeon shrugs and replies: “The three musketeers.”
EPISODE 11: A Kiss
It’s only when a visitor arrives to pick up the crown prince that the governor of Anju finally puts two and two together and realizes whom he’d thrown into prison like a common criminal. Whoopsies.
The governor scurries to the jail, where he glances at the three men sitting in their holding cell – Seung Po and Sohyeon engaging in a little bit of friendly gambling to pass the time while Min Seo sits off to the side – and promptly drops to his knees to grovel in front of Min Seo, begging forgiveness for not recognizing “your highness.” HAHAHA.
An amused Sohyeon says pointedly that he’s the crown prince (thus almost sending the governor into full-blown panic at mistake #2) while Seung Po snickers that the governor must think Min Seo looks more qualified to be prince compared to Sohyeon. Pfft.
Sohyeon drops the humorous façade and gets down to business – he’s aware that the governor of Anju had penned the letter informing the king of the Ingguldai and Dal Hyang incident and corrects him: Dal Hyang is still very much alive and on his way to Hanyang to reveal the truth. If the governor doesn’t want to lose both his position and his life over this mistake, he’d better listen to the prince very carefully…
It’s an extremely weary band of musketeers who finally return to the prince’s apparent place of convalescence, and Dal Hyang’s narration tells us that the prince and his men had travelled long and hard to see Ingguldai safely back to Qing in person.
But they don’t even get the chance to dismount before the prince’s eunuch rushes out to tell them that the king had visited while they were away and was furious to find Sohyeon missing – unable to think of a more believable excuse, he’d informed the king that Sohyeon and his buddies had snuck off to Hanyang to satisfy their gambling addiction. LOL. The exasperated trio are forced to turn right back around and head for Hanyang.
The three are soon conveniently “discovered” at a gambling den and brought before a raging King Injo, who berates them like errant children for not learning from their lessons. Why can’t they be more like this other man, who learnt from his punishment and is now a loyal servant?
Out walks Dal Hyang, who’s been promoted to royal guard by the king – and the wide-eyed musketeers shoot him indignant looks as Injo blasts them for not making something of themselves the way Dal Hyang had. PFFT.
In his voiceover, Dal Hyang admits sheepishly that he’d been showered with luck while the musketeers had travelled the countryside, doing all the hard work.
We see in flashback that Kim Ja Jeom had been arrested by the governor of Anju following the latter’s meeting with Sohyeon. The governor had then begged Ingguldai for forgiveness and implored him to act as witness to Kim Ja Jeom’s schemes, and a report was subsequently sent to the king detailing the true sequence of events.
The fact that Dal Hyang’s alive clears the general of murder and acts as pretty damning evidence that Kim Ja Jeom had lied about the rest, and when King Injo summons Dal Hyang to a private audience to tell his side of the story, Dal Hyang can even confirm overhearing Kim Ja Jeom’s plot to dethrone the princess from his hiding place under the floorboards.
As it turns out, Dal Hyang’s story of his courageous escape from near-certain death had impressed the king so much that he’d been immediately promoted to a senior-ranking royal guard.
In the present, the king asks a nervous Dal Hyang to step closer to him and gives him an approving pat on the shoulder, turning to tell his stunned audience: “You should learn from him! While you had been addicted to gambling, he had done everything alone!” Saving the princess, preventing war, catching the culprit; he’s as good as a general! HAHA.
Injo brushes aside Sohyeon’s hesitant suggestion that perhaps, just perhaps Dal Hyang had a little help – and enthusiastically heaps all the credit on Dal Hyang’s head. LOL. The musketeers’ masks of indignation are comedy gold.
Outside, the musketeers tease Dal Hyang about his new lofty position and Dal Hyang agrees to treat them all to a meal or two – after all, he’s finally earning his salary! Dal Hyang adds that he has something to report to Sohyeon later before excusing himself to return to his new job.
That leaves Seung Po and Min Seo to complain good-naturedly that Dal Hyang’s shot up the ranks in one sweep (while they had to work hard for it), and Sohyeon jokes that they should think about bribing Dal Hyang if they want the king’s ear now.
How things have changed! After his long absence, Sohyeon’s boyishly excited to greet the crown princess and tries to surprise her at her quarters, only to be disappointed in finding that she’d just left on her way to the temple for the anniversary of the queen’s passing.
…Except it turns out that she hadn’t left yet – the prince feigns disinterest when the attendant passes him the information, but rushes off immediately afterwards to find her. The way he runs around, poking his head about and frowning at each failure to locate her is positively adorable.
And so is Yoon Seo almost tripping (for a moment I envisioned her hairpiece flying off, which would have been interesting) in her excitement to hurry towards him when she sees him. Awww.
