The Flower in Prison, Episodes 26 & 27

TL;DR: Let the trade wars begin!

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With Ok-nyeo back in the capital, the show has found its footing again. I really do love that Ok-nyeo is the main character—this world more or less revolves around her, even though she is (now) a low-ranking member of the Ministry of Rites. Her mere presence spurs allies and enemies alike into action, she has three handsome men in her orbit, she has a revenge quest to return to, she is getting recruited into other powerful people’s plots, and she has assembled a team to help her out.

Every time I return to this show, I am reminded just how refreshing it is to have a female character occupy a role that would have normally gone to a male character and not have anyone within the show question why she should be there, taking up so much space. Ok-nyeo, Nan-jung, Queen Dowager Munjeong, and Gyo-ha are all powerful, commanding women, and it is a delight to watch them in action.

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I was excited to have Ok-nyeo assemble her and Ji-hun’s secret trading company for Operation: Vengeance for Dead Guys and initiate their first con. Quick action on their part, coupled with a bit of inside information and a dollop of manipulation, gave them a huge supply of normal-priced goods and forced their enemies into buying what was left at astronomical prices with no way to recoup the expense. It was a fairly straightforward victory, but it was a satisfying one, and Ok-nyeo and Ji-hun continue to be a great team. It’ll be interesting to see what happens now that the pickpocket trio have been split up and sent as spies into two camps. I wish you two all the best with your scheming.

While I am officially removing Ji-hun from my shit list, Tae-won got notice that he is now on Ok-nyeo’s. Their conversation was wonderful because Ok-nyeo pointed out to Tae-won that he had crossed over the “acceptable for love interests” line by targeting Ji-hun’s father in order to secure funding for the palace and get points from his father and the queen dowager. Between Ok-nyeo’s rejection and Ji-hun’s slaps, Tae-won doesn’t get to pretend that Hwan-ok’s death was acceptable collateral damage, not anymore. (I hope he finds out that Ji-hun and Ok-nyeo are now close and working together, against him.)

As for possible suitor number three, Myungjong got to have a few good moments in these episodes. Ok-nyeo’s manipulation provided him with the opportunity to stand up to his mother by refusing to authorize the exams and thus knock the legs out from under Tae-won’s plan to beggar the test takers. While I’m still not sure I trust Lee Jung-myeong and Kang Sun-ho as his allies, I’m glad he has some. With any luck, this is the first real signal that we’re going to start on political warfare within the palace as Myungjong tries to exert his own authority and curb his mother’s and uncle’s corruption.

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We also circled back around to the initial mystery of the show: who were Ok-nyeo’s mother and father? Why did Won-hyung want them dead? The court ladies gave us a few tantalizing hints: Ok-nyeo’s mother was definitely the disappeared Gab-ee, and her father was possibly a palace guard. What happened there? Will Queen Dowager Munjeong and/or Nan-jung be able to trace back that matching hair ornament and tie it to Ok-nyeo? We probably won’t find out until the last third, at the earliest, if not the final arc; in the meantime, it was fun to advance that plot a little.

A few other, smaller things I’m interested in: 1) watching what Tae-won and Myungjong do now that they each know who the other is, 2) whether or not Myungjong will confess his true identity to Ok-nyeo or if he will be outed, 3) if Tae-won is jealous of both Ji-hun and Myungjong, 4) what face Nan-jung will make when she discovers who is behind the new secret trading company, 5) what Shin-hye will do with her one-sided love, and 6) if Sun-ho will take Ok-nyeo’s side the next time—and I’m certain there will be a next time—he has to choose between her and some other, “greater” good.

Flower in Prison, I know I am an inconsistent viewer (and that you’re already finished), but I am very fond of you. Have patience with me while I try to catch up.

By the Numbers

  • Plot-convenient famines: 1
  • Fight scenes: 2
  • Reasons you suck speeches: 2
  • Times people got hit in the face: 7
  • Bechdel Test: 25 episodes passed

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