My Sassy Girl: Episodes 21-22

As Hyemyeong and Gyun Woo bask in their new love, Da-yeon plots against them, determined to do everything she can to tear them apart. Meanwhile, Minister Jung finds himself in danger of being exposed as the corrupt official he is, but his attempts to cover his tracks may lead to some unexpected consequences.

 
EPISODE 21 RECAP

On a bright day, Prince Dalhan leads his entourage on horseback and admires an impressive black folding fan, adorned with a golden dragon. A small smile touches his face as he thinks back to his conversation with Gyun Woo.

In flashback, we see that Prince Dalhan was outraged to hear of the potentially treasonous intent underlying his arranged marriage to Hyemyeong. He’d praised Gyun Woo for his loyalty in finding out about the scheme, but after Prince Dalhan offered to tell King Hwijong of his merit, Gyun Woo had clarified that he acted not out of loyalty, but for his own sake.

He handed the black folding fan to Prince Dalhan and asked him if he recognized the golden writing, which read: “I want to keep you here no matter what it takes.” Gyun Woo explained that the Emperor gave the fan to him in the hopes that he would stay in Qing, and Prince Dalhan had added knowingly that the Emperor had also promised to grant Gyun Woo’s wish if he ever took out the fan.

Gyun Woo then told the prince his wish through misted eyes: “Please give up on the royal marriage. That is all I want.” Unsettled, Prince Dalhan had stared back at Gyun Woo as he processed his new friend’s request until finally, he smirked to himself and called him a jerk in Korean.

Gyun Woo recalled lying to Prince Dalhan at the tavern after Hyemyeong drunkenly called him a jerk. Gyun Woo explains that he intentionally mistranslated the word to Prince Dalhan, since he’d said that it meant Hyemyeong was feeling happy. Prince Dalhan smiled almost sadly at Gyun Woo and granted his wish. What a wonderful man.

In the present, Prince Dalhan studies the folding fan and thinks to himself, “If you desperately long for something, it brings you a miracle.” He then closes the fan and journeys back to Qing. (No, don’t leaveeee!)

Sometime later, Hyemyeong reads a letter from Prince Dalhan with Gyun Woo. It’s a simple and sweet letter, wishing Hyemyeong happiness and thanking her for everything she taught him.

When she’s done, Gyun Woo gripes that Hyemyeong looks a little regretful. Hyemyeong doesn’t deny it, citing the prince’s good looks. Grumpily, Gyun Woo tells her to go follow him then, and so Hyemyeong turns the questioning on him, asking if Gyun Woo is upset that she complimented Prince Dalhan.

Gyun Woo scoffs at the absurd idea, and Hyemyeong continues to tease him. Abruptly, she sighs to herself and calls herself crazy for thinking that this “petty man” is better than the prince. Ha.

Gyun Woo leans in closer to ask her to repeat herself. She complains that he heard her, but he denies it, so she whispers, “You are more handsome than him.” Pleased, he whispers back that she’s beautiful, and they giggle together.

Elsewhere, Joon-young interrogates the Minister of Finance and warns that the minister will never see the light of day until he reveals the identities of his partners. He adds that none of his powerful friends will be able to set him free, but the Minister of Finance remains tight-lipped.

In the throne room, the very people the Minister of Finance colluded with implore King Hwijong to execute him. Other ministers, including Minister Gyun, advise the king to conduct an investigation and question the criminal, since he probably did not act alone.

The king turns to Minister Jung, who’s been silent thus far, and asks pointedly what he should do. Trapped, Minister Jung is forced to agree that an investigation would be a good idea.

Hence, the king announces an official investigation in three days and invites all his ministers to attend. Afterward, Minister Jung and his lackeys panic about the investigation, and so Minister Jung recommends that they get rid of the Minister of Finance before he has a chance to speak.

The king praises Gyun Woo for helping to catch the Minister of Finance. Gyun Woo defers recognition, which makes the king smile with pride. He decides to reward Gyun Woo by granting him any position he desires. Gyun Woo refuses, but the king is insistent, and so Gyun Woo looks up and smiles.

Later, Gyun Woo reports to Hyemyeong about getting his old job back as the prince’s tutor. Hyemyeong is surprised he didn’t ask for something better instead.