She whispers happily to him that her hairpin had been returned – even turning around quickly to show him the hairpin in her hair, which is just cute – and Sohyeon smiles affectionately at her excited babble. At least, he does until she launches into a starry-eyed recount of the way Dal Hyang had shown up alive in the nick of time to rescue her, at which point his smile turns upside down. Hee.
He tells her that he had sent Dal Hyang to save her, and Yoon Seo merely replies with a confused, “Yes, I know.” Sohyeon tries to hide his disappointment at her lack of enthusiasm and wishes her a safe trip before walking away, but Yoon Seo follows him and asks whether she’d made a mistake.
There’s an awkward moment when Sohyeon’s vague headshake leaves her looking troubled, but then the prince finally admits that he’s merely confused about what he’s feeling… and swoops in for a kiss.
When he pulls away, Sohyeon asks her not to ask him why he’d just done that because he doesn’t know either (no sudden lightbulb moment for Sohyeon, clearly) and flashes her a brief smile before turning to leave. Returning to her palanquin, Yoon Seo can barely hide her smile as she touches her lips.
A short message from Dal Hyang for the prince cuts short Sohyeon’s battle with emotional clarity: “I have captured Mi Ryung.”
Flashback to the day of Princess Jeongmyeong’s birthday, when the princess had shown up with the hairpin in her hair: One of the attendant ladies had rushed off furtively to report what she had seen to Mi Ryung, but doesn’t quite make it before she’s intercepted.
When the spy is finally shown in to Mi Ryung’s room, it’s with a nervous demeanour that she reports that the princess had not shown up; the king had flown into a rage and had ordered the princess dragged out of her quarters. Mi Ryung fairly trembles in excitement.
On her way back out, the spy nods briefly to a man in black – it’s Dal Hyang in disguise.
While she’s still gloating, Mi Ryung receives a second visitor who’s announced as a messenger from Anju – it’s Pan Swe, who passes her a letter that he claims was from a one-eyed man. In it are good tidings from fake!Kim Ja Jeom, telling her that the prince had signed the contract and instructing her to wait for the prince at the given address.
Dal Hyang had confirmed the successful completion of his plan as Mi Ryung rushed off eagerly to the assigned place – as he notes to Sohyeon in the message, he had chosen a place deliberately out of the way so that Mi Ryung would not have heard any news of what really happened at the palace.
Sohyeon goes to meet Mi Ryung, who asks with something akin to hope in her eyes whether he’d really come from Anju and signed the contract. When he says yes, she attempts a show of guilt – he must be disappointed in her, right?
You have no idea, Mi Ryung – Sohyeon watches her sadly as she digs her own grave even further, launching into a flurry of excuses in which she paints herself as a reluctant victim of Kim Ja Jeom’s schemes who was forced to accept his offer: “I tried to keep my promise, I really did!”
Sohyeon asks her whether she’s happy that she’ll become princess now, regardless of what means she used to achieve it, and she turns the question back on him – what does he think? Sohyeon’s reply is pretty nonchalant: “When I think about it, it won’t be too bad.”
But that’s enough to make Mi Ryung’s face break into a broad smile and she rushes forward to embrace him, cooing that they’re finally a couple. She’s so busy revelling in her apparent success that she fails to notice that Sohyeon has remained cold and stiff, making no move to return her embrace.
In full exultation, Mi Ryung even reveals how she’d given the princess a bit of helpful “advice” to kill herself, adding mockingly that the princess had stupidly refused and insisted that she wouldn’t be abandoned. Too bad you can’t see Sohyeon’s face, Mi Ryung – with her every word, his face sets further with cold fury.
Finally, he pulls her away and tells her bleakly that he is glad she didn’t keep her promise to leave the country; now he can correct the one mistake in his life. To Mi Ryung’s deluded ears, it sounds like a profession of love – blissfully unaware of his true intent, she hops into the palanquin for Hanyang at his behest, assuming he means for them to be married.
Mi Ryung has a grand vision of herself stepping off the palanquin at the palace as the new crown princess, but when she comes back to reality, she finds herself stepping off… right in the middle of the palace prison.
She flies into a rage, demanding for the eunuch to bring the crown prince, and refuses to believe that these were the prince’s orders when the eunuch tells her so. Because… didn’t he sign that contract?
But Mi Ryung has a second rude awakening in store. Dal Hyang walks in then and delivers a dose of reality with some satisfaction: He’s alive (unfortunately for her), so the prince had no need to sign the contract. With her laundry list of crimes – drugging Ingguldai and ordering him to kill Dal Hyang, attempting to coerce the princess into committing suicide – she’ll at least be banished for life, so there won’t be any more chances for her to become princess. “So stop dreaming,” Dal Hyang says with a smirk, and leaves her staggering in shock.
