My Sassy Girl: Episodes 15-16
For a princess, sneaking out of the palace has real consequences, and unfortunately, the people closest to her bear the brunt of them. After harboring a painful secret from her past for so long, she finally reveals it to the person who matters most, but it may be too late. But even though her enemies keep finding new ways to try and silence her, we all know that this princess isn’t one to back down without a fight.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Gyun Woo stops Hyemyeong on their way to the palace, reminding her that she can’t act on Min Yoo-hwan’s letter alone. She impatiently wonders if staying silent and feigning ignorance is the way to go, and Gyun Woo answers that if that’s what she must do, then she should; she can strike once she uncovers the truth behind her mother’s disappearance from ten years ago.
Meanwhile, Minister Park leads his peers to prostrate before the king’s quarters and call for the princess’s deposition. Inside the palace, the king silently stews when Minister Jung advises him to punish Gyun Woo for his failure to help Hyemyeong, and to accept the marriage proposal from the Qing Dynasty in order to appease citizens and prevent the princess’s deposition. But the unsolicited advice only angers the king further.
Hyemyeong stands helpless when she witnesses the ministers requesting her removal, but Gyun Woo calmly tells her not to be shaken, since that’s exactly what they want. Taking his advice to heart, Hyemyeong walks up the steps to her father’s quarters with Gyun Woo. She acts like she pays no mind to the ministers, but lets out the breath she’s been holding once she’s inside.
After speaking with the king, Minister Jung approaches her, and she’s reminded of Min Yoo-hwan’s cautionary warning regarding Minister Jung and how he may be behind the disappearance of her mother. She shoots daggers at him, but then puts on a smile and thanks him for his concern before she goes to meet with her father.
The king demands to know where Hyemyeong went, but she remains silent. Gyun Woo apologizes in her stead, fully taking the blame. Hyemyeong asks that she alone be punished, but her father merely orders her to return to her residence.
Alone with Gyun Woo, the king asks one last time where Gyun Woo went with her, but Gyun Woo recalls Hyemyeong’s explanation that anything involving her mother and Yoo-hwan should not be divulged to the king (who ultimately approved the queen’s removal) until she finds out what happened ten years ago.
Back in the present, Gyun Woo can only apologize to the king for not being able to disclose their whereabouts. The king furiously dismisses him as the prince’s teacher, and although Gyun Woo just got fired, he acts like nothing of note happened and smiles at Hyemyeong afterward.
In the midst of searching for Hyemyeong, Joon-young is notified that she has returned to the palace.
Gyun Woo downplays his punishment to Hyemyeong, saying that he’s been instructed to stop seeing her and to read and reflect on his actions at home. Hyemyeong doesn’t quite buy it, but he insists it’s the truth. He asks if she was worried he’d be punished severely, and to his surprise, she answers with a nonchalant, “yes.”
Just then, the prince runs to his sister in tears, wondering if she’s truly leaving the palace, but she assures him that’s untrue and that the ministers got nothing on her.
She clutches her heart in pain to show the prince that when he cries, she hurts, too, and embraces the inconsolable boy. Joon-young witnesses this from a distance.
Outside, Minister Park and his peers are still at it as they repeatedly call for the princess’s deposition. The queen dowager watches with concern while the king hasn’t budged from his room.
The queen asks Minister Jung what he’ll do if the king continues to hold out like this, but he refuses to share his plan with her and orders her to continue keeping an eye on the princess—he can handle the rest on his own.
In her room, Hyemyeong rereads the letter from Min Yoo-hwan, which pinpoints Minister Jung as the master perpetrator. She quickly hides it when Byul and Young-shin enter and is surprised to hear from them that her and Gyun Woo’s disappearance caused an uproar at the Gyun residence.
Cut to: Gyun Woo’s mother moaning in bed, upset that her son betrayed her the way he did. Gyun Hee rolls her eyes while Gyun Woo tries to appease his mother, but it doesn’t help when he says that he wanted to help Hyemyeong.
Gyun Hee determines that he’s officially smitten while their mother yells at her son to never hang around Hyemyeong again unless he wants to light incense at her funeral, heh.
With Teacher Gyun on his lap, Gyun Woo reflects on his dismissal by the king, as well as Hyemyeong’s warning to keep everything under wraps until she learns what happened to her mother. He sighs, clearly conflicted.
That evening, Hyemyeong carefully tries to sneak out again, this time to scour through the historical archives. But Gyun Woo catches her, having feared she’d do just that, and reminds her that even the king isn’t allowed to read the archives (they’re referring to the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, which nobody was allowed to read at the time to preserve historical neutrality).
