Shine or Go Crazy - Episode 1 (A Quickie Cap)

Drama-love is mysterious, isn't it. I had thought I had fallen out of love, for good, at least for a while, and then, BAM, drama-cupid's arrow hit me. I can't stress enough how happy that makes me, and after briefly mourning the opportunity to express my love through SqueeCapping (it's the best way to express your love), with a little help of JoAnne and just one Squeeglet, I have decided to go for it! Play catch-up that is and give this show what it (currently) deserves. I'll make the Catch-Up-Caps fairly brief though. Cause as we German-speaking people say: In der Kürze liegt die Würze. Sometimes.
JoAnne: It's been a long dry spell for squeecapping, hasn't it... and now we have this, plus that Thai drama, plus Blood coming, and I think Unkind Women? Yay!
becca: The rest was nice, but doesn't it feel nice to be squeecapping again?
S@ki6: This show is really weird but addicting. Ooh, I'm looking forward to Unkind Women too!Episode 1 verdict: hilarious, weird, and super confusing.
I didn't pick up on any hilarity or much weirdness, although I did think I saw some nods to Sword and Flower... and HELL YES confusing.
Such a weird episode. I didn't think it was particularly good, but I loved it anyway.
Show is weird. And Goryeo Gun, er, ouch. 

Episode 1

Once upon a time, there was a king (name: Wang Gun, aka King Taejo, founder of the Goryeo Dynasty). He had countless children, one of them our hero: Wang So (Jang Hyuk! Jang Hyuk!), aka Goryeo Gun among the Twitterbeans. Somebody made a prophecy, saying the little boy was cursed and would be the reason for death and destruction among the royals.
But why would he do that? What reason could he have for singling out one baby boy? Especially if he wasn't even the first or second son!
Well, maybe he knows this one will become King Gwangjong, the Mighty!
The stars told him! He talks to the stars, man.
Dig a little deeper and there's some politics involved. The seer was probably a Yuan spy.
There was an add-on, though: The curse can be broken by a woman "of light", born from the energy of the North Star. **Importantly for later, there are TWO princesses with that ability: one from Goryeo and one from Balhae. Yay, bitch-fights ahead! And just so you know: "You're destined to meet the person you're meant to be with - even if you try not to be with them". How re-assuring.
Especially since you wrote it on Valentine's Day.
Meh. I like the day after Valentine's Day - CHEAP CHOCOLATE DAY!!
Where, where's the chocolate? Gimme! Oh, right we're in Goryeo. 
As with any (self-fulfilling) prophecy (never believe them!), the boy was soon faulted for the death of one of his countless brothers and several courtiers. Little Bro and other people ate poisoned cookies intended for Wang So. We're left in the dark who actually put the cookies in Wang So's room but it looks like it might have been his own mother? DAMN, that woman be EVIL.
I do not get that at all. Nor do I get the logic that puts the blame on a child for cookies that he didn't even bake.
He didn't EAT the poisoned cookies. He is BAD!
If I were him, I'd never share again.