Gyun Woo comes clean and admits that as the royal tutor, he’ll be able to see her more often and easily, and she’s touched by his reasons. He also gives a serious answer and says that he believes that educating the prince to be an upright and good leader is also very important.

Hyemyeong looks toward Gyun Woo affectionately, and when he asks why she’s looking at him, she replies, “Because you are so lovely.” Aw.

In her room, Hyemyeong giggles to herself as she recalls the exchange. She’s so caught up in her thoughts that Young-shin has to shout to get her attention. He calls her out on daydreaming about Gyun Woo, and at first she pretends not to know what he’s talking about, but soon she blushes and acts embarrassed to be caught.

Da-yeon destroys her room in a fit of rage, furious to learn that Hyemyeong’s arranged marriage was called off because of Gyun Woo. Minister Jung soon hears the news as well, and later that night, he recalls Gyun Woo questioning him on the exact origin of Hyemyeong and Prince Dalhan’s marriage request.

Meanwhile, Minister Gyun orders Gyun Woo to resign from his post as royal tutor. He warns his son that achieving too much success in his career too quickly will only invite harsher criticism and opposition. Gyun Woo shoots back that he will need to endure the opposition in order to grow strong, and requests that his father trust him.

Outside the room, his mother encourages Gyun Woo to follow his father’s wishes, because she worries about the nightmares he’s been having. She tells him to think over his decision carefully again. Gyun Woo retreats to his room and takes out the portrait of Hyemyeong that he has hidden inside a book before smiling to himself.

That night, Gyun Woo dreams of the eerie palanquin surrounded by dead bodies, and the young girl who begged him not to leave.

This time, thoughts of the young girl cut to Hyemyeong, and we see her chanting those very same words, begging him not to go once as she slept. Gyun Woo wakes from the dream once again, but this time, instead of confusion and terror, a worried look washes over him.

The next morning, Hyemyeong takes extra care in getting ready for the day, excited to see Gyun Woo. But she’s interrupted when Young-shin rushes in as she surveys her shoe collection to inform her that the queen dowager wants to meet.

The queen dowager comments on how much brighter Hyemyeong looks, recognizing how hard it must’ve been for her to conceal the news about the deposed queen for so long. She also acknowledges how Hyemyeong’s behavior seemed so “uncivilized and sassy” from the outside, given her frequent trips outside the palace and her determination to protect her secret.

The queen dowager then suggests that Hyemyeong reinvent her image to the public and show people a different, and more dignified, side of herself.

During their tutoring session, the prince cheerfully thanks Gyun Woo for convincing Hyemyeong to stay in Joseon. Gyun Woo just replies that her staying mattered a lot to him as well. The prince asks if Gyun Woo is happy, and the question catches his tutor off guard.

Slowly, Gyun Woo breaks into a goofy smile and laughs to himself until the prince says Gyun Woo must be so happy to return to work. Ha. And all Gyun Woo can do is agree sheepishly.

Hyemyeong arrives with some honey rice cakes for the hungry scholars, pretending to be surprised to see Gyun Woo there. The prince is wary after hearing that Hyemyeong made the treats herself, so he generously offers Gyun Woo the first bite. Gyun Woo finds them hard to swallow, but he manages not to hurt Hyemyeong’s feelings and even agrees when Hyemyeong asks if they taste good.

On the other hand, the prince isn’t as tactful and spits out the rice cake after one taste, calling them disgusting and way too salty. He asks Gyun Woo if he really finds them delicious, and Gyun Woo nods as he eats another piece to reinforce his lie. He swears they are perfectly seasoned for his tastes, but when Hyemyeong tries one herself, she realizes her mistake, causing her to look at Gyun Woo tenderly.

They lock eyes until Gyun Woo suddenly leans over to gently blow off the rice flour left on her cheek. Embarrassed, Hyemyeong shouts at him for acting rudely instead of just telling her that she had something on her face.

In mock outrage, she orders Gyun Woo out of the room to receive his scolding. Outside, she tells Gyun Woo that today is also her first day of work, explaining how she’ll begin working in the medical services bureau as punishment for constantly escaping the palace. They flirt a little, and Gyun Woo wishes her luck.

Joon-young visits the Minister of Finance again, who still refuses to name his cohorts. Joon-young even intercepts the minister’s food and tests it for poison, and though the minister seems shaken when the spoon turns black (indicating that his food was poisoned), he stubbornly maintains his silence.