She’s well aware of the dire consequences if she’s caught, but she stresses that she needs to uncover the truth about her mother’s disappearance. She asks Gyun Woo to turn a blind eye, but he says he can’t.
After spotting Hyemyeong sneaking out, an attendant alerts the queen, adding that Hyemyeong is in the vicinity of the historical archives.
Inside the archives, scholars chronologically organize the historical records, and Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong manage to slip into the other room unnoticed. In the near-dark, they set about about flipping through the pages of various records.
Just when Gyun Woo locates the records of the pertinent time period (when Hyemyeong’s mother disappeared), the historical scholars enter, and Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong are forced to crouch behind a nearby shelf to hide.
One of the scholars gets dangerously close to them, and for a moment it almost appears as if he’s looking straight at them, but it turns out he had his eyes on the dust coating some books instead. Whew! Eventually, the scholars leave, and Hyemyeong and Gyun Woo briefly look eyes in an intimate moment of relief.
The queen’s determinedly heading to where Hyemyeong might be, but her quest is interrupted when the queen dowager spots her and asks where she’s going. She fibs that she’s on her way to see the prince, but when the queen dowager suggests they go together, the queen admits that she’s on her way to look for Hyemyeong.
Back at the archives, Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong resume poring through books only to end up leaving when they find all the records missing from the year in question. Gyun Woo tells her not to be too disappointed; the king forbade the issue to be talked about for one hundred years, so the records she’s looking for may be held elsewhere.
But as they’re walking out, the queen dowager spots them and sternly orders them to follow her.
Meanwhile, Young-shin and Byul search Hyemyeong’s room for all the hidden talismans the queen put in place. But as soon as they’ve collected all of them, the queen catches them red-handed and asks them where Hyemyeong is.
The queen walks out fuming, livid that she was deceived by the queen dowager, who told her she saw Hyemyeong at her residence. Now the queen knows that it was a white lie said to protect Hyemyeong.
The queen dowager sits with Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong, surprised to hear that they risked their lives to look at the archives. She’s incredulous that Gyun Woo participated as well, as if his dismissal as the prince’s teacher wasn’t enough.
This comes as news to Hyemyeong, who realizes that Gyun Woo didn’t tell her the truth, and the queen dowager orders them to stop whatever it is they’re investigating immediately.
Afterward, Gyun Woo suggests that Hyemyeong speak to the king about her mother, but she curtly tells him to quit concerning himself in her affairs because he just gets in the way. She also adds that he should forget everything that’s happened regarding her mother and palace politics, since it’s irrelevant to him.
Gyun Woo replies that he’s merely concerned about her, but she pointedly wonders, “Are you sure you’re not worried about yourself?” Ouch, that came out of nowhere.
She says if he’s worried about his dismissal, she assures him she’ll do everything she can to reinstate him, but Gyun Woo is hurt that she’s twisting his words. Hyemyeong refuses to let up, and without missing a beat, she tells him to stop pretending to care for her since it’s not his place to.
And with that, she walks away, and we see the hurt in Gyun Woo’s eyes.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Minister Jung reads a letter from the Qing dynasty that brings a smile to his face; he’s received word that the imperial prince is eager to leave for Joseon soon. But then a visitor comes knocking—it’s the queen.
Meanwhile, the distressed king informs Joon-young that he’s being pressured to send Hyemyeong to the Qing Dynasty to prevent her dethronement, but Joon-young says he mustn’t do that as he clenches his fists in silent fury.
We return to Minister Jung, who’s alarmed to learn from the queen that Hyemyeong may have gone through the historical archives based on a tip from Min Yoo-hwan.
We flash back to when Hyemyeong’s mother was the reigning queen. The evil queen (a concubine back then) told Minister Jung that the king and Prince Chuseong were plotting to attack him and had advised him to attack first by sticking to her brilliant plan, which she agreed to reveal if Minister Jung promised to make her the new queen.
And so, Minister Jung had informed the queen dowager that Hyemyeong’s mother was secretly sending love letters to Prince Chuseong and had convinced her by showing her one of the letters, the authenticity of which was confirmed by a court lady who served as the messenger. But later on, we see that the evil queen had bribed her to lie.
Hyemyeong lies awake in bed, unable to sleep. Soon after, she instructs Byul to find out where the attendants and court ladies of ten years ago currently reside.
Gyun Woo also struggles to sleep, but we quickly cut to an ominous nightmare he has in which child Hyemyeong sadly shakes her head. He wakes with a start and finds Gyun Hee begrudgingly handing him herbal medicine made by their mother as she asks why he hasn’t left for work yet.
From behind a rock, the mother happily watches her son leave (he’s dressed as if he is going to work), and Gyun Hee wonders if Mom’s truly mad at him. Mom says she should see her son leave for work at the very least, but when Gyun Hee asks her why she’s hiding, Mom snaps that it’s because she’s still angry at him, heh.
