TL;DR: Avatar: The Last Airbender was right! Sometimes you just need to take a field trip with a former enemy in order to become BFFs.
The pace picked up in these episodes, mostly because Ok-nyeo got to do things rather than have things done to her. And they were all glorious, from accompanying Ji-hun on his quest to retrieve his grandfather’s secret money (+official document) stash to her sorting out how to earn her way out of being a generic government slave. While some of the finer details were a bit hokey (though the fact that her friends kidnapped a monk for her was hilarious), it was good to see Ok-nyeo moving her own plot line along. I like watching her plan and execute cons, and that injected a bit of fun that we had been sorely missing. Plus, we got a reminder about how smart she is and her prior tutelage under Elder To Jung.
I’m really interested in seeing what happens now that Ok-nyeo has been commandeered (and freed) by the Ministry of Rites—does this mean that more of the action will move into the court? Will she be able to begin helping King Myungjong in his quest to become a ruler in his own right and not just ruler because Queen Dowager Munjeong finds him just biddable enough to rule through? I hope so! The king has proven he can’t root out the corruption in the palace on hiw own, and so far Ok-nyeo hasn’t let innocent people get tortured and/or killed and/or exiled in her place, which puts her on the moral high ground in comparison to his other allies.
I’m slowly coming to like Ji-hun now that he has been humbled and has befriended Ok-nyeo. I am on the brink of taking him off my shit list, but I can’t quite take the plunge until I see how he reacts to his father’s hilarious death. I did like that he supported her and trusted her enough to follow her plans. He seems to respect her, finally, which is a change of heart I will always approve of. It is unfortunate that his vow of vengeance may put him at odds with Ok-nyeo down the line, should Ok-nyeo decide to be on Tae-won’s side.
Speaking of down the line, one of the things that Flower in Prison is doing really well, that some recent shows have not measured up to, is keeping track of minor plot points. How many episodes has it been since we last saw Ok-nyeo’s mother’s hairpin? Since Ji-hun’s grandfather gave Ok-nyeo that treasure map? Since Nan-jung told Shin-hye she would utterly ruin Ji-hun’s family?
All of these things are coming back at appropriate times in order to further the plot along. I want to clap whenever the show remembers something that happened before—too often, little threads like that get dropped even in much shorter shows. But we’re halfway through Flower in Prison’s 50-episode run, and it has kept track of these smaller details. I hope it continues to do so.
Ever since Tae-won jumped to the dark side, I’ve been losing interest in him. I’m 90% sure he is playing the long con against Nan-jung and Won-hyun, but I’ve seen so many evil fathers redeemed in kdramas that the 10% uncertainty is enough to make me preemptively bitter and irritated. Please give
me the audience some sign soon that you aren’t going to get suckered into the filial piety trap.
That said, I do appreciate Tae-won’s cleverness in going after Hwan-ok’s trading company. It’s too bad that he inadvertently caused Hwan-ok to die of heartbreak distress, though, because he could have had an ally in Ji-hun but instead got himself another enemy. We’ll see how things shake out there. (If sageuks have taught me anything, it will end with bloodshed.)
And before I forget, there were two small things in these episodes that really warmed my heart: Clerk Ji’s reunion with Ok-nyeo and watching Constable Yoo grovel for his life. I’m very happy that Ok-nyeo and her adoptive father love each other so much, and I cackled when Constable Yoo got conned. Both of those things were very, very satisfying.
By the Numbers
- Helpful crabs: 1
- Magical caves: 1
- Fortunetelling moments: 2
- Frustrating just-misses: 2
- Trade companies searched: 2
- Bechdel Test: 23 episodes passed