Joon-young reports back to the king, and he surmises that the minister must still believe that his friends will rescue him. Elsewhere in the palace, Minister Park informs Minister Jung that he failed to poison the Minister of Finance.

Minister Jung goes to visit the queen at her behest, and she throws a fit at their failure to send the princess as well as the Minister of Finance’s imprisonment. Minister Jung implies that he didn’t know anything about the smuggling, and the queen points out that Minister Jung was the one that suggested the marriage.

His gaze hardens at the accusal, and he growls that the Qing were the ones who suggested the union. The queen catches herself and agrees with him, but her eyes betray her. He warns her to mind her own business, or she may end up putting herself in harm’s way.

Hyemyeong heads over to her new job, accompanied by Young-shin and Byul. Young-shin nags Hyemyeong for dressing down, since the people are expecting to see a beautiful princess. She doesn’t take well to the insult, but says that her job is to help sick people, not show off her beauty.

Just as she says this, she sees a huge banner welcoming her to the medical services bureau. The officials come out to greet her, but none of them realize that she’s the princess. The head official later apologizes for his gaffe, and Hyemyeong assures him that it’s no big deal.

She’s alarmed when the official assumes that she’s there to laze around, so she asks to be put to work. Thus, she busies herself with tending to the sick and preparing medicinal tonics. She’s a capable and hard worker, and the head official notices.

Meanwhile, Gyun Woo gulps down cup after cup of tea, prompting the prince to ask concernedly if he’s okay as he adds that Gyun Woo should not have eaten all those salty rice cakes Hyemyeong made. Gyun Woo replies that he’ll understand when he’s older.

Gyun Woo heads over to the medical services bureau to wait for Hyemyeong to finish with her duties, carrying some flowers in his hands. He gives them to her and tries to act all cool about them as he lies that he was just in the area, but she sees right through him.

 
EPISODE 22 RECAP

Se-ho and Da-yeon’s attendant (whose name is MAL-GEUM) meet at a teahouse to discuss her recent confession. He asks her straightaway if she’d like to start dating, and soon, they’re roaming the marketplace like a couple in love.

It lasts about thirty seconds before Se-ho spots Hyemyeong and Gyun Woo nearby, prompting him to shove Mal-geum into a corner to hide. She sees Hyemyeong and figures out the meaning behind his actions, asking if he’s embarrassed of her. Without even thinking, he admits to it, earning him a slap to the face.

He calls after her, but she warns him not to follow and calls him “ugly” before running off. He chases after her, yelling her name, but as Mal-geum returns home, we hear her complaining about Se-ho not following her after all.

She’s startled to see Da-yeon waiting outside for her at night, and lies that she was spying on the princess all day, which piques Da-yeon’s interest.

At the bookshop, Se-ho is deep in thought. Thinking of Mal-geum, he turns to Gyun Woo and blames him for his misery, adding that if not for Gyun Woo, “I could have eaten taffy.”

His best friend Kwang-soo guesses that Se-ho was dumped, and Se-ho adamantly denies it before stomping off. Kwang-soo assures Gyun Woo that Se-ho will get over it in no time. He asks Gyun Woo about his return to work, which makes Gyun Woo smile.

Joon-young is trying to decipher of all the clues given to him by Choon Poong, and in doing so, he follows up with the noble later and treats him to dinner. Joon-young tries to question Choon Poong, but the latter asks if Joon-young suspects him before resuming his happy-go-lucky fool act again.

The next day, Hyemyeong returns to the medical services bureau for another shift and is surprised to see Da-yeon and her entourage of ladies there to volunteer as well. Seeing Gyun Hee in the group, Hyemyeong greets her happily.

Da-yeon pipes up to ask if Hyemyeong remembers her, then apologizes for her rude behavior before. The rest of the ladies echo their apologies, and surprisingly, Hyemyeong does so as well, even bowing to the group.

The women get to work, leaving Gyun Hee and Da-yeon to sort through medicinal herbs in the storage room. Gyun Hee uses the opportunity to flatter Da-yeon for taking the higher road with the princess. She also mentions how her mother was so impressed with Da-yeon’s gift.