Poor boy is immediately exiled after that and sent to live among the goats on Geumgang Mountain. In a heart-breaking goodbye scene, little Wang So shouts "father! father! father!" about 100 times as he extends his hand towards the stone-faced monarch. The only living person with him is a fat servant, which we later get to know as "The Leech" (real name: Kil-Bok, played by Shin Seung-Hwan).
It was only heartbreaking through the first 10 'father!'s. After that it ranged from 'okay, we get it' through 'enough already!' and on to 'are you kidding me with this?' And the part that really puzzled me - they just shoved him outside the gate and left him to faint in the streets? Even exiled, he's a prince. That wouldn't happen.
Oh! But the drama! It must be as dramatic as possible!
I liked the fat kid.
At this point in the episode, I am ready to KISS this drama. We're 5 minutes in and there will not be a lengthy kid-only story. Just like that, we're twenty years in the future and Wang So has grown into a FINE specimen of a men who hunts wild boars, has a "foul temper" and laughs like a maniac. It's time for him to return to the palace though - his father's loyal servant Ji-mong (Kim Byung-Ok) has come to fetch him. Nope, this drama isn't wasting any time - my cup of tea.
Rock that pony tail, Jang Hyuk. Rock it! He's looking very, very good in this drama.
Agreed. And he hasn't even taken his shirt off yet!
I liked everything until he laughed. So annoying. 
Quite understandably, Wang So isn't overjoyed by the palace's sudden interest in him. The wounds of being abandoned by his father (and mother) are still fresh. But the King, his father, needs him - to eliminate his enemies (basically all the men he founded the nation with). The King tells Wang So that in order to change his fate, he must accept someone's hand. Well, Wang So is most certainly not ready to accept the hand of his father though. I can't blame him!
He needs comforting. I am very comfortable. We are a match.
Wang-so: "Isn't that the hand that threw me away?" Oof.
But that there is mortal danger is proven right away by an assassin attack. On the one side are the evil assassins: fighting in red. Their leader? Extremely hot Se-won (unknown actor Na Jong-Chan)
If you live in Korea, you might have seen him in a couple CFs. Otherwise, he has been appearing in the musical version of Veggie Boys - I wonder which role? Otherwise, this is his first drama.
The good protectors of the king, the Order of the Phoenix are on the other side: fighting in black. The top man there is called Eun-chun (Kim Roe-Ha, love him!) and he is to teach and train our Goat Prince by order of the king. Good luck! My favorite black assassin is a woman we later get to know as Cheong-Ok (beautiful newbie Na Hye-Jin).
Order of the Phoenix. Like in Harry Potter?
The fight is super cool, well shot and choreographed - but I fear they spent too much money on CGI, because it's the last time we get any for at least 8 episodes. The black guys manage to kill most of the red assassins except for two - and before they flee, they throw two daggers at the king. They miss, but he receives a small scratch from one at his neck. I'm sure that's not good. Also, Evil Queen makes Wang So cry! She tells him she'd rather kill herself than have him live at the palace. DAMN.
She is dead to me. His face CRUMPLED. Did you see how hard he had to work to keep it in? Gaaaaaaaaaah, I shed a tear.
Their scenes together devastate me. She's so awful, and he just wants his mom not to hate him. ㅠㅠ
She's a weird woman considering most would say their backup son was NOT to blame. 
Eun-chun identifies the assassins as "from China" and him and Wang So take off to catch the two runaways. All they have to do is follow some male moths because Eun-chun dumped female moth-hormones on them. Oh, more CGI, I was wrong! They fly to the sea, where one assassin leaves on a boat. Alas, the second assassins isn't from China ... Se-won works for Captain Hairline, aka Wang Sik-Ryeom (Lee Deok-Hwa, I don't like him - neither do I! never did), our main antagonist. He is the current king's cousin. The moths are a bit dumb because they don't smell the powder on Se-won at all. Oh well.
So male silkmoths are always horny. Good to know.
I'm trying not to imagine in which situation this would be useful information because it's just too weird.
I wondered why and how they could keep up with moths.
Wang So and Eun-chun get to China (Wang So, the poor sod, is VERY seasick), to Gaebong. Here, we meet the lovely, oh-so-beautiful Oh Yeon-Seo as Shin Yool. Not only is she the last Princess of Balhae (the North Star sign is on her wrist) - she is also an influential, highly talented merchant, "assistant" head of the Chunghae Trading Company, living with her foster parents, Baek-Myo (Kim Sun-Young) and Kang-Myeong (Ahn Kil-Kang) and her useless, philandering "brother" Yang Gyu-Dal (Heo Jeong-Min). 
In other words, the comic relief. These actors are all gold when it comes to delivering. I'm liking this more and more - so many well-loved faces.
I love love love her family.

He gets her into trouble all the time - and this time, money will not fix it! He had a dalliance with General (I guess he is the local potentate) Kwak's younger sister - the only thing that will fix this is Shin-yool's hand in marriage.
Quickly, she makes up an excuse: she is already promised to a Goryeo man. Who is on his way to her. The wedding is in 15 days. Yeah ... problem. There is no man at all, but such a man needs to be found right away. And if she needs to kidnap him or give him lots of money: such a man will be found. Hehe. I like this.
So this is going to be a comedy?
"I don't have a groom? Pssh, a tiny detail! I'll just go out and get one!"
Determination, she has it. 
And such a man IS found ... on the last of the 15 days! He rescues her from a wild horse and carriage while being chased by a horde of prostitutes from a brothel he ventured into in search of the assassin. It's love at first sight for her - he never sees her face. She follows him to a restaurant and drugs his drink. That's how you do it, lady, yes! He drinks it, even though he knows its drugged, thinking this will lead him to the assassins.
BRB, sending tea to Korea.
These two are both weird(ly adorable), ergo they are perfect together.
In Wang So's absence, his father decides he is to marry the woman from the North Star after his return: Hwangbo Yeo-Won (Honey Lee), only grandchild of Hwangbo Je-Gong (some kind of minister). 
Or, you know, he could have just said his daughter. 'Wang So, I want you to marry your sister.' How hard was that to say? All this minister shit. I get confused! They're all old and have long gray hair and similar clothing and I can't remember which one is which long enough to learn their names, which are all very similar.

