The Flower in Prison, Episode 13

TL;DR: Things go south for our resident villainous family, bad enough that I’m going to say this upfront: trigger warnings for domestic violence. (It doesn’t actually include contact between the parties, but there is a definite threat and the breaking of things involved.)

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Despite Shin-hye’s adorable face and plot relevance, this episode frustrated me on several levels and in a myriad of ways. I have a very special place in my heart for villains who also happen to have loving family relationships, so I am absolutely thrilled that Munjeong dotes on Shin-hye. Points to Shin-hye for busting out the cute to full and perfect effect in order to get Munjeong to officially forgive her parents. On the other hand, I’m still irritated that Nan-jung played Munjeong so easily with the politics.

(You seriously can’t handle posters on your own? What happened? Didn’t you coldly and efficiently poison the former king? And posters that don’t even target you rattle you that much?)

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Major cracks are starting to form between Won-hyung and Nan-jung, though. I should’ve expected Nan-jung to go after So-jung eventually—they pretty much telegraphed that one—but I found myself still surprised that Won-hyung would go to the gisaeng house to celebrate. That’s pretty damn callous to do after all Nan-jung went through to get you free and in Munjeong’s good graces, and you go to celebrate with a gisaeng?

Nan-jung knows exactly what kind of danger she is in and the vulnerability inherent in her position. While I don’t condone the lengths she goes to protect it, obviously, it’s kind of sad that she can’t actually go after her husband for his infidelity when he could cast her aside and ruin her future entirely. (Would this even be considered infidelity back then? It may have been frowned upon, but it’s pretty damn common in kdrama sageuk land.) She has to stay attached to Won-hyung if she is ever going to get the status she craves, but Won-hyung’s position means that he can replace her easily. Nan-jung has proved that possessive “love,” fear, and anger can propel you a long way down Maim & Murder Road.

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But Won-hyung was the one who really scared me in this episode. Leaving aside my incredulity that he actually cares about Tae-won when he utterly abandoned Hong-mae, I’m astonished that a son he hasn’t seen in at least a decade is more important to him than the lover who just orchestrated a fictitious treasonous plot in order to get him out of prison, put him back in Munjeong’s good graces, and rid themselves of the last of their political enemies. You reward Nan-jung for all of her amazing, hard work by screaming at her over a son you’ve given two shits about in the last 10+ years and smashing her possessions? A son who has sworn vengeance against her (and also happens to hate you)? Suddenly you lose your cruel, cold, and calculating villainy when someone containing half your genetic material is involved?

Yeah, yeah, I know there’s some cultural and historical disconnect going on, but that doesn’t prevent Won-hyung from taking a major dive re: villain enjoyability in my eyes. Middle fingers to you, sir, even if your tantrum got Tae-won out of prison.

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In slightly less frustrating news, Ok-nyeo plowed forward with her investigations as much as she could, considering she was denied access to Munjeong and is scrabbling for proof of crimes. I’m glad she saved Myeong-sun once—and still threw up my hands in a despairing of course when she took an arrow to the chest at the end. I’m hoping Ok-nyeo still somehow saved Tae-won’s mother from the poisoning, but considering the preview shows Tae-won in the mourners’ clothes, it looks like even that victory was snatched from Ok-nyeo.

Come on, show, surely she’s got to be hitting rock bottom soon. When is Ok-nyeo going to have her moment of transformation and become a hero to the oppressed and wrongly accused? I’m waiting.

By the Numbers

  • Hat jokes: 1
  • Fight scenes: 1
  • Training sessions: 1
  • Pissed off underlings: 1
  • Assassins: 3
  • Bechdel Test: 12 episodes passed

I know I said earlier this week that I would switch to doing one commentary post for every two episodes (aka, weekly commentary), but then I realized that it would have left this episode orphaned. BUT FROM NOW ON, one post per show per week as I check out various premiers. Who knows? Flower in Prison could be the last show standing, in which case, I’ll just go back to a post per episode.

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