I will warn you now that I will not be pulling any punches with this recap, and I will also be adding many many spoilers throughout this recap. If you want to watch the show for yourself or read a review with no spoilers then this is not the review for you. Thank you *bows*
Episode 1 :
The first 10 minutes of this episode really sets the feel of the show. In a very grand way they introduce you to King Sukjong (Choi Min Soo), Lee In Jwa (Jeon Kwang Leol), and Baek Dae Gil (Jang Keun Suk), as well as what role they play in they will play in the story. They also show off the choreographed fight scenes that you will be seeing throughout the series, which I must say looks fantastic.
Now let me talk briefly about Jang Keun Suk’s acting, because so far in the series you only see it for about 2 minutes, and then the backstory begins. Keun Suk told reporters that he took the role in daebak to get away from being type casted as a pretty boy, though he does play a harder character and a more raw character that is really adding to his acting points. His mannerisms and facial expressions through the one scene that he was in was fantastic, and I really hope that his level of skill continues through the season, but only time will tell, and who knows when the next time we will catch a glimpse of Keun Suk because currently they are filling in the backstory of the show and Dae gil was just born.
Since this episode is all backstory you get to meet Dae Gil’s mother, Cheo Suk Bin (Yook Jin Seo), and father Baek Man Geum (Lee Moon Shik). Suk Bin is a palace maid, that was sold to a nobleman whose family has fallen. Baek Man Geum, is said nobleman who is addicted to gambling, which is what is the major pushing fact to an episode plot point. Since Man Geum is so addicted, Suk Bin takes money to seduce King Sukjong but then wants to return it but Man Geum has already stolen her money which forces her to go through with the plan that she didn’t want to do. Also, Man Geum gets tricked into playing against King Sukjong by Hong Mae (Yoon Ji Hye), the head of a gambling house, and loses his wife in the game.
Gambling addictions are a very real and dangerous thing, however I couldn’t see someone wagering their significant other on a bet, no matter how unlikely this is (though sadly I did find some case of it) I couldn’t get around this plot choice. The king is rich enough that I’m sure he could have just bought Suk Bin from Man Geum, however it does lead into another plot point that is used in the next episode.
The set and the clothing of the series is excellent, and the shot are frame fantastically. I wasn’t a fan of Yook Jin Seo’s performance in this episode but hopefully she gets more into the role. Both Choi Min Soo and Jeon Kwang Leol both fit so well into their roles. They exude the authority and grandeur that is required of the two character. I am a big fan of both of them in their respective roles.
Episode 2 :
Ok so we’re still building the back story to the drama. Main characters in this episode is King Sukjong, Choe Suk Bin, Baek Man Geum, and Lee In Jwa. This episode is a little more blow by blow because it sets up a lot about Dae Gil’s luck even as a child.
So the first quarter of the episode revolves around Man Geum trying to get his wife back by betting against King Sukjong about the weather in hopes that he would get his wife back. He does in fact win however Suk Bin refuses to go back with him. To be fair, she was lost in a bet and now she is being taken care of by the King, it would be really dumb if she had gone back with him. Jin Seo’s acting really improved in this episode. Maybe it was the script that she got given last episode, but in this episode there was much improvement.
The character of Dae Gil is brought up again in this episode because 6 months after she enters the palace to be the King’s woman she gives birth to Dae Gil (who has yet to be named). Suk Bin knows that the baby is not the King’s and plots to protect him, so she get help from Kim Yi Soo (Song Jong) to exchange her baby for a dead baby and get him to Man Geum. This decision creates a large ripple effect which we will get to later. Needless to say, the King , and In Jwa knows that the baby is still alive. In Jwa sends Moo Myung (Ji Il Joo) ( I believe) to get the baby back and the King sends Sa Woon (Han Ki Woong) and Sa Mo (Han Ki Won) to kill the baby. As we can see the choice the Suk Bin makes actually puts not only her child but Man Geum in a lot more trouble than if she had just tried to pass Dae Gil off as being the King’s son. I’m not sure how I feel about them using this to move the plot forward however I will admit, I did enjoy it and some of the insanity that will ensue shortly.
Once Man Geum gets Dae Gil, he leaves trying to protect him from being killed, however while trying to escape Dae Gil is hit with an arrow in the chest. Due to this Sa Woon and Sa Mo think that they have succeeded in killing the baby and go to report it to the King. Moo Myung however stick around long enough to hear the baby begin to cry again and can’t bring himself to kill Man Geum or Dae Gil. Surviving and arrow to the chest as a baby is highly unlikely, but the writers use this to show have Dae Gil is very lucky, even at a young age. Given the size of a newborn, the medical knowledge that was around at the time and the force behind an arrow… That baby isn’t surviving, but this would be a very short drama if that were the case, so I’ll let it slide.
Due to Moo Myung inability to get the baby back, In Jwa then hires Hong Mae to get him. Though due to Yi Soo’s betrayal they have a shoot out with Arrows, where Yi Soo dies and In Jwa promises to take care of his daughter. Meanwhile, Man Geum meets a man, Nam Dokkebi (Lim Hyeon Shik), who starts prosing the baby and how noble is features and starts telling Man Geum how much luck he has. Man Geum proceeds in throwing his baby off a waterfall believing that he is the King’s son, and guess what! That’s right Dae Gil survives… Now it’s getting a little much. I will give you that this scene, similar to the arrow scene, is to depict how lucky Dae Gil is, but it’s quickly becoming less believable. I’m hoping that when you Keun Suk actually comes back to play the role the story won’t be so out there.
Hong Mae gets the baby from Dokkebi, after he took him out of the water and In Jwa decided to play a game with Suk Bin with her baby’s life at risk. She has to pick the 10 out of the 5 cards on the table, she messes up twice and Man Geum comes to save the day. Will he guess right? We’ll only find out next episode.
The backstory becoming less and less believable. I know that stories show series of events, but this series take the probability factor to an all time high. The chances that a newborn can not only survive and arrow to the chest, survive being thrown off a waterfall in water, but that an expert archer misses twice while firing arrow at the above baby is a little much. We’ll see how the story progresses over the next 22 episodes.
I have no complaints about the acting or the cinematography, it was all on point. I will look forward in seeing the rest of the series and how it unfolds.