Gyun Hee expresses her annoyance that if not for her brother’s infatuation with Hyemyeong, Da-yeon would be the perfect candidate for Gyun Woo’s wife. She stops herself mid-sentence, realizing that she’s said too much, and the comment causes Da-yeon’s good girl veneer to slip off her face. Gyun Hee recovers and tells Da-yeon that she wishes they could be family, and Da-yeon replies ominously, “Then we should make that happen.”

The rest of Da-yeon’s entourage are assigned to take care of patients with grave illnesses, but they freak out when one of the patients starts coughing, afraid that they’ll come down with his illness.

The doctor directs the patient to apologize to the noble ladies, and as he does so on his hands and knees, Hyemyeong walks into the room and witnesses the alarming scene. She reprimands the ladies and says that they should be the ones to apologize as she warns them not to act all high and mighty anymore—otherwise, they can leave.

Down at the river, Hyemyeong chastises the ladies for daintily pounding the dirty laundry, her innate drill sergeant sassy girl emerging.

Da-yeon and Gyun Hee come over to see what all the fuss is about, and Hyemyeong explains that the ladies were struggling with their duties, so she was helping them to do their work properly. Da-yeon casts her friends a menacing side-eye, which makes them shrink.

Hyemyeong invites Da-yeon to join them, but Da-yeon asks to speak privately with the princess instead. They step away so that Da-yeon can apologize for her friends’ behavior. Hyemyeong calls the conversation unnecessary, believing it to be time better spent working.

Da-yeon continues with her sweet act and comments on how Hyemyeong is exactly as Gyun Woo described, claiming to have heard much about the princess from him (all good things, she adds). But this only leaves Hyemyeong confused as to why Gyun Woo would talk to Da-yeon about her.

Da-yeon replies with false shyness that she and Gyun Woo are to be married, and even points out the norigae she previously received from Gyun Woo.

Hyemyeong is taken aback by the news and insists that Gyun Woo never said anything about an engagement. Da-yeon answers, “I guess he had no reason to do so. Why would he tell you such private matters?”

Deeply hurt, Hyemyeong works without energy. Young-shin tries to cheer her up, only to undermine his own efforts right away. And when Gyun Woo visits again, Hyemyeong gives him the cold shoulder.

He picks up on her mood, and though she begins to ask him about his engagement to Da-yeon, she loses her nerve at the last moment. She tries again, but this time she attacks her query from the side, asking if he ever gave a woman a norigae before. Uh oh.

He’s shocked that she knows about that, which seems to confirm Hyemyeong’s fears. Young-shin pulls Gyun Woo to the side to fill him in on the situation and presses Gyun Woo for the truth. Gyun Woo denies the engagement rumor, leaving Young-shin unable to understand why Da-yeon would lie then.

Gyun Woo returns to Hyemyeong in an attempt to clarify her misunderstanding, but she doesn’t give him the opportunity. Finally, he finds a moment to explain himself, but Hyemyeong doesn’t believe him at first.

When he explains that the norigae was a gift of gratitude rather than a token of love, she asks why Da-yeon would lie to her about their relationship. Instead of answering, he says that he doesn’t care, because the one he cares about is the person right in front of him.

The romantic gesture seems to convince Hyemyeong a little. He asks if she feel better now, but she just grumps, and so he pulls her into his arms until she’s fully convinced.

Later, Gyun Woo walks Hyemyeong back to the palace and informs her that he won’t be able to visit her since he’ll be at the investigation tomorrow. She wonders if the Minister of Finance will be persuaded to implicate Minister Jung, and Gyun Woon replies that he’ll have to see to it no matter what.

Minister Park visits the Minister of Finance in prison, who is eager for news from the outside. He tells the Minister of Finance to answer honestly and reveal everything during the investigation tomorrow—but as he speaks, he surreptitiously drops a key into the cell.

Late at night, the Minister of Finance escapes, but the alarms sound almost immediately, with Minister Park leading the charge. He instructs the officers to capture the fugitive no matter what, and to kill him if necessary.

The Minister of Finance overhears the order from his hiding place nearby and gasps at the betrayal. He tries to jump the wall, but is shot in the back before he can escape. He dies after glaring hatefully at an unrepentant Minister Park.

Joon-young reports back to the king, who’s upset that they killed the prisoner instead of capturing him alive. Joon-young says that Minister Park was behind the order, and it’s enough for the king to suspect conspiracy.

Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong return to the palace and are met at the entrance by Minister Jung, who tells them of the Minister of Finance’s death. Though she says nothing, Hyemyeong and Minister Jung exchange loaded glances.

