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. Continue reading “The Flower in Prison, Episodes 30 & 31”

The Flower in Prison, Episodes 28 & 29

TL;DR: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a second lead lady kidnap her romantic rival before. Huh.  Also, fake plagues for everyone!

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So Shin-hye and her second lead lady snubbed romantic feelings have been a slow-building plot point. While I have enjoyed her and her mother’s interactions over those feelings (aw, Evil Mommy will ruin the boy who broke your heart, don’t you worry), I am a little less pleased at how predictable they’ve been overall. First, the pining, then the lurking and the following, then the leaping to conclusions that the Rival must be to blame over the loss of her beloved’s affections, etc.

The kidnapping via armed thugs was a new twist, I’ll give her that. Continue reading “The Flower in Prison, Episodes 28 & 29”

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. Continue reading “The Flower in Prison, Episodes 26 & 27”

The Flower in Prison, Episodes 24 & 25

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.

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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. Continue reading “The Flower in Prison, Episodes 24 & 25”

The Flower in Prison, Episodes 22 & 23

TL;DR: It has been a month since I last watched this show, but luckily for me, these two episodes were mostly concerned with setting the stage for the next round of long-term plots. Also, everybody important thinks that Ok-nyeo is dead.

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Our heroine, of course, is not dead (though she did get injured). I was annoyed that she got captured by the bandits without an on-screen fight. Seriously? Come on. If she was going to be overpowered, I wanted to see her fight her hardest—I mean, people were getting slaughtered! Did she just nope out of the fight and surrender quietly?

I am somewhat pacified by the fact that being captured then allowed Ok-nyeo to save half a dozen women from slavery, first to her own government and then to Ming. Honestly, it was quite a nice touch when she asked the other women if they wanted to go with her to the town and respected their wishes when they decided to run off into the woods to form a secret village of badassery make a break for their freedom. I wish them well. Continue reading “The Flower in Prison, Episodes 22 & 23”

The Flower in Prison, Episodes 20 & 21

TL;DR: Are we done with this bribery plotline yet? Please? Oh, I might actually be able to start mildly shipping the main couple now.

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I found myself in a weird, dissatisfied place with these two episodes. The bulk of that has to do with Constable (no, I’m not addressing him by his new title) Yoo’s continued existence. I have found him rather tiresome for the majority of the show, but this week made him downright insufferable.

What am I supposed to do other than endure him? The show has made no attempt to make him sympathetic, though it’ll give a half-hearted try for a jerk like Dae-shik, who has betrayed Ok-nyeo twice now. (Or has it been more than that by now?) Constable Yoo didn’t feel like he was getting a large enough cut of the bribes, so he went and sold out his boss, Ok-nyeo, Tae-won, and Jae-myung. He is, honestly, the worst sort of villain: motivated by petty jealousy, insecurity, and utterly uninteresting. The less time he has on my screen, the better. Continue reading “The Flower in Prison, Episodes 20 & 21”

The Flower in Prison, Episodes 18 & 19

TL;DR: Our heroes succeed in their second operation against Nan-jung, but it comes with a price. And Ji-hun discovers he does have standards and morals after all. Surprise!

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I half expected this bid for the salt contracts to fail for our heroes after their spectacular win against Nan-jung in the prior week’s episodes. So while they technically lost the distribution rights to Nan-jung, they tricked her into taking a massive loss on her salt while simultaneously accepting a higher, private military contract instead. I am going to cry (a small) foul over that, though, since King Myungjong had to sweep in to save the day in a flashback. I don’t think the military’s shortage of salt was mentioned earlier, either. It feels less like a win they had to work for and more like something lucky they stumbled upon, as opposed to their great con in order to feed the Jeonokseo prisoners. While their con re: the bid did take some slick work, it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as the previous week’s shenanigans.

Continue reading “The Flower in Prison, Episodes 18 & 19”

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.)

Continue reading “The Flower in Prison, Episodes 16 & 17”

The Flower in Prison, Episodes 14 & 15

TL;DR: Remember that multi-year famine going on? No? …wait, did we forget to tell you?

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Maybe I missed the hints dropped earlier, or maybe this is a historical thing Korean viewers are just expected to know (like Americans ought to know the whens and the wheres of the Dust Bowl), but surely I can’t be the only one who was surprised to learn that we were in the midst of a multi-year famine? This mini plot arc took me by surprise because we suddenly went from “unappealing but thick rice porridge” to “off-white water” at the Jeonokseo in practically no time at all.

Unfortunately, that meant Nan-jung’s 10-day birthday (and promotion) celebration didn’t have as much impact as it ought. If we’ve only seen people starving on screen for a couple minutes, Nan-jung’s lavish, non-stop party doesn’t get the kind of contrast it deserves. Sure, they tried to humanize the famine with the lady who accidentally killed her family by feeding them blowfish guts, but…meh. We’d never seen her or her family before, they had no names, she didn’t speak—it was an intellectual exercise at best. Same with the forger.

Continue reading “The Flower in Prison, Episodes 14 & 15”

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.

Continue reading “The Flower in Prison, Episode 13”