Outside, Dal Hyang gets to surprise one more enemy – it’s Kim Ja Jeom on his way to prison. Kim Ja Jeom’s stunned speechless at finding him so hale and hearty, and Dal Hyang apologizes with mock sincerity for being alive, heh. He tells Kim Ja Jeom that Mi Ryung’s waiting for him in prison, so the two will have a chance to chat and maybe try to lessen their sentences when they’re interrogated.
Mi Ryung calls Dal Hyang back, first to beg and then shrilly demand to be allowed to see the prince again, still trying to claim that the prince will regret letting her die because they’re in love. When Dal Hyang rightfully scoffs at the notion of her being in love with anything other than the position of crown princess, Mi Ryung turns bitterly vengeful and swears that she’ll kill him. Dal Hyang remains unmoved – she can try her best from within her prison cell: “Whether you die or are killed, I will be watching you.”
Dal Hyang leaves the prison with satisfaction, but his narration notes ominously that now knows in hindsight that he should not have gone so far with Mi Ryung; he was too young and proud to have known better then.
Dal Hyang leaves the eunuch to report to the prince and rushes home to meet his father, who has travelled all the way to Hanyang to see him. Awww, father and son are so excited to see each other that they’re reduced to tearful hugs – Dal Hyang makes sure to tell Dad all about his promotion and Dad’s so speechless with shock and pride that he starts bowing to his son (golly, a senior-ranking royal guard!). Cue Dal Hyang and Dad bowing repeatedly at each other, LOL.
There’s a far less happy scene in prison, where Mi Ryung appears to have lost whatever tenuous grasp on sanity she’d previously had and is now chanting repeatedly that she needs to get out and see the prince.
That night, the servant tasked with bringing food to the prisoner gets the shock of her life, letting out an ear-piercing scream when she sees Mi Ryung dangling by a noose from the ceiling.
Dal Hyang regales Dad with a (greatly embellished) heroic recount of his adventures that night and has just gotten to the part where he’d apparently defeated Ingguldai in their battle in the bamboo forest (pfft) when he’s interrupted by a messenger from the palace with the news that Mi Ryung had hung herself.
It’s with obvious guilt that Dal Hyang remembers Mi Ryung’s pitiful pleas to let her see the prince lest she dies, so he breathes a sigh of relief to hear that she’s still alive – merely receiving treatment at the clinic. But the relief is short-lived, because an alarm goes up; Mi Ryung had killed the doctor and then disappeared.
Dal Hyang finds Mi Ryung’s poisoned needle in the doctor’s neck, and too late the guards realize that the knot of her noose was deliberately tied wrong. Mi Ryung had no intention of dying from the beginning.
Sohyeon is having a sleepless night and eventually goes to the princess’ room, where he smiles contentedly at the place where she usually sits. His concerned eunuch reminds him that the princess is not due to return until tomorrow, but Sohyeon replies that he knows – it’s just that tomorrow feels so far away. “What have I been doing until now? I’ve wasted so much time.” Aww. His eunuch is baffled, and even more so when Sohyeon decides on a whim that he’ll sneak out of the palace.
Dal Hyang’s dad is busy enjoying the effects of his drinks when someone delivers a jug of wine to Pan Swe, a gift from Seung Po to Dal Hyang. Dad is left speechless yet again when he hears that his son not only has a friend, but that friend is the son of General Heo Suk, and Pan Swe’s comment that Dal Hyang’s also friends with the crown prince himself is enough to bring happy tears of pride to Dad’s eyes.
At the palace, Dal Hyang hurries to see the crown prince, believing that he will be Mi Ryung’s target. He’s only met by the eunuch, however, and is told that the prince had already left – to where, he does not know. Urgently, Dal Hyang imparts the warning that the prince must be located as soon as possible; Mi Ryung’s lost her sanity.
Dal Hyang drops by his house to pick up his weapons, which is when he hears from Pan Swe that Seung Po had sent him a gift of liquor. A very drunk Seung Po and Min Seo totter up right then, intending to celebrate his promotion with him… and Dal Hyang’s eyes slowly widen when he realizes that Seung Po is carrying his own jug of wine, so he can’t have sent the previous jug. With dawning horror, he recalls Mi Ryung’s parting threat that she’ll kill him. Oh, no, Dad!
