Shine or Go Crazy - Episode 18 (A SqueeCap)

In this episode, the conflict between the King's men and the greedy noblemen comes to a head, but it is absolutely unclear who will win. Damn that one secret that can bring Wang So down! It really, really, really wants out, doesn't it? Part of me really wants it out so that we can start dealing with the consequences, the other part is enjoying the suspense much too much though :D.

By the way, here is the link to the novel this drama is based on. (And no, Saki and other history buffs: it does not at all follow history)
And that is where this show completely disappoints me. 
Ahhhh, Saki! It's not the shows fault! It's the novel! The novel! The noooovveeeel! 
Yeah, I don't get that logic. How can you be disappointed in a show that does exactly what it says it would do? If you aren't interested in the premise, why would you waste your time watching?
(ehem, psssst, JoAnne ...... Heirs. Or Birth of a Beauty.)

yeah, and I'm watching it with a drama club AND, this is crucial, I originally expected it more a sageuk and true to history. 
Episode 18 verdict: Edge-of-you-seat tension episode. I am now convinced it works best without too much romance.
I found myself paying so much more attention without the romance. Of course, that meant I have to actually pay attention, so that was a catch-22.
I stayed up SO late to watch this.... I am now yawning continuously, but it's certainly not from boredom.

Episode 18

Wang So has the bronze mirror pieces! But when he wants to leave, he is stopped by one of the Red Assassins, who attacks him immediately. His wobbly sword technique gives him away as Wang Wook (aka the Idiot). Outside, the rest of the Red Assassins have arrived - as has Wang Sik-Ryeom (who fights well, despite his age)!
You know Lee Deok Hwa was really proud of himself for those moves. He is 63 years old in 2 months!
That is really cool!
For a short moment, Wook and So continue fighting without swords inside, and Wang So tries to reason with his half-brother again - to no avail. Next, they take it outside, where Wang So faces Uncle Wang, Se-won and Wook for a few moments, before he joins his brethren on their retreat.
Still, that was a very strangely choreographed fight, inside and outside.
The Red Assassins lose them - and Se-won almost loses his head. Wang Wook (So Pink) does something right, at least, when he stops Uncle Wang from striking him down and is told about the bronze mirror pact afterwards. To hear about the assassination plot rattles him and he cries a little under the full moon and expresses his earnest wish that Se-won will become completely loyal to him. Wow, everybody wants Se-won, don't they?  
Yes. Everyone wants Se-Won. It is completely and totally rational and logical to want Se-Won. [Se-Won, call me.]
Or me. Call me.
Wang So (who is saddened by his half-brother's betrayal) may have the mirror pieces (indeed, Princess Yeo-won gave the rest that she had stolen from the Righteous Men back to him), but the mirror does not reveal its secret easily.
We see here the birth of forensics.
In the meantime, things look more and more dire at Chunghae Trading Company. They have 15 days to get the money to buy their house and lands or they will have to leave their home.
Why this was a surprise, that the house/business was part of it, is beyond me. Cheap conflict, writer.
Shin-yool hopes they'll be able to get to the very valuable spices that are delivered by ship on time. Also, they need to sell ginseng en masse. Ginseng one person has ... yup. Yeo-won. But will she help them?! That seems unlikely.
She might if it's a step to Wang So on the throne.
I agree. And it could be the beginnings of real detente, since Yeo Won is bound to admire the ballsiness of the request.