In her chambers, news of the minister’s death reaches the queen, and she realizes that Minister Jung is capable of abandoning her too. Coming to a decision, she announces that she cannot wait around for him to strike her first.

At home, Minister Jung speaks with Da-yeon about the brewing situation at the palace and tells her that she needs to give up her ambitions to marry Gyun Woo. She refuses again, enraging Minister Jung, but he doesn’t push the matter any further.

Minister Jung wanders outside in his yard, vexed, when suddenly a dagger whizzes by and lands on a nearby tree. He spins around and sees a masked figured dressed in black staring back at him. Attached to the dagger is a note, which reads: “Right will prevail in the end. You reap what you sow.”

In the royal garden the next day, Hyemyeong looks defeated as she asks Gyun Woo if Minister Jung can ever be stopped. But just then, Byul hurries over and says that she found a court lady who worked for the deposed queen ten years ago.

Hyemyeong rushes out the meet the woman at once, but Gyun Woo stops her and tells Hyemyeong to let him go in her stead, since it may be dangerous. He manages to convince her, and so he and Byul travel to a monastery where the court lady now lives as a monk.

The former court lady claims not to know anything about the deposed queen, but when Gyun Woon continues to ask for any information she can offer, she asks why he is so curious to know. Gyun Woo replies that it’s because the woman he loves wants to find her mother.

The statement makes the former court lady pause, but then she answers that the princess should not look for her mother, since she was deposed after being accused of adultery with Prince Chuseong, adding that the princess could be endangered if she continues her search.

Gyun Woo is alarmed to learn about the alleged affair, and when the woman turns around, we see that it is in fact the deposed queen herself.

And in her room, Hyemyeong stares longingly at her mother’s jade ring.

 
COMMENTS

If I try to remember what happened in last week’s episodes, I would probably struggle to recall anything other than Prince Dalhan. Sigh. I expected him to leave very soon, but I didn’t expect to feel his absence to such a great extent in the rest of the episode. He is such a thoughtful, decent, and dreamy character, so everyone else seems a little shallow and immature in comparison. Well, it was fun while it lasted. I like that Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong acknowledged what a cool (and handsome) dude Prince Dalhan is, because it comforts me to know that they’re not blind, given that I sometimes wonder what they see in each other.

All their romantic scenes seem to be hitting the right cues, but I don’t feel anything in my heart. There’s this mechanical quality to Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong’s interactions, and I wonder if it can be attributed to the lack of chemistry and cheesy dialogue. I don’t dislike them, I just want an extra oomph to convince me that this drama should not have been set in Qing, with Prince Dalhan appearing in Episode 1—he just made everything more dramatic and sparkly. Don’t get me wrong, the main couple was kind of cute together today, but there’s just something missing for me.

That aside, I’m glad that Gyun Woo and Hyemyeong sorted out their misunderstanding regarding Gyun Woo’s status as a single man pretty much right away. At this point, Da-yeon’s attempts are just sad, and I wish the show would build on her refusal to lose anything to anyone, but I suspect that might be asking for too much character depth from her.

I’m a little worried about Gyun Hee, because after Da-yeon eventually self-destructs over Gyun Woo, she won’t have any friends left. Then again, maybe everyone will turn their backs on Da-yeon and shift alliances to Hyemyeong (not that she needs friends like those ladies). As a person, Gyun Hee is kind of vapid and annoying, but in my mind she appears to be a bit younger than the other girls, and is so desperate to be liked that she’s tripping over herself trying to ingratiate herself with Da-yeon, who is clearly the top dog. I may be giving her more layers than she deserves, but I find myself wanting to sympathize with her and help her get out of Da-yeon’s shadow.

The person I feel the most sorry for is Lee Jung-shin. Most of Joon-young’s scenes are with the king, so all his character does is report things he learned two seconds ago. The other half of his scenes are with Choon Poong. Speaking of, I’d like to know what his deal is, but I’m not exactly dying to know. I was really interested early on, but the intrigue petered out, especially since his act is fooling nobody at this point.

Hopefully this shift to the deposed queen plot line as well as the queen’s threat to turn on Minister Jung livens things up again. But in the meantime, I’m going to go rewatch those Prince Dalhan scenes and dream about what could have been.

 

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