She has a North Star mark on her bosom - is very intelligent and very ambitious and ice-cold. Je-Gong wanted to marry her off to Wang Sik-Ryeom's son, Wang Poong. (I guess we will meet him later? He is listed on asianwiki). King says that won't happen - Wang Sik-Ryeom fumes. It seems the King doesn't know who his enemy is, though, because he has him swear to protect the King's children when they've become King in turn.  
I really, never ever thought I would say this in my life: Too many Wangs.
Wang-off. Also, for now, Honey Lee is awesome in this.  
Time for the fake marriage in China first though! Wang So wakes up in a bag - and finds himself in the room with a red-veiled woman who declares that she will be his wife - just for one night . She offers him a lot of money, but that doesn't sway him - the only thing he can think about is the trouble he'll be in with Eun-chun for failing in his mission. Only when he meets General Kwang, who comes to check whether there really is a groom, does he realize how dire her situation is: she is to marry a "walking corpse"? No way! This whole bedroom scene, by the way: hilarious.
This was funny! Her false translations were perfect. But I somehow think Kwak really did love her, so I felt bad for him.
Heehee. These two weirdos. So funny.
All is good now! She doesn't have to marry the old man and her brother goes free as a wedding gift. But General Kwak doesn't quite trust this situation yet: he and his men stay and Wang So has to go through with the wedding ceremony. He hates it until she tells him why she didn't just run: running would have meant losing "her world" - the parents that took her in and saved her. He saved her world by helping her. He did a tremendous thing. And then, it starts to rain - and he covers her with his coat.
Oh, well then, it's over. He's got her forever now.


I am not sure whether I'm the only one of the pack that absolutely loved this first episode (so many others said they thought it was erratic, poorly directed, and quite bad), but it grabbed me by the heart right away.
It was erratic and badly directed but it was still interesting enough to bring me back, and I like the pace.
I thought it was all over the place, but I was onboard by the end.
It's a strangely engaging show. You keep wanting to know what's happening next.

Wang So is such a likable, poor man-child, who has been mistreated because of a false prophecy all his life. Still, he is fiercely loyal to the people he cares for - ready to forgive his father immediately after he realizes how dangerous things are for the king. I'm not sure whether it's true, but it feels like Jang Hyuk is ad-libbing a lot? All those little add-ons and things he mutters ... in any case, he is extremely funny!
I do like his sassiness and it's immediately apparent why he's called Goryeo Gun by our friends. When you see that carried over role to role, you have to consider that it's the actor, not the part - so I think some of it IS him adlibbing.
Jang Hyuk seems like such a fun guy - the kind you'd want to just hang out with. Like, sit in a parking lot people-watching and making jokes. (What - does no one else do that?)
As long as he doesn't laugh. 

And in comes Shin-yool, a female character I can immediately relate to. She is highly capable and knows exactly what she wants. And when she wants THAT man, she goes and gets THAT man. She does it to save herself, but with the utmost care not to hurt the counterpart. It's just for a night, isn't it, and that is that. This is a dream OTP, people, because both are equal, both are capable, and, brace yourselves! They don't know each other from childhood!! Both have something to offer the other. Him, "his body" for a night (I wish) to save her from a most unhappy marriage and her, her thanks to him for saving her. Because when that stranger woman tells him that he has saved her world, a light is switched on in him - and he suddenly realizes that he is not entirely worthless.
That really grabbed me, how much it meant to him. And yes, all praise to Shin Yool, may she ever be a badass.
She treats him like a real person, which is so foreign to him that it breaks my heart. Go forth and be adorable, you two!

Anyway, I'm sorry this wasn't very brief at all, but we had to sort through the character-mess ... all these people are important later, and after just one episode, most of the relationships are well established.
Except for the wrinkly old grey men and the 9000 Wangs floating around.