Shin-yool is sadly saying goodbye to everything when Wang So appears to cheer her up.
Goodbye, table. Goodbye, store room. Farewell, hallway.
Once again, he tells her that everything will be alright and soon, the Trading Company will be buzzing with life again. She on the other hand is concerned about his well-being - Gang-Myeong told her about the raid on Wang's house. Immediately scenting a chance for touchy-touchy, he tells her he is hurting baaaadly everywhere and gets a massage. He's enjoying it a bit too much though for her not to notice :D
He's such a pain in the ass. Makes me laugh every time!
She is still down about things but he reminds her of her own words to him the first time they met as So So and Kaebong: weigh the pros and cons. Don't complicate things. It makes her realize she knows what to do about her current situation and full of zest for action, she leaves him alone. Yup, they work far better as a pair than alone.
I did skip this part to look at Jaehyo pictures instead.
Things I will never understand... then again, I don't need to understand them.
And just when we thought cute would come back, fooooking General Gwak arrives in town! With Wang Sik-Ryeom's son Wang Poong (Kang Ki-Young) (he's handsome)(ooh, not for me) in tow. He is here to make the move to the West go smoothly - and Gwak is an old fighting buddy of Uncle Wang's, currently planning to attack a neighboring country and in search of soldiers from Goryeo. Gwak has also learned Korean in the meantime, out of anger! haha.
So, why isn't Uncle Hairline trying to get his own son on the throne?
My thoughts EXACTLY. He's probably too rat-faced though.
In walks Wang Wook, who Uncle Wang introduces as the next in line to be King and then one Gwak may talk to about the soldiers. During the drinks they share afterwards, Gwak mentions Chunghae Trading Company and the fact that he had wanted to marry the Assistant Head back then, who married a Goryeo man instead. Wook is shocked and scared, Uncle Wang is tsts-ying that two brothers are fighting over a married woman.
So Pink, I Can't Think.
Gwak rocked his world, and not in the good way.
Wook goes to see Shin-yool straight away. He asks her if she were ever married, but of course, she does not confirm. Which makes him realize she has to keep the identity of that man a secret. Which can only mean ... I can't decide whether it's good or bad that the Elf weasel knows of their secret!
Elf doesn't want her dead, so probably a good thing he knows so he can try to keep it from others. No, that doesn't make sense. Forget I tried.
It did make sense, though. Ah, we're all crazy. But I knew what you meant. What I found difficult to understand is how in less than 10 seconds he figures out it was So, because in real life, you know, most people would figure that the guy died or something and she just wanted to not be known as a widow.

Wang So is unaware of the trouble that is brewing - he is still fiddling around with the mirror pieces. Finally, he remembers that he saw a faintly glowing something on the back of one of the pieces down in that stone lair and he holds one of the pieces over a candle flame. Yes! There it is! He throws them all into hot water and the signs appear.
Okay, then. 
Yes, explain to me the art of heat-sensitive invisible writing on glass.
All they need now is the King to lead the next court meeting to make Uncle Wang go down in flames. But for the King to be able to do that, they need the antidote - which Wook has.
Oh let me guess, he's going to be a dick about it.
Wook confirms with Gwak that Wang So was the man that married the Assistant Head five years ago in Gaebong. DAMN! Wook (who is crying again??!) begs of the General to keep this a secret - he will repay him once he is king.
Wook is so stupid here in giving away his weakness that I want Se-Won to show up just to clear my head.
Yeah, he needs remedial secret-wielding training before he should even think about thinking about being king.

During a meeting with Wang So right after, Wook is being a royal pain in the ass again though: Instead of joining his brother in this battle and giving him the antidote, he can only angrily think of Shin-yool, who will die if the marriage is found out. And that the antidote is the last chance to save Yool. That ... I don't understand. Me neither. Unless he means to bargain for her life with Uncle Wang? By giving him the antidote, to destroy it? They could've made that clear to us. He looks handsome in this pic, though. 
If he gives the antidote to So, who will use it to save the king, then Wook can't be king. If Wook is king, he has a much better chance at protecting Shin Yool. Ergo, current king must die, so Wook can take the thrown. And wow, yes, very handsome right there.
Consul Wang tells his son why he has power over Wang Wook: it's that woman, whose life the next king cherishes so much. Their real problem is So, though - and the weapon against him, he hasn't found yet.*starts biting nails* Damn, is Gwak a good or a bad guy?! He certainly gets what's going on ... but what will he do with that knowledge? 
The weapon would be ShinYool's safety, but the uncle can be very obtuse.
I wonder how Gwak will choose. He did seem to genuinely admire and desire Shin Yool, back then. Will those feelings make him help her, or will he only be interested in possessing her by any means?

