The Flower in Prison, Episodes 30 & 31

TL;DR: I actually forgot to take a lot of notes, which is a good thing—it means I wasn’t looking for excuses to pause during these episodes.

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So after sending the people into a panic, killing livestock, and forcing the king into ritual seclusion, Nan-jung, Dong-joo, and Dong-joo’s flunkie whose name I can never remember, finally got arrested for, you know, doing evil things. I’ll admit that, as much as I adore myself some female villains, I was extremely excited about this development. (Even though it wouldn’t stick, of course, because we’ve still got twenty episodes to go. But still.) Mmmm, sweet, sweet justice was almost served, and for a few days our villains got to go into hardcore panic mode.

One of the things I actually liked the most about this sequence of events was how fiercely loyal Dong-joo and Queen Dowager Munjeong were to Nan-jung. Dong-joo endured torture for her, never once straying from her story about their trading company’s innocence and coincidental good fortune. And politically savvy Munjeong weighed control of an important palace appointment and saw Nan-jung as more valuable, even when Won-hyung was conflicted over the decision. (And he had the nerve to say he was loyal to her, even if he didn’t love her, bah.)

I was really happy that they bothered to give Nan-jung a reunion with Shin-hye as well as with her husband. I’m really happy about the mother/daughter thing they’ve got going on, even if Nan-jung has issues with Shin-hye’s villainous baby steps. This may end up being my favorite kdrama parent/child relationship for 2016, I’m not even kidding.

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Tae-won started to redeem himself in this episode, beginning with his timely rescue of Ok-nyeo from execution. Normally this is a thing I don’t enjoy, especially when the heroine is a former secret intelligence agent, but the sting of that disappeared when he threw her a sword at the end of the fight so she could take out of the last bad guy. It also helped that he has backed the hell off and given her space since it is clear she still isn’t happy with him. Don’t make me regret praising you for this.

Other stops on the road to redemption were Tae-won being clever and talking himself out of a tight spot with the queen dowager and, more importantly, going straight to King Myungjong to spill the beans on the fake plague and how everyone was lying to him about needing to stay in seclusion. I may have cheered a couple times. I love it when my good guys are all on the same page.

That also means I’m not really cool with Myungjong’s royal decree that Tae-won keep his identity secret from Ok-nyeo. Honestly, even without the possibility that they’re related not that that has stopped previous kings…, that alone is the signal that Myungjong can’t be the end game. We’ll see if Tae-won’s loyalty to king and country overrides his feelings for Ok-nyeo.

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Speaking of Ok-nyeo, it looks like the earlier “her mother must have been knocked up by a guard” thing was a very thin smokescreen—the way everyone is flipping out about the hair decoration says she is of much higher birth. Actual secret princess, looks like, which really has been the only logical explanation. I mean, you don’t go slaughtering all the women connected to the dead royal unless you got wind of the fact that one of them was pregnant and you didn’t want a contest for the throne.

I did feel bad for Ok-nyeo as she really only got a lot more questions than answers even as everyone else around her learned more about her. Don’t worry, Ok-nyeo. I’m sure you’ll find out your true heritage…maybe in the next ten episodes? I’m having difficulty guess on pacing with a show this long.

Mostly right now I’m worried about how she is going to take it when she finds out that Myungjong has been lying to her about his identity and that he (and his advisors) chose to let Nan-jung go in exchange for achieving a person goal. Her grudge against Nan-jung and Won-hyung is doubly personal now that she knows who killed her mother. I don’t imagine she’ll be happy with Myungjong, even if, from his point of view, he has to worry about the larger political game.

Hang in there, Ok-nyeo. It’s going to be rough, but you can get through it.

By the Numbers

  • Fight scenes: 2
  • People tortured: 2
  • Stolen shipments: 1
  • Backstories unlocked: 3
  • Times royals shouted at people to shut up: 3
  • Bechdel Test: 29 episodes passed

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