Review: Mr. Queen: Episodes 3-4

Dec 21, 2020

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As our hero in a queen's body gets drawn into court politics and the mystery around the lake incident, he's slowly able to piece together the queen's story. There’s a lot of details to fill in, but what we learn this week sheds light on some of the queen's political and emotional conflicts.


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So-yong’s drunken escapades at the gisaeng house put her in quite a dangerous position, and one second she’s stumbling back to the palace, and the next she’s being attacked by a masked assailant… who’s actually her husband, King Cheoljong. Another hero swoops in to save her, though, and we enjoy one of many well-choreographed, swashbuckling fight scenes.
Who’s this other guy that saves her, though (and knows she’s So-young and not some young rapscallion?) He’s KIM BYUNG-IN (Na In-woo), So-yong’s cousin. We’ve seen him in bits so far, but it’s this week’s episodes where he becomes important — and also kinda sexy?
A flashback brings us to a night before the lake incident, and for the first time we see the real So-yong. She’s absolutely distraught when Byung-in finds her. He attempts to console her and quiet her doubts… but this actually turns into a swoony confession of love, and a kiss, too. Hah, way to sneak a secret romance in there, Show! I actually really like this dynamic between these two, and now I’m looking forward to Byung-in’s role as he continues to help and protect So-yong.
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Body swapped So-yong’s main complaint this week, though, is how poorly the queen’s body can deal with a hangover. She demands some spicy ramyun, and when the royal chef MAN-BOK (Kim In-kwon) can’t make it to her liking, she takes the cooking (and the kitchen) into her own hands.
Most of So-yong’s scenes this week are actually her in the kitchen, pissing off the royal chef, and making absolute masterpiece meals with ingredients and methods that obviously weren’t used in Joseon. Outside of being entertaining (So-yong in an apron with her skirts all hiked up is a blast), So-yong also uses her skills to her advantage: she learns about the food preferences of the grand queen dowager, and then cooks her way into her heart. The goal is simple: So-yong needs the lake filled up.
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So much of So-yong’s hopes are pinned on re-diving into the palace lake, that I’m a little bit concerned it’ll just become a dead end — if it ever comes to fruition, that is. A crazy amount of the palace staff are put to task and charged with filling the lake bucket by bucket. This seems like it will take a century, not the single day that So-yong demands.
The filling of the lake is clearly the focus of this week’s plot, but there’s also an important bit of newfound conflict and recognition between So-yong and Cheoljong. After failing to assassinate his queen, Cheoljong is consumed with the need to find out how much she heard, and how much she knows.
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Cheoljong parks himself in her chambers and forces some ceremonial tea down her throat — So-yong is terrified that it’s poison, but it’s actually the fragrance of the tea that jogs her memory. She realizes in one horrifying moment that the Cheoljong before her is the same person she saw hidden behind a veil, and the same person that tried to kill her.
The tea, rather than poison, seems to be a truth serum of sorts, and pretty soon (and after a forced kiss), So-yong is telling Cheoljong everything she knows. I’d be lying if I said this whole plot line wasn’t a bit of a head-scratcher for me; is the point here to put the two further at odds? If it is, that surely works, because things reach a high pitch by the end of this week’s episodes.
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Hwa-jin, the royal concubine, is strong-armed into admitting (falsely?) that she’s the one that pushed the queen into the lake that night. She admits this to the grand queen dowager and is about to be beheaded on the spot. Until Cheoljong steps in.
I really can’t figure out Cheoljong at all right now, and I’m not sure if I even like him or not, but he definitely means business when it comes to Hwa-jin. He grabs the sword with his bare hand to protect her.
Then, a third layer is added to this climactic scene, when So-yong makes her presence known and tops the Cheoljong/Hwa-jin conflict by admitting to everyone that she herself jumped into the lake, and that she was trying to kill herself.
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We might have to wait until next week to learn how this situation resolves, and how many heads will roll, but it sheds some interesting light on the real So-yong. Not only did we see her at her most frail and honest (during the Byung-in kiss flashback), but we learn that she was obsessed with embroidering the phrase, “Desert thy false self.”
This is absolutely the most interesting part of the drama to me by far. The hijinks and jokes are fun, but I really like this mystery around the real So-yong, and what her story was. How much of what we know of her awful, cruel ways was real, and how much was a front? Is the real So-yong a true heroine, entering the court as queen with some valiant, righteous aim? That’s the same story we’re led to believe about Hwa-jin, so between these warring females, and their warring clans, there’s definitely still a lot for us to uncover.
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Watch more information of upcoming drama “Mr. Queen (2020)” at here.

Source: [Dramabeans]