The big meeting is just around the corner. The King is still very bad and Wang So is ready to risk it all - it's this time or never. Yeo-won has started to try and make another antidote, it seems!
I hate how I can't ever stick to either liking or hating her. But I love that it's even possible to be conflicted, and I want to see Honey Lee do more, more, more.
Wang Poong has nothing better to do than go and harass Shin-yool. Kyeong is pretty useless, but luckily, Wang So is there to teach the bastard a lesson. But he has made another mortal enemy, it seems...
See? Rat-face, weasel-y, no good, junior fuckwit. I think perhaps Kyeong was hampered by social convention - difference in class. And damn, he sure is massive.
Afterwards, when they're alone, she asks after the King's health ... which makes the weight of the world crush down on him; or maybe he was just waiting for an opportunity to put his head into her lap. She is his source for energy.
So do you think that all along in the story universe they've been getting busy when they get a chance? Or was it just that one time that we all pretty much agree they definitely slept together? It never occurred to me that they continued on with sex. I just assumed that it was only these fleeting moments where they allow themselves the comfort of touch, but I wonder what you guys think.
SEX. All the time.
I really can't think about it without getting nauseous. 
Yeo-won has made an antidote - which isn't a real antidote. It can only temporarily neutralize the poison, but not reverse the effects forever.
So can he just take it forever?
Poor King. He swallows the golden pellet and then rests on Wang So's shoulder. The two brothers always make me emotional... The next morning, the King is well and shining like a sun (which probably means he will die soon). Wang So informs him of the treason and the evidence and they get ready for the court meeting.
Man, I'm with you. All of this right through to the end was really emotional for me. Poor King. Yes, I realize he was a backstabbing brother-killer but I learned that late, and somehow that brief mention doesn't have the emotional resonance that watching him go crazy has had.
It's because these kings don't go hunting or carousing or fighting wars.  No healthy exercise or camaraderie.
Shin-yool gets ready to meet with Yeo-won because of the ginseng trade, but when she exits her house, she is arrested. Oh fook. Has Gwak talked? Or is this Yeo-won's doing?
Can I skip work to watch? Nooooo. Dammit.

At the court meeting, everybody is hehehe, the King is not coming again, Consul Wang will be in charge. He declares the move to the West will begin now (which means wartime mobilization of workers) and calls on General Gwak to come in. That's a shock! A foreigner at a great meeting of Goryeo? Gwak walks down the aisle and grins at Wang So ... who realizes immediately the danger he is now in. But then, the King is announced!
Wang Sik-Ryeom introduces General Gwak as an old friend of his - who has an important story to share with them. Wang Wook protests loudly, but the King just smiles, welcomes Gwak, and tells him to wait. "Prepare the fire", he says, "and call for my royal bodyguards". Now it's time for Wang Sik-Ryeom to protest. Wang So tells him to shut it, which makes Consul Wang drop some hints about meeting General Gwak again after five years, nudge, nudge. He knows! Aahhhhhhh, he does, doesn't he?! But Wang So won't be cowed: Five years ago, he says, the secret of the First King's death. Is there anything you know about it?
Wook the Pink was so ineffective here.  ::ShakesHead::
Right? My first thought was he was very rude to the guy he hoped would be his ally. I mean, you can protest the break from protocol without sounding like a squawking chicken and insulting the person who probably had no idea it was a big deal in the first place, right?
Exactly.  Plus, Wook just came off weak. 


Another exciting episode!! It seems pretty clear that General Gwak has traded his knowledge of the marriage for soldiers and other riches and has betrayed Wook in the process. Well, Wook. What now? I have no clue how Wang So will get out of this one!
But we know he will.

There are two things in KDrama (and other series as well) that make me drop it. First, I get bored when the OTP is together and happy. It simply doesn't make for good television. Second, I hate angst-done-wrong, especially if it involves noble idiocy. Or amnesia. Luckily, this drama doesn't do any of these two things: from the very beginning until now, the show has managed to keep me very interested. But the excitement stems from the political intrigue part, mostly, and Jang Hyuk's incredible performance as Wang So. I could watch him all day. Less interesting, however, are the (scarce) OTP scenes. There simply is no development. They can't really be together cause "first unsanctioned marriage = death", even after Yeo-won and Wang So have formed a pact. The only thing they can do is give each other strength, which is cute, but also super boring, especially after the 10th time. Wang So's "don't you worry, everything will be alright" is meant well and probably what she needs to hear now, but I couldn't care less. Don't just talk about it, do something! We have a comfortable 6 episodes left, which should be enough to tie up all the knots - but I do hope that the romance doesn't take up valuable time from other important plot points, like Se-won and Shin-yool for example. 
6 episodes left: how will I survive? That said, I was so annoyed at all the people interrupting the King's surprise for everyone. I really wanted to know what it was, and I just wanted all the others to shut up. Also, I liked how the romance was put to the back in this episode. The show became much more interesting as they tried to figure out a solution to the King's poisoning and how to handle the Chinese General. 
I do like the emphasis on the intrigue and maneuvering at this point, but I can't help thinking okay, what happens when they defeat Uncle Hairline? Is Yeo Won supposed to just go back to being ignored in favor of time spent with Shin Yool? Remember, So dreams of restoring his brother to power and then running away with Shin Yool, and he referenced that earlier when he was talking to her at the trading company. How's Yeo Won gonna react to that news?
I think So has got the point that he will have to become king to stop all the fighting.  As for ShinYool, she could be brought in as a second since this was a time when you could have equal Queens (Iron Empress knowledge again), unlike in Joseon.