We find an unemployed Gyun Woo reading a book at Se-ho’s and Kwang-soo’s workspace with his work clothes now folded neatly beside him. Hyemyeong’s order for him to stop pretending to care for her weighs heavily on his mind while his buddies work on steamy lines for their romance novels.
Gyun Woo sighs, and his buddies pity his lack of a job, but he clarifies that their books make him sigh in dismay, heh. Of course, Se-ho and Kwang-soo are quick to defend the quality and popularity of their work.
The kooky bookseller informs Gyun Woo that he has a guest, and we see Da-yeon arrive with her attendant, whose shy wave at Se-ho goes ignored. Aw.
Gyun Woo and Da-yeon relocate to the teahouse, where Da-yeon brings up that she overheard that Gyun Woo suffered immensely because of Hyemyeong, but Gyun Woo clarifies that that’s untrue and requests that she not tell Gyun Hee about his lack of a job.
Da-yeon assures him that she won’t, but adds that she’ll ask her father to see if he can help, which Gyun Woo immediately declines: He’ll handle his matters himself. Offended, she says she senses a distance between them, but Gyun Woo calmly answers that he sees no reason to bridge that gap. Oh, snaaaap!
Pretty boy Chang-hui checks himself out in the mirror held by his bros. They flatter him, and he likes what he sees, so he practices confessing his love to Da-yeon.
But when he sees her, he barely gets a word in because she already knew what he was going to gloat about — Gyun Woo’s dismissal — which quickly takes the wind out of his sails.
At the palace, the king reads a message from the Qing dynasty and learns that their prince is coming, although he doesn’t look too pleased about it.
On the other hand, the queen is delighted to share this news with Hyemyeong and happily adds that the Qing prince will propose and take her back with him. Unsmiling, Hyemyeong simply states that she won’t go, but the queen wonders if she’ll stay and cause more trouble for her father, not-so-subtly threatening that her actions may also harm the prince.
That line triggers a flashback for Hyemyeong, and we see the queen trying to feed an ill Little Hyemyeong, who repeatedly expressed her desire to see her mother. The queen told her that she’s her mother now and grabbed Hyemyeong as she warned her that if she kept this behavior up, she would complicate matters for the prince: “Your mother was a criminal. Do you want the prince to be the son of a criminal?”
Back in the present, the memory touches a nerve for Hyemyeong, but she manages a smile and calmly states that the queen always hid behind the prince, but that this time, that threat of hers won’t work because she’s no longer the terrified child from ten years ago. The two exchange icy smiles and maintain their composure.
The king meets with the queen dowager and admits his uncertainty on what he should do, but she advises him to approve the marriage, since it’ll be harder to refuse once the Qing prince arrives. The king has reservations, but the queen dowager reiterates this may be the best option to keep Hyemyeong safe from whoever’s targeting her.
In a shocking turn of events, Gyun Woo happily eats fermented skate with kimchi while Se-ho and Kwang-soo cover their noses. Gyun Woo’s slightly drunk, and he guarantees that while the first bite is always the toughest, once you start, you’ll get addicted. He catches himself repeating Hyemyeong’s line about craving skate even when you’re asleep, which she had happily chirped after feeding him his first piece of skate.
In her room, Hyemyeong feels guilty for causing Gyun Woo’s dismissal. Her father arrives, and over tea, he gingerly asks her if she still has nothing to say to him. When she remains silent, he tells her to prepare for the Qing prince’s arrival.
She’s alarmed that he’s approving the royal marriage, and maintains that she won’t go through with it because… she must find her mother. Ah, she finally opened up!
The king is confused, so Hyemyeong shows him the jade ring and asks if he remembers it. He takes it and examines it closely while Hyemyeong says he that he gave this ring to her mother, who wore it the day she was deposed. “Min Yoo-hwan met with mother three years ago,” Hyemyeong explains, thoroughly shocking her father.
The king grows emotional as he asks, “Is she still alive?” Hyemyeong answers that she believes so, and that she wasn’t able to say anything because he had placed a gag order on everything that involved her mother, forbidding her from even saying how much she missed her. With the king finally privy to the truth, Hyemyeong reiterates that she won’t be going anywhere.
Over a lavish feast, Minister Jung and his cronies celebrate their victory in convincing the king to go through with the Qing dynasty plan despite his initial misgivings. They’re giddy at the prospect of sending away the meddlesome princess.
Outside, Joon-young spots Choon Poong with his gisaengs and recognizes him from the butcher shop incident involving Min Yoo-hwan’s death.
