Episode 15 was, by far, the strongest episode of the drama. It brought together history, character development, and a large,exciting event that acted as an impetus for further development.
That event is the reclamation of Hanyang, what is now Seoul, from the Japanese. It is paired with the tragic death of Gwanghae"s younger brother, and the king"s inability to extricate himself from his greed. It highlights Gwanghae"s intelligence and his ability to bring people together and overcome nearly insurmountable odds. Unlike his father, King Seonjo, Gwanghae was able to inspire people to help him, and this episode best shows a plausible way in which the crown prince could"ve done that. He throws himself into the thick of things, using his quick wits to win small, decisive victories over the Japanese and keep them at bay.
The way this episode is put together is exactly what I"ve been asking for since Gwanghae was made the crown prince. It had forward motion, intrigue, and history that was woven into the plotline, not just dictated over maps. Sinseong"s death was poignant, but not as powerful as it should"ve been. Even though he and his mother, Lady Kim, were painted as the bad guys, had their relationship been more empathetically portrayed, the death would"ve carried beyond the scenes it was directly a part of.
Another part of the episode I enjoyed was that it fleshed out the Japanese and made them more than mindless invaders. They searched for precious Korean treasures and kidnapped ceramicists to take back to Japan. Porcelain was a precious commodity back then and the forced importation of Korean ceramicists greatly boosted Japanese art and economy. It"s a really important point to include. I hope that the Japanese continue to be developed to be more than just cackling, blade-swinging invaders.
As for Ga-hee and Do-chi, they are two characters who have partially fallen off the grid. The writer only makes use of them as pawns. They are no longer strategic parts of the plot or interesting characters in and of themselves. I"d like to see Do-chi"s downward spiral developed (are you noticing a pattern?) beyond simple steps towards his goal. He needs psychological dilemma; interactions with more than one or two people. This is a recurring issue with "The King"s Face", wonderful setup, and little follow through. Any time serious development is necessary it is avoided by including pointless plotting, or with copout voiceovers.
Written by: Raine from "Raine"s Dichotomy"
Follow @ raine0211
"The King"s Face" is directed by Cha Yeong-hoon and Yoon Seong-sik, written by Lee Hyang-hee and Yoon Soo-jeong, and features Seo In-guk, Jo Yoon-hee, Lee Seong-jae, and Sin Seong-rok.
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