The Flower in Prison, Episodes 16 & 17

TL;DR: On the one hand, Nan-jung finally gets outwitted; on the other hand, we repeatedly delve into a trope that makes me want to tear my hair out.

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Three cheers for Ok-nyeo and her team for outwitting Nan-jung and making off with 10,000 nyangs’ worth of silver! Nan-jung threw our heroes into chaos a couple times—and even tortured Woo-chi! His noble commitment to see the con through to the end made me forgive him for his previous lackluster appearances—but in the end, Ok-nyeo and company prevailed. This was a fun con, and it took me by surprise more than once. (I thought the mining inspector was going to be a wrinkle in our good guys’ plot, and I was never so happy to be wrong about that.)

I loved that we got to revel in the success for a little while. Watching Ok-nyeo arrive with the carts of rice at the Jeonokseo gates and the guards handing out huge rice balls was a lovely sequence. It felt like a solid, hard-earned win for our good guys, and the ethically dubious prison labor development will offer our heroes more opportunities to chip away at the bad guys.

Dong-joo was so close to unraveling the scheme on time, but Mak-gae screwed it up and cost them a lot of money. I wonder if Dong-joo will keep this a secret from Nan-jung or if she will spill it all once she gets to the bottom of it. She seems loyal enough to Nan-jung that she might side with her over Mak-gae. Especially now that we know that Nan-jung is using the money she earns to fund the royal family. No wonder Queen Dowager Munjeong lets Won-hyung and Nan-jung get away with so much shit.

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Filial piety continues to cause problems for both Ji-hun and Tae-won in these episodes. Ji-hun did not take Ok-nyeo’s revelation about his true parentage very well, and he took it even less well when Won-hyung confirmed part of the story (that he framed and had Tae-soo murdered). I guess it is unsettling to know you’re marrying into the family of the dude who killed your grandpa. However, I still refuse to believe you have anything resembling a conscience. Where’s your remorse for your own (does it now qualify as ironic?) participation in framing other people for treason? (What happened to those people anyway? We dropped that once Tae-won was freed. Are others still being tortured over Nan-jung’s lies?)

On the other end of the filial piety scale, Tae-won is outright refusing every overture Won-hyung makes. While satisfying on several levels (deny that murderous jerk everything he wants!), I’m glad that Tae-won was finally chose to talk to Won-hyung to ask that he ensure the salt contracts were awarded fairly. Will Won-hyung choose the wife whom he loves dearly or the estranged son who hates his guts? I’m guessing the latter, if only because that would cause far more drama and further the conflict. I still think he should choose Nan-jung, though, because I like the villainous happy family.

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One thing I am VERY much over with right now is the start of yet another jealousy plotline. Okay, ladies, I know that Ok-nyeo is amazing and will likely get all the guys to drop the Joseon-era-equivalent of their boxer briefs, but can we stop it with being jealous of her for just talking to the guys? Please? It would help out my blood pressure a great deal.

It’s also getting ridiculous. So-jung and Eun-so are both jealous over Tae-won, and Shin-hye’s getting annoyed over Ji-hun. Who, by the way, is a captain in the police bureau and likely talks to damo all the time. I would much rather we focus on the awkward relationship Shin-hye and Ok-nyeo have, what with Ok-nyeo getting kidnapped in Shin-hye’s place all those years ago. Let’s talk about that, okay? That’s way more interesting than standard romantic jealousy.

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The only one no one is jealous over is King Myungjong, and that’s only because Ok-nyeo and her immediate circle don’t know he’s actually the king. (I didn’t put it together until episode sixteen, oops.) I find the king an interesting character—he’s an adult and the alleged ruler of the nation, and yet his mother quite easily shuts him down and run things behind his back. It’s good that he’s sneaking out in disguise to get an idea of what the kingdom is really like. Here’s hoping we get a little less comedy from his and Ok-nyeo’s interactions and a little more drama and intrigue.

Flower in Prison continues to keep track of smaller plot threads, and it’s delightful whenever one pops back up again. Even though the show is messier than I’d hoped, the fact that they haven’t been losing track of things behind the scenes continues to give me hope. We’ve essentially watched a full drama as far as episodes go, and I haven’t done that in almost a year now. With any luck, this show will continue to be good enough that I can watch it through until the end.

By the Numbers

  • Ridiculous leaps in logic: 1
  • Months of rice acquired: 3
  • Dudes with sticks in their hats: 6
  • Scammed nyang: 10,000
  • Bechdel Test: 15 episodes passed

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