Alone in his chamber, the king gazes at the jade ring and is reminded of when he gave it to Hyemyeong’s mother. They were both teens then, and he had expressed to her his desire to live happily with her like lovebirds that cherish their mate forever.
The next day, Gyun Woo is shocked to hear from Se-ho and Kwang-soo that the Qing prince is coming to propose to Hyemyeong.
Meanwhile, Minister Jung advises the king to have Gyun Woo welcome the Qing prince since he speaks their language and is close to the princess. It’s clear from Minister Gyun’s face that he’s opposed to this idea, but Minister Jung insists that Gyun Woo, regardless of his dismissal, would be the right man for the job and instrumental in forging diplomacy between the two countries.
Unsurprisingly, Gyun Woo tells his father that he can’t do the job, but his father replies that it’s the king’s order so he has no choice, but to comply.
Minister Jung and his cronies are still jolly about the Qing prince’s imminent arrival, and Minister Park adds that should the plan fall apart, blame will fall on Hyemyeong and Gyun Woo. Suddenly, Hyemyeong bursts into the room and states that she has something to say to Minister Jung in private.
After the other ministers leave, Hyemyeong informs Minister Jung that Min Yoo-hwan was found dead and that she has his last letter. Minister Jung isn’t terribly interested until Hyemyeong adds that Min Yoo-hwan had written about her mother. “Now are you curious?” she asks.
Minister Jung remains silent, and Hyemyeong states that she can’t leave this country until she uncovers the whole truth. He’s amused by her determination, but suggests that she let the investigative bureau handle this since she has a wedding to prepare for. She firmly tells him she has no intention of leaving for Qing, but Minister Jung counters that she has no say in the matter since the whole country is on the line.
“Do you want to stop the prince from being appointed as the crown prince?” he asks menacingly. She’s unsure of what he means by that, and he says that they’re currently discussing the crown prince appointment with the Qing: “In such tumultuous times, what would happen if the crown prince is rejected?”
The Qing prince arrives in Joseon on horseback with his massive retinue. Meanwhile, Gyun Woo, Minister Jung, and his cohorts await his arrival.
Young-shin tells Hyemyeong that everyone’s waiting for her, but he senses her misery. She sits on her bed and stares at the garment hanging before her and sheds tears of frustration.
The ministers are wondering why Hyemyeong hasn’t joined them yet when the Qing prince enters through the doors. Gyun Woo and the ministers immediately bow to them in greeting, and that’s when a voice announces the princess’s arrival. The ministers part to make way for her, and Gyun Woo watches her closely.
She appears stoic, even smiling convincingly when Minister Jung compliments her on her beauty. She politely introduces herself to the Qing prince, who introduces himself to her as PRINCE DALHAN.
I have to admit, my interest has been ever so slightly piqued with this shift into dramatic territory, and for once, I found Hyemyeong compelling. In the beginning, her frivolous antics and devil-may-care attitude left me unimpressed and unamused, but now that I’ve seen how resilient and courageous she is, I’m seeing her in a new light, and I like it.
This is a woman who can appear calm, oblivious, undeterred, and whatever else she needs to convey on the surface as a ruse while still keeping the wheels of her mind constantly churning. We’ve seen her stand up to the queen and Minister Jung with eerie equanimity, and we’ve also seen her hurt Gyun Woo with incisive words just so he wouldn’t continue to be punished for her transgressions. She knows what she’s doing and holds her cards close to her chest, and there’s a reason behind her actions.
For Hyemyeong to have not been allowed to utter a peep about her mother for all those years because of the gag order is alarming, and I’m surprised at how well she’s (seemingly) kept her pain and yearning bottled up for so long without imploding. It must be a testament to her inner strength, ironclad will, and extraordinary resolve to locate her mother at any cost.
I wonder if Hyemyeong will drive the Qing prince away by being on her absolute worst behavior, but whatever it is, I’m sure she’ll figure out how to avoid this arranged marriage. I’m not sure how long the Qing prince storyline will be, but I’m glad they cast an actually Chinese actor to play a Chinese character! Is this the start of a love triangle? I’m so ready for a love triangle if it means I get to see Gyun Woo and his adorable pout.
Gyun Woo continues to be ever the gentleman. He’s so caring and kind that I actually laughed when he rejected Da-yeon, because that’s probably the most simultaneously direct yet polite rejection I’ve ever seen! One sentence was all it took, and Da-yeon knew he had zero romantic feelings toward her. Gyun Woo is a sensitive soul, but I love how genuine and trustworthy he is, making him the perfect sidekick to Hyemyeong. She may have tried to drive him away, but if his newfound love for fermented skate has shown us anything, it’s that he’s attracted to the sassy princess in more ways than one, pungent food notwithstanding.