Dal Hyang rushes into the room, where he finds Dad slumped over the table. He approaches slowly, afraid of having his fears confirmed, and gently calls his father as he pulls Dad upright…
…but he’s already dead. The others approach and takes in the scene in stunned silence as Dal Hyang holds Dad’s body close, sobbing brokenly.
At the temple, the princess is also lying in restless consciousness, unable to keep the smile off her face as she flashes back to the prince’s kiss. A furtive figure makes her silent way up the steps and into the bedchambers, and the princess sits up, startled… only to see her lady-in-waiting. (Oh, my heart.) The attendant is there to escort Yoon Seo to her secret visitor – it’s Sohyeon.
The two hurry to each other with bright smiles on their faces and Yoon Seo expresses her surprise to find him there so late after a late-night hunting trip (he’s in full hunting gear), but Sohyeon says bluntly that it was just an excuse. And then he swoops in for a kiss again – this time a long and lingering one.
When they finally pull away reluctantly, Sohyeon explains that he’d just figured out what it was that he had felt yesterday, but he won’t tell her – it would make him feel foolish and he has to maintain his pride. Pfft. He adds, grinning: “Come home tomorrow – don’t make me wait. I don’t like staying alone in my room.”
Yoon Seo teases that he’s changed his tune and Sohyeon admits that he’s reflecting over his wrongs now. He leans in for another kiss before bidding her a fond goodnight.
Sohyeon starts to re-mount as the princess waits to see him off, but he pauses in confusion to see the arrows missing from his quiver. That’s when an arrow flies past his face, and Sohyeon turns around to meet the shocked eyes of Yoon Seo as it buries itself into her chest.
If Episode 10 was a bundle of fun that left me cheering in excitement and pride at watching Team Musketeer unite in bromance to thoroughly out-manoeuver the bad guys, Episode 11 left me a gibbering mess – because OH SHIT. Talk about a rollercoaster ride.
Poor, poor Dad – my heart breaks for Dal Hyang. How adorable was Dal Hyang and his Dad? Which is precisely why it’s so much worse. Their joyous and too-brief reunion scene makes the subsequent tragedy that much harder to take, and we can only hope that Sohyeon and Yoon Seo don’t present a similar picture. It’s almost predictable really; the minute Sohyeon and Yoon Seo reached the pinnacle of mutual happiness is the same moment you knew something was going to go spectacularly pear-shaped. The fact that it’s occasionally predictable doesn’t make the drama any less enjoyable to watch, however, because the good guys are so likeable that they jump off the screen – you can’t help being drawn to them, rooting for their every minor victory and groaning at each setback. Rarely has a drama consistently brought me enjoyment without leaving me questioning at the same time whether it’ll turn around next week and start sucking, but somehow The Three Musketeers manages.
It’s a close call, but the hero (or rather, heroine) of these two episodes for me is once again Yoon Seo, who has grown so much – she was always a strong character, but it was watching her muster her courage time and time again in the face of extreme adversity and even near-certain death (particularly when she has little freedom to actively protect herself as crown princess) that made me love her even more. It’s gratifying, therefore, to watch Sohyeon finally appreciate these endearing qualities in Yoon Seo and give her the love that she’d wished for.
Dal Hyang comes a close second; once again he has displayed his ability to think fast on his feet and act quickly – those series of narrow escapes from Kim Ja Jeom is the stuff of legends, plus his outwitting of Mi Ryung… whew. I’m in love! Like Yoon Seo, the best part of Dal Hyang’s growth is the way he’s shown that he now has the ability to stand on his own even without back-up. The Dal Hyang who’d blindly followed orders at the beginning of the drama and blundered into messes is no more. It’s truly tragic that he barely has a chance to enjoy his genuinely praiseworthy achievements before he’s dealt a massive loss.
If there’s an disappointing aspect, it’s the fact that we’ve reached the penultimate episode… and we still have seen very little from Seung Po and Min Seo. It’s understandable that time constraints mean we can only focus on Dal Hyang and Sohyeon out of our merry band of musketeers, but it would have been nice to know them just a bit better. There was so much promise in seeing some real character depth, but they’ve just been relegated to the role of comic relief and the prince’s helpful sidekicks so far. What with the drama now cut short, we’re unlikely to see more, either.
More than Seung Po and Min Seo’s character development, however, my biggest criticism for the recent episodes is the descent of Mi Ryung. She had started the drama as one of the most intriguing characters, with her mysterious background story and questionable motives, but has gradually been reduced to a stock villain whose motivations no longer matter, because they don’t even make sense to Mi Ryung herself anymore. At least it’ll be satisfying to watch when Mi Ryung finally gets her comeuppance, even if she seems to have gone so far over the edge that she might not recognize its true import. Justice for Dad!